Torontoism Toronto Real Estate with Torontoism Thu, 27 Apr 2017 16:03:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Timing is everything! Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:01:15 +0000 Last week the Government of Ontario introduced 16 points that it is bringing forward in the next Provincial budget tailored, in their mind, to dampen the activity in the GTA Real Estate Market.

Their timing is perfect, not only because we will soon be heading into a Provincial Election but their announcement comes at the beginning of May, a time when a lot more properties come to the market. “Spring flowers bring for sale signs!” repeats yearly.

The increase in the number of listings will also help flatten the activity somewhat as it has been driven mostly by a scarcity of properties to sell. I assume that there will be a bit of a shock to the market as the NRST (Non-Resident Speculation Tax) seems to be not as drastic as the one imposed in BC. There are several exclusions however it is unclear now if those exclusions will be made by a rebate after the tax has been paid to the Government, by way of application after the fact. This could be a major factor for some buyers in terms of the amount they are willing to pay.

Also, if this move was targeted to the Mainland Chinese buyers, the recent introduction of more restrictions by the Chinese Government on funds leaving China will also play into the hands of the Ontario Government. They will happily take credit for slowing the market however, it does not solve the major problem. We need to really look at streamlined intensification of our cities providing much better services.

My thoughts for what they are worth.

]]> 2
TOP 5 Food Spots in Cabbagetown Thu, 27 Apr 2017 09:00:28 +0000 Cabbagetown - the village in the middle of the city. The "Thing" about Cabbagetown is it's a small town in a big City. It has its own shopping area, park, schools and everyone knows their neighbour.

[This post contains video, click to play]

Restaurants are plentiful as well as ethnic diversity in food. I've decided to share some of my local favorites. Feel free to share your favourites in the comments, good food suggestions are always welcome!


Address: 454 Parliament St, Toronto, ON
Opening Hours: 11:30 – 02:00

hop Source: Facebook

Purveyors of Fine Fare, Libation & Diversion.

House on Parliament is one of the few places where you're encouraged to dine with your bare hands. It actually says so on the menu, which is divided into four categories, according to the type of utensils the meal demands: Fork and Spoon, No Cutlery Needed, Utensils Optional, Silverware Required, Sweet Spoon.

The meal selection at HoP is what you would expect to find in a normal pub. What is more, Now magazine said House of Parliament serves the best pub food in Toronto. And I couldn't agree more!

Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

I work a lot of evenings, I am here for brunch or lunch at least once a week. I consider this place the original gastro pub! And in the summer, make sure you enjoy your meal on their top floor deck! Great outdoor eating experience!

And the vibe at the House on Parliament in perfect balance with the Cabbagetown neighbourhood – it's quirky, artsy, historical, comfortable, and friendly. We've covered the restaurant before on, so if you're not convinced yet, don't leave without reading our full-scale review here.

Source Facebook
Source Facebook


Address: 521 Parliament St, Toronto, ON
Opening Hours: MON-THU, SUN 17:00-21:00, FRI-SAT 17:00-21:30

salt-and-tobacco-2Source: Salt & Tobacco

If you want to do something, like propose to the love of your life, and you aren't into waiting for a seat then call us - we can work with you on that.

Salt & Tobacco is the newest addition to the Parliament food scene. The location is central, the food is excellent. They're already famous for their great service and a welcoming and bright ambience.

One important thing to note, this restaurant is small and has limited seating, only a couple of benches. And because of their popularity, even their website says "you're likely to be sharing a table when you arrive. Don't worry, everybody is nice". And you shouldn't worry indeed. The seating allows for a very friendly atmosphere to enjoy their speciality pizzas.

salt-and-tobaccoSource: Salt & Tobacco

And as far as pizza goes, it doesn't get better than Salt & Tobacco. The crust is like a super model – thin and crisp. Wash it down with craft beer or sparkling water on tap. It's your choice, but do choose this place as it deserves your attention!

Salt and Tobacco Pizzas
Source: Salt & Tobacco


Address: 195 Carlton St, Toronto, ON
Opening Hours: MON-FRI 11:00-01:00, SAT-SUN 10:00-01:00

Source Facebook
Source Facebook

All of our meat is locally raised without the use of any hormones and antibiotics. NEVER FROZEN.

Local is not only a word at Irv's, but a commitment: "It is very important for us to give back, its not only a part of our business model but it is a part of who we are." And you know a restaurant is serious about its ingredients when it uses caps lock to emphasize it.

I think the best description of this neighbourhood eatery would be "a great spot for relaxed eating of comfort food."

Source Facebook
Source Facebook

The Irv Gastro Pub is a Cabbagetown favourite for its coziness, informal setting, sports broadcasting and overall friendly atmosphere. There's no reason to believe otherwise when the place averages 4,5 on Yelp.

Their sandwiches alone do a great job promoting the chefs but don't hesitate to come for brunch. Wash your meal down with local craft beer and craft cocktails.

Also, their patio is great. I must admit to being a patio sitter, and Irv has a really nice patio! I love the ambiance there and the street views.



Address: 12 Amelia St, Toronto, ON
Opening Hours: MON-FRI 17:00-22:00, SAT-SUN 11:00-14:00, 17-22


Come and visit - your taste buds will thank you!

The great thing about big cities is their diversity and what it brings to the table. In F'Amelia's case, it is Northern Italian cuisine and wine.

Located on the Amelia St in our lovely Cabbagetown, the name seems to hint at a playful combination that sounds like 'Familia' meaning family. The homelike place is praised for its service, wine and authentic food. Often times you will notice it is called a hidden gem. This is because Cabbagetown is one of those neighbourhoods that don't feel busy, yet there's no shortage of business.

fameliaSource: Facebook

F'Amelia accommodates their guests on the patio, or in the cozy interior.

And it's always a good choice, for any occasion, whether you're celebrating something, or you're just in the mood for some delicious Italian food. They have wonderful bread, tasty Italian food and the atmosphere at the restaurant is Cabbagetown at its best.

Source Facebook
Source: Facebook


Address: 307 Wellesley St E, Toronto, ON
Opening Hours: MON-SUN 11:30-22:00


Rashnaa was first opened in 1990 in the heart of Cabbagetown, Toronto.

Almost three decades later and Rashnaa is still one of my neighbourhood favourites. Rashnaa means Tasty in Sanskrit, a language associated with India.

What is it you can find here? Spicy Indian and Sri Lankan meals. More than on the fancy interior, the place is focused on good quality dishes. Don't worry, though, the ambience is very authentic even without overwhelming decorations. Less is more when it comes to this place!

Source: Facebook
Source: Facebook

Rashnaa offers Great Sri Lankan delicacies, but it's not for the light eater. Make sure you have lots of water near you! Kothu Roti is one of the most popular dishes. If you have never had Sri Lankan food before I encourage you to try it here. They're also a great choice for take-out or UberEats.

Source Just Eat
Source Just Eat


]]> 0
Richard for WealthBar: How First Time Buyers Can Get Into the Housing Market Tue, 25 Apr 2017 08:39:39 +0000 Richard was interviewed for WealthBar’s Life & Money section, which offers practical advice for Canadians at every stage of their financial journey. The topic was how first time buyers can enter the housing market.

When it comes to preparing yourself to enter the housing market, a lot of it is about creativity. You need to be creative with your money, if you're a first-time buyer, you need to be imaginative, when it comes to choosing the neighbourhood that fits your needs and you need to able to look ahead when it comes to choosing the property. The latter might be the most important. 

Are you handy? Be prepared to put in some sweat equity

"When you are new to the market, try and look for properties where you can add value," said Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Senior VP of Sales Richard Silver, past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. "Stop searching for the perfect house and buy the imperfect house."

Put those DIY skills to good use, or get a reliable contractor who can help you fix up your property cost-effectively. "Finish the basement, add a third floor, or make other improvements. Buy under what you can afford and add value."

Read the whole article by Jonathon Narvey here.


]]> 0
The Ontario Fair Housing Plan: A Band-Aid Solution? Fri, 21 Apr 2017 15:19:37 +0000 On April 20, 2017, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced measures under the Ontario Fair Housing plan affecting the Greater Toronto Area residential market.

The plan's goals are:

  • to moderate the demand
  • to address supply
  • to protect buyers and renters
  • to promote affordability in the provincial housing market

and altogether increase market stability.

The government announced the following 16 policy measures as part of the plan.

  • A 15-per-cent non-resident speculation tax to be imposed on buyers in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area who are not citizens, permanent residents or Canadian corporations.
  • Expanded rent control that will apply to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991, which are currently excluded.
  • Updates to the Residential Tenancies Act to include a standard lease agreement, tighter provisions for "landlord’s own use" evictions, and technical changes to the Landlord-Tenant Board meant to make the process fairer, as well as other changes.
  • A program to leverage the value of surplus provincial land assets across the province to develop a mix of market-price housing and affordable housing.
  • Legislation that would allow Toronto and possibly other municipalities to introduce a vacant homes property tax in an effort to encourage property owners to sell unoccupied units or rent them out.
  • A plan to ensure property tax for new apartment buildings is charged at a similar rate as other residential properties.
  • A five-year, $125-million program aimed at encouraging the construction of new rental apartment buildings by rebating a portion of development charges.
  • More flexibility for municipalities when it comes to using property tax tools to encourage development.
  • The creation of a new Housing Supply Team with dedicated provincial employees to identify barriers to specific housing development projects and work with developers and municipalities to find solutions.
  • An effort to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.
  • A review of the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions.
  • The launch of a housing advisory group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures and any additional steps that are needed.
  • Education for consumers on their rights, particularly on the issue of one real estate professional representing more than one party in a real estate transaction.
  • A partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales of real estate in Ontario.
  • Set timelines for elevator repairs to be established in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority.
  • Provisions that would require municipalities to consider the appropriate range of unit sizes in higher density residential buildings to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes, among other things.

It is still too early to analyze all of the measures in-depth and more details about them should be provided soon. However, we've decided to comment on what we know so far and we're also including comments by the CEO of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, Brad Henderson.

The Non-Resident Speculation Tax

The new tax will levy a 15% NRST on residential real estate transactions where a foreign buyer purchases a property and is deemed to be engaged in speculative activity.


  • foreign buyers who have work visas
  • students who have been enrolled in a school in Canada full-time for at least two years from the date of purchase or acquisition.
  • foreign national with a status of "convention refugee" or "person in need of protection",
  • foreign national who has received confirmation under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
  • foreign national who has a spouse, who is a Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada, "nominee" or "refugee", if the foreign national purchases the property together with that spouse. The exemption doesn't apply if the couple purchases a property with another foreign national.

The new tax will apply to transactions initiated after April 20, 2017, unlike the Vancouver tax which applied to closings after August 2.

Brad Henderson

While there is still no adequate statistics about the foreign buyers, most agree that they represent a small part of the market, somewhere between 5 and 10 per cent. Brad Henderson says that the estimate of foreign buyers engaging in speculative activity is circa 1 to 3 per cent of the total market.

We expect there may be a slowdown in activity as all buyer digest the change and determine its effect. No doubt it will curb some pure speculative activity but in the longer run, the strong domestic demand twined with continued limited supply will keep upward pressure on prices.

In the months following the introduction of the Vancouver tax, the activity has indeed declined, but Henderson says that was mostly due to market participants withdrawing and sitting on the sidelines:

This constrained supply particularly at higher price points. This changed the mix of home sold to the lower end of the price scale giving the illusion that market prices were moderating or decreasing when in fact it was simply the average price of homes sold (rather than the average price of a home).

Extended Rent Control

The announced expanded rent control will apply to all private rental units in Ontario, including those built after 1991, which are currently excluded. Increases on all building will be limited to the rate of inflation — as long as it is 2.5 per cent or lower. This series of initiatives is intended to restrict increases in rents, while at the same time increasing the supply of rental units. The government also wants to match multi-unit residential property tax rates with other residential tax rates.

Brad Henderson thinks the rent control will actually reduce the supply of rental properties:

Most industry participants and economists agree that rent control will no doubt stifle new rental construction, encourage conversion of existing residential multi-unit stock to condominiums, and add to the demand for new condominium construction. All of which will have the effect of reducing the stock of available rental properties in the longer run and not really contributing to affordable housing options.

JimBurtnick new headshot_cropped BW
Jim Burtnick

Jim Burtnick, Broker, SVP-Sales at Sotheby's International Realty Canada, is worried that the vacancy rate might go even lower due to this policy:

While giving tenants better guarantees that their rent will not increase drastically by setting limits (no higher than the annual rate of inflation and capped at 2.5% even if inflation is higher), this policy alone will exasperate the low vacancy rate (1%) that this City is already experiencing.

Burtnick thinks this will slow the sales of new developments in the upcoming months:

Large landlords will be less inclined to build any new rental buildings. Small landlords who typically buy pre-construction condos as an income generating investment will also be less inclined to buy pre-construction. This will slow the sales of new projects and thus lead to less future inventory of rental stock. In fact, you might see many smaller landlords decide to sell these units and lead to even less rental inventory.

Band-aid solutions

Even though it's still very early to predict what these new measures will do to the housing market, people remain sceptical. There is a lot of criticism about the plan in the papers today, especially focused on the lack of long-term supply solutions in he proposed plan. Margaret Wente, of The Globe and Mail, writes:

The real problem in the GTA isn’t demand. It’s supply. Half the new houses on the market are being bought by immigrants, according to one survey, who are streaming into Ontario at a rate of more than 100,000 a year. But fixing the supply problem will take a while. Planning and development are bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape at every level. The head of one big Ontario home builder says it now takes as much as 10 years to gain all the approvals needed to make farmland builder-ready. In Toronto, it takes three to five years just to get a building permit – providing nobody objects. On top of that, the province and the municipalities are fundamentally at odds. The province wants smaller municipalities to build medium- and high-density developments, but the municipalities won’t do it because the voters object.

Richard Silver

Richard Silver, Sales Representative, SVP-Sales at Sotheby's International Realty Canada, also thinks the government plan is only a short term solution:

My major concern is that not enough seems to have been done on the supply side, and that will affect the long term. Density should be addressed, land use issues should be dealt with, and the length of time for approvals created by a Committee of Adjustment AND an Ontario Municipal Board, duking it out on every project adding months or years and huge cost overruns to each decision around intensification, too. Long term decisions are needed, not short term bandaids!

What do you think about the government's plan? Will it help? Or is it just a band-aid solution? Let us know in the comments.

]]> 2
People of Toronto: Jennifer Keesmaat Wed, 12 Apr 2017 10:27:28 +0000 Our city is a work in progress. Even before the new Crosstown LRT project peppered Eglinton Avenue with work sites, Toronto often felt like a lively, lived-in construction zone. But as chaotic as it can sometimes be, there is at least a little method to the madness. There is a Plan, and behind it, a whole department of city planners.

Jennifer Keesmaat came to the job of Chief Planner in 2012, after nearly a decade of private-sector urban planning that saw her help design – or in some cases, redesign –city spaces across the country.

Somewhere in between meetings, she found the time to answer a few questions about how Toronto is changing, and why.

Just to clarify things, what does the Planning Department actually have control over?

We have control over every part of the landscape of this city. It's embedded in the Official Plan, and we write and maintain and recommend the Official Plan to City council. So for example, in the Official Plan, we have policies about affordable housing. We have policies about parks and open spaces. We have policies about the character and design of transit, as well as the design of streets and roads. And then we also have policies related to the built form and the uses of the city.

What's your vision for Toronto?

The vision is contained in the Official Plan, and that's a vision that I, you know, deeply believe in – passionately believe in. Essentially the vision is to create a city for all, that has vibrant and dynamic places for people to live, but also places for people to work and play. So there are policies related to culture, to employment, to housing, to parks and recreation.

Can you give me some examples of things you're doing to achieve this vision?  

I just came from a meeting right now on the Lawrence-Allen neighbourhood, where we have a typical suburban social housing development – it's a pretty large site, over a hundred acres –and we are deep into phase one, where we are adding main streets, density, market housing, new housing, and redesigning the streets for pedestrians.

So where the streets today are primarily for cars, we're adding cycling lanes and sidewalks. We're narrowing the streets to make them more urban. So that's an example where the vision becomes very specific on one specific site, and I can give you hundred of those sites.

[This post contains video, click to play]


You're talking about redesigning streets meant for cars, but the city right now seems full of cars – what do you see as the correct role for cars in Toronto?

It's important to note that we keep adding people, but we don't keep adding cars. We've been adding to the region 100,000 people on an annual basis, but we haven't been adding any more cars for over thirty years to our road network. It's been at capacity for thirty years.

The role of cars is going to change over time, as we're already going through a shift because of things like Uber and Lyft, and we'll go through another shift with autonomous vehicles. And the best role for the car in the city is to play - not a primary function, but a supportive function. Meaning that when there are instances where it's not possible to get where you're going on transit, or when you have the last mile challenge – the last mile of a trip, needing to get from transit – those are the opportunities where a car can play an important role.

How do you get people to shift to using cars in this limited way?

The first thing you need is, you need to have options. So one of the challenges in our suburbs in many areas is there aren't a lot of options. The only way to get from point A to point B is in a car. So this is why we've created a really comprehensive transit network plan because we need to fill the gaps in our transit network so that people have the choice. But it's also the reason why we're focusing on the intensification of our avenues. Because you need to add destinations within walking distance.

And of course, we're building our ten-year cycling plan because we know that over 75 per cent of the trips in the city of Toronto is within five kilometres from home, and five kilometres is obviously an easily bikeable distance. So adding cycling lanes is also about providing more choices.

'Walkability' is a big deal in Toronto planning these days. What other factors enhance walkability, aside from sidewalks?

There's sidewalks, but also the design of buildings. If you think about walking on a sidewalk, beside a Walmart, for example, you have a big blank wall. You know, the wind is going to hit that building and be driven down and is going to make it a very uncomfortable place for you.

So, the design of buildings is one of the factors. Bringing buildings up and creating a street edge is a really important part of walkable communities. And making sure that the destinations are in close proximity to one another; a really important part of creating a walkable city is actually how land uses are planned and designed.

You've worked on urban planning projects all over Canada. What makes Toronto distinctive from a planning point of view?

Well, the first thing that makes it distinctive is our astronomical growth. We're just adding so many people on an annual basis. But the other piece that makes it distinctive is that Toronto is truly a city of neighbourhoods, and people already live in neighbourhoods and do undertake many activities associated with everyday life in their neighbourhood.

Another thing that makes Toronto really distinctive is that we are a city of extremes because we're both regional and we're urban, as a result of amalgamation. So if you compare downtown Toronto to the city of Vancouver – which is actually a good comparison because Vancouver is not amalgamated as part of the region – we have some pretty phenomenal stats around our success in the downtown core. 75 per cent of the population living in the downtown - which is a population of 250,000 people and it's going to double over the next twenty years – either walks, cycles, or takes transit to work. That's on an international scale a real success.

What about the divide between urban and suburban that we've seen in the last few municipal elections?

I'm not sure how much of that is a construct of the media and how much is real. I think people across the city want the same thing; they want to live in safe communities. We already know – there's great research that's been undertaken – that people want destinations within walking distance of home. They want to live in walkable communities. People want great transit across the entire city. People want excellent public spaces across the entire city. People want affordable housing across the city.

The term 'liveability' gets used a lot when it comes to Toronto. What does it mean to you'?

If you don't have employment, it's not very liveable. If you don't have stable housing, it's not very liveable. You need access to green space – in a city, even more so than if you were living in other places. So access to green space, to parks, to ravines, to nature, is a critical part of liveability.

I would argue that, for reasons that are almost incomprehensible, an entire generation has bought into the idea that a long commute is acceptable. And I would argue that it's not. It's not liveable. The average person in Toronto – the Average – commutes 45 minutes each way. That's an hour and a half every day. The idea that we've normalized this as being a normal part of everyday life as opposed to being a last resort I think demonstrates how far we've come from really believing in the idea of liveability.

Liveability inherently means having the opportunity to choose to live close to where you work and where you undertake the activities of everyday life, as opposed to being trapped in a car, or trapped by a long commute, because that long commute can also happen on transit."

You've said that access to nature is a key component of liveability. Obviously, this means not paving over parks and ravines, but what other, less obvious things can you do, as a city planner, to design a more nature-friendly city?

Our Ravine Strategy is a key component of this. We need to protect the ecological functions of the ravine system and invest in making it function better – enhancing water flows, adding better infrastructure (like stairs, bridges and boardwalks) to get into the ravines and to walk through them, without disturbing their important ecological functions.

Our Green Infrastructure Unit is also working on taking back ‘unused parts of the roadway to reclaim this space for the public and for storm water management. See Raindrop Plaza Park, the new public gathering space at the north-west corner of Dundas and Coxwell for example. The permeable paving and rain gardens at this park will be directing storm water runoff from Coxwell Avenue to soil stored below plaza, which will water the newly planted trees and also eliminate basement flooding in the surrounding areas.

Can you give me a few examples of city planning for our growing senior population?

The most important thing we can do for our senior’s population is to plan walkable, complete communities with amenities that are close to home, that foster a strong sense of neighbourhood. Our infill projects on our Avenues are about providing more housing choice, and ensuring that we have all of the uses in every neighbourhood to make them complete.

What can we learn from other cities?

New York City is doing an amazing job right now at building affordable housing; they're building 20,000 units of affordable housing on an annual basis. And they have done an amazing job of creating – back in the 70's, actually – excellent rental housing that has been protected, and as a result, the vast majority of the population lives in rental housing.

I think as Toronto matures, we're going to need a significant increase in the rental stock of housing in the city, as an affordable housing choice. It's difficult to look at a lot of Asian cities, because they're just growing at such an astronomical rate, but of course, when you look at transit, they do transit in a very aggressive way, and there's probably some lessons we can learn from that, because we're very slow at developing our transit infrastructure.

In terms of becoming more people oriented in our design, Copenhagen is a very good example of a city that has focused on – over the course of the past thirty years – transitioning from really being a city that primarily moved people in cars, to being a city that now primarily moves people on bikes. So there are different things that we can learn from different cities around the world.


]]> 0
March 2017 Market Report: The New Normal? Fri, 07 Apr 2017 14:47:01 +0000 TREB reported 12,077 sales through the MLS system in March 2017. This is 17.7 per cent more properties sold than last year. The annual sale growth was strongest in the condo and detached segment for the whole TREB market area. Condo sales have gone up by 29 per cent compared to March 2016, while the number of sold detached properties has increased by 14.3 per cent.

And while new listings were up by 15.2 per cent compared to March 2016, the rate of their growth was still slower than the rate of the sales growth. The number of active listings in March 2017 was 7,865 which is 35.2 per cent lower than the 14,795 properties listed in March 2016.

Due to the low supply, the annual rates of price growth continued moving upwards in March. The average price for a detached house in the 416 area has climbed up to $1,561,780. Buyers paid $550,299 on average for a condo in the City of Toronto, which is 32 per cent more than in March 2016.


Richard Silver, Sales Representative, SVP-Sales

2010 11 21 08 43 54 37 revBW 1 small

After returning from Real Estate conferences in two of the big cities of the US, Chicago and New York where the subject was investing in Toronto as a Gateway City, I searched for the reasons that the Toronto Market is having the pressure it is presently experiencing.

In Chicago, I asked what their net immigration was at present and was told that it was in the minus category and comparing it to Toronto's almost 100,000 plus a year, it was easy to see where the pressure was coming from...Now, don't jump on the Foreign buyers bandwagon before you remember that the Ontario economy seems to be the strongest in Canada and many searching for the oil gold rush are returning to their homes.

The New Yorkers looked at the extreme costs of ownership in their City and some of my well heeled friends are renters in the City and owners in the countryside. Rental is an option that was never part of the Canadian dream but is common in other major cities and countries.

Do we need an adjustment in our thinking? Do we need to adjust to a new normal??

Rizwan Malik, Sales Representative, B.Comm


March 2017 was another record breaking month. We saw listings come out on the market and sell for record highs in record time. This seems to be the time of the bully offer. Frustrated buyers who have lost one too many times on offer presentation date are now resorting to submitting a bully offer in hopes of securing a property. This is driving prices even higher because in order to entice a seller to even look at a bully offer it has to be for a ridiculous amount. An amount that makes the seller feel that no money has been left on the table and in most cases these frustrated buyers are just competing with themselves.

Jim Burtnick, Broker, SVP-Sales

JimBurtnick new headshot cropped BW

Lots of talk in March by all thre levels of government about the housing market here in Canada and particularly about the runaway annual appreciation levels/affordability in Toronto and Vancouver. Toronto experienced 33.2 per cent appreciation from March 2016 to March 2017. Appreciation like that is always going to attract the attention of politicians. Even rental rates are soaring. Although this is really a supply side issue, expect to see the Ontario provincial government to alter the current rent control policies, a potential foreign buyers' tax and even a vacant home tax. You just know that there is a provincial election in the next year - politicians want to be seen as doing something to gain votes. Let's hope that they think these policies out and avoid any unintended consequences that will hurt the overall economy.

Sherille Layton, Sales Representative

sherille headshot small 160

As my colleagues rightly say, the "New Normal", "Bully Offers", "Foreign Buyers tax". 

There are so many variables fueling the Toronto real estate market right now. And, when I show up to presentations and a Seller brings up all the articles in the newspapers about a correction or a bubble bursting I tend to think to myself, newspapers have to sell stories. Realtors are actually living, eating and sleeping this market. It has been a strong market for the last decade but is it the hottest it has ever been? Yes it is. Amongst some of those fueling factors are immigration, interest rates, the fact that Toronto is still undervalued in the eyes of an International investor, baby boomers, and local buyers that want to either get into the market, move up, down or even laterally.


]]> 0
Can You Sell Condo In The Pre-Construction Phase? Yes, But… Thu, 06 Apr 2017 06:29:00 +0000 Condos have become a part of Toronto life. They’re as omnipresent as the CN Tower or signal problems on the TTC. Between 2012 and the end of 2016, 683 projects were completed, boasting 91,855 units.

For many people, buying a condo is the only way to break into the housing market. Most folks will become acquainted with the real estate process through purchasing their first condominium: the hunt, the offer, the contracts, and all the other minutiae that goes into buying a home.

But there’s one aspect of the process that may be less familiar to many people: Assignment purchases.

Essentially, an assignment purchase is when someone pays for a pre-construction condo unit and then sells the deed to the property before it's registered.

A Complicated Matter

"They're a little more complicated," explains Jim Burtnick, a member of the Torontoism team for Sotheby’s International Realty. "What you're doing is selling someone your agreement of purchase and sale. The idea is to sell it for more than your purchase price."

The person selling the agreement is referred to as the assignor and the person buying is known as the assignee.

Burtnick says he’s done a few assignment sales in his career, but because of their complicated nature, they aren’t very common. He guesses the number is somewhere around 5 to 10 per cent of total condo sales in the city.

There's basically three people involved. So you've got the assignor, who's the person selling it. You've got the assignee, the person who's buying it. And you've got the developer agreeing to allow the assignment to take place.

He says that, from the developer's point of view, it doesn’t make sense to let the original purchaser sell their contract. If the assignee backs out of the deal then the builder is on the hook.

They don't want to have to go and chase somebody new to close on it. So it's keeping everybody in limbo. The assignor selling the unit is not going to get paid until the assignee actually closes on it, and it's a bit of a domino effect.



Still, the fact that it’s complicated won’t stop people from trying to make money off assignment sales. Burtnick says there is a tendency to speculate in the new-construction market. That’s when people buy pre-construction and sell it before the move-in date in the hopes of making a profit. Because the market in Toronto has been on an upward curve for a number of years, people are trying to take advantage of that.

For example, you don’t pay the full $500,000 price of a property upfront, you pay $100,000. If you can turn around and make an assignment sale you could potentially make another $100,000, doubling your investment.

The Benefits

There’s the tendency to think speculation would raise condo prices, but Burtnick doesn’t see it that way. "It's a reality of the market. I wouldn't say it's a problem because in many respects what it's doing is fast forwarding the project to get completed," he says.

He explains that builders need to sell 75 per cent of their inventory before they can get financing from a bank. Speculating speeds up the process by guaranteeing those buildings are sold.

If these people weren't in the market as speculators. It could take years to sell a project and consequently delay that supply getting to the market. And right now, our biggest problem in this city and the GTA in general is a lack of supply.

Beyond an expedited build, assignment purchases offer other benefits. For the buyer – or assignee – they don’t have to wait four or five years to move in, according to Burtnick.

Usually, when an assignment happens it's very close to the registration. The building's built.


Why Do They Happen?

Speculation isn’t the only reason for assignment purchases though. Priorities change over time. Three or four years is a long time to wait between putting down an initial deposit and actually taking possession of the unit.

Burtnick points out that it’s not uncommon to be living a different life in a four-year time span. A single person who buys a condo, years down the road, could be married with a child.

And guess what? The condos not going to work for them anymore. Their lifestyle's changed. But the person who's going to get it is going to be moving in relatively quickly and it's a brand new unit.

Ultimately, assignment purchases can benefit everyone involved. For the seller, it’s an opportunity to make some money on investment or unload a property that no longer makes sense. For the buyer, they don’t have to wait to move in but get the bonus of buying a new property.

Burtnick compares it to buying a new car.

There's a peace of mind getting something brand new. It's like a car warranty. As opposed to getting a used car where you take your chances with it.


]]> 2
Rizwan Malik: Global Marketing Helps Toronto Penthouse Set Price Record Mon, 03 Apr 2017 09:25:16 +0000
  • ASKING PRICE $2,650,000
  • SELLING PRICE $2,652,500
  • TAXES $13,477 (2016)
  • LISTING AGENT Rizwan Malik, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada
  • The Action:

    The global marketing campaign for this three-bedroom penthouse resulted in just six showings as some buyers abroad couldn’t make it into town before an early visitor made a multimillion-dollar offer. It set a record price for the building and surrounding area late this summer.


    What They Got:

    At the top corner of a three-year-old high-rise, called Charlie, this 2,032-square-foot unit is flooded with natural light from wall of windows facing all but north, as well as a terrace of more than 1,800 square feet.

    Every appointment is lavish, starting in an open living and dining area with a gas fireplace, black high-gloss kitchen cabinetry to one side, white island with a waterfall edge and Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances.

    Conveniences include laundry facilities and three bathrooms – including one in the master and another between two bedrooms, plus a locker and two parking spots.

    Monthly fees of $1,301 covers water, heating, concierge, gym, outdoor pool, party room and rooftop deck.


    The Agent’s Take:

    “Typically, units at this price range will take longer to sell – anywhere from six to eight weeks – but this unit got a lot of attentional internationally,” agent Rizwan Malik says.

    “It’s one of two units in the entire building with that square footage and has a terrace of that size. Typically, units sell between $800 to $1,000 a square foot, but this unit commanded over $1,300 a square foot.”

    Architects confirmed an outdoor pool could be added, although the penthouse is already extraordinary. “It has 12-foot ceiling heights, a custom-designed kitchen with crocodile countertops, crocodile wallpaper and a marble and stainless-steel fireplace that mimics the fireplace in the lobby,” Mr. Malik adds.

    “A free-standing bathtub was actually built inside an oversized shower and there is a wall with smoky glass, so you can actually see the person in the shower or bathtub from the master bedroom, so it’s quite dramatic and sexy.”

    By Sydnia Yu, originally posted in the Globe and Mail

    ]]> 0
    Torontoism Invites You to Moonlight Gala Tue, 28 Mar 2017 13:31:39 +0000 MoonlightGala_eVite-Sothebys-March

    Torontoism is one of this year's sponsors of the Moonlight Gala. Save the date and tickets will be available soon at the Moonlight Gala website.

    ]]> 0
    Jim Burtnick for Mansion Global: Toronto is going through a boom Tue, 28 Mar 2017 11:49:00 +0000 Jim was recently featured in an article for Mansion Global, about Toronto's luxury market. Here is an excerpt from the article.

    The Toronto luxury real estate market is booming. In fact, the condo market in Toronto has grown considerably and gone much more high end in the past five or six years, according to Jim Burtnick, of the Torontoism team at Sotheby’s International Realty.

    “Toronto is going through a boom,” he said.

    High-end condo development began in Toronto with hotel projects like the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton and Shangri La. From there, the options boomed. Now buyers have many choices, from high-rise buildings on the harbor, to boutique condos in residential neighborhoods like Summerhill and Rosedale.

    Many new developments have been planned for Yorkville, which, according to Paul Johnston of Unique Urban homes, was “once the city’s hippie-centric counter-cultural community, and is today the epicenter of monied luxury and the location of a growing range of condominium options.”

    And there are even new condos sprouting up in the areas of Toronto filled with single family homes, such as Forest Park.

    Here’s a roundup of some of Toronto’s new developments.

    One Bloor


    This 76-story tower is located in Yorkville, Toronto’s equivalent of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Owners have begun moving into the lower floors, and full occupancy is expected later this year. It is near luxury shopping, like Gucci, Chanel, and Cartier, and walking distance from the Royal Ontario Museum. Designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, the 732-unit building has an undulating shaped design to offer maximum light and views over the skyline. There is also a podium on the sixth floor, which houses a 27,000-square-foot amenities area designed by Cecconi Simone, and an amenities terrace over the podium, which is 19,000 square feet and designed by Janet Rosenberg + Associates. Amenity highlights include an elaborate spa area with treatment rooms, his-and-hers cold plunges, hot plunges, steam rooms and aromatherapy rooms, and ice fountains.

    • Number of units: 732
    • Price range: C$520,000-C$2.45 million (US$399,000-US$1.88 million)
    • Developer/architect: Great Gulf Homes/Tucker HiRise Construction/Hariri Pontarini Architects
    • Apartment sizes: Two- to four-bedrooms, ranging from 2,500 square feet to 3,700 square feet
    • Amenities: Indoor and outdoor pool, terraces, spa, hot tub, fitness area with yoga, cardio and spin rooms, relaxation areas.
    • Website:

    128 Hazelton


    Located very close to 1 Bloor, but on a village-like street filled with townhouses, 128 Hazelton bills itself as “the last of its kind.” The building’s sales have launched, and tentative occupancy is for 2019. The mid-rise boutique building, designed by Mizrahi Developments and Gianpiero Pugliese of Audax, takes its influence from 19th century Haussmann style buildings in Paris. The apartments feature terraces overlooking the city’s verdant parks and glassed-in winter gardens so residents can still be outside when it is cold. There are also luxurious master suites and formal foyers. The building also has 24-hour concierge, valet parking, an event room and dining room with chandeliers, a lounge, fitness area, and backyard garden with dining.

    • Number of units: 20
    • Price range: An available apartment on the fifth floor is C$5,911,000 (US$4.53 million). It is 3,294 square feet with two balconies, faces north, east and south and comes with two parking units and a locker.
    • Developer/architect: Mizrahi Developments and Gianpiero Pugliese of Audax
    • Apartment sizes: 1,354 square feet to 1,916 square feet, excluding the penthouse apartments
    • Amenities: Terraces, winter gardens, master suites, formal foyers, 24-hour concierge, valet parking, an event room and dining room with chandeliers, a lounge, fitness area, and backyard garden with dining
    • Website:

    Read the full article here.


    ]]> 0