Category Archives: Finances

How Do Canada’s New Marijuana Laws Impact Buying A House?

Canada’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana use has made a huge impact on the world stage. In fact we are only the second country to do so after Uruguay in 2013. While I don’t partake myself I am in favour of this legislation. Alcohol is actually a far more harmful drug despite being legal for decades. But what about marijuana and home ownership? How do Canada’s new marijuana laws impact buying a house?


Legal Marijuana Production For Personal Medical Or Recreational Use

I’m fairly certain that the new and existing medical marijuana laws already on our books will have zero impact on home ownership. The 4 plants per household limit for recreational users represents zero risk to the health and integrity of a home. But complex rules allow a medical user to grow more. However, the number of plants allowed is nowhere near enough to damage a property in any way.

Criminal Marijuana Production

Criminal marijuana cultivation is a whole other matter. If a home is being used for this purpose and the police get involved it can be almost impossible to get financing. If the property is declared a grow-op this dubious status is actually registered as an instrument on title. Typically an inspection by the state is mandatory and if necessary, remediation and rehabilitation.

But even if this work is completed and the instruments pertaining to the criminal activity are removed from title they still show up in a ‘deleted instruments’ search. This is usually the point where you are turned down for financing or insurance, especially if the grow-op was large or relatively recent. Read about this from a lawyer’s perspective.

In my opinion marijuana grow-ops are certainly something to stay clear of. But buyers willing to assume the risk can often get a former grow-op at a substantial discount. It’s not impossible to get financing, just difficult. Many alternative lending sources are willing to do so at higher rates. And the impact of prior criminal activity will lessen given enough time.

The Final Word

To summarize, it’s clear that Canada’s new marijuana laws won’t affect buying a house in any way whatsoever. And you shouldn’t be concerned if you see a few plants when shopping for a home. But criminal enterprises like grow-ops are something else entirely. My advice is to simply stay away from these properties. They aren’t worth the headache for the vast majority of buyers.

Agreement of Purchase and Sale

The Agreement Of Purchase And Sale (AOPS) is the primary document used to purchase a property. It’s equally important to both buyer and seller. An AOPS is almost always drawn up by an agent for a buyer client. Thus it’s crucial that the listing agent carefully scrutinize a contract that they have had no part in writing.

I can’t stress enough how important the AOPS is. Once signed it’s a binding contract between buyer and seller. It’s one of the key documents your Real Estate Lawyer works with. The AOPS is also forwarded to your lender..

I can write an agreement of purchase and sale in a half hour or so. But it often takes me just as long to explain the details of the contract to my clients. There are no shortcuts to the process and I never pressure my clients to hurry through the AOPS. After all there are 28 separate clauses and Schedule A to contend with as well as data such as names and price.

In today’s post I’ve shared a YouTube video taking you through the AOPS from start to finish. Just a warning, it’s long! But 15 minutes would be almost unacceptably quick if I was actually reviewing the document with real clients.

I’ve also included the 7 pages I used to make the video which you can review while watching.


agreement of purchase and sale

agreement of purchase and sale

agreement of purchase and sale

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How Do Real Estate Commissions Work?

How Real Estate Commissions Are Paid


On the surface a commission arrangement on a real estate transaction seems pretty simple. But each transaction is unique and like many things the devil is in the details.

So how do real estate commissions work and how do we get paid?

I’ll start with the easy stuff first.

Commission Agreements Between Agents, The Seller And Buyer

The seller pays a commission to the listing agent, who works for the listing brokerage, and to the buying agent and brokerage that buys the property for their client. This commission is determined prior to listing the property.

Because of this arrangement a home buyer typically pays no out of pocket expense for using an agent to buy properties.

Here in Kitchener-Waterloo a buying agent usually gets paid between 2 and 2 ½ percent of the sale price of the property + HST.

The listing agent gets paid anywhere from 1 to 3 percent of the sale price + HST.

An agent working with both buyer and seller is engaging in multiple representation, or double ending as it’s known in the industry. A double ending agent will usually offer a discount on commission in an attempt to make the buyer and seller happy.

Some agents and brokerages will list your property for as little as 1% + HST but these offers more often than not include caveats and exceptions that end up costing you more.

To each his own, but I’m a firm believer in the saying you get what you pay for…

Anyways, the total commission that’s ultimately agreed to is paid out to the listing brokerage upon closing by the seller’s lawyer. The listing brokerage then pays out the buying agent’s commission to the buyer brokerage.

Commission Agreements Between Agents and Their Brokerages

The commissions are further divided depending on the individual arrangements of each brokerage and the agents involved. This is known in the industry as the split…

This is also the complicated bit where the devil is in the details…

At many brokerages the split percentage changes at set intervals based on the volume of business the agent generates, and resets at the end of each year. Depending on where an agent is in the fiscal year they may pay as little as 5% to the brokerage or as much as 35% or more.

Some brokerages only ever take 5% from the agent but have sky high desk fees of over $1,000 a month that the agent pays instead. There are also brokerages with very low splits that have no brick and mortar offices and thus lower business expenses.

If an agent is on a team or got the sale from a referral the commission is divided up even further. The standard referral fee from another agent is 25%, and teams often charge the agent 50% or more.

As an example, a referral that was early in the year netted me only $3,900 on a sale price in the mid 500,000’s. But another more recent transaction at the same price brought me $9,200. And both properties paid my brokerage a 2% commission.

Anyway, that’s how it works. Simple eh?

Waterloo Region House Prices One Year After The Tax


Our local market is doing great despite the turmoil seen in the latter half of 2017. House prices in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge have almost entirely recovered from the aftermath of last spring’s foreign buyers tax. KWAR news release

Waterloo Region house prices one year after the tax are even with the numbers from last spring. However on a city by city basis Waterloo and Kitchener prices are down slightly compared to May 2017 while Cambridge is sharply higher. Regardless the overall trend in valuation has been upward over the last year. In all three cities prices are considerably higher than the lows seen in the last half of 2017.

Waterloo Region house prices one year after the taxPerhaps unsurprisingly our market mirrors the activity seen in the GTA, albeit with lower prices and a stronger recovery. The GTA saw the same sharp falloff in prices after the introduction of the foreign buyers tax. Both markets saw a reduction in volume in combination with a recovery in prices that gained momentum this spring.

Despite the strong recovery here and the more muted one in the GTA it’s unlikely we’ll return to the market conditions of last spring any time soon. There are several factors at play preventing a steep run up in prices. Rising interest rates, the mortgage stress test and modest wage growth are three factors that undermine affordability. This limits the number of people entering the market and also moderates the activity of owners wishing to move up the property ladder.Waterloo Region house prices one year after the tax

These factors are the only thing keeping a check on demand and thus prices. Barring a major recession or a black swan event on the world stage there is little reason to predict lower prices in Waterloo Region any time soon.

Waterloo Region house prices one year after the tax are doing very well indeed. We are still strongly in a sellers’ market. Available housing stock in Waterloo Region sits at two thirds of the 10 year average. Unemployment is low with immigration to the GTA continuing unabated. Locally we’ve certainly seen an uptick in activity from buyers unable to afford the GTA’s high prices. This last point would certainly explain the big uptick in Cambridge prices last month. For city data see my House Prices Page

Real estate sales are cratering around the GTA?

Real estate sales are cratering around the GTA. Is this a crash in the making?

Prices in Richmond Hill…..have dropped a whopping 43 per cent from the peak

The experience of York is a microcosm of what a wider housing crash in Canada might look like

If I wasn’t a Realtor with access to the statistics I’d be quaking in my boots!

This kind of writing is pure unadulterated hyperbole. Journalists and publishers desperate for website traffic will write anything it seems.

Is working people into a panic good for the economy in any way? This is irresponsible on so many levels.

I’m a numbers guy plain and simple, and the devil is always in the details.

Cherry picking data to generate traffic is not journalism. Macleans should do better.

Of course values are lower than the peak prices seen last spring, both here and in the GTA. We’ve had a government induced correction after all.

Wouldn’t it be better to consider the prices month over month since the Wynne Government’s Foreign Buyers Tax? Are prices falling? Are they going up? Are they stable? What is the trend?

The GTA data for the last half of 2017 and into this year shows relatively flat pricing. Average prices for all housing types have run in a band between $725,000 and $775,000 since June. Importantly the numbers are at the high end of the band right now. GTA prices have risen steadily over the last 3 months. They are higher than last August and are roughly on par with the September through November figures. Continue reading