Saturday, August 23, 2014

Prompt responses, flexible schedule and creative solutions

Having already bought properties in the past, it was easy to tell Greg was well versed in the housing market. Whether it be knowledge of different neighborhoods, vast network of contacts or pointing out little details during a viewing, he consistently displayed value as a real estate agent throughout my home buying process.

I especially appreciated his prompt responses, flexible schedule and creative solutions to my specific rental/investment needs. I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Greg to friends and family, and look forward to working with him in the future.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Finding tenants for student rentals

The student market can be a lucrative business but landlords need to do their homework when selecting tenants as Tim Collins from Student Rental Investing explains.

When renting to a ‘typical’ tenant, the normal checks that I undertook were references, job credentials and a credit check. I could then take all that information and make an educated decision on whether to rent out to that particular individual.  I'm also a big believer in trusting your gut so if your intuition is screaming something’s not right, well then it's probably worth listening to.
When it comes to students, things can be a bit trickier. Credit checks are irrelevant as students often have not had time to build credit check. As such, it may be necessary to do a credit check on the guarantor.

By having a fabulous advertisement with great pictures and offering utilities for a nice affordable monthly price, you're likely to attract more than just students. It's not good practise to mix students with non-students and so you need to be explicit that it's a student only house. Ideally, you will attract a group of students that already know each other, and they will all be sharing common areas and bathrooms so this makes things much easier.

7 tips for selecting great student tenants:
1. Ask for proof that they are a student - acceptance letter or student card.
2. Ask for a guarantor to sign the application form establishing that they have some financial backing.
3. Ask for a deposit before holding a room, many show interest but change their mind.
4. Establish start date and term of lease that they are looking for.
5. Get job and personal references.
6. Get details of most recent addresses for last three years.
7. Set expectations - No parties will be tolerated at this house.

Do the math: Canadian real estate market will not crash

The doom and gloom stories have started again about the Canadian real estate market. Here are some signs:

Canadians debt to income ratio is at 160 per cent, which means $1.60 or debt for every $1 of income;

Canadian real estate is 20 per cent overvalued

In Toronto, too many condominium units are coming onto the market. If there are no buyers or renters, prices will fall.

If interest rates rise 1 percentage point, many of those with a mortgage will be in trouble.

Canada is not creating jobs as quickly as the U.S.

I see it another way. If you look at the market fundamentals, you can conclude the real estate market is extremely healthy.

I spoke to Brad Lamb, one of Canada's leading real estate brokerages, who has developed projects in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.  You would expect him to put a positive face on things, but here are his arguments why things aren't what they seem.

1.    No place to build low rise homes anymore

In 2001, 30,000 new homes were built in the GTA, of which 22,000 were low rise homes and the rest were condominiums. Buyers were able to find new detached homes in the GTA in areas such as Mississauga, Oakville, Oshawa and Milton. However, as land became more expensive and more greenbelts established across Ontario, the result is not enough land available to build that many low rise homes. As such, for the last few years, we have seen the opposite;  22,000 new condominium units every year and 8,000 detached homes being built. But we still have the same number of buyers coming into the GTA, who need to find a home to work or raise a family.

2.    There are few apartment buildings being built anymore.

Due to the rent control laws, it has made more sense for years for developers to build condominiums instead of rental apartments. Yet young people entering the workforce still need a place to live. That is why the vacancy rate for new condominiums in Toronto is still close to 1%. If the units are filled with tenants or owners, prices cannot crash.

3.    Will interest rates go up at all?

For the past 4 years, banks have been saying that rates should begin to rise within 18 months. Same story today. Although it is true that governments cannot by themselves influence interest rate policy, the fact is that most of the countries in the world have so much debt that they would likely go broke if interest rates rose, so this is the number 1 reason why this will not happen. In addition, rising rates go along with an overheated economy. Canada is very far from being over-heated, with growth averaging about 2% the last few years and likely to remain the same.

4.    The debt to income ratio is a misleading statistic.

When analysts comment on the 160% ratio between debt and equity, they do not distinguish between credit card debt, which Brad likes to refer to as "stupid debt" and mortgage interest debt, which is the interest you pay on your home or on investment properties.

With interest rates at historic lows, most Canadians are able to carry the cost of their own mortgage debt and the rental income from their investment properties in most cases pays for all of the property expenses. If these analysts would do the right thing and separate out the good debt of Canadians from the bad debt, we would be nowhere near any dangerous debt levels in Canada.
Do the math. Canadian real estate remains one of the best investments out there.

Mark Weisleder is a lawyer, author and speaker to the real estate industry. 

Student bridge workers

Construction fencing at Range and Somerset

New student bridge - Sandy Hill to Vanier

Professional decorum and lowered stress

I had the fortune of meeting Greg after arranging to see a condominium unit in downtown Ottawa. I emailed the realtor (Greg) and that very same day he emailed me back and we saw the unit the next day. Right from the start Greg was very knowledgeable, answering all my questions, not just about the properties, but about the market, and buying a condominium in general. His knowledge and persona disarmed my initial hesitation and helped me feel more at ease with the daunting act of buying a condo.

I didn’t have a realtor and wasn’t looking for one, as I had just started my search and wasn’t actually sure where I wanted to buy. I asked Greg if he could show me some places and he agreed without hesitation. He took me around the entire downtown core on a few occasions. He always made himself available to me and always responded to my emails quickly.

What I liked best about Greg was his professional decorum—he offered to help me in my search and didn't pressure me to see if I needed a realtor to sell my current location. He made the stressful act of looking and eventually buying a condo enjoyable. I was also looking outside the city for a bit and most of the time I met a realtor it felt like they were looking to further their personal business interests. 

I understand that it is a competitive career being a realtor, but what made Greg stand apart was his genuine sincerity. I always felt like he always had my best interest in mind and was there, first and foremost, to help me find a great place to live. As well, he was always available for me, which I truly appreciated—it was like looking for a condo with a knowledgeable, easy going yet behind the scene hard-working friend. We had more than a few laughs throughout the entire process.

It just so happened that the very first unit I saw and eventually decided I wanted had conditionally sold before I had my chance to put an offer in, but it came onto the market again about a month later. Greg immediately contacted me the day it was back on the market asking if I was still interested; we met that same day and I bought the unit for a great price, thanks to him. The actual sitting down to sign the papers to purchase the unit through Greg was as comfortable and enjoyable as the rest of the entire journey of buying a property.

Without a doubt I would recommend Greg to my family and friends, and if I am ever in need of a realtor again, Greg will be the person I look to. I cannot say enough good things about him. He is knowledgeable, hard-working, trustworthy, and professional. I consider myself lucky to have had Greg help me buy my first property. 

Thanks, Greg!        

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ottawa Real Estate Agent Wins Prestigious North American Business Award

Ottawa Real Estate Agent Wins
Prestigious North American Business Award

– [Aug 19/14] – Marnie Bennett, a Broker of Bennett Property Shop Realty, Ottawa, Ontario, was awarded the prestigious “Daniel Passante Entrepreneurship Award” in a ceremony at the Toronto Hilton on Saturday, August 16 by Craig Proctor Coaching International.

An admitted workaholic, Bennett was #1 for Keller Williams International in 2010 (besting more than 80,000 other Keller Williams’ sales reps worldwide), before starting her own boutique agency in 2012; and has consistently ranked in the top one per cent of salespeople in North America for the last several years. She has a bachelor’s degree in law and economics, and even back in 1981, in her first year of real estate, she was one of the top agents in Canada.

While Bennett’s drive took her far on her own, her real estate business more than doubled when she aligned herself with Craig Proctor Coaching. “I went to my very first Craig Proctor Super Conference in Los Angeles in May 2010,” said Bennett. “At that time, I was on target to be the #1 Agent for Keller Williams International - but if the truth be known, I was mainly using - but was far less than happy with - the “old school” real estate systems that just didn’t fill our brokerage’s unique needs. But I had done a lot of research into methods and systems that were being used by large and successful brokerages and discovered that the common denominator of the most successful agents in my market place was that they were all Craig Proctor students.”

Over the last four years, by gradually implementing and integrating Proctor’s Quantum Leap Real Estate Success System with some of her brokerage’s existing systems, and ultimately after joining Proctor’s elite Titanium Coaching group, Bennett rapidly grew her business doubling her sales after opening her own boutique brokerage in a beautiful heritage office building in downtown Ottawa. “We now have 40 people on our team; and in one of the toughest markets that I have ever experienced, we have grown our resale numbers by 58% over last year,” said Bennett.

“If Marnie doesn’t inspire you,” said Proctor, “you’re tough to impress. We selected Marnie as the recipient of the Daniel Passante Entrepreneurship Award from among the brightest and best real estate agents from across North America because she exemplified the same huge energy, intelligence, entrepreneurial spirit, and dogged perseverance of the superb agent after whom the award was named.”

“I was completely taken by surprise and am thrilled and honoured to receive such a prestigious award and for being recognised for all my hard work and dedication. For the last 33 years, my goal has always been to offer the highest quality professional real estate services and to build the best real estate brokerage which provides my clients with what we call “5-Star Service” and I appreciate receiving this award as it shows that my colleagues recognize how successful we have been in taking care of our clients’ needs,” said a grateful Marnie Bennett


The Daniel Passante Entrepreneurship Award was created in May 2012 in memory of an exceptional business leader and an inspiring Craig Proctor coach, Daniel Passante, who tragically passed away on March 25, 2012. The award is presented annually to the most innovative, inspiring, and successful team leader. Past winners include Realtors Len Wong in 2012 and Rick Brash in 2013.

Craig Proctor Coaching is an International Real Estate Success Coaching organization that has shaped the lives of over 30,000 Real Estate Agents across the globe. Founder and CEO Craig Proctor designed the Quantum Leap Real Estate Success System that underpins his coaching programs for his own highly successful real estate business, only recently devoting 100% of his time to coaching other agents worldwide. While an active agent (not a broker), Proctor consistently sold over 500 homes a year for annual GCI of almost $4 Million. He was twice named the #1 agent in the world for RE/MAX®, and was one of the top RE/MAX® agents in the country for 15 years. As a Real Estate Trainer, Proctor has coached more agents to Millionaire status than any other trainer. For more information, visit 


The Bennett Property Shop Realty is a one-of-a-kind international boutique brokerage in Ottawa, Canada whose business philosophy is based on exceptional personal service, leadership and industry-leading and innovative policies and practices. Bennett is an award-winning marketer and has become one of Canada’s most highly-regarded Real Estate marketing and sales consultants and strategists because her company provides a full scope of integrated services that are customized to produce the highest possible degree of success for each client. With a team of 25 elite sales representatives who routinely go above and beyond the call of duty, the Bennett Professionals have built a steadfast reputation for excellence in the nation’s capital where their clientele includes Ottawa’s buyers and sellers, countless investors (including Ottawans buying outside of Ottawa and foreign nationals investing in Ottawa properties), as well as local and international developers. Turning this business into a one-stop-real-estate-shop has proven to be no small feat for the Bennett team, but a challenge which Marnie Bennett and her team enthusiastically take on. With over 9,000 sales, and $3.1 billion in real estate sales, the BennettProperty Shop hands down is the number one choice among discriminating home sellers and buyers and real estate developers.


Marnie Bennett is one of the capital’s most prominent businesswomen, entrepreneurs and media personalities. Marnie’s personal life experiences have given her the ability to address women with insight, empathy and compassion, along with her trademark frankness.
From the beginning of her real estate career, Marnie’s sales numbers were among the highest in Canada – which results confirmed that this was the right fit for her particular gifts.

Recognizing that there was an ignored by critically-important niche to fill in the Ottawa housing market, Marnie began her own boutique marketing and realty firm in 1994 – a company that rapidly became a “one-stop shop” for numerous local real estate developers, builders, property managers and investors. Her passion for encouraging women has found expression as she coaches her team members to develop and expand their talents, and as she mentors private clients to take control of their financial futures. But most rewardingly, she’s watched confidence levels steadily rise among clients who have taken part in her “Women on Wealth” (WOW) workshops, learning skills that help them to make the most of their hard-won earnings.

On the media front, unhappy with the “boys’ club” attitude of the local real estate radio show, Marnie began the first of two radio shows. In the first, Marnie offers real-world, practical and inspiring information and advice that is easily understood to a broad range (by both age and financial savvy) to listeners from different walks of life. In the second show, Marnie interviewed various local entrepreneurs to elicit their secrets for success and to inspire other would-be entrepreneurs “to get their ideas in motion”.

She’s also a frequent columnist in local newspapers and magazines, offering fresh, down-to-earth advice that often specifically addresses women home buyers at various stages of life.

In 2008, Marnie was named Ottawa’s Businesswoman of the Year.

In 2010 Marnie was named #1 Realtor Worldwide with Keller Williams Realty International distinguishing herself among 93,000 other sales representatives.

In February 2012, Marnie and her family opened a boutique real estate brokerage in downtown Ottawa - just steps away from Parliament Hill – The Bennett Property Shop.

The Bennett Property Shop is a unique real estate firm that provides their clients with “white glove 5-Star service” and meticulous attention to detail.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Interesting observations from a hospital room

Recently, at the hospital, I was entertained on a rather long stay, as my wife had our 4th child, Lincoln.  It is always fascinating to be able to discuss people with people in different careers/situations.  I found the nurses to be excellent sources of observations.

Observation #1 - This year had the most babies born (in the last 20 years)

Observation #2 - Most of the babies born this year are first children

This is really interesting as this reflects the generational cohorts.  These children being born are the first children of the Generation Y and the grand kids of Baby Boomers.  The oldest members of the Gen Y are now entering their late 20s and early 30s.  Ottawa has more late baby boomers (between 45 and 55) than early baby boomers (55 to 65).  

This should lead to a extended period of higher child births, providing Gen Y has multiple children.  Evidence shows there is a good chance many Gen Y cohort members will only have one child.  There was recently an articles about Canadian income and how 78% of income goes to essentials and taxes, this may also influence smaller families.

I also had a discussion with a soccer club executive that had two more interesting observations:

Observation #1 - There were hundreds less kids signed up for soccer this year versus last year

Observation #2 - Significantly less children born in 2009 than 2010

This is interesting as a soccer club has programs from 3 years old to 21.  This is a huge age range of 18 years.  The drop in kids playing soccer is due to less kids being enrolled in younger age groups.  This is directly correlated to less children born in the younger and the exit of higher birth numbered years at the top of the age cycle.

Fascinating to see the generational cohorts coming into fruition, following long term predictions from experts.
In 2009, less kids were born due to the economic crisis.  This is now reflected in class room sizes and soccer enrollments. 

Steady flow of immigrants has an effect on Ottawa's housing market

Steady flow of immigrants has an effect on Ottawa housing market

In case you hadn’t noticed, Ottawa is no longer the white, northern European-centric city it was a few short decades ago.
Swelling immigration numbers mean that we, like much of the country, have become a vibrant mix of colours, cultures and customs. More than 41,000 new Canadians, most from China, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, arrived in Ottawa-Gatineau between 2007 and 2011, according to Statistics Canada.
That’s having an impact on the local housing market.
“We are designing more and more based on feedback from specific markets,” says Greg Graham, Cardel Homes’ Ottawa president. Because of the popularity of multi-generational homes among some immigrants, for example, builders like Cardel are offering an optional master bedroom and bathroom on the main floor.
Another Cardel option: a small prayer room with a foot bath off the mudroom.
In other cases, real estate agents are having to learn about cross-cultural relationships and the specific likes and dislikes of people raised in countries very unlike their own.
New Canadians are also adapting.
Suthakar Pakianathan and his wife, Malini Panchadcharam, both Hindus from Sri Lanka, have lived in Canada half their lives.
They bought a generously proportioned Tartan single in Havencourt so her parents could live with them and their two young children, a decidedly non-North American tradition.
“For generation after generation, we have taken care of our parents … we don’t have a good (social) support network back home,” says Pakianathan.
To accommodate the family, Tartan made design changes, including the conversion of a first-floor powder room into a three-piece bath for Panchadcharam’s parents.
On the other hand, she says, she and her husband ignored the fact that the kitchen does not face east, a direction which, according to traditional beliefs, yields food that is tasty and nutritious.
“We are in the middle” as far as allowing traditions to dictate housing choices, she says. “We try to make our parents happy.”

To read the complete article from Ottawa Citizen, please click here

Canadians pay 42% of income in tax — more than they spend on food, shelter, clothing combined

Canadians shell out more on taxes — federal, provincial and local, and indirect — than they do on food, shelter and clothing combined, says a report by the Fraser Institute released Monday.
The Canadian Consumer Tax Index compares how much the average taxpayer forks out today, compared with 1961, posing the question: Are Canadians getting enough bang for their bucks?
It finds taxes have grown more rapidly than any other single item of expenditure for the average family. Last year, that added up to 41.8% of income, compared to 33.5% in 1961.
Given the sheer number of indirect levies – such as the taxes on sales, property , fuel, vehicles, imports, alcohol and tobacco – it’s hardly surprising people don’t realize how much they actually pay.
Families have less to spend on things they care about
But with such a hefty chunk of income being eaten up in this way, Charles Lammam, co-author of the report, said taxpayers should ask whether they’re getting value for money.
“Telling people that almost 42% of their income goes on taxes, that’s the first important takeaway. Then people can say, ‘Hold on, that’s one area that can be scaled back.’ We want to start that conversation and this is the data to do that,” he said.
Given that incomes have increased substantially since 1961, it’s inevitable taxes would also rise in terms of the amounts paid, but tax rates have increased because governments provide a wider range of services.
Since 1961, the average family’s tax bill rose by 1,832%, dwarfing increases in the costs of housing, clothing and food.
Last year, the average family earned $77,381 and paid $32,369 in total taxes, or 41.8%. Food, shelter and clothing ate up another 36.1%.
For 1961, the numbers were $5,000 in income, $1,675 on taxes (33.5%) and food, shelter and clothing (56.5%).
But despite the higher tax rates, Canadians are increasing their net worth, says an Environics Analytics report released Monday.
The average net worth per household was $442,130 at the end of 2013, up 7.7% from the year before, mainly because of increases in real estate and investments.
Although the Canadian economy generally seems to be in good health, Mr. Lammam contends it’s “reasonable” for people to ask if they are getting a good deal for their tax dollars.
Canada does not get same level of return for taxes on health care
“With more money going to the government, families have less to spend on things they care about, to save for education and retirement, and to pay down household debt,” he said.
“While there’s no doubt that taxes help fund important services, the real issue is the amount of taxes that governments take compared to what we get in return. There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to the delivery of government services.”
He points to health care as an area where he believes Canadians are shortchanged when compared with similar jurisdictions with universal health care.
“It is the largest and most important budget, but independent analyses have shown that Canada does not get same level of return for taxes on health care. We don’t get the same outcomes as others … we are faltering here and there is an opportunity for us to change the way programs work.”
The Fraser Institute report also points to “deferred taxation,” suggesting that even higher taxes could be on the horizon.
“After many years of budget surpluses, the federal and most provincial governments have once again begun to resort to deficits to finance their expenditures. The total tax bill of the average family would be higher … if, instead of financing its expenditures with deficits, all Canadian governments had simply increased tax rates to balance their budgets. Deficits should therefore be considered as deferred taxation,” it says.
National Post - complete article please click here

Monday, August 11, 2014

Second highest July sales on record

Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,445 residential properties in July through the Board's Multiple Listing Service® system, compared with 1,336 in July 2013, an increase of 8.2 per cent. The five-year average for July is 1,317.

"Sales from this past month are the second best on record for July, only comparable to the 1,578 sales in July 2009," indicated Randy Oickle, President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. "Also, strong sales in the past few months have brought year-to-date sales right on par with 2013. This year is shaping up to be another strong and stable year for the Ottawa market, despite the lackluster sales in the first few months of 2014."

July's sales included 262 in the condominium property class, and 1,183 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.

The average sale price of residential properties, including condominiums, sold in July in the Ottawa area was $356,735, a decrease of 0.8 per cent over July 2013. The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $261,663, a decrease of 5.3 per cent over July 2013. The average sale price of a residential-class property was $377,791, a decrease of 0.8 per cent over July 2013. The Board cautions that average sale price information can be useful in establishing trends over time but should not be used as an indicator that specific properties have increased or decreased in value. The average sale price is calculated based on the total dollar volume of all properties sold.

"The average sale price is down slightly since last year, partially because there were six fewer properties sold in the over $1 million range this July compared to July 2013," says Oickle. "The price range of $300,000 to $349,999 had the highest concentration of properties sold, followed by $350,000 to $399,999 range, then the $400,000 to $449,999 range. These numbers are indicative of first-time homebuyers still coming into the market, taking advantage of the continuing low interest rates. Buying or selling is always a very personal decision and we encourage consumers to contact one of our member REALTORS® for professional advice."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ottawa Multi-family Update (July 2014)

The multi-family continues to be strong in Ottawa.

Purchasers view Ottawa as an attractive place to invest in multi-family properties.

Interesting fact - The LARGEST real estate transaction in Ottawa in quarter two was in the multi-family sector - $64,950,000

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Shark Tank real estate advice

Barbara Corcoran, from the Shark Tank, gives her comments on the real estate market going forward.  For her insight, please click here