January 24, 2017
Stressed About the Mortgage Changes?
As you may have heard, Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau unveiled a series of changes to the rules used to underwrite insured mortgages. Included in those changes, effective October 2016, was one termed a mortgage "stress test."
The stress test is applicable to insured mortgage applications. It's designed to ensure that borrowers are capable of paying their loans in the event interest rates rise, or their personal financial situation worsens. So now, no matter how low their actual mortgage rate, Canadian borrowers must show that they qualify for the Bank of Canada's Mortgage Qualifying Rate, which, for example, was 4.64 percent when the new rule came into effect — about twice what a borrower might actually be paying.
Prior to the new changes, the historically low mortgage rates allowed even first-time homebuyers with a modest income to qualify for a large loan. Now, buyers who previously qualified for a higher-priced home may experience a reduction in affordability.
If you're considering a move, you'll want to clarify if or how the new mortgage restrictions might apply to you, and if they do, what your best course of action is in today's everchanging real estate environment.
December 19, 2016
Winter Proof Your Home
From, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post
You may not want to admit it, but the days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and winter is on its way. No matter what the season means to you whether that’s embracing the snow, avoiding the outdoors altogether, or taking off for a sunny destination - winter-proofing your home should be at the top of your list.
Roof: Before it’s covered in snow be sure to have it checked for any damaged shingles, replacing them if necessary. Also have your gutters cleared to ensure drainage will flow smoothly when the snow melts.
Furnace: It’s no secret your furnace will be of paramount importance as temperatures continue to drop, so prevent a breakdown by making sure its service and maintenance is up to date.
Windows: Double check that all windows are tightly sealed and water isn’t collecting in the sills. Ensuring windows with multiple sliding panels are in the closed position is important to avoid drafts.
Doors: Similar to windows, it’s important to check door frames are securely sealed without any cracks. Consider sealing or insulating mail slots or doggy doors.
Floors: Check for gaps between exposed floorboards, especially in any unfinished rooms in the house. If you have central heating, it’s important to ensure ducts connected to floor vents are well insulated.
Everything else: When setting your home up for seasonal success, it makes sense to take a look at your current insurance policy as well. Winter often means extreme weather that can result in damage to your property.
June 3, 2015
Easy Greening For Homeowners
From, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post
Now is a great time for homeowners to take steps toward saving energy and reducing their environmental impact. While replacing those old leaky windows and installing ceiling fans are great ideas, there are also small things that can be done around the house to lower energy consumption and reduce one's carbon footprint. Here are some simple, sustainable adjustments that can make a real difference in energy savings,
- Use "smart" power strips for household appliances such as computers, printers, game consoles, televisions and microwaves. Smart power strips save energy by keeping the connected devices from drawing power when they're not in use or turned off. The standby consumption of these devices can equal that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously - even when the device's power switch is turned off.
- Use the dishwasher! Newer dishwashers typically use just 4 to 6 gallons of water on a normal cycle, while washing a sink full of dishes by hand can require up to 15 gallons of water. Up to 60% of the energy used by dishwashers is for heating the water, so washing full loads is best. A full dishwasher will also clean more effectively than one that's only partially filled.
- Adjusting the home's thermostat by just two degrees could reduce a typical household's carbon dioxide emission by 2,000 pounds. It also could provide significant savings on the utilities bill. Programmable thermostats are another great way to stay comfortable and save energy at the same time, by heating and cooling only as they're programmed to do so.
- Keeping household appliances clean and up to date is another way to lower a household's energy consumption. Schedule heating and cooling system for a checkup every 2 years. Air conditioner and refrigerator filters and coils should be cleaned monthly so they'll operate more efficiently.
- Insulating the water heater and weather-stripping or caulking gaps around the home could save up to 420 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions per month in addition to lowering energy costs.
Switch to CFL or LED bulbs. These can be huge energy savers; they burn significantly less energy and can last up to ten times longer than incandescent types so they're more convenient, too. Users of CFL and/or LED bulbs enjoy reductions in heat production, energy use, and electric bills.
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