Monday, 26 January 2015

GUEST BLOG - Neighbourhood Sketch: Roncesvalles

Roncesvalles is a charming west end community of 15,674 people, bordering Parkdale and east of High Park. The area is known as the hub for the Polish community in Toronto, with countless bakeries and butcher shops that showcase Polska pride. Its vibrant family oriented atmosphere is complimented by several independent businesses in the area, ranging from clothing boutiques to organic specialty stores.
The community preserves a rich eastern European presence in the city, and we’ve listed 10 reasons why Roncesvalles is a great place to call home!
1) The tight-knit community comes together to support development initiatives through several different organizations including the Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents Association, the High Park Residents Association, and the Sunnyside Community Association. Engaging community members is an important facet in the neighbourhood.
2) There is an abundance of amenities in the neighbourhood, making Roncesvalles the 14th most walkable neighbourhood in Toronto, with a walkscore 91/100.
3) North America’s largest Polish festival is the annual Roncesvalles Polish Festival. Toronto comes alive with Polish pride each September, bringing thousands of visitors to the neighbourhood.
4) There is a strong arts and music scene in the neighbourhood, as there’s tons of live music to check out in Roncesvalles each night of the week. Popular spots include the iconic Hugh’s Room and Gate 403.
5) The transit score in the area is one of the best in Toronto with a walkscore of 95/100. Residents have convenient TTC access to routes like the Dundas, Queen and King Streetcar lines.
6) Roncesvalles maintains a unique cultural vibe, despite being minutes away from neighbourhoods like the eclectic Parkdale and Toronto’s downtown core.  The neighbourhood is a cultural enclave in the middle of the bustle of the city
7) For family fun, every summer, the neighbourhood comes alive with the Roncy Rocks festival with live musical performances, craft sales, food and art showcases.
8) Although the neighbourhood has a strong Polish influence, the area continues to expand as a diverse and welcoming enclave in the city. Residents of all walks of life, including Tibetan, Spanish, and Ukrainian decent proudly call the Roncy hood home.
9) The community is comprised of young families, entrepreneurs, artists, new and established Canadians. This has brought a great mix of businesses and services that cater to the community, like trendy boutiques, bookstores and European delicatessens.
10) Several parks, recreational centres and schools in the area, again these are great incentive for families, including 4 legged family members.
For real estate listings in Roncesvalles, check out TheRedPin’s resale listings page and our new and preconstruction condos page

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in any guest blog featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the Options Group of Companies community as a whole.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The "Average" Options Homebuyer

Whether you are single, married, a single parent, a young adult, new to the country, some of the above or none of the above, access to and entry into the housing market seems to be getting further and further out of reach. 

Still, it's hard not to be taken aback when "the average first-time homebuyer" stats appear in local publications and they look like this:

Keep in mind that that is just the average. Many people, real estate agents included, believe that the real average cost of a home after bidding wars and taxes is really closer to $700,000-$800,000.

So what if you won't have financial support from your family? What if you don't have over 20% saved for a down payment? What if you don't make 55K a year? Should you give up on your dream of owning your own home in Toronto?

Options doesn't think so!

We compiled some statistics about the "average" Options homebuyer. The information was compiled from a survey of 100 purchasers in our two newest developments and from pre-existing statistics.

Most people who look at those statistics don't fit perfectly into all (or even any) of the categories. That's why "average" isn't a word used often to describe an Options purchaser.

It is interesting compare Options homebuyers to average homebuyers in Toronto but Options is anything but average.

Options has gotten individuals with income as low as $20,000 into home ownership and offers a down payment boosts to help you get into a home sooner (

Options CEO Mike Labbé created an entirely different home ownership model and we encourage everyone who has ever thought about purchasing a home to attend an information session and find out what Options is all about.

Visit us online at to learn more and register for a FREE information session.

And follow us on Twitter: @OptionsforHomes

Friday, 9 January 2015

GUEST BLOG - Cranbrooke Village

Raymond Chow, Cranbrooke Village Purchaser and Resident

Hello there! My name is Raymond, and I am a purchaser and resident at Options for Homes’s latest development, Cranbrooke Village, located in the Bathurst and Lawrence area of Toronto.

Thanks to Options for Homes, I was able to purchase my first home without being burdened by huge amounts of debt, or having to settle for a cramped living space.  I found in Cranbrooke Village what I was looking for in a home: an affordable building in a quiet neighbourhood without any of the extravagant amenities that I would never use, such as indoor swimming pools and movie rooms.  I believe Options has done all it can to minimize costs, short of compromising on the quality of the building’s construction. The area is well served by public transit with multiple bus routes and nearby subway lines. Highway 401 is also close by if I need to get out of the city. For groceries and other items, there is a supermarket and plaza within walking distance. The building itself is beautiful, and is of high quality construction. Watching Cranbrooke Village rise out of the ground and taking shape over the course of its development was very exciting.

I am really glad that I came across that subway advertisement for Cranbrooke Village and finding out about Options for Homes.  I admire their goal of getting people into home ownership and the work they put in to accomplishing this.  For this reason, I had no qualms about sharing my photos of the building during its construction. Some of these images were published in newsletters, incorporated into videos and featured on the web site!  During a visit to the Options office, I was asked by staff to autograph one of the printed photos, which I believe is now hanging in office somewhere. That really demonstrated to me how much these photographs were being enjoyed, and I was happy to oblige.

In addition to seeing the building’s progress with my own eyes, Options held periodic meetings for purchasers to get updates.  There, we had an open forum to ask questions and to have any concerns addressed. Having this frequent contact with the company was very reassuring to me.  Outside of the meetings, I knew I could ask questions via E-Mail or phone, and someone would respond within a reasonable amount of time, which they do.  There is quite a bit to learn and to understand when buying a pre-construction condo suite, and Options does a terrific job of guiding us through each step of the process.

During the initial information session while I looked over Cranbrooke Village’s floor plans, and listened to others asking questions, I never felt pestered by anyone to buy which was great.  Once I decided to put down my one hundred dollar deposit to reserve a suite, I had ten days to review all documents before I had to sign the actual purchase agreement. This is in addition to the ten-day cooling off period where I could still decide to rescind the agreement after I have signed, without penalty. That is almost three weeks for me to find something wrong or to just arbitrarily change my mind if I so desired. This gave me plenty of time to review the documentation myself, and build up the confidence to take the plunge and go for it. Today, here I am, sitting in the comfort of my own home sharing these words with you.

In the last decade, or so, I watched Toronto undergo an extraordinary transformation, particularly in its downtown areas. Condominiums sprung up everywhere. More and more people were living downtown, causing demand to grow, and home prices to escalate.  Finding affordable housing got increasingly difficult, not to mention frustrating. Today, I often wonder how younger generations and those in lower income brackets will be able to afford to get a place to call their own when faced with these exorbitant housing prices.  I think all levels of government need to take a long hard look at the Options model and start promoting it if they are serious about tackling housing issues in this city.

The Options model with its alternative mortgage is a bit quirky, no doubt about it.  As of yet, I do not think that I have been able to adequately explain the process to friends and family in my first attempts.  Perhaps the idea that a company is interested in helping you just seems too far-fetched.  Having gone through this process myself, I can say that it is not. When you do get it, you realize that this is a remarkable thing that Options is doing. If I know someone who is searching for a place to live, I will definitely be telling them about Options.  

Thank you Options for Homes! All the best to you in your future projects!

Disclaimer: The views & opinions expressed in any guest blog featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions & views of the Options Group of Companies community as a whole.

Monday, 5 January 2015

New Year's Eve Traditions Around the World

Options staff and homeowners are a diverse group that come from all walks of life, different cultures and many different countries around the world.  We were intrigued when we saw these New Year's traditions and since you can't believe everything you read on the internet we thought we should ask you, our Options community, to confirm or deny whether or not there traditions exist where you come from.

- Wear brand new pink underwear to attract love.
- At exactly 12:00 step forward with your right foot (to start the year of on the "right foot")
At exactly 12:00, step forward with your right foot to start the year off with...YOUR RIGHT FOOT!

- Wear white to scare away bad spirits
- Jump seven waves for good luck
- Give some gifts to the Goddess Lemanja
Jump 7 waves for good luck.

- Watch Jools Holland's Hootenanny.

- Eat a spoonful of lentils at midnight for a year filled with work and money
- Sweep your house inside out to remove bad energy
Sweep your house inside out to remove bad energy.

- Walk around your block with an empty suitcase for a year full of travel.
Walk around your block with an empty suitcase for a year full of travel!

- Immediately after the bells, the first-footing begins, which means being the first person across a friend's or neighbour's threshold.

- You must eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight.

New Zealand:
- Bang pots and pans as loud as you can.
Bang pots and pans as loud as you can.

- Write down a wish on a piece of paper, burn it, throw it into a champagne glass and drink it before 12:01

Disclaimer: All of these traditions were found on the internet so we cannot verify their authenticity.  

Do you know of or participate in any other New Year's traditions? Let us know it the comments or tweet us @OptionsforHomes with the hash tag #Options2015