Category Archives: real estate

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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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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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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Home sales fell 14% in March as COVID-19 settled in, CREA says


A pedestrian wearing a mask walks past a real estate sign in Toronto. The coronavirus pandemic put a chill on home sales across the country in March. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Home sales fell by 14 per cent in March as COVID-19 lockdowns slowed the market to a crawl, the Canadian Real Estate Association says.

The group that represents 130,000 realtors across the country said Wednesday that the month started out strong but slowed dramatically in the second half, “as the economic turmoil and physical distancing rules surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic caused both buyers and sellers to increasingly retreat to the sidelines.”

Sales were down just about everywhere from February’s level, including in the following cities:

  • Greater Toronto Area, down 20.8 per cent.
  • Montreal, down 13.3 per cent.
  • Greater Vancouver area, down 2.9 per cent.
  • The Fraser Valley, down 13.6 per cent.
  • Calgary, down 26.3 per cent.
  • Edmonton, down 13.2 per cent.
  • Winnipeg, down 7.3 per cent.
  • Hamilton-Burlington, down 24.9 per cent.
  • Ottawa, down 7.9 per cent.

“March 2020 will be remembered around the planet for a long time,” CREA president Jason Stephen said. “Canadian home sales and listings were increasing heading into what was expected to be a busy spring [but] after Friday the 13th, everything went sideways.”

CREA’s senior economist Shaun Cathcart said the month started out strong and then completely froze in the second half, which threw the overall monthly figure out of whack.

“Preliminary data from the first week of April suggest both sales and new listings were only about half of what would be normal for that time of year,” he said.

On the price side, the average sale price for a home that sold during the month was just over $540,000. That’s basically unchanged from the average selling price in February, but it is up by 12.5 per cent compared to the average seen in March of last year.

Source: CBC.ca – Apr 15, 2020 9:47 AM ET 
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Condo Investors: How a retail director turned a $75,000 wedding gift into a $1.4-million portfolio

Her first investment was a $289,000 pre-construction condo in CityPlace
The buyer

Sandy Silva, a 39-year-old sales director at Tulip Retail, a software platform for retail companies, with her seven-year-old son, Xavier.

The backstory

In 1999, Sandy started dating her soon-to-be husband, Ryan, in Waterloo. She studied economics at Wilfrid Laurier University while he took political science at the University of Waterloo. In 2002, they got engaged, and Sandy’s father gave them an early wedding gift of $75,000. Sandy and Ryan used that money for a down payment on a $289,000 pre-construction two-bedroom condo in CityPlace. In 2005, they got married and moved into the unit.

Within a few years, they were thinking about having children, and being near family became a priority. At the time, they both worked in Toronto: she was a buyer for Sporting Life and he was a supervisor at an automotive manufacturing company. They used their combined savings, along with equity from refinancing their condo, to buy a $470,000 detached house in Brampton, where Sandy’s parents lived. Meanwhile, to make some extra cash, they rented out their CityPlace condo for $2,150 a month.

The value of their properties increased enough, after four years, that they decided to leverage their equity to scoop up more real estate. They knew, from having lived in the Waterloo Region during their college years, that demand exceeded supply in the area. Ryan also had family in Waterloo, which meant someone could take care of their investment properties. So they bought two detached houses in Waterloo for a combined $462,000 and rented them to university students for a total of $4,675 a month. The rental income was enough to pay their mortgage and turn a profit. In 2013, Xavier was born.

Three years later, Sandy and Ryan separated. Ryan sold the two Waterloo homes for a total of $540,000 and split the $78,000 profit with Sandy. He also kept the place in Brampton. Sandy held on to the CityPlace condo and took $250,000 in equity from the Brampton property, which she used to invest in Rent Frock Repeat, a designer dress rental company.

The bottom line

Sandy recently joined Tulip Retail as a sales director. She lives part time at her CityPlace condo, which is now worth $850,000, otherwise she stays at her parents’ place in Brampton with Xavier. And Sandy’s not done investing. She recently bought a one-bedroom condo in Vaughan—which she plans to use as a rental property—for $525,000. Her portfolio is now worth $1.375 million. Before the end of 2020, Sandy would like to buy a place in Brampton.

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Is now a good time to buy a home in the US?

Canadian snowbirds or real estate investors considering a home purchase in the United States can be confident in the state of the market according to a new survey.

Results of a poll conducted in the fourth quarter of 2019 have been released this week by The National Association of Realtors and show that 63% of American consumers felt it is a good time to buy (33% strongly) while 74% said it is a good time to sell.

The strength of the jobs market and economic conditions are boosting sentiment.

“The mobility rate has been very low as many have opted to stay put for longer,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “However, this latest boost – Americans saying now is a good time to move – is good news. With mortgage rates low, the timing is indeed ideal for those who want to enter into homeownership and for those looking to move on to their next home.”

Older respondents (the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers) showed the highest confidence in buying conditions and higher earners ($100K+) and those in the West are more likely to feel that it’s a good time to sell.

“The Western region has seen home prices increase to the point that costs have outpaced income,” said Yun. “So, it is no wonder that those living in the West would think that now is a perfect time to place a home on the market. California especially is seeing some of the highest prices ever.”

Home prices

The NAR survey has also asked about home prices with 64% saying their believe that prices in their communities have increased in the past 12 months.

More respondents expect local home prices to rise in the next 6 months (48% said so) than those that expect them to stay the same (41%) or decrease (11%).

On the economy, 52% believe it is improving although this falls to 47% among millennials and 41% of those living in urban areas (66% among those in rural areas).

“Whether it is a reflection of politics or true economic conditions, there is a difference of views between rural and urban areas,” added Yun.
Source: Real Estate Professional – by Steve Randall 10th January, 2020

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How to Buy a Second Home (Hint: It Won’t Be Like Your First)

As a home buyer, you braved the real estate buying circus when you bought your first home, and you have a great place to show for it. You’ve trudged through the open houses, experienced exactly how stressful closing can be, and dealt with legions of moving trucks. And still, a part of you wants something more: an escape in the mountains, a beach cottage, or a pied-à-terre in the city. You want to buy a second home.

With current mortgage rates at a historic low, you might be tempted to jump in. But beware; buying real estate as an investment property or second home won’t be the same as your first-time home-buying experience. Here are some differences and advice to keep in mind.

First things first: Can you afford to buy a second home?

If you scored a sweet deal on a mortgage for your primary residence, don’t expect lenders to give you the same offer twice.

“Second-home loans generally require more down payment and a better credit score than owner-occupied home loans,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

You may have to pay a higher interest rate on a vacation home mortgage than you would for the mortgage on a home you live in year-round, and lenders may look closely at your debt-to-income ratio. Expect a lender to scrutinize your finances more than when buying a single-family primary residence.

“Lenders look carefully to ensure that second-home buyers are financially capable of paying two mortgages,” Lazenby says.

Make sure to review your budget with a second mortgage payment in mind, and make adjustments if necessary after you know what interest rate you will receive. And make sure you can afford the real estate down payment—a healthy emergency fund and cash reserves are essential if an accident or job loss forces you to float two mortgages at once.

Evaluate your goals

Understand exactly how you plan to use the property before you sign on the dotted line.

“Buyers should consider their stage of life and that of their children to ensure they are going to actually use the home for the amount of time that they’re envisioning,” Lazenby says. “A family with young children may find that their use of a second home declines as the kids grow older and become immersed in sports.”

If you’re certain you’ll get enough use and enjoyment out of your new purchase, go for it—but make sure to carefully consider the market.

For most homeowners, a second home shouldn’t be a fixer-upper. Look for homes in high-value areas that will appreciate over time without having to sacrifice every weekend to laborious renovations on your “vacation home.”

Buying in an unfamiliar area? Take a few weekend trips to make sure it’s the right spot for you. In the long term, you’ll want it to be a good investment property, as well as a place to play. Pay close attention to travel times, amenities, and restaurant and recreation availability, otherwise you might spend more time grousing than skiing and sipping wine. And make sure to choose a knowledgeable local real estate agent who will know the local real estate comps and any area idiosyncrasies.

Understand your taxes

You may be familiar with a bevy of home credits and tax breaks for your first home, but not all of them apply to your second.

For instance: You might be planning on using your new home as a vacation rental when you’re out of the area. If that’s the case, you need to calculate the return on your investment property purchase price that you can expect over the course of a year. How much can you charge per night or per week for your rental property? How many weeks will you rent out the property? And what expenses will you incur?

“Property tax rules and possible deductions for second homes used as rentals are complicated and vary widely, depending on both the number of days per year that the owner occupies the home and the owner’s personal income level,” says Lazenby.

vacation home offers more flexibility to buy based on your potential property tax burden—for instance, if you’re looking to buy in an area of high real estate taxes, consider widening your real estate search to another county, which can save you thousands of dollars. Your real estate agent should be able to help you find property you as a buyer can afford.

Lazenby recommends consulting with a tax professional about tax implications, especially if you’re planning on renting out the house.

A vacation home you use part time and also rent out may be considered rental property for tax purposes, depending on personal-use days as the homeowner, and the number of days you rent it out. If you rent out the vacation property for more than 14 days in a year, you must report the rental income on Schedule E of your individual tax return, and you can deduct the rental portion of expenses such as mortgage interest and property taxes. However, renting out your home as a short-term vacation home for 14 days or less in the year means you cannot deduct rental expenses, but the income from your renters is tax-free.

Jamie Wiebe writes about home design and real estate for realtor.com. She has previously written for House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Real Simple, Veranda, and more.
Source: Realtor.com –  | Aug 28, 2019
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Is investing in Canadian real estate still viable?

When a series of tax and mortgage rules was introduced in Canada in 2016 to prevent a housing market bubble, activity slowed down significantly in the years that followed. Given the current circumstances, is it still viable to invest in property?

In a think piece in Macleans, market watcher Romana King said even with fears of a global recession, real estate is still a smart way to invest.

“For investors, the key to making strategically smart decisions is to consider the underlying economic factors that impact your investment,” she said.

King said the housing market could climb out of negative growth forecasts this year. Citing figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association, she said the national sales activity was on target to increase by 5% in 2019 and could expand further by 7.5% in 2020.

“Canada boasts strong population growth, and government budgetary decisions are acting as stimulants for the national housing market, all of which point to a healthy future for Canada’s real estate market,” she said.

Investing in real estate, however, is not without risks. For investors, it is crucial to know some strategies to lessen the potential risks, King said. The first is to be aware of additional debt. Investors must keep an eye on their credit scores and pay bills on time.

“Most investors will require a mortgage to purchase rental real estate. This can alter your debt ratios, which can impact whether or not you get the best mortgage or loan rates. Talk to an advisor before applying for new credit or renewing a current loan,” King said.

Another must-have strategy is budgeting. King said investors need to control how much they spend on maintenance and repairs to ensure that their rental properties are cash-flow positive.

“An investor needs to budget for a contingency fund. If the anticipated monthly rent covers all monthly expenses, including a repair fund, then the property is cash-flow positive, which is fundamental for a good investment,” she said.

Getting insurance could also mitigate the risks of catastrophic events.

“Virtually all insurance policies will cover a catastrophic loss of a building, but as a real estate investor, you must also consider the loss of income due to damage or destruction. A comprehensive rental policy will provide a landlord with income to replace lost rent at fair market value,” she said.

Overall, investors need to treat real estate investing as a business. Citing Edmonton-based investor Jim Yih, King said the key to successful real estate investing is positive cash flow, and not just the purchase price and the potential sale price.

Source; Canadian Real Estate Magazine – by Gerv Tacadena 12 Nov 2019
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    Building wealth through the property market

     

    From 1948 to1970, close to half a million people from the Caribbean were invited to what was commonly referred to as the ‘mother country.’  Arriving as British citizens (despite never living in Britain) is a trait rooted in the legacy of the Empire. Whilst there were many reasons for their arrival in Britain, many were seeking superior opportunities for themselves and their offspring. Early settlers spoke about a five-year plan to save money and return back to the Caribbean. Prohibited to find suitable accommodation, many migrants were confronted with signs such as, ‘No Coloureds or Blacks’, which was routinely used alongside the use of ‘No Irish and Dogs.’

    Where Caribbean’s were permitted to rent, the standards and conditions of the dwellings were typically unsavoury. Consequently, there was a determination to purchase one’s own properties using a system popularly known as pardner, which involves the collaborating of resources to provide access to funds. This system was particularly useful when banks would not loan to black people. Early settlers from the Caribbean owned houses in what are now some of the wealthiest locations in Europe, such as Notting Hill and Paddington. It was not rare for these residents to own more than two houses that were rented out, characteristically large three or four story Victorian terraced houses. As the decades proceeded, many of these houses were sold due to the owners returning to the Caribbean, or simply moving. Similar trends occurred in Shepherds Bush, Balham and more recently in Dalston, Brixton, Peckham, leaving a decline in property ownership amongst succeeding Caribbean heritage peoples within the UK.

    While the cost of properties has been exorbitant in London, where according to the last Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Census for England and Wales, 58.4% of black people reside, the cost of properties in locations such as the West Midlands (which is said to host the second largest population of black people) at 9.8%, is considerably lower.

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    Black Landlords UK (BLUK) in Birmingham aims to revitalise the calibre of not only black home ownership, but also the number of black landlords. Founded in late 2017, one of the committee members Garfield Reece revealed how the organization came into fruition. ‘’It evolved (BLUK) from conversations that Rod Shield (senior investor in Birmingham) had during his networking meetings. People were asking him the same questions wherever he went.’’ Some of the questions that Reece cited were ‘’How we got into property management? How to turn a single let property into a high yielding HMO (House Multiple Occupation)? How to resolve issues and conflicts with tenants.’’

    Initially, Rod Shield decided to establish a Whatsapp group to address the myriad of questions he was bombarded with and to mobilize the engagement of black people within the community. The Whatsapp group quickly demonstrated the demand for such an organization and according to Shield, “The Whatsapp group numbers exceeded the allowable quote on Whatsapp; well in the excess of 200 investors in the group. So that’s really where it all started.’’ It was during this time that the committee (who volunteer their expertise for free) decided to galvanise all those that expressed an interest in property to congregate in one room. This lead to BLUK’s quarterly meetings; “The first meeting was held back in January this year,’’ declares Reece.

    The first BLUK meeting in January 2019 had approximately 50 people in attendance, and numbers have been growing rapidly. At BLUK’s last quarterly meeting for 2019, the committee expect to have 120 investors. “We are giving service providers and businesses within the community, an opportunity to sell and promote their businesses,’’ Reminiscent of a market stall, there will be six tables with businesses each discussing topics such as finance and how to raise mortgages. Half of the meeting will consist of Keynote Speakers, who will talk about the process one has to go through when acquiring property. The other half of the meeting will be dedicated to roundtable discussions, “It will be like mini workshops,’’ states Reece. “Each roundtable is going to talk about a different investment strategy,’’ Reece adds.

    The next BLUK meeting will take place on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 from 14:00 – 18:00 at the Legacy Centre of Excellence (formerly known as the Drum) 14 Potters Lane Birmingham, B6 4UU.

    Source:

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    Why Black Homeowners in Brooklyn Are Being Victimized by Fraud

    Broadies Byas was deceived into signing away the deed to her townhouse in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, after she fell behind on her mortgage payments, federal prosecutors said.

     

     

    Broadies Byas’s home is a hidden gem. From the outside, it looks unassuming, if somewhat neglected.

    But past the porch of the Victorian townhouse a rich interior reveals itself: tall ceilings, a mahogany staircase, stained glass doors and picture frames virtually untouched since the home was built in 1856.

    The house, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, has an even more remarkable story — Ms. Byas’s father, a teacher who was born into a family of former slaves in South Carolina, bought it in 1957 for $7,500.

    But now the house is going through a tumultuous chapter. Ms. Byas, 54, is working to reclaim it after she was duped into signing away her property deed, according to federal prosecutors. Though the house is worth about $1.2 million, she gave it up, unwittingly, for a mere $120,000.

    “I pride myself as a true New Yorker — angry, skeptical, not trusting,” Ms. Byas said. “But I felt like the stupidest person on the planet.”

    A booming real estate market in Brooklyn is fueling a crime that law enforcement authorities say has taken hold in largely African-American neighborhoods that are being gentrified — deed theft, which involves deceiving or sometimes coercing a homeowner into signing forms that transfer ownership of a property.

    In many cases, a homeowner is made to believe the documents involve some type of financial assistance, but in fact turn out to be the property deed.

    Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, both known for their collection of largely intact townhouses that cost a fraction of what similar homes sell for in Manhattan, have become hotbeds for deed theft, according to law enforcement authorities. Homeowners in Prospect Heights, Brownsville and East New York have also been targeted.

    Real Estate Shell Companies Scheme to Defraud Owners Out of Their Homes

    Of the nearly 3,000 deed fraud complaints recorded by the city since 2014, 1,350 — about 45 percent — have come from Brooklyn, according to data compiled by the city’s Department of Finance. (The borough accounts for roughly 30 percent of the city’s housing units.)

    The authorities believe the problem may be more widespread since homeowners may not realize right away that they have been victimized.

    “It’s just a drop in the bucket,” Eric Gonzalez, the Brooklyn district attorney, said at a recent town hall meeting in Bedford-Stuyvesant. “It’s really hot in the real estate market in Brooklyn. People want to steal our homes.”

    In Ms. Byas’s case, which led to the arrest of a man and his son, the aim was to flip her home and try to resell it to buyers who have been flocking to central Brooklyn seeking more affordable homes in lower-income neighborhoods.

    ImageHomeowners in largely African-American neighborhoods, like Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, have become targets of deed theft.  
    Credit…Elias Williams for The New York Times

    Those orchestrating the schemes often hide behind limited liability companies and shell companies, making it difficult for homeowners to determine if they are being swindled and by whom.

    “By the time a homeowner realizes what has happened, the home may have already been sold or mortgaged multiple times,” said Christie Peale, executive director of the Center for N.Y.C. Neighborhoods, a nonprofit organization that helps homeowners.

    Even though rising property values in neighborhoods like Bedford-Stuyvesant have provided homeowners with more equity, many remain cash poor.

    As they grow older or lose a spouse, their homes can accumulate liens stemming from unpaid property taxes or water and sewage charges, making them vulnerable to fraudsters who often search public records to identify homeowners under financial stress.

    “Deed theft has become a common tool of career criminals and unscrupulous real estate developers to illegally obtain real estate, most often with the goal of selling it at a huge profit in high-demand housing markets,” Letitia James, the state attorney general, said in an email.

    Dairus Griffiths, 65, has been mired in a five-year legal battle to recoup his home in Bedford-Stuyvesant after he was ensnared in a scheme and ended up giving up the house, which was worth $1.3 million, for $630,000.

    Mr. Griffiths was facing foreclosure after a tenant stopped paying rent, causing him to fall behind on his mortgage payments.

    Not long after foreclosure proceedings began, a man named Eli Mashieh approached Mr. Griffiths claiming to run August West Development, a real estate firm in Queens, according to Theresa Trzaskoma, Mr. Griffiths’s lawyer.

    He told Mr. Griffiths that he was going to lose his house and offered him a cash advance, Ms. Trzaskoma said. Feeling pressured and fearful that he would soon be evicted, Mr. Griffiths signed a document selling his home for $630,000, believing it was a preliminary sales agreement that he would have the chance to reconsider.

    After talking to his daughter, Mr. Griffiths did try to cancel the sale, but when he called Mr. Mashieh he refused, saying it was a done deal. Mr. Mashieh obtained a default judgment and the sale eventually went through.

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    A brownstone building under renovation in Bedford-Stuyvesant. 
    Credit…Elias Williams for The New York Times

    But Daniel Richland, a lawyer for Mr. Mashieh, disputed Mr. Griffiths’s claims and said a court had effectively ruled that the sale was legitimate.

    Some homeowners may not even know that their deeds have been stolen, the authorities say. Documents proving the sale of a property are recorded by the city registrar’s office, but not necessarily checked to ensure that they are legitimate. Owners might continue paying the mortgage for a property they no longer own.

    “It is, in fact, easier to steal ownership of a home than actually burglarizing it,” said Travis Hill, who oversees real estate fraud for the state attorney general’s office.

    Recovering a home whose deed has been illegally transferred can be difficult unless there is clear proof of wrongdoing, like a forged signature. In one case, the authorities arrested a man accused of committing fraud because the signature on a deed came from someone who had been dead for years.

    It is also challenging to determine whether the person had entered a bad, but not necessarily fraudulent, financial deal. “It’s often a very hard line to straddle,” said Noelle Eberts, a lawyer at the New York Legal Assistance Group who represents Ms. Byas.

    In Ms. Byas’s case, two men, Herzel Meiri, 64, and his son, Amir, set up a limited liability company called Launch Development.

    The two men instructed employees to search online for financially distressed properties in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, according an indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Ms. Byas was among 60 homeowners the two men, along with five other accomplices, were accused of swindling.

    The men described themselves as foreclosure specialists who helped property owners with loan modifications or promised that they would be able to transfer their properties to trusted relatives to avoid losing their homes.

    Homeowners were encouraged to sign documents that were later used as proof they had agreed to sell their homes to Launch Development, prosecutors said.

    The company also deceived banks into approving the sale of homes by providing falsified documents, including paperwork edited or completed after homeowners had signed them.

    “Launch Development resold many of the homes, which were purchased at fraudulently deflated prices, for an enormous profit,” the indictment read.

    The Meiris pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Herzel Meiri was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in August 2018, and Amir Meiri to five years’ imprisonment in November 2018.

    Ms. Byas’s ordeal began in 2008, after she learned she had multiple sclerosis and could no longer work. By 2014, she owed about $69,000 in unpaid mortgage payments and other bills and was facing foreclosure.

    She believed a second mortgage would prevent her from losing her home.

    One day, a young man rang her doorbell claiming he worked for Homeowners Assistance Services of New York, an organization specializing in foreclosures that turned out to be linked to Launch Development.

    He was polite, had a cherubic face and was someone Ms. Byas said she would feel comfortable inviting to a cookout. “When you’re in a panic, you think, ‘I can’t believe my luck,’” she said.

    After several visits from the man, Ms. Byas was taken by a private car service to Launch Development’s offices in Queens, where she described being, at various turns, cajoled or pressed into signing reams of documents. Instead of a loan agreement, she had signed a deed document, giving away the title to her home.

    In total, the company schemed to buy her home for $120,000, about 10 percent of the property’s value. She was able to show that she had been swindled because the check came from Launch Development, which had been on the radar of law enforcement authorities.

    Still, five years later, the title to her property is in the hands of the government and she is waiting to hear when she will get it back.

    “We were living the American dream,” Ms. Byas said. “This is a house that your ancestors worked for. They came from nothing.”

    Real Estate Shell Companies Scheme to Defraud Owners Out of Their Homes

    7-Year Fight to Reclaim a House Stolen in the Wave of a Pen

    Think You Own Your House? Check the Deed

    Source: The New York Times – By Oct. 21, 2019
    Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura was previously based in London, where she covered an eclectic beat ranging from politics to social issues spanning Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Born and raised in Paris, she speaks Japanese, French, Spanish and Portuguese. @kimidefreytas  Facebook
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