Interesting Article – I thought I would share it.

Would you buy a house where someone was murdered?

Welcome to 934 Ossington Ave. Though the lavish five-bedroom house may well be worth the asking price of $949,000, it has languished on the market despite multiple attempts to sell it over the past 15 months. That’s an eternity in Toronto, where detached homes near the subway often sell within days in frenzied bidding wars.
It could be, as the agent who listed the property for sale most recently suggests, a combination of unlucky factors. Or, it could be one big deal-breaker: the fact that a man was murdered in the house two years ago.

The crime puts the grand old residence squarely in the category real estate agents call “stigmatized properties,” a blanket term used to describe homes with unfortunate histories that could affect their market potential. Would you buy a house that was once a marijuana grow-op? A meth lab? A crack house? The site of a horrific murder or suicide?
Death, in particular, tends to make buyers uncomfortable. Even though some people scoff at superstitious fears — after all, isn’t it possible many of Toronto’s 100-year-old homes have eerie pasts we just don’t know about? — the potential impact on resale value may scare away the folks who otherwise wouldn’t care. Barry Lebow, a veteran real estate appraiser, says stigmatized properties nearly always sell for less than they would have without the stigma. And therein lies the reason some folks go for them: “To get a bit of a deal,” Lebow says.
Now that’s an uncomfortable truth to ponder: you can probably get a discount on a house if someone has been murdered in it.

The house where Allan Lanteigne was killed in March 2011 sits on a busy stretch of Ossington Ave. a few blocks northwest of Christie Pits Park. Police have released few details since the University of Toronto accounting clerk was found dead, but it is believed he was beaten to death.

Lanteigne had been living in the house since 2006, two years after he married Demitry Papasotiriou, a Greece-born Toronto lawyer. Papasotiriou, 33, co-owns the property with his aunt and uncle, who live in Manitoba. At the time of the murder, Lanteigne was living alone at the house. Papasotiriou had moved to Europe. According to friends and police, they were estranged.

Last November, more than a year and a half after Lanteigne’s death, police charged Papasotiriou with first-degree murder. Soon after, his business associate, Mladen “Michael” Ivezic, 52, was also charged with murder. Police have said Papasotiriou was in Europe at the time of the killing.
All of this came as a shock to Karin Horvath, a Toronto real estate agent who was the first to list the Ossington Ave. residence for sale in November 2011, eight months after the murder and a full year before her client, Papasotiriou, was charged.

Papasotiriou was still living in Europe when he and his aunt and uncle decided to list the property with Horvath. Before taking it on, Horvath did a Google search of the address to see if anything unusual came up. The murder was one of the first results. Horvath said Papasotiriou told her the victim was a tenant about whom he knew little. She said she had no idea he was actually married to Lanteigne.

In Ontario, realtors are required under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act to disclose any “material fact” that could affect the value of a property, including a murder, suicide or suspicious death. When Horvath told Papasotiriou back in November 2011 that she would have to reveal the home’s history to any potential buyers, she says he challenged her.

“He did not want to disclose the information because he didn’t want to bring the home value down,” the agent said in an interview.

Papasotiriou sent emails to the Toronto Real Estate Board, asking for clarification. In the end, he agreed to disclose. “I wouldn’t have taken the listing otherwise,” the agent said.
By the end of Horvath’s three-month agreement with Papasotiriou and his family, the house had not sold. At the time, no arrests had been made in the homicide case, which Horvath believes made it an even tougher sell. “It comes with a stigma,” she said, “and rightfully so.”

Sanctions for agents who don’t disclose material facts can range from warnings to major fines, suspensions or licence revocation. And then, as recent cases have shown, there is also the possibility of a civil suit.
In Bowmanville last year, a couple sued a broker and the people from whom they had purchased a home after they found out it had been the scene of a horrific double murder 15 years earlier. If the claim proceeds to trial, it could become a buyer-beware test case that would bring much-needed clarity to what is now a legal grey area. Though many U.S. states and the province of Quebec have laws that govern how and when a murder must be disclosed to a potential homebuyer, in Ontario there is only the very vague realtor’s code of conduct.
Many U.S. states require disclosure if a death has occurred within a finite period of three years. The Ontario realtor’s code sets no statute of limitations, which technically means that if an agent knows about a murder that happened in a house a hundred years ago, they have to disclose.

Lebow, who often testifies in court as an expert witness and has taught classes on property stigma, thinks this is ridiculous. He also believes it unfair that the onus to disclose rests on the agent instead of the property owner. What is an agent supposed to do if a client doesn’t fess up about a home’s history?
“A real estate agent shouldn’t have to play real estate detective,” he says.

One day last week, a middle-aged woman wearing a long fur coat parked a luxury car with a Manitoba plate at the curb outside 934 Ossington Ave. and went inside to retrieve a few small cardboard boxes. When approached, the woman declined to discuss the sale of the property or confirm whether she is one of the owners.
By the end of this week, 934 Ossington Ave. was still on the market.

Jackie Carron had better luck recently with a brick bungalow in Scarborough. The Toronto agent listed the Marsh Rd. property late last year for $379,900 with a note in the “broker’s remarks” section asking agents to phone her before registering offers.
When they did, Carron disclosed the uncomfortable facts: Anna Karissa Grandine drowned in the bathtub of the home in October 2011. The 30-year-old was five months pregnant at the time. Her pastor husband, Philip Grandine, was later charged with first-degree murder and is awaiting trial.

“It would have sold in days if not for the history,” Carron said. “It was definitely an issue for some people.”
Agents for five potential buyers phoned Carron to discuss the possibility of registering an offer and then backed out. Still, after only a month or so on the market, the house sold for $370,500 — fairly close to asking price.
Several agents consulted for this article said the real problem with the Ossington house is that it’s overpriced and, if it didn’t sell for $950,000 last year, it’s not likely to fetch that now.

Toronto real estate agent Tony Domingues, who listed the property for sale on Feb. 2, believes it is worth what the sellers are asking and says they’ve had a lot of showings in the past couple of weeks. At this point, he said, disclosure isn’t even really an issue because most agents are familiar with the property’s history by now.
“You Google the house, everything is there,” he said. “Everybody knows. It’s no secret.”
The agent said he’s confident the house will draw a buyer, particularly since spring market momentum appears to be building already.
“I’ll be honest,” he said. “Everything sells in Toronto.”
On that, he and Lebow agree. “No matter how bad things are, I would suggest there is always a buyer,” the appraiser said — “Minus the house that’s falling over the Scarborough Bluffs.”

Buyer’s BEWARE !!!

Buyers must be very careful to check for minor defects in a home by themselves, as they may not be protected if they find out about it later.
One reader complained that after closing, they learned that one of the mirrored closet doors was cracked. When they had first inspected the home, the closet doors were open, such that the cracked one was behind one that was not cracked. The buyer says that they were fooled by the seller.
Another reader complained that they did not want to disturb anything on the kitchen counter when they visited the home, only to find after closing a crack in the countertop under the spot where the coffeemaker was sitting.
This highlights the legal subject of patent or obvious defects. The general principal is that a seller does not have the obligation to disclose defects that are visible to any buyer. However, a seller cannot try to conceal obvious defects either. The following case demonstrates that this is not always easy to figure out:
Randall and Catharine Reiss bought a home from Dr. Emil and Maria Grigore in West Lorne, Ontario in January 2005. The sellers had been in the home 14 years.
The buyers had two opportunities to visit the home before making the offer. The second visit took at least two hours. As Mr. Reiss was an electrician, he did not bother with a home inspection. He had asked the sellers whether they had experienced problems with the air conditioning, furnace or plumbing systems and the answer was no.
He asked whether all the windows opened and the answer was yes. He only tested one of the windows himself. He also checked under many of the rugs in the home.
After closing the buyers discovered numerous problems with the home and sued. Some of the complaints were as follows:
There was soapy water and dishes in the kitchen sink at the time of the visits. After closing the buyers noticed that the entire sink was rusted and had to be replaced.
Some of the window cranks did not work so the windows would not open.
There was a large stain under the bed in the master bedroom, which resulted in the buyer having to replace the entire bedroom broadloom.
There were 50 cracked tiles around the bathtub and on the bathroom floor that were concealed by a combination of a rug on the floor, a vase and a stack of towels.
According to the buyers, even though these were minor defects, they were actively concealed by the sellers.
According to the sellers, they did not say anything untruthful and did not conceal anything. They permitted the buyers as long as they needed to inspect their home before putting in an offer. They did not have a dishwasher so it was not unusual for dishes to be piled up in the sink.
The dog slept under the bed and must have had some accidents that they were not aware of. They tried to remove the stain when they moved out and noticed it for the first time but were not able to get the stain out.
The case was decided on June 30, 2010. Justice Lynne Leitch noted that the sellers were long-standing members of the community, who had family in the area and were not trying to move away and unload a home with problems. She accepted the sellers’ explanations and denied the buyers any damages.
As to the readers who discovered the cracks in the mirrored closet door or under the coffee machine on the kitchen counter, in my opinion they would probably lose their cases as well.
The lesson is that buyers must be very careful to do their own due diligence when visiting a property, before making any offer. This includes testing all windows, looking behind pictures, under rugs and lifting anything off the counters.
Test the appliances, electrical outlets and faucets as well. Being prepared before you make an offer will prevent unwanted surprises after closing.
Mark Weisleder is a Toronto real estate lawyer. Contact him atmark@markweisleder.com

Can’t Decide? Rent vs. Buy? This may help.

Thinking of buying a home or renting? The Globe’s rent vs. buy calculator can help you crunch the numbers and make an informed financial decision.
Rent vs. Buy?
Simply plug in the purchase price of the house, as well as the size of the down payment, mortgage loan, interest rate and amortization. Throw in how much you’ll pay in property taxes, insurance and maintenance. Estimate the rate of inflation, the rate at which you expect the home to appreciate, and when you might sell it.
Next, calculate rental costs: Enter how much you expect to spend on monthly rent, and how much you expect your rent to increase annually. Include the return you expect to receive from investing the money you save.
The calculator will let you know, in a precise dollar amount, whether it makes more financial sense to buy or rent. Click on the detail box beside the summary to have the numbers broken down further. Click the legend tab to have any of the terms explained.
Globe Investor has dozens of online calculators to guide your investing decisions. To see them all, please visit this site.
If you need someone to assist you purchasing your first home, call Michelle Makos at Re/Max First today and she will make your dreams a reality.  Her team of experts, mortgage brokers, home inspectors, lawyers will make it a smooth and fun process !!  Let’s get started.


Move-up purchasers set to increase their stake in homeownership in 2013, despite overall trend toward moderation, says RE/MAX

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Mississauga, ON (February 21, 2013) — Against a backdrop of strong equity gains and lower interest rates, move-up buyers are once again set to ramp up their role in major Canadian housing markets, according to a report released today by RE/MAX.
The RE/MAX Move-Up Buyers Report found that activity in traditional move-up price ranges have climbed year-over-year (2012 vs. 2011) in 87 per cent (14) of the 16 markets examined—a trend expected to continue throughout 2013.  The only exceptions were Victoria and Vancouver, where softer sales activity was reported. Driving the upward movement has been substantial price appreciation in most major centres.  The average Canadian home has escalated 93 per cent over the past decade; individual markets experienced increases ranging from 62 per cent in Saint John (4.96 per cent compounded annually) to 199 per cent in Regina (11.57 per cent compounded annually). 
Move Up Buyers - 10 year
The RE/MAX report notes gains have been more muted over the last five-year period, with most centres hovering at an annual appreciation rate of five per cent.  Regina and Winnipeg once again bucked the trend, reporting a 12.7 per cent and 8.39 per cent annual increase respectively, while St. John’s recorded an annual compounded gain of 11.08 per cent over the past four years. 
Move Up Buyers - 5 Year
  “The equity position homeowners have realized over the past decade is nothing short of remarkable – especially in Western Canadian markets like Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg, and St. John’s in Atlantic Canada where growth has been most pronounced and values still remain relatively affordable in comparison to the rest of the country,” says Gurinder Sandhu, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada.  “Yet, despite the strong overall performances, five-year rates of return show no signs of being in bubble territory—and most definitely not in the often cited markets of Vancouver and Toronto.  While gains in Regina, Saskatoon and St. John’s have been exceptional, house prices are playing catch up, given a stronger economic status and following decades of steady, but modest growth.”
According to the RE/MAX report, the time between moves had also decreased, with first-time buyers generally prepared to upgrade within four to seven years after their initial purchase. 
 “The leapfrogging currently underway allows purchasers to gain greater equity with each move, accumulating wealth in the interim,” explains Sandhu.   “They recognize that very few financial vehicles allow them to do that with the security, tangibility and dual purpose that homeownership represents.”
The case for trading up makes good financial sense. To illustrate, consider a first-time buyer who purchased an average Canadian home for $188,164 in 2002 with a downpayment of 10 per cent.  Had the buyer financed the remaining $172,735 at the posted rate of 7.02 per cent over a five-year, fixed rate term amortized over 25 years, the balance owing after 10 years would be $135,619.  During that period (2002 to 2012), the home would have appreciated 93 per cent to $363,730 at an annual rate of return of 6.81 per cent (compounded).  With the equity of $228,111 applied to the purchaser’s next home, at $500,000, and today’s lower interest rates, the carrying costs would be just slightly higher than the original mortgage payment. 
“Homeowners are finding themselves in an ideal position as their mortgage terms expire,” says Sandhu.  “Even in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Saint John, where housing values declined slightly, move-up buyers are taking advantage of softer values to trade-up while the spread has narrowed and interest rates are still low.  Experienced buyers realize that opportunity is not finite—rates won’t stay low forever—so if they can lock in to a five or ten-year term under four per cent, they’re making that move.”
Ample supply and buyer’s market conditions have created ideal opportunities in Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and Saint John.  Meanwhile, tight inventory levels have hampered activity to some extent, especially in markets like Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto proper, and Hamilton-Burlington, where the supply of homes falls short of demand.  St. John’s also reported micro seller’s markets in prime move-up neighbourhoods, despite overall buyer’s conditions.  Unless new product comes on-stream, continued upward pressure on pricing is expected in the months ahead. 
“We have a catch-22 situation in tighter markets,” says Sandhu.  “Homeowners are unwilling to list their properties without a game plan in place.  If they haven’t purchased their next home, they are unwilling to take the risk—further exacerbating tight market conditions.”
Sales in the move-up segment were up in 2012 over 2011 in the vast majority of markets examined.  Even more impressive is the upward trending despite a decrease in overall home sales.  Enthusiasm out of the gate in 2013 was particularly strong in Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton-Burlington, London-St. Thomas, where overall resale homebuying activity was comparatively healthy or posted positive January gains.  
RE/MAX is Canada’s leading real estate organization with over 19,000 sales associates situated throughout its 750 independently-owned and operated offices in Canada.  The RE/MAX network, now in its 39th year, is a global real estate system operating in 85 countries, with over 6,324 independently-owned offices and 88,854 member sales associates.  RE/MAX realtors lead the industry in professional designations, experience and production while providing real estate services in residential, commercial, referral, and asset management.  For more information, visit:www.remax.ca.


You may be damaging your score without knowing it.

Most people know that paying bills late can play havoc with your credit score. But not every move that shaves points from your credit score is so obvious.

1. Charging a Big Balance to a Store Card

You’re tempted to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of furniture or appliances and charge it all to a store credit card that doesn’t require payments for six months or even a year—and sometimes longer. But debt that sits untouched could drag down your score, especially if the balance is near the card’s limit, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com. That’s because your credit-utilization ratio—the amount of debt you have relative to your credit limits—is calculated for balances on individual cards as well as overall. In addition, store cards tend to charge steep rates, so if you don’t pay the balance before the interest-free period is over, you will rack up big charges.

2. Trashing a Parking Ticket
Parking and speeding tickets, library fines, and other dues to the government left unpaid won’t go directly to your credit report. But if they are eventually reported to a collection agency, they could damage your score. That goes for anything that could go to collections, such as unpaid rent and medical bills. And even if you pay up, collections will appear on your report for seven years.
3. Stuffing Your Wallet With Cards
If you’ve had a handful of cards for years, they won’t hurt your score. But if you open several new accounts in a short period, your score is likely to take a hit, and you may not benefit immediately from expanded credit limits.
4. Transferring a Balance to a New Card
The inquiry on your report from the new lender may shave a few points from your score, but the real problem is what you do with the old account. If you close it, your overall credit limit could go down, and your credit-utilization ratio will increase if you have debt on any remaining cards. Your best bet: Leave the old account open but keep a zero balance.

Your Moving Checklist – What to do !


Send Change of Address Cards to:

  • Credit Card Companies
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Government Agencies
  • Bank and Investment Services
  • Subscriptions
  • Relatives, Friends, and Neighbors
  • Past and Present Employers
  • Doctors/ Dentist
  • Accountant
  • Lawyer
  • Insurance Agent
  • Church
  • Organizations/Clubs

Disconnect Utilities: Get refunds for any deposits made and advise where final bills are to be sent.

  • Water
  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Telephone
  • Cable TV
  • Other

Cancel Deliveries

  • Water/Milk/Food Products
  • Newspapers
  • Diaper Service
  • Notify Post Office
  • Other

Transfer Bank Accounts

  • Checking
  • Savings (IRA’s, RRSP’s, other)
  • Safe Deposit Box

Notify Insurance Companies

  • Health
  • Life
  • Auto
  • Home Owners
  • Check with insurance agent on coverage of life, car and household goods en route to new home.

Pick up Personal Items

  • Dry Cleaning/ Shoe Repair
  • Prescriptions

Obtain Records

  • Obtain school records for children
  • Obtain birth and church records for all family members.
  • Check to see if your will must be rewritten when moving across provincial or state boundaries.
  • Obtain any legal records.

Obtain Medical Records

  • General
  • Dentist
  • Optometrist
  • Specialists
  • Veterinarian

Have Medication Prescriptions Refilled or get prescription numbers.
For The Moving Trip:
Have car tuned up for trip
Leave keys and any necessary legal papers with your real estate agent
Make a list of your credit card numbers in case of emergency or theft
Pack Immediate Necessities Bag

  • Medications for family and pets
  • Kids favorite play things
  • Change of clothes for all family members. Include a bathing suit.
  • Legal papers/medical records