5 Steps to Getting Your House Back-to-School Ready

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The air is getting a bit crisper, which can only mean one thing – fall is around the corner. As September approaches, that means it’s time to get ready for back-to-school season. While you may be busy shopping for new school supplies, sneakers, and the perfect first day of school outfit, your house to-do list is waiting for you to tackle.

Getting your home ready for back-to-school is just as important as stocking backpacks and the fridge with snacks. Whether you have young kids, college kids, or you’re heading to grad school or just gearing up for a busy work season, it’s important to make sure your home is just as ready as you are.

Organization is everything when it comes to rockin’ back-to-school season. Here are a few tips to get your home back-to-school ready.

Make upgrades to your closets

Closet organization can make or break a morning. There’s no better time than August to tackle the closet renovations, whether that’s adding extra wardrobes in your home, shelving and bins in your closets, or doing an overhaul of your hallway closets to make them more functional. It’s important that your closets aren’t just jam packed with stuff (like many of our closets are!). You want to have a system in place that lets you see what you need to see, and tuck away extra storage.

Work with a professional company, or DIY it with some help from your local hardware or furniture stores. There are also a ton of ideas online.

Create your perfect study nook

Whether your kids are getting older and need a dedicated work space, or you’re looking to add a home working space office, setting is everything when it comes to being productive. It might be time to clear out the spare room and make it multi-functional, or tackle the abandoned rec room or the never used sitting room. A good space to work goes a long way, and it’s a great way to be creative and make a space that’s soothing and fun to work in.

Make some tweaks to your kitchen

Any family knows how crazy the mornings are, whether you’re a family of two to a family of six or more! Now is the time to make those changes you’ve been hoping to make to make your kitchen more functional, like organizing the pantry, adding in an island with bigger sinks and more shelving, upgrading your appliances, or going big and redoing your cupboards. When you feel at ease in your kitchen, it’ll make Monday-Friday feel much more relaxing.

Fix your front entryway and mud rooms

Shoes, sports equipment, and jackets littering the mud room and entry way are often everyone’s Achilles heel when it comes to their home. It’s so worth it to spend a few bucks on creating the right shoe storage, sports storage, bench seating and jacket hangers for their commonly used in-and-out spaces for their home. You’ll be thankful you did it once winter hits!

Install a calendar

This fun DIY task is perfect for the busy family or the couple that likes to be organized. Find a spot in your home, likely your kitchen, which can be used as a communication hub. Put a calendar and a to-do list in that space, with some spots for mail, keys or any other small items that need to be passed back and forth. You can do this on the cheap, you just need to have a bit of space for it.

Make your home work for you

The best thing about getting your home organized and optimized is that when you have a space that is fully functional, you can use your space with ease. Identify the points of friction for you and your family, and make the small tweaks to make it work for you. These fixes can be as cheap as some storage bins and shelving, or as big as installations or ripping out an annoying fixture.

If you’re thinking of selling your home this fall and aren’t sure how to find a good real estate agent in Toronto, contact me today. As one of the top realtors in Toronto, I am here to answer your questions and help you naviagte the GTA real estate market.

The Autumn Advantage: Why Fall Is The Perfect Time To Purchase Property

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Fall is a perfect time for many things: Apple picking, raking leaves, back-to-school shopping, and weekend trips to the cottage. But late summer, specifically August and September, offers a perfect window of opportunity for something even more exciting: purchasing a property! Choosing the right time to buy is just as important as finding the right location. Here are four prime reasons home buyers should take advantage of the fall season:


The Market Is Less Competitive

With many potential buyers unwilling to move before school starts or away on summer vacation, the real estate market transforms into a buyer’s dream. With less competition and fewer bidding wars, buyers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating a lower asking price. Shopping for houses when the market is slow also means buyers don’t have to rush into making a decision and can more carefully compare homes and choose the best one for their lifestyle and budget. 

Sellers Are Motivated To Make A Deal 

Sellers who have listed their homes for an unrealistic price in the spring and summer with little luck on the selling-front may be getting anxious to sell come fall. With a drop in buyers and fewer offers on the table, sellers are more inclined to negotiate and accept a lower offer then wait until spring to re-list. In addition to the dwindling number of offers on the table, the time and energy needed to prepare a house to sell is difficult to maintain with school now in full gear and the holidays quickly approaching. 

Outfit Your New Home For Cheap 

Half-price sales on Halloween candy aren’t the only sweet deals happening in the fall! September to November are perfect seasons to take advantage of sales on paint, carpeting, furniture, and home appliances. Fall and winter are also slow seasons for moving and many companies may be willing to offer lower prices for their services. 

End-Of-Year Tax Incentives 

Purchasing a home the end of the fiscal year gives buyers the opportunity to take advantage of several tax deductions next April. Closing the home by Dec. 31 allows buyers to deduct closing costs, property tax, and mortgage interest from their entire year’s savings. These deductions can dramatically reduce the money owed to the government or increase tax refunds.  

Take advantage of the seller's market and contact me today. I treat my clients like family and am always happy to help you understand and navigate the GTA real estate market. 416.543.4939 | mary@marydempster.ca

Buying a Condo in Toronto: Your Quickfire Guide

Buying a Condo in Toronto

If you take a look at the gorgeous skyline of Toronto, chances are that after the CN Tower, you notice the overwhelming cityscape created by the condo buildings in the city. Condos make up a huge portion of not only the downtown core of Toronto, but the cities of Etobicoke, Mississauga, and into the Greater Toronto Area. With less room to expand outwards, the city is growing up and up!

Living in a condo is a great option for home buyers. It’s often cheaper than a free standing home, and you get the added benefits of condo amenities, the ease of not having to care for a property, and often the added bonus of a gorgeous view of the city from your window.

Buying a condo is different than buying a home, so it’s important to know what you should expect or look out for when you are buying a condo in Toronto. 

Here are a Few Things to Consider When Buying a Condo in Toronto:

Pre-construction vs. resale condos

A pre-construction condo is a condo that is not yet built. Often times, you can put a portion of money down to secure a unit in a building anytime from way before they break ground on the site, until the building is registered aka finished (if it’s not completely sold out). The benefit of this is that you put down the down payment in increments, making it easy from a budget standpoint. The mortgage kicks in only when the building is registered and you move in. This is great for people looking to invest, or those who are looking to continue to save as they wait for the condo to be finished. The prices are lower than a resale condo, since nothing is built yet and it’ll be a few years before it is. 

The downside of buying pre-construction is the fact that the condo isn’t ready yet. You can wait anywhere from a year, up to 3+ years before you are able to move in or get a renter in. Also, since the condo isn’t built yet, you are buying a unit in a building which you haven’t exactly seen. You simply have to go off of floor plans and model suites. While it can be a great investment, it’s not always something buyers are comfortable with. 

Buying a condo resale is almost the same as buying any other property. Someone already owns it, it’s already built, and you go to condo showings just like any other house showing. The perks of this is that you can see the building, the amenities, and the unit. The cons are that its market price, whereas buying pre-construction has that benefit of being much cheaper.

Ask About Amenities and Condo Fees

Condo fees are fees that go towards the maintenance and upkeep of your condo building. They range anywhere from $250-1,000+ depending on the building. Typically, condo buildings that have more amenities have higher fees. Amenities are things such as your front door staff, a garden, pool, gym, rooftop area with a barbeque, party rooms, dog washing rooms – you name it! They also go towards caring for the building, such as washing the underground parking and windows, maintaining the pipes, and cleaning out your filters in your unit.

It’s important to know what amenities are important to you, and which are not since you’ll ultimately be paying for them with your condo fees. Each condo has a condo board which decides where these funds go. Ask your realtor to get you as much information as possible about the condo fees and where they go, and take a good look at the building and the grounds. Make sure it all looks good, and you’re happy with the upkeep. When you buy a condo unit, you are also investing in the building.

Understand the Condo Board & Rules

Condos are run by condo boards, which is a group of owners who elects the board (also made up of owners) and votes at General Meetings. Every condo is allowed to make up their own condo rules (such as no dogs). Ask about the condo board and condo rules, and look into it before you put down an offer. If it helps, chat with other owners in the building. Your realtor will likely have connections with other realtors, and can help find you some references.

Condos are a Great Place to Live if it’s Right for You

At the end of the day, some people love condo living while others prefer a home. Some love the ease at which everything in a condo is taken care of, while others like to have more privacy. It really depends on the person, and there is no right answer. Condos give you the luxury of more affordable prices, and the ability to live in the center of the city. As with any home purchase, it’s incredibly important to work with a knowledgeable Toronto realtor and do your research before you buy.


Buying a House in Toronto: A First-Time Home Buyers Guide

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Buying a house in Toronto as a first-time home buyer can be amazing. Toronto is an exciting place to live, with lots of diverse neighbourhoods and pockets of the city that has a lot to offer. If you’re looking to buy your first home in Toronto – congrats! What an incredible choice. The city is rich with properties of all shapes and sizes, and the market is doing well.

When you look to buy in a busy market like Toronto, in can often feel overwhelming. There are many different home types – detached, semi-detached, town homes, and condos – and also many different areas and price ranges. It can feel daunting! Luckily, with a great Toronto real estate agent and some research it doesn’t have to be.

How to Buy a House in Toronto:

1. Find a good realtor!

This is the number one step, regardless if you’re a first time home buyer or buying your fifth property. A good realtor will help you from step one all the way to the day you bring the moving trucks out front of your brand new home. You can find a good realtor by looking online and reading reviews, asking around, or visiting real estate brokers.

You want to find someone you can trust. Ask lots of questions, and make sure you feel comfortable with the realtor. If you want to really make sure you’re making the best choice, as the realtor for references. At the end of the day, go with what feels best. There are many great realtors in the city, so make sure you find your perfect match. Your realtor will be key in walking you through the entire process, from pre-approval on your mortgage, to house hunting and putting in an offer.

2. Organize your Finances

Toronto is a competitive market since there is a lot of supply and demand. It’s best to get pre-approved before you go house hunting so you know what you can afford and feel at ease knowing you’ll get the mortgage once your offer is accepted. Especially with the first-time home buyer’s stress test, it’s important to talk to your financial advisor and make sure you’re set-up financially for this next step.

How much you can afford will also be a factor in what types of homes your realtor will show you, and what areas you can live in. It’s good to have a comfortable idea of what you’re looking to spend so your realtor can work within your budget.

3. Research the areas in the City

When people think about how to buy a house in Toronto, researching the locations they want to live in is often the biggest to-do item. Toronto has a vast range of areas, all with different things to offer. Do you want to live in the East end or the West end? North, or South? What about Etobicoke or Ajax? Maybe you are looking for a certain school district, or want to be close to public transit (or walking distance to the Go Station).

Take time looking into each area, talking to other people who live there, and spending time walking around the areas. The vibe in the West end is so different than the East end, which is so fun, but everyone has their preference and it’s important to understand what yours is so you realtor can help.

4. Be ready to Act Fast

As we mentioned earlier, the market in Toronto is competitive. When you find that dream home, you’re going to want to make a pretty quick decision on whether or not you want to put in an offer. This is why the above three points are so important! Once you have a good realtor, the finances in order, and know where you want to live, then you’ll be ready to make an offer on that perfect home.

A Good Realtor is the Key to Buying a Home in Toronto

Toronto realtors not only know Toronto, and but they know the real estate market and all of the ins and outs of how it works. Toronto is a big city, but expert knowledge goes a long way. You have to make some choices, like how much you want to spend, what sort of house features you want, and what areas make you happy, but your realtor will do the rest.


Top 4 Homeowner Scams to Watch Out For

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Buying a home is a whirlwind of excitement, paperwork, and changes. While it can be a time to celebrate, it’s also a vulnerable time where some not-so-great people try and take advantage of. Luckily, many homeowners never experience a scam, the unfortunate reality is that some do fall victim to home ownership scams.

The best thing you can do to watch out for scams is do your research, talk to your realtor, and trust your gut. If something feels off, chances are it is! With that, here are some common scams to be mindful of as a homeowner:

Hot Water Scam

Someone calls you to say your hot water heater needs to be inspected, and if not you will be fined by the provincial government. The men are posing as hot water inspectors and are falsely claiming to fix things in the home, while on the lookout for money or valuables they can take.

How to avoid it: A quick Google search or a call to your hot water company, or even 411. If you get a call claiming you might owe money or be fined, look into it before agreeing. Especially if you’ve never heard of it before.

Rental Scam

You move into a new house and get a knock on your door. “Hey, is this house for rent?” Um, nope! You do some digging and realize someone posted your home for rent. Someone is using your address and claiming the deposits for their self and ripping off renters.

How to avoid it: While you can’t avoid this scam unfortunately, you can take action. Call the police right away, get as much information from the people who knock, and provide information to the police when you can to assist in the investigation. You are not at fault here, and it sucks others are being ripped off. The best thing you can do is help find the person responsible.

Utility Scam

Moving into a new home means all new utility bill set-ups. So, when you get a call from a utility company claiming you owe money, it doesn’t sound too fishy. But, the amount is high and they’re asking for a check or credit card. That seems strange, doesn’t it?

How to avoid it: Contact the previous owners, and ask for information about the utility company from the caller. You can even talk to your realtor if you need more information. Don’t pay anything until you verify it.

The “Too Good” Rate Scam

In the rush of putting in an offer for the new home, you suddenly need to find a loan. A company offers you a low credit rate and says you qualify. Great! As you go down the path of securing the loan before closing, the “lender” adds in a ton of new terms and adjustments. It’s too late to back out now – the home is closing! So you sign on and end up way in over your head.

How to avoid it: Work with your bank, realtor, or a trusted lender. Don’t get caught up in low rates that don’t make sense. Remember, if it’s too good to be true – it probably isn’t true!

Outsmart the Scammers

Rest easy knowing many scams can be avoided. By taking the time to slow down, do some research, talk to other trusted people (friends, family, your lawyer or realtor), and following your gut feeling, you can avoid common homeowner scams.

If you feel worried, talk to your realtor and learn more about the common scams and how to avoid them. Your realtor will know what’s par for the course of buying and selling a home, and has experience with the process. Anything that seems out of the ordinary is an instant red flag.

By being aware of the scams, you’re already protecting yourself.


Land Transfer Tax Ontario & Toronto: How Much & Who Pays

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Buying a home is an exciting venture, but it’s also one of the largest purchases many make in their lifetime. While many first time and seasoned home buyers know to crunch the numbers, the one number that can sometimes stand out is the Land Transfer Tax. It’s important to understand this number so that you can budget for it, and avoid any possible sticker shock.

What is the Ontario Land Transfer Tax

The Ontario Land Transfer Tax is a tax which buyers of houses and condos in Ontario pay when they purchase a property. The seller does not pay this tax, and all buyers are responsible for paying this tax when they take possession of a property. This number varies depending on the property, but your realtor and real estate lawyer can help you with what to expect before you put an offer in on the home so you can budget accordingly. It’s important to note that the amount is due on closing.  

What is the Toronto Land Transfer Tax

In addition to Ontario Land Transfer Tax, buyers purchasing a home in Toronto must also pay the Toronto Land Transfer Tax, also called the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT), on top of the Ontario Land Transfer Tax. This tax is applicable to homes east of Highway 427, south of Steeles Ave, west of Scarborough Pickering town line, and north of the lake.

How Much is Land Transfer Tax in Toronto & Ontario

In order to get an estimate on the cost of your land transfer tax, take the total amount of the home value using the property’s purchase and calculate the tax amount based on a percentage.

Here’s a guide to help you:

Ontario land transfer tax rates:

Purchase price of home with % land title transfer fees:

  • Up to and including $55,000 0.5%

  • $55,000.01 to $250,000.00 1.0%

  • $250,000.01 to $368,333 1.5%

  • $368,334 to $400,000.00 1.5%

  • $400,000.00 to $2,000,000.00 2.0%

  • Over $2,000,000.00 2.5%

Toronto land transfer tax rates:

Purchase price of home with % land title transfer fees:

  • Up to and including $55,000 0.5%

  • $55,000.01 to $250,000.00 1.0%

  • $250,000.01 up to and including $400,000.00 1.5%

  • $400,000.01 up to and including $2,000,000.00 2.0%

  • Over $2,000,000 2.5%

First Time Home Buyer Land Transfer Tax

First time home buyers do need to pay land transfer tax in Ontario and Toronto, but are eligible for a rebate.

Ontario First Time Home Buyer Land Transfer Tax Rebate

Luckily, first time home buyers are eligible for a tax refund of the Ontario land transfer tax, up to a maximum of $4,000. This will cover full tax for any homes purchased up to $368,333 and if your home purchase price is above that, you will still get the $4,000 rebate but will cover the rest of the land transfer amount. There are some stipulations, but many first time buyers do qualify for this rebate. Talk to your realtor if you’re not sure.

Land Transfer Tax Exemptions

You may also be exempt from paying land transfer tax on certain transfers of land, such as transfer between spouses, transfers of farmed land between family members, transfers from an individual to a family business corporation, or transfer of a life lease in a non-profit organization situation. Your realtor and your real estate lawyer can help you navigate these instances.

Final Words on Toronto & Ontario Land Transfer Taxes

If you have any questions about your land transfer tax on a potential new home, talk to your realtor today. We are here to help guide you through the entire process, and help you understand everything that goes into buying your new home.

For more information about the provincial land transfer tax, please visit: https://www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/tax/ltt/


Top Home Trends for 2019

Top Home Trends for 2019

Spring is (almost) in the air and many home owners are getting ready to freshen up their home, either to sell or to increase their home value for when they do choose to sell in a few years. So, what are the top home trends for 2019? From colour palettes to new technology, there are a lot of fun things in store. Here are the top five trends I’ve been noticing in the Toronto market.

Need to Know Guide for Foreign Buyers of Toronto Real Estate

Need to Know Guide for Foreign Buyers of Toronto Real Estate

Buying a home in Canada is a great investment. The economy is booming and the real estate market is going strong as the city and suburbs continue to grow.

While buying a home as a foreign investor is an exciting venture, it does require some research and understanding of what buying property in Canada entails. Here are a few things you need to know if you are looking to buying property in Canada as a non-resident.

How to Sell a House in Toronto with a Realtor

How to Sell a House in Toronto with a Realtor

Selling a home in Toronto with a realtor is an exciting venture. The city’s real estate market is still very hot, and buyers are busy looking to buy the perfect home or investment property. Working with a real estate agent to sell your Toronto home is a smart idea – realtors understand the process, know the market, and can ensure that everything is done professionally and legally.

5 Easy Ways to Get Your Yard Looking Great

5 Easy Ways to Get Your Yard Looking Great

Every spring and summer, homeowners begin the quest for the perfect, lush green lawn and beautiful yard. While for some, it may seem like a daydream, for others achieving the best yard is a breeze. What’s the secret? A bit of TLC and attentiveness, and your yard should thrive this summer. It doesn’t have to be a ton of work – but a few tweaks should get your grass growing green and flowers blooming in no time.

Babyproofing Your Home

Babyproofing Your Home

Babyproofing is an exercise many families go through – whether they’re expecting their own child or someone in the family is about to have a new baby that will be coming around. In a world full of distractions and safety hazards, it’s natural to want to make sure your home is a safe haven for a new baby or toddler. Luckily, the process can be stress-free and easy with a few easy tweaks.