Houses are a basic necessity of humans. Either you own a house or are leaving on rental, a person needs a roof on top of his head. In Canada real estate has been an important part of the Canadian economy. Homes provide jobs for many from real estate agents, mortgage agents to construction workers a huge chunk of the population works in real estate.

Houses can be differentiated in a number of ways like their style, size and building material. Sometimes it becomes very difficult to make a decision pertaining to so much variety in homes. There is no single guiding rule which can help you through this process. But knowing about what’s available in the market and at what cost can be of great help. Houses in Canada are commonly divided into two types attached homes and not attached homes.

The houses are further are classified in:

  1. Detached houses
  2. Semi-detached homes
  3. Townhomes
  4. Apartments/Condominiums

Under the above-mentioned categories, there are further many types of homes that are differentiated on the basis of the number of storeys, availability of garage, frontage etc. While buying a home not only size is a matter of concern but there are many other things that need to be considered.

Some of the important factors are:

  1. Location
  2. Amenities
  3. School
  4. Neighbourhood
  5. Monthly cost
  6. Municipal Taxes
  7. Heating
  8. Ventilation
  9. Air-conditioning
  10. Sewage
  11. Basement

In recent years the real estate market has seen a drastic rise in prices and this scenario doesn’t seem to change for the coming years too. Buyers need to be extra cautious while buying a property as they will be investing a whole lot of money. With growing immigration and urban sprawl, the market is very much on the seller’s side where demand is way more than supply. But sellers also need to make the right choice and consider a lot of things before selling so that they can leverage the current situation in their best interests.

My goal is to share my knowledge that I have gained as a real estate agent to help you make the right choice.

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Open House Ban-Halton, York and Hamilton Join Toronto and Peel

Halton, York and Hamilton have moved into the more restrictive “Red-Control” zone on the province’s tiered framework for COVID-19 restrictions, joining Toronto and Peel Region. This means in-person open houses are banned in these areas but in-person showings by appointment following public health directives are allowed. For details, refer to the complete provincial news release

Based on these new provincial colour coded thresholds, provincial public health units and GTA regions are now classified as follows:

  • Red-Control:
    • Hamilton Public Health Services
    • Halton Region Public Health
    • Toronto Public Health
    • York Region Public Health
    • Peel Region Public Health
  • Orange-Restrict:
    • Brant County Health Unit
    • Durham Region Health Department
    • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
    • Niagara Region Public Health
    • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
    • Region of Waterloo Public Health
  • Yellow-Protect:
    • Huron Perth Public Health
    • Middlesex-London Health Unit
    • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
    • Southwestern Public Health
    • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

Assignments to the current levels would last for a minimum of 28 days or two-incubation periods (into December 2020), at which time the status of these public health unit regions will be reassessed on a weekly basis. However, the movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends.

Source: TRREB

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Basement leakage- Cause, Identification, Fixes

basement leakage

In Canada, basements are an integral part of a house. All the houses from detached to semi or townhouses are built with a basement. Even in the apartment buildings, there is a basement which is used as underground parking. Basements not only give extra space but also bear the load of the whole house. Also, a basement can help you identify the health of a house if you pay attention to various signs. And one of the best ways is to look for any type of basement leakage.

Basement leakage can be caused due to several factors, most of the time these leaks are minor and can be dealt easily with help of minor fixes. But caution is important because a small leak may be a result of big structural fault. Many times not paying attention at right time leads to an increase in an otherwise smaller issue.

There are number of visible indications which can help you identify a leak:

  1. Efflorescence: It is white powdery stuff that is formed due to the crystallization of minerals present in water after the water evaporates. Efflorescence can be seen inside and outside of the basement walls. It is commonly found on concrete and masonry walls. Many times efflorescence is a result of snow or rain but there can be other reasons behind its formation which are worth considering like
  2. Water Absorption: It can be due to the absorption of water by the building material during construction. This happens when bricks are left open which results in excessive water absorption from the atmosphere.
  3.  Water Retention: It can also result from the collection of water near the walls due to poor outlet or blocking of a down trough
  4. Poor damp proofing: It also results in the absorption of water when heating is on.
  5. Internal leaks: They can be due to pipe breakage. They leave water stains and cause the formation of whitish powder.
  6. Rust: It’s a commonly known factor that rust is caused due to regular exposure to water. So, if you see rusted baseboard nails, posts or electrical boards then it’s a sign of basement leakage and you must find the root cause of it.
  7.  Mould or Mildew: The presence of mould or mildew is a sure sign of moisture as a mould needs a damp environment to thrive. Mould is quite common in old houses and often results from poor ventilation and condensation. Mould is a fungus and can also cause health issues. 
  8. Peeling Paint: One other way of anticipating water leakage or moisture retention is peeling paint. If the walls are damp then the paint doesn’t stick properly and often peels off easily.
  9. Water Stains: If there was water collection in an area for a long time then after drying up it leaves a yellowish stain. If you find yellow stains on basement walls or floor then it’s a sign of some kind of repair. Buyers should pay attention and ask questions if they see such stains.
  10. Crumbling Plaster or Drywall: If there is moisture retention in the walls either due to pipe bursting, oozing of the water due to repairs or improper vaporization then it can result in crumbling of plaster or drywall.
  11. Warped or Sagging boards: The boards swell up and change shape due to water retention. This also results in their sagging due to lost strength.
  12. Dampness on external concrete walls: If you touch the external side of walls and feel dampness then it needs attention.

Here are some of the common causes of basement leakage and their fixes-

  1. Bad Plumbing: Many times the pipes in the home are the reason for water leakage. Water can start seeping out due to improper fitting of pipes, bursting of a pipe or rusting of the pipe causing water leaks from a number of points. One should be extra careful and keep on checking the condition of pipes. This way you can prevent bigger damage from happening.
  2. Sump-pump Improper functioning: A sump-pump collects and drains groundwater under the house. A sump-pump helps to avoid the absorption of excess water by the soil which otherwise can lead to expansion due to water retention and causing water seeping out of walls or floor. So it is very important to install a good quality sump-pump which can work efficiently. It is recommended that you keep on checking whether it is working properly or not.
  3. Collection of water near foundation: Water can collect near walls or foundation during heavy rainfall or snow if proper waterproofing is not done. The common reasons are improper sloping or proximity of downspouts to the walls. This issue is more prevalent in old houses but it still can be there in new homes. One should avoid clogging downspouts and regularly check water collection during the rainy season or after a snowfall.
  4. Rift/Split in doors or windows: The leakage can happen even due to small issues like cracks or improper sealing of doors/windows. The best way to avoid it is by finding and sealing the unwanted openings. This will not only prevent water seepage but will also improve energy efficiency.
  5. Improper Basement insulation: Due to extreme weather conditions, HVAC plays an important role in Canadian houses. And to operate this system efficiently insulation of walls is done at the construction level where drywall, vapour barriers, insulation sheets are added. Improper insulation leads to trapping of condensed water in between the walls which later on cause dampness or leaks.
  6. Poor Ventilation: Dampness can accumulate due to poor ventilation. Taking hot showers or cooking food without using exhaust are the common examples leading to condensation and water retention on walls and roof. Improper passage of air around the house due to closed doors and windows also results in the same. This water which is superficial initially gets absorbed inside the walls slowly resulting in mould and water stains. This can be avoided by following simple steps like using exhaust, opening of windows and doors from time to time etc.

As explained above most of the time small problems which can be fixed easily lead to basement leakage. The minor problems like superficial cracks, ventilation, downspout blockage or small pipe leaks if managed on time don’t cost you a lot. But if the problem is structural or due to faulty foundation then it’s a bigger problem and addressing it may need huge amount of money. So, it is always recommended to have a thorough look for any signs of basement leakage while buying a house. If it is a resale deal then diligence and utmost care is needed before closing a deal. Even in a new house problems can arise so make sure you are covered under Tarion warranty and you don’t make major changes in your house which can affect your warranty claim.

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Detached and Attached houses – Common types/styles in Canada

Detached and Attached houses – Common types/styles in Canada

From decades houses have been built in different styles using different materials around the world. In Canada too you can find numerous types of houses. But broadly we can divide them into detached and attached houses.

Detached House

A detached home is a stand-alone structure built on a plot of land. A detached house does not share any of its walls/floors with other houses unlike attached houses (semi-detached or townhomes) which are joined with other homes on one or both sides. A detached house can be built in different styles the common types that are popular in Canada are:

Bungalows

The bungalows have been popular since 1900’s due to their lack of staircase. In a bungalow dining area, kitchen and living area are all built on same floor. To build a bungalow with good square feet large piece of land is required. Due to the increasing cost of land 2 storey houses are now becoming choice of most people. With time bungalows are becoming sparse and mostly aging people or those who suffer from knee problems prefer to buy bungalows these days. There are variations in bungalows too:

  1. Ranch style- These are big bungalows with 2000 square feet or more area on one floor. The ranch style bungalows have big basements which can be used for extra rooms or storage. These types of bungalows are disappearing from new urban area developments due to their need of large piece of land. But they are still popular in rural areas.
  2. Bi-level/Split Entrance- These types of bungalows were designed to make better use of basements. In bi-level houses the entrance area is split between main floor and basement. This makes basement area higher giving room for bigger windows which helps bring in more sunlight and fresh air.

One and One half storey houses

In a one and one half storey house almost 60 percent of living area is on first floor which typically consists of a master bedroom, kitchen, washroom and dining area. In these type of houses ceilings are high and dormers are added, which give space to build bedrooms, storage or guest rooms upstairs. These houses give more internal space by using less land as compared to bungalows.

 Two Storey houses

Two storey homes are very popular nowadays and are mostly in trend. These type of houses provide same amount of space on upper level like main floor. Two storey houses don’t have angled ceilings like one and one half storey houses which make them more spacious. In a two storey house all bedrooms are on upper level and dining area is on main floor.

Split level homes

These types of homes were designed to provide ease of walking in the house by reducing the number of steps. The common types of split level homes are side-split and back-split. A split house can have as many as five levels which though provide easy movement to access different levels but this style results in so many staircases at different levels which can be annoying for many in terms of movement and design.

Attached houses

Attached houses have become quite popular from the past 50-40 years. The reason behind their popularity is the price benefit in comparison to a detached house having the same square feet area. An attached house not only saves building cost by wall sharing but also uses the lesser land area as compared to a detached house. In urban areas with a dense population where availability of land is an issue, among detached and attached houses the latter has gained more popularity.

Semi-detached house

A semi-detached house has one common wall which it shares with another semi-detached house. In other words, a house that is open from one side and attached from the other side is called semi-detached. It’s a great option for people who want a house similar in features with a detached house but at a lower price. Semi-detached can be built in different ways like one and one-half storey, two-storey, with built-in garage etc. The title of the land is under the name of the owner of the house.

Townhomes

Town homes are built in two ways –

  1. Row townhouses: Townhomes that are built side by side while sharing both sides of their walls with other houses called row house. One row consists of typically 5-6 houses townhouses. In a row townhouse, only corner townhouse has one common wall because it is an end unit with technically not enough space left on its one side to build another house. The price of a corner townhouse is a little higher than other townhomes because of its features which are similar to a semi-detached home.
  2. Stacked townhouses: Another type of townhome is stacked where houses are built on top of other houses along with where the ground unit is built as a single storey with another house on top of it. These houses share not only side walls but also their top or floor.

A townhouse can also be classified as a freehold or condo townhouse-

  1. Freehold townhouse-In a freehold townhouse the title of both land and structure is under the property owner’s name and the owner can make any change to the house as per municipal and provincial bylaws. A freehold house is usually a row house having two to three storeys.
  2. Condo townhouse- A condo townhouse comes with a regular monthly maintenance fee. In a condo townhouse, the property owner has ownership of the only interior property with external area or land being shared with other property owners as a common entity. Under the monthly maintenance snow removal, roof repair, common walls repair, maintenance of communal areas like a park or swimming pool are usually included.

Multi-family houses/units

A building which is built to provide accommodation to multiple families in form of separate units for each family is called multi-family house or an apartment/condominium. Based on number of storeys an apartment can be broadly classified in two categories:

  1. Low-density buildings- These types of buildings can anywhere between four to twelve storeys. These buildings are also called low rise buildings. Each floor can have approximately 12-20 units depending upon the land size on which the building is built. These types of apartments are mostly found in small urban cities with lesser populations as compared to main cities.
  2. High rise buildings- A high rise building has more than 12 storeys. These types of buildings are quite popular in metropolitan cities like Toronto. A downtown area of a big city is often identified from its high rise buildings. Due to lack of land and the need for closer amenities high rise condominiums are quite popular in busy cities. The tallest residential building of Toronto is named Aura and it has 78 floors. Aura is also Canada’s tallest residential building.

Apartments are becoming more and more popular in high sprawl urban areas due to their ability to accommodate a large number of people. People often opt to buy an apartment instead of a house due to a number of reasons:

Price- The cost of buying a condominium is way lesser than a detached or attached house

Low maintenance- In an apartment the title of unit is under owner’s name and common elements are shared between all the unit members. The building management charge a monthly maintenance fees from each unit owner to maintain the property. From snow removal, cleaning of floors, parking, lifts to other miscellaneous services like heat, air conditioning, repairs everything is managements responsibility.

Security- Most of the buildings especially high rise buildings offer lots of security features that cannot be found in a house. They have a fully secure entrance where strangers are not allowed entry without permission. High tech cameras are installed on every floor to monitor any suspicious activity. Many buildings also have security guards.

Amenities- Many buildings have an inbuilt gymnasium, swimming pool, recreation room, office space, rooftop patio etc. All of these are included within the monthly maintenance fee.

Location- Most of the buildings are built near the center of the city. They are close to major shopping malls, grocery stores, bus stations, subways which save a lot of time in commuting.

All these features have made condominiums/apartments quite an attractive option for people. From the younger generation who want to enjoy luxury items and save time in commuting to old age people who want small and secure space apartments have their own benefits. Still detached and attached houses have their own benefits and both are quite in demand depending upon individual choices and budget.

Houses have been built in different styles and forms from centuries depending on the needs of that time. Hopefully, this article will help you understand the current trends in relation to detached and attached houses and facilitate your decision making while buying a house.

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TRREB REPORTS OCTOBER RESALE HOUSING MARKET NUMBERS

trreb house market report

TORONTO, ONTARIO, November 4, 2020 Home sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) were up again year-over-year for the fourth month in a row. Our Members made 10,563 sales as reported through the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s MLS® System in October 2020. This was up by 25.1 per cent compared to 8,445 transactions in October 2019.

Sales and new listings reached record levels for the month of October. However, year-over-year growth rates for sales and new listings diverged in some market segments. In the detached market segment, the pace of annual sales growth far outstripped growth in new listings. Conversely, the condominium apartment market segment experienced more than double the new listings compared to October 2019, whereas sales were only up by 2.2 per cent over the same period.

“Competition between buyers of single-family homes, and particularly detached houses, remained strong last month and continued to support double-digit annual rates of price growth in many GTA neighborhoods. In contrast, condo buyers have benefitted from much more choice compared to last year. Pre-COVID polling had already pointed to an increase in investor selling in 2020. The pandemic only added to this trend with a stall in economic growth and a halt to tourism impacting cashflows for many investors,” said Lisa Patel, TRREB’s President.

The MLS® HPI Composite Benchmark was up by 10.8 per cent on a year-over-year basis in October 2020. The average selling price for all home types combined was $968,318 – up by 13.7 per cent compared to $851,877 in October 2019.

“Year-to-date home sales through October were above last year’s level. The economic recovery in some sectors coupled with low borrowing costs has kept home purchases top-of-mind for many GTA residents. With this being said, we have not accounted for all of the pent-up demand that resulted from the spring downturn. Expect record or near-record home sales for the remainder of 2020,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst.

“Looking beyond COVID-19, it is clear that the high demand for housing will continue. The federal government has set immigration targets above 400,000 people for each of the next three years. The GTA will undoubtedly continue to benefit from this population growth. All of these people will need a place to live, whether in the ownership or rental markets,” said John DiMichele, TRREB’s CEO.

Summary of TRREB MLS® Sales and Average Price October 1–31, 2020

                                                                                                                2020                                                                                                                 2019

 SalesAverage PriceNew ListingsSalesAverage PriceNew Listings
City of Toronto (“416”)3,5141,025,9257,8233,283925,1484,984
Rest of GTA (“905”)7,049939,6009,9795,162805,2788,069
GTA10,563968,31817,8028,445851,87713,053

Source: Toronto Regional Real Estate Board

For more details click here

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We’re ready for the TRID rules!

At 5 p.m. EST June 17, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a statement that the effective date for the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rules would be pushed back to Oct. 1, 2015.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a prepared statement: “The CFPB will be issuing a proposed amendment to delay the effective date of the Know Before You Owe rule until Oct. 1, 2015. We made this decision to correct an administrative error that we just discovered in meeting the requirements under federal law, which would have delayed the effective date of the rule by two weeks. We further believe that the additional time included in the proposed effective date would better accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers whose families will be busy with the transition to the new school year at that time.”

Rainier Title has been working towards the TRID implementation for over a year and felt prepared for August 1st. However, with the proposed delay we will be taking this opportunity to continue our education and training of TRID. While we believe that we have been proactive and ready for this change, there are still so many unknowns that will have to be addressed at the time of implementation. The industry should still prepare for 45-60 days for transaction to close due to the new timing parameters of the forms.

We’re working hard to be ready for all changes!