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A Space Embrace: Make the most of small spaces


By Decorium, as shown in COLLECTIONS by Harvey Kalles Real Estate

A casual stroll through the city centre reveals more condominium activity than at any other time in Toronto’s history. With more homeowners moving “up­ in the world,” we’re seeing a growing trend toward the embracing of smaller spaces. Certainly, this can present a design challenge as we strive to make the most of our comfier quarters. To help you take full advantage of your surroundings, here are our designer’s top five tips for ­small spaces.

Paint Colour
When it comes to paint colours for a small space, white is not your only option! Although most people have a fear of painting with dark colours, they are actually great for small spaces. Dark colours camouflage the fact that it’s a small space, give a perception of depth and help give the overall illusion that it is a bigger space.

Mirrors, Glass, Lucite, and Acrylic
Almost everyone knows that the use of mirrors in small spaces can definitely make a space appear larger. Oversized mirrors that can just lean up against a wall give the illusion a room is larger and that it continues on. Also choosing furniture pieces that are made with glass, Lucite or acrylic are great for areas where space is tight. The ability to see through the piece can open up a space. Many of these materials can be found in accent tables, coffee tables, dining tables, and consoles.

Double Duty Furniture
When buying furniture for small spaces you want to look for furniture that has more than one function. A convertible love seat is great for living rooms or a spare room. Instead of the traditional sofabed, these pieces can be designed so that the seat backs recline and sides fold flat to make for an extra bed.

Create Hidden Storage
Storage is almost always an issue, especially in small spaces, but it doesn’t have to be. At Decorium, we offer tables that can actually serve four functions: Low-seated casual dining table, cocktail table, four mini ottomans and four hidden storage facilities, with each ottoman concealing a storage space underneath the leather seat. So be sure to look for versatility when selecting your furnishings.

Use all Available Space
When you think about small spaces it’s not only the floor space that you should be considering. Think about the vertical height you need to take advantage of. Besides bookshelves or tall cabinets, there are buffets that are great for more storage. Nesting tables are great space saving items. You can pull them out when you need more surfaces when entertaining and be pushed away when you’re not.

For more design tips and product ideas, visit www.decorium.com

Legal Matters: About Assignments


By: Garry Shapiro, BCL, LLB, MBA

An Assignment of an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) is commonly used by Purchasers of real property for a variety of reasons. In the GTA, assignments are frequently used in the condo sector, where individual(s) may purchase a property in the pre-construction stage. In this example, the Purchaser may seek to ‘flip’ the property as its market value has increased during the construction period or sell the property due to changing personal circumstances.

In an assignment, the Purchaser (‘Assignor’) is not directly transferring the property but rather their bundle of rights under the agreement to a third party (‘Assignee’). It is important to understand that an assignment is a contract between the Assignor and the Assignee, which the vendor (the builder in the pre-construction stage example) is not a party to. As a result, while the Assignee may be assuming all rights and obligations pursuant to the APS, the Assignor remains liable to the vendor if the Assignee ultimately defaults on closing.

Assignments present a number of legal considerations that should be discussed with your real estate lawyer. The most basic issues to consider prior to entering into an assignment include:

  • Review of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale: Does it permit an assignment? Is the Purchaser required to use a specific form of an assignment agreement?
  • Pre-Construction Transactions: Does the Purchaser require the builder’s consent to assign the Agreement of Purchase and Sale? Will the builder charge a fee?
  • Deposits and Credits: How are the deposits paid by the Purchaser (‘Assignor’) in the APS and are they factored into the assignment price? The deposits paid by the Assignor to the Builder are usually reimbursed by the Assignee to the Assignor. What credits are provided under the Builder’s agreement and how are these credits being dealt with between the Assignor and the Assignee.
  • The Status of the Construction and Closing Date: What occurs on interim occupancy and the final closing date when ownership of the property is being transferred to the Purchaser?
  • Occupancy Payments and Other Adjustments: What is the amount of the occupancy payment if the Assignee is taking possession of the property subsequent to the occupancy closing? What other adjustments must be made, such as interest on the deposits and the Builder closing costs and incentives?
  • Builder’s Consent and Fees: What is the cost of obtaining the Builder’s consent to the assignment, and who will pay it? Who will pay the Builder’s closing costs?
  • Other Considerations: Are there issues related to non-residency/withholding taxes? How will CRA treat the profit made by the Assignor? Are there issues related to the HST Housing Rebate?

In addition to making a profit on their investment, there are clear benefits to a Purchaser assigning the APS, such as avoiding HST rebate disqualification, and the interim occupancy and final closing costs. However, for new buyers, assignment transactions also present a possible opportunity to acquire a property at a discounted price depending on factors related to market conditions or the personal financial situation of the Assignor.

For more information on Assignments, contact Shapiro Real Estate & Business Lawyers at 416 224 0808

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


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.