Monthly Archives: June 2012

Building code changes for glass balconies

The Ontario housing minister announced just last week that interim measures will be changed on the Ontario building code beginning July 1st, 2012 to prevent glass panels from breaking off on balconies. These regulations are meant to be temporary, as the province has asked the Canadian Standards Association to develop national guidelines that could then be adopted under Ontario’s code.

The rules follow recommendations made to the province by an expert panel on the glass-panel issue after 30 balconies on 11 buildings have shattered in Toronto. The new and safer standard require builders to use the same type of glass used in car windshields for outside panels. Construction firms will also have to use laminated or tempered glass meant to withstand high temperatures for inside panels.

These changes will only affect new construction developments only, but anyone with concerns can contact the city. The City of Toronto also plans to send letters to condo developers and owners built in the last five to seven years to voluntarily inspect the balconies.

The advisory panel also mentioned that the risks from falling glass are small, as tempered glass is meant to shatter into small pieces – where the liklihood of injuring anyone is small. One woman had minor injuries after being hit by falling glass on Bay Street last year.

What are your thoughts? Do you think these measures are good enough to protect the residents of Toronto?

Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions

What the new mortgage rules mean for the Toronto housing market

The federal government announced today that they will be tightening mortgage-lending rules in order to address rising debt levels and housing prices. These changes will take in effect on July 9th, 2012.

The four measures will only be applied to new government-backed insured mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of more than 80 per cent:

Reducing the maximum amortization period for a government-insured mortgage from 30 years to 25 years. Reducing the amortization period will increase monthly payments, but reduce the amount of total interest paid on a mortgage. Ottawa expects the change from a 30-year to 25-year amortization will, on a $350,000 mortgage loan at four per cent, increase the monthly payment $177 but reduce total interest costs by nearly $47,000.

Under the new rules, Canadians can spend a maximum of 39% of their gross household income on home expenses such as mortgage, property taxes and heating, and a maximum 44 per cent of income on housing expenses and all other debt. It will be more difficult to quality for a mortgage after July 9th, but it will better protect Canadian households that may be vulnerable to economic shocks or an increase in interest rates.

For refinancing or Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs), the government will lower the maximum Canadians can borrow against their home to 80% of its value, from 85%, in an effort to encourage them to keep more equity in their homes.

Ottawa will limit the availability of government-backed insured mortgages to homes with a purchase price of less than $1 million.

The government believes less than five per cent of home buyers will be affected by these stiffened rules.

These changes will probably have the biggest implication for first time home buyers who may be struggling to save up for that down payment and to get into home ownership. However, for those who have the down payment ready, this may be welcomed news with hopes of real estate prices cooling slightly or remaining stable. I expect to see a lot of buying activity between now and July 9th.

For the most part, this clapdown is good for all of us. This will help ensure that the all-feared bubble burst will not occur and that Canadians will not mimic the US sub-prime crisis.

Have questions on how this affects you? Contact me for more information.

Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions

Beware of Bylaws!

In my last post, I wrote about things to look out for when purchasing a condominium. This week, I’d like to write about municipal bylaws. Every city is different, so be sure to talk to your Realtor if there are differences if you move to a different city. Not obliging to bylaws can be costly and stressful, and should be looked into before purchasing a property.

With real estate prices being so high nowadays, many are looking to purchase a fixer-upper to renovate. Depending on the municipality, certain bylaws may deter some of your plans such as renting out your basement apartment.

Other bylaws that may affect a purchase may include:

  • dividing a mutual driveway
  • constructing of a basement apartment
  • adding a backyard deck
  • number of windows allowed in a house
  • a below-grade garage
  • tree removal

  • Believe it or not, there are even rules for the number of garage sales per year (most municipalities allow for a maximum of 2 per year)

    Navigating bylaws can be extremely overwhelming and intimidating so be sure to discuss any future plans with your Realtor to ensure a smooth transition to your new home. Contact me for a simple and smooth home buying experience!

    Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions