Five Important Factors When Buying a Cottage

If you’re considering buying a cottage in Canada and have been watching the market, you already know this market segment has seen a surge in competition between buyers over the last decade. In recent years, cabins and cottages have been in high demand, as interest in renting out personal properties for extra income has become more accessible through various online platforms.

While purchasing a cottage as a recreational property or even as a year-round home can be an excellent investment in both the short and long term, there are some important factors to consider during your hunt for the perfect getaway home. Below we break down five important factors to consider when purchasing a recreational property

5 Factors to Consider When Buying a Cottage

Year-Round Maintenance Requirements

Before purchasing your getaway home, it is crucial to have a thorough evaluation to ensure the home is weather-proofed for the summer and winter months. When considering year-round maintenance, key considerations include checking out the age of the roof, doors and windows. You’ll also want to confirm the level of insulation, including under the floors.

Cottage roofs typically undergo a lot of strain in the winter months as snow, ice and other debris accumulate over time. In addition, the age of the doors and windows is important because you don’t want to have any cracks or openings where animals or the elements can enter the cottage. If you aren’t planning on visiting your cottage to complete regular maintenance during the winter, having the roof, doors and windows in good condition can save you money and work come springtime.

In addition to the actual structural requirements, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the local by-laws for winter snow removal. Some regions have rules that state a pathway must always be cleared during the winter months. After reading up on the local by-laws, it might be worth the investment to find someone to check in on your cottage and clear away any snow, ice, or debris in your offseason should you live a far distance away.

Plumbing

Piggybacking on the year-round maintenance requirements is being aware of the type of plumbing the cottage has – or even if it has plumbing at all! When looking at cottages for sale, make a list of important amenities, such as having indoor plumbing. Many cottages don’t have indoor plumbing, equipped only with an outhouse. In addition, many properties in recreational markets run on a septic system which requires a different amount of maintenance, care and attention year-round.

Ease of Access

A cottage can be a great investment; however, location does play a significant role in whether it may generate rental income, as well as the times of year you visit your vacation home. A property that is only accessible by water will probably just be used as a summer home – and in this case, you’ll need to consider the price of purchasing a boat when buying a cottage located on an island.

Some properties in very rural areas may be accessible by car but might not have winter access as many backcountry roads are not maintained in the winter months.

Also, location when it comes to distance from amenities is important to consider. Many cottages are in very rural parts of the country, meaning the drive to a grocery store or gas station could be significant.

Before investing in a secondary residence, ease of access and location regarding other amenities are key factors to consider.

Rental Potential and Rules Surrounding Renting

Cottage homes can be an excellent investment if you also choose to use them to produce rental income. When purchasing a cottage as a rental property, key amenities are the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, ease of access, and location.

Suppose the idea of renting is your main driving force behind buying a recreational property. In that case, it is strongly advised that you review the rules and regulations regarding renting out seasonal property and learn your way around the different web platforms available for renting, such as Airbnb.

Taxes and Capital Gains

A cottage is known as a personal-use property, which means there are different tax implications. If the property is used solely as personal recreational property, there are other tax rules than if you decide to rent out your cottage. In addition, upon sale of the cottage, you will be responsible for paying taxes on any capital gain of the property.

Before making any significant financial decision and purchasing a property, it is essential to consider both your financial situation and your needs and wants in the property. Reaching out to a professional for advice is always a wise first step!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Are Modern Houses More Energy-Efficient?

Are modern houses more energy-efficient? Though this wasn’t a question that many homeowners considered decades ago, we’ve reached a point – both socially and technologically – where energy efficiency has become a real consideration and priority in building houses. With the effects of climate change on the rise, Canadians have become more and more invested in doing their part to minimize their environmental impacts.

But the perks of energy-efficient homes aren’t all ecological. Modern technology can potentially help homeowners save on their monthly bills and enjoy greater convenience when they take advantage of certain home upgrades.

Of course, benefiting from these perks is contingent upon whether modern houses are actually built in a more energy-efficient way than homes built just 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Let’s find out whether that’s the case!

An Overview of the Energy-Efficient Home

The simple fact is that any home, new or old, has the potential to be energy efficient.

A few characteristics of an energy-efficient home might include:

  • Airtight construction
  • Air-sealing around cracks and crevices, such as windows and doors
  • High-performing or ENERGY STAR equipment, such as air conditioning or furnaces
  • High-performing or ENERGY STAR windows
  • ENERGY STAR appliances
  • ENERGY STAR lighting
  • Solar power
  • Strong insulation

If “ENERGY STAR” is new to you, the term encompasses a range of government-verified products proven to increase energy efficiency and ultimately promote more significant cost savings for consumers.

Do Energy-Efficient Fixtures and Cost Savings Go Hand in Hand?

You might be wondering whether energy-efficient home features can really facilitate more significant cost savings, and the answer is “yes.”

For example, an upgraded home designed with energy efficiency in mind might have ENERGY STAR windows, which can reduce your heating and cooling bills. This is because the materials used to build this window are commonly fiberglass or vinyl, which better insulate a home and prevent air from entering or escaping. ENERGY STAR windows are also more environmentally friendly than traditional windows for this very reason.

Moreover, installing ENERGY STAR-certified LED bulbs last about 15 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. In fact, the average cost savings of just one ENERGY STAR LED bulb is $55 over its lifetime.

Environmentally, an LED bulb is more beneficial than traditional lighting because 95 per cent of its energy goes toward lighting, with only five per cent of its energy wasted as heat. LED bulbs carry out their true purpose more effectively than their incandescent counterparts.

These are just a few of the ways that installing energy-efficient fixtures in a modern home can result in both financial and ecological perks.

Are Newer Homes Really More Energy-Efficient?

With many details of this question already fleshed out, let’s get right down to answering the question of whether new homes are really more energy efficient.

If you’re in the process of building your own home or are investing in a house built in the last few years, it is automatically considered to be more energy-efficient than older homes (in most cases). The reason for this lies in the way homes are designed today as opposed to decades earlier. For instance, if you work with a reputable builder, you can already count on better insulation compared to a home built 50 years ago.

In addition to the simple fact that construction practices have evolved and improved over time, you as the homeowner can opt to install more energy-efficient fixtures with ease. ENERGY STAR windows, appliances, and lighting have become more affordable and more widely available than ever before and are more effective in reducing greenhouse gasses than they have ever been.

As a final note, a growing number of people are turning to solar power as an eco-friendlier means of powering their homes. Though it hasn’t historically been the most efficient option for generating energy, a new era of solar power is potentially increasing the percentage of efficiency from around 22 per cent to nearly 33 per cent. Thus, solar-powered homes have the potential to become more energy-efficient than they once were; however, it is worth noting that climate plays a prominent role in the overall efficacy of this type of energy.

Final Word

Ultimately, modern houses are more energy-efficient than homes built just decades ago. Much of the reasoning for this lies in new and improved building practices and standards, which result in more airtight houses.

With less outside air penetrating climate-controlled homes, and less air escaping through crevices, homeowners will use less energy (and save more money) heating or cooling their houses.

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Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Budget-Friendly DIY Kitchen Renovation Projects

Of all the rooms in your home, you are probably spending the most time in the kitchen. Whether as the place where you prepare meals each day or as an entertaining space, a lot can be done to improve it and to get the most out of this space. The good news is there are lots of DIY kitchen renovation projects that will make a significant impact without breaking the bank. The other good news is that kitchen upgrades are one of the best things you can do to increase your home’s resale value.

The ideas listed below won’t cost a bundle but may bring you closer to the kitchen you have always wanted. Read on to find inspiration for projects to improve the heart of your home.

DIY Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Refacing Cabinets

Sure, you’d love just to rip out all your cabinets and start again, but new kitchen cabinets are a costly endeavour. However, you can transform your cabinets without having to tear them all down. The first step is ensuring that the shell cabinets are still in good shape. If so, you can reface them by installing new doors and drawer fronts. Be sure to replace any gable ends and trim edges on any exposed surfaces.

Paint Your Cabinets

Perhaps refacing feels like it might be a little out of your price range. That’s okay. You can grab some paint and give your cabinets a fresh look without the expense of new cupboard doors. Be sure to remove all hardware and clean and sand all surfaces. Now, you’re ready to paint. Choose white to brighten the space or go bold and add a pop of colour to your kitchen.

Update Your Cabinet Hardware

It’s a simple task but updating the cabinet hardware can make a huge difference. Since you are painting anyway, it’s a good time to replace your handles, pulls, and hinges with something more modern.

Take stock of the metal tones that already exist in your kitchen, including your stainless-steel appliances.  You don’t want to have several types of metal in your space. Experts say that two metals in the room are enough.

Now that you have figured out the colour, there is the shape to consider: knobs, handles or bin pulls? Do what works for you. Let your style shine through. These simple changes will move you closer to the look you want to achieve.

Open Up Your Shelving

If you want to transform your kitchen’s storage space without the expense of buying purchasing new cabinets, consider open shelving. It will make your kitchen look larger while adding an extra layer of functionality. Let your personality shine through by accessorizing the shelves.

An Island Alternative

While most people dream of an island vacation, you’ve been dreaming of an island in your kitchen. This can be an expensive proposition if it calls for kitchen remodelling. The good news is that there are substitutes for an island. A counter-height table is an affordable alternative. It allows you to add seating and an island-inspired space without the costly expense of materials and installation.

Butcher-Block Countertops

Perhaps you’re coveting quartz or granite counters, but the cost per square foot is a little out of your price range. Butcher-block countertops are a great alternative for giving your kitchen a fresh look. The warm wood tone adds character to the space while giving you the durable surface you want.

Sink and Faucet Upgrade

Odds are, the sink is one of the focal points of your kitchen, so why not give it some love? Make a bold statement with a stunning new faucet. If you want something that really stands out, look beyond the hardware store. You may spend a little more, but it might give you the look you want and there are so many options to choose from. Research online and create a mood board of the look you want to achieve. This is a significant change to the space, so take the time to get it right.

Under-Cabinet Lighting

Maybe a kitchen remodel isn’t in the cards, but you still want to improve your lighting. This is possible with strategic under cabinet lighting. The best part is that you can add excellent task lighting without any wiring. Motion-activated under cabinet lights are a perfect option for the DIY route.

Pendant Lighting

Consider a bold decorative light over the sink. It provides essential task lighting and adds to the space’s aesthetic by creating a focal point.

Give Your Windows Some Love

When it comes to window treatments, less is more. Roller shades, bamboo blinds, or a DIY Roman shade are great options. These can instantly transform your kitchen into a brighter place. Whatever you choose, just be sure to let as much natural light in as possible.

Organize The Pantry

Is your pantry getting a little out of control? Give it some love by organizing it. Transfer everything into matching canisters, jars, bins, and baskets, each with its own label. These storage solutions will keep your pantry organized and tidy, making working in the kitchen that much easier.

One DIY Kitchen Renovation Project at a Time

There are a lot of ideas on this list. Be sure to take it slow and focus on one area at a time. Is it the sink you want to change, or will the cabinets transform the space? You can go for the small wins first and build confidence in your transformative powers. Work through one project at a time and savour each step before moving on to the next project. You’ve got this!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Things To Consider in the Face of Rising Interest Rates

The Bank of Canada (BoC) has said it will be using its monetary policy to tamp down inflation, which currently sits at a 30-year high, joining the chorus of central banks worldwide trying to grapple with the rapidly escalating cost of living. So far this year, the BoC has already moved forward with rising interest rates three times, and Governor Tiff Macklem is preparing the financial market for more quantitative tightening in upcoming policy meetings.

But while the objective is to garner a stranglehold on a surging consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI), rate hikes will lead to financial pain for borrowers, investors and homebuyers.

Indeed, the Canadian real estate market is seeing the effects of a rising-rate environment. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), in April, national home sales tumbled 12.6 per cent month-over-month. The national average home price was about $746,000, down a tepid 0.6 per cent month-over-month.

After 12 years of ‘higher interest rates are just around the corner,’ here they are,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist, in a statement.

Now that Canada is waving goodbye to the era of historically low interest rates, what do homebuyers and owners need to consider in a post-pandemic economy where rates are on the rise?

Things To Consider in the Face of Rising Interest Rates

Here’s what buyers and sellers need to consider in a rising interest rate environment:

Selling Soon?

If you are thinking about selling your home soon, work closely with your real estate agent to determine if higher borrowing rates may impact your listing price. Do you need to under-price the home to generate attention, or should you list it at its appraised value? Whatever your strategy, some markets have shown signs of moderation, so you may not see the same frenzy that became the norm during the last two years.

Are You Pre-Approved?

With interest rates on the rise, it is more important than ever to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This allows buyers to lock in at the current rate while you shop for a home and ensure that you enjoy some level of protection against near-future interest rate increases. Also, by having a pre-approved mortgage, you can take comfort in knowing how much money you have to work with during the home-buying process.

No More Frenzy?

Suffice it to say, now that rates are increasing the flurry of demand seems to be waning somewhat, with fewer buyers competing for the limited number of homes on the Canadian real estate market and fewer bidding wars. Instead, buyers may be able to calmly negotiate prices and come to reasonable terms and conditions with the seller, such as critical home inspections and property appraisals.

Stress Test Your Budget

Can you afford a higher mortgage payment in five years, when it’s time to renew your mortgage at a higher interest rate? Both buyers and sellers need to consider this in today’s rate normalization since greater borrowing costs could add financial pressures to your monthly household budget. Plan ahead and stress test your budget.

Waiting for a Crash or a Correction?

Now that Canada is moving on from the pandemic-era near-zero interest rate era, does this mean the housing market is in store for a crash? Not exactly, says Robert Hogue, the senior economist at RBC.

We think the sizeable drop in activity in April marks a turning point for the Canadian market with further cooling on the way. The Bank of Canada’s setting out to aggressively normalize its monetary policy is a game-changer for the market—turning what has been a tremendous tailwind into a stiff headwind for the market,” he wrote in a research note.

After a nearly two-year-long frenzy that propelled property values to the stratosphere in many parts of the country, a calmer outlook for the market should be welcome news. We expect the burgeoning price correction seen in Ontario and parts of British Columbia to deepen and spread to other markets as market sentiment sours, but it’s unlikely to morph into a meltdown.”

Suffice it to say, it is doubtful that a market like Toronto is going to eliminate all of its COVID gains.

Lots to Consider in 2022 – and Beyond

Indeed, there will be many things to think about in the Canadian real estate market moving forward, from mortgage rates to housing supply levels. While prices are elevated and are expected to remain that way until more inventory comes on stream, this might no longer be the red-hot housing sector we’ve become used to these last two years. Conditions seem to be stabilizing, the market is adapting to interest rates, and buyers and sellers may be rational again. Whatever happens, the next few years will be interesting!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Top 10 House Hunting Tips

When looking for a place to call home, it’s easy to get sidetracked by thinking with your heart rather than your head. Although it takes less than seven seconds to make a first impression, a quick decision could lead to an unavoidable case of buyer’s remorse. In order to avoid this, we have listed a checklist for the top ten house hunting tips you need to know before you attend a viewing.

Location

There are many things that can be changed, upgraded, or improved after you have purchased a home, but the location isn’t one of them. You need to think about the proximity to work, schools, and other attractions you frequently visit and also research any new developments or upcoming changes to the area in the future.

Smells

While air fresheners and open windows can clear out certain scents, it’s important to pay attention in order to sniff out other potential issues. For example, if you notice a damp smell, it could mean the home has poor ventilation or issues with mold.

Even Floors

Noticing a slanted floor is one of the major hints that there could be a large structural issue with the home. If you do notice something, you can ask your Agent to inquire with the owners or make note of it for the home inspection if you decide to go that far in the purchase process.

Lighting

Natural lighting is something that is often overlooked in your house hunt, especially if you are viewing a home at night, or in the middle of winter. Think about how important natural lighting is to you, and plan your viewing times around when the lighting will be optimal.

Shape & Size of Rooms

It is important to take a good look at the layout to make sure not only you but also your furniture can fit comfortably in the space.

Parking

Is there enough space for everyone in your household to park or will this become an added expense? Additionally, if there is parking available, will your vehicle fit?

Laundry

If there is laundry in the home, you need to make sure it is in an accessible location. If there is no laundry, is it in a convenient location you can easily get to with or without a car?

Storage Space

Depending on how creative you can get with your storage, you will want to make sure that there is enough room to store your belongings without things becoming cluttered or unlivable.

It looks perfect, but are you missing something?

Professional staging can sometimes fool buyers into thinking a property is perfect while diverting their eyes away from potential issues. Don’t let the professional décor and scent of fresh baked cookies take your attention away from the things that matter.

Assess the kitchens and bathrooms

The kitchen and bathroom are two of the most costly rooms in a home. Make sure you pay special attention to these rooms to avoid getting stuck with unwanted repairs or updates after purchasing the home.

While a home inspection will help advise you of any potential issues, it is still a good idea to pay attention to these things in the initial stages of your home search. This will also help ensure you don’t waste money on unnecessary home inspections. Remember to keep a list of everything for each house you view so you don’t forget days, or weeks later!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

New Homeowner Spotlight: Things to do ASAP!

As a new homeowner, this is an exciting time in your life. You’ve just bought a new house and you’re getting ready to move. You spend your time daydreaming about where your furniture is going to go, creating floor plans, and writing out interior design ideas so that you can make your new house a home.

With all the excitement and celebrations typically involved with this milestone, it’s completely normal to focus on the fun things involved in buying a new home. However, it’s essential to take some safety measures and set yourself up for success before you settle into your new digs.

Before Closing

The period between your offer being accepted and approval on financing, and when the deal actually closes and you receive the keys is a busy one. You’re usually allowed a couple of walk-throughs of your soon-to-be home with your real estate agent during this time. (The details of this would be included in your Agreement of Purchase and Sale.) Use these appointments as an opportunity to measure for window coverings and appliances, and assess the home’s condition with fresh eyes. During these walk-throughs, the house will be properly lived-in rather than staged, giving you a slightly different perspective from when you viewed it at the showing or open house.

You’ll also use this time to take care of pre-move tasks. You’ll need to make sure your furniture will fit, order appliances, arrange for movers, set up utilities and Internet, find out how property taxes are paid, and a host of other things. Pro Tip: Staying organized will do wonders for your sanity during this hectic time!

What’s the first thing a new homeowner should do after taking possession?

Once the deal has closed and you have the keys, the home is officially yours. If you have the luxury of time, you might want to do a couple of things before the movers arrive. Now would be the perfect time to have your new home thoroughly cleaned while it is empty. It is also an excellent time to have an exterminator do an inspection and even a preventative spray. Nobody wants to inherit somebody else’s issues!

If you’re in a position where you have extra time before moving in, this is the perfect time to paint! With no furniture or décor in the way, the painting will be easier and faster.

Change the Locks

Changing the locks should be done right away; after all, you have no idea how many people have spare keys. It’s just a smart thing to do.

Update Your Address

This is something you can do before you move in. However, there is always something that gets overlooked. Sign up for mail forwarding at the post office to avoid missing mail. When mail arrives with the forwarding markings (either printed on the envelope or with a yellow sticker), contact the sender and provide your new mailing address. Don’t forget to update subscriptions like subscription boxes or printer ink; you don’t want them going to your previous address.

Change the Batteries in the Smoke Detectors

You’ll have no idea how fresh the smoke detector’s batteries are. Change them right away for peace of mind. After replacing the batteries in both your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, test them to make sure they work.

Change Your HVAC System’s Filter

Anything circulating through your home’s HVAC system gets breathed in again and again. Install a fresh filter and vacuum your home’s cold air returns. This will also reduce allergens, particularly pet dander from the previous occupants. You might even consider having your ducts cleaned to improve your new home’s indoor air quality.

Get Things Checked Out

Unless a home inspection was performed at the time of sale, which is sometimes omitted in a hot market but always recommended, you really have little idea what condition the home is in. Having things like your plumbing, electrical, roof and HVAC systems inspected will give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with and potential expenses on the horizon. Rather than individual tradespeople, you might just spring for your own home inspection to get a full report on your home’s systems. The home inspection report can become your maintenance to-do list over the following months.

Moving into a new home is sometimes chaotic, but always exciting. A new homeowner should always take the time to do it right and learn how the house works. After all, you’re going to be spending a lot of time together.

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Buying a home for the first time is an exciting experience. While the process can be stressful at times, there are ways to limit unnecessary anxiety, and one of the most significant ways is to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin your house-hunting adventure.

To put it simply, being pre-approved for a mortgage means that a lender says you have qualified to borrow a specific amount of money for the purchase of a home. Pre-approval is based on various factors, and the process involves several different steps.

As the borrower, you can shop around for mortgages and compare options from different lenders. Throughout this process, you will learn the maximum amount of mortgage you qualify for and the estimated mortgage payments on the amount borrowed, while locking in an interest rate for up to 120 days from the date of the pre-approval.

On the lender side of the process, they will look at your financial circumstances including your income-to-debt ratio, credit score, and financial history. The lender uses all these factors to assess your borrowing risk and determine the amount of mortgage, interest rate, and terms you’ll qualify for. It is important to note that the mortgage pre-approval process does not guarantee you will be approved for a mortgage.

5 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Begin Your Home Hunt

1. You’ll Have an Idea of How Much Money You Have to Work With 

Buying a home is a significant investment of your money and time. This time investment only increases as competition in the housing market rises. This is precisely why having a mortgage pre-approval is essential before starting your search. By beginning the process with the knowledge of just how much money you can spend, you can keep your search realistic and give your real estate agent an appropriate price range.

Being well prepared with realistic expectations and a clear price range will save you time, eliminating homes that are out of your reach financially. You’ll also be able to give your real estate agent the information they need to find you a home that fits both your desired specifications and your budget.

2. Your Scope of Search Will be Narrowed

Continuing on the point above, knowing how much mortgage you can afford will narrow your search considerably. It will also give you a more realistic idea of what the market has for you. Perhaps the home of your dreams isn’t in the cards just yet based on your pre-approval, but maybe you can afford to buy a home that you can renovate and put back on the market at a higher price in a few years.

Being aware of your buying power before starting your hunt will cross any homes you cannot afford off your list.

3. You Become a More Competitive Buyer

The real estate market in Canada has been known to heat up from time to time, and in some of the larger markets, competitiveness never really dies down. In some areas, you could be competing for the same home with dozens of other potential buyers. When the market is hot, and competitiveness is high, time is of the essence. During the time it would take you to ask a lender if you can afford a home, that home will be snatched up by another buyer who already has their pre-approval in hand.

 4. You Become a More Desirable Buyer

When the market is tight, and there are competing offers on a home, the prospective buyer who makes a firm offer is more likely to win over someone who doesn’t – that’s just a fact of the market.

 5. It May Shorten Your Closing Period 

The closing process on the house starts with securing financing for the home. The process itself can take almost two months from start to finish. By already having your financing pre-approved, you can move on to the next step in the closing process.

As you begin your journey on purchasing either your first or your next home, getting pre-approved for a mortgage has many benefits and should be your first step to making the home buying process smoother. When you’re ready to buy, contact us and work with an experienced, professional real estate team who can help you navigate the market!

 

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Courtesy of REMAX.ca

How Will Higher Interest Rates Impact My Mortgage?

How will higher interest rates impact my mortgage? It’s a question more homebuyers and homeowners are asking, in the wake of the Bank of Canada’s recent interest rate hikes. We consider many variables in life before making any big decision, and one of the most important ones to think about when buying a home is the current state of interest rates. While a low interest rate is desirable for a prospective buyer, as it means they have more purchasing power, lower rates may not be all they are cracked up to be.

Interest rates fluctuate. They rise and fall in response to the economy and world events, and can significantly impact the amount you pay for your home over the lifespan of your mortgage.

Typically, mortgage loans are either based on a fixed interest rate or an adjustable/variable interest rate. Simply put, this means that you are either locked in at one specific interest rate for your current mortgage term (often it’s a five-year term), or your interest rate will fluctuate with the market over that same period. The borrower must determine which is the better option, which isn’t always clear cut.

If you lock into a fixed-rate mortgage and the interest rates drop before your renewal, you will not benefit from the lower rate.

Alternatively, if you agree to a variable rate, you must ride the wave, and the amount of interest you pay on your mortgage could be higher (or lower) than expected. You could also find this option more challenging to budget for.

Why Do Interest Rates Fluctuate?

In Canada, the Bank of Canada is the central bank that sets monetary policy, prints money, and sets the Bank’s interest rate. Per the Bank, its principal role is “to promote Canada’s economic and financial welfare,” as defined in the Bank of Canada Act. “At the heart of the Bank’s monetary policy is a commitment to maintain low and relatively stable inflation—in particular, to keep the rate of inflation close to the two-per-cent midpoint of the one- to three-per-cent target range,” according to the Bank’s website.

Interest rates fluctuate because the Central Bank needs to protect and try to stabilize the Canadian economy at all times. Typically, the interest rate is lowered to boost the economy, whereas the interest rate rises when the economy is in solid standing. This impacts borrowers because a low-interest rate means it costs less money to borrow funds, and a high-interest rate costs more money.

The Effects of High-Interest Rates on Mortgages

As stated above, when interest rates rise, the cost of borrowing increases. When interest rates are 2.5 per cent, the total cost of your loan will be higher than it would be if the interest rate is 1.5 per cent. While this may not seem like a significant amount percentage-wise, this slight difference can amount to many thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a mortgage.

Interest rates typically rise when the economy begins to recover and shows signs of strength. Overall, this is a good thing for the country because it indicates that the economy is strong. Interest rates also reinforce the idea that what’s best for one isn’t always best for all.

For those who already own a home and have a fixed-rate mortgage, the impact of an increase in interest rates will not be realized until it is time to renew. However, an interest rate hike is not ideal for those engaged in a variable-rate mortgage.

While a higher interest rate does mean your monthly payments will have less of an impact on your actual loan amount, there is still a bright side. The uptick means that any money you are investing should see higher returns. Again, there are pros and cons to this scenario.

In terms of the real estate market as a whole, when interest rates rise, the market tends to slow down – especially in larger markets like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.

The Effects of Low-Interest Rates on Mortgages

On the contrary, prospective homebuyers can save thousands of dollars each year in interest payments when interest rates are low. This is desirable as it will allow you to use that money elsewhere.

The best way to take advantage of a low-interest rate is to lock in your mortgage at a fixed rate when rates are low. This is a big reason you will see the real estate market heat up when interest rates drop.

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Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Building Laneway Suites in Toronto: What Homeowners Need to Know

Are laneway suites in Toronto a solution to the housing affordability crisis? From the length of time it takes to save a down payment, to the housing supply shortage driving up prices, many prospective homebuyers are being priced out of North America’s fourth-largest city.

In recent years many public policymakers, industry professionals, and community activists have proposed a series of measures to address housing affordability in this major urban center.

Real estate experts contend that the best answer to Toronto’s housing woes is to create more supply, by removing exclusionary zoning bylaws and supporting the construction of new homes. One concept that has garnered support from city hall is the development of laneway suites.

So, what are these residential units anyway, and can they help alleviate the sky-high housing market? Let’s explore!

Building Laneway Suites in Toronto: What Homeowners Need to Know

A laneway suite is a type of property that is a detached secondary unit, typically located in the backyard or back alley of densely populated cities.

While some will describe it as a newly designed mid-block property big enough for a couple of bedrooms and space for a family, others view it as a small, detached apartment above a garage that belongs to the primary house.

The laneway suite shares the main home’s water, sewer, gas, electric, and waste collection services. Also known as “infill houses” or “garden suites,” these units can never be standalone, commonly likened to a basement apartment. The difference, of course, is that you enjoy more light, windows, fresh air, and the myriad of benefits that a typical above-grade apartment offers.

Experts argue that laneway suites tackle under-utilized spaces, make communities more sustainable, and create equity for the population. Moreover, there are other perceived advantages, such as respect for the character of a neighbourhood, addressing multi-generational living needs, and slowing the pace of development. Others also see it as a rental income opportunity, allowing the homeowner to generate revenue or support retirement plans.

Toronto officials got on board with the idea, launching the Laneway Suites Initiative in June 2018. This program incentivizes homeowners to produce secondary laneway suites.

This is one of the ways we can get more housing options built and part of the City’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods plan. We want to help people grow more housing options in neighbourhoods across Toronto,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.

Are you interested? Here is what you need to know before you take advantage of the program:

  • You can receive up to $50,000 in the form of a forgivable loan.
  • You must own a single-family home on a public lane.
  • You must conform with applicable zoning and other by-laws.
  • You must apply for building permits.
  • You must join the Affordable Laneway Suites Contribution Agreement.
  • You must receive approval for Development Charges Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units.

In addition, rent cannot exceed Toronto’s average market rent, and work must begin within 120 days of receiving the confirmation letter. The maximum household income limit is $63,400 for one person and $96,000 for two or more people.

Are Laneway Suites the Answer to Housing Affordability?

Toronto has been home to laneway suites for a century, and it appears that Canada’s most populous city is leading the push in North America. However, other jurisdictions, such as Vancouver and the state of California, are incorporating laneway suites into their public policymaking efforts.

In the world of planning and urbanism, these homes are generally known as granny flats or accessory dwelling units (ADU). American municipalities have been embracing them for a decade now. California effectively legalized ADUs at the state level in 2017. In Los Angeles, many are being built, and the city government pre-approved a set of standard plans for such dwellings by talented young architects,” The Globe and Mail reported in January 2022.

The average price of a detached home in Toronto is well north of $1 million, while condominium suites are approaching seven figures. The metropolis is begging for more supply to come online. Construction cranes dot the skyline and residential neighbourhoods, but many agree that more needs to be done. Whether laneway suites will enhance housing affordability in Toronto or not remains to be seen. Still, real estate is at the top of mind for public officials, the housing industry, and consumers – buyers and sellers.

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Courtesy of REMAX.ca

Renovations That Pay Off on the Resale Market

If you’re a home-buyer, owner or seller, you’re probably wondering how to maximize your investment. The answer depends on a number of factors, such as market conditions, your current circumstances and long-term goals, but there are some home renovations that pay off on the resale market, whether you’re looking to stay in the home or sell it.

Renovations on the Rise in a Hot Housing Market

In a seller’s market, there are more buyers than homes for sale, so technically you don’t need to renovate to turn that For Sale sign to Sold. However, the right renovations can help sellers secure a homebuyer faster, and potentially for a higher price. On the buying side, renovating a fixer-upper may allow buyers to get into their neighbourhood of choice at a lower price. Meanwhile, for homeowners who aren’t quite sold on moving or who find themselves challenged given limited inventory of listings, renovations have become a way to get a bigger, better home without having to tackle this competitive market.

According to a 2021 RE/MAX Canada report, more than half of Canadians renovated their home for personal enjoyment. According to a survey, three in 10 Canadians renovated to enhance their lifestyle, such as recreation and entertainment projects, while another three in 10 renovated to maintain their home. Last but certainly not least, 16 per cent of Canadians said they renovated to increase the market value of their home in order to sell within in the next one to three years.

Regardless of their reasons for renovating, 59 per cent of Canadians said they always consider the return on investment that a renovation will have on their home’s market value. So, home renovations pay off on resale? We surveyed RE/MAX brokers across Canada about the top renovations that give home sellers the biggest payouts.

9 Home Renovations That Pay Off on the Resale Market

#1 Kitchen – 93.5% of RE/MAX brokers said kitchen renovations give the best ROI, including new or updated cabinets, countertops and appliances. This can be attributed to the scale, cost and the general inconvenience (albeit a temporary one) of a kitchen renovation. Yes, renovating the kitchen yourself once you take possession of the home will be cheaper, however many homebuyers simply don’t want to put themselves through it – especially if they just completed a kitchen renovation on the home they are selling. The “move-in ready” factor is significant.

#2 Bathroom – 61.3% of RE/MAX brokers identified bathroom renovations as a great high-return renovation. By the same logic as the kitchen renovation, homebuyers who want move-in ready homes with all the bells and whistles generally don’t want to take on expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient renovations, such as bathroom.

#3 Paint – 58% of RE/MAX brokers said a fresh coat of paint is the simplest and cheapest investment, and it pays off on the resale market. Aside from giving the home an instant refresh, home stagers also recommend light and neutral paint colours to make a home appear bigger, brighter and cleaner.

#4 Flooring – 45.2% of RE/MAX brokers said new flooring is a popular upgrade among homebuyers. Homebuyers largely prefer hardwood or tile over wall-to-wall carpets, which tend to trap stains and odours, and can really show a home’s age. This is a must, and if the seller is lucky, tearing up that old carpet could even reveal a hardwood floor underneath that just needs some TLC to bring it to its former glory.

#5 Finished basement – 16.1% of RE/MAX brokers said finished basements are a great selling feature on the resale market. In fact, any renovations that add liveable square footage to a home are always in demand. A lower-level family room, home office, an extra bedroom or bathroom in the basement can all give your listing a significant boost at the offer table.

#6 Outdoors/landscaping – 12.9% of RE/MAX brokers said outdoor projects can provide good ROI. As a result of the pandemic, people have been spending more time at home and thus, large yards, pools and hot tubs, decks and patios, and landscaping are all appealing on the resale market. Depending on the scope of the project, this could be one of those low-investment, high-return upgrades that pay off on resale.

#7 Roof – 12.9% of RE/MAX brokers said roofing was a good option to invest some renovation dollars before listing a home for sale. New roof tied in sixth place with outdoor projects and landscaping.

#8 Open-concept floor plan – 9.7% of RE/MAX brokers said redesigning a home with an open-concept floor plan can pay off. This isn’t a small or inexpensive project by any means, but removing wasteful walls and halls can instantly modernize an older home and make it live larger than its actual square footage would otherwise allow.

#9 Windows – 6.5% of RE/MAX brokers said new windows net higher offers on the resale market. While this isn’t exactly the sexiest of renovations, astute buyers will appreciate the tens of thousands of dollars that new windows will cost, so having these replaced before listing can benefit both buyer and seller. Furthermore, new windows can give your home an understated refresh, inside and out.

Need Some Home Renovation Inspiration?

Watch this video to see how you can update and upgrade your home before listing it for sale.

 

The financial returns that sellers may reap on resale depend on a number of factors, including buyer demand and market conditions. If you’re planning to sell your home, thoughtful, targeted renovations can help you maximize your investment. A professional real estate agent can give you an advantage, by zeroing in on market demand before you dig into your renovation. Contact us, we’d love to help!

 

Courtesy of REMAX.ca

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