Home assessment, Working from home, Bad MLS photos


Dear David,

Our neighbour’s house just came up for sale and we noticed that our home assessment is the same as theirs. Why is that when they put in all new flooring, a new kitchen, and finished the basement themselves? – BAFFLED

DEAR BAFFLED: The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) usually sets home values just after construction, so if your houses were identical (or nearly so) at the time of construction, they will likely have similar assessed values. It sounds like your neighbours are quite handy, but if no building permits were issued for the work they have done, MPAC would have no way to do an assessment of the improvements even though they add value to your neighbour’s property.


Dear David,

I’m a massage therapist and want to start working from home. Can I do that?  – PREPARED TO LAUNCH

DEAR PREPARED: Most of the time (but not always), municipalities make allowances for home-based businesses. Before you get started, it’s important you check out what your current zoning allows and what licences may be required. You’ll also want to make sure your insurance coverage takes the new business into account.

Here in Waterloo Region, business owners are required to have a business licence and occupancy certificate before they get started, even if they are working from home. For information, call the Region’s corporate contact centre at (519) 741-2345.


Dear David,

I’ve noticed that some MLS listings have really poor quality pictures, or don’t have pictures at all. Why is that? – SEEING CLEARLY

DEAR CLEARLY: There are a few reasons why you might be seeing listings with no photos. Sometimes  a Realtor is slow to post them, or the property might not be photogenic. That said, most listings include an exterior photo at the very least. Peeling paint and messy tenants can be challenging from a photography standpoint, but it’s unusual that we can’t find at least a few highlights to showcase.

Occasionally, a lack of pictures (or the use of poor-quality cell phone images) may reflect a listing agent’s lack of understanding of consumer expectations, or possible lack of experience. I recently read some alarming statistics from the GTA: of the over 50,000 Realtors registered with the Toronto Real Estate Board last year (2017), over 50 percent sold one home or less. While it may be hard for consumers to discern, someone making one sale or less per year might not be making the same photography investment as a full-time Realtor.