Toronto Realty Blog | Toronto Real Estate Property Sales & Investments
The Realty Blog is a platform to describe the Toronto real estate market through my eyes, with my witty opinions, perceptions and descriptions of my day-to-day interactions with buyers, sellers, agents, and the entire cast of characters I come across in this thriving industry.
A reader sent me this article last week, and I found it quite interesting.
I’m not here today, with the benefit of hindsight, to provide any sort of “I told you so,” but rather to look at why real estate bears like Garth Turner, or Hilliard Macbeth, thought that the Canadian real estate market was set to crash – before it more than doubled in many places.
Cynics will point to the profits these bears have made from directing followers and listeners away from real estate, but there simply must be reasons for their predictions, right?
In this article, Mr. Turner provided several…
(This is a transcript of the March 24th, 2006 article in its entirety)
The real estate boom is over. You may or may not like that news,but it is now official. I am calling the eight-year-long housing lovefest, finito.
Done like dinner. Does that mean housing prices are going to start spiralling lower, with a rerun of the equity-busting days of the early 1990s? Should families who have concentrated most of their wealth in their homes be panicking?
Hardly. I see no storm clouds on the horizon. But neither do I see the weather conditions that would allow prices to keep on rising. And there is one overwhelming piece of news that,more than anything else, should tell everyone that real estate is an overvalued commodity ripe for correction.
This past week my friend Peter Vukanovich,who came to visit me a few days ago in my MP’s riding office, pulled the trigger. His company, Genworth Financial, has now become the first mortgage insurer to cover 35-year home loans. That goes one better than CHMC, which three weeks ago said it would insure 30- year-long mortgages. And the country’s best-known mortgage guru, whom I spent time with as well last week in the boardroom of a Toronto law firm, told me in hushed tones he is preparing for the advent of the 50-year mortgage.
What does this mean? And what’s the big difference from today’s normal 25-year mortgage amortization?
Simply, it is this: Mortgages have always been very large debts for people to pay,and in order to make them more affordable, the payments have been spread over a long period of time – usually 25 years. The effect of this is that monthly payments are brought down,but the amount you end up paying back rises. At today’s interest rates, with a 25-year am, you actually pay the lender about twice what you borrowed – almost $580,000 in payments on a $300,000 mortgage.
So, when the payment period (that’s the amortization part – based on the French verb ‘to kill’) is extended, then the same formula kicks in, namely, lower monthly payments and a greater amount actually repaid. In the case of that $300,000 mortgage and a 35-year amortization,monthly payments fall from $2,000 a month to about $1,700, but the amount you dish over rises by $135,000, to a substantial $712,000.
So, why does this show the real estate market has peaked and is about to hit the down escalator? Simply because this is the third major indicator that housing prices have passed the ability of the average family to afford them. And anytime that transpires,the writing is on the garage wall.
First we have had the unprecedented use of the 5 per cent down payment program. Genworth’s Vukanovich told me in our meeting about the tens of billions in mortgages his company has just insured for buyers in that program – in fact, this is where almost all of the mortgage growth is. Not good. Buyers putting up 5 per cent of the price of a home and mortgaging 95% are doing the same things as stock market junkies snapping up securities on margin. The only way they make money is if the asset rises in value,and quickly. So far the 5 per cent down crowd have done very well, since their extreme leveraging has paid off in a rising market. But if housing prices move in the opposite direction, their tiny little bit of equity can evaporate in a week or two, leaving them with nothing but a sea of debt. Oh yeah, and a home they “own.”
The second indication this is a market living on somebody else’s oxygen was the announcement some months ago that several of the banks would lend money to people who don’t have any — hence, the zero-down mortgage. Borrowers with good strong employment earnings, but no savings, suddenly qualified to buy houses they could not afford. Need I say more? But, actually,there is more – because boutique lenders will now give you enough money for 100 per cent of the purchase prices, plus more cash for the closing costs and a new plasma TV.
So, here we have the third indicator – amortizations which have gone from 25 years to 30, then to 35 years and quite possibly now to fifty. This is irrefutable proof that houses at these levels are unaffordable if you play by the rules that have influenced real estate supply and demand for the last three generations. And layer on top of that the effect of five recent mortgage rate increases, with the prospect of a couple more to come, and you can see what’s going down.
Over the last year, Vancouver house prices rose 26 per cent. In Calgary, 24 per cent. In Toronto, just 6 per cent. I would argue that the inevitable correction in real estate prices has already started in the GTA and will soon be spreading west. In mid-town Toronto right now, you have to spend $1.3 million to buy an 80-year-old brick house on a street full of the same houses, on a 30-foot-wide lot with no garage. And this is not an area of wealthy millionaire families, but rather working couples with public school-age kids. They may live in million-dollar homes, but they quite often also have million-dollar mortgages.
The only way they’ll make money on those houses is if they find somebody to pay even more. And behind that indebted buyer will be a generous lender. And behind that lender, a creative insurer. And you don’t want to know what’s behind him.
More on this, soon.
Again, thanks to a reader for finding this 12-year-old article and sending it my way.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what you all already know…
The average Toronto home price in March of 2006 when this article was published was $353,134. This past May of 2018, the average was $805,320. That’s an increase of 128%.
The Canada-wide HPI Benchmark Index sat at $307,700 in March of 2006, and has risen some 108% to $637,500 this past month.
But let’s get that out of the way. I’m pretty sure Mr. Turner doesn’t care anyways.
I’m more interested in his reasons for the impending “end” to the real estate boom, and how looking back, they were so right – even though they were completely wrong.
What I mean is, he identified issues in the market that, he thought, would be troublesome.
And looking back, many of these issues were noted and acted upon by the Finance Minister and/or CMHC (making Mr. Turner right), and yet the market still continued to climb (Making Mr. Turner wrong).
Mr. Turner first noted that buying with a 5% down payment was a problem, as it would leave buyers “owning” their homes with a 95% debt-load. Perhaps he wasn’t wrong in identifying this was an issue, considering the changes that have been implemented by the CMHC since then:
1) Minimum 20% down payment over $1,000,000.
2) Minimum 20% down payment on investment and/or second properties.
3) Increased down payment requirement on mortgage amount from $500,000 – $999,999 from 5% to 10%.
The second point that Mr. Turner made was about 0% down mortgages, and even cash-back mortgages. In 2007, I had a client buy with the 107% financing plan, whereby he purchased for $1,000,000 and provided a $50,000 deposit cheque, and upon closing, was given the $50,000 back by the lender, plus another $20,000.
But these programs were long done away with, as the minimum down payment requirements above explain.
The third point that Mr. Turner made was actually two points – first about the increase in amortization periods, the second about the five consecutive hikes in mortgage rates.
Amortizations did reach 40 years, but then came back down to 25 and 30. Most buyers out there right now look for, or can only qualify for, a 25-year amortization. The 30-year product still exists, but isn’t nearly as prevalent. As for the potential “50-year amortization,” I had honestly never heard of this as a possibility until I read this 2006 article. I don’t know how close this was to ever becoming a reality.
As for the increase in mortgage rates, and prediction of subsequent rates, Mr. Turner was hypothesizing here. Or if you want to try to get into his head, based on his feelings on the market, he might have been catastrophizing. Adding potential increased rates to his other qualms would only make the fire burn brighter!
Looking back on this article twelve years later, and knowing Garth Turner’s track record, and history of disastrously-incorrect predictions about the real estate market, I’m actually going to come away giving him more credit than I previously did.
His predictions, at least, were based on ‘problems’ in both the real estate and mortgage markets, several of which were rectified.
As I said, it’s ironic (or more disastrous for his predictions) that increasing down payment regulations and shrinking amortization periods didn’t make the market turn and run the other way.
But I have to give him credit for putting this into print – even before the housing crisis in the United States began two years later.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about commission, and since it always produces a spirited debate in the comments section, and is often viewed as controversial, I figured it would make for a fun day.
But more importantly than that, I know there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation floating around out there specifically about the intersection of agency and commission.
So let me present a few questions and/or comments I often get from buyers and sellers, and without trying to antagonize anybody, or solicit dissenting opinions, simply explain how agency and commission intersect in these situations…
I’m sure we could come up with a dozen examples of questions, comments, and/or scenarios involving agency and commission.
But these are the ones I’ve encountered the most so far in 2018, so let’s take a look.
“I don’t have an agent, and I want to make an offer on this property. But I don’t want to pay the 2.5% commission.”
I’ve heard this line, and I’ve seen this situation, several times before.
The public will see this as a slam-dunk, I’m sure.
If you’re a buyer, and you have no agent, either because you’re conducting your own search, or you are deliberately setting out to purchase through the listing agent, you believe that you are entitled to a 2.5% discount on the price, and/or the listing agent should, or for some people – is obligated, to “throw in” 2.5% of the commission.
In reality, that’s not how things work.
A seller signs a Listing Agreement with the Brokerage, and an overall rate of commission is established.
Then, a second section of the Listing Agreement specifies how much, if any, commission will be paid to a cooperating brokerage. This, of course, is based on the old days when brokerages didn’t cooperate with any other brokerage. They sold everything in-house. So when the idea of a “buyer agent,” and/or a “cooperating brokerage” came along, it was important to specify whether or not the seller was, a) cooperating, b) paying a cooperating commission.
The Listing Agreement is a contract, bear in mind. With two parties privy: the seller, and the listing brokerage. Keep that in mind for later…
So when an unrepresented buyer shows up and says, “I don’t have an agent, I’m not paying the ‘other’ 2.5%,” that buyer is incorrect, first of all, since buyers don’t pay commission. I know, I know – you’ll suggest that they do, through the seller. But for all intents and purposes, and legally speaking, the buyer doesn’t pay.
But secondly, if the buyer says, “I refuse to make an offer unless that 2.5% is subtracted from the total,” then they may very well just not make the offer.
The seller and listing brokerage have formed a contract, say, at 5%. The buyer cannot unilaterally change the terms of that contract.
Can the listing agent waive part, or all, of the 2.5% earmarked for a cooperating agent? Absolutley.
But the buyer has no “right” or no ability to “force” the listing brokerage to waive part or all of that commission.
Now here’s where things get fun.
Every so often, I get a call from a really smart person, usually a lawyer, who says, “I’m going to draft my own offer, and I want you to submit it for me.” Of course, I’ll ask if they want to be represented as a “Client” or a “Customer,” and usually suggest that they choose “Customer,” as I don’t like multiple representation (and because to be honest – these people are never successful in their offers and I don’t want to be on record as giving them “Client” advice, because they always cry foul when their offers don’t win).
These smart people often put a clause in their offer that says something to the effect of, “The Listing Brokerage agrees to reduce the commission payable to the seller by 2.5%+HST.”
And I sigh.
Because so often, these smart people will say, “I’ve bought and sold tons of houses this way, I know what I’m doing, yada, yada.”
And then I have the thankless task of calling them to say, “You do know that, legally, you can’t contract out of a contract, right?”
Other agents get snarky. “What law school did you go to? Didn’t they teach you basic contract law at University of Arizona Online?”
But the bottom line for me is, a seller and a listing brokerage have a contract, and a third-party cannot unilaterally change the terms and conditions of that contract.
As for what I would do in this situation, personally, I’ll come back to this.
But for the people out there that think they have a right to submit an offer through the listing brokerage, and “save” 2.5% in commission that they believe would go to their buyer agent, if they had one, this situation is not as cut and dry as they might think.
Having said that, every buyer is free to try to negotiate with the listing agent and/or listing brokerage. I’m not saying that an agent won’t alter the commission.
But I will say that I have never received a competitive offer from an unrepresented buyer, looking to save commission. They’re usually the ones offering 7-10% under the list price, in competition…
“I only want to make the offer through YOU, the listing agent.”
I hear this a lot, and it’s somewhat tied to the situation above.
I had a listing a while back, for which the seller did not want to engage in multiple representation (I’ll cover this below).
So an unrepresented buyer called me and said he wanted to make the offer through me, and I told him he could make the offer through a colleague I’d refer.
He said, “No, I will only make the offer through you, because I want to save 2.5% in commission.”
I told him that there would be multiple offers, and I would never seek to “double-end” one of my own listings, and that commission hadn’t entered my thought process.
He told me, “It’s the only thing entering my thought process.”
As an aside, I think you’re better off overpaying for a house you love, than underpaying for a house you don’t. So if 2.5% is going to make or break an $800,000 or $2.5 Million decision for you, I think you’re on the wrong track. But I digress.
I told this buyer, “Go and find an agent; any agent, who isn’t me, and have them present the offer for you.”
He didn’t like this suggestion, because he said, “Then that agent is going to want the commission!”
It’s a similar situation to what I described above. The buyer was adamant that he save the commission.
Now does he have a right to make the offer through the listing agent? No.
Does he have a right to make the offer through the listing brokerage? Yes.
He can, in theory, have the Broker of Record (or manager) present an offer on his behalf, with whatever terms and conditions he wants. He can’t demand that the listing agent him or herself prepare the offer, and represent him.
Now this is where “Client” and “Customer” definitions come into play.
A colleague of mine recently had a situation where a woman wanted to submit her own offer, but kept insisting that the listing agent reduce his commission by 2.5%. She said her offer “reflected this,” albeit this and another $150,000, but that’s because she was out of touch, as these smart folks often are.
My colleague told her she had to sign a Buyer Representation Agreement, either as a “Customer” or a “Client,” and explained both to her.
She chose “Customer,” which meant that the listing agent wasn’t providing any service to her, and she was not a client.
When her offer was rejected, she emailed him and called him constantly, asking what she should to do strengthen her offer, where her offer stood, etc.
He simply told her, “I can’t speak to you. I represent the seller. You made an offer as a Customer. It breaches REBBA rules for me to speak to you.”
She didn’t listen.
Literally days of phone calls and emails, messages left with front desk. “What if I came up $60,000? TELL ME!”
The listing agent sold the property to another buyer, represented by a different brokerage. And yet, she continued to pester him for days thereafter.
This wasn’t about commission, on the listing agent’s part. This was about representation, and fiduciary duties to the right party.
I’m still waiting for her to file a complaint, as these folks often do.
But just consider when you ask for a certain type of representation, you’re going to get it.
“As a seller, I refuse to be involved in multiple representation, dual agency, or whatever you want to call it.”
Great. No problem.
Except, it’s not that simple.
Recall that in 2017, there was a lot of talk about “banning” multiple representation, because governments love to intervene in free markets.
As is often the case, I think that instead of having the government step into a free market and tell consumers what they can and cannot do, it should be up to the consumer to decide.
I suggested that the Listing Agreement should be edited and updated to include the following:
1) I hereby give my consent for my agent to engage in multiple representation at the brokerage level.
YES ________ NO ________
2) I hereby give my consent for my agent to engage in multiple representation at the agent level.
YES ________ NO ________
It’s so goddam simple, that it bothers me.
It bothers me that this has never really been discussed, and probably won’t be. But I digress…
“Multiple Representation” exists at the brokerage level. If John Smith of ABC Realty has a listing, and Kate Jones of ABC Realty brings an offer on behalf of a buyer-client, this is Multiple Representation. Now if John Smith brings an offer on his own listing, it’s still Multiple Representation.
REBBA doesn’t distinguish between Multiple Representation at the brokerage level, versus the agent level.
And I think that is a major mistake.
The concept of “double-ending” for the most part applies to the listing agent providing a buyer to his or her own listing. Most people don’t care if the buyer-agent is another agent, registered with the same brokerage. In fact, some brokerages have thousands of agents. So how can you “ban” multiple representation? I’m getting off topic here…
To the point – a seller does not want to engage in “Multiple Representation,” is this possible?
Yes and no.
A seller can tell his or her listing agent, verbally, “Do not bring me any offers from you, personally.”
But is there a place in the Listing Agreement where this topic is covered?
Now, if an unrepresented buyer calls the listing agent and says, “I want to make an offer on your listing,” can, or should, the agent refuse?
Here’s where it gets tricky.
The listing agent has a fiduciary duty to the seller. So how is rejecting a potential buyer, out of hand, acting in the best interest of the seller?
I suppose this raises the question, “Can the seller opt out of his own best interest?”
Who can decide best interest at this point?
What if that unrepresented buyer wanted to make a spectacular offer?
It’s a grey area. Completely contradictory.
The listing agent has to listen to his seller’s instructions, but also has to act in his seller’s best interest, and in this case, those seem to conflict.
“As an agent, I would n-e-v-e-r show properties to my buyer clients that aren’t paying a 2.5% commission.”
Well, you’d better!
Otherwise you’ll be disciplined by RECO, and for good reason.
Call me naive, and tell me this is sappy if you want to, but in order to be successful in this industry long-term, and have a career, you need to consistently put the interests of your clients first. You must always think about them, before yourself. You must do what’s right for them, and trust that in the long-run, what goes around, comes around.
Not every agent thinks that way, but not every agent makes enough to actually live on.
In the Real Estate Business Broker’s Act (REBBA 2002), there is a Code of Ethics.
Section 19 details the following:
Properties that meet buyer’s criteria
19. If a brokerage has entered into a representation agreement with a buyer, a broker or salesperson who acts on behalf of the buyer pursuant to the agreement shall inform the buyer of properties that meet the buyer’s criteria without having any regard to the amount of commission or other remuneration, if any, to which the brokerage might be entitled. O. Reg. 580/05, s. 19.
I think it’s worth noting that there is a specific section of the Code of Ethics that deals with this topic, meaning it is an issue.
If a buyer is hiring an agent to look out for his or her best interests, and show that buyer properties that meet his or her criteria, then that agent must show the buyer all properties. End of story.
Regardless of the seller, listing brokerage, location, commission, or even circumstance (ie. something like, “I don’t want to show that property to my buyer because I have to pick up the keys way out at the listing brokerage in Mississauga”).
What happens if the agent does not comply?
Well, then that agent could be disciplined.
Here’s a Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) Discipline Decision.
All discipline is available to the public, FYI.
Putting this in writing is clearly a poor decision by this agent. It’s mind-boggling how somebody could do something like this, in today’s day and age.
But the irony of this agent’s footer – suggesting “utmost professional service,” should also be noted!
This agent was fined by RECO, not only for refusing to show the listing, but also for six other RECO violations, about abuse and harassment, language, professionalism et al, which are all basically the same thing. RECO often operates in the same way a Grade-6 student does a book report; take a section of the curriculum, and look for an application in the text. But that too is a topic for another day…
So what can an agent do, in a situation where he or she doesn’t want to work for the specified commission?
Well, there are OREA forms to address that.
Do you know those discount brokerages that offer $1.00 in commission on MLS? That’s how much the brokerage is offering in commission. The listing will say something to the effect of “Seller May Be Willing To Offer Up To 2.5% Renumeration. Use Form 202.”
So if you’re a buyer agent, go for it. Use Form 202.
But do not refuse to show the property to your buyers!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t put in one more word on this topic – to the sellers who feel they are “saving” money by not offering a buyer-agent commission. I know you already don’t like what I’m saying, but that’s just how it is.
A few weeks ago, I showed a property to my buyer clients that was offering $1 in commission, but whereby the seller was offering “up to” a 2.5% commission.
The property was priced well below fair market value, with an offer date.
But that was the wrong strategy to have in this case!
On offer night, I had the only offer. Even though this property was well, well under fair market value, I still was the only agent to come to the table.
Many buyer agents are afraid of dealing with FSBO’s, “Mere Postings,” or discount brokerages. Either because they’re afraid of not getting paid, or afraid of not getting paid their definition of a “full” commission, as per the agent above who was disciplined.
This strategy blew up spectacularly in the seller’s face. And for the life of me, I have no idea how he or she could have thought it was a sound, logical strategy.
“I’ve included a clause here that essentially says before closing, we’ll amend the purchase price to reflect a reduction of 2.5%+HST. I’m throwing in my commission.”
Can this clause be included in an Agreement of Purchase & Sale?
Can the buyer agent insist it’s included?
This is a term of an offer, and like any other term of an offer, the seller can reject it.
I choose to reject this term, or rather advise my sellers to reject it, because it clearly seeks to circumvent Canada Revenue Agency guidelines.
I had eight offers on a property a while back, and a commercial agent from Sudbury was representing one of the buyers. He was a part-time lawyer, part-time business owner, and part-time commercial agent. Yep. That’s who you want representing you on the purchase of your largest asset…
The agent included a clause to this effect, and said, “I’m doing this for my buyer because he’s a good guy, I don’t need to be paid,” etc.
That was really nice and all, but I wasn’t going to advise my seller to put himself at risk, nor was I going to risk my real estate license, and the good standing of my brokerage.
When I told the agent that we wouldn’t consider his offer as it was, because of this clause, he said, “Well I’ve done it before!”
I simply said, “Not with my brokerage, you haven’t.”
Any agent, buyer, or seller can do as he or she sees fit. Those that want to break the rules, can, and will. Those that recognize the value of good standing, won’t.
It helped that this offer was well under asking, among seven competing offers, for a house that sold 15% over asking. But as I said before, that’s always how the “smart” offers play out.
Well, that was a long post, folks!
Brevity has never been my strong suit.
I hope this was informative, and keep in mind – I don’t write the rules. I strictly try to play by them.
As a consumer, you’re free to conduct yourself however you’d like, just like some of the folks from the stories above.
And all agents are to act in accordance with the Real Estate & Business Broker’s Act, and the REBBA Code of Ethics.
It’s been 3 1/2 years since I first blogged about this topic, which on its own, should tell you just how long it takes for some developers to put a shovel in the ground!
The house next door to my mother’s is on a strange “L-shaped” lot, whereby a small, irregular piece of dirt behind her back fence belongs to the house next door.
Back in 2014, I wrote about my discussion with the developer, and how much he wanted for the land.
But today, the newly-constructed houses on the lot are about 70% complete, so I wanted to show you the land in question and get your opinions…
How Do You Value Empty Land? | www.torontorealtyblog.com by David Fleming - YouTube
So what do you think?
Are you enthralled by the opportunity to clear-cut that small piece of land, even it out, rake in a load of topsoil, throw down some sod, and give it a fresh look?
Or does it look like good place to bury a body?
My mother’s backyard is about 29-30 feet deep (from the back deck), and that piece of land behind her is 30-feet wide, by 29-feet deep (I said “30” in the video, but I was rounding up). Wouldn’t it be nice to double the size of her backyard?
Back in 2014, I explained that the developer had acquired the 45 x 139 foot piece of land (which has a 75-foot width at the back, due to the 30 x 29 foot square attached, forming the L-shape) for $425,000.
Apples-to-apples, simply looking at the cost of that square footage, in the context of the acquisition of the entire lot, the piece of land in question would be “worth” $51,895.50.
But that was four years ago!
Did I miss my chance?
Was I crazy to spit in the face of that paltry $50K for a piece of dirt?
Now how about this: if these new houses sell for $800,000 each, then does the price of that piece of land rise significantly?
Or what about the other side of the coin; what if the buyer of that house, probably making a 10% down payment, sees little to no value in an odd piece of land, annexed to his or her backyard. What if that buyer would relish the opportunity to add $10,000, $20,000, or $30,00 in cash?
We could argue this any number of ways.
But four years after the original post, and now having seen the piece of land in question, I’m eager to get your valuations.
Because the developer has played his hand – he wants this piece gone.
He’s asking my mother about it every day, and does not want to seem to go to market with these two new homes, and that L-shaped backyard…
Let’s take a little break from residential real estate, just for a day.
Although to be fair, residential real estate in the downtown core and commercial/office space are joined at the hip.
As more and more businesses move downtown, so too will the people that they employ.
Would it surprise you to know that commercial office space vacancy is near an all-time low? It shouldn’t…
Do you remember something called…………the stump?
And perhaps you will too, with just a little reminder.
But let me flush this quiz out a little longer.
Which downtown Toronto office building would you say is the most noteable?
Is it Scotia Plaza? The iconic and unmistakeable maroon tower that sold for a well-publicized $1.27 Billion in 2012?
Is it BCE Place, now “Brookfield Place,” which gives us both the Bay Wellington Tower as well as the better-known TD Canada Trust Tower, with the “TD” logo adorning the top of the building in bright green?
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the new(er) Bay Adelaide Centre, which is probably the newest, shiniest, and brightest (both in literal and metaphorical terms) downtown Toronto office tower.
Well, if you knew where I was going with “the stump,” then you knew that my answer to the question above has already been answered.
As red as Scotia Tower is, and as tall and overbearing as TD Tower is, I have to think that the Bay Adelaide Centre is the most noteable office structure at the moment, and perhaps that’s because it’s actually two towers (like TD), and there is a third on the horizon.
Maybe it’s because “Suits” was filmed in there!
Or because of the podium-style lobby, with sleek glass, and a very large extended sidewalk on the northeast corner of Bay & Adelaide that is somewhat reminiscent of a Manhattan-style office setup. All that’s missing is a slew of one-way street, and yellow taxi cabs.
If you’re over the age of 40, I’m sure you can recall “the stump” that sat on the current site of the Bay Adelaide Centre for over a decade.
For those that don’t know, there were plans for an office tower on the current site of the Bay Adelaide Centre back in the late 80’s, and into the early 90’s, but then a massive recession hit, and having constructed underground parking already, the only above-grade structure completed was this:
(Photo from Wikipedia)
That “stump” remained intact for nearly 15 years.
I actually recall a Globe & Mail article from before construction started on the Bay Adelaide Centre…
That was an incredible find, if I may say so. There’s nothing quite like digging through a trillion web pages on Google.
Here’s another description of the stump, this one from Wikipedia:
Construction began in 1990, but the developers soon ran into problems. The economy went into recession and office vacancy rates in Toronto rose to 20%. Construction was halted, and in 1993, with over $500 million already invested, the project was permanently put on hold. All that was completed was the underground parking garage and several storeys of the concrete service shaft that stood from 1991 onwards, as a monument to the failed project in downtown Toronto. The stump of the service shaft was known to security and the locals as “the bunker” or simply “the stump”. The parking garage was in operation, and the stump itself was used as a surface on which to mount advertisements.
Circle back to the Globe & Mail article from 2006, and note that the downtown office vacancy rate was 6.8%.
And what are vacancy rates today, you ask?
How about 2.4%.
Wow! 2.4%! That’s………..double the vacancy rate in the rental market!
Kidding, kidding. Let’s not go to the rental market today, we’re liable to be here all night.
One of the websites I frequent in order to keep on top of news in commercial real estate (since it’s not like the Globe & Mail and Toronto Star are doing weekly round-ups about office space) is a site called The Real Estate News Exchange, or RENX.
Today, they provided the following about the downtown Toronto office market:
With two major office projects which will deliver more than two million square feet of space to the market, Cadillac Fairview CEO John Sullivan says his company is “all-in” for downtown Toronto.
“We’re excited,” he told RENX in an interview Wednesday. “We’ve got two very large developments going on in downtown Toronto and we’ve got 10 million square feet here already. So we’re all-in for Toronto.”
Sullivan was speaking just a few hours after announcing CF’s latest downtown development, a 46-storey office tower at 160 Front Street West in conjunction with Investment Management Corporation of Ontario. When shovels go into the ground in January, it will be Cadillac Fairview’s second major office tower to begin construction in just over a year.
CF is already building the 33-storey 16 York just a few city blocks away.
The $800-million Front St. tower includes 1.2 million square feet of office space, while 16 York contains about 878,000 square feet. It was projected to cost about $479 million.
“We’re excited about this project, we’re excited about 16 York and looking forward to a successful lease-up of both,” Sullivan said.
The most recent figures peg Toronto’s downtown office availability rate at a very tight 2.4 per cent (via Cushman & Wakefield). Any existing significant office projects which will be delivered prior to 2020 are already up to 90 per cent preleased, leading most observers to predict at least two more years of limited availability.
Sullivan said the ongoing restriction in the downtown Toronto market dictated the timing of 16 York and 160 Front St., which are both premium projects. Plans for the Front St. tower were actually filed with the city about four years ago, so CF faced a decision back in 2016 on which project to proceed with first.
“At that moment in time, we had both projects ready to go and we decided to go ahead with 16 York. If you recall, we went ahead without any preleasing,” Sullivan said. “16 York is the smaller of the two projects, so that was a conscious decision.
“We are a year into it right now and if you go by the site I think we are on the third floor right now, coming out of the ground. We’ve had an enormous amount of interest and a lot of success in preleasing there.”
First National Financial will be one of the anchors at 16 York, he said, and one other key tenant is also signed, though Sullivan said that deal remains confidential.
“We have a few other ones that are about to be signed, such that we will be well in excess of half leased in a short period of time,” he said. “(Leasing) has gone extremely well. We’re not even going to be finished this building until 2020. And the new one we’re not going to finish until 2022.”
At 160 Front, meanwhile, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan was announced as the first anchor tenant. The OTPP, which also owns CF, will take nine floors of the tower, or about 21 per cent of the total office space, Sullivan said.
Although there are no other firm commitments at this point, but Sullivan said there has been strong interest in the project during its planning stages.
“It would be safe to say we’ve had discussions with a number of larger tenants. At this stage we are not interested in renting one floor, we’re looking at a much larger space,” he explained. “There is lots of interest. To be frank a number of them were waiting to see if we were going ahead with it. Now that we are, I think those discussions will accelerate.”
He said there are several major factors driving the Toronto office boom, and none of his “top three” show any signs of slowing down.
“One I would call the flight from the suburbs back downtown. There’s a number of office tenants that either left downtown and went to the suburbs that are coming back, (or) in some instances office tenants that have always been in the suburbs that feel now they have to be located somewhere in the downtown area,” Sullivan explained.
“You also have the technology space. An enormous amount of growth. You have tenants that start out with one floor and five years later they are 10 floors. You have a massive amount of growth in that space and they all want to be downtown.
“Finally, the one which has been really a bellwether for Toronto over the years is the financial services sector. They continue to grow.
“So when you put those three together alone, I think they are responsible for a large part of the strong market which you see today.”
With the addition of 160 Front, the 72-million square foot Toronto office market will see a significant addition of new, premium space from 2020-2023.
The delivery times for these two towers are similar to another massive downtown project, the 81 Bay CIBC Square development by Ivanhoe Cambridge. That will deliver 1.5-million square feet into the downtown with the completion of the first 49-storey tower in 2020, and a second, 1.4-million square foot tower is slated for delivery in 2023.
Like those competing towers, both CF buildings are being constructed to meet LEED Platinum and WELL certification requirements. Sullivan trumpeted Cadillac Fairview’s ongoing sustainability and wellness programs and commitments throughout its portfolio, and said both projects will echo that philosophy.
Although the exterior of 160 Front might be very similar to the design presented in plans filed four years ago at city hall, the interior will be anything but.
“Technologically every year that goes by we improve that. So as we sit here today the technology that will be implemented at this project will be state of the art,” Sullivan said.
“We’re leaders in that (sustainability) space and we’ve also been a leader in our Green at Work program, which is the whole sustainability side, which kind of overlaps both WELL and LEED. This (building) will be a key part of that program.”
There’s a lot to discuss after reading the article above, but one thing really jumps out at me.
In the 2006 Globe & Mail article, it was noted that the three additional office towers being built would “push the vacancy rate up to 10.6%” from a 3.9% projected rate in 2008, but an actual 6.8% rate in 2006.
The RENX article says the following:
Any existing significant office projects which will be delivered prior to 2020 are already up to 90 per cent preleased, leading most observers to predict at least two more years of limited availability.
Well no kidding.
It’s hard to add vacant units to the marketplace when they’re already pre-leased!
When condominiums are completed, they’re quite often rented out. Investors who purchased units in pre-construction will lease the unit out during occupancy and registration, which can sometimes take up to two years. So when most new downtown condominiums are completed, we often see 20%-30% of the units come up for lease.
I never thought I’d say this, but it seems as though the lease market for downtown office space is perilously tight, as is the lease market for residential.
Now what does this say for the future of the downtown condo market?
When I was on the Toronto Life panel two weeks ago, somebody in the audience asked about the future of condo prices, “If more and more businesses are moving out of the city, and if ‘working-from-home’ becomes a go-to employment model.”
Perhaps the question should have been the exact opposite.
With big-tech on the rise in Toronto, Google Sidewalk Labs on the horizon, and ten million square feet of new office space planned for the downtown core in the next decade, won’t the employees who work for these firms need some place to live?
I’ve written several blogs about these real estate marketing vehicles over the past few years, and today I want to go back to the idea.
Let me show you two very different approaches to using video, and characters, to showcase the features of a home – and hopefully sell it!
As I said, I’ve written a lot about real estate “lifestyle” videos in the past.
My favourite is still the West Hollywood listing from back in 2015 that showed an early-50’s male leaving the house in a sports car, leaving his wife at home to have pillow-fights with her friends. I just felt it perfectly captured the cliché of the man who would want to buy the home, and the fantasies he has – realistic or not.
I don’t want to spoil the “reveal” in either, so let me just get right into them.
What?? The Floss!! - YouTube
Well? Did you like it?
I did. A lot!
Maybe it’s because I’m a huge A-Ha fan. I don’t think Norwegian synth-pop really gets the respect it deserves.
But also because it “got me.” I had no idea what was about to happen as that garage door rolled up, but I knew it was going to be good!
The video goes on way too long, and the gimmick loses its effectiveness.
But as for whether or not this would really work in selling the home, I’m not sure.
It’s funny, fun to watch, and makes you laugh. Is that really what you want when selling your home – somebody laughing at a person inside it?
I think there’s a difference between “creativity” and “effectiveness,” and that’s really the key with real estate lifestyle videos, and/or those that are less on the “lifestyle” side, and more on the humourous or innovative side.
Recall the now-infamous video from 2017 that showed a clumsy and somewhat sexualized housewife cooking and making drinks for her husband and his d-bag friends, who drank wine and smoked cigars on the terrace. The video has long-since been taken down, so you’ll just have to dive deep into your memory bank.
There was so much uproar over that video, and at the time, I went on record defending the agent.
I still do, and still would.
Because it worked!
I’m not going to invade anybody’s privacy here, but let’s just say that the buyer was somebody who was attracted via the video, and who might be labelled as fitting into the target demographic.
The video worked. It got the property sold.
But does a Realtor showing the same dance move in each room of a house with 80’s synth-pop playing in the background really sell the house?
You decide whether humour and innovation is the “best” way to showcase a home.
Now here is a completely different approach to selling a home.
I’m not going to spoil this one for you, so watch it.
When I say “completely different,” honestly, you have no idea what this woman is about to say. And watch to the end, trust me.
Real Estate Video Marketing - Great Example - YouTube
What do you think?
How would you describe this video in one word?
Weird. Yes, that’s fair. It’s a bid odd.
But I think the word I came up with was “dark.”
Maybe “morbid,” but as the character told us, “We really don’t need to go into it.”
The video started well: “My name’s Elise.”
Great, nice to meet you, Elise!
It’s nice to make a personal connection to the home. So few people do that these days.
Meeting the homeowner in a video has some value, and who better to show off the home’s features?
But then the video gets weird.
“I can still remember how hot it was on March 24th, 2009…..”
When she said, “….how hot it was on March 24th, 2009,” I got this flashback from Linda Connor in Terminator 2:
(NSFW – contains one bad word…)
T2 August 27th, 1997 | www.torontorealtyblog.com - YouTube
Perhaps I was overly-obsessed with that movie in the mid-1990’s, and the scene is just stuck in my brain.
But either way, I was immediately reminded of this scene. The date, plus the reference to the temperature, and voila!
And then came this:
“….except I won’t be growing old.”
And suddenly you kind of felt where this was going.
You thought it can’t be going in that direction, and you hope this is a satire, but it’s not.
Then came the bombshell:
“….unless, of course, they find some miracle cure in the next ten years for what I’ve been diagnosed with.”
And this makes me want to buy this house…………why?
Sad, I know.
But was this the right avenue?
I just don’t understand the logic behind it.
“Pretty soon, I won’t be able to ride anymore. Today’s actually the first time I’ve ridden in months.”
Who is the target buyer for this property, via this video?
Is a buyer going to feel bad for the woman, and want to buy her home?
Or is the reference to “memories” suggesting that a buyer can pick up where this woman left off?
Is the video intending to target a similar active, outdoorsy, 30-something woman with a love of horses, who can essentially “take-over” the hopes and dreams that essentially remain with the home?
I want to put a positive spin on this so badly. But I just don’t think this really “works.”
Tell me if you think differently.
But since we discussed the concept of “stigma” in Monday’s blog, and we know that certain cultures in Toronto won’t go anywhere near a property where there’s been a death, I wonder how advertising that the current owner of the property is, in present tense dy-ing, would there be a buyer pool for the home?
Perhaps there’s a different market, and a different attitude toward impending death in Australia.
But I’m just so confused as to why somebody thought this was the best way to attract buyers to a property.
The Internet is full of good and bad advertising, in every industry.
If you’ve seen something out there in the real estate game that you think is worth watching, please paste the link below.
As an encore, I’ll provide you with one of my favourite videos from years’ past – San Diego’s rapping Realtor, who can’t match the audio to his lips, and basically stops trying to rhyme halfway through:
RAP Real Estate Agent San Diego theHomeMap.com - YouTube
Hotter than the bright-red cherry on a blunt, or the flame being sucked into the stem of a hand-blown, glass bong.
Last week, the Ontario Court of Appeals overturned a court ruling regarding a marijuana grow-op, and the rule of caveat emptor, or “buyer beware.”
Is this a sign of things to come?
I took Latin in high school. Did you?
Latin was described as a “dead language” because nobody spoke it. But I think I learned more about the English language by taking Latin, than I did in any other course outside of, well, English.
Latin is everywhere.
It’s in everything we say.
And in Grade 11, one of the projects was to pick an industry or occupation, and research words and phrases associated with that industry, that are either rooted in Latin, or Latin themselves.
I chose the law, since my father was a lawyer, and I had access to his thousand-some-odd criminal code books, and case summaries.
I can actually remember the five Latin phrases that I used in my project, circa 1996. I know that’s weird, but so am I. That, and I have an insane memory…
And last but not least, caveat emptor.
Caveat emptor translates directly as “let the buyer beware.” Many people leave out the “let the,” but without the first two words, it doesn’t sound quite like the direct warning, for which it is intended.
Caveat emptor has always held true in the courts, specifically when it comes to real estate matters.
But a case from June of 2017 challenged all of that, when a judge sided with the buyer in a lawsuit regarding the non-disclosure of a marijuana grow-op.
Jonathan Beatty and Jacqueline Beatty sold 39 Stainforth Drive to Zhong Wei on May 15, 2016.
Re/Max Premier Inc. held a $30,000 deposit in trust for the sale.
After the Agreement of Purchase & Sale (APS) was made and before closing, the Purchaser learned that in 2004 the Property was used to grow marijuana. The Purchaser’s lawyer notified the Sellers’ lawyer of this discovery by letter dated July 8, 2016 which attached a letter dated June 27, 2016 from Toronto Police Service that confirmed that the Property was used to produce marijuana and that the Police attended at the Property in 2004 and seized 265 marijuana plants.
The Purchaser’s lawyer’s letter advised the Sellers’ lawyer that the Purchaser is not willing to complete the transaction. The Purchaser demanded a return of his deposit. The Sellers refused to agree to termination of the APS and they brought their application against the Purchaser for remedies resulting from the refusal of the Purchasers to complete the sale and purchase transaction.
In order to mitigate their damages, the Sellers sold the Property to another purchaser. The purchase price was $86,100 lower than the purchase price under the APS.
Schedule A includes the following representation and warranty:
The Seller represents and warrants that during the time the Seller has owned the property, the use of the property and the buildings and structures thereon has not been for the growth or manufacture of any illegal substances, and that to the best of the Seller’s knowledge and belief, the use of the property and the buildings and structures thereon has never been for the growth or manufacture of illegal substances. This warranty shall survive and not merge on the completion of this transaction.
The Sellers applied for declarations that:
a. The APS is a firm and binding contract;
b. The Purchaser has breached the APS;
c. The Deposit has been forfeited to the Sellers;
d. The Purchaser is liable to the Sellers for damages for breaching the APS.
The Purchaser applied for declarations that:
a. The Purchaser is not required to complete the transaction contemplated by the APS;
b. Alternatively, if the Purchaser is required to do so, that the purchase price be adjusted to reflect a fair market value which takes into account that the Property was previously used for a marijuana grow operation;
c. The Sellers have breached the APS;
d. The Sellers are liable to the Purchaser for all damages suffered by the Purchaser from the Sellers’ breach of the APS and an order directing a reference for determination of such damages or, alternatively, damages in the amount of $250,000;
e. The Purchaser is entitled to the return of the Deposit;
f. The Purchaser is entitled to termination of the APS resulting from the misrepresentations of the Agent and that the Agent is liable for the damages suffered by the Purchaser resulting from such misrepresentations.
That’s the gist of it, but feel free to click on the link and read the whole case. It’s not long, and it’s in plain (enough) language.
Ultimately, the judge sided with the buyer in the case, which I think surprised a lot of legal experts.
Caveat emptor has always applied, but this was the first challenge we had seen specifically as it pertains to marijuana grow-op clauses.
The judge’s analysis is quite lengthy, but let me highlight a few important paragraphs:
In my view, however, there is an important distinction between a warranty and a representation when one considers a contractual provision such as this. A warranty is a contractual promise, usually made in the context of a sale, that the thing being sold has some particular quality. In respect of the Illegal Substances Clause, the qualifying words mean that there is no contractual promise, or warranty, that the Property has never been used for the growth of illegal substances. I accept the Sellers’ submission that, without clear language such as the words “on completion”, or “on closing”, to show that the parties intended that the content of the warranty could change with changing circumstances after the date of the APS when the warranty was given, the content of the warranty does not change. The warranty that survived completion of the transaction was the warranty that was given on the date of the APS.
The statement in the Illegal Substances Clause is, however, also a representation. The representation is that, to the best of the Sellers’ knowledge and belief, the use of the Property has never been for the growth or manufacture of illegal substances. In my view, this representation is a statement of a present fact, to the best of the Sellers’ knowledge and belief, that was intended to be relied upon when made and one upon which the Purchaser was entitled to continue to rely, at least until closing, while the APS was an executory contract.
Had the Sellers, themselves, discovered after the date of the APS and before closing that the Property had been used to grow marijuana, they would have been required to disclose to the Purchaser that their representation, made to the best of their knowledge and belief when the APS was made, was not true. The Purchaser’s rights are not affected by the fact that he was the one who discovered this information and communicated it to the Sellers. Upon acquiring knowledge that the Property had been used to grow marijuana, the Sellers could no longer honestly give the representation in the Illegal Substances Clause.
The fact that when the Property was sold on the open market, with full disclosure of the information that it had been used for the growth of marijuana, the purchase price was almost $87,000 less than the purchase price that the Purchaser had agreed to in the APS, supports my conclusion that the Sellers’ representation was substantial and material.
I therefore conclude that the Purchaser is entitled to the remedy of rescission in respect of the APS and to treat it as void ab initio. The Purchaser is entitled to the return of the Deposit, and is not liable to the Sellers for damages for breach of the APS.
I’m not a lawyer, but to me, this whole thing is crazy.
Bottom line – the sellers did not know that the property was used as a marijuana grow-op.
They purchased in 2009, and the grow-up pre-dated their purchase.
They signed a clause that read “….to the best of their knowledge.”
And in the end, the Ontario Court of Appeals agreed.
Three major points were discussed in the appeal, below:
The application judge’s differentiation of the “representation” from the “warranty” in the Clause. When he considered the legal effect of the Clause, the application judge applied different analytical approaches to the same contractual term: he interpreted the “warranty” language as a term of the contract, while he looked at the “representation” language through the lens of the principles concerning pre-contractual representations. That approach contained several errors: It failed to consider the inter-related nature of the “representation” and the “warranty” in this particular contract. It failed to address the real interpretive issue of what the representation in the Clause actually meant. It was problematic to view the “representation” in the Clause as a pre-contractual or collateral representation. Finally, to treat the “representation” contained in the Clause as something other than a term of the contract would ignore the language of the entire agreement clause in the APS. Instead, the application judge should have interpreted the Clause as a term of the parties’ contract in accordance with the standard rules of contractual interpretation.
The application judge’s reliance on a duty to disclose to inform his interpretation of the Clause. The application judge erred in his reasoning, as he posited that if the Sellers had discovered after the execution of the APS, that the property had been used as a marijuana grow-op before they acquired it, their silence — or failure to disclose such information to the Purchaser — could found an action for misrepresentation. From this, he concluded that the Purchaser’s rights are not affected by the fact that he was the one who discovered this information and communicated it to the Sellers. This reasoning is not persuasive, as the representation and warranty the Sellers gave about the use of the premises was limited, not absolute. It was a representation or warranty “to the best of [their] knowledge and belief”. The Purchaser’s discovery that a previous owner of the house had used it for a grow-op was a complete surprise to the Sellers. While liability may attach where a vendor knew about a major latent defect but concealed the information from the purchaser, these are not the facts of the present case. Therefore, the application judge improperly applied principles concerning a vendor’s concealment of material information about the condition of a property to a situation where no such concealment had occurred.
The meaning of the Illegal Substances Clause: The Sellers’ representation and warranty that the use of the property had never been for the growth or manufacture of illegal substances was limited to their knowledge and belief as it existed when they executed the APS. This conclusion is reached for three reasons: (1) The plain language used in the clause; (2) The absence of any language in the Clause that speaks of the Sellers’ knowledge and belief at the date of closing, in contrast to the use of such language in other provisions of the APS; and (3) The effect of the “survives closing” language at the end of the Clause does nothing more than clarify that whatever the content of the representation or warranty given by the Sellers, it did not merge with the deed on closing. The representation and warranty survived closing to offer a basis for a post-closing action of breach. However, that language does not assist in ascertaining the content or meaning of the representation or warranty given.
The sellers were permitted to keep the $30,000 deposit.
And now they have an action against the buyer for the balance of the loss on the resale (they sold for $86,100 less), as well as all court costs, which they will likely win.
So in the end, we’ve come full circle, back to where we started: caveat emptor.
And what does this mean for the future of houses sold which had formerly been marijuana grow-ops? Especially when you consider that it will be legal to grow marijuana in Canada later this year?
I’d hate to be cynical, but I think it means more ligitation! More confusion, more dissatisfaction, and more grey area.
If the lawyers want to weigh in on this one, I’m all ears…
There’s no real theme with this month’s edition of MLS Musings; just a lot of really weird, awkward, curious, laughable, pathetic, lazy, and incorrect photos and descriptions that I, along with my Merry Musing Mob, have put together over the last couple of weeks.
Want to be a part of said Mob?
If you see something ridiculous on MLS, please send it my way. I assure you – you won’t be alone in that endeavour…
Before I get into the musings, can I just show you something?
It’s a complicated world we live in out there, in 2018.
Thursday night’s election will anger some, and satisfy others, while all the while, the world gets more complex by the day.
Quite often, I find myself yearning for a much simpler time.
A time when………………well, when men wore belted sweaters
Yes, belted sweaters.
Sweaters with built-in belts.
All different kinds of them too.
Different colours, different textures, different patterns, and different designs.
Some with long-sleeves, some with short-sleeves. Some crew-cut, and some v-neck.
I yearn for the time when men wore belted-sweaters…
…and, a time when belted-sweaters were so en vogue, that they commanded their own publication:
Tough act to follow, but I’ll try…
First, how about a couple of really bad photo arrays on MLS?
Like this first one, which satisfies all the tenets of a classic photo array disaster:
1) The feature photo is of nothing special.
2) Many of the photos are sideways.
3) The sideways photos are both 90-degrees left, as well as 90-degrees right.
4) At least one photo of a room must be of 92% floor.
5) A classic shot of the laundry machines, preferably sideways.
6) And a photo of the kitchen looking tiny, right next to one actually making it look big.
Have a look:
This array isn’t nearly as good. And by good, I mean bad.
The feature photo is horizontal, there are 2/8 photos are of the kitchen, essentially from the same spot, the colour in 4/8 of the photos makes it look like a different camera was used, and last but not least, and certainly expected – more upside-down photos:
a) The listing agent has left the photos this way for three weeks.
b) The seller hasn’t noticed.
One of the fields on the “MLS Data Form” refers to photos.
There are three options:
1) Upload your own photo(s)
2) Use photo from library.
3) No photo for this listing.
If you’re wondering why anybody would choose option #3, we think alike, but that’s a topic for another day.
If you’re wondering what the “library” is, I assure you, inquiring minds want to know.
MLS apparently has a library of sites throughout the city. A stockpile, of stock images.
Which might explain why the following image appears for 560 King Street:
But hey, at least they got the CN Tower in the background!
What’s more Toronto than that, right?
The following needs no explanation:
Wait, actually, it does.
WHY is there a bathtub filled with dirt in the backyard of this house for sale?
Is this a selling feature?
Is this something I don’t know about that people are into today? Like doing things socially on weekends, taking photos of your lunch and putting it on social media, or streaming music rather than still downloading MP3’s?
Or was somebody just too lazy to take the tub to the dump, and instead, filled it with dirt to make it a planter?
I think I might get some feedback on this one…
Nothing creepy in this photo.
Unless we take the photo from the other side of the room….
….wait, I take it back…
….it’s creepy “AF,” as the kids say…
That is how you want to advertise your home for sale.
I’m no meteorologist, but I think it was windy when this photo was taken:
I’m no home inspector, but I think, this might not be the proper use of a downspout:
I’m no landscaper, but I think this grass is a bit synthetic:
I’m no software engineer, but I think this lawn might be photo-shopped…
I’m no anthropology instructor, but I think the owners of this home might be Italian or Portuguese…
I’m no fall-down-drunk, but I think whoever took this photo was laying on the floor:
And last, but certainly not least, I don’t have my glasses on, so please tell me if you see anything odd here:
Need a closer look?
Okay, let’s take another step closer…
A living room toilet!
If only we could all be so lucky!
Hey, I know there’s clearly a story behind it. I’m not laughing at the person who lived in this house, I’m laughing with them.
My Dad always used to say, “You have to be able to laugh at yourself.” And I’ve made a living with self-deprecating humour on my blog.
So when you see something awkward, like a toilet in a living room, in a house for sale, you’re not a bad guy or gal for having a chuckle.