Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home staging tips for your front entrance front entrance home tips when you are selling

This page will give you ideas and tips when it comes to selling your home and staging it, this is one in a series of articles on staging your house
You will benefit by using the information contained within these articles.
The Entrance – Welcome!
Here are some tips for your front entrance to welcome the prospective buyers.
  • install a new front door glass insert to let the light pour in
  • clean up your interlocking bricks
  • you could place an item that is in season on the font door
  • make sure your front door looks good
  • make sure front door hardware is in good condition
  • plant some nice flowers out front
  • clean your lights
  • get a new mailbox
  • get new house numbers so the agents can find your home
  • use a quality door bell that works
  • get a new front door mat
  • make sure front entrance is clean

Read more about:Homes for Sale
Thank you for reading my blog and if there is anything else I can help you with please don't hesitate to contact me,
A. Mark Argentino
P. Eng. Broker
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate

Thinking of Selling? Best Mortgage Rates Current Home Prices Search MLS
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.

Providing Full-Time Professional Real Estate Services since 1987

( BUS 905-828-3434
mark@mississauga4sale.com8 Website :
Homes for Sale

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Should House Staging includes Repairs of your house

This page will give you ideas and tips when it comes to selling your home and staging it, this is one in a series of articles on staging your house

You will benefit by using the information contained within these articles.

Home Staging includes Repairs
10 Fast and Easy Repairs – Show Pride of Ownership
  1. Wall cracks, holes or dents – fill and touch up, repair torn or loose wall paper
  2. Window trim and baseboards – either touch up or replace if cracked, scratched or faded
  3. Windows and window panes – replace cracked windows, make sure windows are operate properly
  4. Switch plates and electrical sockets – if cracked, outdated or not working, replace them
  5. Faucets and toilets – repair if leaking or dripping
  6. Toilet seats – replace if cracked, broken or hinges not working
  7. Flooring – repair or replace flooring that is chipped, scratched, loose, broken or missing
  8. Carpets – professionally clean all carpets so they look their best
  9. Cupboard doors – repair any doors that do not swing smoothly
  10. Replace light fixtures that do not work properly, or are outdated, replace burnt out light bulbs

Read more about:Homes for Sale
Thank you for reading my blog and if there is anything else I can help you with please don't hesitate to contact me,

A. Mark Argentino
P. Eng. Broker
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate

Thinking of Selling? Best Mortgage Rates Current Home Prices Search MLS
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.

Providing Full-Time Professional Real Estate Services since 1987

( BUS 905-828-3434
mark@mississauga4sale.com8 Website :
Homes for Sale

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mortgage interest rate update

Good Afternoon everyone,

At long last, mortgage interest rate decreases are being announced! It would be nice if I can be reporting on further decreases in the near future, but the announcements today are a good start to rates coming down now and in the future.

In summary:
  • Variable rates: Prime less .60% (down from Prime less 1%);
  • For clients who want a really competitive rate .... consider the 4 yr fixed @ 4.89%;
  • Currently some of the best 5 yr fixed are priced at 5.10% (mortgage amount over $500K or 5.30% for lower amounts).

If you have any questions about financing options? Please contact me via email.

You may be aware or heard that that the licensing requirements for mortgage brokers changed on July 1st, 2008. As of January 2009, my new title is 'Mortgage Agent' and all mortgage agents are required to show their license number on business cards etc. The mortgage documentation that Mortgage agents present to clients will also be changing. Hopefully FSCO's new licensing requirements will help insure mortgage clients receive the information & guidance they require to make mortgage decisions.

Many of your know I am a real estate Broker. I am contemplating becoming a Mortgage Broker too, why not add another service to my current level of service. Do you have any thoughts on me becoming a mortgage broker? Postive or negative or neutral?

Hope your weekend is great! :-))

Current mortgage interest rates in Ontario

This table will show you the current mortgage interest rates that are posted and attainable in Ontario

Rates seem to be falling slightly over the past week or so

Enjoy your weekend!

6 Month 6.1%6.1%
1 Year5.6%4.45%
2 Year6.45%5.1%
3 Year6.45%5.3%
4 Year6.29%5.34%
5 Year6.95%5.54%
7 Year7.4%6.2%
10 Year7.75%6.4%
Variable Rate4.6%
Prime Rate4%

* Rates Last Updated: Thursday, November 27, 2008

What happens if a buyer cannot close on a real estate purchase?

I had a very good question asked today and I will show the question and my answer below.

The question was:
Hi Mark,
I've read your article regarding sale and purchase agreement.
It is very helpful and professional article.
I have one question, what happens in case of cancellation after all conditions went through? Lets say, after certain amount of time there are financial difficulties and there is not enough money for the closing.
Thank you a lot,
Have a great day,

This is my answer to this situation:

Hello T.,

Thank you for your kinds comments about my site.

Your question does not have a simple answer. There are many options and obligations open to each party when a purchaser does not have funds to close. First, I must tell you, if this is your situation, you must consult your lawyer for professional advice in this situation, this is a very serious situation and requires a lawyer to interpret and advise when a buyer cannot or does not close.

Many believe that the deposit is automatically forfeited to the seller if the buyer does not close. Nothing could be further from the truth. The deposit is only a sign of good faith in the transaction and remains in the real estate broker trust account until there is a mutual release, court order or a successful closing. There are a few other ways a deposit comes out of a trust account, but these are the main methods.

In my experience, some of the options open to one or the other or both parties when a buyer cannot close are:

  • One option is to mutually release each other from the sale and sometimes the purchaser compensates the seller in some way.
  • Another option is to put the property back on the market, try to re-sell the property and depending upon whether the property sells for more or less than the original sale, and taking into account other expenses, the original purchaser and seller can come up with a compromise
  • The seller can tender on the purchaser to close the transaction and if they do not close the seller can sue the purchaser for specific performance for not completing the transaction as per the terms of the original agreement of purchase and sale. Again, this is complex and legal advice is required.
I think in all cases where a buyer cannot close on a sale, the seller should try and re-list the property back on the market, get the real estate board to reverse the previous reported sale and remove all the sale information, so agents no longer see what the original sale price was and try and re-sell the property.

I hope this helps.

Read more about the agreement of purchase and sale at this page:

Please let me know if you have other questions,

When you have two listings in the same area and same house, how can you get only one sale?

When there are Two Listings: Same House, Same Area - Only One Sale , what would have caused this?

This is an interesting analysis, let me know what you think.

You may have guessed that one listing was at a much higher price than the other. So, the question is … why does Owner B insist on a higher list price than Owner A?

In this case both owners:

¡ Are single, mid 60's, retired

¡ Own another home

¡ Will invest the full net proceeds of this house sale

¡ Want a gain of $40,000 in net annual income after this transaction

Both Owners will gain $18,000 annual net income from the elimination of house related expenses with the balance to come from investing the net sale proceeds. And that is where the problem lies.

Owner A listed his house for $499,900 and sold for that price in 30 days

¡ Net proceeds of $460,000 were invested in an Income Plus Plan

¡ Guaranteed minimum lifetime annual income of $23,000

¡ About $22,000 in net after-tax annual income (tax rate of 5%)

¡ Owner A achieves his objective of $40,000 net annual income – guaranteed for the rest of his life – and with the potential for future increases.

Owner B's home did not sell for 549,900

¡ After a number of price reductions it eventually sells for the same price as Owner A's

¡ Net proceeds of $460,000 were invested in a GIC at 4.5%

¡ Income of about $21,000 is generated

¡ About $14,500 in net annual income (tax rate of 30%)

¡ Total net income is $32,500some $7,500 less than Owner B's objective and subject to change based on interest rates in the future – and the risk that the income may not last.

Declining real estate values and low interest rates make it difficult for Owners looking to downsize. One way to help clients in this situation is to offer them a complimentary review and consultation on their income needs. As this case illustrates, there are options which deliver sustainable lifetime income – at a minimum guaranteed rate of 5% – with the potential for future increases – at preferred tax rates. Helping clients meet their needs in this way also helps them to list their house at a saleable price.

Please let me know if you have any questions,


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Does "Buy and Hold" Work When the Market Goes Up and Down like a Yo-Yo?

This came in my inbox and was too interesting of an article to read.
We may benefit by following this advice!

Does “Buy and Hold” Work When the

Market Goes Up and Down like a Yo-Yo?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit freaked out about the stock market. I know I’m relatively young, have a lot of time to recover, and that I don’t have a million dollars the market, but it’s very uneasy to think about the security of my invested assets in such a volatile market.

The day that I wrote this the S&P 500 index went up and down nearly 10%. To say that is volatile is an understatement.

You know what everyone says: If you are in the market for the “long-term” you don’t have to worry about the short-term volatility or losses.

I guess that sort of makes sense doesn’t it? Or does it?

This is a new very volatile world and I wrote this newsletter to give you something to think about and determine if buying and holding stocks right now is a good idea even when looking at the long term?

Ask yourself this question: If the stock market goes up and down and up and down over a ten year period with the average rate of return equalling ZERO, will the account balance be the same at the end of the ten-year period?

Put another way, if you invested $100,000 in the S&P 500 index where the index went up 10% the first year, then down 10%, then up 10%, then down 10%, and if this cycle continued for 10 years with the average rate of return equalling ZERO, would your initial investment still be $100,000?

The answer is NO!

Look at the following chart where I assumed a very volatile market that goes up and down 10% every other year and after ten-years the average return is ZERO. You’ll notice that the account value is $95,438.

Never go backwards and lock in gains

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of Fixed Indexed Annuities (FIAs) to hedge a client’s risk in the market and to earn decent returns when the stock market does well. FIAs are not a cure all. Not every penny of someone’s money should be in them, but as an asset allocation model, the older you get the more money you should have in a wealth building tool that will not go backwards.

What if the $100,000 invested in the above example instead went into FIAs? If I make a very conservative assumption that over time the cap on returns will be 8% annually, look at the results.

Initial Annual Return Acct. Initial Annual Return Acct. S&P 500 Investment Value Investment Balance Index FIA End Year 1 $100,000 10% $10,000 $110,000 $100,000 8.00% $8,000 $108,000 End Year 2 $110,000 -10% ($11,000) $99,000 $108,000 0.00% $0 $108,000 End Year 3 $99,000 10% $9,900 $108,900 $108,000 8.00% $8,640 $116,640 End Year 4 $108,900 -10% ($10,890) $98,010 $116,640 0.00% $0 $116,640 End Year 5 $98,010 10% $9,801 $107,811 $116,640 8.00% $9,331 $125,971 End Year 6 $107,811 -10% ($10,781) $97,030 $125,971 0.00% $0 $125,971 End Year 7 $97,030 10% $9,703 $106,733 $125,971 8.00% $10,078 $136,049 End Year 8 $106,733 -10% ($10,673) $96,060 $136,049 0.00% $0 $136,049 End Year 9 $96,060 10% $9,606 $105,666 $136,049 8.00% $10,884 $146,933 End Year 10 $105,666 -10% ($10,567) $95,099 $146,933 0.00% $0 $146,933 Ave.Return 0.00% 4.00%

Why did the FIA end up with an account balance of $146,933 instead of $95,099? Simple, in down years the FIA returned ZERO instead of -10% and in up years it returned 8%.

Are these examples real world? Prior to 1998 you would have said no way? Are these examples real world? Who knows, they could be. The question of the day is: are you doing everything you can to help educate and protect your client’s money in this uncertain world.

It’s one thing to have a conversation with your client where they are upset they only earned 8% when the market was
up 10%+, it’s another to have one with them when their money earned ZERO when the market was down 10%. The first one I don’t mind having, the second one is really painful (especially if your client is over the age of 60-65and close to or in retirement).


Just in case you are curious, if the market has wild swing of 20% every other year (up and down), the account balance at the end of 10-years would be $81,537 and the FIA account balance would remain at $146,933.


I’m not sure if the days of “buy and hold” have come and gone as a tried and true way of growing your wealth. That may or may not be the case. What I know is that it’s time to have a discussion with your clients to help them understand ALL the various options to grow and protect their wealth and I think that conversation should include the information discussed in this newsletter.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Foreclosures in Ontario or Power of Sale?

A common question I get asked is, 'please send me your list of foreclosures in the GTA"

See the question from an avid reader and my answer below.

From: Joe []
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 10:34 AM
To: A. Mark Argentino, Broker, P.Eng.,
Subject: I would like to see inside this Power of Sale Property

Hi Mark,
I really like your listings for POS.
Do you have a list of Bank owned foreclosures or Bank owned homes for sale? That list would be outstanding!


My answer is:

Hi Joe,
There are very few (if any) foreclosure properties in the GTA, they are all POS based upon my observations.
It appears that the banks don't like to own homes in Ontario and the law is not set up for ownership as much as it is for the preferred method of selling when an owner is in default. The preferred method is by selling the property using the power of sale clause contained within the mortgage. Read more about this at Foreclosure and Power of Sale Properties Explained
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
All the best,
You will find all the POS properties that are currently available at this page

Please let me know if you would like to see inside any of these power of sale properties. You can read all about Power of Sale Properties at this page.

Thank you,


A. Mark Argentino
P. Eng. Broker
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate

Thinking of Selling? Best Mortgage Rates Current Home Prices Search MLS Newsletter
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.
Providing Full-Time Professional Real Estate Services since 1987

BUS 905-828-3434
FAX 905-828-2829 ÈCELL 416-520-1577
Website :

Canadian Mortgage Interest Rates are beginning to fall

You may have noticed that some of the fixed mortage interst rates are now beginning to drop.After seeing some increases to fixed mortgage rates over the past 4-8 weeks, we are now starting to see them fall back a little lower.

The banks have confused us and many people are very confused about mortgage rates and how they are set. You may have noticed over the past couple of months that mortages do not always move in the direction of the prime rate (unless you are on a variable rate mortgage).

This article below below that was published in the Financial Post recently will explain to you how mortgage interest rates are set

This is the article that was orginally published in the Financial Post and explains how mortgage rates are tied to the bond rate

Mortgages are the biggest loan in just about everyone's life. And they can be the hardest to understand.

Why do mortgage rates move the way they do? Why don't the rates march in lock step with other interest rates?

When the Bank of Canada lowers interest rates the big banks usually play chicken for several hours waiting to see who will drop rates first. At the last cut, the TD Bank was the first to lower prime. The others followed within the hour.

If you had a variable rate mortgage tied to prime, then your mortgage rate moved lower. But all other mortgage rates stayed put.

Why? One pat answer is mortgage rates don't move with prime because mortgages are financed in the bond market.

Not true. Interest rates in the bond market influence mortgage rates, but that isn't where the money for mortgages comes from.

Banks get their mortgage money the same way they get other money: they take in deposits from bank accounts, GICs, etc., and then loan out the money at a higher rate. The difference, or the spread, is how commercial banks make most of their money.

The banks then put thousands of those mortgages together and repackage them as "mortgage-backed securities." These are sold to other institutions as a unit.

Since Canadian first mortgages are typically backed by housing assets, mortgage-backed securities here are seen as pretty safe investments, though the subprime variety were a disaster in the United States.

Here's where bonds come in: The bond market is made up of traders sitting at terminals in the world's financial capitals. The market is much bigger than the stock market and in many ways more important since it affects day-today interest rates.

When then banks want to set mortgage rates, they look at the yield, or interest rate, the bond is paying.
"Say the interest rate yield on a five-year government of Canada bond is 3%. The banks then have to set a rate high enough to cover all their costs of origination, selling and servicing the mortgage. They still have to be competitive with other lenders, so they set the five-year mortgage rate at 7%, but then discount on a person-by-person basis to around 5.5%" says Brendan Calder, now an adjunct professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Before his academic career he was president of CIBC mortgages and before that, one of the people who set up the mortgage-backed securities business in the 1980s.

"So, if you want to know where mortgage rates are heading, watch the yields on government of Canada bonds," says Mr. Calder. "That's what mortgage brokers do."
Canadians have borrowed a total of $879-billion against their houses, according to the Bank of Canada.

"That includes residential mortgages and lines of credit secured against housing," says Jeremy Harrison, a spokesman for the Bank of Canada in Ottawa.
Just about half the mortgages, or $487-billion, are held by the chartered banks. The next biggest lenders are credit unions, which have $110-billion in mortgages outstanding. But the big banks set the trend.

Banks didn't always dominate the mortgage business. Until changes to the Bank Act in 1967, banks were not allowed to lend mortgages.
Back then, trust companies dominated the business.
"The market dominance of the banks in the mortgage business has continued to grow," says Mr. Calder.

Now you know how mortgage rates are set.
Let me know if you have more questions,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

sold statistics for W20 showing all types of properties, number of active listings, sales and average, median, minimum and maximum prices for month to date and year to date

These are the sold statistics for W20 showing all types of properties, number of active listings, sales and average, median, minimum and maximum prices for month to date and year to date

Property Type Active Sales Avg $ Med $ Min $ Max $ Att/Row/Twnhouse 46 4 189 $338,500 $334,140 $337,000 $327,000 $325,000 $245,500 $355,000 $560,000 Month Year Co-op Apt 0 0 0 - - - - - - - - Month Year Condo Apt 43 16 188 $186,000 $196,839 $183,500 $192,000 $90,000 $78,000 $255,000 $343,000 Month Year Condo Townhouse 98 19 503 $262,994 $261,401 $276,000 $255,000 $174,000 $162,000 $313,500 $620,000 Month Year Det Condo 1 0 3 - $261,667 - $268,500 - $244,000 - $272,500 Month Year Detached 331 45 1,016 $450,599 $464,269 $450,000 $438,000 $225,000 $225,000 $725,000 $1,400,000 Month Year Link 5 1 30 $316,800 $356,190 $316,800 $361,450 $316,800 $300,000 $316,800 $390,000 Month Year Semi-Detached 113 18 580 $348,528 $340,914 $341,500 $340,500 $325,000 $260,000 $394,000 $431,000 Month Year District Total: 637 103 2,509 Month Year
See more average prices at this page:
Thank you,

GTA Real Estate Market prices -Present and Future

I received a nice email from a regular reader of my newsletter and website. I've removed his name, but kept the content. He asks some important questions about our marketplace and I've put my answers below.


Hey Mark,

First, many thanks for your ongoing posting of stats for the 905 area.

It's a great service to your clients, and indeed to the public at large. I've been following your site for a while, and I notice you've not updated your chart of average prices

( since August and that your estimate for future prices still assumes a 4% increase per year into the future.

Since your last chart update, I think it's clear that the cyclical pattern shown has been broken to the downside. Based on a macroeconomic outlook, with recession in the US sure to cause job loss and recession in Canada, there seems to be no catalyst on the horizon to return sentiment to the upside. Sentiment has clearly turned south, and several years or more of declining house prices can be expected, based on examination of previous deflationary periods, absent something to turn it around.

Though you do post the TREB releases, I think it would do your prospective clients a service to update the chart with more recent data showing the trend break. Of course your chart projecting future prices looks like it's a once-per-year update, so it makes sense to hold that off until January, though I do hope you won't assume 4% annual price increases, given the turn in the market.


J. - regular reader.

Hello J,

Thank you for your email and kind comments.

I update my graphs every month, but it appears you are correct, that the graphs are showing old data. Maybe something happened the last time that I synchronized my data. I will recheck and upload the current graphs.

As you have pointed out, I update my newsletter and information monthly, so I am not sure what happened with the graph updates.

Yes, sentiment has reversed. Actually, our market has been softening since last November, just that it's really starting to hit harder now. I know that I am the eternal optimist, but I feel there is much positive in our current marketplace. I believe the next two quarters will be a difficult time here in the GTA and beyond that, nobody knows. I blogged a little about our softening market at this page:

And yes, I 'predict' once per year and I would guess that 4% is definitely not in the cards for 2009 My observations are this, and you may concur. TREB has always seemed to skew their statistical results to portray a positive and optimistic picture when they release market stats every month. I feel their market analysis is for the media rather than the membership, but I think that is part of their job, to keep the real estate ball rolling. You may have noticed that TREB is now splitting the Toronto market values and figures from the 905 region. This is good and bad. I believe it's good because 905 area is very different compared to the 416 area of Toronto, so the numbers should be broken out to give people a more realistic set of monthly figures to analyse. The bad part is that people (and TREB) still compare year over year figures and now when you do that, the numbers are not comparing apples with apples. Thus, error is introduced into the analysis.

As well, TREB has grown immensely in geographic regions over the past 5 to 10 years. There were very few listings 10 years ago on TREB from Burlington or Whitby or Newmarket, for example. Now, those areas all share data with TREB. Thus, number of sales and average prices have changed a great deal when you add those areas and figures. I feel this makes some of the historical comparisons suspect, if not invalid.

One has to be extremely careful when looking at averages and must make comparisons that are comparable.

At any rate, I thank you for your comments and I will upload the proper updated graphs over the weekend.

Thank you,


Monday, November 24, 2008

Rules you must know when tenants currently occupy the unit we are selling

Landlord and Tenant Issues in Ontario

You will note that there are many important aspects and considerations when it comes to renting out properties. Other real estate agents often inquire regarding any important rules agents must know on listing or presenting a condo when tenants currently occupy the unit?

The short answer is yes. If a single tenant has lived in the condo since June 17, 1998, the condo owner can't evict the tenant and transfer ownership to a new owner. This is called Security of Tenure. Therefore, if you are interested in buying a condo and before you take a listing for a condo, or before showing a client a condo, it's crucial that you know whether the unit currently has tenants and when those tenants moved in.

Of course, a in all instances a landlord may informally request the tenant to leave, and the tenant may agree to do so or they may not leave. However, a landlord cannot require a tenant to agree to end a tenancy, or to sign, at the start of the tenancy, an agreement to end the tenancy at a later date, this is not legal. As well, in Ontario it is an offense for a landlord to illegally lock a tenant out of their rental unit or the building.

If a landlord is convicted in Provincial Court under the Provincial Offenses Act, they could be fined up to $25,000 if the landlord is an individual and 4 times that fine if the landlord is a corporation.

As well in Ontario, if the tenant finds out about Security of Tenure after they move out, they have up to a year to re-claim their tenancy in the condo. If the tenant won't leave or the landlord has to pay the tenant a settlement to leave, the agent is liable to be sued.

In all instances of the situations above, an agent can be held liable by the tenant and the Ontario government for not informing or misinforming the landlord client of the pertinent landlord/tenant laws.

You can learn more about Ontario landlord and tenant law and your responsibilities at my site at:

All the best,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Home Staging, when should you stage your house?

When to Stage your House?

Before The Sign Goes Up.

You can't change the location or the size of your house, but you can enhance its presentation.

Ñ Before the appraisal is done

So it will appraise for top dollar

Ñ Before the sign goes on the lawn
So you have the competitive advantage Sell for more money in less time.

Ñ Before the photos are taken
Great first impression to entice Buyers to view your house

Ñ Before the feature sheets are prepared
To capture and highlight the best selling features

Ñ Before the real estate agents tour
Great first impression to entice Agents to show your house

Ñ Before open houses and viewings to appeal to the widest range
of potential Buyers so Buyers will see Pride of Ownership

Ñ Before money is spent on advertising or marketing

Courtesy of:
Lydia Pollard
Owners Pride Home Staging & Design

Read more about:Homes for Sale

Thank you for reading my blog and if there is anything else I can help you with please don't hesitate to contact me,


A. Mark Argentino
P. Eng. Broker
Specializing in Residential & Investment Real Estate

Thinking of Selling? Best Mortgage Rates Current Home Prices Search MLS
RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc.

Providing Full-Time Professional Real Estate Services since 1987

( BUS 905-828-3434
8 Website :

Homes for Sale