Torontoism https://torontoism.com Toronto Real Estate with Torontoism Fri, 23 Jun 2017 07:52:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rundles: A piece of Stratford’s history revealed https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/rundles-morris-house https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/rundles-morris-house#comments Tue, 20 Jun 2017 09:27:21 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19929 It was a sunny day of 1977. Jim Morris stood on the mammoth vacant green grass patch in Stratford, Ontario overlooking Lake Victoria. Spellbound, he wondered how to compliment and perpetuate the serenity and beauty surrounding him. This led the visionary in him to construct a 4,500 square feet restaurant at the place; not only a gastronomic delight to its patrons but also an epitome of modern Canadian architecture and design across the lake. Morris named it Rundles, an old English word for stream.

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Adjoining the restaurant also proudly stands the unique Rundles Morris House, a magnificent three storey 1,800 square feet villa; truly a designer's dream. Both establishments call 9 and 7 Cobourg Street in Stratford, Ontario their home and they're just a step away from the city's downtown, famous for its Stratford Festival attracting and entertaining scores of visitors from Canada as well as overseas.

Jim Morris felt the connection to the small town and decided to build something for himself there:

It was actually the sheer love for the festival that drew me to Stratford, while the tranquillity of this beautiful city confirmed my decision to stay. The restaurant came first and then the house that was built in 1988-99 and renovated twice since then. In all it took me about 25 years to finally achieve something that matched my taste and liking.

Rundles Morris House

The Rundles Morris House | 7 Cobourg Street

See the full listing for more info here.

Morris was inspired by the works of the Japanese architect, Tadao Ando and he wanted to inculcate a similar design for the house. Toronto-based architects Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe worked hard to transform Morris’ dream to reality.

The two-bedroom suite has a panoramic view of the lake and the parkland. The living room boasts a charming wood burning fireplace. Every room has modern furniture and light fixtures carefully sourced from Europe and North America. Topping it all, both the bedrooms have bathroom ensuite.

rundles-morris-bedCheck the virtual tour of the house.
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Morris credits intelligent designing that makes the house look much larger than it is in originality.

The master bedroom faces East while the living room is towards West. This makes you view and admire the sunrise lying comfortably in your bedroom and also enjoy an unobstructed view of the sunset from the living room. When sitting in the living room, it would feel that you are much closer to the lake than you actually are. That brings you a feeling of proximity to nature and surroundings. In addition, a suspended stair from the foyer to the dining room, and a hutch that doubles as the door to the utility room.

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Rundles Restaurant | 9 Cobourg Street 

See the full listing for more info here.

The Rundles restaurant is a fully detached facility with indoor seating of 100 people. The patio can accommodate 20 people who while relishing the culinary extravaganza can enjoy and admire the lakeside view.

It has always been our aim to provide our patrons with unique culinary experience contributing to rank Stratford among the best food destinations in Canada.

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For additional income, there is an upper level residential apartment with breathtaking views of Lake Victoria.

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This year, both the Rundles Morris House that has too often served as the vacation home for visitors to the town during the festival and the restaurant will be celebrating their final season. Both the properties are looking for new owners who would keep the good times moving.

The Rundles House is being sold at $995,000 and the restaurant at $1,200,000.

About Stratford

If you are looking for a quiet getaway, Stratford is among the best small towns in Canada. It is apt for those seeking a retreat and is also a walkers' paradise. Though a small country town, it has culinary and theatrical offerings one can expect to find only in far larger places.

For people new to the place, Stratford is a small town in Southern Ontario on the Avon River about two hours from Toronto. It is known for its Stratford Festival where modern and Shakespearean plays are staged in multiple theaters. During the festival visitors can also stay in theater-themed B&Bs.

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The City is also known for its Victorian style buildings including Stratford City Hall and the Perth County Courthouse. There are many parks and gardens including Shakespearean Gardens. The plants in the garden are also mentioned in the playwrights’ works.

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GTA Real Estate News Highlights: #4 https://torontoism.com/real-estate/2017/06/gta-real-estate-news-highlights-4 https://torontoism.com/real-estate/2017/06/gta-real-estate-news-highlights-4#comments Mon, 19 Jun 2017 12:54:12 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19911 Time is everything! To save you some, we are keeping you posted on the latest real estate news in GTA. 

CBC News: Toronto-area couple loses $30K deposit after bad advice from double-ending real estate agent, lawyer says

A couple from Toronto area fell victim to a double-ending real estate agent and lost a $30,000 deposit. The situation started in April when the couple viewed a condo in Mississauga and the agent representing the seller offered to represent them too. The agent then encouraged the couple to put a higher offer and pay $30,000 non-refundable deposit. When the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) got involved to finalize financing, they found out a number of legal issues, the transaction failed and the seller kept $30,000 deposit. The couples’ lawyer insists that the couple was misinformed about the condition of the status certificate. The seller agreed to settle without going to court and the couple got their deposit back, but the whole process became quite a shock for them. The whole story raised concerns about double-ending and The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) hopes the government will modernize the rules for real estate agents.

The Star: Millennials put housing issues high on political agenda

Research for the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) revealed that 37 per cent of Ontarians believe housing affordability should be on the upcoming provincial election agenda and 30 per cent saying they are more likely to vote for a party that addresses the issue. The problem of affordable housing for millennials is related to the “missing middle” in the real estate market, the issue that was widely discussed in the last month. The millennials were satisfied with living in downtown condos before but as they move towards family life, they start to look for a kind of house their parents used to have. Meanwhile, the baby boomers seem to occupy the kind of housing millennials want to have, refusing to downsize. OREA’s CEO Tim Hudak holds that the long-term solution would be increasing housing supply and the diversity of this supply. The meeting of about 120 government officials and academics devoted an entire panel to the millennials' struggle to afford a mortgage.

Huffington Post: Toronto House Price Map Shows Some Subway Stations Are Still -- Gasp! -- Affordable

The listing site The Red Pin released a map of Toronto properties indicating the average price by subway station. According to the data, it’s still possible to find a one-bedroom condo for $150,000 at the far east end of the Bloor-Danforth line. The priciest spot on the map is Lawrence Station, where you would spent an average of $2.7 million to buy a home. Due to the recent cooling of the market, there is a hope for buyers that the properties around more subway stations will become affordable in the future.

Better Dwelling: Toronto Sees A 64% Increase In New Detached Listings

Toronto sees a great number of new listings and they are mostly from detached homes, the number of detached listings increased by 68 per cent compared to last year. Despite the general market cooldown, according to TREB, the detached home prices also increased with 28 per cent compared to the same time last year. Unlike the listings, the sales dropped by 26 per cent. It is quite usual that when the prices go up the sales go down, but the fact that inventory is increasing in this situation is still unclear and needs to be explained.

CBC News: New Toronto Airbnb rules would require hosts to live at property they're listing

Torontonians will only be able to list short-term rentals for the property they live in, if city hall approves new recommendations released Monday. The new rules recommend banning people from listing units where they don’t live, licensing companies like Airbnb, registering and regulating short-term rental units. Critics suggest, that people buy multiple properties with no intention to leave there and renting them like “ghost hotels”, reducing the number of opportunities available for people for long-term rentals or buying a home. These recommendations are still awaiting approval from the City council. Airbnb maintains that the short-term rentals provided an opportunity for many hosts to pay their bills and purchase property on a hot housing market, while bringing millions in tourism revenue for Toronto.

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People of Toronto: Chris Wong | Young Urban Farmers https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/chris-wong-young-urban-farmers https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/chris-wong-young-urban-farmers#comments Wed, 14 Jun 2017 11:53:21 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19867 There are many professional gardeners in Toronto who will cut your lawn, prune your lilacs, and weed the rose bed. But if it's edibles you're growing – whether outdoors, indoors, or in a greenhouse – then you might consider putting in a call to Young Urban Farmers.

Founded in 2009 by three recent graduates of Queen's University's Commerce program, the small but optimistic company works throughout the GTA, selling gardening supplies such as planters and organic fertilizer, while also providing the labour and expertise to help people to set up and maintain their own food gardens.

Chris Wong is the general manager of Young Urban Farmers, and the only one of the three original founders to still be involved in the company. A busy advocate of sustainable urban agriculture, Wong is also a co-founder of the Community Shared Agriculture organization Cultivate Toronto, and served for several years on Toronto's Youth Food Policy Council. Fortunately, I got in touch with him just before the busiest month of his year began.

Young Urban Farmers has been in operation for several years – how many people do you employ at this point?

The core team of Young Urban Farmers is still quite small. Essentially for this season, I've got a crew of two people who will be helping me do pretty much all of the gardening stuff, from setting up to watering and weeding and managing and taking care of the different plants.

Who hires Young Urban Farmers, and why?

There's a number of reasons why people choose to hire me, and some of them include having that extra peace of mind and assurance from someone who has done this for many years that they are choosing the best gardening products, the best soil mix, and having it professionally planted.

The majority of our customers are people who want to be growing the food to add nutrients to their diet. People will choose to have a vegetable garden and grow their own food because it allows them to know exactly where their food is coming from. It allows them to understand that there's no chemicals or pesticides being added into the garden, and have things as fresh as possible.

Some people do it to improve their health. Whether they have different health challenges, or simply want to improve their overall health and be in that state of so-called optimal health. There's also food security. Last year, for example, I helped in a garden in a Toronto community housing building. I set up a garden for them. For them, sometimes having access to fresh, healthy food is a challenge; they might live in what's known as food deserts, where having access to a grocery store that's convenient and affordable is a challenge.

And so being able to have a garden that they can tend to, and foster that sense of community as well as to improve their health and nutrition, it's all of those different factors on the checklist of why people may want to have a garden.

Are all of your clients private individuals growing food for their own consumption?

I've done some gardens for different restaurants and hotels who wanted to incorporate the food into their different services, whether it's catering, or the banquet arm of a hotel, for example. I have a customer near Eglinton West subway station and they grow a tonne of food and they like to share this with their friends and neighbours and just be that local champion.

Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about hiring Young Urban Farmers?

I would say for most people, the first step – and this is geared more towards an outdoor garden – the first step is to look at the sun and the shade, and think of how you want to choose the sunniest area possible.

There's a direct correlation between the hours of direct sun and how well the plants do, so you want a place with at least four hours of direct sun – perhaps six or eight hours of direct sun would be even better, but with a limited amount of sun you can still have some great herbs and other things that can tolerate a little less sun.

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What are some of the more common gardening mistakes you run into?

Yeah, so, number one, people often plant things too closely together, especially when it comes to tomatoes and zucchini and other large plants. When it comes to doing the planting, the spacing is very important, so if you plant too close together, then the plants aren't going to reach their full potential, and you will not be able to maximize your yield.

You can actually increase the risk of different fungal and bacterial diseases because they lack air flow and the plants are too tightly packed together. And if they're too far away then you're going to potentially be dealing with more weeds and other issues in terms of having too much open space for the different plants.

And number two, another common challenge that people run into is not building up and improving the soil that they're working and growing in. So think of the soil like the foundation of a building. If we use that analogy, we have a strong foundation then you'll have strong healthy plants.

What are the hardest parts of your job?

From my perspective, one of the most challenging things is managing the planting season in May. There's always more things to do, and not enough hours in the day to get things planted at an appropriate time.

On the flip side, what are some of your favourite parts of Young Urban Farmers' work?

One of my favourite things is that it always provides new and interesting challenges. I get to meet and work with a wide range of different people, and the job is never the same from year to year. So we have mother nature and the general climate and weather, we have the different spaces that we're working in, different site conditions, different soil conditions...

And in addition, there's always opportunities to experiment and test out new varieties of the crop. So for example, a couple years ago I started growing chickpeas, and that's not a very common thing that people think of when it comes to gardening and growing. But it's a beautiful plant, and it really accents a garden and provides a nice conversation starter for people who want to sort of extend their range.

What area do you work in?

I go all over Toronto and even outside of Toronto to the GTA for the garden set-up. When we started in 2009 we focussed exclusively on the Mid-town neighbourhood, so around Yonge and Lawrence, Yonge and Eglinton type of area, but like I said, we've expanded to all across Toronto and the GTA.

I have people up in Richmond Hill, I have some people even up in Newmarket who call me to come and help them with their garden, and people out in Pickering, out in Mississauga, Burlington. I had a couple people out in Hamilton last year. It takes me all over the GTA, and that's one of the nice things; to be able to see all of what Ontario has to offer.

Given the Canadian climate, how many months a year are you able to operate?

I start my seeds in March, there's a greenhouse that I rent space in near Newmarket. Depending on the weather, the first time we do some planting outside is typically in April, and then in May we're planting still, and in terms of outdoor gardens we go up until October generally, or until frost kills off most of the plants.

So do you take the winter off, or are there preparations to be made for the next year?

Oh yes. In winter there's a lot of planning and research that goes into that season. And so, generally starting February, that's when the trade shows and events - for example, Seedy Saturday and Canada Blooms get started. And it's also doing some pre-orders. So for people who are a little bit more organized, and want to get everything lined up, we start taking pre-orders in January. And so that's part of what the winter looks like for me.

Is there anything that you'd like to see changed in Toronto's approach to urban agriculture?

Yeah. I would say that there's a lot of great initiatives already underway, whether it's the gardening in the hydro corridors or the other work that the Toronto Food Policy Council and the Toronto Food Strategy is working on. One thing that I would be really excited to see happen is to have backyard chickens be allowed officially for people in the city. I think that it compliments backyard farming and gardening very closely. So combining those different elements, I think, could be a great way in which we can get more food-related activities happening in the city.

YUF helped in the planning and setup of this rooftop garden growing a variety of vegetables in EarthBoxes.
YUF helped in the planning and setup of this rooftop garden growing a variety of vegetables in EarthBoxes.

Since this is Toronto, I'm assuming you have a technique for keeping racoons from eating people's crops?

Racoons are definitely a challenge for many people. There are two main things that I recommend. Number one is crop selection. You're going to think about growing things in the onion family – so that would be leeks, shallots, your green onions, garlic – those are generally not attractive to racoons and most animals and insects.

Number two is to use a motion-activated sprinkler. So this is a device you attach to your hose. It runs off a battery, and when an animal crosses the sensor it gets triggered, and it sends a burst of water to scare away different animals. And one of the keys to that is to get it set up and installed from day one when you plant your garden.

Besides racoons, what are some of the gardening hurdles one can encounter in Toronto?

Depending on your neighbourhood you might have a lot of mature trees, so finding places where there's enough sun to grow your tomatoes and cucumbers could be a challenge. So that's one hurdle.

Number two; some people just don't have that confidence or skill or the knowledge to tend to their garden. So that's where someone like me can come in. But also at the same time, we have great resources online for people who want to take that initiative to learn themselves, there's that option as well.

Would you say there are any perks or advantages to gardening in Toronto?

I would say Toronto is a very diverse, multi-cultural society, and so that translates into a lot of different gardens, and different crops that get grown. So; diverse people that I help grow different things like bitter melon and okra. And of course, there are Chinese vegetables like bok choy and daikon raddish. It's nice to have people with some of those cultural heritages, to help them to connect with that aspect of their culture through the garden. That's one advantage of being in Toronto; the diversity of the people and the cultures that they bring with them.

Title photo by Tujawellness.com

JN00KI

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GTA Real Estate News Highlights: #3 https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/gta-real-estate-news-highlights-3 https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/gta-real-estate-news-highlights-3#comments Mon, 12 Jun 2017 15:25:20 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19870 In the midst of the general real estate market cooldown there is a bunch of positive news out there: the supply is finally increasing, luxury property sales are going up and a lot of Toronto families can afford $1M+ home. Here are some of the good reads this week from Torontoism. 

Torontoism: The TREB numbers for May are released: it’s the best time to be a buyer in 2017

Good news for buyers – the number of active listings at the end of May 2017 was up by 42.9 per cent compared to May 2016. Detached and semi-detached properties experienced a considerable increase in listings, while condos were down compared to May 2016. Torontoism team highlights great opportunities for buyers. However, as Jim Burtnick notes, the market activity is likely to pick up soon he also suggests that the current situation is just an adjustment back to a more "normalized" marketplace.

TorontoStoreys: Canadian home ownership dream hinges on supply, says OREA’s Tim Hudak

OREA CEO Tim Hudak talking about the propositions that Ontario realtors made to increase the real estate supply and affordability of housing in GTA. Some of those points have successfully found their way into the government’s Fair Housing Plan. The recommendations included speeding up the home developments approvals, improving infrastructure in housing-ready areas, fixing the outdated restrictions on the “missing middle” housing types, higher requirements for the level of realtors’ professionalism and protecting those who live in Ontario and contribute to its well-being from the foreign buyers’ tax.

OREA’s CEO insists that the market slowdown is temporary and related to the buyers’ and sellers’ expectations. The lack of housing is an ongoing trend and it is caused mainly by the lack of supply, he emphasizes.

Better Dwelling: How Many People Can Support Million Dollar Toronto Real Estate Prices? A Lot

To say that Toronto families cannot keep up with the prices at the current levels has become a banality. However, this statement is hardly supported by the statistics. The numbers show that there is a good chance that the market can be supported by local incomes. In 2016 alone there were 19,318 sales over a million dollars, which represents 17 per cent of total sales in the whole TREB region.

To support a million dollar home, the family needs to make at least $150,000 per year. According to Statistics Canada’s latest income release, 11 per cent of households in Toronto made over $150,000 in 2015 after tax. That means there’s 264,110 families able to buy a $1M+ home last year. However, there are still a lot of families which are much worse off, and the incomes are quickly polarizing, so there are still people who have trouble finding a shelter.

The Globe and Mail: Toronto’s housing market: Sustained chill or Vancouver-style rebound?

The average sale price dropped by 6.2 per cent in May compared to April and the number of home sales fell 12.3 per cent. The question is if the market slowdown will last. Similar drop in prices happened before in Vancouver after the introduction of similar foreign buyers’ tax, and the prices there have gone back to previous levels in about 8 months. In May, average sale prices for detached homes, condos and townhouses in the Vancouver area hit record highs again. It is estimated then, that if Toronto real estate market follows the same trends, the prices will have rebounded by December 2017.

The Star: Uber-luxury properties sizzle in cooler market

Even though it’s just a tiny slice of Toronto’s property market, luxury real estate is on the rise, with a 62.5 per cent increase in Toronto-area properties selling for more than $4 million, despite the overall cool down of the market.

It is considered that the buyers of luxury real estate might have a deeper understanding of the market and its temporary fluctuations which do not change the long-term trend. Another explanation might be that the rich buyers are less sensitive to the price changes once they hit the $4 million mark. In any case, the foreign buyers tax has not slowed the luxury real estate market.

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GTA Real Estate News Highlights: #2 https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/gta-real-estate-news-highlights https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/gta-real-estate-news-highlights#comments Fri, 09 Jun 2017 08:49:39 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19836  As we saw last week, the real estate market seems rather unstable at the moment, and we hear all kinds of guesses about the future of Toronto’s real estate market. We’ve put together some of the most interesting reads from the last week to keep you updated.

Better Dwelling: Are Toronto Home Prices High, Or Is Canadian Money Becoming Worthless?

How much gold do you need to buy a home in Toronto and, more importantly, why would you care about the answer? The point is that the value of Canadian dollar, unlike gold, is easily manipulated by the government, making it poor criteria for assessing the “real” growth of prices on property. In other words, of assessing how “bubbly” Toronto real estate market is.

When measured in the price of gold, Toronto real estate isn’t showing the highs it was previously. At the end of 2016, the average price of a Toronto home sold for CA$729,922, roughly 440.96 oz of gold at the time. At the last peak of prices in 1989, the average home was sold for the equivalent of 606.58 oz of gold, 27% more expensive than last year. The all-time high for gold priced homes was 624.45oz in 2005, when the average home cost CA$335,907.

The Star: Toronto needs more housing options to keep top talent.

The issue is closely linked to the “missing middle” in Toronto’s real estate market discussed last week. Research for the Toronto Region Board of Trade shows half of those aged 18 to 39 want to own a detached house in the region’s priciest market — Toronto, where detached re-sale homes cost $1.6 million on average in April.

A leading Toronto business group is warning that unless that situation changes, the region could be compromising its ability to attracted talented professionals.

Toronto Life: We Bought a Crack House.

Apart from the #covfefe, one of the trending hashtags this week was #TorontoLife. The reason is a controversial article published there on Monday, which is a first-person story about a family buying an affordable house in Parkdale: “It was a crumbling Parkdale rooming house, populated by drug users and squatters and available on the cheap. We were cash-strapped, desperate to move and hemmed in by a hot market. Five years, three contractors and $1.1 million later, our home reno nightmare is finally over”.

The article was supposed to raise concerns over the unaffordable housing in Toronto and evoke sympathy for the family, but It seems that the effect was quite the opposite. Social media were bursting with angry posts about gentrification of the neighbourhoods like Parkdale and vulnerable groups being pushed out of the area.

Bloomberg: Cooling Real Estate Dents Canadian Consumer Confidence.

Canadians became less confident this month about housing and prospects for the economy amid the troubles of a Toronto mortgage lender, according to telephone polling. The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index fell to 58.5 in the week ending May 26. Sentiment has suffered after mortgage lender Home Capital Group Inc. sought refinancing after a run on its deposits, and Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Canada’s largest banks. Toronto’s market has also shown signs of cooling after the introduction of foreign buyer’s tax in Ontario.

The Market Mogul: The Canadian Real Estate Market: Is A Crash Inevitable?

With the real estate prices in Toronto at an all time high, there is an increasing anxiety about the possibility of the US housing crisis of 2008 repeating itself in Canada. In the Greater Toronto area, the prices of residential homes have increased at a rate of 27.7% since last year.

However, it seems that the US crisis is unlikely to happen in Canada, because there are genuine reasons that are driving up the prices and it is not only about speculation. First, there are just not enough residential dwellings in Toronto, so the supply is limited. Second, the demand for housing in Toronto is increasing because of both immigration as well as people moving to Toronto from within Canada.

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May 2017 Market Report: The best time to be a buyer in 2017 https://torontoism.com/real-estate/2017/06/market-report-may-2017 https://torontoism.com/real-estate/2017/06/market-report-may-2017#comments Wed, 07 Jun 2017 15:56:44 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19848 GTA REALTORS reported 10,196 sales in May 2017. This number presents a drop by 20.3 per cent compared to the 12,790 sales reported in May 2016. Sales in the detached segment were down by 26.3 per cent and 6.4 percent in the condominium segment.

Good news for buyers – the number of active listings at the end of May 2017 was up by 42.9 compared to May 2016. Detached and semi-detached properties experienced a considerable increase in listings, while condos were down compared to May 2016.

The average price continued to grow in May 2016, reaching $863,910 – the average selling price for all home types combined. The increase in average prices was higher in the condo segment compared to low-rise home types.

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Jim Burtnick, Broker, SVP-Sales

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The May TREB numbers truly show just how quickly a market can change. It doesn't take much to change the sentiment of both buyers and sellers. Just like the stock market, the perceived value of residential real estate is fluid and can go both up (like we have all seen for some time) and down (something we have not experienced since the USA subprime issue back in 2008). A classic example of Behavioural Economics at play. There is no real surprise that listing inventory is up - this happens every springtime.

The big change is that buyers are now not in a situation of competing for scarce inventory. Hence we are not seeing as many multiple offer situations as we did earlier in the year, that selling strategy is not as effective any longer. The real opportunity I see currently is for buyers. That is, they now have time to compare shop properties and make a well thought out decision on what to buy. Even better, they can negotiate a purchase price that is more likely to be less than the asking price and also have conditions such as financing approval within their offers.

However, I do think that the market activity will pick up (we are starting to see signs of this as I write this in the 1st week of June). So, like I said in my last comment, now is the best time to be a buyer in 2017. Buyers, don't wait too long as I expect activity to continue to pick up. The time is now to secure your new home. Sellers, you need patience and expect your property to take longer to sell and list it at a price with some room to negotiate (albeit this is just an adjustment back to a more "normalized" marketplace).

Richard Silver, Sales Representative, SVP-Sales

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There seemed to be a bit of a shock to the market in early May but I too noticed a big pick up in the last couple of weeks. There is a June slowdown as we head to Toronto's Cottage season and a general fatigue of both buyers and their agents. Sellers need to be more realistic and flexible realizing that if their property is now worth 5 per cent less than a month ago, the context is within a 30 per cent increase last year.

Our favourite mortgage broker, David Smith at Oriana Financial sees the Toronto market as just catching up now to its International counterparts achieving levels Torontonians may be concerned about but more normal in the World stage. I have long thought that our Real Estate was undervalued and cheap in comparison to other leading cities...have we just been catching up??

Rizwan Malik, Sales Representative, B.Comm

Rizwan

Added supply and uncertainty have definitely slowed down the market. Buyers seem to be holding a big collected breath, waiting to see what happens before they make a move. However, this might just be the time to enter the market if you're looking to buy. The strong Sellers market has subsided and Buyers have more power and choice than compared to before. The notion of getting a property under list and with a condition or two seemed impossible but not recently. I have successfully negotiated for a number of my Buyer clients during the month of May and we have walked away with incredible deals.

Sherille Layton, Sales Representative

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There is a window of opportunity for buyers right now to buy without competition in many cases. I had buyers that had been looking since last Fall, and recently found a great property and we were the only offer much to their surprise but they leapt at the opportunity. Who knows how long this will last but it is a prime time for buyers for a change. However, there are still multiple offers on some properties. The last few weeks have been an education for Sellers and many listings have been re-listed on MLS for less or more which is also why the listings stats are up.

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Top 10 Local Food Stores in Toronto https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/local-stores-toronto https://torontoism.com/toronto-news/2017/06/local-stores-toronto#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 14:39:26 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19539 Local is better.

Eating locally grown food means you're supporting family-owned Canadian farms instead of big foreign companies that had to freeze and ship the food to you. This doesn't just mean you're supporting local farmers, but you're also doing a big favour to yourself and your family, by eating higher quality, GMO-free organic food.

Canada has very strict GMO laws and many Canadian farmers have also become organic-certified over the years. And even if there were some chemicals involved in the growing process, by buying locally, you have the opportunity to talk to the farmers and ask them everything you want to know about the food you're buying.

In 2014 when we first published this article, the National Restaurant Association has identified "locally sourced meat and seafood" and "locally sourced produce" as the top two trends to look out for. It's 2017 and locally sourced produce, locally sourced meat and seafood are still trending. And in the first place of Top 10 Concept Trends is "hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items)", which points to the fact that restaurants are even willing to have their own gardens, just to get the freshest groceries possible.

But in Toronto, you don't need to grow your own vegetables to know you're eating local food. Thankfully, there are so many farmers markets and local food grocery stores around the city that all you need to do is pick one and go and do your shopping. But picking just one can be a problem, we know, which is why we've created a list of our 10 favourites and added some great photos to make your lives easier.  

Top 10 Local Food Stores in Toronto 

St. Lawrence Market

  • Open: Saturdays from 5am-3pm
  • Location: St. Lawrence Market
  • Parking: The Market Lot, Front & Jarvis, Front & Church, Jarvis & Wellington. See the parking map here. 
  • Website: stlawrencemarket.com/shopping

The St. Lawrence Market was named the world’s best food market by National Geographic in 2012, and there's a reason locals tend to agree. In operation since 1803, when Toronto had a mere 9,000 residents altogether, the St. Lawrence Market has over 120 food vendors and a farmer’s market that takes over every Saturday morning, starting at 5:00 am and lasting to 3:00 pm, all year round.

Now the largest indoor market in the city, it divides itself into two segments — the North Market and the South Market. The South Market offers specialty fresh food vendors, and the North Market hosts the farmer’s market and antique dealers on Sundays. Here you will find seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, delis, freshly-baked bread, pies, and much more.

st-lawrence-exterior

What distinguishes this market is the quantity of its vendors, their variety, and their focus on providing Canadian, quality items — especially if you’re looking for specialties like elk, venison, or other local game. The market is nicely located downtown and accessible by public transit from Union station, although it's not too easy to get to if you live outside the city and want to be there bright and early Saturday morning.

St. Lawrence Market is a true Toronto landmark and it's a must-see whether you're looking for fresh local food or just visiting the city. If it's local food you're looking for, The North Market is the best for local produce.

The markets aren't open every day, which is unfortunate, and the South Market doesn't run past 6:00 pm, except on Fridays (when it's open until 7:00 pm). So you're forced to work around their schedule if you work late evenings. The North Market (farmers) is only open Saturdays, and the South Market is open Tuesday to Saturday. Although not as convenient as your local grocery store, eating locally sourced food you can trust is still worth it, because a Saturday morning out at the market with your family to hand-pick what you’ll eat that week is a great thing.

Jean says it's something for everyone:

St. Lawrence Market (SLM) can be a one stop shop for all your needs. SLM is basically an indoor farmer's market and flea market with many vendors selling fresh produce and different knick-knacks. Another plus is the variety of food options of almost any ethnic background. Remember to bring cash as some places don't accept cards.

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st-lawrence-fish
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we-the-cheese

The Big Carrot

  • Open: Monday-Friday 9:00-9:00, Saturday 9:00-8:00, Sunday 10:00-6:00
  • Location: 348 Danforth Avenue
  • Parking: metered parking lot to the rear of the building
  • Website: thebigcarrot.ca

Conveniently located on The Danforth, The Big Carrot is a store that has specialized in natural, non-GMO, and environmentally-friendly food and products since 1983. It has been approved to process and package over 700 organic products in its juice bar, bulk, spice, cheese, and produce departments, and it takes pride in its commitment to providing fresh options versus competing commercial supermarkets.

Today The Big Carrot is located in the Carrot Common, which consists of a few businesses actually - the juice bar, the Carrot Kitchen and the grocery store

The Big Carrot supports and buys from local, small producers whenever possible, and it works hard with local growers to make its prices fair and competitive in Riverdale. They always try to promote seasonal offerings, even in winter, when they mostly sell root veggies or apples.

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bigcarrot-interior
bigcarrot-apples

What really makes The Big Carrot stand out is a knowledgeable staff that take pride in what they sell as much as the farmers do, and the wide range of products they sell (even apart from groceries, like body care items, household goods, and juices from their in-house juice bar). The store itself is beautiful and well kept, and it's a fair option compared to most farmer's markets because of the convenient location (at Chester Station on the Danforth line) and the fact that it's open every day, on weekdays until 9:00 pm.

This is still a supermarket, though, so you'll find more packaged goods (although non-GMO–verified for the most part) and other imports, so it's important you read all labels or ask the staff if you want to make sure you’re buying something that's locally grown.

Jenelle describes The Big Carrot as her favourite store:

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE The Big Carrot. They have everything you need -- from groceries, beauty products, vitamins, freshly made juices and more. Also, love that it's located in the heart of the Danforth. You can rest assured that you're purchasing GOOD QUALITY products that are good and safe for your body and mind. 

If you get a chance to visit the juice bar, I recommend the Amazon Warrior; that's some good ish! The majority of their ingredients are also certified organic which is awesome for a health junkie like myself. 

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big-carrot-salad
big-carrot-produce

Evergreen Brick Works Farmers' Market 

  • Open: Summer-Saturdays 8am-1pm, Winter-Saturdays 9am-1pm
  • Location: Evergreen Brick Works
  • Parking: Paid parking, daily parking rate is $8, or $2.25 per half hour.
  • Website: evergreen.ca 

As one of Toronto’s largest farmer's markets, with 65 to 85 vendors, Evergreen Brick Works is definitely worth checking out. It's one of the most conveniently located markets, with easy access from the Don Valley Parkway, although there is paid parking in effect. Evergreen really encourages you to take public transit, and with a free shuttle bus running from Broadview Station and the 28A bus running from Davisville Station on Saturdays, there's no excuse not to go. Evergreen Brick Works runs all year round, although it moves into a warmer indoor space during the winter and has closer to 54 vendors.

Things to look out for are the fresh veggies, frozen meats, preserves, honey, duck eggs, and prepared food vendors like Pimenton (vegan, gluten-free red velvet cupcakes), ChocoSol, and Clement’s Crepes. What sets this market apart is its frequent special events onsite, like art exhibits or cooking classes. On select Saturdays, Evergreen Brick Works has demonstration classes for $5 that will show you how to put your fresh, locally grown goods to use.

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wild-blueberries

Sarah recommends visiting on Saturday mornings:

An excellent place to come on a Saturday morning. Lots of amazing produce, meats, wine to sample and purchase (many of which are not sold in the LCBO), cheeses, and a "food court" with great eats such as crepes (so good!) tacos, paella, vegan items, salads, waffles, sandwiches, real lemonade and much more. I would recommend coming earlier to get parking and also so that they don't run out of good stuff! 

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local-food-evergreen-brickworks

Dufferin Grove

  • Open: all year long, Thursdays 3:00-7:00pm
  • Location: Dufferin Grove Park (875 Dufferin, South of Bloor, across from the Dufferin Mall)
  • Parking: Don't park illegally on Dufferin Park Avenue, you'll get a ticket. There are special signs allowing parking on Thursdays for market hours across from St. Mary's High School on the north side of the park.   

Dufferin Grove is a market open all year round that runs from 3pm to 7pm every Thursday. Its easy accessibility from Dufferin Subway Station and the weekday slot that runs after work hours makes it an ideal candidate for getting fresh, organic food if you live near the downtown core or on the west end. With vendors aplenty, you can grab a coffee, have a freshly baked gluten-free treat, listen to some live music and talk to the farmers before buying organic produce, heirloom plants, vegan chocolate, or a tofu burger.

When you shop for your groceries at a market like Dufferin, you are placing a vote to encourage healthy, clean, and locally-grown food. Most importantly, you are creating a connection between you and the food system, to lessen the disconnect between what is grown in Canada and what or when we eat.

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dufferin-veggies
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Lesley loves the community feeling at the market:

DGFM is a diverse organic market where most of the vendors sell organic produce with plenty of vegan meals to choose from at the BBQs, stalls or bakeries. Flowers from Prince Edward County, sprouts, kombucha, honey products, JK fries and Chocosol chocolate make me come back week after week! It is such a pleasure to shop and then stay for a picnic enjoying the delectable goodies and summer sun with a vibrant community of locals.

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organic-sauces

Fresh From the Farm

  • Open: Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturday 9am-5pm
  • Location: 350 Donlands Avenue
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Website: freshfromthefarm.ca

It's all in the name – straight from the farm to your shopping basket. Fresh From the Farm is a store that is a quick bus ride away from Donlands Station off of the Danforth. With them, you can place food orders online and pick them up at the store, particularly with a huge selection of grass-fed meats, cheeses, fish, and other unique choices like elk and beef tongue.

The store is a bit small, but it's packed with a variety of locally sourced produce, from farm fresh eggs to dairy products and hormone-free meat from Ontario Amish and Mennonite farmers the owners works closely with. You can also order your groceries online and pick them up a the store. 

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fresh-from-the-farm-turkey

Eli appreciates the option to order online, specially when you can't find similar products anywhere else:

I made my order online and went to pick it up today. They have everything I need, but can't find it anywhere else. Hormone free chicken livers for a healthy pate, beef heart from grass-fed antibiotics free animals, organic breaded chicken strips for the picky children :), fresh free run eggs. Love the ground meat, makes great burgers.

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freshfarm-peanuts
freshfarm-kefir
fresh-from-the-farm-pickled

Karma Co-Op

  • Open: Tuesday-Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-6pm
  • Location: 739 Palmerston Avenue
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Website: karmacoop.org   

Karma Co-op was founded in 1972 and it's been serving as an alternative to your typical grocery stores for more than 40 years now. Located in the Annex, this democratically run co-op specializes in organic, local, non-GMO and fair trade products. 

The store carries bulk flour, quinoa, dried fruits, rice, nuts, spices, eggs, maple syrup, sunflower oil and honey from Ontario. They sell fresh organic produce from over dozen Ontario's farms. 

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karma-indoor
karma-tomatoes

Karma's raving reviews speak for themselves.

Kate Rusnak likes the store because of the community around Karma Co-op and the great variety of foods: 

Karma is my favourite food store in Toronto. I can get delicious fresh (and frozen!) produce from local farms, ditto for dairy and meat, and they carry an amazing selection of bulk foods and teas, too. The store is filled with organic, non-GMO, Fair-trade, and local products. What I like most about Karma is the community. You can have great conversations, get to know the staff, and actually have a say when it comes to your food (because it's a co-op!).

Katherine Tessier says she saves a lot of money by buying in bulk at the store:

Their bulk items, awesome produce and local sourced everything keep my family eating nutritiously and deliciously. I'm too busy to research and vet my grocery purchases now that I have 2 kids. I like working cash or helping with clean up for my work hours. Great people and tunes make it fun. I'm currently on mat leave so I don't work at the moment and that's great! I love that Karma takes the guess work out of my grocery choices. Sure they are small and can't compete on canned good prices of other stores but the money I save on dry bulk goods, bulk laundry and dish soap, shampoo, etc more than make up for it on my strict budget. 2 thumbs way up.

The members of Karma co-op are also the owners of the store. There are a few types of membership:

  • working membership - working members contribute two hours of work per month in exchange for paying the lowest member price for any product. 
  • flat free membership - members contribute $25 per month for the lowest member price. If the member would like to work instead, they are free to do so and then they don't have to pay the fee.
  • percentage-rated membership - members pay a 10% surcharge on the top of the lowest member price. Works for members who can't commit to working or spend less than $250
  • work-exempt membership - members are exempt from all monthly commitments and the 10% surcharge. This option is only available to 65+ seniors, those on parental leave and members who have medical exemption.
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Raise the Root

  • Open: Mon-Thur 10am-8pm, Fri 10am-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-6pm
  • Location: 1164 Queen Street East
  • Parking: Street Parking

Leslieville's hidden gem, Raise the Root a small store on Queen Street East packed with organic fruits and veggies from Ontario farmers, unique foods, organic dairy and household needs. If you're a vegan, you'll feel like you're in heaven. According to Bree Lynn, they're also usually the first to get new products, which is a great reason to visit them and explore.

When at the store, you'll see a map of Ontario on the wall and all the farmers working with the store are highlighted. The store is small, but it offers a huge variety of local brands and organic products like Sunshine Yolks or Kind Organics.

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raiseroot-fridge
toronto-honey-rescued-bees

Toronto East Enders are thrilled to have Raise the Root in the neighbourhood. Heather McAfee appreciates the feedback from the owner and her efforts to support small local business owners:

Raise the Root has such an abundance of fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables at good prices that it's become my go-to place for all my produce. A wide array of dry goods too. I love how open Amy is to product feedback to trying to source products for me. I was in the other day and happened to bump into the producers of the Kefir water (which is divine), local, small business owners being supported by this small business, which is amazing. I all around love this place and am so glad that it chose to come to our 'hood!

raiseroot-window
raise-the-root-mushroom
raise-the-root-shelves

Rowe Farms

  • Open: Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat-Sun 9am-8pm
  • Location: 7 locations around Toronto, one in Guelph, Leslieville location featured in the photos: 2124 Queen St East
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Website: rowefarms.ca

When we first wrote this article about top 10 local food stores in Toronto, we asked the readers to vote for their favourite. And Rowe Farms won. 

Rowe Farms, a store with a long tradition was founded by John Rowe who started the business on a small family farm in Guelph, in 1970. He opened up a stall at the St. Lawrence Market, where he sold his locally grown, antibiotic-free meats and in 2008, he opened the first Rowe Farms stores in Leslieville.

Today, there are 8 different Rowe Farm locations in Toronto: Leslieville, The Beach, Uptown, Guelph, Annex, Bloor West, Roncesvalles and Bayview.  

rowe-exterior
rowe-farms-broccoli
rowe-farms-fridge-stocked

Their most popular product is probably their chicken, they also sell beef, pork, lamb and turkey. In addition to meat, you can also buy locally sourced eggs, dairy, vegetable and fruit. They sell other groceries too, such as different sauces, jams, spices and much more, but if you're looking for locally sourced meat, you can't go wrong with Rowe Farms.

Cindy says Rowe Farms are the best option in the winter time when there are no farmers' market open:

Rowe Farms has great meat. I love their steaks and chicken, they are hormone and antibiotic free, their seafood is also sustainable. This is really importantly to me because I tend to get migraines easily from lower quality meat....and they do not have lower quality anything. The store might be small but stocked with great goodies. Their organic eggs are also very well priced. When you buy their food, you are buying from good local farmers.....not large corporations, and you support local and sustainable food.

rowe-farms-interior
rowe-farms-mustard
rowe-farms-soup
rowe-farms-spice

The Sweet Potato

  • Open: Mon-Wed 9am-8pm, Thur-Fri 9am-9pm, Sat-Sun 9am-8pm
  • Location: 2995 Dundas St West
  • Parking: Street parking can be found in front of the store and on the side streets (Pacific & High Park Avenues).
  • Website: thesweetpotato.ca
sweetpotato-exterior

Located in the heart of the Junction, The Sweet Potato is a full service natural and local food store. They sell meats, dairy, bulk foods, baked goods, freshly-made meals, dips, and more. It's a perfect store for anyone with any food sensitivities or diet requirements. In addition to selling food, The Sweet Potato also carries a selection of cleaning, beauty and bath products.

Digs Dorfman used to work in his grandfather's grocery store and after finishing university, he ran the High Park Organic Market. With time he gained a lot of customers and since the market was only seasonal, some of them suggested that Digs should open up a store they can visit all year round. Which is exactly what he did and that's how The Sweet Potato came to be in 2008 and became a neighbourhood staple. This winter they will be moving to a new address, 108 Vine Avenue, because they've finally outgrown their store at Dundas St.

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sweet-potato-steaks
sweet-potato-apples

The Sweet Potato says they make it a priority to choose and know the local farmers and producers whose produce they sell and they only carry products that taste good. Who can say no to that? Some of the fruits and veggies they sell have been grown less than 40 mins away from the store and according to The Sweet Potato, they try to source the food "from Ontario first, Quebec, BC and the northern US second and then California third.."

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yogourt-sweet-potato

Customers praise the freshness of their produce and the great selection of healthy organic foods. Ann Sirenko especially likes the deals the store has every week:

I recently discovered this store and am absolutely in love with it. There are many great deals every week which makes shopping organic so much more affordable! There is a great selection of organic produce, bulk items and some meats/fish. Overall, the prices and selection are by far the greatest then any other health food/organic store I've been to. 2/$5 organic broccoli and cauliflower, $.99 organic avocados....can't go wrong!!! Love this store!!  

The Stop Farmers' Market 

  • Open: year-round every Saturday from 8AM – 12:30PM (open until 1PM in the summer)
  • Location: Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Website: thestop.org
thestop-interior

Situated in the beautiful Artscape Wychwood barns (former TTC's streetcar barns), this farmers' market is a true event every week, the one every family looks forward to. The space is big and it's the most magical setting for a farmer's market. Just have a look at our photos below. According to their site, The Stop Farmers' Market attracts more than 1,500 people every week, making the market a neighbourhood meeting place.

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thestop-people

The market is open every Saturday morning year round and features local bakeries, restaurants, artisans and local farmers offering their organic, sustainable produce.

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thestop-apples

Claudia likes how the knowledgeable the vendors are and the variety of choices at the market:

I love farmers markets and this one is lovely! In the summer the inside portion sells arts and crafts and the food vendors are outside. There are lots of vendors to choose from for veggies, my favourite was the mushroom stand so many different varieties you don't see in the supermarket. The vendors are all very knowledgable about their products. 

So, which one of these stores will be your next stop? Did we miss your favourite place? Let us know in the comments if you think there is a place we haven't mentioned and we should know about it!

SKVLKI

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GTA Real Estate News Highlights: #1 https://torontoism.com/real-estate/2017/05/real-estate-highlights https://torontoism.com/real-estate/2017/05/real-estate-highlights#comments Tue, 30 May 2017 08:26:46 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19704 However good or bad the news are, there is always business to be had - says the team lead of Torontoism, Richard Silver. Last week we saw quite a lot of both. Here is our recap of last week's news for you to catch up with the real estate market trends, in case you missed some of them.

Newswire: Toronto will be the economic growth leader among Canadian metropolitan cities in 2017

According to the Metropolitan Outlook: Spring 2017 released by The Conference Board of Canada, Toronto will have the strongest GDP growth among the 13 Metropolitan cities covered in the report, it’s GDP growth is expected to reach 2.6 per cent. The former leader, Vancouver, is on the second place as a cooling housing market limits its GDP growth to 2.4 per cent.

Toronto's economy had a big start to the year, driven largely by a booming housing market. The housing market is expected to cool down later on due to new measures introduced by the Ontario government to cool real estate price growth and improve affordability. Nevertheless, the forecast is that Toronto will still lead the country in economic growth this year.

Bloomberg: Toronto homeowners are in a rush to sell as market slows

After the government intervention in an attempt to tame the Ontario’s hot housing market, sellers are in a rush to list their property, trying to avoid missing out on the recent price gains. This is resulting in the buyers questioning their purchases and the sellers asking why their listings don’t attract the bidding wars that were taking place only a few weeks ago. Not satisfied with the lower prices, some homeowners are taking their properties off the market.

The new Ontario tax on foreign buyers and federal government moves making it harder to get a mortgage must have cooled down the market. Early data from the Toronto Real Estate Board confirms the shift in sentiment. Listings soared 47 percent in the first two weeks of the month from the same period a year earlier, while unit sales dropped 16 percent.

The Star: Cottage country feels the heat from Toronto's real estate fire

The baby boomers are buying the cottages on the lakes in Muskoka, Haliburton and Orillia: 50-somethings, cashing out and driving north to retire or telecommute. With the booming market in Toronto (although recently starting to cool down), selling a home is like winning a lottery, - one of the sellers says – after selling a home in Toronto he could buy a farm in Haliburton, no mortgage, and still money left in the bank.

The latest statistics show waterfront property sales up 5.1 per cent this year to date, compared with 2016. A lot of agents find a buyer and seller before the property even goes on the market. The inventory of listings is at historic lows — down about 30 per cent from 2015 levels. Muskoka doesn’t usually see such bidding wars, especially now, when it’s supposed to be a slow season. 

Better Dwelling: 70% Of Chinese Millennials Are Homeowners, Americans and Canadians are less lucky

Despite the recent remarks made by the millionaire Tim Gurner suggesting that millennials cannot afford buying a home because they spend too much on avocado toasts, buying a home is tough as a millennial. According to an HSBC study, the situation is disappointing everywhere in the world, except for China. Overall 40 per cent millennials own their homes, whereas in China 70 per cent of millennials are homeowners. The US and Canada are somewhere in the middle, with 35 per cent and 34 per cent respectively. Millennials in China are almost twice as likely to own a home than the average millennial in the other eight countries.

The global trend is that millennial first-time buyers tend to overspend. Over the past 2 years, 56 per cent of global buyers surveyed said they went over budget. Another trend is that millennials are likely to receive support from their parents, around 36 per cent of buyers used the help of their family. 

Zoocasa: Understanding Ontario’s Missing Middle Market 

A new report indicates Ontario doesn’t just need more housing – it needs the right kind of housing. The Greater Toronto Area is suffering from the “missing middle” or a lack of “gentle density” home types - townhouses, row houses, and courtyard apartments. These types of homes are supposed to bridge the gap between the luxury single-family housing and typical condos.

According to the report, which was compiled by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, titled “Understanding Ontario’s Housing Affordability Challenge: A Big Data Evolution”, there is a clear imbalance between haves and have-nots as the majority of Ontarians are either over- or under-housed.

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Richard Silver: Bill Risser’s The Real Estate Sessions https://torontoism.com/technology/2017/05/bill-risser-real-estate-sessions-podcast https://torontoism.com/technology/2017/05/bill-risser-real-estate-sessions-podcast#comments Tue, 23 May 2017 12:07:48 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19667 Richard was featured in the 95 episode of Bill Risser's The Real Estate Sessions podcast.

Bill: Welcome to the Real Estate Sessions, a little podcast experiment I started in August 2015, when I interviewed J. Thompson of Zillow, not even knowing if I'd have an episode 2. I love finding out where leaders in our industry come from, and that leads me up to episode 95 and I'm delighted to chat with Richard Silver, Senior Vice President-Sales at SIRC and founder and leader of the Torontoism team, in Toronto, Ontario. I had a real great time with Richard, we were able to attend Glengarry Glen Ross on Broadway, with you, Richard and a few other industry types a few years ago, and I've closely followed what you do, and what you do on your site, with video and your content and it's just been amazing. I'm so excited to talk to you. So Richard, welcome to the podcast!

Richard: Thanks, Bill, happy Friday to you and I look forward to our chat.

Bill: Thank you. I start at the beginning with most of the guests, and I know that you've been in Toronto a long time, but I don't think you were born there?

Richard: No, I was raised out in Alberta and in the interim, I went to university in the United States, Eugene, Oregon. After that I went over to Montreal, I worked there for three years. And then 40 years ago, I ended up in Toronto. I didn't know anybody there and three years later I got into real estate.. The difficult thing at that point was that I really didn't have the influence that a lot of agents would start off with. I didn't know much about Toronto, I had to get out and see as much real estate as I could and I also didn't have friends and family out here. So it was an interesting progression.

Bill: You mentioned Eugene, so you're a Duck?

Richard: Yes, I'm a Duck. I graduated from there. They let me out.

Bill: That's great, that's awesome. I didn't realize you went to school in the States, so that's great.

Richard: Yes, they let me out of Oregon.

Bill: I'm going to guess that you've been in real estate close to, pushing four decades, am I right?

Richard: Yes, 37 years, it is.

Bill: I find that for most people when they're in school, they weren't really dreaming of becoming a realtor, they had some other passion. What was yours? Or was it real estate?

Richard: You know what, I had been sort of a song and dance person, mostly into the dance. I used to do a lot of television, variety shows and things like that. So I was used to being a bit of a performer, but I had always had a love of architecture. I think, while others were reading Playboy, I was probably reading Architecture Digest, so... I was always very, very interested in people's homes, what they did with them, the yard, etc. So that was more my background.

Bill: When you were in Toronto, what was the trigger that got you into real estate?

Richard: I bought a house. I was working with one agent and in those days they basically, they didn't have buyer representation, they didn't have a lot of other things that they do now, this was in 1979. And I was working with one agent I met and he was taking me out and showing a lot of different properties, none were a fit.

And I went to a dinner party, met another person who had a very good reputation and he took us out, he showed us more properties, and one of those properties we bought that same day. I was just so impressed, He continues to be my best friend forty years later, and he also was a wonderful agent, he really had a good sense of the creative part of looking at people, talking to them and then deciding or trying to figure out what is was they would be attracted to. So he's one of these people,  he'll take you out, he'll show you three or four houses and you'll buy because he has a good sense of finding out what is it that is important to you. He has a really good sense of that, that's the creative part of real estate, getting to know people and then trying to make a fit for them.

Bill: So you started in 1980 and technology in 1980 was, we'll call it low-tech in the world of real estate.

Richard: Oh my god, can you imagine a realtor without a cell phone? That was me. I actually bought my first cellphone before the system was even up and running in Toronto.

Bill: You were gonna be ready.

Richard: I was gonna be ready. My friends looked at me and said 'are you crazy, what are you going to do with that thing?' And it was huge at the time, it was, you know you run around with a little case and everything and it was quite something.

Bill: I gathered from just when I met you in NY and followed you online, that you really embrace technology, and you just mentioned it just there - the first guy with a bag phone. So let's fast forward into the 90s when the Internet starts to come around. I'm assuming you were really early in that game too.

Richard: You know, let's go back even farther than that where we had Commodore 64's if you remember those days, Commodore 64's and the very first Apple. So I had one of those and I was very, very lucky. I had a nephew who was fascinated by it and he still continues to work in the computer industry and after a little while of being in real estate, and having a computer or just getting a computer, he turned to me and said - "you know, uncle Richard, I know you keep this little folder and it's got all these names and numbers, addresses and why don't I try and see if I can make a system for you?". so he created me a very, very crude CRM and it was amazing.

And then, of course, I went on to things like Top Producer, and the other ones that are now around for connecting with clients. But this was very, very early on. And then, yes I got involved with the Internet, I just thought that's funny I've always been one of those people who, you know I like to try things so if I see a thing out there and I think it might be helpful to the business, I will give it a try. And certainly, I like anything that is going to save me time and give me more time with clients, family - those I think are the benefits of the Internet and a lot of technology that's out there.

Bill: You embrace learning. Talk about the importance of it for you, of keeping current the way you do. You've been in the business for forty years, there are people you're age who are just getting started..

Richard: I just think you have to be engaged. The people who are not engaged in real estate, no matter what at what age, if you're not engaged through the technology in a business that's so based on technology, I just think you're not going to progress. I've always been one of those people looking for the next new toy. I'm a typical guy, I want a bigger television and I want a bigger computer, and in an essence, that's strange, because everything is getting smaller and smaller.

But I've just always been one of those people who like to look at new things and I've just been very, very, very lucky. I was into the Internet early and had one of the first websites in the city, and my business and real estate and then I got into social media early on, you know as you did. And we just, I think we had a lot of fun. It's funny how now people will come and try and sell us things that we were doing ten years ago.

Bill: That's true. It's fun to watch the stuff you do. Hopefully, you don't get upset with me, but I show your stuff to a lot of people down here. I tell them: "This is the guy to mimic because this is working."

Richard: Especially for an old guy. I'm 68 years old right now, I'll be open and tell everybody that's the age. But you know, I just don't feel like it. I keep myself engaged, I keep myself busy, I'm always out on appointments with clients and I like the technology, and if there is something that I want to develop more, I will go out and I'll push myself to go to an event, to go to a course, join a group. I've been to India twice in the past six months because I know that there is a market there for people who want to buy in a gateway city like Toronto. So I've been to India, I've been to China. Hopefully, the airplanes will be taking my walker as I go and progress, I'll just keep going at it.

Bill: That's great. You mentioned just a second ago about being engaged. When it comes to volunteerism, you are right up there with some of the people I see that are very involved, local level, I guess in Canada there'd be a provincial level. What compelled you to do that, and why is it so important?

Richard: I think I got to the point where I never thought I would be a realtor, never thought I would be successful as a realtor and have the kind of life that that's given me and so I thought that more and more it was time for me to give back. So I got involved in the local board, I was on the committee and eventually, I became a president of that board and I went on to the National board and I've also done some work with NAR in the States, and it's just a matter of I think getting out and back.

I did get to the point, about a year and a half ago, when I said "you know one of these days I'm gonna have to retire and I better get out of this, I better focus on my business a 100 per cent rather than 75 per cent," so what I did is I after 15 years in organized real estate, I said "ok, it's time, just focus on your team and get that up and running and going well."

Bill: I first met you through the world of Inman Connect, and I had a lot of guests on the podcast, so many people we've connected with. So you've attended, and presented at events all over Canada, the US, let's call it the world. I assume these are a part of that ongoing engagement and education you talk about.

Richard: I'm one of these people that get up in the morning and I'm great, I'm good to go. I'm not so good at night, but in the morning I want to go, I want to get out and I want to meet people and do things. So I've been told, that I would go to the opening of an envelope and that's pretty much true.

I will go to lots of events, I like connecting with people, I like learning and I guess I'm a lobbyist in many ways. I find that a lot of these events, yes you learn a lot, there is a lot of education, and hearing how people do things... But you also learn a lot from your time with people, getting caught up and talking to them in the lobbies of these events. I mean, how many great conversations have you and I had, waiting to go in to hear a speaker or sit next to each other, during the break. And that's where you really pick up a lot of information and learn new things. And I'm always happy to learn.

Bill: You're in the phase of your career, where you're thinking about retiring and so, it makes perfect sense that Torontoism came about, the team and so. talk about your process with the team, and how it was formed because want to hear these stories.

Richard: I guess I noticed at least 10-15 years ago, that the team thing might be the way to go, and I had a partner at one point, I had a partner and an assistant at one point, but there's a lot of reasons for me to have created Torontoism. My friend in Miami, Inez, she had a group called Miamism, so she did Miamism and I asked her if she would mind if I borrowed Torontoism and now we have a friend in Oregon, and I don't know what his going to call his... That's a little -ism humour 😀

But about Torontoism... Here's some of my thoughts on teams. I heard some people who are team leaders talk about what they want in their team...I decided that there were things that I could do well and things that I didn't do well, that I didn't really want to do or I didn't have that urge to do them, so I thought the best team for me would be a team of people who are not mini-me's, a team of people who had absolutely different goals or aspirations. We wanted to have the same moral code, that was very very important, but if they were better in condominiums than they were in freehold, or if they were better with sellers than they were with buyers, those are the people I wanted, I didn't want people who were generalists, I wanted them to be a little bit more specific.

And also, because we have such a high diversity in the Toronto area, we have so many different nationalities, so many different cultures, so many different languages, I also wanted to make sure that we were represented, so we have people who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, English, French, Portuguese, so we try and keep the variety there, so we can answer people's requests in different languages and offer information in different languages.

Bill: How do you add someone to the team today? If someone wanted to join Torontoism, how would it work?

Richard: Sure, right now, here's the buildup of our team right now. We're 5 realtors, including me, and I have no intention of having a huge team, but what I wanted is to find another administration person. Because I think and I heard this from other people who are team people, for every three realtors you need one person in the background doing all the technology and all the CMA's and the things for adding to the database etc, because we have a huge database that we keep running.

So we have that one person, she's overworked and we're all working as hard as we can to help her fill in. So right now, what I'm looking for is a bit of a team management, someone who can basically take over more of the day-to-day and a little bit of the technology. And luckily if they had a license, that would be absolutely a blessing, because in Ontario there's a lot of things that you can do if you're not licensed, but there's also a lot of things that you cannot do - any discussions with clients, any presentation at all with clients, you have to be licensed.

And then if I was looking for somebody it would probably be somebody who spoke Persian, you know an Arabic language. I have been looking at somebody now, who speaks Arabic and she's Egyptian and is licensed, so she would be able to fill both of those roles, little bit of organizing us more and the second part would be if we had to translate anything. Right now we can translate into Chinese, to Mandarin, and into Hindi and Punjabi, etc.

Bill: Your website, Torontoism.com, is just spectacular. The local content in there, I show this to people all the time, I go right to the Cabbagetown community page and the images, the photos are spectacular, and the video is just crazy good, that's you talking about where you live because you live in that community.

Richard: That's really important, a lot of the realtors they see these videos and they're talking about themselves and there's always this story to tell and I love hearing the stories, but I think there's also, you know what is it that you like about the area that you're working in, what is it that drives you to that area, I think those videos are really important.

So basically, each of our team members has only a personality video, we also have a video about the area that they like to work in and what kind of clients they like to work with and they also have that on their signature in their emails, so that anytime anyone connects with them, the reply email they get back has these videos to look at, and I think that's really good. And I think the community ones and community events are, they say a lot about you. I do kid and say I'd go to the opening of an envelope, but anything to do with the community, I'm there, I'm there trying to help, I'm there as a volunteer or I'm just there kissing hands and shaking babies 😀

Bill: The buzzword came out a while ago, being hyper-local in your niche, but you've been living that for a long time.

Richard: You have to. People want to know this stuff, they want you to be educated in terms of real estate, but they also want to know where the best place to eat is, what are the best schools. Especially with a lot of foreign buyers, they want the schools. It's all about raising their children, getting their children's education to a high degree. So you have to know a lot about the schools a lot about the universities, about certain places where you can get foods that might be pertinent to a community, whether it's a Chinese community or an Indian community, so where all those services are. It's also quite fun, it's also good business for you... One of the things I like to do is I'd go out and I'd visit a store and I'd do a story about it and then I would tell the person who owns the store that I had done the story about them and then they tell their friends, and it just went back and back and back and it was amazing..

Bill: Let's talk about what you do with video. You have nearly a hundred videos on Torontoism Youtube channel. It's obvious, you were way early on the video game, as a medium to reach out to customers. Talk about the kind of success you had with that.

Richard: It has been wonderful, we get a lot of leads from it. I think a lot of realtors have to understand what their brand is. And then really be true to their brands. If you're going to do a video, make sure it's high definition, don't make it 'here's me and my cell phone,' get a professional out there to do it. I know that it's costly and luckily I work in a high-end marketplace, where the commissions are substantial and I can go ahead and pay for a video for each property or a drone. Certainly, with a country property or any property even in the city, the whole drone thing is absolutely wonderful and I've been a very early adopter of that. A very early adopter of the Matterport.

People are very visual these days, I think people want to see inside the property and have a look around and sometimes it's not physically possible. Sometimes they're in a different country or the husband's at the other side of the country and the wife is there looking at the property and we just facilitate the great photos, great video, and it's a part of the brand that we provide with Torontoism. Even with a house that would need renovations we'll go in and we'll do the video, we'll go in and take the photos. It could be an absolute mess, but I think people need to know what it is they're getting into. Some people would find the fact that it is a mess very attractive. I think video is the way to go and I'm looking to the next shiny object as well.

Bill: It's been the year of video in real estate last six years.

Richard: It has been. It's been at least that since we've been doing videos, at least 6 or 7 years and started the community videos, long time ago. And they've paid off.

Bill: I want to talk about those community videos for a second. They're exquisitely shot. I'm not going to ask for you to tell me how much you pay, but those are not cheap.

Richard: I'll tell you. I work with a guy, he's absolutely great, love him to death, hard to sometimes pin him down. He charges about 1500 for each of those videos. I can tell you that they have been excellent for my business.

Bill: Anyone listening, it's Torontoism.com . Go to those community pages and check them out, they're spectacular, they're kind of like the Gold Standard if that's what you're trying to achieve.

Richard: You need to answer the questions that buyers certainly would have - the great restaurants, is there a place where I could take my dog for a walk and not have to worry about having him on a leash. What are the streets, the shops like.. And I think just, what we always have to do is, oftentimes we have to take ourselves back to what it was like before we knew the city or before we knew the real estate business and we have to look at the terminology we use, we have to look at the things, we have to approach it as if we were the shoppers.

It's very very important that we allow people to experience the city, the country, the housing market as if they had no knowledge of real estate, they had no knowledge of the city and we're the tour leaders. Don't make the assumptions that they know exactly what's going on, what the area is like.. Approach it as they would, or pretend you are the person coming to the town for the first time, and you want to know everything there is to know about a certain area, about the restaurants and shopping, all of that..

And the same thing, when we go to present the agreement of purchase and sale, I think it's very important for us to not assume that the person has been buying and selling houses the way we have for a number of years. They may have a complete other terminology, they don't understand what it is we're talking about, we assume that they do.

Bill: Focus on the customer, not how great of a realtor you are.

Richard: And don't talk about yourself, talk about the area. And you know what, strangely a lot of people say to me, I'm not very good on camera and I go, yeah, but you will be if you're talking about the area not about yourself. Because it's just one of those things that we do every day, we meet people, we tell them about the area, what we like about the area, or even what we don't like about the area. But that sort of honesty is something that all you're doing, you're now doing it in the video, in the writing, that's the way to go with it. It's very important.

Bill: I've had you here for a half an hour and I'll wrap up with the same question I ask every guest. If you can give one piece of advice to an agent just getting started, what would it be?

Richard: My advice would be and has always been - Don't worry about what everybody else is doing, put your head down, work really hard, learn as much as you can, experience as much as you can, do what you do well and what you don't do well, see if you can outsource it. And that would be my thing. I think a lot of agents start in the business and they're very focused on the other people who are the newbies. And my first couple of years, I was always watching did somebody else get a listing, did somebody else sell, don't worry about it, just keep your head down and work hard, and you will do very, very well. Learn as much as you can and again if you find your niche, just keep building on it, because that niche will be your business.

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Richard makes #2 of the Top 20 Toronto Realtors On Social Media https://torontoism.com/press/2017/05/richard-toronto-realtors https://torontoism.com/press/2017/05/richard-toronto-realtors#comments Fri, 19 May 2017 15:05:42 +0000 https://torontoism.com/?p=19553 PropertySpark.com have put together a list of 20 Toronto Real Estate Agents On Social Media and Richard Silver was named number 2. You can find the whole story here.

The Toronto real estate market is booming and so are these Realtors. The use of social media by Toronto real estate agents is growing every day. But, these Toronto Realtors have taken it to a whole other level.

Whether it's with beautiful Instagram pictures of new condos in the city or amazing pictures of homes in the suburbs, these Realtors are winning on social media!

We've gone through hundreds of Toronto real estate agent's social media accounts looking for the best of the best. 

Here is what PropertySpark.com wrote about Richard:

Richard Silver is the leader behind the incredible Torontoism Facebook page and website. This team doesn't only post about real estate, they also share inspiring messages with thousands of their fans. Richard also has a popular Twitter account from which he shares more real estate and inspiring messages. The truly incredible part about Torontoism and Richard is that a lot of their content is actually helpful to other Realtors. They don't just do great work but they share how they do it!

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