Being a 'nosy parker'

This article turned out so different than I imagined! I wanted to show pictures of a spacious condo that I was previewing for a client. But the owner was home and, instead we had a great chat about selling, moving & what he loved about living there

So now it's about how to be a nosy parker when you're buying a home.

I love talking to people that live in the area where I’m showing. Whether that’s in a condo or neighbourhood, it gives you a great idea of what people have grown to love there. 

If you’re buying, I think that’s a step that’s often overlooked in the process. Most people are focused on looking at the property itself. If you’re selling; you’ll attribute value to the things you love about the neighbourhood. But if you’re buying you don’t have that insight yet. 

Friendly & helpful owners convinced my client they'd enjoy living here

By talking to the neighbors, you’ll find out about what’s great (or not so great). For example, my last downsizing client was impressed by the friendliness of the other building occupants. They went out of their way to give us a tour, and even showed us around the storage lockers.

The tenants helped convince the buyers to offer on this downtown condo I just sold

As a matter of fact, I just sold a condo where the tenant graciously showed the buyers agents around. Her enthusiasm for the building, and what she valued as a tenant helped them see the great investment potential. They were convinced that these features would help them get a great tenant too. So being a nosy parker helped convince them to put in an offer.

Beautiful landscaping helps set the tone for a great condo building

Other things you can do to be a nosy parker:

  • Take a look at the street. Do the neighbors take care of their properties? Unkempt properties (especially with lots of cars) may signal a rooming house, rental or absentee landlord
  • Take a look at the condo status certificate to see the percentage of renters in the building. In general, buildings with more owner-occupied suites are kept in better condition.
  • What's the condition of common areas for condos? A clean, neat building with nice landscaping tends to be a great place to live
  • How friendly is the concierge or building manager - these people can help set the tone
  • Conversely, if you're an investor more rentals may mean tenants are looking to rent in the building if it's popular
  • If you're looking for a building with a good sense of community, see if they have an active social calendar

Next time you're buying a property be a nosy parker too!

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A disturbing trend I've come across recently is the fraud in the rental space.   As an agent who handles a fair share of rentals; these issues have shown up over several ways this year.   I'll tell you about 3 instances I've had and the red flags that appeared with each! 

When I'm representing a landlord and an application comes in, I spend a lot of time going through an applicants documentation and getting references and looking through their background.  Here's what I do:

  • Call their employer by finding the employer's website and calling through their office to confirm employment.  I don't just call the supervisor on the application
  • Look carefully at the documents to see if they are real; company letterhead & credit reports can be faked or bought
  • Check social media & linked in
  • Call past landlords
  • Make sure there is a building at the address they're currently renting
  • Check that the landlords name and property owners names match.   If it's an apartment building call through the property management company if it's an apartment rather than calling the number provided.
  • Look at the credit report for signs of altering

With those things in mind, let's look at 3 things that have happened to me this year!

1.  Student rental Scam - fake rental and landlord

First of all, you should never have to pay to submit a rental application, or be asked for a deposit before you get a chance to see the place.   These scams are generally ads on sites like Kijijii and Facebook for rentals that look too good to be true.  They also steal MLS listings for homes and advertise them at lower rates.  I came across one recently through a family friend desperate for some student housing.  It was a big scam; and when I called them out they 'protested too much'.    Here's how to spot these scammers:

  • They demand payment to submit a rental application
  • They demand a deposit before you see the unit
  • Makes excuses why they are not available to speak to on the phone 
  • Will only communicate through messenger, text or email
  • The advertised price is way lower than other rentals
  • Their Facebook profile was just created
  • Their Facebook name does not match their user name ID (see the URL) 

2. Fake Rental Applications   

There are some very good forged documents out there.  I had some people submit an application on a lease I was advertising and here's what I found during the checks, among the other checks I did as above :

  • Inconsistencies in addresses on the application
  • Employment letter does not look real - no header or footer with information on the company letterhead

3. Forged Tenacy Papers

I had a call from a gal who had a great story, good employment, good credit, moving to Toronto from outside the city for work, can't come in to look for a place so needed virtual showings.  Could I help her find a place.  Sounds great right?  

Now I don't usually check tenants out before I help them (and I'd helped out a client with an out of town move this year already in a similar situation)  But with everything going on right now, I felt it couldn't hurt to see what her references would say.   So she sent in her application & 

then came the paperwork - the address of her job didn't match up with her story.  The company had never heard of her or her supervisor.  There was even no property listed at the home she had put for her address!  Other red flags for scammers include what she did:

  • get overly upset when called out 
  • provide complicated excuses for 'mistakes' on application forms
  • call the fact checker a liar, unprofessional, etc.

So be careful out there folks! 


A big thank you to the communities of Guildwood, West Rouge & Port Union for the terrific support last Saturday for my Community Shredding Event.  About 30 families participated - and their generous food donations filled our Jeep to the brim!   The food donations were taken straight to Feed Scarborough - the Scarborough Food Security initiative and will be distributed to local satellite food banks in the area.   Judging from the huge line up outside the Manse Rd. food bank Saturday, it's much needed. 

Chartwell Guildwood was my partner for this event and provided the venue and great snacks.  Thank you Kelly & Dianne for your wonderful support.  As always, Papersavers was gracious, friendly, professional and helpful!  

One interesting sideline - My husband, myself, Dianne and Alex from papersavers all grew up within the same area!   Such a big city/small world!