First Time Buyer

First Time Home Buyers Incentive - Full Details Announced

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Earlier this year, the government announced a plan to help first time home buyers enter the market and help reduce their monthly mortgage carrying costs. There was no in depth information provided, and a large amount of speculation about what exactly it could include or who would be eligible.

This week, the government provided all of the details. Launching September 2nd, 2019, the first time home buyer plan is aimed at providing a 5% or 10% shared equity mortgage with the Government, which will act as part of the deposit.

More in-depth
- Total qualifying income must be no more than $120,000 and your total borrowing is limited to four times the qualifying income.
- At least one of the persons on title must be a first-time buyer (keep in mind this is also valid for those who did not own within 4 years)
- Total borrowing (including the incentive amount) is limited to four times the qualifying income.
- The incentive will be a second mortgage that is registered on the title of the property.
- There will be no regular principal payments, it is not interest bearing, and a maximum term of 25 years.
- The incentive is offered at 5% or 10% for a new construction home or condo, or only 5% for a existing re-sale home or condo.
- Property must close on or after November 1st, 2019
- Property can be a 1-4 unit residential property (hello investors), and must be available for full-time, year-round occupancy (no cottages).
- The first time buyer will be required to repay the incentive after 25 years or when the property is sold (or sooner without penalty). Refinancing will not trigger re-payment.
- Repayment is calculated at property’s fair market value at time of re-payment. If you took a 5% incentive, you would pay back 5% of the homes value at the time of repayment.


Olivia wants to buy a new condo for $400,000.

Under this incentive, Olivia can apply to receive $40,000 in a shared equity mortgage (10% of the cost). This is on top of the minimum required downpayment of 5% ($20,000) that she must provide from her savings.

This lowers her monthly expenses, and the amount that she is borrowing. As a result, Olivias mortgage is now reduced by $228 less per month or $2,736 a year.

When Olivia sells her home for $420,000 she would have to pay back the incentive of 10% which is now $42,000.

Do we like it?
This is a great tool for someone who wants to lower their monthly carrying costs. It might not be a great tool for someone in a larger market with higher average prices. Every situation is different and even if you qualify, this might not be a good fit.

Do you have questions about if the new first time home buying incentive is a good fit for you? Let’s chat. Call, txt, email, or fill out the form below.

Name *

What is a PDI or Pre-Delivery Inspection?


Often you will hear people in Ottawa throwing around the term PDI - Which stands for pre-delivery inspection. When you purchase a brand new condo (or home) you will be enrolled in the seven-year Tarion Warranty program. Before you take occupancy (move in), you will do an "inspection" of the entire unit with the builder. This is a comprehensive inspection where you may also be demonstrated on how to operate the home's systems such as plumbing, heating, and cooling. 

Any item that is damaged, missing, incomplete, or not operating correctly, should be noted on the PDI form that the builder will provide, which will verify that these conditions existed prior to occupancy. Some units have many small problems, some have very few. This is a chance for the builder to correct any issues before you take occupancy. Once the inspection is over, you will be asked to sign the PDI form.

Some examples that we have seen first hand are:
- tiles or flooring installed incorrectly or damaged
- appliances missing or damaged
- cabinet trim missing or damaged
- windows damaged
- baseboard trim damaged or missing
- poor paint or drywall mudding
- drywall nail pops
- counters missing or damaged
- the list goes on...

Keep in mind that the PDI is to establish that the problem existed before you moved in. If it is not mentioned on the PDI form, then it may be difficult to establish that the issue did not happen after you moved in and after you have occupancy. If there are any items that are not corrected by the time you move in, they need to be listed on a 30-day or year-end form. These forms represent a request for a warranty service and listed items that are covered under warranty that must be addressed by the builder within a specific amount of time.

If you are unable to make the PDI, you can always ask the builder and try to change the date. If that is not possible, you are able to send a designate (such as your real estate agent or friend/family member) - just provide your builder with written authority to sign the PDI form. 

Check out our post with tips for doing your PDI inspection - CLICK HERE.

Questions about buying condos in Ottawa? I would love to chat. Fill out the form below and ask away!

Condo Fees - What exactly am I paying for?

The gym at 111 Champagne (SoHo Champagne) is a common element which is paid for by the monthly condo fee.

The gym at 111 Champagne (SoHo Champagne) is a common element which is paid for by the monthly condo fee.

A common question people ask is regarding the monthly condo fees and what exactly the fee is paying for. To start, the fee is to pay for your share of the building... or your share of the common expenses. 
Your share is decided based on your percentage of ownership in the building or square footage of the overall building. In a highrise, it can be as little as .3% (or even less), however in a small lowrise that percentage could much higher. This would also increase if you have a parking spot and locker. Keep in mind that (typically, in most buildings) balconies or terraces are not used to determine ownership - you don't pay for the square footage of your balcony or terrace. They are referred to as exclusive common elements. You don't own them like the condo unit, instead, you have exclusive rights to use them. 

Common expenses can include:
- garbage collection
- snow removal
- landscaping
- water charges
- electricity for the common elements (hallways, parking garages, etc)
- natural gas heating for the common elements
- natural gas heating for the boiler tanks that supply heating to the units
- building insurance
- professional property management
- audit, legal, and professional expenses (lawyer, accountant, etc.)
- the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the common element components (this is and can be a big one - since this includes the building structure, elevators, windows, etc.) this also includes the amenities and equipment (gym equipment, bbq, pool, etc.)
- the cost of borrowing money (if a repair is needed that can't be covered by the reserve fund, the Corporation needs to borrow money)
- any remuneration payable to employees (superintendent, security, concierge, etc).

Every year Ottawa condo owners receive a breakdown of the expenses, and how the monthly condo fee was allocated and is projected to be spent. It is easy to ignore the document as it is long and dry, but important to look over and pay attention to how the money is being spent. 

Often I explain it as living in a condo provides a luxury that is impossible to match in a residential house at the same price point. Underground heated parking, an elevator, a concierge, gym, party room, no landscaping such as snow removal or lawn cutting, and no taking out the trash - just send it down a chute. 

Have a question about condo living or buying a condo? Let's chat.

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.

Dear Matt: Looking at buying my first place.... Lawsuits?!

Have a question about real estate that you would like answered? Email Matt directly

Dear Matt,

I'm looking at buying my first condo in Ottawa and my search keeps bringing me to a particular building. I love the central location and the prices aren't as high as the new builds I've seen. I have been told that it has a lawsuit against the builder, any idea on that?

I'm wondering if you have any more information about situations like this and weather it is a bad idea to bad in a building that has a lawsuit or other issues.




Hi Taylor:

Right off the bat, talk to your lawyer. If/when you decide to move forward, you will include a condition in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) that allows your lawyer time to review the status certificate and documents. During this period, you will be able to find out much more detailed information about the condo corporation, building by-laws, financial history, and any projected increases in fees, among other things. 

HOWEVER. Lawyers are hired by you, to save you from any trouble. Think guardian angel sorta domain. So when it comes time to choose your lawyer, be very picky on who you have standing in your corner. Ideally you want someone who is local, who is not afraid to tell you the issues, but is able to remove judgement from the issues and not scare you. Great example is also the building inspector, who is also working for you to find issues and give you information. A good building inspector can tell you all the issues without saying personal judgement - "Don't buy this", "I love this builder", These renovations look horrible",  "I would live here" etc. You want facts. Not emotion. A good lawyer will tell you the facts without trying to scare you. 

That being said, purchasing a unit while knowing that there are issues in the building is a risk. Lawsuits are not "cut and dry" and it can go either way. It can be resolved and the building/condo corporation gets what it wants, or the builder can win and certain costs could be picked up by the owners in a special assessment or increase in condo fees.

You need to fully understand the issues, get the facts, listen to the professionals who you hire to look out for you, and know if you are comfortable taking a risk like this or not. 

Which Ottawa Condos have Pools?

Indoor pool for the owners at 200 Rideau St and 234 Rideau St, built by Claridge

Indoor pool for the owners at 200 Rideau St and 234 Rideau St, built by Claridge

While it might seem like the amenities rarely get used in a building, for those that take advantage of them, its like adding extra rooms onto your condo for free! (Well... yeah you pay for them, but still)

Lets look at which condo buildings around Ottawa have pools!

Claridge (especially lately) has been a big believer in amenities and nice big pool areas. Take a look at  Claridge Plaza (phase 1-4), La Tiffany (phase 1 and 2), Lebreton Flats (250 Lett),  Tribeca (pool under construction), and eventually Claridge ICON (est 2018), etc.

Urban Capital has started including resort styled pools with The Mondrian (324 Laurier) and the Hideaway (on Mcleod). 

Mastercraft Starwood, known for high quality amenities includes pools at SOHO Lisgar (300 Lisgar) and soon SOHO Champange. SOHO Parkway only gets a rooftop hottub with some of the best views of the city... (sarcasm...). 

Richcraft has built a few pools including, The Galleria (200 Besserer), The Galleria Phase 2 (238 Besserer), The Laurier (570 Laurier), and soon to be built The Bowery.

Other central buildings with pools include 90 George St, 160 George Street, 199 Kent, 500/530 Laurier Ave, 470 Laurier Ave, 556 Laurier Ave, 151 Bay, 20 The Driveway.... etc. The list goes on.

Currently we have a few units available with pools including, Claridge Plaza (234 Rideau Unit 1005, Mondrian (324 Laurier Ave Unit 2209) and two units at Tribeca (179 Metcalfe)

If you enjoy taking a dip and are looking for a condo with a pool in Ottawa, lets chat! I would love to help you out!

Banks Unsure of Micro Condos?


With the recent launch of Smart House Ottawa, and as more micro condo units are being built, buyers are excited for moving into these new spaces... However, if they can move in will be another storey. We are hearing rumours that banks and other lenders are not approving financing for these micro-condos. 

Representatives from the Big Five banks have all said they have rules on their financing policies that restrict approving mortgages that are under 500sqft. Up until the last few years, micro condos or bachalor studios were few and rare. With the shift in size, the lenders are being cautious and want to make sure they "understand" them. 

While this policy for minimum size is a requirement, every application is reviewed on a case per case basis. I have sold multiple units over the past few years that are under 500sqft and a few dozen that were under 600sqft, all without size issues by the lender. While we have heard rumours here in Ottawa, we have not seen any first hand accounts where the mortgage was declined due to size.

So What Do I Do?

Before you sign the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, ensure you have a financing clause, and have consulted a mortgage broker. Make sure they have the green light before moving ahead with the purchase and that they have the correct sqftage. Last thing you want is an issue on closing day.

Examples of Small Units in Ottawa?

There are two units per floor inside Mondrian (324 Laurier Ave at Bank, 2009) that are under 500sqft and another three units that are under 600sqft. The East Market (180 York, 383 Cumberland, 179 George, 2001-2007) has six units per floor that are under 500sqft, and another eleven per floor that are or under 600sqft. 

Are you looking to buy or finance a micro condo and want some help? I would love to chat...

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. 

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.

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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. 

Top three Ottawa condo buildings for Young Professionals

As a young professional who is working and living in Ottawa, only the best will do. Work hard, play hard is more than just a saying for you, it's your way of life. Last thing you want, are constant complaints from your neighbour because the walls are too thin, or issues with the condo board. With over 900 condo buildings across Ottawa, we have narrowed this down to a select few. 

3. Mondrian Condos - 324 Laurier Ave. West

Mondrian, with its "rooftop" (6th floor) outdoor pool, complete with Miami-esq cabanas, large party room and concierge has been the choice of YP's looking for a place to call home. The units them selves are open concept and modern with floor to ceiling windows, exposed concrete pillars and columns, and decently sized. Great location for those working in the downtown core.

Location: 324 Laurier Ave. West, at Bank st.
Builder: Urban Capital (Toronto)
Year Built: 2009
Conceirge: Yes. 9-5 with security nights and weekends
Pool: Yes, Outdoors. Not for lap swimming.
Party Room: Decent sized with large sitting area, kitchen, dining table, TV, and pool table.
Gym: Yes 
BBQ: Yes, shared. Also has outdoor dining table. Electric BBQ's allowed on unit balcony.
Parking: Underground, and heated
Balconies: All units, except two per floor that do not ("07" and "08")
Elevators: Three high speed
Visitor Parking: None in building, paid lot beside entrance.
Demographic: Full mix

2. Central Condo Complex (all three phases) - 354 Gladstone and 349 McLeod, 360 McLeod, and currently under construction Hideaway

Central Condos is a mix of three phases, 354 Gladstone and 349 Mcleod make up phase one (two addresses allow the large U shaped building to have two entrances, mailboxes, etc.), 360 Mcleod which is phase 2, and the third phase which is under construction called Hideaway. Same feel and flow as the Mondrian, but 4 years newer, and reflected in the updated finishings throughout the building.  

Location: Bank st, at Gladstone St. and McLeod St.
Builder: Urban Capital (Toronto)
Year Built: 2012, 2014, 2015
Conceirge: Yes. Each phase has its own, 9-5 with security nights and weekends
Pool: Outdoor pool in Phase 3, for residents of phase two and three only.
Party Room: Each phase has independant room. Decent sized with large sitting area, kitchen, dining table, TV, and pool table.
Gym: Yes 
BBQ: Yes, shared. Electric BBQ's allowed on unit balcony.
Parking: Underground, and heated
Balconies: Yes, few floor plans per building without
Elevators: Two high speed per building
Visitor Parking: None in building, paid lot beside entrance.
Demographic: Mix, 20-40yrs old


1. SoHo Lisgar - 300 Lisgar

Soho Condos Lisgar Ottawa

SOHO Lisgar is Ottawa's second for Mastercraft Starwood. Located at 300 Lisgar, the building is very central being just off Bank St. and only a few blocks from downtown offices, Elgin St, Byward Market, Little Italy and Chinatown. The high end finishes, quality design, and first class amenities are what one would expect with the Mastercraft Starwood name.

"Timeless design, well thought out living spaces, style and flair are SoHo’s signature. We used the same high quality materials and standards demanded by our boutique hotel clientele – well-heeled jet setters, movie and rock stars, and C-level executives (CEOs, CFOs, COOs) – who demand living spaces equivalent to the comfort of expensive homes. For example, marble bathrooms with large shower stalls and rainshower head, a handshower with diverter, Floor-To-Ceiling and all-To-Wall Windows©, European appliances and Quartz countertops.

A kitchen designed with fine cabinetry you would find on a yacht or private jet, with an island, and kitchen appliances concealed behind lacquered doors. Backsplashes with glass tile and a stainless steel sink with side mounted faucet finish this stunning kitchen. 

Gluckstein designed each luxury condominium floor plan at SoHo Lisgar to accommodate fine furnishings to suit every taste and temperament. Living areas are designed for entertaining, up to 20’ wide, not the typical 10’ wide living room found in other condominium developments." (taken from developer)

Location: 300 Lisgar Street, at Bank Street
Builder: Mastercraft Starwood (Toronto)
Year Built: 2013
Conceirge: Yes. 
Pool: Yes, Outdoor pool plus hot tub.
Party Room: Yes, including high end chefs kitchen (Wolf Range, Fisher Paykel Fridge)
Gym: Yes, plus sauna
Theatre: Yes, separate room.
BBQ area: Yes, shared. Electric BBQ's allowed on unit balcony.
Outdoor Entertaining:  Yes includes an outdoor Kitchen and fire pit.
Parking: Underground, and heated
Balconies: Not all units.
Elevators: Two
Visitor Parking: Yes
Demographic: Mix, 20-50yrs old

Honourable Mention - 90 George

Built by Canril Corporation, this five star building is located in the heart of everything. Launched with many high end amenities over and above, such as separate "gold key" concierge and separate security, BMW 7 series Li for short outings (driven by concierge), valet parking, grand piano in lobby, three high speed elevators, etc. Built on a three storey commercial podium, the outdoor terrace which is approximately 9,000 sqft, owners relax, without leaving home. Did we mention the lobby is a BMW showroom, with models rotating throughout the year!

Location: 90 George Street
Builder: Canril Corporation
Year Built: 2009
Conceirge: Yes. 
Pool: Yes, indoor salt water pool plus hot tub.
Party Room: Yes, more of a dinning room
Gym: Yes, plus sauna
Theatre: No
BBQ area: Yes, shared. 
Outdoor Entertaining:  Yes, 9,000 sqft of space
Parking: Underground, and heated, with valet
Elevators: Three high speed
Visitor Parking: Yes
Demographic: Mix, 30-60yrs old, 

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 that fits their lifestyle. 

Tips For Doing Your Condo's PDI Inspection

You have been waiting (possibly up to three years) for this day, congratulations you can see your condo in real life for the first time! The PDI or pre-delivery inspection is an opportunity for you to walk through the condo with the builders representative before you take occupancy. The main purpose of the PDI is for you and the builder to make a list of deficiencies before you move in. This could be anything that is damaged, incomplete, missing items, as well as anything that is not functioning the way it is intended. Here are a few tips that you can use to help get the most out of your PDI!

- Be nice with the developers representative. Typically, they are the one who does all the PDI's for the building and will really be able to tell you what has to still be done. They are usually very picky, so make it easy for them help you. 

- Be picky. While the developers representative works for the builder, they will generally be blunt with you depending on what the deficiency is. They will either say that is not something that the builder will repair/replace/etc, or they will. 

- Don't rush! This is your time, and your PDI. Don't let the representative rush you, but also don't take up their whole day. Get to the appointment early and be prepared.

- Look at every room, but the most important is the kitchen and then the bathrooms. This is where your condo has the most moving parts, and has more things to be installed incorrectly.

- Details! Turn on every faucet, flush every toilet, close every door, inspect every wall, open every cabinet. Anything could have been installed incorrectly, so don't be afraid to point something out.

- Bring someone with you. The more eyes the better! Bring your agent (especially if you are planning on renting it out, or selling it shortly after), friend, parents, etc.

- Don't hire a home inspector for an apartment style condo PDI. Home inspectors are not trained to inspect brand new condos, they are trained to find problems in old homes. Save the $300-500.

- Read your APS (Agreement of Purchase and Sale) again before your PDI. There will be numerous schedules, like the one for finishes and features. Compare what you see with what was promised you, and make sure you are getting what is agreed.

- If you missed something during the PDI, you still have the 30-day Tarion form. After you take possession, if you find a 'deficiency' you can use your 30-day form to go through Tarion.

- Pick your battles. If you do have deficiencies with your Ottawa condo after you take possession (and many will), pick your battles carefully and focus on the most important issues. Understand you are most likely never going to have a 100% perfect unit.

- Bring a tape measure and flashlight. While you will have the builders floor plan as a guide for furniture, this is your chance to see exactly how much space you have for the couch, dining table or bed. Remember that the builder is allowed to modify space to a small degree, so it might change from the original plan. Sometimes the power might be off, if the builder is working on a certain part of the building, so having a flashlight just incase doesn't hurt! (Thanks to jcphoenix for the flashlight tip!)

Do you have questions about PDI's, or purchasing a condo? 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 or condo that fits their lifestyle. 

What Schools Are Located in Downtown Ottawa?

A common question before buying is "which school would my child attend?" or "what school zones are for this area?" For those who are looking to start or grow a family, this can be very important when choosing the perfect area. 

Ottawa has four major elementary and secondary school boards, in addition to many private schools throughout the region. Many boards have a "School Locator" that allows you to input the possible new home address and requirements your child will need, and it will display which school boundaries that your home falls in. Keep in mind that this data is always changing (new schools/ larger boundaries/etc), so it could change year to year. See below for the full list.

The Ontario ministry of Education has a great website FAQ up that contains many common questions/answers that a parent would ask. It is a great resource - Learning in Ontario FAQ. 

If you are thinking of making a move to another school zone, I would love to help! 

The four major boards are:

The full list of the private schools:





Community Schools

Elementary Schools

Ottawa Torah Institute



Full-time schools

Part-time / Weekend Schools


Christian (French)

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. 

Help! Just moved in, and something is broken?!

You just got the keys and started moving in to your new place, when you realize that something is broken or missing. What do you do?

Keep in mind that there are a number of possible problems that could occur, such as; broken appliances, missing chattels, holes in the wall from the seller moving, scratches on floor that were not there, things that were supposed to be fixed and were not. Use the contact button for help with your particular problem.

Right Away

Take photos and notes as soon as possible. The earlier the issue is found then the better for you. If it takes three weeks, and then you contact someone about the stove that is missing, its harder for us to go back to the previous seller. Contact your agent, and let them know. They can get stated on solving the problem. Your agent will then contact the other agent, and possibly your lawyer. Depending on the issue and how easy it is to prove the seller is at fault.

Involve My Lawyer?

Most likely there is not much at this point that the lawyer is going to be able to do. They will let you know and tell you if it is worth moving forward. The thing to ask yourself, is it worth your time? Is it worth getting the lawyer to chase the previous buyer for a $100 cleaning bill because they didn't clean the floors?

Don't Panic

The key here is communication among all the involved parties. You need to communicate everything to your agent and lawyer. They need to communicate the issues to the other agent and lawyer. And it might just be a simple fix or simple answer, or maybe something more detailed. They will have a better idea for each different scenario.

Next Time

The BEST thing you can do, is be proactive. Do a final walk through the day before closing to ensure all the appliances still work, and there are no large holes in the walls. If you find a problem before closing, your lawyer can hold back closing (depending on the issue). Many times there is no way you could have known it was going to happen. Many times we can avoid any issues before they begin.

Have a question or thinking about buying your first Ottawa home or condo? I would love to help. Click the button below.

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.