Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Building Your Paperless Real Estate Plan

The benefits of going paperless are vast, so why do so many struggle with implementing a plan to take the paperless journey? Taking the journey will not be possible without a roadmap or plan to get you from your starting point to your destination point.

A large part of this plan is going to be the technology you will deploy to take your brokerage paperless. Now, within a brokerage you have many different people who perform different tasks and are at different skill levels where using technology is concerned – all of which will have to be considered in your planning. All team members - administrators, real estate sales professionals and any other stake holders - should have input.

Before going paperless it is prudent to look at your brokerage departmentally. Have stakeholders meet to discuss different aspects of their department and where paper plays a role.
  •  Administration may benefit from apps that assist with document organization, transmission, storage, payroll, creation of marketing materials, etc…
  •  A real estate sales professional may benefit from all of the above as well as apps that assist with marketing, researching properties and clients as well as performing due diligence.
  •  A marketing person within a brokerage may benefit from apps that enable them to market the brokerage and listings digitally.

If we were to fit it into a process, the process may look something like this:

Make the decision to go paperless ® Gather stakeholder input ® Research technology  ® Evaluate vendors of technology ® Prepare plan to integrate into workflow ® Put the plan into place

By involving real estate sales professionals in your brokerage as well as other professionals who work in the brokerage you achieve their buy-in as they are a part of the plan. You will also be positioned to identify real estate sales professionals who have limitations as far as technology hardware – this enables you to make recommendations to get them up-to-date.

Your plan may want to include:

  • Technology - Departmental apps to support going paperless.
  • Integration - Getting the apps installed an integrated.
  • Training - A plan for training to get all team members up to speed on the apps being used and how they will use them.
  • Communication - Communication, communication, communication. While you will have gone a long way by engaging your team as far as their awareness of the plan to go paperless, some team members may not be as engaged as others so routine communication about your plan is recommended.
  • Support – Once going paperless you must continue to support your team by staying on top of the latest apps to ensure that you are using the most current technology, and as apps evolve, offer ongoing training and support to teach your team how to maximize their app use.

Going paperless can be tough, be stand up to the challenge with a plan. GeoWarehouse can help. Visit us online today at

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

GeoWarehouse + ViMO = Marketing and Due Diligence on Steroids

GeoWarehouse + ViMO, ViMO + GeoWarehouse, truly a match made in heaven and the best current toolset for Ontario real estate professionals.

GeoWarehouse – The premier, online due diligence tool for viewing property ownership history, comparable sales, value, home ownership, and registered mortgages, as well as obtaining condo certificates, surveys, Parcel Registers*, MPAC assessment reports and more… If there is a question on a deal, GeoWarehouse is likely able to answer it.

ViMO – The premier mobile app used to market listings, connect and collaborate with clients, colleagues and suppliers, view listings, comparable sales and other information about a property or neighbourhood, sign electronic documents, market to clients and more.

So, ViMO and GeoWarehouse together are a powerful combination and in fact you cannot have ViMO without GeoWarehouse.

In either scenario….

An offer is made
·         Now you can visit the client to review an offer. All documents can now be prepared/adjusted and signed electronically using ViMO. Any back and forth on counteroffers can occur electronically using ViMO.

The offer is finally accepted – now you have to move the deal through to closing.
·         The property is a condo so now you can go back into GeoWarehouse to obtain a condo status certificate and survey electronically to provide to the lawyer and to ensure that there will be no surprises related to the property on closing.

The deal continues to proceed to close.
·         Once with the lawyer, the lawyer advises you that there is a fresh lien filed against the property.
·         You contact the homeowner and they had no idea there was a lien and want more information. Now you go back into GeoWarehouse and using the registration number provided by the lawyer, you request an instrument image to learn all the lien registrant information. Phew – it turns out that the lien was from a debt that had been paid off so it can be discharged - crisis averted.

Your deal closes!

As you can see, ViMO and GeoWarehouse play an integral role in each step of the process of buying and selling a home and accessing both makes you agile, able to offer better, faster service and in the end makes you more competitive.

For more information about the benefits of both GeoWarehouse and ViMO please visit or

*An official product of the Ontario government pursuant to provincial land registration statutes.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Everything You Need to Know About Ontario Closing Costs and First Time

You have probably represented many first time homebuyers. First time homebuyers are in a unique position because, depending on where they buy, they could have the opportunity to benefit from significant tax breaks. 

Closing costs can be challenging because there are so many of them - but fortunately for you, if you are representing a first time homebuyer, their closing costs won’t reach the level of someone who has already owned a home in Ontario.

Here is a little summary of closing costs in Ontario and first time homebuyer tax credits and rebates.

  1. Legal fees and disbursements: if there is a mortgage to be registered the legal fee and disbursements will be greater.
  2. Insurance: your client will need fire insurance, and if there is a mortgage, they should look at mortgage insurance and possibly life insurance too.
  3. Property tax: if there is an overpayment on the tax bill at the time you buy, you will have to repay the amount on closing. Also, if your client is getting a mortgage and the mortgage will be collecting their tax payment monthly, there may be a property tax holdback of 3-6 months that will also have to be paid on closing.
  4. Appraisal: if the lender has requested an appraisal, your client can expect to pay $300-$400 if the lender has not agreed to pay for it.
  5. Home inspection: this could range anywhere from $400 and upward depending on the company.
  6. Interest adjustment: there will be an interest adjustment applied from the date of closing to the date of first payment date, this will have to be paid on closing.
  7. Land transfer taxes: these can get complicated with all the rebates and exemptions available.
In Ontario your client will have to pay land transfer tax equal to:

  • 0.5% of the value of consideration for the transfer up to and including $55,000.
  • 1% of the value of the consideration which exceeds $55,000 up to and including $250,000.
  • 1.5% of the value of the consideration which exceeds $250,000.
  • 2% of the amount by which the value of the consideration exceeds $400,000 for land that contains at least one and not more than two single family residences.
  • Check here for more details:
  • If the buyer lives in Toronto:

 o 0.5% of the value of consideration for the transfer up to and including $55,000.
 o 1% of the value of consideration from $55,000.01 to $400,000.00.
 o 2% of the value of consideration over $400,000.00.

Now here is where first time homebuyers get a break:
  • In Ontario, first time homebuyers are entitled to a rebate on their land transfer tax up to a maximum of $2,000.00:

  • In Toronto, first time homebuyers, in addition to the Ontario tax rebate are entitled to a rebate on their Toronto land transfer tax of up to $3,725.00:

     o The above 2 tax rebates total big bucks for your client!

In addition to these rebates, and aside from first time homebuyers, you have some other clients who stand to benefit from land transfer exemptions as well. According to this publication by Schwartz Law, these exemptions include:
  • Transfers between spouses
  • Transfers where there is no consideration (this has many conditions) 
  • Transfers of land between affiliated corporations
  • Transfers of land to a family business corporation
  • Of course, all of the above have some conditions so you are best to speak with a real estate          lawyer to find out if your client qualifies

Ok, so back to first time homebuyers - in addition to all the first time homebuyer rebates that exist, there are also first time homebuyer tax credits. There is a tax credit for certain first time homebuyers that acquired a qualifying home after Jan 2009. You can find complete details here to see if your client qualifies:

We have to remember that clients, especially first time homebuyers do not know as much as you about real estate. Many times people simply miscalculate their closing costs, and when this happens the result in closing could surprise - but this is usually not the best scenario. The best way to avoid any kind of a surprise on your closings is to make the effort to know more, learn more about LTT rebates and credits. Also investing in tools that you can use to investigate applicants and properties like GeoWarehouse can be very useful.

For more about how to help your clients save big bucks on closing, or to get the most information available, please visit

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Making Predictions for the 2015 Spring Housing Market in Canada

It’s interesting that we are in March of 2015 and while some Canadian economists have predicted an upcoming slowdown in the 2015 Canadian housing market, as of right now there haven’t been any predictions released about how spring 2015 is going to look – at least not from real estate industry professionals.    

By this time last year, Royal Lepage had released a prediction that the Canadian housing market was headed for a spring boom. The Globe and Mail reported on a press release by Phil Soper, CEO of Royal LePage where he was quoted: “We predict continued upward pressure on home prices as we move towards the all-important spring market…This is the most optimistic view of the housing market since the recession, that’s in half a decade.”

The proof was in the pudding because, in April of 2014, Royal Lepage went on to release the company’s latest House Price Survey which found that most regions showed healthy year-over-year price growth, with the average price of a home in Canada rising between 2.5 per cent and 5.4 per cent:

The average price of:

·         A two-story home increased 5.4% to $428,943.
·         Detached bungalows rose to 4.4% year-over-year to $380,765.
·         Standard condominiums increased by 2.5% to $252,174.

This year over last, Canadians enjoyed an interest rate drop in the first quarter. This means that many will head into spring with mortgage pre-approvals committed through to summer – this could signify a boom despite economists’ predictions.

You can pay attention to trends and predictions to try to gauge where the housing market will go, but working on the frontlines you also have to be in-touch with the real estate market at the micro level - after all, you are charged with the task of working with clients to understand the value of their homes in a listing scenario where you are representing sellers and reasonable offers in purchases in the case of buyers.

Supply and demand shifts seasonally and accordingly the market value of real estate does too. This can make helping your client price their listing more challenging.

Some clients may have a list price in mind, while others will have no idea. The easiest way to help your client figure out what they want to list their house for is through sales comparables in the area. Reviewing these sales comparables with your client will help them see what other houses close at in the area - ones that are similar to their own.

When representing buyers, when you have showings scheduled with a potential buyer, you will have addresses you want to show in mind. Before your appointment you can generate a property details report on each property that includes the sales history information on each property and some sales comps. This way, if your client wants to make an offer you are positioned to review sales comps with the client against the asking price to come up with a fair offer.

For more information about how you can value a property or values in an entire area – visit