Category Archives: custom built homes

Should you buy in the city, suburbs or country?

Buying your first home brings major lifestyle changes – sometimes even a dramatic change in scenery. That’s because homeownership involves taking an honest look at your lifestyle, priorities and goals, and then investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in that vision. One of the first things to consider: should you buy where you rent, or house-hunt farther afield?

 

What’s right for you – the city, burbs or country?

CITY SLICKING

There’s a reason why urban real estate comes with a price premium: excellent public transit, plenty of arts and cultural attractions, lots of dining options, and easy access to everything from medical services to gyms and green space. Steady demand translates into a real estate investment that will grow as you build equity in your property.

PROS
  • Car-free living is a breeze (car share services are everywhere, so there’s no need to stress whenever you do require wheels)
  • Greater employment opportunities
  • Shorter commute to work and play
CONSIDERATIONS
  • Less home for the same price compared with suburbs and rural areas
  • Condos may be the only affordable option if you want to live right in the city core
  • Less privacy, thanks to closer quarters and higher population density

SUBURBAN DREAMS

Is it any wonder that generations of parents have flocked to the burbs to raise their families? It’s here that the much-desired single-family detached house rules, with big backyards (picket fence optional), good schools and a higher proportion of households with kids – perfect for impromptu street hockey or tag. While new communities may be low on shops and services, it only takes a few years of growth before cafés and sushi are just a short drive away!

PROS
  • Lower housing costs mean you get more home for your real estate dollar
  • Daycare costs are often lower than in the city
  • Quieter than the city, yet less remote than rural areas
CONSIDERATIONS
  • Longer commute and higher commuting costs (gas, parking, commuter trains and so on)
  • Some newer suburbs may not be as walkable compared with the city
  • Fewer entertainment, dining and grocery options nearby, aside from big-box chains

COUNTRY LIVING

Fresh, clean air, room to roam, no one to bug you about your bonfire or backyard hens – what could be better, right? Rural living has always appealed to self-reliant types, and in recent years it’s gotten a boost from millennials seeking a more affordable and lower-stress lifestyle (although overall, more people are leaving the country for the city). If you work from home, you can skip the commute and spend the extra time relaxing – or picking up a back-to-the-earth side gig to supplement your income.

PROS
  • Lower housing costs and more outdoor space for kids, pets and gardens
  • Easy access to recreational forests and lakes
  • Better air quality
CONSIDERATIONS
  • More susceptible to extreme weather: potential to be snowed in; power outages can be more frequent and last longer
  • Longer commutes to work, errands, entertainment and medical appointments
  • Harder to make friends in a small, tight-knit community (TIP: Make it easier by joining a volunteer committee!)

Source: homeownership.ca 

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This smart doorbell lets you video chat with visitors from your phone

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Ever ignored the doorbell because you didn’t know who was there or weren’t expecting any visitors? Now thanks to a Chicago-based company, you can see who is at your doorstep and even talk to them from your phone.

Smart video doorbell and motion detector, Xchime, is app-enabled and allows users to see anyone at their door from virtually anywhere. Launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo last week, the innovative doorbell includes a 1080P HD camera with night vision, a smart light and a convenient garage door opener.

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Photo: Xchime/Facebook

Developed by Chicago’s Wireless Input Technology Inc., Xchime is a small, weather-resistant gadget made with stainless steel. Using their phones, Xchime users can have live video chats with visitors, like telling the mailman where to leave a package if you’re not home. Also, visitors can leave  recorded video messages, which can be viewed later on the app.

Xchime also includes features intended to help secure homes. The doorbell is built with a discrete security camera and, whenever motion is detected within a 140 degree field of view, users will be notified through the app. Xchime also has Integrated smart light technology. When motion is detected, the doorbell’s light will turn on automatically in an effort to deter unwanted visitors.

As an add-on accessory, users can purchase a garage door opener kit allowing them to open and close their garage with a push of a button from Xchime’s app. The doorbell retails at $129 USD and the first shipment is scheduled for August 2017.

Source: BuzzBuzz News – 

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How to choose the right home for your budget

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As a first-time homebuyer, affordability is an important factor when purchasing the right home. Wondering how to find the right home for your budget? Try our three-step plan for determining how much home you can afford, so you can choose – and successfully close on – the right home for your lifestyle and price point.

 

Step 1: Dream it 

It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s ideas of the perfect starter home – design magazines and TV programs sell you on what’s hot now. Ignore the hype and sit down to itemize what’s most crucial to you and your family. Make a list of your top priorities, so you can find the right home for your budget.

Here are some key issues to consider.

Transportation

Do you need easy access to public transportation? Is dedicated parking for your car essential, or will street parking suffice? Would a secure bike locker be crucial to your commute

Recreation

Do you need a walkable park for your kids or dog? Would an on-site gym help you manage your hectic schedule?

Space

How many bedrooms do you need now? What about three to five years from now? (That is, is a baby on the horizon?) Do you need a home office for your side gig? Is a big, open-plan main floor essential, given your high-volume entertaining?

Lifestyle

Do you have the time and inclination to sacrifice hours each week to maintain a house and yard? Would you rather come home after work to a turnkey property each night? Do you want a condo with all the amenities, or would you sacrifice bells and whistles for a lower maintenance fee?

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Look over your list and differentiate between the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. Chances are, you might not find your entire wish list on a starter-home budget, so it’s important to know your priorities.

Step 2: Crunch some numbers

Just as important as knowing what you need in a first home is knowing what you can afford. Price dictates not only how much home you can buy but also what neighbourhoods you should be looking in.

Sit down with your partner to assess your income, debts, savings and investments, so you can anticipate how much money will be available for a down payment, and how much you can afford to pay each month in home carrying costs (mortgage payments, taxes, heating, etc.).

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Work out the monthly budget you’ll need to cover your responsibilities as a new homeowner, and start living on it now, so you can see how sustainable it is. If you find that it’s cramping your lifestyle, you will have to reassess whether homeownership is right for you, or consider a lower-priced home. 

Step 3: Assemble your real estate pros 

Once you’re ready to buy, build your real estate team: a REALTOR® or real estate agent, a mortgage specialist, a home inspector and a real estate lawyer (or notary, in Quebec). These are the pros you’ll count on to get you the keys to the right home for your budget.

Your first point person is your REALTOR® or real estate agent. Be forthright about your priorities and budget, as well as the neighbourhoods you’d like to live in. A REALTOR®’s insights are priceless, especially as they pertain to affordability. BONUS: A good REALTOR® will have the inside scoop on up-and-coming neighbourhoods that offer more bang for your homebuying buck.

The mortgage specialist is your next priority because mortgage pre-approval is essential in today’s real estate market. While it’s useful to attend open houses and check listings beforehand, most sellers won’t consider offers from potential buyers without pre-approval. Your mortgage broker will also have real-world insights into affordability, so tap into that resource early.

Next, have that home inspector on speed dial to ensure that any home you make an offer on is a home you can afford – without any major hidden costs (such as faulty wiring, asbestos or termite damage in need of remediation).

Finally, a real estate lawyer (or a notary, in Quebec) will ensure that things run smoothly with your real estate transaction, including researching the title, checking whether there are liens against the property, and verifying the accuracy of legal descriptions of the property. The lawyer also makes sure that everyone is paid appropriately, so you can take ownership of your first home without any financial bumps.

 

Source: Genworth – HomeOwnership.ca

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Four things people always forget to check when buying a new home

Buying a home is no easy task.

With so many open houses and so many choices, by the time you find a property that just has that right feeling, you’re usually tempted to grab for the pen and sign your life away. Take a minute though; because people often get so lost in the appeal of the home and property itself, they forget to consider the surrounding neighbourhood. And believe us, your new home can really lose its luster if its located say, a 30-minute drive away from the nearest grocery store or school. That’s why Canada AM hosts sat down with Real Estate Expert Sandra Rinomato, so that you can get the home you want, in the neighbourhood you want it in.

CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE

Whether you have pets, or are extremely active or consider yourself a foodie–these factors can all influence the areas in which you might want to live. So take a second to think about all the things that are important to you, Rinomato says. Maybe you want a short commute, or want to be in close proximity to a dog park, or restaurants and shopping centres. This should be the first thing you do after figuring out your financing and having an idea of what you can afford.

WALK SCORE

If you don’t own a car or plan to rent the property out in the future, a solid walk score can go a long way (the higher, the better). A walk score is based on your ability to walk from the property in question to things like banks, transit, shopping centres and so forth. Rental tenants can be lured in by a high walk score, and it’s generally a plus to know that convenient services aren’t very far away.

SCHOOL DISTRICT

It’s really easy to move into a new home and then realize it’s nowhere near or a school, or the kind of school you wanted to enroll your children into. Fortunately, there are many resources available online that can show you what kinds of schools are in your area (Ontario’s is right here).

EMERGING NEIGHBOURHOODS

By the time you have everything sorted–the neighbourhood, the school, the walk score, etc.–you might realize there’s no property that checks all of your boxes. Don’t worry, that’s normal. But often, it means sacrifices have to be made and you may have to look outside of your ideal neighbourhood. If this happens, Rinomato has some advice for how to find emerging neighbourhoods, where costs are still low but will rapidly rise in the future. The best way to find these spots is to look at the periphery of areas that are already hot and popular. As the population grows in the core, development will spread to the fringes.

Source; theloop.ca – FEB 26

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Conrad Black selling $21.8-million, nine-bedroom family mansion in Toronto

Conrad Black is putting his Toronto estate up for sale.

TORONTO — Former press baron Conrad Black is looking to sell his 23,000-square-foot home in Toronto’s exclusive Bridle Path neighbourhood.

Nestled on a 6.6-acre lot, the nine-bedroom property that includes a caretaker suite and a converted coach house will hit the auction block on March 8.

It has an estimated value of $21.8 million, according to an online listing.

Black’s house was built and renovated by New York architect Thierry Despont, who has also designed and built homes for Calvin Klein, Bill Gates and the late Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos.

The building features two, two-storey libraries, an indoor swimming pool with skylight, a carved granite Jacuzzi and a copper-domed chapel consecrated by two cardinals.

Toronto real estate agent Barry Cohen is handling the sale in partnership with New York-based Concierge Auctions.

Source: The Canadian Press | February 4, 2016

Conrad Black is putting his Toronto estate up for sale.

 

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Real Estate: Study suggests first-timers fuelling market

SOURCE: CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF ACCREDITED MORTGAGE PROFESSIONALS

According to a new survey by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP), it seems that those responsible for keeping the housing market alive right now are actually the first-time homebuyers.

Even with the housing market prices currently at an all-time high, those purchasing a home for the first time are making up 45 per cent of the 620,000 homes sold over the past two-plus years in Canada.
The Toronto Real Estate Board’s director of market analysis, Jason Mercer, doesn’t disagree, but he believes there are a number of factors to consider as to why the housing market is still so strong.

“I wouldn’t necessarily disagree that it’s first-time homebuyers who are driving the market,” says Mercer of Toronto. “But there is also an added supply of housing now with new condominiums and project completions throughout the city.”

Mercer explains that, if we look at things like job creation and consider where unemployment rates have been trending in the last few months, we would see that Toronto’s local economy has been one of the best performing local markets.

He also credits diversity within the city as a factor in determining why we are seeing so many new homeowners.

“Toronto has one of Canada’s most diverse local economies, so there are a lot of different employment opportunities,” says Mercer. “It’s a virtuous circle in a sense that those employment opportunities attract a diversity of newcomers to Canada, and they choose to move into the Greater Toronto Area,” he adds.

The latest CAAMP consumer survey report released revealed that, even though 18 per cent of down payments are still being loaned to buyers (usually from parents), 53 per cent are using money that they themselves or their co-buyers have saved.

“Everyone questions where the money is coming from, and a lot of it is simply borrowed money, but nobody collects that data because of privacy laws,” says Sherry Cooper, chief economist of Dominion Lending Centres. She believes the money is coming from parents. “It’s baby boomer parents helping out their kids.”

However, Cooper doesn’t agree that it’s first-time homebuyers exclusively who are driving local housing markets, especially with regard to the biggest increases in Toronto and Vancouver.

“Employment might be growing in Toronto, but it is also dampening in places like Alberta, because of the oil patch, so places like Calgary and Edmonton have been negatively affected.” She stresses that the survey was based on all of Canada and to keep in mind that those markets are much cheaper than Toronto and Vancouver.

Source: Post City Toronto BY TINA ROBINSON Published: Tuesday, Jul. 28, 2015, 09:05 AM

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