Building permits, Listing with an out-of-town agent


Ask David...David Schooley, real estate Broker at Remax Twin City, answers questions about permits for a basement kitchen and listing your home with an out-of-town agent.

Dear David,

A few years ago, I got an approved permit from the city and finished my basement. I added a kitchen to the space last year. Is there anything else I need to do? – DIY

DEAR DIY: Yes. If your initial permit for finishing the basement did not include the addition of a kitchen, you need to revisit the issue. From the sound of it, your renovation now amounts to what can be considered a separate living space with “cooking” facilities. When it comes to obtaining a permit, this falls into an entirely different category.

With the kitchen added, you will need to confirm the zoning (as a duplex, I expect) and ensure you have met the fire separation guidelines required for this type of setup. Safety concerns surrounding stoves tend to be a major concern, so it it’s more like a bar (sink and fridge), you may be okay.

Check with the municipality either way. If the work that you completed meets today’s guidelines, you may just need to get a new permit and have the appropriate inspections done. If there end up being serious concerns, it’s best that they be addressed – both for safety’s sake, and in order to avoid complications down the road when it comes time to sell.

Dear David,

I listed my house with a Toronto agent a month ago. I thought it would be a good idea, since the fee was significantly lower than what local agents were charging. My house is on, but it’s crazy — I haven’t had a single showing in four weeks. What’s up with that? – GOT A DEAL

DEAR DEAL: After a little investigating, I did find your house on the website (the public version of the MLS System). It was listed on TREB (the Toronto Real Estate Board), but not on KWAR (our local KW real estate board). So likely, very few agents in town would have known it was for sale.

Realtors are required to post their listings on their home boards in order for them to show up on MLS. If your agent was registered in Toronto, they would have been required to post the listing on the Toronto board. They could have posted it on the KW board as well, but there is extra time and expense involved in this. The oversight probably wouldn’t have raised a red flag for you. If you visited and typed in your specific address, your listing would have popped up.

Here’s the thing: When Kitchener agents search for Kitchener homes, they are searching on the KW board (which makes sense – there’s no reason for them to look in Toronto). If an out-of-town agent wants their listing to appear in local searches, they need to post it on our Kitchener board in addition to their home board.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of qualified buyers are working with Realtors. In order to generate any volume of showings, it’s critical that listings be posted where local Realtors are looking. If a listing is posted out of town and not here, few local agents (and by association, qualified buyers) will even end up seeing it.