Just Back from Moscow!

Night view of street and Kremlin in Moscow. RussiaWe heard from many people who recently visited Moscow: how beautiful this city has become, how great and affordable the hotels and restaurants are and, of course, the museums and theatres. We needed to meet with our clients, so we decided to go.

We booked Peter’s Palace, a hotel for $120 Canadian dollars per night including breakfast for 2 people with unlimited champagne every morning. Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage of that: we do not drink in the morning, but if that’s your thing, this is the hotel for you. Our flight to Moscow, with one stop in London, was a reasonable $1200 per person.

Cathedral of Christ the SaviourWe arrived to a beautiful weather, blooming lilac bushes and chestnut trees everywhere; kilometres of blooming tulips and stunningly decorated streets.

Moscow is a city of 12 million people and huge territory. When I left Moscow in 1997, the city was in very bad condition. After 70 year of communists, the Second World War, Perestroika, Russia as a whole, but specifically Moscow, were in a terrible state.

Since 2000, they not only completely restored the city and built many new buildings, parks, roads, and subway stations, but they did it with a great taste, using high quality materials to keep it all in the same condition for the next few centuries. The sidewalks are all in granite and every 2 meters, they have installed beautiful benches and street lights. All wires and hydro lines are underground so there is nothing to impede the view of the beautifully landscaped the streets. They widened the pedestrian streets and built safe bicycle lanes, lifting them up from the roads . And they did it all very quickly, adapting to working 24 hours a day.

Now, Moscow is a very clean, not because they clean it more, but It looks like people learned not to litter. They love their city in its beauty and are respecting it.

Restaurants are outstanding! Almost all of them are newly built or totally renovated, beautifully and lavishly decorated. I haven’t seen anything like them, even in Paris or New York. They brought the best chefs from different countries and learned from them how to cook. Each menu is a book, not a page. I do not want to compare these with other cities, but it was the first time I have ever visited that quality of restaurant without breaking my budget. The food is not only international, but also from different regions: from Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Ossetia, and Belarus. The most famous restaurateur in Moscow is Arkady Novikov. He has 50 outstanding restaurants in Moscow, London, Dubai, Saint-Petersburg and every one of them is an EVENT! My favourites are without a doubt Pushkin and Bolshoi.

Every night, we went to different theatres. First of all, it was very affordable with an average ticket for a seat in the orchestra section at $40 dollars; only the Bolshoi was $200 per person. Usually in Toronto, we pay $250 or more for quality seats at the ballet or opera. This time, we visited Bolshoi theatre. Twice! We saw Sleeping Beauty and the ballet competition. The quality of the performances were beyond all of our expectations. In the Moscow Conservatory, we saw Vladimir Putin! He was sitting just few rows in front of us.

There are 26 pedestrian streets in the centre of Moscow and the city has developed a program to entertain people. Every few weeks, there is a new festival on city squares and streets from morning to midnight, 7 days a week. Fun, food and music everywhere. And I do not think that city is spending a lot of money on it. They designed and decorated beautiful kiosks and allow businesses to sell their products.

One day, we took a walk along the harbour of the Moscow river. We were amazed to see how beautifully built it was. We saw people dancing on the river banks. The city hired dance teachers and everybody could come and learn to dance for free. Every 100 meters, there was a different dance and music.

You may not to be a rich person, but when you live in a city like Moscow, everything around you becomes part of your estate, so to speak; you get it for free. People enjoy a very cultural life and become happier because they touch the beauty every day.

And last but not least, people were so well dressed on the streets. Smoking and drinking are not fashionable any more and many young people are fit and sporty. I hope you enjoyed this short recounting of my last trip: I’m always happy to share these experiences with you!

Newsletter – June 16-2016

Just Back from Moscow!

Night view of street and Kremlin in Moscow. RussiaWe heard from many people who recently visited Moscow: how beautiful this city has become, how great and affordable the hotels and restaurants are and, of course, the museums and theatres. We needed to meet with our clients, so we decided to go.

We booked Peter’s Palace, a hotel for $120 Canadian dollars per night including breakfast for 2 people with unlimited champagne every morning. Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage of that: we do not drink in the morning, but if that’s your thing, this is the hotel for you. Our flight to Moscow, with one stop in London, was a reasonable $1200 per person.

We arrived to a beautiful weather, blooming lilac bushes and chestnut trees everywhere; kilometres of blooming tulips and stunningly decorated streets.

Read full Article >>


 

Huge Disappointment Regarding the L Tower Condo Complex

Toronto’s highly anticipated building that won’t be.

A few days ago, I walked by the newly constructed 58 storey condo complex at Front and Yonge Street and saw a very unusual picture. An almost fully occupied building is missing walls of windows, on a few floors. Despite almost 7 years of construction, this highly anticipated iconic building is already falling apart.

The exterior of the building still is not finished, the lobby is not rushing to please the residents, nor are the amenities. Most Toronto real estate agents will tell you that they are not happy with units finishes, either.

Thanks to our professionalism, we did not sell a single unit in this condominium. It looks like Fernbrook Homes cut all possible corners on the materials, compromising the quality of the construction.

Read full Article >>


Does Living in a High Rise Condominium Protect Us from Bugs and Cockroaches?

What I learned two weeks ago, even after 17 years invested in my Real Estate career, surprised me

My client moved to Paris and decided not to come back to Toronto. She asked me to sell her condominium apartment, located in very good neighbourhood of Toronto. A beautiful suite in a prestigious building that is only a few years old. The unit is on a lower floor (not a ground floor) with stunning 12 ft ceilings. The condo was tenanted at the time. When I met with the tenants and asked why the kitchen utensils were all out of the cupboards, they informed me that the apartment was full of cockroaches, even after being recently treated. The condominium has a program to compost organic waste and this is why this building was infested with bugs.

Read full article >>


You have a friend in the real estate business: should you always sell or buy with them?

I have been selling and buying real estate since 1999 and, from time to time, my best clients or even friends use someone else when they sell or buy a house or condo.

Every time, my friends are disappointed.

Why this is happening and how to solve this issue, if your friend is a Real Estate broker.

Friendship is like family, sometimes even stronger. Sometimes people change wives or husbands a few times over lifetime, but they can have friends from kindergarten until  the end of their life.

Friendship is a blessing; it is a gift that not everyone will have in their lives. Loyalty is a great quality to have and is always beneficial for people. But when money,  particularly big money, is involved, everything changes. Some people feel that they would rather lose the relationship with a friend than lose some money.

Let’s look at this situation from both party’s point of view and I’ll tell you how I see this situation being resolved, without damaging good relationships between friends.

Read full article >>


Market Watch June 2016 – Strong Sales Growth Continues in May

As the weather warmed, the Canadian resale market continued its steady pace upwards, continuing an above average trend for the month of May. Consumer confidence amongst home buyers remains strong and is reflected by increased unit sales in all housing categories. The tighter market conditions have resulted in price growth well above the rate of inflation in most market segments.

  • Ontario –  Strong Sales Growth Continues in May
  • British Columbia – Demand remains elevated across the Metro Vancouver housing market
  • Alberta – Single family home sales are on the rise

Read full article >>

Huge Disappointment Regarding the L Tower Condo Complex

L-tower500x755Toronto’s highly anticipated building that won’t be

A few days ago, I walked by the newly constructed 58 storey condo complex at Front and Yonge Street and saw a very unusual picture. An almost fully occupied building is missing walls of windows, on a few floors. Despite almost 7 years of construction, this highly anticipated iconic building is already falling apart.

The exterior of the building still is not finished, the lobby is not rushing to please the residents, nor are the amenities. Most Toronto real estate agents will tell you that they are not happy with units finishes, either.

Thanks to our professionalism, we did not sell a single unit in this condominium. It looks like Fernbrook Homes cut all possible corners on the materials, compromising the quality of the construction.

You have a friend in the real estate business: should you always sell or buy with them?

 

You have a friend in the real estate business: should you always sell or buy with them?

friends600x400I have been selling and buying real estate since 1999 and, from time to time, my best clients or even friends use someone else when they sell or buy a house or condo.

Every time, my friends are disappointed.

Why this is happening and how to solve this issue, if your friend is a Real Estate broker.

Friendship is like family, sometimes even stronger. Sometimes people change wives or husbands a few times over lifetime, but they can have friends from kindergarten until  the end of their life.

Friendship is a blessing; it is a gift that not everyone will have in their lives. Loyalty is a great quality to have and is always beneficial for people. But when money,  particularly big money, is involved, everything changes. Some people feel that they would rather lose the relationship with a friend than lose some money.

Let’s look at this situation from both party’s point of view and I’ll tell you how I see this situation being resolved, without damaging good relationships between friends.

Imagine a situation with two parties who are also friends. We’ll call one of them Seller and the other one Broker.

Seller wants to sell his house and he feels that Broker is charging too much commission or is not qualified to do the job and he would like to hire another broker to sell his house.

I think that if Seller values this friendship, he could meet with Broker and talk about it. Always offer what you negotiated with another broker to your friend before you sign an agreement with a stranger.

You want to sell your house, but you are not willing to pay commission or you found the most discounted broker in the universe. Speak with your friend and let him know what you are willing to pay or not pay. Be honest and let your friend decide if he wants this deal with you or not. Your friend may feel that he would do it for you for free because you are friends or he may feel that he is not be interested at all and let you go with another agent, without being offended.

Very often Seller would not say anything about it until Broker sees a house posted on MLS or even sold . Believe me, as a Broker / Friend, it always feels like a knife in the back when this happens. Sometimes this relationship will recover but often this is the end. Not because Seller sold with another broker, but only because he did not speak with his friend about it first.

You may think that this was not a real friendship and you might be right. Perhaps it was not, but I have found it very difficult to find people to just spend time with, people with whom you are willing to have dinner with and just talk. We will make more money in our lifetime, but we will not get more people we love and want to have around. Friends are worth more than money: they are an important part of our lives.

I have few friends who sold or bought homes with another Broker over my 17 years of Real Estate practice, but I have not seen a single one who got more money from the sale. They only saved on commissions. You get what you pay for. Cheap agents always build lousy sales. And please do not assume that you, as a seller, know better about the ins and outs of how to sell your house for the top dollar. This is simply not true. Experience really counts.

Loss of money, costly mistakes, and bad investments happen only when the person you trust with your biggest asset does not really care about you. But your friend cares and will do everything possible to do their best for you, because this is the nature of friendship.

I have many great clients who have become my best friends over my real estate career. Great people, loyal clients and amazing friends: I would like to thank them for being with us for so many years and for trusting us with their biggest assets. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Does Living in a High Rise Condominium Protect Us from Bugs and Cockroaches?

What I learned two weeks ago, even after 17 years invested in my Real Estate career, surprised me

Cockroaches600x400My client moved to Paris and decided not to come back to Toronto. She asked me to sell her condominium apartment, located in very good neighbourhood of Toronto. A beautiful suite in a prestigious building that is only a few years old. The unit is on a lower floor (not a ground floor) with stunning 12 ft ceilings. The condo was tenanted at the time. When I met with the tenants and asked why the kitchen utensils were all out of the cupboards, they informed me that the apartment was full of cockroaches, even after being recently treated. The condominium has a program to compost organic waste and this is why this building was infested with bugs.

I was terrified. In my 19 years living in Toronto, I had never heard about bugs in a good building. I know that it is very often a problem in rental building apartments, but condos? I was sure that condo owners were protected from such infestations.

After talking with tenants, I asked a few residents of the building if they were aware of this problem. All the people I spoke to lived on the higher floors and had no idea that the building was fighting with cockroaches.

Next day, I called the  property management office of the building to verify this information. A few days later, a property manager called me back and confirmed the information about cockroaches in the building. When I said that I have never heard about bugs in condos, she assured me that every single condominium in Toronto has them in their garbage room. She was very confident, adding that she knows this problem very well because she has worked in many different condominiums.

And this is in spite of a pest control company coming in every 6 month. When the City of Toronto implemented the new organic waste collection program, it may not have considered that it is almost impossible to not have bugs in and around a garbage room.

Of course, I do not know about every building in Toronto, but my Real Estate broker advice would be: never buy apartments on the lower floors, close to the garbage room.

I saw numerous flies from the garbage room last summer when selling a condo 10 floors above a garbage room. They are not a pleasant addition to your balcony!

Next time you decide to buy a condo, please call for a consultation to avoid costly mistakes. I’m sorry to have to share this less than pleasant article, but I thought it was important information for you to know.

Market Watch June 2016 – Strong Sales Growth Continues in May

As the weather warmed, the Canadian resale market continued its steady pace upwards, continuing an above average trend for the month of May. Consumer confidence amongst home buyers remains strong and is reflected by increased unit sales in all housing categories. The tighter market conditions have resulted in price growth well above the rate of inflation in most market segments.

Ontario – Strong Sales Growth Continues in May

Toronto, June 3, 2016 — Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark McLean announced that there were 12,870 home sales reported through TREB’s MLS® System in May 2016. This result represented a new record for the month of May and a 10.6% increase over the same period last year. In contrast, the number of new listings was down over the same time frame by 6.4%. The decline in listings was experienced in both the low-rise and condominium apartment market segments.

“Whether we’re talking about existing homeowners or people looking to purchase for the first time, there is no shortage of buyers in the marketplace today. So, while the record number of home sales through the first five months of 2016 is not necessarily surprising, it does sometimes mask the larger story in the GTA: the shortage of listings, which has resulted in strong upward pressure on home prices,” said Mr. McLean.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark was up by 15% year-overyear in May 2016. Similarly, the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 15.7% over the same period. Low-rise home types, which remained in short supply in many GTA neighbourhoods, experienced the strongest price growth.
“Widespread competition between buyers of singles, semis and townhouses across the GTA has underpinned the robust annual rates of price growth experienced so far this year. With this said, however, it is also important to understand that tighter market conditions for condominium apartments have resulted in price growth well above the rate of inflation in this market segment as well,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

Ottawa, June 6, 2016 – Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 1,921 residential properties in May through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® system, compared with similar sales of 1,926 in May 2015. The five-year average for May sales is 1,864.

“As the weather warmed, the Ottawa resale market continued its steady pace upwards, continuing an above average trend for the month of May,” says Shane Silva, President of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “Units sold are up 207 since April, increasing in both the residential and condominium property class”.

May sales included 307 in the condominium property class, and 1,614 in the residential property class. The condominium property class includes any property, regardless of style (i.e. detached, semi-detached, apartment, townhouse, 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.

“In May, 3,635 homes were listed, keeping pace with listing numbers in April, but down slightly by 4.4% compared to May 2015,” says Silva. “With the number of sales since the beginning of the year on a steady incline, coupled with increased inventory, Ottawa is riding a strong and steady spring market.”

The average sale price of a residential-class property sold in May in the Ottawa area was $406,063, an increase of 0.6% over May 2015. The average sale price for a condominium-class property was $264,801, an increase of 1.5% over May 2015. 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 hottest segments in our market for May were sales in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range, followed by the $400,000 to $500,000 price range,” says Silva. “Residential two-storey and bungalows have the highest concentration of buyers in May. In addition to residential and condominium sales, OREB Members have assisted clients with renting 1,213 properties since the beginning of the year.”

 

British Columbia – Demand remains elevated across the Metro Vancouver housing market

Metro Vancouver, June 2, 2016 – Metro Vancouver* homes continue to sell at an unprecedented rate in communities across the region.

Residential property sales on the region’s Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) totalled 4,769 in May 2016, an increase of 17.6% from the 4,056 sales recorded in May 2015 and a decrease of 0.3% compared to April 2016 when 4,781 homes sold.

Last month’s sales were 35.3% above the 10-year sales average for the month and rank as the highest sales total on record for May.

“Home sellers are becoming more active in recent months, although that activity is being outpaced by home buyer demand today,” Dan Morrison, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver totalled 6,289 in May 2016. This represents an increase of 11.5% compared to the 5,641 units listed in May 2015 and a 2.6% increase compared to April 2016 when 6,127 properties were listed.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 7,726, a 37.3% decline compared to May 2015 (12,336) and a 2.3% increase compared to April 2016 (7,550).

“Economic and job growth in Metro Vancouver is out performing most regions in the country. This is helping to underpin today’s activity,” Morrison said.

The sales-to-active listings ratio for May 2016 is 61.7%. This is indicative of a seller’s market.

Generally, analysts say that downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below the 12% mark, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it reaches the 20 to 22% range in a particular community for a sustained period of time.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $889,100. This represents a 29.7% increase compared to May 2015.

Sales of detached properties in May 2016 reached 1,865, an increase of 8.2% from the 1,723 detached sales recorded in May 2015. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 36.9% from May 2015 to $1,513,800.

Sales of apartment properties reached 2,150 in May 2016, an increase of 34.4% compared to the 1,600 sales in May 2015. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 22.3% from May 2015 to $485,000.

Attached property sales in May 2016 totalled 754, an increase of 2.9% compared to the 733 sales in May 2015. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 24.9% from May 2015 to $632,400.

Alberta – Single family home sales are on the rise

Edmonton, June 2, 2016 – Unit sales for single family detached homes were up 19.3% from April and up 3.8% year-over-year, with 1,119 selling in May across the Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). Unit sales of duplexes and rowhouses increased 37.2% over April, and 23.03% over May 2015 with 203 units sold in the month. Condo sales were up 5.3% month-over-month, but down 18.2% year-over-year. All-residential sales at 1,771 were up more than 18% from April and down less than 1% compared to May of last year.

“Consumer confidence amongst home buyers in Edmonton and surrounding areas remains strong and is reflected by increased unit sales in the single family detached and duplex/rowhouse categories,” REALTORS® Association of Edmonton Chair Steve Sedgwick said. “Relative to other markets in Alberta, Edmonton’s resale housing market is solid.”

Total new listings were down less than 1% relative to last month and 2.5% compared to May 2015, with 3,233 new properties coming onto the market in May. The sales-to-listing ratio for single family detached homes was 61% for May 2016, up 10% from April and on par with May 2015. The sales-to-listing ratio for duplex/rowhouses was 73%, down 13% from May 2015 but up 22% from last month. Condo properties are entering a buyer’s market, with a 40% sales-to-listing ratio, up 2% from last month, but down 13% from last year.

The average single family detached home in the Edmonton CMA sold for $440,573 in May, virtually on par with April’s average price of $439,982, but down almost 3% compared to the average price of $453,748 in May 2015. Average condo prices at $254,555 are up over 1% month-over-month, and almost flat to last year. Duplex/rowhouse average prices increased compared to both the previous month and May 2015, up 3% and 1.5% respectively.

“While new listings coming onto the market were down this May compared to 2015, inventory continues to remain strong with more than 8,000 residential properties on the market at month’s end,” Sedgwick said. “The fact that we haven’t seen a significant decline in prices is giving buyers more assurance. They are making purchases based on market stability and good selection.”

In May, the all residential average days-on-market was 54 days, up 14 days from April and up 8 days relative to May 2015. On average, single family detached homes sold in 51 days in May, while condominiums and duplex/rowhouses sold in an average of 59 days.

Strong Condo Sales and Price Growth in Q1 2016

Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark McLean announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 5,974 condominium apartment sales through TREB’s MLS® System during the first quarter of 2016 – an increase of 21.2 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2015. Approximately 70 per cent (4,131 sales) of first quarter 2016 transactions occurred in the City of Toronto.

The same annual rate of growth was not experienced for new listings. There were 11,112 new condominium apartment listings entered into TREB’s MLS® System in the first quarter – down 1.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2015.

“It is clear that the demand for condominium apartments more than kept up with the supply of listings in the first quarter of this year. This housing type is an important entry point into home ownership for a lot of GTA households, particularly in the City of Toronto. Recent polling undertaken for TREB by Ipsos suggested that approximately half of home purchases made in the GTA this year would be accounted for by first-time buyers,” said Mr. McLean.

The average condominium apartment selling price was $393,589 in the first quarter – up 8.1 per cent compared to Q1 2015. Similarly, the MLS® Home Price Index benchmark price for apartments was up by 7.1 per cent on a year-over-year basis at the end of March.

“While the condominium apartment market segment remains the best supplied in the GTA, market conditions have tightened considerably since the first quarter of 2015. Not surprisingly, the pace of year-over-year price growth has accelerated over the same period of time,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.

 • Condo Market Report. First Quarter 2016  • See Report >>

Market Watch - May 2016