man holding paintbrush for house

You loved your home from the moment you saw it and you fell in love with your neighbourhood as well. But now you might be working cross town and want to live closer to work, or your family may be growing. Regardless of the reasons, your current home may not be able to accommodate your needs and it might be time to sell it. These  considerations raise tough questions, such should you: relocate, rebuild, or renovate?

With this question in mind, we turned to three Midtown industry specialists for their perspectives and advice to assist you in your decision. Our Relocation Specialist is Jennifer Greenberg, Broker at Royal LePage. Our Rebuild Advisor is Alisse Howeling, CEO and Founder of KAAV Living. Our Renovations Consultant is Custom Home Builder, Mark WexlerCEO of Wexmark Homes.

First, let us resolve that accomplishing your goals will be a “numbers game.” Your decisions will be bound by what you can afford and what level of risk you’re willing to take.

Let’s examine the three options.


To move or not to move? Considering the current real estate market with inventory at a premium, finding a new “home” can be a difficult challenge. Not to mention, Toronto’s Midtown offers such a high quality of life that it’s hard for those living there to imagine leaving and easy for those looking to buy, to imagine moving there.

Jennifer Greenberg warns that relocating or moving into a high-demand area like Midtown is challenging. Here is an example for consideration: A young couple in Toronto who wants to buy a house for $1 million, would need 20% down ($200,000) in cash, plus pay mandatory Land Transfer Taxes of $32,000. What young couple has been able to save the deposit amount, with University loans and/or other debts? Families who “want in,” may be forced to re-compile their “wish list,” settle for less space or even abandon moving to Midtown. Homes and offices in an attractive area often come at a premium. This is why many companies are turning to rental agents instead.


For homeowners who just can’t leave the area, rebuilding can be a viable option, but requires an understanding of the overall process.

Whether your house is detached or semi detached will determine your options for rebuilding. Permits will be limited by its “setback.” A semi detached house can only have setbacks on one side; being the distance between your house and your neighbor’s (space between lot line and the house).

Ms. Howeling has suggested an Eight Step Plan for assessing whether or not you should rebuild your house:

Create a thorough plan and understand the process.

  1. Determine if this type of project is viable based on cost and
  2. Create a team to help with each step: architect, structural engineer, general contractor(s), designer, mortgage broker etc.
  3. Have a contingency budget. If you’re renovating an old house, you might discover issues that do not comply with the Building Code. You need to bring all issues “up to code.” After a structure study, you’ll know more.
  4. Hire a home inspector to evaluate your house for potential defects/issues? Some problems may not be initially apparent.
  5. “When you rebuild you don’t have these problems, because you just knock the house down.”
  6. Choose a competent, “all in one” contractor/builder and ensure they adhere to your proposed budget.
  7. Prepare to temporarily move your family out of your house for a major renovation and/or rebuild (6 months to 1 year).

If you are considering a rebuild, then KAAV Living offers a design style that is both modern and functional, utilizing a Scandinavian aesthetic to maximize your lot size. Space is used to its full potential because the house is built on an axis. A 2,300 square foot KAAV house seems large because of long sightlines that look beyond the rooms. Ceilings are high (main floor = 9 feet).


If you’re already an owner in Midtown and want to stay in the area, a renovation might make sense for you and your family. Is your lot large enough for a major renovation project? Do you have the budget to renovate? “Those who cannot move-up, renovate. They take equity out of their homes and stay put,” says Jennifer Greenberg.

If you choose to renovate your existing home, then your project will need to comply with municipal By-laws. Renovating can have limitations and Mark Wexler advises that much “depends on the Ground Floor Area and lot size. Some By-laws allow you to build a 3rd floor or an addition. Many homes in the area are bungalows so building up can be a possibility.” He recommends that if you have less than $200K available, a renovation and redesign of your existing living space is a good way to try and find more space for your wish list. Even things like changing your dated curtains for shutters from Shuttlecraft constitutes part of a renovation.

Wexmark Homes offers renovations that help create space in your existing house. “We use creativity, such as built-ins for closet space, reconfiguring layout, taking out heavy elements of the house and finding other materials and products that will help homeowners gain more space out of an existing template … Taking out walls in the house. Redesigning room sizes. Relocating a staircase. Relocation of a space,” explains Mark Wexler.

All 3 Agree

All three of our interviewed experts were unanimous in the opinion that relocation does not make sense for homeowners in Toronto right now. This is largely due to how difficult it is to qualify for a mortgage to purchase an upgrade. However, securing renovation financing is much easier and helps homeowners build equity in their current homes.

Ms. Greenberg was adamant that homeowners who’ve purchased within the last ten to fifteen years will not have built up enough equity to qualify for a mortgage to buy a bigger and better house in the same area. This issue, coupled with the fact that salaries have not advanced to compete with the inflated housing market, spells doom for homeowners seeking to become homebuyers. Another barrier to buying is Toronto’s enormous Land Transfer Tax, paid to both the City and Province. In other municipalities, homeowners are only required to make payment to the City.

Ms. Howeling, though a rebuild specialist, seemed to only approve of rebuild scenarios that include a new foundation. Otherwise, “it would be like building a new house on an existing set of issues, such as dampness, mold, mildew and a weird musty smell.”

Mr. Wexler agreed that relocation was not a possibility due to a lack of built-up equity and mortgage financing difficulties. He explains that a move from a 1.4 million house to a 1.6 million home is not moving up, because essentially, both “houses would really be the same…” The only possible advantages would be a better school district or a slightly more central location.

high rise condominiums with modern looks and feel

Before you make the largest purchase of your life, by buying a condominium you need to be sure that you have all of the relevant details. A condominium is not ever going to become someone’s total or autonomous property.

By the very definition of a condominium you can easy know that a condominium is a collection of units in a building that have been apportioned according to size and level or floor. The higher floors seemingly being known as the most valuable. Who would not want to live in the Penthouse? The view is phenomenal. Unless you need to walk to your unit, the top floor is the most illustrious place to live in a condominium building.

As a prospective purchaser you need to know that, even if you may seem to own your unit, you do not have sole authority over it. If you want to renovate your condominium you will need permission of the building management. Perhaps you want to install a new floor or have work done on your in-suite plumbing. Before you hire a contractor you will need to obtain an estimate and a work plan for the renovations. You will need to complete a form(s) provided by the building management and provide details, such as insulation or padding for new flooring; specifically stating the thickness and density of the padding. Likewise, a similar process is mandatory for plumbing and other renovations that could potentially encroach on the units of other unit owners in the building. While your floor and your plumbing exist within your unit, the correct padding for flooring will ensure that no one is disturbed by your walking in your own unit. Your plumbing must be properly installed to prevent leakage to other units.

You will want to assess the attitude of the management staff for your building before you buy a unit in a set building. You should request a meeting with the Manager of the building, in advance of buying your new or resale condominium. Knowing all of the forms to be completed for renovations, booking the party room, billiards room, media room and / or other amenities is of utmost importance. You do not want to live in a building that is housed in massive bureaucracy.

You should request an Estoppel Certificate far in advance of buying a condominium. This document will include by-laws or internal policies of the condominium corporation and list particulars, such as the deposits required to rent facilities like the elevator or party room and also state the maintenance fees for your unit. You can call the local tax department to find out the monthly and yearly property taxes for your unit.

You should request a copy of the Management Agreement. This document will explain the obligations and / or duties of the building management. Cleaning and maintenance of the building; including facilities will be detailed herein. You may need to specifically inquire as to what repairs, if any are provided by the building management. Generally no repairs within a condominium unit will be completed by the building Superintendent. Other than refinishing of the front door of your suite the Superintendent will not repair any part of your condominium. Replacement of smoke detectors and HVAC filters is usually standard maintenance covered by the Management. Some buildings have a combined agreement for cable television, which is incorporated into the maintenance fee. Not all buildings offer this perk.

In the rare case hydro (water), HVAC and insurance for your unit may all be covered in the maintenance fee. To be sure, you should probably bring a Real Estate Lawyer with you, along with your Real Estate agent before you officially present your offer to purchase. This will enrich your chances of knowing all you can and should know before you sign on the dotted line to buy a condominium.

One other item of consideration is which property management company will be managing a condominium. Usually builders have a broad agreement with a property management company to be installed for all building they construct. Once in place, it is nearly impossible to vote them out. This because positions on the Board of Director’s are for a most 2 (two) years, while a Management Agreement is often for 3 or 5 years. This means that the management company will likely outlast many officers of the condominium corporation.

The company hire to clean and maintain facilities at the condominium is hired under contract by the management company on behalf of the Board of Directors. The same is the case for the waste removal and exterior building maintenance and also the situation for the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent. The security company or concierge services is hired under a similar arrangement. It is highly recommended that you thoroughly research any and all of the companies that will directly or indirectly providing services to the condominium building where you plan to buy a condominium. Once you a resident you will are stuck with whoever is working there and the policies, which govern their work.

On the following links you will find useful information about legislation that governs condominiums, in Ontario, Canada.

Condominium Act Ontario

Condominium Owner Rights and Responsibilities

Bill 106 – Protecting Condominium Owner’s Act

modern business offices in sunny setting

You need to ask yourself if you really want to live in a condominium. There are pluses or positives and minuses or negatives with every option. If you choose reside alongside many other people in an apartment like setting, then are some issues of concern that you should consider beforehand.

Every condominium building has a management company that administers the day to day activities of the building, including enforcing or not caring about policies.

Policies can include enforcing boundaries of smoking areas in compliance with local and Provincial by-laws.

Other policies can include facility maintenance, in compliance with municipal and Provincial standards.

Every condominium corporation will also have a Board of Directors that votes on issues related to the building. While the so called Board is meant to govern the policies of the building, as with many forms of government the administration of policies is a bureaucratic responsibility. Bureaucracy is managed by management, likewise at a condominium corporation.

Before you choose to purchase a condominium be sure you know how it is managed. Request a copy of an Estoppel Certificate for the unit your plan on purchasing, far in advance of submitting an offer. As management for a meeting, as a prospective purchaser. If granted a meeting, be sure to bring a set of questions you want to ask. Also, bring a notepad for noting answers to your inquiries.

Walk around the area surrounding the condominium building and find out for yourself how close amenities are to the property. You may purchase a nice looking condominium building, but you need to be sure that you will be able to live well while you reside there.

You will also want to find out what traffic patterns are like near the condominium building. Inquire about air quality outside and inside the building, pollution levels and smog in the area near the building. Depending on the direction your unit face you may receive a lot of wind and / or sunshine. Conversely, if you unit is across from a shopping centre, then you could have a lot of fumes from vehicles and pollution, as well. If your unit is above the so-called designated smoking are you may receive a lot a second hand smoke.

Be sure to ask as many questions about the overall living conditions in the building. Find out from prospective neighbours, on your future floor what their experiences are in living at the building and ask them if they recommend that you move in or buy elsewhere.

Here are some useful references to review before buying a condominium:

interior of condos in highrise

Did you ever wonder which resale condominium is a good or great investment? The best possible deals that will result in a substantial return on your money are properties in areas to be developed or revamped.

If you are buying in area where a revitalization project is underway, then you are buying at the wrong time. after the opportunity to earn money has long since passed. The time to buy is before the government or industry partners decided to rebuild a building or redevelop an area.

In the Jane Street area, from Shoreham to Finch is a valuable investment option for any savvy real property investor. Recently a subway stop was constructed at York University and one is underway at Jane Street and Hwy 7. Any property in the surrounding area would be a great investment opportunity.

Once the subway station is completely at Jane and Hwy 7 there will be a major investment by governmental agencies to revitalize the nearby areas. Not long Parkdale  was rebuilt with massive grants from various levels of government and construction programs that employed residents, as part of a community development initiative.

If you can buy a condominium anywhere in the Greater Toronto area for less than one-hundred thousand dollars, then you should buy it right away. Condominium prices are sure to continue rise upwards in proportion to the number of levels in the buildings.

Be a smart investor. Buy before other people even realize that there is potential for earnings in any neighborhood. Newmarket area and northbound is a smart option for buying land, which could be used for condominium buildings and townhouse developments, as well as general subdivisions. Mansions could be constructed on any of the current farmland in towns just North of Newmarket, from Sharon to Sutton.

Rezoning may be necessary to obtain a building permit for houses and condominiums, in areas formerly used as farms. Even with the possible expense involved in getting a land rezoned and the long waiting period for so doing, the potential earnings far outweigh any initial costs.

Condominiums may sold due to the the bankruptcy or ill financial position of a condominium board. This situation may be noted as a Assessment, which is related to the assessed rate of an additional fee that residents will need to pay to their management office, supplemental to regular maintenance fees. The Assessment fee will be paid the bank or mortgage company to whom the building or corporation owes money, usually as a result of borrowing for repairs or to maintain the reserve fund.  Many residents may not be able to meet the financial obligations of an Assessment fee, especially if they purchased their condominium with a loan and not a mortgage.

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If you are in the process of purchasing a new home, then you need to ask yourself some important questions. Firstly, Why Pay Market Price for A Home? Do I have the money to buy what I want? Will I be purchasing the house or condominium that I need?

If you are single, then your situation is surely different from married people who will be competing for the same  property. As a single person you may not have the same credit history or credible standing with bank or loan company. A lender may view you, a single entity, as being unstable.

Whether or not their is any credibility to the lender’s view of you, the way market yourself matters. If you present yourself as being grounded and interested in putting down roots, then the lender may be willing to take a chance on lending you money. The leverage a married couple may have over a single person is that the lender envisions the married people as one unit that is focused on one goal: building a home in their house or condo.

Real Estate Agents, similar to lenders, also assess prospective purchasers. They will size you up based on their set criteria. Perhaps they will consider you a more serious investor if they know you have already been pre-approved for a line of credit for a substantial amount. If you have a strong career, in which you are advancing in terms of job position and salary, then both a Real Estate Agent and a lender will consider you to be someone to bank on.

Based on how you present yourself and your financial position to lender’s and Real Estate Agent’s, you will likewise receive measurable service. If an Agent knows you will certainly qualify for a mortgage and that you have a readily available down payment, then they will be more inspired to show you their special book of property listings. Agent’s may not show the same properties to all clients and / potential clients. This is because they do not want to sully the relationship they have will a seller and also do not want to build a relationship of bringing would-be buyers to the table who are just not serious, or who are unable to close the deal.

If an Agent brings buyers to sellers and deals do not close, then eventually the Agent will become known as an unreliable Agent. To build and establish a portfolio of successful transactions, Agents will reserve their best buy’s for buyers that can close the deal. The benefit to for real buyers who have cash on hand, is that they will be able to get bargains on properties. If there is no condition based on financing and a down payment, without limit, can be provided on a moments notice, then a seller will likely be willing to substantially bend on the price.

But there is such much more. Power of Sale properties, urgent sales due to divorce, bankruptcy or general financial problems can be secured by buyers who can show the money quickly. These real deal properties need to be liquidated to satisfy immediate debts. Buyers who have liquid capital will be able to cash in big time on these super- save homes.

To pay less than market price for a house or condominium you need to be known as a buyer who can close a deal without any doubt or fuss. Seem to be an Agent’s dream and you will be able to make your own dreams come true.

interior of condo building living room

Who Took the Real Estate Market?

Has the Real Property market been stolen? Who Took the Real Estate Market? Why is it so difficult to afford a home in major cities throughout Canada? Conversely why is it so affordable or cheap to buy a home in urban areas? Did one major Real Estate Developer purchase every house or housing development? Or was it many Developer’s, as part of conspiracy to compel the increase of housing costs?

It may seem as though there is a concerted effort, by an elite aristocracy to bolster home costs. But this is a paranoid perspective that should cease. Instead, let us focus on what is actually happening. Firstly, it seems as many streets where there were once bungalows or small shack-like shanty town dwellings are being replaced by large box multi-leveled structured dwellings.

Where are these independent builders getting all of this seemingly newfound cash flow? Possibly this influx of money is coming from foreign investments / investors. It could seem like foreign investors sent relatives to buy up many areas and populate them with immense building that look like houses. Entire families could reside in these super-structured domains for many years, all the while paying for utilities and maintenance upkeep fees. Eventually these houses will be so at a high increase far over above the general market price for so-called comparable residences. The homes being used in the comparison, which are not even similar in design, size or structural integrity. This is perhaps a major issue of concern.

With a new standard being set for house sizes, homeowner’s are listing their dissimilar properties at outrageously high-prices in an effort to compete with homes that are not even slightly related. It seems we may have partially determined the cause of the ever-increasing house listing crisis – egoism (great big egos). A great desire by home sellers to fetch a high price for their average house puts potential buyers into a financial dilemma.

This translates into big business for loan companies, mortgage agents / brokers and trust companies. These financial powerhouses will be able to set high interest rates for loans and mortgages, as so-called standard loan processing fees. This process can be interpreted as being a great farce by a hard working person who just wants to be able to afford a home. The result is many potential home buyers will need to find a place to dwell in undesirable but affordable areas. Is there an elite status for home ownership?


man signing document for new property

Close now pay later. Why not close a home transaction today and pay later; up to six months later?”Legal fees, title insurance premiums, land transfer tax, applicable registration costs and program fees” can all be deferred for a small administration fee. Please review the Smart Close Program offered by RE/MAX Realty Brokerage’s for more details.  According to a the LawPro website: “Real estate lawyers may now offer their clients access to deferred closing costs and extended home warranty programs, thus reflecting a movement towards one-stop shopping for the consumer.”

But what if the condominium corporation takes the same attitude? It could decide it will wait to make major improvements, such as; building a recreation centre or extra guest suites and defer these costs to one year or more after the building has been built. This could result in an unforeseen increase in maintenance fees that a new condominium owner will need to shepherd, in addition to undetermined property taxes for their suites. Depending on the local infrastructure and the size of a new condominium, property taxes will vary and not be immediately set or determined by the municipality. For more information on these and other must know details on buying a new condo, new home-buyers in Ontario should visit the Province of Ontario’s informative Consumer Protection Website for Newly-Built Condos.

According to a popular Real Property website “You should budget for insurance on your new home. Insurance costs can include default mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, mortgage life insurance and title insurance.” Money should be set aside for incidental expenses such as legal fees and disbursements, land transfer tax, mortgage insurance, title insurance, property tax and prepaid utility adjustments, property appraisal, home inspection, interest adjustments for mortgage payments.

To be sure that you will be able to complete your purchase with the least amount of surprises and be prepared for any issues that may arise you will need to rely on a team of professionals. Almost like a draft for a sports team, you will need to carefully evaluate the unique skills of Real Property experts, and select the most qualified specialists to ensure your deal closes with you as the winner!

Team of experts to assemble:

  1. Real Estate Agent
  2. Home-Stager
  3. Home Inspector
  4. Financial Planner (insurance options for mortgage, life insurance, investments, retirement plans)
  5. Mortgage Agent / Broker (financing matters for mortgage and pre-purchase loans, including closing costs)
  6. Title Searcher
  7. Lawyer
  8. Personal Assistant
  9. Renovation Specialist / Contractor
  10. Mover’s
  11. Furniture company
  12. Landscaping and snow removal company
man at desk working on business project

On Account

You are planning to buy a home. You want to purchase property. You are willing to pay for your land and the domain that will rest upon it. Why should you need to pay for anything else? On account the money you will be paying out in commission to sell your home, you should expect professionalism in return.

If you are fortunate to find a quality Real Estate Agent who really cares, then perhaps this professional will also ‘foot the bill’ (pay the costs) of a home stager, minor renovations or enhancements to make your home more sellable. Also, maybe the Agent will cover the fee for Title Insurance. This scenario is more likely if you buy a combined Real Estate Lawyer Service through the same brokerage as the Agent who will sell your home. Why would an Agent want to pay these costs for you – the home seller?

An agent can potentially earn 2.5-3% of the sale price for your home, depending on the split. Assuming the buyer’s agent could be paid the same percentage of commission. On a $200,000 home this translates into roughly $6000 per Agent. If Agent’s need to spend $500-$1000 to wrap-up a deal so that it will be more beautifully packaged, then they should do so with a smile.

Usually there is ninety-day commitment that an Agent will want from the homeowner to be able to effectively market and sell a property; detailed in the Listing Agreement or Sales Agency Agreement. Her is a link to sample Listing Agreement from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) on the Toronto Real Estate Board’s website.  If an Agent devotes this amount of time and professional expertise to have to relinquish the listing to another Agent, then they have donated their services and wasted their time. Better to invest in minor upgrades and in ensuring the home is effectively showcased and get it sold quickly, at the highest price it can fetch in the marketplace.

As a home-seller you need to be sure that the Agent you select will dedicate not only time, but some investment to sell your home. If an Agent has a team (partnership with a home-stager, referral to Real Estate Lawyer and Title Insurance coverage program), then you can know your home will be sold with ease and without any worries or complications.

As home buyer or seller you should be sure to perform your own due diligence when selecting a Real Estate Agent. Be sure that you are dealing with qualified and fully trained professional deal-makers who get the job right and on your budget, within a set time. You should not be shy about your property or your money. Be confident and secure the services of confident professionals to list and sell your home.

house with key for property purchase

Buying a home, whether a house a or condominium should be a straightforward process. If one has  enough money for a down payment, then one should be able to make an offer on a property of one’s desire. There are, however, many obstacles in the process of purchasing a home. These include costs, such as: land transfer fees, realtor fees, home staging fees, moving costs and legal expenses; are only some of the most common payments to be made when acquiring a home.

One wants to know how to buy a home nowadays. If one ventures into alternative markets, one can perhaps save money in the home-buying process. Possible options include, buying through a commission-free sales system, where the seller instead pays only a flat fee to the sales service. Purchasing property through a Foreclosure or Power of Sale process, can offer a potential purchaser the opportunity to bid in an auction or to submit offers to a bank or credit company for the property. Also, a buyer can gain an advantage – in their buying process – by submitting a tender for a property offered through a tax sale; to either acquire the deed or the lien on a property.

There are numerous other options available to purchasers who want to save big and spend small, in their property purchasing adventure. They can also buy properties through a trust sale, which might be listed with a specified realtor. To find out about these and many more great options to make your ownership of a home a reality, please contact – where the world comes home.

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Estoppel Certificate Mysteries

Estoppel Certificate Mysteries – To Be or Not to Be

Imagine that you have just purchased your dream condominium. Your Lawyer has been instructed to complete the necessary paperwork to ensure that you will be inscribed as the official owner of the newly acquired property. The first step in this process is for an Estoppel Certificate to be requested. This bizarre document contains many important details. In this post we will examine Estoppel Certificate Mysteries.

Perhaps your attorney has conducted a thorough title search to search for liens on title and the title appeared to be clear. Only once you have moved into your new residence do you discover that the prior owner did not pay the required maintenance fees to the property management office. How could this have happened? Details such as maintenance fees, paid or unpaid and what they cover or included in the way of services to be provided are contained therein.  The Estoppel Certificate package will detail the amount of condo fees (common expense and reserve fund) for which the unit owner is responsible. It will also outline timely options for payment of maintenance / condo fees: annual or monthly payments. As well as methods of payment: post dated cheques, or automatic bank account withdrawal. Within the Estoppel Certificate package one should find the following items: Bylaws of the condominium corporation, building policies, use of facilities rules, hours or operation of management office, allowable hours for moving in / out and for booking of elevators and equipment. Also, complete contact details for management and security,  as well as the building Superintendent may be contained within the package.

According to an article on Wikipedia: “An estoppel certificate provides confirmation by the tenant of the terms of the rental agreement, such as the amount of rent, the amount of security deposit and the expiration of the agreement. Further, the estoppel certificate may give the opportunity to the tenant to explain if she may have any claims against the landlord, which may affect a buyer’s or lender’s decision to complete the proposed transaction.”

If you did not receive an Estoppel Certificate, then you would not have even known what the maintenance fees were. This vital document contains details about building policies for moving in and out, times that the garbage rooms are in operation and information about amenities and rules about being a resident in the condominium building.

To ensure that you are fully informed about all parts of the process for effective and legitimate transfer of the deed to your property you need to be sure that you have retained the services of a competent Real Estate Lawyer who is known to have an impeccable reputation.


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