It can cost between $25K-$50K. Here are pointers to help you figure out a budget
My kitchen renovation last year was filled with surprises, most of them unwelcome (after all, our house is 100 years old). But by far the biggest surprise was the cost: After an initial meeting with our designer, we realized we needed to rethink our budget and come up with more cash (about 30% more on top of what we’d planned).
Turns out I’m not alone: Experts say most people don’t realize how much a kitchen renovation will cost and, as a result, they don’t tend to budget enough.
That could be because home renovation TV shows are notorious for showing unrealistic budgets for major work — so while a family might get a brand new kitchen for $20,000, it’s never explained what that price includes.
So how do you figure out what you should be spending?
Nancy Peterson, Founder and CEO of Homestars, a website that connects consumers with contractors and other home improvement professionals, says that, according to their data, the average kitchen renovation in Canada costs $25,593 — but, she adds, that number depends on how extensive the work is and whether you’re doing an outright gut of the space and replacing everything with new stuff. “A major renovation can cost as much as $50,000,” she explains, “especially if you’re buying high-end appliances or cabinets, which are by far the biggest expense in any renovation.”
So how much should you budget for your home renovation? Here are some pointers to help you figure it out:
Know where your money is going
Whether it’s cabinets, tiles or appliances, it helps to know how much each element of a renovation will likely set you back. Here are the top things you’ll be spending on, according to Peterson, including what the average Canadian spends on each during their renovation:
• New cabinets and countertops: $7,483.16
• Wood flooring: $6,392
• Stone countertops: $3,839
• Cabinets (refinishing): $3,819
• Ceramic flooring: $2,333
The 20% rule
Experts say to add between 20% and 25% on top of your budget to handle surprises and unexpected costs. Based on the average cost of a Canadian renovation, a healthy buffer would be $5,118 to $6,398 to cover anything that pops out of the woodwork (in our case, it was an old stove pipe lurking behind our kitchen wall — big bucks to get rid of that, and it put us off schedule to boot!).
You don’t have to splurge on everything
Depending on how you use your kitchen, there are some things you can do on the cheap and others where it might be worth spending more. In our case, we splurged on a high-end stove (we cook all the time), but we bought pre-made cabinets from Ikea. Peterson also recommends saving money by refinishing existing cabinets instead of replacing them. Flooring selection can also make a difference – ceramic is a lot cheaper than wood.
You’ll be eating out more
Remember, you are going to be without a kitchen for a month or longer. That means cooking will be limited – and you’ll probably be relying on prepared foods and restaurant meals more than you usually do. Be prepared to spend a bit more to feed yourself and your family while your space is shut down.
Credit unions offer a good alternative to the banks, but along with fewer fees are fewer branches and ATMs.
It`s your money, so why does it seem to cost so much every time you touch it, move it or invest it?
Many consumers are asking that question, and transaction fee fatigue is prompting them to join the more than 1.7 million people in the province who use credit union to bank, get loans and mortgages, and other financial services. Credit unions have been serving Canadians for more than 100 years —Ontario’s first one was founded in Ottawa in 1908. Carefully regulated, credit unions combine the attentive service of a cooperative with the financial safeguards of the Canadian banking system. Credit unions offer fewer branches and ATMS, and overall service that might or might not be better than a big bank’s. But many people are giving them a look; here are some of the reasons.
1. Competitive rates
Credit unions typically have low lending rates and pay higher deposit interest. They are owned by members, not shareholders, so they can shave off costs and pass savings along. For example, Meridian Credit Union, the largest group in Ontario with 44 branches and eight commercial business centres, offers a “better than market rate” against any other financial institution on a five-year fixed-rate mortgage.
2 Fewer fees
While a credit union needs to make a profit to be sustainable, it can afford to give its members a break on such things as transaction fees and other account service charges that can really add up credit card options and chequing or savings accounts. “Some credit unions offer lower fees because their members don’t expect them to make large profits or large investments in infrastructure. Others use these types of subsidies to expand services,” said Kimberley Ney, senior vice-president of marketing and corporate social responsibility for credit union Alterna Savings. “It really depends on what is important to the collective.”
3. On your side
Run by the members through a board of directors, a credit union doesn’t have to answer to corporate shareholders. Members of the credit union (you must buy a share which can cost from $25 to $150 when you open an account) may earn a dividend. Each member can vote and participate in decisions such as charitable donations. In a new Forrester Research study, credit unions had the highest customer advocacy ratings — a belief by customers that their interest is served before profits. Four of the five chartered banks received below-average scores.
Credit unions across Canada donated $37.5 million to charitable causes in their own areas last year. The credit unions make the point that many of the options such as scholarships can directly benefit local families
5. Support business start-up dreams When you have a business idea but no capital to get started, it is almost impossible to get credit from major lenders. Alterna Credit Union’s Community Micro-loan Program has been bridging that gap for more than 10 years. A recent study by Carleton University’s Carleton Centre for Community Innovation pointed out that 60 per cent of the potential entrepreneurs who applied to Alterna had been turned down for loans by at least one other banking institution. But the program has been successful with a repayment rate of more than 90 per cent. The program also has long-lasting benefits for the community. “It goes beyond writing the cheques,” said Susan Henry, manager of corporate social responsibility at Alterna. “We do business development training and life skills as well. There is a lot of support.”
6. Small Business Heroes
Fees and financing costs can make a dent in a small business bottom line. A recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) gave credit unions top marks in these categories from more than 12,000 small business owners (running companies with less than 50 employees).
7. Convenient locations The big banks still have the most branches, but with close to 500 credit union branches in Ontario credit unions are still a major presence. In smaller towns the credit union sometimes may be the only financial institution. To locate a branch go tohttp://locator.cucentral.com/
Credit Union members have access to free ATM transactions through The Exchange Network, To find a banking machine one near you, go to www.the-exchange.ca .
8. Tailor-made services Credit unions reflect the members’ collective personality. In 2009, the Creative Arts Savings and Credit Union was formed by a group of Canadian actors to provide banking services geared to people in an industry where paycheques are not as regular as for those with a steady office job. Some credit unions offer special language services. The Finnish Credit Union features a Finnish-English website and office staff who are of Finnish heritage. DUCA was started in 1954 by the Dutch community and now has 12 branches with 35,000 members in Southern Ontario.
9. Services. Credit union users are members of the organization. In its best-banking awards study, research firm Synovate ranked credit unions first for branch service and overall excellence. They also tied for first for telephone banking and financial planning.
Some of the most popular consumer banking services, such as no-fee chequing accounts, ATMs, internet banking, debit cards and cheque imaging, were initiated by credit unions.
Ontario credit unions claim to be more friendly and flexible to small buisiness. “We meet with each small business owner and determine what products and services they most need and create a banking package accordingly,” said Scott Windsor, vice-president of communications at Meridian, one of the largest credit unions in Ontario. “Some small business may have high transactions volume, so we would create a package with free/low transaction fees, but a higher loan rate. It’s about finding the services that are right for them.”
Source; The Toronto Star – By SUSAN BROPHY DOWN Mon., Nov. 8, 2010
It also points out that word-of-mouth and personal recommendations significantly influence around 50% of millennials. Yep, they’re more likely to “consult peers and media” instead of using a financial adviser and those who do use an advisor are likely to cross-check the facts using external sources.
So you could say that there’s a sense of distrust felt by youth in Canada when it comes to banking. If you have to question your bank that much, maybe it’s not the one for you. Banking should be easy because you don’t need any unnecessary stress factors in your life.
Luckily, you have another option (no, not carrying cash on you 24/7) – banking with a credit union. These financial institutions act in the interest of their members and work to make things better in your local community (without the drab financial advisor spiel).
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of four lovely things credit unions do.
They’re involved with the community
Credit unions understand that most young families in Ontario are dealing with large amounts of debt ranging from credit cards to student loans, and mortgages. Understanding the impact of heavy debt loads on the future of young people, credit unions want to step in and help any way they can. Aside from helping with debt management, they’re also involved in grassroots programs in their communities. Credit union staff members volunteer thousands of hours each year to help local non-profits and community initiatives. And they also help their communities thrive by hiring locally, keeping their members’ dollars local, and reinvesting their profits back in the local area.
They’re environmentally friendly
Given the very nature of their cooperative model, it should come as no surprise that over the years, many credit unions have been recognized as Canada’s Greenest Employers. In fact, Ontario’s credit unions have made environmental performance a key part of their growth strategy, and are engaged in a full spectrum of operational improvements. But it doesn’t end there, they also have social and environmental finance innovations aimed at improving every aspect of their operation – from carbon neutrality and paperless banking to responsible investing, assistance for green start-ups, and social enterprise.
They help individuals, local businesses, and charities
The act of charity is centered around helping people in need. And since credit unions strongly believe in helping people, it’s only natural that they’re involved in a variety of charitable endeavours. From local sponsorships, to grants, bursaries, and even financial literacy blogs, credit unions are pretty much dedicated to helping everyone. They also support local community events and non-profit organizations through donations. When several provinces were suffering from floods earlier this year, multiple credit unions across Canada rallied to donate $150,000 to the Red Cross at a moment’s notice.
They offer tailored financial advice
Credit union staff ensure products are tailored to the specific financial needs of each customer. This means you’re not going to hear about investment portfolio options when you simply want to set up a savings account (unless you want to). Irrespective of your current financial situation, credit unions can help you tackle debt, save for a large purchase, or plan for a stress-free retirement. With the expertise to provide financial guidance to help their members build a strong foundation for their future, it’s no wonder that more and more Canadians are switching to credit unions. Will you?
Mortgage broker Samantha Brookes is trying to figure out how to get one of her clients out of a housing-fueled debt hole.
The couple, a 59-year-old Toronto city worker and her husband, 58, have so much debt that they stopped making payments on the C$410,000 ($318,000) mortgage for their suburban home. They wanted to refinance but regulations imposed last year will disqualify them. In a few weeks, they won’t even qualify for an uninsured loan at an alternative lender as more rules come into effect.
They opted for a third route: adding a second mortgage with an interest rate of 10.5 percent to pay off their debt. Their salvation came from a private unregulated lender, a move many other Canadians are making as the government tries to rein in a home-price surge that’s driven household debt to a record. But like a giant game of Whac-A-Mole, the risk to the financial system from tapped out borrowers is merely shifting — this time to a market where there’s no oversight from the country’s national bank regulator and new stress-test rules don’t apply.
“We’re transferring risk from the regulated segment to the unregulated segment of the market,” Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said by phone from Toronto. “If we have a significant correction, clearly the unregulated markets will suffer even more because that’s where the first casualties would be. And then you will see it elsewhere.”
Brookes says more than 90 percent of her business in the last two months has been lining up funding from non-bank and private sources, or shadow banks — versus a 50-50 mix previously. “People aren’t going to stop buying, they’ll just find different ways of doing it.”
For the government, it may be a case of careful what you wish for. Anxious to prevent a repeat of the kind of taxpayer-funded bank bailouts that occurred in the U.S. after its housing crash a decade ago, the federal government has been moving to reduce its exposure to the mortgage-insurance market.
Rules last year added a stress test for insured loans backed by the government. That sent more buyers to the uninsured space, where a 20 percent down payment is required. As of Jan. 1, these borrowers will also need to qualify at a rate two percentage points higher than their offered rate, a move which could lower mortgage creation by as much as 15 percent, Canada’s bank regulator has said.
Earlier changes have already had a dramatic effect. Uninsured mortgages made up about three-quarters of new loans at federally regulated banks this year, up from two-thirds in 2014, according to the Bank of Canada. Roughly 90 percent of new mortgages in Toronto and Vancouver this year are now uninsured, in part because government insurance is forbidden on homes priced over C$1 million ($780,000) and prices have risen, the bank said.
On the one hand, taxpayer risk has dropped as insured mortgage origination fell 17 percent in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, the bank said in its semi-annual financial system review. About 49 percent of all outstanding mortgages are now uninsured, up from 36 percent five years ago. The credit quality of some of the loans at the big banks have also improved as borrowers buy less expensive homes, the Bank of Canada said.
The rules, along with other measures such as a foreign-purchase tax, have had an initial bite — with Toronto house prices falling 8.8 percent from May to November and the average price of a home posting the first annual drop since 2009. Vancouver prices have reclaimed new heights after cooling earlier this year.
But the risks to the financial system haven’t gone away. In the uninsured space, mortgages are increasingly going to highly indebted households and for amortizations for longer than 25 years, the central bank said. And like Brookes’s clients drowning in house debt, more borrowers are turning to lenders whose activities fall outside federal regulatory scope.
These include credit unions and mortgage-investment corporations, pools of money from individual shareholders, which aren’t subject to the new rules, Tal said. Credit unions hold about 17 percent of uninsured mortgages, according to the Bank of Canada.
Canada’s patchwork regulatory system also doesn’t encourage comfort, Tal said. Banks are regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, but credit unions and brokerages are overseen provincially. Mortgage-finance companies are semi-regulated, and MICs and other private lenders are unregulated.
MICs currently make up about 10 percent of mortgage transaction volume, or 6 percent of dollar volume, according to research from Tal at CIBC said. Transaction volume will likely grow to about 14 percent under the new rules, and in the event of defaults in a housing correction, those MIC investors would be open to losses, he said.
“Anything over 10 percent is sub-optimal,” he said. “You don’t want this market to be too big because you don’t want to increase the blind spots.”
Sound underwriting is an important element in maintaining a strong and stable Canadian financial system and OSFI will continue to monitor the country’s housing and mortgage markets under the new rules, Annik Faucher, spokeswoman for Ottawa-based organization said in an email.
Like her clients, Brookes said borrowers will get creative to get around the new rules. Options include companies like Alta West Capital, Fisgard Asset Management Corp. and Brookstreet Mortgage Investment Corp. or just a wealthy individual willing to lend at interest rates starting around 12 percent.
Fisgard didn’t respond to request for comment, Brookstreet declined to comment while Chuck McKitrick, chief executive officer at Calgary-based Alta West said MICs are regulated by the country’s securities commissions and various real estate bodies.
“We’re scrutinized a hundred different ways,” said McKitrick. “There’s very little difference between us and other regulated entities.”
Despite the expectation that MICs will see more business, McKitrick said the big financial institutions will adapt to new regulations to keep lending. Shawn Stillman, a mortgage broker at Mortgage Outlet Inc., said banks could lower their mortgage rates so homebuyers would still qualify under the new stress-test rules.
“The bank doesn’t care because they’re still going to make their fees and get their money,” Stillman said by phone from Toronto.
Alta West predominantly lends to entrepreneurs and new Canadians, groups that typically have a harder time getting a mortgage at one of the big banks. Its rate of mortgages in arrears is about 2 percent, he said. That compares with about 0.2 percent at the big banks and about 0.4 percent for the credit unions, according to data compiled by the Canadian Credit Union Association.
“People need solutions — it could be temporary, but at least they have a home over their head,” Brookes said.
Source: Bloomberg.com – By Allison McNeely and Katia Dmitrieva
When my husband and I first bought our house in Guelph, Ont., 11 years ago, it was something Goldilocks surely would have approved of: not too big, not too small. Just right. Our first-born was still in diapers. Who needed a second bathroom? Then, seemingly overnight, the place felt cramped and entirely impractical. We’ve now got two kids, and our-nine-year-old has outgrown her teeny-tiny bedroom. Weekday mornings mean slapping together breakfasts in the cramped kitchen. And forget inviting more than one family over for dinner unless they don’t mind yelling over the din. (Basement play room? What basement play room?)
Not surprisingly, my husband and I have been discussing our options. Move to a larger, more suitable home in our neighbourhood or stay put and renovate what we have? Finish the basement or build an addition? And most importantly, what would each scenario cost?
I’m hardly the only Canadian faced with the choice between moving or improving to increase usable square footage. Back in 2012, Canada Post released numbers indicating that of the 850,000 people who changed addresses, 37% moved to upgrade their home for family reasons. More recently, Altus Group measured the boom in Canadian residential home renovation spending, valuing it at $68 billion in 2014, roughly $20 billion more than what was spent on new builds.
Families grow, possessions multiply, aging parents move in, or a new job means building a home-office space. Although everybody’s situation is different—and let’s face it, you can’t always buy a great neighbourhood but you can change your home—deciding to love it or list it usually comes down to finances. What will it cost to move versus renovate and stay?
It’s not the house, it’s you
Cut the clutter and uncover valuable unused square footage
First, let’s start with the biggest bang for the least bucks: creating more usable space by simply clearing out the junk and getting your house more organized. That’s been our own family project for the past few weeks. Snowshoes that have never seen powder? Gone. An ill-advised yogurt machine purchase? Ditto. Three boxes of baby shoes? Now that’s just embarrassing.
We decided to take on this Herculean project after chatting on the phone with Elinor Warkentin, a Vancouver-based professional organizer who runs goodbyeclutter.ca. She says some clients have hired her to stage their homes for selling, only to decide to stay put after uncovering unused square footage they never knew they had: “Sometimes people can’t see the forest through the trees. Decluttering and organizing give people a lot of clarity.”
Although the act of breaking up with unwanted belongings is free, tackling chaos can be overwhelming without some help. Hiring a professional organizer can be one of the most cost-effective ways to gain much-needed space—with no jackhammer or moving van required.
In order to command her $85/hour fee, Warkentin spends 15 minutes on the phone with potential clients to suss out their junk issues, then does a two-hour walk-through consultation, giving specific advice based on what she sees. While she may recommend storage solutions—anything from new shelving beneath the stairs, to under-the-sink storage hacks for soap and rags—she also tackles behavioural issues. Toys littering the floor? Maybe it’s time to teach the kids to pitch in and clean up. And yes, like all those clutter consultants on TV, she helps clients separate items into piles: some go to the garbage heap, others will be given away and the last pile are keepers. She’s on-site with bins and garbage bags, picking through items one by one. (Warkentin once spent hours matching up single black and navy socks for a client.)
Between hiring a professional organizer’s services and installing new storage solutions in previously unused spaces, expect to spend $2,000 to $10,000, depending on where you live and whether your new shelves are cheaper prefabs or pricier customs. If that sounds unreasonable, consider that “for every box of clutter you remove from your home, you increase the equity by $500,” Warkentin says. But think hard before building new pricey storage solutions if you don’t like your neighbourhood or hope to move to a new school district someday. There’s no point spending the money if you’re just going to sell anyway.
Luckily, there are a number of options that range from cheap and cheerful to extreme and expensive that could get you a house that works for you. Here we’ll take a look at four scenarios, from least to potentially most costly, to see how each choice adds up.
Building a better house
Renovate the existing space make a house feel more spacious
Earlier this year, Scott Sheppard, an air traffic controller living in the Greater Toronto Area, decided it was time to give his mother, who lives in his basement, a room of her own. A bathroom, that is. “As she’s been getting older, we’ve realized that we needed to build something for her, rather than expect her to walk two flights of stairs to use the shower,” says Sheppard. In the end, it was a relatively easy fix: They simply converted their old attached garage into a laundry and mudroom, and moved the basement’s washer, dryer and deep freezer into it. This freed up space for Grandma’s corner shower, sink and toilet.
David Kloss, co-owner of LoganSienna Design in Toronto, says that, for homeowners like Sheppard, it makes sense to maximize space with the footprint that you have—particularly if living in a semi-detached or row house with restrictive zoning bylaws. Moving a wall to, say, create two bedrooms out of one means you can stay in a home you love, while making it fit your lifestyle. And even if the house doesn’t become physically bigger through these renovations, a little ingenuity can go a long way toward making a house feel more spacious. For instance, at a recent reno job in Toronto’s High Park area, Kloss removed a hall linen closet and knocked down walls to create a bigger, more open washroom.
And don’t forget the attic. It’s a square footage gold mine, particularly in older homes with steeply pitched roofs. To determine if you can turn your attic into a usable loft, shine a flashlight up there. Got W-shaped trusses holding up the roof? The reno will likely be too costly to be worth it. But if you’re looking at a wide open space with ample headroom in the centre, it might be worth building stairs up through a closet, and adding insulation and heating ducts.
Not all spaces are appropriate for renovations, however. Even though adding a room in the basement typically saves you between 25% and 50% of the cost of adding a room to upper floors, some aren’t worth finishing. There are foundation cracks that result in leaks. The furnace is smack in the middle of the room. The ceiling is low. Digging down to gain a few extra feet would cost in the range of $60,000. And to fix everything else? An extra $75,000. That’s before all the fun décor decisions.
All rooms aren’t created equal when it comes to pricing either. Contractors tend to quote in the $90 to $225 per square foot range, but if you’re aiming to add a bathroom to the mix or make your kitchen bigger, expect higher outlays: Plumbing, granite, fixtures and new appliances drive costs way up, while simply drywalling a basement or attic is going to be much cheaper. There are a lot of ways to save money—or blow through cash—so plan carefully before giving any project the green light.
Building a bigger house
Add value and living space to your home with an addition
Michael Berton and Cathie Hurlburt have had 13 years to live with their decision to turn their once small two-bedroom bungalow in North Vancouver into a 2,000-square-foot home by adding a second storey. They couldn’t be happier.
The Vancouver market was just heating up when the couple dragged their kids to open houses looking for a larger home—but eventually they decided to stay put. “We kept looking at houses that were three times more money than ours, were just as old and probably needed renovating anyway. It just didn’t make sense,” says Berton now. Instead, they hired a contractor, convinced the bank to help finance the $200,000 reno, moved into an apartment down the street for five months, and then waited for the plaster dust to settle.
Although hard to fathom today, the couple once worried about owning a half-million dollar home in Vancouver. But the gamble to increase the space paid off. Not only were they able to raise their three girls in a spacious home, but they made their house even more desirable to buyers. Their home—assessed at $320,000 before the reno—is now worth about $1.5 million. “But I don’t know if the math works like that everywhere, because I live in Lotusland where the house prices are nuts,” Berton cautions.
He’s right to question whether building an expensive addition is the best option everywhere. Most house prices don’t appreciate as quickly as they do in hot markets like Vancouver and Toronto. It can take decades before homeowners can recoup costs come selling time. An expensive renovation usually only makes sense if you plan on living in your home for the long haul, says Suzanne Ethier, a realtor in Kitchener, Ont. But for people who aren’t sure if they’ll need to move in five or 10 years? “Without fail, the numbers say sell the house and buy a new one,” she says.
The truth is that building onto a house is expensive. Location, size, finishes and labour costs will vary, says Brennan Waters, owner of Oakwaters Construction Ltd., based in Everton, Ont., but generally speaking, “$200 a square foot will give you options.” But expect to pay more if you’re digging down to expand the basement, or if you’re planning wholesale kitchen moves requiring all new plumbing and wiring.
What’s more, extensions can come with nasty and expensive surprises—from opening a wall to find old knob-and-tube wiring, to having run-ins with neighbours who are fed up with the construction noise and debris. Banks don’t finance the demolition work either, so that’s coming out of pocket, unless you get a construction loan. All of this isn’t to say building an addition can be the right choice, but just be sure you know what you’re getting into before the backhoe arrives.
Making the big move
Upgrade your living space by relocating to a new home
Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of Dodge and find a new place to live. That was Kate Kuok’s story when she moved from her suburban Toronto townhouse to Oakville, Ont., about four years ago with her husband Gabriel and their newborn.
Although their former property had three bedrooms and three bathrooms, soon the baby gear spilled out all over the living areas. Plus, they weren’t enamoured with their neighbourhood, what with drug deals going down on the street. “I always said to myself, ‘I’m going to see how we are with a kid in this place.’ I had my son in June and by August I was saying, ‘We’ve got to get out of here,’” Kuok explains, recalling all the factors that motivated their decision to find a new home.
So what does it cost to move? Put it this way: It ain’t cheap. Even if you clear a cool $100,000 after selling your old home, moving into a larger house will likely cost more than that. Take houses in Halifax’s hot South End neighbourhood. A three-bedroom, one-bathroom home is listed at $465,000. Move up to a similar four-bedroom, two-bathroom house and you’re likely spending about $200,000 more. Plus financing.
And don’t forget the extras. Realtor fees run around 5% to 6% of the final sale price, so count on at least $23,250, while lawyer fees cost $1,200 to $1,500. With the exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan, there are also land transfer taxes, which vary depending on where you live—for instance, you’ll pay $6,475 on a $500,000 home in Ottawa, while Torontonians can expect to pay $12,200 for that same-priced house. Plus, don’t forget moving costs that run additional thousands of dollars.
Despite the financial costs for Kuok’s family, it was a good idea to move. Although the couple spent a little more on the mortgage than they’d budgeted for, they ended up with something money can’t buy: a great low-traffic street with neighbours who look out for each other. You’ll find them on summer nights hanging out in the yard socializing over a beer while the kids whiz around on bikes and scooters. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s just as important as saving a buck.
“I would do anything to stay in this house because we love the street. I would put an addition on it, refinish the basement and make more space for the kids,” Kuok says. “We could never buy neighbours like these again, ever.”
With reduced buying power next year, expect house hunters to scoop up everything under $500,000.
Paul D’Abruzzo, an investment advisor with Rockstar Real Estate, says that while most people will qualify for less money on their mortgages, they won’t be completely shut out of the market. They will simply adjust their demands.
“If somebody was preapproved for $500,000, their new approval will be $400-450,000, so they will lose 10-20% of their preapproval amount,” he told CREW. “It won’t shut people out, it will just move them lower. If some were on the brink of getting approved, you’ll lose some there, but lower-priced properties will do very, very well.”
In Toronto, that will put single-family detached homes even further out of the reach than they are now, but the popularity of condos will keep soaring.
“In Toronto, with everybody’s sightline coming down, condos will be the most popular,” said D’Abruzzo. “In the GTA, like Mississauga or Vaughan, it will be condos and maybe townhouses.”
Single-family detached homes will become difficult, but not impossible, to afford. The Greater Toronto Area’s fringes still have moderately priced detached houses for sale, and even with the new mortgage rules, that won’t change.
“In Hamilton, Kitchener and St. Catharines, $400,000 gets you a detached home,” he said, “so you’ll see a continued trend of population spreading out into the horseshoe.”
According to D’Abruzzo, 2018 will not be kind to sellers—at least not through the first few months—but he recommends being patient.
“Right now, people are trying to get their places sold before the mortgage rules kick in,” he said. “Next year, inventory will be crap in January and February. If anyone is scared or fearful and waiting to sell their house, patience is the solution right now. Just wait and see, because nobody knows for sure what it will be like.”
Akshay Dev, a sales agent with REMAX Realty One, echoed that wait-and-see approach. While nobody will miss out because of too much time on the sidelines, Dev says Toronto’s chronic housing shortage will continue working in sellers’ favour next year.
“Whatever correction was needed is done, and in the spring we should see the market picking up and being strong,” he said. “In the Toronto area, there’s a huge shortage of housing, so it’s still going to be a seller’s market, but I don’t expect crazy bidding wars. Sellers will still get the prices they’re expecting.”
Contrary to popular belief, first-time buyers won’t have trouble purchasing starter homes, especially because cheaper abodes will be in high demand. However, they might live in those homes longer than the historical average.
“Historically, we’ve seen that when people graduate from their first buying experience, it takes anywhere from three to five years to move into the next level of housing, but it may become five to seven years with new rules,” said Dev.
Source: Canada Real Estate Magazine – by Neil Sharma 8 Dec 2017
Affordability is a major concern for today’s aspiring first-time homebuyers. In hot real estate markets like the Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver regions, however, the desire for affordability can be challenged by the competitive fervour caused by escalating prices and bidding wars. As anyone who has researched homeownership in these markets knows, it’s easy to feel the pressure to bid higher than you’d like.
Resist the urge. It’s important to go house hunting with a firm price range in mind. If something is outside of your budget, it’s not affordable – period. A successful home purchase isn’t about beating out 20 other offers; it’s about sealing the deal on a home you can afford, with money left over each month after your mortgage is paid, to cover your other expenses, savings and a little bit of fun, too.
It’s a tall order, but there is a formula to help you find that sweet spot.
FIND YOUR RIGHT PRICE
Lenders and mortgage insurers look at two debt service ratios when qualifying you for a mortgage (and mortgage insurance, which you will need if you make a down payment of less than 20 per cent the cost of the home).
Gross debt service (GDS)
The carrying costs of your home, such as mortgage payments, taxes, heating, etc., relative to your income.
Total debt service (TDS)
Home carrying costs (mortgage payments, taxes, heating, etc.) plus your debt payments (credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc.), again relative to your income.
The highest allowable GDS ratio is 39 per cent, and the highest allowable TDS ratio is 44 per cent.
Want a shortcut to determining affordability? Use Genworth.ca’s “What Can I Afford?” online mortgage calculator. Input your income, current monthly debt payments and other details for an instant result that shows how much mortgage you can comfortably afford. (Note: For the interest rate, be sure to input the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year mortgage rate, as that is what lenders use when determining GDS and TDS.)
DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGIES
Once you know how much mortgage you can manage, limit your house hunt to homes that keep you in that price range. That way, you won’t panic or find yourself in financial trouble if interest rates go up in the future.
You can buy “more house” for the same total mortgage if you have a larger down payment. Saving aggressively is one way to do that. Pair that with other strategies, such as the following:
Borrowing money from your RRSP under the government’s Home Buyers’ Plan.
Asking family for help via gifts or loans. (Don’t be embarrassed: 23 per cent of respondents in the 2017 Genworth Canada First-Time Homeownership Study say they’d do it!)
Taking on a side gig or second job.
Gulp! Moving back home with your parents so you can save on rent.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
The other way to end up with a smaller mortgage is to buy a less pricey house. Fixer-uppers help, but the most dramatic payoff may come from expanding your search to a wider radius.
Consider buying in a nearby city or suburb that you can commute to work from. Or blaze new ground by moving farther afield in search of a new home and new adventures – with the spare cash to enjoy them both!