Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The search is on

So we have begun the search for a tenant to take over the condo, as we move into our new home in just 6 short weeks.  Ideally, the tenant will be able to move into the condo within a matter of weeks (or even better, days) after I move out, as this will take the edge off of us paying two mortgages at once.

I've breezed through books and websites to quickly educate myself on the process of finding a tenant, but I can already tell that there is SO much I need to learn.  For one thing, I have to get my hands on a reasonably useful application for prospective tenants to fill out.  I've found a few online like this one from CHMC, and another one from OREA (Ontario Real Estate Association).  But the trouble is, I'm not sure about copyrights and the legality of using these forms - especially the OREA forms which I gather for use by licensed agents.  I have been told again and again that the number one rule is to do a credit check - but I don't know if the CMHC form asks for enough information to even make that possible - I would have thought a Social Insurance Number would be required (anyone know?).  So here is my first real question - does anyone have a great form that they suggest using for tenant applications?

I've had some interest from a few people already, and I've started asking a fairly standard set of questions right off the bat - this helps screen prospective tenants out before taking the time to show them the condo.  The questions I am asking are:

  • What type of work do you do, and how long have you worked there? [I read a tip somewhere that pointed out simply asking "do you currently work" will generally get you a "yes, I work"-type response, which could mean anything... even 3 hours per week at minimum wage.... so it's more helpful to ask a specific question]

  • How long would you be looking to lease for?

  • When would you be looking to move in

  • How long have you been at your current address?

  • Will you be living alone, or with others?

I would also love to ask about smoking and pets, but I have heard from various sources that in Ontario, a landlord is not allowed to discriminate based on this.  I will be looking into that for sure - I personally feel that a landlord should have every right to discriminate on both fronts - as both pets and smokers have the ability to really cause wear and tear to a property.  What are your thoughts on this?

[polldaddy poll=3386504]

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The meaning behind the name

Welcome!  So where do I begin?  How about with an explanation of the meaning and reasons behind this blog, "Mary's Dwellings".  Well, the word really does have two meanings.

For one, I am entirely passionate about real estate in so many ways.  I have worked in both residential and commercial real estate offices (in the former as an office assistant during high school, the latter is my current role as a researcher).  One of my absolute favourite pastimes is visiting open houses and model homes, and I have enjoyed doing this since I was a young kid.  And when a friend or family member is involved in a real estate deal, I secretly hope that they will include me in the process, or else I struggle to restrain myself - I just can't help but want to know the comparables, the wishlists, the deal-breakers, the choices, the limitations, the asking prices, the offer prices.  I have lived in Toronto my entire life (minus 4 years for university), and I feel like I know most neighbourhoods very well - right down to the street level for some.  I endlessly look to see what is out there, what is selling, how one compares to another, etc.  And so when somebody consults with me during their search for a new home, I love to show off my knowledge of the houses, the streets, the condo buildings, the floorplans - all that information I have stockpiled into my mental Filofax.

I made my first purchase - a 400-square foot condo - at the age of 24.  Now, 29 and recently engaged, my fiance and I have purchased a 50's-style bungalow, and will be moving in the coming months.  So what are we doing with the condo?  Well - I am hoping to foray into the real estate investment world, and would love to turn the condo into a rental property.  It's been a long-time dream of mine to own a number of rental properties, and I know I have to start somewhere!  This is a whole new world to me, as I am only learning as I go.  I am hoping that via this blog, I can share my experiences and my learnings, while also welcoming others to comment and share your experiences and advice.

And that is where the second meaning of the word comes in - I am a notorious over-thinker, analyzer, ponderer, and generally a slow decision maker.  So this blog will likely end up featuring some of the dilemmas that I find myself in, all dealing with the real estate world.

And so here, I will dwell on my dwellings!