Buying

Ottawa Condo Market Statistics - July 2018

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Let's break down some specific data for the month of July for the top five "downtown" area's - specifically Centretown (including Golden Triangle), Byward Market and Sandyhill, Little Italy (which would include Lebreton Flats),  Hintonburg, and Westboro. The information will be specific to apartment style condominiums, and only what sold through the MLS. Also, DOM (Day's On Market) is calculated to include the conditional period which in Ottawa is almost every single transaction to be roughly 10-14 days.


Centretown

Ottawa Condo Market - Statistics Centretown.jpg

The market in Centretown continued to tighten for July which is noticeable in the higher list to sold price ratio of 99.1% compared to 98.8% (from last month) and the fewer days on market of 43 compared to 46 (from last month). We still have a similar amount of new listings as last month, however the amount of units that sold have dropped from 43 (June) to 29 (July). Prices are up compared to last year, however holding about the same as last month.

What does this mean? While things have tightened up, the numbers would show that there is going to be more units available going into August. This might ease up the DOM, Sold Price Ratio, or the average sold price - more supply with equal or less demand.... Could be seeing a shift to a more buyer focused market.


Byward Market and Sandy Hill
(Includes Lowertown)

Condo Market Statistics Ottawa - Byward Market and Sandy Hill.jpg

Compared to last month we have seen similar numbers except for two. The average price has jumped from $362,773 in June 2018, to $410,517 for July 2018. Keep in mind that in May 2018 it was almost $400k, so the large change is expected and due to the few number of data points that are used can vary the number. At the same time, the days on market has increased from 50 last month, to 84 this month. Note - the DOM hit 162 days back in January of 2016.

What does this mean? With the DOM jumping up to 84 days, yet amount of new and sold listings staying almost the same as last month, we would expect the price to come back down or the list to sold price ratio to drop. Still continues to be more of a buyers market, especially with the higher DOM, lower LTS price ratio, etc. 


Little Italy
(Including Lebreton Flats)

Market - Little Italy.jpg

Average price has jumped over last month (June 2018) to $395,175. However that is based on the only four sales that happened this month. We continue to see more new listings, and fewer sales. DOM has increased to 50 days and the LTSP ratio has nudged up to almost 98.9%. 

What does this mean? A buyers market. Higher DOM, more options (listings), etc. With only four sold it means you have less competition. However the high LTSP ratio says that for the sellers who are serious, and priced right, you can and will sell.


Hintonburg

Ottawa Condo Market - Hintonburg.jpg

The average sold price has dropped to $318,173, when it was $374,620 last month (June 2018). Activity has dropped (both new and sold listings), and the LTSP ratio edged up slightly. 

What does this mean? More of a sellers market. With fewer units available overall, a higher sold price ratio, and a somewhat low DOM, It would be a good time to sell. Buyers will want to see more supply, or need to be quick on their feet for the best units.


Westboro

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The average price is up over last month, but down over this time last year. Less activity then last month, but similar ratio of new vs sold units. Same LTSP ratio as last month with DOM increasing slightly. 

What does this mean? Sellers market. Highest average price, and highest LTSP ratio, along with the similar ratio of new vs sold listings, make it a very difficult buyers market. Not much negotiating is going on. Chances of multiple offers are strong. Again, the higher price point is due mainly to the larger, longer planned living (compared to the studio and sub 600sqft units in Centretown etc.).


Looking for specific information about a building or area? Thinking of selling and want to get the best return? Let's chat. Fill out the form below.

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How does the latest BOC rate increase affect you?

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This week, the Bank of Canada increased the trendsetting interest rate to 1.5 percent. This was the fourth rate increase in the past 12 months. Knowing this is good, but we keep getting asked how it affects us (as a condo buyer or owner in Ottawa who has a mortgage, etc). We reached out to Mathieu Nesbitt, who is the Manager of Mobile Mortgages in Ottawa for TD Bank, to explain exactly what it means and if we should even care! 


For the fourth time in the past 12 months the Bank of Canada has increased its key monetary policy interest rate, the last increase went to 1.25% from 1.00% [January 2018].  Each increase can have an effect on your monthly mortgage interest cost which will affect your overall cost of borrowing.  There is good news though, there are ways you can protect yourself to prepare for those interest rate increases.  If you build a buffer by increasing your regular payments by 10% to 20% you will be paying mortgage loan quicker which also reduces your amortization.  Because most mortgages calculate interest based on the daily balance by paying down the principal quicker interest rate increases won't impact your cost of borrowing as much.

This also brings me to another point, if you have a pre-approval in place an interest rate increase can affect the amount of money you have been approved to borrow.  You will need to check in with your lender to see if your pre-approved dollar amount has changed.

For those who are looking at getting into the housing market, you need to know that TD bank can do a mortgage approval for you and hold your interest rate for 120 days on resale purchases.  For new build purchases, we can go up to 24 months which will protect you from interest rate increases. 

For those who are already making mortgage payments, there are some options for you to help when rates increase.  If you've chosen a fixed rate mortgage your interest rate is fixed for the term of your mortgage so a rate increase will not affect your payments until your mortgage term ends.

On the other hand, if you are in a variable rate mortgage it can change at any time during the term of your mortgage, therefore, changing your monthly mortgage payment.  One way to prepare yourself for an increase is to make an inflated mortgage payment, increasing your payment to more than you are actually obligated to pay.  The benefit of this is the excess payment amount goes directly to the principal portion of your mortgage, reducing the total interest paid on your mortgage as well as shortening your amortization.  So if rates do go up and your payment increases making your cash flow tight, either eliminate or reduce the extra principal reduction payment to either offset or help with the increase should it happen.

While some of this can seem overwhelming or confusing it is what I specialize in and I welcome the opportunity to provide you with advice and help, making your mortgage needs simple and comfortable.

-- Mathieu Nesbitt is the Manager for Mobile Mortgages with TD Bank and works outside normal banking hours to provide the best service for clients. You can connect with him directly at 613-868-9197. CLICK HERE to contact Mathieu Nesbitt.

Ottawa Condo Market Statistics - June 2018

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Often, real estate is defined by its numbers and data - we can report on "hard facts" to provide a picture of the market. However, when we receive the standard monthly updates from the Ottawa Real Estate Board, I find it quite frustrating that the data reported for "condominiums" is board wide - meaning any property type that was listed as a condominium in any area. (This isn't a rant - there are too many micro markets across the city for them to report). What this means is that the information isn't compared by location (downtown vs Kanata) or property type (example - apartment or townhome) which can often mask or hide very interesting or specific information on a more detailed level. We all (should) know that there is a huge difference in price between a townhouse style condo in Kanata, versus a modern downtown highrise apartment in Centretown. 

Let's break down some specific data for the top five "downtown" area's - specifically Centretown (including Golden Triangle), Byward Market and Sandyhill, Little Italy (which would include Lebreton Flats),  Hintonburg, and Westboro. The information will be specific to apartment style condominiums, and only what sold through the MLS. Also, DOM (Day's On Market) is calculated to include the conditional period which in Ottawa is almost every single transaction to be roughly 10-14 days.


Centretown
(North of 417, Canal to the East, Bronson to the West, Parliament Hill to the North).

Ottawa Condo Market Stats June 2018 Centretown 2.jpg

Overall the average sold price for a Centretown condo over the last month is $371,998.00 which is up compared to a year ago, which saw an average list price of $347,394.00. The average DOM is at 46 which is an improvement over last year at 80 days (Keep in mind that includes the conditional period). The list to sale price ratio has increased to just under 99%, and a nice increase over last year at just above 97%. In June, we saw only 47 new listings, with 43 sales.

What does it mean? A healthy increase in the demand for condos located in Centertown. A much more balanced market, with prices continuing to rise at a very marginal rate. One thing to note is that the DOM from two years ago was up to a whopping 85 days. Based on what was listed vs sold, I would expect the market to be more of a Seller's market unless we see more listings!


Byward Market and Sandy Hill
(Includes Lowertown)

Ottawa Condo Statistics - Byward Market and Sandy Hill 2 .jpg

The average sold price this month in the Byward Market and Sandy Hill has dropped slightly to $362,773. The DOM has dropped to 50 days, and much better than it was 3 years ago - 75 days. The list to sale price ratio held the same around the low 97%.

What does this mean? Prices are lower and becoming more attractive to buyers which is helping to reduce the DOM. Slightly more leaning towards a buyers market then for selling. With the DOM lowering you should see the list to sale price ratio increase.


Little Italy
(Includes Lebreton Flats)

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The average sold price for a condo in Little Italy is down to $386,900. The average DOM is up to 47 days, with the one year at 45 days. The average list to sold price ratio is up to 98.1%. Overall there are less new listings with a few more sales compared to last year.

What does this mean?  Since there are fewer buildings which mean fewer sales, the numbers will be affected more by each sale. Lower prices will drive the DOM and sale price ratios as buyers compare them to other areas. The number of listings will increase, and as prices drop, the number of sales will increase. Great market if you are a buyer looking for options with less competition.


Hintonburg

Ottawa Condo Market Statistics - Hintonburg.jpg

The average sold price in Hintonburg lowered slightly from last year, to $374,620. More sales and a much tighter list to sold price ratio have dropped the DOM to less than half - now 39 days from the 89 days a year ago. 

What does this mean? It is much more of a seller's market than a buyer's market. I think it will get tighter unless we see more listings. More buyers looking to move more west! It is a great time to sell.


Westboro

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The average sale price in Westboro is up from last year to $474,406. With 17 new listings and 17 sold properties. The highest list to sold price ratio in any of the five area's at 99.4%! The DOM is also quite low at 37!

What does this mean? A hard market if you are a buyer. Considering that almost all condos will sell with a conditional period for status certificate review of 10-14 days, the DOM of 37 is very good for sellers.  The higher price point is due mainly to larger, longer term planned living (compared to studio's and sub 600sqft units found more in Centretown and Byward Market). 

Are you looking for more information about a specific area or building? Thinking of selling or buying? Let's chat - click on the button below!

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!

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.

Where Does My Condo Start? What do I own?

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A common question is regarding the boundaries of the condo, where exactly does it start? What exactly do you own, versus what is a common element? The answer is simple - check your status certificate. The main reason is that every single building is different and each building will have a different definition.

That said let's give you a better answer - let's take a closer look at the status certificate for The Galleria Phase 2 (238 Besserer) which will be fairly similar for those in a recently built highrise. Again, don't assume this is what is used by your building, check your own status certificate.

For the residential condo, the status describes the
- horizontal lower (floor) boundary as the upper unfinished surface of the concrete floor slab,
- horizontal upper (ceiling) boundary as the lower unfinished surface of the concrete slab above the unit.
It is explained using the concrete (rather than the drywall) since many buildings don't have finished ceilings!

Now for the vertical boundaries, 
- The backside surface of the drywall on the exterior walls of each unit,
- In the vicinity of the structural walls and columns, (which shall not form part of the unit), the backside surface of the drywall that surrounds such walls and columns,
- In the vicinity of pipe and duct chases, (which shall not form part of the unit), the backside surface of the drywall surrounding such chases,

What about windows and exterior doors??
- In the vicinity of the windows and exterior doors, the unfinished interior surface of the windows and doors in closed position, the inner or unit side surface of the glass contained therein, and the unfinished interior surface of the window and door frames. 

Fireplace?
- the portion of the fireplace and flue lying within the unit boundaries described above shall form part of the unit.

To sum it up, in 238 Besserer and in many similar buildings you own the drywall and in. BUT always check your own status certificate!

Questions about your condo? Let's chat!

Top Hard Loft Buildings in Ottawa

Top hard lofts in Ottawa For Sale

Looking for a real loft in Ottawa? That exposed brick, rough and open concept type feeling? While it is hard to find in Ottawa when compared to other cities, here is a list of buildings to put on your watch list.

The Wallis House at 589 Rideau Street

Studio Argyle - 255 Argyle Street - Located in Centretown, the building was redesigned by Domicile in 2000, and consists of 40 units over 4 floors.

Wallis House - 589 Rideau Street - Located in Lower Town, the first building was originally built in 1851 and used as a Catholic hospital, among other uses. Eventually, it was purchased by L.A. Sandy Smallwood in 1994 and converted into 47 lofts. All units were pre-sold in less than 24 hours - and this was before the condo craze.

School House Square - 24 Springfield Road

Laura Secord Factory - 120 Holland Ave - Located in Wellington Village, this building features massive units and are hard to find on the market. Originally built in 1956, the building was converted to lofts in 1998. The building got its name from Laura Secord company who was once a tenant.

Lofts Du Monfort - 297 Dupuis Street - Located in Vanier, the building was originally built in 1912 as "Monfort School". Renovated in 1998 by Nicolini Construction, there are only 15 units making it hard to find one for sale. 

School House Square at 24 Springfield

School House Square - 24 Springfield Road - Located in New Edinburgh, the building was originally a french catholic school "Ecole St Charles" that was built in 1910. Converted to lofts in 1997 by Domicile.

School House Lofts - 19 Melrose Avenue - Located in Hintonburg, the building was originally built in 1912. It was also a french catholic school "Ecole Sacre-Coeur". Turned into 11 lofts and 12 stacked townhomes in 2009.

Parkdale Market Lofts - 320 Parkdale

Parkdale Market Lofts - 45 Spencer and 320 Parkdale - Located in Hintonburg it was originally built as a factory and then turned into lofts in 2005. Both buildings are unique as they each have their own differences.

The Warehouse Lofts - 95 Beech - Located in Little Italy, M.J. Obrien built a factory to house a mica factory and a railroad contractor. Converted to lofts in 2000 by Craig Callan Jones.

Looking for a hard loft in Ottawa? Let's chat. I would love to help you out.

Breaking News - More Changes To Mortgage Lending - 10/2016

Earlier today the government announced more changes to mortgage lending to ensure that buyers are not taking on bigger mortgages that they can afford. Let me break down the change and how it will affect buying a house or condo here in Ottawa. Keep in mind there were four major changes, but I am going to focus on the "Stress Test" change.

The "Stress Test" Change

If you (buyer) are using less than 20% downpayment, you will need to be approved using the posted rate (currently 4.64%) not the actual rate of the mortgage. This posted rate is typically going to be higher than what your rate will be, so it will lower the overall amount that you are approved for. This doesn't change the rate or the payment, just lowering the approved amount for borrowing. Before this change, you would have been pre-approved using the rate you were paying - allowing your budget to be much higher.

Who will this affect?

Unlike previous changes (for those borrowing over 1M), this affects anyone who was pushing the top end of their budget and had less than 20% downpayment. This change essentially lowers the amount you will be approved for by on average 20-25%, or less depending on the price point. It is said that this change should impact between 7% and 10% of buyers.

When?

You have until October 17th to get your purchase and sale agreement in writing and mortgage application in to get qualified under the old rules. 

Why is being changed?

Really it lowers the risk that our country is taking on with people that really shouldn't be buying. I can't count the number of times that a buyer here in Ottawa has told me that the amount they were approved for was way more than they could afford. If you were pushing that to the highest amount it is riskier and this looks to help reduce the risk. What if rates rise during your term and when you go to renew the rate is 1% or 3% higher? 

Examples

Before: Income of $100,000 with a downpayment of $40,000, five-year fixed rate of 2.17% would qualify to purchase an Ottawa home worth $665,435 (including tax of $400 and heating of $150 /month).
Now: You would be qualified at 4.64% (todays rate) not 2.17% interest rate, and it would drop your purchase price to $505,762 - a difference of 24% or $159,673. 

If you are thinking of buying or are looking to learn more about how these changes affect you specifically, 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. 

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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.

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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.

The Deposit - What, When, and How Much?

Question: What is the deposit? How much do I need for a deposit when buying a condo in Ottawa? When do I need to provide it?

Keep in mind, this is for a resale condominium in Ottawa. If you are looking for pre-construction deposit information - CLICK HERE. Also, this is not referring to your downpayment - sometimes first time buyers will get these two terms mixed up.

What is the deposit? The deposit is an amount negotiated in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale that binds the buyer to the contract, and acts as consideration for the deal. (Consideration is the legal term for the deposit, and without consideration the contract is non-binding in common law). The deposit is thought of to be as "a sign of good faith", which keeps the buyer from walking away from the deal at any time, and provide the rest of the funds to close on closing day. It can show a seller who is considering an offer, that the buyer has cash on hand, and is willing to tie it up until close.

How much do I need? The deposit amount varies per property/deal/market. Here in Ottawa, you can expect anywhere from one percent of the sale price and up. Typically there is not much weight behind having a larger deposit for the buyer, however during multiple offer scenarios the higher deposit amount can help. Often for properties in the downtown core, you will see $3,000 to $5,000 for a deposit amount on a $250,000 to $350,000 purchase. Keep in mind, outside of the city it is typical to see deposit amounts of $1,000 or even $500 on the same purchase price. Head over to Toronto, and you can expect FIVE percent of the purchase price! 

When do I need to provide the deposit? When the Agreement of Purchase and Sale is written, typically we use the "upon acceptance" wording in regards to time to provide the deposit cheque to the other agent. This means the buyer has to provide a cheque (can be personal, certified, or bank draft, wire transfer, etc) for the funds within 24 hours of acceptance. This is standard, however it can be written differently depending on the scenario.

What happens to the deposit funds? Once we provide the cheque to the other side, it gets deposited in the seller's real estate brokerages trust account (unless otherwise specified) and is held until closing when the seller's lawyer will direct the brokerage with use of the funds (typically to pay commissions).

What happens to the deposit if the deal does not come together? Many people seem to think that if the seller walks away from a deal, then the seller automatically gets to keep the deposit money. This is far from the truth! Under section 27 of the Real Estate Business Brokers Act, a real estate brokerage is not allowed to release any deposit from their trust account without either a Mutual release signed by both the buyer AND seller, or a court order. So if the buyer walks away, the money remains in trust and litigation will commence until an agreement is made.

Thinking of buying your first property? I would love to chat and answer any questions that you have about real estate here in Ottawa. Fill out the form below!

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Electronic Signatures Starting July 1st!

Electronic Signatures Starting July 1st Real Estate Ontario

Word starting circulating late last night amongst the realtor crowd across Ontario that the wait for electronic signatures is finally over! After years of being told that electronic signatures were "coming soon" by different levels of government, starting July 1st we will be able to sign The Agreement Of Purchase And Sale (the main document to sell a property) digitally. No more scanning, no more driving around at a late hour or rushing for a last minute signature, no more faxing (well that was a given), no impossible to read documents from sending back and forth. 

I have been using electronic signatures for other documents (listing agreements, price reductions, etc) but now the full transaction could be signed digitally. Almost every client who has used this, prefers it. Saving the client time, and ensures no missed signatures or initials. As the client, you can read, review, and sign the document at your pace.

Real Estate 2.0 is here!

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

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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?

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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.

To Buy or Not to Buy - Ottawa Med School and Residency

At some point you are going to be told that you shouldn't be throwing away your money to pay off a landlords mortgage, and to just buy instead. The best advice I was given was to do your own research and find out for yourself (listen to your gut), and then decide. Don't let one source influence you, read multiple view points. Every single person has different goals and you need to figure out what makes the most sense for you. Let me try and break it down a little more. Keep in mind the biggest factor is going to be time (how long are you in one place), and budget. Let me break it down further for Med Students, Residents, Fellows, etc.