Condo investors - take care of your units...and they'll take care of you!

So you've had an investment condo for a few years as a rental, things have been good and now the time has come to put it on the market again for lease. Now, hundreds of more units in the area are your competition and these units come updated with modern finishes and sleek design. That's not to say your out of the running, your units may be larger as was the trend in the earlier buildings, you may have better amenities or have a slightly more prime location. However, do NOT just put it back on the market without first thinking to yourself, is this unit worth the same as the rest?

I walk in to countless units that make me wonder why some became landlords in the first place. Properties should be taken care of and when their not you'll lose money, it's a simple

Simple fixes can infact bring great results. Here is a list of a few things you can do to make sure you can stay competitive in the market and get the most out of your investment. Even putting dollar values of the rental aside, the amount of time you'll save from it sitting on the market will justify an update alone. If your $1800/mnth condo sits on the market for 2 months you've lost $3600. That's a not a small sum. Therefore, spending a single day to bring your unit up to acceptable standards shouldn't be a problem. If you could spend $1500 to save $1800 or more, is it not worth it?

  •  Paint - the simplest thing that many will say is so cheap to do especially in small areas such as a 500-700 square feet condo, and yet, many choose not to ever touch the walls or ceilings and leave them the green, blue and yellow that existed there for the past 5-10 years. When i walk in to a unit that resembles a circus tent, the feedback from my clients is never good and that should worry you. One thing renter's enjoy is moving in to a place that is already ready to actually move in...They usually do not want to go in and spend their time painting right before having to move all of their contents in, especially after they just laid down a few thousand covering first and last months. A couple hundred will go a long way in making your place pop...with Champagne after its rented!
  • Trim - Many times i see plane flat stock trim, or very old thin MDF that is barely more noticeable then the quarter round that is keeping the edges of the poorly installed laminate down. Trim can be a moderately cheap, but extremely enhansing upgrade that will take the eye and delight it, instead of souring it. For a 500 sq ft unit, getting newer larger 5 1/2" trim and casing with a better profile is not as expensive as you would think, and can be done within a day.
  • The simple things - Old and ugly cover plates, broken or slightly disfunctional door hardware, an uncared for balcony, flooring seperation or spills, all these can be easily remedied and when their not, your potential tenant just walked out of the door with me. 
All of this can be easily don for around $1,500-2,000 obvsiouly depending on the paint choice (price varies greatly) as well as going with MDF or Wooden trim, and the extent of the small fixes. However what you get in return, is a rentable unit that won't cost you money by sitting vacant for months at a time. 
Other fixes that will greatly benefit your cause include:
  • Flooring - No one likes to see gaps in flooring, or buckling, or even outdated flooring. Laminate and some new engineered flooring systems have become relatively cheap over the years, durability is really good and the overall impression of your unit will be well responded.  Flooring is especially important in much older condo's which have carpet throughout. Vary rarely, and by rare, i mean NEVER, have i been asked to find something that has carpet everywhere - not to mention carpet that's seen much better days. If this sounds like one of your units, you don't realize just how much a few dollars per sq ft will add to the appeal of your rental or sale of your condo. Flooring seems to be one of the most neglected aspects of condo units that 5-15 years old.  
  • Kitchen - To many cooking can be relaxing, to others tedious, mainly because of time contraints. Regardless of which side of the fence you reside on, a nice kitchen, creates a nice atmosphere. We have this little thing, or Big thing i should say, called IKEA. I've personally renovated hundreds of rental units and IKEA kitchens have always been a centre piece of the unit. They come in all shapes and sizes, variances in finish from lower to higher end, and the price ranges along with the ease of installation should be an attractive incentive for any investor in updating a kitchen, or anything in the unit for that matter. People love IKEA, if they didn't their warehouse wouldn't be the size of Pearson's runway. Get familiar with prices, styles and configurations and you'll thank me. Backsplashes are cheap to do and they will dramatically change the look and bring the kitchen all together, and to finish it off a granite counter top is a lot cheaper than most think. Prices have gone down quite a bit over the years and quartz as well has become a nice alternative which is priced decently. 

I could spend hours defining the keys to success in a rental unit, but i'll leave it at that and if you have any questions you can feel free to email me at . I work with many renters and before i even got in to real estate i renovated hundreds of rental units from large executive houses to condo's/appartments, multi family homes and commercial units. I would be more than happy to help put you in touch with the right people that'll get your unit back to it's former glory, and even better.

 Andrew Tomassetti
Real Estate Sales Representative / Property Management Consultant
Forest Hill Real Estate Inc.

The Selby condos gets bought by private equity fund

Now i'm not one to rant about recent happenings, in fact i usually stear clear away from airing out my feelings on a topic; however, there's always that certain circumstance that forces your hand. So as many know, the Selby Condo's coming to Bloor and Sherbourne was released for a one day private sales event a couple of weeks ago. The projections for the project were great, incentives were fantastic and prices were on point to bring a very nice return once built. All was good. Units were flying. Money was being made....but then recent events took the industry by storm, and the project was bought by a single private equity fund.

This is something absolutey unheard of in real estate let alone Toronto's market being one of the top new construction condo markets around the globe. I can imagine there will be a large amount of pissed off clients and agents, more so agents as they waited for hours upon hours in line outside in the cold and spent hundreds and some thousands of dollars marketing the project. It just goes to show you the level of faith that people and companies have in our marketplace; to buy all the units in a single condo project that has yet to break ground and won't be built for 3-4 years really says something.

This brings up another point i've argued with many about over the past 4 years - this imaginary "bubble." I recently stated that our market isn't a bubble about to burst, but more so a pinata filled with money. Those that take a swing can benefit from their efforts, and those that don't, sit back and watch others reap the spoils. The sad part is that many take advice from sources that are not even remotely connected with the real estate industry in any regard, and use that as their basis for opinion. It's one thing to buy or not buy because you draw your own conclusions, but making choices based on ill informed reporting is almost criminal in nature. 

I always tell people, don't just look at the article, look at the author of the article and it's sources. That will give you a good indication of how much of what your reading is truth or bull**** (pardon my Italian). Look at the whole picture, and not just the one with the biggest headline in a newspaper or the most likes on a facebook shared post.

The reason i bring this up is the past 4 years:

- While some have shouted "Bubble!".....Others have stayed quiet and made a fortune.

- While some say there are too many units coming out...Others can't seem to buy enough units. 

- While some concentrate on paying down there mortgage...Others realize leveraging their assets to invest can built your networth much faster. 

- While some stay content on not buying....Others realize that by not buying, your losing money every single day.

In New York City if you ask the majority of what they would have done 15 years ago, they would all likely say that they would have bought real estate. The reality of their current market is many are priced out of the market and forced to live in the outskirts or rent as prices are out of reach. When they had the chance to buy, they didn't, and the market moved forward without them. Instead, if they had property, they would have moved right on up with the market. 

Moral of the story, make smart decisions based on your own common sense and facts...put the BS in the BackSeat.


Owning any home now will help you own your dream home later

The case of some seems to be waiting for that dream home, but in 99.9% of situations, that dream homes comes with a price tag outside of the reach of the buyer. This isn't a problem, everyone goes through the real estate ownership ladder as i like to call it. Usually to get to the home you want to eventually settle down in there will be a few properties in between. Some try to skip that step, but that step what is going to build you equity and give you the resources and leverage to ultimately get you a property to stay in for the long term (if that's your goal) . Not only will you be paying into a piece of real estate that will appreciate over the years more than most investments, but paying into your mortgage will also show the bank that you can handle house ownership. That paying history will give them more confidence in your ability to handle a financial responsibily as great as a mortgage, which will help with future applications.

Putting too much weight on your first home will make what should be a fun and great experience, into a stressful situation that will drag on for weeks or months. When looking for your first property you want to take most of the personal feelings you have out of the equation because they'll most likely not coincide with your budget for your first home. What you want to keep in mind is what you can afford, the best value for money, the opportunity with the highest return when it comes time to sell, as well as locational commute.

An arguement i hear alot of these days is prices are so high in Toronto and surrounding subburbs. High in comparison to? how i usually respond. If you compare Toronto to Barrie, yes it may seem expensive. Comparing it to other major metropolitan cities will show you the opposite. Toronto is one of the cheapest major cities for real estate in the world, and known all over the globe as a safe haven to park their money into real estate. The demand is not going to ease up, the city is so young it only has one place to go and that is up with extreme growth. 

New York didn't always have astronomical prices in the 2,000 and 3,000 square ft price range for a downtown residence on average. At one time it was affordable for the majority, and now owning in New York is something out of reach for the average income individual. Food for thought when thinking about the average 650$ per sq ft average for a downtown Toronto condo. 

Waiting for the perfect time to buy could lead to disaster and have you banking on a recession that never comes, and if it did there wouldn't be much to buy on the market as any smart homeowner would hold their property till an one likes to lose money..

An arguement that comes about in that regard is usually - "look what happened in the US! Prices went down exponentially when they had their downturn!" Your absolutely right! Some areas in the US seen depreciation of 25% to over 50%. However, what many forget to take into consideration, is many in the US that were getting mortgages, shouldn't have had them in the first place. The banks and lending institutions were giving away "phantom" mortgages; if you had a pulse and a citizenship/green card/visa, you were likely approve worthy for a mortgage. So, now you've got hundreds of thousands of people with mortgages they couldn't afford in the first place, and the recession hits. They did what anyone would do in their situation, walk away from the home, and have it forclosed. 

Our market is very different. Not only are our banks and lending institutions much stricter in their lending criteria, but the amount they will lend is also much more conservative. If our economy hits a little rut, less people will sell, as no one will want to sell for a discount unless they absolutely have to and are desperate. Put yourself in a seller's shoes. You buy a house for $600,000, you make good money, the economy takes a downturn 5 years later. If your financially stable and your job isn't effected by the economic downturn, are you going to be inclined to sell? Absolutely not. If your an investor in the stock market, and were to sell everytime things went bad and didn't wait for them to go back up, you'd be bankrupt fairly quickly; real estate works in somewhat the same way, however, your investment in property is a lot more secure than digital shares in a company. 

I went off topic to reiterate my initial point which was to get into the market sooner, to get your dream home later...waiting for real estate armageddon isn't going to help out your cause. This predicted "bubble" by market media enthusiasts has been predicted for the past some odd ten years. In that ten years they've been preaching, i've known people that have made hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions in property. I can't say the same for the "bubble" predictors. 



The Power of Group Buying

So your thinking of buying your first property but maybe the bank has said your approved for something a lot less than what you were after - not a problem.  Many go through the same situation. Our banks and lending institutions can sometimes be a bit tight. It's one of the main reasons our economy and real estate market are some of the best in the world.

I'm sure you have a friend or family member in the same situation, you both want to get into the property game but find yourself looking farther and farther out of the city to match affordability.

Easy solution - "Group Investing." Saving up for a huge downpayment is difficult and often times, SAVING, doesnt SAVE you anything. If you take 5 years to save $100,000, you'd be at a loss, because if you invested a quarter of that at a time on a downpayment on a few invesmtent properties, you'd have almost double that in equity. The best (and by best i pertain to safest investment in relation to it's probably return) piggy bank you can have to put your money in is real estate and the best time to invest is when you currently have no big obligations. Once you get into a mortgage for your own home, it can be slightly more difficult as all your expenses and costs of living can really add up. For new buyers living with family your capital is free, and your liabilities are low; take advantage of it to get ahead quicker.

Instead of getting into your own home as soon as possible, why not get an investment property bringing in a second income as soon as possible? There is no better income than one that comes in passively. You may be approved to get a house that costs $300-400,000, but what if with your friend you could invest in a property twice the amount making $4500-5500 month after month? Not bad for a second income!..Hell, that's around twice the national average income in the country!

You'll be fast-tracking your way into the home you really want as well as building wealth much more efficiently than putting money into any RRSP, bank account, low yield bond and most other financial products. 

I'll put it into perspective in a different way so you can see just how great the return on investment can be:

Lets say you have your money invested into something giving you a 10% fixed annual return without compounding interest and you invest $100,000, for a 5 year term. At the end of the 4 years you will have gained $50,000 in interest payable to you. Giving you a sum of $150,000.

Instead, you choose to take that $100,000 and buy a multiplex (triplex, fourplex, 5 plex, etc.). Something that is turnkey, making a great net return and doesn't need any immediate money to be sunk in. The purchase price we'll say is $700,000, the monthly income is $5500, the monthly expenses are $1500, and the mortgage monthly we'll say is $2600. Your rental income is covering all expenses, the full mortgage and putting $1400 in your pocket every month. Lets look at from an equity perspective now. That investment property you invested the same amount of capital into has made you almost $90,000 just in principal equity over the 5 years, and another $84,000 in cash flow, totalling $174,000 not including the $100,000 you already have in the property as well as the appreciation. 

Those numbers in itself should show just how powerful a good real estate investment can be, but those numbers don't compare to the most powerful tool of all...leverage. When you have one good property, it's not hard to turn that into 3 properties, 5 properties, and so on...and doing it now rather than later will not only save you from losing out on the money you could be earning, but taking advantage of the market we live in being one of the top real estate markets in the world.

Email me or give me a call anytime if you'd like to talk about options in investing. 

A little food for thought

Buying your first home is one of the most exciting milestones in one’s life. It can bring on many emotions at once from fear to happiness and everything in between, but it doesn’t have to. It should be all smiles with no fear/doubt/stress in sight. The reason these other not so welcome emotions come about is usually from a lack of insight on the enormous decision that your stepping into…head first if your not prepared!

Educating yourself on the purchasing process is the best way to counteract any feelings of distress. A good REALTOR® will make sure you are 100% comfortable with what your getting into before proceeding and ensure your aware of anything that may seem like a surprise later on in the transaction.

Let’s take a look at some of the things many might have question marks in their head about when purchasing their first home. 

Land Transfer tax – When buying in Ontario, Land Transfer tax will apply to your purchase. If your buying in Toronto, factor in a second tax to be added as Toronto has their own Land Transfer Tax. Now say your looking for a home in Toronto for $400,000. The Provincial tax would be $4,475, and the Toronto tax $3,725 bringing a total of $8,200 in total land transfer tax to be paid on closing. However, being a first time home buyer that would be reduced to $2,475, giving you a rebate of $5,725. There is a lot to the actual calculation which is why i’ve given a sample scenario with just the numbers.

Property Tax – One thing many overlook is property taxes, which can make for a nice surprise after closing because this tax will very greatly between properties. For example, i just ran a quick search in Vaughan and looking at a townhome, semi and a detached home around $600K, the taxes were $3500, $3600, and $4100. The property sizes were not that different but looking across the street at a much bigger lot, the property tax could be almost double. 

The Downpayment – When it comes to the downpayment, many decide to spend years and years saving for a large or decent downpayment. However, $50,000 today, is far from being $50,000 two years from now..our good friend inflation is often forgotten about and thats why i always say, "buying sooner is better than saving for later." Less of a downpayment now will save you from losing money buying at a later date – that $500,000 home your in love with today might cost you an extra 12-21% in 2-3 years (especially in Toronto where certain areas can rise 7% year over year). Your money won’t grow in a bank..much. A bank gives on average mid 3 percent in interest, a little more for locked in GIC’s and term investments. Real estate even with a modest 5–6% in appreciation is tax free for primary residences AND, for non resident investment properties you may defer taxes until you sell; at that point leveraging one property to buy another comes into play and you can really start building your portfolio. I can get into capital gains and power investing at another time. 

Mortgage Insurance – Mandatory for high ratio mortgages (any mortgage over 80% of the selling price). , not mandatory for conventional mortgages (where less than 80% of the selling price is mortgaged). So if your deposit is less than 80% of the price of the home your looking at paying mortgage insurance. For example, a $400,000 home, with a 5% downpayment and a mortgage amortized over 25 years, the mortgage insurance would cost $10,450. It's worked into your mortgage amount. For this same mortgage at say a rate of 2.79, you would be looking at $1806 as a monthly payment. A little cheaper if you go bi-weekly.

Closing costs – everything from appraisals, to title insurance, to legal fees will be in your closing costs and its good to factor in about 2-3% of the purchase price to be on the safe side.

Maintenance fees – If any…most condos in Toronto are around 50 cents per square foot for newer buildings, older buildings that have had a lot of repairs done could be quite a bit more; condo townhomes i’ve seen from 18-35 cents per square foot.

First property as investment – For those that are in a situation where they don’t need to necessarily move, (ie living with family, roomates, etc), but are looking to get into the property world to start building their portfolio of home ownership, a good starter investment is a downtown condo. They aren't all tht time intensive, and costs are low in comparison to single/multi family houses which can get high into the maintenance costs, and overwhelm you as a new investor. 

At the expense in making this post into a bible, i will leave it at that for now…any specific comments or questions i’m always happy to answer, you can email me at


Aside from being at one of the most prized addresses in the downtown core of Toronto, comes a rooftop city view, BBQ'ing, cocktails, sun decks to enjoy those hot summer nights and an outdoor movie theatre that will really pull together the rooftop experience at one of the greatest developments in the city.
More updates to follow so stay tuned its coming soon.

Easily one of the top anticipated developments in the recent years

This site view may be all too familiar to most as its the construction ongoing for one of 

the most anticipated developments in the city of Toronto - One Bloor East by Great Gulf

Homes. The corner of Yonge and Bloor is one that is arguably the most sought after intersection 

that the downtown core has to offer. 

Construction is well under way with the first of the floors being set for construction on top of 

the podium.

Soon this condo will tower 75 storey's high overlooking our great city which it stands centrally in between. 

If your interested in purchasing at One Bloor Condo's, there is currently a $25,000 cash back

incentive for One Bedroom purchases. How long the incentive will last is not known so call or email me

asap to inquire if interested.

Buying a New Construction Condo...How NOT to miss out

Many get excited and interested when a new development comes about, but lack in one thing...time management...with New Construction, especially new condos, you don't have much time. With a week of brokers getting the go ahead to sell units fly off the paper and sometimes developements can reach 50-75% sold in a single week or weekend.

For all those that have shown interest in the Dundas Square Gardens Condo's releasing next Tuesday, please have a cheque ready (it won't be cashed, its just to secure a unit), along with be ready to send in a worksheet on Tuesday which i will supply you.

The process will be as follows:

1) Tuesday i'll have all the information on the development from floorplans to vip broker pricing, brochures and worksheets and everyone who registered will get their copies.

2) Review everything and select a few units that you would be interested in putting them in order of interest.  

3) After the cut off point of worksheet submission, the builder will get back to me with who was given which unit. I will call you to setup a time to go to the sales office and sign the agreement of purchase and sale and you'll have to give a cheque (usually $5,000) as a deposit. The cheque isn't cashed until your ten day recission period (cooling off period some refer to it as) is over. In this ten day period you can choose to not take the unit. The builder gives you these ten days to get the document reviewed by a lawyer to make any necessary changes. Upon closing i will cover the cost for you, my lawyer specializes in new construction real estate. 

To recap, have a cheque ready, a copy of your drivers license front and back, and it also helps to have a good idea of what your after, it makes finding a unit your looking for much smoother and quicker. I'll be available all day Tuesday and Wednesday for anyone who registered to meet and fill out the paperwork. Let me know which time would work best and i can accomodate.


CMHC to increase Mortgage Insurance premiums

From owner occupied to 1-4 unit rental appartments, CMHC will be slightly increasing the premiums as of May 1st, 2014. 

The premium increase won't have a detrimental effect on mortgage payments so it's nothing to freak out about in case it ends up in the newspaper or on TV under a headline proclaiming Armageddon. 

If anything the increase will raise your payments up 5-10$/mnth. For a detailed description on why the premium increase is coming into effect and for the specific increase rates, please visit:



Dundas Square Garden Condos is becoming a great success!

With units flying out the door, Dundas Square Gardens Condos by the Eastons Group coming to Dundas and Jarvis is one of the benchmark developments of 2014.

For anyone who was interested in this development, there still remains some good units to invest in. Mainly Studios remain along with 1 bedrooms and 2 bedrooms in the upper 300-400K range.

For unit availability call me ASAP as it is first come first serve.