More MLS Musings!


I have some big posts saved up for next week, so today seems like a great day to unload all of my remaining ridiculous MLS photos for 2017.

There’s nothing quite egregious in today’s batch of MLS photos, but I’m cleaning out my entire folder, so while there might be some doozies, mixed with a bit of “meh,” this will be the longest MLS Musings post of all time.

Then we start 2018 anew, looking for lazy and incompetent listing agents, sellers, photographers, and anybody else who is responsible for the hilarious photos that we see on MLS every day…



If there’s one facet of our lives that’s changed significantly over the last few years, it’s our television-watching habits.

Many people don’t have cable anymore, and simply hook their laptops up to their TV’s.

Many people don’t even have TV’s!  They just “Chill, and watch Netflix in bed.”

But how in the world do you watch the TV in this photo?


I guess maybe you lay down on the couch, and just stare upwards?

I find that really, really odd.

Then in the photo below, where you have what looks like a staged house, I’m still not sure what the sellers, listing agent, and/or stager were thinking with this TV placement, fifteen feet from the couch, on a wall you can’t see:


Probably the most bizarre, is the TV below.

On the floor, in a fake-fireplace mantle, with two staging chairs facing it:


At least the photographer or seller in the photos above turned off the TV when shooting.

The same can’t be said for this listing:



Not only are those photos awful – bad lighting, awkward angles, and in no way showing the condo in a positive light, but the person taking them didn’t turn off the TV!

I’m shocked.

I just don’t understand the thought process.

Am I crazy, or is it too much to ask to spend five seconds to turn off the TV?

Maybe I’m off base, since the condo is such a mess, shows poorly, and there’s no real photographer shooting the place, so you may as well put porn on the TV – the person viewing the unit on MLS isn’t going to care.

This one is kind of cool.

The owner of this loft has a huge projector-TV, and blackout curtains, so he took a photo of the space with the lights out, and the screen on:


If you didn’t immediately know what’s on the TV, and I mean within like 2 1/2 seconds, then you probably weren’t of age in the 1990’s…

How about a few kitchen shots?

Look at the knuckle-marks in the middle of this fridge:


Society is all about “equality” these days, so I think it’s unfair that this condo kitchen favours basketball players, and discriminates against horse jockeys.

How’s a little person supposed to make a microwave pizza???


Are the fridge handles installed improperly?

Or is this something “cool” that I don’t know about?


Why would you advertise, “My condo kitchen is so small that I don’t have room for any pots or pans, and I’m forced to drill holes underneath my breakfast bar and hang them in front of the legs of people sitting on stools?”

I might have, you know, just, like, removed them for the photo!


I understand “being different.”  My whole business model was based on taking the opposite approach of most Realtors.

I understand “being artistic.”  Sure, there’s always a target market there!

But I don’t understand shooting the kitchen in this condo in black-and-white.



You know I love MLS photos where you can see the photographer!

Here’s a guy using the flash with all the lights on:


Find the photographer in this one – it took me a few seconds:


What’s the protocol there?

Take your shoes off, to be polite?

Or keep your shoes on, since you’ve got bare-feet?

Last but not least, this guy probably thought, “This house is a piece of crap, so nobody is going to care if I’m in the shot.”


Continuing on the theme of “bad photographers,” couldn’t the person taking this photo of the deck simply pick up those three chairs after the big gust of wind?


If I were asked, “Is there ever a house or condo that was in such bad shape, you wouldn’t put any photos?” I might direct them towards this:


I just don’t see any value-add here.

I’d rather have no photos, save for the exterior of the home, and put a note in the listing that somehow conveys the house might be a bit, er, um, full.

Then sometimes, you do have photos, but there’s just no point in putting them on MLS.

Photos like this basically tell the market, “I’m an awful agent.  I’m lazy, and I do a terrible job on my listings, so feel free to lowball me.”


Then something like this, confuses the hell out of me.

If you don’t know how to take photos off your iPhone, and put them on your laptop, or on a USB for your administrator to put on to MLS, then why in the world would you take a screen-shot of your phone, with the photo you just took, and use that for MLS?



That photo actually appreared on an MLS listing!

It makes positively zero sense.

This agent didn’t even go to the property to take a photo!

He or she did a screen-capture of the house via “Google Street View,” and used that as the sole MLS photo:


And for the life of me, I can’t figure out which house in the photo is actually the one up for sale.

What does it say about your home when the only three photos on MLS are of your walk-in closet?


What does it say about your ground-level-condo when you actually cover up a WINDOW….

…..with a crappy piece of art?


Well, if you look close enough, you can see that the art is covering up a Dodge Ram 1500, which is literally three feet from the window.

I guess the orange-and-black pylon right outside the other window shows you that this condo looks right out at construction.

People going from apartments to condos always ask about three things: central air conditioning, dishwasher, and ensuite laundry.

I always tell them, “You’re in luck!  99% of condos will have all three of those.”

I mean, who wants to go outside, in the dead of winter, freezing cold, to do laundry?


….this condo does have laundry, but it’s in a mechanical room, on the roof!


Now maybe a few random thoughts…

How ugly is this house, and, do you value a “homogenous” look to the street?


The next time you think, “I’m fine stripping off all my clothes and just walking around my condo naked for a bit,” remember that there are a lot of people in the downtown core who have binoculars, and telescopes:


If you wanted to show amenities photos along with your listing on MLS, would you really take a photo of the “meeting room” after a dozen people attended a strategy session, and left all their crap behind?


I don’t play guitar, but if I did, it would be in my unfinished, uninsulated attic…


And last but not least, I’m into some ‘things,’ but watching my significant other shower and/or take a dump while I lay in bed, is not one of them.


Folks, it’s been a very long year in the world of real estate.

But I assure you, I’m not shutting down Toronto Realty Blog for 2017 just yet.

Thanks to all the loyal readers who send me “MLS Musings” on a regular basis, and if you’re ever browsing MLS and see something funny, please send it my way!

Coming up next week: a refresher of all that transpired in 2017, on the blog, and in the world of Toronto real estate…

The post More MLS Musings! appeared first on Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments | Toronto Realty Blog by David Fleming.

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Property Sitting On The Market In December | Pick5



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What Is A “Tenant In Perpetuity?”


A reader emailed me a rather unique listing the other day, and I figured I’d put it in the mental queue for blog material.

But when a second reader emailed me about it, and when I overheard a conversation at my office about it, I figured it’s probably worth discussing.

What the heck is a “tenant in perpetuity?”  And what does it mean when you’re looking to buy a property with a tenant in perpetuity attached?

Oh boy.  Where do we begin…


I suppose after Monday’s blog, maybe some folks are gun-shy about the subject of tenancy.

I received several emails about Monday’s blog, a few out of genuine concern that the “tenant” may be somebody in a vulnerable position, and of course one email that simply called me an asshole and said I was discriminating.  I wonder why that person didn’t just comment on the blog post?  Personal attacks always make for a good read!

I think the entire subject of “tenancy” has become a bit stickier since the Liberal government introduced a slew of measures to try to discourage any human being from ever being a landlord again, but alas, the might of those capitalists in society is far greater than misguided attempts by politicians to gain favour with voters.

I’ve sold more condos to investors in 2017 than in any previous year, but not once have I ever told a client that being a landlord is easy.

Monday’s blog showed us what kind of potential tenant comes knocking on your door, and in today’s ever-changing societal climate, you have to be very careful, how, and when, you say “no” to somebody.

The story in Monday’s blog was interesting, but not unique.

Every day in Toronto, offers and applications like the one I received in that story are submitted on residential properties.  Not all tenants are truly “Triple-A.”

The story I’m going to tell you today, however, represents a true “new one” for me!

For somebody who thinks he’s seen it all in this business, I’m always excited by new experiences, and the opportunity to wipe my proverbial brow and say, “Well, this is a new one!”

And indeed, this is…

The subject line of today’s blog pretty much tells you where this story is headed.

“A tenant in perpetuity.”

If you’re like me, you’ve never heard the term before.

“Perpetuity,” by definition, simply means an indefinite period of time.

The term has certain meanings in the world of finance, when it comes to a constant stream of identical cash flows with no end, but that’s not the context we’re using today.

For our purposes, “perpetuity” means, forever, or, at least until something changes that is beyond your own control.

“A tenant in perpetuity.”

Just think of what that means.

A tenant…….forever?

Let me cut to the chase here, folks.

A property was listed for sale this week in Toronto, and in the Broker’s Remarks, it made mention of the fact that this property is being sold with “a tenant in perpetuity” attached.

While no explanation of what that meant was provided, the brokerage’s Schedule B provided us with the following four clauses:


The Seller represents and warrants that the subject property is occupied by (First Name, Last Name), on a month-to-month tenancy, IN PERPETUITY at the current rate of ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED and TWENTY FOUR Dollars and TWENTY TWO Cents ($1,524.22) per month, including utilities, payable on the FIRST DAY of each month.  The Parties agree that this representation and warranty shall survive and not merge on completion of this transaction, but only apply to those circumstances at completion of this transaction.

The Buyer hereby acknowledges that the subject property is currently tenanted IN PERPETUITY and the tenant can not be removed for the purpose of the buyer’s own use.  The Buyer further acknowledges that, should they choose to sell the property in the future, this “tenancy in perpetuity” runs with the property and no future buyer will be able to remove the CURRENT TENANT for their own use of the property.

The Buyer acknowledges that the current tenant has first right of refusal to purchase the subject property upon the same terms and conditions as any bona fide Offer to purchase the property that the Landlord has received and is wiling to accept.

THIS OFFER IS CONDITIONAL for a period of FOUR (4) business days (not including Saturdays, Sundays, and Statutory holidays) after acceptance of this offer upon the Seller not obtaining from the current tenant a bona fide Offer to purchase based on the same terms and conditions of this offer to purchase.  In the event that the Tenant submits to the Landlord, within the same time period described above, a written and signed Offer to purchase for the property upon the same terms and conditions as the Offer initially received by the Seller, this offer shall become null and void and the deposit returned in full to the Buyer without interest or deduction.  In the event that the Tenant fails to deliver to the Seller, within the same time limit described above, a written and signed Offer to purchase the property on the same terms and conditions as the initial Offer, the Seller shall be at liberty to sell the property to the Buyer who submitted the initial Offer and provide written notice to the buyer within the same time limit described above.  This condition is included for the benefit of the Seller and may be waived at their sole option.


Please tell me you read that, and didn’t skim.


If you simply read “in perpetuity” a couple of times, and scrolled to the bottom, seriously – read it!

Because I think there’s a reasonable amount of debate to be had about whether or not this is legal.

I asked our in-house legal counsel what he thought, and he said simply:

“It appears that the landlord has granted the tenant unlimited rights to renew the lease at the tenant’s option. This creates a “perpetual lease”, which means that the landlord can’t get rid of the tenant without the tenant’s consent. “

And as the second clause spells out, the clause “runs with the property,” much like a right-of-way, or an easement would.

But if you’re like me, your mind is spinning with questions.  Here’s what my brain rattled off when I first read these clauses:

1) What the hell is going on here?

2) Is this legal?

3) Why would any property owner agree to this lease?

4) What is the actual market rent of the property?

5) Could a buyer fight this in court?

6) Why would any buyer be interested in this property?

And on, and on.

So let’s try to answer these.

1) What the hell is going on?

I can only answer this with more questions!

Why is this property for sale?

What kind of seller thinks this sort of thing will fly in Toronto?

How common is this?

Why have I never seen this before?

Is there a lease in place?

2) Is this legal?

It appears as though it is.

If you think about an apartment building, those tenants are all essentially tenants “in perpetuity,” by virtue of the fact that the individual unit can’t be sold, like a condominium, and thus there’s no option for the new “buyer” to evict the tenant based on the owner-occupancy rule, like a condominium.

The difference here, is that this property is a house, not a unit in an apartment building.

While you cannot contract out of existing law, there’s nothing to stop two parties from entering into a legal agreement, where that agreement runs with the property.

3) Why would any property owner agree to this lease?

This is probably the most interesting part of the equation.

I don’t think any reasonable property owner would agree to this type of lease, so I have to think that the landlord and the tenant are involved in some capacity.

Be creative, think of a scenario.

The owner of the property is related to the tenant, and has found a way for the tenant to live in the property for a discounted rate, even after the owner sells.

There’s a holding company that owns the property, and the owner of the holding company is the tenant.

I’m sure we could think of a dozen other scenarios.

But bottom line, I just don’t see any owner ever agreeing to this, without some sort of personal interest in the equation.

4) What is the actual market rent of the property?

Without having seen it, I’d have to speculate around $2,000 per month.

But bottom line, the contractual rent is far lower than the market rent.

5) Could a buyer fight this in court?

Even though it appears to be legal, I just don’t think it passes the sniff test.

However, despite any argument in court about the Residential Tenancies Act, and how the idea of “perpetual tenancy” might not supersede a buyer’s right to evict a tenant for their own personal use, I think the clauses in the brokerage’s Schedule C would prove that any buyer of this property knew what he or she was doing.

That’s why, after all, the clauses were included in the first place.

Those clauses might be repetitive, but they clearly make the buyer aware of the situation.  There’s no way a buyer could plead ignorance in court down the road.

6) Why would any buyer be interested in this property?

The only conceivable reason why a buyer would be interested in this property would be if it were available at a significant discount.

The rent is below market.

The tenant can live there forever.

The legalese is uncertain.

There’s no reason for any rational buyer to look at this property, unless, the property were available for an amount below fair market value that was enough to make up for the associated risks.

How much under fair market value?

That’s up to each individual buyer.

The second clause clearly specifies that any future sale of this property would also incorporate the “tenancy in perpetuity,” so the discount that a buyer receives today, would also be present when that buyer goes to sell.  Unless, of course, the tenant is no longer living in the property.

And that’s the end-game here.

How long will the tenant live in the property?

If a buyer purchases this property, and the tenant leaves by his or her own free will in five years, then perhaps the discount on the purchase was worthwhile.  But if that tenant is still present in twenty years?  Then is this really a good investment?

There’s more to this story, and more information we would could benefit from.

For starters, are there any rental increases outlined in the lease?  If not, that makes the purchase even less appealing than it already is.  And another legal question would arise: can the landlord legally increase the rent by the provincially-mandated amount each year?  Even if it doesn’t state as much in the lease?

We’d also like to know if there are qualifications for the tenancy in perpetuity, ie. if the tenant fails to pay the rent, or commits some other evictable offence, can the landlord kick him or her out?

I know a lot about the Residential Tenancies Act, and I’ve handled probably 150-200 leases over the years.

But I’ve never seen anything like this.

And the idea that one cannot “contract out of existing law” has me scratching my head here.

Like I said, this is a new one for me!

I will be very interested to see when, or if, this property actually sells…


The post What Is A “Tenant In Perpetuity?” appeared first on Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments | Toronto Realty Blog by David Fleming.

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Would You Lease To This Mystery-Tenant?


With new legislation continuing to favour tenants over landlords, a landlord has to make very sure that he or she wants to effectively be “partners” in a real estate investment, since a tenant is very hard to remove once the lease is signed and the key is in the door.

I’ve always been extremely diligent when evaluating candidacy for my investor-clients.

Last month, I received an offer on a rental property with a very mysterious tenant.

Let me tell the whole story, and you decide whether or not you’d have this person as your tenant…


Okay, maybe that photo is a bit overboard.

It’s not like we didn’t see the tenant’s face in the story I’m about to tell.

But even when you do meet the tenant, and even when he or she is nice, pleasant, says all the right things, and seems trustworthy, it can blow up in your face.

Last month, there was a story about a “professional scammer” in Liberty Village who had duped at least twelve landlords and/or roommates.  Read the story HERE.

I’m also reminded of another story, this one from 2016, which is a classic “don’t judge a book by its cover” lesson.

As this article reads, a “well-dressed, professional-tenant” had been duping landlords in Yorkville, and gaming the system designed to protect both landlords and tenants.  A 62-year-old man, seemingly-normal, wearing a suit, with tales of his career as a professional, had been moving into expensive condos, not paying the rent, and then forcing the landlords to chase him through the courts for eviction.

As I tell my investor-clients, the professional scammers usually stick to online ads, and don’t look to MLS for their prey.  If they do, they’re looking for an absentee-landlord, with an absent-minded agent, and if and when they’re pressed on personal info, they’ll simply flee, and move on to an easier target.

Nonetheless, I try to be very diligent when looking for tenants for my investor-clients, while trying to avoid doing anything that could be construed as “discrimination.”

What actually is discrimination can change like the direction of the wind, and as the word gets softer, and a lot weirder as we wind down 2017, I think a lot of people would cry “discrimination” if they could.

This is why when rejecting a candidate, you simply say, “We’re going in another direction,” and not answer any follow-up questions, as was the case last month when my investor clients turned aside a rather mysterious tenant.

Mysterious might not be the right word, as I alluded to above.

But “sketchy” is fair.  And I’m sure we could think up some other words to describe her.

But in the end, we just didn’t think she passed the “sniff test,” which is a very inexact science, but one that is often the most useful, nonetheless.

As is the case with many of my stories, I’m going to change some of the details to try to protect anonymity…

I had a listing for a 1-bed, 1-bath condo in the west end, up for lease for $1,995/month.

Surprisingly, it didn’t lease in the first 12 hours like most places in this red-hot Toronto rental market, and it actually sat for a full week!

On the eighth day of the listing, I received a phone call from a rather young agent who said he would be submitting an offer on behalf of his client, and that the client was a “Triple-A tenant with great income.”

He wasn’t wrong, on the latter part – at least not at face value.

Upon receiving the offer shortly thereafter, I scanned through the supporting documents.  Those documents, for those of you that don’t know, are usually the following:

1) Rental Application (OREA document – name, DOB, address, last two places of residence, occupation, present and prior employment, financial obligations, personal references, etc).

2) Credit Check (I always ask for Equifax, full version, with the “FICO Score” and all debt as well as credit inquiries).

3) Employment Letter

Beyond these, however, I insist upon “proof” of employment, such as recent pay stubs, or a screenshot of a bank account showing deposits from the employer.

I also look up the tenant on LinkedIn (any business professional without LinkedIn is suspicious), Facebook (see how they act in their spare time), Instagram, Pinterest, and anything else I can find online.

So upon receiving these supporting documents, the first one I looked at was the employment letter.

That was the first red flag.

Wait, that’s not exactly true.  The very first red flag was the very first thing you’d see on any rental application or offer: the tenant’s name.

Ruby Starr

Yes, this tenant’s name was Ruby Starr.

Now, I don’t think you have to be a regular visitor to websites that would crash your hard-drive to think that perhaps a name like “Ruby Starr” might be one you’d find in the world of adult entertainment.

The name was a bit odd, but I moved along regardless.

I got to the employment letter, and that’s when my spidey-sense really started tingling.

Ms. Ruby Starr, apparently, made $95,000 per year working at a sandwich shop.

But it wasn’t just any sandwich shop; it was one in Niagara Falls.

It really didn’t make any sense to me.

And the letter was on a blank, white, standard, 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, typed in Times New Roman, and signed by a guy whose name was something out of The Sopranos.

I looked up the sandwich shop, and they did indeed exist.  Not only that, they were quite well-known, with five locations in Niagara Falls.

The employment letter said that Ruby Starr was going to head up the expansion plan of this “family company” that sells sandwiches in Niagara Falls, as they look to open two locations in Toronto.

I called the gentleman who signed the letter, and he sounded somewhat legit.  He said that Ms. Starr would be driving around to different suppliers, managing the new locations, overseeing the construction, etc., and it all sounded good until he sort of trailed off, like he was focused on something else but still trying to speak into the phone, and he just started muttering random words like, “direct suppliers…….bakery buns…….you know, cold cuts………like two locations………it’s all good……..salads too.”

I can’t quite explain it, but I felt as though the person I was speaking to wasn’t really all there on our phone call.

I followed up with the cooperating agent and asked for a few recent pay stubs, and he emailed them to me within five minutes.

That was either very helpful, and convenient, or it was suspicious – as in why didn’t he send these over with all the other supporting documentation before?

The “pay stubs” weren’t really stubs of any sort.  They were basically two PDF’s, which contained deposit amounts and looked as though they were typed in Excel.

Anybody could have typed those up, clicked “Save as PDF,” and called them stubs.

But even more suspicious now was the fact that the address on the pay stubs didn’t match the address on the rental application, which upon further research, didn’t match the address on the driver’s license.

And I’m not sure if this matters, but that driver’s license had expired.

So we had three different mailing addresses, and none of them were in Niagara Falls where Ms. Starr apparently had worked for the past six months – according to her rental application.

Oh, wait, one more thing – the guy from The Sopranos said she had been working for him for over a year.

It was all pretty messy, if you ask me.

This girl made $90,000+ working for a family sandwich-chain, in Niagara Falls, having never lived there, and she had three different addresses.

And her name was Ruby Starr…

I looked her up online, and she had no LinkedIn profile.

I found her on Facebook, and she looked……..well……

….well, I asked one of the younger guys in my office, “Hey, what does this girl look like to you?”

He smiled, as though it were a trick question, and said, “I dunno, an escort?”

I asked him, “Come on, be serious.  What do you think when you see this photo?”

He said, “I think that girl is probably at that club (in the photo) to meet rich men.”

He identified the club as Cabana from the background, and then we went through four or five other photos of her at clubs, which he identified.

I felt somewhat guilty, simply judging or labelling this girl because of how she looked.  But the name!  I couldn’t get over the name!  The $95,000 salary too!  It didn’t add up.

I discussed the situation with my landlord-clients, and they said they wanted to meet Ms. Starr.

So I told the cooperating agent that my landlord would be at the condo on Saturday, and she could drop by and say “hello.”

My clients Brad and Allison, called me after the meeting, and they were pretty coy.

“We’re not quite sure what to say,” Brad told me.  “Something was…….off.”

“Yeah, something was off.  That’s a good way to put it,” Allison said.  “The girl just seemed so spaced out, and nervous!  Oh my word, was she nervous!  She wouldn’t look us in the eye, she kept staring at the floor, and she kept fidgeting.”

I asked for them to tell me a little more about her, and they said things like, “She was nice,” and “She seemed pleasant,” but it wasn’t really what I was getting at.

So I said, “Brad, I’m going to ask Allison this question so you don’t get in trouble.  Allison, was this girl attractive?”

Allison said, “Yes.”

I asked, “Very?”

And Allison said, “She was a rocket, David!  A rocket!”

Brad laughed, and said, “Yeah, look, I don’t know what she does for a living, and maybe part of me doesn’t care, but something seems off here.”

Brad then asked if her boss told me what she was doing, and I said yes, that he said she’d be driving around to different suppliers, the various locations they were opening, etc.

There was a pause, and then Allison said, “David that’s so odd, because we asked her if she wanted to see the parking space, and she said she didn’t have a car!”

That was strange.

But even stranger was when Ms. Starr also said she hadn’t seen the condo!  She said, “My agent just made this offer for me; I haven’t seen this place yet.”

Everything that this girl said raised another red flag.

At one point, she said she didn’t know where the two new sandwich shop locations were going to be, and when pressed, she said, “I can’t tell you, we’re not telling people.”

Then somehow or other, her background came up, and she said, “I’m from Russia, but I was adopted by a very wealthy family.”

When asked about the three addresses she provided, she said that she had just broken up with her boyfriend, and the address on her pay stubs were from his place, but she was staying with her parents (the second address), and she simply “forgot” what she was doing when filling out the rental application with the third address, because she was “rushed.”

It didn’t add up.

She made almost $100K per year working for a sandwich shop in Niagara Falls, but had never lived in Niagara Falls.

She provided us with three different addresses.

Her only piece of ID was an expired driver’s license.

She had never seen the condo when the offer was made on her behalf.

Her employment letter was typed on a blank piece of paper, and her pay stubs were just PDF’s from Excel.

She had no car, but her boss said her job involved driving around.

She said she had worked at the sandwich shop for six months, but her boss said over a year.

Her boss was just as sketchy as she was.

She was apparently from Russia, but adopted by a “wealthy Canadian family.”

Her Facebook photos were all of her, very dressed up, at nightclubs.

And her name, was Ruby Starr.

It was just all way too convoluted, and there was no reason for the landlords to take the risk that this wasn’t some sort of scam.

I’m sorry, this girl could end up being the nicest human on the planet.  I could be totally wrong in all of this.  There could be logical explanations for every single red flag I’ve raised above.  But in the end, there is always another renter out there, and with vacancy rates in Toronto at less than 1%, there’s no reason to work with this prospective tenant.

Of course, it helped that later that night – after the meeting between Ruby Starr and my clients, we received another offer on the condo.

This offer was from a 27-year-old who worked for RBC, and had 400 connections on his LinkedIn profile, with a dozen recommendations.  He made $80,000 per year, had a credit score over 800, virtually no debt other than a small credit card balance, and was living in a condo on Fort York Boulevard that his landlord was selling.

He checked out, with ease.  He was the very definition of a “Triple-A” tenant.

The final decision was up to my clients, of course.  But I told them I’d advise them to reject the offer from Ruby Starr, and lease the condo to the young man who worked at RBC.

And that’s what they did.

They felt bad, as did I.

It sucks to have to “judge” somebody, but that’s what we’re doing when “evaluating candidacy.”

Real estate scams are not just something you read about in the newspaper – they’re very common, and I’ve seen agents in my own office lease to people who turned out not to be who they claimed.

I’ve seen friends and colleagues scammed as well.

So when you’re dealing with your own investment property, that you worked hard to purchase, and you’re working harder to look after, there’s nothing wrong with being diligent.

And if your “spidey-sense” is tingling with respect to a certain candidate, move on.

As I said, there’s always another prospective tenant waiting…

The post Would You Lease To This Mystery-Tenant? appeared first on Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments | Toronto Realty Blog by David Fleming.

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What’s In YOUR Backyard?


Remember the video I showed you a few years back with the GO Train running right behind the back fence of a home in Scarborough?

Well, I think I might be able to one-up that scenario.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so check the video below.

And let me know whether this is worse than the train, and how much you think this house should be discounted…

Well, what do you think?

First of all, I suppose I should ask, “Does this bother you?”

But I honestly can’t see any scenario in which a would-be buyer isn’t at least somewhat bothered by the 1,000 acre plot of ready-to-go land that sits mere feet from the back deck of this home.

If you fast-forward ten years, and that acerage is filled with 1,500 homes, then you, as the home-owner of the property in the video, wouldn’t mind.

But what has to transpire to get to that point?

lot of trucks and people moving about!

Years and years of “beeeeeeep…..beeeeeeep…..beeeeeeep,” plus just about every single sound you could expect to hear on a construction site, all at your back door!

So what’s worse: the vacant plot of land about to be developed, or the Go Train?

For those of you that didn’t see the video, have a look:

The post What’s In YOUR Backyard? appeared first on Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments | Toronto Realty Blog by David Fleming.

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Downtown 1-Bedroom Condo with Parking | Pick5



The post Downtown 1-Bedroom Condo with Parking | Pick5 appeared first on Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments | Toronto Realty Blog by David Fleming.

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What’s The Biggest Story Within The November TREB Numbers?


Well, what is our option set?  Is it price?  Sales?  Listings – active or new?

Are we looking month-over-month, or year-over year?

I suppose you could also ask, “Do you want to paint a positive picture, or a negative one?” After all, we can make numbers say anything we want.

Let’s look at the November TREB numbers, and if you’ve done so already, you’ve probably already noticed one massive outlier…


I’m always interested to see which statistic the various news outlets lead with.

Excuse my repetitiveness, but you can make numbers say anything you want.

And as I alluded to above, you can choose to focus on price, sales, inventory, or any number of statistics found within each month’s TREB Market Watch.

And you could put a negative, or positive spin on just about anything.

In fact, let me try that.  Let me show you what the newspapers were writing about, and I’ll add a smile.

On Tuesday, when the TREB numbers were released, the Financial Post chose to look at price:


“Toronto home prices are down 8.8% since May,” the headline reads.

A postitive addendum here could read, “….but Toronto condo prices only down 1.7%.”

Over at the Toronto Star, they chose to look at sales:


Sales were, in fact, up in November, over October, but still down 13.3% in November 2017, over November 2016.

A positive addendum here could read, “….but the 13.3% drop pales in comparison to the 26.7% drop in October, and the 35.1% drop in September.”

It’s a reach, but not a long one.

The 13.3%, year-over-year drop in sales isn’t significant, in the context of September and October.

So while these two newspapers chose to look at price and sales, which are usually the #1 and #2 statistics people choose to use, bull or bear, it was a completely different statistic that caught my eye.

Wait.  “Caught my eye” is an understatement.

If we’re going to stay on the theme of eyes, let me use a photo to accurately convey my reaction:



It was exactly like that.

Folks, let me show you a screenshot of TREB Market Watch, and you tell me, what makes your eyes pop out:


Any ideas, folks?

I saw it right away!

And while I can read the TREB Market Watch like braille after 15 years, I still think even if you’re seeing this for the first time, there has got to be one figure that jumps out at you.

Any ideas?

Look again one more time before I highlight it for you.


Check this out:


That is just mind-boggling.

Eye-popping, you might say!

110.6% of anything, in just about any context, is just crazy.

But a 110.6% increase in active listings, year over year?  I just can’t believe what I’m seeing.

To put this in proper context, consider that in the months preceding, the active listing numbers were still high:

July: 65%
August: 65%
September: 69%
October: 79%

But over 100%?

As in double?

It’s downright nuts.  And we’re all scrambling to make sense of it.

So I spent Tuesday night looking at past active listing data, to do exactly that; make sense of it.

First, consider the definitions that TREB uses:

“New Listings” are listings entered into the TREB MLS system between the first and last day of the month/period being reported.

“Active Listings” are listings at the end of the last of the month/period being reported.

So first, I simply went back five years (save for December, for the purpose of this exercise), to look at the number of active listings in each and every month.

Here’s how the data looks:



Now just as the “110.6%” figure jumped out at me above, upon glancing at the finished list here, I had three things jump out at me:

1) There are only six months in the past five years with less than 10,000 active listings, and three of those were consecutive, to start out 2017: January, February, and March.  Jan/Feb/March of The inventory levels were historically low to epic proportions.

2) The “22’s” on the right side of the chart are jumping out at me.  There are also some “20’s” in the same line – 2013.  The amount of active listings in 2013 is shocking.

3) I’m not sure what seems to draw the eye in more: the drop in active listings to start 2017, or the surge in active listings to end 2017.

Whether you can do long division in your head or not, just look at the November numbers!

From 8,639 active listings in 2016 to 18,197 in 2017!

That’s what “110.6%” looks like!

But as my eyes danced back-and-forth, from the left side of the chart to the right, I continued to bounce over those 2016 numbers, and it became quite apparent that if anything, 2016 seemed to be an outlier.

The number of active listings in 2016 were the lowest, by far, of any year.

And active listings have been dropping every year for the past five years, save for the latter half of 2017.

Take a look:


What I’m seeing here, once you get past the black numbers ranging from 43% to 111%, is a massive drop in listings in 2016 as the year went on.

This is what I remember from 2016!  Listings were plummeting each and every month, and this continued into early 2017, when you see the insane fifty-percent drops in active listings.

So with the active listings dropping so drastically in 2016, perhaps it seems to reason that they would increase dramatically in 2017?

If I’m right, and 2016 was, in fact, an outlier, then the 2017 monthly “active listings” statistics wouldn’t look as bad when compared to 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Let’s look at that:


The 2017 numbers over 2015, 2014, and 2013 show that active listing levels were actually in line.

Take January, February, and March out of the equation for a moment, since we know those 2017 inventory levels were historically low.

Compared to 2013, active listings were still lower in 2017, in the remaining 6 of 8 months.

That’s 5 of 8 months compared to 2014.

And 2 of 8 months compared to 2015.


While I think that 2016 is an outlier, I’m also starting to think perhaps November is as well.

In fact, the one stat I didn’t show above, and could have included in the first chart was the sum total of yearly active listings, not including December.

This should put 2016 in context:


Active listings, through November, are up 31% in 2017 from 2016.

But that’s after dropping 29% from 2015.

So maybe the conclusion here, is that the massive decline in active listings in 2016 is the real reason for the eye-popping monthly, year-over-year increases in active listings that we’ve seen this fall?  That, and perhaps November’s staggering 110.6% figure will seem like an outlier down the line once we have more data?

Or do you think I’m painting a rosy picture, just for the sake of doing so?

That’s fair.  I can see how this looks.

But folks, I’m just trying to make sense of that “110.6%” statistic, because it’s so shockingly out-of-place.  And as you can tell from the last chart above, we’ve seen active listings decline year after year, and even with that whopping 110.6% stat, active listings up to the end of November still trail 2015, 2014, and 2013.

So what else did we see in the November TREB numbers?

I certainly don’t want to gloss over the rest, but the active listings data was my take-away.

The average home price declined, month-over-month, by 2.4%.

It stops the “trend” of house price increases, after gains were made, month-over-month, in both September and October.

Sales were down 13.3%, year-over-year, but up marginally over October, and more significantly over September.

But perhaps this is the one month where price and sales seem somewhat boring, compared to the listings data.

And now we’re into December, which is a historically slow month, and I’d expect to see that “average home price” dip about 3-5% in December, over November, as is often the custom.

So what then?  Start the discussion about January?

How it’s going to be slow, at first, as buyers take the wait-and-see approach to the new lending regulations, only to discover the regulations are having little, if any, effect, at which point buyers pounce, and the market heads back up?

Or how the Armageddon is coming, bears have been right for ten years, and the market is going to plummet?

Hmm…maybe I’m the only one who finds the active listings data positively fascinating…

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