Archive for April, 2011

House buying partly down to “gut instinct”, says BMO survey

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

You walk into the open house, take one look and say to yourself: This is it. It’s the house I have to live in. Where do I pay? A bidding war? I’m in.

Over my years of buying houses, I never bought one that did not have that frisson moment, that thrill of finding a place so suited to my wants. Indeed, I have in the past decided that I wanted to buy a house in what seems, in retrospect, to be nanoseconds. (By contrast, I’ve taken weeks to decide on the right pair of shoes.)

It is no way to make an “investment,” to be sure. But, as I’ve previously discussed in this space, buying a house is perhaps the most uninvestment-like of investments.

Just about anyone who’s purchased a property or thought about purchasing knows that it is much about gut-feel, in which the senses can conspire to trump sense.

Now, as the major real estate selling season gets under way, along comes a survey commissioned by BMO Bank of Montreal to give statistical weight to the notion that intuition carries a particularly heavy weight in the house-buying process.

The survey by Leger Marketing found that more than two-thirds of Canadians cited a “good feeling” toward the property as a reason to buy. Meantime, though, good sense is not thrown out of that gorgeous bay window and into those manicured flower beds. More than 90% of house-hunters value affordability and location over resale value.

So, the axiom that there are three important things in real estate – location, location and location – might reasonably be replaced by the Three Ps: Price, place and personality.

Nevertheless, that resale value is not a big concern to these surveyed house-hunters – people between 25 and 45 who plan to buy a home within two years – is a telling sign of the real estate times.

With some dips here and there, Canadian house prices have been rising strongly for more than a decade. Indeed, even the recession created just a downward blip in the chart of ever-growing values, with the average national price rising 8.9% last month from the previous March (but just 4.3% excluding Vancouver).

As a result, most of the house-hunters surveyed might never have been aware of a housing market that was not rising. I suspect many in this 25-to-45 demographic believe house prices basically keep going up forever, that though they downplay resale value in the survey, the expectation for solid gains is, well, a given. (Any significant drop in prices would surely shake that belief.)

In recent times, investors have been asked if they are stocks or bonds. If you’re a stock, you are prepared to take on more investment risk. If you’re a bond, you are not.

Perhaps, though, many people are probably houses when it comes to investing. A home is both partly a stock and a bond – and somehow neither.

It is a bond because over the long term it will likely produce modest returns through the enforced savings required by paying down the mortgage. It is a stock because the gains could be outsized if the investor were to buy and sell at propitious entry and exit points for market-timing gains.

And it is neither because it is an “investment” with many moving parts and frictional costs. You don’t live in a stock or a bond, but when the house leaks, it costs money and cuts into the investment. Meantime, the costs associated with buying and selling a property are becoming more daunting in many jurisdictions, with some observers reckoning that a house is often a mediocre investment at best.

But most young first-time buyers and mover-uppers are not fazed by such commentary. Home ownership is a cornerstone of our culture, with 70% of the population owning properties and many of the other 30% looking to join the majority.

And the real estate industry has become far more adept at marketing and selling than in the days decades ago when I was in the market. Today, houses are often professionally “staged” to produce that frisson moment. Prices are sometimes set artificially low to produce that exciting bidding war and that extra frisson of “winning.”

A house, it is said, is not a home. And a home is not strictly an investment. But does a stock have granite counters? Does a bond have stainless steel appliances?

Source: William Hanley, Financial Post

Trump Tower Toronto condo assignment for sale in the heart of downtown Toronto

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Just listed on is a condo assignment in the Trump International Hotel & Tower development. This downtown Toronto condo is situated in the pinnacle of luxury in the heart of Toronto’s Financial district. Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto will soar 60 stories above Bay Street and the suites features stone flooring and wood-finished walls, marble flooring in the bathroom, and European design.

This hotel unit can be part of the Trump Toronto hotel rental program generating significant monthly cashflow. With assignment of this contract there are numerous savings and rebates available to the purchaser:

* Price below retail – $50,000 below developer’s price

* HST exemption – $96,000 savings

* Toronto Land Transfer Tax exemption – $15,000 savings

*GST Rebate – $15,700

*Total Savings: $176,700

There is a tremendous amount of equity given to the purchaser of this assignment.

Individuals and corporations can purchase a luxury hotel suite for personal or business use right in the heart of downtown Toronto. Owners can occupy their suite as much or as little as desired, pleasuring in complete access to every amenity. Upon departure, owners’ personal effects will be secured before their suite is made available to future hotel guests.

In addition, owners will receive revenue with each purchased room night while enjoying the tax benefits associated with ownership. They may sell or transfer ownership at any time.

Please follow this link, Trump Tower Toronto condo assignment for sale, to view the property’s details and to contact the seller directly.

Some useful Facebook reminders re marketing

Monday, April 18th, 2011

It sometimes seems that marketing advice these days boils down to one word: Facebook. That makes consultant Douglas Karr’s advice on stand out when he offers six reasons to approach Facebook marketing with caution:

Forget control, Facebook rules

Every Facebook page is assigned directly to a user, so when your company’s page is created it is assigned to an individual who becomes the administrator. If that employee changes jobs or leaves the company, a logistical problem can arise. Or if the page administrator decides to disable his personal Facebook page, your company page also hits the virtual dust. “Adding multiple administrators seems a logical recourse; but if Facebook views page activity as ‘suspicious,’ it may disable every account associated with it. Moreover, when an account is disabled, all of its pages, fans, content, applications, and ads are lost. And the road to getting the account re-enabled can lead to a bureaucratic black hole: After you submit a form requesting the account be re-enabled, there is no support, timeline, or guarantee that it will be,” Mr. Karr warns.

Facebook can change features at the drop of a hat

Facebook also has control over whether to change its layout, application programming interface, or set-up – and you must deal with the aftermath of the change. And, of course, if Facebook goes down, you’re down, at least for that part of your marketing.

Facebook allows any user to tag any business, place, or person in a status update. You have no opportunity to review and approve the tag before it goes public. So on Facebook you have no control over the public information that is released by third parties.

Facebook doesn’t make money for its people skills

Facebook requires its users, by the terms and conditions they sign, to be customer friendly and make it easy for users to contact them. But Mr. Karr notes Facebook doesn’t follow its own advice. There is no phone number to call or public support e-mail address. “Companies spend thousands of dollars on Facebook ads, and there is no representative to contact regarding their account,” he writes.

Facebook owns access to your content

Facebook doesn’t own your content. But you can spend a fortune putting content on Facebook and that content can then be used however Facebook staff wants, since its terms page advises: “You grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” If the account is disabled, there is no way to access the information.

Your content isn’t protected or saved anywhere

If a glitch or other problem leads to loss of your content by Facebook, that content is deemed to be worth no more than $100 by the social media company’s policies.

The fine print can change

The fine print in Facebook’s policies, as you can see, is not always favourable to your interests. Beyond that, it can change at any time.

“Facebook has the authority to change its policies, terms of agreement, and codes of conduct for any reason, at any time; and as users, we must succumb to and accept the changes,” he stresses.

Source: Harvey Schachter, Globe & Mail

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