March 8, 2017
#6ixfigures for February 2017
February 2017 figures released by the Toronto Real Estate Board for the 6IX
The average selling price was up by 27.7 per cent year-over-year to $875,983.
Annual rates of price growth continued to be strongest for low-rise home types, particularly
detached houses. Growth rates for condominium apartment prices were also in the double
digits, likely a result of strong demand from first-time buyers.
February 24, 2017
Little Improvements = Big Returns
It's always a good idea to spruce up the exterior and interior of your home before listing it for sale. But that doesn't mean you have to undertake major and/or expensive project.
Just a little effort will greatly increase the perceived value of your home. Here are some simple steps you can take to increase the perceived value of your home and make a great first impression.
- Keep lawns cut
- Trim hedges and shrubs
- Weed and edge gardens
- Clear driveway and clean up oil spills
- Clean out garage
- Power wash
- Touch up paint
- Plant colourful, inexpensive flowers in pots if necessary
At the Front Door
- Clean porch and foyer
- Ensure door bell works
- Repair any broken screens
- Fresh paint or varnish front door
- Repair door locks and key access
Create a Buying Mood
- Make sure your home smells fresh and clean
- Turn on lights
- Turn on air conditioner/heater
- Open the drapes
- Light the fireplace
- Clear halls and stairs of clutter
- Store surplus furniture
- Clear kitchen counter and stove top
- Clear closets of unnecessary clothing and stuff
- Remove empty boxes and containers
- Put away personal photos so buyers can envision the house as theirs
- Repair leaking taps and toilets
- Clean furnace and filters
- Tighten door knobs and latches
- Repair cracked plaster
- Apply fresh coat of paint or touch up where necessary
- Clean and repair windows
- Repair seals around tubs and basins
- Replace defective light bulbs
- Oil squeaking doors
- Repair squeaking floor boards
- Clean and freshen bathrooms
- Clean fridge and stove (in and out)
- Clean around heating vents
- Clean washer and dryer
- Clean carpets, drapes and window blinds
- Eliminate pet odors and stains
February 17, 2017
Why not consider purchasing vs rentals?
Let's face it, some people, if they don't get in soon they may never get in.
We are experiencing the Manhattanization of Toronto, with housing becoming less and less affordable.
Why pay $2,000 a month in rent for that 500 square foot condo when you can own it for around the same amount?
This mortgage product is for those with excellent credit and healthy incomes:
The mortgage product is called the Flex Down Mortgage.
We all know the minumim down payment is 5%... with this we allow clients to borrow the required 5% down from a line of credit or loan. As long as they can qualify for both the line of credit and the mortgage, buying is simple!
Here is how it works and how it looks by comparison:
Flex Down Mortgage based on $350,000 purchase price - with no down payment
$350,000 - $17,500 (5% down) = $332,500
+ $14,962.50 (CMHC Premium of 4.50%)
= Total mortgage amount on closing of $347,462.50
@ 2.20% VRM = $1,505.08 per month
@ 2.69% FIXED = $1,598.58 per month
+ $350 (est. condo fees)
+ $120 (est. property tax)
= $1,975 to $2,068 per month ALL IN
Flex down means the client is borrowing the legal minimum down payment of 5% down. Therefore the client would borrow the 5% down ($17,250) and also maybe the closing costs.
*** Keep in mind, for first time buyers there is ZERO ($0) land transfer tax for purchases up to $368,000 ***
GET IN TOUCH TO GET MORE INFORMATION
January 12, 2017
2016 was a record year for Toronto
2016 was a record year for home sales in the Greater Toronto Area.
GTA Realtors reported 113,133 sales, which is an 11.8 per cent increase compared to sales in 2015. In December 2016, 5,338 properties have been sold – up by 8.6 per cent in a year-over-year comparison.
The condominium segment experienced a 19.5 per cent increase in December 2016 compared to the year before, and the strongest annual rate of sales growth for the whole 2016 was also recorded in the condominium segment. It is obvious that the demand has shifted from freehold to condos, due to low inventory and higher prices in the freehold segment.
See the below image focusing Central Toronto.
October 25, 2016
Home Buyer Frustration may still run High this Fall
Can this summers' heated market lead to more tension for home-buyers this fall?
Overseas buyers are increasingly looking to buy in Toronto as Vancouver prices continue to skyrocket.
If you think Toronto's market is seeing drastic increases – consider the older 800 sq. ft., 1 bath, 2 bedroom homes being listed for as much as $1.9 million in Vancouver. This may seem absurd but it is the reality in many desirable Vancouver neighbourhoods - comparatively, Toronto homes are a steal.
The BC government introduced a 15 per cent tax for foreign buyers in July and the interest has shifted to Toronto homes more than ever. Although most of the current investors are after the luxury market – the activity will have a trickle-down effect to other markets. The new tax has intensified Toronto's appeal, butthe shift was already well underway.
The short window between the time the tax was announced and implemented left many buyers in a bind. The Ontario government has stated that there are no plans to implement such a tax in Toronto but foreign investors are not quite convinced and still looking for quick closes. TREB announced that they will be looking into foreign-buyer activity and issues affecting supply of properties.
Last month, active listings decreased by 38 per cent compared to August of last year. The substantial decline in listings hasn't stopped sales from increasing at a rate of 23.5 per cent from the same time last year – with the average price rising 17.7 per cent.
With all the drastic changes, many Toronto buyers still feel the urgency to get into the market before they are priced out completely, while others are opening up to the idea of purchasing away from the city and commuting to work. Even with higher availability and lower prices outside the city – bidding wars have moved as far out as Port Hope and Cobourg.
Those cautious about price, but insistent on location, are increasingly considering condo-living. Condo sales have increased 32 per cent from the same time last year.
With summer ending, and people returning from their vacations and summer engagements, many are hopeful that fall will bring new listings and more activity. We're not counting on supply meeting demand any time soon, but we are hopeful that more availability will decrease some tension this fall.
October 4, 2016
New Mortgage Rules as of OCTOBER 17, 2016 Attention first-time buyers!
- EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 17TH, ANY ONE BUYING A NEW PROPERTY WITH LESS THAN 20% DOWN MUST QUALIFY BASED ON THE POSTED RATE (4.64%)
- THIS CAN MEAN THE DIFFERENCE IN $150,000 OR MORE FOR SOME BUYERS IN BUYING POWER
Therefore, any first time buyers looking to buy with less than 20% down, must have a firm accepted offer) in place before October 17th, 2016.
If they had a pre approval in place based on the 5yr fixed rate mortgage of (say 2.39%)....their pre approval will not be the same after october 17th. The pre approval amount will go down and could down a lot.
This is not good for first time buyers or any one buying with less than 20% down....another hit to first time buyers.
1) If a client has an approval in place (firm excepted offer) prior to October 17th, they can close up to 120 days later.. the rules are grandfathered.
2) If your client has an insured pre approval now, they will have to get a new one after October 17th. This is very important, especially if anyone is considering waiving the financing condition.
3) This rule change does not effect clients with at least 20% down payment (yet, but this could change as well) - we will see... fingers crossed it does not.
What this means in real numbers... if a client is looking to buy a property with less than 20% down, their budget has dropped by 20 to 25% on average. This is very unfortunate for first time home buys especially.
To see some examples of the impact:
Client before October 17th (buyer with 10% down)
- their budget to buy - $400,000 purchase price
After October 17th
- their budget goes down to - $300,000 purchase price.
This is drastic, but true.
September 7, 2016
Mortgage Basics: What is a mortgage?
When you’re completely new to the world of real estate, it can be an intimidating pool to wade into. In order to really get the big picture, you need understand a little bit about a lot of terms that are bandied about: interest rates, amortization, mortgage insurance, brokers, lenders . . . the list goes on. If you want to climb onto the first rung of the property ladder but aren’t independently wealthy – and maybe even if you are independently wealthy – then your first priority is to understand what a mortgage is. More than likely you’re going to need one.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the word before, but apart from a vague idea of something to do with property and a bank, what exactly is a mortgage? Simply speaking, a mortgage is a legal agreement in which property is used as security for the repayment of a loan. If all of the agreed-upon terms of the mortgage are met, the borrower will own the property outright by the end of the specified period.
Every mortgage has three components: the principal, the interest, and the amortization period.
A mortgage principal is the amount of money that you’re borrowing from a lender. If you have a $300,000 mortgage, it doesn’t mean that that was the sale price of the property; it’s the amount that you’re being loaned by the bank in order to purchase the property. Your mortgage principal is the sale price of the property minus your down payment, which is the amount of money you present upfront in order to purchase a property.
Interest is the catch of any loan, be it a mortgage or a student loan for university. Sure, a lender will loan you money – for a fee. This fee calculation is fairly tricky and is dependent on something known as the prime rate, which has traditionally been the lowest interest rate that a commercial bank charged its most optimal borrowers. Other factors determining your personal mortgage interest rate include your personal credit score and income level. And as with any other loan, all of the interest paid to your lender is added to your principal, which means that you’re paying more than you borrowed. Part of what to look for when getting a good mortgage is that you pay a competitive interest rate so that you’ll pay as little extra as possible. When you start making mortgage payments, a portion of each payment is dedicated to paying down the principal, but most of it will go toward the interest at first. Eventually, as the principal amount is reduced, there will be less to pay in interest, and therefore the bulk of the payment will continue to go toward the principal.
A loan’s amortization refers to the period of time in which you make scheduled payments in order to pay off that loan. The amortization period is not to be confused with the term of the loan; a term is the length of time that your specific loan parameters, such as the interest rate and payment amount, are agreed upon, while the amortization period is how long you have to pay off the loan. Amortization periods in Canada range from 10-35 years. The longer your amortization period, the lower your monthly payment. The shorter your amortization period, the less you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan.
Relax, you don’t actually have to do any pencil-to-paper math. Just type some numbers into our mortgage payment calculator.
For example, a $300,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 2.8% and an amortization period of 25 years would mean that your monthly mortgage payments would be $1,391.62. Over the life of the mortgage, you’ll have paid $117,486.00 in interest on top of your original loan, which means that in 25 years you’ll have repaid your lender $417,486.
Use that same loan amount, $300,000, with the same 2.8% interest rate and an amortization period of 15 years, and you’ll see that your monthly mortgage payments are $2,043.01. Over the life of the mortgage, you’ll have paid $67,741.80 in interest on top of your original loan, which means that in 15 years, you’ll have paid the bank $367,741.80. You get the idea: the shorter the amortization period and/or the higher the monthly payments, the quicker you’ll pay off the loan, which means that you’ll pay your lender less in interest.
Two things thing to keep in mind, though. One is that your interest rate won’t stay the same throughout the life of your loan. Remember, the term of a mortgage is the period of time that the lender’s terms remain the same, and a term gets renewed after each period is over. Terms range from six months to 10 years, and the interest rates available to you will vary depending on the length of the term. Shorter terms tend to have lower interest rates, and longer terms tend to have higher rates – with the former, you’re trading stability for low prices. Depending on various factors at the time of your loan renewal, you can choose to renew with the same terms, different terms, or even switch to a different lender, if desired. Mortgage rates could rise and fall over the life of the loan – and generally will, especially if the term is for a long period of time – and whatever the new mortgage rate is at the time of your term renewal will alter your mortgage payments.
The second thing to keep in mind is that if you have less than 20% of the purchase price of your property available upfront as a down payment, then the maximum amortization period you can get is 25 years. There are 35-year amortization periods available, although they aren’t provided by every lender and they’re only available if your down payment is 20% or more. Part of that is because the longer the amortization period, the more likely it is for a borrower to default on the loan. If a borrower has less than 20% down toward a purchase of property, then they are required by law to get mortgage default insurance, also known as mortgage loan insurance, which protects the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan. The lender pays the insurance premium to the insurance provider, but the cost gets passed on to the borrower, usually by combining it with mortgage, so that there is a single payment that combines the principal and interest of the home loan with the premium for the mortgage default insurance. Generally speaking, the mortgage default premium is calculated as a percentage of the loan and is based on the size of your down payment. The higher the percentage of the total house price/value that you borrow, the higher percentage you will pay in insurance premiums.
The minimum down payment allowed on any property is 5% of its value. If a property is sold for $500,000 or more, then the down payment is 5% up to $500,000, and 10% for any amount over that. Mortgage insurance is only available for properties purchased for less than $1,000,000.
For the most part, a mortgage works just like any other loan, although more safeguards are in place since so much money is at stake. Now that you’ve got a handle on the basics of a mortgage, you can figure out which mortgage product is right for you.
August 23, 2016
Here’s why the Toronto real estate market is so crazy
The Toronto real estate market is being driven by these major factors.
The first is restricted supply. Eleven years ago, the Liberal government froze development on 1.4 million acres across 325 km of land from the Niagara River through Hamilton (Golden Horseshoe area), all across the north of the GTA and over to Lake Scugog and Rice Lake, under the Greenbelt Act 2005. This had the effect of creating the “GTA Island”, and like Manhattan in New York City, if you can’t afford to buy there, you will commute one to two hours to get to there.
The second factor is rapid population growth that increases demand.
The population of GTA and surrounding area has grown from 3.7 million people in 1986, to 5.5 million in 2005, to 6.3 million now. It will be 7.3 million people in 2021 and 9.1 million in 2036!
If you remember taking an economics course, you will recall a concept called supply and demand. If there is an increase in demand, there must either be a price or quantity adjustment. Right now, we have no capacity to increase the quantity of land available in the GTA and as a result, land prices have soared for building lots and condo development sites.
We also have record low interest rates. A $500,000 mortgage carries for $2,117/month at today’s interest rate. The same mortgage at 10 per cent interest is $4,472/month. A $1 million mortgage at today’s rates carries for $4,234/month.
The last time we had 10 per cent interest rates was 20 years ago and they have been falling ever since. In the last 20 years, there have only been two quarters when prices dropped in Toronto…see the correlation between prices and interest rates?
FULL ARTICLE HERE
May 26, 2016
Kitec plumbing can cause problems
Kitec plumbing was commonly used in homes built between 1995 and 2007, and otherwise for general plumbing repairs or renovations. The Kitec system was sold under a number of different brand names and in a variety of colours, and it consists of pipes and fittings. In 2005, it was recalled because the pipes and fittings were found to have a tendency to corrode quickly and can fail entirely, which can lead to flooding.
The repair of Kitec can cost from a few thousand dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars. The bill to remove and repair this plumbing can be substantial, and it can also lead to insurance or mortgage issues. This should not necessarily be considered minor matter.
REALTORS® and consumers may wish to speak to a lawyer about this type of claim.
"The bill to remove and repair this plumbing can be substantial."
Not only do you have to replace the pipes but you also have to get access to them, which can mean knocking down the walls and then repairing them after replacing the pipes.
Some condo coroporation have started planning and allocating money in their Reserve Funds in which case when buying a condo buyers can breath a little easier knowing there is money to at least cover partly of the upcoming expenses.
Some townhouse complexes around Toronto also have this problem.
Kitec can sometimes be identified by examining the pipes/fittings around the water heater, or beneath sinks. This resource lists the various brand names that were used for the pipes.
There is also a class action settlement regarding Kitec, against IPEX Inc., the manufacturer of Kitec. Funds are set aside to enable for claimants to possibly recoup some money to help cover the cost of repairs and remediation of Kitec plumbing if needed. They will be accepting claims until early 2020. The settlement website has helpful information.
This article on Moneysense.ca provides a helpful overview of the Kitec issue.
May 9, 2016
Housing Optimism Hits Two-Year High as Canadian Confidence Rises
Optimism for housing prices in Canada has reached a two-year high as consumer confidence continues its upward march.
The share of Canadians expecting home prices to increase in their neighborhoods over the next six months rose to 43.3 percent last week, the highest level since October 2014, polling for the Bloomberg Nanos Consumer Confidence Index shows. At the start of this year, just 30.6 percent believed home prices would increase.
Nationally, the broad consumer confidence score reached a 2016 high of 57.7, driven by record levels in British Columbia and a rebound in the energy-rich prairies, where optimism rose to a 2016 high of 48.9 despite the commodities price crunch and a wildfire near Alberta’s oil sands that has sapped production levels.
Despite the upward trend, the sub-indexes show uncertainty looming. While the expectations index -- measuring optimism for real estate and the broader economy -- rose to 57.0 from 55.0, the pocketbook index that measures personal finances slipped to 58.4 from 58.9.
“The latest economic data releases hint at upcoming issues for the economy and the labor force,” Bloomberg economist Robert Lawrie said. Manufacturing shipments, imports and exports have all declined as of late,“highlighting Canada’s dependency on global economic trends and the impact of the commodities glut,” he said.
Households continue to be impacted by job losses in manufacturing and gains in the service sector -- a sign of Canada’s transition “away from basic materials and toward higher value-added enterprises,” Lawrie said.
Statistics Canada data last week showed a slender net loss of 2,100 positions in April, however the economy added almost 50,000 jobs in consumer-related sectors. Consumer spending also tempered a 0.1 percent contraction in gross domestic product in February.
According to the Nanos data, the share of those expecting the Canadian economy to gain strength in the next six months rose to 27.6 percent, the highest level since November.
The share of those who say their personal finances have improved over the past year rose to 14.8 percent from 14.5, while the share of those whose finances worsened declined to 28.9 from 29.3 -- leaving the net difference between the two measures at its lowest level since January. The share of those who say their employment is either somewhat or not at all secure, however, rose to 14.5 percent from 13.4 percent a week earlier.
The data is based on a rolling four-week average of telephone polling totaling 1,000 respondents. It’s considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, with larger margins of error in regional data. The latest polling concluded on May 6.
April 6, 2016
March 2016 - Double-Digit Gains for House and Condo sales for Toronto!
Here are Toronto's March 2016 Final Resale House and Condo Sales figures.
Sales transactions were UP by 16.2% year-over-year compared to March 2015!
While Average Selling Prices were UP 12.1% compared to the average for the same time in 2015!
6ix Interactive Charts
Check out the detailed report here...
Or if you are really into numbers, check out this link
March 4, 2016
Record Breaking House and Condo Sales in Toronto this February!
Here are Toronto's February 2016 Final Resale House and Condo Sales figures.
Sales transactions were UP by 21.1% year-over-year compared to February 2015!
While Average Selling Prices were UP 14.9% compared to the average for the same time in 2015!
Check out the detailed report here...
February 3, 2016
Various types of RRSP-funded purchases
RRSP money represents a potent tool for those who are looking to participate in the real estate market in Canada, an analyst said.
In his column for the Financial Post, income tax professional and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Jason Heath outlined the various options available to would-be investors.
Although the money is not valid for investments on rental properties, RRSP fund users can still withdraw up to $25,000 under the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) to purchase or build their qualifying primary residences.
Heath warned that such a course of action is fraught with risks for those who are unfamiliar with the lowest interest rates available today, as well as the best possible returns.
“Anyone considering a real estate investment given the long run-up in Canadian real estate prices should consider their existing exposure to real estate, not only through their stocks and mutual funds, but also their primary residence,” Heath said in the January 27 edition of his column.
“Many Canadians have a high allocation to real estate already in their net worth without targeting real estate specifically in their RRSPs, so use proper asset allocation as the primary test to determine if you should be investing further in real estate in the first place,” Heath added.
Another option is a real estate investment trust (REIT), which allows RRSP investors to benefit from residential, industrial, health care, retail, office, self-storage, or hotel properties via professional teams that serve as intermediaries, thus mitigating risk. REITs are also plentiful in the local and global market, with 50 trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange alone.
Still another option is holding one’s own mortgage in the RRSP, which uses the posted rate as the mortgage rate. While pretty much ensuring a higher fixed return than borrowing from the bank, this set-up also means that one is borrowing at a higher rate (even if it’s from him- or herself).
December 16, 2015
New Mortgage Rules as of FEBRUARY 15, 2016
Upcoming mortgage rule changes will impact sales of pricier houses, according to one industry professional who is sounding the alarm in two particular provinces.
Recently announced mortgage rules – which go into effect February 15, 2016 – will require larger down payments for pricier homes.
The minimum down payment for new insured mortgages will increase from 5% to 10% for the portion of the house price above $500,000, the finance ministry wrote in a release last week.
For example: A $750,000 home will now require $50,000 down -- 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% down for the remaining $250,000.
The new rules won’t affect homes below $500,000, which could lead to increased interest in those homes.
However, the Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary regions will likely be most affected.
In Calgary, for example, 86% of homes cost more than $500,000.
Meanwhile, Toronto and Vancouver boast some of the priciest average home prices in the country at $1.017 million and $1.175 million, respectively.
December 15, 2015
Led by Toronto, home price gains blow past expectations
New home prices in Canada blew past expectations in October, led by gains in Toronto’s booming housing market, according to a Reuters report.
Economists had predicted a slight month-over-month gain of 0.1% nationwide, according to Reuters. However, Canadian new home prices rose 0.3% in October. The Toronto and Oshawa region led the increase. In that region, prices were up 0.5%, with builders citing market conditions and higher land costs as prime movers in the increase.
On an annual basis, prices were up 1.5% nationally in October – the largest year-over-year increase since December of 2014, according to Reuters. The Toronto and Oshawa market saw an annual gain of 4% – the largest since January of 2013.
The continued rise of home prices in Canada has led some analysts to worry that Canadians may be taking on more debt than they can handle, Reuters reported.
December 10, 2015
November 2015 home sales in Toronto shatter annual record
Toronto saw a record-breaking month for home sales in November, according to a CTV News report.
Almost 7,4000 homes were sold in the Toronto area in November, breaking the previous sales record for the month. November sales also pushed total sales for 2015 high enough to break the annual sales record set in 2007 – with one month left to go in the year.
About 900 more homes were sold in November of 2015 than in November of 2014, CTV reported. And with a month of sales left in the year, 96,401 homes have been sold in the Greater Toronto Area so far in 2015. The previous record of 93,193 homes was set in 2007.
“Sales were up on a year-over-year basis for all major home types, both in the City of Toronto and surrounding regions,” said Mark McLean, president of the Toronto Real Estate Board. “This suggests that the demand for ownership housing is widespread, from first-time buyers to longtime homeowners across the GTA.”
The average home price was also up, rising from $577,502 last November to $632,685 last month, CTV reported. Condominiums made up the majority of residences sold in the City of Toronto at 1,351 units. Nine hundred detached homes were sold, along with 297 semi-detached homes and 298 townhomes.
Meanwhile, most residences sold outside the city were detached homes, with 2,550 sales recorded for the month, according to CTV. Also sold were 851 townhomes, 573 condos and 764 semi-detached homes.
October 28, 2015
Millennials should buy, not rent
Young homebuyers are the lifeblood of many agents’ business, so a report that indicates that it makes sense for millennials to purchase a home rather than rent in most cities is comforting news.
The latest edition of Rent vs. Buy from Trulia, which takes into consideration some millennial factors, found that “buying is not only 23 per cent cheaper than renting nationally, it is also cheaper than renting in 98 of the nation’s top 100 markets.”
While this calculation shows that buying is still cheaper than renting, the difference is pretty close in some places, especially in Ontario.
The report noted that there are additional economic conditions that influence today’s market, such as home-price growth, which has outpaced rents since 2012, but that low interest rates help offset this advantage for the rent side.
Usually, when Trulia crunches its home-buying numbers, it assumes a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 per cent down payment for households moving every seven years. Following these guidelines, buying is 36 per cent cheaper than renting on a national basis, based on September home prices.
But the issue with this model is that it doesn’t fit the situations that average millennials face, according to Trulia. Instead, the company said that it is typical for young households (ages 25-34) to move every five years and only be able afford up to a 10 per cent down payment. Trulia also assumed a 3.85 per cent mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, itemized federal tax deductions and a 25 per cent tax bracket.
October 28, 2015
Land tax could be extended
For agents outside the city limits of Toronto who have watched colleagues lose deals over the city’s land transfer tax, news that the provincial Liberal government may be set to give all municipalities the same powers has rocked the real industry to the core.
According to news reports, the Liberal government may be set to give all municipalities the right to set the amount of municipal land transfer tax you are required to pay when buying a new property, something that currently only the city of Toronto is allowed to do.
“Ontario home buyers are already charged a provincial land transfer tax, so by adding a municipal tax, they’re essentially doubling the tax burden on Ontario families,” said Patricia Verge, president of OREA, in a statement. “If the Ontario Liberals follow through with this plan, homebuyers will be forced to pay $10,000 in total land transfer taxes on the average priced home in Ontario, starting as early as next year.”
OREA also warned that if all municipalities province-wide were allowed to set their own tax rates, it will result is lost economic activity and lost jobs with the association. They accused the Wynne Liberals of breaking an election promise.
They say that a letter received last year during the election said that Liberals “had no plans” to extend these powers beyond Toronto.
The minister of municipal affairs and housing denied any decision has been made to extend the taxing power.
“In 2014 at the AMO conference, I was asked whether I would consider looking at municipal revenue tools as part of the Municipal Act review. I gave the shortest answer possible, ‘yes.’ We are currently reviewing the Municipal Act. No decisions have been made,” said Ted McMeekin.
October 8, 2015
Buying a Home This Fall? Don’t Overlook These 6 Things
Spring might be the most popular time to buy a home, but there’s a real case to be made for fall: It’s cooler, so you’ll have less competition at the open houses. Because it’s considered the off-season, you’re more likely to get (or make) a deal. And, with the season’s variable weather, you can get a good idea of what the home’s like in hot and cool times alike.
After all, you’re buying a home that will fit your needs in every season—even if you can only scope it out during one.
That means you need to look for things that aren’t as noticeable in the fall as they might be in the winter or summer months.
Keep these six things in mind.
1. Check out the air conditioner
First: Does the place even have an air conditioner? This might be easy to spot if you’re house hunting during unseasonably warm temps. But if the weather’s already turned, heed this: The air might be cool now, but it won’t be forever. And with summer nine (long!) months away, it’s easy to forget to check.
If the home does have AC, you’ll want to give the unit a thorough inspection. Your inspector will likely examine the system to make sure it’s functioning, but it never hurts to run a few tests yourself—or even call an HVAC specialist.
Check to see if the AC’s filter has been recently changed. Then try turning down the thermostat and see if the unit runs. Meanwhile, make sure air is blowing through all the vents—it’s better to find blockages now, with time to fix them, than at the beginning of summer when sweat’s starting to pool. Check out the outdoor condenser, listening for any strange sounds, and make sure the condensation line in the evaporator coil—likely found in the furnace—is flowing smoothly. Last, examine the ductwork, looking for any rusting or poor fittings.
2. How’s the drainage?
Gutters are the obvious thing to check. In the interlude between the rainy and snowy seasons, don’t forget to check the drainage. In the yard, look for areas where water is accumulating in small puddles, which could indicate a leak in buried pipes or grading problems that need to be addressed before the rainy season.
If it looks like the sewer might be clogged, bring out a professional sewer inspector to do a camera inspection of the line. That can reveal problems that could cause a backup—as well as a world’s worth of annoyances later. Better to know before you buy.
3. Note the surroundings
What’s nearby? Look across the street, behind you, and next door. Are there bulldozers and cranes? Empty lots awaiting brand spankin’ new homes? Ask your neighbors about seasonal street construction nearby—there’s nothing worse than having a peaceful, quiet home all winter until work begins with a literal bang in the spring.
Double up on the investigative work if you’re near a large intersection, or if your home is directly connected to a major road. Going door to door is not only a good way to meet your future neighbors—it’s also a novel way to find out what seasonal surprises lay ahead.
4. Look for slopes
How steep is your driveway? Sure, it’s easy to navigate now—but will it be when it’s covered in ice?
A less-than-ideal driveway shouldn’t automatically disqualify a home, but it’s better to know in advance if late-winter parking is going to be a challenge.
Similarly checking out the landscaping’s pitch around your new home’s exterior. Are there any steep hills that might cause water runoff and flooding? What about the area around your basement? If land slopes toward your basement, it could indicate potential flooding.
5. Check out standing water
At the end of the summer, we’re all just happy that the mosquitoes have died or moved on to bother poor souls elsewhere. But they’ll be back—and you should know in advance where they’ll be hanging out.
Look for anything that holds standing water.
Most of these are movable: trash cans, buckets, birdbaths. But if your home is located on a lake or small pond, there’s not a whole lot you can do besides prepare yourself mentally and invest in bug spray and citronella.
If you’re buying in fall or winter, when bugs are hiding, keep in mind the potential ramifications of living on the water.
6. Examine the windows
If the windows in your potential home are older (or don’t even open), you’ll want to replace them immediately—otherwise you risk wasting energy or even breaking them in a freeze.
But if winter is coming quickly, there might not be time. In those cases, put plastic over the windows until you’re in a position to replace them.
Will you need storm windows? Find out in advance.
That can be an added expense and stressor, and one that’s better to know in advance.
Don’t let fall’s peaceful, chilly weather lull you into a false sense of security. When you’re buying a home, examine everything that can go wrong—even if the rainy winter or spring seem far away.
October 8, 2015
6 Things New Homeowners Waste Money On
uying a home is a very big expense—and once you’ve kicked off all that spending, it’s easy to find yourself caught up in rampant lifestyle inflation. After all, you’ve got an enormous, shiny new house just waiting to be filled with all sorts of nice stuff, right?
Well, take some quick advice: Don’t keep spending.
Homeownership comes with its fair share of unique costs—property taxes and urgent repairs and energy bills, oh my. There’s no need to add to their cost by shelling out for unnecessary expenses. Here are six major cash outlays that buyers can avoid.
Too much house
This one requires some thought before you actually nail the deal: How much house do you really need? Just because you’re pre-approved for a hefty purchase price doesn’t mean you should go as big as you can.
“The house that you can afford with the money you’re lent can make the budget go out of whack,”
Not sure where to trim? Consider having less closet space, buying fewer bedrooms, or—especially—eliminating a formal dining room.
“You don’t use the dining room nearly as often as you think,” “It’s kind of a wasted space.”
Fixing up your outdoor space ASAP
Once you close on your home and move in, you might be itching to host your first late-season barbecue. Or maybe you’ve been dreaming about a koi pond, like, forever. But hold on: Updating your outdoor space shouldn’t be your first priority, especially if you’re tight on cash. Unlike couches and beds, which are essential to a functioning house, landscaping and decor can be put on pause.
That goes double if you’re building new: According to Hans-Daniels, building your backyard at the same time as your home can cost “a lot more than if you did it after the fact.”
So exercise some caution before committing: Try pricing out your plans with a landscape contractor, and consider rolling them out in phases.
Old, outdated insurance
Still using the same company that offered you renters insurance seven years ago? It might be time for a change. Shop around.
“You may stay with the same company, but you may find something that’s a little better price for the same thing,” Gipner says. “Sometimes, people may not want to shop around or may be married to a particular company.”
Just because the same company had a good deal on auto or renters insurance doesn’t mean it’s the best fit to protect your home. Go through all your options with a fine-toothed comb, looking for a deal that won’t crush you financially but also leaves your house and its belongings secure.
After all, now it’s not just your stuff—it’s your roof, yard, and foundation you have to protect, too.
If you’re moving from an apartment, chances are good you’re astounded by how much space you have. There’s another bedroom and a dining room and … yet another bedroom!
Don’t feel like you have to fill it all at once. Give yourself—and your home—time for personality to emerge.
“A lot of people will go out and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to fill this space and buy stuff,’” Gipner says. “I’m not against possessions, but the way some people do it can be seriously detrimental to their finances.”
Instead of immediately stuffing the TV room with a generic, new couch and coffee table, wait it out. See what you really need and what you really like. In the meantime, stick the money you save into a renovation fund.
Many homes don’t come with appliances installed, so first-time homeowners might find themselves making large purchases (like a dishwasher or refrigerator).
Here’s a tip: You don’t need the extended warranty.
“I’m against them,” Gipner says. “What are the chances everything you own is going to break or not work anymore?”
Yes, something might break within the relatively slim service window—but the money you’ll spend fixing one thing will be far less than the extended warranties on all the things. Your average warranty costs about $123 for major appliances, according to Consumer Reports, and a single repair costs not much more (and might not even be covered). Just risk it—you’ll come out ahead in the long run.
Having your own yard is definitely exciting, and while it’s important to keep it healthy and watered, you don’t need to go overboard. Resist the pressure to hire additional help for your yard—even if you’ve lucked into an HOA that covers it.
“You can still be part of an HOA and cut your own grass,” Gipner says. “You don’t have to pay someone an exorbitant amount of money to come out and cut your grass.”
Don’t be tempted by the sales pitches you’ll inevitably receive after your purchase goes through. A gorgeous lawn is achievable—and it can be done all on your own. Really.