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Do you ever wonder… what your home is really worth? Part III


Have you ever looked at the real estate section of the newspaper and thought, “Why would anyone pay that much for that house?”

Pricing in the Toronto real estate market is as much an art as a science. If you’re selling your home, one of the most important duties of your real estate agent is to help you list it at an asking price that will get you the best possible selling price. This is why it is necessary to work with an agent who has the skills, experience and expertise to advise you.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you determine a ballpark figure of what your home is worth.

Your home is unique, even within your neighbourhood. There’s a reason we look at comparables to help us determine the value of a home: the selling prices of similar homes to yours are important in determining what your home is worth. But, it’s a lot more complicated than that. For instance, some neighbourhoods are zoned for two different schools. A home on the side of the street zoned for the “better” school might be worth tens of thousands of dollars more than a similar house across the street. A difference of just a few blocks can be the difference between an upscale neighbourhood and one that is considered down-market. This is why you need a real estate agent who knows your neighbourhood intimately.

The asking price is not usually the selling price. It is rare that a home goes for precisely the asking price. Some homes are deliberately underpriced in order to create a multiple-offer situation – otherwise known as a “bidding war.” More often, an experienced real estate agent will advise you to set a price that’s as close to possible to what he or she estimates to be the real value of the home. Buyers appreciate when sellers don’t play games and ask a fair price for their home.

Ultimately, your home is worth what someone is willing to pay for it: no more and no less. And remember, if you are considering selling your home, you can ask one of our experienced and qualified agents for an appraisal, no strings attached and no obligation.

Do you ever wonder . . . what a real estate agent REALLY does for you when you’re buying a home?


This post is the second in a two-part series that looks at the finer details of the realtor’s function in the home-buying or home-selling process.

For buyers, there is usually no commission payable when using an agent to help you find a home. In most cases, the seller, not the buyer, pays the real estate commission, which is traditionally split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents. However, there are even more reasons to engage a qualified real estate agent when you’re looking for a home.

Here are four things your real estate agent does for you when you’re looking to buy a home!

A real estate agent is “in the know” – and is often the first to find out about new properties. For example, here’s a true story: A Harvey Kalles Real Estate agent listed a home on a Friday evening. Within a few hours of listing, before the sign had even gone up on the lawn, another Kalles agent called on behalf of her buyers, wanting to see the home. They toured the home at 3 PM, had an offer in at 9 PM, and had purchased the home by 11 PM. No one who drove by the home or looked it up on home search websites would have even known it was for sale. But because the buyers used a skilled, well-connected real estate agent, they now live in the home of their dreams.

A real estate agent knows not just the Toronto real estate market, but the “micromarkets” within it. As any real estate expert will tell you – there’s no “Toronto real estate market”. Instead, Toronto is a collection of individual micromarkets, each with its own history, pricing structure, issues and idiosyncracies. Your agent, if you choose the right one, will find out exactly what you’re looking for and will be able to guide you within the micromarket of the neighbourhood you’re looking for, offering helpful tips about the neighbourhood’s nuances.

A real estate agent negotiates for you. Just like the seller, the buyer needs a powerful advocate at the negotiating table. Once the contract is signed, you’re obligated to close on the home unless there are certain extenuating circumstances. During offer negotiations, you have the opportunity to ensure that your terms and conditions are met. Do you want to do a home inspection? Knock $5,000 off the asking price because you’ll need a new furnace soon? Do you have your eye on the picture-perfect sofa in the living room? Having a skilled real estate agent at the table for you is your best chance to get what you want.

A real estate agent manages the post-purchase process. There is almost always a delay between acceptance of your offer and the closing date, the day you pay in full for your new home and you take over ownership. Usually, your agent will arrange purchaser visits during this period, in which you will have access to the home, usually for the purpose of planning future repairs, renovations or décor changes. Your agent will usually accompany you on these visits. He or she will also get all the paperwork to your lawyer to ensure a smooth transition on moving day.

Has your real estate agent ever gone above and beyond for you? Send us your comments, or post them below.

Do you ever wonder . . . what does a real estate agent REALLY do for you when you’re buying a home?


There’s a good reason why most buyers and sellers hire real estate agents when they’re looking to make a real estate transaction. This post is the first in a two-part series that looks at the finer details of the realtor’s function in the home-buying or home-selling process.

Here are 5 things your real estate agent does for you:

A real estate agent provides an expert appraisal. If you price your home too high, it may sit on the market for a long time and won’t attract buyers. An expert real estate agent has access to years’ worth of MLS data and will be able to use neighbourhood comparables and current trends to arrive at the right price for your home – and a marketing strategy to go with it.

A real estate agent markets your property to the right potential buyers. One of the most important aspects of the selling process is marketing – but not just to anyone. A knowledgeable real estate agent will know how to target their marketing efforts to the right potential buyers. They’ll understand how to use demographic and psychographic segmentation to build a buyer profile, and know how to reach those buyers via a variety of tools including flyers, print advertising and social media. They might even have one of their own buyers waiting in the wings to purchase your home!

A real estate agent project-manages the process. Selling a home is a process that involves a lot of moving parts and deadlines. It’s not just about taking photos and putting them up on the MLS. Here are some of the pieces your agent can project-manage for you: appraisal and pricing, pre-listing repairs on your home, staging, infrared floor plans, writing a compelling description of your home, professional photos, virtual tour, social media marketing, feature sheets, flyer delivery… the list goes on and on!

A real estate agent negotiates for you. Selling your own home is a bit like representing yourself in court: it’s possible, but most people don’t do it because they know there’s a good reason to have an expert on your side. Your real estate agent knows all the details of the law and government policy and is a trained negotiator. Even if you did decide to sell your home in a private sale, the buyer most likely has his or her own agent (it’s free to work with an agent as a buyer, after all), which puts you at a disadvantage.

A real estate agent manages the paperwork. From listing to offer to closing, any real estate agent knows that the process is paperwork-intensive. Your real estate agent will spend offer night negotiating the best price and terms for you, and ensuring that all paperwork is accurate, legal and binding. It’s a labour-intensive process that requires incredible knowledge and precision.

Has your real estate agent ever gone above and beyond for you? Let us know in the comments.

Toronto’s Modernist Trend


It’s not just you – more buildings in Toronto really have gone modern. The clean lines, high-tech materials, and neutral colours that define the modern aesthetic have become more timeless as time goes on, and “modernism” in the architectural sense has developed a following all its own.

To what can we attribute this trend? Well, one influence may be Mad Men. The award-winning AMC drama series pays meticulous attention to mid-century modern fashion and design, and the results of its popularity are visible everywhere from boutiques to antique stores to interior design shows. Mid-century modern is simply everywhere, so it’s no surprise that it would arrive on the architectural scene, too.  Designers are advocating for cottages and other vacation properties to take on a more modern edge as a method of saving space and energy.[1]

So, how did this trend begin?  As a design movement, modernism’s history is more complicated than you might think. The distinctively American look that came to be synonymous with modern design was actually influenced by Jewish designers fleeing Germany during the Third Reich. The stars of American design during this period, such as Saul Bass, George Nelson, Anni Albers and others, were either immigrants or second-generation Americans whose parents and families fled the tyranny of Nazism – tyranny that extended to the art world and ranked modern art as “degenerate.”[2]

Examples of Toronto modernism are all over town. The Wolf House is one of the best known[3], because its designer Barton Myers received the Architectural Record House of the Year Award for Wolf House in 1977.  Even with its more recent design updates and upgrades, the house was still the Toronto Life House of the Week in November 2012, when it was represented by Donna and Nick Thompson of Harvey Kalles Real Estate.[4]

Another example is this luxury studio outfitted with a more modern redesign to help it function as a working and living space. Thanks to an update from Wonder Inc. and architect Anthony Provenzano, it now features a green rooftop and more sustainable materials.[5]

No discussion of Toronto’s modernist trend would be complete without mentioning Superkül, designers of some of Toronto’s most eye-catching properties.[6] From the SPLIT House[7] to SHIFT Cottage[8], Superkül is doing some of the most exciting design work in Toronto and the GTA to date.

So, the next time you think of a modern re-design for your home, don’t worry about how it will date. In truth, it may turn out to be more timeless and classic than you can imagine.









What has happened to Toronto’s skyline? Condos!


Every day, the rise of condo towers across the city continues unchecked.

In fact, 60% of housing starts in the GTA over the past five years have been high-rise developments.

With so many units on the market, it’s no surprise that buyers are building equity in a space they can call home. Toronto’s rental market has exploded and prices are high enough to make frustrated renters consider purchasing their own units. As well, Toronto’s pool of available semi- and detached homes, especially in the downtown core, is dwindling. The shrinking number of homes means that prices have risen. It’s basic supply and demand.

Experts have predicted that prices will continue to rise for the rest of 2014. TD Bank suggests an increase of up to five or six percent. That is great news for the condo market, and experts at Scotiabank expect an upturn in condo sales as a result.

Of course, that’s not the only way in which the escalation in housing prices has benefited the condo market. As downsizers take advantage of a seller’s market, they are moving into luxury condos. This situation creates a mix of demographics in condo buildings, and a change in the condo culture as more experienced homeowners join boards and community groups.

Condo prices in Toronto have remained stable and have not seen the stratospheric growth apparent in other areas of the market. This makes condo purchasing attractive, especially for first-time buyers who want modern, luxury amenities and access to transit-friendly areas downtown.

So, if you have been contemplating a condo, get out there and take a look! Hang up those rakes and shovels, and flex your fingers to push elevator buttons instead.