Do You REALLY Need a Freehold Townhouse?

We have a client right now who has been searching for freehold townhouses with NO CONDO FEES.

“There’s no way I would EVER pay condo fees.  What a rip-off!”

We hear that language all the time.  But if you examine what condo fees include – exterior maintenance, including roofs and windows in some cases, road maintenance, lawn care and monthly water bills – it doesn’t seem as bad.  Right?

But still… most people have an aversion to the condo fees.

Let’s have a look at the costs.  Right now, you can buy a freehold townhouse for about $800,000.  The equivalent value for a condo townhouse might float around the $625,000 range with an average of $400/month in fees in Milton.  Both houses would provide three-bedrooms, similar size, a functional basement and a smallish backyard.

Let’s have a closer look at the two expenses that REALLY matter:  how much you need UPFRONT, and how much ONGOING, and we’ll see where that takes us.

FREEHOLD $800,000

Downpayment:  $160,000(assuming 20% down, although you could buy with 5% down) Mortgage payment:  $3,293/month (2.5% interest rate) Taxes:  $256/month Condo fees:  $0/month

TOTAL PER MONTH:  $3,548+ utilitiesTOTAL UP FRONT:  $176,000(with 2% budget for closing costs)

Now let’s look at the condo townhouse option…


Downpayment:  $125,000(assuming 20% down, although you could buy with 5% down) Mortgage payment:  $2,643/month (2.5% interest rate) Taxes:  $177/month Condo fees:  $408/month (includes water, exterior maintenance and building insurance)

TOTAL PER MONTH:  $3,228+ utilitiesTOTAL UP FRONT:  $137,500

Now we’re talking!  You save a total of $38,500 in up-front day one expenses, and $128 per month by buying a condo townhouse.  Over the next 25 years, you would SAVE $38,500 by choosing the condo option, including all those extra monthly condo fees.

Plus, for some condos like the one in the picture, you wouldn’t be paying for building insurance, exterior maintenance or your water bill.  If your roof needs replacing, the condo takes care of it.  A new roof might be $6,000 ($400 per year for 15 years), so about $30 per month needs to be saved so that you have enough for that roof.

People don’t think about homeownership in a freehold that way, but that’s how condos budget for their expenses.

So really, the condo option would likely save you an additional $150-200 per month if the monthly maintenance includes any of these items.

That certainly makes it worth considering, don’t you think?
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There are only a handful of improvements that will give you a positive return on your investment.

Things like replacing a roof or finishing a basement might seem like a good idea. I am going to say it how it is. These will not give you all of your investment back.
What are the top five improvements?  Glad you asked! 1.  Kitchens
2.  Bathrooms
3.  Flooring
4.  Paint
5.  Finishes - lights, window coverings, hardware, etc.

Pretty much all of them are cosmetic ones.  This all came from a study done by the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC).  So this is NOT someone's opinion, it was a study based on a large volume of appraisals.
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I have listed a new property at 156 Flagg AVE in Brant.
Premium Town Home Available For Lease, Never Lived-In. Oak Staircase, Beautiful 3 Bdrm Townhouse Situated In " Scenic Ridge" Sought After New Upcoming Community In The Charming Town Of Paris. Built By A Quality Award Winning Builder "Liv Communities". Featuring Approx. 1600 Sq.Ft. Of Desirable Open Concept Design, 3 Bedrooms, 2.5 Baths, Smooth 9 Ft Ceilings On Main Level, 2nd Floor Laundry. Laminate Flooring On The Main Floor. *Garage Opener & Window Blinds*
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I have listed a new property at 420 1 Wellington ST in Brantford.
Great Opportunity For Investors & First Time Buyers. Excellent Location In Desirable Downtown Brantford. Beautiful Brand New Luxury Condo Apt On The 4th Floor With One Bedroom, 503 Sq Ft Unit With 9 Ft Ceilings. Amenities Includes Fitness Room, Party Room And A Rooftop Garden. Walking Distance To Go Train, Ymca, Wilfred Laurier, Nipissing University & Conestoga College. On-Site Fitness Room, Party Room. 5-10 Year Rental Guarantee!, $1500 A Month Guaranteed.
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I have listed a new property at 572 Murray Meadows PL in Milton.
** Beautiful And Clean Freehold Townhouse In Sought After Clark Area. ** Functional Open Concept Layout Featuring 9' Ceilings On Main Floor. Close To Schools, Transit, Parks, Go Station And Much More. Large Master Bedroom With 5 Piece Ensuite Bathroom And Walk-In Closet. Go Station 5 Mins Drive. Easy Access To 401 & 407 A++ Tenants Only. **Bsmt Is Already Rented And Not Included**
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There’s no doubt about it.  We’re in a seller's market… which means the buyers are NOT having a very fun time.

Demand has remained high, and the biggest story is the lack of listing inventory.  When demand is greater than supply, prices are on the way up.

Scared of a bidding war?  Make it your VERY BEST offer right away

We prefer to use the less intimidating term “multiple offer” instead of “bidding war”. It’s never an auction-type of environment.

The only difference between traditional negotiations and multiple offer situations is that. You MAY only get ONE shot, and ONE round.

So… it’s rather simple.  Just put your best foot forward on step ONE.

Regardless of how many times the listing agent and the seller decide to open up to other buyers to improve their offer. Your job is to put your absolute best offer out there, and see if you get it or not.

Want a test to see if the offer is REALLY your best?  Ask yourself, “If I found out that this home sold for $500 more tomorrow, would I have paid it?  Would I be upset?”  And keep doing that until you reach the absolute max number. Where you would walk away if someone offered even a small amount more.

That way, there will be no regrets.

Four things EVERY seller wants

If you really think about it, and look at it from the sellers’ perspective, they ALL want the same four things in any offer:

Least (or no) conditions:  A condition on financing and home inspection is standard in a more balanced market, but as the number of competing offers increases, it’s much more likely that at least one buyer will remove all of their conditions.

Deposit cheque in hand:  We recommend to many of our buyers to bring a bank draft or certified cheque with them, or to get one from the bank.

How much deposit is required?  Generally 3-5% of the value of the home, although in some cases it can be more.  It’s not unusual in the City of Toronto to see even higher deposits, sometimes as high as 10%.

Highest price:  This seems pretty obvious, right?

The sellers’ ideal closing:  If you’re not prepared to give the seller THEIR date to close (if they have an important date in mind), you’re going to struggle to get your offer accepted.

These four things are written in order of importance.  There are times when the seller might look at two competing offers – one with a higher price AND conditions, and the other with a slightly lower price with NO conditions – and many sellers will choose the slightly lower offer because it means they’re more confident that the sale will firm up without problems.  Other sellers might decide it’s worth the risk to get the extra money.

Your odds also increase when you and your agent are physically in person at the time of making the offer when possible.

Comparable sales mean nothing

One of the ways we establish value in real estate is to look at recent sales and then make value adjustments for things like flooring, finished basements, fireplaces and premium lots.

It’s called the “direct comparison” approach to value.  And it’s almost useless in a strong sellers’ market.

Because the reality is… every new sale breaks the previous record.  It doesn’t matter that the last townhouse, which was nearly identical, sold for $600,000.  This one could go for $620,000 or more.

The next time will be worse

The decision most buyers will make in a sellers’ market where prices are rising with nearly every sale is:

“How much do I need to overpay NOW, so that I can avoid competing next time?”

It’s not a very attractive proposition, but it’s true.  This is exactly what happens.

Was it better for the buyer to pay $752,000 instead of $801,000?  Definitely.

You may have to buckle up and pay a higher price than you want… because next time it could be (and probably WILL be) worse.

Choosing the right offer amount will depend on your own market experience, your timeline, the number of other offers, and how many other homes you’re interested in… just to name a few.

Your safety cushion is a larger deposit and a longer closing

Banks have two ways they establish value, because they will only lend in situations where they feel the price paid was fair value.  One is to use a computerized algorithm, and the other is to send an appraiser to the home.

Often in a sellers’ market, there’s no justification in the neighbourhood sales history for the price paid.  Every new sale breaks the previous record.

And if the price paid was significantly more than asking… the bank WILL send the appraiser.  It’s pretty much guaranteed.

Since the bank will only fund the lower amount between what was paid, and what the appraiser says it’s worth, the buyer is left to come up with the difference between the two values IN CASH to close the deal.

If the appraisal comes in low, a buyer who has 5% down is not in a very good position to bring more cash to the table to close the transaction But a buyer with 40% downpayment can take $10,000 out of that amount to buffer the difference between the price paid and the appraised value, and still have plenty of downpayment left to satisfy the bank’s requirements.

Now keep in mind that a low appraisal DOESN’T mean the buyer overpaid.  It means the appraisal can’t justify the price paid based on historical sales.

The other thing that can help is to get a longer closing, perhaps 90 days.  By the time another month or two comes, there’s a good chance there WILL be other higher sales that can be used to justify the price the buyer paid Second appraisals closer to the closing date are very common in a sellers’ market, and they often come in much higher than the first appraisal.

Be sure to get a GOOD mortgage specialist in this market.  It helps a LOT.

Don’t like competition?  That’s okay.

Remember that you’re in control, and you don’t HAVE to do anything that you’re not 100% sure about.  Make good choices, listen to your agent, and don’t get caught up in the pure emotion of the game.

Stay grounded in your values and what’s important to you, and you’ll find a great home for the right price.

Even if that price is higher than the last sale…
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I have listed a new property at 8 6020 Derry RD in Milton.
2 Bedrooms; Each Has Ensuite Full Washroom. Living Room Is Walkout To Patio For Bbq. Modern Kitchen & Spacious Dining Room & Powder Room. Beautiful Layout. Huge Windows In Every Room. Lots Of Brightness. Walking Distance To School & Park. Close To Hospital, Shopping & Public Transportation.Fridge, Stove, Bi/Dishwasher, Bi Microwave, Washer, Dryer, C.Ac, Central Vac. Broadloom Where Laid, Existing Window Coverings.
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If you're looking to buy a condo in the GTA, you'll almost certainly hear about the Status Certificate, and your Realtor will almost certainly advise you to make your offer contingent on your lawyer reviewing the Status Certificate.
A status certificate is a large document that contains information about a condominium corporation's financial and legal health. It normally runs a few hundred pages and covers key laws, regulations, rights, and responsibilities that every condo owner should be aware of. This might be a significant consideration when purchasing a condominium. Buildings with a high owner-to-resident ratio are less likely to have troubles and are better maintained.
What Is the purpose of a Status Certificate review?
When you make an offer on a condo, it is likely that your lawyer will condition it on an examination of the status certificate. You'll usually set aside 2 to 5 days for your lawyer to go over all the agreements and make sure you're not buying into a legally or financially problematic condo complex.
The status certificate can be ordered by the home buyer or seller that will cost $100 in Toronto, and the condo corporation/property management has 10 business days to furnish it.
In order to advance the mortgage at closing, your bank or lender will also need a copy of a current status certificate that is less than 30 days old.

What are some contents of the Status Certificate?
About the Condominium Building
  • Legal description of the unit, as well as any parking and locker information.
About the Condominium Building
  • Legal description of the unit, as well as any parking and locker information.
About the Condo
  • Board of Directors and Property Managers contact information.
  • Whether the unit's monthly maintenance expenses are current or past due.
  • If the unit or building has any special assessments.
  • When additional monies are needed to pay for repairs, budget gaps, or to enhance the reserve fund, a special charge is sometimes imposed on condominium owners.
Financial Situation
  • Information on finances and insurance.
  • A duplicate of the present budget.
  • Details on any current-year increases in common elements or special assessments.
Insurance and Agreements
  • For the building, a certificate of insurance is required.
  • Are there any requirements for individual property owners to obtain unit or liability insurance?
  • A list of all agreements to which the building is a signatory, for example - management agreement, rental agreements.
Reserve Fund
  • Every month, a percentage of each common element fee is paid into the reserve fund. Having enough money in the reserve fund is critical to maintaining a financially sound condominium corporation.
Condo Corporation
  • Details of any judgments against the corporation are listed in the Legal Information section of the Status Certificate.
  • Are there any pending lawsuits?
Rules, Bylaws and Regulations
  • Pet limitations, rules for visitors and parking, renting out your unit are all examples of what will be included in this section of the Status Certificate.

What happens if missed information appears after closing?
If the information is not contained in the status certificate and the buyer discovers after closing that the common expenses would skyrocket or that a special assessment will be imposed, the buyer has the option of refusing to pay or filing a lawsuit against the condominium organization.
Can I waive the Status Certificate review?
The condition of waiving the Status Certificate review might be quite dangerous, especially in the present GTA real estate market. Buyers may be tempted to waive the condition in order to get a condo, but the significance of the status certificate should never be overlooked.
As you can see, a status certificate lays out all this information and more for you up front, so there are no unpleasant surprises later on. This is why working with your realtor to make sure your offer is conditional on a legal assessment of the status certificate package is critical.
If you have any questions about the Status Certificate or are interested in buying or selling a condo in the GTA, Faraz Azam is happy to help, click here to get in touch with him today!

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Below is a list of the top high schools in Mississauga and they are also the schools we most often receive enquiries about. While most of these schools are in the top 10 in Mississauga, please note that this list is not inclusive of all the good school in Mississauga. We can tailor a home search to any school boundary in Mississauga, Oakville or the West GTA, both grade school or secondary.

1. John Fraser Secondary School

Neighbourhood: Central Erin Mills

John Fraser Secondary School has consistently ranked as one of the Top schools in Mississauga for many years now, and  is internationally known as one of Mississauga’s top academic high schools. Located in Central Erin Mills, John Fraser is one of many reasons for the high demand of real estate in the area.

2. St. Marcellinus (Catholic)

Neighbourhood: Meadowvale Village

St. Marcellinus is the top ranked high school in North Mississauga. Located in Meadowvale Village, St. Marcellinus is a great school for families who want a great education for their children and live in Meadowvale Village.

3. Glen Forest Secondary School

Neighbourhood: Applewood

Glen Forest Secondary School is located in Applewood, a great family area in east Mississauga. Glen Forest High School is known for achieving good scores in both mathematics and reading. The Glen Forest boundaries also include a section of the Rathwood community in East Mississauga.

4. Cawthra Park Secondary School

Neighbourhood: Lakeview

Cawthra Park Secondary School is known throughout Peel region as Cawthra school of the Arts. Located in Lakeview, Cawthra Park has both a regular school program and a regional arts program, which attracts students from all over Mississauga. Cawthra Park’s regulr boundaries also extends to sections of Mineola and Cooksville.


5. The Woodlands Secondary School

Neighbourhood: Erindale

The Woodlands is a Top Ranking High school located in Erindale Mississauga.

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Are you looking for the right place in Burlington to put down roots? It’s no secret that the city is great for families, and one of the reasons for that is its excellent schools. Fortunately, if you’re looking for the right neighbourhood, familiarizing yourself with local learning environments can help you make the right decision.

Here are five of the best schools that Burlington has to offer…

1) John T. Tuck Public School

Thinking of moving to Roseland? Along with its mature trees and fantastic mix of homes, this scenic neighbourhood is also a great place for your little ones to go to school. John T. Tuck earns a top-notch score of 8.8 from the Fraser Insitute—a well-known authority when it comes to Canadian education. Its strong curriculum, impressive library catalog, and fun “spirit days” (where students and staff dress up in unique outfits) are all well-known benefits of attendance. Kids also consistently receive high EQAO scores across reading, writing, and math.

2) Alton Village Public School

The neighbourhood of Alton Village has a whole lot to offer home buyers, from convenient parks and amenities to beautiful Niagara Escarpment views. It’s also an ideal community for families, in part because of the fantastic education that local kids receive. Alton Village Public School receives a Fraser Institute score of 7.9. Along with strong student academic performances, it provides an abundance of extracurriculars. Busy families also benefit from Alton Village’s before and after school care programs.

3) Orchard Park Public School

Thinking of moving to The Orchard? This family-friendly neighbourhood is known for a fantastic mix of homes, a stunning provincial park, and the top-notch learning environment that it offers local kids. With its Fraser Institute ranking of 7.6, Orchard Park Public School is highly sought-after. To start with, its curriculum has a strong STEAM focus (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). Not only that, but students are known for their participation in events like the Thames Valley Science and Engineering Fair and the Caribou Cup (an international online math competition).

4) St. Anne Catholic School

Burlington parents who want their little ones to receive a high-quality Christian education are in luck. St. Anne Catholic School, located in charming Alton Village, gets a ranking of 6.2 from the Fraser Institute. Given the organization’s high standards, you can rest assured that this number is a sign of quality. St. Anne is also devoted to helping students become well-rounded citizens. From the environmental education it provides to its wide selection of extracurricular activities, there’s a lot to love about this Catholic gem.

5) Charles R. Beaudoin Public School

Millcroft is one of Burlington’s most in-demand communities—in part because of Charles R. Beaudoin Public School. This highly-reputable institution receives an impressive ranking of 8.1 from the Fraser Institute. Its attendees also earn consistently strong EQAO scores across reading, writing, and math. As part of its commitment to student success, the school provides extensive math and language resources online. For all of these reasons (and many others), Charles R. Beaudoin is one of the best schools in Burlington!

Looking for the right home in the ideal family-friendly community? We can help—get in touch to benefit from our Burlington expertise.

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