||Real Estate and Real Life
|Posted on Sat, 18 Aug 2012, 10:00:34 PM in Marketing strategies, Hamilton Real Estate Market Trends|
Poke around the White House website and you can still find the hopeful “fact sheet” for a 324-mile high-speed rail line linking Miami, Orlando and Tampa.
No such system exists, of course — it was killed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Today, there’s a 40-acre vacant lot where the Tampa terminal would have stood. And when Republicans arrive for their national convention in about a week and catch a glimpse of it, they’ll likely see a big win. In fact, the GOP will find a lot of things in Tampa that exemplify their commitment to not investing in the future.
“The trend [in Tampa] today is to say, ‘We don’t need it — no new taxes — we are not going to invest anymore,’” former Pinellas County Commissioner Ronnie Duncan recently told Tampa Bay Online. “And that message resonates from not only the constituents, but the leadership of the Republican Party.” You could fairly call the GOP vision for the country the Tampafication of America.
Tampa is a hot urban mess, equal parts Reagan ’80s and Paul Ryan 2010s. Urban renewal projects decimated the city in the ’60s, but its current persona was forged in earnest starting three decades ago, when finance and insurance companies started moving their back-office operations there, attracted by the sunshine and low-cost labor. The 1988 bestseller “Megatrends” declared Tampa “America’s next great city.” Real estate joined the service economy as a major economic pillar, and the city embarked on a building spree, sprouting large glass towers disconnected from the city itself, a development pattern that offered little incentive to invest in things like parks, transit or walkable spaces.
This left little of the quality urbanism people now pay a premium for. And while other cities made similar mistakes, Tampa has been slow to correct theirs, stymied by tight-fisted Tea Party politics. “We look at Dallas or Houston, with all the same challenges we have; they’ve managed to start changing their patterns of development and attract the creative-class younger folks who are looking for alternatives to the suburban lifestyle,” says Steve Schukraft, the Tampa Bay area’s representative to the Congress for the New Urbanism. When you’re wistfully pining for Houston’s urban virtues, things are not going well.
But that’s where Tampa finds itself. Even Houston, like other Sun Belt cities, has been working to rectify its mistakes, constructing successful light-rail lines and some lively mixed-use neighborhoods. Meanwhile, in 2010, voters in Tampa’s Hillsborough County rejected a one-cent sales tax that would have funded a new light-rail system. (That same year, the Tampa Bay area saw the nation’s largest increase in traffic congestion.) Fifty percent of the urban core is now set aside for parking, says Shannon Bassett, assistant professor of architecture and urbanism at the University of South Florida.
These choices have left their mark. In 2010, Forbes ranked Tampa dead last out of 60 metro areas for commuting. Transportation for America declared it the second-most-dangerous city for pedestrians. And a 2007 survey of 30 metropolitan areas found exactly one with no walkable destinations: Tampa, Fla. “Tampa is not a particularly pedestrian-friendly city,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn recently admitted.
Bassett is working to “de-engineer” the city from this current state. “How do you address the lack of pedestrianism, the lack of civic space, the lack of shade, which is crucial for Florida urbanism?” she asks. “There’s some bike paths now, and landscaping, but to me it’s not integrative. I think it needs a larger rethinking of its infrastructure. It’s operating in more of an ’80s mentality.”
But de-engineering isn’t easy in a city with an aversion not only to public spending, but urban planning. Tea Party paranoia includes a bizarre fear of smart-growth policies, in which more intelligent land-use management is seen as a shadowy United Nations conspiracy (complete with a scary-sounding name: Agenda 21). And while the city of Tampa might not be hard-right politically, Hillsborough and Pinella Counties, which control many of the decisions that affect it, are bona fide birther territory. “The county commission is much more conservative now than it was in the late ’80s, early ’90s,” says Robert Kerstein, who teaches the city’s history and politics at the University of Tampa. “They have a strong religious-right orientation.”
One of their commandments is Thou Shalt Not Densify. Sprawl is gospel in Tampa Bay — the city itself has only about 4.6 people per acre. Rather than build up, in 1988, Tampa annexed 24 square miles to its north, filled it with low-density development and named it New Tampa (the name itself implying that “old” downtown Tampa is obsolete). The Suncoast Parkway, opened in 2001, is emblematic of the area’s development, and one reason why the region’s growth is mostly occurring 50 miles away. Downtown Tampa, meanwhile, has a windswept, desolate feel outside of business hours. “It still suffers from CBD (central business district) syndrome,” says Bassett. “People come to work and then leave. To me the city is rural-urban. Not to the extent of Detroit, but kind of comparable.”
Without a downtown that bustles beyond the 9-to-5, “America’s Next Great City” has fallen to last place among six nearby economies as measured by the Tampa Bay Partnership’s economic scorecard. The median family income in Tampa Bay (which includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater) is $55,700, lower than most others in the region. And business owners are starting to panic that letting the city go to pot will start impacting the tourism industry. “Behind the scenes, [business leaders] have discussed the need to provide ‘political cover’ for elected officials interested in working toward infrastructure investment,” reported Tampa Bay Online.
Some of those elected officials, especially the ones in the city proper, are doing their best to push through improvements even as their countywide counterparts just say no. Mayor Buckhorn, elected last year, spoke in July at a Politico-hosted discussion about the RNC, and talked about the need for the city to transform both physically and philosophically. “It’s a city that’s trying to change its economic DNA from real estate and tourism to a more technological, value-added economy,” he said. “I’ve got a 6-year-old and an 11- year-old … and if I want them to come home someday, and not go to Austin, Texas, or San Diego or to some other technology center, I’ve got to create an environment that allows them to come home to a job that wants the education my wife and I are going to give them.”
On that front, the city has been talking up two marquee efforts. The first is the University of South Florida’s new Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation. Billed as the largest facility in the world that allows med students to practice surgery without a patient, the $38 million facility, right downtown, hopes to draw 60,000 people to the city each year. The other is the Riverwalk, which will open up the Hillsborough River with 2.6 miles of green space. In June, the city received $11 million from the Obama administration to finish the project. Already, the Tampa Museum of Art has relocated there, alongside a new eight-acre park that stages live performances and events. Yelp reviewers have been gushing with gratitude for the desperately needed public space.
Buckhorn’s predecessor, Pam Iorio, also worked to get more residents downtown, but the housing collapse — which hit Florida hard, and Tampa in particular — slammed the brakes on much of that. “Before the downturn hit, very substantial pieces of downtown had been redeveloped,” says Gary Sasso, president of the legal services outfit Carlton Fields and former chairman of the Tampa Bay Partnership. “That’s starting to come into its own again. I think there’s a real demand for that here. It’s very exciting and I think will launch an era of prosperity in Tampa.”
Bassett isn’t so sure. Two years ago, when Rick Scott sent back the $1.2 billion that President Obama had allotted for Florida’s high-speed rail, she got the idea for a contest called [Re]stitch Tampa. Entrants conceptualized public spaces along the new Riverwalk, which, while ambitious, seemed to Bassett to suffer from the design issues that often plague Tampa’s attempts at better urbanism. “The city does have design guidelines, but in this economy they’ll usually give in to what the developer wants. There was a law firm asking if they could keep their parking lot on the Riverwalk, and it’s like, no, it’s not OK to have a parking lot on the Riverwalk! There’s no large-scale vision for the civic realm.” Indeed, many of Tampa’s efforts have either seemed too small — a bike lane here, a sidewalk there — or large, but not exactly current. “We do spend public money,” says Kerstein. “They built the convention center, the aquarium, the baseball stadium,” (the last of which, Tropicana Field, is in St. Petersburg.) One doesn’t sense an overarching plan.
And that may be exactly how some of the local political leaders want it. Plans cost money, require collaboration, and stink of an elitist plot in which the government’s guiding hand quashes our freedom to grow as un-smart and un-sustainably as we want to. There are people in Tampa who want to improve the city — it’s worth noting that even though the light-rail tax was overwhelmingly rejected by the county at large, a majority of the city’s residents voted yes. And Mayor Buckhorn’s 2013 budget proposal, unveiled this month, manages to scrape together $100 million for capital improvements to public amenities.
But Tampa can only do so much thanks to a toxic combination of hostility toward government, revenue and collectively used amenities. What’s the matter with Tampa? The Republican conventioneers will get to see for themselves when they arrive. Except that some of them will be staying up to 90 miles away from the convention venue. “Tampa’s reeeally spread out,” the host of the Politico discussion observed to Mayor Buckhorn. That it is. And because of this, the city has chartered over 400 buses to move the convention visitors around while they’re there. It’s an inconvenient, makeshift, make-do solution — the kind that’s necessary when you don’t plan and don’t invest — and a cautionary tale for America at large should a Romney-Ryan ticket reach the White House.
|Thursday, 12 July 2012, 07:28:11 PM|
Tarion changes good for purchasers
The Tarion Warranty Corp. has introduced a number of program changes which will benefit consumers by providing better disclosure of extra charges in builder sales agreements.
By law, every agreement of purchase and sale for a new home or condominium must contain a lengthy disclosure statement called an addendum. Tarion has now introduced a new schedule to be added to every addendum.
The attachment, called Schedule B, has two separate parts. Part I is titled Stipulated Amounts/Adjustments. It will contain in one place an itemized list of all charges, fees or other adjustments to the final purchase price or balance payable on closing, where the dollar value is set out in the builder’s agreement of purchase and sale.
The description of the charges can be brief summaries, but there will be a reference to the relevant section of text in the purchase agreement.
Charges listed in this section may be items such as the Tarion enrolment fee, a charge for holding the purchaser’s deposits in trust, a fee to discharge the builder’s construction financing, the builder’s $73.45 transaction levy payable to the Law Society, and a fixed charge to subsidize the builder’s legal fees.
Part II of the new schedule is headed “All other adjustments — to be determined in accordance with the purchase agreement.”
This will set out all additional charges, fees or other anticipated adjustments to the final purchase price, which are to be calculated after the purchase agreement is signed, according to the written terms of the agreement.
For condominium purchases, charges in this section may include items such as:
• The unit’s proportionate share of the cost of installation of gas, hydro, sewers and water service and meters in the project.
• Any new taxes, levies or development charges imposed on the unit by any level of government after the agreement was signed.
• A levy against the unit for parks, public artwork or other municipal charges,
• HST on the value of the appliances included with the unit.
• Interest on the balance of the purchase price from the day of final closing to the next banking day.
• The amount of any increase in municipal, education or transit development charges imposed after the project went on the market.
• A portion of the costs associated with a development agreement entered into with the city.
• A portion of the building’s first common elements study.
Each charge will be cross-referenced back to the appropriate text in the purchase agreement so buyers can determine whether it is unlimited or capped at a particular amount.
Assembling all the open-ended charges in one place should alert purchasers to the additional financial risks involved in signing the agreement, and remind them to obtain a written cap or maximum amount on all of the charges.
Schedule B became optional for builders on July 1, and on October 1 it will become compulsory for all homes and all condominium projects where the first purchase agreement is signed on or after that date.
These changes were all endorsed by Tarion’s Consumer Advisory Council (which I chair), as well as Tarion’s board of directors and senior staff.
Another significant change to the Tarion warranty came into effect on July 1. It affects all new houses sold after that date and all condominium units where the first purchase agreement in the project was signed after that date.
A new definition of “major structural defect” has been implemented by regulation. For covered homes, the warranty program now protects purchasers against a defect in work or materials if it results in a failure of a structural load-bearing element, or adversely affects the use of the building for the usual and ordinary purposes of a residential dwelling.
Breakdown of mechanical equipment like a furnace, where the builder has no control over its manufacture or ongoing functionality, will now rest solely with the manufacturer, either through the original warranty or ongoing service contracts.
Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer and consumer advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com. Visit his website at aaron.ca.
|Posted on Thu, 28 Jun 2012, 09:31:57 AM in Hamilton Real Estate Market Trends|
OMB approves Chedoke brow lands development
The Ontario Municipal Board has ruled that 529 new condo units can be built on the Chedoke browlands. The developer, Deanlee Management Inc., bought the land from Chedoke Health in 2007.
Scott Gardner/The Hamilton Spectator
Hundreds of new condo and townhouse units will spring up on the Chedoke brow lands after the Ontario Municipal Board ruled in favour of a disputed development on the Mountain’s edge.
The OMB decision, rendered June 22, approves Deanlee Management Inc.’s proposal to build 529 units near Scenic Drive.
In its ruling, the OMB says the proposed development — long contested by community members — “is compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood, can function at the density proposed, and can exist in harmony with the surrounding low density uses.”
But community members and Councillor Terry Whitehead say the decision showcases how easily the OMB can override local decision-makers.
“I’m just tired of third parties that have no understanding or appreciation for what we have in the community making a decision with no real connection to the neighbourhood,” said Whitehead. “To me, it’s just ludicrous.”
Deanlee and the city have been negotiating for years about the size of the proposed development on the brow lands.
Deanlee initially proposed building as many as750 townhouse and condominium units on the site after the company bought the land from Chedoke Health in 2007. The City of Hamilton countered with 450 units. Throughout the debate, neighbourhood residents have vocally opposed the possibility of losing their treasured green space.
Last August, Deanlee presented a scaled-down version of its plan, which included 529 units. The city rejected the revised proposal, prompting Deanlee to take the issue to the Ontario Municipal Board.
Deanlee could not be reached for comment.
Tim McCabe, the city’s general manager of planning and economic development, said the OMB made “absolutely” the right decision.
“I think the board did a good job in hearing both sides of the argument and taking their time making the decision,” McCabe said. “I think it will be a good development for the city. I really do.”
But resident Rod Priel said the entire process “tore apart the community” and has left him questioning whether the OMB heard neighbourhood’s voice at all.
“It’s been a long six years. People are pretty cynical about it now,” he said. “Our community is changed forever.”
By Emma Reilly
905-526-2452 | @EmmaatTheSpec
|Posted on Fri, 22 Jun 2012, 10:54:34 AM in Hamilton Real Estate Market Trends|
Mortgage lending, practices and guidelines have tightened once again.
Major changes are;
1/No more amortization periods of 30 years, max 25 yrs.
This I completely agree with, because if your goal is not to pay the mortgage off in a reasonable amount of time, you might as well be renting. A few years ago I had clients actually buy a home they could not afford by any stretch of the immagination and then amortize the mortgage over FORTY YEARS. This is financial Hara-Kiri. It’s keeping up the Joneses but the Joneses don’t even know who you are.
2. Refinancing restricted to 80% of value of your home, instead of 85%.
The beauty of living in a nanny state is that they fully recognize if most of us go belly up and end up on the dole, they will have to work harder to sustain us. These are preliminary steps to preserve equity people have in their homes. It’s kind of like your mom withholding your allowance but depositing it in your saving account.
This will likely start a domino effect of consumer debt defaults. People, over financed and unable to roll their 28% interest credit cards into their homes, will simply default on them. Their credit score will go down, but most are prepared for that and frankly don’t give a damn.
Sounds also like the government is stopping the pathetic pandering the The Big Five by letting them take some hits on bad loans. Don’t weep for them, though, after 115 Billion bailout, I’m sure they’re doing fine. And if they’re not (RBC downgraded) there is always another bail out on the horizon, compliments of the working class.
Check out salaries of CEO’s.
3. No more CMHC insurance for purchases over one million.
Hmmmm. That’s a weird one. Why? Can’t decipher if they are a high risk or not. Mortgage Default Statistics are amazingly difficult to find, like they are shrouded in secrecy. Any thoughts?
4.GDS and TDS ratios get reworked.
Gross Debt Service Ratio (a percentage of your income that is used for mortgage property taxes and utilities is brought down to 39%. This means you “qualify” for less of a mortgage but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a good thing.
Total Debt Service is the percentage of your income used to service all your debt and obligations. Now reduced to 44%. Overall, this means we will be able to borrow less. Money is drying up as the government knew of RBC”S downgrading announced just yesterday and the probabily that another bail out for the giant will be needed. If you could not make money as a bank in the past decade you should be tarred and feathered in a public square.
"It will mean that some people will not buy into the market, it will also mean that some people will buy less into the market, they'll buy a less expensive home or less expensive condominium.” Says Flaherty
I'm starting to like this guy!
|Posted on Sat, 16 Jun 2012, 01:55:32 PM in Hamilton Real Estate Market Trends|
Hamilton Real Estate Condo Projects
Take a look at condo projects down town, in some stage of development.
There is about nine in the works, and they are bringing a new look to the core and a new style of living to Hamiltonians.
150 Main Street West Condos and Commerical
Phase 1 will have 135 condo units.
Phase 2 will have 277 units . A third phase with 275 units at 20 George St. is in the design stage.
The project is expected to create 687 condo units over the next three years.
Acclamation Lofts 185 James St. N
60 units to 185 James St. N., planned to open in 2014.
Condo units will range from 700-square-foot to 2,500-square-foot penthouses
City Square 1 and 2 on the former Thistle Club
175 units, with a third phase in the planning stages.
Park/Charlton West/ Robinson
90 units plus office and retail space at 64 Main Street East @ John
Homewood Suites King and Bay
182 Rooms and Suites
Stinson School Lofts (71 units) is at 200 Stinson St.
Urban West Condos
33 units at 427 Aberdeen Ave.
James Street North/Murray Street W. 36 Suites
|Posted on Sat, 16 Jun 2012, 11:01:38 AM in Hamilton Real Estate Market Trends|
Dip In Construction Temporary: City Staff
The dip in the city’s May building permit figures is more like a deep breath before a burst of fresh air than a whimper.
Norm Schleehahn, with Hamilton’s economic development department, said a drop in the number and value of commercial and industrial permits in May is not much of a concern.
“We have quite a bit of development to come yet — over 600,000 square feet,” he said. “(Permits) will be getting exponentially bigger.”
In April, city staff predicted Hamilton to be on track to break the previous $1-billion record building boom set in 2010.
After the first quarter of this year, the value was $271 million, up $75 million compared to the first quarter of that record-setting year.
But in May, while residential growth remained strong — about the same as last year at $69 million — commercial permits were only $5.35 million compared to $7 million last May. Industrial permits dropped to $3.8 million compared to $5.8 million the same time last year.
Institutional permits (for hospitals, schools and government buildings) also slid from the previous month.
However, Schleehahn said total permits are still about $30 million more than this time in 2010, so he’s hopeful the numbers will rebound.
He pointed to several large projects, such as the Maple Leaf meat processing plant, Activation Labs and the McMaster Health Care Centre, as future propellers of construction figures.
“I think it’s a blip on the radar. There are several new projects that we’re hopeful about.”
He said Union Gas will soon be embarking on developing the last piece of vacant property on the South Service Road in Stoney Creek. It will be a LEED building on a redeveloped brownfield site.
“There is a lot of momentum out there. We’re hopeful this will continue.”
(Hamilton Spectator, Lisa Grace Marr, June 14, 2012
|Saturday, 16 June 2012, 10:31:44 AM|
Downtown making slow, sure gains
More businesses, more jobs, more people looking for a good restaurant
They were located on Plains Road East. Three weeks ago, they moved to 231 Main St. W. The office only has four full-time employees, but the day after Steve Marsh signed the lease, Mayor Bob Bratina called him.
"I said, 'We're just a small business,' " Marsh recalled. "But people seem excited that we came from Burlington. Everyone seems to be going to Burlington. There are a lot of great reasons to come to Hamilton."
The Marshes represent what could be called a slow but sure revitalization of Hamilton's beleaguered downtown.
After a number of false starts, many say the trend is changing. Vacant buildings are filling up, there are more jobs and Hamiltonians are starting to feel better about the core.
The Downtown Business Improvement Association gained 35 new members in 2011. Since January, executive director Kathy Drewitt said, there have been about 10 more, so "this year will blow last year out of the water." The International Village Business Improvement Association gained 17 new members last year.
Downtown vacancy rate falling
There are at least nine condo development projects happening downtown, representing a combined 300 to 500 potential multi-residential housing starts in the coming years, a city report says. At the end of 2011, that development was worth $104,334,600 in construction value. There were 330 new jobs created downtown last year.
The downtown office vacancy rate is creeping downward. The core has a little over five million square feet of office space. In 2009, 15 per cent (771,220 square feet) of that was vacant, compared with 12 per cent (618,555 square feet) in 2011.
Also, the value of construction downtown in 2011 increased about one-third over the year before. In 2011, there was more than $18.2 million in construction compared to $13.5 million in construction the year before.
That number is overshadowed by the more than $100 million in construction in 2009, but city figures show that was buoyed byseveral public-sector projects, including renovations to City Hall and the Lister Block.
But there's an element that's harder to measure — attitude. People are speaking fondly of the core and "there's an attitude change you can hear in people's voices,"said Richard Allen, director of the Renew Hamilton project.
"Change happens in small, incremental bites," Allen said. "If we can accept that, we'll see that we're turning a corner."
There are skeptics, said Neil Everson, Hamilton's director of economic development.
"You're always going to get people who see the glass as half empty, but there's a real buzz about the downtown core."
That's how the Marshes see it. Steve is a Hamilton native and former board member for the Burlington Economic Development Corporation. When he looked for new office space, the Hamilton office was the second place he saw.
"I don't know how you feel about Hamilton," his realtor said, "but I want to show you this place."
Hamilton is cheaper, said Steve. And Burlington lacked the right size space for their small operation.
"It was a big deal for us to make the move,"Rosemary said, "but it was blatantly the right decision."
McMaster bringing doctors, patients
Another victory for downtown is the McMaster Downtown Health Campus. The project will be located on the current site of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board education centre at 100 Main St. W.
Work will start later this year on the $85-million project, scheduled to open in 2014.The city issued a demolition permit last week for the school board building, erected in 1966.
The board's plan has been to move operations to its Crestwood location on the Mountain. But the board and the city have formed a joint task force to study ways to keep the board downtown, including the 250 employees who currently work at the Main Street centre. The task force meets again on June 18 to review options.
The McMaster project will be 195,000 square feet and have about 450 employees.
There will be about 4,000 medical students there, and 19,000 square feet will be used by the local health unit, said Andrea Farquhar, McMaster's assistant vice-president of public and government relations.
McMaster expects about 54,000 patient visits per year there, and doctors to serve 15,000 underserviced patients.
"We're bringing 450 employees," she said. "That's 450 people who will be looking for places to go for lunch or pick up their dry cleaning and other sorts of economic impact."
The design is nearly complete and the university has hired a project manager, Farquhar said.
Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr and another councillorinitiated the joint task force. He wants the board to stay downtown, but sings the praises of the McMaster project.
Not a boom, but 'darn close'
"It's very good for the downtown economy to have professionals milling about, having lunch and spending money," he said. "It's very good to have 54,000 visitors per year."
As for downtown's recent progress, "I don't want to call it a boom, but it's darn close."
Not everyone is as rosy about the progress. The community group Hamilton Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) published the article "Growth Down Sharply Last Year" on its website on April 22.
The article dissected a recent city report that showed the taxes collected downtown have climbed from $25.1 million in 2008 to $26.9 million last year, saying the number is not adjusted for inflation. (Everson counters that inflation has little impact on tax rates.)
CATCH monitors to see if the increased tax dollars spent on economic development bear fruit, said co-ordinator Don McLean of Stoney Creek.
The report doesn't show much progress downtown in terms of tax appeals and property reevaluation, McLean said.
Optimism 'can blind you at times'
"It doesn't mean revitalization is not proceeding," he said. "It means that it's proceeding at a slower pace than expected."
Optimism is important, McLean said, "but you can let it blind you at times.
"We have to keep our feet on the ground as we work our way through these things."
James Street North resident John Mokrycke, an architect, has had a downtown office since 1994. When he looks out his window, he said, he sees a difference.
"It's slow," he said. "Nothing happens fast in Hamilton. But it's a steady, positive momentum, and that's probably better."
By Samantha Craggs, CBC News
This story is part of a CBC Hamilton series examining the state of downtown. The series runs until Thursday.
|Friday, 15 June 2012, 12:33:51 PM|
Canada’s most expensive homes listed on the MLS market
ahhh the lives of the rich ---and richer.
a little tidbit might surprise you and lead to a whole lotta conclusions.
Canada has ONLY 125,000 millionairs, so its not a big club and it's not a far fetched club to get into.
All you have to do is get started with some Hamilton Investment Properties
to search Hamilton Real Estate Investment Opportunities
12. Vancouver: $18.9 Million
4798 Drummond, Vancouver: Located in Vancouver's posh Point Grey neighbourhood, this house features 15,000 square feet of living space across eight bedrooms, a circular driveway, fountain and gazebo.
11. Toronto: $18.9 Million
75 Highland Crescent, Toronto: This house boasts "breathtaking views of the city skyline." There are four bedrooms and six bathrooms in this "smart home" that features "Porsche design" entry systems, security cameras, a power entry gate and a car elevator
10. Oakville, Ont.:
2100 Lakeshore East, Oakville: This six-bedroom house sits on the shores of Lake Ontario in Oakville, near Toronto. Situated on 3.2 acres, it has 185 feet of waterfront and a boat house
9. Austin, Quebec: $18.9 Million
105 Chemin Fisher, Austin: The realtor selling this property suggests you may want to build a heliport to get to this 200-acre estate located in a secluded corner of Quebec's eastern townships. There are several houses on this site, the main one being built in 1927. Another building is described as a "three-season chalet" and is located next to the 120-foot dock on Lake Mephramagog
8. Caledon, Ont.: $19 Million
17485 McLaren Rd., Caledon, Ont.: No fewer than ten bedrooms and seventeen bathrooms in this house in Toronto's cottage country. The terrain features ravines, ponds and rolling farmland. Not to mention a spa, tennis court, pool room and a hobby workshop
7. Toronto: $19.5 Million
346 Riverview, Toronto: Located in Toronto's prestigious Rosedale district, this six-bedroom, 11-bathroom house sits on a one-acre lot. Fourteen-foot ceilings, a wine cellar and an orangerie are among the features to be found here.
6. Vancouver: $19.8 Million
4880 Drummond, Vancouver: Yet another house in Vancouver's Point Grey neighbourhood has made this list, this time a 9,000-square-foot mansion featuring seven bedrooms and bathrooms, and a four-car garage
5. Vancouver: $19.9 Million
5771 Newton, Vancouver: There aren't too many private homes to be found on the splendidly isolated grounds of the University of British Columbia, but this property near Northwest Marine Drive is one. Seven bedrooms and eight bathrooms in this 12,000-square-foot home
4. Toronto: $28 Million
1400-155 Cumberland, Toronto: This condo in Toronto's Yorkville district (the heart of the film festival) is monstrous by apartment standards: 10,000 square feet on two floors. Four bedrooms, five baths and "breathtaking views
3. Vancouver: $28.8 Million
PH01-1011 West Cordova, Vancouver: This condo may well be located in the most prestigious apartment building in Canada -- no other building has had units featured in HuffPost's "most expensive" lists quite as often as 1011 West Cordova, also known as The Fairmont Pacific Rim
2. Vancouver: $31.9 Million
3390 The Crescent, Vancouver: Villa Russe, as this estate is known, is located in Vancouver's Shaugnessy Heights and features six bedrooms (the master bedroom has three dressing rooms), five fireplaces and eight bathrooms.
1. Vancouver: $34 Million
This house on a peninsula in ritzy West Vancouver features four bedrooms and six baths over 9,000 square feet -- spacious indeed
|Friday, 01 June 2012, 03:39:22 PM|
Your home is a crucial space with many roles, from kingdom and escape to hangout and comfort zone. It just isn’t right when noisy, obnoxious or disrespectful neighbors begin encroaching on your hallowed space and making life intolerable.
I once had a couple of drug addicts living above me; complete with a rotating assembly of losers stomping and shouting over hardwood floors. The worse they became, the more I obsessed about them. I lost sleep entertaining impotent fantasies that ranged from the pathetic and passive like stealing their bills and ruining their credit to borderline homicidal. My life as a good neighbor was unfairly in turmoil. Until I had an epiphany: They were getting the best of me.
These twits were upsetting the sanctity of my hermitage and I was damned if I was going to let someone get the best of me on my own turf. I made a belt of thorns from my anger and stuck it into the side of any official that mattered... and I won. Read on to learn how to deal with your aggravating neighbors.
assess the situation
Before getting too crazy, evaluate your situation.
Identify the what, the when and the how often they are out of control, and make a detailed list of their activities and disturbances. For example: loud music, 2 a.m.; two-keg party, dusk till dawn; fighting and screaming, midnight; trash outside attracting roaches, every Tuesday; excessive and dubious human traffic, all hours. Now, ascertain if these things violate the rules of your building or local laws. It would be nice if there is a violation, but if there isn’t you may still have grounds for a valid complaint.
Look at yourself
Ask yourself if you’re being reasonable. For example, if you work a graveyard shift and sleep during the day, launching an assault on your neighbors for an afternoon barbecue will not fly. Additionally, question your own status as a neighbor: Are you ever in violation of any rules? Do you get lax about the volume of your music now and again? Just because no one has ever called you on something doesn’t mean you’re Mr. Rogers. When you start filing complaints you must ensure that you have no vulnerabilities. Basic warfare rule No. 1: Never hand ammunition to the other side.
address the problem
The results of your assessment are clear: It’s them and not you, and you won’t tolerate it any longer. It is now time for a pointed confrontation disguised as civil diplomacy and good neighborliness.
The next time there’s a disturbance go knock on their door. It is imperative that you completely explain the issue because you’re only going to do this once. Depending on the receptiveness of your neighbors, you should get better results with your request if you keep your cool and your tone in check. Be the nice guy, but not a pushover or an irate lunatic. Keep in mind that many people are bad neighbors by ignorance and simply weren’t aware of the problem, so your tone becomes the deal maker or breaker.
If your leverage and alliances are of no use you can always explode…
Your diplomatic mission got you nowhere and the problem persists. Unknown to your neighbors is the fact that you’ve adopted a one-strike-your-out policy and now it’s time for you to report the details to your landlord or property manager via a registered or notarized letter. Your initial request is fundamental: You need to demand that your landlord go and speak to your neighbors and that he give you the precise time he plans to visit and what he will say. It is also important to ask to be notified and debriefed afterward.
A registered letter sounds extreme, but you may need some evidence down the road. You could contact your landlord in person, but if matters go to a rental-board hearing or to court, an undocumented effort is akin to no effort at all.
To your amazement, after all your efforts, your neighbors’ behavior persists. So this is the way they want to do things? That’s fine by you.
Increase your leverage
Review your lease and check with local housing clinics to see what kind of leverage you may have. For example: Are there any grounds for you to stop paying rent? Sometimes the only thing that talks louder than money is withholding it. While a lease is often put together with airtight attention to detail, it can’t infringe on any legal statutes and it further entitles you to certain rights. If your neighbors are in any way inhibiting you from enjoying those rights, you have grounds to act.
Recruit an alliance
Check with other neighbors to see if you have allies and get them on board. The chances are that if your troublesome neighbors are bothering you, they’re also bothering others.
Write a firm letter
Craft a civil and direct second letter to your landlord. Specify the disruptions and/or violations and reference the rules or laws in your region. Make reference to your first letter and hint at the obvious ineffectiveness of that previous effort. Include a copy of your list; mention any leverage and the results of any favorable discussion you’ve had with housing authorities or police. Finally, gather the signatures of your allies and send it off.
blister and boil
Still, nothing has changed. It is now time to become a boil on the community’s behind.
Spread the misery
From now on, every time the situation arises -- regardless of what time it is -- you and your allies will do two precise things:
1- Give the bad neighbors notice that it’s happening again by pounding once on the floor, wall or ceiling.
2- Follow that action with an immediate call to the landlord or, if relevant, to the police. State the issue, point out all past attempts and demand some action. It’s in your favor to remember that even though keeping the peace is in their job description, these people think they have better things to do. Well, they don’t: Give them some incentive to dispatch the situation with the reminder that so long as your neighbors are a problem to you, you will be a problem to your landlord.
disturbing the peace
In defending your rights -- as a taxpayer, lease-holder and quality neighbor -- you can be disliked and called a pain, but you can neither be evicted nor arrested. Beyond this, and without compromising your status as a good tenant, there’s not much else you can do. Moving out is always an option, but it should remain very low on the list because you’ve done nothing to earn that burden.