Friday, May 30, 2008

New Home & Condo Buyers Beware!

Ontario's new home warranty program which is now known as Tarion Warranty Corp. has a provision within its warranty policy that has the potential to impact thousands of new home and condominium buyers in Ontario.
Most reputable builders are registered with TARION which provides buyers with various degrees of warranty coverage up to a maximum of 7 years on specific elements of the property. A problem arises however when the home is re-sold by the original purchaser(s) and never occupied. Despite a property all ready being registered under the TARION warrantry program by the builder, TARION requires that the "sellers" of the property must also become registered with TARION at a cost of $600, in those instances where they have not occupied the dwelling and are simply re-selling or flipping it. Failure to do so can result in the property's owners being fined up to $25,000 and or imprisoned for up to one year.
This little known caveat within the TARION warranty program appears to make little sense in terms of protecting consumers and serves only to fatten TARION's coffers with every $600 registration fee they collect from the resellers of unoccupied properties. If you are contemplating purchasing a new home or condo strictly as an investment to resell without anyone ever living in it, please note your obligation to register with TARION. The fee of $600 while seemingly nothing more than a money grab is much less than the consequences of not registering and getting caught!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Rules for Lawyers

On March 28th, the Law Society of Upper Canada passed an amendment to their Rules of Professional Conduct that will have an impact on most real estate transactions.
Unlike REALTORS®, lawyers are no longer able to act on behalf of both parties ie: Buyer and Seller in the transfer of title for real property. Two separate lawyers will be required to represent the parties to a given transaction. It is permissable for two lawyers from the same firm to act on behalf of the parties as long as the general rules pertaining to a conflict of interest are followed. After numerous consultations with members of the bar and real estate practitioners, it was felt that in order to minimize any chances of conflict of interest, this amendment should be adopted. In specific circumstances one lawyer can act on behalf of two parties ie: when the Buyer and Seller are one in the same or where property is being transferred from one spouse to another etc.
This recent change by the Law Society begs the question, how long will it be before similar legislation is brought forth with respect to the activities of REALTORS®? Real estate agents face the same potential for a conflict of interest when selling one of their own listings, representing both the Buyer and the Seller. It is an absolute necessity that all parties are aware of, understand and consent to in writing this form of agency relationship in a real estate transaction. I suspect the day will come when as is now the case within the legal profession, two REALTORS® will be required to handle a given transaction and there will be no more of what is affectionately known as "double-ending."
Being a customer or a client are NOT one in the same. If you have any questions with respect to whom is working for whom in a real estate transaction please do not hesitate to contact the writer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The High Cost of "FREE" Parking!

Today while my car was in for service, I walked from my office at First and Cedar Streets to Hurontario Street for banking and other errands. I realized that making the trip as a pedestrian was more convenient than driving. Ever since the Town of Collingwood implemented the two hour free parking on Hurontario Street it has become almost impossible to find a parking space during normal business hours especially in the first two blocks from First to Third Streets. While the rationale here was to encourage shopping in the downtown core, personally I find that free parking is in fact driving me away from downtown except for those needs where I simply have no other choice ie: to bank.
Donald Shoup a university professor at UCLA has written a book titled "The High Cost of Free Parking." It is estimated that in most municipalities across North America there is at least 4 parking spots for every 1 car making parking the biggest form of land use in most cities and towns. With so much land consumed for parking we have no business giving it away for FREE no matter what the duration. Think about it! You have a parking space at work, at your church, at the mall, at the theatre, at your doctor's office and yes in downtown Collingwood. Perhaps the number of spaces per car is a lot higher than 4, no one really knows.
While circling around downtown trying to find a place to park, we're burning increasingly expensive fossil fuels, discharging harmful emissions into the air all the while creating additional traffic congestion and wear and tear on our streets. I and I suspect most responsible citizens would gladly spend a few quarters to eliminate such waste and harm to our environment not to mention the lost time searching for a parking space. I for one would gladly PAY for the convenience of being able to find a space quickly when I need it. Spending more time to park compared to the purpose of my trip downtown is just ridiculous especially when the town is loosing some much needed revenue. The added irony also here is that we have an anti-idling bylaw to curb emissions which with the added driving being created by drivers looking for a place to park makes no sense at all.
In Shoup's book he uses Old Towne Pasendena California as an example. The downtown core was suffering with merchants claiming it was due to inadequate parking. The reality was people who worked in the area consumed most of the parking leaving customers to drive around searching for a space to park. Sound familiar? A new policy was adopted whereby parking rates were implemented that would maintain an 85% occupancy rate. Determining the appropriate rate to charge ensures that there is always a 15% vacancy rate with 2 or 3 empty spaces always available per block. Shoup also maintains that if you need to impose a limit on parking, you are simply not charging enough!
The parking revenues collected were not deposited into Pasendena's general municipal coffers but were used to enhance and maintain the downtown core. Once that happened the local business community rallied with improvements of their own resulting in the complete revitalization of the area into a bustling and vibrant economic sector of the city. Maintaining or worse, increasing the amount of parking available only serves to increase "sprawl" thus making public transit and pedestrian travel even more difficult to maximize.
The issue of parking should not be treated as a matter of politics. Town planners receive no formal training with respect to parking yet planning departments in most municipalities dictate to developers the parking capacity they must offer. It's time to stop this free parking boondoggle and I commend the Councillors that voted against it in the first place. The only free space the Town should be considering is parkland which we have far too little of especially along the waterfront.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the high cost of free parking, click on the following link:

How To Select A Good REALTOR®

Too often, REALTORS® and salepeople in other fields often earn themselves a negative image in the eyes of consumers. While on ocassion this is the result of a deliberate action(s) on the part of the salesperson, more often than not the intentions of the person involved are good but are poorly executed. When picking a REALTOR® to assist you with what may very well be the largest monetary purchase you will ever make, the following are a few key quality and or attributes to look for.

- REALTORS® hear what their clients say but a good REALTOR® listens.
- REALTORS® make deals, a good REALTOR® helps clients buy and sell properties.
- Some REALTORS® will get stressed over a sale, a good REALTOR® stays calm and never loses their composure.
- With some REALTORS® is all about "me," with a good REALTOR® their emphasis is always on their client(s).
- Some REALTORS® will claim that they entered the real estate profession to help people however the trusted REALTOR® will admit that they are in real estate to make a living but do so by putting their client(s) first.
- Some REALTORS® will admittedly and desparately work with anyone. Trusted professional REALTORS® will selectively work with clients that appreciate their hard work, knowledge and dedication to their profession.

These are but just a few of the attributes that makes for a good REALTOR® or saleperson in general. As a professional, full-time REALTOR® I strive to provide my clients with the best service possible. My Mission Statement concisely sums up that goal: Dedicated to protecting and placing my client's interests first, by providing a level of integrity, knowledge and professionalism that will exceed your expectations."
Whether buying or selling, I would be delighted to assist you in achieving your real estate objectives. To learn more, visit my website

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rural Property Septic Systems

Given the ongoing need as a REALTOR® to stay abreast of ongoing legislative and other changes pertaining to property ownership, I attended two seminars this week sponsored by the local real estate Board of which I am President. These seminars dealt with rural property ownership and covered issues pertaining to drinking water and water treatment systems as well as onsite residential wastewater systems more commonly referred to as "septic systems."
These excellent, highly information sessions were conducted by representatives from the Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre. This organization was formed in 1998 by the University of Guelph's School of Engineering in partnership with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority as well as a variety of industry and government stakeholders. The organization's mission is: "To promote environmentally sustainable development of rural and unsewered areas through the effective use of wastewater treatment and dispersal technologies." This is done by providing training, reserach and demonstration(s) in areas of residential and small community waste water treatment as well as nutrient and agri-food wastewater management.
The Ontario Building Code is responsible for enforcing the proper construction, replacement, repair or expansion of all onsite sewage treatment systems. Once installed it is the property owner's responsibility to ensure that their onsite system is operated and maintained in such a manner as to not pose any threat to public health or contriubte to degradation of the environment. When a property is being sold, the seller is legally obligated to disclose any defects in their system which they may be aware of and it is the duty of both the seller's and buyer's REALTORS® to include the necessary clauses and or conditions in an Agreement of Purchase and Sale to protect all parties involved while satisfying all legal and environmental requirements.
The environment continues to play an ever-increasing role in the sale of property, rural or otherwise. Organizations such as the Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre play an important role in public environmental education and awareness something for which we will all benefit. For further information visit their website at:

Monday, May 5, 2008

April Real Estate Sales Update

Area real estate sales during the month of April were off slightly with MLS® unit and dollar sales down 2% from April 2007. A total of 187 properties were sold in April versus 190 during the same month last year and dollar volumn dropped from $48.5 to $47.4 million for the month. Based on strong sales through January and particularly in February, year-to-date sales throughout the area remain above last year's results for the first four months with unit sales up 3% (578 versus 560) and dollar revenue up 7% from $141.9 million in 2007 to $152.4 million this year.
The municipalities of Clearview and Meaford are showing the largest unit sales gains over last year with increases of 43% and 34% respectively. Residential unit sales in Grey Highlands are up 7%, whereas sales in the Town of the Blue Mountains are down approximately 5%, Wasaga Beach is down 11% with sales in the Town of Collingwood and Mulmur Township unchanged from last year. As in prior months, activity at the upper end of the market remains strong with sales over $350,000 up 18% and sales above $500,000 up 23%.
The number of residential new listings that have come on the market through the first four months of the year stands at 1,925 up from 1,803 last year, an increase of 7%. The number of expired listings has increased from 181 in the first four months of 2007 to 205 this year, an increase of 13%.
Note: The statistics quoted herein represent MLS® sales and listing activity as reported by the Georgian Triangle Real Estate Board. If you have a specific request for additional information, please contact the writer.

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Royal LePAGE Locations North (Brokerage)

330 First Street, Collingwood, ON L9Y 1B4


Direct: 705-443-1037

Office: 705-445-5520 ext 230


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