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If you're in the market for a house and know what other houses in the area are selling for, would that help you to make an offer?

This question is at the heart of the lengthy proceedings between the Competition Bureau and the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB). The Bureau wants anyone to be able to know what houses sell for by giving them access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) owned by real estate board. TREB says the information is private.

In a Supreme Court of Canada decision given last week, the parties were basically told to keep fighting.

The selling prices of homes are currently the property of real estate boards. When buyers or sellers use an agent, they agree that the purchase or sale price will be available to others using an agent to buy or sell. They have not agreed that the broader public should also have access to this information.

Real estate agents argue that since they pay to build and maintain MLS systems, people should not be able to get that information for free. It is the same, they argue, as asking Bell Canada to let others use their network for free to offer consumers lower phone prices.

The case was first heard at the Competition Tribunal in April 2013. TREB argued that privacy laws mean this information can not be made available without the permission of the buyers and sellers involved. The case was thrown out on the basis that since TREB is not competing with anyone, it is not abusing any position in the market.

The case then went to the Federal Court of Appeal where judges decided late last year the case should go back for another trial in front of the Competition Tribunal. This was confirmed by the recent Supreme Court decision.

So after two years of legal bills in the millions of dollars, we are back to where we started, with another hearing likely within a year.

I still can't figure out why the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has not come out and said where it stands. This would probably lead to a settlement. In prior decisions, the Commissioner has said selling prices are private and no real estate agent can advertise what your home sold for without your permission.

Some believe that if selling prices are widely available, you could figure out how to buy a home yourself, without an agent. I don't think it will make any difference. Selling a home by yourself isn't easy. Buyers will find out the same thing.

On a separate privacy issue, I am often asked whether you can take pictures of appliances when visiting a seller's home. In my opinion, a seller is inviting you to look over the house, including any appliances, they shouldn't complain if you took pictures to make sure that you are receiving on closing what you expect to receive.

Even though there is a lot of information out there, it is not easy to buy or sell your home by yourself. Be careful.

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

 

 

 

 

Closing day for a house deal is a stressful experience for buyers and sellers, having to deal with movers, lawyers, real estate agents, insurance companies and lenders top make sure everything is in order. However, no matter how well you plan in advance, you must be prepared for closing issues. If you handle them the right way, your deal will still close and more importantly, both the buyer and the seller should be satisfied with the result.

 

Where is my privacy?

In one case, the seller advertised the home as having large evergreens in the backyard, giving year round privacy. The sellers moved out a week before closing and gave their neighbour the permission to trim the branches on the neighbour's side of the fence. The neighbour proceeded to remove all the branches, taking away the entire privacy of the backyard. The buyers noticed this just before closing and were extremely upset.

A solution was proposed by a landscaper, to just plant 8 cedars in the space, creating instant privacy. Cost was about $1,200 which seller paid. Problem solved.

 

 There is a skunk underneath the front porch

The buyers found a family of skunks under the front porch on the day before closing. The seller lawyer said that it was not the seller's responsibility to remove the skunks from the property. It is difficult to tell who would win if this went to court. Instead, the seller paid a pest control company $250 to remove the skunks. These companies also specialize in trapping raccoons and removing termites as well. Problem solved.

 

The furnace is not working

Most real estate agreements state that the home systems and appliances will be working on closing. When buyers go in to do the final visits, problems arise if they notice that things aren't working. The best way to resolve this is to immediately get an estimate to fix the problem and then offer the seller the option of fixing the problem themselves or giving the buyer a credit for the repair.

 

There is an outstanding permit at the City

When there is an outstanding permit, it typically means that the owner of the home has started work at the property that required a building permit, however, they did not have the inspector come and sign off when the work was finished. The buyer must have proof that the work was in fact done correctly or else the buyer will be responsible to fix this after closing. If the permit related to work done by a prior owner who was not the actual seller, then it is possible that title insurance will solve the issue. Otherwise, it is best to contact the City, arrange for an inspector to come out to conduct whatever inspection is necessary to close the permit. This may require extending the closing date for a few days to get it done.

 

I can't get in the front door

I have seen situations where the seller leaves one key for the buyer and the rest of the keys on the kitchen counter. Problem is that there are 2 locks on the front door. In this situation buyers should immediately call a 24 hour locksmith to give them access into the home. The cost will be the seller's responsibility.

If you relax and look for common sense solutions, most closing day issues can be overcome to the satisfaction of both buyers and sellers.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Caveat Emptor is a good rule to follow if you are buying a home. But seller must be careful to disclose structural defects
 
Buyer beware, or Caveat Emptor, is a phrase used to describe the outcome when you buy something and later find a problem with it. In plain English it means tough luck — you’re buying the thing ‘as is’ with all the defects in it.
Mr. Pedlar contacted the Region of Peel and learned they had been out to the property twice in 2010 to inspect and clean out a blockage from the same sewage line. The Region sent a letter to Mr. McDevitt after the second visit in July, 2010 suggesting other repairs be done.
In some cases involving the purchase of a house, it’s not as easy as that for a seller to get off the hook. If you know there’s something seriously wrong with your house, something that might not be found in a home inspection and you don’t disclose it, you can be successfully sued later.
 
Here’s why:
 
In October, 2011, Jason Pedlar and Mary Kalbfleisch agreed to buy a 35-year-old home in Caledon from Daniel McDevitt and Elizabeth Jakobczak. The couple had a home inspection done before they put in an offer, and the inspection found that the drainage on the property was adequate.
The deal closed in mid-December. Two months later on Feb. 20, Pedlar found sewage backing up into the basement bathtub and sink. Roto Rooter cleared the drain, but could not get past a certain point in the pipe. A TV scope showed water pooling inside the pipe. A quote of $6,000 plus HST was given to repair the problem.
 
Pedlar contacted his insurance company and the work took longer to do and cost more because the basement had 36 inches of concrete. The buyers had to move out while the repairs were being done because of the dust and noise from the jack hammering.
Kalbfleisch was also pregnant. The insurance company paid for them to stay in a hotel while the repairs were completed.
 
Pedlar and Kalbfleisch sued for $14,945, which were the additional costs not covered by their insurance to repair the problem. They asked for $5,000 more in aggravated damages, because they had to move out and have their baby while outside the home.
McDevitt admitted in court that he had a problem with the basement bathroom but that after the Region came out and cleared the blocked area, they told him that if he had no further problems for six months, he would be good to go.
McDevitt also said in court that they used the basement bathroom every day and did not have any problems from July 2010, until the sale in 2011. He stated in court that he did not mention this to the buyers because he felt that this was no longer a problem.
 
In a decision released this month , Deputy Judge John Rose of the Barrie Small Claims Court used the law of hidden defects to reach his decision. He said that if the seller knows about a defect that has caused any loss of use or enjoyment of a meaningful part of the premises, then it must be disclosed to the buyer.
The Region inspectors testified that they discussed the potential sewer pipe problem with McDevitt. This together along with the letter convinced the Judge that McDevitt knew about a structural problem with the pipe which should have been disclosed.
He awarded the buyers $10,500 for the repairs to the pipes but nothing for aggravated damages as the sellers did not do this with any ill motive and there was no evidence of mental distress.
The buyers were fortunate to have uncovered the evidence from the Region of Peel to support their position. Without it, it would have been difficult to prove that the sellers knew anything about this.
 
Here are lessons:
 
•Buyers might consider a separate test for the drainage system as part of any home inspection with older homes, even if this costs an extra $200 to $300.
 
•Sellers should disclose any structural problems to avoid getting sued later.
 
 
Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him at mark@markweisleder.com

 

 The question of spousal consent must be asked for every residential real estate transaction, whether it be a purchase, sale, mortgage or transfer of title.
     
We often field the question from clients, realtors and mortgage agents asking, “When is spousal consent necessary?”
     
To help answer this question, we have created an easy, at-a-glance reference tool featuring a set of three short questions to determine whether an untitled spouse must consent to the transaction.
 
Firstly, we need to determine the spousal status of the person who is buying, selling or refinancing a property. A client who is currently single, widowed, common-law partner or a former common-law partner does not require spousal consent.
 
Secondly, we need to determine for those clients who are married, separated or divorced whether they are trying to sell, mortgage or buy, if applicable, a property that is or was ordinarily occupied as the matrimonial home.

If the target property is not or was never the matrimonial home, consent is not necessary. For those who are married only, if the property is the matrimonial home consent will always be required.
     
Lastly, for clients who are separated or divorced, we must determine whether the untitled spouse has released his or her interest in the property via a Separation Agreement or Court Order. If the answer is yes, consent will not be needed. However, if the answer is no, then spousal consent from the untitled spouse must be obtained.
 
Whatever the situation, realtors, mortgage agents, lawyers and clients must remain mindful of spousal rights and how they may affect the interest of each party when dealing with residential property.
 
It should be noted our chart does not necessarily apply to all transactions involving deceased persons.

Mélanie M. Nylund
Riopelle Group Professional Corporation

 

 A friend told me that she went to the Caribbean for a holiday on a deal and it cost her $1,000 for 10 days. While she was away, she rented out her downtown Toronto condo on Airbnb for $1,500. Sounds good. But is what she did legal in Ontario?
 
Here's what Airbnb is all about:
 
Airbnb is a website that connects travellers from all over the world to homeowners who are looking to make extra money by renting out their entire homes, or in some cases, an extra room, for short periods of time. In just 6 years, the company has grown to now have over 550,000 room listings available on their website. You hook up with your prospective homeowner through the website and Airbnb takes a cut of the money that you pay. You can see the appeal. 
 
Travellers can find a place in some of the best parts of a city such as Paris, London or San Francisco and pay a fraction of what it would cost to stay in a hotel. Some travellers prefer to stay in a private home so that they can obtain an authentic local experience. Still others warn that you must do your due diligence in advance and check for references so you are not disappointed when you arrive.
 
The company offers insurance to a host to cover some damages that may be caused by a traveller, but there are many exclusions so read the policy carefully. The company, which doesn't own any hotels, is now valued at over ten billion dollars, more than many of the large hotel chains.
 
As you can imagine, the hotel industry is not happy about this and some cities are fighting back. In New York City, for example, it is now illegal to rent your home for less than 30 days. Quebec also has passed laws against renting homes for short periods of time.
 
Is this legal in Ontario? While Ontario does not have express laws against renting your home for short periods of time, there are other matters to consider.
 
For example, most condominiums have rules that do not permit short term rentals. This is primarily due to security concerns, as the owners are wary of different people just showing up each night at a neighbouring unit. In the case of Skyline Executive Properties v. Metro Toronto Condominium Corporation #1280, Skyline was renting out units at 109 Front St. East as hotel rooms for visiting executives on behalf of the owners. The building had rules preventing short term rentals and took Skyline to court to stop this. 
 
The court agreed and in a decision dated September 6, 2001, Ontario Superior Court Judge EM Macdonald agreed with the condominium corporation and stopped the short term rentals, stating as follows: "the use of the building by transients offends the reasonable expectations of the majority of the other owners, who use their units for private single family purposes only." 
 
It is interesting that property addresses are not included on the Airbnb website. You can find out about the property through pictures, information about your host and reviews by other travellers. If anyone in the building complains, the board can bring an action against you and you will likely have to pay the board's legal fees if you do not stop.
 
I am also hearing that many tenants are also doing this without their landlord's permission. This is probably a violation of Ontario's Residential Tenancies Act, since a tenant is not permitted to sublet their unit for an amount greater than what the landlord is charging. In most cases, the daily rent charged will be much higher than what the tenant is paying in rent.
 
If you do rent out your home for short periods of time, you better advise your insurance company. While this may cause your premiums to rise, failure to advise could result in your insurer denying coverage if something does happen during the stay, since the risk increases when strangers use your home.
 
As you can imagine, the hospitality industry is not pleased with Airbnb. Tony Elenis, President and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, sent me a list of all the regulatory burdens that hotel and motel operators must follow, including items such as having proper business and liquor licenses, Health and Safety requirements, proper signage and customer identification. As Tony states:
 
"The hospitality industry is extremely regulated and topping the list is the rules on health and safety of our employees and guests. We take pride in compliance here. This takes much training and understanding of meeting these objectives that only comes within a business structure and people involved in this profession."
 
Even bed and breakfast companies must obtain proper licenses to operate from their local city and are subject to health and safety inspections to ensure the safety of their guests.
 
If you want to make extra money on Airbnb, be aware that if one neighbour complains, you may be shut down. If you want to use the site for a cheaper travel experience, remember to do a lot of due diligence in advance, to make sure you are not disappointed later.
 

 

 

Hiawatha Park 1

•  lot / land - MLS® $249,900

 -  Great sized lot (50' x 105' approx) in an ideal location ready to build. Transit stop right out front, bike path close by, canoe path to the Ottawa River. There are four parks close by, St. Matthew High School, and Terry Fox Elementary school. Right across from Saint-Louis Residence. Lot is on the left side. There is another vacant lot on the right side. Adjacent lot is not for sale, and is not owned by the seller.

Property information


HARDWOOD FLOORS EVERYWHERE

• 2 bath, 2 bdrm 2 story - MLS® $239,900

 -  Gorgeous bottom unit with beautiful hardwood floors on both levels. Nice bright kitchen w/granite countertop. Patio door opens up to the ground level which is perfect for barbecuing and for those who have dogs. Because it's not an end unit, heating costs will be minimal. Bus stop only a 2 min walk with access to Routes: 124, 128, 130, 131, 135, and 622. Walking distance to Ski Hill Park and Loyola Park. Only 4kms to Montfort hospital.

Property information

04
HARDWOOD FLOORS THROUGHOUT

• 3,100 sq. ft., 4 bath, 4 bdrm 2 story - MLS® $547,000

 -  Gorgeous well kept 4 bed, 4 bath home next to GreyHawk Golf Club. Perfect for golf lovers. This home sits on .68 acres and has no rear neighbours. Home is approx 3100 sf and has hardwood on BOTH floors and stairs. Semi circle driveway means no backing out. Full brick front and sides, pergola over stone patio overlooking beautiful flower garden, enjoy your morning coffee or paper in this peaceful environment. Many more features...

Property information

3
PRICED TO SELL

• 1,940 sq. ft., 2 bath, 4 bdrm single story - MLS® $349,900

 -  3 + 1 bedroom Split level on a huge 100' x 50' lot. Hardwood floors, spacious main floor, vinyl windows, huge family rm in basement with wood fireplace and built in shelving, extra bedroom in basement, natural gas heat, furnace 2011, shingles 2009, parking for 5 cars, resurfaced driveway in 2009. Close to Kilborn Allotment Gardens, several parks, but stop, airport. This home is priced right and won't last. Book a viewing TODAY!

Property information

01
HARDWOOD THROUGHOUT

• 1,950 sq. ft., 3 bath, 4 bdrm 2 story - MLS® $319,900 - REDUCED by $10K

 -  Great 2 story home with 3 + 1 bedrooms and hardwood throughout including stairs, nicely landscaped front and rear w/interlock stones and sprinkler system. Cozy wood fireplace in LR, approx 1950 sf, main floor laundry, full brick on the front and halfway all around, shingles 2004, windows 2002-2010, seller has no pets, large dining rm and adjoining living rm with bay window, close to shopping, medical centre. Run.. DON"T WALK to see it.

Property information

Sold

Bilberry Creek, Ottawa  -  The bungalow at 1384 Duford Drive has been sold.

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DSC_5773
HARDWOOD FLOORS

• 1,800 sq. ft., 3 bath, 3 bdrm townhouse - MLS® $1,600.00 Monthly

 -  Minto Fifth Av 3 bed, 3 bath located in Chapel Hill. Over 1800 sf, beautiful hardwood throughout main fl and 2 bedrooms,central a/c, finished basement w/large family rm w/gas fireplace. Master with 4-piece ensuite & roman tub,seperate shower. Express Buses 31-34, Local buses: 131 (takes you to the overpass where you can catch the 95), 134 (takes you to Place D'Orleans. 5 minute walk takes you straight downtown. Live safe in Chapel Hill. Available 01 July

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Sold

Rockland, Clarence-Rockland  -  The duplex at 1076 Des Pins has been sold.

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01-Front
End unit with Hardwood Floors

• 1,600 sq. ft., 2 bath, 2 bdrm 3 story - MLS® $319,900 - REDUCED BY 10K

 -  Gorgeous end unit, one of the biggest lots in the area. Beautiful hw floors, neutral colours, water saving toilets, close to RCMP HQ, NCC nature trails, Yoga & Fitness Studio, Goodlife, YMCA & Greco Gym, splash park & playground around corner, 2 min walk to bus route 86, 20min to Tunney's, 35min to Downtown, 17min to Ottawa Hospital, 2.5km paved ravine path leading to Metro-FarmBoy-Shoppers-Second Cup and many more. DON'T MISS OUT!!

Property information