Money, finances, real estate, investments, retirement…

Money, finances, real estate, investments, retirement …there are just too many opinions, and too much conflicting news. What do we do? Where do we turn? How can we prosper? We all have some, if not all, of these questions on our minds. Here are my thoughts. I’ve also included some useful information on other related subjects, including the new Renovation Tax Credit and Knob and Tube Insurance and new Pad Parking rules. Read on!

The market
Things are starting to move again. The pace is picking up. Open houses are full of buyers; well-priced homes are still selling quickly at full or even above asking prices. But if you watch the nightly news, you’d never guess it! Media reports are often confusing and misleading: there are too many contradictory opinions. If you read or watch the news, you might think that Toronto real estate is in the tank.  Not so, not even close. Sure, the real estate boom of the last few years is over, but what Toronto is experiencing now is not a collapse, but simply a normal market. Houses sometimes take a little longer to sell and there may be more room to negotiate the price and conditions, but the fundamentals of selling are still the same. Presenting your home well, pricing it right (don’t overprice), marketing its merits extensively and negotiating intelligently will get the job done. Every single time. Without hassles or headaches. Preparation, information, good advice and the right actions are key to a successful sale.

On the buying side, be clear about what you want and need, find it and negotiate the best possible terms and price. And get my help doing so. You can't go wrong in making a transition, especially to a larger home, in this market. Keep in mind that good properties are not as readily or abundantly available as they are in the US. There is still a shortage of quality and reasonably priced homes to choose from, but with patience the right house at the right price is out there.

A recession is not the time to sit on your money and equity, but to make it work for you…
I read an interesting quote the other day: “Bears can make money, Bulls can make money, but Chickens always get slaughtered”.

If you don’t own income property, I strongly suggest, as I always have, that you take that step and invest in one. In any market, over the long term, you can never go wrong with this type of investment. And this market is perfect for it. Owning a rental property is not as time consuming or complicated as many would believe. I always remind my clients that 80% of the world’s wealth is made in and through real estate. Sure, some work is involved, but where can you realistically grow and build something worthwhile (like your financial future) without doing any work? Fortunately, managing an income property can be more of a part-time pursuit or a hobby than a daily concern. And the work you put in to maintain it is insignificant in relation to its growth and long term financial returns. I have almost 30 years of hands on experience. I am happy to share it with you and explain the details of what’s involved in the process.

Rent increase for investment properties
Guidelines allow for a 1.8% rent increase for 2009. This isn’t much, but if you own an income property, it is well worth your effort: the operating costs have increased a lot more than 1.8% and the higher rents will reflect in the increased value of the property. Contact me if you need more details.

A great time to review your mortgage (and any other debts)
Interest rates are the lowest in history. This is the best time to make sure you are not paying more than you need to, but remember that you won’t receive payment reduction tips from the banks! If you are locked in a long term mortgage, it may be well worth it paying the 3 months penalty to get out and to refinance. You may end up saving thousands of dollars in the long run. Several of my clients just did so. Contact me for details. I can help determine if taking this action is worth your while.

A good time to invest in your home
The new Federal Budget gives a few incentives like the Temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) of up to $1,350 for eligible home renovations and alterations, covering homes, cottages, or condominiums. The HRTC expires February 1, 2010. You will have to spend $10,000 to get the full $1,350. Basically, it is equivalent to a GST and PST refund. Contact me for more info on how to qualify, or for more info go to and

Also, keep in mind that reliable and reasonable trades people are not easy to find nowadays. The good ones are always busy, but I can provide you with a few recommendations to get your projects started.

Helpful tips: changes to Parking Pad Regulations and Knob and Tube Insurance issues
There have been some changes to the City of Toronto’s pad parking rules.

Also, some insurance companies are rethinking their policies with regards to knob and tube wiring standards. Contact me for more details.

As always, if you have any questions and comments, please feel free to discuss them with me. Interested in recent sales? Stats? A list of available listings? Referrals of trades? Please contact me with any of your real estate questions or concerns.

I am never too busy for your referrals. If you know someone who needs a question answered or needs an opinion or advice, I am here to help.

Vlad Bregman
416-351-4561 cell

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