Category Archives: home appraisals

How housing is helping immigrant families close the wealth gap

Housing is more than just an asset class. Homeownership provides shelter and the opportunity to grow equity over time.Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press

The recent slump in real estate sales and prices in Canada has led some to question whether housing remains a good investment. For immigrant families in Canada, the stakes may be particularly high.

That’s because new research from Statistics Canada shows that investment in housing by immigrant families has been a major factor in helping them plug the wealth gap that exists between them and their Canadian-born compatriots.

Whereas the study found wealth growth for Canadian-born families has in recent years been driven both by increases in housing and registered pension plan assets, for immigrant families, housing alone has been the primary driver of wealth growth.

René Morissette, a senior economist with Statistics Canada, in a report released this week used data from several waves of the Survey of Financial Security to compare the wealth growth of immigrant and Canadian-born families. The designation of a family being immigrant or otherwise was based on the immigration status of the major income earner.

 

The report generated synthetic cohorts in order to compare similarly structured immigrant and Canadian-born families over time. The benchmark cohort comprised recent immigrant families whose primary income earner in 1999 was 25 to 44 years old and had been in Canada for fewer than 10 years. The other cohort comprised established immigrant families whose primary income earner in 2016 was 42 to 61 years old (on average 17 years older relative to 1999) and had been in Canada for 18 to 26 years. The comparable Canadian-born cohorts were of the same relative age groups.

Interestingly, while immigrant families started at lower rates of home ownership in 1999, by 2016 the homeownership rates between comparable immigrant and Canadian-born families converged.

On average, 31 per cent of the benchmark cohort of recent immigrant families in 1999 owned a principal residence compared to 56 per cent of comparable Canadian-born families. By 2016, established immigrant families led by a primary earner of 42 to 61 years of age reported a homeownership rate of 78.7 per cent compared to 74 per cent for their Canadian-born counterparts.

A key finding of the report is how the immigrant families caught up to their Canadian-born counterparts in growing wealth over time. In 1999, the median wealth of Canadian-born families with the major income earner aged 25 to 44 years old was 3.25 times higher than that of comparable recent immigrant families. However, when the two synthetic cohorts were compared 17 years later, the difference in median wealth between the immigrant and Canadian-born families almost disappeared.

Canadian-born and immigrant families relied on different asset classes for wealth growth. The wealth composition of families in 2016 revealed that housing equity explained about one-third of the average wealth of Canadian-born families. By comparison, housing equity was responsible for a much larger share of immigrant families’ wealth, accounting for anywhere between one-half to two-thirds.

The wealth growth observed for immigrant families has a side story of high indebtedness. The report found that in 2016, immigrant families, in general, had “markedly higher debt-to-income ratios than their Canadian-born counterparts.”

Immigrant families often, but not always, are larger in size. This is partly because immigrants are more likely to live in multi-generational households or to have siblings and their respective families occupy the same dwelling.

The unit of analysis in Statistics Canada’s report is economic family, which “consists of a group of two or more people who live in the same dwelling and are related to each other by blood, marriage, common law or adoption.” An economic family may comprise of more than one census family.

The expected differences in family size and structure between immigrants and Canadian-born families could have influenced some findings in the report. For example, the family wealth held in housing by immigrant families might lose its significance when wealth growth is compared at a per capita basis.

Housing is more than just an asset class. Homeownership provides shelter and the opportunity to grow equity over time. Canadian data shows that rising home prices over the past two decades has helped immigrants bridge the wealth gap even when the gap between the average incomes of immigrants and Canadian-born has persisted.

Source; The Financial Post – Murtaza Haider is an associate professor at Ryerson University. Stephen Moranis is a real estate industry veteran. They can be reached at www.hmbulletin.com.

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InFocus: The Role of Appraisals Why accurate appraisals are more important than ever before

As certain Canadian real estate markets reach dizzying new heights, homebuyers are loading themselves with debt in order to secure their place on the housing ladder. Paying over the asking price is no longer an exception to the rule and, as a result, many Canadian homebuyers are playing a risky game with their financial futures. Brokers have an important role to play in ensuring that their clients don’t buy something they can’t afford and, in these tumultuous times of economic and real estate uncertainty, securing an accurate appraisal has never been more important.

“One of the opportunities that appraisers bring to the table when asked to give their opinion is not just understanding the dynamics of the valuation, but also understanding what that means within the current market conditions,” says Dan Brewer, President of the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) and licensed mortgage and real estate broker. “There appears to be a situation where people are willfully under listing properties to create a frenzy, which is potentially misleading. It makes an appraisal all the more critical in the current market.”

Brewer has been monitoring a region in Ontario where homes are consistently selling for 15 – 30% more than list price; where paying a premium is the new norm. These premiums are being driven by current supply-demand issues, and in a situation where 20+ buyers are vying to purchase a property there really is only one winner: the seller.

Despite homes selling consistently over asking and accurate valuations becoming increasingly important, Brewer still notices a lack of broker knowledge around the appraisals process and the bodies who govern the industry. “The mortgage agent world had exploded in recent years and many people don’t have the specific training they need,” Brewer says. “The AIC has several professional development programs designed specifically for broker organizations to help them train agents and investors in the market place. It’s important that everyone, including brokers and agents, gets the education they need.”

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca

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Detached home prices in Toronto rising by $550 per day

cabbagetown-house

Want to earn $550 a day, literally from the comfort of your own home? All you need to do is buy a detached home in Toronto.

That’s according to Huffington Post Canada, who analyzed the latest report from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to calculate the stunning figure.

The data comes from a TREB home sales and price report released last week. The board reported that the sale price for a single-detached home hit $1,257,958 in April, up 18.9 per cent over the same time last year. Huffington Post Canada crunched the numbers to find that the price increase translates to growth of $16,820 per month. That’s $550 on a daily basis.

“Or put another way, every day you delay buying a house in Toronto will cost you another $550,” wrote Huffington Post’s Daniel Tencer.

Huffington Post also calculated the price growth for the city’s condo market, which saw the average sale price hit $436,545 in April, a 7 per cent increase over the previous year. That works out to $2,411 per month or $79.26 per day.

April was a record breaking month for Toronto home sales. The 12,085 sales in the Greater Toronto Area were the most ever recorded in the month of April, according to TREB.

In a statement, TREB’s market analysis director Jason Mercer indicated that he expects prices to continue to climb through the spring.

“As we move into the busiest time of the year, in terms of sales volume, strong competition between buyers will continue to push home prices higher,” he said.

Source: BuzzBuzzHomeNews  | MAY 9, 2016

 

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Buying a Home in the Winter

Spring and summer are the high season for home sales, but winter can be a buyer’s market. If you don’t mind a smaller pool of homes for sale or moving around the holidays, winter might be a good time for you to house shop.

Less Competition, More Leverage
Since spring and summer are the most active real estate seasons, many home sellers wait until then to list their homes. That means there are fewer homes for sale in the winter, but the sellers often have strong reasons to sell their homes soon, such as job relocation. These motivated sellers can be a boon to the home buyer.

While there are fewer homes to choose among, the smaller selection can save you a lot of time. Do you really want to traipse through 50 houses? It may be simpler to view the handful of homes for sale in the winter and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Just as there are fewer homes for sale during the winter, there are fewer buyers, too. That means less competition and sellers who are more willing to accommodate potential buyers. Use this knowledge to your advantage. Offer a relatively low (but not insultingly low) bid for the home you’ve selected, or ask for perks such as the living room furniture or the chandelier that you admire.

The low number of potential buyers also means you have more time to make your decision. In the spring, you often need to choose a home and act quickly, but in winter you may be able to take your time.

Assessing a Home’s Winter Fitness
Viewing homes in the winter lets you see how it holds up to the weather. Did you feel cold while looking through the house? Is there a functioning heating system and hot water? Are the windows letting in drafts?

Availability of Agents and Others
Another advantage of buying a home in the off-season is the greater availability of industry professionals. Real estate agents will have fewer clients and more time to focus on your home search. Lenders will be more accessible for questions and assistance. Some lenders even waive fees during the off-season to encourage borrowers to use their services. Likewise, movers tend to lower their costs during the winter months.

Gray Gardens or Winter Wonderland?
Home buyers can be turned off by the bleak look of prospective homes in winter. Bare trees and lawns covered in gray snow aren’t the most picturesque. However, you’ll be able to see how well neighbors tend driveways and sidewalks, whether the town plows or salts icy streets, and whether kids come out to play in the snow. Around the holidays, you might even see the neighborhood decorated in its winter finest.

Source: Realtor.com By Dini Harris October 3, 2013

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Closing costs more than homebuyers often expect

Some buyers may not consider the extra costs of a home beyond its purchase price.

November is national Financial Literacy Month. The goal is to protect and educate consumers about financial services and this year’s theme is Financial Literacy Across Generations. This is the third in a series of Ask Joe columns that will touch on real estate decisions buyers and sellers face at different times in their life.

 

I’m buying my first home. What are some of the costs I should plan for, besides the purchase price?

Chances are you’ll have run the numbers to determine what you can afford by way of mortgage amount and payments. But

Some first-time homebuyers may overlook the fact that the price paid for a home is just one of its many costs. That’s why it’s so important to understand the full cost of buying a property.

It’s useful to separate the additional expenses into three categories: pre-closing costs, closing costs and after-closing costs.

A home inspection is the most widely recognized pre-closing cost. It may be seen as an optional expense but it’s also a smart one is because a qualified home inspector, engineer or contractor can identify underlying problems with a home’s major systems, like heating and electrical. If you’re thinking of saving some money by skipping an inspection, ask yourself, “Can I afford to learn about major, costly problems after I take possession?” If you’re buying in a rural area, you should also have the septic system inspected and water testing conducted for the good of your health.

 

Your lender may require, as a condition of financing, that you pay for an appraisal or survey of the property to ensure the home’s value matches its sale price.

Closing costs typically make up the bulk of the additional expenses. In Ontario, a land transfer tax is up to 2 per cent of the purchase price. In Toronto, an additional tax of up to 2 per cent applies. As a first-time buyer, you should talk with your real estate agent about whether you are eligible for a refund of the land transfer tax.

Legal fees will need to be paid to handle the documents and contracts involved in the purchase of a home. Your lawyer will conduct a title search on the home to ensure the seller can actually sell the property and that there are no liens against it. They will also register the deed and mortgage for you.

 

You may also need to refund the seller for pre-paid expenses — property taxes, maintenance fees, utilities, hot water heater rental fees.

 

Three different insurance policies round out the closing expenses. You’ll need mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20 per cent of the sale price. You’ll need home insurance. And title insurance will protect you against title fraud, errors in surveys and encroachment issues with neighbours.

 

After-closing costs include moving expenses. Some gas, hydro and water companies charge a hook-up fee and you’ll need to pay if you want to forward your mail from your old address.

 

Then you’ll need to factor in what you want to do with the dated kitchen and broken fence. If you want to renovate or take care of some repairs identified during the home inspection, it will add to your costs. A fresh coat of paint, some window coverings, or perhaps a shiny new fridge and stove also add up. Understanding the full cost of buying a home will help to budget for these final touches. The latest edition of RECO’s consumer newsletter, RECOnnect, has a useful overview of these costs. You can find it on the consumer side of RECO’s website, reco.on.ca, under ‘Publications and Resources’.

Source:  Special to the Star, Published on Fri Nov 15 2013
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House of Horrors: 6 Things a Home Inspector Might Not Catch

bathroom shark attack

Before buying into a monthly mortgage payment, 77% of home buyers hire an inspector to go through their new digs with a fine-toothed comb. This is a very good idea.

That extra set of eyes gives buyers peace of mind that a new house won’t have a leaky roof or cracked foundation. Or something even worse. But what you might not realize is that countless conundrums go unnoticed during a home inspection simply because the inspector doesn’t look for them.

And those undetected flaws could add up to expensive repairs.

Here’s the deal: Home inspectors aren’t regulated by federal guidelines. Each state has its own licensing and/or certification requirements. They vary from Texas, whichrequires 130 classroom hours of real estate inspection training, to Georgia, which requires an inspector have a business license and a letter of recommendation—and little else.

That means home buyers have to do their own homework to make sure they’re working with a reputable and thorough inspector. Make sure to verify an inspector’s references and ask to review the checklist of items covered during an inspection.

And, once you’ve done that, ask your inspector to check for these budget busters.

Runny appliances

If you’re buying a home for the first time, you’re probably swooning over the idea of having your own washer/dryer or dishwasher. And to make sure your new BFF won’t break—and break your heart—an inspector should run these kind of appliances to check for functionality and leaks.

But inspectors don’t always go over all the bells and whistles on appliances.

“Checking the water dispenser for issues on a fridge isn’t standard,” says Tom Kraeutler, a former home inspector, author of “My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure,” and a syndicated radio host.

That oversight could mean you walk into a flooded kitchen if the seal on the water dispenser is faulty or the ice machine springs a leak.

Leaky faucets

To put a home’s plumbing through its paces, all faucets should be turned on; toilets should be flushed multiple times; and drain pipes—even if they’re under the house—checked for leaks while the water is running.

When it comes to sinks, the faucets need to be run long enough to fill them before draining in order to spot a leaky pipe or drain. In the shower, an inspector will need to block the drain pan with a washcloth or rubber jar opener and fill the shower to the top of the “pan” or floor, The water should sit for 15 to 20 minutes to test for leaks in the drain, Kraeutler says.

“That also helps spot if the shower pan is faulty, which is a super-expensive fix,” he says.

Another thing: Leaky shower tiles happen when gaps form in the tile grout or caulk. And they show up only when wet. To simulate showering, the inspector needs to splash his hands under the water and check the integrity of grout and caulk.

Cracked sewage and drainage pipes

Home inspections are always limited to what is visible and accessible, Kraeutler says. So cracks in underground or buried pipes and drain lines will be checked only if your inspector conducts a camera inspection.

That in-depth look into your drain will cost you extra. But the additional few hundred dollars are a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands you’ll shell out repairing or replacing faulty sewage and drainage pipes.

Corroded central air conditioning

Did you know that air-conditioning units can’t be tested in certain temperatures?

It has to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit outside in order to run a unit—temperatures lower than that can cause damage to the air conditioner, Kraeutler says. That means inspections done in cool temperatures could have an inspector ignoring the AC altogether.

So if it’s too cold to run the unit, ask your inspector how he looks for potential problems. You’ll want to make sure the inspector examines all connections and looks for signs of damage, says Will Hawkins, owner of All Pro Drain in Austin, TX.

And, if the temperature is 55 or higher, make sure the AC is run for several hours to test the functioning of the unit’s condenser coil.

“We’ve had customers notice condensation or water seeping through the walls in a few hours [of turning on the air conditioner] or overnight,” Hawkins says. “And unless the AC is run for several hours, that’s something a home inspector would be hard pressed to see during his run-through.”

Dangerous DIY improvements

It might be tempting to spruce up your home with some DIY projects before putting it on the market. But if those home improvements are completed with low-quality materials or not installed properly, a buyer could face an exorbitant—and unexpected—renovation.

A DIY renovation could be dangerous, too. If a basement or attic is finished without proper permits, electrical and plumbing work might not be up to code. And that could mean potential damage—or even danger—to the residents.

Although many home inspectors check for construction permits with the local municipality, Kraeutler suggests verifying that step isn’t overlooked.

Damp porches, decks, and balconies

You might not think of decks and balconies as sources of expensive leaks. But costs of damage can surge up to $100,000, according to Bill Leys, owner of Division 7 Waterproofing Consultants and a deck inspector in San Luis Obispo, CA.

“A deck or balcony can also have serious safety issues and be at risk of collapse,” he says.

Asking your inspector about cracks, rusted flashing, and soft areas around drains can help keep water from seeping into your home.

One final tip: Most home inspections are performed at least two months before closing. A lot can change in that time—especially if a house is vacant, Kraeutler says. Consider having a follow-up inspection the day of (or no earlier than the day before) closing to ensure you’re not purchasing a money pit. 

Source: Realtor.com by Gina Roberts-Grey has been covering real estate news since 2000

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3 features Americans want in their dream home

Most Americans have a clear idea of their dream home — and it doesn’t involve living large.

Fewer people think owning their own home is part of the “American Dream” in 2015 than they did five years ago (71% in 2015 versus 77% in 2010), according to a survey of 2,000 adults carried out by Harris Poll on behalf of real estate site Trulia. Homeownership has become as much of a lifestyle choice than an obligatory milestone, says Selma Hepp, chief economist with Trulia; 75% of married people with kids under the age of 18 say they plan to buy a home to be their primary residence versus 69% of single people with no kids.


Yet only 35% of Americans said they’ve already purchased their “dream home.” Only 14% of respondents who plan to buy any home say they will do so within the next year, the survey found, while 69% plan to wait at least two years. And most people gravitate toward modern homes (18%) with newer features that require less work than older homes, followed by ranch-style homes (15%). People chose a dozen types of homes from log cabins (6%) to Colonial style houses (5%). Only 3% chose penthouse apartments as their ideal type of home and 1% picked houseboats.

Here are the three most popular features people want to live in a home happily ever after:

Americans aren’t big fans of mansions like the kind favored by 50 Cent. In fact, they’re more likely to follow the lead of billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Facebook FB, -0.03% co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, whose primary residences are suburban homes fit for a middle class family rather than members of the 1%. In fact, 44% of respondents want an average-sized home between 1,401 and 2,600 square feet — choosing a home that is not too big or too small.
When describing where their dream home is located, most respondents are evenly split between wanting to live in the countryside (27%) and the suburbs (27%) rather than in the heart of a major American city (8%). And this varies, depending on where in the country the respondents were located. Midwesterners and those living in the northeast prefer the suburbs, southerners want to live in the countryside and Westerners were more likely to say they want to live in the mountains.


But most Americans are less modest when it comes to the amenities they desire in their dream home: 59% say they want a backyard deck. Other features they want in their dream home include a balcony with a view (45%), gourmet kitchen (47%), vegetable garden (40%), open floor plan (38%) and swimming pool (38%). “Most people want a mid-sized, modern home in the suburbs with a backyard deck,” Hepp says. “Americans are pretty realistic and practical when it comes to what they want in their dream home.”

Source: Market Watch By QUENTIN FOTTRELL PERSONAL FINANCE

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