Going To Idaho!

TorontoRealtyBlog

Yes, folks, it’s that time again!

My yearly foray down to the spud state so that everybody I come across says, “Idaho?  Why the hell are you going to Idaho?”

That question, is why.

I won’t leave you high and dry with nothing to read or watch on TRB, so for those of you that are new readers in the last two years, let’s have a look back at a feature I ran in 2015 called, “What If The Whole World Worked The Same Way As The Toronto Real Estate Market?”

Long title, but you’ll enjoy the videos.  And for those of you that have already seen them, pretend you haven’t re-watched The Wire on HBO On Demand five years after seeing it on DVD box-set…

WelcomeToIdaho

The idea for my first video in the “What If The Whole World Worked The Same Way As The Toronto Real Estate Industry” came to me years before I actually filmed the video, but it was the kind of idea that made me say, “If I’m going to do this, I need to do it right.”

In 2013 and 2014, I’d have no problem setting up a camera and tripod and doing a quick video of me talking to the camera, or a quick-and-dirty edit in some cases.

But for the video on “Pre-Construction Jeans,” I wanted it to look real.

I won’t launch into my diatribe about how pre-construction condos are sold in Toronto, again.

But you know my feelings, and you know that no matter how many people I cautioned against it, there were still those who went against my advice and went out and bought from Urbancorp.

It seemed like nothing I ever said would get through to those people.

So I decided that perhaps explaining it with facts and arguments, empirical evidence, and a laundry list of risks, I would just dumb it down to the lowest common denominator.

I used to say, “You wouldn’t spend $120 on a pair of jeans like this, so why do people spend $500,000 on a pre-construction condo?”

So I write a script, hired a film crew, raided the prop store – and my closet, which sadly had about a dozen of the same Banana Republic V-neck shirt, and this was the result:

 

Believe it or not, we spent eight full hours in this studio, and filmed a second video that day, which you can see below.

It was the only time we ever successfully banged out two in one day.  We tried again the next time, but the second video (“Laser Eye Surgery vs. Discount Agent”) was so poorly done that I didn’t want to air it.  We re-shot that video about eight months later with a better set, a great actor I met during the “Real Estate Seminar” video, and a ton of props.

In any event, this is the second video we shot, which I simply call “Toothpaste.”

Again, it’s trying to dumb things down to the lowest common denominator to show how insane some real estate practices are, like the “holding back offers” on listings, and the “bully offers” that result.

So I asked, “What if this is the way, say, toothpaste was sold?”

And this was the result:

 

The next video we shot was less of a comparison between “real estate and the real world,” and more of a fun video that really, truly shows you what people do at open houses.

And by people, I’m referring to both agents, who are bored out of their minds, and can’t wait to leave, and the people who attend open houses with no real interest in the property.

Here’s the result:

Can you guess who’s house we used for the shoot?

Who on this planet would volunteer his or her home, in a nano-second?

My mother.  That’s who.

And she became a staple of these shoots, always bringing coffee for the cast and crew, followed by lunch a few hours later.

Those who knew it was my mother’s house got a kick out of my line, “Huh, that’s the ugliest family I’ve ever seen,” since those photos are of me and my brother and sister.

Anyways, that’s the first three videos in the series, I hope you enjoyed.

I’ll be back Wednesday with more, but for now I think I’m going to go golfing, hiking, horseback-riding, mountain biking, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, and then running.

Who says there’s nothing to do in Idaho?

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I’m having problems with my unit and the condo board refuses to pay for damages.

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Category: Condos

 

Hi David, 

I live and own my condo in Richmond Hill for the past two years. One month after I moved in, my ceiling started to leak. I was told by management that this had been a pre-existing problem and they thought they had fixed it. Within a month, they “fixed” the problem again and repaired my ceiling. The problem is with the penthouse terrace directly above me. One year later, I had a new leak in a different area. My stucco ceiling in different parts of my condo have been cracking, bubbling and chipping. The leaks happened sporadically but it was red in colour. After many arguments with management, they had informed me that the board was not approving the permanent repair of the problem (too costly).

I also started having problems in my solarium where the top window meets the concrete wall with cracking and bubbling and staining. It has since leaked like a waterfall and chunks of ceiling have fallen off. Two of the windows in the condo are also leaking when it rains. Water spilling on my hardwood floor and furniture.

After I was notified that the board was not approving the expense to fix the problems, I hired a lawyer. The lawyer has been involved for approx 8 months. About a month ago they began to “fix” the terrace above me. However, the solarium and windows have not been addressed nor have any repairs been done to my unit. The condo corporation lawyer was served with the lawsuit but did not respond within 20 days.

My lawyer noted them in default. They are now taking me to court for default costs. My questions are: 1) Do they have a valid claim against me? 2) Would a judge rule in their favour when they were clearly in default? 3) Am I fighting a losing battle by taking the corporation to court for the problems I am having? I am trying to understand if I am wasting my time (because the courts won’t rule in my favour) or if I’m wasting a lot of money with little possibility of being awarded anything in the end. Can you please help? My money is very limited so this is taking a financial toll on me but it seems the only way I can get things done. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you. Silvia

 


 

Hi Silvia,

Sorry to hear about the problems you’re having, I wish I could say this was unique, and I haven’t heard from a reader before with this type of issue.  But the reality is, problems happen in condos all the time, and some condos are very decisive and diligent, and some simply look to pass the buck, and stick the resident with the issue.

Unfortunately, I’m in no position to give you legal advice, and I don’t know the ins and outs of the situation, or how the condominium Declaration was written.  Every condominium spells out what is common elements, and what belongs to the resident.  Condominiums also have their own insurance policies, which may or may not include certain portions of common elements, and/or the residents own space.

It sounds to me like the condo is liable, but when it comes to civil litigation, it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.  And often it’s who has deeper pockets.

I would advise you to listen to whatever your lawyer has to say on the matter, as he or she is the most informed, and anybody else is simply offering an uneducated opinion.

David.

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Ban “Double-Ending?” Or Introduce “Designated Representation?”

TorontoRealtyBlog

The choice is yours, folks!

Oh wait, nevermind, it’s actually up to a wing of government who is going to tell us what’s best for us…

Talk of banning multiple representation, or “double-ending,” has been going on for the better part of 2017, but the Ontario Real Estate Association has proposed the introduction of “designated representation” as a compromise.

Comments on online newspapers are inherently negative, but I’m curious to know what my readers think about this…

RealEstateTransaction

I double-ended a property last week.

Or I should say, I double-ended a sale.

That’s where the term “double-ending” comes from; it’s a sales term.

In real estate, brokerages track how many “ends” their agents produce.  Each transaction has two ends: a buy-end, and a sale-end.

And thus the term “double-ender” for management and brokers to fawn over when their agents strike gold.

That’s how the public wants to see it, right?

It’s all about the agents, their ends, and their money.

And this is why I’m somewhat frustrated, because the issue of “double-ending” isn’t about the ends, it’s about representation.

The mere fact that the media uses the term “double-ending” instead of “multiple representation” shows the angle they’re taking with their stories.

The sexy story is real estate agents, how much money they make, how many sales they do, and (fingers crossed!) them screwing over either their buyer, or seller, or both.

If newspaper headlines talked about “multiple representation,” it just wouldn’t have the same spin.

Last week, two of my clients found themselves in “multiple representation;” one on the buy-side, and one on the sell-side.

I had a listing coming to market, one that I knew about for a few weeks.

I also had clients that were looking for a property; something they could downsize to in a few years, but where their daughter could stay as she did her Masters degree at U of T, perhaps renting the other bedroom to a friend.

My buyers were looking for something with space: maybe 1,200 square feet or more, but space in terms of functionality – something you don’t find in today’s new micro-condos.  So after showing them units in King West that were the right square footage, and with the outdoor space they coveted (something 300 sqft+, where you could barbecue), they found that the style of newer-builds and the layouts they offered just weren’t going to work.

I told them about the listing I had coming up, and they sounded interested.

This happens a lot in my business; you always have somebody looking, and something coming up, but rarely do the two connect.

In this case, my buyers loved the description of the unit, and they much preferred the east side.

So a few days before the listing was scheduled to come to market, I showed it to my buyers.

They didn’t jump; they took their time.

But when I brought the unit to market, they said, “Okay, you know what?  We want it.  Let’s buy it.”

So how did I represent both sides?

It sounds cliché, folks, but it’s the truth: honesty.

I told my buyers that we had priced the unit slightly above fair market value, since we did.

And I told them that one of two scenarios could play out.

The unit could sit on the market for two weeks, and they might be able to get it for, say, $20-$30K under the list price.

But the unit might also garner significant attention, result in multiple offers, and sell $20-$30K over the list price.

In fact, the amount that properties sell for over list is usually substantially higher than the amount properties sell under list price, in this market.  I don’t think anybody would dispute that.

So I told my clients, “If you want to tie up this property today, you’d have to offer the full list price.  However, that doesn’t preclude you from instructing me to draw up an offer with ANY price of your choosing.  As your agent, I could offer $1 on your behalf; it’s up to you.”

In the end, they simply said, “We don’t want to mess around.”

This property was going to represent their retirement, and the bottom line was: they weren’t all that price-sensitive.  If they paid $950,000,  or $980,000, or $930,000, it wasn’t going to make or break this decision for them.

They wanted the property, they thought the list price was reasonable, and  they didn’t want to take the downside risk, that other offers materialized, in exchange for upside reward, that the property sits on the market, and they could get it for less.

The sellers were ecstatic with the sale price, and relieved that they didn’t have to stay out of the condo for two weeks.

The buyers were as happy as can be with their purchase, and can’t wait to take possession.

Tell me I’m wrong in my approach here, and tell me what I did was unfair.

Tell me that there was potential for a conflict of interest, and I won’t disagree.

But not every potential for a conflict of interest, results in a conflict of interest.  Let alone one party’s interest being put above and beyond the other.

I’ve heard a lot of metaphors and comparisons for multiple representation in real estate.

“A lawyer can’t represent both the defendant and the plaintiff.”

“A baseball player can’t call his own balls and strikes.”

I’m sure you could come up with a few beauties yourselves.

The comparison to a lawyer representing both plaintiff and defendant might seem to have some similarities, except in that case only one of them can win.  It’s a zero sum game, and one person’s loss equals the other person’s gain.  Representing both buyer and seller in real estate, as I’ve shown in the example above, does allow both parties to win.

As for calling your own balls and strikes, well, I don’t think this really applies.  That’s essentially saying you are your own moral authority, determining what is right and what is wrong.  But RECO is the moral authority, and ultimately so too will be your clients.

And that’s really what it all comes down to, in my opinion.

I really don’t want to sound like an anti-government nut, based on my blog from Monday and now following it up with this, but I really, truly don’t think it’s the government’s place to decide who can work with whom in the real estate market.

It should be entirely up to the consumer.

I’m not in favour of taking choice away from the consumer.

I understand why the government has made it illegal to not wear a seat-belt, but then again, the government has allowed consumer to decide if they want to smoke cigarettes, eat fatty meats, and come next year, smoke weed.

So why is it up to the government to decide on behalf of the consumer whether or not a real estate agent can work for both buyer and seller?

I have a very simple solution, and this is more simple than what OREA is proposing.

A buyer signs a “Buyer Representation Agreement.”

A seller signs a “Listing Agreement.”

Let’s create new forms that have a section pertaining to multiple representation, but at BOTH the brokerage level, and the agent level.  Because by definition, “Multiple Representation” refers to the same brokerage representing buyer and seller, not the same agent.

When it comes to the debate about “double-ending,” that’s directly referring to the same agent representing both buyer and seller, so let’s not confuse the two.

Now, as for the Buyer Representation Agreement and Listing Agreement, let’s have check-boxes, where the client must initial for the following:

1) I hereby give my consent for my agent to engage in multiple representation at the brokerage level.

YES  ________        NO  ________

2) I hereby give my consent for my agent to engage in multiple representation at the agent level.

YES  ________        NO  ________

Every buyer and seller, via the Buyer Representation Agreement and Listing Agreement, must specify whether or not they would allow their agent to either “double-end” their deal, or, have anybody from their brokerage work on the transaction.

Now here’s the kicker, folks, and agents will not like when I suggest this.

There should be a clause in the Buyer Representation Agreement that specifically states if the buyer agent happens to have a property listed for sale, as a listing agent, and the buyer under contract did NOT consent to multiple representation at the agent level, then that buyer is free to pursue that property, and only that property, with another agent.

Is that fair?

It allows a buyer to work under contract with an agent, but if that agent has a property listed that interests the buyer, and the buyer does not feel comfortable working with an agent “double-ending,” then the buyer has an out.

I welcome your thoughts on this, since again, to reiterate, I really, truly believe that the decision should be left to the consumer, and not forced upon the market by the government.

Also keep in mind that nine times out of ten, any issues arising from multiple representation, specifically “double-ending,” are on the buy-side.

Show me a seller who will toss away an offer from a buyer, who happens to be represented by the seller’s agent.

In competition, if there were ten offers, does the seller really care who “wins?”

Well, even though I’m seeking to make a point, let me combat the point with an example…

A few years ago, I brought an offer on behalf of my buyer clients on a property listed by Bosley Real Estate.

There were three offers, and I was told by the listing agent, “You’re the highest, but…”

Do you know what that “but” referred to?

You’ll never believe it.

The seller didn’t want to work with a Bosley-represented offer.

I couldn’t believe it!

The sellers told their listing agent, “We don’t like the optics of this.  We feel it might not be well-received, and if it’s up to us, we’d simply rather work with one of the other two offers.”

Of course, the other two offers were lower!  So now the sellers really had to put their money where their mouth was, literally, and decide if they wanted to accept a lower offer, that wasn’t from Bosley.

They gave both the other bidders a chance to improve, and not us, which you will argue is “unfair” or “against the rules,” but those so-called rules aren’t written anywhere, other than many generic sections in REBBA and the CREA Code of Ethics about “fairness in dealings.”

In the end, one buyer stuck, the other improved, but not enough, and we got the property.

But imagine my explanation to my buyers if we didn’t?

Earlier this week, an article appeared in the Globe & Mail entitled, “Realtors Realtors Lobby For Revised ‘Double-Ending’ Ban”

The article quotes Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage, who said the following:

“It is better to make it the law to need independent representation, but allow the consumer the ability to contract out of that with clear disclosure and high penalties for those who don’t follow the rules.  You put it in the hands of people who are actually paying the fees, rather than making it very difficult for them in the rare circumstances where it makes sense for them.”

Sooooo………pretty much what I’ve been saying?

On July 23rd, 2017, the Ontario Real Estate Association, who has effectively become a Realtor-lobbyist now that the education programs have been taken away from them, released a 44-page report, sent as a “letter” to Tracy MacCharles, the Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

The author(s) of the report waste no time, with the first page of the report showing “KEY OREA RECOMMENDATION” in big letters, and then the following:

Multiple representation under REBBA was established in 2002 and modernization is needed to ensure it is in line with best practices in other jurisdictions. The real estate market, consumers’ expectations and industry practices have change signifi cantly in the past 15 years. That is why OREA worked hard to convince the province to reform REBBA, including addressing practices like multiple representation. Specifically, OREA is calling for multiple representation to be reformed in favour of the highest national standard that maintains consumer choice in a real estate transaction.

To that end, OREA supports mandatory designated representation (MDR) and strongly recommends that MDR include the ability for consumers and registrants to enter into “transactional representation” with their REALTOR® in order to protect informed consumer choice.

OREA gives the following cheezy example of Mandatory Designated Representation:

John and Cynthia have been working with David, their REALTOR®, for 6 months as they search for their fi rst home. They signed a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) with David making them a client. John and Cynthia really like David. He provides great service and has showed them dozens of properties. They trust David and have built a good relationship with him. John and Cynthia have also shared with David the maximum price they qualified for through their bank and their income. David lists a property that fi ts the criteria that John and Cynthia were searching for.  John and Cynthia attend a showing and decide to put an off er on David’s listing. Under a mandatory designated representation model, David would have to choose between representing John and Cynthia or the seller since both parties are his clients. David decides to keep his seller clients and refers John and Cynthia to two registrants in his office. They are reluctant to work with a complete stranger who they have just met and are angry they can’t work with David. It’s his listing after all. Who knows more about the property than David? In this example, what is in John’s and Cynthia’s best interests as consumers?

Now I’m confused.

OREA supports Mandatory Designated Representation, but then gives us an example, and asks us, somewhat rhetorically, “What is in John and Cynthia’s best interests as consumers?”

Perhaps they haven’t worked it out either.

In any event, I could go on about “Transactional Representation,” but I feel as though you’re already skimming this, and scrolling to the comments section to provide your two cents.

So let’s do that then.

I won’t be offended if you say that all real estate agents are snake-oil salesmen, who should die in a fiery car-wreck, somewhat ironically caused by highly flammable snake-oil that was already pre-sold.

My only requests:

1) If you are against multiple representation, then distinguish between the brokerage level and the agent level, because REBBA currently does not, and I think that’s where this conversation starts.

2) If you’re against it, you have to provide an alternative.

I welcome your thoughts.

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Cap Rates On Investment Properties | Pick5

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Here’s How New Orleans Is Dealing With Short-Term Rentals

TorontoRealtyBlog

For those of you trying to figure out what city I was going to profile when I said, “One of my favourite cities in the world,” you will be excused for suggesting Victor, Idaho, population 1,928.  It would be my favourite city, except it’s really just a town in the middle of absolutely nowhere…

New Orleans is one of the largest tourist destinations in North America, and their French Quarter is probably, based on density, the largest.

A couple of years ago, the city started to look at the problem of short-term rentals, and last December, they finally figured out how they were going to handle it.

The result: “a model for the nation,” according to their city staff…

CityOfNewOrleans

Have you ever been to New Orleans?

I have.

Twice.

I’m a huge New Orleans Saints fan (long story…) and in 2014, my wife and I decided to take a fall trip down to The Big Easy, and attend an NFL football game, among other things.

We were a huge hit, as a matter of fact.

We were completely decked out in Saints gear, with knee-socks, wrist-bands, stick-on tattoos, and most importantly – home-made, matching t-shirts, aimed at catching Jimmy Graham’s attention.

Why Jimmy Graham?  Well, as my wife so eloquently put it, “I love you, but I would totally marry Jimmy Graham.”

So what the heck, why not have some fun with it?

My wife’s shirt said, “Jimmy, will you marry me?”

My shirt said, “Jimmy, will you marry my wife?”

Oh what the hell, I may as well share a photo…

D&JNO

We splurged for 2nd row tickets behind the Saints bench, so Jimmy took notice of our shirts and nodded in approval.  He gave us the thumb’s up, which I think meant that he would marry my wife, but he never followed up on it…

New Orleans gets a bad rap sometimes.  I know everybody automatically thinks “Mardi-Gras,” and pictures naked college students with beads around their necks, drunken morons puking on Bourbon Street, and just an absolute mess of a city.

But that’s a few days per year, and Bourbon Street can be a pleasant distraction for just about anybody.

As you know from reading this blog and watching Pick5 videos, I’m not a big partier, nor is my wife.  But drop us in New Orleans for a 3-day getaway, and we’ll take in just about anything the city has to offer.  And I promise you, it’s not just about Bourbon Street.

New Orleans has some of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen in North America.  The architecture down there is so unique, and while it might be an occupational hazard for a real estate agent, I just fell in love with the Garden District.  We walked for hours and hours from West Riverside, through the Irish Channel, and into the Garden District, before taking St. Charles Avenue all the way back to the French Quarter.

I did my research, however, and concluded that you do not want to stay IN the French Quarter.  You do want to visit the French Quarter, eat there, party there, and absorb everything the area has to offer, but you don’t want to stay in the area.  God forbid you want to turn in for the night, and alas, you can’t, since the party goes until 6am.

We went to New Orleans in both 2014 and 2015, and stayed at The International House on Camp Street, two city blocks south of Canal Street, which is the southern boundary of the French Quarter.

If I had more time, I’d regale you with stories about driving a black Camero with tinted-windows (the only car that Budget Car Rental had left…) from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to attend an LSU college football game, and what it was like to be 35-years-old, surrounded by 17-year-old kids doing things that I only thought happened in movies.  But I think it’s time I get to my long-winded point…

We loved New Orleans so much, that we thought about purchasing an investment property down there.

Around the corner from where we stayed on Camp Street, there was a hard-loft condo, converted from an old telephone warehouse, that had some unbelievably gorgeous units – all of them being sold furnished.

There was a 1-bed, 1-bath, about 585 square feet, for $219,000 US that caught my eye.  A unit like this would rent out for $250 per night (on average, rather conservative estimate), and you’d almost never have a vacancy.  Being conservative, and assuming 280 out of 365 nights, at $250/night, would bring in $70,000 in income.

Management fees would be 10% of gross revenue, which still leaves $63,000.

Maintenance fees on the unit were a lean $240 per month, all-inclusive, and property taxes were $190.  That’s $5,160 per year – a pittance!

The unit nets around $58,000, again, being conservative with both the rental price, and number of days rented.

Putting down 50%, or $109,500, and the return is a joke: 53% return on investment.

And yes, there’s foreign ownership taxation to be considered, as well as maintenance, and another Katrina.

But all in all, you don’t find anything like this in Toronto.  Not even close.

So when we headed down to New Orleans in 2015, I was all set to check out some condos with a guy from Sotheby’s, until, silly me, I mentioned AirBnB.  He emailed me back with “AirBnB????”  And count them, yes, four consecutive question marks in his response.

I knew as soon as I got that email that I was on a fool’s errand.  I didn’t even need his reply, which came eventually, and told me that the city of New Orleans had banned all short-term rentals, AirBnB, VRBO’s, and the like.

It seems that New Orleans, specifically the French Quarter, runs on the engine fueled by hotel-dollars.  Take away all that hotel money and put it in the pockets of individual investors, and the entire house of cards comes crumbling down.

I did a little more digging, and talked to a few folks down there, and realized that there were hundreds of illegal AirBnB rentals throughout the city, and in prime French Quarter territory.  In fact, I got multiple accounts, of multiple regulations, and it seemed that nobody could really tell me what the rules were.

I was told by some that short-term rentals were illegal in the French Quarter.

I was told by others that short-term rentals were illegal anywhere in New Orleans.

Ultimately, I decided that it just wasn’t for me.  Owning and managing a property from afar is never easy, but can be worthwhile if the return is high enough.  In this case, the uncertainty regarding the regulations, as well as future regulations, just wasn’t worth the risk.

Since then I’ve been following the trials and tribulations of both the city of New Orleans and their desperate attempt to crack down on nightly-rentals, as well as the investors who refuse to go away.

It’s been an absolute disaster.

From what I understand, there were no short-term rentals allowed anywhere in New Orleans, and now licenses are being granted (all governments seem to love money!), but not in the French Quarter where tourism and hotel-dollars are of the utmost importance.

From the official city website, www.nola.gov:

On December 1, 2016, the City Council adopted a series of ordinances which amended both the City’s Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance and the City Code to define and permit “Short Term Rentals” in zoning districts throughout the city and to create a licensing process for these uses. These ordinances will take effect on April 1, 2017.

A complete summary of the regulations can be found here, and a table of what types of rentals are allowed in which zoning districts can be found here. To find out what your property is zoned, please use our lookup tool at property.nola.gov

Amazingly, the website also contains a registry of approved short-term rentals, complete with an interactive mapping tool of ALL licensed short term rentals in New Orleans!

Seriously, a mapping tool.

You can see every single approved short-term rental, as an icon on a map.

More from the NOLA website:

This site is updated nightly with the addresses and permit numbers of approved Short Term Rentals.

This information can also be found at onestopapp.nola.gov by searching for the address of the property being researched.

The map below features all rentals allowed in New Orleans on a short term (less than 30 day) basis. This includes all applications for Short Term Rental Licenses regardless of status as well as Hotels, Motels, and Bed and Breakfasts. 

Nightly, folks.

The site is updated nightly.

Can you imagine this happening anywhere else in the world?

NIGHTLY!

The response has been mixed among NOLA’ers, as you might expect, in the same way as the short-term rental war pits people against each other in every other major city in the world.

NOLA.com, not to be confused with NOLA.gov, is the major news source down in the city.

HERE is a must-read article from NOLA.com, posted on December 2nd, 2016, after the city council passed short-term rental regulations.

For those who are really interested in how major cities across the North America are, or one day will be, dealing with short-term rentals, click on the link, and read it in full.

But if you don’t have the wherewithal, here’s the nuts and bolts:

The New Orleans City Council on Thursday (Dec. 1) passed a series of ordinances that amount to a landmark regulatory framework for short-term rentals unlike any other city in the nation.

The regulations include establishing a dedicated enforcement unit, limiting whole-home rentals to 90 days, allowing unfettered short-term rentals in owner-occupied housing, and an outright ban on short-term rentals in most of the French Quarter. The regulations also allow uncapped short-term rentals in certain commercial districts.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration and representatives of Airbnb said they expect the regulations to become a model for other cities because no other local government has passed an ordinance that includes a deal with Airbnb that includes what’s known as a “pass-through” registration system. The deal means Airbnb will share certain data with the city to enforce the 90-day limit, as well as enforce  safety regulations.

As of June 29th, 2017, 4,747 residents had applied for a short-term renters permit. The Safety and Permitting Department had issued 2,435 so far and was waiting for payment on another 507 approvals. (Source HERE)

But as for the French Quarter, it’s still a no go.

And the stories are piling in faster than frat boys onto Bourbon Street.

HERE is a really interesting story about a creative and innovative AirBnB’er who tried to work around the ban on short-term rentals in the French Quarter.

The owner was offering up a special “catering deal,” where if you bought 20 Po-Boys (if you’re not familiar with Po-Boys, then that’s reason enough to visit New Orleans) for $595, you got a free night’s stay in a Vieux Carre house.

You and I know that this is a work-around the rules, as intended.

But the owner is suing the City of New Orleans, arguing that he is the owner of Melba’s Po-Boys on Elysian Fields Avenue, and has a 5-year lease on the property where the store is located, thus it should be up to his discretion to advertise the property as he sees fit, and offer food and hospitality to friends, family, and colleagues of the company.

That sounds like a decent legal argument.

Except that the property still shows up on VRBO’s website, po-boys be damned.

The city of New Orleans is working around the clock to shut down illegal short-term rentals in the French Quarter, and sanction those outside the French Quarter who are not complying with the ordinance to properly apply for a permit for short-term rentals.

When the new rules passed in December of 2016, the city hired seven full-time city staffers to oversee the new rules regarding short-term rentals.  Everything from proper permits, to discipline for infractions.  As of early June, over 400 fines had been levied against those trying to bend the rules, or completely break them.

And because the City of New Orleans has a deal with AirBnB, the city staff can directly instruct AirBnB to remove illegal postings, ie. those in the French Quarter, or those without proper permits.

These people are no joke!  Listen to this quote from the director of the city’s Office of Safety & Permits:

“We have inspection staff in the field making observations. We’re looking for places that seem to have indicators there may be short-term rentals going on, and we’re also patrolling the websites,” Munster said. “The code places a maximum, under any circumstances, a maximum of 10 (occupants), so does your listing have a capacity of more than 10? Do you have your license number on the listing as required?”

“What we’re working on here is actually becoming the model for the nation … so we’re ahead of the curve on how we’re regulating this.” 

These city staffers are on a mission.

And if I were running an illegal AirBnB or VRBO, I’d be scared they’re about to show up at my door.

So what do you think, folks?

Is this truly “a model for the nation,” or is this bureaucracy at its finest?

Have your say below, and let us know if you think Toronto should follow this model, or some version of it.

The post Here’s How New Orleans Is Dealing With Short-Term Rentals appeared first on Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments | Toronto Realty Blog by David Fleming.

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What Is The Future Of Short-Term Rentals In Toronto?

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In last Friday’s blog post, I briefly touched on the subject of AirBnB, so briefly, in fact, that it almost necessitated an entire follow-up blog.

Many of the readers commented that they wouldn’t want to live in a condominium that allows AirBnB, which I find ironic, given the massive push by investors and owners alike to either have their condos allow short-term rentals, or to simply illegally rent out their units.

Today, I want to highlight a few recent articles about how AirBnB’s have affected Toronto, and then, as is so, so often the case on this blog, delve off into the politics involved with both current short-term rental regulations, and potential future ones down the line…

airbnbVRBO

Show me a government that doesn’t love a tax, and I’ll show you a government that won’t succeed.

I may have done my Grade-Eight school project on the Liberal Party of Canada, back when a new guy on the scene named Jean Chretien was running for Prime Minister, but I am not a fan of the party in 2017, as my regular readers will know.

Tax and spend.  It’s not a cliché, and it’s not an exaggeration; it’s a platform.

So when Kathleen Wynne introduced her completely useless “Fair Housing Plan” back in April, I was shocked that she didn’t include a tax on short-term rentals!

A good politician is one that can invent new taxes out of thin air.  Potato-chip-tax, toilet-flushing-tax, stepping-on-a-side-walk-crack tax – all solid new ways to generate revenue.

So why in the world did it take so long for the government to profit from short-term rentals in Toronto?

There are those that think we have a “problem” with short-term rentals in Toronto, and those that think it’s fair game.  Either way, the solution, as is always the case in Ontario, is for the government to claim regulations are needed, and knight themselves the regulator, overseer, and rule-maker, while implementing new taxes in the process.

This past June, it finally happened; the municipal government finally stepped up to deal with the “problem” of short-term rentals by…..wait for it……….requiring hosts to register with the city and pay fees.

Well if that isn’t the way to deal with short-term rentals, then I don’t know what is!

Kidding aside, the city of Toronto released a Staff Report on June 7th called “Proposed Regulations For Short-Term Rentals,”, whereby they proposed four new regulations:

1) Amend the City’s zoning bylaws to create a new land use called “short-term rental” that is permitted in principal residences across the city,

2) Prohibit short-term rentals that are not in a person’s principal residence.

3) License companies that facilitate short-term rental activity, like Airbnb.

4) Create a registry for anyone who operates a short-term rental in their home.

#1, #2, and #4 are all within the municipal government’s power.

But #3 is very interesting, since there is no guarantee that AirBnB will play ball.  More on this on Wednesday, where I’ll show you a North American city which is calling itself “the model” for short-term rental regulation, and has a deal in place with AirBnB.

How does the city of Toronto define a “short-term rental?”  As follow:

A short-term rental is any rental of a residential unit lasting up to 28 days in a row. The 28 day definition distinguishes short-term rentals from longer rentals (it is not a cap on the number of nights a home can be rented). Any rental that lasts 29 consecutive days or more would be considered a long-term rental. A more precise definition of short-term rental is discussed later in this report.

So we’re not talking about one-night AirBnB’s here, we’re talking about 4-week stays as well.

The staff report goes on to identify four areas of concern:

1) Housing availability and affordability.  It comes as no surprise that taking housing stock out of the market, will decrease supply, and increase prices.

2) Neighbourhood and nuisance issues.  Do you want to live next door to a 9-room house, full of tourists?

3) Economic development and tourism.  How does this affect the hotel industry?

4) Taxation.  Save the best for last, I suppose, but I would agree that short-term rental operators are not paying tax in the same way as their hotel-counterparts.

Regarding fees and licensing, the report suggested the following:

1) Registry fees of $40-$150 per home for short-term rental operators.

2) Licensing fees of $5,000-20,000 per night for commercial operators.

3) A 4% tax on registered short-term rental hosts operating out of their principal residences.

The report also recommended that the operator would have to post their license in any advertising for their short-term rental.

Since this report made its debut in June, the media has been abuzz with reports about short-term rentals in major Canadian cities.

I don’t think the staff report had anything to do with the buzz, but rather the city of Toronto managed to get out ahead of the storm that was brewing.

Short-term rentals are a problem in Montreal, Vancouver, and believe it or not – Saskatchewan too.  Here’s some choice reading:

June 15th, 2017: “The Long-Term Problems of Short-Term Rentals In Montreal”

August 9th, 2017: “Here’s How AirBnB Is Making Your Montreal Rent More Expensive”

August 10th, 2017: “Illegal Short-Term Rentals Spawn Record Complaints In Vancouver”

August 12th, 2017: “Short-Term Rental Properties On The Rise In Saskatchewan”

As for Toronto, the buzz really started to pick up at the start of August.

August 4th, 2017: “Growth Of Big Players In AirBnB Rentals Shows Need For Regulations, City Says”

August 6th, 2017: “Large Commercial Operators A Growing Concern In The AirBnB Market, Study Says”

And what “study” are they referring to in that last article?

This is where things get really interesting!

Last week, a research group from McGill University released a 48-page report entitled: “Short Term Cities: AirBnB’s Impact On Canada’s Housing Market.”

It takes a while to download, but trust me – it’s worth the read.

The results are what you might expect: that AirBnB rentals are taking long-term housing out of the market for residents in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, and in cities where demand for housing already outpaces supply.

I know most of you won’t read the 48-page report, so here’s the executive summary:

Across the Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver regions, 81,000 Airbnb listings have been active at some point in the last year, and 51,000 in May 2017. Montreal had the largest number for most of the year, but Toronto is now taking first place. These listings are heavily concentrated in the central cities of the three CMAs, and they are growing rapidly; the three cities have experienced a 50% year-over-year increase. A majority of listings in all three cities are entire homes rather than private rooms.

Airbnb hosts in Canada’s largest three metropolitan regions earned a collective $430 million in revenue last year, an average of $5,300 per listing and a 55% increase over the year before. This growth is driven by Toronto, where total revenue nearly doubled year-over-year, and where average revenue per listing is also growing strongly. Revenue is highly concentrated among the most successful hosts; 10% of hosts earn a large majority of overall revenue.

There are now 13,700 entire homes rented 60 days or more per year on Airbnb in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, each of which is unlikely to be rented to long-term tenants. They account for one sixth of all Airbnb listings, and a majority of nights booked on the service. Even more worryingly, these listings are growing around 25% more rapidly than other categories of listings. Many neighbourhoods—above all in Montreal—have seen two or three percent of their entire housing stock converted to de facto hotels.

The report doesn’t draw the obvious conclusion: that short-term rentals have a direct impact on price.

From the report:

Airbnb has removed as many as 13,700 units of housing from rental markets in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. In some areas this represents more than two percent of the total housing stock—a number comparable to the rental vacancy rate in the three cities. In general, these are neighbourhoods with above average rents, but there are significant economic pressures threatening further conversions of long-term rentals to de-facto Airbnb hotels in a number of more affordable areas—particularly those lying on mass transit lines. In the last year, conversions to short-term rentals have outpaced new home construction in a number of neighbourhoods.

That paragraph is from the report’s section called, “Airbnb’s impact on rental housing,” and yet I can’t help but think that the effect AirBnB is having on the rental market is just as big as the market for properties being sold.

Any way you slice it, taking housing stock out of the market, for rent or for sale, is going to have an impact on price.

I put up a listing for lease last week for a 1-bed, den, 1-bath unit with parking, for $2,200 per month.

I ended up getting eight offers.

Five of the offers were from prospective tenants who hadn’t even seen the property.  That is how competitive the rental market is out there.

One agent told me, “I won a 16-offer bidding war for a condo in Liberty Village last night.”

Another agent told me, “A kid in my office has lost nine offers for lease…………so far this week.”

Part of this has to do with the time of year.  A lot of renters are looking for September 1st.

But as the McGill report clearly states, more than two percent of properties have been removed from the market due to short-term rentals, and I think that number is probably higher in downtown Toronto.

And when it comes to the sale of properties, the same argument can be made.  The higher returns from short-term rentals are causing many operators to keep their properties, rather than selling them.  No longer are investors looking to sell and take their profits, when they money flowing in from short-term rentals is probably 3-4 times what they’d get by leasing for a one-year term.

I think this McGill report is going to open a lot of eyes, and other major Canadian cities, and maybe even those in the United States, will take notice.

But I don’t think that taxation is the answer to the “problem” of short-term rentals, and I put problem in quotations, because, again, not everybody thinks this is a problem.  Many people think we’re in a free market, and thus market participants should truly be free, without government intervention and regulation.

If the government does want to do something about the housing crisis – and yes, we’re bordering on crisis, then their staff reports should focus less on the amount of revenue raised from new taxes, and more on the potential number of properties to come onto the market, for lease and for sale, if and when they implement new policies, as well as how this will affect prices, and affordability.

On Wednesday, I’ll tell you about one of my favourite cities in the world, and how they have dealt with their own short-term rental crisis…

The post What Is The Future Of Short-Term Rentals In Toronto? appeared first on Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments | Toronto Realty Blog by David Fleming.

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Is this house worth renovating?

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Category: Renovation

 

Hi David,

My grandfather owns a beautiful (from the outside) three story Edwardian detached house in the Gerrard-Coxwell area with a front parking pad. It has been uninsurable for the last ten years or so due to old electrical. It also is poorly insulated in places (the legal addition off the back and the third floor don’t retain any heat) and an unpermitted separate entrance basement apartment. The house has been chopped up up as a rental with kitchens and bathrooms on every floor including the third.

Leaving aside whether it’s worth the stress of a whole house renovation. Do you think financially it would be better to remortgage and renovate and turn the house into a sfh with basement apartment before selling or to sell as is?

Caitlyn

 


 

Hi Caitlyn,

Your one request in this email is simply impossible: “….leaving aside whether it’s worth the stress of a whole house renovation.”

That’s the entire decision here.  It’s not about whether or not it’s “better” to renovate, because the answer is always, “yes.”

When I hear the term “remortgage,” it makes me squirm.

Very few home owners are properly equipped to take on a renovation of this stature, and if you have to refinance to do it, I’d strongly caution against it.

If you were able to sell this house “as is” to a developer or flipper, you’d get away with no liability, and a financial bounty.

Alternatively, taking on more debt and risk, at higher interest rates, to undergo what sounds like a complete gut, in an uninsurable house, in search of turning a higher profit, isn’t something I’d personally recommend.

Renovations never go as planned.  They always cost more, take longer, and cause more stress.  But this isn’t a renovation – this is basically building a house within four walls and a roof.

The “unpermitted” basement apartment adds yet another wrinkle.

Good luck!
David.

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