• 3 Ways to Stand Out in the Spring Market

    Spring – the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the “For Sale” signs are sprouting up on lawns all around you. This can be one of the best times to list your home, which also makes it one of the most competitive times.

    So, how can sellers stand out in a busy spring market? We asked RE/MAX affiliates across Canada to share their top tips.

    Clean up Outside

    Pressure washing your driveway, sweeping your front walkway and picking up winter debris such as twigs and branches are incredibly important steps to take to make your property look its best once the snow has cleared.

    It’s important to wash windows and frames on the outside of your house and touch up exterior doors and trim with paint if necessary. Roof gutters and siding should also be cleaned and maintained.

    Any extra cars should be parked away from the property, and spring toys and bikes shouldn’t be left outside.

    Steps can also be taken to improve landscaping. Adding flowering plants and shrubs will add colour to your home. Be sure to tidy flower beds and maintain your lawn. If you have a pet, be sure to clean up any droppings on a regular basis.

    A well-manicured curb appeal can make a difference when everything is in full swing. Don’t overdo it with the flowers and plants, as there are also people thinking about high maintenance yards when buying a home, which could end up being a turn off, even when it looks pretty.

    Freshen up Inside

    The inside of your home should be tidy with no clutter. Light fixtures, appliances and windows should be cleaned. Be sure to move large appliances and clean in and around where they usually sit.

    If you have a garage, make sure you keep the floor swept. Make sure doors and windows throughout the house aren’t squeaking.

    You might want to consider purchasing a new welcome mat at the front door, adding new bedding and purchasing candles with a nice smell that’s not overwhelming. A fresh bouquet on your kitchen table or counter is a great way to keep the space smelling and looking great.

    Once your house is clean, get professional photos taken to make each room look its best. Good photography can go a long way in helping a home stand out from the others.

    Be Sure the Price is Right

    The spring market is an incredibly popular time of year for sellers to list their homes. If you have priced your home too high, buyers will likely opt to look at similar, more reasonably priced homes. A good REALTOR® will take in many factors to help you list your home at a price that is competitive with other listings, yet a fair deal for you.

    Also, consider putting the home on the market a bit earlier than the regular spring crowd. This will limit the amount of competition and get the eyes of serious buyers on your property first.

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    The Benjamin Moore 2024 Color of the Year is…

    The Benjamin Moore 2024 Color of the Year is…

    Every year, the design world waits with bated breath for the announcement of the Color of the Year, and 2024 did not disappoint. Stepping into the spotlight is a colour that has long captured our imaginations and emotions: the cosmic and magical Blue Nova.

    Blue Nova CC-860, shimmering with celestial undertones, captures the mystery and expansiveness of a night sky aglow with distant stars. Its deep yet luminous shade bridges the ethereal and the tangible, creating spaces that feel both boundless and grounded. When juxtaposed with muted pastels or rich, earthy tones, its true brilliance shines through, adding depth and wonder.

    From serene interiors and avant-garde fashion statements to its ripples in art and décor, Blue Nova symbolizes a cosmic blend of tradition and innovation, grounding us in the familiar while propelling us into the uncharted. As we journey through 2024, Blue Nova promises to inspire homeowners, designers, and enthusiasts to reimagine spaces with enthusiasm and flair.

    Pair Blue Nova with the 2024 Colour Trends

    The year 2024 promises a variety of hues that work in harmony to set the tone for contemporary design. From muted pastels and earthy tones to vibrant splashes and subdued gradients, here are the colours that will redefine our visual landscape this year:

    White Dove – White Dove, a classic and versatile shade, transcends fleeting design trends. It’s neither stark nor overly warm, striking a delicate balance that makes it a favourite among interior designers. Its soft, creamy undertones exude a sense of tranquillity, making spaces feel larger and more open.

    Pristine – With its crisp and unblemished hue, Pristine effortlessly breathes life into any space. Its neutral character makes it versatile, serving as a serene backdrop that can be paired with both vibrant tones and muted shades.

    Topaz – Topaz, with its warm and lustrous hue, captures the heart of golden moments just as the sun graces the horizon. This gemstone-inspired shade exudes an earthy elegance reminiscent of autumn leaves or the warm glow of a fireside evening. Its richness adds depth to interiors, offering luxury and a sense of coziness.

    Teacup Rose – Teacup Rose paints a picture of timeless elegance reminiscent of delicate porcelain patterns and sunlit afternoon tea gatherings. Its soft, blush hue embodies innocence and romance, creating intimate and inviting spaces. When paired with muted neutrals or antique furnishings, it truly comes alive, harking back to bygone eras while still feeling fresh and modern.

    Honeybee – Honeybee is a hue that buzzes with life, embodying the zest and energy of its namesake. Its golden-yellow tone exudes warmth and positivity, instantly illuminating spaces with a touch of nature’s brilliance. The colour shines even brighter when combined with earthy neutrals or contrasting cool shades, bringing balance and vibrancy.

    Regent Green – Regent Green transports one into the heart of an ancient forest or the quiet corridors of a historic manor. Its deep, rich hue resonates with an air of timeless sophistication and quiet authority. Regent Green provides a moody backdrop that pairs beautifully with rich woods, metallic accents, or soft, velvety textiles.

    Antique Pewter – With its muted grey-silver hue, Antique Pewter transports one to bygone eras where craftsmanship was revered, and details cherished. Its understated elegance lends sophistication and quiet confidence to any space it graces. Perfect for modern minimalist designs or classic vintage settings, this versatile colour seamlessly bridges the gap between the past and present.

    Polar Sky – Polar Sky’s subtle blend of blues and greys captures the tranquil essence of a horizon where day meets night. This shade exudes a calming, introspective quality reminiscent of serene winter mornings or the muted tones of a twilight sky. When paired with cool neutrals or shimmering metallics, it brings out a contemporary, airy feel.

    Hazy Lilac – A soft and dreamy shade, Hazy Lilac evokes memories of springtime blooms and twilight’s gentle embrace. Its muted purple undertones, tinged with the faintest hint of grey, create an atmosphere of serenity and whimsy. When paired with creamy neutrals or deep jewel tones, it becomes a harmonizing force, adding depth and emotion to any design palette.

    How to Incorporate Blue Nova in Your Living Space

    Whether you’re looking to make a dramatic statement or infuse subtle pops of vibrancy, there’s an art to using Blue Nova in ways that enhance your living space:

    Accent Walls – Use Blue Nova as a feature wall colour. Its rich hue can serve as a stunning backdrop, making your furnishings pop and creating a focal point in the room.

    Soft Furnishings – If you’re hesitant about committing to paint, incorporate Blue Nova through textiles. Think velvety throw pillows, plush blankets, or elegant curtains. These can add a touch of modernity without overwhelming the space.

    Art and Décor – Hang artwork that predominantly features Blue Nova tones. Alternatively, seek out decorative pieces in this shade, like vases or candle holders, to sprinkle throughout your living area.

    Colour Trends 2024

    As Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year, Blue Nova exemplifies the essence of modern home design—bold, vibrant, and unapologetically alive. It’s not just about painting a wall; it’s about creating experiences and memories within our homes. In an ever-evolving world of design, colours like Blue Nova stand as a testament to our collective quest for depth, meaning, and beauty.

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    How to Assess the Quality of Schools When Buying a Home

    How to Assess the Quality of Schools When Buying a Home

    When purchasing a new home, there are numerous factors to consider. From the location and price to the size and layout, the list can seem endless. However, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is the quality of schools in the area. Whether you have children or not, the quality of nearby schools can significantly impact your property value and overall satisfaction with your new home.

    One of the livability factors to consider when purchasing a home is the proximity to reputable schools. Even if you don’t have school-aged children, the quality of schools in your neighbourhood should still be a top consideration. A strong school system is an indicator of a thriving community and can positively influence property values. Homes located in areas with highly regarded schools tend to appreciate faster and hold their value better over time. For families with children, this can make or break their decision to purchase a particular property.

    Create a Checklist

    Remember, every child has unique needs and capabilities. What may be an excellent school for one child may not be the best fit for another. Always consider your child’s specific needs and interests. Does the school offer programs or resources that align with your child’s passions? Are there opportunities for extracurricular activities or specialized education? Finding a school that can cater to your child’s requirements and provide a well-rounded education is essential.

    Research School Ratings and Rankings

    When searching for quality schools in your chosen area while purchasing a home, one of the initial steps is to research school ratings and rankings. There are numerous online resources available that provide valuable information regarding schools’ academic performance, teacher qualifications, student-to-teacher ratios, and overall school reputation.

    Consult with Real Estate Agents

    Real estate agents in Canada are an invaluable source of local knowledge. They can offer valuable insights into the schools in the area where a potential homebuyer is looking to make a purchase. They are knowledgeable about the reputations of school districts, the quality of education they provide, and any recent updates or advancements within the schools. Homebuyers can seek guidance from real estate agents to better understand how schools might impact property values and ensure that their desired locations align with their educational preferences for their children.

    Evaluate Extracurricular Activities

    A quality education is not just about academics but also active involvement in extracurricular activities. When evaluating schools, it is essential to consider the variety and accessibility of extracurricular programs. Seek out schools that provide a diverse range of activities, including sports teams, music and arts clubs, debate teams, and community service opportunities.

    Get Feedback from Parents

    Gaining input from parents with children enrolled in local schools can offer valuable perspectives on the daily experiences and difficulties that students may encounter. Online community forums, social media groups, and local parent-teacher associations are excellent avenues to engage with parents and gather insights about their impressions of the schools.

    Use Your Network

    Your network can be valuable for finding a good school district. They might know a specific school district you are unaware of or have come across the school you are considering during their house-hunting endeavours. You can also utilize your social media accounts by posting on Facebook or in trusted community groups and pages to inquire if anyone has any experiences or insights to share.

    Visit the School

    Visiting the school is one of the most effective ways to assess the quality of schools. While online research and feedback from others are valuable, they cannot replace the impression gained from an on-site visit. During your visit, observe the physical condition of the school, the classroom environment, the availability of educational resources, and the overall atmosphere. Moreover, engaging with students and staff during your visit can provide deeper insights into the school’s culture and values to determine if it aligns with your expectations and aspirations for your children’s education.

    Conclusion

    When purchasing a home, assessing the quality of schools in the area is a crucial aspect that directly impacts the overall well-being and future prospects of the family. According to the Housing Affordability in Canada: 2022 RE/MAX Report, 38% of respondents emphasized that house affordability means a home that meets their basic needs, including proximity to school.

    Prioritizing the quality of schools alongside other homebuying considerations, families can lay a strong foundation for their future, fostering growth and prosperity within a supportive community.

     

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    The Pros and Cons of Buying vs. Renting in Toronto

    The Pros and Cons of Buying vs. Renting in Toronto

    What’s the difference between buying vs. renting in Toronto? Rental pricing is through the roof, and tenants might not see any relief in sight, whether rising mortgage rates or the supply-demand imbalance. According to the September 2023 Rentals.com report, the average asking rent in Canada climbed nearly two per cent on a month-over-month basis and skyrocketed close to ten per cent to a record high of $2,117. 

    “Over the last three-month period between May and August, asking rents in Canada have increased by 5.1 per cent, or by an average of $103 per month,” the report states. 

    What are the two most expensive rental markets? You guessed it: Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto, Ontario. Researchers found that the typical one- and two-bedroom apartments in Vancouver were $2,988 and $3,878, respectively. In North America’s fourth-largest city, the average one- and two-bedroom apartments are $2,620 and $3,413, respectively.  

    What makes the data even more fascinating is that the asking rent for roommates in Toronto is $1,300. In Vancouver, it is $1,455. 

    This will undoubtedly be fodder for the age-old debate: Is Toronto more affordable than Vancouver – or vice versa? 

    Meanwhile, the three cheapest rental markets in the Canadian housing sector? Saskatoon, Saskatchewan ($1,005) and Regina, Saskatchewan ($1,121). 

    The good news coming out of all of this is that construction activity for purpose-built rentals has accelerated. The bad news? “Despite rental apartment completions in Canada over the past 12 months reaching their highest level since the 1970s, rent growth has remained exceptionally strong,” the report stated. 

    “This can be attributed to the country’s record-high population growth and sharp deterioration in homeownership affordability,” the report added. 

    The latest conditions have many families stumped as to what to do next. Buy or rent? 

    Are you trying to decide whether to buy or rent in the Toronto real estate market? Let’s break down the benefits and drawbacks of both options so you can make the right choice for your financial situation and lifestyle. 

    The Pros and Cons of Buying vs. Renting in Toronto

    Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of buying versus renting in Toronto. 

    The Price 

    First, let’s get down to the brass tacks. Here is a breakdown of home prices in the Toronto real estate market: 

    • Detached: $1.416 million 
    • Semi-Detached: $1.067 million 
    • Townhouse: $935,800 
    • Condo Apartment: $705,572 

    Renters do not have to bear the plethora of taxes that buyers do, such as the municipal land transfer tax or the HST, or become (directly) vulnerable to rising interest rates. 

    “While higher interest rates have certainly impacted affordability, the prospect of higher taxes will also hit households’ balance sheets, especially younger buyers with limited savings,” said Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) CEO John DiMichele in a report. 

    Cost of Ownership 

    Indeed, one of the advantages of renting compared to owning is the amount of savings you can enjoy for monthly expenses. 

    Renters do not need to worry about replacing appliances or taking care of the property (though this can vary from property to property). On the other hand, homeowners routinely have monthly expenses that can set them back by vast amounts. 

    So, by comparison, for owners of condominium suites, there is the condo fee, utilities, property tax, and property insurance. For renters, there is the rent, utilities, and renters insurance. 

    In an environment where the cost of everything has increased significantly, renters can find considerable savings by not having to maintain their properties regularly and pay out of pocket to replace a broken refrigerator. 

    Flexibility Versus Responsibility 

    Renters enjoy something that owners do not: flexibility. Homeowners have much more responsibility for owning property, from regular upkeep to unexpected expenses. It is easy for renters to budget since the rent is a fixed monthly cost. Plus, if you wish to relocate to another building or another area of the city, renters can do this once their lease is up. 

    Who Has the Advantage? Buyers or Renters 

    A core component of the Canadian Dream has been homeownership. The idea of owning your own home while building equity to fund your retirement or children’s education is an appealing one. 

    Is this an outdated concept? Not necessarily, but accomplishing this objective will depend on where you live, household income, interest rates, public policy, and the broader Canadian real estate market. From a long-term perspective, homeownership is superior to renting because home prices generally trend higher over time, and, as a result, your equity grows over time. In the short term, it can be advantageous to rent, wait out the market, and wait for the right opportunity. 

    Ultimately, the renting versus owning debate boils down to personal circumstances and overall economic conditions.  

     

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    Land Transfer Tax Impacting Home Buying Decisions

    Land Transfer Tax Impacting Home Buying Decisions

    Many prospective homebuyers often think that the only costs they will incur are the home’s asking price and interest on the mortgage. However, there are additional costs involved, especially in certain jurisdictions across the country. Mortgage origination fees, closing costs, taxes, and other charges are the norm. And when buying a home in the Toronto real estate market, the land transfer tax is a hefty levy you must budget for – and the municipal portion of the tax is due to rise as of January 1, 2024.

    Regardless of the property type, all homebuyers will be subjected to a land transfer tax on closing.

    There are five tax brackets that you need to be aware of:

    • Up to $55,000: 0.5 per cent
    • Up to $250,000: one per cent
    • Up to $400,000: 1.5 per cent
    • Up to $2 million: two per cent
    • More than $2 million: 2.5 per cent

    So, for example, if you are buying a $950,000 detached house in the downtown core, be prepared to dole out nearly $31,000. The good news is that you will receive a rebate if you are a first-time homebuyer. So, as another instance, if you are purchasing a $700,000 condo suite, the land transfer tax will be nearly $21,000, but the rebate will reduce it to below $13,000.

    Regardless of any tax brackets or rebates, new research has found that the land transfer tax is a barrier to entry for many households attempting to achieve the dream of home ownership.

    Land Transfer Tax Impacting Home-Buying Decisions

    Is the land transfer tax impacting your home-buying process?

    According to a new survey conducted by Leger on behalf of RE/MAX Canada, more than one-quarter of Canadians (28 per cent) say that the land transfer tax has affected their decision to participate in the real estate market. Young Canadians are most impacted by the levy, with 40 per cent of Generation Z and 35 per cent of millennials reporting that the land transfer tax had a role in their journey toward home ownership. The penalty had less of an impact on older generations, including Generation X (26 per cent) and baby boomers (21 per cent).

    Ultimately, this has eroded housing affordability at a time when home ownership is becoming out of reach for many younger households.

    Recent data highlight that detached home sales skyrocketed in York Region in the second quarter of 2023, rising more than 100 per cent from the first quarter. One of the reasons? Buyers in this part of the housing market do not face the municipal land transfer tax.

    Because many facets are pricing younger families out of the housing market, policymakers are exploring various mechanisms to bolster homebuying opportunities, including the land transfer tax.

    Are Changes Coming?

    The City of Toronto recently published its revenue tools report assessing different property tax approaches. Officials contend that property tax is a more stable and fair form of taxation for city hall than the land transfer tax. When North America’s fourth-largest city first introduced the first-time land transfer tax rebate, it was introduced to mirror the average price for a residential property in Toronto.

    In 2008, the average price for a home in the city was $400,000. Believe it or not, officials have not raised this threshold, meaning that very few buyers qualify for this rebate since the going price for a house is north of $1 million and about $750,000 for condominiums.

    That said, the Toronto Region Real Estate Board welcomes any proposal that advances the opportunity for more people to enter the housing market.

    “Our position has always been that the concept of a Land Transfer Tax doesn’t benefit homebuyers, due to the unfair nature of the tax which has to be paid upfront. With the City raising MLTT rates for the higher-end housing market as a revenue tool, it must also consider helping first-time home buyers who are struggling to buy a property,” said TRREB President Paul Baron in a statement. “Council’s decision to approve a graduated increase of the MLTT on properties over $3 million may impact our housing challenges and supply shortage in a negative way by deterring move-up buyers from freeing up supply.”

    Not only Toronto is looking at making changes to property tax policy.

    The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) is urging the province of British Columbia to abandon the property transfer tax, or PTT, on any home that costs under $755,000 for both new and resale.

    Like Toronto, it is challenging to come across any dwelling in Vancouver priced below $800,000.

    “You could look at this and say, ‘Should there even be a threshold? If we’re talking about getting first-time buyers into the market, why does it really matter?’ We’re trying to be reasonable and give the government something they can work with,” said Andrew Lis, the director of economics of the REBGV.

    The real estate association also suggests establishing a provincial rebate program for the GST mandated on new rental construction and an “ultra-low-cost” loan program for rental property developers.

    Meanwhile, there is skepticism that the B.C. government would consider abolishing the levy since it generated more than $2 billion in revenues from this tax in the current fiscal year.

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    Toronto’s Most Affordable and Undervalued Area for Detached Homes

    Toronto’s Most Affordable and Undervalued Area for Detached Homes

    In the dog days of summer, the Toronto real estate market was not as hot as the previous year, driven by rising borrowing costs, economic uncertainty, and limited inventories available in the housing industry. According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB), residential property sales tumbled slightly more than five percent year-over-year in August, totaling 5,294 units. Within detached homes, sales declined at an annualized pace of 11.2 per cent in August, with 451 units exchanging hands. Semi-detached properties also experienced a drop in sales, totaling nearly 13 per cent with 138 transactions.

    Townhomes and condominiums enjoyed a robust 15.6 per cent and 6.5 per cent year-over-year increase in August.

    Despite the drop in sales activity, prices remained elevated. Detached home prices advanced nearly three percent to $1.416 million, semi-detached prices swelled 6.9 per cent to $1.067 million, and townhome costs jumped close to four per cent to $935,800. Condo units slipped 0.9 per cent to $705.572, TRREB figures reveal.

    “In the short term, we will likely continue to see some volatility in terms of sales and home prices, as buyers and sellers wait for more certainty on the direction of borrowing costs and the overall economy,” said TRREB president Paul Baron in a statement.

    With the lackluster performance to finish the summer, does this mean prospective homebuyers might come across detached homes located in affordable and undervalued areas? If so, where can households potentially find these listings?

    Bathurst Manor: Affordable and Undervalued

    For many young professionals and families searching for affordability and an undervalued property in the Toronto real estate market, one area of the central core that has been a popular destination for years is Bathurst Manor and Clanton Park. Prospective homeowners will see a wide array of bungalows and two-story residential properties throughout the Bathurst Manor and Clanton Park neighbourhoods.

    The average price for detached homes sold in this part of the city is about $1.7 million, the lowest average price point in the central core. In the first half of 2023, the area enjoyed a modest increase in homebuying activity compared to the same time a year ago. Despite fewer detached home sales in 95 per cent of surveyed markets in August, Bathurst Manor and Clanton Park were two of the few places to buck this trend in the housing market, with sales climbing 1.4 per cent.

    Indeed, for those individuals who are price-conscious, Bathurst Manor and Clanton Park maintain a larger supply of detached properties situated on 50-foot lots, providing modest price relief for buyers.

    Moreover, market analysts note that Bathurst Manor and Clanton Park can potentially increase the home’s value in the future through demolition or renovation, particularly if housing stocks do not improve in the Toronto housing market anytime soon.

    Based on the latest real estate association data, this is likely to be the new normal for a while. While the latest numbers show that new residential listings were up a little more than one per cent month-over-month in August, they are down year-to-date.

    And industry leaders note that governments are not showing signs of doing what is necessary to bolster supply, leaving prices to maintain their upward trajectory, especially in the downtown core.

    “All three levels of government need to be focused on the key issue impacting affordability in the GTA: lack of supply,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele in a statement. “Right now, there continues to be a policy mismatch between population growth through immigration and temporary migration and bringing online enough housing to accommodate this population growth. If we can’t house newcomers, they will look elsewhere, and Canada and the GTA will lose its competitive edge on the global stage.”

    Supply Continues to be the Main Issue

    This year, many headlines have spotlighted just how dire the supply situation has become in North America’s fourth-largest city and the rest of the country. In the spring, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) warned that prices could accelerate again due to an “alarming” shortage of new construction.

    From the Toronto Star:

    “In Toronto the report forecasts between 28,500 and 33,500 housing starts for this year, 60,000 to 74,000 sales, and an average MLS price of $1.043 to $1.107 million.

    CMHC economist Dana Senagame said that in pockets of the GTA’ anecdotally at least we’ve heard reports of properties being sold within hours of being listed and bidding wars.’ Buyers who’ve been holding back may now be more comfortable making a purchase. But overall, ‘the market is still very, very unaffordable.’”

    Be it Canada or downtown Toronto, supply is failing to keep up with demand. If the reports are accurate and homebuyers are snatching homes that have erected for-sale signs on their properties as fast as you can say the Toronto Blue Jays, prices are unlikely to come down to their pre-pandemic levels.

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

     

    A Step-by-Step Guide to Refinance Your Mortgage in Canada

    A Step-by-Step Guide to Refinance Your Mortgage in Canada

    Is it time to refinance your mortgage?

    With the average conventional five-year fixed-rate mortgage rate approaching six percent, homebuyers who might have purchased a home at rock-bottom rates recently might not want to refinance their mortgage. Others, especially those who are on a variable-rate mortgage, may need to refinance their mortgage.

    Whatever the reason may be, it is important to understand the steps involved with refinancing your mortgages.

    Let’s take a deeper dive:

    Refinancing Your Mortgage in Canada

    Here are six steps to refinancing your mortgage in Canada:

    Evaluate Your Current Mortgage

    Here are four questions to answer as you assess your current mortgage:

    • What are your current mortgage terms?
    • What is your mortgage rate?
    • What is the remaining balance?
    • What are the penalties or fees?

    Understanding why you want to refinance is critical during this process. You need to identify the purpose, whether to access equity, solidify your monthly payments or consolidate your debt. It is not something to take lightly.

    Check Your Credit Score

    Your credit score plays a crucial role in getting approved for a new mortgage with favourable terms.

    As a result, it is vital to access and obtain a copy of your credit report and score from a reputable credit bureau. By doing this, you can ensure that the data are accurate, and you can identify any areas for improvement if required.

    Research Lenders and Mortgage Rates

    When you are considering refinancing your mortgage, should you stick with your current lender or find somebody else? This depends on what your research shows. Therefore, comparing offerings from other banks, credit unions, and mortgage brokers is imperative to locate the best deal that matches your objectives.

    After this is achieved, you need to calculate the costs and savings:

    • Estimate the possible savings and costs associated with refinancing.
    • Consider factors such as closing costs, appraisal fees, legal fees, and prepayment penalties for your existing mortgage.
    • Compare these costs to the long-term savings from the new mortgage to ensure the refinancing makes financial sense.

    Pre-Approval

    Once you have selected a mortgage lender, be sure to apply for pre-approval. Doing this lets you know how much you can borrow and streamlines the borrowing process. A pre-approval application typically involves extending your personal and financial information, income verification, employment information, credit reports, and other associated documents.

    Processing

    Yes, the refinancing process is a tad difficult. The first is the underwriting endeavour, which includes the lender reviewing your application, evaluating the residential property’s value, and assessing your creditworthiness. The lender could request additional documentation for clarification purposes. The second will be an appraisal of your property that might be needed to determine the present market value, a vital step to determine the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. The third is that you will need to hire an attorney or notary to manage the legal components of the refinancing process, as this professional will review the agreement, prepare the documents, and arrange the mortgage closing.

    The Final Steps

    The three final aspects of mortgage refinancing will be like this:

    Mortgage Closing: You will need to sign the paperwork, like the new mortgage agreement, either at a lawyer’s office or through a remote online notarization platform. Funds Disbursement: The new mortgage funds will be allocated that will be used to cover closing costs, offer funds to access equity, or pay off the current mortgage.

    Begin Repayment: You will now start to make payments on your new mortgage using the updated terms and conditions in the new mortgage agreement.

    The Growth of Mortgage Refinancing

    Considering that interest rates are at their highest levels in over two decades, it might be befuddling why anyone would want to refinance in today’s rising-rate climate. However, research has found that homeowners will do so for debt consolidation reasons. A recent Angus Reid Institute study found that the percentage of mortgage holders struggling with their payments rose to 45 per cent since 2022. At the same time, growing credit card and loan debt was the main source of financial stress for mortgage holders.

    “Many homeowners will have outstanding debt, whether it be on HELOCs, LOCs, credit cards, or loans,” said Victor Tran, a RATESDOTCA mortgage expert, in a statement. “Rising interest rates will push up the amount of interest they have to pay to service the debt, and it can be more affordable to refinance a mortgage and roll all of the debt into one payment instead of several.”

    Is it time to refinance?

     

     

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    Address Change Checklist

    There is nothing like receiving a handwritten note from a loved one, delivered the old-fashioned way directly to your mailbox. Sure, bills, letters, cards, and more can easily and more efficiently be accessed online, but where is the fun in that?

    You have nearly reached the end of your home-buying journey, and although the road has been long and winding, you have reached the final stage! Your fingers are itching to dive into unpacking and settling into your new home, but first, you need to let your family, friends, companies, and government agencies know where they can reach you.

    For family and friends, you can easily send a change of address card via mail or email, but there are a few more steps when it comes to informing government agencies. Nowadays, most services enable you to easily change your address online, which can be completed in a matter of hours. However, a few, like your registry, will require you to visit in person to complete the paperwork. Here are the main services for which you need to change your address:

    Canada Revenue Agency – It is very easy to update your address online. Click here to change your address with the CRA and ensure your tax information is accurate.

    Canada Post – Use Mail Forwarding to forward any personal or business mail from your old address to your new one so that you don’t miss any important information. This should be completed a few weeks before your moving date to ensure nothing gets missed.

    Local Registry – Known as Service Ontario in Ontario and by other names in other provinces, this is where you can update your driver’s license and health care cards. If you are moving to a new province, you will also need to get a new license plate.

    Bank and credit card company – Any information that proceeds through your bank, such as accounts, loans, or lines of credit, will need to be updated with your new address. If you have bought a new home, then your mortgage will already have the address.

    Insurance broker – All home or rental insurance will need to be updated to reflect your new address. You will also need to update your auto insurance so that your new address is printed on your card. You should know that insurance rates often change based on address.

    Employer – If applicable, it is important to change your address for the purpose of tax information and your Employment Insurance.

    Medical Personnel – Your doctor, dentist, and any other medical practitioners that you see will need to be updated with your new address. This also includes the veterinarian.

    Memberships and subscriptions – If you are a member of a place such as a gym, it will be necessary to change your address information.

    Utilities – Assuming that you have not done so already, all utilities, including internet and TV, will need to be switched over to your new address.

    Education institutions – If you have children that will be attending the same school as before the move, you will need to notify their school that you have moved and provide your new address.

    This may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately, once everyone has been informed, you can go back to unpacking and organizing and can rest easy knowing that your friends and family will be able to easily find you to wish you well in your new home.

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    Tips to Enhance Your Curb Appeal This Winter

    The grey and lifeless winter landscape can leave your home’s curb appeal… lacking. If you’re selling your home and are hoping to channel your inner Norman Rockwell in a cozy, welcoming scene, take it from the experts: it is a lot simpler than you think! Homeowners who want to give their front yard a facelift or prepare their homes to sell during the winter season should be aware that it does not require too much of an investment. From a fresh coat of paint to a modest bird feeder, it is the little things that count and can add the most charm to your home’s exterior. We have compiled a list of tips from real estate experts on how you can enhance your curb appeal this winter.

    6 Tips to Enhance Your Curb Appeal This Winter

    Give Your Numbers an Update

    How old are the numbers on your house? Better yet, can delivery drivers even see them as they try to drop off your pizza (or the signature brown boxes holding the evidence of your 2020 online shopping addiction)? Whatever state the numbers on your front porch may be, consider investing in some new numbers for an easy, affordable, and striking outdoor refresh.

    Investing in a new mailbox can also instantly upgrade your exterior aesthetic. So, scrap that rusty eyesore and trade it for a sleek, metal letter box that can usually be affixed to the wall with a couple of screws.

    These simple updates can do wonders for your curb appeal during the winter months.

    Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint to Your Door

    Oftentimes, the best way to spruce up any part of your humble abode is with a fresh coat of paint.

    Your door is usually the first thing that appeals to somebody’s eye. Many homeowners might choose to fully replace their old door with a new one that has a lovely glass insert. But if you are on a tight budget, all you need is some paint and colour that suits your home.

    As an added tip, bold primary colours can look extremely striking set upon a white winter backdrop. But take note, you may want to proactively paint before the cold winter weather hits or during a window of unseasonably warm temperatures, as most paints need at least three days of 12-degree weather to properly cure.

    Install a Bird Feeder

    What better way to liven up your front yard than by hanging a well-placed and colourful bird feeder to attract some feathered friends? Winter provides us with plenty of gray days, so placing a bird feeder can show some colourful signs of life like blue jays and cardinals.

    Add Functional Lighting

    Exterior lighting offers a myriad of benefits. The first thing homeowners will point out is the safety aspect of light installations, providing added visibility during the shorter and darker days of winter. Opt for downward soffit lighting to create a warm glow that makes your property look inviting and cozy.

    Clear the Snow and Clutter

    The snow certainly looks nice after a fresh snowfall, but the longer winter continues without proper up-keep, the more unkempt your home will appear. While it is perfectly alright to let the snow accumulate on your lawn, aim to shovel the front walkway and the driveway to keep paths clear and safe. Remember, if you are hosting an open house, you want your home to be accessible and safe for prospective buyers.

    Plant Some Seasonal Greens

    Like a colourful bird feeder, cold-weather plants can liven up your front entrance. Unsure what to plant? Here are a few recommendations from our wintery green thumbs:

    • Evergreen trees and shrubs for all year long.
    • Winter berries, which will attract hungry birds.
    • Winter-flowering shrubs, such as jasmine and daphne.
    • Early spring bulbs that will flower in late winter or early spring.

    Winter Brings New Decorative Opportunities?

    Many homeowners typically think about what they can do to add seasonal holiday touches to the interior of their home but tend to neglect outdoor winter décor, which can create a bold, inviting statement to elevate your curb appeal. Whether a wreath or planter made of cold-hardy perennials or a faux fur blanket draped over your porch-side Muskoka chair, there are so many ways to bring the beauty of the season to your home’s exterior!

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    How to Prepare Your House Before You Go on Vacation

    Most people have watched the movie Home Alone or at least know the storyline. To summarize, a family goes away for Christmas vacation, and two robbers scope out the house and decide to break in and steal everything. However, the family forgets their youngest son, who spends his days pranking the robbers and keeping them at bay. While this makes for an amusing movie plot, being in this situation in reality is not what anyone wants – especially when they are out of the country. Now, if you’re wondering how to prepare your house before you go on vacation this winter, read on!

    While the likelihood of you forgetting one of your children at home when you leave for a winter vacation is next to none, the chances of someone breaking into your home while you’re away is not out of the realm of possibility. We’ve compiled a list of ways to keep your house safe while you travel to warmer temperatures during the winter months.

    How to Prepare Your House Before You Go on Vacation

    Snowbirds will be quick to tell you that going away for a weekend or even a week is nothing compared to leaving for months at a time. Preparing your home for an extended absence is vital to ensure that everything remains status quo while you are gone. We will detail some key things below, including turning off water valves, adjusting your thermostat, and having someone check on your home regularly.

    Turning off the Water

    Turning off water valves while you leave for the winter is one of the most important things and should be kept at the top of your list of things to do before you go. Water is one of the biggest threats to your home, and even just a tiny leak can cause thousands of dollars in damage. In the winter months, the risk of your pipes freezing is real, and when pipes freeze, they eventually burst, and this isn’t something you’ll want to come back to after your vacation. Before leaving, we suggest turning off any water valves you can, including outdoor taps and laundry. Some people even turn off the entire water supply to the house before slipping away for the winter. Others prefer to keep some water flowing and have the person checking in on their home flush the toilets and drains occasionally to prevent odours from coming up the drain.

    Turn Down the Heat

    There’s no point in keeping an empty home warm and toasty, but you still need to keep the heat on while you’re away. This will prevent your indoor pipes from freezing and condensation from building up inside your electronics. Turn the heat down, but not off.

    Pause Unnecessary Utilities

    Some of your utilities like cable and internet can be paused while you’re away for a small, one-time fee. If you’re planning to go away for just a couple of weeks, this may not make sense, but pausing these utilities can save you hundreds of dollars if you’ll be away for a few months. That saved money is sure to come in handy while on vacation!

    Find a Trustworthy Neighbour to Keep Watch

    Having eyes and ears on your home while you’re away can make you feel much more comfortable leaving your home empty for weeks or months. This is where having great neighbours pays off. Ask or hire someone to bring in the mail, turn on lights occasionally and shovel the snow to make your home look lived-in and less inviting to thieves. Have them look around for anything out of the ordinary and immediately bring it to your attention.

    You should also be aware that your home insurance terms may require you to have someone check on your home regularly if you are away for more than a few days. For example, some insurance companies will not cover pipes that burst during your absence, unless a competent person checks on the interior of your home every few days.

    Leverage Technology While You’re Away

    Thankfully we have the technology to give you some peace of mind while away. Installing security lights and cameras outside the entrances to your home is a great way to ensure that your house is kept safe. Most security cameras can be viewed using a smartphone, and these apps can also control lights giving you the ability to turn lights on and off while you’re away, further giving off the illusion that someone is home. An alarm system is also a great idea to keep your home safe from intruders.

    Many Canadians head south for the winter months. Now that working remotely is so popular, it is expected that the number of “snowbirds” may increase, and the term will no longer be reserved for those who have retired. If you’re planning to escape the harsh Canadian winters in favour of a warmer climate, follow these tips on how to prepare your house before you go on vacation, so you can relax and enjoy yourself worry-free.

     

    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

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