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I asked ChatGPT for Toronto real estate advice and this is what I got

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With rising inflation, competitive bidding wars, and sky-high prices, navigating Toronto’s housing market as a first time buyer can be a headache.

While it’s always a good idea to consult real estate agents and financial advisors before making the big move, I decided to ask an unconventional source for real estate advice.

ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a chatbot launched by San Francisco-based OpenAI in November 2022.

The chatbot can be used for natural language processing tasks such as text generation and language translation. It also has the ability to generate human-like text responses and interacts with you in a “conversational way.”

Known for its detailed responses across many areas of knowledge, ChatGPT has gained lots of attention and is frequently unavailable for use due to its high demand.

The dialogue format makes it possible for the chatbot to answer follow-up questions, admit its own mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and even reject inappropriate requests.

I previously asked ChatGPT to name some of the best and worst things about Toronto, and decided to switch gears and get some real estate advice this time around.

ChatGPT only has access to information up to 2021, so it’s worth noting that the real estate advice it gives might not be truly reflective of current and ongoing market trends.

The first question I asked the chatbot was if now was a good time to buy a home in Toronto.

chat gpt open aiChatGPT said the answer to this question depends on your individual circumstances, as the market is constantly subject to fluctuations. The chatbot recommended speaking to a real estate agent and a financial advisor before making a final decision.

Next, I posed the question, “where in Toronto is a good place to buy a home?”

chat gpt open aiChatGPT highlighted several neighbourhoods in the city, namely The Annex, The Beaches, Leaside, Rosedale and Leslieville. The chatbot said these communities are known for being family-friendly, amenity-rich, and charming.

Next I got down to the nitty-gritty and asked, “how can you afford a home in Toronto?”

chat gpt open aiChatGPT recommended several ways to afford a home in Toronto, which included saving for a down payment, considering a co-signer, researching government programs, as well as considering alternative options.

Then, I asked the highly-debated question of “is it better to rent or buy a home in Toronto?”

chat gpt open aiChatGPT said the answer to this question depends on your individual circumstances. To help with your decision, it recommended considering several factors including affordability, flexibility, cost of living, investment, and emotional/social aspects.

Lastly, I asked the chatbot how Toronto’s real estate market compares to other cities in North America.

chat gpt open aiChatGPT said that Toronto’s real estate market is considered one of the most active, expensive, and competitive in the continent. It also noted the market’s supply and demand, steady growth, and relevant taxes.

Above all else, ChatGPT recommended consulting a real estate agent and/or financial advisor before making any final decisions.

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Canada’s Best Cities for Renters in 2024: A Comprehensive Analysis

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In the quest to find cities where renters can enjoy the best of all worlds, a recent study analyzed 24 metrics across three key categories—Housing & Economy, Quality of Life, and Community. The study ranked the 100 largest cities in Canada to determine which ones offer the most to their renters.

Here are the top 10 cities that emerged as the best for renters in 2024:

St. John’s, NL

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, stand out as the top city for renters in Canada for 2024. Known for its vibrant cultural scene, stunning natural beauty, and welcoming community, St. John’s offers an exceptional quality of life. The city boasts affordable housing, a robust economy, and low unemployment rates, making it an attractive option for those seeking a balanced and enriching living experience. Its rich history, picturesque harbour, and dynamic arts scene further enhance its appeal, ensuring that renters can enjoy both comfort and excitement in this charming coastal city.

 

Sherbrooke, QC

Sherbrooke, Quebec, emerges as a leading city for renters in Canada for 2024, offering a blend of affordability and quality of life. Nestled in the heart of the Eastern Townships, Sherbrooke is known for its picturesque landscapes, vibrant cultural scene, and strong community spirit. The city provides affordable rental options, low living costs, and a thriving local economy, making it an ideal destination for those seeking both comfort and economic stability. With its rich history, numerous parks, and dynamic arts and education sectors, Sherbrooke presents an inviting environment for renters looking for a well-rounded lifestyle.

 

Québec City, QC

Québec City, the capital of Quebec, stands out as a premier destination for renters in Canada for 2024. Known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural heritage, this city offers an exceptional quality of life. Renters benefit from affordable housing, excellent public services, and a robust economy. The city’s charming streets, historic sites, and diverse culinary scene provide a unique living experience. With top-notch education institutions, numerous parks, and a strong sense of community, Québec City is an ideal choice for those seeking a dynamic and fulfilling lifestyle.

Trois-Rivières, QC

Trois-Rivières, nestled between Montreal and Quebec City, emerges as a top choice for renters in Canada. This historic city, known for its picturesque riverside views and rich cultural scene, offers an appealing blend of affordability and quality of life. Renters in Trois-Rivières enjoy reasonable housing costs, a low unemployment rate, and a vibrant community atmosphere. The city’s well-preserved historic sites, bustling arts community, and excellent educational institutions make it an attractive destination for those seeking a balanced and enriching lifestyle.

Saguenay, QC

Saguenay, located in the stunning Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec, is a prime destination for renters seeking affordable living amidst breathtaking natural beauty. Known for its picturesque fjords and vibrant cultural scene, Saguenay offers residents a high quality of life with lower housing costs compared to major urban centers. The city boasts a strong sense of community, excellent recreational opportunities, and a growing economy. For those looking to combine affordability with a rich cultural and natural environment, Saguenay stands out as an ideal choice.

Granby, QC

Granby, nestled in the heart of Quebec’s Eastern Townships, offers renters a delightful blend of small-town charm and ample opportunities. Known for its beautiful parks, vibrant cultural scene, and family-friendly environment, Granby provides an exceptional quality of life. The city’s affordable housing market and strong sense of community make it an attractive option for those seeking a peaceful yet dynamic place to live. With its renowned zoo, bustling downtown, and numerous outdoor activities, Granby is a hidden gem that caters to a diverse range of lifestyles.

Fredericton, NB

Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick, offers renters a harmonious blend of historical charm and modern amenities. Known for its vibrant arts scene, beautiful riverfront, and welcoming community, Fredericton provides an excellent quality of life. The city boasts affordable housing options, scenic parks, and a strong educational presence with institutions like the University of New Brunswick. Its rich cultural heritage, coupled with a thriving local economy, makes Fredericton an attractive destination for those seeking a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.

Saint John, NB

Saint John, New Brunswick’s largest city, is a coastal gem known for its stunning waterfront and rich heritage. Nestled on the Bay of Fundy, it offers renters an affordable cost of living with a unique blend of historic architecture and modern conveniences. The city’s vibrant uptown area is bustling with shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, while its scenic parks and outdoor spaces provide ample opportunities for recreation. Saint John’s strong sense of community and economic growth make it an inviting place for those looking to enjoy both urban and natural beauty.

 

Saint-Hyacinthe, QC

Saint-Hyacinthe, located in the Montérégie region of Quebec, is a vibrant city known for its strong agricultural roots and innovative spirit. Often referred to as the “Agricultural Technopolis,” it is home to numerous research centers and educational institutions. Renters in Saint-Hyacinthe benefit from a high quality of life with access to excellent local amenities, including parks, cultural events, and a thriving local food scene. The city’s affordable housing and close-knit community atmosphere make it an attractive option for those seeking a balanced and enriching lifestyle.

Lévis, QC

Lévis, located on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Quebec City, offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern conveniences. Known for its picturesque views and well-preserved heritage sites, Lévis is a city where history meets contemporary living. Residents enjoy a high quality of life with excellent public services, green spaces, and cultural activities. The city’s affordable housing options and strong sense of community make it a desirable place for renters looking for both tranquility and easy access to urban amenities.

This category looked at factors such as average rent, housing costs, rental availability, and unemployment rates. Québec stood out with 10 cities ranking at the top, demonstrating strong economic stability and affordable housing options, which are critical for renters looking for cost-effective living conditions.

Québec again led the pack in this category, with five cities in the top 10. Ontario followed closely with three cities. British Columbia excelled in walkability, with four cities achieving the highest walk scores, while Caledon topped the list for its extensive green spaces. These factors contribute significantly to the overall quality of life, making these cities attractive for renters.

Victoria, BC, emerged as the leader in this category due to its rich array of restaurants, museums, and educational institutions, offering a vibrant community life. St. John’s, NL, and Vancouver, BC, also ranked highly. Québec City, QC, and Lévis, QC, scored the highest in life satisfaction, reflecting a strong sense of community and well-being. Additionally, Saskatoon, SK, and Oshawa, ON, were noted for having residents with lower stress levels.

For a comprehensive view of the rankings and detailed interactive visuals, you can visit the full study by Point2Homes.

While no city can provide a perfect living experience for every renter, the cities highlighted in this study come remarkably close by excelling in key areas such as housing affordability, quality of life, and community engagement. These findings offer valuable insights for renters seeking the best places to live in Canada in 2024.

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Former B.C. Realtor has licence cancelled, $130K in penalties for role in mortgage fraud

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The provincial regulator responsible for policing B.C.’s real estate industry has ordered a former Realtor to pay $130,000 and cancelled her licence after determining that she committed a variety of professional misconduct.

Rashin Rohani surrendered her licence in December 2023, but the BC Financial Services Authority’s chief hearing officer Andrew Pendray determined that it should nevertheless be cancelled as a signal to other licensees that “repetitive participation in deceptive schemes” will result in “significant” punishment.

He also ordered her to pay a $40,000 administrative penalty and $90,000 in enforcement expenses. Pendray explained his rationale for the penalties in a sanctions decision issued on May 17. The decision was published on the BCFSA website Wednesday.

Rohani’s misconduct occurred over a period of several years, and came in two distinct flavours, according to the decision.

Pendray found she had submitted mortgage applications for five different properties that she either owned or was purchasing, providing falsified income information on each one.

Each of these applications was submitted using a person referred to in the decision as “Individual 1” as a mortgage broker. Individual 1 was not a registered mortgage broker and – by the later applications – Rohani either knew or ought to have known this was the case, according to the decision.

All of that constituted “conduct unbecoming” under B.C.’s Real Estate Services Act, Pendray concluded.

Separately, Rohani also referred six clients to Individual 1 when she knew or ought to have known he wasn’t a registered mortgage broker, and she received or anticipated receiving a referral fee from Individual 1 for doing so, according to the decision. Rohani did not disclose this financial interest in the referrals to her clients.

Pendray found all of that to constitute professional misconduct under the act.

‘Deceptive’ scheme

The penalties the chief hearing officer chose to impose for this behaviour were less severe than those sought by the BCFSA in the case, but more significant than those Rohani argued she should face.

Rohani submitted that the appropriate penalty for her conduct would be a six-month licence suspension or a $15,000 discipline penalty, plus $20,000 in enforcement expenses.

For its part, the BCFSA asked Pendray to cancel Rohani’s licence and impose a $100,000 discipline penalty plus more than $116,000 in enforcement expenses.

Pendray’s ultimate decision to cancel the licence and impose penalties and expenses totalling $130,000 reflected his assessment of the severity of Rohani’s misconduct.

Unlike other cases referenced by the parties in their submissions, Rohani’s misconduct was not limited to a single transaction involving falsified documents or a series of such transactions during a brief period of time, according to the decision.

“Rather, in this case Ms. Rohani repetitively, over the course of a number of years, elected to personally participate in a deceptive mortgage application scheme for her own benefit, and subsequently, arranged for her clients to participate in the same deceptive mortgage application scheme,” the decision reads.

Pendray further noted that, although Rohani had been licensed for “a significant period of time,” she had only completed a small handful of transactions, according to records from her brokerage.

There were just six transactions on which her brokerage recorded earnings for her between December 2015 and February 2020, according to the decision. Of those six, four were transactions that were found to have involved misconduct or conduct unbecoming.

“In sum, Ms. Rohani’s minimal participation in the real estate industry as a licensee has, for the majority of that minimal participation, involved her engaging in conduct unbecoming involving deceptive practices and professional misconduct,” the decision reads.

According to the decision, Rohani must pay the $40,000 discipline penalty within 90 days of the date it was issued.

 

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Should you wait to buy or sell your home?

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The Bank of Canada is expected to announce its key interest rate decision in less than two weeks. Last month, the bank lowered its key interest rate to 4.7 per cent, marking its first rate cut since March 2020.

CTV Morning Live asked Jason Pilon, broker of Record Pilon Group, whether now is the right time to buy or sell your home.

When it comes to the next interest rate announcement, Pilon says the bank might either lower it further, or just keep it as is.

“The best case scenario we’re seeing is obviously a quarter point. I think more just because of the job numbers that just came out, I think more people are just leading on the fact that they probably just gonna do it in September,” he said. “Either way, what we saw in June, didn’t make a big difference.”

Here are the pros of buying/ selling now:

Pilon suggests locking in the rate right now, if you don’t want to take a risk with interest rates going up in the future.

He says the environment is more predictable right now, noting that the home values are transparent, which is one of the benefits for home sellers.

“Do you want to risk looking at what that looks like down the road? Or do you want to have the comfort in knowing what your house is worth right now?” Pilon said.

And when it comes to buyers, he notes, the competition is not so fierce right now, noting that there are options to choose from.

“You’re in the driver seat right now,” he said while noting the benefits for buyers.

Here are the cons of buying/ selling now:

He says one of the cons would be locking in the rate right now, then seeing a rate cut in the future.

The competition could potentially become fierce, if the bank decides to cut the rate further more, he explained.

He notes that if that happens, the housing crisis will become even worse, as Canada is still dealing with low housing inventory.

An increase in competition would increase the prices of houses, he adds.

Selling or buying too quickly isn’t the best practice, he notes, suggesting that you should take your time and put some thought into it.

Despite all the pros and cons, Pilon says, real estate remains a good investment.

According to the latest Royal LePage House Price Survey for the second quarter of this year, the average home price in Canada is $824,300. That’s up 1.9 per cent from the same time last year, and up 1.5 per cent from the first quarter of 2024.

In the Ottawa Housing Market Report for June 2024, the average price of a home was up 2.4 per cent from this time last year to $686,535, but down 0.6 per cent from May 2024.

Experts believe many potential buyers are still hesitant of jumping into the housing market and waiting for another interest rate cut of 50 to 100 basis points.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the rush that we see in the past, because people are used to more of a conservative approach right now,” said Curtis Fillier, president of the Ottawa Real Estate Board. “I think there’s still a bit of a hold back, but I definitely do think with another rate cut, we’ll probably see a very positive fall market.”

With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Kimberly Fowler

 

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