What happens to a home or mortgage when someone dies? Many Canadians don’t know

What happens to a home or mortgage when someone dies? Many Canadians don

Despite our best efforts to distract ourselves from the inevitable – a cultural landscape built on invincible superheroes and the glorification of youth, a willingness to ignore the slow-motion destruction of the planet, the power wielded by religions that promise eternal life in exchange for free will – death, folks, is coming for us all.

Canadians who think their properties will automatically pass to their descendants when they die could be in for an unpleasant surprise if they come back to haunt them. As Bury explains, if a homeowner dies without a will, or with a will that somehow fails to specify who the deceased’s property is meant for, what happens to the home becomes a provincial decision. Each province has its own formula for distributing the deceased’s assets that takes priority over the dead person’s wishes.

Many readers, particularly those who help Canadians purchase homes, may have the impression that homeowners instinctively recognize the necessity of including their properties in their wills long before the reaper gives them a lift to the other side. But new data from Angus Reid and online estate planning platform Willful shows an alarming lack of knowledge among Canadians when it comes to what happens to their properties and their mortgages after they die.

When asked “Do you know what happens to your home if you pass away without a will?” only 21 percent of respondents provided the correct answer, that it will be distributed to an individual’s dependents according to a provincial formula. The remaining 79 percent included people who mistakenly think their properties will automatically go to their spouse or children (48 percent) or to the government (6 percent), while 24 percent admitted they don’t know.

That lack of understanding is undoubtedly related to the fact that only 51 percent of homeowners surveyed reported having up-to-date wills. Thirty-six percent reported not having a will at all.

Willful CEO Erin Bury found the latter figure shocking.

“I expected that that number would be much better once they owned a home because as soon as you accumulate a large asset or you get married or you have kids, those are the inflection points that cause you to think about getting a will,” Bury says.

The fact that Canadians are in the dark about after-death planning with regard to real estate is somewhat less surprising. There are always barriers preventing people from putting a will together, from an unwillingness to confront one’s own mortality, to the costs involved, to the one thing that is almost as common as death itself: the human propensity to procrastinate.

“It seems like one of those things you can put off until tomorrow,” Bury says. “I’m a journalism grad – I don’t do anything without a deadline – and you don’t have a deadline for creating your will.”

At least not one anyone can truly be aware of.

Implications of ignorance

A misunderstanding of what happens to a person’s property once they’ve died can cause extreme distress, both financial and emotional, for her surviving family members.

Canadians who think their properties will automatically pass to their descendants could be in for an unpleasant surprise if they come back to haunt them. As Bury explains, even when a will lists a spouse or child as a beneficiary, each province has its own formula for distributing the deceased’s assets that takes priority over the dead person’s wishes.

“It may not actually be divided the way that you would want,” she says. “And if you have a common law spouse, unless they’re a joint owner of the home, they are not accounted for under that provincial formula.”

In most cases, the executor identified in a person’s will will be instructed to sell the deceased’s assets, although the executor has the power to do what they feel is in the surviving family members’ best interest. If Bury dies – her example! – and leaves the home to her husband, it’s unlikely that her executor would do anything beyond transferring the title and mortgage.

If a person dies and names no executor, things slow down considerably. In this case, the court will appoint an administrator to the deceased’s case. The administrator plays the same role as an executor, but because they don’t have the power to act until the court appoints them, descendants hoping to sell the deceased’s home could be waiting weeks or months until an administrator is in place.

Having an executor in place is a far better course of action. Administrators, Bury says, will seek guidance from a person’s beneficiaries, “but they do not have to listen to them.”

The survey also found that a majority of Canadian homeowners don’t know what happens to their mortgages when they die. Only 28 percent of respondents realize that their mortgage needs to be paid by the beneficiary who receives their properties.

“It does not disappear, unfortunately,” says Bury, although that’s exactly what 12 percent of survey respondents think happens to a mortgage when a borrower dies.

Property owners, particularly investors, must also keep in mind the tax bills awaiting their surviving family members. The CRA treats a dead individual’s assets as if they were all sold on the day prior to his death, meaning capital gains taxes on non-primary residents need to be paid – even if the home is left to a beneficiary. Joint ownership of a property with a spouse can provide a clean and legal work-around; otherwise, those left behind will need to foot the bill.

“Everyone works their entire life to leave this meaningful legacy for their beneficiaries,” Bury says, “and I’m not sure that Canadians really understand what’s going to end up in their beneficiaries’ pockets at the end of the day.”

It’s the unknowns that make death so scary. Having a will in place might not alleviate all of a person’s fears about the infinite void we’re all inching toward, but it can reduce the greatest one of all: Will my family be taken care of when I’m no longer around to protect them? 

Source: Mortgage Broker News by Clayton Jarvis 09 Oct 2020

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Your mortgage payment deferral is over. Now what?

A home with a for sale sign, which is what many people might consider with the mortgage payment deferral deadline looming.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Mortgage payment deferral, swiftly implemented in wake of the COIVID-19 pandemic, is done September 30. If you still can’t pay, here’s what to do

Mortgage payment deferral, a six-month measure offered to Canadians this spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is coming to an end on September 30, 2020. 

The relief was offered to Canadians to help them stay in their homes while the job market recovered. And, according to the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), as of July 2020, a whopping 775,000 Canadians took advantage of this program. (To put that number in context, there are currently 6 million homeowners with mortgages in Canada.) The result? A total of $180 billion worth of mortgage deferrals.

Experts fear a payment drop-off may be looming. Despite the mortgage deferrals, people will still be unable to make mortgage payments these next few months. While you can still apply for the program up until the end of the month, the vast majority of deferrals will be ending in October—more than 500,000 actually. That’s from the CBA, too.

So, what can you do if mortgage payments are starting back up and you’re not ready? That depends on your situation. Here are some options for tackling the upcoming mortgage payment deferral deadline.

If you can’t pay in the short term

If you’re looking to bridge a three- to six-month gap where you can’t pay:

Reach out to your lender, ASAP

First order of business: Contact your bank or your mortgage broker as soon as you realize there could be a hiccup and explain your situation. Lenders are often open to bringing on a co-signer for your mortgage, says Joe Pinheiro, treasurer on the executive committee of Mortgage Professionals Canada, and a 30-year mortgage veteran. Adding a co-signer with equity (assets that could be used as a lien against the mortgage) can help you keep your mortgage if you recently lost your job or have a reduced income. “The one thing banks don’t want is people ignoring them—they really want to keep Canadians in their homes.”

Ask for an extension

The bank may be able to extend your deferral, but it won’t be quite as easy as before the mortgage payment deferral deadline. It is no longer a matter of signing up; you’ll have to prove that you need the extension and that you have a plan to keep paying your mortgage in the near future, says Wes Pauls, co-owner and lead mortgage agent with Mortgage Teacher in Hamilton. “Some lenders will consider extending deferrals on a case-by-case basis for people who absolutely require it.” 

Seek additional financing

If a further deferral isn’t an option, borrowing might be your best bet. Pauls suggests using an existing line of credit or borrowing money from family to make your payments for a few months. Once you’re financially stable again, you can attempt to refinance your mortgage, perhaps pulling out some equity, to pay off that debt. You could also consider applying for a home equity line of credit (HELOC), too. Like a regular line of credit, the payment schedule is flexible. But unlike a regular line of credit, the interest rate tends to be lower and uses home equity to secure the loan. (That’s the difference between the current value of your home and the unpaid balance of your mortgage.) If you need to use a credit card in the meantime, just be aware of the interest you will be paying. For example, it may not be worth using a high-interest credit card to pay off short-term debt; seek a low-interest option instead. 

If there’s no end in sight

Let’s say you can’t make your mortgage payments, and you won’t be able to for the foreseeable future. Even if you’ve exhausted your savings and lines of credit, there are still options to keep your home. 

Consider refinancing

Consulting a mortgage broker or financial expert to discuss refinancing could help to pinpoint the best solution for you. “They can look at your overall cash-flow situation. Maybe it’s actually your debt obligations that are causing the problem, not your mortgage payment,” says Pinheiro. “For example, your mortgage payment could be $1,000 but your minimum credit card payment has risen to $800 during this time. They could then find a way to get that credit card payment down and see if you can now afford your mortgage.”

He adds: “Depending on the situation, you could refinance the home and extend the amortization.” (To extend the amortization is to lengthen the time over which the payments are spread so that individual payments are smaller and more affordable.) “If it’s not an insured mortgage, you could increase [the amortization] up to 30 years. And so it would give you some time, and help manage the payments.”

Consider private lending

If you don’t want to sell, and you have a decent amount of home equity but don’t qualify for a HELOC, you can consider a private mortgage to hold you over. 

A private mortgage is typically an arrangement with an individual or through a mortgage investment corporation. Equity is their main criteria, and they’re less concerned with your income and credit than your bank would be. (Yes, this would be considered a “second mortgage,” which just refers to the order in which debts secured by a property are subsequently paid out in the event of a sale.) “Basically if you have enough equity, you could borrow $50,000 from a private lender at 10% to 12% interest,” says Pauls. “You can then use that money to pay off your high-interest credit cards and [continue paying] your mortgage.” 

This strategy could keep you in your home a little longer, but there are caveats. Private mortgages typically have higher rates, as they will be measured on the title behind the first mortgage and would be paid after the current mortgage lender in the event of a sale. And since these rates are higher, a private mortgage is not a permanent or long-term fix. 

“It is a Band-Aid solution to get through tough times,” Pauls advises. “You need to make sure you have an exit strategy.” When you’re back to work or life stresses ease up, that strategy could include remortgaging the home with the current lender to pay out the private mortgage—an option that wouldn’t be available initially, since you might be out of work and private lenders aren’t as concerned with your income. 

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Pauls advises looking at this option before you consider trying to sell your home in a potentially saturated market or sacrificing your credit. “In a year’s time, when you have a new job, you now have no debt, good credit and can refinance that loan to one normal mortgage. No harm, no foul.”

When to consider selling

In some cases, staying in your home isn’t possible, or even wise. How do you know when you’re at that point? The first step is to take long-term, realistic stock of the situation.  “Look at your finances three to six months out,” says Pauls. “Ask yourself: How many months do I have to keep going? What’s on the horizon for me, employment-wise?” 

For people who don’t have a lot of time, and you’ve spoken to your bank and exhausted resources like lines of credit, he encourages them to sell before they touch their retirement savings. “You’ve been dealt a poor hand, but you don’t have to drain yourself,” says Pauls. “Sell your house, find a nice place to rent, and start again when you get a new job, with some money in your pocket and your retirement savings intact.”

If you end up with some cash in your pocket from the sale, don’t risk it getting drained before you buy again. Consider some short-term investments or a high-interest savings account.

If you must sell

While this is a reality for some, Pinheiro says there are likely very few people who’ll need to sell their home. “There’s a lot of resiliency in the Canadian economy and with Canadian homeowners.” 

If you do have to sell, the important thing is to do minimum damage to your credit, and get as much money as possible for your home.  That means getting ahead of the bank, and selling before they decide to foreclose. The worst scenario is to have the bank come and take your home, because now you’re in a power of sale situation and that’s going to affect your credit,” says Pinheiro. 

Not only that, but you’ll earn less for your home that way. “The second they start power of sale default proceedings, you’re now incurring costs and equity is being ripped away from you,” says Pauls. “And if you’re going to rent, you’re going to want as much cash available” from the proceeds of your home sale.

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Even if you feel hopeless, hang in there. “Don’t just let your house go [into foreclosure] because you’re tired and frustrated,” says Pauls. “If you manage this process well, you could be a homeowner again in a few years when things turn around.”

No matter what your status: plan, plan, plan

You’ve probably heard finance professionals tout the importance of having three to six months of living expenses saved, and they’ve never been more vindicated than during this pandemic.

“If you’re in an industry that could be problematic [like service or hospitality], you need to be ready for a possible second wave,” says Pauls. He suggests that banks might not offer so much leniency the second time around.

If you can’t seem to get a handle on savings, he recommends automatically depositing some funds into a separate account that’s not accessible by bank card. “Set it up like a bill payment,” says Pauls. “It becomes habitual and that money is elsewhere“ so you are less likely to dip into it.

All in all, this has been a financial wake-up call for many. “It’s really important to talk to a mortgage broker about the overall financial picture, not just the mortgage,” says Pinheiro. “They can [help you] figure out how to get you back on track and probably put you in an even better situation than you were prior to the pandemic.” 

Source: MoneySense.ca

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Canadian Cities Where It’s Cheaper to Buy a Home Today Vs. 5 Years Ago: REPORT

Canadian Cities Where It’s Cheaper to Buy a Home Today Vs. 5 Years Ago: REPORT

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National home sales and listings continued to climb in housing markets across the country this August, as some of the pressure from pent-up demand was released this summer when pandemic restrictions eased. Buyers returning to the market did so with refocused housing priorities; a growing number began looking to suburban and rural markets in search of greater square footage relative to what’s available in denser urban centres.

Despite the surge in demand, the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) recently reiterated their forecast that home prices are likely to dip in the coming months; citing pandemic-induced unemployment and slower in-bound migration weighing on demand, particularly in metropolitan cities like Toronto and Vancouver. 

To understand how current home prices compare to the past, Zoocasa used data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) to highlight trends in benchmark home prices for apartments and single-family houses in 15 Canadian regions over the past 5 years. We highlight the extent to which benchmark home prices grew or contracted in each region, offering a glimpse at regions where housing is more or less affordable today than it was 5 years ago. 

Overall, the Canadian benchmark apartment price rose a staggering 52% in 5 years, from $315,600 in August 2015 to $478,700 in August 2020. The benchmark price for single-family houses across Canada rose 40% from $486,800 to $683,400. That being said, a closer look at each area included in our analysis reveals that certain housing markets faced a much higher pace of price growth than others, with others noting benchmark price declines that resulted in housing becoming more affordable today than it was 5 years ago. 

Prairie Markets Including Calgary and Edmonton More Affordable Today Than 5 Years Ago

Overall, Prairie cities offer first-time home buyers some of the best affordability in the country, with benchmark prices under $250,000 for apartments and under $500,000 for single-family houses this August. In fact, the Prairies are one of the few regions where a benchmark apartment and single-family house is more affordable today than it was 5 years ago. 

In Calgary, Canada’s third most populous city, the benchmark apartment price was $248,500 in August 2020, dropping 14% or $41,900 since 2015. The benchmark single-family house in Calgary is now $466,000, which is 6% or $30,800 cheaper than the price 5 years ago. Similarly, in Edmonton, the benchmark apartment is 17%, or $37,300, cheaper than it was 5 years ago at $183,900 and the benchmark single-family house cost $377,300 in August this year, vs. $396,800 in August 2015, a drop of 5% or $19,500. 

Given their proximity to the Canadian Rockies, both Calgary and Edmonton offer good opportunities for buyers with remote-working flexibility seeking greater square footage and green space. Comparatively, the benchmark apartment price in Toronto is nearly double the price of the benchmark apartment in Calgary, and the benchmark single-family house in Toronto is more than double Calgary. Additionally, both Calgary and Edmonton have a much lower population density at approx. 1,900 people per square kilometer in Calgary and 1,400 people per square kilometer in Edmonton versus 4,700 people per square kilometer in Toronto.  

Elsewhere in the Prairies, compared to 5 years ago, the benchmark apartment price is 21% lower in Regina ($174,800), 13% lower in Saskatoon ($180,200), and 3% lower in Winnipeg ($196,800). Compared to 5 years ago, single-family house prices are 3% lower in Regina ($286,900) and Saskatoon ($319,400), but up 17% in Winnipeg to $300,500.

Benchmark Apartment Prices Rose Over 50% in 7 Markets Over the Past 5 Years 

Of the 15 markets included in our analysis, the benchmark price for apartments rose by more than 50% in 7 markets. Fraser Valley, BC, where the benchmark price increased 104% to $437,300, led the country in terms of the increase in benchmark prices for apartments over the past 5 years. 

Fraser Valley  was followed by a number of markets in Southern Ontario. Niagara Region led price growth in the area, with the benchmark price growing 87% to $354,400. This was followed by Greater Toronto where the benchmark price rose 78% to $592,900, Hamilton-Burlington where the price rose 74% to $471,100 and Guelph where there was a 73% increase in the benchmark apartment price to $379,000. 

This was followed by Victoria, where the benchmark apartment price grew 65% to $504,900 and Greater Vancouver where it rose 63% to $685,800. Although Greater Vancouver didn’t see the highest percentage growth in benchmark apartment price, it experienced the largest increase in dollar amount at +$265,100. 

Ottawa and Montreal also saw gains in the benchmark apartment price since five years ago, but at 46% and 35%, respectively.

Benchmark Prices for Single-Family Houses Grew 50% or more in 7 Regions Over the Past 5 Years 

7 out of 15 markets included in our analysis also noted a 50% or higher increase in the benchmark price for single-family houses. 

Niagara Region experienced the highest growth, with the benchmark price for single-family houses almost doubling, with a staggering 95% increase in 5 years to $490,500. This was followed by Hamilton-Burligton (71%), Guelph (63%), Fraser Valley (62%), Ottawa (53%), Greater Toronto (51%), and Victoria (50%). 

Montreal, Greater Vancouver and Winnipeg single-family benchmark prices also rose, but at 46%, 28% and 17% respectively. 

Our infographic below maps and compares benchmark prices for apartments and single-family houses for each region included in our analysis in August 2020 and August 2015, noting the extent to which prices changed in each region. Further below, find a list of the top regions where it is cheaper to buy an apartment and a single-family house today than it was 5 years ago, and a list of the regions where benchmark prices for apartments and single-family houses have risen the most since August 2015.

Top 3 Regions Where it’s Cheaper to Purchase the Benchmark Apartment Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %)

1. Regina 

Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $174,800

5-Year % Difference: -21%

5-Year $ Difference: -$46,900

2. Edmonton

Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $183,900

5-Year % Difference: -17%

5-Year $ Difference: -$37,300

3. St. John’s 

Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $236,200

5-Year % Difference: -16%

5-Year $ Difference: -$43,700

Top 3 Regions Where it’s Cheaper to Purchase the Benchmark Single-Family House Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %)

1. Calgary 

Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $466,000

5-Year % Difference: -6%

5-Year $ Difference: -$30,800

2. St John’s

Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $271,600

5-Year % Difference: -6%

5-Year $ Difference: -$17,600

3. Edmonton

Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $377,300

5-Year % Difference: -5%

5-Year $ Difference: -$19,500

Top 3 Regions Where it’s More Expensive to Purchase the Benchmark Apartment Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %) 

1. Fraser Valley

Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $437,300

5-Year % Difference: +104%

5-Year $ Difference: +$223,400

2. Niagara Region

Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $354,400

5-Year % Difference: +87%

5-Year $ Difference: +$165,100

3. Greater Toronto

Benchmark Apartment Price, August 2020: $592,900

5-Year % Difference: +78%

5-Year $ Difference: +$259,800

Top 3 Regions Where it’s More Expensive to Purchase the Benchmark Single-Family House Today vs. 5 Years Ago (Based on %) 

1. Niagara Region

Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $490,500

5-Year % Difference: +95%

5-Year $ Difference: +$239,300

2. Hamilton-Burlington

Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $751,300

5-Year % Difference: +71%

5-Year $ Difference: +$311,300

3. Guelph

Benchmark Single-Family House Price, August 2020: $651,600

5-Year % Difference: +63%

5-Year $ Difference: +$251,000

Sources

Benchmark apartment and benchmark single-family house prices were sourced from the Canadian Real Estate Association. 

Data use to calculate population density was sourced from Calgary Economic Development, City of Edmonton and City of Toronto.  

Source: Zoocasa – BY JANNINE RANE September 29, 2020

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Understanding The Loss To Lease Calculation

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When reviewing a multifamily property’s income statement, one of the first things to look for is a line item called “loss to lease.” Although widely used, the loss to lease concept is often a source of confusion. It can be counterintuitive because the word “loss” is in the name, but the presence of this line item should be viewed as a positive.

What Is Loss To Lease?

Loss to lease is a term used to describe the difference between a unit’s market rental rate and the actual rent per the lease. The loss isn’t realized in the traditional sense. Rather, it is an on-paper loss that represents an amount of money that the property owner is losing by not charging market rents on the unit.

The loss to lease calculation is simply the market rent of a unit minus the actual rent. For example, if the market rent for a given unit is $1,000 per month and the actual rent is $900 per month, the loss to lease is $100 per month. This calculation is performed at the individual unit level and summed up to the line item that appears on the income statements. For properties with a large number of units with below-market rents, the result can be a significant sum.

Why Is Loss To Lease Important?

Loss to lease is important from two different perspectives: the investor considering a potential purchase, and the owner currently managing the property.

From an investor standpoint, the presence of the loss to lease line item on the operating statement can be an immediate tip-off that there is an opportunity to raise rents, which is why it may be considered a positive thing. Usually, loss to lease is a result of market rents rising faster than actual rents, which is a sign of a strong market and/or inefficient management. Either way, it is an opportunity because commercial multifamily properties are valued on cash flow, and closing the loss to lease gap can add value quickly and result in a quick win for an investor.

From an owner standpoint, loss to lease can be a metric that is a leading indicator of a property manager who isn’t paying close enough attention to the surrounding market. By failing to raise rents to remain in sync with the broader market, the property manager is actually costing the owner money in rent that could have been obtained but is “lost” to a lower lease price.

Loss To Lease: An Example

To illustrate the importance of the loss to lease concept and its potential impact on price, consider the following example. Assume that a 150-unit apartment complex has average rents of $900 per unit, per month. The annual rent for the entire property would be:

$900 x 150 = $135,00 x 12 = $1,620,000 annual rent.

Now, assume that the property manager has performed a marketwide survey of comparable properties and concluded that the market rental rate is $1,000 per unit, per month. In this case, the property’s annual income should be:

$1,000 x 150 = $150,000 x 12 = $1,800,000 annual rent.

The difference between these two figures, $180,000, is the loss to lease.

Continuing the example, assume that the property has annual expenses of $1 million. This means that closing the loss to lease gap — raising rents on all units by $100 per month — would result in an increase to the net operating income from $620,000 to $800,000.

Finally, and this is where the impact is significant, assume that the market cap rates for this property are 6%. The increase in NOI means that the property value rises from $10.3 million to $13.3 million, just from closing the loss to lease gap! This is a big win for the owner and their investors.

Risks To Raising Rent

I chose the example above to demonstrate the point that raising rents to market rates can have an outsize impact on property value. But in reality, it isn’t always this easy. There are two challenges:

1. It can’t be done all at once. It must be done on a unit-by-unit basis when each lease comes up for renewal, which means that it can take an entire year to complete the process. In a fast-growing market, market rents are constantly changing and can be a difficult target to hit.

2. Raising rents also increases the risk that the existing tenant will decide they don’t want to pay the higher rate and vacate the unit. Depending on how long it takes to release the unit, this could result in a short-term negative because the unit is not producing any income. However, once the unit is leased, it is a long-term positive.

Summary

Loss to lease is a commercial real estate concept that represents a difference between a given property’s actual lease rate and the current market rate for the same property. It shows up on a property’s income statement and may be an indication of a strong market and/or inefficient management.

Either way, you can view loss to lease as a positive because closing the gap can result in a relatively quick win from improved net operating income that results in an increase in a property’s value.Forbes Real Estate Council is an invitation-only community for executives in the real estate industry. 

Source: Forbes Real Estate Council – Rod Khleif Real Estate Investor, Mentor, Coach, Host, Lifetime Cash Flow Podcast Through Real Estate Podcast. 

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New Home Checklist: 6 To-Do’s Before Settling In

A locksmith changing a door lock.

Moving into a new home is exciting–it represents a fresh start with new rooms to decorate, and a new neighbourhood to explore. However, setting up your house can also be exhausting and stressful. But don’t worry–we’ve compiled a helpful checklist of things to cross off before you settle in. And if you’re moving to a new city, your REALTOR® is a great resource for advice about tasks to take care of, who to tap for help and how tofind the best schools for your kids.

A man in a red shirt contemplates his finances.

1. Update your address and transfer utilities

Before you move in, you’ll need to update your address, which is linked to everything from your driver’s license to your health card. Be sure to inform everyone–your bank, insurance company, credit cards and loyalty programs–so you won’t miss important notices. You may also want to set up temporary mail-forwarding with Canada Post. While you’re at it, get in touch with utility companies several weeks before the move, so they can transfer and activate your electricity, gas, telephone and internet accounts over to the new place. 

A locksmith changing a door lock.

2. Change your locks and codes

Get some peace of mind–who knows how many keys to your house the previous owners gave out–by installing new deadbolts yourself for as little as $30 per lock, or calling a locksmith for about $100 for a service call. Make extra sets of keys for trusted family members or friends, in case you get locked out or need them to check the property when you’re away. Change your garage door and alarm codes, too.

A person replacing the battery in a smoke alarm.

3. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Home safety experts recommend checking your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months, and changing the batteries then, too. Be sure there’s one on each floor of the house. Many local fire departments offer free inspections and testing, so ask your REALTOR® about this.

A family washing windows.

4. Get your home squeaky clean

Before moving all your belongings in, take some time to deep clean all the nooks and crannies, or hire a professional to do it for you for about $100. Don’t forget to get your carpets steamed–cleaning services charge about $65 an hour, or you can rent a machine for about $80 and do it yourself. This is also a great time to put on a fresh coat of paint throughout the house and get rid of an lingering pet smells.

5. Get to know your new home’s systems

Becoming a homeowner means understanding how everything works so you can maintain your investment. Know where your property’s HVAC (air conditioning and heating) system, circuit-breaker and main water shut-off valves are located, plus how to turn them on and off in an emergency. It’s a good idea to get your home’s systems inspected (if your home inspector didn’t already do so). 

Pro tip: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour period during which no water is being used. If the reading changes, you likely have a leak that needs fixing.

A man taking out his garbage.

6. Make a home maintenance schedule

Your home inspection report might contain suggestions for repairs to carry out, as well as tips for when and how to perform seasonal maintenance checks to your house.  Set up a filing system for manuals and instructions, and create a to-do list you can refer to throughout the year. It’s recommended you save about 1% of your home’s purchase price each year for repairs. Since you’ll probably need the services of a plumber, electrician, exterminator or landscaper at some point, research local businesses. 

Your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the whole moving process and also recommend reputable tradespeople, so don’t hesitate to reach out so all your questions get answered as you celebrate this new chapter in your life.

Source: Realtor.ca –  Wendy Helfenbaum

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Here’s What Canada’s Mortgage Deferral Cliff Looks Like, And Why Experts Are Worried

Canadian real estate buyers are jumping in head first, since the recession didn’t impact housing. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, experts said no issues would be apparent until the end of the year. The reason is a term only finance and banking nerds have been using – the deferral cliff. The deferral cliff is the expiration of programs that bought distressed owners a few extra months. Until the deferral cliff arrives, we won’t see any of the problems in the housing market. Here’s when it’s coming, and when you should see an impact.

Mortgage Deferral Cliff

The mortgage deferral cliff is when payment deferral plans begin to expire. After the pandemic driven shutdown, Canadian and US governments scrambled to get banks to defer mortgage payments for the unemployed. Starting in April, people without income were allowed to delay payments for up to 6 months. This eliminated the spike in arrears we would normally see during a recession. It also happens to restrain inventory from hitting the market. As the six month deferral period ends, homeowners that aren’t back on their feet, are going to have to deal with their housing woes.

Industry experts warned mortgage deferrals give a false sense of security. Since people haven’t seen any defaults or distressed sales, moral hazard was created. That is, people now think housing markets have no risk. However, this is only temporary. As these deferrals expire, we approach the cliff. Once we get there, a significant number of people that haven’t got back on their feet will start to

Most Canadian Mortgage Payment Deferrals Will Expire In October

Since the longest deferrals are six months, we don’t really see any issues pop up until October. In October, about ~500,000 mortgages should expire. Followed by another 221,000 in November, and a big dip lower to 15,000 in December. There’s a mild bump higher with 24,000 in January, and February won’t be known until the cut off is reached next month.

Canadian Mortgage Deferral Cliff

The estimated number of expirations of payment deferrals for Canadian mortgages.Oct 2020Nov 2020Dec 2020Jan 20210100,000200,000300,000400,000500,000Mortgages

MonthMortgages
Oct 2020500,000
Nov 2020221,000
Dec 202015,000
Jan 202124,000

Source: Bank filings, Better Dwelling.

Now, don’t confuse the expiration of payment deferrals with a spike in arrears rates. It takes 90 days of non-payment for a mortgage to fall into arrears. This means October’s surge wouldn’t see any contribution to arrears until January. November would be in February, etc… That said, rising arrear rates depend on liquidity.

If you can’t afford your home, what’s the first thing you do? List it for sale. The inability to pay doesn’t always turn into defaults when there’s buyers. Instead, people list their homes for sale and hope it sells and closes before the lender tries to claim it. Unless you’re not all that smart, this is the first thing you would look to do. In which case, we should see a spike in inventory first.

Source: Better Dwelling AUGUST 21, 2020

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It Just Makes Cents! 7 DIY Home Improvement Projects That Promise Serious ROI

Painting kitchen.
photoman/Getty Images

Source: By Lauren Sieben | Aug 20, 2020

Home improvements can be great feel-good projects. You get to learn a new skill, use your hands, and take pride in something you create yourself.

But let’s face it: Your DIY project doesn’t make sense if it won’t make cents. In other words, it needs to pay off when it comes time to sell your home.https://www.buzzsprout.com/214131/5055596-74-viola-davis-real-estate-snafu-and-how-the-internet-got-this-story-so-so-wrong?client_source=small_player&iframe=true&referrer=https://www.buzzsprout.com/214131/5055596-74-viola-davis-real-estate-snafu-and-how-the-internet-got-this-story-so-so-wrong.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-5055596&player=small

“The key to winning the ROI game with home improvement is to take a less-is-more approach,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor.

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If your goal is to earn a return on your DIY investment, DiClerico suggests taking on smaller improvements that will have a big impact on buyers.https://www.realtor.com/myhome/sellwidget

“Bells and whistles tend not to rank high on ROI,” DiClerico says. “The high-tech home theater might mean hours of fun for you and the family, but it’s probably not going to pay for itself when the time comes to sell.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t outfit your house with the latest technology—if you’re making an improvement that you’ll love and enjoy, go for it. But if you’re looking to roll up your sleeves and tackle a project that will offer serious bang for the buck, try one of these home improvement projects next weekend.

1. Refresh your kitchen cabinets

“If the cabinets are in good shape, adding a fresh coat of paint or stain will dramatically transform the feel of the entire kitchen,” DiClerico says.

Be warned: Even though painting isn’t very difficult, it’s still time-consuming. You’ll need to remove the doors and drawers to ensure a clean finish. “But in terms of skill level, it’s something even novice DIYers can handle,” DiClerico says.

And remember, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to any painting project.

“You could lose some buyers with a sloppy paint job,” says Scott W. Campbell, a real estate agent in Milwaukee. “If you truly want to increase ROI, a good paint job takes time and patience.”

2. Create curb appeal

Photo by David Morello Garden Enterprises, Inc.

Making a great first impression on home buyers is one of the quickest ways to boost your home’s value.

“Landscaping and gardening are the biggest ones that also are simple,” says Kendall Bonner, a real estate agent in Lutz, FL. “Curb appeal has a significant impact on buyer’s purchasing decisions.”

Aside from adding tasteful foliage and keeping your lawn manicured, a few strings of café lights can also improve your home’s outdoor space and curb appeal. Don’t forget to paint old fences and prune overgrown plants.

3. Give your front door a makeover

Want to boost your home’s curb appeal but don’t have a green thumb? Spruce up your front door instead. All it takes is a few coats of paint. (The same rules apply: Work slowly and carefully to avoid drips and roller marks.)

“A fresh pop of color at the front door is a great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal for not a lot of money or time,” DiClerico says.

4. Create a backyard deck

Photo by Boyce Design and Contracting 

“Outdoor living is hugely popular, even more so since the pandemic, since people are looking to expand their home’s usable living space,” DiClerico says.

Creating a new deck is possible to do yourself, but “it’s not for the faint of heart,” he adds, especially if you’re putting in concrete footings for the deck posts. This project is best for intermediate to advanced renovators, and it helps to have a few friends on board to assist.

Keep the design simple—avoid any tricky changes in elevation—and work with pressure-treated lumber instead of hardwoods that are tough to cut and screw into, DiClerico says.

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Watch: In Spite of It All, Summer 2020 Is a Great Time to Sell Your Homehttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.402.1_en.html#goog_744807220about:blankabout:blankabout:blankhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.402.1_en.html#goog_1058458696Volume 0% 

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5. Brighten up the basement

You don’t need to spring for a fully finished basement to appeal to prospective buyers.

“Spraying the basement unfinished ceiling with flat black latex paint can make big difference to clean up a look, and spraying the walls,” Campbell says.

To take your project to the next level, you can add carpeting and adjustable lighting. By cleaning up the basement, you can help prospective buyers envision a space that will fit their needs, whether it’s as a rec room, play area, or home gym.

6. Add more storage

Photo by Shelf Confident 

“Anytime you add usable living space to the home, you increase its value,” DiClerico says. “That’s true now more so than ever given all the time we’re spending at home.”

Making an addition to your home might not be realistic. But smaller improvements, like adding a pantry in the kitchen, a new storage unit in the garage, or even closet organizers, add valuable storage space to your home and will pay off when you’re ready to sell.

7. Make small repairs and keep up with maintenance

It may not be as satisfying as tackling a big project, but staying on top of your home’s basic maintenance is just as important and promises serious ROI.

“Many of today’s buyers are staying away from fixer-uppers in favor of move-in ready homes that won’t require frequent repairs,” DiClerico says.

Seemingly small problems like a leaky faucet, loose gutter, or missing light fixture can be a red flag.

“When buyers see things like that, they think to themselves, ‘What else is wrong with this house that I can’t see?’” DiClerico says. “Spending a few hundred dollars on these small repairs will let the buyer know that this house has been cared for.”Looking to sell your home? Claim your home and get info on your home’s value.Lauren Sieben is a writer in Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, Washington Post, Milwaukee Magazine, and other outlets. Follow @laurensiebenThe realtor.com® editorial team highlights a curated selection of product recommendations for your consideration; clicking a link to the retailer that sells the product may earn us a commission.

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How house hunting will forever change due to the pandemic

Realtor Chris Strand is seen at a townhome he’s selling in Vancouver, on Aug. 14, 2020.DARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Medical waivers. Masks. Virtual showings. Seven-figure purchases, sight unseen.

Home buying and selling has seen a head-snapping shift during the COVID-19 era, as both parties deal with the demands of physical distancing, virtual showings and previously unheard-of safety considerations.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the competition: Most major Canadian markets are as buoyant as ever after a brief slump and in defiance of gloomy forecasts about the impact the pandemic could have on real estate activity.

But the nuts and bolts of the process – how buyers and sellers interact and how realtors work with both – looks dramatically different than it did a few months ago, forcing years’ worth of sales innovation into just a few months.

Here are a few of the biggest changes:

Say goodbye to open houses

So much for perusing open houses as a weekend pastime. Physical distancing brought group showings to an abrupt halt this spring. As restrictions eased nationwide, open houses slowly started up again. In Ontario, for example, the province lifted its prohibition in most areas on July 17 as part of its Stage 3 reopening.

Still, open houses are nowhere near as common as they once were. Sellers remain wary of inviting large groups of people to traipse through their homes and some renters’ groups have spoken out against them as well.

Mr. Strand says a decline in open houses as we once knew them may be one of the biggest long-term changes to house hunting to emerge from the pandemic.DARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

“Before you could have upwards of two or three different agents with groups, at any given time, showing the same property,” says Darren Josephs, a Toronto Re/Max agent. “Now, the windows are 15-to-30 minutes and no overlap.”

Also, each client goes through individually, following sanitizing protocols before and after each visit. And there’s no such thing as dropping in with a moment’s notice, Mr. Josephs says.

“I think a lot of people were never entirely comfortable with open houses, especially sellers,” he says. “I think we’ll see a real long-term effect from this and more qualified showings, which tend to weed out people who aren’t serious.”

Vancouver-based independent realtor Chris Strand says there’s a “split in the realtor community” on the issue. He points out that realtors can often pick up new clients at open houses. However, he agrees that a decline in open houses – at least as we once knew them – may be one of the biggest long-term changes to emerge from the pandemic.

Better digital sales tools

The era of out-of-focus photos and sparse online listings is over, according to Patti Ross, a Royal LePage realtor in Halifax.

“You’ve always seen listings and asked, ‘Why are the photos so bad?’” she says. “We were proactive in my brokerage years ago in stepping up online marketing and building a photography and video department and it’s really paying off now.”

Mr. Strand says a rise in virtual house touring may be due to the current bull market in housing.DARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Realtors have also long been limited in the number of photographs they can use on listings but, from coast-to-coast, those limits have been bumped up, allowing potential buyers to get a better sense of a property before arranging a viewing.

“Our real estate board just upped our photo count from 20 to 40,” Mr. Strand says, “and we’re seeing more people hiring professional videographers and using virtual walk-through tools.”

Sometimes that means 360-degree photos tours and, for high-end properties, it can mean full-blown immersive 3D renders of a property’s interior. That can help drive more selective, qualified showings, and fewer potential buyers arranging a viewing out of curiosity, only to show up and quickly realize the property isn’t right for them.

More safety protocols

When in-person viewings do take place, safety has become a top priority. In most cases, realtors will go into homes in advance, opening every door, cabinet and cupboard for clients.

“We ask that visitors treat the house like a museum,” Mr. Josephs says. “No touching.”

Potential buyers sign waivers attesting to their lack of COVID-19 symptoms and international travel. And everyone – buyers, sellers and agents – wear masks and keep the mandated two-metre distance.

Even Ms. Ross’ photographers and videographers make sure their gear is sanitized before it enters a property and they clean it thoroughly once they leave.

Some realtors hope that better safety protocols can instill more confidence in sellers to list their homes.

Major markets nationwide are currently grappling with a serious imbalance between supply and demand, as buyers return to the market in droves, but sellers remain shy. “

You definitely see people waiting or holding off on listing,” Ms. Ross says. “But once you talk to people and tell them about process, they feel better.”

More risk-taking

That imbalance between buyers and sellers has also made markets more competitive. In Halifax, Ms. Ross recently sold one suburban property listed at $229,000 for $55,000 over asking, after entertaining more than 30 offers. In Vancouver, Mr. Strand is seeing similar activity, as is Mr. Josephs in Toronto, where he recently sold one home for $350,000 over asking, after 26 offers.

More buyers are also signing off on purchases remotely. In June, Nanos Research conducted a poll for the Ontario Real Estate Association that revealed 42 per cent of buyers were open to buying a home even if they could only see it online beforehand.

Ms. Ross says she’s noticed more buyers willing to purchase places sight unseen. (Atlantic Canada’s current self-isolation restrictions for out-of-region travellers mean visiting the region to house-hunt is especially impractical).

“We’re doing virtual tours that allow people to shop from Ontario or Vancouver,” she says, “and walk through the house remotely.”

She’s also begun doing walk-through video tours of neighbourhoods. A video tour showcasing sports facilities and outdoor trails near one property recently helped seal the deal with one out-of-province family.

Mr. Strand is seeing the same kind of activity in Vancouver.

“We’re using FaceTime, and I’ve had potential buyers from Ontario, Alberta, and several from Hong Kong,” he says.

Mr. Strand says some of that activity may be due to the current bull market in housing. But most industry watchers, including major banks and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, are still forecasting at least a modest decline in home prices over the coming year. As sellers re-enter the market, spiralling prices may well simmer down – good news for buyers already struggling with deteriorating affordability.

But even if markets re-balance, there seems little doubt that COVID-19 will result in lasting changes to the way Canadians buy and sell homes.

“Anything could happen in the next few months,” Mr. Strand says. “We’re all just waiting to see what sticks as we keep going through this and what goes back to the way it was before.”

Source: Globe and Mail MATTHEW HALLIDAYSPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAILPUBLISHED AUGUST 17, 2020

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10 Signs You Should Consider Moving To A New City

moving
Image via WikiCommons

As the new year approaches, we’re all probably looking to make some life changes. Maybe you just want to eat more vegetables, or maybe you’re thinking bigger. Your income isn’t cutting it anymore, and it’s time to move on from your job. You really want to pursue another academic degree. Or maybe it’s time for you to relocate, and you’re asking yourself, “where should I live?”

Moving to a new city is one of the hardest things to do. Uprooting your life and starting another one comes with a mixture of feelings: part of you might feel optimism for opening a new chapter in your life while another part of you may feel like you’ve quit or failed. Regardless of whether you get a job in a new place or just need a change from the same old shit, there comes a time when you have no choice but to relocate.ADVERTISINGAds by Teads

Timing a move is tricky. You’ll be hesitant to leave behind the life you’ve built for yourself in your current city, the relationships you’ve forged while living there, and the job it took you forever to get. On the other hand, you’d hate to miss out on new opportunities because you dragged your feet. No one can tell you when it’s time to seek greener pastures, but we can provide some signs that it might be time to go. Sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need. Here are 10 signs you should think about moving to a new city.

Your Passion Lives Elsewhere

It is really easy to bargain with yourself when it comes to your dreams. No matter which way you cut it, the television industry lives in Los Angeles and New York, web start-ups congregate in San Francisco, and oil men reside in Texas. Though it is possible to be a huge fish in a smaller pond (just ask some of the best filmmakers in New Orleans and Austin), it isn’t necessarily the best move. If there is a better place to be to do what you love, whether it be composing sonnets or catching trophy winning trout, it might be time to find your Mecca. We all know that the Internet has put careers within reach of people working remotely, but be real about what you’re giving up if you don’t live where the action is. Yes, you can design apps in your shack in rural North Dakota, but is that giving you the best chance at success?

You Haven’t Lived Anywhere Else

You don’t know if you don’t try. Though this sounds like the sort of thing your mother would say in an attempt to get you to join marching band or math club, it’s still good advice. There are people out there (we all know at least a few of them) who know deep down that they want to live their entire life in their hometown. There are also those people who graduate college and decide that they’ll live out their days in their college town. There’s nothing wrong with a decision like this, but if you aren’t absolutely sure where you want to spend your life, it can’t hurt to try something new. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like it and opt to move back. If you move back, at least you’ll be able to replace “What if?” with “I tried it and it sucked.”

There’s Some Place You’ve Always Wanted to Live

When I moved to New York City, a friend said to me, “You know, there are New York people, there are L.A. people, and there are career people.” I often find myself thinking about how right he was. One of the most annoying parts of living in New York City is listening to people who “just love New York,” and believe that it is “the greatest city in the world.” I like to think I’m a “career person,” in that I could make rural Minnesota work if I had to. The point is, if there’s a place that you love, why not live there? We’ve all met some older person who constantly sings the praises of their favorite city and has never spent a meaningful amount of time there. They love London or Paris or Beijing so much, yet they’ve only been once or twice. If there is a place you want nothing more than to spend your time in, why aren’t you there? Regardless of your concept of the afterlife, you likely don’t believe you’ll be spending it in San Francisco or Seattle, so if that’s where you want to be, hop to it.

Your Goals Have Changed

In a society where we pour years of study and thousands of dollars into our chosen fields, it almost feels like a sin to abandon your path. Never mind that you likely chose your career at eighteen years old. Think about the other things you liked when you were eighteen. Do you like any of the foods, bands, or clothes you were into back then? For those of you who aren’t yet eighteen, think back to when you were twelve to get an accurate picture of what I’m talking about. Unless you suffer a worse case of arrested development than Buster Bluth, the answer is likely no. What reason do you have to stay a veterinarian now that you are a decade removed from that transformational experience you had rescuing a cat from a tree as a teenager? If you decide that what you really want to do (this year) is handcraft scented candles, then by all means go to the best city for candle crafting and give it your best shot. If you go back to being a veterinarian, at least you’ll have cool stories to tell about that one year you spent crafting candles.

You Hate the Weather

If you absolutely hate the cold, can’t stand the heat, or can’t bear the wind, why are you still putting up with it? I can’t count the number of times someone from L.A. has moaned to me how much they “miss seasons.” If you’ve ever spent a winter in a Northeastern city, between the chattering teeth and strings of curse words, you’ll hear people swear they are moving before next winter. Obviously, there are probably higher priorities when choosing where to live than the climate, but if it will make you happier, why not at least consider whether weather might further your life satisfaction? Now consider it three times fast.

Someone You Care About Is There

No one likes long distance relationships. That’s why most of them end with one party hooking up with a fellow graduate student, co-worker, or cult member. That doesn’t mean they can’t work, but by definition, they aren’t ideal. If you work for a multi-national corporation with campuses in every major city or you work from home, it might be time to consider moving where your partner needs to be to succeed. If they get into the best graduate school, lands their dream job, or have a burning desire to start a deep sea fishing business, why not try it with them? You can collect unemployment in any state, dawg.

You’re Ready To Start A Family

The last thing most young people want to think about is starting a family. Anyway, if you’ve graduated college, you’re going to see a few couples move to the suburbs and take on mortgages in the next year or so. If you’re an artist type or super career-driven, you’ll tend to associate this with giving up or failure. Just a heads up: when you visit the people that make this choice and you see their huge houses and their happy children, you won’t feel like it’s them who failed. I’m not here to tell you that if you don’t start a family you’ll end up an empty husk on the corporate ladder. All I’m saying is if you’re feeling it’s time to pull the “house and two kids” card, no one is going to fault you for it. In fact, your friends who are still downing beer by the pitcher and having one-night stands might even be a little bit jealous.

You Realize You Were Running Away

Living in New York, every three months or so, you help pack a U-Haul for someone moving back to where they grew up. Even in our constantly changing world, 60% of people stay in the same state where they were born in, and it’s okay to join them. You’ll meet a fair number of people who realize, after some time spent in distant locales, that they were always running away from something, and that it’s time to go home. The fear of stagnation motivates many people to up and leave their hometown and try something else. Sometimes the drive to escape parents, ex-girlfriends, or slacker friends who hang out at the gas station leads them to pack up their parents’ station wagon and head elsewhere. For many people, there comes a time to return after they’ve gained knowledge that they couldn’t find around the block from their childhood home. There’s no shame in moving back to where you lived before, as long as you come back having learned something about yourself.

You Have No Reason to Stay

You might look around some day and realize that the reason you moved somewhere no longer exists. Maybe you moved to Chicago with your college buddies after school, and one by one they have left. It could be that you moved to New York to act, but you’ve done a hell of a lot more waiting tables than acting over the last five years. Maybe the girlfriend you moved to Philadelphia for has become your ex-girlfriend. I’m not advocating running way from your problems, or hopping a few exits down the interstate every time a relationship implodes or you’re handed a pink slip. On the other hand, if you’re sitting at the coffee shop one day and your realize that your life would be no different sitting in a coffee shop in Austin or Boulder, maybe it is time to find a place that feels like it matters.

You Complain About Your City All the Time

Don’t get me wrong: everyone hates where they live a little bit. In New York, bitching about your rent and the subway’s tardiness are as common as complaining about the weather. In order to live in Los Angeles, you are contractually obligated to bemoan the shallowness of the populace twice a day. In Pittsburgh, you either complain about how the Steelers are playing or you complain that everyone is obsessed with the Steelers. If your complaints about a city go beyond your standard bitching and you start to sound like the bitter old guy who sits at the diner alone yelling at no one in particular, it might be time to check in with yourself. If you hate the transportation, the politics, or how nothing happens after 10 p.m., those things aren’t likely to change any time soon. Maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder, and if that happens, you can return to hating everything about your city with a renewed energy and vigor—once you’ve tried a new place and hated it, too.Sign up for the Complex Newsletter for breaking news, events, and unique stories.SUBSCRIBE

Source; http://www.Complex.com – BY BRENDEN GALLAGHER December 2018

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Home insurance basics

Getting ready to buy your own home? There are a lot of boxes new homeowners have to tick off, and one of the most confusing can be insurance. Certain types of insurance are mandatory and others are optional…. but highly advisable. Here are 5 types of insurance the experts want every homeowner to have.

HOME INSURANCE

While not legally required, it’s nearly impossible to get a mortgage without proof of home insurance. But why would you want to leave your biggest investment unprotected? Home insurance covers the rebuilding or replacement value of your house, detached structures such as a garage, your contents, plus personal liability if anyone gets hurt on your property.

Be sure to read the fine print and find a plan that works for you. Standard policies may not include things like earthquakes, termite damage, or certain types of flooding. If these are relevant to you, look into additional coverage.

The cost: Varies depending on coverage, home value and additional factors

CONDO INSURANCE

Many condo owners think their condo corporation’s commercial condo insurance covers their unit, too. This is not the case. It is limited to common areas like the building structure, its exterior and shared spaces like the lobby or elevators. You’ll need a personal condo policy to protect your own unit, its upgrades and contents (including those stored in your locker).

Personal condo insurance isn’t legally required, but most mortgage lenders consider it mandatory. You should too, says Steve Totani, a real estate broker with Zolo Realty in Toronto.

Totani provides the example of a small condo building that experienced massive flooding as the result of a plumbing problem. Owners’ homes were ruined as were their belongings. “Once the units were repaired, they each got an empty unit with four dry walls. Property insurance would have brought a condo owner’s unit back to how it was, for example, granite countertops and better appliances. Just relying on the condo’s [building] insurance is a big mistake. Paying $20 or $30 a month extra can save you tens of thousands of dollars in that sort of situation,” explains Totani.

The cost: Varies depending on coverage, condo value and additional factors

TITLE INSURANCE

A property’s title is the legal proof of its ownership. When you buy a home, the owner signs the deed over to you. Title insurance protects you against challenges to your ownership or issues relating to your home’s title, such unpaid liens, encroachment issues, fraud, and other issues that could prevent you from selling, leasing or mortgaging your property. (You can read more details here.)

Toronto real estate lawyer Bob Aron writes that “most real estate lawyers today regard title insurance as a critical component of the [real estate] transaction and will usually not close a purchase without it.” Likewise, most lenders make it a requirement for financing.

The cost: A one-time premium based on the value and location of the property, generally in the $225 to $325 range.

MORTGAGE DEFAULT INSURANCE

Mortgage default insurance (also known as “mortgage insurance”) is mandatory on all high ratio mortgages. Those are mortgages with a down payment of less than 20 percent of a home’s purchase price.

This insurance protects lenders in return for qualifying borrowers with as little as 5 percent down, making it a win for both parties. Without mortgage insurance, homeownership would be impossible without a sizeable down payment.

The cost: Between 2.8% to 4% of the mortgage amount. This can be rolled onto the mortgage so it’s not an out-of-pocket expense.

LIFE INSURANCE

“Life insurance is the type of insurance that’s overlooked the most often” says Totani, the Zolo Realty broker.

“People ask about mortgage rates, property tax, property insurance, and their monthly payments, but I hardly ever hear anyone asking, ‘Should I top up my life insurance policy?’ to ensure their mortgage is paid off and their family is not going to be out of their home,” in the event of a tragedy, says Totani.

Totani advises checking your policy and upgrading it if needed, to reflect your homeownership situation. The peace of mind this provides will be worth the effort. 

The cost: Varies depending on life insurance type, coverage, and personal factors.

Source: by 8Twelve Mortgage

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