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.

21 April 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Paying More Than The List Price versus Paying Above Market Value

It seems today in Toronto’s frenzied real estate market that Buyers have become ‘numb’ with the understanding that most houses, as well as some condos, will sell for above the listing price.

Years ago I used to describe to clients of mine that the list price of a property was simply an “asking” price: a place to start and to get qualified potential Buyers through the door. Depending on many factors, the final sale price could be lower or slightly higher than the asking price.

Today I am convinced that many real estate agents don’t have a bleeping clue on what the value range for property is. Before my email inbox starts getting filled with F.U. emails please note I say “many” not “all”.

This leads me to discuss the difference between paying “over list price” for a property and paying “over market value” for a property. There is a big difference between the two and based on many conversations with both consumers and first hand knowledge while representing Sellers on the listing side, not everybody fully understands this.

Lets start with the popular notion that in the past few years Buyers have had to overpay to get the desired home or condo that they have deemed to be the “one!”

One can argue that this is true in some cases and not so true in other cases. There is a lot of strategy that goes into pulling off what I call the perfect multiple offer scenario.

This is where:

  • The goals of the seller are met (they can be varied and not entirely just financial)
  • Adequate market exposure is had for the property
  • Buyers have had ample time to make a sound and educated decision
  • A final sale price that falls within or very close to actual market value of the property

Why these four points are crucial in obtaining the perfect multiple offer scenarios is that everyone should come out in the end happy. The Seller will be happy that they received market value and a qualified content Buyer ensures that come closing, things go off without a hitch. The financial lender is happy, as the property has sold within market value range. Both real estate Lawyers are happy. And with all of these parties happy, both Realtors will be thrilled!

Certainly a Win-Win for all! Sadly, today this is becoming less and less the norm.

Pricing a property both on the selling side and buying side is no easy task. But for real estate professionals who are committed, experienced and knowledgeable about the countless factors that make up a properties desirability and value, this is crucial.

Without dealing with someone who has a deep understanding of this often leads to a buyer paying an exorbitant purchase price.

We’ve all seen the headlines or heard the second hand stories of a property that has sold for $200,000, $250,000 or more above the list price. Some of these may fall within market value for the property, which is fine. For those that do not, often a consumers reaction will be something along the lines of “that’s nut’s” or “WTF?”

An experienced Realtors reaction will be “Good luck getting the property to appraise!”

In the end, all I can say is choose your representation carefully as Carpe Diem, “Let the Buyer beware” prevails in Ontario real estate law.

Michael Rapkoski is a licensed Realtor and sales representative of RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd; in Toronto. REMAX Platinum Award winner for sales achievement 2006 thru 2014. Top 2% of TREB members for sales volume*


Michael Rapkoski is a licensed Realtor and sales representative of RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd; in Toronto. REMAX Platinum Award winner for sales achievement 2006 thru 2014. Top 2% of TREB members for sales volume*

*IMS Stats Inc.

16 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Spring Market Strong as Sales Surge

The Spring market continues to show strong results as well priced new listings are being snapped up in days, and sometimes even hours!

The confidence amongst buyers is high, as sales across all of the pockets I follow and work in are doing very well. Houses in the Toronto area continue to shine as well as demand pockets in the most desirable of our suburbs. Oakville and parts of Vaughan centered around GO transit lines are seeing houses being snapped up, almost always in multiple offers with anxious and determined buyers.

Condo sales continue to be strong with price points of under $375,000 and over $750,000 doing exceptionally well.

For the most part, sellers seem to be realistic on pricing, and well-informed buyers are not going crazy (well there are the exceptions) paying unrealistic prices.

The condo rental market is also very strong, but remember that when looking at potential condos for investment purposes only, the factors can vary on what makes for a good investment unit.

I think the next few months are going to continue to be strong with activity, as I know some of my buyers are rushing to beat the insanity of what is going to ensue once the PanAm games arrives in July.

For more specific area statistics contact me directly.

13 March 2015 ~ 0 Comments

13 Spring Cleaning Tips

With spring right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to think about reorganizing, de-cluttering, and maintaining your home. To make spring-cleaning a little easier, here are 13 tips that will help keep your home in tip-top shape at any time of year.

Take Care of Stainless Steel
To keep your stainless steel appliances bright and clean, try using a light mist of wax-based aerosol spray once or twice a week. Be careful not to put on too much as you don’t want to soak the surface and make it greasy. Wipe the mist with a clean, lint-free cloth, and never use oils to keep away fingerprints, or else lint will stick to the oil. Finally, don’t use anything abrasive – you don’t want to scratch or ruin the surface.

Organize Closets
Get rid of unused clothes and accessories, and organize the rest by how you get dressed in the morning and by colour. Your closet will look appealing, and your everyday routine will be easier.

Remove Stains and Odours
Blot up as much of the odours immediately. While blotting upholstery, put a plastic liner or garbage bag between the cushion and the fabric to avoid pushing the contaminant into the cushion. Next, flush with cold water as best you can. Blot and flush again. Try using a portable spot cleaner or wet/dry vacuum, or if there’s still a residual odour, use a half-vinegar, half-water solution and rinse again. If all else fails, call in professionals.

Clean Painted Walls
Start with a clean cloth or sponge and water. If this doesn’t work, dip the rag/sponge into water mixed with a little dishwashing liquid (the milder the better). If the stain persists, apply a few drops of soap directly onto the west sponge or cloth. For more stubborn cases, try applying a little soap right onto the stain. Be aware that stronger products like Fantastik have strong solvents in them and can soften the pain surface. Whatever you do, make sure to rinse the wall afterward with plain water.

Create a Different Mood
Changing bedding, towels, or table linens can make easy makeovers. Switch things out seasonally or for a special event, or whenever you want to play with a certain colour or pattern.

Clean the Carpet
Take off your shoes when you get home, but leave your socks on or wear house slippers because walking barefoot leaves natural oils that attract dirt. For less-trafficked areas, cleaning the carpets once or twice a year is acceptable, and every 18 months for a bedroom. Although once you see that the carpet is dirty, have it cleaned for health reasons.

Care for the Tiles
Clean bathroom and kitchen tiles with a cleaner that has ‘neutral pH’ on the label. You can also mix baking soda and water for a homemade cleaner: pour ½ cup baking soda into 2 gallons water and mix very well. Apply the liquid with a string or sponge mop.

Remove Stains from Countertops
This can be tricky, but the key is to wipe up stains immediately. Have your countertop sealed a few times as soon as it’s installed – you’ll know it’s properly sealed when water beads and forms droplets on the surface. For most coffee or juice stains, use a little hydrogen peroxide in water, plus a few drops of ammonia. For everyday wear-and-tear, buff away small scratches with superfine dry steel wool.

Reorganize Bookshelves
Sort books by size and subject. Remove and discard any ripped dust jackets. Line books, some vertically, some horizontally, in a rhythmic pattern – this will relieve the monotony of rows.

Care for Area Rugs
It’s ideal to clean area rugs every 4-5 years, or every 10 years if a rug is not walked on much. Over cleaning contributes to wear and tear. Fine silk rugs need cleaning only 20-30 years. For treating stains at homes, keep a bottle of club soda on hand. Stains caused by pets, coffee, orange soda, red wine, and anything with dye or an acid base are the toughest to remove, and the key is to act quickly.

Care for Wood Floors
Avoid over sanding and use trivets or saucers under plants to avoid water damage. Use furniture protectors to avoid scratches, and damp-mop once a week with a mild soap.

Polish your Silver
Use a toothbrush and Hagerty Silver Foam on your silver because it’s not too abrasive and it’s water-soluble. For really bad black tarnish, try Silvo Metal Polish. Never put your silver in the dishwasher, and store it in anti-tarnish cloth bags when they aren’t in use.

Make the Most out of Cleaning Time
Really clean your home when you set aside time to do so – polish silver, wash windows, wipe down the light bulbs in the lamps, and wipe down the walls.

18 February 2015 ~ 0 Comments

HOT HOT HOT, to start off 2015!

2015 is off to a frantic pace in home sales and prices, which in my opinion were to be expected, as long as the winter weather played nice enough.

If you recall last January and February we were buried deep in snow and this pushed back our market in sales a bit. This year in January new listings were up by almost 10% over last year, which is notable as January isn’t typically known as a busy month. Sales activity was up 6% and prices up 4.9% year over year.

Expect a very busy spring market with similar conditions as buyers continue to outnumber sellers on desirable properties. 

With the Pan Am Games coming to Toronto in July and August, this too can play in sales activity and pricing. Although summer months, like January, tend not to be as frantic as spring or fall.

If you have further questions let me know?

16 February 2015 ~ 0 Comments

10 Ways to Avoid Distractions and Stay Focused

Sometimes it seems that for as many hours there are in the day. We all know the feeling of being overwhelmed by distractions. In order to get a little clarity and quiet the buzz in your brain, there are strategies that will help you keep a quiet focus. In addition to feeling calmer and more focused, you’ll probably be more efficient too.

Turn off the background noise
What you thought was “white noise” from the TV or radio could be a bigger distraction than you realize.

Have a calming mantra
Post a sign or post-it near your workspace that says something along the lines of “quiet mind.” That will be your signal to take a deep breath and try to relax.

Clean up
Organize space so it’s attractive, well organized and well lit. Make sure your office or desk is orderly, comfortable and well lit, so you are in the optimal space to be productive. Outer order contributes to inner calm.

Take it one thing at a time
If you feel that you are getting pulled in different directions, just stop and focus on one task until it’s completed.

Switch off your cell phone
Or if you can’t turn off your ringer for whatever reason, shut off the tweet/text/e-mail alerts, especially if you know you jump every time you hear it. Hearing your cell phone ring is a big source of jumpiness. Turning off your email for some parts of the day will also help.

Take a break
Go through your to-do list and prioritize. Ask yourself, does this really need to get done today or can I do it tomorrow?

Use the Internet sparingly
If you know you’ll only need it for a specific bit of research, get it out of the way and then unplug while you do the rest of your work. This will help you avoid the urge to go down a browsing rabbit hole.

Stop counting
Avoid looking at clocks, contracts, bank statements, bathroom scales or anything that has to do with numbers in order to let the other part of your brain take over.

Exercise
Taking regular breaks is good for focus, but within limits. Consider taking a short walk every hour or so, or stretching at your space.

Flee temptation
It’s important to have dedicated space in which to think and work.

12 January 2015 ~ 0 Comments

How to Keep On Track with Your New Year’s Resolutions: 10 Do’s & Don’ts

It’s about time to get your resolutions in order — if only so you can have a quick answer to the only question you’ll be asked after New Year’s Eve. Once you’ve identified your big goal this year, make it last with these tips to keep you positive and on track.

Do

Start right now
Whatever your resolution is, there’s no sense in binging on your bad habit prior to beginning your “good” behaviour. It’ll just make your goals more difficult to achieve. You are at your most motivated when deciding to take on your resolution so ride that wave and get going immediately.

Set specific goals
Set goals that have accountability. For example, instead of “lose weight”, try “lose 20 lbs.” If your resolution seems overwhelming, set smaller, manageable goals to build on throughout the year, like “lose 2 lbs a month.”

Think about HOW you’ll accomplish those goals
You need a step-by-step plan, addressing all parts of your resolution. If you want to lose 20 lbs, take a look at your diet plan and figure out an exercise routine. Figure out exactly what you will do when so when it comes time to put your plan into action, it’s a no-brainer.

Write down your plan
You’ve gone over every detail and you know your plan by heart. Even so, write it down. The act of writing will help it sink in that much more and having a copy to refresh your memory during trying times will come in handy.

Make yourself accountable
Now it’s time to share your plan. You can tell everyone or tell just one understanding person, but getting support — a sympathetic ear, an encouraging voice, a sensible opinion — is an essential part of accomplishing your goal.

Reward yourself when you reach a goal
After your initial rush of motivation fades around February, you will need something to keep you going. A periodic reward may be just the thing to keep you honest, all year long.

Don’t

Make it complicated
Don’t make things harder on yourself than they need to be. Choose a simple, powerful resolution so you can really focus on it and get it done. 

Beat yourself up if you get off track
You will eventually make a mistake but the real test of your character is how you respond. Do you let one little slip up drag you down for the count? Rebound the very next day and pick up where you left off with no guilt.

Let others’ failures lead YOU to slide
When other people get off track, they might try to mitigate their disappointment by tempting you to give up, too. Don’t fall for it! Even though they look like they’re having fun, indulging in all the things they’d resolved to give up, don’t let it cloud your resolve.

Ignore small accomplishments
It may be hard to get excited about finishing a tiny sliver of your goal when you have the bulk of it looming ahead, but you must remember that this is a year-long process so giving yourself a pat on the back when it’s due will keep you positive and motivated.

This article was re-printed from an Apartment Therapy article written by Jennifer Hunter, Assistant Editor at Apartment Therapy.

11 December 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Fun Family Winter Activities

‘Tis the season for winter activities! One of the best things about the holidays is spending more time with the family, and Toronto has some of the best attractions you can enjoy with your kids. Here are 10 winter activities to do with your kids during the winter season. Bundle up and enjoy!

Go tobogganing at Riverdale Park
With panoramic views of the city, this is Toronto’s top choice for tobogganing hills. Kids (and adults) alike will like the straight path down at pretty steep speeds. Kids will tire themselves out trekking back up the hill and you’ll no doubt get a decent glute workout in pulling them back up when they get stuck halfway. Go to nearby Rooster Coffee for a warm-up after.

Hit the ice
Whether you’re looking for a local skating rink, an outdoor game for shinny or a plush locker room, there’s a something for everyone in Toronto. Skating at Maple Leaf Gardens isn’t always open to the public, so check their website for new dates and times. Eglinton Park has a quality rink with boards and lights for northern nighttime access, as does Greenwood, with their weather resistant roof and open air trail. Harbourfront has excellent programming for kids (or parents) learning to skate. Check City Rinks Toronto for a rink near you.

Go fish
If Shark Week has you and your brood hungry for more, than a trip to Ripley’s Aquarium is definitely in order. The best time to go to avoid the crowds is 9 or 10am, before the legions of school buses choke the sightlines out and you’re stuck bottlenecked around a double stroller. After 3pm is also relatively empty, and if your kids can stay up late without turning into pumpkins, then book in for a night when the aquarium is open until 11pm.

Get a dose of science
The Ontario Science Centre is a perfect way to blow through a freezing cold day, with four floors to dazzle even the most fickle youngster. There’s loads of hands on exhibits including KidSpark, almost a full floor dedicated to kids under eight including a makeshift grocery store, water lab, music maker and full on foam castle. Live demos explain the science behind electricity, physics, space and more, so you can feel smug about educating your kid, while secretly getting a little refresher.

Read at a local library
Toronto’s libraries have your best bet for boredom busters, but it doesn’t stop with the latest Captain Underpants novel. With matinee movie features, hands-on science fun with drop-in experts and an ongoing roster of story time classes, your local libraries has the cure for the winter blues, even if it’s just for a silent game of hide and seek. Check their website for deluxe new classes on everything from 3D printing to video editing, or learn how to write workshops for kids led by published authors.

Play indoors
Indoor playgrounds are a perfect fit for an energetic kid on a cold day. While some city-run locations like Playground Paradise are cheap and easy, you can break the bank (and the rut) and front up the cash for a membership to a place like SproutkidsTimBUKtu or Amazon Indoor Playground or Planet FunKidville offers classes geared towards promoting independence and helping you survive separation anxiety on a more scheduled basis and Playloft has play based learning classes year round. For smaller children, check out your local Early Years Centres for free play and drop-ins.

Hit the slopes
Skiing in Toronto may sound like a contradiction, but Centennial and Earl Bales parks run some cute hills that will still prove to be slightly daunting to the novice skier. Private course Uplands is a quick jaunt north of Finch station and offers some decent runs as well. Choose between skiing or snowboarding and sign your kids (or you) up for lessons with a pro, or meander down the bunny hill at your own pace. Buy a season pass for only a few hundred bucks, or pay per go at pretty accessible prices.

Paint
With three locations (in Little Italy, Leslieville and Markham), Paintlounge offers not only kiddie classes for your mini Monet, but the superb concept of actually (gasp!) creating art together. Paintlounge has a few different motifs for you to attempt, like Kandinsky Circles, Birds on a Wire and Drip art. Prices run cheaper than a canvas and paint, with no mess to clean up after.

Go bowling
Five-pin bowling gives kids the challenge of throwing a ball that’s bigger than their hands, and bumpers will keep the game action-packed. Most five-pin locations will feel like you stepped back in high school, with NewtonbrookBathurst BowleramaDanforth Bowl and Thorncliffe Bowlerama seemingly unchanged since they opened decades ago.

Get cultural at the ROM
The ROM is the ultimate mashup of art, animals, sculptures and history. The first stop should always be to the corpse mummy on the third floor, just to make sure she’s still not breathing. Explore the world through their many galleries, or just hang out in the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal and wonder if this is what Superman’s house looks like. Sign up for ongoing classes (ROM Moms or Tiny Tots) or drop in for one of their stellar exhibits like the upcoming Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

17 November 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Prices To Rise in 2015!

housepriceOne of the most frustrating things for prospective buyers to hear is that house and condo prices are continuing to rise.

We’ve become so accustomed to constant news about the lack of housing supply (with the exception on the new condo sale side) that buyers cringe, knowing this typically translates into bidding wars!

Last week a house in Riverdale was listed for $1,100,000 with an offer date a week away. Seven days and twenty offers later a sold price of $1,725,111 was achieved.

To me there are many concerns with this, but for now, I want to highlight that there were twenty offers on an under-listed million dollars plus home!

You don’t have to look far to see CMHC, Bank economists and other housing commentators saying prices in Toronto will rise in 2015, albeit maybe not at the same pace (8.9% across our city this year).

In highly desirable neighbourhoods (where many of my clients currently live or want to move in to) it will clearly be evident.

On the flip side, if you or ANYONE you know feels that they overpaid for their house in the past few years, call me immediately! There could be a window of opportunity available in early 2015.

14 October 2014 ~ 0 Comments

10 Haunted Places to Visit in Toronto

gooderham_worts_jimuTruth or scare? Toronto can be seriously spooky, and we’re not just talking about its politics. Although Toronto is a relatively young city by international standards, we seem to have crammed a decent amount of murder and mayhem into our brief but vivid history. Throughout the city, there are ghostly hauntings all year round. With Halloween right around the corner, here is a list of ten places in the city that have a reputation of being haunted. Visit if you dare!

Gooderham & Worts Distillery
Now known as the Distillery District) has such a great name for a haunted location, it would be a shame if it wasn’t. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your perspective), James Worts apparently continues to show up for work at the former mill, opening and closing doors (and occasionally walking through them), banging around, playing with the lights, and giving workmen and visitors some scary surprises. (Near Parliament and Mill streets.)

Glendon College
Glen College (including Glendon Hall, the Hilliard residence and the Wood manor) has been the site of numerous seemingly supernatural occurrences, including sightings of a mysterious female figure in the rose garden by the library, voices in the basement, the “sense” of a hanging body at the staircase, and a residence room where occupants wake up to find unexplained markings on their legs. (York University, Glendon Campus. 2275 Bayview Avenue)

Queen’s Park
Before it was home to the Ontario legislature, the grounds of Queen’s Park belonged to a psychiatric hospital. Three different apparitions, all women, are rumoured to haunt Queen’s Park: a sorrowful ‘white lady’, a maiden in a checkered dress who holds her apron over her face, and a hanging woman in the long tunnel in the basement. There have also been reports of a regimental soldier descending the grand staircase of the main hall. (111 Wellesley Street West)

The Keg Mansion
Built in 1868, this grand house on Jarvis St. was once the home to Toronto’s most elite families, the McMasters and the Masseys. The Keg bought it in 1976 to turn it into a restaurant. Ghostly encounters have occurred around the central staircase and the second floor women’s washroom. Hearing phantom footsteps and seeing a male ghost child playing on the stairs may be included gratis with your steak dinner. (515 Jarvis Street)

Old Fort York
Old Fort York (including the Garrison, the Centre Blockhouse and the Officer’s Quarters) saw much horrible carnage over three separate battles, and visitors and staff have reported odd noises, presences, and visitations—including a ghostly woman visiting the Officer’s Quarters, and a red-coated guard near the entrance and in the barracks. (100 Garrison Road)

Spadina House
Staff and visitors to Spadina House have been treated to some benign supernatural appearances, including—in the non-public areas— a grey, ghostly mass that may or may not be associated with, of all things, a taxidermist’s mounted wolf that’s on display. (285 Spadina Road)

Ryerson Theatre School
Ryerson Theatre School, formerly a pharmaceutical college with an on-site morgue, has long been the site of whisperings, voices, presences, cold spots, light fluctuations, and occasional sightings of the figure of a woman in white. (44/46 Gerrard Street East)

St. Michael’s Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital is Toronto’s preeminent haunted hospital, with reports of a male figure walking up and down through the back filing room in the medical records office, and numerous encounters with a faceless nun—Sister Vincenza or “Vinnie” to her colleagues—who visits the patients of the seventh floor, pulling blankets over them and keeping watch through the night. (30 Bond Street)

University College
University College at the University of Toronto is home to one of the city’s great enduring legends, the untimely death (and apparent return) of cuckolded stonemason Ivan Reznikoff, who attempted to murder his co-worker and romantic rival Paul Diablos with an axe and fell from the building’s tower to his demise. Sir Allen Aylesworth supposedly spoke to the unsettled spirit when he was a student, which lends this colourful tale some much-needed credence. (University of Toronto Downtown Campus)

Old City Hall
The spirits appear to be a little more aggressive in their attention seeking at Old City Hall, where judges have felt unseen hands tugging at their robes and staff have heard moans in the attic. One of the courtrooms is reputed to be haunted by those who were among the last to hang in Canada. (60 Queen Street West)

 

12 September 2014 ~ 0 Comments

How to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

curbappealFirst impressions are everything – at least when it comes to selling your home. You may have an updated, modern kitchen and an amazing spa bathroom, but no buyer will see either without first getting through your front door. Your home needs curb appeal, but it does not have to cost a fortune!

The home’s exterior – including the front entry, yard, driveway and sidewalk – should serve as a snapshot of what’s to come when potential buyers enter your home. Here’s how you can improve your home’s exterior appearance to attract potential buyers without breaking the bank.

Take a Step Back and Take a Snapshot

Walk across the street from your home or far enough down the driveway to get a good view of the house and its surroundings. Then, take photos of the home’s exterior. Tip: view the photos in colour and black and white, as it’s easier to see problems when colour doesn’t affect our senses. Consider the following:

  • What is your first impression of the house and yard area?
  • What are the best exterior features of the house or lot? How can you enhance them?
  • What are the worst exterior features of the house or lot? How can you minimize or improve them?

Clean Up and Repair

Make a list of the problem areas you discovered. It is best to clean up and repair chores first, then put some time into projects that will make the grounds more attractive.

  • Kill mold and mildew on the house, sidewalks, roof, or driveway.
  • Stow away unnecessary garden implements and tools.
  • Clean windows and gutters.
  • Pressure wash dirty siding and decks.
  • Edge sidewalks and remove vegetation growing between concrete or bricks.
  • Mow the lawn and get rid of weeds.
  • Rake and dispose of leaves.
  • Trim tree limbs that are near or touching the home’s roof.

Improve Evening Curb Appeal

Examine your home again at dusk, as it isn’t unusual for potential buyers to drive by houses in the evening. One quick way to improve evening curb appeal is with lighting: string low voltage lighting along your driveway, sidewalks and near important landscaping elements. You can also add a decorative street lamp or an attractive light fixture on a front porch.

A Few More Curb Appeal Tips

  • Consider landscaping decisions. There are times that adding elements to your landscaping can improve curb appeal, but there are other times when removing something is even more effective.
  • If you can budget it, a fresh paint job will improve curb appeal tremendously. Find colour schemes that are appealing.
  • Install a more attractive front door, or improve your existing one by replacing a plain doorknob with something more attractive. You may also chose to repaint or stain the door and polish the hardware.