Recently a friend of mine posted a question on Facebook that caught my eye: I have altered it a little but the spirit remains the same:
Had a real good laugh today. A friend was so excited that he got his license to grow medicinal marijuana at home that he made a grow room. I asked him if he thought what would happen if he ever had to sell the house. Now that you have a legal grow op you still have to declare it. He essentially called me stupid, suggesting that I don’t know what I’m talking about. What do you think does he have to declare it and not be able to sell the property as of it is a grow op or am I just stupid?

I responded:
Interesting development! I have not researched this legally, so this is just an off the cuff opinion – that being said: There should be several well known facts pointed out. The ‘spirit’ of full disclosure in the event of a home being used as a grow OP is because when a home is converted into such an establishment, power is haphazardly rerouted, ventilation is often done from room to room and the humidity in the growing area is kept tropically high. These things cause material damage to a home, and even when the operation has ceased things like mold in the walls and timbers and overtaxed circuits as well as wetting drywall and drying it over and over again causes it to sag and expand/contract weakening the hold of screws/nails/tape lines etc.. I am sure now that your friend has a permit and has constructed a room to carry on with his operation, he has made the room on separate dedicated GFI circuits, well ventilated to the outside with odour filtration, water-proofed the room built with cement board to protect the house, an emergency fire suppression system and has informed his insurance company of this ‘addition’ to his home.(I just made up those requirements – not sure what they are if any) Now assuming he has done his due diligence, constructed this room according to established by-laws governing such an operation and the room is clearly dedicated, then yes, of course it has to be disclosed – but disclosure of such an appropriately and professionally constructed operations room in a home will in many ways be looked at as an upgrade, not unlike a hot tub or swimming pool – maybe not for everyone, or even not for most people – but for some will be a bonus and it only takes 1 person to love the features of a home to sell it. Make sure that any rules are checked within each Municipality as well, every situation may have different regulations as well. Mccarthomes.com

Since that response, I have been researching the details – as I suggested each local municipality will have its own regulations and in any individual circumstance you will need to investigate your local by-laws and restrictions. I looked in my local area, the Township of Georgina and I was ultimately referred to the local building by-laws. They have no specific rules regarding a medicinal marijuana grow room, just need a permit and to disclose the use, submitting to federal regulations on the material restrictions and operation of the permit. Where the issue starts to become a problem is with that snowball, you need to disclose use to the municipality to get a permit, once you have disclosed the use then you need to notify your insurance company of this change in the specific use of your property. It seems that mainstream insurers do not have a facility to insure under with this new federal license, so you are going to be pushed to an alternative insurer, which of course costs more. In addition the secondary insurer will require very strict inspections EPA, local by-law compliance, etc. and they are going to have extensive exclusion waivers that will exempt the insurer from responsibility due to water, mold, and other ‘grow operation’ related damages. Once you have your permits obtained and ultimately satisfied and inspected, your EPA completed, and your inflated insurance in place – your next hurdle will be when your mortgage comes for renewal. I am still researching that aspect and will update as further information becomes available. Personal and professional relationships are the foundation of successful business and sometimes the only sentry guarding your sanity, we are here to help! mccarthomes.com


Much as we have discussed the higher interest rate qualifying ‘hand’, and the mortgage and improvements ‘hand’, always big brothers’ hand being stuck in our business. The proposed new legislation Home Energy Rating and Disclosure (HER&D) program has been shelved. Many have probably not heard of this latest legislative cash grab – and we are lucky that OREA was there to push back when the government proposed this. The basic concept was that before you list your home for sale, you needed to pay to undergo an energy audit and, only if listed on MLS you had to report your score. This was intended to mean that anyone who is reselling any older home may have thousands of upgrades to do, government mandated upgrades, before you sell. Windows, doors, weather stripping, insulation, furnace upgrades – the list of items that may be causing poor energy conservation is huge. I do find it kind of disheartening that legislation like this is proposed at all, there should be a clear line in the sand as to where and when a legislative body has a right to charge additional fees to justify their own existence. Things like property taxes, land transfer taxes, and the ridiculous heights new building permits have soared to means too many of these legislative assaults have been allowed to slip into place. We are only able to help make sure you know what’s going on, to help you hear what’s going bump in the night and to try and steer you away from the hurdles nobody should have to jump! Take the time to judge for yourself who really cares for you. Mccarthomes.com


As we have talked about in previous blogs, regardless of when you plan to have us help you sell your home or have us find you that perfect new place for your family – the prevailing market conditions works for and against you evenly, and predicting when these swails in the market start and, more importantly, when they are going to finish is – well, let’s just say extremely challenging. That proverbial crystal ball would be an epic addition to my attaché, so if you find one please let me know! That being said, it looks like our spring market has arrived, it’s historically (except for last year) the fastest moving market of the year and usually last a few months before those dog days of summer holidays level things off a little. It’s interesting to see what’s happening out there with prices, some still look at this time last year and feel that their house has to have gone up, but that’s what real estate does. We know that isn’t reality, and sadly there are listings appearing with that dream apparent in the price, which says to me that some homeowners are listing with an overly emotional mindset, and are being setup for a difficult road of hurry up and wait, frustration and finally a reality check – where last year’s million dollar home is now under $750,000. It’s easier to list realistically than to put out a big dream, build your hopes and have to reduce, reduce, reduce… the stress of each hit creates baggage nobody needs to carry around at what should be an exciting time. Which leads me into my net snippet, it seems so many of the new listing I see popping up aren’t being presented with the TLC that we so traditionally see. It’s the spring market, time to clean up the trash, check the downspouts, rake some sand and salt and leaves from the lawn. I’m not saying to paint (too cold), or dethatch your lawn (probably still frozen an inch down), but 10 minutes with a garbage bag, 20 minutes with a light rake and another 15 washing a few windows to let the sun shine in can add a moment of optimism to an approaching buyer, instead of a sigh of disappointment at signs of obvious neglect. Thousands of new listings are coming on the market now, buyers have choice and this isn’t something they have enjoyed for a few years now – so when they take the time to come see what your home has to offer make sure you are ready to show them! Remember, the most caring thing you can do for friends and family is refer them professionals you know they can trust! mccarthomes.com


So, I was recently at a meeting and we were privileged to have a member of CMHC there to give us a little bit of information on new products coming forward in the CMHC catalogue as well as answer any general questions the audience may have.  This CMHC representative was extremely knowledgeable and an excellent choice for them to throw into the snake pits of public speaking, she carried herself with being both knowledgeable as well as clear and easy to understand.  There were 2 things I got from this presentation that really really irked me:


The first being CMHC has a new insured mortgage product coming forth in an indeterminate timeline that will account for the purchase of a home at CMHC rates (under 20% downpayment), the part that is new is they are allowing for a renovation budget to be factored into your mortgage.  This type of flexibility has traditionally only been offered to those with a traditional low risk (again that 20% number) mortgage, or some of the major banks may offer a line of credit blended with the mortgage or a card service blended that gives you some of this flexibility. So sounds like a fantastic product, I think everyone can agree to that, a first time buyer can’t afford new or less than 10 year old home move in ready so they buy a bit of a fixer upper and now can factor a new kitchen, 2 new bathrooms and a finished basement – $90,000 in renovations, into their new CMHC mortgage.  Then comes the catch, you need to propose the renovations when getting the mortgage, justify their value, and if approved they will pay the purchase mortgage at the closing date then a lawyer is commissioned at your expense to hold the renovation money in trust until all renovations are complete. Not the most economical way for them to be spending your money, which with CMHC of course you are paying a premium to borrow in the first place, I kind of feel like it’s kicking the hard starter while he is clawing his way up.


Which brings me to the second injustice. So many questions were focused on the government changing the new qualifying mortgage rate.  Incase you don’t know what I am talking about, there are mortgage qualifying rules in place now that required you to QUALIFY for your mortgage at 2% higher rate than you will actually be paying.  Now, I seem to be in the minority in this opinion, but coming off the heels of a 2+ year STRONG sellers market, where houses were selling consistently for tens of thousands, often hundreds of thousands over list price in a single day with no conditions, the government is saying hey, prices need to settle and if you are still buying, we want to make sure that you are buying safe.  If interest rates jump, if prices fall, if, what was the driving force of that sellers market (foreign money), that money starts to be liquidated driving prices down, what can the government do to protect these first time buyers? I think making them qualify with a little bit of breathing room, forcing a required buffer may save some from getting in completely over their heads.  Now, this is kinda like putting a bandaid on a garden hose. What has been done wrong in the past few years with regards to even allowing the market to rise as high as it did as fast as it did, totally viewing our housing market as an investment opportunity for international manipulation and not viewing it as a protected resource for citizens is atrocious. I am not looking to debate foreign investment policy, or individual choices in political office/candidates.  I merely feel that when something as important as housing, transportation, food service are being controlled and manipulated by international forces with their own, possibly very valid agenda,  that’s EXACTLY why and WHEN our government bodies should have flexed their muscle, not after the market has blown the top off 40% or more over a couple of years, has reached unattainable for almost all of the first time buyers and even renting becomes a bit of a pipe dream.  I don’t ever want to see someone in over their head, I don’t ever like to see people being taken advantage of and grasping every month just to make it work.  My job is bringing an informed level head to the negotiating table, to the buying process and getting ready to go to market.  You need caring informed level heads to be in your corner when it all gets real, because it’s easy to shop, but the pageantry of the moment can become blinding, that’s what we are here for!  Mccarthomes.com


Here we are, the days are getting longer, the snow is getting deeper and we are all just aching thinking about spring. I even watched some golf on TV the other day to remind myself there is green and goodness left in the world!  As spring approaches, sooner or later (depends if you listen to rodents or not), so comes the fastest moving and most lucrative market of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, much like the highway, there are always people on the move – but rush hour is rush hour undeniably!  This spring the more people I talk to about selling houses the more I hear a couple of interesting things:


  1. I hear people say “there has been a house listed on my street for 8 months now, I want to wait and see what happens to it before I decide if now is a good time for me to start thinking about a move.”
  2. I hear a lot of “They say prices have dropped a ton since the market ended last spring, I won’t sell if the prices are down.”
  3. In addition to these I hear a lot of people who have an extensive list of things, that all stem from the same place – fear of making a wrong decision at the worst possible time.


So, let’s look at these topics and decide on their merit:


  1. If a house in a neighbourhood is listed for more than a couple of months, there are always questions. First and foremost, is it overpriced? Typically that’s the easiest answer, anything; houses, cars, clothes, food – doesn’t matter – it’s all only worth what someone is willing to pay for it! Coming out of the market we left, into the ‘fixed’ market we have, tells me immediately that these owners listed in July last year, right on the heels of our wonderful sellers market and they were late getting there but still hopeful.  They are obviously not motivated, at this point they are looking at a market that is easily 25% under where they listed and they have dug in their heels on price but that glimmer of hope remains so they keep it listed. Which may beg the question why does an agent keep the sign on the lawn knowing it won’t sell? Quite simply maybe someone will call, and if they call and don’t want that house maybe they will want another one, so everyone keeps a little hope alive.  Why would you wait on the house with a proverbial flat tire to move when your opportunity has nothing to do with theirs except being in close proximity?
  2. The funny thing about prices, up or down makes no difference!  The market you sell in and the market you buy in will the same priced market. Let me show you…   So Jan 1st, 2017 mom and I list your house (3 bedroom bungalow with detached garage in Bradford)  and we sell it for $750,000.  You only have a $125,000 mortgage left, but would love a new SUV and have never gone on an all inclusive family vacation. We go shopping for a house, your family has grown where a 4 bedroom 3 bathroom 2 car garage 2-story home in Newmarket is where you want to be, asking price $975,000 (and we all know that they were selling at list or more at that time). So the house sold for $1,050,000, and you are in a beautiful newer home, one that you have a lot of equity in with the money you made on your previous house but still have a lot of mortgage. ($750,000 – commissions, lawyers fees, moving expenses, mortgage, etc. $185,000 = $565,000 your cash on hand)  New house ($1,050,000 – (downpayment $500,000 (so you got a new SUV and took a family vacation, good for you!) = $550,000 left to mortgage)


OR…  We list your bungalow March 1st, 2018 to sell it, prices are way down!!! We are talking 30% down, so now your home sells for 30% less or $525,000, still have the same $125,000 mortgage! Fortune smiles upon us and the EXACT house we bought last year we can buy again this year, but this year it too has felt the pressures of a softer market, we get that house for 30% less or only $735,000.  So we keep the process alive, ($735,000 – (new SUV and vacay, mortgage et al) $250,000 (same as in above example) $275,000 down payment for the new place – $735,000 purchase price, $275,000 down leaves $460,000 mortgage)


So yes, the numbers aren’t as impressive, no you can’t say you made as much – but you still end up exactly where you want to be with a new SUV and a stamp in your passport, some walking around money in your pocket (that wasn’t there last year was it?) and it looks to me like $90,000 less owing to the bank! When prices are down, they are down to sell AND buy – when and what your neighbour sold last month or last year, that was then and they bought in the same market they sold. Don’t let their choices dictate yours.


                                                 Jan 1st, 2017                  March 1st, 2018
                                     Bradford   Newmarket        Bradford   Newmarket

sale price                  $750,000.00  $1,050,000        $525,000.00 $735,000.00
mortgage                  $125,000.00                             $125,000.00
R.E. fees 0.05            $  37,500.00                             $  26,250.00
car and vacay          $  65,000.00                             $  65,000.00
incidentals               $  22,500.00                             $  22,500.00
downpayment        $500,000.00 $    500,000         $286,250.00 $286,250.00
Walking around $                                                     $   11,250.00

new mortgage                               $550,000.00                              $460,000.00

  1. Oh the fear, fear of Donald Trump, of Justin Trudeau, Kathleen Wynne, fear of gas prices, fear of the changes in the National Anthem, the stock markets, job security, a long winter, a cold spring, a hot summer, RRSPs, Taxes, the list of things that create fear, that inspire conspiracy is literally endless.  I can tell you one thing for sure, there will never ever be a time when there isn’t some prevailing influence that can affect your life that is out of your control!  I won’t be all cliche and say that fear is all in your mind, and you just need someone to trust – you trust us to do a good job, to respect and treat you fairly. Just because we do these things, doesn’t mean we can control the external influences of the world, what it does mean is you won’t have to face them alone.


So the spring market is a fixture on the horizon, I am sure it’s going to be an exciting one, and I think the important thing to really think forward on is that understanding that: although we compare (CMA) to others that have sold or haven’t, this is a guideline and not unlike decorating or the car they drive – people makes their choices and you control your own, don’t choose to let them control yours.  When you want someone in your corner for the long haul, you know where to find us, mccarthomes.com


So it only took a couple weeks into the new year for me to slip and miss a blog post or 2. It’s amazing how life can get in the way of the things that know to be most most important, but alas maybe not as immediately pertinent to our daily operations.  So what’s my excuse, I moved!  Having moved a few times in the past 5 years, I am learning the process really well!  Some of the highlights are to follow, but rest assured each move is different and filled with it’s own unique bundle of challenges.


Let’s start with the pre-move: so you know the move is coming and you are bellying up to the list, what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.  My list looked something like:


1: Book a moving company – I have used 3 and can’t recommend any of them.  They are expensive and tend to move slowly “milking” the hours and take many breaks, even charging you to stop for lunch.  That being said, for the most part there has been so significant damage to anything, so the possibility exists that the speed at which they work is just the nature of the beast – but when you see it you will know, and, in the end don’t stress too much over that part – it seems to be it is what it is and will get done, at the speed they move whatever that is!

2: Investigate your new services, gas, electric, phone if you have it, television services if you have them, internet if you have it, insurance, water and sewer. You need to plan your move out date at current address, move in date to new address, any overlap in required services (which means bridging mortgage as well).  Most companies are pretty good about overlap, Rogers seems to demand you end service and start and the new service and can’t accommodate an overlap. Just something to expect in the process.

3: Personal major items of note: Your auto insurance, drivers license & health card (done together at Services Ontario), Passport, Ontario Outdoors card, Credit card(s), Banking services, CRA (https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html).

4: Other items to think about: Most of us have used some online shopping services over the years, so consider checking things like amazon.ca, ebay.ca, paypal.com to just name a few. As well we all have loyalty cards, Shoppers Optimum, Air Miles, Petro Points, Esso Extra, PC Plus, aeroplan, and that list can go on as well! Maybe you take part in some of the hospital lotteries and want them to find you with their often appealing early bird offers, so those are worth checking and changing your address as well.


Once you have all of these things updated with your new address, you can start with the next phase of this process, the packing!  I have found that Uhaul sells 4 sizes of boxes by the bundle and their Medium boxes are a great size for many reasons, hold large items, very strong, good size without being too huge. I tend to pack a bottom layer in the box of items, books, stuff, then clothes and towels or whatever to fill the box but keep the weight manageable for all those who have to move it and to keep the built in box handles intact as well.  I know it seems a little OCD – but try to label each box with more than “kitchen” or “living room” or even worse “bedroom”.  There will be boxes you need to open to function that night or day 1 – and having 11 “bedroom” boxes for 4 rooms when all you want is a lamp or the blots for a bed that you know are there somewhere – causes so much stress.  Make a few clear notes on each box so you know what you are going to find, which room it goes to and what will help you get to the items you need on moving day faster and easier.  Hanging clothes are always a challenge, I just group 5-8 hangars together (tie them together with tape, twist tie, wire ties, or I use the green plant tie wrap you can get at the dollar store) then wrap a coat around them and zip it up, makes for manageable bundles and keeps them quite flat and clean.  


Remember, moving out is a great time to purge items, tupperware lids, old clothes, unused small appliances, old magazines and books, why pack and move and unpack it if you don’t really want it! Remember a fresh start doesn’t need 20 years of accumulated stuff.


Try to move things around in the new house as little as possible, save time and effort, so take a moment and plan your kitchen a little before you start just emptying boxes and filling cupboards. With a logical plan you can empty boxes methodically and have a better than average chance of finding what you need in the next morning when all you want is a piece of toast with peanut butter and a cup of coffee.


I can tell from personal experience here, there is a whole lot on your mind and a list of questions a mile long that comes with just about every single step of it.  Remember we are here for you, we have done this over and over again and we know how to deal with it or how to find the answers.  You wouldn’t refer a Realtor to your friends and family who wasn’t there to offer help, guidance and peace of mind now would you!  None of us wants that!  mccarthomes.com


So we’ve made it to 2018, the air is cold the Real Estate market has returned to what we like to call normal and we are pressing forward.  There’s that word, normal – what is normal anyway? Well on the Toronto Real Estate Board, normal is 20,000 listings and houses taking 3 to 8 weeks to sell. In the beginning of January, obviously not the most aggressive time of the year, we are usually at 60% of that so, we expect and have about 12,000 listing at present. Moving into February, we know that 10% to 20% more listing will come available each week and that puts us very quickly at our typical spring market of 20,000, if you are listed between now and mid February, 6 weeks to sell it makes it the end of March, with 60 day closing end of May beginning of June.  Seems so simple doesn’t it! This year is going to be a special year, with shrewd investors looking for desperate sellers and trying to make a quick buck on the flipside.  Other sellers still looking at offers that are often tens if not hundreds of thousands less than the offers they turned down less than a year ago, while they were chasing the market that is long since gone and now feeling dejected and needing to just move on. I almost look at it like a shark tank of predators out there, make sure any decisions you make are made with someone in your corner, someone who can deal with the pressures without all of that emotion which can cloud anyones judgement.  It’s easy to say you won’t get caught up in the process, that the pressures don’t affect you, you deal in big business every day! Remember dealing in business, and dealing with YOUR OWN business are very different things, you need someone you trust working for you just like your business needs you working for them! mccarthomes.com


So, during our 2017 roller coaster I noticed a trend rarely seen in the market – but one that became very quickly commonplace.  This new trend was to list a house at a fair market rate (remembering that concept was very fluid last year), and holding off on offers for a few days to a week then having the big offer day.  Now this is not a new approach really, what evolved from this is what struck me as odd: when offer day came and went and the sellers weren’t happy with the offers received or more painfully didn’t get any offers at all, there would be a price change on the listing, and suddenly it was listed 10%-25% higher than where it didn’t sell in the past week, what some agent’s refer to as ‘the new negotiating price’.  To me, these games further complicate the valuation of homes but alas they  are the games that must be played – but it’s so hard to faithfully be a part of them.  Yes, we have been guilty of following these market trends from time to time, a difficult market means you have to play all of your cards to make sure your clients reap the benefit of your cumulative experience. Our philosophy of properly priced and advertised to the right market stands strong, but these crazy times have sometimes called for extraordinary measures! What I can tell you, is if you are thinking of making an offer, make sure you check the listing history for recent price adjustments, it should give you some insight as to where the sellers are thinking price wise.  mccarthomes.com


With the New Year upon us, I am looking at the Real Estate market we left behind in 2017 and, along with everyone else, left with my head spinning just a little bit.  We started off oddly active, then continued to bull our way straight into a short but record breaking spring market, which is always the strongest time of the year, which of course abruptly ended more quickly than it started. The year then started to drag, with the bottom out of the market they were sitting hoping to catch the tail end of the whirlwind romance they had been teetering on the edge of, but often to no avail.  So the resale house inventory grew, prices softened, and the old market we had forgotten about started to emerge! We saw houses listed for more than 24 hours, offers under list prices and conditions, like the building inspection return to the table.  With buyers treading cautiously, sellers, often overcommitted elsewhere,  almost woefully optimistic about unpredictable prices time moved on and the market was dragged along with it.  Even coming to the end of 2017, all we can say for sure that if you are selling and buying today – the balance has always seemed just… what you sell for and what you pay for your new home, the values move up and down together.  You will not sell your house for the same price this spring as you would have last spring, but what you are buying will cost proportionately less this spring as it would have last spring – and to be perfectly honest, I like this spring better… you pay less, mortgage less, and have the peace of mind or fair valuations, home inspections and thoughtful planned financing – not just who can pull it together fastest and under duress!  Let’s make 2018 OUR year!!! mccarthomes.com