Assessed Value VS Selling Price

June 11th, 2010

Ontario Property Tax Assessments are calculated using ‘current market value’.

Current value is the most probable price a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions of a fair sale. While a sale price is a good indication of current value, it is a recognized appraisal principle that a given property can sell at any point within a range of values.

This is because the real estate market is not perfect and two identical properties can sell for different amounts depending on such factors as supply and demand of housing in the local real estate market, preferences of buyers and sellers and the negotiation skills of the parties. A selling price represents the price a buyer and a seller agree to in one particular transaction, whereas current value assessment is based on the most probable sale price based on an analysis of all sales transactions from the local real estate market.

All offers have a standard clause in this regard. `` 19. PROPERTY ASSESSMENT: The Buyer and Seller hereby acknowledge that the Province of Ontario has implemented current value assessment and properties may be re-assessed on an annual basis. The Buyer and Seller agree that no claim will be made against the Buyer or Seller, or any Brokerage or Salesperson, for any changes in property tax as a result of a re-assessment of the property, save and except any property taxes that accrued prior to the completion of this transaction.``

We are told that every sale affects calculations and, I’m sure, the same must stand for assessments that are reduced, after appeal.

The problem is that Sellers usually want to sell for more than their municipally “assessed value” – after all, their insurance company has also given them an assessment of value that is most often always a great deal higher than their municipal assessment.... AND Buyers usually want to pay the municipally “assessed value” or less. Frighteningly, also, there are times that the municipally assessed value (upon which the property taxes are calculated) is a great deal higher than the ultimate selling price.

The current unreliability of municipal assessments has caused most real estate professionals to leave that field blank on listing forms. It only causes confusion and it takes a great deal of time to try to explain. A good Buyer representative will usually broach this matter.
Here are some examples. These come from the data of actual sales. In the interest of the privacy act, I will not provide the actual addresses. However, I will have the complete information on file, should anyone feel the need to question authenticity.

In August of 2009, a cleared vacant lot (63’X100.55’) in the town of Bancroft was listed for $9,900. The listing showed that the property had been assessed at $31,000 and that the property taxes (for 2008) were $135. This lot sold, in September of 2009 for $8500. (please note it is most unusual for a property to sell below the municipal assessment- this is one of the weird instances)
In March of 2008, a treed, 1.01 Acre lot listed for $24,900 sold for $23,000. The assessed value was noted as being $19,500.

In March of 2009, a property described as: “2 bedroom well maintained home in downtown Bancroft. Municipal services, potential for commercial zoning, great investment! Bright home, detached garage, paved drive, full unfinished basement” was listed at $129,900. The listing shows an assessed value of $67,000. The property sold in September 2009 for $130,100.

In May 2009, a property described as: “3 Bedroom bungalow in town of Bancroft with municipal services. Nice level yard with perrenial flower beds and sun porch facing backyard. Newly renovated main bathroom and new shingles this year. Third bedroom, rec room and second bathroom in fully finished basement. Attached carport.Great starter home or retirement home, easy to maintain. Storage shed in back yard.” Was listed for $149,900 and the listing showed an assessed value of $114,250. The property sold June 2009 for $140,000.

I could go on ad nauseam.

The municipal assessment value may make more sense in the future... right now, it's information, but it's unreliable.

I don’t want to even get started on insured values! Suffice it to say... the insurance company will see your house as a castle.

Weather Experts Predict A Warm, Dry Summer

June 7th, 2010

Weather Experts Predict A Warm, Dry Summer

Good news for vacationers and sunbathers, experts are predicting a warm, dry summer with plenty of sunshine across most of the country. The Harrowsmith's Canadian Almanac is also calling for hot spells in Ontario. The entire country is in for a “barbeque” summer this year- hot and dry... except for the humidity.

YUP...We can expect more hours of sunshine and less rain than last year, according to Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips.
Lately, every time I show a beachfront property, I swoon and want to stay... It’s breathtaking, watching birds catching fish and the sun dancing across the water, sparkling in the ripples...

But man, it makes my heart ache... all the mess down south of us, the oil drenched animal life, black balls of guck rolling up onto the Gulf and East coast beaches... not to mention the thick, black undersea death plumes that Phillipe Cousteau braved... Crude has been reported along barrier islands in Alabama and Mississippi, and it has impacted some 125 miles of Louisiana coastline.

Pensacola Beach, Fla reports waves flecked with floating balls of tar. The prospect that the crisis could stretch beyond summer has devastated residents along the Gulf, who are seeing more and thicker globs of oil appear all along the coast. Beach front enthusiasts across four Gulf shore states are braced for oil onslaught.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doubts that the oil spill will affect the Texas coasts, however, they are also unsure of the impact hurricane season could have on the oil spill's approach toward Texas. Texas General Land officer Richard Arnhart said that tar balls have been known to wash up on Texas beaches due to small leaks in the Gulf and natural seepage. & this spill’s already catastrophic effects are compounded by its ongoing nature.

Oil-hungry microbes are expected to consume more oxygen from the water as they feast on hydrocarbons... and the oil slick and chemical dispersants will reduce the flow of oxygen from the atmosphere to the ocean, and block the amount of sunlight available to nourish oxygen-producing marine plant life.

As for the other creatures... well... many experts are now advocating for euthanizing oil covered birds as it is more humane to kill the birds quickly and painlessly before they die naturally from the BP oil that drenched them and will eventually kill them in a prolonged and painful way, ultimately. This is tragic.

I am ashamed.

It’s just plain unacceptable. It’s been suggested that oil companies know that if North Americans, who consume a quarter of the world's production, can't see the environmental damage, we don't much care... we’re like ostriches, with our heads buried in the sand... but now, a lot of the coastal beach sand will be coated in black...

It irks me, to no end, that it keeps being tagged an oil “spill” or oil “leak”... reliable figures on the extent of the spill are precious and few, but U.S. scientists estimate the leak is spewing 25,000 barrels a day. The standard barrel of crude oil or other petroleum product (abbreviated bbl) is 42 US gallons (34.9723 imp gal; 158.9873 L).

The obvious slick has been described as about Maryland and there are not only concerns about the damage to the environment, but potentially to oil prices and President Obama’s plans to widen drilling and pass climate legislation. Makes you cringe, thinking about the Palin gang, “The ‘drill, baby, drill’ people. BP explains that it is self-insured for the accident, and is currently spending $6 million a day to try to contain it.

Al Huang, in his blog of May 13, 2010 called it ” ...more than just an environmental disaster of herculean proportions, but also another chapter in the long history of struggle against discrimination, environmental toxics, and poverty in the Gulf Coast region.” He says that Byron Encalade (president of the Louisiana Oysterman Association in Pointe A La Hache and a leader for the African-American oystermen in the region) had explained that even before the spill, oil exploration had already destroyed large parts of Louisiana’s bayou and wetlands and that he worried there would be nothing left for tomorrow,to pass on to his own children.

This is the peak of the spawning season for many species of Gulf fish, crabs and oysters, and the effects of the spill are expected to greatly reduce the quantity of marine life for several generations.The oil spill may eliminate the wealth of seafood and wildlife in the gulf coast and also the communities that depend on its fragile ecosystem. The real cost of oil spills goes far beyond the people living in littoral zones...

It is estimated that 7 million people rely on the aquifers of the Florida Everglades, alone, for drinking water. There is no question that insidious contaminants are entering our estuaries, causing genetic harm, poisoning birds, turtles and seafood.

Though clean-up efforts have been under way for weeks, BP remains silent about the serious health effects upon workers and volunteers of the chemicals and procedures being employed. The chemical dispersant being used by BP in the Gulf has been deployed in large amounts and at great depths in an attempt to break up the oil gathering on the surface and billowing out of the well head. The environmental effects of its unprecedented use at great depths are not known.

The chemical components of dispersants are considered “trade secrets”, so who knows what exactly is being pumped into the water in mass quantities? Or... the long-term impact? New York Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler stated, “Corexit (the product being used in the Gulf) is 2.61 in toxicity, which means it’s highly toxic. It has an effectiveness of 54.7 in the south Louisiana crude-oil spill. Dispersit (another product) is 7.9 toxicity, which means it’s a lot less toxic, but it has an effectiveness rate of 100%. Mare Clean 200, has a toxicity rate of 42, which is much, much better & its effectiveness rate is 84, compared to Corexit at 54.”

The whole thing is excellent fodder for conspiracy theory, too!

Truly, it makes me revere our pristine lakes and rivers, all the more... we need to prevent contaminants from getting into our water —lakes, rivers and aquifers — we must defend and protect of our environment and the health of Ontario!

The Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON) urges us to follow these suggestions:

Don’t pour paint, oil, medications or other chemicals down the drain. Dispose of them at your municipal household hazardous waste depot or at special hazardous waste days set up by your city or town.

Use only environmentally friendly products on your lawn and garden. Avoid pesticides, which can get washed into sewers and find their way back to our drinking water sources.

Instead of grass, use native ground cover plants to “naturalize” your yard. You’ll save time, energy and water by not having to maintain your lawn and you’ll also provide a home for native wildlife.

And, particularly, in a year that’s expected to by dry and hot:
Disconnect your eaves trough downspouts from sewer systems and collect “free” rainwater in barrels, or drain it into your garden.

Water wisely. Only water your lawn or garden in the early morning or late evening and when winds are calm. One hour of lawn sprinkling uses 1,300 litres of water. Your lawn can only absorb 2.5 centimetres of water at a time, so watering for longer than an hour doesn’t help
your grass.

P.S. check out the fascinating collection of related information at

or watch this video clip from a 2009 documentary: from banksters to corporate scientific dictatorship
Fall Of The Republic documents how an offshore corporate cartel is bankrupting the US economy by design.

Where Are The Cottage Country Deals?

June 3rd, 2010

While recent headlines may warn that Ontario prices may dip, readers must be cautioned not to expect the same for cottage country properties. Statistics Canada figures indicate that since 1999, the level of vacation property ownership has remained stable and in fact, may show an increase.

Re/Max, in its annual first-quarter recreational property report surveys 50 recreational markets across the country and found that 79 per cent saw higher sales in the first quarter compared with 2009, and 43 per cent reported "nominal" price increases.

Richard K.C. Ling, broker for Harvey Kalles Real Estate in Toronto says “Waterfront prices never went down. Sellers just waited till they got their price. This year, prices have gone up again, and prices will climb as you have less (waterfront) property to play with.”

The average age of a vacation property owner is in the early 50s and these folks will likely use these places extensively if they have children. However, about ¾ of these properties are owned by childless couples and seniors who benefit from renting the properties out. Simple cottages may fetch $1000 or $2000 per week or more.

A recent Angus Reid national poll asked buyers why they plan to purchase recreational property, lifestyle was the number one reason given. As Phil Soper (president and chief executive, Royal LePage Real Estate Services) explains, “Canadians appear prepared to make significant investments in order to enjoy their leisure time."

Christine Van Cauwenberghe (a tax and estate planner) says, “Although there may be a gain in a property in the end in terms of an investment, this is not like buying a mutual fund where you have no emotional investment. This is a very sentimental and personal decision.”

Buyers rank the most important features they look for in a recreational property. The current survey says the three most important features to potential buyers in Ontario are waterfront/beach access (61 per cent), four-season use (47 per cent) and peace and quiet (40 per cent). For those looking to secure a recreational place that will become their retirement home, the factors that really count are those that make everyday life pleasant and include things like climate, culture, schools and municipal services.

Gail Bebee (personal finance speaker and author) suggests that a big part of the cottage value equation boils down to location. A cottage that is within a few hours' drive to a big city and is perched on a body of water is more likely to increase in value and should be easier to sell. A recreational property that has a range of amenities and is close to activities will also have greater appeal, especially for Baby Boomers who are looking forward and want their retirement home to be comfortable and convenient.

Some are finding new ways to cope with the high price of waterfront. The Royal LePage recreational property report says some younger families are pooling their resources to buy properties together. Others are generating income by renting out their properties when they’re not in use. A further trend is to buy a property that’s across the street or a block or two away from the water.

“If someone can’t afford the beach,” says George Watson from In Touch Realty, “they can move across the street where a lot would sell for less than half the price.”

Real estate experts say there are seven buyers for every 'perfect' waterfront property. With the supply of waterfront lots in the prime locations almost all gone, the competition for what's left is fierce. Finding the lots people really do want is a real challenge.

It’s no surprise that waterfront real estate is “one of the best investments you can make,” says Pauline Aunger, immediate past president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. What makes real estate in waterfront communities so resilient? “Because there will always be seven buyers for every perfect waterfront home,” says Aunger. “The great Canadian dream is to own waterfront.” Real estate agents report there are fewer and fewer empty building lots left in Ontario’s prime waterfront locations. “There doesn’t seem to be any easily accessible water left in Southern Ontario” that hasn’t been built on, says Aunger.

Developers, feeding the insatiable appetite for all-season homes near the province’s waterways, are being forced to look ever farther afield. They are snatching up old industrial sites, small infill properties and land along lakes farther away from the more than eight million people who call the Golden Horseshoe home.

“Cottage country” used to mean a simple general store and a dirt road leading down to a two-room cabin, a Muskoka chair sitting at the end of the dock. Little of that remains. The emphasis today is on more of a spa-like experience... a lifestyle, even if that lifestyle is created on a little-known lake or river.

What's really important for a cottage owner (or prospective cottage owner) to know? The difference between and Adirondack and a Muskoka Chair!

Well, THAT, plus getting a really good real estate professional to help them find the right deal in cottage country!


the Adirondack chair features a flat yoke behind the seat, the Muskoka chair’s is curved. Often Adirondack chairs are a little higher off the ground and a touch wider between the arms than the Muskoka.

A Little Weird

June 2nd, 2010

Former Colorado Gov. John Vanderhoof: has had a plaque on his wall containing a tiny piece of rock from the Apollo 17 mission. Cut from the rock known as Sample 70017 or the "Goodwill Rock," was cut up into hundreds of pieces and distributed to all 50 states and more than 130 nations. Its estimated value is $5 million.

Sir Paul McCartney recently admitted that he cannot remember many of the classic songs he has written- he said there are "just too many".

RCMP have charged two men in the theft of a large tractor from a farm in southern Manitoba. The men discovered the keys had been left in the tractor and decided to take it for a joy ride. After their fun, they left it at the side of the road and it was badly damaged, has an estimated value of $180,000.

Hundreds of seemingly drunk parrots are falling out of trees and the sky in a northern Australian town. Lisa Hansen, a veterinary surgeon at the Ark Animal Hospital in Palmerston, near Darwin said, "They fall out of trees... and they're not so coordinated as they would normally be. They go to jump and they miss the next perch." The birds are given sweetened porridge and fresh fruit to treat the hangover.

Police were called when a naked skateboarder arrived at Centennial Beach in Barrie, last Friday evening. The skateboarder, who was planning a quick "skinny" dip, was issued a warning and escorted home.

US daredevil Jonathan Trappe made a record-breaking flight across the English Channel last week, in a wicker basket borne aloft by a cloud of 55 helium-filled spheres, travelling around 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Ashford in Kent, England to a French field outside Dunkirk.

Scientists at Boston University have used infrared cameras at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama to record tremulation. The shaking is a form of dominance communicated between male red-eyed tree frogs.

Joseph Peer and Alexander Kendl at the University of Innsbruck in Austria think that about half of all ball lightning reports are actually tricks of the mind induced by magnetism.
Ball lightning is often reported during thunderstorms, and it's known that multiple consecutive lightning strikes can create strong magnetic fields.Focusing magnetic fields on the visual cortex of the brain causes subjects to see luminous discs and lines. When the focus was moved around within the visual cortex, the subjects reported seeing the lights move.

Mummifying animals was a common practice among ancient Egyptians, who embalmed thousands of crocodiles and buried them in mass graves as offerings to the crocodile god Sobek.

Al and Tipper Gore have decided to separate after 40 years of marriage,

Quebec scientists shuddered when a giant snakehead was found dead on the shores of the Saint-Charles River. Believed to have been an overgrown former pet, it is related to the savage, voracious, quick-tempered, razor-mouthed northern snakehead fish which is from Asia but this fish has recently been discovered in areas dotted around North America. The northern snakehead can survive four days out of water (it has a primitive lung above its gills) and slithers from one stream or lake to another- it can walk for up to 1/2 a kilometer! An 18-inch snakehead was pulled from a Chicago harbour five years ago- Northern snakefish invaded the Potomac River near Washington, D.C (during the GW Bush administration)- New York State has discovered the species in a few ponds and streams- mid-state. These fish grow anywhere from a meter to 1.8 meters in length. YIKES

A University of Alberta researcher studying red squirrels have found that these asocial creatures, which usually despise each other, have taken the unusual step of adopting and raising the orphaned cubs of their kin. Dozens of social species -- including chimps, cats, and dogs -- have been known to take in another animal's orphans, but it's the red squirrel's solitary nature that makes this discovery unusual, says The U of A's Jamie Gorrell, a PhD candidate in biology- one five authors of the report.

Kenyan guys are painting themselves up and going about as Masai Warriors to attract women. The women are ready to pay quite a for Masai Jungli gigolos.

It’s A Good Time To Invest in Multi-Family Housing

May 10th, 2010

A common perception about real estate is that it is sensitive to economic downturns, and that’s a reasonable consideration. Multifamily real estate is an investment category with less risk. While this is hardly a new concept, participation in this market sector has been increasing significantly.

Multi family homes are houses which are designed for more than one family. They are a freestanding building composed of two to four separate living units, each unit having its own kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. There are also opportunities with commercial units consisting of one or more stores with apartments above them. These types of real estate have had a rare combination of high returns with lower risk.

A multi unit home is historically one of the first properties acquired by a beginning real estate investor. The cash needed for such a purchase is often lower than on a single family property and the potential resale market is quite large, including other beginning investors. There is an opportunity for the first time buyer to live in one of the units and have the tenants pay the mortgage.

Chaos in securities the past few years has brought a number of investors to the multi-unit market. Since the economic climate has resulted in tightened lending practices,some people are now finding it difficult to qualify for mortgage financing. Others have been forced to sell their homes at a loss, or worse, to face foreclosure. This creates a market of people actively searching for nice rental property.

As the definition of “family” is changing, many buyers are looking for multi-family houses to house non-traditional or multi-generational families. Many families are looking for larger homes to include elderly loved ones or adult children who remain at home. It is likely that the multi family segment is going to outperform other real estate sectors for several years.

A well-chosen multifamily property can be a long-term positive cash-flow investment. There will always be young couples and older retiring folks looking for good rentals. Owning a multiplex can very often provide a substantial positive cash flow for many years to come.

There are financing programs in existence that can help you purchase an owner-occupied multi-family house. Qualification guidelines for this type of financing are generally less stringent than for other types of investment real estate and the rent from the unit or units that you don't occupy can usually be considered part of your qualifying income.

The maintenance demands of a multifamily property are not very different from those of a single-family house, and both owners and owner-occupants often find that they can save substantially and build equity by doing the primary maintenance work themselves. This sort of property is often seen as a "hands-on" investment; as it calls for routine maintenance, such as mowing grass, unplugging sinks and toilets.

The purchase of a multi-family unit should be considered a standard long-term buy and hold rental property (that means, not a flip, not a lease to own, not any sort of real estate strategy). Seasoned investors build their investments by carefully and conservatively analyzing a property’s cash flow and your Realtor will help you to do the same, prior to purchasing.

The good news is that cash flow on a multi-family is always greater than that of a single family because you have rent coming in. The multi-unit property has an economy of scale (i.e. six families living in six separate units will have six roofs to repair while in a multi-plex there is generally only one roof). & there is less competition when purchasing in the multi-family sector... because not everyone has caught on!

Cash cows are harder to find but sometimes you can take over a property that has existing tenants and a positive cash flow. Here, you cannot go wrong- as long as the building is not about to topple over. The distinguishing benefit to sound real estate investments is their ability to provide income no matter what the economy throws at you.

Owners and investors should annually be (a) performing a five year forecast of their property holdings and (b) should be reviewing their mortgage costs for possible refinancing. Why? 1) generally people have the majority of their wealth in their personal residence, and 2) real estate is excellent mechanism for wealth accumulation.

Many investors never buy anything bigger than a property with four family units and they are happy with the returns they get from small properties- however, it is no secret that wealthy investors buy multi-family and commercial properties and that is how they got wealthy in the first place.

Multi-Family Housing just might be the best investment you can make in today’s economy.Take advantage of low interest rate financing to catch the next wave of real estate investment profits in the multi family sector and there’s still time to beat the HST!