The low down on co-owning a home

sandra rinomato

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I work with many buyer clients who can’t afford a home on their own, or may not wish to carry a home on their own. Many times they are short some money for their down payment, or their income is not high enough to secure money from lenders to finance the type of home they wish to buy.

By partnering with another buyer, or two, they can achieve their dream of home ownership with less investment and carrying costs than if they had purchased on their own.

It’s really important for all parties involved to openly discuss their intentions to make certain that every owner is on the same page.

1409963545046_wps_11_For_sale_signs_as_house_pDo you want to buy, renovate and flip? Great idea! Who is going to do the work? Who is going to manage the trades, select the décor and pay for it all?

It’s best to discuss the details of the renovation, including timing goals and budget, but also who will be the main contact for tradespeople.

Which partner is going to act as General Contractor and Designer? Underestimating the commitment of time or money required to get the job done properly and in a timely manner can bankrupt you and destroy a relationship.

If you’re living with the other person, it’s wise to decide on a chore schedule, the rules of cohabitation (food and booze are split 50/50 for example, or parking rules) and the consequences if one party fails to uphold their end of the bargain.

It’s never a good idea if one partner wants this to be a short-term investment and the other partner wants to hold the property for the long term. It’s never a good idea if two first-time home-owners think they are going to take on a renovation of any kind without any previous experience.

It’s also never a good idea to do this without independent legal advice.

A co-ownership has to be treated as a business deal from the very beginning. With this kind of partnership, both parties should sign a co-ownership agreement. You would agree to a number of terms and issues. For example if one partner puts down twice as much money as the other, will he own a larger share, and will he carry a larger share of expenses?

Let’s say Brendan and James buy a home together. They are two buddies who grew up together and they despise paying rent. They recognize that together they can buy a home and live there, build equity, share costs and responsibilities. It sounds perfect. What could go wrong?

None of us know what will happen to us in the future, not in six months or six years. Let’s say some time after they take ownership of the home Brendan wants his girlfriend to move in with him. That may be ok with James, but she will be using more utilities, so will Brendan pay the extra costs? Perhaps James’ enjoyment of the property will be eroded because suddenly there is another person living there and he is uncomfortable. What if he wants out?

How would that go down exactly? If they are registered as Tenants in Common (unlike most married couples who are registered as Joint Tenants) James can sell his ownership in the house without Brendan’s approval. Or, James could implement a clause that was in the cohabitation agreement that is similar to a shotgun clause. He notifies Brendan that he is going to buy him out, at a certain price, by a certain date. Brendan then has the option to buy James out with the same terms. Once you invoke the clause there is no going back.

It’s important for anyone considering a co-ownership to sit down with a lawyer and figure out all of the options, obligations and responsibilities with your “new business venture”.

Take this seriously, proceed with caution and take your time, do your due diligence and craft a co-ownership agreement. Once everything is settled, and you’re sure it’s the right option, then you can go out and have fun home shopping!

High Park Newsletter Vol. 1

High Park Condo News Vol.1

High Park Condo News Vol.1

Simply Stage


Staging Photos

Many people ask me if we should stage their home before we sell it. My answer is “of course!”. No need to feel overwhelmed, a little effort can go a long way. It can be as simple as cleaning up, or as involved as renting furniture. You need to know to what extreme should you go in staging your home for sale and since each home is unique the answer is not straight forward. I make sure my clients don’t throw money away when just a little smart work can yield profitable results.

For example, a property that is marketed to builders will not need furniture rental, but it should be devoid of clutter and mess to ensure the most profit for the seller. You are moving anyway and that stuff has to go, so do the work now, not later. By preparing the home before the property is marketed for sale you can avoid leaving money on the table.

When marketing to the target buyer demographic we always keep in mind their needs, and their desired lifestyle.  Staging invokes a positive emotional response from a buyer allowing them to connect with the property immediately and on a personal level increasing the desire to buy the home. You and I know all of the great reasons why people should buy your home, but we make sure that the buyers know it the instant they see your home on the internet. Which brings me to my next point.

The internet has changed the way people buy, sell and make real estate Timerdecisions. One thing I learned during my years as a retailer is you have to grab their attention within 3 seconds. Apply this to real estate and you will understand just how important the photos really are. Buyers are surfing the internet and make the decision about your home instantly so it’s imperative to put our best foot forward to ensure that our listing gets short-listed. The prep work and presentation, the quality and the number of photos matter so much that the photo shoot is one of the more important steps in selling your home.

Every situation is unique and although it’s best to get sound advice on how best to present your property for sale well in advance, I am ready to help you out even when you are short of time and need results fast!

Furniture Bank

A great resource for picking up and repurposing your previously loved furniture is Furniture Bank

Tiny Homes

Tiny Home

Have you heard about the social movement called the Tiny House Movement? People are choosing to downsize the space they live in and the spaces are smaller and more efficient. Why are people drawn to this? There are few reasons:

  • Enables a simpler lifestyle—less house to clean, to upkeep, affords more free time
  • Reduces their impact on the environment –using less electricity and heat, using less building material, you can’t just keep buying and accumulating ‘stuff’
  • Financial concerns—they are less expensive than a typical house offering financial freedom or less financial burden

Living with less is the philosophy behind the Tiny House Movement. They are usually less than 500 square feet and sometimes as little as 80 square feet. Oh I can hear the Property Virgins complaining! Contrary to what you may think, these tiny homes are not just attractive to first time buyers because of the affordability, but many more savvy home owners are choosing to downsize after having had the bigger more expensive homes.

Things to think about if you are considering it:

Micro Living roomJust having a bed for a kid to sleep on won’t cut it. There needs to be space
for a common area where you can hang out, relax. Clever furniture options with multiple functions are available– think Murphy bed that tucks away during the day opening up valuable space or a pull down counter top for cooking or eating on.

Privacy can be difficult to get, there should be separate space for the adults but remember noise is an issue too, so a place where people can have peace and quiet is important.

As kids grow up, they need more space.

Storage is an issue, perhaps off-site storage should be considered.

Using windows helps avoid the claustrophobic feeling.

It can be challenging for sure, people can be uncomfortable and you may need to exercise patience and you must be willing to change.

A big positive is that the kids can’t hide in their bedrooms on another floor, they are forced to interact with family members. We spent a short vacation with the whole family in one hotel room a few years ago and it was one of our best experiences because we had to talk to each other! It was great! Now that our son is almost 17 I’m not sure it would be as well received by any of us.

How popular are these? The stas suggest that less than 1% of homes are Tiny Homes, and even that stat may be high.

When you are dealing with a niche like this you have to consider that finding a buyer for it down the road may prove difficult. It’s a new concept here so there is no track record. Will this trend pick up and become popular? Will lenders start advancing funds on them? Time will tell!

Renovations That Could Decrease the Value of Your Home

Adapted from The Daryl King Team –


Often, renovating can be a great way to increase the resale value of your home. While it may not always be possible to recoup the full cost of renovations, upgrades and improvements to your home can speed up the selling process and ultimately earn your property a higher price tag. And then of course, there’s also the added advantage of being able to enjoy the updated space yourself for a certain time if you renovate before putting it on the market.

But in some cases, renovations can be disadvantageous. Not only will they not substantially increase your bottom line, they could actually decrease the value of your home if they give potential buyers a negative first impression.

Some buyers might be inclined to make changes to the property themselves until it is to their liking, or are willing to look the other way on features they don’t like if the other benefits of the property outweigh the down sides… for example, a highly desirable location. But if many similar homes nearby are also on the market, your supposed improvements might cost you a sale.

If you don’t plan on keeping your home forever, it’s generally best to keep your renovations tasteful and neutral to ensure they will appeal to the broadest possible selection of potential buyers when it comes time to put your property on the market. In a 2015 Cost vs. Value report conducted by Remodeling magazine, it was found that the renovations that bring the greatest return to sellers are new entry doors, new garage doors, and a new stone veneer exterior. Conversely, additions of a sunroom or of a bathroom and remodeling to create a home office were found to bring the smallest returns.

Below are some examples of things you could do to your home that might damage its selling price and make it stay on the market longer.

1) Converting a garage: Though converting a garage into an alternate living space can be a cheaper alternative to building an addition, many buyers would still prefer the original garage to an extra room. This is especially true in cold and rainy climates, where the room will never warm up properly.

2) Eliminating a bedroom or a powder room: Since many of today’s homeowners prefer large, open spaces, combining an older home’s smaller rooms into a larger living area might add to the property’s overall value. However, turning a bedroom into a walk-in closet, or creating a large master suite by combining two bedrooms, could harm the value of your home, as you are losing out on living space. It is almost never a good idea to eliminate a powder room… think of your guests’ comfort!


3) Personalizing too heavily: We all want our homes to reflect our personalities. But if you bring touches to the property that are too precise or unique, such as customizing the space with unconventional furniture or appliances, remember that such changes may not appeal to everyone.

4) Adding too much colour: If you’re a fan of colourful walls, be prepared to paint over them in a neutral tone when it’s time to put your home on the market. Everyone has strong preferences when it comes to colour, and potential buyers can easily be put off by anything too bright or striking. Neutral colours are a simple way to avoid a negative first impression.

5) Putting in a pool: We don’t all live in year-round sunshine. If your home’s location is subject to cooler and more volatile weather, it is less conducive for a pool. They can be costly and a source of hassle for their owners who have to close their pools during colder months, and re-open them every time the seasons change. Knowing this, potential buyers might not view a pool advantageously, seeing only the additional upkeep/maintenance costs instead!

6) Renovating without a permit: Permits for major, and sometimes even minor, renovations are required in almost every municipality. Therefore ensure that all improvements to your home are up to code. Ask to be provided with copies of permits – particularly discerning buyers will know to ask about them, and inspections are mandatory in some cities before a home is sold. Unpermitted renovations can ultimately incur additional costs if the city issues a fine or later decides the work needs to be redone.


sandra rinomatoCLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

There seems to be a trend to paint over hardwood… is that what buyers are looking for now?

No doubt, design trends can be a benefit and may help sell your home faster, but the average home should gear to the average buyer in order to drive the demand for the home. If your home is in an area where the avant-garde design trends are what buyers are searching for then by all means go for it. If you accomplish the look you may see an incredible amount of interest and break records with your sale! Not everyone has the same taste in décor and design, so be careful not to eliminate a large segment of the buying population when you make choices. It takes a while for some trends to catch on for the general public. I sometimes hear buyers say things like, “I really like it, but I don’t think it’s right for my family and my furniture is not going to look nice here.” For anything like painting wood floors, painting brick and so on, make sure you know: a) how difficult it would be to bring it back to its original state b) if the demographic of buyers shopping for a property like yours are looking for that kind of detail.

Photo credit Sean Kilpatrick THE CANADIAN PRESS

For sellers… is it OK to restrict viewings to work with your work/life schedule?

When you offer your home for sale, it’s not a free-for-all for the public and the seller can retain control of showing times and other restrictions. However, when you are selling a home, you need to make it as accessible as possible for all buyers to get a chance to view it. It’s in your best interest. Generally speaking, the more buyers there are, the quicker the sale. Everyone is busy, so you will have showing requests at various times and every day of the week. Some people need to come during the day because they are on shift work, or the kids are at school. Others need to come at night or on weekends because they can’t leave work to view properties. If you are serious about selling, remember – a home that is easy to show is easy to sell. Try to accommodate every single showing request within reason.

I signed a listing agreement, but I’m having second thoughts about selling. Can I cancel? Will it cost me anything?

Signing a listing agreement gives the real estate brokerage the right to market your home for sale. If you are not truly prepared to sell your home you should let your broker know right away and ask them to prepare the appropriate paperwork to cancel the listing. You don’t want to put would-be buyers through an emotional roller coaster ride if you really don’t want to sell. As for costs, unless there is something clearly stipulated in the contract, you should not have to incur costs. Your realtor may have spent some money and a lot of time preparing the listing for the open market, so just be aware of that and try to be respectful. At the end of the day, nobody can force you to sell.

As a buyer, should you arrange a home inspection… even if the seller has provided one?

Savvy Sellers take great care in preparing their homes for selling, and in a brisk market where they are positioning their homes for multiple offers, they often take the extra step of having a recent home inspection report available to prospective buyers. The question buyers have is whether to take the report as the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or should they get their own inspector come through. Some people believe that the report provided by the seller will be manipulated or skewed to benefit the seller, but I have witnessed inspectors refuse to lie or misrepresent the report even when asked by the customer. Sellers are required, by law, to disclose any known issues, both latent (hidden) and patent (obvious).

The buyer can always perform their own due diligence and hire an independent home inspector. They could also contact the home inspector who did the report on the house to ask questions or hire them to come through the home again. Many times it is just not feasible for a buyer to hire their own inspector due to timing or cost and having a report ready to be delivered upon request to all interested parties may encourage an extra offer or two. In my opinion, any Seller who expects their home to sell in competition must have a pre-sale home inspection to provide to all interested buyers, no two ways about it!

You’ve just bought a home and the seller now wants to change the closing date. Can they do that?

The Agreement of Purchase and Sale will have many terms and conditions that both parties negotiate and finally agree to before finalizing a deal. If one party wants to make any changes after the deal has been accepted, it must be done through an amendment to the agreement, a separate document that all parties sign in agreement to the changes. Sometimes a clause is added to the original deal that gives one party, buyer or seller, the right to change the closing date. The clause will be written in a way that dictates whether or not they can do this unilaterally, by simply serving notice to the other party. On the other hand, it may say that the date can only be changed by mutual consent, in which case an amendment must be generated and all parties must agree. When an issue arises and changes are requested, they can be made the same way, through an amendment to the agreement, and no clause is needed in the original Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Buying a home pre-construction

sandra rinomato



Buying a pre-construction house or condo can be great, especially if you like working with a blank slate.  But there are some things to keep in mind:

Expect to wait.  Most projects take much longer than expected.  You might have to wait two or three years between the date you sign your purchase agreement and the date you move in.  If there are delays, you could wait even longer.  construction

Know your rights.  Builders can extend the occupancy date and all they need to give you is some notice.  If they don’t give you notice, you may be eligible for compensation.  I always recommend people read up on their rights on a site like

Prepare for other costs: You may have to pay HST on closing and then apply for a rebate. There is a cap at $450K for either provincial or federal portion. If you are buying an assignment sale (just the ‘paper’ from an investor, you may get hit down the road for HST because of the original buyer’s tax situation…very confusing!!)  You must consult the experts, assignment deals and pre-construction deals can be tricky, lots of costs to consider like education levies. Sometimes you can cap them, and your lawyer will be able to advise you.

Work with a good lawyer: Every buyer should work with an experienced lawyer.  They will help you understand the purchase agreement, which can difficult to understand.   Also, as a buyer, you have a 10-day period where you can change your mind or have your lawyer negotiate changes to the offer.

Understand the floor plan:  Many floorplans are done to interior walls, not exterior walls, so you may lose space after drywall is installed. Contracts are very well-written. Many include clauses that say the builder can make changes up to a certain point.  So, if you’re buying a unit in a condo, it may look a little different after you move in.




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