Sustainable housing and real estate in Kitchener-Waterloo Region

April 9, 2010, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Judita Makos, Sustainability

Brownfield properties have always suffered from negative perception. They’re considered to be contaminated, difficult to deal with and fraught with delays, high costs, and red tape.

Time and familiarity is needed for this to change. The push for urban intensification in recent years, and new programs and technologies  are already making maNy stakeholders take a closer look at the development potential of brownfields.

Major projects like FILMPORT in Toronto and the Halifax Seawall redevelopment show what can be done to revitalize brownfields.

Term “brownfield” covers a wide variety of sites. According to NRTEE  (National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy)  brownfields fall into three categories;

  • Top tier about 15 to 20 per cent of brownfields . These sites’ market value far exceeds the cost of remediation, and these sites are usually redeveloped quickly.
  • Middle tier – 60 to 70 per cent . Cost of clean up and the potential value are high. These sites present a great deal of development potential, but are too expensive or risky to clean-up. This category stands to benefit most from incentives or regulatory changes that could tip the balance between cost and profit to encourage development.
  • Bottom tier – 15 to 20 per cent; these are sites where cleanup cost would far outweigh the value of the land after cleanup. These sites have few development prospects.

Well-located brownfields often have a lot of development potential. Besides being closer to the city core than any new development could possibly be, these sites are usually already served by infrastructure such as utilities and roads – saving the need to build these from scratch.  It also saves greenfield land on a city’s outskirts. In fact, it’s estimated that every brownfield redevelopment saves an area four-and-half  times larger from being developed in suburbs.

Brownfields redevelopment can also have a hugely positive impact on the neighbouring communities.  Sites tend to be in the older parts of cities. Experience has shown that redeveloping a brownfield reinvigorates  the surrounding communities, creating more economic and social activity in the area.

by Judita Makos

More information about brownfields in Ontario

April 9, 2010, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Judita Makos

FSBO or For Sale By Owner is a home put up for sale without the services of a real estate sales representative. It usually presents some unique challenges to the seller.
First of all, the owner needs to know local house market values and objectively compare like properties to his/her own property. Up-to-date pricing – the kind a local real estate agent knows – is a key to generating initial interest in the property for sale.
FSBO  sellers should also be aware that many potential buyers expect lower selling price if real estate agent is not involved.
Also education or realty legal matters is crucial for any owner thinking of selling a property. Disclosures, legal forms and contracts must be in place and real estate laws must be adhered to in order to avoid any vulnerability to lawsuits. Also owners must be prepared to answer many phone calls and/or emails,and to have their house ready for visits at anytime.
So, it is safe to say  that FSBO and Real Estate Sales Representatives are in competition. But as you can read in following article, FSBO got on CREA-MLS side against Competition Bureau. lol

 Garry Marr, Financial PostPublished: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

MLS rival joins battle against Competition Bureau


The Canadian Real Estate Association now has a strange ally in its fight with the Competition Bureau the owner of an independent site that aims to compete with the Multiple Listing Service.

National FSBO Network Inc. has filed a motion for leave to intervene in the case before the Competition Tribunal involving the federal watchdog and CREA, the group that represents more than 100 real estate boards across Canada and the country’s 98,000 agents.

Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of the Competition Bureau, filed an application with the tribunal in February in which she referred to CREA’s practices as anti-competitive.

The two sides have been battling over access to the MLS system, which is owned in Canada by CREA and which the bureau says is responsible for about 90% of residential property sales.

Last month, CREA approved new industry regulations that would give consumers some ability to decide how much or how little they use an agent on a real estate deal. Ms. Aitken rejected the changes passed by CREA. Her plan would allow real estate agents to provide a multitude of a la carte services, including using an agent just to list on MLS.

Private sales by owners represent as much as 30% of all transactions in some centres, National FSBO says. Its application suggests the government watchdog’s plan would put them out of business, thus reducing competition instead of creating room for it.

“We are not quite sure what the commissioner is trying to achieve,” said Stephen Skelly, vice-president of operations with Ottawa-based National FSBO. “There is a discussion of a fee- for-service operation and that’s the kind of thing FSBO businesses already provide.”

Mr. Skelly’s worry is that if agents list property on the MLS for a one-time fee and provide no additional service, his members won’t be able to compete because the MLS has such a dominant position. He is trying to link various FSBO networks across the country and has six signed up, including GrapeVine Home Marketing Consultants in Ottawa, one of the largest in eastern Ontario.

“There is serious concern in the FSBO community that if the commissioner’s application is successful, it would be very difficult for FSBO businesses to compete with agents who would have full use of the MLS and ‘related trademarks’ and who would have all of the advertising and marketing recourses of CREA and its members. This could ultimately lead to the demise of FSBO businesses and the costeffective services they provide, and effectively [create] a monopoly situation,” the application states.

Neither CREA nor the bureau would comment on the application. Both sides can file a motion with the tribunal as to why or why not Mr. Skelly should be granted intervenor status.

The bureau has also received a request for leave to intervene from Lawrence Dale, the former owner of Realtysellers, which says it was prime target of CREA’s anti-competitive practices.

No date has been set for the tribunal hearing.