How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage Rate

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CALGARY — When the Bank of Montreal and TD Bank dropped their special five-year fixed mortgage rates earlier this month, it drove everyone “crazy” to see how much attention they received.

Spring mortgage market kicks off with a new low rate from Bank of Montreal — but you can do better.

Call it March Madness for the mortgage market, as banks begin a full-court press to lure in homebuyers as Canada heads into another vibrant spring for the country’s hottest housing spots.

On Tuesday, the Bank of Montreal took an early lead, beating the competition with the lowest rate on a fixed five-year mortgage — ever.

The founder of RateHub.ca, a website that compares financial products, says homebuyers can do better if they shop around and do their homework.

BMO got the ball rolling by reducing its rate to 2.79% from 2.99% and TD quickly matched that.

And while it’s the lowest rate advertised among the big banks, it isn’t the lowest on the market, Furtado said.

“The banks do have such strong brands in Canada, so they are still a source that people go to look at the rates. So if you were only looking at banks’ websites, 2.79 would seem like a good deal,” she said.

“But if you were price comparing, including mortgage brokers, or you were going in and haggling and negotiating with your bank, you’d realize that the rates available were a lot lower.”

Many bank customers don’t realize they have negotiating power when it comes to mortgages, said Penelope Graham, with RateSupermarket.ca, another comparison site.

In Canada, she said, “going with a lender is almost hereditary. You bank with who your parents banked with. Banks know this. They want to retain your business and they do anything they can as well to make it as convenient as possible for you,” she said.

“Probably the most important thing that you can do before that process is to know what else is offered on the market and to know where you stand as a borrower. The better your credit score and your borrowing history is, the more leverage you are going to have.”

The ability to make a big down payment also works in your favour, Graham added.

— THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Things to Watch When Buying a Pre-Construction Condo – Shawn Gandhi

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Buying a condo unit during the preconstruction phase might seem to be a straightforward proposition. Future unit is bought from the architectural drawings at the developer’s sales site. However, in real life, buying a unit before it’s constructed may work out to be anything but straightforward.

Developers often redesign the layout of units as they go, as a result of changes made necessary during construction. Moreover, they draft the purchase contracts to their advantage. For example, if they are late in completing the complex, the purchaser is forced to agree to delays, or to occupy the unit while the complex is still awaiting occupancy permits of units that may still be under construction.

Unwary buyers could also become victims of developers who sell them units in the early stages where they are still in possession of more than 51% of the condo project. Over time, developers may become unable to sell the rest of the units.

A condominium unable to attract new buyers may experience a rapid decline in the value of its units. Upon realizing that there was no longer demand for their units, developers may use their powers as majority stakeholders in a complex, to force a buyback of the already sold units, often at heavily reduced prices.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story last year about hapless unit owners muscled by developers to buy back their condo units for the purposes of converting them to rentals. One of them was a lady who bought her unit in Boynton Beach, Fla., for $309,900 in 2006. Using a statutory loophole, the developer tried to force the owners to sell their units back at discounted prices. By 2013, it acquired back some 90% of the units and offered the aforementioned woman less than half of the original price for the unit. She refused. To make matters worse, that unit’s appraised value went down to $74,000 by 2014. The unit owner sued the developer by employing a reputable law firm, PeytonBolin PL of Fort Lauderdale. The principal attorney of the law firm, Mauri Peyton, advised me recently that litigation is still ongoing.

Whether this and similar cases will turn out to be successful remains to be seen. Nevertheless, picture yourself in that position: Would you like to be stuck in it?

Buyers are well advised to consult a knowledgeable attorney and insert their own contingencies into purchase contracts. By specifying a fixed date of completion, buyers can position themselves to get their deposits back should the developer miscalculate the timing of completion. Timing of completion should be determined by the buyer. I strongly suggest yet another contingency where the proceeds from the unit’s sale, along with deeds, be kept in escrow by the developer’s attorneys, until such time that developer sells at least 51% of the units to the other individual unit buyers.

Until such time, the unit buyer should be paying occupancy fees to developers, equivalent to the monthly maintenance fees plus the anticipating monthly mortgage payment. Such arrangement would provide that after expiration of specific time, buyers would be entitled to a refund on their deposits and/or sale proceeds, in cases when complexes weren’t finished on time, or respectfully, where 51% of the complex isn’t sold to the other unit holders. Shy away from any purchase in which the developer isn’t willing to accept your conditions as, otherwise, you may be putting yourself at the developer’s mercy.

Condominium fees are guaranteed only for the first year of operation from the time unit owners take control of the complex. Developers often calculate their initial budget on the low end to make condo units more appealing to buyers.

Almost as a rule, in the second and third years after an association assumes the complex from the developer, unit owners get hit with considerably higher monthly maintenance fees to cover the developer’s cost overruns. Buyers should assume and expect that there will be an increase in maintenance fees from the first year onward, following the completion of a new condominium.

1.)  Watch out for contracts that force you to buy the condo unit even if completion of the whole complex’s construction is delayed.
2.)  When buying during preconstruction, count on higher maintenance fees than originally calculated by the developer.
3.)  Check the reputation and track record of the developer and builder before you buy.

The Toronto Raptors Tickets Contest Winner!

THE TORONTO RAPTORS TICKETS WINNER!

Hey Guys, Quick update on the Raptors Contest.

Thank You to everyone who entered. I really appreciate your love and support!

Congratulations to the winner (Angela).

The tickets and a Toronto Raptors shirt were delivered to her the morning of the actual game.

She went to the game and enjoyed a RAPTOR WIN over the Houston Rockets!

Stay tuned to www.shawngandhi.com for tons of exciting giveaways and contests.

The Ten Day Cooling Period – Shawn Gandhi

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In Ontario, The Condominium Acontract.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxct provides purchasers with a protection known as the “Ten Day Cooling Period”.  This act is only applicable for new condo sales straight from the builder and does not apply to re-sale transactions.

In essence the Ontario Condominium Act puts some obligation on the builders to act in good-faith.  On purchasing a unit, the buyer is required to provide a valid photo I.d. and cheque for the deposit.  Once all agreements are signed and information is exchanged the purchaser is given an Agreement of Purchase and Sale and Condominium Documents.

It is in the purchasers best interest to review these documents closely and take them to their lawyer and have everything explained to them carefully.  These documents include important information about the condo such as closing costs, maintenance fee’s, disclosure statements, features and finishes, completion dates, additional charger etc. etc.  In Ontario it is recommended for a purchaser to make sure his LEVIES are capped.  It is agreed and understood the buyer is waiving the condition by not rescinding their agreement before the end of the ten day cooling period.  If the buyer wants to cancel the agreement they can do so by informing the builder and filling out the required paperwork in the specified time period.  Subsequently the purchasers deposit will be returned in full without deduction.  Since the ten day cooling period is included for the benefit on the purchaser they do not need a reason to cancel the agreement.

The ten day cooling period is a neat tool used by the province to make sure purchasers are making well-informed decisions.  Make sure to look through all documents and have your lawyer advise you accordingly.

Square One is getting a makeover, and a new direction

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Erin Kleinberg is reporting from Toronto Fashion Week for Square One using Instagram and Twitter. If that piques your interest, you may belong to Square One’s new target market.

The staid shopping mall in Mississauga is repositioning itself to attract fashionistas, the type of people who know that Kleinberg co-founded The Coveteur and is CEO and designer of her own, eponymous fashion line.

When Square One opened 43 years ago, it was surrounded by open fields, said Greg Taylor, who took over as general manager last year.  That green space has since filled with civic buildings including Mississauga’s City Hall, the Living Arts Centre and Celebration Square. Perhaps more important, new condo towers along Hurontario St. and west of Square One have brought more shoppers closer. More condo towers in the area are planned.

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Square One General Manager Greg Taylor and Marketing Director Toni Holley pose for a photo inside a renovated section of the mall.
TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR

“Mississauga is maturing. There is a densification of the downtown. We happen to be a big part of that development,” said Taylor.

Right now, shoppers see Square One as a handy one-stop shopping destination, said Taylor, but it’s not necessarily top-of-mind for luxury shoppers or those looking to communicate social prestige or material success — the so-called aspirational shopper.

When its new, southern expansion is completed in the spring of 2016, Square One will house just over 1.8 million square feet of enclosed retail space, including the first Simons in Ontario (at 113,000 square feet) and a 120,000-square-foot flagship Holt Renfrew, which will launch the mall into the luxury market. The expansion will cost $237 million.

Owners Oxford Properties spent $84 million on a renovation in 2013 that added height and light to the main concourse, new flooring and an expanded food court. A $62 million expansion opened in September, adding new stores including Brandy Melville and the largest Forever 21 in Ontario.
The walkways are lit by natural light streaming in from clerestory windows. The new south wing will have the same airy feel.

The renovation includes a new emphasis on attracting professional, educated female shoppers, ages 25 to 45, who live in the GTA and love brands. Women ages 18 to 24 are a secondary target market.

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When its new, southern expansion is completed in the spring of 2016, Square One will house just over 1.8 million square feet of enclosed retail space, including the first Simons in Ontario. 

TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR

To woo fashionistas, Toni Holley, marketing director for Square One, handed the shopping centre’s Instagram and Twitter accounts to industry insiders to post about fashion weeks in cities as they took place in February and March in New York, London, Milan, Paris and, this week, Toronto.

“I am literally just sharing what I see and what I hope might be interesting,” said Hanneli Mustaparta, reporting from Paris for Square One. Mustaparta is a photographer, director, model and blogger with a large following.

“I have never been to Toronto but I have heard from my friends that there is a really cool fashion scene.”

Square One’s effort to rebrand comes as malls in and around the GTA up their games, investing in renovations, new spaces and new tenants.

“Competition is just staggering between malls,” said Arthur Fleischmann, partner and president of john st. advertising.

Having a single flagship store is no longer enough. Shoppers are looking for the right mix of retail banners in a mall and will not hesitate to drive 20 minutes or more to find it, Fleishmann said.

Conventional malls are also facing increased competition from discount shopping malls, Fleishmann said. It does help, for now, that the Canadian dollar has sunk relative to the U.S. dollar, making a shopping trip to Buffalo less enticing.

The advantage Square One has is that it remains a pleasant place to shop, without the crowding sometimes found at Toronto Eaton Centre or the parking headaches at Yorkdale.

“Half the experience of shopping at Yorkdale is finding parking,” said Fleishmann.
The expansion at Square One in Mississauga will cost $237 million.

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TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR
The expansion at Square One in Mississauga will cost $237 million.

Renovations and upgrades at area malls have been underway for years, sparked in part by the announcement in 2011 that U.S. discount retailer Target was expanding into Canada, and in part by interest from Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom in expanding north of the border.

Cadillac Fairview was able to snag five of the six Nordstrom stores opening in Canada after it asked struggling Sears Canada to return leases on choice properties, said Wayne Barwise, executive vice-president, development, Cadillac Fairview.

The first Nordstrom in Canada opened at Cadillac-Fairview’s Chinook Centre in Calgary last fall. The Ottawa Nordstrom opened March 6.

Barwise pointed out that Toronto Eaton Centre is also in the middle of a major renovation, adding a Nordstrom to the space vacated by Sears. A Saks is scheduled to open in an area of The Bay on Queen St. in the spring of 2016.  The downtown mall also snagged popular Japanese retailer Uniqlo.

And there may be further change afoot.

“There’s a big question mark as to what is going to happen to Sears Canada in the next few years. If they decide to wind down operations, that’s another 100-plus stores,” said Barwise. Despite the increased competition from area malls, Barwise is not worried about the Eaton Centre being eclipsed.

“We get one million visitors every week. No one has that kind of statistics. And it’s just going to get better with the addition of Saks and Nordstrom,” he said.

With Target now shuttering 133 stores in Canada, some malls will lose what they had hoped would be a strong anchor tenant.

The flood of space may lead some mall tenants to ask for rent rebates, said retail real estate expert John Crombie, senior vice-president, retail leasing Canada, at Triovest.

Still, retail landlords in Canada tend to have the upper hand. There are often waiting lists of retailers hoping to get into the Eaton Centre, Barwise said.

In Canada, almost two-thirds of malls are controlled by less than a dozen landlords. The market is much more fragmented in the U.S.

“Tenants in the U.S. and Europe have more power,” said Crombie.

Mall owners do deep research before making any moves, said Jeffrey Berkowitz, president, Aurora Realty Consultants.

“They are trying to be ahead of the curve and understand trends globally so they know what the more interesting brands and banners will be. They’re not asking ‘Where should we be in December?’ They’re thinking ‘Where should we be five Decembers or 10 Decembers from now?’ ”

They also share many of the same customers.

“It’s rare to find customers today who only shop in one mall,” said Berkowitz.

 

–The Toronto Star.

Booking Elevators & Moving – Shawn Gandhi

Elevators Mississauga

Elevators MississaugaAt the beginning stages of occupancy, elevator space is in high demand. The functioning of elevators may be staged and they are often not all necessarily functional at the time of your move-in. There is always one that is approved by the city for customer use, however it may be shared with on-site construction staff and trades. This is extremely temporary and improves incrementally with successive stages of completion and registration within the building. To ensure that your move             is well coordinated, book the elevator well in advance.

Everyone is eager to move into their new home but unfortunately the security may not share in your excitement. Speak to the security or the property management about the exact procedure of booking the elevators. Their primary obligation is to ensure no damage is done to the building and make sure the assigned elevator is only of use to you for the specified time period.

The property management company usually requests a void cheque for a specified amount and will alot you a specific time period.  No one else will be able to use this elevator during your time slot.  The security will do a pre and post inspection of the elevator before and after use to ensure no damage was created during the move.  Be sure to be careful and have your deliveries during this time slot.

Every property management company have their own procedures in place for booking the elevator.  Make sure to check with them well in advance so you will have no problems on your move in date.

Occupancy Fees – Shawn Gandhi

Occupancy fee Mississauga

Occupancy fee MississaugaIn a condominium environment, each homeowner is always required to pay a monthly maintenance fee.  Maintenance Fees are established in the 1st budget and include an estimate of income and expenses for a certain time period, typically one year, prepared by the developer/builder.

In the event of Interim Closing (the occupancy of a proposed unit before title is received) which is very typical in condominiums, the homeowner is required to pay a monthly occupancy fee, prior to final closing.  The homeowner is handed the key’s and developer’s/builder will inform you of your occupancy fee.  Once the building is ready to be registered the mortgage will begin and the the title will be registered in your name.

Occupancy fees are prescribed by the Condominium Act of Ontario and can be likened to a monthly payment (similar to rent), payable by the homeowner, for possession of the suite prior to registration(closing).  The builder/developer reserves the right to hold some restrictions on leasing the unit to a tenant in this time period.

In recognition that interim occupancy is a partial occupancy, it is understood that not all common areas and amenities within the building will be fully completed at this point.  In most cases, lower floors receive the interim closing quicker and subsequently higher floors later.

The calculations for interim occupancy fees are based on a formula mandated by the provincial government. They are not based on completion status of the overall community rather what is deemed fair and equitable by provincial guidelines.

Mississauga & Brampton City Plan (LRT) – Shawn Gandhi

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A proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) system is a key part of Mississauga and Brampton’s vision for the future of the Hurontario-Main corridor.

HMLRT corridor mapR7_June2014This is a large, complex city-building project from the Port Credit GO Station in Mississauga to the GO Station in Downtown Brampton (Mount Pleasant).

More than a transportation route, the LRT system is intended to be a means of economic and residential development, improved quality of life throughout Mississauga and Brampton, and the linking of the two cities.

This project will help transform our community from suburban to urban. It supports growth and positive change by connecting people with destinations using sustainable transit that’s convenient to all.

The Hurontario-Main LRT will be designed to address congestion and improve traffic along the corridor.  Metrolinx, along with the Cities of Mississauga and Brampton are investing in efficient transit, to build vibrant, safe, prosperous and connected communities throughout the GTA.

 

Here’s How To Sell Your Condo Fast! – Mississauga

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House Symbol And 3d Character Showing Real Estate1.   Keep it Clean – Make sure everything is in place, all counters are wiped down, appliances are clean, and all clutter in storage are removed.

2.   Smell – Make sure the unit smells nice.  Whether it’s febreeze or a scented candle, something as simple as smell may attract or distract a possible buyer.

3.   Accommodate all showings – Make sure you do everything in your power to confirm all appointments.  A buyer can come from any showing, so make sure you accommodate all showings.

4.   Don’t be there for showings – Buyers like to feel comfortable in their surroundings.  Don’t be present when a showing takes place.  Leave the key in the lockbox and allow the buyers to feel as if the place is their own.

5.   Lock away pets – If you have pets please lock them away or give them to a close friend or family member during the selling process.  Some buyers may not like pets, have allergies, or are deterred by the fact there was a pet living in their future home.

6.   Be patient – Selling doesn’t happen over night and sometimes it takes a little bit of time.  Remain patient and optimistic and wait for the right buyer to come along.

7.   Competitively price – Make sure your unit is not over-priced.  If your unit is priced higher then all the others it will help sell the other competing units.

If you keep these factors in mind, you will have no problems selling your unit in a timely manner.

 

Selling Your Condo With Shawn Gandhi – Mississauga

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Real estate agent for sale signOnce you have decided to move, contact me as soon as possible and we will get the selling process under way. The First step is to call me and give me all your details. Once I have all your details I will setup an appointment, come by, and assess your property.  We will do a complete market analysis of your Property and give you comparables of the units sold in your building. At this point, we will discuss the details of listing your condo.

 

Click Here for a variety of different things to do to make your condo sell quicker!

While the condo is listed make sure you remain patient and accommodate showings. When we have an interested buyer and an offer is submitted, I will bring it straight to you. My main priority is to make a good deal for my client. I will negotiate with the buyer to get you exactly what you require. After an offer is accepted I will help you order the status certificate and do my best to make sure all conditions are met and waived.

Once we have a deal, I will be there for your closing and help you complete the transaction.

– Shawn Gandhi