Location, Location, Location – A Bloor West Village Gem

Exceptional properties turn up and when they are in great sought-after locations such as Bloor West Village, there is incredible interest. 299 Kennedy Avenue is one of these properties.

299 Kennedy Avenue - In Beautiful Bloor West Village

We had over 100 sets of people come through the open house. There were 86 showings on the property and it ultimately sold for $300,000.00 over asking!

So the old phrase: “Location, location, location” still holds true.

More about this property: http://www.linakuliavas.com/toronto/Toronto/833944

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Demystifying Mortgages – How Much Can You Borrow?

A home is typically the largest purchase you will make in your lifetime, and for most Canadians this means obtaining a mortgage. The amount of your mortgage will determine the size and location of your new home – not to mention the size of your payments. So how do lending institutions decide how large your mortgage loan can be?

Lending institutions (such as banks, credit unions, trust companies, and insurance companies) want to be certain that you are capable of repaying the money you borrow. Consequently, the loan application process is thorough. Lenders consider your income, credit history, debt load, employment history and collateral, including the value of the property you wish to buy before granting you a mortgage or loaning you money.

Although there is some discretion in determining the exact amount, the size of your loan is generally calculated using set formulas – Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS) and Total Debt Service Ratio (TDS). GDS is the percentage of your gross monthly income (before taxes) required to cover monthly payments on mortgage principal, mortgage interest, property taxes and sometimes heating (often abbreviated as PITH). Your GDS should not exceed 30% to 32% to be eligible for most mortgages. Because many people also owe money to other lenders (car loan, student loan, credit cards, etc.), TDS offers a more accurate estimate of what you can afford. TDS is the percentage of your gross monthly income required to cover PITH plus any other debts. Your TDS should not exceed 40% of your gross monthly income.

There are many other factors that will impact the final mortgage amount. A poor credit history or a spotty employment record, for example, can disqualify you altogether or significantly alter the total. Keep in mind that just because a lender is willing to approve a large mortgage it is no guarantee that you can, in reality, afford the monthly payments.

To truly understand how much you can afford you must examine your other monthly expenses – those not accounted for in the lender’s calculations (such as entertainment, charities, vacations, etc.). Remember that you will also need a lump sum down payment (at least 25% for conventional mortgages and as little as 5% for high-ratio mortgages) and money to cover closing costs. For more information on mortgages and calculators, visit http://www.linakuliavas.com/mortgages-Toronto and click on the ‘Mortgage Info’ tab.

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One-Of-A-Kind Home For Sale

Toronto has many wonderful neighbourhoods within its limits. Swansea, one of Toronto’s most sought-after areas, loosely lies south of Bloor St West (at Bloor West Village), east of South Kingsway and west of Ellis Park Road.

20 Easson - Backyard

I have a unique, one-of-a-kind home offered for sale in Swansea. The home is located at the back of the cul-de-sac on Easson Avenue. The lot is pie shaped and extends up to Morningside Avenue, where there is another frontage and additional municipal address. The home has two private driveways (one on Easson and one on Morningside) and one garage. The home is two-storey plus basement and is very large. It could be used as a 5 bedroom plus family room OR a four bedroom plus grand, self-contained in-law suite. There is an Eon deck on the Main floor and a wonderful walk-out balcony on the second floor that faces the Easson courtyard.

Great view!

The home is offered for $1,049,000 and I am having an open house on Saturday April 30th from 2pm to 4pm if you are interested. It’s walking distance to the subway and the highways are close as well. Don’t hesitate with any questions you may have – I’m always happy to help!


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Done Deal In An Exclusive Toronto Neighbourhood

Income properties are a great way to pay down mortgages quickly and/or an opportunity to live with extended families while still retaining independence and privacy. Recently, I sold a large duplex with basement apartment that was close to Humbertown Plaza in Humber Valley Village, which is an upscale neighbourhood of Toronto.

Fabulous Duplex in Humber Valley Village

It had two – two bedroom units that were each about 1250 square feet. Each had a Living and Dining Room, Kitchen, fireplace, hardwood floors and a walk-out, which allowed for very comfortable living. In the basement there was a one bedroom unit as well. The lot was 60 x 160 ft, which allowed for 5-car parking, a double garage and a humungous yard for gardening/lounging/enjoying.

Watch for this property to be featured in The Globe and Mail ‘Done Deals’ section soon!


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True Loft Living

Living in Toronto certainly has its advantages. If you live by the subway line, you are always just a short ride away from all the action.

Recently I sold a loft at 2 Fieldway, which is known as the Network Lofts. It’s a true loft conversion in the old Bell Canada building at Islington and Bloor. I’ve included a video here.

Network Lofts - Exterior

The Lofts are very cool and worth a look even if you are considering a condo downtown. Some of the units have polished concrete floors, are open concept and have 10ft ceilings. Starting on the 9th floor they boast floor to ceiling windows. The corner ones facing south, floors 9 and up have a clear view of downtown and are just spectacular.

Network Lofts at 2 Fieldway Road

Since these lofts are just steps to the subway which will take you downtown in minutes they are a fabulous choice and cheaper by square footage than downtown.


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Dealing With Dampness in Your Home

When it comes to your home, a musty smell of dampness is definitely undesirable. Dampness can produce mold on hard surfaces, mildew on soft surfaces, and potentially even lead to health or safety issues. But before dampness in your home can put a damper on your spirit, here’s the 411 to help you detect it, deal with it, and avoid it in the future.

Identifying Dampness

The geographical region of where you live could be a predictor for dampness in your home. Check with your Realtor or local public library for information on the humidity and rainfall in your area. Damp homes are often caused by an influx of water from the outside or by increased humidity from showering, drying clothes, and cooking. If water is entering your home from the outside, you may be able to determine where by looking for water tides on painted walls or white salt deposits (called efflorescence) on brick.

Dealing With Dampness

If your home is showing signs of dampness, it is important to address these issues as quickly as possible to mitigate any significant damage or health issues. The first thing to do is locate the source of the problem. Check for obvious causes such as blocked gutters, missing tiles, objects stacked against an external wall, leaking pipes, or damage to your roof or foundation. If you cannot find the source, hire an expert to help. Once you have identified the problem, it is time to seal the deal. Depending on the complexity and severity of the problem, there may be some solutions you can take care of yourself (e.g. caulking a window to keep moisture out), whereas others may be better suited for a professional (e.g. fixing leaks to pipes or addressing foundation problems).

Avoiding Dampness

Prevention is key. Here are some steps you can take to keep dampness away from your home:

  • Limit moisture during humid weather by keeping windows and doors closed.
  • Use an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier to keep humidity below 60%.
  • Ensure all vent fans are clear and connected directly outdoors and not to the attic.
  • Use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms to control humidity.
  • When possible, consider limiting the boiling time of water, covering saucepans when cooking, and discontinuing use of portable gas heaters.
  • Position the downspout runoff so it’s directed away from the foundation of your home.
  • Increasing or improving the insulation of your home and around pipes.
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Top Renovations With the Best Return on Investment

Whether doing-it-yourself or hiring a professional, interior painting, hardwood flooringand kitchen upgrades are amongst top renovations.

If you’ve spent years waking up to wood-panelled walls and soft shag rugs, some home renovations, especially if you’re thinking of selling your home, may be in order. While some renovations such as updating a kitchen or bathroom may require a trained professional, there are a number of do-it-yourself projects that are sure to increase a home’s resale value. The Royal LePage Renovations and Returns Survey examines some top renovations that bring the best return on investment (ROI), as compiled by the Royal LePage network.

“Amid today’s competitive real estate market, renovations offer a relatively affordable means to boost the value of a home,” said Lisa da Rocha, vice president, marketing and sales, Royal LePage Real Estate Services. “Do-it-yourself tasks such as painting walls, changing cupboard knobs or laying new flooring will make a house not only more appealing to buyers, but also offer a great return on investment.”

Reasonable and Radical Renovations

From simple aesthetics to washroom overhauls, Royal LePage has identified the top renovations that will increase the equity of a home. The list is ranked in ascending order of cost of project.

Freshen up: Adding a new coat of paint can freshen up a house and make the interior look like new – not to mention more spacious. For homeowners looking to sell in the near term, neutral colours are most preferred.

Floors galore: Today, hard surfaces are all the rage. If genuine hardwood exceeds budgets, laminate works well. Buyers like to see hard floors throughout, so if possible, be sure to lay down laminate in dining rooms and living rooms, and even in bathrooms and bedrooms.

Lighten up: Old or standard-grade light fixtures, electrical and light cover plates can easily date a house. To modernize, add distinct flair to the interior, consider installing new light fixtures.

Pebble Beach? Well, close: The old adage, you never get a second chance to make a first impression is extremely true when it comes to selling a home. To increase curb appeal and entice buyers, ensure front lawns are tidy and gardening is minimal. While there is no need to go overboard and plant an expensive Japanese Maple, adding some standard shrubs and flowers will make a home more inviting.

Stylishly steel: Similar to the issue with old light fixtures, knobs, fume hoods and backsplashes can make a kitchen seem outdated. Sleek, stainless steel hardware designs have the biggest and most positive impact on those people looking to buy a home.

Opening all the right doors: An elegant entrance enhances a prospective buyer’s first impression of the house itself.

ROI from the ground up: To see an even higher return on investment, replace old flooring with new hardwood. While a range of qualities, textures and colours exist, it’s best to opt for a neutral wood colour to accommodate the widest possible array of tastes and décor.

White picket fence?: Building a fence and a deck instantly boosts a home’s appeal. Keeping kids and pets in the yard, and nosey neighbours out, fences provide the back and side yards with a sense of being finished.

Occupied, no more: A bathroom situated on the main floor is increasingly seen by homebuyers as an essential fixture in their next purchase. While many older homes were built with bathrooms only on the second floor, many homeowners are resorting to transforming closets or adding new rooms to accommodate two-piece powder rooms.

Exquisite en suite: Today’s homebuyer prefers bathrooms that have spa-style tubs and modern faucets. Granite and marble tiles are now readily available and can be purchased at relatively affordable prices.

Everything, and the kitchen sink: While prices can vary when renovating a kitchen, one thing is certain – updated kitchens bring one of the highest returns on investment. With homeowners spending more time in the kitchen than any other room, it’s no surprise they want the best possible style and functionality. Stainless steel appliances, ceramic sinks and clean lines on cupboards rank as the more preferred finish options. Since kitchens and baths can be such a personal space, it’s wise not to select a dramatic style or colour scheme since your tastes may not be the same as the next owner.

Top ‘Do it Yourself’ Renovations with Best Return on Investment:

  • Paint the interior
$1,000 50-100%
  • Replace carpeting with affordable laminate
$2,000 (for 1,000 square foot space) 50-75%
  • Install new light fixtures
$2,000 60-70%
  • Groom the exterior landscape
$2,000 25-50%
  • Replace knobs and hardware
$2,000 75-100%
  • Update the entryway
$3,000 50-75%
  • Replace carpeting and laminate floors with hardwood
$5,000 (for 1,000 square foot space) 50-75%
  • Build a fence/deck
$5,000 50-75%

Renovations with Best Return on Investment, some Help may be Required:

  • Install an additional bathroom on main floor
Under $5,000 80-100%
  • Renovate bathrooms
$5,000- $8,000 75-100%
  • Renovate kitchen
$12,000 – $15,000 75-100%
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Make Money on this Home – 1200 Royal York Road

There are always options when buying a home. Rather than buying on your own – you could join forces with another

1200 Royal York Road - A great property!

couple or family.  Alternatively, you could buy a property and live in one luxurious unit and have the other two rental units pay out your mortgage.
I have such a property that would work perfectly – 1200 Royal York Road

It is a fantastic Duplex plus basement apartment in Humber Valley Village by Humbertown Plaza. A fabulous location and each unit is self contained.

Main Floor – Living Room with fireplace, Dining Room, Kitchen with Walk-out to yard, 2 bedrooms

Second Floor – Living Room with fireplace, Dining Room, Kitchen, 2 bedrooms with a Walk-out to a Balcony from one.

Basement – Living Room, Bedroom with Walk-up to yard

Double driveway which fits 5 cars! Plus a double garage.

Floor plans are available as well as a home inspection.

More details available here: http://www.linakuliavas.com/toronto/Toronto/812151

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Lifestyle Change In Toronto

There certainly seems to be a trend in lifestyle change in Toronto. Last year 55% of all sales were condo sales. It seems not to be a choice just for an aging population anymore but for people of all ages who are embracing the condominium lifestyle. More are more people are opting out of the chores of outdoor maintenance and snow shoveling. For those contemplating a change to a condo there are a few tips that I can pass over. It seems that the newer the building, the smaller the condo by square footage when comparing to the same price in an older building. In some fabulously located older condo buildings you can enjoy 1200+ square feet for the same price of 800 sq ft in the newer one. Some shy away from older buildings believing that there will be special assessments slapped onto to the maintenance to cover costs of overhauling the building. However, there are well run and updated older buildings in our city that have huge reserve funds and some have already done much of the needed work. Some condo units themselves have been revamped and renovated and are just delightful. So before you rule out the older buildings – humour me. Let’s go look at the older buildings and compare what you get. I look forward to doing business with you.

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Single Females Drive Housing Demand

With a chequebook firmly in one hand and a hammer confidently in the other, single female homebuyers of all ages continue to knock down barriers by purchasing real estate and tackling home repairs.

Currently, 30 per cent of single, never-before married women own their own home, while 45 per cent of divorced or separated women and 64 per cent of widowed women are homeowners, according to the Royal LePage Female Buyers Report.

When current female homeowners and renters who intend to purchase in the next three years were asked, “When searching for your home, which type of home would you be looking for?” 25 per cent said that they are looking for a “fixer-upper” and plan to do the work themselves, while only nine per cent will hire a contractor.

“The notable upswing in real estate activity among females is not surprising given that women are earning higher salaries than ever before,” said Lisa da Rocha, vice president, marketing, Royal LePage Real Estate Services. “Single women now play a significant role in the housing market. Eager to experience the pride of ownership and exercise their independence, we are seeing growing numbers of women buying their first home on their own, trading-up homes as they progress professionally and taking on home renovations,” added da Rocha. “Today’s woman is much more financially astute than her counterpart a decade ago, and is well versed in real estate as a solid long-term investment.”

Additional Poll Findings:

  • Among those who own and rent and intend to purchase a home/condo in the next three years, men and women both rank equally (81%) taking out a mortgage from a bank, however, nine per cent of men said they would rely on their family to pay for their entire home, in comparison to only three per cent of women.
  • Of women who own, who don’t intend to purchase in the next three years, when asked, “Which one of the following motivations most influenced your decision to purchase your home?” the top three responses included: it makes more sense than renting (36%), want to put my money into a good investment (22%) and pride of ownership (13%).
  • Among women who are intending to purchase in the next three years, when asked, “Which methods will you use to educate yourself about home purchasing?” the top three responses cited were speaking with a real estate agent (83%), speaking with friends and relatives (78%) and using real estate and financial websites (64%).
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