Tag Archives: housing affordability

Here’s What’s Happening With the Massive Britannia Farm Redevelopment Plan in Mississauga

For years, no one quite knew what would become of the 200-acre historical agricultural property known as the Britannia Farm.

Now, it looks like plans to transform the property are closer to becoming reality.

City of Mississauga council approved changing the zoning of a 32 acre parcel of land located on Britannia Farm from institutional to mixed use. That means that the city and the Peel District School Board (which owns the farm) are now free to transform the parcel of land located on the northwest corner of Hurontario Street and Bristol and move forward with a proposal to have the land include a variety of housing types, including affordable housing.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Finsauga%2Fvideos%2F1945506232186085%2F&show_text=0&width=476The opportunity will now allow the PDSB to either look at selling or leasing the parcel for funding.

The entirety of the Britannia Farm is currently zoned as institutional, with the exception of the Cooksville Creek.

This specific parcel on the Farm has been the subject of discussions for a number of years, as approval has been necessary for a variety of components to prepare the lands. Back in 2010, the Heritage Advisory Committee needed to give the PDSB approval to move three heritage properties from the 32 acre parcel to another area of the farm.

The historic properties on the site include the red brick Britannia Schoolhouse (c. 1870), Britannia Farmhouse (c. 1860 and 1870), two-storey Gardney-Dunton House (c. 1830) and Conniver Barn (c. 1880).

The purpose of moving the heritage buildings is to clear land in order to develop housing, as well as to move the properties to a section of the farm that will be used for educational purposes. The historical portion will also include an improved Farm lane, a historic corridor that links the various zones together and connects the Farm to Hurontario Street.

However, a report at the Heritage Advisory Committee on April 10 showcased images that suggested the heritage buildings could remain where they are. In these images, buildings were simply built around the heritage properties. Councillor Carolyn Parrish expressed displeasure with the idea of building around heritage buildings and said that it would be something that could be devastating to the significance of the properties.

Most community members who attended a public meeting back in October 2017 did approve of the idea of moving the heritage properties to another place on the farm. Parrish says that, at this point in time, approximately 99 per cent of the individuals within the community are convinced that this is a good project.

As for what will happen going forward, the PDSB will look at either selling the land to a developer or leasing the lands for continuous revenue streams. Once this happens, the city will receive studies and agreements for review. New housing is a possibility, as these may include a draft plan for subdivisions and/or condos and a site plan.

There will be other reports regarding stormwater management, a feasibility study and an environmental assessment among other documentation.

Phylis Hampshire, a resident that came forward during question period, asked if the citizens of Mississauga can somehow be assured that this will be the only proposed development on the land.

It’s a very special piece of land in the middle of Mississauga, it would be nice if it could stay open,” says Hampshire.

We adopted [the land] as a future outdoor education centre. The current Peel Board Chair has done everything in her power to keep that land the way it was intended by King William the Fourth, which was for the benefit of the children of Peel,” says Parrish. “As far as selling any more pieces of land off, it’s not going to happen. This piece at the front is just so they can finance 168 acres of outdoor education centre.”

Historical properties on the farm

The development of these lands is important, as they’re located near the future Hurontario LRT stop and the soon-to-be-reinvigorated Hurontario Street corridor. For that reason, the city says the parcel must be developed with attention to its surroundings. In short, it’s an attractive yet sensitive project. Since the parcel surrounds 170 acres of historic and cultural landscape and the connection to downtown, the development should include a number of criteria discussed in the Master Plan.

The Master Plan recommends student-focused environmental and agricultural programs, the establishment of landscape zones, a development parcel that will be 32 acres in size and phased public access in partnership with the city of Mississauga.

It is recommended that the proposed development include open spaces, parks, trees, and “a place to foster community.” For example, it is recommended that parking for any of the proposed developments be primarily underground and out of view from the public realm.

One issue that came to light was a part of the report that included development of a road within the park. Parrish cautioned staff at the city, saying “an area of caution I would give to [city staff], is when you talk about the potential opportunities for future road construction, it better not be on the 168 acres [of outdoor educational space].”

Since the Britannia Farm has just received approval for the mixed use zoning, the city has taken the first step in what could be a long process. In the future, there will be more discussion on the planning of the site with developers and potential for sale of the land.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds next.

It’s a very proud day for me,” says Parrish who been on this project since she was a trustee on the school board with Councillor George Carlson.

Janet McDougall, chair of the public board, was acknowledged at the meeting for her significant contribution to the project over the years, and with McDougall retiring this year, it will be a legacy project for her as she enters retirement.

Janet I want to congratulate you myself for all your years of service, thank you, and also for protecting this jewel that our residents are very protective of as well. It’s a piece of land that people don’t want to see altered in any way, you’ve respected that and we thank you for your plans,” says Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story misidentified Janet McDougall as Janice Baker, Mississauga’s city manager. We regret the error.

Source: Insauga – by Melissa Stolarz on April 22, 2018

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Rent control is doing little to curb Toronto’s soaring rents

Haider-Moranis Bulletin: In the long run, rent controls reduce the growth in available rental stock, which further accelerates the increase in rents

In April 2017, Ontario’s then-Liberal government introduced the Rental Fairness Act, which expanded rent control to all private rental units.Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Do stricter rent control laws slow the increase in residential rents? Housing advocates and left-leaning governments believe they do. However, recent data from Ontario appears to offer further proof that this is not the case.

In April 2017, Ontario’s then-Liberal government introduced the Rental Fairness Act, which expanded rent control to all private rental units. The Act restricted rent increases to 1.5 per cent in 2017 and introduced additional provisions to protect tenants from being evicted.

The Act was enacted to protect against “dramatic rent increases.” Chris Ballard, then the Minister of Housing and Poverty Reduction, claimed that the Act would ensure that Ontarians “have an affordable place to call home.”

 

The Toronto Real Estate Board’s (TREB) Rental Market Report for the second quarter of 2018 revealed that the Rental Fairness Act has had no observable impact on market-based rents, which grew at similar rates from 2017 to 2018 as they did from 2016 to 2017. In fact, three-bedroom apartments experienced a significant increase in average rents in 2018.

TREB’s data is based on its rental listing service for the Greater Toronto and surrounding areas. From April to June 2018, almost 12,000 apartments were listed while 8,497 were leased. One and two-bedroom apartments constituted the largest segments of rental units. Also, almost a thousand townhouses were listed and 665 leased for the same period.

TREB data provides more of a market-based view of the rental market than what has been reported by the CMHC. Unlike TREB, which lists market-based units (condominiums and townhouses) that are primarily owned by private investors, CMHC’s reporting of rental markets is largely for, but not restricted to, purpose-built apartment rentals.

Despite the differences in rental stock between CMHC and TREB, even CMHC’s data reveals that instead of a break, rental rates accelerated in 2017. For instance, rents for two-bedroom units increased by 3.3 and 3.2 per cent in 2015 and 2016 respectively but jumped 4.2 per cent in 2017. If proponents of stringent rent controls were hoping for a decline in rent acceleration, it didn’t happen.

The purpose-built rental universe has remained steady across most of Canada. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the number of purpose-built rentals has remained around 330,000 units for more than a decade. During the same time, the number of rental condominiums in the GTA increased from under 50,000 to more than 100,000 units.

CMHC data for October 2017 reported average rents for two-bedroom units at $1,392 and $2,263 in purpose-built rental buildings and condominium apartments respectively. In comparison, TREB reported the average rent for two-bedroom condominium apartments in the fourth quarter of 2017 to be $2,627. Even for the condominium apartments, TREB reports higher rents attributed most likely to the higher quality of the underlying stock.

CMHC reported rents for purpose-built rental buildings are significantly lower because of their less than ideal location and dilapidated condition, a result of age and deferred maintenance. These buildings have remained under rent control for decades, and their owners are disincentivized to improve the quality of the rental stock. TREB data, by contrast, is based on privately owned rental condominiums whose owners, until recently, were incentivized to maintain their units in a state of good repair.

Since April 2017, condominium rentals and other dwelling types have also come under the rent control regime, thus creating the same disincentives for structural improvements of units as the ones observed for the purpose-built rentals.

The CMHC data reveals that, as expected, average rents in older buildings were lower than rents in newer buildings. Furthermore, rents on average are higher in the high-density urban core than the low-density suburbs, making suburbs significantly more affordable to rent than in or near the downtowns.

With high turnover rates where new tenants are not subjected to rent restrictions, rent controls are ineffective tools for addressing rapid rent increases. The average rent for units in purpose-built rentals and condominium apartments has risen far above the stipulated rate since the Rental Fairness Act was enacted. In the long run, rent controls reduce the growth in available rental stock, which further accelerates the increase in rents.

Rent stability is achievable primarily by increasing the supply of the rental stock. This requires changes in regulations to facilitate, instead of hindering, new residential development.

Murtaza Haider and Stephen Moranis September 5, 2018

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

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Mississauga Neighbourhood Ranked One of the Last Affordable Areas in the GTA

 

If you want to buy a home but you’re not a millionaire, there are only so many affordable neighbourhoods left in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and even then, becoming a homeowner is difficult if not near impossible—especially with higher interest rates and more vigorous mortgage stress tests.

However, one neighbourhood in Mississauga was deemed one of the last affordable in the GTA in a recent Toronto Life article.

As everyone know, Mississauga is not the most affordable city to buy a home in general. According to a recent Royal LePage report, the aggregate price of a home (combining all home types, including two-story homes, bungalows and condos) sits at $758,750. A two-story home typically costs buyers $873,194 (which is down from the $1 million+ highs we were seeing this past winter).

But at a time when the housing market is still hot and it’s hard to find a reasonably priced home anywhere, one pocket of land in Mississauga still hits the mark as a hot GTA neighbourhood.

There’s hope for non-millionaires who just want a half-decent house in a nice area with good schools,” says Steve Kupferman of Toronto Life.

Can you guess where?

According to Toronto Life, the Hurontario neighbourhood (namely Heritage Hills) is one of the last affordable neighbourhoods – of 20 – to buy a home, coming in at number 17.

Boasting an average sale price of $651,671, Toronto Life says “it’s easy for middle-class families to score an affordable home just steps away from the urban core.”

The magazine calls out the surrealness of seeing a massive cluster of distinctly urban high-rises from the window of your suburban low-rise. That said, they were right to single out the neighbourhood built around a large ­public park, as it’s pretty ideal for families—especially since it boasts paths to the two schools in the area: St. Matthew Elementary and Huntington Ridge Public School.

The house Toronto Life zeroed in on? A detached three-bedroom house on Bourget Drive that was listed for $789,888 and sold for $775,000.

Can you believe that, back in February, a cozy home sold for more than $200,000 over asking? How times have changed!

But what counts as a hot neighbourhood in the GTA, you ask?

According to Toronto Life’s list of the last affordable neighbourhoods in the GTA, it’s “a good-sized house in a safe neighbourhood, with decent schools and leafy green space and a commute that isn’t soul-­crushing.”

Without breaking the bank on a million-dollar home, of course, because not all of us are millionaires (yet?!).

This list was curated based on real estate data across the GTA, as well as information from brokers and residents. Researchers also examined access to parks, schools, shopping areas, and transportation into downtown Toronto to determine the best places to live for under a million bucks.

“They’re the last best hope for the desperate house hunter—and the neighbourhoods everyone will be jockeying to buy into 10 years from now,” says Kupferman.

A home is, of course, a huge investment, and you don’t want to be overwhelmed with debt just for a place to call your own. Though that might still be the case if you’re trying to buy a home in the GTA anytime soon, regardless of the neighbourhood.

But, some neighbourhoods are more affordable than others, so you might want to snatch up a home in the Hurontario area while you still have a chance.

“Only virtual millionaires, or ­non-millionaires with millionaire parents, or non-millionaires willing to commit to a lifetime of crippling debt, could afford to break into the housing market,” Kupferman says in the article. “Everyone else had to settle for cramped condos and crumbling fixer-uppers.”

As for other hot GTA neighbourhoods, The Junction Triangle in Toronto topped Toronto Life’s list, with Mimico and West Rouge close behind. Northwest Brampton, Central West Ajax, and Eglinton East sit at the tail end.

You can check out the other neighbourhoods on the list here.

Map courtesy of Toronto Life

Cover photo courtesy of Google Maps

Source: insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on July 14, 2018

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Brand New Affordable Housing Development Coming to Mississauga

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t’s no secret that housing has become increasingly more expensive in Toronto and the GTA, with detached houses typically costing buyers in Mississauga and surrounding cities between $800,000 and $1 million (often more) and condos—even modestly-sized two-bedroom units—running buyers over $500,000.

With wages failing to keep up with soaring real estate values (and with renting becoming increasingly more costly as homes become more valuable), a lot of lower and middle-income earners have been locked out of the real estate market entirely. Those who have managed to rent or purchase homes in the city are often paying well over 30 per cent of their household income on shelter costs.

For that reason, residents might be pleased to hear that a brand new affordable housing development recently broke ground in the Malton area of Mississauga.

Late last month, Habitat for Humanity Halton—Mississauga, City of Mississauga and Region of Peel staff and officials hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the launch of the Bristow-Law Build Project.

The property, located at 3073 Merritt Ave., was purchased for a toonie. Once home to a fire station, the land has since undergone a rigorous clean-up process and will soon to be transformed into four new homes for local families in need of an affordable place to live.

“The process from paying the city a toonie to now took about three years,” says John Gerrard, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Halton—Mississauga.

“[Councillor Carolyn Parrish] came to us and said ‘I think I can get you some land. There are some issues, you’ve gotta work through those issues,’ and we did.”

Gerrard says the main issue was the environment.

“With a fire station on site, there’s bound to be some form of environmental element that needs to be cleaned, so we did the first round and cleaned 97 per cent of it and had to go back and do one more round just to be sure. That takes almost 16 months, but now we’re here. We’ve submitted all our paperwork, it’s in the city planning department. We hope to start in September.”

Groundbreaking ceremony

Gerrard says the project, which he expects will take about 12 months to complete, will boast four two-storey units with basement suites that can be used for other family members.

“These are big homes, they’re four and five bedroom units, which are very rare. We’re very excited we can do that here in Malton, there are lots of large families here and lots of new Canadians and they tend to have larger families.”

Gerrard says the building, once complete, will house up to 20 individuals.

While the project won’t result in a massive affordable housing structure, it’s one of several projects geared towards providing more housing for the city’s lower and middle-class residents. Earlier this year, a new Daniels development with affordable units broke ground at 360 City Centre Drive.

The city has been working to increase affordable housing stock with its Making Room for the Middle strategy, a plan that involves petitioning senior levels of government for taxation policies and credits that incent affordable housing; piloting tools such as pre-zoning and a Development Permit System to develop affordable housing in appropriate locations (close to transit systems, for example); encouraging the Region of Peel to develop an inclusionary zoning incentive program for private and nonprofit developers; encouraging the region to investigate the cost of deferring development charges on the portion of affordable units provided in newly constructed multiple dwellings and more.

“Affordable housing is at the heart of our plans to build complete city,” says Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

“A Mississauga where people have access to modern public transit, and can find good paying jobs, earn an education and enjoy an unrivalled quality of life. The City of Mississauga was pleased to sell this land, a former city fire station, for a toonie. Now that’s a deal.”

As for how the Habitat project will work, Gerrard says the initiative is unique in the sense that it will allow families to become homeowners.

“This project is very unique. What happens is the family are given the home on title. They’re sold the house at fair market value, which, in this case, could be $700,000. However, they only pay 30 per cent maximum of their net home income. So if only two family members are working, they only pay 30 per cent of what they can.”

Gerrard says the residents can spend 70 per cent on all the other things they need, such as education, food, clothing and other necessities.

“That’s why our food bank use is so high, because when you have to choose between shelter and food, you sometimes choose shelter and don’t eat.”

Families who wish to move on can sell the unit back to Habitat—and take some equity with them.

“The next best thing is that they will be able to sell it back to us and we’ll keep it affordable, but give the family every penny back plus the equity, so they don’t have to go through a long process, they can give it back and we give them the value back,” says Gerrard.

“We retain the unit for another family in perpetuity. It will always be affordable housing and we’ll manage it with the family. It’s an extension of giving a hand up, and it gives a further hand up because they can buy a new home with their deposit. They take equity with them as well. It’s a homeownership program, but they’re guaranteed to get out what they put in, so if the market drops, they’re protected.”

As for who will get to move into the project once it’s complete, Gerrard says the families have not yet been chosen.

“Traditionally the building process is a long process, it can take from one to three years, we used to pick our families early on and they would have to wait and it would be frustrating, especially in some cases where people are desperate for housing,” he says.

“We work with our families and select them 120 days before the project is completed. That way, they see the reality, they see its coming and they can plan appropriately. We want them to come and learn all the extra things, like financial management, how to take care of a home, etc.”

As for the project taking shape in Malton, Councillor Parrish says it’s an ideal neighbourhood for the development.

“It’s particularly nice to welcome Habitat for Humanity to the Malton community. Malton has for some years lived down a reputation as a rough town, it’s not,” says Parrish. They are the sweetest, kindest, nicest people, and you’ll see that as you’re building here. They’ll bring you coffee and tea and they’ll be coming with their hammers and saying ‘what can I do?'” It’s a wonderful village.”

Parrish said Habitat and the city faced some challenges in terms of moving the development forward.

“It’s wonderful to have you here. Habitat is probably the most innovative group I’ve ever met, you’re always one step ahead of where the government is and you do a great job. We had a lot of problems with resistance from the airport. Thanks to the mayor and council, we’ve actually negotiated with the GTAA to change the rules around here. This is a great location, we hope to get more semis and more housing out here. The Region has been incredible.”

In terms of who will eventually live in the structure, Gerrard says Habitat works with a number of organizations to decide which families are ideal candidates.

“They could be on the Peel housing list or referred to us. We work with community groups, women’s shelters, any organization with families. We try to help anyone in need.”

And while this project is more modest in scope, Gerrard sees more substantial developments in Habitat for Humanity’s (and Mississauga’s) future.

“We’ve been working on some big projects for a couple years now. We’re hoping our next development will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 120 units, so we’re in discussion with some developers in the community on some land, and ultimately our objective would be to work within the City of Mississauga’s new affordable housing strategy,” he says.

“We’d like to have a mixed environment that gives young people the opportunity to buy a home, at the same time being able to retain inventory to help the next family and the next family and the next family.”

The development should be complete by the fall.

 

Source: insauga.com – by Ashley Newport on July 8, 2018

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Even New Yorkers Can’t Afford a Home in Toronto

 

There’s only a handful of cities in the world that make living in New York seem cheap for middle-income people, places like London, Sydney and Hong Kong. And then there’s Toronto, as 26-year-old JunJun Wu will tell you with a sigh.

After almost three years in New York she opted to move to Toronto for what she figured would be less-expensive housing.

“The apartments that I saw were so tiny, which was shocking,” she said. “Compared to my studio in New York, these were half the size.”

Prices have soared almost 60 percent in the last five years in Canada’s biggest city, and are up another 3 percent already this year. They’re not as high as Vancouver — one of the hottest real-estate markets anywhere — but among the world’s major cities, Toronto housing ranks as the fifth most unaffordable relative to income, according to consultant Demographia.

Severely Unaffordable

The world’s seven priciest housing markets relative to salary

Source: Demographia

Rankings are only for major markets with over 5 million residents. Price and pre-tax income are medians.

All that means is that a Canadian millennial, aged 25 to 31 with a median income of C$38,148 ($29,360), can’t buy very much housing in Toronto. Her maximum budget at that salary would be about C$193,661, according to Royal LePage. That calculation includes tougher lending rules, institutedthis year, that has reduced buyers’ purchasing power by almost 20 percent and cooled the market.

That’s probably not even enough money to purchase the garage of a detached home in the Toronto region, where the average price was C$1.05 million in May, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Rents are no better, having soared about 11 percent to an average monthly C$2,206 ($1,697) in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to researcher Urbanation. That’s if you can find a unit: the number of newly completed condos available dropped to 1,945 over that time frame, the lowest in more than eight years.

Angie Mosquera, a 23-year-old software developer, saw up to 30 different units in recent months but kept getting outbid.

“I was so frustrated by the whole process,” Mosquera said. “I was like screw this, I’m going to be 40 and living at home, and I don’t even want to live in Toronto anymore.”

She eventually found a tiny studio downtown for about C$1,620 per month, meeting her budget. Still, the rent eats up a huge chunk of her salary, which is especially frustrating because she moved to Toronto from Montreal for a 40 percent bump up in pay.

Penthouse Condo

Stephanie and Justin Wood

Source: Justin Wood

Even those with more resources find it tough. Three years ago, Justin Wood and his wife Stephanie bought a three-bedroom penthouse condo for about C$430,000. Its price surged by about C$181,000 and this year they decided to upgrade to a house, with a toddler in tow.

“We thought we were going to be rich and it was going to be amazing,” said Wood, 33, who is now chief executive officer of his own Toronto-based tech startup. “But then we were like ‘Oh wait, we have to buy something.’”

As living in Toronto proved to be too expensive, the Woods headed for the suburbs and ended up purchasing a three-bedroom detached house in neighboring Oakville with a pool for about C$800,000. Monthly mortgage payments are about C$3,400. The commute is around two hours.

After spending almost a month in Toronto looking at about 40 listings, JunJun Wu, a college-prep counselor originally from Montreal, finally found a studio to rent in downtown Toronto through an online listing. She’s relieved that she secured a lease but the experience has left her unnerved.

“Maybe I should’ve gone back to Montreal instead,” she said. “I’m thinking I’ll give myself maybe one or two years in this city to see.”

Source: 

 

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Little-known ownership model touted as unaffordability cure

The land lease model, wherein a resident owns the home but not the land upon which it’s built, is about 30% cheaper than freehold and is being touted as a panacea to the unaffordability crisis that’s gripping major cities.

Lachlan MacLean, vice president of property operations for Parkbridge, says that land leased homes are excellent options for first-time buyers, retirees, and even real estate investors.

“The fundamentals are the same,” he said, “because they own an asset that typically grows in value over time, with the difference being that it’s at a lower entry point. It’s different than someone looking to buy a home, so the entry point is lower and that might create opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have considered buying a home as a user or investor. It’s a rental product that may be more affordable and, therefore, appeal to a broad audience because the buy-in for the investor was low in the first place.”

A land leased home still builds substantial equity, which could then be used to ascend the property ladder. Parkbridge has land leased communities throughout the country, including in Surrey, B.C., where a three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family detached house is being sold for $199,000.

“The average benchmark price in the Lower Mainland is well over $1.5mln, so immediately there’s a place where people can go where they own their home, have a yard instead of condo living, and they can start building some equity that would allow them to stay in that community or take other steps on the property ladder.”

Although it’s a model of homeownership that isn’t well publicized, CMHC does offer mortgages for land leased homes.

However, for residents hell-bent on living in an urban centre like Toronto, MacLean says land leased homes wouldn’t be feasible.

“We’re typically in smaller urban centres,” he said. “In places like the GTA, the land value doesn’t support any kind of single-family development, let alone land lease, so we’re in smaller centres like Goderich, Wasaga Beach, the Barrie market and the Kawarthas, around Peterborough.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Magazine – Neil Sharma30 Apr 2018

 

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Affordability: What first-time homeowners need to know

Affordability. It’s a word that gets tossed around a lot when people talk about homeownership, but what does it really mean? Affordability is a term that’s both quantifiable (lending institutions use a formula) and a little bit subjective (lifestyle considerations factor in, too). Here’s what you need to know about affordability, and what it means for you.

AFFORDABILITY, AS DETERMINED BY LENDERS

For lending institutions and mortgage insurers, affordability can be summed up by the debt service ratios, as indicated by your gross debt service ratio and total debt service ratio.

Gross debt service (GDS) ratio
  • Homeownership costs (mortgage payments, property taxes, heating and, if applicable, 50% of condo fees), relative to household income
Total debt service (TDS) ratio
  • Homeownership costs (as outlined above) plus debt payments (credit cards, lines of credit, student loans, car loans, etc.), relative to household income

To qualify for mortgage insurance (mandatory for any home purchase with a down payment of less than 20% of the cost of the home), the highest allowable GDS ratio is 39% and the highest allowable TDS ratio is 44%.

TIP: Get a quick snapshot of your current debt service ratios via Genworth Canada’s What Can I Afford? calculator.

AFFORDABILITY, AS DETERMINED BY LIFESTYLE

Although debt service ratios are an indicator of bottom-line affordability, other real-world factors should be considered up front by potential homeowners.

Expenses like groceries, child care, transportation, and mobile phone and Internet services, for instance, are not covered by TDS, but they’re more or less fixed costs for many households. While they don’t affect debt service ratios, they should be included in your own budget calculations, as they eat up a large chunk of income.

Discretionary expenses like clothing, entertainment, memberships and kids’ extracurricular activities should also be factored into affordability considerations. Are there any areas where you could cut back? Or will some expenses disappear, such as when a car is paid off or when a child leaves daycare for full-time school?

SET A BUDGET YOU CAN AFFORD

Between the numbers-driven debt service ratios used by banks, trust companies and mortgage insurers and the discretionary lifestyle expenses that also affect your bottom line, you will find what affordability means for you.

It’s never too early in your homeownership journey to speak with a mortgage professional or financial planner to determine how much mortgage you can comfortably carry. This will help you assess your financial fitness and also help you set realistic goals on an achievable timeline.

Source: HomeOwnerShip.ca

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