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Finance: More Transparency Coming To Toronto Real Estate Market

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Finance: More Transparency Coming To Toronto Real Estate Market

Canadians will now have greater access to real estate sold prices in Toronto. In August the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB’s) appeal to an earlier federal court decision that accused them of anti-competitive practices by the Competition Bureau.

This means all homes and condos listed on the MLS and sold in Toronto will be readily available without the need of a password or engaging an agent.

TREB’s major argument was concern around copyright and privacy. They said putting all this data online publicly would be problematic.

In a statement released after the Supreme Court refusal, TREB CEO John DiMichele said “TREB believes personal financial information of homebuyers and sellers must continue to be safely used and disclosed in a manner that respects privacy interests and will be studying the required next steps to ensure such information will be protected in compliance with the Tribunal Order once that comes into effect.”

This is a first for a major real estate board in Canada, but has been going on in the U.S. for more than 10 years. Here’s what to expect.

Better Informed Client

When working with a real estate agent, sellers and buyers will no longer have to ask them for comparative sales in the area. This is the best way to understand what a home’s market value is. When putting their house on the market, sellers can arm themselves with the latest data. Buyers as well can make offers with confidence as they will have been able to research the area they are looking to buy in on their own.

Agents Can Provide Better Service

Realtors serve a key role in the real estate transaction. They serve their client and make sure they get the best deal and guide clients through the process. For sellers they can help determine fair market value for your home, they arrange open houses and find potential buyers. Often, they have a roster of potential buyers they can show the house too as well.

For buyers, agents are often subject matter experts in the areas they service — knowing the history of the area and what streets are most sought after. When negotiating they ensure all the checks are done to make sure the home you are buying is being fairly represented.

What Changes Can We Expect?

With data now readily available, consumers can expect to see an increase in websites focused on this information. It’s not just active sellers and buyers interested, but any homeowner wants to know what their biggest investment (their home) is worth. Making data available in a user friendly way could be challenging, especially if a home has seen a number of transactions in a few years. Also making sure data is accurate and up to date is important. Expect to see a number of sites pop up dedicated to providing this information.

No Concern for Realtor’s Role

Those agents with a large client base and established reputation should not worry about their business being affected. The need for a knowledgeable agent, willing to work hard for their clients, will still exist. For those agents who may not have the same level of expertise, they may have to work harder to get up to speed on how they can provide a service to their client, other than regurgitated sold numbers. For those agents there may be a steep learning curve as the market in Toronto becomes more transparent. Looking further this could have an effect on other markets in Canada, especially those next door to Toronto, whose clients will demand the same level of access to sold prices.

Rubina Ahmed-haq is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC. Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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Condo Finance

Finance: Condo Is The New Starter Home

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Finance: Condo Is The New Starter Home

Home prices in the GTA have been consistently rising.

Currently the cost of a single detached home in Toronto, for example, is more than $1.8 million, a price tag far out of reach for many families.

With home prices up significantly many couples with kids are now looking towards condominium living as a more convenient and economical option. No doubt condo living has perks that many families recognized years ago, but rising home prices have encouraged others, who may not have seen it as an option, to think beyond the typical detached home as a place to raise kids.

According to the latest data from Statistics Canada one out of eight Canadian dwellings were condos. More than 42 per cent of them were occupied by couples, many with children.

Family friendly condos are available across the country at every price point. Many feature dedicated play rooms, kid friendly swimming pools and easy access to childcare. Raising kids is expensive, and the added bonus of the cost effectiveness of communal living is attractive to many couples with kids. Here are some things to consider when making condo living a choice for your family.

Smaller space

A condo is not going to have the same elbow room as a detached home. It may also not have direct access to greenspace, like a backyard. But smaller space means a lot less to furnish and that is a money saver. Pick a condo that has easy access to parks and libraries to keep kids occupied and outside. When searching for your new home ask if the condo has any dedicated places for kids to play. This can make your small space feel much bigger once you move in.

Lower utility costs

One of the biggest money savers is your utility costs, which will be much lower than if you lived in a detached home. Hydro, water and gas will all be less. Condominium living comes with a monthly maintenance fee that should be figured into your overall budget. This often covers the cost of maintaining the communal areas, paying for concierge service and upkeep of the parking lot. This is no different than maintenance costs on a home that owners would pay out of pocket.

Community

One of the most overlooked aspects of condominium living for families is the sense of community. Living in close quarters means you meet your neighbours regularly, in the hallway, in the lobby, in the communal fitness and entertainment areas. This can make it easy for parents to arrange play dates with other parents, find out what family friendly events are happening and even arrange your own family focused parties. There is an intrinsic benefit in knowing there are people just like you in such close proximity.

Greater security

Condo living can give families a sense of security that a single detached home may not. Most condos have a security system that you need to ring before you can get it. Many have a security guard or concierge around the clock. These features means no one who doesn’t live in the building or is their guest can get access inside. This in and of itself can create a sense of security, not only for your kids but also for you. Also, when you take a long family holiday, as many do over the Christmas break, you know there is always someone keeping a watchful eye on your home.

Living in a condominium can be a huge money saver for families. It’s not for everyone. But with more builders focusing on larger units with kid friendly spaces, it is becoming a possible option for many families with kids.

RUBINA AHMED-HAQ is a journalist and personal finance expert. She is HPG’s Finance Editor. She regularly appears on CBC Radio and TV. She is a contributor on CTV Your Morning and Global Toronto. She has a BA from York University, received her post graduate journalism diploma from Humber College and has completed the CSC.

Follow her on Twitter @alwayssavemoney.

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