Tag Archives: real estate

How to keep your income property from taking over your life

How to keep your income property from taking over your life

For Terri Ronci, renting out her in-demand Toronto condo meant having the financial freedom to seek out a career change.

After years in advertising she wanted to go back to school to pursue other interests and return to her hometown of Montreal.

“I had a really great conversation with my dad who (said), imagine if you could rent that place for more than you’d have to pay out, it might give you that cushion and (be) a retirement nest egg,” she said.

“If you sell it, that money is available now, but in the long term, think about the steady income that this investment will bring in, along with the fact the selling price will go up. It’s the best way to maximize the return on your investment.”

Ronci, 40, decided to rent – and the decision paid off. She was able to cover her mortgage and expenses with the rent she got off her condo, and have enough money leftover to pursue the lifestyle changes she was after.

In Ronci’s case, having a well-situated apartment and trustworthy property managers made renting her condo on the side a lucrative and stress-free process.

But while an income property can be rewarding, would-be landlords need to think about what they’re buying and the kind of return they’ll get for their efforts, said Milton, Ont-based realtor Andrew Roach.

“When I talk to my investment clients, we sit down and we say, what are you willing to invest … and we’re not talking just about money,” said Roach, 38, who owns multiple properties on his own or through side ventures.

“When buying a property people are investing more than just their hard-earned money. They’re also investing their time and energy.”

A property manager and the careful screening of your tenants will go a long way toward safeguarding your free time, but it’s often the finances that can trip people up the most.

““You have to make sure the income being produced, the cash flow, can support the debt, said Brenda Burjaw, director of commercial services at Meridian Credit Union Limited.

Whether you’re renting out one condo to supplement your income or a slate of properties, she adds, the money side is the same.

You have to do your due diligence up front to make sure the property will give you the return you want, you should be clear on your risk tolerance (since that will guide your strategy) and you need to carefully budget to make sure you can cover off the operating cost of running the unit – both in terms of capital needs for big expenses and to service the debt outstanding on your mortgage.

Operating costs are the part of the equation that you can have some level of control over by budgeting for repairs and maintenance, said Burjaw.

“You need to be mindful of always having some sort of a reserve set aside for when you have to re-lease the unit – paint it, replace an appliance, fix a window,” she said.

“Each year a prudent property owner should look and budget what the coming year operating costs are going to look like, and find efficiencies where possible.”

A condo is a good option for anyone who is low risk or doesn’t want to spend much time worrying about their side property because condo fees take care of a lot of the maintenance. If your tenant agrees, you can also automate payments and appointment bookings by signing up with a company like Get Digs, which lets renters pay with their credit cards and make sure landlords get the rent on time.

That will keep you from having to chase tenants for their rent, since legislation brought in in places like Ontario means you’re no longer allowed to ask tenants for post-dated cheques to cover their rent for the year ahead.

Property managers can help ease the burden, for a fee, and so can having a go-to list of people to call in an emergency to replace a window or fix a leaky toilet.

If you choose to outsource that work, you’ll need to factor property management fees into your budget and consider how that will impact your cash flow.

You should also be thinking about whether your tenant will pay the hydro bills and whether you can charge extra for amenities like parking.

When you’re estimating your costs and possible return, it’s also important to be conservative, said Pauline Lierman, director of market research with Urbanation Inc., a firm that tracks the rental condo and new purpose build market in Toronto.

“You have to look at what the balance sheet of the condo is, what the maintenance fees are,” she said.

“Be aware of what the type of unit you have in your building is renting (at), be aware of who else around you may be adding new units going forward.”

But while careful math and planning is needed to make sure a rental side hustle pays off, for landlords like Ronci, the result is worth it.

“If you’re wanting to make a change in your life, an investment like this can give you the break or pause you need to breathe.”

Source: Financial Pipeline – ROMINA MAURINO
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So Now You Own a Home. Do You Know How to Maintain it?

Althea Sandiford took a seven-week home maintenance course to help her tackle projects around her Long Island home.© Heather Walsh for The New York Times Althea Sandiford took a seven-week home maintenance course to help her tackle projects around her Long Island home.Home maintenance classes can help you save money and be smarter about what needs to be done to keep your new home in shape.

After the heady early days of homeownership wear off, first-time buyers often quickly realize that they lack even the most basic skills needed to take care of their new home.

For New Yorkers accustomed to calling the super for every repair, using a drill to hang drapes or an Allen wrench to fix a leaky faucet can be nearly as daunting as the idea of performing brain surgery.

You can get all the inspiration you need from do-it-yourself shows and videos, but what if you don’t know how to properly hammer a nail and don’t even own the right tools?

This is where home repair classes can help, giving uninitiated homeowners hands-on training. Courses cover a range of skills, from basic home maintenance to more elaborate tasks like tiling a bathroom, installing locks and repairing or replacing drywall.

A skilled labor shortage that makes it increasingly difficult to find a reliable handyman is what drove Mary McCabe to take a series of home repair classes at the New York City College of Technology, at the City University of New York.

 

First, she was irked when a tiler took five days to tile her small kitchen floor; then an electrician disappeared after disconnecting the electricity in her two-family home in Bayside, Queens. That is when it dawned on Ms. McCabe: “I trust myself, and I am handy,” she said. “I can learn to do some of this on my own.”

Comfortable around tools, because her father had been a carpenter, Ms. McCabe has taken five classes this year and has used her newfound skills to re-grout her bathroom tiles and fix a lawn mower.

“Most people are intimidated with using tools, but taking a hands-on class really boosted my confidence,” she said. She estimated that she has saved about $3,000 so far, just by learning how to do simple home repairs herself.

Most of the home repair classes in the city are offered through housing-related nonprofit organizations and the continuing education divisions of community colleges, including Bronx Community College. The Home Depot also offers free classes in several Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island locations.

Just as learning how to save for and finance a home is important to financial literacy, educating yourself on how to maintain your home will not only give you a sense of mastery, but can also help you save money on repairs. And you’ll have a better sense of when you need to call a professional.

a man standing in front of a building: John Rearick has taken classes to learn basic carpentry skills, as well as how to use a circular saw and repair Sheetrock.© Tony Cenicola/The New York Times John Rearick has taken classes to learn basic carpentry skills, as well as how to use a circular saw and repair Sheetrock.

The beginners’ repair classes at City Tech — which include Homeowner’s Basic Tool Kit and Everyday Electricity You Can Do Yourself — cost $70 for a one-time, three-hour night class at the school’s Downtown Brooklyn location. That is not a lot of money when you consider that it could save you hundreds of dollars a year, said Debra Salomon, a City Tech program director in the division of continuing education.

A July 2018 HomeAdvisor survey found that, on average, homeowners spent $6,649 on home improvement projects per household over the previous 12 months. Understanding the need for extra financial reserves to pay for repairs should be part of the educational process of becoming a homeowner, said Yoselin Genao-Estrella, the executive director of the nonprofit organization Neighborhood Housing Services of Queens CDC, Inc.

The Woodside-based community development corporation has classes on first-time home buying and financial literacy, offers foreclosure service and, for about 20 years, has offered an eight-week home maintenance course. The course costs $175 and is held on the second floor of a Sterling National Bank branch in Woodside.

“Knowing how to fix simple things in your home empowers you,” Ms. Genao-Estrella said, especially if you are a low- or moderate-income homeowner. “What’s the point of finally being able to own your home, but you go into debt because you’re always hiring someone to fix everything?”

Ms. Genao-Estrella has taken the course herself. When her home in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn was damaged by Hurricane Sandy almost six years ago, she hired a contractor to fix the structural damage and a plumber for other repairs, but the plumbing problems kept reoccurring.

“I’m not saying I need to become a plumber myself, but I felt I was getting the short end of the stick every time I was having a conversation, especially as a woman,” she said. Knowing how your house works is important, she added, because you can be more specific about repair requests when hiring someone.

And that doesn’t just apply to homeowners: Among the students who have taken the class have been a number of renters, she said: “I think some people have landlords that don’t fix things right away.”

Althea Sandiford, who owns a single-family home in Brentwood, Long Island, said she was able to patch up some holes in her basement and clear a clogged drain in her shower after taking a seven-week home maintenance program at the nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island.

The class size was small — between three and six people, depending on the week — said Ms. Sandiford, an insurance auditor. Classes are held at the organization’s headquarters in Centereach, N.Y., and the fee depends on a family’s size and income, but is never more than $80. Ms. Sandiford’s instructors were licensed contractors who taught her how to repair and replace Sheetrock, how to lay tile and the basics of plumbing.

Before taking the class, she said, she felt like she was “throwing money out the window” on small repair jobs: “It’s just good to have the knowledge of how the small things in your house work. Now I want to do more.”

Tricia Gleaton, vice president of the organization’s homeownership center, said many of the students who sign up for the class have never picked up a hammer, and students include both singles and couples, some of whom have bought fixer-uppers nearby.

Cable channels like HGTV and DIY Network have turned home repair projects into entertainment, but the do-it-yourself industry is extensive in online platforms too. In addition to the content available on YouTube, websites like Hometalk and Terry Love Plumbing and Remodel DIY and Professional Forum and podcasts like Fix It Home Improvement and Fix It 101 have solid followings.

But there is no point in watching and listening to all that content if you don’t know how to use a simple power drill, said Stephanie Lombardi Werneken, director of new digital products at Trusted Media Brands, publisher of the magazine Family Handyman.

Trusted Media started the online Family Handyman DIY University in 2015, so people could take quick classes to learn things like how to buy and use a table saw, or how to drill into materials like wood or masonry. Each class can be completed in one to three hours, and the fee is less than $20. “These basic classes are there so you can be safe, and not burn down the house,” she said.

Premium courses are being offered for the first time this year, for $89 to about $200. They last a few weeks, and students can ask their instructors specific questions online. The courses include kitchen cabinetry making and building your own tiny house, and some courses come with blueprints and other materials.

About 70 percent of the nearly 4,000 students who have taken DIY University’s online classes have been male, and students range in age from 35 to 70, Ms. Werneken said. Some of the older students have taken the class to fix up their homes before selling them, she said, but the younger students seem to have embraced a “DIY holistic-homeownership lifestyle” to mirror that of the popular hosts of some DIY television shows.

Raya Fliker, a homeowner in Port Monmouth, N.J., took a class on wood-finishing at DIY University, and also learned how to tile a kitchen backsplash. With her newfound knowledge, Ms. Fliker built a simple bench to fit into a small nook in her back entryway. She also built a plywood countertop to cover up a granite top on a kitchen island that she didn’t like.

Ms. Fliker, a nurse and mother of three, preferred taking classes online, she said, because she could do it whenever she had time, and the instructors taught her specific tasks that she wanted to learn. “I have loved how every project has turned out, and my husband is now buying tools for me,” said Ms. Flicker, who recently refurbished a mudroom for a friend’s house.

Not every project has gone smoothly, of course. Although she wanted to install a new kitchen backsplash, the granite border on her kitchen counter was extremely difficult to remove, she said. When she pried off a small portion near the refrigerator, Ms. Fliker ended up with a big hole.

“It was too hard for me to handle, so I fixed the hole and painted over it,” she said, after watching a YouTube tutorial. Then she abandoned the backsplash project.

John Rearick, a high school English teacher, took two home repair classes through Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn, a community development corporation with locations in East Flatbush and Canarsie. Mr. Rearick said he took his first class almost 10 years ago after hearing about it from a friend.

He learned basic carpentry skills, as well as how to use a circular saw, repair Sheetrock and build mock flooring. His instructor, Mark Whittingham, a licensed general contractor, owner of M.W. Enterprise and project manager at Thor Helical USA, a masonry restoration firm, taught him how to build things and then take them apart.

“Understanding the mechanics of things helped a lot,” said Mr. Rearick, who lives in a single-family house in Kensington, Brooklyn.

He has since patched up a large hole in his third-floor hallway, damage that happened years ago, after his son and a friend had an impromptu basketball game there. More recently, he replaced a leaking water valve in the basement, which cost him about five dollars. “I did wonder, if I hadn’t fixed that myself, would I have paid someone to do it for me for $200?” he said.

Mr. Rearick repeated the same class this spring — a seven-week course currently held at the Flatbush YMCA, for $175 — as a refresher. “Besides saving money, there are emotional benefits of being able to fix things yourself,” he said.

Both he and Ms. McCabe, in Queens, said they were eager to take more advanced classes. Ms. McCabe said she was interested in hanging a new chandelier in her dining room, installing other light fixtures and changing out some old doors.

Making mistakes in the classroom was key, she said. Her instructor, Peter Grech, who has worked as a superintendent for residential buildings in the city for more than 40 years, reminded her that screwing up the installation of one 20-cent tile “is no big whoop.”

As she put it, “He taught us in a way that made me believe I can do it, and it worked.”

Mr. Grech, who also trains superintendents, makes a point of teaching his students when they should call a licensed professional. One example: You can fix leaky faucets and clogged drains yourself, he said, but you shouldn’t try to move pipes.

“There’s a fine line of being confident and doing things yourself, but you shouldn’t get in over your head,” he said. “And if you’re afraid of doing your first project in your own home, I tell all my students to do it at your in-laws’ house first.”

A list of tools every homeowner should have for basic maintenance.

To be prepared for basic repair tasks, homeowners should arm themselves with a few essential tools. Peter Grech, an instructor at New York City College of Technology, City University of New York, who has worked as a superintendent for various residential buildings, suggested investing in the following:

  • Hammer
  • Phillips and straight-blade screwdrivers
  • Utility knife
  • Speed or combination square
  • Channellock pliers
  • Electrical pliers
  • Electrical tester
  • Circular saw or handsaw
  • Battery drill, at least 18 Volts
  • Set of high-speed drill bits
  • Set of masonry bits
  • Level tool
  • Flashlight
  • Measuring tape
  • Safety goggles

Source: NY Times – By KAYA LATERMAN

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Stress Test Impacts Measured

The government’s latest mortgage rule changes have caused an imbalance between supply and demand in almost every region of the country, and will result in an estimated 200,000 fewer jobs being created over the next three years.

Those are among the findings of Mortgage Professionals Canada’s newly released Report on the Housing and Mortgage Market in Canada.

“…the cumulative impact of rising rates, a 2% or greater stress test, provincial government rules in Ontario and British Columbia, and further lending restrictions are negatively suppressing housing activity, not just in Toronto and Vancouver, but throughout the country,” said Paul Taylor, President and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada.

Will Dunning, the report’s author and the association’s chief economist, added that aside from the new mortgage lending policies “unduly suppressing” housing activity, consumers are now taking a materially more negative outlook towards housing.

“Our consumer survey has found that sentiment regarding the housing market has shifted decisively downwards during the past year and a half, reflecting the impacts of increased interest rates and government policies that are making it more difficult for potential homebuyers to obtain the mortgage financing they need,” he wrote.

While an increasing number of first-time buyers are receiving down payment assistance from their parents, many young people are adapting to the idea that they may never own a home and will become permanent renters.

The following are highlights from the report:

 

New OSFI Regulations

  • 100,000: The number of Canadians who have been prevented from buying a home bythe stress test.
  • 18%: The percentage of prospective buyers, who could currently afford their preferred purchase, who would fail a stress test. Of those affected, the average adjustment needed is $28,750.
  • 32%: The percentage of consumers who would expect the stress test to have significant negative impacts on their ability to buy a home. This increases to 54% for those who aren’t currently homeowners but who expect to buy within the next five years.
  • 29%: The percentage of consumers who would expect to be negligibly impacted by the stress test. This figure falls to 11% for non-homeowners who plan to buy within the next five years.
  • 12.5%: The amount that resale activity in Canada has fallen compared to last year (down 16.5% from 2016).
  • 59%: Percentage of consumers who had been “aware of the changes before today.” (65% for homeowners and 47% for tenants).

 

Housing Market Trends

  • 229%: The percentage increase in average house prices from 1997 to 2017 (or 6.2% per year).
    • This is more than twice as fast as the increase in wages (2.6% per year).
  • 67.8%: The home ownership rate in Canada. This is down from 69% in 2011, and largely a result of the delay for first-time buyers to save up their down payments to make their purchase.

 

Economic Impact of Slowing Housing Activity

  • 120–140k: The reduction in employment that could be expected due to the current forecasted reduction in new home starts and home sales for 2019.
  • 200k: The estimated number of fewer jobs that will be created over the next three years as a result of the mortgage stress test.
  • 2.45: The number of full-time jobs created by each new housing unit started in Canada.

 

Sources of Down Payments – Family to the Rescue

  • 85%: Percentage of down payments that come from personal savings. This figure has been consistent over time.
  • The top sources of down payment funds for homes bought from 2015 to 2018 were:
    • 85%: Personal savings (vs. 92% last year)
    • 39%: Gifts from parents or other family members (vs. 43% from 20142017)
    • 25%: Loan from parents or other family members (vs. 19% from 20142017)
    • 43%: Loan from a financial institution (vs. 27% from 20142017)
    • 38%: Withdrawal from RRSP (vs. 29% from 20142017)
  • The report notes a “remarkable amount of stability” in down payments among first-time homebuyers. The average first-time down payment in the 1990s was 22%, compared to 26% for first-time purchases made from 2014 to 2017.

 

Consumer Sentiment

  • 6.84: The score (out of 10) given by consumers who agree that “low interest rates have meant a lot of Canadians became homeowners over the past few years who should probably not be homeowners.” This score is below the average of the eight previous surveys of 7.00 and the second-lowest ever.
  • 3.54: The score given by consumers who “regret taking on the size of mortgage I did.” This is at an all-time low and below the prior average of 3.80.
  • 7.14: The average score given by Canadians on their confidence on their ability to weather a downturn. This is the highest score in the history of the survey.
  • 6.12: The average score given by consumers who are optimistic about the economy in the year ahead. This is slightly below average, with confidence highest in Quebec and lowest in Atlantic Canada.
  • 75%: The percentage of non-owners aged 25 to 34 who expect to buy a home within the next five years.
  • House price growth: Expectations for growth are highest in Quebec, Ontario and B.C., and lowest in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
  • 67%: The percentage of consumers who expect interest rates to rise. 31% gave a neutral response. The report notes that these expectations have not been good predictors of what will happen to interest rates.

 

Reasons Against Owning

  • 31%: Renting is a better option
  • 29%: I’m comfortable in my current situation
  • 28%: Need more time to save for a down payment
  • 24%: Lack of financial/employment stability
  • 18%: Waiting for home prices to decrease
  • 11%: Living with parents/family is all I can afford

 

Mortgage Renewals

  • The increasing interest rates over the past year are expected to have “negligible” effects on the rate of credit growth.
    • “Most people renewing mortgages this year will be completing a 5-year term, and for most of them their new interest rate will be very close to the old rate.”
  • 3.32%: The average 5-year fixed “special offer” rate for the first half of 2018 (vs. 3.31% in 2013).
  • 2.50%–2.75%: The average 5-year variable rate this year (vs. 2.73% in 2013).

Source: Canadian Mortgage Trends – STEVE HUEBL

 

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4 Men with 4 Very Different Incomes Open Up About the Lives They Can Afford

Stuart Patience

 The median household income in America is $53,657. Politicians draw $250,000 as the line between the middle and upper classes. And the true starting point of real wealth remains a cool $1,000,000. We asked four more or less typical men, each of whom earns one of these incomes, to tell us about the lives they can afford.

$1,000,000 Per Year – Tim Nguyen, 35

Location: Huntington Beach, California

Occupation: Business owner, CEO/cofounder of BeSmartee, a DIY mortgage marketplace

Family status: Married with a 9-month-old son

Homeowner? Renter? “I’m a homeowner. No mortgage.” (Price of home: $1 million.)

Do you keep a budget? We track every single penny that comes in and out of our bank account. And we give 6 percent of our money away to charity. We have a big heart for animals, children, the el­derly, the underprivileged.

What’s a weekly grocery bill for you? I break it down monthly. We eat main­ly at home. We spend around $1,200 a month.

One thing your family needs but can’t afford: There’s nothing that we need that we can’t afford. Anything reasonable I can afford.

One thing you want but can’t afford: The thing that keeps me up at night is want­ing to retire my parents. There’s a certain dollar figure that would allow me to pay off all their debts. That’s my first goal: to retire my parents so they can be independent and just live their lives.

The last thing you bought that required serious plan­ning: We budget our money all the time, so we’ve already been planning for every­thing—I could tell you exactly where all my money is going over the next five years.

Do you have credit cards? I have one credit card. It’s cash for points, so we charge ev­erything on the card and pay it off at the end of the month.

How much debt are you carrying now? Less than 10 grand.

I’VE BEEN BROKE BEFORE. I’VE REFINANCED MY HOUSE TO PAY MY EMPLOYEES. I’VE BEEN THROUGH ALL THAT—THAT WAS ME WORRIED.

Saving for retirement? Yes. [I’ve put away] north of $5 million.

At what age would you like to retire? I’ll always be working. As far as working on a start-up, I want to be done with that in five or 10 years. But as far as working, investing in real estate, things of that nature, you can do that until you’re 90.

College plans for your kids? We set up a trust with our at­torney where our kids will have money for college. But they’ll only get more than that if they achieve their milestones, such as getting a certain GPA or vol­unteering in the community. We want our kids to be good citizens. They can’t be spoiled brats. We want them to understand what it means to work and to earn your way to the top. We put the rules in place to help reinforce that.

Looking at your current ca­reer prospects, how much money do you think you’ll be earning in ten years’ time? My goal is to have a net worth of $150 to $200 million.

How happy are you on any given day, on a scale of one to ten? I’d say eight or nine. Lately, with the start­-up, I’ve been putting in two to three hours more per day than I’d like, and that’s taking away from family time. So if I could get those two or three hours back, I’d be a happy man.

How often do you worry about money? Maybe once a week. I’ve been broke before. I’ve refinanced my house to pay my employees. I’ve been through all that—that was me worried. Now, because I’m able to forecast and plan my money better, there’s not as much worry.

How much money do you think you’d need to have the life you want? I need about 25 [million]. That includes retiring my parents, an upgraded home, and enough money to make sure my kids have funds available when they want to start their own businesses. There’s a certain amount of mon­ey you need to live the life you want. Beyond that, it’s really a game, and money is the scoreboard.

Do you think your taxes are too high? I’m happy with taxes. I had a really good year when I was 22 or 23—I made about 250 grand—and I came home and complained to my dad about it. I said, “I can’t believe I’m paying all those taxes! Half the money is gone!” And my dad said, “You should feel lucky that you live in a country where you can pay taxes”: He came from a communist-run coun­try. Ever since that day, I never complain about my taxes.


$250,000 Per Year – Yakov Villasmil, 41

Location: Miami

Occupation: Real Estate Agent

Family Status: In a relationship; one son, 10 years old

Monthly rent: $2,000

Do you keep a budget?  Yes, I’m very organized with it. Overall, my fixed expenses are about $7,000 a month. They include rent and about $1,000 a month for transportation, $180 a month to the cleaning lady, $200 for gas for the vehicle, and a handful of little things—$300 a month for Netflix, Pandora, Skype, subscriptions like that.

What’s a weekly grocery bill for you?  I would say about $200 a week.

AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE, IF I HAD $600,000 YEARLY INCOME, I WOULD HAVE THE LIFE THAT I WANT TO BE LIVING. BUT THEN AGAIN, WHEN I GET THERE, I’LL WANT TO BUY THE JET.

One thing your family needs but can’t afford: Nothing.

One thing you want but can’t afford: I’m a fan of watches, and there’s a Cartier that just came out that’s about $10,000. It’s not that I can’t afford it; it’s just not a priority right now.

The last thing you bought that required serious plan­ning: I spend money trav­eling every year, and that’s something I put some thought into. Last December, I went to Austria, Slovenia, and Italy.

Do you have credit cards? Fifteen.

How much debt are you carrying now? $7,700 on one card, and it should be paid off by the end of the month.

Saving for retirement? I am saving, but not for re­tirement. I’m saving up to buy an apartment building, which will give me another stream of income. My money is all in play right now to make more money. The kind of life that I want to live when I retire is not one I have to manage by having, you know, a million dollars and 3 or 4 percent [interest]. It’s not going to happen.

At what age would you like to retire? I don’t think that I want to retire.

But say you did: At what age would you be able to retire? I want to be financially free by age 50.

College plans for your kid? No, but it’s all part of making sound investments.

Looking at your current career prospects, how much money do you think you’ll be earning per year in 10 years’ time? In 10 years’ time, I want to have $50,000 a month from apartment buildings, and another $50,000 a month from the real estate business. A million-five per year is the goal.

How often do you worry about money? Every single day. Every single minute. I always want more, and every single day I’m thinking, “What’s the next move?”

How much money do you think you’d need to have the life you want? At this point in my life, if I had $600,000 yearly income, I would have the life that I want to be living. But then again, when I get there, I’ll want to buy the jet.

How happy are you, on a scale of one to 10? I’m a good nine every day.

Do you think your taxes are too high? You know what? No, I don’t think they’re too high. I re­member I had a boss about 10 years ago who said, “You guys complain about the tax­es being taken out—if you don’t want them to take that much, just make less.”


$53,000 Per Year – Michael Greene, 48

Location: Brooklyn

Occupation: Concierge for a property-management group

Family status: Married with 3 children (a 21-year-old stepson and 8-year-old twin girls)

Monthly rent: $1,000

Do you keep a budget?

We do. Because of the size of our family, we have to budget at least $150 per month for BJ’s [Wholesale Club]. BJ’s is our friend; we have to buy in bulk.

What’s a weekly grocery bill for you? Probably in the range of $100 to $125.

I’D LOVE TO STAY IN BROOKLYN, BUT RIGHT NOW THE ASKING PRICE IS BETWEEN $500,000 AND $600,000.

One thing your family needs but can’t afford: A ranch-style home, four to five bedrooms, two to three bathrooms. I’d love to stay in Brooklyn, but right now the asking price is between $500,000 and $600,000.

One thing you want but can’t afford: I’ve always liked Volvos. If I could get a big, six-seater Volvo, that would be nice. In my color: navy blue. With a little TV in the back for the kids.

The last thing you bought that required serious planning? We bought bedroom sets for ourselves and our girls four years ago. Our set was between $5,000 and $6,000, with the dressers and everything. Our girls’ little beds—which they’re about to outgrow now—we got a better deal for them: around $2,000 or $2,500. I had to go into my savings a bit to get it, but we got it. We got it done.

Do you have credit cards? Just one. A Chase Visa. I’m definitely on top of my month­ly payments, and I try not to go anywhere past $300 to $400 a month. That would be stretching it. And I have to thank my wife for that. She helps me stay focused.

How much debt are you carrying now? No credit-card debt, but I definitely still have a student loan from the mid-nineties that I’m trying to bang out. I think I still have seven G’s left.

Saving for retirement? Yes, I am. Our company of­fers a 401(k) plan, and our union offers one, so I have two separate running re­tirement plans. Gotta do it. I don’t know how much is in there at the moment.

At what age would you like to retire? I’m 48 now. Realistically, I’d say I wouldn’t want to go past 60. But I think I’m looking at 60 be­fore I’ll be able to retire.

College plans for your kids? We have a college plan in place for the girls. I put away money biweekly—$75 to $100.

How much money do you think you’ll be earning per year in 10 years’ time? I’d love to say I’ll be making dou­ble if not more than double what I’m making now.

How often do you worry about money? Money is not something that I stress over.

How much money do you think you’d need to have the life you want? I’m not a greedy guy. Because of my upbringing, where we learned how to do more with less, and with the times and the econ­omy we live in now, my fami­ly and I could be very comfort­able at $200 to $250K a year. I could be very comfortable with that.

How happy are you, on a scale of one to ten? Eight.

Do you think your taxes are too high? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.


The Poverty Line (Or: $7 An Hour Plus Tips) – Demetrius Campbell, 25

Location: Chicago

Occupation: Bar-back at the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock building

Family status: Single with two daughters, 7 and 4

Monthly rent: 30 percent of income through antipoverty nonprofit Heartland Alliance

Do you keep a budget? No, but I have been working on trying to recently. I know I have to pay bills for food, for clothes, gas. It’s a lot of things that go into budget­ing. It’s hard to plan for, be­cause you never really know what you’re going to need to spend money on. And the amount of money I make var­ies, because I work different hours. The biggest two-week check I’ve had so far is $250.

I’M IN A LOT OF DEBT. I HAVE TRAFFIC TICK­ETS, HOSPITAL BILLS, OLD PHONE BILLS. I’M PRETTY SURE THAT MY DEBT FROM THE TICKETS ALONE IS ROUGHLY $3,000.

What’s a weekly grocery bill for you? In a week, about $130 to $140—that’s when I have the money to spend. I’m on food stamps, and I get $400 a month through EBT.

One thing your family needs but can’t afford: I don’t really think about stuff like that. I just try to make do with what I have. I feel like I’m just working to pay for the bills. I don’t even have time to spend with my family—to take them out to certain places.

One thing you want but can’t afford: I’d buy a newer-model car. And every time those commercials come on TV—the Pillow Pets—my kids always ask for those. It’s discouraging, having to tell them all the time that we can’t afford things.

The last thing you bought that required serious plan­ning: I bought a TV—a Black Friday deal. It’s a Vizio 39-inch. I paid like $250. I had to work for it. I saved up.

Do you have credit cards? No.

How much debt are you carrying now? I’m in a lot of debt. I have traffic tick­ets, hospital bills, old phone bills. I’m pretty sure that my debt from the tickets alone is roughly $3,000. By the time you get the money to pay the ticket, the fine has doubled. Then you get another one and can’t pay that one. Like, I’m on a boot [booted vehi­cles] list, and I got the money to get off the list, but my car got towed that morning, so I had to pay half that money to get it out of the impound. It just keeps going like that.”

Saving for retirement? No. Retirement is a long ways from now.

At what age would you like to retire? As young as I can and still have money. Probably late 60s.

College plans for your kids? I’ve thought about it. Once I get all my debts paid off and I’m in a better place, I’ll start putting as much money as I can toward it. I’ll take steps to put myself in better standing.

How much money do you think you’ll be earning per year in 10 years’ time? My goal is to triple what I’m making now.

How often do you worry about money? Always. Living like this is hard to do.

Does money ever keep you up at night? I can say that it has. It’s a lot of things building up—having the money when the bills are due, having a ticket, and not being able to pay it before it doubles.

How much money do you think you’d need to have the life you want? 50 to 60 thousand a year.

How happy are you, on a scale of one to 10? I’d say a seven or eight. But you might get lucky and catch me on 10 now and then.

Do you think your taxes are too high? Yes, I do.

Source: Esquire –INTERVIEWS BY 

Illustrations by Stuart Patience.

This article originally appears in the April 2016 issue. 

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What is a mortgage broker, and should I use one?

But what is a mortgage broker exactly, and what can they do for you?

A mortgage broker is a licensed professional – a person who serves as a bridge between a homeowner and a lender.

As a middleman, a mortgage broker evaluates the financial capacity of a borrower. A broker looks for top quality lending products and handles all transactions for their clients. A broker gathers the necessary documents to apply for a mortgage and then facilitates the underwriting and approval process. They ensure that the transactions are valid and complete.

The Lending Process

When should I see a mortgage broker?

Now that you know what a mortgage broker is, you also need to determine when the right time is to consult with one. If you fall in any one of the categories below, you might need to see a broker:

  • You are a first-time home buyer.
  • You want to purchase a second property
  • You want to free up funds for things like renovations, a child’s education, investments, and more.
  • You have very limited time left to purchase a house.
  • You are not comfortable with the idea of negotiating with lenders.
  • You have a weak credit score.
  • You want access to exclusive rates and deals from banks which are offered only to brokers.
  • You prefer to have an expert who provides you with an educated and confident analysis of the current housing market.
  • You need help in deciding on a financing structure that is advantageous for you in the long run.

Take the case of Maureen:

Maureen is an interior design artist who moved to Toronto with her husband. After doing her research, she signed an agreement to buy a house. A bank approved her mortgage, and she was ready to make the deposit of her first mortgage. However, knowing that the bank was willing to lend her thousands of dollars, she was skeptical if she was getting the best offer.

While considering the offer, a friend suggested that she consult with a mortgage broker. Her friend recommended a broker whom she transacted with before. After talking to the broker, Maureen realized that the rates presented by the broker are better compared to the bank’s offer.

Though Maureen was initially unaware about the important role that a mortgage broker plays in home buying, she made the decision to close the deal for her new home through one whens she realized the undeniable advantages.

Mortgage brokers are very convenient to work with. They have extensive networks of investors, lenders, and real estate companies. Just like in the abovementioned case of Maureen, mortgage brokers are committed in providing you housing options that match your requirements.

The benefits of working with a professional mortgage broker

Licensed mortgage brokers are professionals who are well-trained and knowledgeable at what they do. Most of them have a proven track record when it comes to handling mortgage transactions. Moreover, given their extensive experience in the housing industry, their network is just as vast.

Access to critical industry information

Working with a mortgage broker means gaining access to first-hand information on your market and lending options. Brokers are part of a broad community where members share valuable data. These details include real property values, new home releases, new financing rules, pricing, and among others.

Access to the best lending rates

Because most mortgage brokers have access to an extensive network of lenders, borrowers who tap their expertise widen their options.

Customize your loan plan

Brokers have access to traditional and non-traditional lenders which may be able to offer creative financing solutions for your situation.

Your quarterback

Mortgage brokers are there to work for you. They will handle many of behind-the-scenes paperwork and negotiation that will help ensure you get the achieve the most favorable loan solution.

Factors to consider when choosing a mortgage broker

Not all mortgage brokers are the same. Some may be more equipped to meet your needs than others. Therefore, you need to consider the following:

License and affiliation of a mortgage broker

Be sure to consult only with a licensed broker who is officially registered as a member of Canada’s National Association of Professional Mortgage Brokers. These associations spread advocacy, share knowledge, and disseminate relevant information to mortgage clients.

Canadian resident and knowledge of the locality

Your chosen licensed mortgage broker should be a resident of Canada, and must be familiar with the housing market of the specific location where you intend to purchase a new home.

Mortgage lender portfolio

A comprehensive mortgage lender portfolio is proof of all the hard work the mortgage broker has put in. Moreover, access to as many lenders as possible means a broker has the means to help you find the right funding.

Recommendations

Word-of-mouth is a handy marketing tool because it means people have already transacted with a particular mortgage broker and they are overall pleased with his performance. Seek recommendations from family and friends, and check the broker’s online star ratings and reviews.

Integrity and open communication

All forms of investment involve money, effort, and time. A professional mortgage broker must be reliable and trustworthy to handle your investments. Likewise, these middlemen must maintain constant communication with lenders and borrowers alike.

It’s easy to get intimidated when big numbers come into the picture. But with Canadian Mortgages, Inc., whether it’s customizing a loan or looking for alternative lending options, interest rates, home equity opportunities, or debt consolidation plans, the help that you need is readily available with a professional mortgage broker.

Source: Canadian Mortgages Inc. – 23 July, 2018 / by Glenn Carter

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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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How Forest Hill Real Estate’s focus on family is turning a local reputation into a regional brand

In 1985, when Ronni Fingold launched Forest Hill Real Estate in a tiny 450 square foot space in the heart of Toronto’s Forest Hill Village, she had no idea that her vision of a boutique luxury family run brokerage would quickly become a formidable force in the area’s real estate market and beyond.  Today, with 31 offices established across southern Ontario, the idea of family is still one of the key driving forces behind the day to day business and ongoing expansion of the company.

“Forest Hill was born around a kitchen table in my home,” Ronni says. “Surrounded by family and loved ones, we imagined a brokerage that would offer greater sophistication and service while always offering the personal touch

Ronni maintains that real estate is most often about family, and that it’s a sacred trust to help families find the right home while passing their well-loved property on to new owners.

“The business is also a family,” says Ronni. “It’s a place where friends and associates can work in a supportive nurturing atmosphere to achieve prosperity and success.” In addition, Ronni’s children and grandchildren have also built their own careers around Forest Hill Real Estate. They recognize the unique and thriving atmosphere that their grandmother has developed and take pride in contributing to this legacy.

In fact, Ronni’s daughter, Catherine Himelfarb Borden, is the Branch Manager of the Yorkville office. Catherine’s son, Rich Himelfarb is a successful realtor and her daughter, Rebecca, serves as both the corporate Head of Recruitment and the Director of Operations for Forest Hill Real Estate Yorkville.

Early on, Ronni welcomed partners, David and Elie Wagman, who were integral to taking the company to an even greater heights. As experts in the Forest Hill marketplace, they understood real estate and the clientele in the area intuitively. Today, they are still a dynamic force and their son, Jeffrey Wagman is the Broker of Record for the entire company continuing the tradition of engaging the strength and talent of family members in expanding the business further.

Forest Hill’s offices stretch from Oakville to Muskoka and smaller centres including Peterborough and Gilmour to the east. Each office is looking to hire new, qualified agents at the same time as the company is open to establishing new branches. But the expansion has never been driven by growth for growth’s sake.

“Unlike many brokerages, we award new offices according to an attractive well thought-out business plan,” says David Fingold, Ronni’s husband and the company’s president. “Our focus is on attracting people who have demonstrated success in the business and are qualified to run their own shop. We look at sales history, new office location, the knowledge and integrity of the agents associated with the business and the applicant’s trajectory for growth. You don’t purchase a Forest Hill office—you’re asked to join us by demonstrating merit.”

There are a multitude of benefits that come from establishing a Forest Hill Real Estate branch that David reviews with all aspiring Managing Partners.

Ronni Fingold notes that the made-in-Toronto Forest Hill brand has developed solid traction outside the city. “The words ‘Forest Hill’ are associated with quality wherever they’re used,” she says. “Our distinctive brand emblem and signage announce our presence in every market we enter.”

“We’re seeing a lot of new offices established by motivated and qualified brokers,” she says. “But we’re particularly proud when someone decides to switch an existing brokerage to the Forest Hill name. They’re trading their success for the promise of greater success.”

Randy Drohan of the Mississauga suburb of Streetsville exemplifies that transition. His family has planted deep roots in the area. Following a successful real estate career, he launched Drohan Real Estate in 2014—along with the support of his mother’s accounting acumen.

But Drohan didn’t want to relinquish control of the business he’d founded. At the same time, he realized that a successful real estate brokerage needs to do more than simply buy and sell real estate. It also needs to grow its brand.

“In Streetsville, Forest Hill was already a well-known brand, synonymous with luxury and prestige. In our discussions, Forest Hill offered me what I needed to grow the brand without asking me to give up the company.”

Drohan unfurled the Forest Hill banner in January 2018. A dozen employees, including seven agents, made the transition.

“Six months later we’ve doubled the size of the company to 24 employees,” he says. “The Forest Hill name has made it significantly easier for us to attract and hire the type of quality agents we need to achieve sustainable growth..”

Drohan says he is proud to have the Forest Hill name on the sign over his brokerage door.  “Our family has now become part of Forest Hill’s family.”

Forest Hill Real Estate is now the fastest growing luxury brand in the country with more than 900 active agents across Ontario and plenty of room to grow within the province. Ronni, her partners, her own family and her business family have developed a unique formula for marketing, promoting and selling real estate in Ontario’s exciting housing market and for this privilege, they are extremely grateful and proud.

 

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Forest Hill Real Estate

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