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Real estate agents and brokers can help renters find apartments

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I’m not having much luck finding an apartment to rent in Toronto. Can a real estate salesperson help me find a place?

I’m sorry to hear that — finding an apartment in the city can be difficult, so it’s great that you’re thinking outside the box and considering the advantages of using the services of a registered real estate salesperson or broker. These advantages include the knowledge and experience they bring to the table, the ethical standards they are required by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) to uphold, and their ability to locate properties that suit your needs.

Working with a real estate agent to find a rental can give you insights for when you’re ready to buy a home.
Working with a real estate agent to find a rental can give you insights for when you’re ready to buy a home.  (Dreamstime)

Working with a salesperson to find a rental can also provide you with valuable perspective for when you’re ready to buy a home.

Apartment hunters typically look for available units by scanning newspaper classified ads and certain websites. They may also check for available rentals through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) at Realtor.ca, but that may not capture the status of all the available units — or those not actively posted yet. Salespeople, however, are able to access MLS listings on the fly. When you work with a rep, they can examine the available options and possibly even arrange appointments with potential landlords for you before other apartment hunters are even aware of the listing.

Keep in mind that you probably won’t find a lot of lower-priced rental options on the MLS. Some brokerages choose not to handle rentals — and some of those that do may not advertise it.

It’s important to perform some due diligence ahead of time. For starters: figure out a realistic budget and get your financial ducks in a row (such as obtaining a letter from your employer that confirms your income, a reference from your current landlord and a copy of your credit score) before you approach a real estate brokerage. Once you have a salesperson working on your behalf, you may have to act quickly so it’s a good idea to have these resources already available.

You might be asked to sign a buyer representation agreement that covers lease agreements by the salesperson’s brokerage. Take the time to read it and understand it thoroughly before you apply your signature. In most cases, using a real estate salesperson is at no cost for the future renter because the landlord pays all of the commissions. But you’ll want to be sure this is the case, and also be sure there aren’t any fees you might have to cover directly. And remember: you could find yourself on the hook to pay your salesperson’s commission if you attempt to back out of a rental agreement or rent a different property without their knowledge or assistance.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email askjoe@reco.on.ca.

Joe Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) and contributor for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @RECOhelps

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Victoria real estate agent disciplined for false advertising, encouraging cash deal to avoid taxes

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A Victoria real estate agent is facing $9,000 in fines and a 60-day licence suspension after breaking several professional rules during the sale of her father’s half-million-dollar property, according to a decision by the Real Estate Council of B.C. 

Whitney Garside’s missteps — outlined this week in a disciplinary decision posted on the council’s website — included falsely advertising the property as being almost twice its actual size and advising the buyer they could avoid the property transfer tax if they paid cash directly to the seller.

The property on Burnett Road in Victoria was being sold in 2016 by the real estate agent’s father. That relationship was disclosed and isn’t among the reasons she has been disciplined.

According to the disciplinary consent order, Garside told the buyer — whose name is redacted — that by paying $42,000 cash on the side, the value of the property could be reduced to avoid paying the property transfer tax.

That cash arrangement was not shared with Garside’s brokerage, Re/Max Camosun, a failure that contravened the Real Estate Services Act.

The council also ruled that she “failed to act honestly and with reasonable care and skill” when she advised the buyer the property transfer tax could be avoided by paying cash directly to the seller. 

The council’s discipline committee also found that Garside committed professional misconduct when she failed to recommend the seller and buyer seek independent legal advice, specifically regarding the property transfer tax and the cash agreement.

Another issue the council considered professional misconduct involved the size of the property in question.

The council ruled that Garside published false and misleading advertising and failed to act with reasonable care and skill when the property was advertised as 8,712 square feet, when in fact a portion of the lot belonged to the Ministry of Transportation, and the actual size was just 4,711 square feet.

The discipline committee ordered Garside’s licence be suspended for 60 days, which will be completed Jan. 3, 2021.

She has also been ordered to complete real estate ethics and remedial classes at her own expense.

Garside was also fined $7,500 as a disciplinary penalty and $1,500 in enforcement expenses.

She agreed to waive her right to appeal the council’s discipline committee’s decision in September.

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Frisco apartment community sells to Canadian investor

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A Canada-based investor has purchased a Frisco apartment community as part of a larger Texas deal.

The 330-unit Satori Frisco apartments opened last year on Research Road in Frisco.

BSR Real Estate Investment Trust bought the four-story rental community that was built by Atlanta-based Davis Development.

Satori Frisco was more than 90% leased at the time of sale. The property includes a two-story fitness center, a car care center, a dog park and a resort-style swimming pool.

The Frisco property sold along with Houston’s Vale luxury apartments in a deal valued at $129 million.

“BSR recently exited the smaller Beaumont and Longview, Texas, markets and also sold noncore properties in other markets,” John Bailey, BSR’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We are now using our strong liquidity position to invest in Vale and Satori Frisco, modern communities in core growth markets with the amenities our residents desire.”

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House prices on Prince Edward Island continue steady climb

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Residential real estate prices on Prince Edward Island continue to climb at a rate higher than the national average, according to the latest report from a national organization. 

The Canadian Real Estate Association released monthly figures for November 2020 on Tuesday.

They show that the average price for a resale home on P.E.I. is about 21 per cent higher than it was a year earlier. 

Only Quebec had a bigger year-over-year increase, at about 23 per cent. Overall across Canada, prices were up 13.8 per cent year over year in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the fifth straight month, year-over-year sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019,” the report noted.

“Meanwhile, an ongoing shortage of supply of homes available for purchase across most of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces means sellers there hold the upper hand in sales negotiations.”

That lack of houses coming onto the market compared to the demand means that in those provinces, there is “increased competition among buyers for listings and … fertile ground for price gains.”

There have been anecdotal reports for months that Prince Edward Island’s low rate of COVID-19 infection and looser rules around social activities have been encouraging people to buy homes on the Island. 

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