This is for my first time home buyers [Real Estate]

Buying your first home can be a daunting task and if done incorrectly, it could cost you money. By the end of this article, you will be educated on some basic real estate concepts as well as all programs and credits a first time homebuyer should apply for to make sure you don’t miss out on free money.

The programs/concepts we will detail are:

1)      Getting preapproved for a mortgage

2)      Typical monthly mortgage payment

3)      5% down & mortgage insurance

4)      First time home buyers plan

5)      First time home buyer’ tax credit

6)      Land transfer tax refund for first-time homebuyers

A mortgage pre-approval is a written commitment by a lender that tells you what they are prepared to lend you, at what rate and terms, subject to their acceptance of the house you intend to purchase. Lenders will typically guarantee interest rates for 90-120 days. Once you’re pre-approved for a mortgage you know the max amount you are eligible to spend on your home purchase and this will help you in determining your own personal budget.

Typical monthly mortgage payments will be determined by two primary factors, the amount of money you can put down and the mortgage pre-approval terms. We will illustrate these concepts through the chart below, where we compare downpayments of 5%, 10%, 15%, & 20% down when buying a $180k house (trust me these do still exist). We will also observe the impact of paying your mortgage down monthly or on a biweekly basis. I will cover important fundamentals of mortgage financing in a later article, as I will only vary the downpayment and payment frequency in the below example. For the example I assumed the other mortgage pre-approval terms (amortization length & nominal interest rate) were the same in all cases.

With down payments lower than 20%, you are required to buy mortgage insurance (offered by Genworth Financial & the CMHC), which is a tax on not having the necessary down payment. This premium will typically be added onto your mortgage.

Situation A – 5% down Situation B – 10% down Situation C – 15% down Situation D – 20% down
Cost of Home $180,000.00 $180,000.00 $180,000.00 $180,000.00
Downpayment $9,000.00 $18,000.00 $27,000.00 $36,000.00
Closing Costs $4,500.00 $4,500.00 $4,500.00 $4,500.00
Capital required on closing date $13,500.00 $22,500.00 $31,500.00 $40,500.00
CMHC Insurance $6,156.00 $3,888.00 $2,754.00 $-
Starting mortgage $177,156.00 $165,888.00 $155,754.00 $144,000.00
Term 25 25 25 25
Rate (%) 2.99% 2.99% 2.99% 2.99%
Payment (monthly) $837.47 $784.21 $736.30 $680.73
Payment (biweekly) $386.24 $361.70 339.6 $313.98

Comparing the 5% & 20% payments you can see there’s a $150 dollars a month difference in monthly mortgage payment due to the combination of lower down payment & higher insurance premium. I will not expand further on the advantages of paying biweekly as compared to monthly, as I will cover this in a separate article. An important note to make is that in the example the house cost $180,000 but if you are buying a house worth more than $500,000 different rules will apply.

TL;DR – Try to get closer to 20% to save some extra money however by doing this, you lose out on the yearly gain that we’ve become accustomed to in the GTA. Talk to your local GTAREguy for more details ;).

Now we will touch on the first time homeowner incentive program where you can take out $25,000 for single people ($50,000 for couples) out of your RRSP to put money down on your first home purchase. The chart below summarizes some important details:

Pros Cons
You can put an additional 25k towards your downpayment. This can save you interest Lose out on compound interest earned on cash since you take money out of your RRSP
This money is pretax income since it comes from your RRSP. This can save you tax dollars May requires planning ahead as money must sit in your RRSP account for 90 days before you can take it out to be used in this program
Helps some people avoid 20% downpayment rule. This can save you mortgage premium The full amount must be paid back eventually
15 year interest free loan & 2 years before you have to make any payments at all. Increasing buyer flexibility

As you can see the Home Buyer’s Plan, allows for free tax money to be used for a home purchase. In today’s market with the S&P making negligible gains for calendar year 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, it only makes sense to pull that money out and invest in the industry that’s tried and true (aka real estate). However saying real estate is is a better asset, is relative. If you appreciate greater control over what you’re investing in, you’d probably like real estate over stocks/bonds. If you appreciate liquidity in your investment, you’d prefer stocks and bonds.

Another Federal Program aimed at helping new first time homebuyers is the First time home buyer’ tax credit. This is a federal program that allows you to claim $5000 in your next income tax return after you buy your first home. This could transfer to potentially $750 in direct savings for first time homebuyers.

The last government program I wanted to touch on is a provincial program for Ontario residents and it is the Land transfer tax rebate for first-time homebuyers in Ontario. This is a program aimed at refunding the provincial land transfer tax on land purchases in the province of Ontario. The way it works is any provincial land transfer taxes paid up to $2,000  for first time home owners would be subject to the rebate (caps out for houses around 225k). Note that the city of Toronto has a separate land transfer fee and this is not the subject of this tax rebate. For the city of Toronto, they have a program that provides a rebate of $3725 for their municipal land transfer tax. This would provide a full refund for the municipal tax for home purchases up to $400,000. The balance of the the land transfer fee is payable upon closing***

***Note: After your first home purchase you join the legion of other Ontarians who pay this every time they buy a new property

See you guys next week!


Article was written by gtareguy (Greater Toronto area real Estate guy) . I release a new article every Friday and I write about economics, the nba and real estate in the GTA. 


The affordable housing question [Real Estate][Economics]

One of the problems that the GTA faces in the upcoming years is the challenge of affordable housing. How the government plans to solve this problem is multi-pronged, they plan to issue subsidies through their municipal branches, subsidies which should incentivize individuals to offer their rental units as social housing units. This type of program is designed to help solve the supply side problem of quality housing units to live in. In an ideal world, there would be an adequate supply of housing to satisfy societies housing demand and since government policy can’t really affect demand, this is why this subsidy is a supply side solution. Municipal governments seem to be taking a more direct role by expanding their social housing stock. Forget the fact that in 5 years, the municipal and federal government will again fight over who’s going to pay for fixing those units they build today, but seems like that’s not a problem we’re keen to avoid since we allow this behaviour by our government. We’re fanning the flame since as we allow more social housing to overtake non social housing, this increases the cost of all the non-social housing units. To put this idea into perspective, if a developer buys a plot of land for $1M and 4 houses can be built on that plot of land, the developer might built homes for another $1M and then sell each unit for 600k. The cost of each house is 500k ($1M + $1M / 4 houses = $500k cost per house) so the developer ends up making $400k profit from selling the 4 houses. Now if the government comes in and says one house has to be offered at a 20% discount (aka 400k), all of a sudden that $400k profit turns into $200k. The developer will likely increase the cost of each of the 3 remaining homes, from 600k to 666k so at the end of the day, the developer still makes 2 M from the transaction. The purpose of this is to show some of the effects social housing can have on other housing in a region. To the point above regarding inaction on social housing maintenance, the city of Toronto faces a $2.56B backlog for repairs to over social housing over the next 10 years. The city governs 58,800 units which represent $9B in total value, so municipalities (Toronto, in particular) will have to make difficult choices over the next few years as they decide whether to spend 28% of the total value of all social housing to fix units in need of repair.

RBC Economics publishes a quarterly housing trends and affordability index, which is supposed to be a number representing what percentage of pretax median household incomes which would be needed to afford a house (or a condo) in those markets around Canada. So if the index was at 110% (like it is for detached homes in Vancouver for Feb 2016) this means that it would take 110% of the median household income to afford mortgage payments, utilities and property taxes. Luckily, we don’t live in Vancouver and we can afford (just barely) detached houses in the GTA. For Toronto this value was 72%, which means you’d still have 28% left to pay income taxes, eat and maybe go see a movie or two (unlikely). Now luckily the affordability index for condos in both cities is in the 30% range so young people can still afford to live in these cities and next week’s blog post (Apr 29th/16) is going to explain programs that are essential knowledge for young people (or first time home buyers) navigating the choppy waters of buying their first home.



Article was written by gtareguy (Greater Toronto area real Estate guy) . I release a new article every Friday and I write about economics, the nba and real estate in the GTA. 

What I was looking forward to last Wednesday [NBA]

I wrote this before the NBA season ended last Wednesday. It was directed at the Raptors NBA Lottery chances for this upcoming draft lotto. For those of you who don’t know, at the end of every NBA season, a lottery is held where the teams who didn’t make the playoffs, have a lottery (with the lotto balls and everything) to determine who picks first (then second, then third… etc) in the upcoming wave of new NBA players in the NBA Draft. Btw as an FYI, we’ll be picking 9th in the upcoming draft, however this is not common as the Raptors finished with one of the best records in the league (franchise best 55 wins!). The article expands on how we got this pick.

— Article starts here —

Here’s what I’m hoping to go down on Wednesday night! So just like every other NBA fan knows, Wednesday is the last day in what has been another illustrious NBA season. A day where we’re likely to see the Golden State Warriors, set a single season record for wins and many other untold accolades. I know… sounds awesome… right?

But for a fan, whose team had their playoff ticket stamped a month ago, this day is like the overly climactic ending to a movie that should’ve finished an hour earlier, but whose sequel (being the NBA playoffs)? I cannot wait to watch. What makes this day a little bittersweet is this used to be the day (back when my Raptors sucked) where I finally knew how many ping pong balls my team would get for the upcoming draft lottery. I know, an even more useless fact that my curious mind looked forward to. A day where I could finally go and guess what young 20 something year old my Raptors would select, subsequently subjecting them to 3 years of torment before they flew the coup. Wash, rinse, repeat.

But those days? Now over. That is had it not been for Andrea Bargnani. Last year, we traded him to the New York Knickerbockers for a 1st round pick, in a deal that some may describe as totally forgettable.  Bargs was a TOTAL non factor in Toronto and many were probably surprised that we got an attractive asset back for him. Regardless, the years of wishing you’d develop a defensive backbone, all worth it because it pays off on Wednesday. After we made that Bargs deal with the Knicks, they made a deal with Denver and now, we get the worse of the Knicks and the Nuggets pick.

One of which could land between the 8th or the 11th pick depending on how the Knicks, Bucks, Nuggets & the Kings all do. We would get the 8th pick if the Knicks & Nuggets both lose with the Bucks & Kings winning. For the NBA lottery odds, you have better odds the worse you finish in the regular season. Right now all the teams I mentioned above have equivalent records. There’s an outside chance, if both the Nuggets & Knicks move up in the lottery, that we would get the 2nd pick but but that comes with less than a 1% chance of this happening. Regardless it’s a bigger chance than the Knicks have. In homage to Drea, Let me leave you with some highlights just because he’s awesome! Thank you NYC!


Article was written by gtareguy (Greater Toronto area real Estate guy) . I release a new article every Friday and I write about economics, the nba and real estate in the GTA. 

The Other Charts I promised [Real Estate]

Hi Everyone,

I’ve added some more charts for Oakville, Mississauga & Brampton. These charts will allow you to better understand house prices broken down by Detached home, Condo & Townhome in Oakville, Mississauga & Brampton over the 3rd and 4th quarters of last year. This helps determine the intangible value associated with your house when valuing it.

Links are here:

Oakville –

Mississauga –

Brampton –


List of Figures:

Figure 1 – 2015 Q4 Oakville Detached Home summary

Figure 2 – 2015 Q4 Oakville Condo summary

Figure 3 – 2015 Q4 Oakville Townhouse summary

Figure 4 – 2015 Q3 Oakville Detached Home summary

Figure 5 – 2015 Q3 Oakville Condo summary

Figure 6 – 2015 Q3 Oakville Townhouse summary


Figure 1 – 2015 Q4 Mississauga Detached Home summary

Figure 2 – 2015 Q4 Mississauga Condo summary

Figure 3 – 2015 Q4 Mississauga Townhouse summary

Figure 4 – 2015 Q3 Mississauga Detached Home summary

Figure 5 – 2015 Q3 Mississauga Condo summary

Figure 6 – 2015 Q3 Mississauga Townhouse summary

& Brampton

Figure 1 – 2015 Q4 Brampton Detached Home summary

Figure 2 – 2015 Q4 Brampton Condo summary

Figure 3 – 2015 Q4 Brampton Townhouse summary

Figure 4 – 2015 Q3 Brampton Detached Home summary

Figure 5 – 2015 Q3 Brampton Condo summary

Figure 6 – 2015 Q3 Brampton Townhouse summary


I will compile data for the Q1 of 2016 however if you see my previous blog post on real estate, good news all the way around. Sales in March eclipsed February sales by ~30% but this is expected as we enter the Spring Real Estate Season.

Catholic School System – from a non-Catholics POV [CDNPoli]

Growing up, I thought the Catholic school system was a waste of government funds. I also thought it unfair that Catholic’s had their very own publicly funded schools, when no other religious or ethnic group had one. I thought it unfair since this diversion of government resources likely affected how my publicly funded school was financed. Lastly, I also thought Catholic-friendly hiring practices by the Catholic school system put non-Catholics, such as myself, at a disadvantage. Today, I believe the benefits outweigh the costs.

A Brief History

A vestige from the constitution days aimed at appeasing Quebec’s Catholics who thought their rights would disappear in Protestant-heavy Ontario. However, there appears to be some recent comments from their 2016 Budget, & from high-up Provincial Liberals hinting that defunding the Catholic School system is a primary aim.

Removing the Catholic School System would likely require a constitutional amendment and in today’s political environment, that’s basically asking for something not to get done. This was the same stalling tactic that stopped the senate from being abolished, even though Harper had been promising that since his Reform party days. To put into perspective how daunting a task it is to get something that requires a constitutional amendment done, it requires provinces representing 50 percent of the population as well as 7/10 provinces to agree to that change. However insurmountable this might seem, Quebec was able to rid their Education system of their Catholic school board in the 90’s, so maybe Ontario can follow through with their goal.

Thoughts today

Now going through 2 different public high schools in 2 different cities, a 5-year STEM undergrad & a wide variety of continuing education courses (Economics & French), my previously held views have changed. I’ve also been given the opportunity to interact with a wide array of students who’ve come from many different backgrounds and this has helped evolve my views on public funding for the Catholic School board.

Firstly, I am not for monopolies in any government provided service. Each service or product offering needs an element of competition to act as a feedback into the service to weed out inefficiencies. Since competition is the lifeblood of innovation, when humans put artificial rules (like there should only be 1 publicly-funded school board) this introduces inefficiencies into the system; in this case, the system is our children’s education.

When you look at any service, open and free information flow has allowed humans the opportunity to innovate and come out with solutions that would not have otherwise been conceptualized. Meaning we stand on the shoulders of giants, in every single industry. There is no such thing as an overnight product, today’s modern day corporations have been able to manage value add services to create products that the market uses. Successful companies talk through their problems and ensure that problems do not occur twice. In the industries that I have worked in, I have been able to observe that continuous improvement is in focus in today’s working world. The ability to think lean while performing a task, so that non-value add activities are eliminated, is essential for career advancement in today’s day and age.

Getting back to competition being the lifeblood of innovation, I point to technological advances in cell phone technology. This has allowed international companies to take advantage of the global competitive framework, to innovate and now release phones with more technology than our space shuttles of the 70’s & 80’s. This highlights the remarkable progress created by a global competitive framework. If innovation is hindered (e.g. government service) we may be walking around with the Zach Morris bricks in our pockets.

This brings me to my second point, that choice is a good thing. Choice is a good thing because it allows consumers to pick options that would not be present if there was only 1 producer offering a service. It allows consumers to pick a product without having to go through the bureaucratic nightmare that is trying to change an element of the public school system. This is HUGE. Improvements in services happen on the fly with markets in open competition. With monopolies, there’s a lot more bureaucracy that changes have to pass through. Either that, or, the monopoly will just be unwilling to change, and because they are the only one offering the service, you just have to live with it. In the high school case, this would be the government having 1 product offering (the public school system) to offer its citizens. Don’t like the level of math taught in high schools? Too bad, unless you want to join the endless bureaucratic circus. Don’t like how specialized one school is in graduating non-STEM students? Too bad, see above. Wish a school offered a Finance basics course or even a cooking course? Evidence by recent TDSB Trustee spending scandal, school boards don’t maximize spending on schools, large budget for the upkeep of the school boards themselves too…

As a recent STEM graduate, I am very disillusioned with how little High School prepared me for the Math & Science courses that I had to learn in University. If you’re going into a STEM undergrad, be prepared to work harder in your first semester than all 4 years of high school put together. High school math in Ontario is a joke. When going through my undergrad, I was supremely annoyed by how “foreign kids” knew more than I did. I attributed this to private schools they had attended in their home countries, but this introduction to concepts, early on in their education, was essential to a lot of their success. Learning concepts like that earlier, allowed them to apply those concepts in 1st & 2nd year classes, rather than learning them – like the situation that many Ontario kids are in. It seems like they had learned all first year courses in high school, as well as learning many concepts like supply chain management, nearly all first-year calculus & many first-year science concepts, that we had never sniffed in an Ontario high school classroom. There seems to be very little incentive for high schools to innovate and as the rest of the world gets smarter, this will decrease Canada’s competitive advantage in offering the brightest and smartest workforce.

From anecdotal information presented above, I also want to introduce an Economics Paper that points to similar conclusions, I have outlined above. Choice in education leads to a self-corrective feedback mechanism so schools compete against each other to offer high quality education service. This is common sense for any arena of service that relevant information leads to better results.


The Catholic School Board introduces positive externalities on education in Ontario. Doing away with it and going with 1 publicly-funded school board, might introduce more inefficiencies since many jurisdictions would lose this competitive component between the Catholic school system & Public school system in a given region. All of a sudden, the failed 2007 Voucher program for schools that the Ontario Conservatives presented doesn’t seem so crazy.

Article was written by gtareguy (Greater Toronto area real Estate guy) . I release a new article every Friday and I write about economics, the nba and real estate in the GTA. 

Burlington Real Estate News – March 2016 [Real Estate]

Burlington Ontario Real Estate News – March 2016

Congratulations Burlington on defying the odds to see year-over-year house prices increase by an impressive 9.79% as of March 2016! Sales were strong and the average days on the market fell from 26 days in February 2016 to 23 in a month. This means there is more demand for houses in the area and since more homes were sold in Q1 of 2016 this means high house prices for all!

Figure 1 – TREB Home sales summary March 2013 (see link below and you can blow up the graph sizes at the imgur website)


The following chart and graph summarize some historical price increases:

Community Growth since March ’15 (%) HPI Values ($)
Alton Village 16.96 634,400
Rose 12.89 765,200
Tyandega 11.13 852,100
Shoreacres 7.16 613,400
LaSalle 10.01 711,400
Burlington 9.79 645,400

Data above is for Single Family homes

Taking a deeper dive into the data, in the link above, figures 2-7 highlight sales in the Burlington region broken down into detached, condo & freehold condo numbers.

From Figures 2-7, you can see the LaSalle, Roseland, Shoreacres & Alton Village were busy communities and key reasons why they are highlight communities in Burlington. Before we start highlighting them (in later blogs), we will go over some more community data for Burlington in Q3 & Q4 of 2015.

Within the incoming days I hope to come out with data like this for all regions which I currently specialize in Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga & Brampton so people have a better idea how I determine how a property should be priced as well as other key attributes when purchasing a house.

4/2/16 Piston-Bulls game Analysis – Raptors POV [NBA]

Exhaustion. The only word to describe how Jimmy Butler must’ve felt after his Bulls lost, in their own little play-off do or die match to the Detroit Pistons. 28-17-12, Incredible statline. It was the first triple double of his career coming in the most important Bulls games of the year, great showing for the all-star guard. Also one of the most entertaining non-Steph-Curry games of the season; one that let viewers observe directly why he’s a top 3 SG in the NBA and arguably its best 2 way player (Kawhi Leonard territory).

Had the Bulls received a favourable call (at home btw) on a late game charge, who knows? Maybe Jimmy wouldn’t be ‘goin fishin’ so early. Let me paint a picture, with all the momentum after just having scored 7 straight points, originally down 9, in literally 4 NBA seconds, my money would’ve been on Jimmy to harness his inner Goku skills, had the Bulls gotten a pivotal foul call with only 40 seconds remaining in the game. After watching tonight’s game, Jimmy Buckets deserves a great team and I hope the Bulls trade him away to the contender. I don’t say that out of haste, but when on every play down the stretch, it’s literally just a continuous set of two man basketball between you and Pau Gasol, let’s just say it’s unfortunate that management couldn’t surround those two with more talent. Performing the way he did against a defence as staunch as Detroits makes his triple double even more incredible.

And finally this brings me to Welcome back Detroit Basketball! Congrats on making the playoffs and if you make it to the 7 seed, then my Raptors better foul Andre Drummond right into SVG’s bench. I don’t want to see him because then the defense legitimately becomes scary. KCP & crazy Morris twin are both really good defenders with long active arms. Reggie is quick and athletic able to handle his own against most guards and Andre? He just acts as a solid plan B for every failed steal attempt his guards try.

Regardless, when Fred Hoiberg went to hack a Shaq ‘Dre with 6:30 left, I thought “Welcome to the Playoffs ‘Dre”. If Detroit is just sticking it to the Raptors (in the potential first round matchup) and Dwane Casey doesn’t employ that strategy, I will be legitimately upset. Game 7, 2013 playoffs against Brooklyn, Casey kept throwing Terrence Ross out there against JJ and the Truth when we had James Johnson on the bench the entire game. I just hope Casey swallows his pride and sits Drummond. At least this might motivate Dre to finally ditch the traditional technique and adopt the Rick barry school of free throwing. I legit think that under handing is the only way for Dre to be a factor in the playoffs and this potential revelation makes a Toronto Detroit series even more enticing.

This year? I have faith in Dwane Casey and there’s no way Toronto gets swept this year. That opinion and all the confidence that brang with it would be shot in the dark, had Jimmy Butler and whatever is left of the Bulls came back from the grave tn. Then legitimately terrified. I sometimes feel bad saying this but he’s just better than DD. DD is okay, even some nights? Great, but gets shut down every time we face the Bulls. I’m not even a DD hater, he deserves the max contract he’s going to sign this offseason and I’m impressed by his growth since year one but this probably just more speaks to where Jimmy Buckets stands in the league.

Back to the Pistons, really didn’t expect you guys to make the playoffs, again congrats, hopefully you guys push your first round series to 6 games, and if you guys get the 8th seed, I hope you guys win so we can still eliminate you guys in the second round! Thank NBA playoff reseeding after each round for that certainty!