My Agent Mike

Hi! I'm Mike Rapkoski.

Sales Representative, Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty Inc., Brokerage

I have spent the past 18 years assisting clients build their wealth through making wise choices with their real estate buying and selling. I am passionate, dedicated and committed to providing world class service to my real estate clients.

16 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Toronto City Council says “raise the land transfer tax cost”

#AnotherObstacle

It looks like Toronto City Council is at it again! Thinking that purchasers of real estate in Toronto’s neighbourhoods are flush with cash, they look to make sweeping changes to the Toronto Land Transfer tax program.

For anyone who has purchased a property in Toronto since February 1st, 2008, you are well aware of this cash grab by the councilors of our city that has contributed to drastic effects, such as a decline in the active selling inventory within Toronto’s boundaries and pushing house prices beyond reach for many of would-be future Toronto residents.

When you remove condominium apartments and townhouses from the mix, the average house price in December for a semi-detached and detached home in Toronto surpassed the $1 million dollar mark.

On a purchase price of $1,000,000 you would currently pay $32,200.00 in L.T.T. (land transfer tax). $15,725 goes into the city’s coffers and $16,475 goes to the clowns in the Provincial Liberal government to waste on all sorts of crap!

Well, if Toronto city council gets their way, effective March 1st, 2017 they would like to increase the percentage for all home buyers 0.05% which equates to a 7% increase in tax for repeat buyers and 6.5% for first time buyers.

Even worse, they want to eliminate the entire rebate for first time buyers who purchase above $700,000 (currently being contemplated by city staff). This is completely ludicrous and beyond punitive. This threshold is nowhere near the average house price in Toronto.

The Toronto Real Estate Board is going to bat, again, for this shortsightedness being pushed from city council against homebuyers in Toronto. Make your voice heard and read more information at anotherobstacle.ca

 

16 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Tips to protect your home and property: IBC

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reminds Ontarians to review their home insurance policies, update their home inventories and take steps to protect their personal property.

“Reviewing and updating your home inventory list helps protect your personal property and can speed up the claims process in the event of a theft or loss,” says Kim Donaldson, vice-president, Ontario, IBC. “Ontarians are encouraged to take a few moments to review the following important tips on how to help ensure a safe home for their families.”

IBC’s top ten tips:

  1. Review your insurance policy to ensure that you have adequate coverage.
  1. Shop around to find the right policy for your own unique situation.
  2. To prevent possible slips and falls, keep your walkways and front stairs clear of snow and ice.
  3. Create or review your family emergency plan.
  1. Update your home inventory list by adding new items, including gifts received over the holidays. Note the approximate value of the items, including makes, models, serial numbers and any other identifying marks.
  2. If necessary, hire an appraiser to determine the value of works of art or jewellery in order to avoid a possible claims misunderstanding.
  3. Take photos or a video of your home’s contents.
  4. Keep your home inventory list, and photos or video of your home’s contents in a safety deposit box, a fire proof safe or in another secure location away from your home.
  5. If you are renting, ensure you have tenant’s insurance. A landlord’s policy will not typically cover your personal belongings or liability.
  6. If you have questions, speak to your insurance representative.

For further information, contact IBC’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-227-5422 or visit www.ibc.ca.

12 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

First-time buyers get a tax break

Effective January 1, first-time home buyers will get a financial break on the purchase of their new home with a rebate that is double the previous amount, the provincial government announced recently.

This is a huge saving for consumers and marks the culmination of advocacy efforts by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) to help more young families afford a home. As announced in the fall economic statement in November, the provincial government committed to increase to $4,000 from $2,000 the amount of the rebate from the land transfer tax (LTT) to first-time home buyers. This news is the result of months of efforts by OREA lobbying Queen’s Park to make this change, which will help more people achieve their dream of home ownership. 

“Finding an affordable home has become a struggle for thousands of young couples,” said Ray Ferris, president of OREA. “This tax break will reduce a first-time buyer’s closing costs and help them save more for their down payment. This means that our clients can now get $4,000 off of their first purchase, which is fantastic news for so many people trying to buy a home.”

“We’re thrilled that the government has listened to consumers and to us as REALTORS® on an issue that we’ve worked hard to highlight,” Ferris added. “We applaud the government for increasing the rebate so significantly.”

According to research commissioned for OREA by Altus Group Economics, an improved LTT rebate will have many positive financial consequences for the province, beyond just the tax break to first-time buyers. The study showed that a larger LTT rebate will create 5,000 jobs and $268 million in economic spinoffs. Moreover, research shows that home ownership contributes to families becoming happier and healthier and more involved in their communities.

“Home ownership changes you for the better,” said Tim Hudak, Chief Executive Officer of OREA. “It builds strong communities and stable neighbourhoods. A tax break for first-time buyers will give a lot of young families the leg up they need to get into home ownership. The government deserves credit for taking positive steps to address affordability. It’s encouraging news for that young couple looking to get into the housing market.”

Source: OREA

03 January 2017 ~ 0 Comments

5 Home Design Fads That Are Out in 2017

Shiplap and white-on-white kitchens may finally be falling out of favor. The two trends have dominated home design in recent years, but realtor.com® says they’ll be fading fast in 2017. Here are some of the home design trends realtor.com® predicts will fall to the wayside in the new year.

  1. Gray. Once the hottest color, gray is now looking gloomy. “It’s been overdone,” says Tanya Campbell of Denver-based Viridis Design Studio. “Diversity in the palette will strike a contrast. We may even see a transition from gray color palettes to warmer mochas and taupes.”
  2. The glam look.This style’s signature is bold whites, bright silvers, and deep blacks, which have been popular in kitchen and bathroom designs. “We’re going to leave the glam era behind. That slick, stark, severe minimalism will be replaced with warmer elements,” says interior designer Bea Pila. “At the end of the day, we’re seeking a deeper comfort level in our personal spaces. That perfect showroom feel we were once into doesn’t make this possible.”
  3. Shiplap. Shiplap surged to popularity as Joanna Gaines, host of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” turned to it as her go-to remodeling piece. But realtor.com® notes: “If you’ve ever wondered what 2016’s version of tacky wood paneling would be, look no further than this trend that seems to have overtaken TV design shows.” It’s difficult to remove, and designers now say it often makes little sense to use, particularly in a Colonial or Tudor home style.
  4. White-on-white kitchens.White everything in the kitchen — from countertops to cabinetry and even the floor — is fading fast. “It’s just too much,” says Sara Chiarilli, a designer at Sarasota, Fla.-based Artful Conceptions. “This trend started to go in 2016, but you will find it completely gone in 2017.” That said, Chiarilli predicts that whites will stick around, but they will take on more depth and tones in kitchens in the new year.
  5. Copper. Expect to see less of this heavy metal in 2017. Copper fixtures are another trend on the chopping block in the new year, realtor.com® notes.

 

Source: “10 Interior Design Trends That Are So Completely Over for 2017,” realtor.com® (Dec. 29, 2016)

22 December 2016 ~ 0 Comments

As 2016 Comes to a Close

As 2016 comes to a close, I would like to take this time to thank each and every one of you for your support and trust in making me your Realtor of choice. It’s been a record year in receiving new client referrals from all of you and this further fuels our commitment to our vision of, “looking after our clients’ needs as we would that of our loved ones.”

Oh, by the way, I’m never too busy for your referrals! ☺

This year, there have been many changes both locally and internationally that will have untold ramifications on Toronto’s real estate market (look to early 2017 newsletter for my thoughts regarding this). December will finish out what will be a never before seen record number of sales in the Toronto Real Estate Board as well as average house prices. Whoever would have thought we would see the value of an average detached home price across Toronto reach above $1.3 million!

2017 is looking like it could be a formative year for Toronto real estate. I look forward to continuing to be your trusted resource, and that of your friends and family, for timely and valuable information regarding Toronto’s real estate market.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!

Best,
Mike Rap

14 November 2016 ~ 0 Comments

I’m Moving to Ireland to Live in a Castle!

With the United States election finally behind us, many have posted the question, “where can those who want to flee from the land of the free, under a Donald Trump regime, go?”

Well, for starters, the entire world is becoming a lot less friendly with fewer options to live in. With England and their Brexit vote, not as much of an option for our American friends to the south.

Canada gets much talk and on the surface, it makes a lot of sense given our close proximity. On election night, Canada’s immigration website actually crashed (or was taken offline depending on who you listen too ☺), with hoards of Americans looking to flee. Snoop Dogg, you are always welcome. Kanye? Sorry, we’re full. In reality, I don’t think we will see many Americans come north for a few reasons…

One, Toronto and Vancouver are very expensive markets to live in – costlier than most American markets. Vancouver has added a 15% foreign buyer tax, which is pretty much Canada’s version of a wall. The high cost of housing, food, transit, and taxes make Toronto a non-starter for many. The east coast is an option, but unlikely. I think that the most logical choice would be Montreal. Known for its world-renowned culture, affordability (although ask a native about this and you will be scoffed at), and thriving metropolis – but, with some pretty serious political issues of its own.

How about Ireland? The gateway to Europe I recently read has Castles for sale starting from $1.35 million (U.S.) to $4.95 million (U.S.) A Castle sounds nice! Of course with Brexit you may see an increase of ex-pats returning but imagine what it would be like to throw a massive “castle party”! This, I could get excited about! Oh, wait. It’s Americans looking to flee, not Canadians. Now, back to reality.

Australia and New Zealand are both beautiful places to live… If you have mountains of cash! You would certainly get pretty far away from having to watch Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr. help Dad with his “transition” planning. Who would have thought years of sitting around the boardroom table-practicing saying, “you’re fired” to C level celebs may come in handy.

So where does this leave the many Americans who want to flee the United States for something better? You tell me. I’m sure we all feel our Countries are the greatest places on earth to live in. I think that when the dust settles, very few will choose to relocate as the options abroad are tough at best. Maybe better to just stay put, and be the change you wish to see.

04 November 2016 ~ 0 Comments

High Rise Trumps Low Rise In Sales

Condo owners are rejoicing as the Toronto Real Estate Board released their monthly market statistics for October 2016 and condo sales activity (units sold) as well as sold prices saw healthy increases in Toronto proper.

Sales of condos were up almost 20% from last year this time and prices went up a whopping 12.9%! The average condo is $459,199.00 and although this pales in comparison to the $1,102.738 average for semi and detached houses where averages increased about 21% in value, the gap is closing.

Another positive for condo owners is that unit sales were greater than the combined of housing type (detached, semi-detached and townhouse) for the month. Buyers who have been priced out of the low-rise house market are now turning their attention to the condo market.

It will be interesting to see how November’s numbers come in to see if this is more of a trend and not just a blip in Toronto’s housing market.

22 October 2016 ~ 0 Comments

The Real Estate Market Went Kaboom!

Everyone knows how hot the Toronto real estate market has been of late. But unless you’ve been trying to buy something in 2016, you don’t know how truly crazy of late it has become!

Many of my buyer clients can relate to the fast-paced, multiple offer frenzy that has become the norm in most parts of the GTA over the past ten years.

A long time ago, there was moderate civility around the listing of a house or condo, even when an offer date was specified to review offers. Yes, the occasional jackass seller’s agent who would go all cowboy and treat buyers and their agents as pawns with unscrupulous tactics existed (I’ll save this for another post). But for the most part, great Realtors knew the way to a successful sale was by treating everyone with respect, ensuring that not only the property was sold for favorable terms on offer night, but that a smooth closing would be had on title transfer day, and a happy buyer and seller would ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Fast forward to the present. Today, we have many agents who have entered the industry in the past 5-7 years, who have experienced nothing more on the selling side then get a property listed (often way lower in price then what’s realistic for the property), have a boatload of showings that turn into an offer, have a bunch of buyer agents who are inexperienced with the process (training sucks in the real estate industry in almost all companies) show up to present the offer, and then often defy any reasonable logic on price. And then be held out as heroes for a job well done! Yay, you got it! Good for you, rock star!

This is not a supply-demand phenomenon, as the industry would like you to believe. Maybe this is a low supply, high demand and very high amount of inexperienced, fully commissioned sales people on both sides of a home sale transaction doing mostly what they think is right, without really knowing if it truly is?

Are all real estate agents like this? Do all sales in the market play out like the example above? Of course not. It’s fairly easy to distinguish who the experienced professional agents are; they are the ones who ensure that mutual respect is exchanged during the process, which often culminates into a warm embrace or long handshake after the professional negotiation of an offer. It’s out there; you just have to look for it.

So what does all this mean and where does it leave us? What lies ahead? These are serious questions, for sure.

I for one am totally on side with the extreme measures the government has enacted of late. The real estate brokerage side does a very poor job of preparing an agent to run their business and compete in the marketplace. This has been the case for years. It’s entirely left in the hands of the agent to seek training, education, and even guidance. Most agents (approximately 80% according to recent statistics in production) are in what I would call ‘survival mode’. Agents have mortgages to pay and their children’s education costs to fund; the same bills and challenges most people have. Very real and valid concerns, indeed.

I do think that we are going to see many more lawsuits against agents and even possibly the brokerages that the agent works for (I will note that this is highly debatable and the brokerage-realtor relationship is under increased scrutiny by regulators). Is it enough to just shrug and claim, “well, they are independent contractors after all?”

A cooling of the market by any means necessary and you won’t have to worry about the real estate agent influence on the market so much. Previous attempts have been made to cool the market and ensure a soft landing from this long, drawn-out real estate cycle with limited to no effect.

I’m all for a free and open market and I hope for the most part that I’m off base with my observations. I know plenty of hardworking, ethical, professional sales representatives – both experienced and new to the industry. I network with a lot of highly successful agents throughout North America and I can’t help but feel that almost everything our wonderful neighbours to the south went through before the flattening of their housing market looks eerily familiar in some ways to what’s currently happening in Toronto. What do you think? Only time will tell, so plan accordingly.

19 September 2016 ~ 0 Comments

CRA On The Hunt For Real Estate Tax Cheats

This past week I attended a presentation that covered tax implications when doing assignment sales, buying fixing, and flipping property and selling pre-construction condos.

Often we hear of friends or family who have made money in some form of one of the above scenarios, but we don’t talk much about the tax implications that are triggered when doing so.

Canada Revenue Agency has a new state-of-the-art computer system that is designed to review every sale of residential property. This to me is not shocking to say the least, as I would expect our government to use modern tools and techniques to recover the taxes owing when investment or speculative sales occur, of any nature.

What did make me sit straight up in my seat were the underhanded ploys, dishonest goading and straight up trickery to get what I suspect are mostly honest but ill-informed taxpayers to part with substantial sums of money.

The CRA seems to use tactics that resemble some of society’s worst case stereotypes when it comes to scamming people out of money. I understand this tactic when used on someone who clearly is trying to cheat the government out of paying tax. But to be a blanket approach strategy that is meant to fling poop against the wall and see what sticks, seems fairly shady to me.

I always advise my clients whenever they have questions or need tax advice to consult the appropriate professionals for expert guidance. There is the potential to make amazing gains in buying and selling investment real estate. You should certainly always factor in the tax payable before you sell and even often before you buy!

If you have any questions around this matter feel free to reach out me and I will gladly share my resources, or contact your tax advisor or related professional.

18 August 2016 ~ 1 Comment

The Value of Continuous Learning

Some of you know that I recently returned from San Diego after attending yet another training and learning session. I write ‘yet another’ as from time to time, I’ve been asked by some friends and colleagues: why after 20 years of being a successful Realtor do I still go to such events? What else is there for me to learn? My usual response is this: I learn plenty! Read on and I will explain why for myself, I would not use the services today of ANY professional that isn’t committed to continuous learning!

For starters, I believe that in the world we live in today, with such ease to information (and much misinformation) there is always something of value to learn. While I haven’t attended more basic levels of education in many years, I have over the past 15 years attended conferences, coaching, training, and educational sessions on a variety of real estate, business and personal matters (note: each and every one of these are completely different) that are both of value to me and the clients I serve.

Amongst the sphere of professionals whom I interact with – brokers and Realtors from within my brokerage as well as outside of it, lawyers, mortgage professionals, financial planners and condominium boards, I am often sought out for my opinions on the real estate industry. I typically stay away from media requests for my own personal reasons, but I am committed in doing my part to raise the bar of my profession in ways that I can.

Commitment to learning is not cheap. We are all aware of the expense of higher learning. With the amount I have invested in my growth I am certain I could have bought 2-3 MBA’s, but this is life as we know it today.

In my industry alone, there have been more advancements and changes in the past 3 years than there have been over the previous 50 years! Digest that for a moment and then look around at what industry you are in. How and what will it look like 3 years from now?

Is all change good? Relevant? I don’t think so. But gaining an informed opinion through access to more than one side, I have personally found to be invaluable. And adding value is what we do. Without this, we are average. In an ever-competitive world where average can be replaced easily and inexpensively in most fields of work, what are you doing to become irreplaceable?

Now is the time to act on it! Change isn’t easy, I’ll be the first to admit that. I recently went through a business change that was solely based on going from successful to significant. A change that most people I know possibly won’t even notice, but I am committed to being invaluable to those that I serve and who depend on me.

No one succeeds alone. All success comes with the help of others. I’m always here for you and happy to share my thoughts if interested – just reach out!