December 7, 2021    中文(简体)   

What Do Lenders Look at When Approving You for a Mortgage?

21. November 2021 09:13

Whether you are buying a new home or already an experienced homeowner looking to refinance, lenders look at a multitude of factors when approving you for a new mortgage.

 

Recent data shows that 410,000 new mortgages originated in the second quarter of 2021 alone, which is a 60% increase compared to the same period the year prior1. This isn’t surprising as home prices have gone up substantially over the last two years.

 

The Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) also notes that the average homebuyer finances roughly 67% of their purchase price2. If you are looking to buy a new home or refinance to take advantage of the low-rate environment, here are a few factors your lender will be sure to analyze.

 

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Credit Score

 

One of the first things that lenders look for when qualifying you for a new mortgage is your credit score. Credit data is pulled from the two Canadian credit repositories, namely Equifax Canada and TransUnion.

 

Scores often range between 300-900, with the lower representing poorer credit and the top end representing someone with excellent credit3. Requirements vary from lender to lender but, in general, most lenders require a credit score at or above 6503.

 

You can request a free copy of your credit report each year. The types of credit, payment history, credit utilization, and new inquiries all go into determining your overall credit score.

 

Outstanding Debt and Payment History

 

Lenders will review your outstanding debts and payment history to help determine your likelihood and ability to repay new credit requests.

 

While your payment history is already considered, in part, by your credit score, lenders will still review any outstanding balances you carry and their relation to your income to make sure you can support taking on new debt.

 

Ideally, you want to have no late or delinquent tradelines, especially on current or previous mortgages. However, the existence of these factors may not necessarily outright disqualify you from obtaining a new mortgage, so long as blemishes can be sufficiently explained and documented. If you can demonstrate you are a responsible borrower that can manage credit, you could still get approved for a new mortgage.

 

Qualifying Income

 

The amount of money you earn is a major factor that lenders analyze when approving you for a mortgage. Not only do they need to verify how much you earn but also the stability of your income and its likelihood of continuance.

 

For example, a full-time salaried borrower may have less hoops to jump through than self-employed borrowers or those relying on variable sources of income for qualification.

 

Lenders will typically want to see that you have a two-year history of receiving any income being used for qualification substantiated by supporting documentation such as recent paystubs, T4 statements, and/or personal T1 generals4.

 

Liquid and Non-Liquid Assets

 

Most lenders will want an itemized summary of your assets to review as part of your mortgage application4. This includes liquid assets such as checking and savings accounts but could also include non-liquid assets such as registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and vehicles.

 

Borrowers with substantial assets are often considered more responsible borrowers in the eyes of lenders because you have access to additional reserves should an unexpected event occur, that could temporarily impact your income used to make your monthly payments.

 

Down Payment

 

If you are buying a new home, lenders will want to know how much of your own money you are contributing to your purchase transaction. Putting down more money is more favorable than putting down less money because it reduces the overall risk to the lender.

 

If your down payment is coming from a typical bank account, lenders will often want to see a 90-day history showing the source of funds being used.

 

Other down payment sources, such as the net equity from the sale of another property should be documented with a fully executed purchase agreement and a mortgage statement for any existing mortgage loan secured by the property.

 

Gifted funds may also be an eligible source of down payment provided you have a signed gift letter and proof the funds have been received into your bank account from the donor.

 

Property Condition and Value

 

Lastly, lenders will need to analyze the condition and value of the subject property that will be used as collateral to secure your new mortgage loan.

 

Your lender may require an appraisal inspection report be completed before approving your credit request to make sure the value supports your requested loan amount. It also helps the lender identify any issues related to the property’s condition.

 

In some cases, you may find a lender who will approve a mortgage based on an automated valuation model (AVM) to determine your home’s property value, but it's never a guarantee.

 

Sources

 

1 Evans, P. (2021, September 05). Canadians have record-high mortgage debt. What happens when rates rise? | CBC News. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/debt-mortgage-feature-1.6162668

 

2 Dunning, W. (2015, June). A Profile of Home Buying in Canada (Rep.). Retrieved November 15, 2021, from Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals website: https://mortgageproscan.ca/docs/default-source/default-document-library/a-profile-of-home-buying-in-canada.pdf?sfvrsn=e54ef47e_0

 

3 Logan, H. (2021, August 18). Minimum Credit Score for a Mortgage in Canada. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.nerdwallet.com/ca/mortgages/minimum-credit-score-for-mortgage-canada

 

4 Cooper, S. (2021, October 21). Mortgages 101: Guide to Getting Your Mortgage. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from https://www.greedyrates.ca/blog/mortgages-101-a-guide-to-getting-your-mortgage/

 

 

 

Three DIY Projects to Add Value That Any Homeowner Can Do

5. October 2021 12:26

Being a homeowner can be very rewarding, but sometimes it requires you to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. If you want your home to retain or increase in value, you may want to consider doing some home renovations or improvements.

 

Hiring a contractor or handyman can cost thousands of dollars, even for the smallest project. Rather than dip into your savings, consider completing a modest project yourself.

 

No matter your skill set, there are several home projects that you can complete to add incremental value to your home to help keep it looking fresh and modern. Let's look at three DIY home projects that any homeowner can do.

 

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1. Paint the Front Door

 

You might not think it's a big change, but something as simple as painting your front door could have a big impact on your home’s value.

 

A recent analysis by Zillow found that homeowners who painted their front doors black or charcoal gray could sell their home for nearly $6,000 more1.

 

Even if black or gray doesn't work for you, painting your front door makes it look newer and adds curb appeal. Consider choosing a bright color that contrasts with a neutral exterior.

 

The best part about painting a front door is that it doesn’t cost much and takes little time to complete. Expect to spend about $75 on materials and an afternoon to complete.

 

Tools and Materials

 

-Sanding block -Paint stir stick
-Paint brush -Combination paint and primer
-Painter’s tape -Rags, drop cloths, and spare towel
-Paint roller and tray  

 

Tips and Suggestions

 

1)    Remove hardware (knobs, locks, hinges, etc.) from the door before you start painting and cover any built-in hardware, such as the peephole, with painter’s tape.

 

2)    Lay down drop cloth or other material to catch any dripping paint before you apply your first coat. Two coats may be necessary to get full coverage

 

3)    Start in recessed areas with a brush and then follow up by using a roller on flat areas

 

2. Frame Bathroom Mirror and Paint a Vanity

 

If you don’t want to spend the money or the time renovating your home, focusing on minor improvements to your bathroom could help boost your property’s value.

 

A recent cross-Canadian survey found that bathroom renovations can increase the value of your home anywhere from 2.5-12.5%2.

 

Adding a frame to your mirror can give your bathroom a more finished look. Similarly, painting your vanity can make the space feel bigger than it is and provide a nice boost of eye-popping color.

 

Adding a fresh coat of paint and installing a new frame around the mirror doesn’t require much. Expect to spend around $200 and allocate the majority of a day to complete.

 

Tools and Materials

 

-1 x 4 x 8’ (x 2) for most mirrors -Construction adhesive
-Miter saw -Caulk and caulk gun
-Paint primer -Electric drill and screws
-Paint brush -Painter’s tape
-Paint roller and tray -Rags, drop cloth, and spare towel
-Semi-gloss paint -Flat L brackets (x 4)
-Sanding block -Level
-Clear coat polyurethane  

 

Tips and Suggestions

 

1)    Go around the vanity with painter’s tape to protect the wall from paint and use a high-quality small-nap roller to avoid it from looking streaky when you apply your paint.

 

2)    Cut the boards so they will have a ½” overhang on the mirror’s perimeter and make sure to add a clear coat of polyurethane to repel moisture.

 

3. Swapping Out Kitchen Hardware

 

Sometimes the simplest changes can add the most value. It should be no surprise that completing kitchen renovations is one of the best ways to increase the value of your home.

 

But a common misconception is that you must do extensive work to see a high return on your investment (ROI). In actuality, even a minor kitchen remodel can earn you around 78% return on your investment4.

 

A minor remodel may include replacing cabinets, installing new appliances, or swapping out counter tops. If you want a simple project to get you started that will give your kitchen a newer modern feel, consider swapping out your date kitchen hardware with high quality materials3.

 

Tools and Materials

 

-Kitchen hardware (including knobs, pulls, and back plates)

-Screwdriver or electric drill

-Pencil

 

Tips and Suggestions

 

1)    Consider matte or satin black finishes, which have been found to be incredibly popular in 2020 and going into 2021, to give your home a sleeker, modern look5.

2)    Invest in a plastic installation template to make sure your hardware is even and lined up correctly.

 

Sources

 

1 Zillow, Inc. (2018, July 20). Homes with Tuxedo Kitchen Cabinets and Black Front Doors Can Sell Up to $6,000 More than Expected [Press release]. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from http://zillow.mediaroom.com/2018-06-20-Homes-with-Tuxedo-Kitchen-Cabinets-and-Black-Front-Doors-Can-Sell-Up-to-6-000-More-than-Expected

 

2 Remodeling. (2018, July 06). Canadian Survey Compares Added Value of Nine Renovation Projects. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from https://www.remodeling.hw.net/article/canadian-survey-compares-added-value-of-nine-renovation-projects_c

 

3 Sagan, A., & The Canadian Press. (2019, October 25). Renovation ideas that will increase the value of your home. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from https://globalnews.ca/news/6081302/home-renovations-with-the-most-value/

 

4 Little, D. (2021, April 08). Renovations That Add Value to Your Home. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from https://ama.ab.ca/articles/valuable-home-renovations

 

5 Shaughnessy, J. (2020, December 04). Kitchen Hardware Trends 2021. Retrieved September 29, 2021, from https://jennakateathome.com/kitchen-hardware-trends/#Trends_For_Kitchen_Cabinet_Hardware

Three Untold Benefits to Buying Newly Constructed Home

16. August 2021 13:59

When it comes to real estate, people often say that bigger is better. But what they fail to mention is that newer is also better. If you are in the market for a new home, you should consider all your buying options, including newly constructed homes.

 

Newly constructed homes are becoming increasingly popular amongst new homebuyers. In July alone, new home construction was up about 16% from the previous month1.

 

The reason why several buyers are turning to new construction is because it offers multiple benefits that existing homes just cannot provide. Here are three untold benefits to buying a new constructed home that you may not have considered.

 

 

 

1. More Choices, Personalization, and Value

 

Sometimes buying an existing home might not be the best option if you want a home to truly call your own. That’s because you are buying a property that has already been designed and curated to fit someone else’s taste and aesthetic.

 

Buying a newly constructed home gives you the freedom and opportunity to make more decisions that have an impact on where and how you live. For example, you can choose your builder, what design you want, and even what neighborhood you want to build in.

 

Today, homes are built to meet higher quality and standards. Similarly, developments are being designed to foster interaction and togetherness. Often you will see areas designed to incorporate parks, bike paths, and other recreational areas for social gatherings.

 

But the buck doesn’t stop there. The Canadian Home Builders Association also notes that buying a new construction gives you more choices to personalize and customize your home to make it your own2.

 

2. GST/HST New Housing Rebates

 

An added benefit to a newly constructed home is that you can qualify for a tax rebate. Individuals can recover some of the goods and services tax (GST) or the federal part of the harmonized sales tax (HST). Additionally, other provincial new housing rebates may also be available for the provincial part of the HST. This can be used in combination with the rebate for the federal portion, although it may not be available in all areas3.

 

The rebate applies to buyers who will occupy the subject property as primary residence3. Buyers who will co-own the house with another entity who is not an individual (i.e., corporation, partnership, etc.) cannot qualify for the rebate3.

 

In general, the house must be a single-unit home (detached or semi-detached), including condos, townhomes, and co-ops, or a duplex3. Mobile or modular homes may also qualify. The property must also be a qualified owner-built home or purchased from a builder. Mobile or modular homes may also qualify3.

 

Homes that are also going to be used for commercial purposes, such as a bed and breakfast or short-term rental, are also eligible for this incentive provided 50% or more of the property is being used as your primary place of residence3.

 

If you are a real estate investor, similar rebates are also available although different guidelines apply4. Residential landlords that purchase a new or substantially renovated residential rental property from a builder or construct an addition to a multi-unit rental property can claim a rebate for some of the HST when certain situations apply4.

 

3. Warranty Protection

 

It's important that if you do purchase a newly constructed home that the build is completed in a workman-like manner and free of material defects. This is why it’s important to work with a reputable builder.

 

However, if issues do arise, many homes are covered under warranty. In fact, by law, all new homes in Ontario must be provided with a warranty by a builder5. The warranty is administered by the non-for-profit consumer protection organization called Tarion.

 

The province’s new home warranty program offers multi-layered protection that covers multiple issues. Throughout the first year the warranty covers defects in materials, as well as protection against unauthorized substitutions and building code violations5.

 

Overlapping the first year, you also get a two-year warranty that protects against certain foundational issues, windows, plumbing, electrical, and other defects related to major systems within the home5.

 

Lastly, you can rest assured knowing you are fully protected with an additional final layer of coverage that covers major structural defects defined by the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act for up to seven years5.

 

While there are guidelines and exceptions in place, filing a claim is simple. You can also feel safe knowing you have some recourse buying a newly constructed home, as opposed to an existing dwelling where who knows what hidden issues might be lurking underneath the surface.

 

Sources

 

1 CBC News. (2020, August 11). New home construction surged in July. Retrieved August 12, 2021, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/cmhc-housing-starts-july-1.5681883

 

2 Canadian Home Builders Association. (n.d.). A New Home - or an Existing One? Retrieved August 12, 2021, from https://www.chba.ca/CHBA/BuyingNew/NewExistingHome.aspx

 

3 Canada Revenue Agency. (2021, March 12). GST/HST New Housing Rebate. Retrieved August 12, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/rc4028/gst-hst-new-housing-rebate.html

 

4 Canada Revenue Agency. (2020, October 30). GST/HST New Residential Rental Property Rebate. Retrieved August 12, 2021, from https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/rc4231/gst-hst-new-residential-rental-property-rebate.html

 

5 Tarion. (n.d.). An Outline of Your Warranty. Retrieved August 12, 2021, from https://www.tarion.com/homeowners/your-warranty-coverage/warranty-outline

How to Maintain a Swimming Pool

24. June 2021 11:19

Whether you are laying out, soaking up some rays or hosting a backyard summer barbeque, owning a home with a pool certainly has its perks.

 

In fact, the number of homeowners that invested in adding a swimming pool to their home went up in 2020, partially to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic1.

 

Some companies have experienced so much more volume that they are pushing orders into 2022 as the industry experiences a shortage of materials for installation and landscaping2.

 

But while having a pool is great, there is a lot that goes into maintaining one. It's especially important to make sure your pool is equipped to weather the colder months and for growing families, safety can also be a concern.

 

After spending days outside splashing in the water and enjoying the sun, here are the key things you should do to help maintain your pool while it's in use and during the off-season.

 

 

 

Check Your Primary Components

 

Pools have a lot of working systems that you should look over periodically throughout the year. Verifying the pumps and pipes are all in working order becomes even more important when the summer starts to taper off into fall.

 

As temperatures drop, pipes can freeze and damage systems. Cracks can also form that can cost you a substantial amount of money to remedy.

 

To help prevent major maintenance and repairs, make sure to drain the water from the heater, filter, and pump with a motorized pump or pool vacuum.

 

You should also clean your pool walls and floor with a pool brush and use a pool skimmer regularly (don’t forget to check the basket!). Similarly, check and clean your filtration system and replace any older filters where applicable.

 

Chemicals Are Your Friend

 

While nobody really loves that residual chlorine smell, the fact is that adding the right chemicals and solutions to your pool will help it survive the winter and last longer.

 

Algaecide is a tool that many pool providers recommend you add to your water before you close it down in the off-season to help prevent algae from building up. Adding other winterizing products, such as PoolTec's Winter Lay-Up Pool Treatment, will also help prevent bacteria and growth of other microorganisms.

 

Other enzyme products, such as Pool Perfect, can also be employed to help breakdown contaminants. Things like pollen, bird droppings, and other organic particulates can get into the water which if untreated can cause a ring to form, like a bathtub if left uncleaned for some time.

 

Rather than scrubbing out your entire pool every year, adding specific solutions to your pool can help reduce the amount of physical maintenance you need to perform throughout the seasons.

 

Lastly, it's important you maintain the right pH level throughout the year as well as periodically adding chlorine. Many homeowners make the mistake of adding too much chlorine right before winter. However, adding too much chlorine can bleach your pool liner.

 

Make Sure to Cover Up

 

One of the best ways to maintain your pool for years to come is to invest in the right pool safety cover. Make sure you get a pool cover that properly fits your pool to help prevent the accumulation of debris, bugs, and other particulates.

 

If your cover has cables, make sure to check these throughout the winter to make sure they are tight and secure.

 

An air pillow can be a great investment by protecting your pool from ice and snow damage. It can also help keep your cover secure and stable.

 

Additionally, keeping the pool maintained may require you to clear your cover of organic matter, such as sticks and leaves during the warmer months, and ice and snow build up during the winter.

 

Removing ice and snow is important otherwise your cover may stretch and become damaged. Do not use a shovel or anything with sharp edges to remove snow or else you run the risk of puncturing your cover. Instead use a broom to push snow off the cover or a leaf blower for lesser accumulation.

 

Leave it to the Professionals

 

Maintaining a pool can be a lot of work. If you are having trouble finding the time to take care of the basic upkeep or are unsure if you are taking care of all the tasks needed to properly open and close your pool for the seasons, consider hiring a professional pool maintenance company.

 

There is no shame in asking a professional pool maintenance company to maintain the pool especially when opening and closing the pool. In fact, this might be the best option if you only occupy the property on a seasonal basis. Just make sure you do your research and find a reputable pool maintenance company that will give it the proper tender love and care it deserves.

 

Sources

 

1 Canadian Press. (2020, June 25). CANADA: Homeowners outfitting backyards with pools to deal with COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://www.thoroldtoday.ca/around-ontario/canada-homeowners-outfitting-backyards-with-pools-to-deal-with-covid-19-pandemic-2518791

 

2 Foran, P. (2021, June 02). Ontario pool companies now taking orders for next summer as pandemic drags on. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/ontario-pool-companies-now-taking-orders-for-next-summer-as-pandemic-drags-on-1.5453687

 

 

 

Buyers Introduction to Oakville, Ontario

19. April 2021 18:25

Looking for a unique suburban city with a healthy mix of adventure and relaxation? Then you may want to consider calling Oakville, Ontario home.

 

This quiet, mid-sized city is the perfect escape from the bustle of downtown Toronto living, all while offering residents a little bit of everything from culture and arts, to a robust sports community.

 

Dubbed 2018’s Best Place to Live in Canada by MoneySense Magazine, Oakville is full of places to explore and amenities to try. If you are considering moving to this beautiful little town near the water, here are few things to know about this amazing city.

 

 

 

Neighborhoods

 

Oakville comprises roughly 13 to 14 local neighborhoods, all of which have a fairly strong European influence but are flavorfully unique depending on your lifestyle and personality.

 

If you want to be immersed in culture and tradition, there is no better place than the historic downtown district of Old Oakville, nestled next to Lake Ontario. College Park offers easy access to shopping and public transit.

 

Alternatively, if a newer more modern home is more your style, consider buying around Iroquois Ridge to the south. You can often find townhomes and condominiums at a price below an average single-family home in the area.

 

Many Oakville neighborhoods like Morrison and East Lake offer luxury living to those seeking larger lots, sizable suites, and custom builds. Clearview, West Oak Trails, and Glenn Abbey are other popular communities to consider.

 

According to Zolo’s April 2021 Housing Market Report, the average sales price for a new home in Oakville is $1.5 million. While it is one of the more expensive areas to live in, it is also highly sought after as the average amount of time a property stays on the market is roughly 9 days.

 

Amenities and Places to Visit

 

Deciding where to start exploring can be difficult as Oakville offers a multitude of museums, shops, and recreational areas to visit. You can’t go wrong with a trip to the Bronte Harbour, which offers a boardwalk, marina, lighthouse, and beach park.

 

Looking for a relaxing night out with some friends, Cameron’s Brewing Company is a top destination for residents looking to enjoy (arguably) some of the best beer in Canada.

 

Get lost in Lion’s Valley or Coronation Park, both of which offer scenic trails and vistas that every outdoor enthusiast can appreciate. Not feeling active? The Oakville Museum and Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre both provide a touch of sophistication that won’t disappoint.

 

Don’t forget about Oakville’s 60 soccer fields, complete with a FIFA certified Soccer Club Facility, and home to the infamous Canadian Soccer League’s Blue Devils. Lacrosse, golf, and watersports are also popular among the locals.

 

Demographics

 

Leveraging the strong labor market in Toronto, Oakville offers numerous employment opportunities to those in affluent professions. Common industries include software development, engineering, and healthcare. Most residents commute to neighboring urban epicenters.

 

Oakville’s low crime rate also makes it an attractive place to live, especially for buyers with growing families. In fact, 30% of the city residents are 19 years or younger which is higher than the national average. However, the median resident age is approximately 40 years old.

 

In general, the city’s overall population sits at nearly 200,000 residents with the average family median income reaching just over $100,000. Almost two thirds of residents have a college diploma.

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Spruce Up For Spring With These Fresh Home Maintenance Tips

11. March 2021 14:43

For years the warmer temperatures and melting snow have been synonymous with the changing seasons. As winter turns to spring, it also carries another popular tradition: spring cleaning.

 

But before you leap into enjoying springtime activities including hiking, bike riding, or even neighborhood cookouts, it's always important to take the time to inspect your home and complete any necessary maintenance.

 

Completing annual inspections and routine upkeep can help maintain the useful life of your home and it's resale value. Furthermore, it will help prevent smaller, inexpensive issues from becoming major out-of-pocket expenses. Lastly, it's important to address any potential safety issues that might be bubbling under the surfacing.

 

However, compiling a comprehensive list of features around your home that need annual due diligence can be tough, especially since every home is unique. For example, you wouldn’t expect to complete all the same spot checks for a traditional single family home as compared to a condominium.

 

If you are a homeowner, here are a few features you should be on the lookout for when completing your annual maintenance check and sprucing up your dream home in preparation for spring.

 

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Exterior Maintenance

 

1. Check Your Roof and Gutters

Toronto has been known to experience serious arctic temperatures over the winter months. Excessive snow and ice build-up on the roof can lead to ice damming, which can cause damage to your roof, gutters, and insulation1. It can even cause paint to warp.

 

One of the best things you can do for your home is to inspect your roof annually as the snow begins to melt, checking for excessive deterioration or even water damage. Make sure there are no missing shingles, cracks or leaks.

 

If you do start to see that the integrity of your roof is in jeopardy, consider a full roof inspection and/or replacement. Many homeowners elect to install new metal roofs that can withstand some of the harsher winters, allowing for easier removal of snow.

 

While checking your roof, make sure to also inspect your gutters, ensuring they are clear of debris. Seal any apparent holes or leaks and also make sure to position your downspouts to face away from the home to help maintain proper drainage.

 

2. Repair and Reseal Siding, Windows, and Doors

Much like a knight has a suit of armor to protect himself against imminent danger, your siding, windows, and doors act like armor by protecting your home against the seasonal elements.

 

To make your home run more efficiently, it's always a good idea to complete a visual inspection of exterior features to make sure there are no cracks or leaks that can allow drafts or moisture into the home.

 

Be especially vigilant of larger exposed gaps or opening near the ground level. These areas can be conducive to rodents and other pests that like to sneak into the walls and ceilings during the winter.

 

While you're at it, if you have any exposed woodwork or decking, consider hitting it with a clear coating sealant that will repel moisture and help retain the integrity of your finish. Installing a quick clear coat can also create a moisture barrier to help prevent and repel mold and mildew from building up. You don’t want a green deck when it comes time to host the neighborhood barbecue.

 

3. Prune, Plant and Trim

Speaking of green, spring time is the perfect excuse to exercise your green thumb. In fact, real estate experts say that landscape can even help increase your home’s value by around 15-20%2.

 

Start by dethatching and fertilizing your lawn so that as temperatures continue to warm, you will get that fresh and healthy green lawn you have come to know and love. Also collect and dispose of any yard waste such as fallen tree branches, left-over leaves, and mildew ridden mulch. Trim down any hedges or shrubs.

 

Consider installing fresh mulch for a nice clean look or even planting fresh flowers around your walk and entryways, giving your home a vibrant splash of color.

 

Interior Maintenance

 

1. Clean and Inspect Your Furnace

The outside of your home isn’t the only area that needs attention. Lets face it, everyone wants to stay inside, cozy and warm, when it's freezing outside. That said, as the season shifts it's a good idea to make sure your furnace and air conditioner are in proper working order and ready to handle temperature shifts.

 

Most service technicians recommend you order a tune-up for your HVAC system every year or two to make sure it is in tip-top shape. It will also help make your unit run more efficiently, preventing you from having to shell out a lot of money on a replacement system.

 

Don’t want to spend the money on a service call? At least take the time to replace your system’s air filter. Most traditional air-filters need to be changed every three months or so, but some newer units have filters that only need to be changed annually. When in doubt follow the recommended maintenance instructions provided by your system’s manufacturer.

 

2. Examine Your Basement

Spring certainly provides an opportunity to purge the basement of junk and clutter, but it's also a good time to make sure there are no observable maintenance issues with your foundation or lower level.

 

While some moisture can be common, depending on how your home was constructed, it's always a good idea to inspect your basement (especially around mechanical systems) for excessive staining, leaks, and even water damage. Evidence of water damage may be an indicator of cracks in your foundation as well as other drainage issues.

 

3. Alarms and Smoke Detectors

A common home maintenance task that often goes unnoticed is checking and replacing the batteries in your home’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. Although less common, it is also a good idea to check any fire extinguishers you might have on-hand or installed throughout the home.

 

If you are extra concerned about safety, you may also want to consider having a radon inspection completed in areas where it is more prevalent. Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer in non-smokers3. Roughly 7% of buildings in Toronto have levels of radon that may pose a health risk3.

 

One way to help counteract higher levels of radon is by installing a radon mitigation system. Radon mitigation systems are quite common and can be fairly inexpensive to install.

 

Sources

 

1 Cusack, L. (2021, February 12). Tips to prevent leaks and ice damming on your roof this winter. Retrieved March 9, 2021, from https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/tips-to-prevent-leaks-and-ice-damming-on-your-roof-this-winter-1.5306719

 

2 Murray, A. (2020, June 02). Landscaping tips to increase your home's value. Retrieved March 9, 2021, from https://ottawacitizen.com/life/homes/landscape-tips-to-increase-your-homes-value

 

3 City of Toronto. (2018, November 13). Radon & Your Health. Retrieved March 9, 2021, from

https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/health-programs-advice/radon-and-your-health

 

The Top 3 Best and Worst Renovation Projects That Will Impact Your Property Value

5. February 2021 14:51

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, mortgage rates have hit near all-time lows while property values continue to climb. As a result, many homeowners are taking this opportunity (and excess free time) to complete deferred home renovation projects.

 

If you own a home at some point you have probably wanted to change a specific feature you just feel is a little bit out of date or functionally limited. You even may envision adding a new feature such as an in-ground pool or a decked-out entertainment room.

 

But whether you desire to install new hardwood floors, replace your kitchen countertops, or install a state-of-the-art wet bar, when starting a new project, it's important to know what improvements will actually add value to your home and which ones can negatively impact your bottom line.

 

In short, if you are looking to complete a few modest (or extensive) updates and add value to your home here are three of the best and worst projects that will impact your property’s value.

 

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Best #1: Complete Kitchen Renovation or Upgrade

Tired of living in the same old space? One of the best ways to fall in love with your home again is by renovating or upgrading your kitchen area. Updating your kitchen can make if functionally better as well increase your enjoyment when you are at home.

 

According to a recent survey, 55% of real estate experts surveyed mentioned that upgrading your kitchen can increase the sales price of your home by nearly 12.5%1.

 

While a complete kitchen renovation isn’t cheap, costing upwards of nearly $50,000 on average, you can often expect to recoup anywhere between 75-100% of your total project costs2.

 

Best #2: Bathroom Remodel

If the kitchen isn’t the most used room of your home, you may find that your bathroom is. Bathrooms can be an important selling point to new prospective buyers so keeping them clean and updated can add tremendous value.

 

One great thing about completing a bathroom remodel or renovation is that it can be done for fairly cheap. A new vanity, updated mirror, and a pop of colorful paint can really make your home shine.

 

The cost to renovate a smaller, 5’ x 8’’ bathroom could be as low as $9,200-12,300; redoing a larger bathroom with high-end luxury features may run you over $40,0003. While you may not recoup as much on splashier projects, remodeling or renovating your bathroom can still net you one of the higher returns on your investment.

 

Best #3: Dedicated Home Office Space

More and more people are working from home as a result of the recent pandemic. As companies continue to invest in technology and resources to accommodate employees being able to work remotely, more new buyers are searching for dedicated office space when buying a new home.

 

A 2017 study found that nearly 47% of Canadian employees work remotely meaning adding a formal office to your home can really increase its resale potential4. In fact, an office space will continue to be marketable as the business environment becomes more digital and a younger generation of home buyers seek remote opportunities.

 

Worst #1: Backyard Patio and Landscaping

The reason realtors use the phrase “curb appeal” is because you want a home to draw the attention of potential buyers at first sight. But amenities located toward the back of the home and out of eyesight of prospective buyers aren’t the most effective way of adding additional value to your home.

 

While you may be tempted to roll up your sleeves and put your DIY hot on, most backyard landscaping and patio projects don’t measure up in terms of resale value. You would be lucky to recoup half your investment on any modest project using average materials.

 

Worst #2: Installing a Backyard Pool

Installing a new inground or above ground pool in your backyard may sound like a great idea, until you see what kind of price tag it comes with.

 

National Bank notes that the average cost to install an inground pool is between $25,000 and $40,0005. But what you might not realize is the amount of money that goes into maintaining this asset.

 

General maintenance for the chemicals and cleaning as well as increased water and power usage will end up costing you hundreds of dollars a year. Furthermore, homes with pools generally cost more to insure, so expect to see a bump in your monthly homeowner’s insurance premium.

 

Worst #3: Combing a Second Bedroom and Creating a Larger Master Suite

One of the worst things you can do that will really lower your home’s resale value is to knock out a wall to combine rooms into one larger master bedroom suite. While you might think this is a perfect luxurious option for the right buyer, the truth is that it lowers the functionality and utility of the home.

 

Typically, homes with more bedrooms will appraise for more money. Removing a room may decrease the number of comparable homes on the market and can really impact your bottom line.

 

Similarly, removing a room can impact the overall floor plan of your home in a major way. This is often a common pitfall for those seeking to install a new addition or add a second story. Try to stick to projects that won’t tangibly impact the floor plan on a grand scale.

 

Sources

 

1 Alini, E., & Global News. (2018, July 23). Kitchen or bathroom reno? One is likely much better than the other for your home value. Retrieved February 5, 2021, from https://globalnews.ca/news/4314336/kitchen-bathroom-reno-best-value/

 

2 Ontario Securities Commission. (2017, June 19). Adding value with home renovations: Real estate. Retrieved February 5, 2021, from https://www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca/invest/investment-products/real-estate/adding-value-with-home-renovations/

 

3 Sclafani, L. D. (2019, December 23). Bathroom Renovation Cost in Toronto & Montreal in 2020: A Breakdown. Retrieved February 5, 2021, from https://www.renoassistance.ca/en/bathrooms/bathroom-renovation-cost/

 

4 Staff | BenefitsCanada. March 9, 2. (2017, March 09). 47% of Canadian employees work remotely: Survey. Retrieved February 4, 2021, from https://www.benefitscanada.com/human-resources/other/47-of-canadian-employees-work-remotely-survey-94694

 

5 National Bank. (2020, July 30). How much does an inground pool actually cost? Retrieved February 5, 2021, from https://www.nbc.ca/personal/advice/home/pools-true-cost.html

 

5 Hot Tips for Selling Your Home During Winter

6. January 2021 16:52

While there is certainly some seasonality with the real estate market, many realtors often advise you not to sell your home during the winter months. In reality, winter can be one of the best times to sell your home.

 

The truth is that there are all types of buyers that shop in all the seasons, so it is a bit of a misconception that people do not buy in the winter season. In fact, if you sell between December 1st and February 28th (loosely categorized as the winter season), not only will you find motivated buyers, but you may also experience less competition from other sellers1.

 

But selling in winter does not come without its share of challenges. Many buyers wait until winter to get houses at a discount, so prepare yourself for some lowball offers. Also, it may be harder to accentuate the exterior features of your home that you could normally do in the spring.

 

To overcome some of the obstacles associated with selling your home during the winter months, consider some of these secret staging and selling tips.

 

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1.Price Your Home to Sell

Pricing your home correctly is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a successful sale in the winter months. While figuring out the right sales price is always important, it is especially relevant in the “off-season” because there are often less buyers on the market.

 

Overpricing your home can disinterest potential buyers but you also do not want to undercut your home’s value. Figuring out the right sales price can be as simple as finding the right real estate agent that knows your local market. An agent can run a competitive market analysis to help target the appropriate price point for your home.

 

Do not be afraid to complete your own independent research as well. Check out recent comparable sales in the neighborhood to give you a better idea of what similar homes in the area are selling for.

 

2. Don’t Go Overboard with Holiday Decor

For many, winter is holistically associated with the holiday season. But one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make selling their home during the winter months is over decorating for the holiday season.

 

For starters, not all buyers may celebrate the season like you do. Furthermore, excessive decorating can draw interest away from some of the basic features of the home.

 

If you decide to decorate for the holidays, ease up on the decorations and make sure they are tasteful. When done properly, this can be a perfect staging opportunity. Consider a small lit tree with a few wrapped gifts underneath, an eye-catching wreath on the front door, and warm lighting to maintain a cozy ambiance.

 

 

3. Turn on the Lights, Turn Up the Heat

One obstacle with selling in the winter months is that you naturally have fewer hours of natural light to work with compared to warmer parts of the year. This means it is extremely important to keep your lights on whenever possible.

 

Using more powerful bulbs to enhance the brightness of your space can never hurt. In fact, lighting can create a nice warm cohesive feel. It also draws the attention of potential buyers from the street.

 

Similarly, winter is synonymous with the cold so make sure to keep your home adequately heated. While it may have a small impact on your gas bill, potential buyers will be more likely to consider buying your home if it is toasty warm. It also adds a cozy factor, especially when combined with a lit fireplace or strategically staged throw blankets.

 

 

4. Make Sure to Clear a Path

Not everyone lives in areas of the country that experience snow during the winter months. That said, if you do live somewhere where snow is prevalent make sure to shovel or plow your walkway and driveway. This will allow potential buyers access to your home for showings as well as indicate that the home is properly maintained. Shoveled pathways also provide a bit more curb appeal compared to properties blanketed with snow.

 

5. Staging Can Be Key

Since selling in the winter months often means trying to appeal to a lower pool of potential buyers, try optimizing your chances for success by having your home professionally staged.

 

A recent study found that a staged home will often sell for 17% more on average than non-staged homes2. Similarly, on average staged homes sell faster than non-staged homes. The National Association of Realtors noted that for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $4002.

 

 

Sources

1 Zillow Group. (2019, November 27). Selling a House During Winter Holidays: Tips, Pros & Cons: Zillow. Retrieved January 6, 2021, from https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/selling-house-during-winter-holidays/

 

2 McGrady, V. (2020, July 15). 7 Pro Tips To Help Your Home Sell Faster, For More Money. Retrieved January 6, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessamcgrady/2015/11/04/staging/?sh=58972b7e50c9

 

3 Reasons Now Is the Perfect Time to Get a Toronto Mortgage

17. December 2020 20:49

If you're looking to get a mortgage for a home or condo in Toronto, now would be a perfect time. That may sound a little counterintuitive given the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic headwinds our city is facing. However, these situations are temporary and have created the ideal conditions to lock in a Toronto mortgage. Here are three reasons you should consider getting a mortgage now.

 

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Rates Are Low for a Toronto Mortgage!

Rates are the lowest they've ever been - literally. 2020 saw HSBC post a mortgage rate below 1%1 for their five-year variable rate product. Most industry experts believe that this is the lowest rate any bank has ever offered in Canada.

While the marketing gurus at HSBC designed the offer to make a splash, it indicates the overall interest rate structure right now. RateHub shows the average 5-year fixed mortgage as low as 1.39%2 and a 10-year fixed as low as 2.84%3.

To put these rates into context, consider that, according to the Bank of Canada4, historical rates have been much higher. Nearly 40 years ago, in 1981, the interest rate got as high as 21.46%!

So, if you're looking to save some money on interest, now is the time to lock in a great rate!

 

The Winter Season Is Creating an Ideal Buying Opportunity

With winter and COVID-19, competition for Toronto area homes is not as high as it once was. The market is still doing well overall. However, if you're looking to buy a home right now in the GTA or surrounding regions, you'll find a lot less competition and fewer challenges getting your offer accepted.

In other words, not only will you save money on your interest rate, but you'll also find it easier to get your offer accepted on the home or condo of your dreams.

 

Qualifying for a Toronto Mortgage Is Easier Now

The federal government implemented rules in 20185 to ensure Canadians can afford mortgage rate increases. All banks needed to ensure that applicants could afford the actual mortgage interest rate plus 2%, or the current Bank of Canada 5-year benchmark rate.

With interest rates this low, most banks are using the Bank of Canada 5-year rate. As of right now, this rate sits at 4.79%6, and while that might be a full 3.8% above the 0.99% offer that HSBC has, it's still the lowest interest rate since these rules went into place.

Therefore, qualifying for one of these mortgages is easier now than almost any time since 2018.

 

If You're Looking To Buy, Now's the Time!

With relaxed qualification rules, record-low interest rates, and a less competitive market than years prior, this winter is shaping up to be one of the best times to get a Toronto mortgage. Whether you're looking at buying a condo or you want a single-family home, now is the time to see what's available and lock in a rate that can save you money!

If you're interested in making a move, please contact me! I would love to understand more about your circumstances and help you find the perfect home in this beautiful city.

 

Sources

1 Pete Evans CBC News (2020, December 06) Mortgage rates hit a new low, with Canadian bank posting below 1%. Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/mortages-covid-hsbc-1.5828934 

2 ratehub.ca (2020, December 18) 5-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates. Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://www.ratehub.ca/best-mortgage-rates/5-year/fixed

3 ratehub.ca (2020, December 18) 10-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates. Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://www.ratehub.ca/best-mortgage-rates/10-year/fixed

4 Bank of Canada (Date Unknown) AVERAGE RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LENDING RATE ‐ 5 YEAR. Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/selected_historical_v122497.pdf

5 Lisa Rennie (Date Unknown) The Canadian Mortgage Stress Test in 2021. Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://loanscanada.ca/mortgage/the-canadian-mortgage-stress-test/

6 Bank of Canada (2020, December 18) Daily Digest. Retrieved December 18, 2020, from https://www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/daily-digest/

 

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Downtown Toronto Condo?

16. December 2020 17:30

Buying a new home or getting your feet wet as a real estate investor in Toronto has never been easier than it has today. Despite the country experiencing several economic headwinds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian housing market has shown no signs of slowing down.

 

In fact, November was one of the best months on record for resales, far exceeding the previous mark by more than 30% set back in 20181. But despite increasing consumer demand for homeownership coupled with cheap mortgage financing, many buyers are concerned about a weakening condominium market.

 

While the Toronto condo market has softened over the last year, an increasing supply of inventory offers opportunity if you are looking to expand your real estate portfolio, setting yourself up for massive gains.

 

If you have been on the fence about buying a condo located in downtown Toronto, here are a few reasons why now is a great time to buy.

 

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Increasing Number of Renters

It is no surprise that the supply of condos in downtown Toronto is increasing. Many real estate investors have decided to sell off portions of their holdings because the tourism markets that they relied on have dried up (at least for the interim) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

But even though inventory is creeping higher, the silver lining is that the number of renters is also increasing. In fact, the number of leases signed in July was up nearly 12% compared to the same period in 20192.

 

Although vacancy rates are a concern if you are a real estate investor, consider that these might see downward pressure with the recent announcement of approved COVID-19 vaccines.

 

Furthermore, if you are looking to call downtown Toronto your home, you may be able to find a real estate investor eager to sell you that unit with the perfect skyline view for cheap. Lock in a low interest rate on a new home loan and you can call that a win-win.

 

Mortgage Rates to Remain Low

The Bank of Canada has, on numerous counts over the last few months, dedicated itself to holding a policy of suppressing interest rates until the economy recovers, labor markets stabilize, and inflation reaches an appropriate target level.

 

The next schedule rate announcement is set for January 20, 2021 and is expected to remain at 0.25%3. This trend for the benchmark interest rate is forecasted to continue through the end of 2022, with an incremental increase in 2023 only if economic trends become favorable3.

 

Effectively, this means that mortgage interest rates will remain low for the foreseeable future, fueling the Canadian housing market. If you are looking to buy a downtown Toronto condo, you may never get an opportunity to lock in a lower interest rate again.

 

Since most mortgage loans span terms of many years, that could be a massive savings over the life of your loan.

 

Low-Maintenance Life

Sales data supports the notion that homebuyers over the last few months are skewed towards buying detached single-family housing. But the problem with buying a house is that there is a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping it functional and modern (or else it begins to impact safety and market value).

 

However, if you are seeking a low-maintenance experience, a condominium is great because your monthly condo fees go towards normal maintenance tasks such as lawn care and snow removal.

 

Most condo buildings also offer amenities that many detached homes cannot provide such as gyms, recreational areas (i.e., basketball, volleyball, tennis courts, etc.), or even pools. While you can install many of these with a traditional single-family home, you will be stuck floating that $50,000 bill to have that heated pool installed and you may not even recoup all of your investment when it comes time to sell.

 

Lastly, location can be a considerable driving factor. There is not a ton of inventory in downtown Toronto in terms of single-family homes compared to condos or townhomes. While COVID-19 does have many concerns about health risks living in more urban epicenters, understand that at some point society will have to return to some sort of normalcy. Why not set yourself up to live by all the attractions that Toronto has to offer once that time comes.

 

Sources

 

1 Hogue, R., & RBC. (2020, December 15). Canada's Housing Market Kept on Rolling in November. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/canadas-housing-market-kept-on-rolling-in-november/?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=economics&utm_campaign=housing

2 Punwasi, S. (2020, August 14). Toronto Rental Market Hit by 82% Spike in Apartments for Rent. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://wolfstreet.com/2020/08/13/toronto-real-estates-latest-problem-is-soaring-rental-inventory/

3 MortgageSandbox. (2020, December 14). Canadian Mortgage Interest Rate Forecast to 2023. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.mortgagesandbox.com/mortgage-interest-rate-forecast

 

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