XYZ Storage: Storing Your Furniture When Selling a Property in Toronto

XYZ Storage: Storing Your Furniture When Selling a Property in Toronto

Moving is a big deal – an average move can take anywhere from eight to 22 weeks from the start of preparation to unpacking your last box. If you’re selling your home and want to get the best possible price, experts agree that it’s best to declutter, donate, pack, purge, and store items you won’t need.  

A study by the National Association of Realtors revealed that,

Eighty-three percent of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.

In addition to this the same study showed, “Twenty-eight percent of sellers’ agents said they staged all sellers’ homes prior to listing them for sale” and the most common rooms to be staged included the living room, kitchen, master bedroom, and dining room. 

—> Read more: Redecorating Your Home Before the Sale: 2 Pine Ridge Drive Case Study

Specialists like your realtor, a professional stager, and a storage company can help you save time and money by helping make the staging portion of your journey a seamless stepping-stone in the moving process.

Staging not only involves positioning your furniture just so, it can also involve removing items from the home, renting new items for display, and finding somewhere to store the items while your home is on the market.  That’s where experts like Leslie Kellen, Director of Operations Partner, at XYZ Storage come in, having offered Torontonians storage solutions that work for over 20 years, including their highly popular mobile storage options. Here’s how it works.

Figuring Out What You’ll Need

Storage doesn’t just start when you’re showing your home, it can also be a great way to keep items safely out of the way during a renovation or keeping out of season, or seldom used items like tools, hockey equipment, or holiday decorations from cluttering up your staged home. Leslie says how much you’ll need to store, completely depends on the individual and what is in the home:

For example, empty nesters may have some art and sofas and not a lot more,  while young families with kids tend to have a lot more items that need to be stowed away.

Leslie estimates that those with family members and all their things at home should expect to store around 20 to 40 percent of what’s in their home, whereas empty nesters may only need storage for five to 10 percent of their belongings. 

Those downsizing their homes may need longer term storage and tend to use their storage space like another closet or garage, keeping their unit forever. 

Leslie also adds that freelance professionals or those with home or limited office storage space will often rent a storage unit to house items like tools, trade show display items, professional records, signage, and more. 

How Long Am I Going To Need Storage?

How long you’ll need storage depends on how long the staging process takes, how long the home is on the market, along with when and where you’re going. Leslie suggests for a robust real estate market, like in Toronto, the storage needs could be as short as 30-60 days or significantly longer.  He adds,

This is a good reason to use mobile storage.  That way everything packed up during the storage process can simply be delivered and unloaded at your new home. 

A major piece of advice Leslie has to offer is that things, particularly in terms of renovations and moving, often take longer than anticipated so budget for needing extra time. 

Knowing that things don’t always happen on schedule is why XYZ Storage provides storage that is prorated to the day. People don’t need it in a perfect 30-day cycle. A lot of storage companies will charge for 4 weeks and not a month, so you’re paying for 28 days on 4-week cycles and that pricing isn’t a true month. This is why we have straight forward pricing, but if you move out before, we offer a refund.  We are the only company in Canada that offers this.

Why Mobile Storage Makes Sense In Toronto

Mobile storage is useful for both homeowners and real estate professionals. Often stagers have set furniture that they store in mobile units to be delivered to homes as needed. Time is saved because you can have more than one container and divide your belongings accordingly, and the choice of having items delivered through mobile storage allows for people to save cost on, or avoid having to book movers altogether.

Mobile storage allows you to have a container delivered to you when you need it. The container can be dropped off at your home for a few hours or days. Live in a condo? Not a problem, your mobile delivery can be booked for the short period of time you have access to the loading dock and then is taken away at the end of the timeslot.  

Mobile Storage offered by XYZ Storage

Picking The Right Storage Location

People who are moving may wonder if they’re better off booking a storage unit near their current home or their new one.  Thankfully, Leslie has some advice,

If you’re using storage because you’re moving and have things staged, but you might still need to access seasonal items, you’ll want it to be close to your current home, so you won’t have to drive very far. On the other hand, if you’re going to be looking at using it as long-term storage and won’t be coming and going prior to the move it makes sense to put it near their new home. Those who use mobile storage then can have it transitioned to a standard storage system near their new home.

What To Pay

Units at XYZ Storage start as low as 25 dollars a month with these small units being perfect for storing luggage or offseason sporting equipment.  Full-sized garage spaces are over 300 square feet and can fit the contents of an entire home. Mobile storage units are 5 feet (width), 8 feet (long) X7 feet (height) and start at around $150 per month for one container, with the more containers you rent, the less expensive the container, with drop off fees at an additional price. Keep an eye out and call for specials. Leslie notes,

We have seasonal specials, specials for students, dorms, and those in student housing because we know we have a huge influx of students needing storage for the summer, as well as for those taking extended periods of time travelling.  

Getting Started With Storage

Storage centres like XYZ Storage offer both traditional and innovative options at all six of its facilities.  This includes packing and moving supplies, truck rentals, mobile self storage, as well as advice on solutions that will work best for you and your family.

Leslie understands that the needs for storage can be emotional saying,

When someone needs storage it’s usually either for something really exciting like marriage, school, a new home or job opportunity. On the other end of the spectrum it can be for something difficult like having to move a family member into assisted living. So, we’re not just offering storage we’re also providing advice.

What to do if your pre-construction condo is cancelled

What to do if your pre-construction condo is cancelled

With detached homes being so expensive in Toronto, many are looking towards condos as a more affordable option. But even for condos, demand exceeds supply, including for pre-construction units. Many buyers are enticed by the prospect of a new condo and being the first to live there. But imagine if you purchased a pre-construction condo unit, and one day, you suddenly find out that the project is cancelled! What do you do?

---> Read more: Pre-construction vs Resale: Which Condo Should You Buy?

You might be wondering, “What are the chances that my pre-construction project will get cancelled? Very unlikely right?” 

According to a Zoocasa article, 23 condo projects were cancelled from 2012 to 2017. Another article by Toronto Storeys noted that 12 buildings (4,202 units) were cancelled in 2018. That’s much higher than 2017, at 1,678 units, and 2016, at just 379 units.

How’s 2019 looking so far? Well, according to an article from LowestRates, three pre-construction condo projects have been cancelled as of April 2019.

So the short answer is that it’s highly unlikely for your pre-construction condo to get cancelled, but it’s still possible, and the risk is increasing.

This article will go over why developers might cancel a condo project, what you can do, and how to mitigate your risk.

Why Might a Pre-Construction Condo Project be Cancelled?

A pre-construction condo project might get unexpectedly cancelled for a variety of reasons. The three most commonly stated reasons are

  1. Failing to sell enough units
  2. Failing to secure financing for the project
  3. Delays in getting the required approvals for building and planning

These reasons are typically stated in that long purchase agreement that the purchaser didn’t want to read but signed anyway. Always read before you sign.

In Toronto specifically, failing to sell enough units usually is not the reason for cancellation given the high demand. If a developer were to cancel, it’s probably due to failure to secure financing or approvals for building and planning. In a Toronto Storeys article, Pauline Lierman, Director of Market Research at Urbanation, states that

All [GTA condo] projects that cancelled in the last year [2018] had more than 80% of the units sold. The biggest factors are cost and financing.

What can you do?

You are entitled to get your money back. The first thing you can do is ask for your money back and refer to the relevant laws.

According to Ontario’s Condominium Act (section 82 and section 19 of O. Reg. 48/01), if a vendor (developer) cancels a project, they are obligated to refund of monies paid by the customer, plus interest. The Condominium Act sets an interest rate of 2 percentage points less than the Bank of Canada rate. In practice, the Bank of Canada interest rate has been less than 2% since 2008, so buyers actually get 0% interest.

You should also know about Tarion, which is an organization created by the Ontario government for the purpose of providing home warranty protection. Every condo unit purchase also has a Tarion Addendum to the agreement. This Addendum states that if the vendor cancels, then they have to refund all money paid by the purchaser, including any money paid for upgrades and extras, within 10 days of the cancellation.

While you are entitled to get your money back, vendors have resisted in past cases. The Condominium Act also requires the vendor to put all money (deposits, upgrades, and extras) received by purchasers into a trust fund. If, for some reason, the vendor is unwilling to return the deposit, then the purchaser can contact the trustee (usually a lawyer) and make a claim to get the deposit back.

If, somehow, the money is no longer in a trust, then purchasers can turn to Tarion Warranty Corporation, and they will return your deposit up to $20,000.

If you’ve lost money over that $20,000, then unfortunately, it will be very difficult to get it back because the vendor most likely owes money to the bank and the municipality, and they have priority to the developer’s assets over purchasers. One option in this situation is to join a class-action lawsuit with other buyers against the vendor.

For further help, customers can call Tarion’s customer service team toll-free at 1-877-9-TARION (1-877-982-7466), or by email to

---> Read more: Can You Sell a Pre-Construction Condo? Yes, but...

How can you mitigate your risk?

Researching your developer before signing that purchase agreement is key to mitigating the risk of losing your money.  Frank Farhangi, a Broker at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, gives the following advice: 

An experienced developer with a great brand and reputation has more to lose by cancelling a project than a new developer. Do your homework on Google and check for customer reviews or any news publications mentioning the developer.

You can also look up the developer in Tarion’s directory of builders. Once you find their profile, you can see if they’ve had any cancellations in the past. As Farhangi said, large builders that have been around for a long time have a lower risk of cancellation.  

In addition to searching Tarion’s directory, you can also search if your developer has any liens. A lien is when a previous creditor claims interest in one of the developer’s assets, hoping to get repaid for a previous debt. A developer with liens is riskier than one without liens. You can search if a developer has any liens on Service Ontario’s website. It costs $8 to search a year within the past 25 years. It may be worthwhile to search the past 3 years, which would cost $24. 

Farhangi also recommends the buyer to ask targeted questions to the agent: 

Ask your agent to provide you with a list of the other projects the developer completed recently. Check to see if there are any pending lawsuits or class actions by the purchasers against the developer. Question if the zoning of the project as it is being presented has already been approved by the municipality. If the project has been on the market for a long time and has a lot of inventory without sales momentum, that might be a project to steer clear of.

When you are talking with a sales representative, keep in mind that they are biased and it’s their job to treat you well and try to sell you the condo unit. But should any problems occur, purchasers are down on the list of people trying to get their money back from a bankruptcy filing. It’s worth saying again: Make sure you research their track record before singing the purchase agreement! 

Top Toronto Events in December 2019

Top Toronto Events in December 2019

This holiday season get ready for breathtaking light displays, skating events, Christmas markets and lots of good food in Toronto. Here are our favorite events that you shouldn't miss. If you think we there is an event we should include, let us know in the comments!

The Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District

When: November 14th to December 22nd, 2019
Where: Canada's Wonderland

Our favourite Toronto holiday event, the Christmas Market at the Distillery District is back. Get ready for Christmas carols, great food and drinks, lots of special events for the kiddos and of course Santa!


When: Throughout December
Where: Canada's Wonderland

Every winter Canada's Wonderland gets transformed into a magical land of ice and holiday cheer. Visit Ontario's very own Winter Wonderland this year to get into the true holiday spirit. You can skate on the snowflake lake, see a wonderful display of around 5 million lights used to transform the space and enjoy some holiday treats and cookie decorating with Mrs Claus, while Santa gets ready for Christmas Eve.

Aurora Winter Festival

When: Throughout December
Where: CNE

Aurora Winter Festival is the place where holiday magic comes to life. CNE gets transformed with holiday lights, Christmas-themed rides and magical holiday elves running around. Visit the North Pole, meet the Ice Queen, get a ride in Tube Park or visit the Christmas market for a quick bite.

DJ Skate Night

When: Saturdays December 14 - February 14 + special Tuesday, December 31
Where: Harbourfront Centre

Every winter, Harbourfront Centre hosts the best Saturday party in the city on their skating rink. DJ Skate Night is a skating event with a star lineup of DJs that play to the beat. Don't miss the special New Year's Eve night with a big skating party in celebration of 2020 coming our way

12 Beers of the Holidays

When: December 20
Where: Gladstone Hotel

Gladstone Hotel is hosting yet another round of favourite tasting event 12 Beers of the Holidays. Bringing holiday cheer and all-Ontario brews to Queen West, this beer tasting is a chance to try only the best local craft beer.

Toronto Zoo's Holiday Animal Enrichment Days

When: December 26 - January 6
Where: Toronto Zoo

Toronto Zoo's enrichment program helps provide experiences for their animals and mimic their natural behaviours and habitats. Every holiday season Zoo's animals receive special treats and gifts as a part of the enrichment program, while visitors can watch them explore and "open" their gifts. It's like Christmas Morning in the animal kingdom!

A Nutcracker Christmas at the Castle

When: December 1 - January 5
Where: Casa Loma

Nutcracker-inspired events will be hosted at Casa Loma this holiday season, bringing the beloved Christmas story to life in a real gothic castle. The events will include shows by illusionist Professor Wick, ice skating performances by Glisse on Ice and the beloved Santa workshop. From December 15, there will also be night tours available for those who want to explore the castle and its dazzling lights at night.

Purpose-Built Rental Buildings as a Housing Option in Toronto

Purpose-Built Rental Buildings as a Housing Option in Toronto

Ever since we had our first major condos hit the Toronto skyline in the early 1980's there has been a lack of newer purpose-built high-end rental buildings. Recently this market has grown with the popularity of the REIT or Real Estate Investment Trust. Years ago, downsizers only options were the Benvenuto (converted to Condominium), the Colonnade or the Manulife Apartments.

The rental market has now widened offering substantially smaller units in buildings with excellent and expanded facilities. Unlike renting a condo, which may be subject to the owner’s whims, these are much more stable environments as long as you pay the rent and abide by the rules.

I've chosen a couple of buildings located in the central core as examples. Each of the buildings below seems to have a different cohort to appeal to however have a look and see what looks good to you. I have added some of the older with the newer but the good news for those who chose to rent is that the field has got bigger and will continue to do so…

If you think there are others that belong on this list, let us know in the comments below!

---> Read more: Rightsizing-When is the right time to leave your home?   

The Heathview - 320 Tweedsmuir Ave

Just across the street from St. Clair subway station and the TTC, The Heathview is located on Tweedsmuir Avenue, south of Heath Street between Spadina and Bathurst, in the sought-after Forest Hill Village. It was completed in 2014 by Morguard.

Units range from 558 to 1497 square feet. Amenities include party room, fitness center, swimming pool, private dining room, guest suites, outdoor terrace & courtyard. The Heathview also provides an on-site car-share program, e-car charging stations and bicycle stalls as a part of their Green Living program. 

One o One - 101 St. Clair Avenue 

Another example of purpose built high end rental building in the Forest Hill neighbourhood is the 101 St Clair by Camrost Felcrop. This building is located at the corner of Avenue Road and St. Clair, at the heart of the Imperial Village community, in close proximity to Yorkville, Rosedale and Summerhill. Both the subway station and the streetcar are at a walking distance and so is the popular Yonge and St. Clair corridor with lots of shopping, food and entertainment.

Units range from 600 to 2000 square feet. Leases for available units range in price from $3,650 to over $10,200. Amenities include a two-storey lobby lounge with a fireplace, 24/hr concierge, a dog parkette with a run and pet wash area, business centre, private party room with catering kitchen, dining loung and card room and outdoor amenities adjacent to the party room.

The Colonnade - #504A-131 Bloor St. W

A veteran among these developments, the Colonnade, located at the heart of Yorkville's most fashionable street, offers you life amidst the best of shopping, fine dining, as well as art and culture. The building is in close proximity to the Museum and Bay Subway stations. It was opened in 1963 by the Mayor Donald Summerville with these words: "A creative and imaginative answer to the pressing problems of urban renewal."

Units range from 480 to 1280 square feet. Amenities include 24 hour security and surveillance, lounge with a kitchen, fitness center, smart card laundry centre, guest suites, on-site convenience store and dry cleaners, controlled indoor visitor and tenant parking, dry recycling and organic composting available on each floor. 

Two Avenue Road - 2 Avenue Road 

This new development by Oxford Properties, coming in 2020, offers life in the south tower of the iconic Toronto Park Hyatt Hotel. It is located in Yorkville, steps from the U of T, the ROM and the Mink Mile on Bloor Street. 

Units range from 973 to 1922 square feet.  Amenities include an outdoor terrace, private event space with a kitchen and a fitness center.

The Montgomery - 25 Montgomery Ave

This new development by Rockport, located in the Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood, was finished in 2019. It has a walkscore of 97 and transit score of 91. 

Units range from from 519 to 1079 square feet. Leases for available units range in price from $2,255 to over $4,440. Amenities include Pet wash area, guest suites, party room, fitness center and an outdoor pool.

The LivMore - 43 Gerrard St W

A new apartment development by GWL Realty Advisors, it was completed in 2018. Located in the heart of Downtown Toronto on the corner of Bay and Gerrard, this complex is steps away from dining, shopping and entertainment. 

Units range from 355 to 1560 square feet. Leases for available units range in price from $2,200 to over $5,502.Amenities include two-storey sky lounge, outdoor terrace (5th floor), gym/fitness area, yoga/aerobic studio, party room (private function areas with kitchen facilities), theatre/screening room, game room, dog spa and outdoor dog area, 100% smoke-free building, on-site dry cleaning services.

Niagara West Apartments - 39 Niagara St, King West Village

This new apartment complex by Minto is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2020. Located in the energetic Toronto's King West neighbourhood, known for its high-end condo buildings, great nightlife and delicious food.

Units range from 419 to 1227 square feet. Leases for available units range in price from $1,944 to over $4,799. Amenities include fitness center, bbq and fire pits, 24 hour concierge, sauna & steam room, outdoor rooftop urban garden, outdoor rooftop pool, rooftop off-leash dog run area.

Two St. Thomas - 2 St Thomas

A new apartment development by BentalGreenOak Residential Services and Kingsett Capital was completed in 2017. Nestled in the heart of Yorkville, with a walkscore of 99, this complex is in close proximity to shopping, fine dining and entertainment -- the best of what the Bloor/Yorkville area has to offer. 

Units range from 534 to 1428 square feet. Leases for available units range in price from $2,730 to over $8,450. Amenities include fitness center, in-house pet spa, rooftop terrace, resident lounge, ClikFIX for easy maintenance requests, fireplace lobby lounge, private dining room with kitchen, 24/7 concierge, profesionally curated original art collection, electric car charging station, on-site property management, parcel management system.

The Selby - 25 Selby 

This new apartment and townhouse development by Tricon House and MOD Developments Inc. was completed in 2018. Located south of Rosedale, a short distance from Yorkville and just a block away from the Sherbourne subway station.

Units range from 524 to 1328 square feet. Leases for available units range in price from $2,210 to over $4,580. Amenities include rooftop swimming pool, co-working space, game room, private theatre, party room, dog spa, sauna spa, outdoor kitchen, fitness center, outdoor lounge area.

Kings Club - 1100 King Street West

This new apartment development in Liberty Village by First Capital and CAPREIT was completed in 2019. Nestled in the middle of what's become "the city's hippest and most dynamic neighbourhood", close to eclectic shops, fine dining, art ateliers and cafes.

Units range from 470 to 1217 square feet.  Leases for available units range in price from $1,810 to over $3,495. Amenities include a party room, pool, rooftop patio and a yoga room. 

Are there any other purpose-built rental developments located in Downtown Toronto that belong on this list? Please feel free to email your thoughts and comments and remember that lists are meant to grow!

Toronto October Market Report: Sellers Opt for Off-Market

Toronto October Market Report: Sellers Opt for Off-Market

Both the number of sales and the prices are rising with the market speeding up this fall. TREB announced 8,491 residential sales reported through TREB’s MLS System in October 2019. This number marks a 14 per cent rise in year-over-year comparison to October 2018.

Interestingly enough the biggest percentual growth was marked in the townhouse market, with a 21.3 per cent change in sales. Detached homes followed with a 19.6 per cent rise in sales. Semi-detached homes and condo sales have gone up 5.9 and 5.1 rise respectively.

The active market has one major concern at the moment and that is inventory. Both new and active listings are down again leading a couple of months streak with negative per cent change in these categories. There were 13,050 new listings added to TREB's MLS System in October 2019, which resulted in negative 9.6 per cent decline since October 2018. Active listings are also down by 18.8 per cent in a year-over-year comparison.

With inventory currently down and not replenishing enough for the current amount of sales being closed, the average price is rising. In October, the average price for home across GTA was $852,142. This represents a 5.5 per cent rise in the price since last October, where the price was on $807,538. Overall, it's not a huge change in price, but with stagnating inventory, we might expect price growth in the upcoming months.

Segment-wise, detached homes naturally remain the priciest, with an average price of $1,049,300. This number represents a 3 per cent rise in a year-over-year comparison. Semi-detached homes are currently priced at $852,669 on average, a 4.2 per cent rise compared to last year and townhouses on $676,802—a 3.1 per cent increase. The biggest increase in price was recorded in the condominium segment—9.6 per cent, putting the average price for a condo around GTA at $617,419 mark.

Richard Silver, Sales Representative, SVP-Sales

Another good news report by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board with one big exception; The number of listings coming on to the market in the GTA is again down. This is good news for sellers as pricing will continue to increase, however, most sellers become buyers and a tightening market does not bode well for their time as buyers.

We have been seeing more and more off-market/exclusive listings and sales that if they were added to the TREB stats would even make the gains higher. We have had a number of clients who did not want the MLS exposure and were happy to allow showings that came from buyers who were worn out from multiple offers and wanted to get back to negotiating the way that it has been done for years: Back to old school buying and selling.

Whether you are interested in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or listing exclusively through Sotheby's International Realty Canada, our commitment in getting you the top-end of your price range will not waiver.

You should see that after Xmas holidays sales will be driven even higher by scarcity so contact us if you are thinking of a move so that we have your property on our radar. We are happy to assist you in addressing work that may need to be done to get the best value in the marketplace.

Redecorating Your Home Before the Sale: 2 Pine Ridge Drive Case Study

Redecorating Your Home Before the Sale: 2 Pine Ridge Drive Case Study

We’ve all heard the expression, ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees.’ This colloquialism also applies to people who are trying to sell their homes. While space filled with personal knickknacks that is set up specifically for the needs of you and your family may serve you well, it might also be working against getting top dollar for your home. Simple tweaks to your space may be standing between you and the sale of your home. So, what are you going to do about it?

The answer is simple: enlist the help of capable professionals dedicated to coming in with an eye for what will appeal to buyers. How to increase the value of a space on a budget is key to getting optimal value for your home. Professional Stager Luanne Kanerva from Katu Design and Ann Christie – Owner Declutter and Downsize work every day with clients to make sure that their home is putting its best face forward.  We've talked to them about how small changes can make a huge difference and the many ways they help homeowners channel the powers of decluttering and staging, all in the name of getting the best price possible for your home.

Since we recently listed 2 Pine Ridge Drive and Luanne Kanerva had the task of staging the property. She brought her 20 years of experience to her work and turned the place around by focusing on showcasing exactly what most buyers want. In this article you can find photos of the property before it was decluttered and staged to see the real value of staging. The difference is huge, see for yourself.

Decluttering when selling is all about making the best first impression

In terms of creating the perfect presentation for potential buyers Ann says,

The ultimate goal is to have your space be warm and welcoming without being overcrowded. 

2 Pine Ridge Drive Master Bedroom Before

2 Pine Ridge Drive Master Bedroom After

Ann says the main reason someone should declutter their home is to ensure they make a solid first impression with potential buyers and in turn maximize the dollar value of the property.

You want potential buyers to be able to envision themselves living in your home and to understand the purpose of each room and/or space.

Read more: Real Estate Marketing: Every House Has Its Buyer

Start from the Top

Decluttering can be overwhelming. Many people don’t know where to start. Ann recommends tackling counter tops and surfaces first. 

Make sure these areas are cleared of clutter leaving a few key items on them that add character without clutter.

2 Pine Ridge Drive Office Before

2 Pine Ridge Drive Office After

2 Pine Ridge Drive Office After 2

When going through closet and storage space Ann recommends a thorough tidy of the space with organized items stored off the floor, not overcrowded, and to showcase that there is a lot of storage space for a new homeowner. Luanne says that at 2 Pine Ridge Drive:

The home had a media room in the basement with shelves all the way around. We were able to show this area off as a premium storage space.  Something that everyone is looking for in a home.

2 Pine Ridge Drive Basement Media Room Before

2 Pine Ridge Drive Basement Media Room After

Find a purpose for each area of the home

We could all use our homes more effectively, with each area having a clear-cut purpose. This is something that home stagers like Luanne work towards. The advantage of hiring an experienced stager is that they can recommend uses for any space and help homeowners problem solve. Luanne says:

In any home there are spaces that don’t have defined uses. When buyers are looking at a home you don’t want them to see rooms that aren’t used, you want to show that each area of the home provides a useful space. When the effective use of space is apparent, that’s the home that’s going to sell; that’s the one that’s going to get the most money.

That's why Luanne solved the problem of the master bedroom not having enough closet space by turning one room, which was previously unused or used as a kind-of nursery sideroom, into a walk-in closet:

Through renovation this particular space had built a beautiful master suite over the garage but it didn’t have a closet. Since to get to the master suite you needed to walk through the original bedroom, we created a spacious walk-in closet to get to the bedroom retreat. Instead of being ‘the room without a closet’ the walk-in closet we created in a room that previously had no use became a showpiece for the entire home.

Unused Master Bedroom Space Before

2 Pine Ridge Drive New Closet

2 Pine Ridge Drive New Closet

A fresh coat of paint is the most effective home upgrade

Luanne says something as simple as a coat of paint is something that can make a huge impact on bringing a space together. As a stager, in addition to recommending tweaks to a home like painting, Luanne uses her expert eye to provide colour recommendations that will make the space shine.  Recently, when working on a project at 2 Pine Ridge Drive the entire home was repainted. 

The home was on the market and the house on a whole from the outside, with a beautiful landscaped lawn, wasn’t cohesive with the home’s interior.

Her solution – paint.

We modernized the whole house, which as a recommendation, in general you can’t go wrong with paint. It’s the cheapest, easiest, and most effective way to upgrade a space. People don’t necessarily notice fresh paint but they notice the house.

2 Pine Ridge Drive Living Room Before the Painting

2 Pine Ridge Drive Living Room After the Painting

2 Pine Ridge Drive Kitchen Before

2 Pine Ridge Drive Kitchen After

The furniture should suit the value of the room

Getting the right furniture in a room can create a big impact. Luanne says with respect to her work on Pine Ridge, 

The furniture in the living room was big and it gave off more of a rec room vibe, and it didn’t line up with the value of the space. Instead the use of furniture to create both a living room and dining room showcased the size of the space.

2 Pine Ridge Drive Living Room Before - Old Furniture

2 Pine Ridge Drive Living Room - New More Suitable Furniture

Decluttering will also help you move when the time comes

Ann also reminds those preparing for a move that a solid declutter will help them when the time comes to pack up boxes and clear out. Since packing is generally the most time-consuming portion of a move, the more you sort, sell, donate, trash, or put in storage, the easier things are going to be as moving day approaches. Ann says, 

By decluttering, the current homeowner has organized themselves and is already well prepared for the move to their new space. They know that the items they have in their current house are the items they would like to move to their new house.

To keep your home sale as stress-free as possible, we recommend reaching out to professionals. By hiring professionals to declutter and organize your home, you're solving two problems most sellers have - preparing the home for sale and organizing your own possesions and deciding what you're going to keep in your new home. 

Read more: Downsizing? Let's call it Rightsizing  

If you're thinking about putting your home on the market, don't waste any time, contact us and let us guide you through the process. We have a great network of stages, movers and declutterers to make your life easier and the sale of your home as quick and painless as possible.

Top Toronto Events in November 2019

Top Toronto Events in November 2019

With the surge of colder weather, November brings a couple of events that will help you start the holiday season the right waz. Celebrating the season of giving by supporting local makers, enjoying fine food and drinks and simply getting into the atmosphere that leads to Holiday season is what November is Toronto is all about. Take a look at the best events the city has to offer this month and if you think we forgotten any important events, let us know in the comments below!

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

When: November 1-10
Where: Exhibition Place

The Royal Fair brings country to the city. Along with over 300 vendors, get ready for horse shows, lots of animals and farm to table culinary events. The Royal has been a beloved fall tradition for over 90 years and will bring great experiences to every equestrian fan around.

Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration

When: Nov 15-18
Where: The Hockey Hall of Fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame is set to welcome its newest Inductees – Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky, Hayley Wickenheiser, Sergei Zubov, Jim Rutherford and Jerry York. To celebrate these additions, the hockey legends and fans will gather to celebrate Canada's Game with special events and Q&As, so make sure you don't miss it!

Toronto Christmas Market

When: November 14 - December 22
Where: The Distillery Historic District

The beloved Holiday tradition will take over Distillery District again with its charming Christmas lights and warm atmosphere inspired by the Old World. Sip mulled wine, enjoy delicious food and shop for hand-made ornaments and small presents suitable for the holiday season. You can do all of that accompanied by the historical atmosphere inspired by the Christmas Markets in Europe.

Santa Claus Parade

When: November 17
Where: Downtown Toronto

Better watch out, better not cry, Santa Claus is coming to town! Every year, Downtown Toronto Santa Claus makes an appearance for the little ones looking forward to the Holiday season. This beloved tradition has been upheld since 1913 and this year it will start at 12:20 PM at Parliament & Bloor and end in Lawrence Christmas Market, so plan your visit accordingly!

Gourmet Food and Wine Expo

When: November 21-24
Where: Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Spend the weekend tasting the best wine and food pairing from both local and world-renown wineries. Gourmet Food and Wine Expo brings the best wine-making and somelier minds together to offer you a truly remarkable experience. If you are a wine enthusiast, food gourmet or simply enjoy fine things in the world, this event might be the one for you.

One of a Kind Show

When: November 21 - December 1
Where: Enercare Centre

Want to give really original gifts this Holiday season? One of a Kind Show is here for those, who would like to give more personalized gifts to their loved ones, with a touch of home-made Canadian flare to it. Every vendor at One of a Kind Show is a local maker, that will gladly introduce their craft to you. Get up close and personal with local food, drinks and many gifting items perfect for the season.

Cavalcade of Lights

When: November 30
Where: Nathan Phillips Square

Cavalcade of Lights is tradition that kicks-off the holiday season with the lighting of the Christmas Tree on Nathan Phillips Square. The tree lighting is accompanied by performances of Canada’s top musical talents, a brilliant fireworks show and a DJ skating party. Make sure you don't miss it, it will be a truly spectacular show.

The CMHC’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is of Limited Value to Toronto Buyers

The CMHC’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive is of Limited Value to Toronto Buyers

Buying a home in Toronto is expensive, and for many young first-time buyers, finding an affordable home may even seem impossible these days. With this in mind, the federal government recently launched the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) on September 2, 2019. This article will explain the details of the FTHBI, look at the advantages and disadvantages, and whether or not it’s a good choice for you. 

READ: Who is the the Toronto Millennial Buyer?

What is the FTHBI and how does it work?

Basically, if you are a first-time home buyer in Canada, and your down payment is less than 20 per cent of the home’s price, the federal government will pay either 5 per cent or 10 per cent of the price with the goal of lowering your monthly mortgage payment. Unlike borrowing from a bank, you don’t need to pay interest on the FTHBI, nor do you need to make ongoing payments.

In terms of how much the Incentive is, that depends on if you’re buying a re-sale home or a new construction. For re-sale homes, the government will contribute 5 per cent of the home purchase price. For a new construction, the government will contribute 5 per cent or 10 per cent of the home purchase price.

If you use the Incentive program, you need to pay it back to the federal government within 25 years or at the time you sell the property, whichever happens first. You can also pay back the Incentive early without any penalty.

A key characteristic of the FTHBI is that the amount you pay back is based on the market value of your home at the time you pay it back, not at the time you bought it. So if your property rises in value, you pay the government more than what they gave you. If your property drops in value, you pay the government less than what they gave you.

For example, let’s say Jane purchased her first home for $400,000 and got a 5 per cent Incentive from the federal government. The Incentive amount she gets is $20,000 at the time of purchase. Years later, Jane wants to repay the Incentive to the federal government. Now, her property’s fair market value increased to $500,000, so she needs to pay back $25,000. If instead, the property’s value dropped to $300,000, then Jane would need to pay back $15,000.

What are the requirements to use the FTHBI? 

Not all first-time home buyers qualify. In addition to being a first-time home buyer, you need to meet these conditions:

  1. You need to have the minimum down payment for the property you want to buy*
  2. Your maximum qualifying income** is $120,000
  3. Your total borrowing from all sources is no more than 4 times your qualifying income
  4. You also need to be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a non-permanent resident who is legally allowed to work in Canada
  5. You are buying this first home for the purpose of living there, not as an investment property.

*The minimum down payment you need to have is 5 per cent for the first $500,000 of a home’s price, and then 10 per cent for any more over $500,000. For example, if the home’s price is $600,000, you need a down payment of $25,000 + $10,000 = $35,000.

**Your qualifying income includes your annual salary (before taxes), investment income, and rental income. If you are applying for the Incentive with a partner, you have to add your qualifying incomes together and make sure it’s $120,000 or less.

READ: Shopping for Mortgages -Millennials vs Baby Boomers  

What are the advantages of the FTHBI program?

If you are a first-time home buyer with a qualifying income of less than $120,000 this program can be a big help.

Let’s say you want to buy a $400,000 condo in Toronto. You need to save at minimum 5 per cent ($20,000) regardless of whether you apply for the FTHBI. After you’ve saved 5 per cent, the FTHBI can give you another 5 per cent ($20,000). That will reduce your monthly mortgage from $2,964 to $2,736. Over a year, that’s almost $3,000 in savings! Furthermore, you can wait up to 25 years in the future to pay back the Incentive amount without worrying about paying interest.

For most people, as they get older, their financial situation improves. So when you do need to pay back the FTHBI in the future, you should be at a much better financial position to do so. However, if you are able to pay back sooner, you should take advantage of the fact that there is no penalty for earlier repayment and get out of that debt before you decide to make any renovations and increase the value of the property. 

What are the disadvantages of the FTHBI program?

Arguably the biggest disadvantage of the FTHBI program is that it’s not very helpful to people in expensive housing markets like Toronto and Vancouver. Because of this drawback, a CBC opinions article declared the FTHBI to be of “limited value”.

Since your maximum borrowing is limited to four times your qualifying income, the maximum house price you can get in this program is 4 times your qualifying income plus whatever amount you’ve saved up. On the other hand, if you don’t use the FTHBI, you can afford a house price that is 20 times whatever amount you’ve saved up.

For example, let’s say your qualifying income is $100,000 and you saved $25,000. Without the FTHBI, you could buy a home that’s $500,000 using the $25,000 as a 5 per cent down payment and then borrowing the rest from the bank. But with the FTHBI, you can only borrow $400,000 maximum, limiting the purchasing price of your home to $425,000.

According to RBC’s June 2019 Housing Affordability Report, the average house price in Toronto was about $1 million, and the average condo price was about $538,000. That means houses most likely won’t qualify for the FTHBI, but some condos may qualify.

The thing with markets like Toronto and Vancouver though is that we expect property prices to continue rising, so if you do happen to use the FTHBI to get a condo, you’ll probably be paying more back to the government in the future.

Should I apply for the FTHBI? 

If you are looking for a detached home in the Greater Toronto Area, the prices will be too high to qualify for the FTHBI. But if you are interested in a condo, the price may qualify. In that case, the FTHBI can help you reduce your monthly mortgage payments. However, you should keep in mind that the condo prices will keep on rising in Toronto and you will have to pay back more than you borrowed.

Celia Alves, a Sales Representative from Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, comments:

The program Is essentially a shared equity program – where the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) contributes part of the down payment in exchange for sharing in the appreciation of the property when you sell the home. But with a maximum purchase price of $565,000 it won’t be life changing for buyers in the Toronto market today.

Toronto September Market Report: Fall Market Starting

Toronto September Market Report: Fall Market Starting

Summer is officially over and Toronto is getting busy. Real Estate is market entered its crazy fall spell, where open houses are hosted by a dozen and sales and listings numbers are rising. As the numbers suggest, if there is a time to put your home for sale, it might just be now.

There were 7,825 property sales recorder in the Toronto market in September. This was a 22 per cent year-over-year sales growth across GTA. On a preliminary seasonally adjusted basis, the September 2019 sales level remained about the same as in August.

Detached homes segment recorded a 28.9 per cent rise in sales. Semi-detached houses and townhouses category had 15.1 and 21.8 per cent rise respectively. Condominium segment rose by 15.9 per cent this month.

New listings were down by 1.9 per cent in a year-over-year comparison. Active listings were down by 14.1 per cent. For a few months now listings were causing a concern across Toronto, with sales greatly outpacing the annual rate of new listings. This causes visible tightening of the market conditions across all segments.

The average price was up by 5.8 per cent across all segments. In the detached homes segment, it was up by 4.1 per cent. Semi-detached homes were up by 5.1 per cent. Townhouses rose in price by 6.8 per cent. Condos were priced up by 4.2 per cent.

Jay Banks, Sales Representative

With summer over, children back to school, public open houses have gotten busy once more. The numbers in attendance are sizeable. Buyers in attendance appear motivated to buy, asking a lot of questions related to the purchase of the property: is there a set offer date or are offers anytime, is the Seller willing to move in 60 days, 90 days, is there a pre-listing inspection report etc. it appears to be a good start to what looks to be a busy fall market.

Erin Haas, Sales Representative

September has had a strong start to the fall season. With the change of weather, came a plethora of new listings with detached and townhomes representing the highest increase in overall sales activity. Semi-detached and townhomes represented the highest increase in average price, whilst condo sales activity and average price have also increased, they represent the lowest increases in all housing categories. I have noticed that properties in sought after locations in the one million dollar range are seeing multiple offers and selling above asking. Looking forward to seeing what October will bring for our buyers and sellers!

Oliver Craven, Sales Representative

The rental market is also very busy. With very little good quality product available, property is moving quickly. Some landlords are taking advantage of this and trying to rent out property with for a higher price even if the condition is not up to scratch, they are sitting for a little longer.

The sales market is very strong. Properties around the million mark are frequently getting multiple offers. Buyers around and over $1.5 are being far more picky about the properties they see and often offer dates in these price ranges come and go with no offers at all.

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s Top Tier Fall 2019 Market Forecast

Sotheby’s International Realty Canada’s Top Tier Fall 2019 Market Forecast

Sotheby's International Realty Canada released a new report which reveals that GTA residential real estate sales in the over $1 million category experienced a strong growth over the summer of 2019. Sales in this category rose by 29 per cent year-over-year in July and August. In the condominiums over $1 million category, sales increased by 13 per cent, while semi and detached home sales rose by 45 per cent and 29 per cent respectively, compared to the same period in 2018. According to the early sale data for the first half of September 2019, where sales increased by 53 per cent year-over-year in the $1 million-plus category and 75 per cent in the over $4 million, we can expect a strong sales activity this Fall.

“Toronto has made bold strides over the summer months to take its place at the forefront of Canada’s top-tier real estate market this fall, as healthy job gains and fully restored consumer confidence spur steady gains,” says Don Kottick, President and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

The report predicts solid top-tier market performance to the end of 2019, thanks to Ontario's continued economic growth—as projected by the Conference Board of Canada—and employment gains, healthy at 3.6%.

Read the whole 2019 Top-Tier Market Forecast.

Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Fair Winner: Vanessa McKernan

Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Fair Winner: Vanessa McKernan

Cabbagetown is known for having one of the most vibrant and engaged communities within the City of Toronto. One way that the neighbourhood showcases its commitment to the arts is through The Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Show. The event is held within Riverdale Park West during the second weekend of September each year and has become a staple of the downtown neighbourhood since 1988. The Cabbagetown Arts and Craft Show provides artists and patrons with an opportunity to sell and buy work created by the many talented people within the Toronto art community.

The winner of the 2019 Richard Silver Award is the gifted and accomplished Toronto-based visual artist Vanessa McKernan. Following her win Vanessa McKernan shares the inspiration behind much of her work and artistic process.

How do you decide which art shows to participate in and showcase your work? Why did you select the Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Show?

I decide which shows to participate in based on what’s going on in my personal and professional life schedule wise. I try not to pack too much in so I can ensure that I am not rushing the process of making paintings. A good friend and talented jewelry designer, Michelle Ross, always raves about the Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts festival and encouraged me to give it a try. So, this year I did!

How has being from a large, artistic family with eight children, influenced your views on artistic expression?

Artistic expression through music, theatre, and dance was always encouraged in my family. I carried with me into adulthood the belief that expression through the arts is a powerful, therapeutic, essential component to every life.

Living Room, oil and wax on panel / 18 x 24in / 2016

What was the catalyst for shifting your choice of artistic expression from dance to painting? Do you still dance?

I sort of fell into dance because my older sister was very passionate about it and I wanted to be just like her. I enjoyed dancing but never wanted to pursue it professionally and I hated performing. It gave me a lot of anxiety. I had been drawing my whole life so the decision to apply to Concordia for Studio Art in my early twenties and the shift to visual arts, came very naturally. Since giving up dance I have maintained a yoga practice and in the past five years or so I have taken a few Butoh (a form of Japanese dance) workshops with Denise Fujiwara, whose work I admire greatly.

What are some of the most important things you learned during your BFA Studies?

My painting teacher Leopold Plotek used to tell me, ‘Kill what you love’. What he meant was that if you are stuck compositionally it’s good to wipe out or paint over the part of the painting you deem most precious. If you kill what you love usually the composition opens up, and there are all kinds of new possibilities within it.

What lessons have you learned since, that a formal education can’t provide?

I have learned a lot about the business of being an artist and how to support yourself financially while maintaining a studio practice. They forgot to talk about that in art school!

Falling, oil on panel / 36 x 36in

Has your background in dance had any influence on your painting of people/the way you see and paint the human body?

Oh definitely. I can’t escape the foot of the dancer when I draw figures and I am always working with themes of costume and performance.

What is your artistic process when creating a new piece of work?

I like to start with a narrative of some sort, a dream, something I read in a book, or saw on the news. The narrative acts as a gateway for me and gives me something concrete to put on the canvas in terms of subjects or setting. As I work on the piece in the following days or weeks, I try not to hold on to the original storyline and instead let the composition go in a different direction, allowing a new narrative to emerge. It’s almost as if at a certain point I try to let the more unconscious intuitive parts of myself take the lead and then watch how those actions mingle with the underpainting that was the original story. The work becomes a layering of paint and also a layering of narratives.

What upcoming projects are you most excited about?

I just started a residency at the Toronto Heliconian Club, a women’s arts club founded in 1909. They provide a setting for engagement in the arts on many levels, across many disciplines. I will have an exhibition there in June 2020 and am planning several large paintings that explore themes around group dynamics.

Has becoming a parent influenced your work at all? How?

Parenting has had a HUGE impact on when I can paint. My studio is outside of my home so no late-night sessions anymore. I work during the day while my son is in daycare and leave the studio promptly at 4:30pm. In terms of how it has affected what I paint, a lot of my work is auto-biographical and I think parenting has put me back in touch with my own childhood and my inner child. Working with those themes has been both scary and empowering for me.

Catching Flowers, oil and graphite on mylar / 24 x 24in

What is the most challenging thing about working in visual arts? What is the most rewarding?

I find navigating the gallery scene really challenging. By this I mean figuring out where your work fits and trying to get the gallery owners to look at it. Most galleries prefer not to take submissions so it’s hard to figure out how to get your foot in the door.

The most rewarding part of being a visual artist is in those golden moments when a truth about the world or yourself is revealed through the process of painting.

What is something that most people don’t know about you that you’d like to share?

I’m having my second child in February!

What are your favourite places to experience art, gain inspiration, in and around Toronto?

Soulpepper Theatre, Canadian Stage, and the AGO.

What artistic achievements are you most proud of?

I don’t know if this counts as an artistic achievement, but I am really proud of balancing being a mom and being an artist and continuing to prioritize my studio practice. I was so afraid I would lose that when deciding to have kids, and I didn’t.

What’s the best way for people to find out about your upcoming projects and see your work?

My website and my Instagram account @vainter

Top Toronto Events in October 2019

Top Toronto Events in October 2019

With Halloween just around the corner, Toronto will be transformed to a spooktacular city full of monsters, ghosts and ghouls this month. But it’s not only Halloween-oriented events that await the urban explorers. If you are into art, literature or partying for a good cause, you will find your favourite event as well. Did we forget something important, a city event that we shouldn’t miss? Let us know in the comments!

Halloween Haunt

When: October
Where: Canada’s Wonderland

Canada’s Wonderland will be yet again transformed into a spooky town this October. Experience thrill rides, scary mazes and creepy masks with your walk through the park. If you are interested in seeing the theme park in a scary upside-down setting, with monsters roaming every corner and prove your bravery in a night-ride, don’t miss the Halloween Haunt!

Nuit Blanche

When: October 5
Where: Across Toronto

For one night, Toronto streets will be transformed by hundreds of artist into a place of wonder and beauty. This year’s theme is Continuum, exploring the ever-moving city and the shift between day and night and continuum of experience and ideas. Almost 90 art projects will be scattered around the streets of Toronto available for viewing and admiring. Accompanying them will be special Nuit Talks, featuring in-depth conversations with featured artists and curators.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

When: October 17 – 25
Where: Scotiabank Theatre Toronto

Toronto After Dark is a film festival that showcases new horror, sci-fi and action movies for over 10,000 attendees each year. The 14th annual edition will screen over 50 movies (features and shorts) and many featured filmmakers will be atending their screenings for live Q&A’s after. See you after dark at Scotiabank Theatre!

Hush Hush

When: October 19
Where: Toronto Reference Library

Hush Hush is an unforgettable party that takes place after-hours in a library, helping raise money and benefits of public libraries in the community. Eat, drink, dance, socialize and be merry in a setting that promotes both fun and education, helping a good cause. The ticket buyers and donors will be supporting new and existing programs, innovative community spaces and exemplary collections at Toronto Public Library.

Toronto International Festival of Authors

When: October 24 – November 3
Where: Harbourfront Centre

Toronto Festival of Authors celebrates its 40th anniversary. As the longest-running author convention in Canada, they strive to connect writers with their readers and like-minded individuals. This year, they will feature authors and participants from over 30 countries, featuring in panel discussions, one-on-one interviews, readings, anniversary parties, book signings, theatrical and musical presentations and more.

Legends of Horror

When: October
Where: Casa Loma

Come celebrate the spooky season at an immersive theatrical experience that features all of the classic horror figures. This 2 km long self-guided walking tour starts in the lower gardens of Casa Loma and winding its way through the castles tunnels and darkest spaces never before open to the public. If you feel like merging history and fiction this Halloween, there’s no better place to do it.


Toronto August Market Report: Positive Outlook

Toronto August Market Report: Positive Outlook

With the end of summer, GTA realtors reported 7,711 residential sales through TREB's MLS® System, which represented a 13.4 per cent increase compared to August 2018. On a month over- month basis, taking the preliminary seasonal adjustment into account, sales were up by 0.8 per cent.

Detached houses recorded 21.3 per cent sale rise in a year-over-year comparison. Semi-detached houses rose by 11.8 per cent and townhouses by 13.7 per cent. Condominium segment reported sales up by exactly 4 per cent.

Market conditions tightened by the end of summer. New and active listing numbers were both down by 3 per cent and 11.2 per cent respectively.

Average price went up with the tightening conditions by 3.6 per cent in every segment. GTA Buyers paid an average price of $792,611 in August 2019. Detached homes were 0.3 per cent more expensive in a year-over-year comparison, marking the average price for a detached home on $978,920. Semi-detached homes and townhouses rose by 3.5 and 2.3 per cent respectively. The average condo in Toronto was $574,632 in August 2019, upping the price by 6.1 per cent and continuing to lead the way in terms of price growth.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark for August 2019 was up by 4.9per cent on a year-over-year basis.

Richard Silver, Sales Representative, SVP-Sales

Month after month the market seems to be improving, however, some sellers are expecting prices that they saw or would have seen in the Spring of 2017. The feeling in the market is much more positive but those who are successful at selling must be committed to a price that must reflect the statistical drop since 2016-2017. Multiple offers were the rule then but are the exception now.

Listings are still at a low as buyers and sellers find themselves in a different reality. Sellers are expecting that one person to understand their home and offer over the market value. In this market that prospect is not a hopeful one.

We are testing some new programs that allow us to be much more accurate in predicting the chance of selling, the best months and establishing a better view of past sales and how it reflects on your ability to sell today and at what price. We plan on reviewing our present and upcoming listings for an easier to discern view of the market surrounding each property.

We look forward to consulting with you on your Real Estate plans and are committed to offering you a number of solutions without a vested interest.

People of Toronto: Gorett Reis

People of Toronto: Gorett Reis

There is a lot of curiosity around personal coaches, who they are, what they do, and how they can help guide a person to reaching their goals and living ‘their best life.’

Gorett Reis is a Certified Life Coach, Career Coach and a speaker who helps stuck, stressed, and dissatisfied professionals advance their career or find direction so that they can achieve greater fulfillment. As a speaker, she talks about how to attain more life and career fulfilment through live events, Lunch & Learns, webinars, and podcasts. As someone who re-evaluated her career choices and started over again, Gorett is well-suited to helping people get their life on track. She is someone who embodies the spirit of ‘practice what you preach.’

Every day Gorett uses her own personal experiences, training and commitment to growth and education to help her clients, who range in background from actors to high level executives.

Your background is in teaching, what made you decide to become a teacher?

I decided to become a teacher when a university friend of mine recognized I would be a ‘good teacher.’ I wasn't sure what I wanted to do the first and second year at Waterloo (my first university) so I thought I should pursue it. I liked helping people and had taught and tutored people in the past so I thought it could work.

Was there a specific pivotal, 'aha' moment that made you decide to change the trajectory of your career?

Yes and no. Yes, because after many years in education, the last few quite dissatisfying, I decided to figure out a new direction. During my Christmas break in 2014 I came up with 'life coach' after an hour or so of silence and working out my thoughts on a notepad. Once life coach came up, I knew that was it and fully committed myself to making it happen.

No, because, although there were aspects that I loved about teaching, I knew something was missing for many years but did not know what would fulfill me. Political views aside, there are a lot of changes coming to teaching in Ontario.

How could your personal experiences as both a teacher and a coach help teachers who are teaching but also debating exploring other options for what's next?

Well, to put it out there, I am not a fan of the cuts. It affects the quality of education and marginalized students. I get wanting to ‘modernize’ the education system; however, I believe cuts to already strained classes and students are not the answer.

My advice for teachers who are teaching, and want to continue, is to be resilient and make classroom adjustments where necessary (i.e. more group or peer marking, anything to better the situation). For teachers thinking about other options or are out of a position, I would advise them to think of what they like to do, and what they are good at, and look into creating their own service (i.e. tutoring) or apply to roles outside of the classroom (whether in education or not). Ideally, where their teaching and knowledge is transferrable. If they need help with this, I strongly suggest they hire a coach. Someone who would be a good fit for them.

You trained and received life coach certification from Martha Beck Inc. (Dr. Martha Beck used to be Oprah's coach), what made this training different from other certification providers?

I felt it was different from other coach training programs that I researched because it seemed more wholistic to a person’s needs and desires. Once I began the course, I found it did address what a person truly wants and how to achieve it from multiple angles. From what I read about or experienced with other schools, the tools provided more deep, sustainable change, and less quick fix, surface approaches. I also aligned with Martha Beck's coaching philosophy about the client having all the answers and helping them find them and/or reconnect to them.

The certification, on the other hand, was optional at the end, which I decided to do. It was, however, as rigorous as an International Coaching Federation (ICF) certification. How do I know this? I heavily researched that too to make my decision, and both requirements were very similar.

Is there anything you've had to 'unlearn' or be particularly mindful of in your work as a coach?

Not really. I say this because before being trained as a coach I had been informally coaching for years, from about 12 in fact. Now that I am a coach I can look back at my life and say it was always in me; The active listening, the deep inquiries, quickly recognizing patterns and problem areas, facilitating ideas, and problem-solving. I also believe my education helped me be mindful of power dynamics, how to work with adults, etc.

This said one area to be mindful of, however, are my blind spots. Things I cannot clearly see because I have my own preconceptions or views about a subject or situation. If I feel strongly about a topic or situation, is it because of what is being presented, or my own experiences or opinions about it?

What learnings as a coach have you applied to your own personal life and career?

Definitely ‘live it to give it’ and the Ideal Day exercise.

‘Live it to Give it’ is pretty self-explanatory, however, essentially it means that for you to be able to coach or teach someone (give it) you should do it yourself first (live it). It would be hypocritical to espouse something you have not tried or applied yourself. I really take this to heart so I do what I love, which is coaching, and live my best life, like traveling and other life-affirming goals and activities, so others, who I coach, can too.

A tool I use from my training is the Ideal Day exercise. It is where you imagine your ideal, average, workday and work towards closing any gaps or discrepancies in your ideal day and current reality. I currently and consistently achieve the first ideal day I ever imagined and I am working towards the second ideal day as it can change over time.

You've travelled to over 30 countries for your work and personal life, are there any cultural practices or philosophies that have inspired you? How have you applied them to your own life?

I am inspired by many philosophies and practices, however, most of the philosophies and practices I learned first through reading about them. Some of these philosophies and practices are indigenous, Chinese (i.e. traditional medicine, Feng Shui, Qi Gong and yin and yang), arete (Greek), kaizen (Japanese), mindfulness, meditation, yoga, etc.

I apply mindfulness, meditation, and yoga in my life. Mostly daily for the first two. I have seen acupuncturists and Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors for prevention, and love ancient Chinese philosophies. I aspire for arete (excellence of any kind) and kaizen (improvement) and feel very deeply for our earth and how we treat it (indigenous beliefs about our earth being sacred). I try to be mindful of my ecological footprint and have daily habits of not adding to it, although I am no saint and travel from time to time so I would say that is the area where I have more of a footprint.

What professional development do you work on to stay at the top of your industry? What publications do you read/ who are your favourite thought leaders?

I constantly read books related to my profession. Mainly for more tools and ideas to serve my clients. I am continuously in one or multiple programs and I also go to mindset or business conferences throughout the year.

I read, or subscribe to, Deepak Chopra, Fabienne Frederickson, Martha Beck, and Gary Vaynerchuck. I realize Gary is not everybody's favourite, however, I think his ideas and insights are fresh or on point. I also follow Shane Parrish from Farnam Street and Tim Ferriss occasionally.

Who are your personal mentors? Why?

Mr. Mota, my high school art teacher, was my first mentor. He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself and encouraged me to grow. Oprah, growing up, was my virtual mentor. I would watch her show when I could and took a lot from it.

My current mentors are Fabienne Frederickson and Kiva Schuler. They both help me and others with business and empowerment.

Your clients range from actors to executives. How are these clients both different and similar? (how is your approach different and similar)?

They are different because each personality is different and their positions are different. They are similar in that they both find something is lacking in their career and lives, and want to address it. They are both seeking clarity, more financial security, and fulfillment.

I have some recurring steps and tools I use with clients. However, my packages, and approach, are specifically tailored to the individual's goals and needs.

What is something most people don't know about you?

Most people don't know I am the youngest of seven and grew up in Cambridge, Ontario.

What are you most proud of (both personally and professionally)?

Personally, I am proud to be the first person in my family to go to university and not only get one degree but three degrees from the University of Toronto.

As for professionally, for acting fast on my career change and developing my clientele enough to leave my teaching position within 7 months.

What are you currently working on improving in your life?

I am working on setting up better financial structures and systems within my company.

What do you think we should all be doing to help improve the city of Toronto?

I believe a good start would be to address our housing affordability situation.

What upcoming projects are you excited about?

Digital marketing projects and hiring someone to help me with it, a potential rebrand or new look via a designer and a future group coaching program.

Cabbagetown Festival and Cabbagetown Tour of Homes

Cabbagetown Festival and Cabbagetown Tour of Homes

According to Cabbagetown Preservation Association, Cabbagetown is the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in all of North America. This neighbourhood is populated by various multicultural communities of artists, young professionals, but also researchers and scientists associated with nearby University of Toronto and it's the ideal place to experience the diversity Toronto has to offer.

Silver Burtnick & Associates of Sotheby's International Realty Canada would like to invite you to Cabbagetown this September to experience the amazing events this part of town has to offer and the diverse neighbourhood itself.

Cabbagetown Festival

September 7th and 8th

Each year, the Cabbagetown Festival celebrates the diversity of this little town in the heart of the city.  Cabbagetown is one of the most diverse neighbourhoods in Toronto with residents from little under 200 countries. The Festival brings together this community, connecting local businesses, vendors and entertainers in one big family neighbourhood fun.

Silver Burtnick & Associates have been sponsoring Cabbagetown Festival for a few years now. The Festival itself has a very special meaning for Richard and his career in real estate:

"I bought my first house on the day of the first Festival in 1979 and the rest is history!"

Since it's begining in late 70s, the Festival evolved from a local neighbourhood fun to a full-blown attraction for tourists and visitors from around town and the worlds. Here are some events that Silver Burtnick & Associates sponsor and you should not miss:

Arts and Crafts Sale & Show

Friday, September 6th, 1pm - 7pm
Saturday, September 7th, 10am - 6pm
Sunday, September 8th, 10am - 6pm

Cabbagetown Arts & Crafts Sale is an annual sale and artist showcase running for the 31st time this year. Each year there is a special prize for one talented artist and vendor that catches people's attention.

Last year, the prize was awarded to Pierre Quesnel and Coraline Allard from Q and A Design and year before that to talented mixed-media 3D artist Stephen Hayes.  Do you want to know who will get this year's price? Come down to Cabbagetown Festival and find out.

Blair's Run

Sunday, September 8th, 9am

Blair's Run is an annual 2k marathon in support of the Cabbagetown Youth Centre. Anyone is welcomed to run, including kids and dogs, the only rule is to register and have fun! The registration fee is $20 ($25 on the day of the run) and you can register as an individual or as a team with family or friends. Registration on Run day starts at 8 am and the Run starts at 9 at 248 Carlton Street.

Cabbagetown Short Film Festival

Wednesday, September 4th, 8pm-10:30pm

Founded in 1992 by Toronto actress and producer Gina Dineen, Cabbagetown Short Film Festival is a showcase of the best short films from around the world.

Each year, there's a carefully selected lineup of movies that are hand-picked from hundreds of submissions annually. This way, the festival is presenting the top shorts for their audience.  A panel of industry professionals also awards the best movies in various categories like comedy, drama, experimental films, animation, and documentary. 

Cabbagetown Tour of Homes

Sunday, September 15th

The history of Cabbagetown Tour of Homes is a long one. In the late 70s, a group of realtors started the tradition trying to showcase the stock of all the beautiful Victorian homes in the area.
Back then, the Cabbagetown was a very overlooked and neglected area of Toronto and realtors wanted to bring more investors that would be interested in the restoration of these historic homes. And they found them! Since then the torch of organizing this amazing tradition was passed on and the tour is now hosted by Cabbagetown Preservation Association.  

This year, you can visit on Sunday 15th of September to catch the tour and try to find the Silver Burtnick & Associates team. They will be volunteering at 368 Sumach Street which was previously owned by Darrell Kent. Darrell Kent and his real estate company was largely responsible for recognizing the value of the old Victorian Homes in the area and renovating them in the early 1970s, so make sure to stop by and learn more about Cabbagetown's heritage. There are usually about 7 to 9 houses on the self-guided tour and tickets cost $35. You can buy them online or pick them up at one of the designated locations.

Toronto houses often don’t look like the million bucks they cost. Enter luxury homestaging

Toronto houses often don’t look like the million bucks they cost. Enter luxury homestaging

Richard was recently interviewed for Toronto Star about home staging of luxury real estate. Read about his opinion here and don't forget to check out the full article for more information:

"You really are creating a stage because you want people to be able to walk in and feel that they are living that dream," Warrington says. "When I take a house that really isn’t a luxury house, you’re demonstrating the possibilities."

It’s a strategy that works for her, she says, noting she’s sold $25 million worth of real estate this year. Warrington says she makes up for the staging costs, as it helps her sell houses well above their asking price. That semi-detached home with the baby room, for example, was listed for $899,000 and sold for more than $1.2 million, she says.

Realtor Richard Silver says agrees a staged home will sell for higher than the same home left empty. Whatever sellers spend on staging can be made up by three or four times in the final offers. Plus the home sells faster, he adds.

"We’re living in HGTV syndrome," he says.

Still, he warns that staging can also mask potential problems. A too-narrow room can be styled and photographed to appear spacious, and it could be too late by the time you realize a king bed and end tables don’t fit.

Warrington highlighted a long-term family home she once sold in midtown that she staged from top to bottom. It got 14 offers, but "really, it needed a complete renovation."

"I think buyers have to be very careful sometimes," Silver adds.

"What they see is a better product."

Top Toronto Events in September 2019

Top Toronto Events in September 2019

September not only marks a start of school for many kids, but it also brings some of the best cultural and art-filled events to Toronto. From one of the biggest North American Film Festivals to exciting Oktoberfest, Toronto will be alive this month with different cultures, breathing in the atmosphere of inspiration and coming fall.

Toronto International Film Festival

When: September 5 - 15
Where: TIFF Bell Lightbox & other venues

TIFF 2019 is here and with it, the celebrity sighting hunt may begin. Streaming the hottest movies from the past year and hosting the biggest celebrity guests from around the world, TIFF will brighten up Toronto yet again for the 44th time.

Cirque du Soleil - Alegría, In a New Light

When: September 12
Where: Ontario Place

The legendary artist group Cirque du Soleil is returning to Toronto with its show Alegría - In a New Light. The show explores the bellowed Alegría show and the struggle between old and new, adding elements of the modern world into the story.

The Word on the Street

When: September 21 - 22
Where: Harbourfront Centre

Biggest bookstore in the city - open-air and right at the shores of Lake Ontario. Hosting several exceptional authors, discussions and book signings, WOTS is a book enthusiast's dream come true. Come explore mainstream titles as well as more indie publishings while enjoying a day outside.

Toronto Biennial of Art

When: September 21 - December 1
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art

Toronto Biennial of Art is a 72-day networking citywide event that presents national, and international contemporary art. Taking place every two years, it offers a place for artists and enthusiasts for exhibitions, installations, talks and many more learning opportunities along the shores of Lake Ontario.


When: September 26 - 28
Where: Ontario Place

Oktoberfest, inspired by the original German tradition, is setting up tents at Ontario Place to introduce Bavarian traditions to Toronto. Sample authentic food, drink and music such as polka while sipping on an authentic ERDINGER’s Oktoberfest Brew, flown in from Germany exclusively for Toronto Oktoberfest.


Toronto Affordability Report: Is The Market Balanced?

Toronto Affordability Report: Is The Market Balanced?

Toronto’s housing market has been a difficult for people in the past few years, but prices have become more stable in 2019, resulting in a more balanced and rational marketplace. Whether you’re a buyer, investor, or seller, now is a good time to engage in this market. This article will go into deeper detail about the current affordability in Toronto, compare Toronto’s affordability to other major cities, and take a future outlook at what’s to come.

Current Affordability in Toronto

Owning a house in Toronto is tough, but it’s gotten better in 2019. We’ve seen some price stabilization since 2017, with buyers now acting more rationally and taking their time to investigate and bid on property. Conversely, sellers now need to put in the effort to make their property show-ready and ask for a price that actually leaves room for negotiation.

RBC’s June 2019 Housing Trends and Affordability Report provides some useful statistics on affordability. The report focuses on the RBC Housing Affordability Measure, which looks at the ownership cost of a house compared to the median household income; the higher this number, the less affordable housing is. This number rose steadily from 45% in 2009 to 65% in 2017. The good news is, the trend stabilized around 65-67% from 2017 to 2019.

In terms of adjusting to this more balanced market, sellers are probably having a harder time than buyers. Jim Burtnick, Senior Vice President of Sales at Sotheby’s International Realty states:

After almost a decade of Toronto being a seller’s market, with listings selling in days and multiple unconditional offers well over asking prices, things have changed. Properties are now taking longer to sell, with buyers no longer feeling pressured to bid in multiple offer situations. In fact, buyers are now adding conditions to their offers.

At first glance, this situation doesn’t seem good for sellers compared to before. But the reality is, most sellers will have to re-enter the market as a buyer after selling their property. And in this case, a more rational and balanced market is definitely better. Furthermore, a soaring marketplace may pop at any time, leading to plummeting prices. In that case, buyers, sellers, and investors would back out of the market, which is bad for everyone.

Apart from Toronto, RBC’s report also looks at other major Canadian cities. Vancouver’s Housing Affordability Measure is the highest at 82%, with other major cities like Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton ranging from 36% to 47%.

Although Toronto’s housing situation isn’t the best in the country, it also certainly isn’t the worst, and it’s improved over the past few years.

Housing Affordability in Other Major Cities

To get a better idea of Toronto’s housing market, we can look to other major housing markets across the globe. The 15th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey compares the housing affordability in 2018 across major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, Sydney, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

The Demographia report measures housing affordability using the Median Multiple, which is the median house price divided by the median household income; the lower the number, the more affordable that market is. A Median Multiple of 3.0 or less is considered to be affordable, 3.1 to 4.0 is moderately unaffordable, 4.1 to 5.0 is seriously unaffordable, and 5.1 or higher is severely unaffordable.

So how does Toronto compare? In short, Toronto ranks 10th (tied with London) out of 91 major cities in being unaffordable, with a Median Multiple of 8.3. Vancouver is at 12.6, second only to Hong Kong at 20.9.

Of course, Hong Kong and arguably even Vancouver are experiencing quite extreme situations compared to the rest of the world. But even apart from those two cities, there are still many cities in a worse situation than Toronto: San Francisco, Auckland, Los Angeles, and Melbourne all have a median multiple ranging from 8.8 to 9.7. That being said, some other comparable cities are doing better than Toronto: Boston, New York, and Seattle have a median multiple ranging from 5.3 to 5.6.

While Toronto does rank high on the global list of unaffordability, it is still much better than many other cities.

What’s Next for Toronto

For those who are wondering if prices will drop in the near future, it’s not likely. According to RBC, prices are “back on a slight upward trajectory… unlikely to come down much, or at all, in the near term.”

Toronto is still one of the most attractive cities in the world for immigrants, and Canada counts immigration to sustain its population. Not only is Toronto more affordable than many other cities around the world, it is also very immigrant friendly. All this means demand will continue to increase. Burtnick states:

With Toronto still being (by far) the ‘gateway’ city for most newcomers to Canada (from other provinces in Canada and especially from abroad), Toronto will still need more and more supply of housing to meet demand. Simply put, new supply cannot keep up with demand. So if you think Toronto/GTA is expensive now, just wait 10 years!

But now that prices have stabilized, it is a good time for all parties to get in the market.

Richard Silver, Senior Vice President of Sales at Sotheby’s Canada, sees a bright future for Toronto’s real estate market, especially in major areas with good access to transportation. He advises buyers to view real estate as a home for their family rather than a search for a “great deal”. He states:

There are those who look at real estate as a stock portfolio and are more concerned about value than a place to live for their family. They are always in search of a great deal when they should be in search of a home. The best ‘buy’ in real estate should always focus on location: Proximity to the subway system, great schools, shopping, and parks are more important in the long term.

So if you need a home, don't delay, but make sure you spend some time comparing listings to find the one that best suits you. If you want to sell a home, make sure your property is showing-ready, properly priced, and realize that you will need patience to secure the best deal possible.

Buyer lands unit in coveted downtown Toronto building with second bid

Buyer lands unit in coveted downtown Toronto building with second bid

A sucesfull sold listing 88 Blue Jays Way was featured in Globe and Mail. The listings was sold in only one day and this is it's story:

88 Blue Jays Way, No. 2904, Toronto

Asking price: $769,000
Selling price: $760,000
Previous selling price: $517,900 (2017)
Taxes: $3,670 (2019)
Days on the market: One
Listing agents: Jim Burtnick and Richard Silver, Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

The action

This one-bedroom plus den suite in a new hotel and residential tower in the Entertainment District initially fetched an offer the seller deemed unacceptable. The same buyer came back with a higher bid when the unit was relisted at a higher price in late June.

“There was one other unit for sale at the same time – a mirror image of this unit on a higher floor – but they were asking significantly more, so it made ours more attractive,” agent Jim Burtnick said.

“[Overall] inventory is pretty tight right now, so for a good condominium like Bisha, which is quite popular with all the hotel amenities, there was certainly someone who wanted it and wanted a quick closing, and that was feasible in this particular case.”

What they got

A few years ago, Bisha opened its doors with upscale hotel suites, trendy restaurants and private residences, such as this 665-square-foot unit with a locker and parking.

The interior design is modern with nine-foot ceilings and walls of windows along the living and dining area.

Sliding balcony doors also bring more light into the kitchen dressed with stone counters, centre island and stainless steel appliances.

Monthly fees of $559 pay for water, heating, concierge and access to recreational facilities.

The agent’s take

“[The building] is popular with the younger demographic; it’s got a bar on the main level in the lobby and a rooftop pool,” Mr. Burtnick said.

“[In addition], the seller kept the unit in great condition – with some electrical work done and work done in the bathroom – so there was very little wear and tear.”

Toronto July Market Report: Tightening Conditions

Toronto July Market Report: Tightening Conditions

GTA REALTORS® reported 8,595 sales through TREB’s MLS® System in July 2019, which made sales rise by 24.3 per cent compared to July 2018. According to TREB, sales were up by 5.1 per cent on a month-over-month basis, after preliminary seasonal adjustment. The biggest spike in sales was recorded in semi-detached and detached house segment, with 42 and 29.7 per cent rise respectively. Townhouses and condominiums rose by 21.6 and 14.3 per cent.

The average price recorded a slight rise by 3-2 per cent across all the segments, setting the average price in July 2019 on $806,755. The only falling segment price-wise were the detached homes, with a slight drop of 0.9 per cent in the year-over-year comparison. Detached homes and townhouses were up by 5.3 and 4.3 per cent respectively. Condominium segment rose by 6.7 per cent in price.

New listings were up by 3.7 per cent in a year-over-year comparison, but it marks a much slower rise than the sales in the GTA. Overall active listings were down by 9.1 per cent, further hinting tightening market conditions. The MLS® Home Price IndexComposite benchmark was up by 4.4 per cent.

Richard Silver, Sales Representative, SVP-Sales

The market in July has been much more active than last year with a growth of 24.3% in the number of sales. The days on market has shortened by two days which could be a bit of a blip but does mean that there are motivated buyers in the marketplace. The price change of 3.2% is excellent as inflation this year has topped at 2.4% and may end up closer to 1.65% meaning that Real Estate prices are somewhat over inflation which is definitely good news for the investor marketplace. The number of listings has gone down over the year however that often happens in the summer as Sellers take their properties off the market and wait for the busier fall months.

If you are selling make sure that you are fully prepared and if you are a Buyer you might want to shop the August market where you can usually get a more eager seller.

It will be an interesting Fall market if the interest rates go down, as that will allow Buyers to access more buying power and hopefully depend less on the Bank of Mom and Dad.