Category Archives: home ownership

Home renovations are costly, prone to errors

Jennifer Skingley and her partner—the former an erstwhile project manager and the latter an executive manager—are meticulous planners, so no detail was spared when they planned a home renovation. However, no amount of planning could have prepared them for the aggravations they would subsequently endure.

“We got the keys to our home in February 2018 and before we even took possession of it we had teed up people to do the work. We really researched and organized our renovation,” said Skingley. “There were several false starts trying to get people who were available to commit to doing the work. We interviewed a ton of contractors, got multiple estimates and did as much of the leg work ourselves as humanly possible without actually being construction experts. We tried to hand everything over on a silver platter, but for the work to actually start was like pulling teeth.”

And that was only the beginning, added Skingley.

The basement level needed external waterproofing, upgraded plumbing and a new bathroom was fitted in, while the kitchen and upstairs bathroom also received significant work.

However, because of last minute cancellations by contractors and a seeming deluge of errors, the home renovation took much longer than originally anticipated and cost over $80,000.

“Management was the issue,” said Skingley. “There were some blatant oversights and lossages with the team of people we picked, so we definitely ended up spending more money than we had allocated, even though we budgeted quite thoroughly from the outset, because we know when you tear things apart you find ugly surprises, but we there were things like having to tear floors out a second time because they forgot to get a permit. Silly little things like that took us way over and above. Even sourcing material was challenging.”

Unfortunately, Skingley and her partner’s nightmare renovation is extremely common, and given the exorbitant cost of the work, most homeowners can afford nary a thing to go wrong, says Casper Wong, co-founder and COO of Financeit, a consumer financing platform.

“When most Canadians renovate their homes, they aren’t offered flexible payment plans by their merchants, and while there are more traditional ways of paying, like with cash or using HELOCs [home equity lines of credit], not every Canadian can afford to make cash payments up front,” he said.

“Not everybody has access to HELOCs. Only three million Canadians have access to them, and on average Canadians owe $65,000, and 25% of Canadians with HELOCs just make interest-only payments.”

Financeit, a digital platform, works with thousands of contractors to homeowners make those large renovations in low-installation payments.

“We use our technology—and we own the entire stack, which allows us to manage credit, underwriting, servicing, and we work with multiple lenders and have a mobile app,” said Wong. “Not every Canadian can afford to make cash payments up front and usually when they do, they’re more reliant on credit, but credit cards have high interest.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Magazine – Neil Sharma 12 Aug 2019

 

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HOME INSURANCE 101

HOME INSURANCE 101

Whether you’re a homeowner or a tenant, your home deserves to be properly protected. Unlike auto insurance, home insurance is not legally required by the government. Instead, it may be deemed as a requirement by anyone who has a financial interest in the property. For example, a landlord can require tenants to maintain specific insurance coverage while renting the dwelling. Similarly, a mortgage company can stipulate that homeowners maintain adequate insurance at all times, which is a way to protect their interests.

Now that we know why other people are interested in you having home insurance, let’s focus on why home insurance is, and should be, important to you. Let’s start by defining what it actually is. Homeowner’s insurance provides you with protection against damages that may occur to your home. For example, fire or flood damage (to name a couple) could be quite costly to repair — not to mention when the damages are beyond repair and require replacement or rebuilding. Your home insurance policy is there to cover you should such incidents occur.

In addition to covering damages to your dwelling and other structures, your home insurance policy provides coverage for your personal property. Insurance companies commonly refer to your personal property as contents. Each policy has a defined monetary limit when it comes to contents. When purchasing a tenant’s insurance policy, this limit is usually set by you.

A handy way to determine an appropriate contents limit is to create a personal inventory. This document lists all of your belongings room-by-room, along with their value. The total value of all the items is the total amount of contents you’re wanting to insure through a tenant’s policy. A homeowner’s policy, on the other hand, handles contents limits a bit differently: usually, this limit is a percentage of the total cost calculated to rebuild the home.

A home insurance policy also provides you with coverage for liability. As with auto insurance, your home insurance policy protects you in the event a third party attempts to take legal action against you as it relates to your home. Liability coverage also comes in handy when you may be held responsible for damage to a third party’s property. One of the factors to consider when choosing your liability limit is the exposure you may have to risks. If you operate a home-based business, for example, you could be vulnerable to additional risk because you have a higher volume of people visiting your house. Having tenants is another example of liability risk.

The next time you’re shopping for a home insurance quote using the traditional route, keep in mind the multitude of details you’ll need to organize to help ensure a hiccup-free process (see our helpful checklist below). With aha insurance, however, we can save you a lot of time and hassle because the entire process is completed online, leveraging secure, state-of-the-art technology. In fact, the only information you’ll need to know for a home insurance quote with aha insurance is your address!

Checklist:

1) Address
Okay, we know this one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important to specify your exact address when getting a home insurance quote. This is particularly important for those who live in more rural regions with rural routes.

2) Insurance Information
If you have a current home insurance policy, ensure you know its details, such as the renewal dates. It’s also useful to know what your current coverages are, including replacement costs.

3) Claims History
Be prepared to share the details of your home insurance claims history. You’ll also want to make sure you have the specifics about how the claims were settled, including the amounts that were paid out as well as the reason for the claim (e.g., water damage, hail damage, theft, etc.).

4) Home Occupant
Who will be living with you? If you rent out rooms or the basement of your home, provide this information to ensure you have the proper protection.

5) Property Details
Know your home, inside and out. You should know your home’s approximate living space. You should also make note of its construction, including the year it was built and the materials used. Details about your plumbing, electrical, heating and roofing will also be required. You should be aware of the materials, as well as the most recent dates they were updated. You should also note how close your home is (in metres or kilometres) to the nearest fire hydrant and fire station.

6) Personal Belongings
How much stuff do you have? If you’ve ever created a home inventory, now is the time to refer to it (and update it). Your home insurance quote will automatically calculate an amount for your contents, but if you have anything that should be given particular attention due to its value, such as jewellery or expensive antiques, you’ll want to include it.

When it comes to home insurance coverage, every insurance company sets their own requirements for the information they’ll request in order to provide you with a quote. But if you keep this checklist in mind, you’ll certainly be prepared for whatever they’d like to know.

If you’re looking to upgrade insurance coverage, we invite you to get started with an online quote. When you purchase home insurance through Hudson’s Bay Financial Services and aha insurance, you’ll be eligible to receive up to 4,000 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points.1

Source: HudsonsBayFinancial.com

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It’s going to be hard to own a home in Toronto if you are not part of the 10%: report

In Toronto, you need more than $160,000 to buy a house; meanwhile, in Regina, the most affordable city, you only need $70,000

The Canadian dream of home ownership is slipping away: Tim Hudak5:17

Canadians looking for a home in major cities will likely have to look elsewhere, unless they count themselves among the country’s richest.

New analysis from RateSupermarket.ca shows that only those in the top income bracket can afford to buy homes in many of Canada’s major cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

It cites a recent study from Zoocasa, a Canadian real estate website, which places the benchmark prices for Toronto at $873,100 and Vancouver at $1,441,000. Only the top 10 per cent can afford to live in Toronto and only the top 1 per cent can live in Vancouver.

Jacob Black, managing editor of RateSupermarket.ca, had this advice for potential homeowners: “Step one is to have a realistic idea of what you can spend. Step two is look outside the box that you might have looked in before,” said Black. “We’ve seen a trend develop in terms of cohabitation, multi-family homes, looking at options like condos, smaller apartments outside of the major city area.”

The RateSupermarket analysis compares these benchmark prices against the household income needed in order to afford a home in 12 Canadian citiesincluding Victoria, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Calgary, Ottawa-Gatineau, London, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Regina.

RateSupermarket’s criteria for determining household income was to assume a 3.25 per cent five-year fixed mortgage rate, $10,000 in debt, a monthly lease vehicle payment of $300, a down payment of 20 per cent, and amortization of 25 years.

Using these figures, one’s household income in Vancouver would need to be above $240,000 in order to afford a home. In Toronto, a household would need more than $160,000.

A surprising result for Black was the difference between Toronto and Hamilton — a city that’s 70 kilometres away, which requires a more ‘reasonable’ $120,000 household income for a $630,000 home.

“I think that really highlights that there are opportunities in thriving vibrant areas,” said Black. “It’s just not necessarily in the same traditional areas you’ve been looking in or that you’d be expecting.”

This seemingly insurmountable unaffordability applies to starter homes as well. With these homes in Vancouver, only income earners in the top 25 per cent can afford them. The benchmark unit price is $656,900. Toronto is not far behind at $522,300.

Above all else, Black stresses a wise use of resources when it comes to the property market.

“I don’t see (the market) reversing. I don’t see a correction, but I think it’s important people do what they can with the resources they’ve got,” said Black.

Regina emerged as the most affordable city in the study, with a benchmark price of a home of $275,900 and a minimum household income of $70,000.

Here’s the full list:

  • Vancouver: House price: $1,441,000. Household income needed: $240,000
  • Toronto: House price: $873,100. Household income needed: $160,000
  • Victoria: House price: $741,000. Household income needed: $140,000
  • Hamilton: House price: $630,000. Household income needed: $120,000
  • Kitchener-Waterloo: House price: $523,720. Household income needed: $110,000
  • Calgary: House price: $467,600. Household income needed: $100,000.
  • Ottawa-Gatineau: House price: $444,500. Household income needed: $90,000
  • London: House price: $426,236. Household income needed: $90,000
  • Montreal: House price: $375,000. Household income needed: $80,000
  • Edmonton: House price: $372,100. Household income needed: $80,000
  • Saskatoon: House price: $301,900. Household income needed: $70,000
  • Regina: House price: $275,900. Household income needed: $70,000
Source: Financial Post Staff Nicholas Sokic May 30, 2019

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Homebuyers to get new mortgage incentive, Home Buyer’s Plan boost under 2019 budget

Homebuyers to get new mortgage incentive, Home Buyer’s Plan boost under 2019 budget

 

 

 

WATCH: Federal budget 2019: Incentives for first-time home buyers, skills training

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Can’t afford to buy a house? The government may take on part of the cost.

That is the gist of the boldest proposal that Budget 2019 puts forth to help more middle-income Canadians fulfill their homeownership dream.

Under the new CMHC First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation would use up to $1.25 billion over three years to help lower mortgage costs for eligible Canadians.

 

The money would go to first-time home buyers applying for insured mortgages. Borrowers would still have to pony up a down payment of at least five per cent of the home purchase price. On top of that, though, they would receive an incentive of up to 10 per cent of the house price, which would lower the amount of their mortgage.

For example, say you’re hoping to buy a $400,000 home with the minimum required five per cent down payment, which works out to $20,000. With the new incentive, you could receive up to $40,000 through the CMHC. Now, instead of taking out a $380,000 mortgage, you’d need to borrow only $340,000. This would lower your monthly mortgage bill from over $1,970 to less than $1,750.

The incentive would be 10 per cent for buyers purchasing a newly built home and 5 per cent for existing homes. Only households with an annual income under $120,000 would be able to participate in the program.

Watch: Finance Minister Bill Morneau presented the 2019 federal budget in the House of Commons Tuesday.


Home owners would eventually have to repay the incentive, possibly at re-sale, though it’s unclear yet how that would work.

Also, mortgage applicants still have to qualify under the federal stress test, which ensures that borrowers will be able to keep up with their debt repayments even at higher interest rates.

However, the incentive would essentially lower the bar for test takers, as applicants would have to qualify for a lower mortgage.

On the other hand, the amount of the insured mortgage plus the CMHC incentive would be capped at four times the home buyers’ annual incomes, or up to $480,000.

This means the most expensive homes Canadians would be able to buy this way would be worth around $500,000 ($480,000 max in insured mortgage and incentive, plus the down payment amount).

The government is hoping to have the program up and running by September.

Home Buyer’s Plan gets a boost

As was widely anticipated, the government would also enhance the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP), which currently allows first-time buyers to take out up to $25,000 from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to finance the purchase of a home, without having to pay tax on the withdrawal. The budget proposes raising that cap to $35,000.

The new limit would apply to HBP withdrawals made after March 19, 2019.

New measures would encourage more borrowing, possibly drive up home prices

Economists said the new CMHC incentive and the enhanced HBP would encourage Canadians to take on more debt, stimulate housing demand, and possibly push up housing prices.

“It’s a different kind of borrowing,” David Macdonald, senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said of the CMHC incentive.

And with a home-price limit of around $500,000, the program is unlikely to help middle-class millennials buy homes in Vancouver and Toronto, where average property values are far higher, said TD economist Brain De Pratto.

 

Those taking advantage of the higher HBP limit, on the other hand, would have to keep in mind that the government is not extending the program’s repayment timeline, said Doug Carroll, a tax and financial planning expert at Meridian.

Home buyers must put the money back into their RRSP over 15 years to avoid their HBP withdrawal being added to their taxable income. Now Canadians will have to repay a maximum of $35,000 – instead of $25,000 – over the same period, Carroll noted.

In general, the economists and financial experts Global News spoke to saw the budget as being focused on demand-side housing measures, rather than policies that would encourage the construction of new homes.

And while the budget does earmark $10 billion over nine years for new rental homes, it does not propose major tax breaks for homebuilders.

Tax incentives proved to be an effective way to stimulate residential construction in the past, said Don Carson, tax partner at MNP.

“They really drove supply,” he said.

Source: Global News –

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Ownership: Joint tenancy, tenants in common and more

Source: MoneySense.ca – by 

Consider alternative ownership options when buying a home

As housing affordability recedes in the rearview mirror of Canada’s fast moving real estate market, it’s time to look at different housing ownership options.

Freehold interest

The term freehold is synonymous with ownership of a property. In a freehold interest, the owner has full use and control of the land and buildings on the property, subject to governmental rights as well as local by-laws.

Leasehold interest

When purchasing a leasehold interest, you are really purchasing the rights and ownership of a building or structure but not the rights or ownership of the land the property sits on. Homes built on Native Canadian or Crown land fall into this categories. Examples of this type of ownership can be found scattered throughout the Greater Vancouver Area.

While leasehold ownership can make owning your home far more affordable there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, you’ll want to determine whether or not the land-owner will more than likely renew the lease once the term expires? Also, if you do decide to vacate the land, does the contract allow you to move the building or must you relinquish all rights? You’ll also want to pay attention to whether or not the lease is fixed or variable. Just like mortgages, a fixed lease means the terms are locked in for the duration for the lease. So, if a leasehold is for 99 years, you or your heirs will not have to go through a review or renewal of the lease until 99 years have passed. A variable lease, on the other hand, will have periodic reviews within the leasehold agreement—the standards is once every 33 years on a 99-year lease.

You can buy a new leasehold contract or you can assume ownership of an existing one. For instance, a seller could list their 99-year leasehold for sale after living in the home for 20 years. This means you would be buying the lease and allowed to live in the home for the remaining 79 years.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s harder to find a lender that will offer a mortgage for this type of ownership—although, credit unions have historically offered favourable rates for leasehold interests.

Co-ownership

If you decide to purchase a property with friends or family this is informal co-ownership—an agreement of responsibility and use must be agreed upon by all those involved. Or you can buy into a co-operative, which is a formalized co-ownership of a building where you have exclusive use and rights to a specific unit.

If you are buying with family and friends you’ll want to pay attention to the type of ownership, and the are two basic types: joint tenancy and tenancy in common.

Joint tenancy is common for anyone purchasing with a spouse or partner. In this type of tenancy, when one of you dies the other becomes the sole owner. That’s because the entire ownership transfers to the surviving owner, without having to go through probate, under joint tenancy. That means neither owner can leave their portion of the property to a third party in their will.

Tenancy in common, however, is where each owner may have equal or different ownership shares in the property. As a result, one party may sell her share without the permission of others. In this type of co-ownership, there can be more than two owners, and the owners may sell their portion of the property to anyone, unless stipulations or restrictions are built into the ownership contract.

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Liberal budget released: These are the housing related promises

Liberal budget released: These are the housing related promises

Cities and affordable housing providers will find themselves with $11.2 billion more to spend on new and existing units over the coming decade, as part of the federal government’s multi-pronged push to help people find homes.

Of that money, which comes from the government’s social infrastructure fund, $5 billion will be allotted to encourage housing providers to pool resources with private partners and to allow the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., to provide more direct loans to cities.

The funding falls short of the $12.6 billion the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities requested last year and Wednesday’s federal budget shows that the majority of the $11.2 billion isn’t slated to be spent until after 2022.

Over the next 11 years, the Liberals pledged $202 million to free up more federal land for affordable housing projects, $300 million for housing in the North and $225 million to support programs that provide units to indigenous peoples off reserve.

The money, coupled with $2.1 billion for homelessness initiatives over the next 11 years, sets the financial backbone for the Liberals’ promised national housing strategy that will be released in the coming months. The document will outline how the government plans to help people find affordable housing that meets their needs, and ensure a robust emergency shelter and transitional housing system for those who need it.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters the spending will make a difference for those who rely on social housing. He said the Liberals want to ensure cities can access funds as quickly as possible to make necessary investments in the country’s stock of aging affordable housing.

Liberal budget released: These are the housing related promises

The details are among many laid out in the budget, which outlines how the government plans to spend the $81 billion it is making available between now and 2028 to address future infrastructure needs and, the government hopes, boost the economy to create new jobs and government revenues.

It also gives $39.9 million over five years for Statistics Canada to create a national database of every property in Canada. This will include up-to-date information on sales, the degree of foreign ownership and homeowner demographics and finances to answer lingering questions about the skyrocketing cost of housing that may squeeze middle-class buyers out of the market.

The Liberals clearly see a need to attract private investors to help pay for infrastructure projects, including affordable housing, given the federal government’s tight fiscal position.

At the centre of that push is a proposed new infrastructure bank that would use public dollars to leverage private investment in three key areas: trade corridors, green infrastructure and public transit.

The government is setting aside $15 billion in cash for the bank, split evenly between each of the aforementioned funding streams, with spending set to start as early as the next fiscal year on projects based on budget projections.

Morneau said that the government wants to have the bank up and running this year, including having some projects that will be identified for investors.

But the budget document again projects that the majority of the bank’s spending won’t happen until after 2022. And in the case of trade corridor infrastructure, spending isn’t expected to start until 2020, even though some experts argue this stream would give the country the biggest economic bump.

The Liberals are also tweaking how much of the bill it will cover for municipal projects under the second phase of its infrastructure plan in order to nudge provinces to pony up more money for work and to prod cities to consider using the bank for projects that could generate revenue, like transit systems.

The government will cover up to 40 per cent of municipal projects under the upcoming phase of its infrastructure plan, 50 per cent for provincial projects and 75 per cent for indigenous projects.

Source:  The Canadian Press 22 Mar 2017

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New down payment guidelines may be in the works

The Department of Finance is reportedly recommending tougher down payment requirements, and initial broker reaction may be softer than expected.

“These changes won’t make a huge difference; we need to stabilize the economy, especially the housing market, and this would help,” Jerry Brar, principal broker with Jerry Brar Mortgages, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “These changes would eradicate buyers who shouldn’t qualify.”

Brar also argues the changes will help keep home prices in check, which he says the market needs.

Originally reported by Canadian Mortgage Trends — citing a “high-level lender source connected to the DoF, who declined to be identified” – the Department reportedly may recommend a graduated down payment scale that could be structured like this:

  • Homes costing $0 to $500,000 would require at least 5% down
  • Homes costing $501,000 to $700,000 would requires at least 7% down
  • Homes over $700,000 would require 10% down

When reached for comment, the Department of Finance said it does not comment or speculate on possible policy actions, or discuss anything that might be under consideration.

“The Government continuously monitors the housing market and regularly reviews the merit of actions to support the long-term stability of Canada’s housing market and financial system,” the Department wrote in an email to MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “Mortgage insurance rules have been adjusted in the past to protect Canadian families who hold wealth in their homes, and Canadian taxpayers, who support home ownership through government-backed mortgage insurance.”

If it does come to pass, the new guidelines may be more welcome among brokers than previous rule changes.

“I don’t think it’s an overreaching policy and I don’t think it would hinder business,” Kevin Gillis, a mortgage consultant with Cameron Financial Consultants, told MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “Buyers looking for houses over $500,000 usually have higher incomes and can handle the higher down payments; forcing them to do so will help protect them financially.”

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca Justin da Rosa | 03 Dec 2015

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