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  • Land transfer tax not permitted outside of Toronto

    The 444 municipalities spanning Ontario will not be given the same power as the city of Toronto to impose a local land transfer tax.

    Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin surprised the Opposition during question period Tuesday by announcing the Liberal government would not allow towns and cities to impose their own land transfer tax on top of the province's.

    The province did its usual consultations on the Municipal Act following last year's local elections and found "no one was asking" for a land transfer tax, McMeekin told the legislature.

    "We are currently reviewing that feedback and can tell you there has been no call, at all, for a municipal land transfer tax, nor is there any legislation before the house that would allow this," he said. "Let me be clear: there will be no extension of the ability to have a land transfer tax to any municipality (outside Toronto)."

    The Progressive Conservatives celebrated after McMeekin's surprise announcement, but also accused the Liberals of floating the land transfer tax as a trial balloon.

    "It just recognizes some of the concerns that municipalities have," said deputy PC leader Steve Clark. "I'm glad the minister made the right decision."

    The Tories claimed the municipal land transfer tax has already cost Toronto up to $2.3 billion in lost economic activity and 15,000 jobs, but there are no indications it has cooled down the city's real estate market.

    McMeekin accused the Tories of using scare tactics to warn people that a land transfer tax would hurt home sales, and said he wanted to make it clear that the province was not imposing such a plan.

    "There was a campaign of misinformation there and it just made sense in the house, to me, that I stand up and clarify and that's what I did," he said.

    Cash-strapped municipal governments are looking for new revenue tools, added McMeekin, who suggested some may want to follow Toronto's lead and impose development charges.

    "That's a potential significant source of revenue," he said. "They have certain tools that many of them use wisely, but some aren't using fully."

    The Opposition said McMeekin should come up with some solid ideas and suggestions for local governments to help them increase their revenues.

    "The minister cannot continue to float trial balloons up to municipalities," said Clark. "He needs to actually have a meaningful consultation with them and table some of his suggestions so they can have that discussion."

    Clark said the Liberals only backed down because of his private member's motion -- which was scheduled for debate Thursday -- that said the government should not impose or help municipalities facilitate the imposition of a land transfer tax.

    "Until I tabled the motion, which put it in the public realm, they would have continued doing what they've been doing and talking behind closed doors," he said. "It's not the way to consult."

    The Ontario Real Estate Association called McMeekin's decision a "huge win" for people who dream of home ownership.

    "It reaffirms that the municipal land transfer tax is a bad revenue tool, not just outside Toronto but in it as well," said OREA president Patricia Verge.

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  • Milton hospital expansion to start in spring after consortium chosen


    Milton Canadian Champion

    Construction for the Milton District Hospital expansion project is set to begin in the spring, said Denise Hardenne, president and CEO of Halton Healthcare Services.

    On Tuesday, Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Halton Healthcare Services (HHS) announced the selection of a consortium that will be in charge of the design, build, finance and maintenance of the hospital expansion project. After extensive evaluations, a group called Plenary Health will begin work on the 330,000-square-foot space.

    “Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to getting shovels in the ground on the Milton District Hospital expansion project. This expansion will result in an amazing, state-of-the-art facility, enhancing high-quality healthcare services in Canada’s fastest growing city,” said Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins.

    The project will more than double the number of inpatient beds, from 63 to 129, and will include an expansion of emergency, surgical services, medical/surgical inpatient units, critical care, maternal newborn and diagnostic imaging and support services. It will also include a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine as well as a special care nursery in the new maternal newborn area.

    Services will also include 80 per cent single-patient rooms for improved infection prevention and control and to provide increased patient privacy and a quieter healing environment.

    “It’s going to more than triple the size of the facility,” said Hardenne.

    The hospital expansion has been a long-waited project, with request for quotations from interested bidders going out in August 2013. Requests for proposals closed in October 2014 and since then, an extensive evaluation process was undertaken, with IO and HHS examining design, technical elements, facilities management and financial considerations.

    Hardenne said it was imperative to recognize the Province of Ontario and the Town of Milton for its support, as well as the Milton District Hospital Foundation for contributing to the project.

    “The expansion and the addition of new services will make a significant difference to the residents of our communities and our staff, physicians and volunteers. We thank the provincial government and the Town of Milton for investing in the health of our community,” she said.

    All parties involved are working on getting a commercial and financial agreement in place, which is expected to be complete by March. Construction will follow immediately after the paperwork is in order.

    “This is an exciting announcement for the community of Halton. The progress being made on the expansion of the Milton District Hospital brings our residents closer to the state-of-the-art healthcare facility we need,” said Halton MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris.

    The Plenary Health team includes the developer, Plenary Group (Canada) Ltd., the constructor, PCL Constructors Canada Inc., the architect, B+H Architects, RTKL Associates, the financial advisor, RBC Capital Markets, and the facility manager, Johnson Controls Canada LP.

    Rachael Williams can be reached at rwilliams@miltoncanadianchampion.com or on Twitter @MiltonReports

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  • Growth brings Milton prosperity, growing pains

    The surging growth of the Greater Toronto Area is putting new pressure on Milton.

    In 1955, less than 3,000 people lived in the town located about 55 kilometres west of Toronto. But between 2006 and 2011, Milton's population grew by 56 per cent, earning it the title of Canada's fastest growing community.

    Located next door to Mississauga and Oakville and only an hour from Toronto by GO Train, the town offers housing that is affordable by Toronto standards and what Krantz calls "a bit of both town and country."

    Milton's population, now just over 100,000, is expected to double in the next 15 years to 230,000. 

    It's also one of the youngest communities in Canada, with an average age of 34 years old.

    Krantz has witnessed much of the town's transformation. He was first elected mayor in 1980 and began serving on town council back in 1965.

    He said the town's challenge in the coming years will be to add more housing while using less land. 

    "When I was first elected, apartment buildings and townhouses were never heard of," he told CBC News. "That was probably the wrong thing because we were using up a tremendous amount of land."

    He remembers when four houses were built on an acre of land. Now six houses per acre is common. 

    "We're not growing out anymore, we're growing up."

    Pressures over land use cropped up last week, with some residents planning to oppose CN Railway plans for a new container transfer terminal close to town. 

    Krantz said he worries about Milton losing its identity as a small town and admits residents are feeling the growing pains. Rush hour traffic can be difficult and parking can be a problem at the local GO station.  

    But he's confident the community can grow without losing what made it popular in the first place: its proximity to Toronto with easy access to natural areas like the Niagara Escarpment. 

    "There are two types of people in this world, those of us who are Miltonians and those who wish they were," he jokes.

    CBC NEWS

     

  • Nobody Said It Would Be Easy!

    Home  Columnists  Publisher's Page  Nobody said it would be easy

    Nobody said it would be easy

    Working in real estate can be the most fulfilling work you can do. You can experience the highest level of satisfaction and goodness. You can be helping families and you can be the catalyst for others to achieve their dreams. Within it all you can make money and do well for yourself and your own family.

    With that said, nobody ever suggested, at least nobody should ever have even intimated to you, that this business was easy. It is competitive, it is frustrating and it is exhausting. It is not for the faint of heart or those who are short-tempered. If you are one of those, don’t come near this work, you will blow a gasket.

    There are so many frustrations within the industry, ranging from new commission structures to government demands and regulations. There are also the frustrations of dealing with customers who can be thoughtless and inconsiderate of your best efforts.

    There are customers out there who use salespeople as a novelty or a recreational activity without any thought to the fact that sales reps are deserving of consideration. They call up without notice to see a property and then when all manner of arrangements and inconvenience is taken to accommodate their wishes, they change their minds, sometimes without even telling the sales rep.



    There are people who present themselves as customers who have no intention of buying a home, yet have salespeople show them dozens of properties just for weekend outings.

    The worst are the customers for whom a sales rep spends hours researching properties, digging through files and showing listings, and then the client says, “We’ll get back to you” – only to turn around and buy a property from another sales rep a couple of months later. Perhaps not a property the previous sales rep showed them, but still a property that was purchased after much knowledge and research was imparted to them by the first agent about a certain community or about the buying process.

    In this particular case, organized real estate has tried to help sales reps protect themselves from those people who take such thoughtless advantage of a sales rep. A Buyer Representation Agreement was created and sales reps were urged to ask their customers to sign that agreement to safeguard all the work they do.

    Anyone buying a home, regardless of what language they use, knows the value of that transaction. They must understand from the outset the weight of what a real estate professional does for them. The Buyer Representation Agreement acknowledges in writing that they do in fact understand that value.

    There was a story in the media recently about a buyer who worked with a sales rep and signed the Buyer Representation Agreement. This person subsequently bought a property with another sales rep. The first salesperson claimed compensation for the work he had done and was granted his commission through the courts. All of that seems right to me. However, a story about it ran on the CBC and a lot of other smaller blogs and print rags picked it up, rewriting it but still presenting it in the same negative light that the CBC created toward the sales rep who sued for his compensation. He was presented as a heartless ***.

    It seems that the client who lost the case in court is now challenged personally to pay the compensation. He claims he was tricked into signing the document because he did not speak the language. I feel bad for him truly and I wish there could have been another solution but it went all the way to court and that was the finding. I think there is more to the case than just the one side that was presented by the CBC and the Mickey Mouse blogs that re-ran the story.

    Justice was served for the sales rep who originally worked with this person, because he was protected by the Buyer Representative Agreement. That’s what it was for. Unfortunately this sales rep ended up looking bad, but he is not the only one. Everyone involved in this case lost, including the general public who badly need to be educated about the value of working with a real estate professional.

    Written by; Heino Molls 

  • 13,000 new jobs to heat up investment in this Ontario city

    If you thought the Hamilton investment market was hot before, a new report has added kindling to the fire, projecting 13,000 new jobs in the city over the next two years.

    “If you are already an owner of investment property in Hamilton then you have to be happy and, if you do not, you better hurry up while investors can still cash flow and houses are affordable,” said Erwin Szeto, sales representative at Rock Star Real Estate,

    “Manufacturing is rebounding thanks to the weakened Canadian dollar and the resurgence of the U.S. economy.”

    The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce report, published last week, projected there will be 300 new jobs at National Steel car and 400 new jobs at The Margaret and Charles Juravinski Centre for Integrated Healthcare.

    “I'm often asked by investors about the job growth in Hamilton,” added Szeto. “I respond with: the 400 jobs over six years between the Juravinski Centre and the new St. Joseph's Hospital campus on the west mountain, 300 jobs for National Steel Car, and 400 direct and indirect jobs from the new Hamilton Airport terminal.

    “But we are well short of accounting for 13,000 forecasted jobs, so that tells you how diversified Hamilton's economy is and how the job growth will come from small and medium-sized businesses.”

    The report also projected that employment will increase in Hamilton by 1.6 per cent in 2015 and 1.8 per cent in 2016, while home sales will climb to around 15,000 units by 2016.

    It also forecasted that average house prices will rise about four per cent to $438,000 and, that by 2016, the average price of a home will have climbed $100,000 over the average 2010 price.

    By: Jennifer Patterson 

  • Moderated market by 2016? You have oil to thank

    Provinces mainly affected by sinking oil values are likely to drive a moderated housing market in 2016, said a new outlook report released today by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
     
    “Our market outlook calls for gradual moderation in the pace of new home construction over the next couple of years as employment, disposable income and high net migration continue to support the market,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist for CMHC.
     
    “However, downside risks have increased since the previous forecast due mainly to recent declines in oil prices. Lower oil prices will negatively affect oil-producing economies like Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, which will only be partly offset by the positive effects of lower exchange rates and interest rates across all provinces.”
     
    As a result, the national authority on housing said it has widened its forecast ranges.
     
    Housing starts to slip on low oil values
    The CMHC said it expects housing starts to fall one per cent this year, to range between 154,000 and 201,000 units. In 2016, housing starts are expected between 148,000 units to 203,000 units across Canada.
     
    Ontario is expected to account for more than 63,000 of those starts through 2015, as a strengthening U.S. economy further benefits already strong GDP growth.
     
    “However, as home prices continue to grow, particularly for single family homes, demand will increasingly shift to more affordable housing by 2016,” said Ted Tsiakopoulos, CMHC’s Ontario regional economist. “Neighbouring resale markets surrounding the GTA, higher density dwellings and rental over ownership tenure will benefit most from the shift in buying patterns.”
     
    Employment and population growth is expected to drive starts – specifically multi-unit projects – in British Columbia. In 2015, the CMHC expects a total of 28,300 units to be built in the province, and another 29,000 the following year.
     
    In Atlantic Canada, however, housing starts are expected to drop four per cent in 2015 and two per cent in 2016. Starts in the Prairies, meanwhile, are expected to sink nearly 10 per cent, to 49,600 from 55,067.
     
    “Lower oil prices will have a dampening effect on investment and economic growth, particularly in Alberta and to a lesser extent Saskatchewan,” said Lai Sing Louie, CMHC’s regional economist. “This will contribute to slower employment growth and net migration, in turn slowing housing demand.”
     
    MLS sales to even out on lower Prairie sales
    In the resale market, sales across the country are expected to be flat or slightly lower than those in 2014 – ranging from 425,000 sales to 504,000 sales in 2015. About half of those sales are expected in Ontario, while another 79,300 sales are expected in B.C. this year, with another 14,000 sales in Manitoba.
     
    In Alberta and Saskatchewan, however, home sales are expected to drop one per cent to 71,100 and two per cent to 13,600, respectively.
     
    Price growth to slow
    The CMHC expects the recent meteoric price growth experienced in many markets to slow over 2015 and 2016, particularly in the Prairie region, where low oil values will dampen the market.
     
    The average price across the country is forecast between $384,000 and $428,000 in 2015, and between $388,000 and $438,000 in 2016.
     
     
  • Is it possible to buy a property after a bankruptcy?

    By Vanessa Roman

    There are many reasons why people fail to pay their debts; sometimes it’s because of a serious illness, maybe the death of a loved one, a job loss or divorce. And yet, for others, it simply boils down to a complete lack of fiscal responsibility, as they amass more debt than their income can pay for.

    Declaring bankruptcy feels like the end of the world to many people, and understandably so. The event comes with negative social stigmas, feelings of embarrassment and poor self-worth, and it seriously limits your financial opportunities for many years afterwards.

    But all is not lost. If purchasing an investment property after bankruptcy is your goal, it’s certainly possible if you manage your financial affairs wisely.

    Start by arranging a repayment plan (often called a consumer proposal) with your creditors. This will help to get you back on your feet by arranging a manageable schedule of repayments. If your debts are so large that repayment is not possible, then declaring bankruptcy may be your only option to forgive some or all of the debts you have incurred.

    Declaring bankruptcy will, of course, have negatively impact your credit rating, because it remains on your credit file for three to five years. It will also be a permanent part of your life history because, when asked if you have ever been bankrupt, you will be legally obligated to answer “yes”. But when structured properly, bankruptcy gives you a second chance to rebuild your credit, and that means future potential to successfully apply for a new mortgage, by earning steady income and living within your means.

    Applying repeatedly for new credit every few months – whether for credit cards, furniture store layaways, car loans or any other type of credit application – can actually count against you because each time a business accesses your credit file it lowers your overall credit score.

    A more sensible plan in the years following bankruptcy is to pay all of your bills in full and on time while saving as much money as you can for your future investment – at least 20 per cent. These actions help to develop a positive credit score and the larger your down payment for a new property, the more favourably a financial institution will view your mortgage application.

    Remember the fable about the tortoise and the hare? Rebuilding your financial reputation takes time and there is no quick fix. Be thankful for the second chance you have been given; learn from your past financial mistakes and use those lessons to rebuild your financial future.
     
  • A GREAT PLACE TO CALL HOME

    Milton housing market a long way from reaching its peak: real estate executive

    Milton Canadian Champion

    The Milton real estate market shows no sign of slowing down as “lifestyle” and housing prices continue to motivate people to move to town, says a senior executive at Century 21.

    “Milton creates a lifestyle that attracts people,” said John S. Geha, the real estate firm’s senior vice-president of strategic growth. “You’re close to the airport here, you’re close to the lake and you still have downtown Toronto accessible to you.”

    Geha was in Milton on Thursday speaking to a room full of real estate professionals at the Teatro Conference and Event Centre about industry trends, and growing their business.

    The former president of Coldwell Banker Canada offered up his advice to brokers, telling them it was important to have “knowledge of what’s going on around you,” not only in the province, but across Canada.

    “Every airport in this country has gone through, or is going through, major renovation or expansion. What does that say to you? It means there’s growth,” Geha said. “They’re preparing for growth. We don’t see this type of development in the United States that you see in Canada.”

    Current projections by the Town show the current population of just over 100,000 people more than doubling to 228,000 by 2031.

    Century 21 Futures broker Seth Ferguson said the record-breaking growth that the town has experience over the last two censuses-takings shows good signs for buyers.

    “In terms of the market outlook for people buying in Milton right now, Milton’s a very strong market, it outperforms almost every statistic that gets published for real estate,” Ferguson said. “You’re not really going to go wrong purchasing in Milton because the prices are going to be supported by the influx of people moving in.”

    According to the Town, in 2013 residential and commercial construction values topped $250-million.

    Owner of Century 21 Futures Tom Ferguson said that even given the record-breaking growth that’s already occurred there are no indicators to suggest it could plateau anytime soon.

    “No matter what the housing market does, Milton will grow, that won’t change – that’s mandated by the Province,” Ferguson said. “It could slow down but it will continue…it bodes will for investment and for living.”

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  • CREA raises projections for house sales but warns of oil-price ‘wildcard’

    It’s not clear how far oil prices may drop or for how long they’ll stay down,” says CREA economist Gregory Klump. “How that plays out may affect the outlook for interest rates, job

    “With mortgage rates remaining at historic lows since the summer, activity has remained stronger for longer than previously expected and has yet to show clear signs of fading,” CREA said Monday.

    AARON HARRIS / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

    “With mortgage rates remaining at historic lows since the summer, activity has remained stronger for longer than previously expected and has yet to show clear signs of fading,” CREA said Monday.

    The Canadian Real Estate Association has increased its projections for total house sales slightly in 2015, based on a strong surge in sales and prices through the latter part of this year driven largely by the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Vancouver areas.

    “With mortgage rates remaining at historic lows since the summer, activity has remained stronger for longer than previously expected and has yet to show clear signs of fading,” the national association for Canada’s more than 109,000 realtors said in a release Monday.

    However, its chief economist warned that the potential impact of slumping oil prices on housing markets remains “something of a wildcard at the moment.”

    “It’s not clear how far oil prices may drop or for how long they’ll stay down,” said Gregory Klump in a statement. “How that plays out may affect the outlook for interest rates, job growth, consumer confidence, and sentiment about making major purchases.”

    The national average house price is expected to hit $405,500 by the end of 2014, up 6 per cent over 2013. But price growth is expected to largely flatline in 2015. Average sale prices are expected to be up on a national basis just 0.9 per cent by the end of 2015, to $409,300, according to revised projections from CREA.

    About 481,300 properties are expected to have changed hands by the end of this year, up 5.1 per cent from 2013, but still 8 per cent below the national sales record set in 2007 before the Great Recession.

    CREA predicts that some 485,200 properties could change hands throughout 2015.

    CREA notes that there are a number of “upside and downside risks” to its projections, notably that “eroding affordability” could put a damper on an increase in sales next year, just as oil prices could have a similar impact in the west.

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