Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Season

Merry Christmas to all my readers

I wish you a safe and happy holiday season to your and yours!

Best wishes in the New Year

Please note - I am not available between Dec 22nd and Jan 9th 2012.  During this time, please feel free to email me and I endevour to return emails daily.

USA visas to be easier to procure in the future?

What is Happening with the Retiree Visa and Homeownership Visa Proposal (S. 1746 and H.R. 3341)?

With much fanfare on October 20, US Senators Schumer and Lee introduced the long awaited Canadian retiree visa proposal and a companion homeownership visa proposal. Many of us have lobbied for years for the retiree legislation. Now, with public endorsements from Washington-savvy organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the US Travel Association, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association, this bill seems to have a lot going for it-but nothing is happening.

As is customary, the bill was read twice in the Senate. The bill was then, appropriately, sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration. To date, no Committee hearings have been scheduled. Calls to Senator Schumer's office have been met with "most bills introduced never make it out of committee..." No organization has made any identifiable public effort to get the bill moving. There is no movement of the House companion bill H.R. 3341 either.

The lack of movement is a good lesson in US politics. From our perspective, four kinds of bills are introduced in Congress:

a) A momentum bill. A bill that has a natural momentum all its own. It is pushed to approval by circumstance with no meaningful opposition. These come in two flavors: the meaningful (the December 8, 1941 Declaration of War on Japan and Germany) and the meaningless (National Ice Cream Day on the third Sunday in July).

b) A self-interest bill. A bill that moves forward because it is in the self-interest of a member or members of Congress. It makes a member look very good. It saves a member's political or financial bacon. Or, refreshingly, a member decides that it is simply the right thing to do.

c) An opportunity bill. A bill that makes sense and has some public support, but no member of Congress is going to put limited time, money, and energy behind it unless there is a compelling reason to do so. In other words, opportunity bills become self-interest bills and then become law through public support/pressure.

d) A dead-on-arrival bill. A bill introduced at the request of and to please a constituent. Though the bill does no political harm to the member introducing it, the bill has no chance of ever becoming law. Members from conservative districts might propose sealing the borders, eliminating the Department of Education, or making English the only language used in government publications. Members from liberal districts might propose free university education, a ban on hunting, or a cabinet level department of alternative energy. Under current circumstances, none of these proposals will go anywhere, but in every congressional session you will see these bills or bills like them.

Though we thought S. 1746 (VISIT-USA) was a momentum bill, it is an opportunity bill. It is, emphatically, not dead-on-arrival.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Updates to the Condominium Act

Changes have been proposed to the Ontario Condominium Act.  After being enacted in 2001, the legislation is ten years old, like anything ten years old, it should be evaluated and updates discussed.

To be a director of a condominium board in Ontario, you have to be 18-years of age, mentally competent and not be an undischarged bankrupt.

But as condominiums become an increasingly important lifestyle choice in the province, two of the largest condominium associations want to raise the bar on the quality of directors by making sure that education becomes a requirement under the now decade old Ontario Condominium Act.

“Given the large responsibility borne by directors often dealing with assets worth many millions of dollars, and that most often they are volunteers without a specific skill set for governance of a condominium corporation…all new directors regardless of their educational and professional background attend an introductory directors’ condominium course to ensure basic knowledge,” says a proposal to be released on June 1 and obtained by The Star.

The educational bylaw requirement is just one of many long-awaited recommendations in a 102-page report by the joint committee of the Canadian Condominium Institute and the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario.

“There are a lot more people living in condos today than when the act was implemented, and we’ve seen where things could certainly be improved,” said Armand Conant, a lawyer and past president of the Canadian Condominium Institute.

Other changes the groups want include:
• Reserve fund requirements in condos to be increased so that buildings don’t fall into disrepair. Currently the minimum contribution in the first year budget is 10 per cent. The group recommends 20 per cent.
• New property tax classifications for condominiums. The government assess units for taxes as if they were receiving individual services which is “not fair or equitable” says the group. “For example there would be only one garbage pick up for a condo of 200 homes, yet if these 200 homes were houses on a street they would have to make 200 stops.”
• The Ontario New Home Warranty Plan should apply to condominium conversions so the new owners will have protection.
• More disclosure by developers on key financial matters. Some developers may mislead consumers by artificially depressing first year expenses which results in large increases in common expenses in the second year.

Conant says his group has met with as many stakeholders as possible, from owners, to developers and trades people to draft the recommendations.

“We started with the basis that this is essentially a consumer protection act, and we wanted to have as wide an input as possible,” said Conant.

With an election coming up in October, the groups hopes this will raise the profile of condominium ownership with politicians and that the provincial government will eventually move to re-open the Act. Copies will be delivered to Minister of Consumer Services John Gerretsen’s office, as well as all the opposition parties.

The Act received Royal Assent in 1998, but didn’t come into force until May 5, 2001, or ten years ago.

There are now 9,000 condominium corporations in the province, and record breaking sales of condos in cities such as Toronto as condominiums are outselling single detached homes.

“The current Act is a huge improvement over the old one, but since then times have certainly changed,” said Conant.

Click here to read the full article

CMHC Overview for Ottawa 2012

The Ottawa housing market appears to be looking positive again for Ottawa in 2012 according to CMHC.  This is fueled by Ottawa having the highest employment rate in Ontario and highest paid labor market in Ontario.

2012 Predictions by CMHC
- Interest rates are expected to remain low in 2012 due to the European and USA economic issues.
- Housing Prices are expected to rise by 2%
- Vacancy rates for rental properties to remain low, close to 1% (meaning 99 out of a 100 apartments are rented monthly in Ottawa).

Some 2011 Highlights
- Largest Price Increase: West End at 10.6%
- Highest Volume: Barrhaven at 15.6%
- Most Increase In Value: Condo's

Monday, December 12, 2011

New goal - Job Optional

I was at a seminar this week put on by a group promoting real estate investment.  It was mostly an information session, trying to sell spaces at a weekend retreat.  There message wasn't really anything new, it was planting a seed of additional information available in the future if you pay a hefty fee to attend another session (and then another session).  

The one item that came to me at this seminar was a very cool new term, "job optional".  Basically, job optional is exactly as it sounds, getting to a point that you no longer need to work a day to day, that your mail box money (passive income) exceeds your monthly expenses.  A seemingly simple concept, but difficult to achieve.  I like this term, as you could exist without a job, but it does not imply retirement.  It allows for options and flexibility in life and in your future.

I have two clients who are job optional in their 30s through real estate investment.  I have been working on analysing their portfolios.  I figured since I helped build these portfolios, I should be able to replicate it myself with work and effort.  They had clearly defined goals and a singular focus and direction towards an end result and achieved it by never losing focus on their ultimate vision for the future.

The first step is to accurately ascertain how much money you need to live the lifestyle you desire.  My wife (and by extension myself) does not believe in completely sacrificing your life to live only for tomorrow, you have to enjoy today and be smart looking forward to tomorrow.  For example, if you like to travel, you have to budget that into the figures.  If you do not add items like travel to your budget, you will never be able to financial afford to take a trip or whatever luxury items you enjoy.

For most of us, this number will be a negative.  This is why jobs exist.  This negative number is how much money you have to make each month at a job to live your lifestyle.  The larger the number, the more money you need to make each month.  This is a number that has to be replaced by your mail box money. 

I have back tracked my expenses for the past year and averaged out my expenses to reach a fairly accurate monthly expense estimate.  I have added ten percent to this number as a buffer for life's unexpected bumps.  I figure this gives me a pretty reliable estimate.  Inflationary concerns are limited as rents increase annually and should cover these.

Now, the fun begins.  My efforts going forward are to find properties that produce "mail box money".  After you deduct all the expenses, mortgage payments, etc, that there is a monthly left over balance, which is predictable.  To be safe, I will be deducting 10% off each month's rental income for vacancy, repairs, maintenance, etc. 

It is pretty interesting to do the math on your monthly budget and how much you are deficient each month, based upon your expenses.  This is a great tool to predict how much money you will need in the future for your own retirement.  I suggest, heading into the new year, that everyone work these numbers.

My number is rather large (or so I think), so this goal will take some time.  I think with focus and direction, it is attainable.  There is no sense in setting goals that cannot be achieved.  I will update you as my progress begins.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Team approach to USA investing

My wife and I were new to real estate investing when we met with Greg. The team of people that he put us in contact with made us feel comfortable and confident that we made the right decision. Starting with the amazing service from Annelies and Julie to the renovation company we hired, everyone was very responsive to us and understood our investment goals. Tim's team in Phoenix is outstanding. They have answered countless questions from us and worked very closely with us on our first property which had 8 offers in the first 24 hours on the market. Their website is very simple to use. The feature we use the most is the hotlist of properties that they hand pick as some of the best deals for their clients. We have purchased 3 properties in the past 4 months. We are looking forward to our 4th purchase in early 2012.

Keith and Vicki

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

November Results - Ottawa Real Estate Board

Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,020 residential properties in November through the Board's Multiple Listing Service® system compared with 940 in November 2010, an increase of 8.5 per cent. The five-year average for November sales is 881.
Of those 1,020 sales, 244 were in the condominium property class, while 776 were in the residential property class. The condominium property class includes any property, regardless of style (i.e. detached, semi-detached, apartment, stacked etc.), which is registered as a condominium, as well as properties, which are co-operatives, life leases and timeshares. The residential property class includes all other residential properties.
"Last month was the best November on record for resale home sales in Ottawa. The last time we saw sales numbers anywhere close to that number was in 2001. It speaks well for the stability of our market that even in the quieter months of the year, our market is still thriving," said Board Past President Joanne Tibbles. "The number of properties available for sale is higher than at this time last year, indicating that homeowners are confident that it's a good time to put their home on the market, and based on these great sales numbers, buyers are also confident, especially as interest rates remain stable," she added.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lot prices on the rise in the USA

USA lot prices are on the rise in the high foreclosure states - Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona.

There is still two years to three years supply on the market, which should reflect more like four to six months supply, but the numbers are dropping and prices are increasing, as builders are starting to invest in land again

In places like Phoenix, homes are still selling at fifty cents on the dollar compared to replacement costs to build a new home in the existing properties place

Click here

Thursday, November 24, 2011

CMHC gives positive outlook for 2012

CMHC forecasts for 2012 are positive for home owners and investors.  It appears 2012 will be another growth year for housing in Canada.  Interest rates are predicted to stay low. 

In my opinion, I think this is a good year to be focussing on some debt reduction and asset growth.  The great part of low interest rates is that a higher percentage of your payment goes to principle reduction.

To read full Ottawa Citizen article

Home Energy Audit

The Home Energy Audit program has been extended to the end of March 2012. 

This is a program that is used right here in Ottawa by home owners and investors to outfit their homes with energy efficient renovations on homes.  Check them out here

Canada Rebate programs

Ontario Rebates programs - Ontario — You pay $350 for the first energy audit. You will receive a $150 rebate on the cost of your first audit from the Ontario government’s Home Energy Audit program, regardless of whether you make any energy-saving renovations.

The first energy audit must take place before you renovate - if you want your energy-saving upgrades to qualify for grants and rebates.  A second energy audit must be completed after all upgrades are finished.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Basement apartments

I have been doing a lot of research on basement apartments.  They are confusing spaces for sure.  It is difficult to understand the amount of work that goes into building an apartment in the basement of a house.  My focus has been on houses with direct entries to the basement, so without having to dig and modify the foundation walls.

I have found that these are far pricier than I originally thought.  My first rough estimates had the basement apartment at $30,000, but recent quotes have put a fully permitted and built basement apartment around $50,000.  This is a big number, but this apartment should easily generate $1200 per month, meaning a return of your investment in three and a half years. 

Assuming a quality job with timeless decor, this should give a lifespan to the apartment of 10 plus years.  This would result in a gross return of over $93,000 in the lifespan (after costs of building the suite).  The other advantage is when the property needs to be updated, you will avoid major costs like wiring, plumbing, sewers, construction, etc.  The costs will merely be new kitchen, bathroom and flooring.

I think these are highly viable investment options to maximize returns in real estate.  In places like Vancouver, these type of suites are now becoming very common in most homes.  This is a great way for young first time buyers to get in the market, in a good neighbourhood. 

Drop me a quick line to learn what to look for an how to move this forward.

When will it end? The US housing crisis

A common question comes up when I speak about the USA housing crisis "Why did it start in 2007?"  The second question is "When do you think it will end?"
The sub-prime USA market hit late in 2007.  If you think back, that would mean these mortgages were originated in 2002, which makes sense as the policy change to bring about the "Sub Prime Mortgages" originated in 2001/2002.  This policy change was in response to the 9/11 disaster and the resulting economic slow down that occured.  Subprime mortgage lending was introduced as a method to stimulate the economy.

If you track the timelines, mortgages granted in 2002, with an average timeline of 5 years, means these mortgages would be up for renewal in 2007 (start of the global financing meltdown).  The peak lending of subprime mortgages was 2004 to 2006, which translates to 2009 to 2011 for maturation dates.  The end of the subprime mortgage fiasco was 2008, meaning the final bad debt should be washing through the system in 2013. 

With the end of 2011, we have now weathered what should be the worst of the bad mortgage financing problems in the USA.  This is meaningful, as we are starting to see strong embers of a recovery taking effect.  It is important to remember, many USA banks were leveraged over $40 per dollar of deposit money, whereas our conservative Canadian banks were leveraged to a maximum of $8 per deposit dollar.

Many economists with bigger brains and more experience predicting the future probably have some different opinions and ideas, but it seems to me that at the base, understanding the flow of the paper will predict the start and end of the real estate based financing issues. 

Does this mean magically in 2013 everything will be fine?  Not likely.  There is another factor that is at play, since 2008 the US new housing industry has been operating a highly reduced rate.  New home construction is well below pre2007 levels.  There are around 330 million people in the USA and their population grows by about 3 million per year. 

On average, across America, there are 2.87 people per household, meaning each year, the USA needs another 1,050,000 homes (approx.).  With housing construction largely silent since 2007, that means there is a short fall of close to 5 million homes by the end of 2012.  There was an epidemic of overbuilding in some cities, so through this foreclosure process many of these second and third homes have been bought up.  Eventually, new home builders will have to start building homes.  When they do, prices will have to increase.  In some centers, such as Phoenix, Arizona, houses are selling at 50% of their built prices.

Once the bad debt is "flushed" through the system and the new home construction industry starts building again, the USA housing crisis will have ended. 

Invest in Phoenix, Arizona

Many of you’ve been asking for Arizona information. I recently put together some information to pass out regarding the Phoenix market and greater area.

The Phoenix greater area is in a very very low inventory status of active homes. Less than 15,000 actives for over 2 million homes. The lowest I’ve ever witnessed. Job market and economy is booming.

These properties from Smart are great to buy and hold as the market is really starting to take off. The equity is increasing as average homes are selling for $65/sqft and replacement costs to build a home in Phoenix are $125/sqft.  Auction homes are currently selling well under market value 15-20% below- it’s just that much more equity to add to the pocket.

For more information, click here

If you wish to see the power point evidence, please email me at

Southern California Investing?

Often referred to as "the best place to live" in the USA, Southern California is presenting some excellent options for investors.

Check out this short video on "So Cal Investing"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CMHC Updates Ottawa Housing for 2012

OTTAWA — First-time buyers may have fuelled Ottawa’s most recent housing boom, but baby boomers are now in the driver’s seat, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Representatives of the national housing agency told a conference Thursday that demand for homes in Ottawa is expected to remain strong thanks to continued immigration, a high-paid workforce and a growing baby boomer demographic looking to downsize into higher-end, high-density developments.

“They are really what has been driving the market in the last year,” CMHC senior market analyst Sandra Pérez Torres told the meeting at the Hampton Inn and Conference Centre. “Employment over the last year has really favoured people between 45 and 64 years of age. These are move-up buyers with more income.”

According to CMHC, more than 170,000 people in the capital region are between the ages of 55 and 74. That demographic made up more than 40 per cent of all condominium buyers in Ottawa last year. As baby boomers continue to age, CMHC expects that demographic to account for as much as 50 per cent of all condominium sales by 2016.

Condominiums could be the only market segment in Ottawa to show growth next year. CMHC expects builders to begin construction on 1,500 condominium projects in 2012, an increase over the 1,475 started in 2011. But construction of townhouses is expected to fall to 2,200 next year from 2,245 in 2011, while single-family homes will fall marginally to 1,850 from 2,000.

More than 80 per cent of all residential construction started in Ottawa in 2012 will happen in the suburbs, outside of the city’s greenbelt.

Pérez Torres said the suburbs offers buyers more affordable housing choices than they would find in the downtown core.

After two years of record sales, the resale housing market is likely to slightly soften, CMHC said. With increasing numbers of baby boomers looking to sell their larger homes, CMHC expects a record number of homes offered on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). That in turn will see increases in housing prices in Ottawa taper off. However, high demand from people between the ages of 25 and 54 should create a more balanced market for resale homes and hold price increases in lockstep with inflation at around two per cent.

Pérez Torres said the large 25-through-54 demographic contains a variety of potential buyers. Some of its younger members will be looking for their first homes, while mid-range to older members will be seeking larger houses for their growing families.

Another factor that will help drive home sales in 2012 is the continuation of interest rates at their lowest in 60 years. CMHC said rates will likely remain at record low levels for most of next year.

In 2011, Ottawa resale home prices increased by around five per cent, according to CMHC. The average selling price of a home sold though MLS in Ottawa this year is $345,000.

CMHC also said that residents of the capital shouldn’t be worried about a housing market bubble. With strong employment numbers, decreasing debt levels, low vacancy rates, steady rental rates, stable price increases and a balanced market for home sales, Ottawa’s housing market looks rock solid.
“Those are the things you look for in a housing market bubble,” said Mathieu Laberge, CMHC’s deputy chief economist. “There is no empirical evidence of a housing market bubble.”
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How do I rent properties?

At this point, I do not manage or rent my properties.  I use professionals to take care of this part of the process.  When I used to rent properties, I used the following processes:

The best place to advertise is Kijiji and Craigslist. Pictures are very important for people to see and stress the items you think are important in the property, what caused you to buy it? If it has 3 bathrooms and 2 of them are ensuites state that in the add.

When you are showing your property we suggest that you book the showing approximately 10 minutes apart. When potential tenants see other people looking at your unit, it will illustrate your property is in demand - potential tenants may be quicker to complete the application.

When you have the application completed contact their references,
• a good idea is to call the main number of their place of employment and verify their employment history, then speak with their supervisor;
• when you contact their previous landlord ask first, 'Do you have any apartment for rent?', if they are a landlord they will react appropriately, if they are a friend or relative they will respond with - I don't have properties for rent. Once you have established you are speaking with a landlord, you can ask them pertinent information- how were they as tenants, how did they keep the property, were they prompt with their rent, etc.  Always put more stock into the previous landlords comments rather than a prospective tenants landlord, as the current landlord might be trying to rid themselves of a "problem tenant"
• Once you have verified that these candidates are people you would like to have as tenants, then you want to complete the credit check. As a Bennett Pros client this can be done through our partners.

When signing the lease, it is essential that you obtain last months rent up front. I would recommend giving the tenant your bank account number and have them deposit the rent automatically into your account rather than post dated cheques.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

City of OTTAWA set to embark on infrastructure spending binge

The city of Ottawa is about to embark on an infrastructure spending binge to prepare the city for Canada's 150th birthday.

The city has proposed spending $340 million in road investment over the next three years. It will be the biggest construction project in the city's history.

"We want to take advantage of the low interest rates to do some catching up on things that we should have done years ago," said Coun. Marianne Wilkinson.

The "Ottawa on the Move" project will cost about $340 million. The city will have to borrow about $125 million to fund it.

The project has been approved by the transportation committee. City Council still has to approve the entire budget on Nov. 30.

If it passes, several roadways across the city are set to benefit from the project, including the east end's infamous Highway 174. Two hundred kilometers of the road will be resurfaced.

"Sometimes you go along Highway 174 and I feel like I'm back at SuperEx because you're on this roller coaster there," said Mayor Jim Watson.

Other projects include sidewalk improvements in Sandy Hill, sewer and water upgrades along Main Street, and a new bike path to connect Scott Street and the Ottawa River Parkway. Billings Bridge will also be repaired.

Overall, there will be 28 road, sewer and water projects, 120 roads resurfaced, and 27 bridges and sidewalks repaired. Over 40 sidewalks and pathways will also be renewed.

The infrastructure investment will also ensure a good transportation network during the construction of light rail in the city. It will also prepare Ottawa to host Canada's 150th birthday bash.  "We have to start now planning for that," said Watson. "Get our act together—2017 is not that far away."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coming change to Ottawa skyline and the new condo project priced at $400/sqft

I was recently in Toronto at a conference and through some strange turn of events, I had to drive from Ottawa to the Toronto Airport to pick up a friend.  Usually, I turn off at the DVP and head down into the belly of the beast, where condo buildings are literally ten feet from your car, but on this occassion, I drove across the North End of the city.  I was quite surprised at the changes in the cityscape of Toronto, even since I lived there about nine years ago. 

What I noticed, was the groupings of new highrise buildings in what could be considered the middle of nowhere special.  Here in Ottawa, we are conditioned to think of condo buildings as being located in super cool, urban neighbourhoods, whereas in Toronto, these 20 plus storey new buildings are located right down town as well as in the suburbs.  It is pretty amazing what is seen from the 401.

I did some research on these groupings and found that these buildings are strategically located on subway system lines running throughout Toronto.  These buildings have easy access, usually within 800 meters of a subway or LRT station.  With the public transit system, buyers of condos in Toronto's boroughs can be downtown in a timely manner but purchase a condo at a reduced price, compared to the core.

Don Campbell, from REIN Canada, has estimated the being within 800 meters of a light rail transit or subway can increase values of properties by factors of 25% or more.  In Calgary, land prices have risen dramatically on the proposed West Leg of their light rail system.  This is starting to happen here in Ottawa as well, Public Works is targetting any new government buildings must be located within 800 meters of major transportation hubs.  As cities grow, transportation problems increase and one method for dealing with these issues is to increase availability and access to public transportation.

By 2018, City Council willing, Ottawa will have a functioning light rail transit system.  To my knowledge, (and maybe I am not completely up to date), the system will connect the existing "O-Train" with a downtown tunnel at LeBreton Flats.  This tunnel will cross the downtown to emerge in the heart of Ottawa U.  Eventually, we will add over time more LRT and gradually reduce the reliance on buses.  A major hub station is planned for the land on the South side of Carling, South of Champagne Ave.  This is to be the hub connecting to the West bound light rail.  This will have an amazing effect of further increasing the desirability of Little Italy and continue to revitalize the Dow's Lake and Preston Street corridor. 

By 2018, just 6 short years away, the O-Train will cease to be a Carleton University grocery train (or as many people call it, the Train from nowhere to nowhere) and will become a vital link between the downtown core, the airport, the East end and Scotiabank Place.  When this starts to happen, more high density development will occur along the lines of the light rail, leading to condo buildings "popping" up throughout the city, just like in Toronto. 

Who is going to live in these condo buildings that are "popping up"?  Consider this, over 14,000 immigrants move to Ottawa annually, usually from countries where higher density living is the norm. As well, here in Ottawa, we have approximately 15,000 baby boomers reaching 65 each year for the next 20 years.   Estimates have that over 5,000 condo units are needed annually to satisify these market segments.  These estimates do not take into account the migrants from other parts of Canada moving to Ottawa to replace retiring workers.  By following both demographics and immigration there is a very strong push towards condominium living.

In the near South End of the city, on the LRT line, there is a new building launching in late October, early November. It will be priced from approximately $400/sqft, as compared to $475 to $500/sqft in core neighbourhoods.  This building is located on the current O-Train line.  It is part of the Marriott Hotels brand and shall be an affordable, luxury building, featuring true warehouse style and look. 

For more information and to be added to the special VIP opening event, please email me at

Invest in syndicated secured second mortgages

Fortress Real Capital allows you to invest directly into large scale Real Estate Development projects with real security and real returns. Fortress is an RSP and non-accredited eligible syndicate mortgage product that allows a consumer to invest directly into the proven market of Canadian real estate development and construction. Your principal amount is fully secured against the subject property where you enjoy steady interest on your funds and, where available, profit participation at the end of your term.

You are not receiving shares or units that can change in value. Instead your principal is secured against the property while you enjoy steady interest on your funds and where available, profit participation at the end of your term. Fortress offers real collateral in the form of a direct charge against real estate, a feature unique to syndicate mortgages. Projects include interest reserves to ensure funds are paid out at proper intervals. Most importantly, all high-rise projects are bonded and insured to protect Fortress investors from cost over-runs.

• A syndicate mortgage is where several investors combine funds together to create one instrument (a mortgage). The investment 'moves' as one funding but each investor is individually registered and secured proportionally.
• Syndicate mortgages allow you to have direct collateral for your investment and ongoing returns from the interest earned by the mortgage. Fortress structures opportunities for development investing through syndicate mortgages to provide investors with the ability to earn higher returns through profit participation while still maintaining solid security and collateral on their principal investment.
• The Fortress philosophy is for direct collateral through a syndicate mortgage. Owning shares in a corporation can offer a larger return and more profit but can also present greater risk (cash calls, dilution etc). FRC projects are designed to pay steady cash flow and profit upon completion.
• Developers work with Fortress as an equity partner or mezzanine lender. FRC provides them the additional capital they need outside of the funds the bank provides to buy the land and finance the construction. Developers are carefully screened and contribute their own equity and cash also at prescribed intervals.
• Appraisals are provided by AACI designated members. These professionals are tasked with providing hard, reliable valuations of land to banks, especially when land is being purchased. This baseline for value provides a key element of assessing the current value of a project.
• Appraisals are critical as they help assess the 'loan to value' ratio of a deal. This is one of the formulas that illustrate the degree of risk associated with your investment. Since you're secured against the land/property, the value of that asset is key in the event of any problem with the project; the asset can be sold to help recover your principal investment.
When appraisals aren't available (eg lack of direct comparables), Fortress engages third party research companies to provide detailed analytics to assess the value of a property or parcel.
• Everyone has heard of or seen horror stories where construction projects have either stalled or sat unfinished for years at tremendous cost to investors. This is often a result of a failure to achieve zoning or not having the proper financing in place (low pre-sales etc). Fortress chooses projects that have minimal zoning risk and strong sales objectives to protect the investor from any sort of protracted delays. Additionally, Fortress requires all high rise projects to be insured and bonded. This is an essential component to approving any build so investors are insulated from delays and budget stress.
• Performance bonds are a type of insurance taken out on high rise construction that protects the development and investors from a variety of exposures. Together with labour and material bonds and a builder's risk policy, they form a complete risk management solution. This does come at a cost to the project and is a necessary expense for any project so that the investors are protected; for Fortress, the savings/increased profit of not having these protections in place is not worth the risk.
• A default would occur if the developer cannot pay back the funds by the maturity date of the contract. Fortress would, in advance, work with the developer to find a solution that could include:

o a payment to investors in exchange for an extension
o an institutional refinance to buy out the Fortress Investors

If these cannot be achieved, then the process would commence to sell the property to recover the investor monies. This is a significant advantage to being secured via syndicate mortgage; recovery of your investment will take priority over all unsecured debts, monies owed by the corporation and even construction liens.

Centro Mortgage Inc. is proud to offer the Fortress Real Capital product.
• 8% annual return (non-compounded)
• Standard term is 3 years (shorter terms available upon request)
• $25,000 minimum
• RSP, LIRA, LIF, RIF, RESP eligible
• Loan to Value Ratios of typically 50% to 75%
• Investment is secured by a charge on real estate
• Certified appraisals and/or valuation opinions
• Also TFSA and RESP eligible ($15,000 minimum)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apartments in Houses

Secondary Dwelling Units, By-law No. 2005 - 367 - Effective September 2005, secondary dwelling units, also known as accessory apartments or "in-law suites" are now permitted in all areas of the City with the exception of the former Village of Rockliffe Park. A secondary dwelling unit is a single self-contained, rental apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom. While many are basement apartments, a unit can be created on any floor of the house.

What does the by-law say?
No more than an amount equal to 40 per cent of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling may be developed for a secondary dwelling unit, except where a basement unit is created, in which case, there is no maximum size. The full basement area can be used.

A maximum of one unit is permitted in a detached dwelling, one in each half of a semi-detached building and only one for the whole of a duplex dwelling.

The new unit must be on the same lot as the principal dwelling unit and must not change the streetscape character along the road on which it is located.

No additional parking space is required but where a new one is provided, it cannot be located in the front yard. Tandem parking in the existing driveway is permitted.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SoBa ... South of Bank

The Ottawa Business Journal believes that Fortress and Lamb Developments are revitalizing the "SoBa" district

SoBa is a part of Ottawa that is being branded by Lamb Developments and Fortress as the next hip Centertown district.  This is the district between the Glebe and the Golden Triangle.  This will become a new trendy part of the downtown core.

USD v. CDN dollars

I wanted to touch base with you all and let you know what is currently happening in the currency market. To begin, the Canadian dollar is now worse than par. This is the highest the USD has been since May 2010. The decline of the Canadian dollar took place on Wednesday after stated the Federal Open Market Committee (USA) came out with its policy statement for its September 2011 meeting. The following key points were made;

First, there will be no change to the overnight lending rate until at least 2013.
Second, the Fed’s assessment of the global economy worsened, as they cited “significant downside risks to the economic outlook, including strains in global financial markets”.
Finally, they announced a larger-than-expected plan to sell $400 billion of three-year or shorter-term treasuries and buy an equivalent amount of six-to 30-year treasuries by the end of 2012. This will decrease the cost of borrowing over the longer term, and the market reacted accordingly, with the yield spread on two-year notes and ten-year notes flattening by 0.12% to 1.66%.

Although the credit markets has accounted for this move, it will be interesting to see how equity, commodity and currency markets react in the coming months. Yesterday, Commodities to the biggest hit. Oil slid 2.6% overnight after a massive 6.3% selloff yesterday. Interestingly enough, gold is not even immune to the selling fad, showing a 1.98% loss overnight. The US dollar is pretty much the only thing showing black this morning, as it benefits from the massive rush to safety against all currencies.

Today the markets are a little more stable. The Canadian dollar has rebounded $.75 from the worst rate we saw yesterday and Oil is unchanged so far today. I am often asked why the USD gains strength when their market is so volatile. The answer is simple, whenever there is a fear of recession or a particular economy maybe collapsing (example Greece), countries and investors buy the USD in mass quantities. The reason for this is similar to why the value of gold is trading in the $1600-1800 range. If there is a world recession, besides bartering with physical gold, the USD is considered the world currency, all other currencies will have no value.

Now having said all this, what do we expect to happen over the next few months? It is hard to say as no one has a crystal ball. We have been told to expect the CAD to USD range to be between .98 to 1.05. With oil trading at $80 a barrel, it needs to rally $5-$10 to hopefully bring us back to parity. At this moment CAD to USD is trading in the 1.03s.

19 Marsh Sparrow - Stunning contemporary town house in exclusive enclave

It is rare for me to walk into a home and still say "WOW".  I have seen many, many homes over the years of being in the real estate profession, but this house is a "WOW".  Attention to detail is throughout - light fixtures, paint colours, quality of workmanship.  This one won't last long, please feel free to drop in to the opne house on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2011 from 2 to 4pm.

Prestigious Marshes Village

rare bungalow town home with an open loft
3 bedroom + an office
4 bathroom
2 car garage
great backyard with a fish pond

New "Frank Lloyd Wright" inspired in fill home

Check out the newest infill development by Dharma Developments,

359 Wilmont

This home is a luxurious escape located mere blocks from the center of Westboro.  Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, this home is a stunner from the street. 

$929,000 custom in fill with four bedrooms

Email me today for more details

Sunday, September 25, 2011

111 West

Check out the hole in the ground at 111 West.  Things are getting started.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Windsor ... really?

Windsor has several new companies that are offering jobs in renewable energy that have started up in the last few years. This coming election may impact the subsidy that they receive.

There is a major road construction project starting called the Windsor and Essex Parkway. That will have a dramatic impact on the economy for the next 5 years.

Recently I attended a CMHC course where they had their economic forecast for Windsor and predict that we will see house values begin to appreciate in the next 2 years.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Outlook for interest rates long term

The ongoing issues facing Europe as they brace themselves for the inevitable Greek default. Even Mark Carney and the US Fed are expressing their concerns and impatience with the EU's failure to find a solution. In the meantime, Ben Bernanke reaches back in time to find a creative solution to stimulate the US economy called
'Operation Twist' - a strategy that has not been used since 1961!

When I heard the term “Operation Twist” last week, I was intrigued. The original Operation Twist was developed by the U.S. Treasury in 1961 in order to lower long term borrowing rates, in an effort to encourage investment and grow the economy, while simultaneously raising short-term rates to reduce pressure on the dollar. Essentially, it was an effort to purposely invert the yield curve. Thus the ''twist'' in Operation Twist. Part of the operation involved direct intervention in the market for residential mortgages.
Yesterday, the US Fed announced a similar, albeit incremental form of intervention in response to the meltdown in the housing and financial markets. In response, the dollar soared and there is now some hope that the costs of longer-term borrowing will be reduced.
Bottom line - things in the US and Europe are going to get a lot worse before they get any better. This will result in a further drag on the Canadian economy and prolong the period of low interest rates.

Warehouse inspired lofts in Ottawa ... coming soon!

Get ready for a long overdue new project in Ottawa featuring warehouse inspired, New York styled, true LOFT condos with exposed brick walls, industrial kitchens, concrete ceilings and visable piping.  This is the only new construction condo in Ottawa featuring a true loft style and look.  There are very few loft style buildings in Ottawa, highlighted by 95 Beech and Wallis House, with newer built projects, such as Parkdale Market Lofts.

Suites will range from 571 sq. ft. - 947 sq. ft. and prices will start in the $240s.  This project is being developed by the Marriott Hotels, a very exciting partnership for this project.

These properties will be built in the South End of the city, along the proposed light rail route with easy access to South Keys, Little Italy and LeBreton Flats.  As in all major cities, Ottawa, will soon feature a fast and efficient light rail system capable of moving many people throughout the core of the city.  Suggested completion is 2018.

For more information and to be added to the invitation list for the exciting new development, with their pre-public launch on October 18th, 2011, please email me at

Check out the funky projected style of this New York Style Loft (see below)!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lamb and Fortress Real Capital Look to Bank on Further Success in Ottawa

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire -09/13/11)- Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.
The busy Ottawa development scene will have an exciting new design soon with the announcement today of another project by Toronto developer Brad J Lamb. SoBa, named for its location south on Bank Street, just West of the intersection at Catherine Street. SoBa will bring 19 stories and close to 250 units of premium designed urban living to the downtown area. This is the second such project in the Ottawa area between Lamb Development Corporation and his partners at Fortress Real Capital, based in Richmond Hill.
"Ottawa is a great town. Our ideas for SoBa are to really ignite this part of Centretown with a hip, cool building. I want people to stop and stare at this tower, it's an amazing project", said Lamb, after a presentation at the Chateau Laurier with local investors on Wednesday evening. "I am excited about opening the Gotham sales centre in a few weeks, buyers are going to love what we are there and we think SoBa will be another killer project".
Lamb's unique touch has propelled him to the ranks of being a top developer in less than a decade as his realty company continues to break their own records. With over $5 billion of condo sales to date, Lamb has seen it all and has a keen sense for giving buyers what they want. "Brad's track record of success speaks for itself. We're very pleased to be doing another project with Lamb Development Corp. and are thrilled to bring SoBa to our terrific customers in Ottawa" said Jawad Rathore, Chief Strategic Officer of Fortress Real Capital. Fortress, a leading Canadian real estate investment firm, offers investment opportunities to retail customers looking for regular cash flow and direct security and collateral. "As a real estate investor, you want to be secured against the land or building, that's the only way to have any actual security in a real estate transaction. Otherwise you're just investing in paper and not the actual project directly" offered Ildina Galati, owner and principal broker of Centro Mortgage, the lead brokerage offering the Fortress product.
This type of investment structure is gaining more popularity with consumers who are increasingly frustrated with traditional products and the capital markets. Marnie Bennett, an Ottawa based realtor and team leader of Bennett Real Estate Professionals, has specialised in wealth building through real estate for over 20 years and sees new investing habits starting to emerge. "People want something tangible", said Bennett. "Bennett Pros analyses dozens of deals every month to find the ones that suit our customer's interests the best. Fortress and Brad Lamb are a great fit for the Ottawa market, it's a smart deal and a great opportunity".
Growth remains strong and Fortress is already planning a busy 2012 with new projects slated for Toronto, Regina and Calgary. "Our goal is to be the premiere choice for equity partnership in both the private and public sector. Whether its condos, low rise, hotels or even stadiums... Fortress finds quality developments" said Galati over the buzz of 200 attendees at their investment seminar. "Where else can an everyday Canadian get a piece of a $100 million project like that?"

Monday, September 5, 2011

ecoENERGY Retrofit program

Natural Resources Canada has some great initiatives as well for the home owner/investor looking to maximize profits. 

Under the ecoENERGY Retrofit program, you can receive hundred and cumulatively thousands of dollars from the government in the form of grants for doing enery efficient renovations.  This is a very valuable resource.  Check it out here

It is amazing what some spray foam insulation, a new furnace, gas hot water tank, windows and low flow toilets can do for your monthly operating costs.  Equally impressive is the savings passed onto you, the owner, when you do these modifications.  Click here to see NRCAN's grant table in detail

Government grants for investors and home owners

One of the best ways I have found to increase the profitability of an investment property (or lower my personal monthly carrying costs) is to upgrade certain interior finishing.  The Ontario government has a program to help out investors and home owner's offset the cost of the Home Energy Audit -

There are many benefits to doing a Home Energy Audit. A Home Energy Audit identifies changes you can make to your home that could help you:
- Reduce your annual energy bill by up to 30%; saving hundreds of dollars each year
- Improve your home’s re-sale value
- Make your home more comfortable year round
- Do your part to make Ontario's environment cleaner

To get started click here

This is a good program to learn if you own properties to generate income.  You can upgrade furnaces, windows, insulation, water related products with significant discounts.

Friday, September 2, 2011

New Project (early alert) SOBO

What a cool looking project to be located in South Centertown.  I think this is a super cool looking building and a great addition to our cities landscape.

Don't have a lot of details, but feel free to email at with questions

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Westboro bungalow - SOLD

Congrats to J and T!

They bought a great custom home walking distance to the shops, restaurants and boutiques in Westboro.

Contact me to find out how I can help you find your next home -

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Relocating from out of town

Thank you so much for helping us find our new home in Ottawa. Your quick response to our many “long distance” questions and your availability to us on our numerous house search trips was greatly appreciated. We both enjoyed the easy and relaxed manner in which you shared with us your knowledge of the city and the real estate market. We are especially grateful for your attention in finalizing our offer while you were vacationing out of the country – the process was seamless for us!
Our new home is perfect – thank you!
Jack and Phil

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

As heard on CFRA

Stock Warning

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco warns a sell-off by baby boomers may keep stock prices low for years. It says those born between 1946 and 1964 are beginning to retire, just as the stock market is starting to recover from the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve Bank says the timing is disconcerting since stock prices are closely tied to demographic trends for the past half-century.

Click here for details

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Invest in Equity Mortgages

Please RSVP to and with the names of the people attending, their email addresses and phone numbers

Metrostudy - Phoenix Area Housing

There have been some famous memos in recent history. During the Watergate hearings in 1973, Richard Nixon’s White House counsel, John Dean, let slip the existence of an “enemies list” that was compiled by Chuck Colson. This list was sent in memorandum form to Dean, and its purpose was to strategize the use of the federal machinery to harass Nixon’s political opponents by manipulating federal grant dollars, fixing government contracts, directing IRS audits, and fomenting scandal. The list included Democratic contributors, media professionals, and even Paul Newman. While there was no evidence that any action was taken against those targeted, it was another of many embarrassments for the controversial president.

Bill Gates sent some noteworthy memos which communicated to his staff the course that Microsoft would chart during its history. One of his more famous documents was sent on May 26, 1995 titled “The Internet Tidal Wave.” In this 9-page memo, he announces the company’s commitment to focus on the internet, describing it as “the most important single development to come along since the IBM PC was introduced.” Here he foresaw the awesome potential of the internet, which was in its infancy at the time, and he even discussed the possibility of devices other than a PC to be used for browsing. Only three months later, MSN was launched.

Of less historical significance is my own memo below, if you’ll indulge me for a moment.

Date: July 27, 2011
From: Ben Sage, Metrostudy

To: Phoenix-area home sellers
Copy: Residential appraisers
Mortgage lenders

According to the economic law of supply and demand, when demand exceeds supply prices will be pushed up … see figure below where the increase in demand [D] results in an increase in price [P]. Over the past 12 months, 91,100 single family homes have been sold through the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service. Historically, this is a good deal higher than normal, indicating strong demand.

As of the first week of July there were only 19,613 single family homes listed for sale. Historically, this is slightly below the normal level of supply. Measured in time rather than units, the listings would last 2.6 months based on the current sales rate (demand). This is historically well below the normal level of 5 to 6 months.

Despite these indicators, home prices are inexplicably weak. It is understandable that the distress in the market would prevent strong price appreciation, but the fact that home prices remain stubbornly low (at roughly year 2000 levels) can only be explained by one or more of the following:
-  Sellers are unaware of the imbalance of demand exceeding supply
-  Sellers don’t care about the imbalance (unlikely)
-  External factors are artificially suppressing home prices

Some possible external factors include:
-  Stringent mortgage underwriting is disqualifying potential buyers, so desperate sellers will favor a cash offer even at a lower price to avoid a delayed or cancelled closing
-  Appraisals are coming in lower than negotiated prices between buyers and sellers, pushing the closing price down so the deal can go through
-  Sellers are favoring cash offers, even at a lower price, to avoid the possibility of the appraisal coming in below the agreed-upon price

There may be other external factors, but anecdotal evidence would suggest that all of the above are true. Regardless, sellers need to know that the laws of economics would normally be creating upward pressure on home prices in the Phoenix area today. In other words, some patience on the part of sellers may be in order. Appraisers need to know that the factors that created home price depreciation (supply greatly exceeding demand) are no longer present, and that to assume the actual value of a home is consistently less than the agreed-upon price (or even less than the comps), defies the laws of economics and creates a self-fulfilling downward price spiral.

If prices continue to be artificially suppressed, and demand continues to outpace supply, prices will eventually break through these barriers and pop upwards. While home price appreciation is a desirable outcome, a steady price climb would be a more attractive route to recovery. Sudden movements could create an overreaction and more uncertainty in the market. It is time for all housing market participants to understand the local conditions and let supply/demand forces establish the fair market value for homes.


Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. Allow me to make some additional comments that warrant our attention. Leading foreclosure indicators have been displaying some improvement, with a steady decline in new foreclosure notices, increased foreclosure cancelations, and a falling number of pending foreclosures. It is uncertain if this improvement is due to market factors or to mortgage documentation issues that arose last fall. It is probably a combination of the two. Even so, the improvement in the foreclosure picture undoubtedly relates to the squeeze on resale supply noted in the memo above.

Economic conditions are generally improving, as Phoenix is adding jobs, but at a rather slow rate. New-home starts in the second quarter were up from the first quarter, but the pace is almost certain to fall short of last year’s 7,141 starts. The dearth of new construction has driven new-home inventory levels quite low, and I think this sets the stage for in increase in home starts next year … assuming the economy stays on course and continues to gain traction. There may already be some spillover from the constrained resale market into new construction, as our weekly sample survey of builders indicates an increase in sales from May to June of this year. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend.

Metrostudy, a national housing market research firm, conducts an onsite, lot-by-lot audit of all new home subdivisions in the Phoenix, Tucson, and Prescott metro areas, as well as Mohave and Cochise Counties. Our survey includes all new-home subdivisions, attached and detached, whether custom or production. Metrostudy drives over 15,000 miles every quarter to visually inspect every homesite, resulting in accurate information on starts, closings (move-ins), new-home inventory, vacant developed lot inventory, future lots, and lot deliveries. We supplement our core information with deed records (foreclosure activity, new home sales, resales), property ownership records, and weekly builder surveys.

Ben Sage, Director of Metrostudy’s Arizona Region, has been researching and analyzing housing markets for seventeen years. He has prepared hundreds of market studies in various cities around the country for numerous product types. His knowledge and experience combined with Metrostudy’s accurate and reliable information have enabled Ben to advise many Arizona real estate firms in their risk assessment, decision making, and strategic planning. Ben has also been a resource for such publications as the Arizona Republic, East Valley Tribune, Phoenix Business Journal, Inside Tucson Business, Arizona Daily Star, Arizona Builder Magazine, Bloomberg News, and the Wall Street Journal. He can be reached at (480) 756-9300, option 3 or, or visit

Monday, August 22, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

JUST LISTED - 101 Richmond #418 - Only 1 bedroom available

101 Richmond #418

101 Richmond delivers the ultimate in sophistication.  Live in the heart of Westboro, with easy walking access to restaurants, shopping and boutiques.  This is the true WORK, LIVE and PLAY model, with transit nearby.  Great views explode from the oversized windows and excentuate the unparralleled lifestyle achieved by condo living in Westboro at 101 Richmond.

Bright lighting and modern finishes add flare to this 670sq.ft. 1bdrm,1bath condo including 36sq.ft.balcony, hardwood flooring and ceramic tile, 6 appliances.  Amenities will include a yoga/pilates and exercise studio, movie theatre, party room, outdoor landscaped area with hot tub, fire pit and dog park.  Parking Included.  The only 1 bedroom left in the building, closing in October 2011.  Unit is an assignement.

Condominium apartment

1 bedroom
1 bathroom
Condominium Fee - $187.60

Alta Vista Bungalow - SOLD

Congrats to J and P!

They bought their dream home. 

Contact me to find out how I can help you find your next home -

Wednesday, August 17, 2011



Contact me to find out how your home can be next -

Become a mortgage lender

Exciting new product, exclusive to Bennett Real Estate Professionals, invest your money is equity mortgages earning a cumulative 12% annually.  Open to cash, RRSP, LIRA, RESP or TFSA.  For more informaiton -

Saturday, August 6, 2011

10 Inside Tips for Selling Your Home Yourself

10 Inside Tips for Selling Your Home Yourself by Tyler Laird

If you ask anyone who has ever tried to sell their home themselves they’ll tell you that from the moment the “For Sale by Owner” sign goes up, the phone begins to ring. Unfortunately, many of those calls will not be from prospective buyers, but rather from real estate agents looking to obtain your listing. Obviously the idea of not having to pay a commission to a real estate agent is attractive to any home seller. But because of all the issues involved in the process, selling a home on one’s own can be challenging as many home sellers will attest to.

The key is to be properly prepared. If you are not, your home could remain on the market longer than you expect because you are not attracting and getting offers from qualified buyers. This can be a point where many homeowners become frustrated and consider giving up their dream of selling their home themselves. However, there are sellers who accomplish selling their own homes, very well. You can be one of them.

This post has been especially prepared to assist home sellers, such as yourself, understand the elements involved so you, on your own, can sell your home quickly and for the most amount of profit. To help you prepare, here are 10 inside tips that you should be aware of before you make the decision as to whether or not this is the right approach for you.

1. Price it Right
Correctly setting your asking price is critical. Setting your price too high can be as costly as setting it too low. Home prices are determined by fluctuations in the marketplace not by your emotional attachment or by what you feel your home is worth. In order to establish a realistic price for your home, objectively compare the price, features and condition of all similar homes in both your neighborhood and other similar ones which have sold in recent months. It is also important for you to be familiar with the terms of each potential sale. Terms are often as important as price in today’s market. Carefully budget your selling costs and prepare a net proceeds sheet to calculate your best estimate of what you will take away from your home sale. Prospective buyers may also request this kind of analysis of buying costs.

2. Prepare Your Home for Sale
First impression is crucial. Make sure your home makes a positive statement by carefully inspecting all details and viewing it through the objective eyes of a buyer. Don’t gloss over needed repairs and fix-ups, as your prospective buyers won’t. Your job is to ensure that your home stands out favorably from the competition.

3. Prepare Yourself With All Necessary Legal Documentation
Not surprisingly, there are many important legal contracts and documents which you must assemble, complete and understand. A partial checklist of forms that you will require for prospective buyers and for legal documentation is as follows:

• Mortgage Payoff
• Loan Application
• Deposit Receipt
• Property Profile Fact Sheet
• Buyer’s Cost Sheet
• Closing & Settlement
• Personal Property
• Exclusion List
• Property Survey
• Sellers Statement /Plot Plan of Representation

4. Market Your Home Effectively
Beyond the sign you will put on your lawn, you should find effective ways to spread the word about your home. Local buyers can be reached through the newspaper, but this is only a small part of the market you are after. Be sure you include the many buyers who could already be working with a Realtor®. To locate them, target as many top agents as possible in your market to see if the criteria of their buyers matches that of your home’s. Because out-of-town buyers are also an important target, you should create a strategy to reach these people as well. Above all, you should be very service minded and make it easy for pre-qualified buyers to view your home. Ensure that there is always someone available to answer the phone, pick up messages promptly, and be ready to give qualified prospects a tour of your home as soon as possible.

5. Remain Objective During a Showing of Your Home
Keep emotion out of the sale of your home, and the best way to do this during a showing is to remain physically in the background. If a prospective buyer says something negative about your home, it is better to counter-balance this point of view by illustrating the positives rather than becoming defensive.

6. Pre-Qualify Your Prospects
Don’t waste your time entertaining buyers who could never afford your home. Research their financial steadiness with respect to job security, salary, debts, liabilities and credit standing.

7. Negotiate Effectively & Knowledgeably
There will be many details to resolve before a sale can be considered final: price, terms, inspections, possession date, buyer concerns and objections. Make sure you fully understand the contract you have drawn up so you can in turn explain details and ramifications to the buyer and make any amendments to the sale that are necessary. The contract you use should be thoroughly examined by your real estate attorney. Some real estate brokers may be willing to help you do this. While this is going on, manage the buyer’s interest in your home so that it doesn’t wane during negotiations.

8 . Know Your Buyer
Your objective during negotiations is to control the pace and set the duration. Try to determine what your buyer’s motivation is. Does he or she need to move quickly? Do they have enough money to pay your asking price? Knowing this information will give you the advantage in the negotiation because you will know up front, what you will need to do in order to get what you want.

9. Don’t Move Out Before You Sell
Studies have shown that it is more difficult to sell a home that is vacant. It looks forlorn, forgotten, simply not appealing. It could even cost you money. If you move, you’re also telling buyers that you have a new home and are motivated to sell fast which can, of course, give them an advantage at the negotiating table.

10. Know Why You’re Selling and Keep it to Yourself
The flip side of “understanding your buyer” is to “understand yourself”. Your reasons for selling will affect everything from your list price to how much time and money you will invest in getting your home ready for sale. Your motivation will help you determine what is more important to you: the money you walk away with, the length of time your property is on the market, or both. Different goals will dictate different strategies. As someone who wants to sell without a real estate agent in an effort to save the commission, it is likely that money is one of your primary considerations, (see, “How to Assess Your Net Gain” below). Whatever your reasons, however, it is very important to keep them to yourself so as not to place yourself at a disadvantage at the negotiation table. When asked, simply say your housing needs have changed.

BONUS - How to Assess Your Net Gain
To analyze whether or not you will end up ahead by choosing to sell on your own, consider the fact that most buyers do use a real estate agent because it doesn’t cost them anything for this service (i.e. the seller pays the agent’s fee). Be cautious as buyers, investors and speculators who seek out For Sale by Owners are typically those in search of a bargain. The low-ball offers from these types of buyers will often net you much lower in the long run. What you will have to judge for yourself is the following:

1. Be as prepared as possible with your marketing, negotiations, evaluations, showings and all legalities.

2. Consider what it will cost you to effectively market your home and assemble all necessary materials from the “for sale” sign to any contracts.

3. What price will a buyer offer you as a For Sale by Owner minus the costs identified in point 2 above. Is this net price higher than the price an experienced agent could net for you minus his/her commission?

Things that make you go "Hhhhmmmm"!

A founder of a website dedicated to direct sales of homes by their owners has sold his two-bedroom apartment in Chelsea for $2.15 million—with the help of a real-estate broker and a standard 6% commission.

Colby Sambrotto, a founder and former chief operating officer of, a large website for owner sales, spent six months trying to sell his condominium himself through online listings and classified ads, before turning over the listing of the 2,000-square-foot apartment to a broker at Bond New York in November.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

359 Wilmont - Custom Built Luxury Home


Stylish Urban Single Detached home. 2472 square feet of contemporary living space, all within 3 blocks walking distance to Richmond Road in the coveted community of Westboro. Open concept kitchen and nook, living and dining room with ceramic and hardwood floors, gas fireplace, and walkout to balcony. 2nd storey master retreat and spa like 4pc ensuite are separated by two-way gas fireplace, master includes walk in closet, and walk out to private balcony. Gorgeous!!!! 2nd storey laundry and bathroom with ceramic. Bedrooms have oversized closets. Close to amenities such as Bridgehead Coffee, LuLulemon Athletica, Starbucks, The SuperStore, LCBO and restaurants like Trio Lounge.

Brand new, 2 storey, open concept

- 4 bedroom + an office
- 3 bathroom
- 1 car garage
- Spacious, welcoming foyer with ceramic tiles

- Den
- Main floor walk-in-closet
- Main floor powder room
- Hardwood floors in the hall lead to a hardwood staircase
- Open concept kitchen with island and breakfast bar and nook
- Ceramic tile in kitchen
- Living and dining room with walkout to balcony
- Hardwood floors in living and dining rooms
- Gas fireplace in the living room
- Master Bedroom includes walk-in-closet, spa-like 4 pc ensuite and lounge area to relax and provides access to a private balcony
- Master bedroom and ensuite are separated by a two-way gas fireplace.
- Garage Door Opener
- Alarm System Rough-In
- Plumbing Rough-Ins in Basement

3.1% - 2012 Rental Rate Increase

This is welcome news, having a 3.1% rental rate increase in Ontario for 2012.  This is great news for landlords and although they do not believe it, great news for tenants as well.  Good landlords will have the money available to make necessary upgrades to their rental units.  On an average Ottawa rent on a new home condo of $1800 this would mean an increase of $55.80 per month ($669.60 annually).

This announcement is a strange one, after last year landlords were blindsided with a ridiculous 0.8% increase, especially when landlords were hammered with HST rates on electricity and other expenses.  I guess optimists will say that this gives a two year average increase of 1.95%, but I think many Ontario landlords were very disappointed in the previous years increase.  Seems a little bit like political posturing ...  

Provincial Liberals announce rent rate hike in 2012
680News staff Jul 29, 2011 15:13:58 PM

8 TORONTO, Ont. - The McGuinty Liberals announced Friday that they are going to change the way Ontario's rent increase rate is set, directly after announcing one of the largest rate increases in years.

Rick Bartolucci, Ontario's Municipal Affair and Housing Minister, made the promise after announcing that landlords would be able to increase their tenants' rent rates by up to 3.1 per cent in 2012.

"We believe we have to revisit the legislation," Bartolucci said. "Fix the legislation so that the increase reflected is in line with what's happening in the real world for those who rent."

The rent increase guideline is currently set according to the consumer price index, which incorporates inflation into how much more everyday items cost than they did the year before.


“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, and to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.” A. Cohen

Whether you have been a life-long Liberal or Progressive Conservative or NDPer; or whether you vote in each election on current issues and personalities, thinking and caring Ontarians can see that our Province has floundered greatly under the 7-year leadership of Dalton McGuinty.

CHANGE is coming in Ontario, and CHANGE needs to start at the top --- the most effective way to ensure the end of the Liberal/Union coalition here in Ontario is to put a political end to the Liberal Party Leader in Ottawa South.

CHANGE is difficult, but it will happen in Ontario. In Ottawa South, PC Candidate Jason MacDonald is ready, willing and extremely able to replace an individual whose leadership clearly is ‘no longer meaningful’, and indeed, is detrimental to the economic future and well-being of the majority of Ontario families.

One does not have to be a PC supporter to see this; nor does one have to commit themselves to becoming a member of the PC Party to help move our Province in a new direction.

Your financial contribution now will go towards allowing Jason MacDonald to fully engage the Premier & Leader of the Liberal Party in Ottawa South and to end the mismanagement of our Province.

For further personal background on Jason please go to A fluently bilingual, professional communicator with a young family, Jason has already viisted 5000 homes in Ottawa South since his nomination. He is committed!

If you are interested in donating, to help end the reign of Dalton McGuinty, please email me at

Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Feature Columnist

Wanted to congratulate Marnie Bennett on becoming a featured, Nation wide syndicated columnist for the Ottawa Citizen! 

Check out her first column titled "Property Talk" by clicking here

Summer swoon in July?

The Ottawa Market has sold a total of 1,096 homes in July. This is down significantly from the 1322 homes sold in July 2010, representing a drop of over 17%. This is a large figure. Suggestions for why are rooted in the rainy Spring, leading to a dry, hot summer, the economic news from the USA, RIM cutting thousands of jobs globally, Mark Carney's comments on interest rates or the fact that we just had a Federal election and their is a process of feeling out on the market.

Last year in August, 1,300 homes sold in Ottawa. I am confident the market will be returning to strength again in August. I think for many people, summer has slipped away quickly and they are now realizing that in just a few days, September will be here. The USA debt ceiling crisis will find a resolution and the media will find something less dreary to report upon. I think this will cause a rally in the market. Prices from my vantage point are staying strong, so I think this is a more temporary development.
Please note, these are not the official board numbers, I am working off the numbers as I have found them. A more official copy is published in early August.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Atlanta Conference for top 1% of Realtors

I was down in Atlanta last week at a conference for the top 1% of agents in the World.  It was a good event, but I was astounded by some of the real estate deals.  

Check this out, click here

This is a super cute building located mere blocks from the public transit and about 7 minutes drive to Buckhead, the upscale downtown neighbourhood of Atlanta. 

Republican v. Democrat and the USD

Just got the following note on the direction of the USA dollar.  I think the Republican/Democrat posturing is political in nature and the start of the 2012 Presidential Election.  Something will get done, it would be far to irresponsible to not do anything.  It is a high stakes game of chicken. 

I wanted to send another email update as the Canadian dollar is currently sitting at a four year high. I have received quite a few phone calls inquiring about the debt crisis in the US and the approaching August 2nd deadline and how this is going to affect the Canadian dollar. After its rapid appreciation last week, the Canadian dollar has been making fresh new four-year highs this morning against the struggling Greenback. Concern that US lawmakers will not reach an agreement to raise the limit on the country’s debt ceiling saw traders further diversify their holdings outside the falling USD. The Loonie’s performance trailed that of its “commodity-linked” peers, the Australian and New Zealand dollars, which both have much less exposure to the weak US economy than Canada, who relies on the United States as its largest trading partner.
After its positive overnight performance, the Loonie is finally sitting comfortably in the 1.05s and continues to try to gain strength. A weakening USD is giving commodity prices a boost as oil is trading marginally higher and gold is also posting slight gains. The Canadian dollar should continue to see resistance if it attempts to strengthen further, though it has been making impressive gains against the USD of late.
On the data docket, Canada has nothing major for the balance of the week until Friday, when we receive monthly GDP figures, which will as always be watched closely. With the US dollar selling off across the board overnight the usual suspects are outperforming this morning. With the August deadline quickly approaching, little progress was made once again in coming to a resolution that both Democrats and Republicans could agree on. President Obama addressed the nation yesterday and warned of a “deep economic crisis” if a compromise was not reached. The full impact of a default (or more likely a technical downgrade of the United States’ credit rating) is not fully known.
If you would like to put a market order in to target a specific rate or you would like to know the exact rate we are trading at, please give me a call. I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Annelies van der Made, BComm
Private Client Manager - Foreign Exchange Broker

Sunday, July 24, 2011

1300 Marigold - tenanted unit

Welcome home to a perfect town home in Central East-End,great value in this property which is close to schools/shopping.Open concept living, w/ 3 lg bed and a finished basement are great compliment to your growing lifestyle.Just imagine,owning this house for $1076/mth $0 down, less than rent!!!It is possible,this is the property for you! Take the first step and visit this excellent starter home and kiss your landlord goodbye!

Unit is already tenanted and rented at $1075 per month.


Condo town home
3 bedroom
2 bathroom
Condominium Fee - $245
Monthly rental estimate $1100

With 25% down, 2.3% variable rate mortgage, 30 year term,
P & I payment monthly is $519.55
Taxes $152.17
condo fees $245
Total monthly carry - $916.72


69 Pickford - Great option rather than renting

Welcome home to a perfect townhome in Central Kanata,great value in this property which is close to schools and shopping.Open concept living,w/ 3 lg bedrooms and a finished basement are great compliment to your growing lifestyle.Imagine owning this home for $1165/mth with $0 down, less than RENT!!! It is possible,this is the property for you!Take the first step and visit this excellent starter home and kiss your landlord goodbye!

Condo town home

3 bedroom
2 bathroom
Condominium Fee - $205

Monthly rental estimate $1200

With 25% down, 2.3% variable rate mortgage, 30 year term,
P & I payment monthly is $606.62
Taxes $166.67
condo fees $205
Total monthly carry - $978.29

Positive Cash Flow - $221.71

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Understanding medium to long term trends

I first called Greg after coming upon his real estate blog when searching for general information on the Ottawa housing market. I could tell from only a few minutes reading his extensive blog that Greg was someone who saw the market differently than most other agents: his understanding of medium and long-term trends which will drive the markets in Ottawa (and North America) in the years and decades to come was clear.
I jotted down Greg's number and left him a voice mail the next day. He called me back within an hour, and from the first time I contacted him until today he has always been prompt in his responses to both my telephone calls and my email messages. Greg and I met, and he outlined a number of solid options to me for purchasing a property. He helped me shape my general idea of what I was looking for into a specific plan, and we were able to find the property which suited my needs in less than a month. That property rented less than a week after I closed on it.
Greg is obviously an intelligent an able real estate agent. However, much more important than that he is an individual with a keen understanding of real estate markets, which makes him much more than a 'salesperson,' like many other agents. I fully plan to use Greg to purchase other properties in the future.


Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Best USA cities to invest in

Of the top ten best investment cities in the USA - Las Vegas is #1, Phoenix and Fort Lauderdale are also included (as is Orlando).  These are all cities that we are investing in

Check it out here

Pre-construction condo

"Ur-banation reports 50% of new condos sold in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area are purchased by investors, with the number skyrocketing to 90% in parts of downtown where price per square foot averages $550 ... An individual can easily manage four or five condominium rental suites and have a full-time job," Mr. Lamb says. "Four or five, after 25 years, will make you enough money to live like a king. You'll pay off your mortgage, you'll have $2-million or $3-million of net equity. And anyone can retire on that."

Investor rates in Ottawa are closer to 25% as found by CMHC.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

1316 Normandy - Flair and design on a huge lot in Ottawa's core

Beautiful custom built residence on an incredible 223 feet deep lot in Carleton Heights! This home was designed for those looking for stunning European flair and a grand open concept ideal for large families and entertaining. The Grand circular staircase,exotic brazillian hardwood floors, gourmet chef's kitchen with all the top notch finishing and too much more to mention. The house is similar to nearby Moffat Farms but features a huge lot, lots of privacy and space to grow. If that sounds great to you, then this is the home for you!

Carleton Heights

two storey home on ultimate dream lot
6 bedroom
4 bathroom
2 car garage
53.00 X 223.00 lot

1592 Senio - A fantastic lot, gardener's paradise minutes from the Market

What an incredible opportunity to own a home in beautiful Carleton Heights on a gigantic lot close to downtown, Mooney's Bay & walking distance to many schools. This traditional family home features a large renovated eat-in kitchen complete with granite counters and beautiful wood cabinets. This kitchen was an over $60,000 upgrade two years ago. The formal dining room provides a great space for dinner parties and family gatherings. The lower level features a secondary kitchen, family room, a large wine cellar and room to expand.

The backyard is a gardener's dream. It is the largest backyard I have personally ever seen in the city. It is a fully sized backyard and another 50 x 80 space of just garden featuring grapevines, tomatoes, peppers, dill and many other favourites.

Carleton Heights
two storey home on ultimate dream lot
4 bedroom
3 bathroom
2 car garage
80 x 273 lot