Skip to main content
All Posts By

Mark Savel

As a lifelong resident of the city, home has always been in midtown Toronto. In creating TorontoLivings, I wanted a place to share my experiences in the city, to educate our clients on the ever-changing market, and show people a side of the City that most don’t see every day.

Woman charging electric car

Is Installing an EV Charger Worth It?

By Advice For Buyers, Advice For Sellers

In an era where sustainability and eco-friendly choices are at the forefront, electric vehicles (EVs) have become a popular choice for environmentally conscious individuals… and those sick of paying at the pump!

As more people make the switch to EVs, the question arises: Is it worth installing an EV charger at home? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the considerations that can help you decide if making this investment is the right move for you.

Convenience and Accessibility

Pros

  • Home Charging Ease: Installing an EV charger at home provides the convenience of charging your vehicle in the comfort of your own space. No more trips to public charging stations or waiting in line.
  • Flexible Charging Times: With a home charger, you have the flexibility to charge your EV overnight or during off-peak hours, taking advantage of lower electricity rates.

Cons

  • Upfront Cost: The initial cost of purchasing and installing an EV charger can be a deterrent for some. However, various government incentives and rebates may offset these costs.
charging EV car electric vehicle clean energy for driving future

Cost Savings

Pros

  • Lower Charging Costs: Home charging is often more cost-effective than using public charging stations, especially if you can benefit from lower nighttime electricity rates.
  • Reduced Fuel Costs: Over time, using an EV charger at home can lead to significant savings compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles.

Cons

  • Upfront Investment: While the long-term savings are notable, the initial investment in the EV charger and installation might be a financial consideration. We’ve found prices range from $3-5,000 (and up)

Environmental Impact:

Pros

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Embracing EV technology and home charging aligns with sustainability goals, contributing to a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles.

Cons

  • Electricity Source: The environmental benefits depend on the source of your electricity. If your local grid relies heavily on fossil fuels, the overall impact may be less pronounced.
an electric car plugged in to a charging station

Government Incentives:

Pros

  • Financial Support: Many governments offer incentives, rebates, or tax credits for the installation of EV chargers at home. Researching available programs can help offset costs.

Cons

  • Program Availability: The availability and terms of government incentives may vary, and not everyone may qualify for these programs.

Conclusion

Deciding whether to install an EV charger at home involves weighing the convenience, cost, and environmental considerations. For many, the benefits of easy charging access, potential cost savings, and a reduced carbon footprint make it a worthwhile investment. If you’re considering making the switch to an electric vehicle, exploring the available incentives and evaluating your specific circumstances will help determine if installing an EV charger at home is the right move for you.

brown wooden ladder beside painting materials

Invest Wisely: The Most Valuable Renovations to Boost Your Home’s Worth

By Advice For Sellers

Renovating a home is a significant investment, and homeowners often grapple with the question of which upgrades will provide the most value. While personal preferences and needs vary, certain renovations tend to offer a substantial return on investment (ROI) and can significantly enhance a property’s resale value. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most valuable renovations that can yield a high return and transform your home into a more appealing and valuable asset.

Kitchen Remodel

A well-designed and updated kitchen is a major selling point for potential buyers. Consider modernizing your kitchen by upgrading appliances, installing new countertops, and adding stylish fixtures. An attractive and functional kitchen not only improves the living experience but can also greatly increase the perceived value of your home.

Modern Kitchen

Bathroom Renovation

Bathrooms are another area where a modest investment can make a significant impact. Upgrading fixtures, adding new tiles, and ensuring a clean, modern aesthetic can go a long way. A spa-like bathroom is often a strong selling point for homebuyers.

Curb Appeal Enhancements

First impressions matter, and the exterior of your home is the first thing potential buyers see. Invest in landscaping, paint the front door, update outdoor lighting, and ensure the overall curb appeal is inviting. A well-maintained exterior creates a positive impression and can set the tone for the entire home.

Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Incorporating energy-efficient features not only reduces utility costs but also appeals to environmentally conscious buyers. Consider upgrading windows, adding insulation, or installing energy-efficient appliances. Buyers often appreciate a home with lower ongoing operational costs.

Attic and Basement Conversions

Unused spaces such as attics and basements can be transformed into valuable living areas. Converting these spaces into bedrooms, home offices, or recreational rooms can significantly increase the overall square footage of your home, adding both functionality and value.

Open Floor Plan

Modern homebuyers often prefer open and spacious floor plans. If feasible, consider removing non-load-bearing walls to create a more open layout. This can enhance the flow of the home and create a sense of expansiveness that is attractive to potential buyers.

Hardwood Flooring Installation

Hardwood floors have timeless appeal and are often preferred over carpeting. Installing or refinishing hardwood floors can add a touch of elegance to your home, making it more appealing to a broad range of buyers.

brown wooden table beside gray couch

Smart Home Features

Incorporating smart home technology can be a relatively inexpensive way to add value. Features like a smart thermostat, security system, or lighting control can enhance convenience and security, appealing to tech-savvy buyers.

Fresh Paint

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for the overall look and feel of your home. Opt for neutral colors that appeal to a wide audience, creating a blank canvas for potential buyers to imagine their own style in the space.

Garage Door Replacement

Often overlooked, a new garage door can significantly boost your home’s curb appeal. It’s a relatively low-cost improvement that provides a high return on investment.

Conclusion

When deciding on renovations, it’s essential to strike a balance between personal preferences and market appeal. The most valuable renovations are those that enhance both the functionality and aesthetics of your home while aligning with the preferences of potential buyers. By strategically investing in key areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, curb appeal, energy efficiency, and versatile living spaces, you can maximize your home’s value and attract discerning buyers in the competitive real estate market. Remember, a well-thought-out renovation not only enhances your current living experience but also positions your home as a desirable asset for future buyers.

Buy home shopping sale wood house with cart or shop new house promotion accommodation mortgage

When is The Best Time to Sell Your Home in Toronto

By Advice For Sellers

Deciding to sell your home is a significant decision, and timing can play a crucial role in the success of your sale. In Toronto’s dynamic real estate market, understanding the seasonal nuances can give you a strategic advantage. In this blog post, we’ll explore the best time of year to list your home in Toronto and how to make the most of each season.

Spring: Blooms and Buyer Enthusiasm

Pros:

  • Curb Appeal: Spring is synonymous with blooming flowers and lush greenery, enhancing your home’s curb appeal.
  • Optimal Weather: Mild temperatures make it comfortable for potential buyers to explore neighborhoods and attend open houses.
  • Renewed Energy: Buyers often approach the real estate market with a sense of renewed energy and enthusiasm after the winter months.

Cons:

  • Competition: Spring is a popular time for sellers, leading to increased competition. Ensure your property stands out with effective marketing and staging.
a sign made of sticks spelling Toronto near the ocean

Summer: Sunlight and Positive Vibes

Pros:

  • Extended Daylight Hours: Longer days mean more daylight for showcasing your property, creating a positive and inviting atmosphere.
  • Family Moves: Families often prefer moving during the summer when children are on vacation, making it an ideal time for family-oriented homes.

Cons:

  • Vacation Season: The summer season can coincide with vacation time, meaning potential buyers may be away, impacting the number of showings.

Fall: Cozy Appeal and Serious Buyers

Pros:

  • Comfortable Weather: Crisp fall days create a cozy atmosphere, and buyers can still comfortably explore properties without extreme temperatures.
  • Serious Buyers: With the summer holidays over, fall tends to attract more serious buyers who are actively looking to make a purchase.

Cons:

  • Changing Landscape: While fall foliage can enhance the charm of your property, fallen leaves may require additional maintenance to keep your yard looking pristine.
Gray Siberian Husky walking outside during snowfall. Toronto, Canada.

Winter: Less Competition and Motivated Buyers

Pros:

  • Less Competition: Winter typically sees fewer homes on the market, reducing competition and potentially allowing your property to stand out.
  • Motivated Buyers: Buyers in the winter are often more motivated, possibly looking to complete transactions before the end of the year.

Cons:

  • Weather Challenges: Winter weather can present challenges, including snow and ice, which may impact travel and curb appeal.
  • Holiday Distractions: The holiday season can be distracting for both buyers and sellers, potentially affecting the focus on real estate transactions.

Tips for Success Regardless of the Season:

  1. Invest in Professional Photography: High-quality photos showcasing your home in the best light are essential, regardless of the season.
  2. Strategic Pricing: Work with your real estate agent to set a competitive and attractive price based on market conditions.
  3. Effective Marketing: Utilize digital marketing, social media, and traditional methods to maximize your property’s visibility.
  4. Home Staging: Consider professional staging to highlight your home’s strengths and create a welcoming atmosphere.
  5. Flexible Showings: Be open to flexible showing schedules to accommodate potential buyers, especially during evenings and weekends.

Conclusion:

While each season brings its own advantages and challenges, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the best time to list your home in Toronto. Consider your specific circumstances, the current market conditions, and your target audience. Ultimately, a well-prepared and effectively marketed property can garner attention and secure a successful sale, regardless of the season. Consult with a knowledgeable real estate professional to develop a tailored strategy that aligns with your goals and the unique dynamics of Toronto’s real estate market.

white and black wooden table with chairs

Staging Your Home in Toronto: The Key to a Successful Sale

By Advice For Sellers

If you’re getting ready to sell your home in Toronto, you might have heard about something called “staging.” But what exactly is staging, and why is it essential for a successful sale? In this blog post, we’ll break it down and explain why staging your home can make a big difference in the competitive real estate market of Toronto.

What is Home Staging?

Imagine you’re getting ready for a big event, like a school presentation. You wouldn’t just walk in unprepared, right? Staging is like preparing your home for its own special event – the sale! It involves making your home look its absolute best to attract potential buyers.

Interior design of scandinavian living room

Why Does Staging Matter in Toronto?

1. First Impressions Count: Just like when you meet new people, first impressions matter in real estate. When buyers walk into a well-staged home, they can picture themselves living there. This makes them more likely to connect with your home emotionally.

2. Stand Out in the Toronto Market: Toronto’s real estate market is bustling and competitive. Staging helps your home stand out from the crowd. It showcases the best features of your home, making it memorable among the many options buyers might be considering.

3. Highlight Your Home’s Potential: Staging isn’t about hiding your personal style – it’s about showcasing your home’s potential. By arranging furniture and decor in a way that highlights space and functionality, you help buyers see how they could make the place their own.

4. Better Listing Photos: Most buyers start their search online. Staging ensures that your listing photos look fantastic. When your home looks inviting and well-organized online, it encourages more people to schedule a visit.

5. Faster Sales and Better Offers: A well-staged home is more likely to sell faster and often for a better price. When buyers see a home that looks move-in ready, they’re more willing to make competitive offers.

6. Maximize Small Spaces: In Toronto, homes sometimes have smaller spaces. Staging can make even the coziest corners feel open and inviting.

leafless plant on tabletop

How Can You Stage Your Home?

  1. Declutter: Get rid of unnecessary stuff. It makes rooms look bigger and cleaner.
  2. Neutral Colors: Painting in neutral colors can make your home more appealing to a wider range of buyers.
  3. Furniture Arrangement: Arrange your furniture to create a flow and highlight the best features of each room.
  4. Curb Appeal: Don’t forget the outside! A well-maintained garden or a fresh coat of paint on the front door can make a great first impression.
  5. Good Lighting: Let in as much natural light as possible, and add some cozy lamps to create a warm atmosphere.
  6. Work With Us: We offer staging as part of our listing package, to all sellers!

In Conclusion:

Staging helps your home put its best foot forward, making it more attractive to potential buyers. So, if you’re getting ready to sell your home, consider staging – it’s the secret weapon to make your home shine in Toronto’s busy real estate world!

brown sofa near glass window

The Pros and Cons of Open Houses in Toronto

By Advice For Sellers

Selling your home is a significant undertaking, and one question that often arises is whether hosting open houses in Toronto is worth the effort and investment. In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of open houses to help you make an informed decision about whether they are the right strategy for selling your home!

The Top 5 Pros of Open Houses:

  1. Exposure to a Wide Audience: Open houses attract a broad range of potential buyers, including those who might not schedule private viewings. This exposure can increase the chances of finding the right buyer for your home. The more people through the door, the better the chance of getting the most for your home.
  2. First Impressions Matter: Open houses allow buyers to experience your home in person, creating a tangible connection. A well-staged and inviting presentation during an open house can leave a lasting positive impression. Remember, we don’t sell like how we live… so don’t take it personally if your realtor advises clearing out personal effects.
  3. Feedback and Market Insights: Hosting an open house provides an opportunity to gather feedback from potential buyers. This insight can be valuable in making necessary adjustments to the price or to enhance your home’s appeal in the market.
  4. Sense of Urgency: Creating a sense of urgency by having specific viewing hours can motivate potential buyers to make decisions quickly, especially if they see others expressing interest in the property.
  5. Facilitates Networking: Real estate agents often use open houses to network and connect with potential buyers. This can lead to additional exposure for your property through word of mouth and industry connections.
brown staircase

The Top 5 Cons of Open Houses:

  1. Security Concerns: Opening your home to the public may pose security risks. While most visitors are genuinely interested in purchasing, there is a potential for theft or unauthorized access. Always have jewelry, laptops, and any other high-value items removed from the home.
  2. Inconvenience for Sellers: Hosting open houses can be disruptive for sellers, requiring them to vacate the premises for extended periods. Balancing privacy and the desire to showcase the home can be challenging.
  3. Quality of Leads: While open houses attract a wide audience, not all attendees may be serious buyers. Some people might be curious neighbors or individuals who are not financially prepared to make a purchase.
  4. Limited Time Frame: The limited time frame of an open house might not be sufficient for potential buyers to thoroughly explore the property. Private showings often allow for a more relaxed and detailed viewing experience.
  5. Effectiveness Varies: The effectiveness of open houses can vary depending on the market, location, and property type. In some cases, the return on investment may not justify the effort.

    If you’re interviewing multiple realtors before choosing the right one to sell your home, ask them to outline all the processes and procedures they use to host a safe and efficient open house!
brown wooden dining table with white chairs near kitchen

The 3 Best Tips for Maximizing An Open House:

  1. Effective Marketing: Promote your open house through various channels, including online listings, social media, and traditional marketing methods. Don’t discount the old-school methods of sidewalk signs and door to door marketing.
  2. Well-Staged Presentation: Ensure your home is impeccably staged for the open house to create a positive and memorable impression. (and yes, a tray of freshly baked cookies is always a good idea)
  3. Security Measures: Implement security measures to protect your property during open houses, such as removing or securing valuable items. Have your realtor keep a log of all guests and visitors

Is Having an Open House Worth it for Your Home?

The decision to host open houses when selling your home ultimately depends on various factors, including your comfort level, the local market conditions, and your specific goals. While open houses can provide exposure and valuable insights, they come with potential drawbacks. Carefully weigh the pros and cons, and consider consulting with a real estate professional to determine the most effective strategy for showcasing your home in the competitive real estate landscape.

Mailbox and mail

How To Update Your Address When You Move

By Advice For Buyers, Advice For Sellers

Moving to a new home is an exciting and often hectic time in one’s life. Amidst the chaos of packing boxes, hiring movers, and coordinating logistics, it’s crucial not to overlook a seemingly mundane yet essential task: updating your address. Failing to do so can lead to missed mail, important documents going astray, and a host of other inconveniences. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of updating your address seamlessly, ensuring a smooth transition to your new abode.

Step 1: Compile a List of Contacts

Before diving into the nitty-gritty details of updating your address, take some time to compile a comprehensive list of contacts. This list should include:

  1. Postal Services: Visit your local post office or go online to officially change your address with the postal service. This ensures that your mail is forwarded to your new address during the transition period. 

    Consider setting up a temporary mail forwarding service with your local post office. This service can be a lifesaver, ensuring that any mail sent to your old address is rerouted to your new one. Canada Post offers a simple program that’ll forward your mail to it’s new address.  You can learn more about it here. 
  2. Government Agencies: Update your address with government entities such as Service Ontario , (perfect for Drivers Licence, Health Card and OSAP to name a few) and the Canada Revenue Agency. This is crucial for tax purposes, driver’s license renewal, and ensuring you receive any important notifications.

  3. Financial Institutions: Contact your bank, credit card companies, and any other financial institutions to update your address on file. This helps prevent any issues with statements, cards, or other financial documents.

  4. Utilities and Service Providers: Inform your utility companies (electricity, water, gas, internet, cable) of your move to ensure a seamless transfer of services.

  5. Employer and HR Department: Update your address with your employer to ensure that important documents, such as tax forms and other employment-related information, are sent to the correct location.

  6. Subscription Services: If you have magazine subscriptions, streaming services, or any other subscriptions, make sure to update your address to continue receiving these services without interruption.

Couple Celebrating Moving To House

Step 2: Online Platforms and Accounts

In our digital age, it’s crucial to update your address on various online platforms and accounts. Some key areas to focus on include:

  1. Online Shopping Accounts: If you frequently shop online, update your address on platforms like Amazon, eBay, and any other e-commerce websites.

  2. Social Media and Professional Networks: Update your address on social media platforms and professional networks to keep your contacts informed of your move.

  3. Online Banking and Financial Platforms: Ensure your address is up to date on online banking platforms, investment accounts, and other financial management tools.

Step 3: Inform Friends and Family

While it might seem obvious, don’t forget to inform friends and family of your change of address. Send out a mass email, create a social media post, or use good old-fashioned snail mail to ensure that everyone is aware of your new location.

Step 4: Plan for Delivery of Forwarded Mail

During the transition period when your mail is being forwarded, plan for the delivery of these forwarded items. Keep a close eye on your mailbox and update your address promptly with any entities that may still be sending mail to your old address. (That’s where that Canada Post link higher up in the article will come in handy)

Step 5: Update Local Services

If you’re moving within the same city or town, update your address with local services such as your library, gym, and any other memberships you may have.

Couple of friends, keys and new home selfie for moving in together for real estate investment. Rent
#image_title

Conclusion

Updating your address when you move might seem like a tedious task, but it’s a crucial aspect of a smooth transition to your new home. By following these steps and staying organized, you can ensure that your mail, documents, and services seamlessly make their way to your new address, allowing you to focus on settling into your new home without unnecessary hiccups. Happy moving!

Empty white room with laminate flooring and french windows

Understanding Toronto’s Vacant Home Tax: A Closer Look at the New Initiative

By Advice For Buyers, Advice For Sellers, Video Blog

Toronto, like many other major cities around the world, is grappling with the challenges of urban housing. As the city continues to evolve and attract new residents, policymakers are exploring innovative solutions to address the housing shortage and ensure a sustainable and vibrant urban environment. One such solution that has gained traction in recent years is the Toronto Vacant Home Tax.

Understanding the Vacant Home Tax

The Vacant Home Tax (VHT) is a policy aimed at encouraging property owners to put their vacant properties into productive use by imposing a tax on homes that remain unoccupied for extended periods. Homeowners who choose to keep their properties vacant will be subject to this tax and VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: residents are required to declare the occupancy status of their property every year, even if they reside there.

In Toronto, this initiative represents a proactive approach to address the housing crisis, promote community engagement, and maximize the utilization of available housing stock. Revenues collected from the Vacant Home Tax will be allocated towards affordable housing initiatives, including the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) program.

How to Declare Your Homes Occupancy Status

Owners of properties in Toronto that are classified within the residential property tax class are required to declare occupancy status every year and can do so by visiting the City of Torontos Vacant Home Tax Portal. You’ll also need the following:

  • Assessment Roll Number, found on your property tax statement
  • Customer Number, found on your property tax statement
  • If applicable, documents required to show your Vacant Home Tax Exemption 

The whole process will take less than 5 minutes, and can save you thousands in unnecessary taxes each year!

Fees Fines and Penalties Related to the Toronto Vacant Home Tax

If the declaration is not submitted by the specified deadline, the property will be considered vacant and will become subject to the Vacant Home Tax. Starting January 1, 2024, a fee of $21.24 will be imposed for failing to submit the declaration of occupancy status by the designated deadline.

Interest charges, amounting to 1.25 percent, will be applied to any outstanding Vacant Home Tax balance on the initial day of default and subsequently on the first day of each subsequent month until the outstanding taxes or charges are settled.

In case of payment default, the unpaid amount will be included in the property tax roll for the residential property and will be collected in the same manner as regular property taxes.

Any payments dishonored by a financial institution will incur a Dishonoured Cheque Processing/Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF) fee.

Failure to submit the declaration of occupancy status by the deadline may lead to a $250 fine. Additionally, making false declarations regarding occupancy status or failing to provide requested information may result in a fine of up to $10,000, in addition to the required tax payment.

 

Exemptions to the Vacant Home Tax

A property may be left vacant and be exempt from the Vacant Home Tax if one of the following criteria is met:

  1. Death of a registered owner – (need to show death cert.)
  2.  Major repairs – (submit work permits and contractor receipts.)
  3. The principal resident is in long-term care (hospital or supportive care facility)
  4. Transfer or Legal ownership (what we just talked about… submit a copy of deed)
  5.  Occupancy for full-time employment (proof of residency outside GTA and signed letter from employer 
  6. Court order – a court order is made which prohibits occupancy of the property 

Visit the City of Torontos Vacant Home Tax website for more details!

Key Features of the Toronto Vacant Home Tax

  1. Definition of Vacancy: The Toronto Vacant Home Tax identifies vacant properties based on specific criteria. Generally, a property is considered vacant if it is unoccupied for more than SIX MONTHS within a calendar year.
  2. Tax Rates: The tax rates are structured to incentivize property owners to either occupy or rent out their vacant properties. Higher tax rates are typically applied to properties that remain vacant for more extended periods, creating a progressive system that encourages swift action.
  3. Exemptions and Appeals: The policy also considers legitimate reasons for property vacancy, such as renovations or major repairs. Property owners can apply for exemptions, and there is an appeals process in place to address any disputes regarding the determination of vacancy.

Impact on Toronto’s Housing Landscape

The Vacant Home Tax is expected to have several positive impacts on Toronto’s housing market:

  1. Increased Housing Availability: By discouraging long-term vacancy, the tax aims to bring more housing units into the market, increasing the overall availability of homes for residents.
  2. Neighborhood Revitalization: The initiative is likely to contribute to the revitalization of neighborhoods by reducing the number of empty homes and fostering a sense of community.
  3. Revenue for City Services: The tax revenue generated can be used to fund essential city services and initiatives aimed at addressing housing challenges and improving the overall quality of life for Toronto residents.

Challenges and Criticisms

While the Vacant Home Tax is seen as a step in the right direction, it has not been without its challenges and criticisms. Some property owners argue that the tax unfairly penalizes them for circumstances beyond their control, such as personal or family reasons for keeping a property vacant.

Conclusion

Toronto’s Vacant Home Tax is a bold and necessary step in addressing the city’s housing challenges. By encouraging the efficient use of available housing stock, the initiative aims to create a more dynamic and inclusive urban environment. It’s important to remember that the deadline for declaring the status of your property is the last day of February and that the property status refers to the previous year’s history. 

You can get more information on the latest details of tax, as well as declare the status of your home by visiting the City of Torontos Vacant Home Tax Portal.

Repeat Buyer and Seller | Nadia and Derek

By Testimonials

We first met Mark Savel about 9 years ago and he helped us buy our first property (condo) in Toronto. He was with another brokerage at the time and we followed him to Sage when he moved over. We never even considered going with another agent!

He recently helped us sell that same condo and buy our first detached house and true to form, he was so knowledgeable, helpful and communicative throughout the process. He made everything so easy for us and for that, we are very grateful! He truly went above and beyond. We relied heavily on him for advice and information throughout the process. His patience always helps to make us feel comfortable and confident in our decisions.

We can’t recommend him enough!

Nadia and Derek

First Time Seller | Kat and Chris

By Testimonials

We have a long-standing relationshIp with Mark Savel. His professionalism, experience, and amazing communication skills keep us coming back.

Mark understands the real-estate market and the needs of his clients. Mark made what is typically a very stressful experience a very easy and reassuring experience. I would highly recommend Mark Savel as your realtor, he’s the best!

Chris and Kat