How will Toronto’s New Refugees Affect the Market?

January 6, 2016

Screenshot 2016-01-15 at 10.30.09 AM

First off, Happy 2016 everyone! A surprising number of my clients have asked about the impact the Syrian refugees will have on the Toronto market, and to be honest, I really had no idea until recently. I’ve since researched the subject and decided to turn it into a short blog post:

With Canadians paying close attention to Trudeau’s plan to bring 25,000 refugees to the country over the next few months, many people are asking—where will they live?

The above question, while sounding simple, is multi-pronged. Where they will live needs to be addressed in terms of which city, and with both short- and long-term perspectives.

Where are Canada’s New Refugees Resettling?

Traditionally, Toronto and Montreal have absorbed the brunt of the refugees coming into the country. Since the 1970s Toronto has absorbed about one-third of the country’s immigrants, and this percentage has only increased since then. So the answer of where in the country the (Syrian) refugees will settle, is largely…Toronto—which makes sense given our well-established Syrian and immigrant communities.

Where in Toronto Will our New Refugees Live—Short Term

The Canadian and provincial governments, with help from non-governmental organizations, have come up with plans to immediately house the new Syrian refugees, over the short term. Short-term plans include living with private-sector volunteers, on military bases, churches and in abandoned hospitals. These short-term, gap-filling measures are expected to fill temporary housing needs…ranging from weeks to a few months.

Long-Term Toronto Housing for Refugees

The biggest challenge for new refugees over the relatively long-term is permanent housing. But is there enough affordable housing in Toronto?

Many housing experts forecast that the incoming refugees (which, if we take in just over a third of the 25,000 refugees will be about 10,000) won’t have a noticeable impact to Toronto’s housing market given that there’s a roughly 2-3% vacancy rate for Toronto rentals. Others however don’t agree, especially given the financial situation of refugees.

With only a small settlement fee and a small monthly subsidy (official numbers haven’t been released but are expected to be well under $2,000 per month) their living options will be extremely narrow. Only the most affordable neighbourhoods in Toronto will offer housing within their price range, most notably parts of Etobicoke and North York, Regent Park, Oakridge, Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Junction, Scarborough, Parkdale and other neighbourhoods with similarly-affordable rental prices.

The concern by many Canadians however is that refugees may jump the queue for subsidized housing—which in Toronto has a current waiting list of 6.6 years (and almost 80,000 households on the waitlist). Immigration Minister John McCallum however has said fairly emphatically that refugees will not jump any queues.

In my opinion, accommodating another about 2500 rental units in the city (assuming an average family size of four people) won’t affect the market adversely, as the families will be spread out across the city. And in terms of the real estate market I don’t foresee any affect on home ownership.

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Condo Value & The TTC—what the proposed additions mean to condo buyers in 2020

November 25, 2015Screenshot 2015-12-07 at 11.50.06 AM

Comparing subway maps between Toronto and other large cities, like New York or Tokyo, can seem a bit like David & Goliath—but Toronto is finally making some expansion plans to put us on the map.

Putting transportation ‘wins’ aside though—it will affect the Toronto condo real estate landscape.

In my opinion, think of TTC expansion as a real estate gold rush. Real estate developers certainly already are, as they scramble over one another to grab up land along the in-construction Eglinton Crosstown.

Historically, the addition of new subway stations can raise real estate values from 3 to 41%. Toronto’s report, The GTA Transportation Effect report predicts a 10-20% increase in adjacent housing values. Beyond the growth in value, the report also points out that it also insulates homeowners from potential home-value drops, as homes in subway proximity lose an average of 10-20% less in the event of a real estate downturn.

Of course this gold rush might be a boom for developers, but more meager residents may feel the financial pinch of future gentrification.

How to Leverage TTC-Related Real Estate Gains

Investing in TTC ‘gold rush’ real estate can be extremely lucrative, however investments need to be made strategically. Historically, the biggest real estate gains are made in condos that are within a 500-800 meter radius of subway stations, so savvy investors will look for locations in this radius. These condos in ‘prime’ walking distance are the most coveted by transit users—especially during Toronto’s cold winters.

Aside from location, timing is also critical. While the early bird can get the proverbial worm, real estate prices are generally strongest three years after the transit station opening. For example, if the Eglinton Crosstown is completed by the expected 2020—real estate prices surrounding the stations should peak around 2023. But of course waiting until then to invest is too late to turn a profit. Even purchasing around the opening of the new transit stop isn’t ideal, as prices have already begun to rise. The ideal timeframe for purchase would be in the next year or two…which melds well with pre-build sales. Purchasing a resale property around the new station can be done later in the cycle, but still ideally a year or two before the station opens.

Buyers looking to invest immediately may want to turn their attentions to properties around the Spadina subway extension area, as that project is 70% complete and looks like it will meet its estimated completion date of 2017.

For guidance on investing in TTC-development areas contact, call me at 416-912-6445.

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Are New Condo Builds Keeping up with Needed Rentals?—and what that means to YOU

November 11, 2015

Screenshot 2015-12-07 at 11.22.42 AMA cursory glance at the Toronto skyline is all the proof one needs to know that there’s a boom of new condos. But, is all of this upward growth a ‘win’ or curse for renters and investors?

First, let’s look at the rate of new condo builds. In 2013 there were about 19,500 condo units added to the Toronto skyline. 2014 however brought a boom with roughly 25,500—but 2015 is expected to finish off around 2013 levels. And despite their quantity, these condos are selling—with 87% of them being pre-sold.

There certainly are ample condos on the Toronto market, but will too many or too few of them make it to the rental market?

Toronto needs approximately 13,000 new rental units every year to keep up with demand. Given that there will be about 55,000 new condo units added to the market over the next three years, this would more than cover the 39,000 units that the rental market needs—but only if 80% of those 50,000 units are purchased as investments.

The question becomes an issue of investment rates. Will 80% of new condo buyers purchase them as investments? The CIBC says no. They estimate that about 45-50% of condos coming online will become rentals.

Traditionally, housing built with the distinct purpose of renting covers only about 1,800 units of the needed 13,000. The new condo market leads the way in terms of rentals, having historically produced about 7,000 new units each year to Toronto’s renters. That still leaves a delta of 4,200 rental units, a precarious amount given that new condo vacancy rates hover around 1%.

Steadily-low vacancy rates combined with lack of rental housing is driving up rental prices. Or as Toronto Real Estate Board President, Mark McLean, puts it, “as the absorption rate for condos accelerated over the last year, tighter market conditions have resulted in sustained price growth.”

What this Means to You

If you’re a renter you could find yourself in a somewhat precarious spot as the lack of new rental units drives up already absorbent pricing. New investors however will hopefully see the opportunity and begin filling in the gap, but regardless, higher rental prices may push many renters to become buyers.

Toronto condo investors will reap the rewards of the above market scenario. This makes condo investment a hotter upcoming trend than ever due to ample stock, 1% vacancy rates and rising rental prices. The only up-in-the-air factor being interest rates—which if spiked could slow return on investments.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of market conditions by becoming an investor—or are a renter looking to escape precarious market conditions—contact me and we can discuss your options.

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Crime By the Numbers—Which Neighbourhoods are Toronto’s Safest?

October 21, 2015

Toronto is one of the safest cities in the world according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index…and I couldn’t agree more. But, we can’t look at the city through entirely rose-coloured lenses—it does still have crime…and some neighbourhoods more than others.

Safety is important to all of us Torontonians, but crime rates are more critical for certain subsets of residents—especially young families. For young families, generally the higher the safety rating of a neighbourhood the better, but these rates need to be balanced with affordable real estate prices and amenities.

toronto crimeDespite rising real estate prices across the board our city has some surprisingly affordable locations though that are still some of the safest in the city.

Which Neighbourhoods in Toronto are the Safest?

If a high safety rating is high on your home-buying criteria list, there are many neighbourhoods that are safer than others. The safest neighbourhoods in the city include:

1. Rosedale-Moore Park (average house price: $951,300)

2. Banbury-Don Mills (average house price: $527,900)

3. High Park-Swansea (average house price:$649,700)

4. Mount Pleasant West (average house price:$669,000)

5. High Park North (average house price: $615,000)

6. Wexford-Maryvale (average house price: $376,300)

7. Mount Pleasant East(average house price: $669,000)

8. The Beaches (average house price: $595,200)

9. Mimico (average house price: $420,300)

10. Casaloma (average house price: $772,500)

No list of the safest neighbourhoods in Toronto would be complete without a list of some of the more dangerous areas—so, here are the neighbourhoods with the highest number of violent assaults (starting with the greatest quantity):

1. Waterfront Communities-The Island

2. Bay Street Corridor

3. Church-Yonge Corridor

4. Woburn

5. Downsview

6. West Humber-Clairville

7. West Hill

8. Moss Park

9. Kensington-Chinatown

10. South Parkdale

Aside from violent assaults there are other crime indicators, including Mount Olive-Silverstone-Jamestown and Glenfield-Jane Heights having the most sexual assaults; Bedford Park-Nortown and Islington-City Centre West who take the cake for the most breaking and entering crimes; the Bay Street Corridor, Church-Yonge Corridor and Glenfield-Jane Heights owning the most robberies; and Moss Park and Kensington-Chinatown being responsible for the bulk of the drug charges (especially Moss Park—which is more than triple the average neighbourhood).

How to Find the Safest Neighbourhoods to Live In

Despite these ‘crime rates’ above crime is still low across the board for Toronto when compared to other major metropolis. Another silver living, as shown by the list of the safest neighbourhoods, you needn’t spend a million dollars to be safe. Adding safety to a list of other criteria can help you narrow down your list of potential neighbourhoods.

If you’re looking for a specific blend of safety, amenities and other criteria—contact our team here at True Lofts for some educated suggestions.

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Toronto: Raccoon Capital of the World

October 7, 2015

Toronto has previously held titles like ‘best place to live’—but we’ve got a new one to be ‘proud’ of…the raccoon capital of the planet. I suppose that makes our city the ‘best place to live for raccoons’.

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While experts debate whether there is data to support the title, many of our own personal experiences seem to confirm it—as does Toronto’s search for an impenetrable garbage can. Mayor John Tory seems to support the hypothesis of these masked marauders taking over our fair city when he said, “we have left no stone unturned in our fight against the Raccoon Nation.” He continued to say that “defeat is not an option”…however the seemingly endless battle of the impenetrable garbage bin would prove otherwise.

So—is defeat an option when it comes to these masked garbage crusaders?

Let’s look at the facts. There are 50 times more raccoons in Toronto than nearby countryside—totalling about 150 per square kilometre. Our battle against these critters’ urban-density population hasn’t exactly been going well, as they have grown by a factor of 20 over the last 70 years.

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Why isn’t it going well if we’re constantly inventing a better ‘mouse trap’ to keep them out of our trash? Well, as it turns out our proverbial game of cat-and-mouse has only been making them smarter. Comparative psychologist Suzanne MacDonald at York University has studied the animals and said that our city raccoons are significantly smarter than their country counterparts. And why wouldn’t they be—our city is a veritable smorgasbord of trash-bin delicacies, and it provides a clever learning facility for these curious creatures.

Do we have other options? It’s been proposed before to try to destroy their homes and push them out of the city. This however is flawed given that the average raccoon has between 10 to 20 homes—making them the Kevin O’Leary of the animal world.

Toronto’s solution thus far has been to come up with more and more difficult-to-penetrate garbage bins. After their last latch-design model began to fail they’ve recently purchased 500,000 new turn-dial models. They say ‘raccoons beware’, but how quickly will they figure out how to turn a dial?

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The 25 Best and Worst Walkable Neighbourhoods in Toronto (according to Walk Score)

September 16, 2015

Torontonians are walkers. Whether by design or necessity most of us walk far more than the national average (9,500 steps per day for men and 8,500 for women)—but even walking rates within our city are incredibly diverse.

So—why do some of us walk more than others? Of course lifestyle and activity levels play a big part, but as it turns out so does the walkability of your neighbourhood. And the walkability scores of Toronto’s neighbourhoods are as diverse as the areas themselves.

How is Walkability Defined?

Before we compare the walkability of Toronto neighbourhoods let’s look at how it is measured. Walkability is measured by an area’s ‘Walk Score’—using a formula that analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. The points-based system awards points (totalling from 0 to 100) based on distances to amenities, with the highest point values going to amenities within a 5-minute walk. They also assign points based on and overall pedestrian friendliness, measured largely by the length of a block, density of intersections and overall population density.

Toronto’s Most and Least Walkable Neighbourhoods
The average Walk Score for Toronto is 71 (out of 100) points. Breaking down the city into parts, here are the most, and least, walkable areas:

Most Walkable Neighbourhoods:

  1. Yorkville (100)
  2. Summerhill (100)
  3. The Beach East (98)
  4. Davisville (98)
  5. Bay Street (98)
  6. South Annex (97)
  7. Fashion District (97)
  8. Deer Park (95)
  9. North Toronto (Yonge/Mount Pleasant/Bayview/Eglinton) (95)
  10. Harbourfront (95)

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  1. Rexdale (48)
  2. Humbervalley (49)
  3. Martingrove (51)
  4. Cliffcrest (54)
  5. Thistletown (54)
  6. Kingsview (56)
  7. Bayview Woods (57)
  8. Bridle Path (58)
  9. Downsview (59)
  10. Bathurst Manor (61)
  11. Kennedy Park (62)
  12. Queensway (67)
  13. Parkview (67)
  14. Old East York (69)

For an interactive map click here.

Why Walk Score Matters

Walkability is a large determining factor in health, lifestyle and money. After all, it’s no accident that the most walkable areas of the city have the highest real estate prices.

Aside from the finances, walkability is an important factor in health and lifestyle. Walking of course improves overall health, but in Toronto’s The Walkable City report they also noted that increases in walkability increase “choice and equity by providing greater access to jobs, school, medical care, services, and cultural and social opportunities to all residents regardless of their age, income or abilities”.

The combination of all these factors above is why I clearly indicate Walk Score in the majority of my listing introductions—because it will be a large indicator of overall lifestyle.

In case you’re wondering, the walk score at The Merchandise Lofts is 98—not bad!

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St. James Town—the Lil Development that Wouldn’t

August 26, 2015

St. James Town truly is the lil’ development that wouldn’t. Since the 1950s the city of Toronto has touted St. James Town as a development area that should see sustained development and improvement. However…they were wrong.

Despite being an area for affluent Torontonians in the 50s the area of St. James Town has seen on-going decay of potentially ‘historic homes’. Combine that with high-rises full of low-to-medium income housing, little-to-no park space and the highest urban-population density in Canada and you have a recipe for disaster.

Despite a potential ‘recipe for disaster’ St. James Town has prospered in one way—by becoming a community of all worlds. Notwithstanding the dilapidation issues of pests and non-modernized buildings the community loves it there. Although poverty has unfortunately made a home there, the area does offer newcomers affordable housing within the city limits.


A World Within a Block

St. James Town may have its (endemic) economic challenges but it stands strong to this day. Residents boast proudly of its diversity, which thanks to being an immigration hub has become a landing point for many immigrants. With over 50 languages and dialects being spoken daily this diversity centre has become a ‘world within a block’.

After leveling—or abandoning—Victorian-age and style homes in the 1950s for high-rise development this picturesque upper-middle-class community changed to an immigrant-based portfolio. With few parks and ample public housing the area succumbed to a rather bleak lifestyle. This lifestyle however is touted by local residents who love it there, and refuse to be outed to the ‘burbs’ like similarly located areas. It’s a world within a few city blocks whose residents have permanently claimed as their own. 

Issues Facing ST. James Town

Despite the residents’ rather furious affection for the community, it retains endemic issues:

  1. 1.   Population Density

With 19 high rises in only a few city blocks this area offers little real estate variety. Proposed developments over the years offer only to increase Canada’s highest urban density population.  To make matters worse population growth has been accompanied by strained governmental resources.

  1. Few Public Spaces

A quickly built-up area that lacks city planning is apparent in the lack of public spaces. The area however has attempted to make up for this concrete paradise with high-rise-based communal areas.

  1. 3.   Poorly-Maintained Building and Neighbourhood Maintenance

The low rental and ownership prices of tower-based condo and rental living lead to poor maintenance levels. ‘Dilapidated’ was used to describe this area decades ago and it is only getting worse. Citywide gentrification however may prove the unwanted solution to this issue.

  1. Uncertainty

Unlike gentrifying areas of the city where property values are assured, St. James Town has had many proposed developments and improvements over the years that have never come to fruition. Time will only tell…and eventually creep up on this community though.

So—will it develop alongside the rest of the city?

Is Proposed Development Helping?

In recent years there was a proposal made by planning staff to develop four additional towers, at 46, 50, 53 and 56 storeys, that was ill-received by the already over-crowded residents living in already dilapidated yet slightly overpriced apartments.

Already owning one of the largest (largely immigrant-filled) urban-density populations in the country, many Toronto residents question whether the addition of towers to the existing 19 is a smart idea to local land values and quality of life…and I question that as well. While a local makeover could improve the quality of life for residents, it also might push them out of much-needed city housing.

The Prognosis

I’ve watched for years as St. James Town has gone undeveloped, but that surely can’t last. With the last of Toronto’s neighbourhoods being gentrified St. James Town is an eventual target. If you’re looking for a long-term investment strategy, St. James Town should be on your (eventual) radar.

With the gentrification of even the lowliest of Toronto neighbourhoods St. James Town is surely on the agenda. Despite a number of potential ‘Heritage Homes’ laying vacant and boarded up this area will eventually become the last bastion of Toronto real estate.

With the attention that this poverty-ridden area of Toronto is garnering it is only a matter of time before these 20,000+ residents (in only a few blocks) join the rest of the city in modernization. This modernization however may come at the price of pushing Canadian urban-density populations to the limits.

Should the city approve high-rise developments in the area for medium-income couples and families there may be additional concerns about traffic congestion and excessive heights to the skyline. But of course this is T.O’s M.O.

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Trump’s (Condo Hotel) Blunder—Are Condo Hotels a Smart Real Estate Investment?

Trump Tower
August 12, 2015

Donald Trump’s real estate record is one of the stronger portfolios—so when he created a condo-hotel concept on Adelaide it commanded attention. Unfortunately, it wasn’t his only news issue garnering attention at the time.

Political affiliations (and practically-unbelievable blunders) aside, his condo hotel offered us a good lesson. ARE Toronto condo hotels a good investment?

The Condo Hotel Concept

Trump didn’t start the condo hotel concept, but when a high-profile investor like good ole Donny gets involved the concept becomes more news worthy. Trump created a condo-hotel concept in his tower on Adelaide in the Financial District, and many small real estate investors bought in. Many of those investors are now involved in a legal battle that’s losing ground.

A condo hotel is a concept where individual unit owner purchase the units in interest of renting them through a hotel concept. Investment returns are made on the ability to rent out the suites.

The Trump condo hotel gives us a great case study (and not only because the development leader has offered up such gossip-worthy news). Condo owners tried—unsuccessfully—to sue the real estate magnate, after experiencing higher-than-expected condo vacancy rates.

Condo-hotel suite owners made an investment based on advised rental rates. Unfortunately, as Trump’s suit proves—it is not the legal or financial responsibility of the development owners to fill those suites. So despite spending $1,000 per square foot, their investments are as precarious (or perhaps more) as any other.

The Trump Lawsuit Specifics

The Trump condo hotel lawsuit provides us with a high-profile look into the inner workings of these investment schemes. Despite the documents telling potential investors that projected 55% to 75%+ occupancy rates and $500-a-night portfolios were “deceptive documents”, the court sided in favour of the real estate guru in a buyer-beware response. The response noted that “all investments are risky” and therefore at the fault of the buyer. They also found that the billionaire name-holder for the hotel “has no liability to any of these buyers and was named just because his name is on the building.”

Are Condo Hotels a Smart Investment?

Generally buying real estate at the $1,000-per-square-foot range is left for appreciating areas like the Bridle Path and Yorkville. Purchasing a condo for hotel rental in the financial district can be an unfortunate investment, which is why I have long advised my clients to stay away from this type of investment—and instead invest in tried-and-true real estate profiles.

Not only is this price-per-square-footage rate risky, condo hotels are becoming the ‘it thing’, and popping up all over the downtown core. Think of this as a condo bubble with an even more volatile investment profile.

The Trump experiment showed us just this…as are the other condo hotels springing up, like the Ritz Carlton and Shangri-la. While Trump’s ranting’s have severely and adversely affected the rental rates (and likely future condo fee increases), all condo hotels are vulnerable to vacancy rates.

My Professional Opinion

As a real estate professional who keeps a close eye on all developments—especially this ‘condo hotel’ concept—my opinion is stay away. The standard real estate market offers more stable rental-income portfolios, and for a lower price per square foot. And as proved by Trump, it doesn’t matter whose name is on the project—they won’t be found legally liable for failing to keep up their promises.

Remember, that as a condo-hotel owner, not only is your investment vulnerable to vacancy rates (both over the short- and long-term) your condo fees will be adjusted accordingly. Anyone who’s bought a condo whose fees went through the roof can testify to the affected investment value.

If you’re a potential investor in the Toronto condo market—contact me today for demonstrable investment portfolios of available condos.

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What Happens When a Seller Changes their Mind After Accepting an Offer?

August 5, 2015

What happens when a seller changes their mind after accepting an offer? Quick answer: all hell (may) breaks loose. Thankfully this scenario doesn’t happen often due to the laws we have in place protecting buyers, but when it does happen there is a domino affect throughout the chain. For example if the sellers change the closing date the buyers have to change their closing date (and possibly arrange bridge financing) and so on down the line. While ‘all hell possibly breaking loose’ might be a touch dramatic, changing your mind after accepting a written offer will cause drama. When you attempt to back out of the binding legal agreement—an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS)—created by accepting a written offer on your home, you have a number of options…  

Option 1:

Your first option is to ask to be released from the contract by the buyer. As you are under a contractual agreement with the buyer, if you want out the easiest way is to get their permission for release. While most buyers aren’t inclined to do this, it can be possible in some situations to negotiate your way out of the legal contract. If the buyer releases you, you will not be liable for breaking contract—which means they can’t sue you for a breach. If you’ve already received the deposit this must be returned in full (and they may negotiate compensation for any provable incurred costs).

Option 2:

The second option is to breach your contract. By not legally moving forward with the paperwork for the sale of your home in the timeframe outlined in the offer the contract can become null. Again, you need to return the deposit. This option however can be dangerous as they now legally have the right to sue you for damages. If you don’t return the deposit they will certainly sue you. These suits can take months or years, but as they have the legal contract constituted in their offer, they likely will win. Should they win you will not only be liable for damages but will have the added stress and cost of a potentially-lengthy legal battle.  

Option 3:

Sell your home. The potential costs and mental stability that hangs in the balance may vastly outweigh your reasons for choosing to renege on your contract. If you got a higher offer offering you $15,000 more—will that pay for the attorney and potential legal costs? While not every buyer whose seller backs out will pursue a legal battle, it is smart to consider is it worth it to you if they do? If your closing date needs changing it might not be worth it to breach your contract—so try talking or negotiating with the buyer. They have no requirement to change it, but they might be flexible. If you do opt to not pursue the legal process necessary to transfer ownership, you do need to return the deposit. Failure to do so will practically ensure they sue you.  

My Final Advice:

Think carefully before you sign any agreements. If you’re a seller with ‘seller’s remorse’ and are looking for a way to get out of your legal contract to sell—strongly consider the negative implications of doing so.  You’ve entered a legally-binding agreement and leave yourself open to a lawsuit for full or partial breach of contract. If you have to back out, for whatever reason, get legal council with significant experience in real estate law….you’ll need it.

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“Latent Defects” — Must a seller disclose a murder in their home… or if it’s haunted?

Screenshot 2015-08-10 at 10.16.52 PMJuly 22, 2015

With about four years in the real estate business now, I can tell you that this doesn’t come up often, but it does ‘just’ enough to justify my first newsletter being on the topic.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, this question may have crossed your mind with Halloween having just passed us by.

Hollywood often takes liberties with the legalities of this particular situation. A seller may state that for legal reasons, they must disclose a recent murder or suicide to the buyer. The buyer is undaunted and buys the home anyway, and thus begins your average horror movie.

The real estate terminology for such a home is “psychologically impacted” – which includes homes where murders or suicides have taken place and even homes ‘reputed’ to be haunted. Of course, it’s impossible to prove a house is actually haunted – and equally impossible to prove it’s not – whether or not you believe in ghosts.

Disclosure and the law

In Canada, the laws surrounding this issue can be called “muddy” at best. Material facts must be disclosed about a home and its history, but whether hauntings or murders are “material facts” is up for debate. In the United States, laws vary by state.

The most famous case involving haunted houses and real estate law occurred in New York in 1991. The seller experienced strange happenings in her home, later writing about it in Reader’s Digest. She sold the home to a man who later learned about the purported haunting, and he sued her for misrepresentation. Whether or not the home was actually haunted didn’t matter because the seller had publicly said it was haunted, making it haunted in the eyes of the law. This classified the haunting as a defect the buyer would not know about and could not be found during a home inspection, meaning the seller misrepresented the home.

Would you buy a ‘Murder House’?

Buyers may have legal recourse if they decide they no longer want a home they have committed to buy upon discovering a murder has taken place there. Specifics, such as a murder still being unsolved, can also make the buyer fear for their safety and give them even more of a case.

If something tragic has happened in a home, but poses no threat to the safety of potential buyers, it is essentially a non-issue in the eyes of the Canadian real estate world. But if a masked slasher returns to the home every Halloween night to wreak havoc, the buyers should probably be informed.

It is also important to note that the real estate broker cannot tell the buyers what the seller has neglected to tell them in the first place. It is probably best for the seller to inform the buyer as much as possible to avoid legal and financial headaches down the road.

Would you buy a home where a murder has taken place? What about a haunted house? Let us know!

– Robert Van Rhijn & Paul Stavro-Beauchamp

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