Friday, April 27, 2012

Operating at a profit

Ahhh, April.  

Budding trees, tulips and daffodils, cherry blossoms, green grass, mild weather..... 

... and tax season.

Matt and I recently filed our 2011 Federal Income Taxes, and boy what a joy that wasn't!  We ended up owing money, mainly because of the rental condo.

The rent we're receiving on the condo *just* covers the monthly expenses we incur.  We're not really operating at a profit per se.  But in the eyes of the CRA, we are.   On a rental property, you can claim the interest portion of the mortgage as an expense, but you can't claim the principle.  It makes sense.  But it means that while the extra money in our pockets is zilch/zip/zero, the CRA thinks we've got lots of extra cash.   Cash that we have to pay tax on.

There are a few other expenses that we're able to claim:
  • Property Tax
  • Condo fees/maintenance fees
  • Hot water tank rental
  • Mileage for visits to the condo (not for visits that are for collecting rent though)
  • Administrative supplies (i.e. we had to buy printer ink for all the rental documents to be printed)
  • Insurance on the condo
I'm interested to hear what others claim.  I know some owners of multiple rental properties claim cell phone bills, vehicle payments, and other significant expenses.

But I'd like to hear from owners of single condo units, as I want to get a sense of what else is reasonable for a small-scale landlord.  All the contracting expenses we paid this past February will help offset some of the income for 2012. 

But in the meantime, CRA, your cheque for 2011 is in the mail.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's going on down the street?

Recently, Matt and I drove down Park Lawn Road, which is our main route down to the waterfront in the West end, and we were shocked to see how much condo development is going on near the intersection of Park Lawn & Lakeshore Blvd.

I'm a little disappointed in myself for being so slow on the uptake.  I knew there was a lot of changes happening to the neighbourhood, but I had no idea so much progress had been made.  There are numerous half-built condos, almost-completed condos, and some REALLY big holes in the ground!

Wanting to be "in the know" about what's going on in our neighbourhood, I searched around a bit and found one really useful article that outlines some of the condo developments in Etobicoke, shown on the map below:


The cluster at the bottom-right of the map is the area I'm referring to.   The article was published about a year ago, so there are already some significant changes.  For instance, when I looked up "I Loft at Mystic Pointe", I discovered that the developer already has an additional condo in the works called "Sunset Condominiums" that must be more recent.

I'm not opposed to this type of grand-scale development.  In fact, I can't help but think of all the promise it brings to the neighbourhood.  There are two major arteries in the neighbourhood, that despite their potential, have instead been known to be a bit dodgy and seedy.  Lake Shore Blvd, which runs parallel to the lake has the potential to be a great beach-type community, with independent shops, restaurants, and cafes.  But there aren't a lot of these types of businesses to currently wow the residents of the area.  The Queensway, which runs east-west through the area could be a destination for the neighbourhood, with grocery stores and other local businesses.  But it is currently riddled with "massage parlours", "novelty stores" and adult video stores.

I would like to think that more favourable businesses will  thrive with the influx of residents that will occur when these condo developments are complete.   The condos themselves also feature some retail space on the ground-floor levels, and I think that might help set the tone for the rest of the neighbourhood.  Rumour has it that Starbucks might even be one of the future tenants?!

I can't wait to see the impact that this has on the neighbourhood, businesses, property values, and even the beautiful underrated waterfront!

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Bloom

Well, it's no Washington... but Toronto's High Park is in full bloom this week with all the Sakura Cherry Blossom trees.

Matt and I went for a walk through the park at about 8:00 on Friday night, and we couldn't believe just how many people had the same idea as us - even on a Friday evening!

We also treated ourselves to a new camera recently, so this was a great opportunity to try it out.

It really was a beautiful experience.  The gorgeous trees definitely help celebrate spring and promise of a beautiful summer to come.  It's so nice to have such a spectacular bit of nature in the middle of this bustling city.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Spin Cycle

Over the past few weeks, every time I ran the washing machine, it would start out fine - but by the time it got to the spin cycle, it sounded like a jetliner ready for takeoff.  It was actually a little bit comical.  But only a little bit.  Because the other half of me (the half that wasn't laughing about how exaggerated and aggressive it sounded), knew that this might mean the washing machine was dying.

Then, this past Saturday, I put our sheets on for a wash, and when the load ended, I found heavily soaked sheets that apparently had not gone through a spin-cycle.  So I set it back to the Rinse setting to give it another go.  But nothing.... it just sat there in that setting.

I was a little glum as we called around to find a repairman to come look at it.  A friend had a similar problem a few years ago, and was told that the cost to repair the machine would be more than the cost of a new machine.  There are so many things I would rather spend the money on (and that we're already spending money on!). 

Matt's a little more optimistic.  Not about the possibility of repair, but about the thought of a new machine.  He kept saying to me "this is your opportunity to get a cool front-loader!".  While that *does* sound nice, I prefer the idea of keeping the money and repairing this not-very-old-machine. 

Well we were lucky!   On Monday we had it repaired for just over $200.  Apparently it was a ball bearing that needed to be replaced. 

So we are back in business!

But all this talk of front loaders and pretty washing machines got me thinking about our laundry "nook", and wondering if we should beautify it a bit.  I'm always inspired by gorgeous laundry rooms with great tile and lots of cupboard space and folding counters.  But that's not realistic for our basement hallway.  So here's some inspiration I came across that suits our space:

I love the simple open shelving.  It seems to really work in a lot of the laundry nooks I like.


I also love how wallpaper changes the feel of a room:


How great is this fabric cover for the laundry tub?  I love the fabric choice.  Very fresh and vintage feeling.  I might have to do this!


And I noticed a lot of the photos I found had the laundry detergent in an apothecary jar.  Ingenious.  It looks SO much nicer than my big honkin' orange box of TIDE!

I'll have to post a picture of our own laundry area, so that you can see what I've got to work with.  Maybe I'll take one AFTER I clear away some of the laundry piles though!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Our headboard has a new home

Guess what we did this weekend?

Oh yes, we finally brought our new headboard home from my in-laws' house!  They've had it taking up space in their dining room since Christmas.  We weren't sure how we'd get it to our house (Matt paid for West Elm to deliver it to his parents house so that it'd be there for me on Christmas morning, and paid the hefty $85 delivery charge).

I toyed with the idea of renting a U-Haul for a few hours, but found out that the minimum charge is a day, which didn't seem justifiable.  Matt and his Dad convinced me they'd tie it down REALLY well, and that we could drive home REALLY slowly. 

And lo and behold, it did not fly away!

Stay tuned for bedroom updates!