Buying

How To Find The Perfect Condo When The Market Supply Is Low?

Finding-An-Ottawa-Condo-in-A-Sellers-Market.jpg

The 2019 condo market is great if you are a seller, but not that great if you are trying to buy. One of the largest issues buyers are facing right now when searching for a condo in Ottawa, is a lack of supply - there are no good condos to buy (at a decent price)! Talk about a first world problem!

When supply is low, there are a bunch of ways that a great agent can help find buyers a property. We put together a list of methods that we use with our buyer’s to find that perfect un-listed/hidden/secret condo.

Working with an agent who focuses on the specific area or building. 

This should go without saying, but if you are looking to get a difficult to find property (aka a condo), working with an agent who focuses on that type of property, or even in the specific building will give you a major head start. Why hire a plumber to do your electrical work? We often have sellers who are 2-3 months away from selling, or getting ready to list next week. Our job is to keep our “ear’s to the ground”!

Peer Networking

One of the best ways I find off market condo’s is by chatting with other agents. In this market I spend more time asking other agents what they have coming up, and letting agents know what I have before a property hits the market. Even getting an extra day notice before a property is listed, gives you the buyer a huge advantage in this market. Having focused on condo’s for such a long period, I receive a high number of other agents letting me know what they have coming up.

Off Market Builder Supply

Typically builders will only list a few units in a building, even if they have a bunch of available condos, as they don’t want to overwhelm a buyer. Often builders won’t tell buyers or other agents that they are able to be purchased. Earlier this year, we had a builder that had condo with cosmetic damage and was not being shown or advertised. However since we had a great relationship with the builder, we were able to sell it to our buyer. Our buyer loved not being under pressure from other buyers trying to compete for the same unit. No bidding wars!!

Looking Outside Your Budget

While this is normally discouraged, it has provided us with options when times were tough! In this market it is common to see sellers get extremely confident with their pricing and list way over market value. A unit that should be $350,000 but is listed for $390,000 might miss your search if you set your max budget to $375,000. A few months or even weeks on the market, and they might be willing to accept a decent offer of market value. 

Parking?

Finding a unit that includes parking can often be a huge restriction when searching, depending on the price point. Not every seller originally purchased parking and that can really cut your options down if you MUST have one. We have seen property matches drop by half - or even more! Ask yourself if you really NEED parking? Could you rent a parking spot? I have helped many buyers who have decided it was a better option for them to rent a spot in the building for $150 per month than pay $35,000 upfront plus another $80 per month in extra condo fees. While this isn’t a solution for everyone, knowing these options that you have can make a huge difference.

Consider Renting?

While you won’t hear many agents try to convince you away from buying, sometimes renting is the smarter idea - at least temporarily. We all have those friends who have bought something since it was the only option versus waiting for the right option, and regretted it shortly after. If you don’t love it, then don’t buy it! That being said, renting in this market is almost as difficult, if not worse - but at least you’re not tied to a $400k mortgage.

Need help finding a condo? If you are not already working with another agent, we would love to help. Fill out the form below, or call/txt directly 613-286-9501.

Name *
Name

THE Buyers Guide To Condo Assignments In Ottawa

Guide-To-Buying-Ottawa-Condo-Assignments.jpg

If you are hunting for a condo in Ottawa, you might hear the term assignment, or that a condo is being sold as an “assignment”. While not a typical transaction, purchasing a condo assignment can be a lucrative way to get a great deal, or into a hot building that has no remaining inventory.

What is an assignment?

An assignment is a transfer by the original purchaser (the Assignor) of the original Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) to the new purchaser (the Assignee). This means that they are not selling or buying the actual condo, but rather they are selling or buying their interest in the deal. The new buyer (Assignee) is buying the ability to become the Assignor (original buyer). You often hear assignments referred to as selling “paper” or selling the deal. These can happen for any transaction, however in real estate the majority of times it is for either land assembly (buying numerous lots to create one large one - ie for building a condo development), or for single pre-construction condominiums. In Ottawa, it is rare for people to sell an assignment for a residential freehold (house) simply due to the lead time (only takes 6 months to build a house).

Why do condo assignments occur?

Condominium assignments typically occur for a few reasons. The first thing to remember is that condo units were typically first sold three to four years (or even longer) before the buyer could move in. Often, the original purchasers have had a change in circumstance and no longer want to continue with the purchase. a.k.a. partners, babies, pets, jobs, income, etc. The second reason we see often is that the original purchaser was a speculator who purchased with the intention of assigning the contract to profit from the increase in price or value.

Why can it make sense to purchase an assignment?

Hot building? Purchasing a condo assignment is a way to purchase a condo in a building that has no available inventory. It also is typically cheaper than purchasing the unit once the building has been registered and units are listed for resale. PLUS We have seen assignments that are priced lower than the similar unit that is available from the builder in the same project.

Plus you still have the benefits of buying brand new, such as being eligible for Tarion warranty program, pre-delivery inspections, etc. Compared to re-sale where you might have missed these opportunities.

Important things to know when looking to buy a condo assignment

1. You are buying a pre-construction condo and are taking on all of the risks. Delays, changes to occupancy, changes to the building, or even projects that flop and could be canceled. This also includes any interim occupancy payments. While it is the same risk as buying directly from the builder it is important to take note.

2. The original Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS). When you are buying an assignment, you are replacing the original buyer, and you are taking on all of the terms, conditions, and obligations, that the original buyer agreed to. You are now fully responsible for the purchase. This can include terms that the original buyer might not have cared about, but they might matter to you. It is not possible to renegotiate the terms with the builder.

3. Builder Adjustments or Development Costs. In the original APS it will mention (often clause 6) the adjustments that will be charged by the builder on top of the purchase price. This is no different from buying directly from the builder, but not something you would deal with for a resale property. Usually, these can include development charges, education levies, park levies, initial contribution to the reserve fund, Tarion enrollment, HST on chattels, law society levy, builders solicitors confirmation of deposit letters, etc. These closing costs can easily amount to 1-3% of the original purchase price.

4. Capped Builder Adjustments. Often when purchasing a pre-construction condo from a builder you are able to negotiate and have the builders' adjustments capped (ex $5,000 or $10,000). It is important to know if the original purchaser had negotiated this. While it might seem like a no-brainer, most buyers are not aware it is possible and don’t even ask. Be aware that the cap might not be applicable to the assignee. Every deal and builder is different and this is constantly changing.

5. Deposit. Typically the original buyer (assignor) is looking to mirror the deposit that they have given to the builder. This can be 15% or 20%, which is held in trust until closing. Compared to a re-sale purchase where it can be significantly less. This often rules out assignments for buyers with a smaller downpayment. While this is negotiable between the Assignor and Assignee, it is standard and not typically lower than the original deposit amount.

6. Finishes and Upgrades. Depending on how far along you purchase the assignment, you might not be able to choose the finishes or any upgrades. If they have already been chosen, make sure you like what the Assignor picked out!

7. HST. HST with pre-construction condos can be a complicated beast. Every project can be different, however, it is up to the developer whether to give the HST rebate or have you apply directly to CRA. If the developer believes (or if the original purchaser said it would be for an investment), you will have to pay the HST on closing (and can apply for the rebate after).

8. Closing Costs. The closing costs can be slightly higher compared to a resale property. Legal fees are often higher since the deal is involving two transactions (acquiring the assignment, and the actual closing). Your lawyer should be able to break down the cost in advance.

9. Builder Approval. Every assignment is conditional upon the builder allowing the assignment to happen. Before the assignment is advertised, the assignor will ask the builder for permission. Many builders will not allow their original purchasers the ability to assign contracts. We have seen original APS that state that assignments are allowed, but then a schedule which declares they are not allowed! PLUS if the Assignor is given permission from the builder, there is typically a fee to allow them. We have seen this fee up to $7,000 plus the builder's legal fees of $2,000. While negotiable, this fee is typically the responsibility of the Assignor.

10. Your Team. Have the best team of professionals standing with you to make the purchase. Your lawyer and REALTOR should be experts.

Real estate transactions are complicated to begin with. On an average builder Agreement of Purchase and Sale there can be hundreds of clauses, dozens of schedules, and an endless amount of lawyer talk. The assignment process is more complicated and tricky, using paperwork, terms, and conditions, that doesn’t look anything like the usual APS for a resale condo. When you are looking at purchasing an assignment make sure you have a professional REALTOR well versed with condo assignments who can walk you through the entire process and ensure that you are well protected. If you are looking at buying a condo assignment in Ottawa, fill out the form below to chat!

Name *
Name

Matt Richling x Ottawa Citizen - What You Should Know About Buying A Condo In Ottawa

Matt was asked about some of the things to look out for when purchasing a condo in Ottawa. CLICK HERE to read the full article.

"Matt Richling, an Ottawa real estate agent, says prospective buyers should also check with the people who live in the building by knocking on doors or connecting on social media to find out more about the “culture” of the condo. “A condo, in theory, is a city within a city,” he says. “Neighbours are the most important thing when you’re buying a house, and that’s the same here. Instead of living the next plot over, you’re sharing a small wall with neighbours.”

Richling, though, says that being engaged in the financial and physical health of the building is crucial, and that means attending meetings.
“It’s the biggest thing,” he says. “Be involved. Think about what’s important to you.”

Thinking about buying a condo in Ottawa? Let's chat!

Buying An Ottawa Property As A Non-Resident Buyer or Investor

With the recent shift in taxation for non-resident buyers in Vancouver, more foreign investors are looking to purchase Ottawa properties. While Canada has no restrictions on who can purchase, the type of real estate, or the amount of properties, the largest issue for the non-resident is typically finance related. Some banks have limits on the number of properties, the amount of money to lend, or won't lend to outside residents. This is typically why the conversation begins with getting the financing sorted. If you are looking to purchase a property without any financing, this will make the process much easier and faster. 

Financing and Mortgage Information for Non-Residents 

When working with banks and lenders as a non-resident each bank might have different rules that they set, and some will be more strict than others. Typically to purchase an Ottawa property, Canadian banks require that 35% of the purchase price of the home be paid for in cash (some require over 50%!), which is called the downpayment. This downpayment amount typically can't be from gifted funds and sourced back for minimum 30 days in a Canadian bank account. The majority of the banks will trace the source of the down payment 90 days back. The bank or lender will usually also require other supporting documents like an employment letter to verify your job income, bank statements, Canadian credit check, etc. The financing rates for non-residents are the same rates that Candian residents would have. Keep in mind there are "B" or secondary lenders who would charge a higher rate, but have different eligibility requirements.  

If you are not familiar with a mortgage broker in Ottawa to assist with your purchase, I can refer you to one who has helped numerous non-resident clients purchase an Ottawa property.

Ottawa Property Purchase Process For Non-Residents

The first step in finding a home or investment property in Ottawa is to contact us so we can get the process started. I have helped numerous non-resident clients purchase in Ottawa. Today we can get quite far with tools like Facetime and video calling, to talk and explain or even viewing properties. Once we have a good idea of what exactly you are looking for, we will make sure that you have the financing side ready. Once you have the green light from a bank or lender, then we start getting you familiar with the different areas or neighbourhoods, along with different styles of properties in Ottawa. We then start viewing things first hand If you have family member or friend already living in Canada, or send an assistant ahead to start looking and seeing properties directly. Since it can be quite costly to travel, we try to do as much ground work before you arrive to allow a much smoother and efficient time while you are here. While you do not need to be in Canada to purchase a property, if you are going to require a mortgage then most banks will require you to have a Canadian bank account which will have to be opened in person. 

Once we find a property that you love, we put together an offer to purchase called the "Agreement of Purchase and Sale" which has all of the specific details of the purchase. These details include the price, the closing date (when you get the keys), what is included in the property (chattels and fixtures), the deposit (explained below), and any clauses and conditions. The clauses and conditions are the extra details that would be specific to you and the property - such as a condition of financing which would give you seven days to secure the mortgage from the bank for that specific property. If for some reason you are not able to fulfill the conditions, you are able to be released from the agreement. 

The deposit is an amount that accompanies an offer and must be delivered to the other agent usually within 24 hours of the offer being accepted. This deposit amount will vary depending on the property location and price, but is usually anywhere from one percent of the purchase price to five percent. This amount is held in trust by the listing brokerage and is taken into account for your down payment from the mortgage. Typically the funds can be paid by certified cheque, or by wire transfer.

A typical condition to the purchase is having a home inspector visit the property to find any defects or issues that are with the property or that you could expect in the future. The cost for this is between $350 to $550 depending on the property size and location. I can send you a list of highly qualified home inspectors to choose from to help you get a better idea of the property.

To sign the offer, you can choose to print, sign, scan, and send back the document or you can sign digitally. As of July 1st, 2015, electronic signatures are legal in Ontario and allowed to be used for purchasing property. I use digital signatures daily and the majority of clients prefer the ease, which allows them to quickly sign on their tablet or smartphone. 

To take ownership of the property, you do not need to be in Canada and can use a notary public in your current country. Keep in mind that a Canadian lawyer can provide you with the specific requirements depending on where you are located. 

Closing Costs for Ottawa Home or Condo

You will be subject to the same closing costs as a Canadian resident, which includes land transfer  taxes and legal fees. However as a non-resident you will not qualify for the first-time buyer program or land tax rebates. Legal fees will vary depending on the lawyer and purchase price, but you should budget about $1,800 which can include the disbursements. These disbursements are costs that the lawyer encounters such as Title Insurance ($200-$400), Land Transfer Tax, Property Tax adjustment (for the amount paid by the seller beyond the closing date), any adjustments for Utilities or Condo Fees, etc. The lawyer will give you an exact cost breakdown before closing. Keep in mind that many cities outside of Ottawa have additional Land Transfer Taxes or a "welcome tax", but this is not the case in Ottawa.

Ottawa Investment Property For Non-Residents

When looking at an Investment property in Ottawa the returns can vary widely. Some of our clients are focused on cash flow, while others are focused on building equity in the property from the mortgage being paid by the tenant, and others are focused on the appreciation in the property value. Generally speaking, investors in Ottawa are cash flow positive with a 20% downpayment (depending on the property) and yield 4-6% gross return.

If you are looking to move to Ottawa and have questions about the process, the area, or something that wasn't answered above, fill out the form below. 

Name *
Name

Underground Condo Parking In Ottawa

As I write this, the weather channel is predicting almost 24 hours of straight snowfall with 25-35cm of snow. Last week we had the record 52 cm which fell in just over a 24 hour period. Yuck. This is that time of year when those who have underground heated parking are very happy - just jump into a warm car, with no snow to remove, or ice to scrape off.  

Underground Parking Ottawa Condo

The Basics

Most apartment style condo buildings have at least one level of underground parking in Ottawa while typically town house or up/down split style condos, have outdoor surface parking spots. The number of spots each developer must build will mostly depend on the zoning. Most spots are a standard width, and can fit a standard car (but not all buildings are the same - more on this later).

The parking garage typically has access to the main elevators (older buildings might have a separate elevator), along with some of the storage locker rooms and bicycle rooms or area. They typically are heated and ventilated. 

The Cost

When looking at pre-construction the price of a parking spot will first depend on the type of condominium (townhouse or highrise). For example - Valecraft Homes is including one outdoor parking spot for free with the unit purchase at Woodroffe Lofts and a second spot can be purchased for $10,000. Compared to Claridge who is offering an underground parking spot at an additional cost of $35,000 per space at Claridge Icon. 

Next, the cost might rise depending on location within the parking garage. Some builders will offer the premium spaces on level 1 for $5-15,000 more per space - on top of the $35,000. Not every builder does this, some save the premium spots for the large or penthouse units.

Keep in mind, there is also a monthly cost in addition to the purchase price. Since your percentage of ownership goes up in the building, your condo fees will rise as well. Some pre-construction buildings will project an additional $35-45 per month, while parking spots in some re-sale buildings can add $60-90 per month to your condo fee.

While no developer will share the true cost to build a spot, we have always been told it was more than they typically charged, up to almost double to cost - depending on how many levels below ground they need to go. Obviously outdoor surface spots will be a fraction of the cost, since there is less involved in the construction. Zoning requires a certain amount of spots be built per unit. It can range from 0.5 to 0.7 parking spots per unit - or more further outside the downtown core.

Restrictions

Keep in mind that not every unit is able to purchase parking when buying pre-construction.  Since the builder will build as few spots as possible, they will restrict which units can or can not purchase a spot. Typically this restriction falls on the smallest units. Assuming that the smaller unit is less likely to have a vehicle, compared to the large units with multiple residents who might require two etc.  Most builders will have a list for when larger units opt out of the spot, to allow the smaller unit owners the chance to purchase. However, when the building is handed over to the owners, you are then able to purchase a spot from another owner. 

Differences

Parking Garage Condo Ottawa

Obviously not every building is the same, and often these differences can be found underground. Some buildings include visitor parking - The East Market (180 York, 383 Cumberland, 179 George) shares 23 overnight or long term visitor parking spots and 12 short term spots. Builders started including spots for car share services such as VRTUCAR which allows the owner to have 24 hour access to a shared vehicle - without the cost of gas, insurance, and maintenance. Great if you walk to work and never use your car. If you are willing to spend extra, you can even find Valet parking! Windmill's The Eddy features "puzzle parking" system which mechanically parks your car for you. This allows the developer to have more spaces and lower the overall cost. 

No parking space is the same, some have posts or walls on each side, some have plumbing or ventilation equipmenthanging down. This is why it is important to choose your spot carefully, or atleast see it in person if possible. Many owners with larger vehicles (pickup truck or large SUV's) need to make sure they can even enter the garage! Always check it out!

Buying and Selling Parking

While not every building is the same (consult your lawyer), typically each unit (condo, locker, and parking) are all separate. Each one has a separate Property Information Number or PIN which allows you to buy and sell them / they are not fixed to that certain condo. We regularly will list parking spots and even lockers apart from the condo unit on the MLS. Depending on the building, the unit, and the selling strategy. Since it is re-sale, the price is negotiable - however remember that you can't just add the cost on your mortgage, you would need to pay cash. Typically we see spots selling for $24-35,000 depending on the building, location of the spot, and demand for parking. Lockers will typically sell anywhere from $4-7,000 per. 

That small square painted on the ground - Its never just as simple as it might seem. 

Questions about parking? Thinking of buying pre-construction or a condo in Ottawa? I would love to help you out. 

What's in my condo's concrete floor?

Construction Photo from Richcraft of the 16th Floor of The Bowery on January 28th!

Construction Photo from Richcraft of the 16th Floor of The Bowery on January 28th!

Often it is easy to forget how much work is involved in the construction of a building, and how exactly the buildings are built. Here is a quick example of the construction process for the concrete slabs (or floor) of a concrete highrise condominium. These are all from The Bowery and give you a great sense of what could be in your floor and ceiling.

The main "squares" or woven material is the steel rebar or rod's which provide the strength and woven together throughout every area. Once that is complete all of the tubing and conduits are run for each unit. The red is hot water, blue is cold water, and the grey is electrical along with "other" cables such as fire, audio/visual etc. Some builders run extra to different rooms since it is nearly impossible after the concrete is set.

The rebar (steel rod's) sticking up are to connect vertical concrete walls and columns that support the floor above. The photo below, shows a finished slab that is curing (drying). It gives you a better idea of a more finished product - you can see the vertical rebar for support columns/walls, and the plumbing and other conduits.

Fact - Most concrete subfloors are between 7-10 inches thick, which doesn't include any flooring or subflooring - just the concrete! 

Breaking News - Change to Minimum Downpayments In Ottawa

Earlier today the Finance Minister announced a big change to CMHC-backed mortgages over $500,000. Starting February 15th, 2016, purchasing an Ottawa properties over $500,000 will require a minimum downpayment of 10% instead of the current 5%. However, this only applies to the portion above $500,000. 

This change will not affect
- those who are purchasing under $500,000.
- those who are renewing regardless of being over $500,000

This change was put into place to ensure security in riskier transactions, specifically in markets such as Toronto and Vancouver. The government claims that this should only impact about 1% of Canadians.

Looking for more information about buying or selling, or just want to talk about how these changes could affect you? Fill out the form below.

Name *
Name

Do I Need A Concierge In My Condo Building?

One of the first impressions that you will have as a buyer is often when you enter the lobby and are greeted by the concierge. Big smile and a friendly "hello" go a long way. However not all condo buildings in Ottawa have someone sitting in the lobby. In fact there are only a couple buildings in Ottawa that have a true concierge. Those buildings that have someone in the lobby, typically employ security guards who also handle resident requests (move-in's, packages, etc.).

Up until recently, having someone at the front lobby was a big bonus for a number of reasons: 
- Ensure security, and are able to see who is coming and going, plus keep an eye on the common area's.
- Handle move-ins and elevator/loading areas.
- Pass keys or assist with entry for cleaners or repair persons. 
- Booking or reserving common area's.
- Receive packages and oversized mail/deliveries. 

The biggest one for me aside from providing the extra bit of security, was helping receive packages and deliveries. Online shopping is on the rise and having to track down a parcel after it has been "attempted" to be delivered is a huge pain. 

Ottawa Condo Canada Post Parcel Box

Enter Canada Post!

The photo on the right is in the lobby for 205 Bolton (Sussex Square) which is one of the downtown buildings that you will find the Canada Post Parcel Box. This now allows them to securely leave oversized boxes and packages, without making you head to the nearest pickup location! 

The mail person leaves a notice in your mailbox along with the key for the specific box that contains your package. Then once retrieved just drop the key back in the slot, and voila!

Obviously, the parcel box does not say Hi, or it wont hold the door when you have your hands full, but it's a start! You can find the boxes in a number of buildings across Ottawa, typically next to the mail room.

As a buyer, do you feel that you need a concierge? 

Truth about Barbecues on Condo Balconies in Ottawa

Ottawa Condo BBQ Allowed

The one thing I can count on when showing units, is being asked if the building allows owners/renters to operate a barbecue on the balcony. Usually here in Ottawa, the answer is no. With about 90% of the high rise buildings across the city having a rule, bylaw, or ban, on non electric BBQ's.

Most clients, owners in the building, and believe it or not, even other professionals, believe that it is the city or the builder that has created a by-law against it. People have suggested to me that it is because of the smoke from the barbecue, and how it would draft into another unit, or that the architect didn't follow local building code. I have heard many different "ideas" as to why, but the true reason is actually quite simple. And no, there is not a municipal bylaw that restricts the use of barbeques on balconies here in the city of Ottawa.

Here is an example from 200 Besserer Rules and Regulations (note this would only permit electric barbecues on PH unit terraces and balconies):

5. (d) No barbecues may be operated on any part of the common elements, including any part designated to be for exclusive use of a unit owner, including balconies, terraces and patios except for electric barbecues on the balconies attached to each dwelling unit on the upper penthouse floor in the building.

Here is an example from the 234 Rideau "Welcome Book":

- Barbecues on balconies must be electric.
- Charcoal and Propane BBQ's are prohibited.

Typically they are not allowed, because the TSSA or Technical Standards and Safety Authority has set rules in place that the condo corporation cant properly enforce. This means that for the condo board, its easier to lay a blanket rule than risk having the rule broken and being fined. 

Which rule?

  • propane cylinders are to be transported in a service elevator or, when there are no service elevators, the person must use the passenger elevator alone to transport the cylinder

How to get around it?

A few builders have listened, and have made BBQ's available on the balconies. To get around the by-laws, they install natural gas lines to the stoves and to the balconies. Some charge a few thousand extra for the upgrade, but something I would gladly pay. Other options are having an electric BBQ or by having a shared natural BBQ in a common area.

At the end of the day, if having a barbecue on your balcony is important to you, tell your lawyer to look into the status certificate and find out if they are allowed. Looking for a condo and want to make sure it has a BBQ? Lets chat, I would love to help out.

Why should I use an agent to help buy my Ottawa Home or Condo?

011kit3.jpg

Anyone can purchase a home, but buying the wrong home, without proper research, knowledge and information, can be immeasurable.

With a surge of online resources and increasing for-sale-by-owner market, it is not surprising that some buyers consider a DIY attitude when looking at Ottawa condos or homes. 

For most people, a real estate professional is an indispensable partner in the home-buying process. While buyers today are more educated and have more tools, all the research in the worlds can't match an experienced agent's understanding of the market. When the market, buildings, and trends are changing on a day to day basis, you should go to someone that is kept up to date on this information. Simple information that is not going to be found online, like building issues, or past/upcoming special assessments, stigmatized properties, the list goes on.

The real estate agent is completely objective and professional when discussing their opinion of the property being considered for purchase unlike a parent, spouse or best friend. A good agent should be able to walk you through both, pro's and con's of every property.

The buyer's agent fee is typically compensated by the seller, which means that as a buyer you have nothing to loose and everything to gain by tapping the expertise of an agent. 

Are you looking for more information about using the services of Matt Richling as your buyer's agent?

Name *
Name

Pets In Ottawa Condos

A renovated condo at  324 Laurier Ave  by   Kariouk Associates  featuring dog bowl (repurposed urinal).

A renovated condo at 324 Laurier Ave by Kariouk Associates featuring dog bowl (repurposed urinal).

When working with a client, one of the common questions I receive about a building or a property is regarding pets, and are they allowed in the building. While most buildings in Ottawa allow pets, there are a few condo buildings that have pet restrictions. If you are looking to buy and have a four legged friend, there are a few things to note before you sign on the dotted line.

Tell your agent. Before you head out looking, make sure to express to your agent that you have a pet, and that you will be taking the pet with you. While most buildings will be okay with pets, some are not, and it would be best to know before falling in love with a unit. Your agent will know, or be able to find out what the stance of the building is on pets. 

Tell your lawyer. While the lawyer is reviewing the status certificate, they will review the bylaws of the building. This is when they would be able to tell you that there are certain bylaws that restrict pets, certain pets, or not at all. Even if your agent has given the go ahead, a second set of eyes that can ensure the building is okay with pets, never hurts. 

Matt and his partner with their Weim "Ella"

Matt and his partner with their Weim "Ella"

Keep in mind - you might see an owner with a dog in the lobby, but that doesn't mean pets are allowed. Rules are constantly changing, and it is always best to consult the building bylaws for the correct and up to date rules. EXAMPLE: 199 Kent Street or Kent Towers, has recently changed the ruling for dogs in the building. However a number of owners had pets already, so they were "grandfathered" which would allow them to stay even though the building has a pet restriction.

Other restrictions might be size or weight of the pet ( no pets over 50lbs, or some even 25.5lbs!). Some buildings restrict amount of pets (no more than one pet), height restriction (20 inches or less), and even type of pet. 

Are you a pet owner looking to make a move, and not sure if the condo life will work? We lived in our condo when we had Ella as a puppy. I would love to answer any questions!

Need A Parking Spot? What To Expect!

If you purchased a condo in Ottawa with only one parking spot (or without any spot), and now need a second spot, there are a number of different ways to go about it.

Many developers place a limit on which units are able to purchase parking, and many buildings have much fewer parking to condo units. For those who need parking, it can add an additional and difficult check box to tick off when looking to buy. Often it can be easier to focus on which unit you want first, and then acquire parking after you close. For those who need parking, there are a number of different ways to get a parking spot. depending on if you need a shorter solution, or a more permanent one, you are able to rent or even buy a spot.

Renting

For many, renting a parking spot is the easiest way to acquire parking in the building. Renting makes it affordable, and less of a financial commitment. A parking spot can range from $80 to over $200 per month, per spot. There are many factors that can determine the cost of a spot in Ottawa such as the location of the building, which floor the spot is located on, distance to elevator, and if their are any fans or pipes that block part of the space. Supply and demand can also influence the price (more spots = lower price). Usually parking spots for rent can be found on notice boards, by asking security or concierge, or even  found in the building's facebook group. 

TIP: Often if you are able to pay up front for a longer period of time, you can get additional savings.

Buying

While not easy for many to do, the other option to acquire a parking spot is to purchase one. In order to do this, the building must have each unit, parking, and locker, registered under separate PINS. This allows each unit, parking, or locker to be sold separately. Typically cost is between $30,000 to $35,000 but depending on the building and location of the spot, the price does range. Keep in mind that it is open to negotiation, so if the seller really needs to sell, then you might get a good deal.

The main issue with buying the spot, is how you will have to pay for it. Essentially you need to pay cash for the parking spot, and most people do not have an extra $35,000 just laying around. If you are like most and do not have a large hidden supply of cash, or if your dream condo does not have a parking spot, you might still be in luck. PPPI Mortgages, or Purchase Price Plus Improvements is a product that will allow the bank to finance the purchase the parking spot into the mortgage, since it will improve the overall value of the unit. Keep in mind there are a number of regulations and rules, so speak to a mortgage broker if this interests you.

Things To Remember

While for many that work downtown, it might seem like a perfect solution to the parking problem to rent one of the available spots from a near by condo building. However, many (if not all) condo corporations have by-laws in place that restrict someone from owning, renting, or purchasing, if they do not reside in the building. So if you have a spot to rent or sell, remember that you will need to sell it so someone who lives in the building.

If you have any questions about parking, or Ottawa condos in general, I would love to chat. Click Here.

SoBa Update + Final Pre-Construction Sale

soba-construction-starts ottawa.jpg

**For updated information about SoBa Condos, check out the dedicated section with regularly updated construction and sales information. CLICK HERE to view.**

Lamb Development Corp has officially announced date for the start of construction. Starting on March 1st, the sales office will close and construction will begin. Currently the building is at 86% sold out, with a good selection of units still remaining. In order to start the next phase with a bang, Lamb is offering a "Final Pre-Construction Promo" of up to $50,000 off prices depending on the size of the unit. Official amount ranges from $13,000 for the smallest unit, up to $50,000 off for the penthouse unit.

Interested in getting more information about SoBa condo units, or purchasing a condo in Ottawa? Let's chat!

Ottawa Citizen Article - Condo Roundup - Take Aways

The Ottawa Citizen published an article today about the condo market in Ottawa, along with some insider forecasts on the current and future market. You can read the full article here. I have summarized the important take aways, then going to run through exactly what it means for buyers, sellers, and everyone else. 

Coles Notes:
- CMHC reports lowest condo construction starts this year since 2009.
- CMHC says the unsold inventory is to blame
- CMHC forecasts another smaller decline in 2015, then rallying back in 2016
- An industry analyst (from PMA Brethour Realty Group) predicts condos will represent ~18% of sales in 2014, compared to 25% in 2013, 29% in 2012.
- PMA blames poorer job prospects, and more cautious first time buyers, and investors are buying less than previous years, are maxed out, or scared by still-increasing prices.
- PMA sees condo sales increasing over the next year when first time buyers return to market. 

What exactly does this mean for those looking to buy in Ottawa?

Donald Trump is famous for saying you make money in the buy, not the sell. During the meltdown in the USA, Warren Buffett was advising to buy residential real estate before prices went back up. Over the next year or so, CMHC along with other analysts, are expecting the market to continue to soften, and then start to rise again. If you are in the market to buy, there is no better feeling then knowing the prices are going to lower (allowing you to buy low), and then rise. Obviously, you want to take your time and find the perfect place, at the best price, that suits you and your future. *NOTE* Plan on holding your property for at least three years, (preferably five), other wise the costs will outweigh your benefits. So think hard and long about your future or if uncertain, at least look at units that can cover the costs by renting it out. This also means the style of property. Are you dating? Chances are that 500sqft unit wont work for the future couple. Want a dog or kid? same thing. Think ahead and save yourself down the road.

What exactly does this mean for those looking to sell in Ottawa?

Certainly not great if you purchased your condo since 2009 and are looking to sell in the next year or two. You have more competition, and harder pricing. You will need to make your property stand out among the rest, and be willing to work with a buyer for a sale. ***Chances are, you have/will never heard/hear an agent say this but....*** if you can hold out, do it. Wait it out. This is the opposite of what we are "supposed" to say, but this is your largest investment - treat it as such. While you wait, the mortgage is getting paid down, and you will have more room later on. THE FLIP SIDE of this, if you need to sell, take the hit now (hopefully as small as possible), and find a great deal that will have a better return. 

What does this mean for those who are just checking in, with no immediate plans to buy or sell?

Don't panic. Everything goes up and down, and while we have seen a slow but constant increase, corrections are due to happen. Re-evaluate your life plan and see how your living situation will fit in the property over the next four or five years. Then try and plan accordingly. 

Do you want to chat about planing to buy? Or make a plan to reduce the hit you will take when selling? I would love to help you out, click the button below.

Matt Richling Ottawa Condos For Sale.jpg

Written by Matt Richling

Matt is a licensed salesperson at RE/MAX Metro City Realty in Ottawa, Canada. Matt loves helping sellers and buyers find the perfect home that fits their lifestyle. 

Bought our Ottawa home, When do we get the keys?

Papers are signed, deal is done, inspector has gone through.... Congrats!

As the days get closer, you will start to plan the move, and life at your new home. Things like moving company, internet, and any renovations, will all need to be co-ordinated in advance. Most of this planing will revolve around the house and having access to the house - aka needing the keys. When exactly will you get the keys in Ottawa?

The biggest mistake that first time buyers make, is booking things for closing day. 90 percent of the time, you wont receive the keys till the afternoon, or most likely 3pm till 5pm. That is if the deal closes when it is supposed to (keep in mind that there are many reasons why it might not close on time). This means do not book Rogers to hook up the internet on the afternoon of closing, because if you don't have the keys, chances are the next open appointment wont be for a week (at least that would be my luck).

Moving companies are a little different, and are used to the process. Make sure to be clear and let them know when you should expect the keys and best to book them for after 5pm, depending on traffic etc. I would always prefer to have a little time before the movers get there to look over the house and enjoy it.

If you can, try and take the day off work. There will be enough stress, that the last thing you need is a work deadline, or annoying co-worker.

Good luck!


Written by Matt Richling

Matt is a licensed salesperson at RE/MAX Metro City Realty in Ottawa, Canada. Matt loves helping sellers and buyers find the perfect home that fits their lifestyle. 

What to expect on closing day in Ottawa for a first time buyer!?

First of all, congratulations on getting this far.

If you are like me, you are probably reading this the night or so before closing day, and are trying to figure what your upcoming day will be like. Well the good news is that most of the possible issues or problems have most likely already happened, or out of your control.  What that means is, you shouldn't find out on closing day, that you didn't get financing (that was the week leading up to closing!). So... GO TO SLEEP. No point in being tired and cranky!

Most likely you have either signed the paperwork already (a day or two earlier) with the lawyer, or will be doing it all on closing day. They would have set up a time for you to come in, and would have told you the amount that you will need in a certified cheque or bank draft. This amount is always more than you think it is going to be (closing costs, lawyer fee's, etc), so do NOT guess it. They will tell you exactly what it will be. If there is a difference in the amount, the lawyer will send you a cheque after closing with all the closing documents. Make sure to bring ID, and anything else that they have requested from you. While going through all the paperwork with the lawyer, don't feel rushed. Make sure to ask for clarification, or to have the lawyer run through it with you. Everyone makes mistakes and better to catch them now, then find out later. Also helps you better when you understand what you are signing and why.

Once the paperwork is signed, the lawyers need to send the funds, register the sale, etc. Legally the lawyer is not able to release the keys until everything is completed. Usually this is sometime in the late afternoon, 3pm-5pm. Since the registry office (yes... it is all online now) closes at 5pm, they will rush to do it last minute or have to wait till next day. What this also means, is don't plan on moving in, mid-day. Many people will book the internet to be installed, and then find out they don't have the keys yet. Best to schedule everything the next day, when you are more likely to have the keys.

If you are closing on a work day and won't be able to sign or grab the keys, let everyone know this. Let your agent and your lawyer know, so they can make alternate arrangements. Most law offices close at 5pm, so would suck not to be able to get the keys!

While it can be stressful, try and enjoy the experience. It is all part of the process of home ownership!

Questions about what to expect? Click on the button below to contact me, I would love to help!


Written by Matt Richling

Matt is a licensed salesperson at RE/MAX Metro City Realty in Ottawa, Canada. Matt loves helping sellers and buyers find the perfect home that fits their lifestyle. 

Canadian Military Relocation Policy Changes!

Photo cred -  Jennifer Molleson

Photo cred - Jennifer Molleson

After a number of local high-profile news stories that showed same-city moves with very high expenses, a change has been announced for the Canadian Military Relocation Policy.

The federal government will no longer cover moving costs for retiring members who are relocating within a 40km radius. This change will align the IPR policy with those of the other federal departments and agencies. The Department of National Defence said they will make "compassionate exceptions for medical reasons and extenuating personal circumstances".

The policy was originally designed to allow soldiers and their families to expense on final move when they retire so they can choose where they will live. Having multiple family members in the Canadian military, I understand how difficult in can be to find the perfect house on a HHT (house hunting trip), especially if your spouse is unable to make the trip as well. 

If you have been posted to Ottawa, and are getting prepared for your house hunting trip, I would love to help. Click the button below to have me contact you directly.


Matt Richling Closeup.jpg

Written by Matt Richling.

Matt is a licensed salesperson at RE/MAX Metro City Realty in Ottawa, Canada. Matt loves helping sellers and buyers find the perfect home or condo that fits their lifestyle. Having helped numerous military families and with immediate family in the Canadian military, Matt understands what you need and what you are looking for when you are posted in or out of Ottawa.

Smart House Ottawa - Amenities

Smart House Ottawa - Building and Unit Amenities

Clever spaces, smartly designed to maximize space

Birds eye view of the amenities for Smart House Ottawa.

Birds eye view of the amenities for Smart House Ottawa.

Creating an amenities space that acts like an extension of your unit, will provide you with much more enjoyment. At Smart House Ottawa, Urban Capital has done that, bringing features that you would expect and allow you to live, exercise, lounge, and be social, all while at home. Just because you live in a micro-condo doesn't mean your social life does as well.

Interior Amenities
- Party room containing kitchen and screening area, opening onto the outdoor terrace, with wireless high-speed internet access
- Fully equipped fitness room including free weights, weight machines and state-of-the-art cardio equipment, and adjacent yoga/stretching area
-Office/productivity centre, containing large-format printer (on a "fee for service" basis), and conference room
- "Product Library", for residents to rent useful household items

Outdoor Amenities
- Outdoor terrace located on the second floor, adjacent to the indoor amenity area, with intimate lounge seating areas surrounding gas fire pits, barbecues, dining tables, freeform plantings and landscaping

Building Amenities/Features
- Two residential elevators
- Underground heated parking (accessed from Flora st)
- Executive concierge service
- "Enterphone" security system in lobby, along with fob-based access system
- All suites have water efficient toilets, faucets and shower heads
- All units will be individually metered for all utilities, allowing occupants to control their personal electricity, water, and energy usage.

Smart House Ottawa building amenities as seen from the outside. (note that the exterior amenities were removed from this rendering for visual effect)

Smart House Ottawa building amenities as seen from the outside. (note that the exterior amenities were removed from this rendering for visual effect)

Step inside the units and you will understand why they are called "Smart" and space saving. By using high quality products that utilize space saving design, you are able to have that "big house feel" inside your condo. Using a fully-integrated Liebherr 24" refrigerator (the same ones used in SoHo Lisgar, and SoHo Parkway), Porter & Charles 12" two burner smooth cook top(when was the last time you used four burners at once?), 1.5 cubic foot stainless steel microwave-oven, and Fisher & Paykel 24" single tall-tub dishwasher drawer - your kitchen has high-end european appliances right where you want them. Both the AEG architectural hood fan, and integrated cutting board, are both tucked away so you wont notice them.  Even the European-style Porter & Charles 24" washer/condensing dryer is space saving, taking up a fraction of the space a normal set would use! When not in use, all you see is a modern clean space.

Smart House Ottawa Kitchen was fully designed to save space and look good. 

Smart House Ottawa Kitchen was fully designed to save space and look good. 

smart-kitchen-closed2.jpg

Looking for advice about floor plans, views, pricing, etc? I would love to help you out, just fill out the form below. 

Name *
Name


Written by Matt Richling

Matt is a licensed salesperson at RE/MAX Metro City Realty in Ottawa, Canada. Matt loves helping sellers and buyers find the perfect home that fits their lifestyle. 

Why Ottawa Real Estate Buyers Must Be Tech Savvy in 2014

The Importance of Technology for Today's Real Estate Buyers in Ottawa

There is a ton of discussion about becoming more tech savvy for the real estate industry in Ottawa as new websites and apps come out, but is technology really going to help you when looking to buy your condo or home?

Lets take a look at exactly why you will, and should, be using technology as an important tool during your hunt.

You will see properties first.

One of the first tools I will use as a real estate agent with my clients is the "Auto Notification" emails for new listings. This service automatically sends you an email of the new property (and price changes) as soon as the agent publishes the listing on our back end MLS (called MLX). This email can give you advanced notice before other buyers, sometimes up to 24 hours, before it will be uploaded to the public MLS. This is a HUGE advantage, especially if it is a hot property or in high demand. 

You will save time.

Recently, the Ottawa Real Estate Board added a feature that allows us agents to upload more  property photos (used to be only ten photos). This alone gives you a better idea of the space, and if it is right for you. Plus over the last few years, Video Tours and the horrible looking "visual tours" have started to become more used, which give you an even BETTER feel into the property and how it flows. All of this to help you decide if the property is right for you, faster, without wasting time to see every property first hand.

You will save MORE time.

Real estate and paperwork, used to go hand in hand. A few years ago, you would set a time to meet your agent, then print, sign, scan, send or fax, print, etc. the agreement, each time we needed to make a change. Now, by using program called DocuSign, I can use digital signatures to cut the time to fractions to get a counter offer. Plus, for the clients who spend the weekend at the cottage, boat, or ski hill, they can spend more time enjoying life rather than dealing with paperwork. Minutes rather than hours, not to mention a much better looking agreement at the end. However, in Ontario, digital signatures for the purchase agreement are still not allowed to be used. We can still use them for everything else such as the listing, buyer, ID verification, etc.

More information.

As an agent, I am also able to add "attachments" to the listing.  These attachments can include great information such as any pre-list building inspections, surveys, floor plans, utility bills, etc. (not every agent uploads this information, so every property is different). Keep in mind they are only accessible by real estate agents who are a member of the Ottawa Real Estate Board, since they usually contain private information. The more information you and your agent have, the better when it comes time to negotiate.

Better organized

When you head out and see ten or even five listings, it can be difficult to keep track of each specific thing you liked or disliked for every home.  It is very easy, very common, and almost expected for first time buyers to have problems keeping track. While I have my own tools and techniques that I have learned and use, every buyer will benefit from keeping notes as they go, to help later when looking back and comparing. Apps or tools like Evernote, can easily become your best friend during the hunt. Allowing you to take photos, videos, emails, notes, attachments and throw it all into an easy to find folder for later use.  

Okay, so it's not a guarantee, but the more tech savvy you are as a buyer, the better chances you will have to find that perfect Ottawa home. Can I help you find your home? 


Written by Matt Richling

Matt is a licensed salesperson at RE/MAX Metro City Realty in Ottawa, Canada. Matt loves helping sellers and buyers find the perfect home that fits their lifestyle.