Preparing to move into a new home can be overwhelming. Needless to say you have a lot on your plate, so we reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers — a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates from throughout Canada — to make a list of the most important moving tips a buyer should keep in mind to prepare to move into their new home.
Forward your mail. Missing important government notices, taxes, and health care reminders can mean missing deadlines and incurring penalties.
It can be hard to remember which ones all need to be done, but if you write down all of the bills and mailing you have received in the last 1-2 months you should be sure you covered all of the bases. A few to keep in mind include your doctor, dentist, driver’s license, and credit card companies.
Moving takes a lot of energy (and muscle), therefore it’s best to leave it to the experts. Hiring movers will take a lot of the stress away from you, allowing you to focus on the more important logistics on moving day. And remember, have a list and don’t leave anything until the last minute!
- “Book the movers! All other activities revolve around this schedule.” – Tammy Marcoux, RE/MAX Camosun, Victoria BC
- “Prepare well in advance, really important – mark your boxes and count them – place the number of the box where it can be seen, as well as a list of the number of boxes and their contents, separately in case something is misplaced or lost – label everything!” – Sharon Black, RE/MAX Kelowna, Kelowna BC
- “When moving day comes, make sure every last thing is in a box the night before. Make it easy for yourself – the only thing you should be doing on moving day is putting your night clothes and bedding in a clear plastic bag and getting dressed.” – Dawn & Lawrence Setter, RE/MAX First Realty, Parksville BC
Utilities & Services
You don’t want to arrive to your new home and have a bunch of tasks to do that you could have done ahead of time, you will be busy enough as it is. Arrange your utility hookups and services (internet, phone, and TV) ahead of time to ensure a smooth changeover and installation.
Child Care & Pet Care
On a day like this you want as little distractions and things to keep an eye on as possible. “Arrange for child and/or pet care the day of the move so that you can put a full day of work into concentrating on the move.” – Tammy Marcoux, RE/MAX Camosun, Victoria BC
Moving takes longer than you would expect, and the last thing you will want to do at the end of moving day is clean your old house. Hire a professional cleaner to ensure that you leave your place clean and tidy for the new owner. Also, consider having your new home cleaned before you move everything inside in order to get off on the right foot.
Get Rid of Stuff
The less you have to move the better, especially if there are things you just never use. Get rid of unnecessary items before you move – it takes a lot of time and energy.
Ask for Help
Don’t try and do it all on your own. Your friends and family are excited for you, ask them to help where they can!
Buying a home is a big investment – likely the largest one you will ever make. The cost to buy a home should be carefully considered to avoid the risk of financial difficulty in the future.
Since this decision has a large impact on your wallet, we want to take some time to explore the many costs associated with buying a home. Doing your homework and knowing the average cost of these services in your neighbourhood will help you choose a home within a realistic price range.
Deposit: Depending on your location and the price of a home, you may need to put a deposit on a home as a security measure to ensure you don’t lose it to another interested buyer. If you are required to pay a deposit, it will become part of your down payment once you have purchased the home.
Down Payment: In Canada, the minimum amount you need to put down on a home is 5%. While this is realistic for most first time home buyers, having a down payment of 20% or more will help buyers avoid paying Mortgage Loan Insurance.
Land Transfer Tax: When you buy a home, you are required to pay a land transfer tax to the province upon closing. This tax is normally based on the amount paid for the land, as well as the remaining amount on any mortgage or debt assumed as part of the arrangement to buy the land. Cost will vary depending on your municipality, the size of the land and other factors. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and parts of Nova Scotia do not have Land Transfer Tax at all, while other provinces use a tiered system.
Appraisal Fee: An appraisal will normally cost between $200 and $300 but can vary depending on your location. This will help prevent you from borrowing more than you need to, and will prevent lenders from giving you too much.
Home Inspection: A home inspection is a necessary step in your home buying process and will normally cost an average of $350 depending on the size, age, and condition of the home. This helps ensure there are no unexpected maintenance or home improvement costs upon purchasing the home.
Property Insurance: While property insurance is likely already something you have factored into your budget, it’s important to do your research and find a reasonable quote that will ensure you are covered should anything unexpected happen.
Mortgage Insurance: There is mortgage life insurance, which is designed to protect the repayment of a mortgage if anything were to happen to you. There is also mortgage loan insurance if your down payment is less than 20% of the total house cost. Premiums for this type of insurance range from 0.5% to 3% and increase if you are self employed.
Lawyer Fees: The fee you will be charged by your lawyer will vary depending on the person representing you and must be paid upon closing. Ask your real estate agent for advice as they likely have a preferred trusted lawyer they can refer you to.
Title Insurance: Title insurance is a one-time-fee that provides protection from losses related to the properties title or ownership. Learn more about what it is in this blog post.
Property Taxes: The cost for property taxes is expressed as a dollar rate for every $1,000 estimated to be the market value of your property.
Maintenance and Energy Costs: Potentially your largest ongoing homeowner expense, these costs include lawn care/ yard work, professional services, additions/upgrades and the cost of keeping the house running year-round. You can use our monthly home budget planner to help map out all of these costs.
Moving Expenses: It’s easy to forget about the small things when moving, but it’s important to remember they can add up quickly! Consider the cost for phone, electricity, and other utility installations and don’t forget about movers, a moving truck and feeding your friends who are helping out!
Now that you have a better idea of the cost to buy a home, it’s time to hit the books to find out how much these services will cost in your area. Make a list, create a budget, and get started!
Moving up to your “forever home” is exciting. When you bought your first place, chances are you were young, strapped for cash and prepared – if not warned – to make some concessions. The move-up buyer typically has some savings and home equity to work with, making this next move feel less like a compromise and more a thoughtful selection.
But move-up buyers face their own set of challenges that call for a carefully considered strategy. Here are three options for the smart move-up buyer with a plan!
The “Sell First” strategy is ideal for the move-up buyer who can’t afford to pay two mortgages simultaneously. Selling your property first eliminates the risk of having to carry two mortgages if you don’t sell your existing home in time. It also reduces the chances of having to reduce your asking price in the interest of speeding up the sale. This is a good option for move-up buyers who are banking on the proceeds of their sale to fund their new (and likely more expensive) property. By selling first, you’ll know exactly how much money you have to purchase your next home.
If homes in your area of choice are selling faster than the ‘For Sale’ signs can hit the front lawn, the “buy first” strategy might be the way to go. By buying your new home before selling your old one, you won’t feel rushed into settling for a sub-par property, or having to seek alternative temporary housing options while you shop the market. This move-up buyer still lives in his or her existing home, allowing them time to shop around, and continue looking until they find that perfect place. This move-up buyer typically requires a bridge mortgage.
When all is said and done, this move-up buyer approach is the most ideal, but getting there is another story. Aligning your purchase and sale closing dates can be tricky. Remember that there are three dancers in this tango – you, the person you’re buying from, and the person you’re selling to. You’ll also have to move out and move in on the same day. In this scenario, time is your best friend and flexibility your saviour. This means you’ve planned ahead – you’re researched neighbourhoods, gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, and you’ve started the organizing and de-cluttering process before the big move.
The right move-up buyer strategy depends on a number of factors, such as your financial situation, current housing market conditions, your personal comfort level and your personality. Consider all these when making your decision. Plan ahead and work with a pro to ensure a smooth transaction on both sides of the bargaining table.
It’s a question that most Canadians will ask themselves at one point or another in their lifetime. Those who choose to rent often wonder if they’re wasting money. Those who buy may wonder whether or not their investment will be worth it in the long run.
Though it’s clear home ownership offers many benefits, the decision to buy or rent is a personal choice that should be based on several factors.
4 Factors to consider
1) Market Conditions – What is the price of real estate in your local market? It’s important to understand the market conditions and how they may affect prices before you decide to buy or rent.
2) Job Stability – Do you have a stable job and roots within your community? If your plan is to continue living in your community for the foreseeable future, home ownership may be the best option for you.
3) Time of life – What stage of life are you in? If you have a family, home ownership can provide a stable living situation without some of the uncertainties that are associated with renting.
4) Down payment – Do you have enough money saved up for an adequate down payment?
3 Benefits of home ownership
1) Financial investment – Your monthly mortgage payment creates equity for you, not your landlord.
2) Quality of life – Owning a home can provide a sense of stability and control that you don’t often get from renting. There is a great feeling about coming home to a place that you own.
3) Do what you want – When you own your own home, there’s no need to get approval before you paint a wall or hang a piece of art. You can choose what minor and major renovations you make to the place you live in.
How RE/MAX can help
RE/MAX Agents are experienced professionals who can help you out if you’ve decided that home ownership is the next step for you. Their expertise can help you find the house most suitable for your needs.
A home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make, so it’s only natural to feel a little intimidated by the negotiation process. This is particularly the case for first-time buyers. Here are some tips to help you approach the negotiation process that will help you minimize stress, stay within your budget and get the best price for your new home.
GET TO KNOW YOUR MARKET
Becoming familiar with the types of properties available in your price range is an important first step. With the help of a real estate professional, you’ll also want to begin exploring neighbourhoods you’re interested in, the types of properties available in those neighbourhoods and their prices. Make note of the difference between listing and sale prices and how factors such as size, location, amenities, proximity to schools, and the age and condition of the home affect price.
Familiarity with the market will help you understand the value of the properties on the market and put you in a stronger negotiating position. While online listings are a good place to start, most buyers should expect to look at 10 to 15 homes in person before they make the decision to put in an offer.
Buying your first—or even second or third—home comes with a lot of excitement and becoming emotionally attached can be easy. When looking at potential options, it often doesn’t take long to start imagining your new life there. However, it’s important that buyers do not act overly enthusiastic, particularly when the seller is home. This can put your REALTOR® at a disadvantage when negotiating for the best price. The best approach is to keep your demeanor neutral, take notes, and keep your thoughts and questions for a private conversation with your real estate agent.
FOCUS ON VALUE
When considering making an offer, many buyers assume that the asking price will be different from the selling price. In certain markets, buyers may expect the property to be listed higher than what it will sell for, while in hot markets, the opposite applies.
Rather than focusing on the listing price, focus on the value of the property. If the property is priced properly, the best strategy is to offer the listing price. If the property is not priced properly, make an offer that reflects the property’s true value. The best way to assess this is by getting to know the market and discussing your options with your REALTOR®.
A common mistake some buyers make is to put in a low offer, just to see if the seller is receptive to it. The result is often that the seller doesn’t take the offer seriously, either coming back with the original listing price or not responding at all.
Remember that just as your REALTOR® is advising you, there is also a real estate professional advising the seller on the home’s value.
THINK BEYOND PRICE
Don’t forget that price is not the only point of negotiation –terms are negotiable too. Everything from the move-in date, to home repairs, to which appliances are included in the sale, is up for negotiation.
STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
Firmly establish a budget and stick to it. In markets where demand is high and inventory low, it can be tempting to increase your budget, especially if you have put in several offers without being successful. However, it’s important to stay within a budget that you will be comfortable with for the next several years. Make your best offer and don’t budge. Home buying can be emotional, but try to keep a cool head by reassuring yourself that there will always be another house out there.
WHAT’S MY BUDGET?
When starting the search for a new home, it is important to establish a budget that you will be comfortable living within for several years. There are several handy tools to help you calculate your housing budget and plan your monthly expenses. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Household Budget Calculator allows you to compare your income with your expenses and debt payments and see what kind of mortgage you can comfortably afford, and the RE/MAX Monthly Home Budget Planner helps you gain a better understanding of all the costs associated with home ownership.
No one knows the negotiation process better than Rosemary.
Are you thinking of selling your home? Before your REALTOR® begins showing your home, you will want to make sure it’s in tip-top condition. An attractive, well-kept home generally has a better chance of selling a little faster.
Minor exterior and interior improvements
Updates can add value to your home without requiring a large renovation bill. Think back to what first attracted you to your home; now determine how best to highlight and improve your home’s best features.
Here are a few ideas to help you perk up your home’s appearance. Consult with your Realtor to see what types of improvements make the most sense.
Start with the outside
- An inviting exterior ensures that potential buyers will inspect the interior
- Keep lawns and gardens well maintained
- Ensure garage and porch areas are free of clutter and refuse
- Repair loose siding or pavement
- Replace any damaged roof shingles, eaves troughs or cracked windows
- Wash windows, gutters, mailbox and doors
- Secure loose shutters or awnings
The inside story
You can do a lot to improve the inside of your home without spending a great deal of money. Two primary areas to keep in mind are the kitchen and bathroom.
- Ensure kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling clean;
- Repair dripping facets and showerheads;
- Steam clean or replace carpets if necessary;
- Thoroughly clean every room in the house, removing all clutter;
- Repaint dingy walls or kitchen cabinets with a neutral colour;
- Replace worn or outdated countertops and cracked light-switch plates; and
- Remove any items (like chandeliers) that won't be included in the sale of the home.
Remember, the more effort put into the initial clean up, the easier it will be to keep your home looking its best for visits from your REALTOR® with prospective buyers. As well, keep in mind that rooms that are too cluttered will give the impression that they're much smaller than their true size. Try to create a feeling of spaciousness when conducting your spruce-up.
- As a courtesy to buyers, leave the house while the Realtor is conducting a showing
- Keep pets out of the way – preferably out of your house during the showing
- Ensure that every room is tidy, well aired and adequately lit
- Don't keep money, jewellery and small valuables in plain sight during a showing
- Open drapes to maximize natural light
- Keep all stairways and hallways clear
- Use finishing touches like fresh flowers and candles
By following these relatively simple tips, you'll feel proud of your home and potential purchasers are sure to appreciate its beauty.
There are many things to consider when looking for the right home; one of those considerations should be sustainability. A sustainable home is not only better for the environment, but it can also save you a significant amount of money in the long run.
We asked our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada—what sustainable features are the most important to look for when buying a sustainable home. They responded with features that will help you conserve resources and save costs on heat, water, and electricity.
“Buyers need to determine what space heating system is in place, this is the highest monthly cost and best ROI for a homeowner. Depending on the climate, heat pumps are the best but high efficiency gas furnaces are likely the best choice,” says Rob Grey, RE/MAX of Nanaimo (founder of Real Estate Energy Efficiency Program (REEP).
“They also need to see what level of insulation is installed as this compliments space heating and is one of the least expensive improvements in single family energy efficiency.”
Grey adds it’s very important to check if the home has had an energy assessment (EnerGuide rating), which is an extensive examination by a certified energy advisor who calculates the energy performance of a home, and is LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas, such as: water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, and indoor environmental quality.
More than half of our influencers mentioned the importance of windows when it comes to energy efficiency. The quality of windows installed in a house greatly impact heat conservation. New double or triple pane, argon-filled windows provide extra insulation and better noise reduction for your home.
Properly insulated windows are a must for keeping heat from escaping during the cold winter months. However, the orientation of the windows to the sun should also be considered, as south-facing windows allow radiant heat from sunlight to enter the home each day.
Tied for second place along with water-saving features, a home’s heat source and heat conservation are also very important. A high-efficiency furnace, automated climate control, high value insulation, and heat recovery ventilation are must-haves among others.
South-facing windows, geothermal systems, and active solar energy systems are great sustainable features for heating a home. A geothermal system utilizes the stable ground temperature to regulate a home’s temperature, whereas an active solar energy system gathers heat from the sun.
It is very important to conserve our freshwater supply. Sustainable homes utilize features that minimize water usage. Features like low-flow toilets, sinks, and showerheads, automated sprinklers, rain collectors, and xeriscaping go a long way in water conservation.
One-third of our Influencers spoke about the importance of utilizing the sun’s rays when considering sustainability. Solar panels, solar water heating, and orientation to the sun for natural heating are all ways we can effectively utilize solar energy.
It can be difficult at times to keep up with advancements in technology. Our influencers suggest looking for LED lighting and programmable energy-efficient appliances in a sustainable home. If the home is equipped with a solar panel array, ask for a comparison of the home’s electric generation and consumption. Is there a charging outlet in the garage for a potential future electric car?
Are you searching for the home that is in a great location and is the perfect style for you? Rosemary can help you with your search.
If you are a homeowner and you decide to enter the market, you’re faced with a difficult question: Especially if you’ve never sold your home before.
Do you buy your next home before selling? Or do you sell your current home before buying?
We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates from throughout Canada—to find out their opinion on whether homeowners who are re-entering the market should buy first or sell first.
It all depends
The majority of our RE/MAX Influencers agreed that each situation is unique, and several factors need to be looked at to determine the answer of that question. For example: What are the current market conditions? And are you financially capable of carrying two properties with ease?
“It absolutely depends on the market situation,” says Justus Smith, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate (East). “If the client is selling in a hot seller’s market, then they would likely want to find their next home first and buy it. However, if they are selling in a buyer’s market, it’s better to get their property sold before venturing out to purchase another home.”
Pros of buying first
By buying first, homeowners are less rushed to find the right home, so they can spend time making sure the new house fits as many of their needs as possible.
“The ideal situation is to purchase a home and then sell your current property,” says Sarah Leib, RE/MAX River City.
“Buying without having to sell first allows buyers to find the right home at their own pace,” adds Shauna Bailey, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate North.
Although buying first has some advantages, this situation isn’t financially feasible for everyone. There may be a possibility to add in a sale of home condition to the offer; however, competing offers without that condition will likely be more desirable.
“Buyers should consult with their lender to discuss the possibility to arrange interim financing; therefore, enabling them to make an offer without this condition—provided they qualify—with the intention of ultimately selling their current home once they confirm the new purchase,” says Glen Darough, RE/MAX RHC Realty.
Pros of selling first
Many aren’t able to afford the cost of carrying two properties, and trying to do so may cause significant stress.
“The risk of having to discount your home to create a quick sale just isn’t a pleasant experience,” says Eric Steinbach, RE/MAX Kelowna. “(Clients) can negotiate a better purchase price being strong on finance.”
“It really depends how comfortable my clients are to have the possibility to have to bridge finance or carry two mortgages. I always suggest to sell first, but there are a lot of buyers out there who are scared they won’t find what they are looking for,” says Elio Parente, RE/MAX City Realty.
Rosemary can guide you through your unique situation and help determine whether buying first or selling first is the right decision for you.
Dryer sheets are good for more than just cutting the static in your clothes, for example:
Dusting: Used dryer sheets are effective for dusting surfaces such as computer screens, TV screens, window blinds, baseboards and so much more.
Cleaning: Sprinkle a few drops of water on a used dryer sheet and use it to wipe down your chrome bathroom faucets and to wipe away the soap scum on your shower door.
Keeping clothes fresh: Hang onto that just-washed scent by placing a dryer sheet in your clothes drawers. Pop used sheets in your shoes before putting them back in the closet, too. When storing seasonal clothing, slip an unused dryer sheet into the storage container to keep clothes smelling fresh.
Removing deodorant marks: Rub white residue away with a used dryer sheet.
Courtesy of By Mary Hunt Photo credit: misteraitch
Iknow it’s time. It’s been time for at least two years, possibly longer. I need to clean my kitchen. Now, before you send the Health Department to my address, let me explain. What I mean by “clean” is that I need to clean out and organize my kitchen pantry, cupboards and drawers.
If you walked into my kitchen, you’d see a tidy and sanitary place. But don’t walk into the pantry or open a cupboard too hastily. Something might hit you on the head. At this moment, a bottle of Advil has been tossed on top of cereal boxes, which are resting on pudding boxes that have long ago expired.
Cynthia Ewer, editor of OrganizedHome.com says the first thing I need to do is harden my heart. An efficient, convenient kitchen, she says, must be pared to the bone. I must dare to dump anything and everything that is not absolutely necessary and useful.
CLEAR THE DECKS. Ewer instructs me to prepare four boxes with these labels: Put Away (Kitchen), Put Away (Elsewhere), Give Away (or Sell) and Storage. Now I am to tackle one shelf, drawer and cupboard at a time, putting each item into its proper box.
KITCHEN KEEPERS. Once everything has found its box, send three of the boxes out of the kitchen. Now comes decision time. Ewer is ruthless in suggesting I need to just get rid of the electric french-fry fryer, that strange gelatin mold in the shape of Mount Rushmore and the odd collection of sports bottles from all those walk-a-thons. Ditto for pans I don’t use, dishes I don’t like and specialty cooking tools that I never use because they’re too much trouble to clean.
NO MORE STALLING. I’m going to follow the Organized Home kitchen decluttering plan starting at the top: The top shelves, which Ewer says resemble an unknown landscape at the back of the moon. (I keep wondering when she’s been sneaking into my kitchen because she seems to know this place quite well.)
Here’s the rule: If I’ve used it in the last month, it’s a candidate to stay. If I used it yesterday, that will be the backbone of my newly organized kitchen.
I am committed; I am determined. I will box and banish. I will not stop until every shelf, every cupboard, every nook and cranny of my kitchen is cleared, cleaned and organized.
I don’t think I’m alone in this need for kitchen organization, so I’m extending an invitation for you to join me. Let’s call it the EC Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge. All who dare are invited to join me in this marathon event. Actually, I could use the company. Somehow knowing others are participating in the same drudgery will keep me on track and moving forward.
The only requirement to join is a willingness to get your kitchen organized. And to post a comment below telling me how you are going to get started.
Stay tuned because next week I’m going to help you get motivated to declutter books, CDs, DVDs and electronics—and quite possibly get paid to do it!
Courtesy of, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post
During the process of buying or selling a home, homeowners often learn about recommended or required repairs and upgrades. This can happen as a result of the home inspection as well as your expert knowledge of your market and comparable homes. Of course, the first thing homeowners want to know is, “How much will that cost?”
Pillar To Post is pleased to offer our popular Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates cost guide, which provides estimated cost ranges for repair and/or replacement of the major systems and components in a home. It also includes general guidelines for the life expectancies of those systems. This information can help you make informed decisions when considering home repairs or improvements, and is valued by buyers and sellers alike. Below is just a sampling of our list of estimated costs for hundreds of repairs/upgrades.
Hardwood Floor Refinish
$3-$6 / sq ft
Carpet – Clean
$125 / room
$6-$11 / sq ft
Kitchen Counter – Laminate
$45 / lin ft
Kitchen Counter – Marble
$80 / lin ft
$35 / month
$15-$30 /sq ft
Custom Designed & Built
$55-$80 / sq ft
Casement – Replace
$50 / sq ft
These estimates reflect the average basic costs for supplies and installation of building materials in United States and Canada. Costs may vary depending on regions, upgrades, complexity, and disposal fees.
For complimentary copies of our Construction and Remodeling Estimates cost guide, please contact your local Pillar To Post office, or download from www.pillartopost.com/costguide.
Many of us hibernate somewhat at this time of year, meaning we have lots of time to reacquaint ourselves with our great indoors and all of its associated "stuff," much of which we may even have forgotten about. Take this opportunity to purge unwanted, unneeded and unused things from your home. You'll be surprised at how good you feel once you've opened up your space!
A good purging is necessary when putting your home up for sale or when you're thinking of downsizing to a smaller footprint. Even if you have no plans to move, your motivation could still be as major as getting ready to welcome a new baby into the household, or as simple as recognizing you have a lot of things you'll never use again. In fact, you may have no other reason for tackling your overcrowded household than wanting to claim your space back.
So, once you've made the decision to purge, what do you do with all that stuff?
Tackle each room with large, empty boxes, each marked with a different purpose. There will be the "keep" box for things you absolutely need or can't let go of, the "donate" box with things to give either to charity or to friends or family who may make use out of the items, and the "sell" box. Yes, someone might actually, thanks to the far-reaching wonder of the Internet and sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, magically translate your junk into money in your pocket — you'll be surprised at what people will pay for!
Finally, there will be those items you'll transfer from one hand to the other, and spend much too much time pondering. To help move the cleanup process along, put those treasures in another box that you'll mark with a date six months from the current date. When you approach it half a year from now, you'll probably first shake your head in disbelief that a whole six months has already flown by, and then as a second step recognize that if you didn't need those items in the past half year, you can probably let them go now.
Clutter can be a source of stress, so purging can benefit your mental well-being. In some cases, letting go of certain memories will allow you to move onto a new phase of life. Other times, clearing the physical clutter in your life frees up the space, both mentally and physically, to move towards a clearer future.
At the very least, less stuff in your home means less stuff to clean and, when it comes time to move, less to pack up and move!
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.
As you recover from this holiday season, it's the perfect time to start planning on ways to ease the stress of the next one! For example, when packing away seasonal lights, do your future self a favour and consider these storage tips:
- Unplug strings of lights that are attached, and wrap each strand separately.
- Cut heavy pieces of cardboard into 6" x 12" pieces, cut notches into the long edges and wrap the lights around the cardboard, pressing the cord into the notches to stay put.
- Empty coffee cans make for great storage too. Place replacement bulbs inside the can, then cut a slit in the plastic lid and put the receptacle end of the light cord through it. Place the lid on the can and then wrap the lights around the can.
The New Year is within sight. If your New Year's resolution is to make a housing move in 2017, now's the time to start working on it!
Current homeowners need to know that because of a lack of housing inventory in many areas, their home may sell faster and perhaps for more money than they expect. But as all real estate is local, you'll want to get the latest updates on sales activity in your immediate area to get the best understanding of what to expect for your own real estate activities.
"National sales and price trends continue to be heavily influenced by a handful of places in Ontario and British Columbia and mask significant variations in local housing market trends and conditions across Canada," notes Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) President Cliff Iverson.
CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump gave an example from this summer's real estate activity in western Canada: "Home sales continued to trend lower while price gains further accelerated in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia." He added, "This suggests that sales are being reined in by a lack of inventory and a further deterioration in affordability." Successful real estate transactions require the steady guidance of an experienced real estate sales professional. Please call today so we can review your current housing situation in relation to your plans for 2017.
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.
Are you fed up with the style or design of your bathroom? Join the flood of homeowners who are throwing in the towel on their old bathrooms!
According to a recent survey of homeowners who started a bathroom renovation in 2015-2016*, a full 46 percent said they took on the project because they simply "couldn't stand" their old bathroom anymore, while 38 percent said it was always in the plans, they just previously didn't have the means to do it. On a practical level, 29 percent were prompted to renovate when their old bathroom deteriorated or broke down, while 19 percent chose to renovate as they had recently purchased their home and wanted to make the bathroom "their own."
So what are people doing to their bathrooms, and how much are they spending to get there?
More than four in five homeowners replaced major bathroom features such as showers, flooring, countertops and sinks in their master bathrooms. Even though 75 percent of survey respondents maintained the size of their bathrooms, a full 68 percent of them went for some more shower power by increasing the size of their shower.
When planning your bathroom reno, be honest about what you visually covet versus what you will actually use. For example, a deep, freestanding claw-foot bathtub is something to drool over in a renovating magazine, but on a practical level you might find yourself relating more to the 56 percent of survey respondents who said they never soak in a bathtub or to the 20 percent who say they only make the time once or twice a month. Is the expense and space a bathtub takes up worth it for you, or would a larger shower be more utilized and appreciated?
Continuing on a practical train of thought, "good lighting" was a priority for 46 percent of homeowners looking to make a change to their bathrooms, followed by "easy to clean and disinfect" by 43 percent and "easy to store and find things" by 42 percent. "Easy for more than one person to be in," at 39 percent, explained the popularity of renovations like double sinks and dual showers, and at 73 percent, the number of people who included at least one walled-off area within the master bathroom — for the shower, toilet area or vanity/make-up area, for example. Be honest with what you want compared to what you need versus how much money you're willing to dedicate to the project. The survey showed that 23 percent of homeowners budgeted $5,000 to $10,000 for their bathroom renovation, while 34 percent of homeowners budgeted $10,000 to $25,000 and 19 percent budgeted $25,000 to $50,000.
What you plan to spend and what the project actually ends up costing can be two completely different amounts. Make sure you sit down with a building specialist, general contractor, bathroom remodeler, plumber, electrician and/or other professionals to create a renovation plan that takes into account the many options available to create the practical yet stylish and beautiful bathroom of your dreams.
Mortgage-in-arrears studies track the number of households that have not made a mortgage payment in three or more months. The latest figures show that of the almost 4.7 million mortgages in Canada, just 13,000 of them — 0.28 percent of mortgage holders with Canada's largest banks — are 90 days in arrears. This figure has been consistent throughout the last 20 years, riding out fluctuations in unemployment, interest rates and an up-and-down Canadian dollar.
The Canadian government has a conservative approach to household borrowing, instituting changes over the past few years that necessitate larger down payments and shorter mortgage amortization periods. Today's homebuyer must have a down payment of at least five percent, with the portion of the home price between $500,000 and $999,999 requiring a minimum down payment of ten percent. And because government-backed mortgage insurance is available only for homes with a purchase price of less than $1 million, borrowers buying homes at or above $1 million will need a down payment of at least 20 percent if their financing is coming from a federally regulated financial institution.
Home loans must be paid off sooner than before, too. Homeowners were once able to stretch their payments out over a period of up to 40 years; the current maximum amortization period for a high-ratio mortgage is now 25 years.
How comfortable are you with your loan arrangement? Please call today to discuss your existing mortgage versus your future financial goals.
Don’t get overwhelmed right out of the gate when starting your home search; peruse your options with confidence, knowing you are comparing apples to apples as much as possible.
Are you in the market for a new house? These 9 items top the list of things to consider whenever you tour a home:
Keep in mind all the places you need to go, and how far away they are from this current house location. Calculate the distance to your work, schools, groceries stores, and favourite nightlife spots. Wherever you frequent the most, such as your job commute or gym, should be your top location priority. Also, see how close you are to gas stations and freeways. These aren’t always considered, and it can be a pain to have to drive a long distance just to get to the airport or to fuel up.
If this is important to you, stop a few minutes at each window in the home you’re touring to check out the view. Take note of the direction the windows are facing to see if you’ll get that brilliant sunrise or sunset everyday. Also, check out how close you are to your neighbours, and see if they can easily look into a room.
Before you step into a potential home to tour, drive around the neighbourhood a little. Take a look at how people landscape their yard, if they have kids playing in the street, and if a block ends on a busy intersection. This is especially important if you have young kids that will be playing a lot outside. Your neighbourhood also plays a huge role in your home’s overall value.
This might seem like a small detail, but a poorly designed driveway can cause some serious stress. Make sure all your family cars can comfortably drive on it to easily access the garage. Some homes have a pillar dividing two or more spots, which can lead some larger vehicles unable to maneuver inside. Also, make sure you don’t have anything blocking your line of sight when you back out, such as tall shrubs or blind corners.
Size and Floor Plan
Pick up a floor plan while you tour a home, and revisit it and keep the house’s layout fresh in your memory. Imagine yourself walking between each room, and note any troublesome areas. Consider the overall space of each room, and know that a larger space will require you to run your heater longer, add more furniture, but will be perfect for a larger sized family. Measure your current furniture to get an idea of where you would put things like couches, beds, dressers, and any other bulky items. Some furniture might not fit, so make sure you factor these purchases into your budget.
Room Count: Beds and Baths
Consider your family’s needs, and if you will eventually need an extra bathroom or bedroom after a few years. Smaller homes can actually benefit a bigger family since they will be easier to clean, plus they transition well once all the kids have moved out. Take into consideration what you currently have now, and ask yourself if this amount of rooms truly meets your needs.
Ideal Kitchen Layout
Do you enjoy cooking? You’ll want to make sure your kitchen flows well, and that all the appliances you need are easy to access. When you’re touring the kitchen, walk through a typical dinner preparation, from cutting board counter height to oven door clearance space; it should all be tested. Ask your REALTOR® what appliances will stay in the kitchen so you can budget for the missing ones, such as a fridge.
Ask your REALTOR® to show you homes with varying layouts so you can experience how each one might work for your unique cooking needs.
Open every single closet while you tour. Take detailed notes of each storage space on your floor plan of the home, then see if it will work for your needs. When people move, usually they like to de-clutter, but there will still be some items you’ll need to store in your new home. Bring a tape measure with you so you can get exact measurements.
Windows and Finishes
Having natural lighting in each room will cut down on your energy bill drastically. See where each window is placed throughout the home to get an idea of how much sunlight you’ll be getting. Ask your REALTOR® how old the windows are, and if they might need to be replaced. Also, notice the finishes in each room such as the hardware style, molding, and focal points - like a fireplace. These can be changed out or disguised, but it’s best to find a place that already meets your expectations. Bring a camera or use the one on your smart phone to snap some photos of the details that drew you in, then file them with each house’s paperwork for future reference.
It might sound like a lot of prep work to do before touring a home, as well as a lot to think about during the showing, but this will ultimately make your final decision much simpler. You don’t want to miss out on a charming home if you can’t make up your mind, so make it easy on yourself by sufficiently preparing ahead of time, and you’ll be guaranteed to find a perfect home that meets all your needs.
*This article is syndicated and licensed from Realtor.GetWrittn.com.
From, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post
While not every room in your home needs to follow a theme, you may find yourself designing a bedroom around a child's favorite Disney character, sports team or activity, or playing up your own hobby or even trying to recreate the serenity of a vacation spot in your own bedroom. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you decorate.
- Make sure you don't go overboard with your theme while forgetting about the practicality of your room. If you can't sit/lie/relax on it, it's about as practical as stiletto heels on the beach. In other words, you don't want a bedroom that shows well but doesn't invite comfort and relaxation.
- Remember that a themed bedroom doesn't mean running out and buying every known accessory relevant to your vision. Your theme can be jumpstarted as easily and inexpensively as choosing the right shade of paint for the walls. Sports fans looking to create a shrine to their team should know there is paint designed to match team colors perfectly, allowing them to instantly surround themselves with logo-matched paint to complement the team accessories they plan to display.
- Looking to create a dreamy bedroom space? You'll want to choose calming colors for the walls and bedding. You may think white is right, but again, keep practicality in mind: spills happen, dirt comes out of nowhere, and before you know it your calming oasis turns into just another stress-inducing imposition. White can work in some situations, but keep your lifestyle in mind before you commit.
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