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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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For the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which recently embarked on its third full year of operations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is as unique a challenge as we have faced in our journey together with Ontario’s condominium communities thus far.

Yet, as chair of the CAO’s Board of Directors, I am proud of the steps our organization is taking in light of the current situation, and I remain optimistic about what lies ahead. Our vision has always been to promote harmonious condo communities across the province and to be of value to condo owners. By empowering the growing number of Ontarian’s who take part in this unique form of homeownership, we remain committed to achieving these goals.

We operate under the Condominium Act, 1998 (the Act), and we have a mandate to support consumer protection by providing services and resources for condo owners, buyers and directors across Ontario. This mandate remains our priority, even as we proceed through the uncertainty created by the current situation, which has had a significant impact on our province.

Suite of resources

I take great pride in announcing that we continue to deliver our full suite of resources and services throughout the pandemic to the more than 1.6 million condo residents in the 11,000-plus condo communities across Ontario. Ever since we were identified as an essential service by the provincial government in March, our dedicated team has not missed a beat, transitioning to a work-from-home business continuity plan, and maintaining the service standards that owners, directors and all our users have come to appreciate.

Our website is updated regularly and is where users can continue to access all our digital resources. Our information services team remains available by email or phone to help users and answer questions and concerns directly. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), Canada’s first fully online tribunal, has also stayed active throughout the pandemic, accepting cases and resolving disputes.

What’s more, we recognize the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 situation poses for condo communities, and have responded accordingly with new measures to provide additional support during this difficult time.

In addition to the 25-per-cent assessment fee reduction already implemented for the year, all late fees were suspended until June 30, 2020. We have also been ramping up our efforts to help condo directors meet the six-month deadline to complete director training. We want to keep directors active on their boards, so that they can continue to operate on behalf of owners and provide their corporation with governance and guidance, which are especially needed in this uncertain period.

Unique pressures

Condo owners in particular face a unique set of financial pressures, which may prevent them from making their common expense payments. With this in mind, our staff developed resources to help corporations consider various factors when trying to strike a balance between the collective owners’ interests and an individual unit owner’s circumstance.

Our team is also hard at work developing new resources to help owners navigate the constantly evolving ways that business must be conducted now and in the future. One example is in-person owners’ meetings, which are now a health and safety concern. To lessen the need for face-to-face contact, we created a guide to help condo corporations establish a bylaw for holding owners’ meetings and/or voting by telephonic or electronic means. We also provided an overview of the subsequent temporary changes to the Act, introduced through the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order, to provide temporary relief for how and when owners’ meetings can be held.

With social distancing becoming our new collective reality, the place that we each call home has never been more important. For us at the CAO, this means doing everything in our power to ensure that Ontario’s condo communities can continue in a manner that respects their collective responsibility for addressing the current situation, while still striving towards harmonious condo living for each and every member.

In our efforts to connect with owners across the province, we encourage you to subscribe to subscriptions@condoauthorityontario.ca for further updates from the CAO, and to share this article with other owners and members of your own condo community.

Heather Zordel is Chair, Board of Directors, of the Condominium Authority of Ontario, Toronto.


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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

As challenging as the pandemic has been, there’s also been no shortage of good news, feelgood stories among new home and condo builders, developers, marketers, suppliers and others, as they pitch in to do their part for COVID-19 relief.

Among them is In2ition Realty. The Mississauga, Ont. new home and condo marketing and sales firm has long been involved in charitable initiatives.

“For us, being involved in a charity has been part of our work life and our work culture,” Founder and CEO Debbie Cosic told HOMES Publishing.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, uncovering other needs in the community, and other ways In2ition could help.

“We were looking for a charitable endeavour during these trying times, when many of us were home in the beginning kind of wondering what to do with our time, until more normalcy of our meeting schedules returned,” says Cosic.

Feed Mississauga reached out to In2ition, asking not just for much needed funds, but to help provide some social media and creative expertise to further raise awareness.

“It’s turned out to be very timely for us, that we could really roll up our sleeves and lend a hand,” Cosic says. “The food bank was down 50 per cent in both donations and in volunteers, so they were at a crisis point.”

Other COVID-19 relief initiatives from the homebuilding industry

Kids artwork raising funds for COVID-19 relief

Real estate firms raise more than $200,000 for COVID-19 relief

Flato Developments supporting Ontario frontline workers in fight against COVID-19

Program helps builders get back to business safely after COVID-19

Ambassadors for The Mikey Network aid with coronavirus relief efforts at SickKids


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Should you refinance your mortgage in the COVID-19 crisis?

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Should you refinance your mortgage in the COVID-19 crisis?

This article has been republished with permission from ratehub.ca.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a world of trouble, affecting both household finances and the global economy. During the crisis, many are considering refinancing their mortgages. But is the coronavirus pandemic a good time for you to refinance your mortgage?

First, a disclaimer. Whether you should refinance during the coronavirus pandemic is a question best answered with a professional who can walk you through all of your options and personal circumstances. Speaking to a mortgage professional such as a mortgage broker is the best thing you can do (and consulting with one is free of charge).

Here’s everything you need to know about refinancing your mortgage during the COVID-19 crisis.

What is refinancing a mortgage?

A mortgage refinance is when you break your current mortgage and start a new one. Your old mortgage is paid off by the new mortgage, which gives you the chance to borrow additional cash or change the conditions of your original contract. While you’ll be charged a prepayment penalty for breaking your mortgage, the benefits of starting a new mortgage may be worth it.

There are three main reasons you might consider refinancing, which are:

  1. Accessing equity
  2. Lowering your rate
  3. Consolidating debt

Another thing to note is that if your mortgage is coming up for renewal (and your financial situation is stable) now could be a good time to refinance. Refinancing is generally less expensive when it is done at renewal time.

How much can a refinance cost?

Refinancing a mortgage means breaking your mortgage early, which will incur at least two costs. First, a lawyer must change the financing on title. This cost is sometimes fully or partly covered by the lender.

The more significant cost is your prepayment penalty, which your current lender charges you for breaking your mortgage contract. This amount is calculated as either three months’ interest or the interest rate differential payment (IRD), whichever is greater. Check the Ratehub.ca mortgage refinance calculator to run your own numbers and learn more.

Example: The penalty for refinancing a mortgage with a remaining balance of $300,000 with BMO, that has two years left on the current term, a fixed rate of 3.00 per cent, and a 25-year amortization could cost about $8,000, according to the ratehub.ca Penalty Calculator.

3 reasons to refinance your mortgage

There are three main reasons you might want to refinance your mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep in mind that during the current crisis, some may not be practical for your situation.

Regardless of your motivation, you shouldn’t refinance if you’re in a shaky financial position due to COVID-19. Refinancing your mortgage means you’ll need to requalify, which is the last thing you want to do if you’ve lost income or can’t make your payments, as you could end up in a worse position. If this applies to you, check the alternatives to refinancing section below.

1. Accessing equity in your home

Equity is the part of your home you actually own, worked out by taking the market value of the property, less the remaining mortgage balance you have on it. If you’ve built up equity in your home, you might be able to get a loan using your equity as collateral.

There are several ways to access your home equity, two important options to consider are:

Option 1: Accessing equity by refinancing

When refinancing your mortgage, you can choose to increase your current mortgage balance to access a lump sum of money from the amount you’ve already previously paid off. You would start a new mortgage with a higher mortgage amount that includes the additional cash amount you want to take out plus your remaining balance. Because it is a new mortgage, you’ll start paying interest on the additional amount immediately, so this option makes sense if you know with certainty that you require that extra cash in the near future.

Option 2: Obtaining a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Another way to tap into your home equity is through a Home Equity Line of Credit, or HELOC. A HELOC works a little like a credit card in how you access the funds – you just draw money from your HELOC. You can then choose to pay a minimum of just the interest on the HELOC loan each month, in addition to your mortgage payment. HELOCs are normally used for big one-off costs like remodelling or university tuition, but they can also be used as a personal line of credit. HELOCs make sense if you are concerned that you may need some extra cash in the future but don’t really need it right now.

Bonus option: Refinance to get a HELOC

You’ll only be able to use a HELOC if you originally opted for a mortgage that included one. If your current mortgage doesn’t include a HELOC, refinancing allows you to get one added to your current mortgage. Moreover, since you are already refinancing to get the HELOC, you can make any necessary adjustments to your mortgage at the same time.

2. Lowering your rate

In Canada, mortgage rates are adjusted regularly. In normal circumstances one of the most common reasons to refinance is to get a lower rate, which can save you money on interest over time. When those savings are more than the prepayment penalties, it makes good financial sense to refinance.

During COVID-19, the situation is a little more complex. Bond yields are extremely low, and the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate target is at a record low of 0.25 per cent. Normally, such conditions would warrant low mortgage rates to be available. However, mortgage lenders are now pricing in a risk premium. This risk premium results in higher mortgage rates so that lenders can somewhat protect themselves from uncertainty in unemployment and the overall economy.

The upshot is rates aren’t as low as you might expect given current market conditions. That means it could be unlikely that you’ll get a low enough mortgage rate that will justify the cost of prepayment penalties. Check ratehub.ca’s mortgage refinance calculator to run the numbers for yourself.

3. Refinancing to consolidate debt

Because mortgages are secured loans, they have lower interest rates than other sources of credit, such as credit cards or personal loans. As such, they’re a great place to consolidate your debts, thus reducing the overall amount of interest you pay.

The way this is done is by accessing your home’s equity. When refinancing, you’ll take out a larger mortgage than you need to pay off your current mortgage, then use that cash to pay off your other debts. This gives you a single payment to make each month, likely at a lower overall rate (versus the various interest rates of your other loans).

Alternatives to mortgage refinancing during COVID-19

If you’ve lost income or can’t make your payments due to the COVID-19 crisis, now is probably not a good time to refinance your mortgage. This is because you’ll need to requalify for your new mortgage. If your financial situation is not as good as it was when you took out your current mortgage, you may not qualify, or could end up with a worse deal.

If you need to free up cash, for whatever reason, there are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Ask family for help: If you have parents or other family members who haven’t been hit as hard by the pandemic, consider asking them for help. This is never easy, but if there’s a time that people will understand, it’s now.
  • Get government assistance: If you haven’t yet done so, make sure to check if you or other members of your family are eligible for government assistance, such as EI or the CERB.
  • Mortgage deferral: Canada’s big banks have offered to defer mortgage payments in an effort to assist those who have lost income. Mortgage deferral isn’t free, but it could help if you’re struggling to pay your monthly bills.

The bottom line: Is the COVID-19 crisis a good time to refinance?

If you’re in need of cash during this pandemic, but aren’t in dire financial straits, then refinancing could be an option for you during this time. Additionally, it might be worth refinancing if mortgage refinance rates are significantly lower than your current rate.

However, you’ll need to consider your own needs and circumstances. The best thing you can do is speak to a mortgage professional such as a mortgage broker, who can give you a free personal assessment – do it sooner rather than later. They’ll be able to help you calculate costs and consider different options available to you during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ratehub.ca compares mortgage rates, credit cards, high-interest savings accounts, chequing accounts and insurance with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money.

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La Mansion Prince Painted Purple Is For Sale!

La mansion Prince painted purple is for sale!

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La mansion Prince painted purple is for sale!

It may have been the most infamous house-painting job in Los Angeles history in 2005 when mega-rocker-star Prince painted NBA-star Carlos Boozer’s Beverly Hills home in purple stripes. New to the market, the home just as elegant as when Prince and Elizabeth Taylor lived there decades before, is now for sale priced at $29.995 million.

When Alaskan-native Boozer signed with the Utah Jazz in 2004 for big money, he wanted a home in the sun and bought a stunning Southern California tennis estate, decorating it with the best expensive furnishings. Almost as good as his new home, his music idol, Prince, offered him $95,000 per month for a one-year lease and soon moved in. A couple of months later when Boozer was back in LA, he discovered that Prince had changed almost everything about his house. His beautiful furnishings were gone and replaced by black-and-purple everything. The weight room was now a disco dance floor with a DJ booth and his bedrooms converted to a hair salon and massage parlor. Boozer called “foul” and threatened to sue but Prince soon returned everything back to the way it was when he first rented the home. The two became best friends up until Prince’s death in 2016.

Today, the mansion is on an estate comprising the main house of approximately 15,101 square feet and an English Tudor home of 3,300 square feet, along with two extra parcels of land making up the total compound of 2.15 acres. The palatial main house has 10 bedrooms, 13 baths, a ballroom, wine room, large terraces for entertaining with views of city and ocean, a rooftop tennis court, and a pool with stone grotto reminiscent of the Playboy Mansion. Built in 1953 at the cusp between Old Hollywood and the new, it is a home that was designed for entertaining and saw many a grand party over the years, including a few Prince concerts for his friends.

Now seeking its next new owner, one of L.A.’s most significant homes and former residence of Prince and Elizabeth Taylor, is for sale at $29.995 million, or for lease of the main mansion at $80,000 per month. Brokered by the Oppenheim Group in West Hollywood, its leader Jason Oppenheim and bevy of starlet real estate agents are seen on the Netflix series Selling Sunset.

Photo credit: The Oppenheim Group


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Top honours at 2020 BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

Top honours at 2020 BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

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Top honours at 2020 BILD Renovation and Custom Home Awards

The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) handed out their annual Renovation and Custom Home Awards to the GTA’s top renovators and custom home builders by video conference on April 8th.

Created by BILD in 1999, the Renovation and Custom Home awards recognize professional renovators and custom home builders for their innovation, quality of work, customer service and industry leadership.

BILD received a record 117 submissions for 25 categories that included Best Overall Space, Best Overall Renovation, Best Overall Custom Home, Custom Home Builder of the Year and the coveted Renovator of the Year award. All submissions were evaluated by 28 industry professionals who served as volunteer judges.

This year, the Renovator of the Year award went to Eurodale Design + Build for their commitment to customer service and their contribution to the overall image of the renovation industry. Eurodale Design + Build also won Best Innovative Renovation.

“Eurodale customers were impressed with the renovator’s quality workmanship and professionalism,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO of BILD. “True to the RenoMark brand, Eurodale clients were provided with a warranty for the work done and clients felt that the renovator went out of their way to deliver an outstanding project with excellent service and followup.”

The award for Custom Home Builder of the Year went to Luxor Home Corporation. Luxor Homes’ clients felt that the builder went above and beyond to provide great quality of work and outstanding customer service. Luxor Home Corporation also won Best Custom Home Kitchen.

Profile Custom Homes won the Best Overall Custom Home award for their project in Mississauga. The design and flow of the home blurs the line between indoor and outdoor living areas. The modern design is softened by the use of wood and the integration of views of nature from every room of the home. They also won Best Custom Home over $2 million, Best Custom Home Washroom, and Best Renovation (No addition) over $500,000.

Best Overall Renovation went to Carmelin Design + Build. Carmelin Design also won Best Condominium Renovation under $200,000, and Best Renovation (No addition) under $250,000.

Both of these award-winning projects utilize high-contrast colour features in the kitchen, while softening the floor through the continuous use of hardwood floors throughout the home. The integration of large windows, which are expertly orientated in the design, maximizes the infiltration of sunlight throughout the home.

Lifestyles by Barons Inc. won Best Overall Space Renovation. This beautifully constructed whole home renovation is a testament to Lifestyles by Barons’ attention to detail and listening to the desires of their client. The integration of the soft-coloured stone and tile throughout the home provides an ambience of strength, while relaxing and easing the homeowner’s state of mind. Lifestyles by Barons Inc. also won Best Basement Renovation over $125,000, and Best Washroom Renovation.

“This year’s winners exemplify the quality, innovation, creativity and integrity that homeowners can expect when working with professional RenoMark renovators and custom builders,” says Wilkes.

All award winners are members of the national RenoMark program, which connects homeowners with professional renovators who have agreed to abide by a renovation-specific code of conduct. Contact information for all RenoMark renovators is accessible on renomark.ca. A complete list of winners can be found in the latest blog on the RenoMark website as well.

BILD would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists.

A complete list of winners can be found in the blog section of renomark.ca.


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All decked out

Five outdoor living trends that will take your backyard experience to the next level

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Five outdoor living trends that will take your backyard experience to the next level

Photos: Deckorators

As the summer season begins, you might be contemplating ways to reclaim your outdoor space. Whether you’re considering a simple deck upgrade or a complete redesign, online galleries, social media and magazines are a great way to get inspiration. Take note of these top five trends and learn more about new and exciting products and how they can work for you.

Varied-plank decking

A distinctive and thoughtfully designed deck is a sound investment. From a style perspective, varied-plank decking extends the look of wood flooring using various widths of deck boards to create a contemporary vibe, giving the illusion of transitioning interior elements to your outdoor space. By using multi-width planks, you can create unique patterns and designs for a truly custom look. Whether you’re using a smaller 3.5″ wide board or a larger 7.25″ wide board from the Deckorators Voyage Decking line, alternating widths will give a beautiful, timeless appeal to flooring.

Complementary colours

Canadian homeowners continue to play with complementary colour combinations. Emerging this year is the double-picture frame board technique, where the outside board colour complements the second inside picture-frame board colour. Finding a timeless colour pairing takes time and there’s no need to rush the decision. To determine a pleasing colour scheme, pick a primary colour and then match it with an opposite shade on the colour wheel. Playing with bold and unique colour combinations and integrating design elements, such as adding a “racer stripe” in a complementing yet contrasting colour, will result in a look that you’ll appreciate for the long haul.

Play in the shade

Backyard sun protection is an often overlooked but vital feature. Depending on your needs and the shape of your space, two options for backyard covers are the tried-and-true patio set umbrella, and the latest trend in sun protection, the sun sail. Both protect from the elements, but the sun sail extends further, designed to cover a wider area, helping to shield against UV-rays or a sudden downpour. Unlike an umbrella, the sun sail is a dramatic statement piece in any backyard. Plus, you can make it your own with bold colours, and by choosing a dynamic, geometric shape that protects but doesn’t hinder airflow. What will work best for you will be determined by the size and shape of your space and the kind of protection you need.

Functional lighting

Outdoor safety never goes out of style. Properly designed outdoor lighting extends daylight hours, allowing you to enjoy your outdoor space well into the evening. The right outdoor lighting will enhance the ambience of your space as well as increase safety of the area by illuminating deck space and improving the visibility of steps for your family and guests. One popular and subtle option for this desired look is the LUNA Step Light offered by Deckorators by Hinkley Lighting, as it fits seamlessly into deck stairs without stealing the spotlight, making sure you don’t miss a step.

Easy railings

Railings are not only functional, their design can truly elevate and complement an esthetically pleasing deck and landscape scheme. As one of the most visible deck elements, railing trends in 2020 are focused on mixing wood and metal elements for a natural and industrial look, such as a brown deck with bronze or silver railing. When deciding on which railing best suits your needs, don’t forget the view. Cable or glass railings are ideal to ensure visibility of beautifully landscaped backyards, decks or docks. The ALX Contemporary Cable Railing by Deckorators combines these trends, available in a scratch- and corrosion-resistant bronze with cable spacers that don’t hinder views.

Look for trends that reflect your esthetic and meet all your functional needs, then share your ideas with a local contractor who is well-versed in the latest products and styles for a second opinion. To find a reputable deck builder in your area, visit Deckorators.ca/Contractor.

Jase DeBoer blogs about deck ideas on the Deckorators On Deck Blog.

As senior category marketing manager for Deckorators, DeBoer has extensive knowledge of how deck design elements can work together to create a personalized outdoor oasis brimming with style.


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