Tuesday, 24 January 2017


Did you  know?

Canada has a housing crisis, and affordable ownership housing offers several solutions. Here are just a few...

1. Relieves Rental Shortage - Every affordable home ownership unit purchased by a middle-income renter frees up a unit of affordable rental housing. 

2. Captures land appreciation - Affordable home ownership is the only form of affordable housing that can capture land value appreciation, using it to fund more affordable housing. 

3. Creates its own fund - When affordable home ownership developments use shared appreciation mortgages (SAMs) and revolving funds, the home ownership model does not rely on on-going government financial support or free government land.

4. Lowest default rates - Affordable home ownership programs have a low default rate of less than 1%. In the private ownership market the default rate is higher, at 2% – 3 %.

The National Housing Strategy Must Support Affordable Home Ownership

   Home ownership creates the kind of financial security that benefits Canadian families and Canada as a whole. It supports the economy of cities; it helps people prepare for their retirement; it frees up affordable rental housing in tight urban markets; and it builds a stable middle class. Canadians value the opportunities and security home ownership creates.

   Unfortunately, for many Canadians, home ownership is a dream increasingly out of reach. Home prices are increasing rapidly, yet median incomes are not. The Toronto Real Estate Board reported that home prices are up 23% from just last year. This trend keeps younger Canadians, low income families with children, and key workers further away from home ownership. There are more than 200,000 middle income earners (teachers, social workers, paramedics, nurses, etc.) who want to own a home but are unable to access the private ownership market (Canadian Urban Institute, 2016).

   Non-profit ownership housing organizations, like Options for Homes, are working to remedy this issue. While the Options model doesn’t rely on government funding, we can be even more effective with increased support form the federal government. The National Housing Strategy, set for release in early 2017, must include a scaling up of affordable ownership housing - not just affordable rentals -  for a comprehensive solution.




A significant barrier to scaling up production of affordable ownership housing involves access to funds for land acquisition, pre-construction costs (including consulting fees), marketing, and municipal permits.
The federal government should provide a $250 million revolving loan fund that would provide both short and long term project equity and be available to qualified non-profit producers.
The loans would be seeded by government, replenished by paybacks and require no ongoing financial commitment from government.


Provincial and municipal governments should establish and administer an Affordable Housing Land List and identify actionable public lands suitable for sale to registered non-profit housing organizations.
The key benefit of public land being sold to non-profit housing producers is so they can acquire it at an ‘appraised market value’ prior to it being placed on the open market, allowing them to defer payment for the land for a period to be negotiated between the non-profit housing organization and the government. This enables non-profits to access land, while the government also receives full value for the asset.

Scaling up ownership housing initiatives addresses many of the reoccurring themes and issues outlined in the federal What We Heard summary – establishing a broader continuum of affordable housing for a variety of needs and markets, and improving access to housing, especially for first-time home buyers. Our hope at Options for Homes is that the National Housing Strategy does indeed support low and middle-income families ready to achieve the goal of homeownership and the non-profit affordable housing providers that are ready to help.

- Heather Tremain, CEO Options for Homes

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


At Options, we pick the neighbourhoods we build developments in knowing that there is something special about each. We respect the character of these communities, and the lifestyles of the neighbours. With any new condo development, the construction process can take up to two or more years. That’s two years of big machines, holes in the ground, beams, bricks, and piles of dirt. Let’s be honest, it can be disruptive. But at Options, we feel it’s important for us to honour communities. While we build, we don’t want to undermine the appearance of the neighbourhood – we want to enhance it! That is why we decided to partner with The PATCH Project (Public Art Through Construction Hoarding), and East York-based artist, Monica Wickeler, to create an art piece on the hoarding of #TheVillageByMainStation.  In Monica’s words, “the piece, [“City of Colour”] intends to showcase hope and optimism, and the transformation of homeownership: the progression of feelings towards joy and success.” This piece of community art will cover the construction behind it, and for the next year will make Trent Ave. a more vibrant, attractive street in the vibrant, attractive East York community. Thanks to the community members and everyone who came together to make this happen.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Top 5 Tips for Downsizing

Whether it’s because the kids have all moved-out, or you’re preparing for retirement, we know moving from a larger home with lots of stuff into a condo can be tricky. However, for many people, one of the advantages of condo-living is it provides the opportunity to streamline your space and live a more organized life. Knowing this is one thing, actually doing it may seem daunting.

Don’t worry, Options for Homes has got you covered - here's how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

5 simple steps to make downsizing easier:

1.    Carefully consider your new space

Not only are you entering a new physical space, but you’re coming into a new mental space as well. If you are simply too overwhelmed at the time of your move to make hundreds of small decisions, just make one: rent a storage unit for 6 months to keep things you’re just not sure about. This gives you time to emotionally detach from items so that you can give careful consideration to what you want, and what you’ve found you don’t need. Access Storage has facilities near every new Options development. Mention Options and you will get a 10% discount at Access Storage. Contact reception@optionsforhomes.ca for more details.

2.    Start packing early

Start packing up one room at a time, and give yourself the time to go through all your things. Remember that you’re not only downsizing, but also trying to simplify your life.

3.    Be decisive

For starters, if you haven’t used something in over a year, it’s time for that item to find a new home. Also, look for items that serve the same function. Did you know that the kitchen is the room where we tend to have the most overlap? You probably have multiples of the same exact utensils. Why keep so many? Choose. Be decisive about what stays and what goes.

4.    Recycle wisely

Now that you’ve decided what you really want, what should you do with what you won’t be keeping? You can certainly sell what you don’t need at a garage sale, or you can donate your items to a worthwhile charity or non-profit! Here’s a list to help you choose an organization:

-          Canadian Diabetes Association has been around since 1985, and leads the fight against diabetes through prevention and awareness, helping those affected by diabetes, and by increasing research funding for a cure. One hundred per cent of the proceeds raised by Clotheslines goes towards supporting the Canadian Diabetes Association with diabetes research, education and advocacy. Clothing, footwear, blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, toys books and household items can be donated to them. To arrange a free pickup, call 1-800-505-5525 or visit http://www.diabetes.ca/how-you-can-help/clothesline

-          Children’s Book Bank  provides free books and literacy support to children in low-income neighbourhoods in the Toronto area. Children’s books for newborns up to age 12 can be donated and dropped off at 350 Berkeley Street, near Gerrard Street East.

-          Furniture Bank  helps transform empty spaces into homes and provides furniture to families in need. To get a pickup quote, visit http://www.furniturebank.org/furniture-pickup-request/ or call 416-934-1229 Ext. 2.

-          New Circles is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing clothing and skill building opportunities to individuals. Clean, gently worn clothing can be donated at 161 Bartley Drive or call 416-422-2591.

-          Oasis Clothing Bank is a non-profit that helps individuals that are on the road to recovery and accepts gently used clothing and houseware items. To find the closest location near you, visit http://www.clothingbank.ca/fnsec_locations.inc.

-          Pegasus Thrift Store is dedicated to supporting adults with developmental disabilities and autism. Clothing, jewelry, antiques, books and household items are accepted. To donate, please contact info@pegasustoronto.ca or visit their store located at 931 Kingston Road.

5.    Be selective

Once you’ve settled into your condo, be mindful of what you continue to bring into your new space. You want to break the habit of bringing things home just for the sake of having things. Why add clutter to your space and life? If you don’t have the space to store large quantities of products, first, limit how much you buy. Secondly, you can join a lending library where you can share everything from tools to musical instruments. Also, there are many great blogs and books about living minimally. One that we personally like is: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.

Try any of these tips and we’re sure it’ll make you love your new clutter-free condo even more!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

A $1238 bottle of ketchup delights Cranbrooke owners at Options BBQ

Did you know that Options returns a portion of the construction surplus back to their purchasers in the form of a rebate cheque? What other developer does that? This past Saturday, July 16th, owners at our Cranbrooke Village condo development attended a Rooftop BBQ where they were surprised with a rebate cheque, totalling, on average $1,278.

Options staff members welcomed guest to a beautiful rooftop terrace (which overlooked the Toronto skyline) and were handed a ketchup or mustard bottle and told to open them. Instead of finding condiment inside to accompany their burgers and hot dogs, they found their cheque!

We want to thank everyone that came to the Cranbrooke Village Rooftop BBQ and those on the board who helped to organize the event. We also want to thank Councillor Josh Colle for his ongoing support through every phase of development.

From left to right: Councillor Josh Colle; Options founder MIke Labbe; Options CEO Heather Tremain
Fun was had by all and according to Cranbrooke homeowner Karen Wallace, "The social gatherings are my favourite moments with Options. It's a great place to live and today was such a nice surprise to catch up with neighbours and receive our rebate cheques."

If you're already an Options owner, don't forget to tell your friends about us for a chance to receive a $200 referral bonus. If you're not already a purchaser - what are you waiting for?!

For more information, visit OptionsforHomes.ca or call us at 416-867-1501.

To view the rest of the photos from the Cranbrooke Rooftop BBQ, please visit our Facebook album here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Options Nominated for a NOW 2016 Readers' Choice Award

Creating communities, getting people into affordable home ownership and developing the best condos for our purchasers are things that we are passionate about; when we found out that Options for Homes was nominated by Now Toronto Magazine readers for the 2016 Readers’ Choice Award for Best Condo Developer, we were thrilled! 

This is a tremendous honour for all Options staff, partners, purchasers and friends of the Options model. Did you know that NOW has received over 20,000 nominations in 180 categories this year and Options is among the top 9 in our category?

We want to thank everyone who nominated us in this category. But we need your votes! Let’s show NOW Magazine readers that we ARE the best condo developer in Toronto and that affordable home ownership IS possible in this city! The deadline to vote is Friday, September 16th.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Homeowner Profile: Cheryl

Parents always want more for their children, so when Cheryl and her husband had the opportunity to settle in Canada, they applied for immigration papers.

With her husband working in the Oil and Gas industry, Cheryl and her family had moved around quite a bit from India and lived in the Middle East. They had even spent time in Southeast Asia before settling in Toronto.

Moving to Canada was an exciting new chapter for Cheryl, but it was difficult. Not having any Canadian experience made it challenging to find a job. To top it off, they were unable to purchase their own home because they did not have any history with any Canadian banks. Cheryl wanted to improve the lives of her family and decided to go back to school to secure better employment opportunities.

Just when things appeared to be getting better, the worst happened. Cheryl’s husband was diagnosed with cancer and passed away suddenly. She never imagined that the very first piece of property that she would purchase in Canada would be at the cemetery. But like every storm, the sun eventually comes out and Cheryl first caught a glimpse of it when she saw an advertisement for Options for Homes on the subway. She decided to call and inquire if she was really able to become a homeowner on a moderate income with two young children.

Cheryl is now enjoying the security of home ownership, along with an amazing view at the beautiful Cranbrooke Village condominium, located at Bathurst Street and Lawrence Avenue West. Her dream came true, as it has for many people, thanks to Options for Homes’ unique model, which provides down payment assistance in addition to offering the lowest priced condos in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

How does Options for Homes do it?
Options offers purchasers a loan as a boost to their down payment based on the value of their condo (normally taken by developers as a profit). This Options Contribution reduces the amount for which a purchaser needs to secure a mortgage from a traditional lender. The Options Contribution is also payment-free as long as they live in their home. In this way, Options has been able to help over 2,500 individuals and families across the GTA over the past 21 years, securing cost-effective condos without any ongoing government support and no minimum income restrictions on ownership. Options communities therefore are a healthy mix of people from all walks of life with a broad range of incomes. The key ingredient to the success of their condominium communities is that 90% or more of Options units are owner-occupied which means that the community enjoys the benefits of superior civic engagement and pride of ownership.

What is an Affordable Condominium?
It’s a high quality condominium that simply does not include pricey amenities like pools and gyms. It’s also a condo that is sold without expensive marketing campaigns that often add over $15,000 to the price of the unit. By including things like solar hot water heating and a car-sharing program in every development, Options also ensures that the carrying costs are among the lowest in the city.

Why support the home ownership dream?

Options believes that access to home ownership helps address the larger issue of income inequality in Canada – a growing problem in our society. Additionally, home ownership provides a stable base from which to raise a family, find and keep work and achieve educational goals. Homeownership also creates better community engagement and preservation of wealth through the maintenance of personal and public investments and also helps families move themselves from multi-generational dependency on social housing.