Once a Year, Consider Your Property’s Potential Assuming that at each renewal, a homeowner’s mortgage would be less than it was in the previous term, homeowners can look forward to eventually improving their monthly cash flow. In addition to a smaller mortgage, some may also enjoy the benefit of additional home equity if the property’s market value has increased since it was first purchased. If these factors are working in your favour, it could be a good time to think about your options.
For example, you could consider increasing your monthly payments and shortening the amortization period for your remaining mortgage. Alternatively, you might consider upsizing to a more accommodating home, or downsizing and benefitting from more affordable monthly costs (e.g. mortgage, condo fees, etc.) and fewer responsibilities. If you’re looking for financial opportunities, another option might be to examine the income-earning potential of a second property that could provide you with a stable monthly return on your investment. If now is the time to consider how you may capitalize on your property’s potential, let’s meet to discuss the best options for you. We can start with a candid evaluation of today’s market and your property, and then consider the factors that might affect values in the short and long term.
You don’t have to freeze in the winter or start reading by candlelight to reduce your electricity bill. There are many simple ways to use less power with little, if any, impact on your lifestyle.
A good place to start is with your electronics.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, “Any gizmo that has a clock, digital timer, remote control or standby mode is sucking energy when it's not being used (it's called 'phantom electricity' — and it's scary how much of it there is).” So keep them unplugged as much as possible. Also, unplug charger cords for phone and computers when not in use. Even when not connected to the device, they still suck power.
Another easy change to make involves your lights. Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED light bulbs can save you a lot of energy. They’re 75% more efficient.
Finally, the old-fashioned method of insulating doors and windows can work wonders for lowering your electricity bill. In fact, some particularly drafty homes can lose up to 40% of their heat. Check for drafts regularly and repair or replace insulation as needed.
None of these ideas will impact your day-to-day living. Yet, they could potentially save you a bundle.
Imagine finding a home you love, making an offer, and then finding out there are other competing offers on the table. Ouch.
If you’re looking for a property in a competitive market, it is likely that there will be multiple offers. Even just one can create the risk that you’ll lose the home. So how do you make sure your offer is enticing enough to win over the seller? Here are some ideas:
• Don’t make a low-ball offer. If you do, it might be dismissed and you probably won’t get another chance to bid — especially if the other competing offers are near the listing price.
• Have a pre-arranged mortgage and include that with your offer. This reassures the seller there won’t be any money issues. (Most lenders will provide you with a pre-arranged mortgage certificate for this purpose.)
• Go in with a price high enough that the seller will be interested, but not so high as to be leaving money on the table. This is tricky and requires a savvy knowledge of the current market.
• Have a REALTOR® present the offer on your behalf. A REALTOR® will know how to do so professionally, and in a manner that gives you the best chance of getting the home.
In a competitive situation, working with a REALTOR® who is an expert on the local market — and a skilled negotiator — is crucial.
You’re probably going to be inundated with holiday sales this month. While those sales can be fantastic, they aren’t the only opportunities to save money. Here are some less-than-obvious ways to keep more money in your pocket.
• Review all of your subscriptions and online services that are set to auto-renew. Do you still want them? Online subscriptions can easily go unnoticed for months. Cancel those you don’t want.
• Have you received any notices of price increases? That’s common in December as companies hike rates for the new year. If you’re a long-term customer, give the company a call. You may be entitled to a loyalty discount, or at least be able to negotiate your rate.
• Do you have a loan or mortgage? Many lenders allow you to make lump-sum payments on the principal. This can save you a bundle on interest charges.
• Call your insurance company. Ask what riders you have on your policies that are not included in your basic premium. Find out if you still need all of them.
Motivational guru Tony Robbins charges thousands of dollars for a single coaching session. Yet, with a few simple strategies, you can learn to motivate yourself without any coaching sessions — for free.
How? According to Steve Chandler, author of 100 Ways To Motivate Yourself, it’s simply a matter of paying attention to what motivates you and gives you energy.
Do you feel inspired when you listen to a particular song? Are you less stressed when you sip your favourite tea? Do you get energized when you go for a walk? Are you more motivated after chatting with a friend?
If so, those are things that naturally motivate you. You don’t have to learn how to do them – you already know how. You just need to do them and — like turning on a light — your motivation will be turned on!
“Make it a personal commitment to notice everything that pushes your buttons,” says Chandler. “Make a note of everything that inspires you.” Once you do, you’ll have a repertoire of ways to help yourself feel enthused. Tap into them whenever you need a boost of motivation.
The eldest members of the baby boom generation were born shortly after World War II and are now approaching their 70’s.
Generally healthier and more financially stable than previous generations, Baby Boomers have the benefits of an expanding range of housing and lifestyle choices available for their retirement years. Here are some options:
Renovate: Statistics say that more retirees want to stay in the family home as long as possible. As a result, major upgrades may be necessary to accommodate changing needs. These renovations could range from adding bathroom grab bars and replacing doorknobs with levers, to providing wheelchair access and installing stair lifts.
Resize: A new home could be in order – sometimes smaller to eliminate stairs, reduce maintenance and increase savings; sometimes larger to accommodate adult children and grandchildren.
Change locations: A suburban neighbourhood may no longer be suited to many seniors’ needs. They may consider a location that requires less driving and easier access to doctors, shopping and entertainment.
Expand: For those financially and physically capable of taking advantage of market opportunities, a secondary purchase such as a cottage or other recreational home and/ or income producing property could be a consideration
Closing day is an exciting time. After all, you’re moving into your new home!
However, it can be stressful as well. The last thing you need is to be confronted with something you don’t understand. So here is a quick list of common “closing day” terms.
• Disbursements. This is the allocation of funds to the appropriate parties, such as the seller. Your lawyer will take care of this for you.
• Possession. This is the moment on closing day when you are legally able to take possession of your new home. It’s usually when your REALTOR® or lawyer hands you the keys.
• Title. This is a legal document that identifies the property and its owner.
• Closing costs. These are expenses, excluding the selling cost of the property, that are due on closing day, such as legal fees, reimbursement for pre-paid utilities, utility deposits, insurance, and taxes.
• Closing adjustments. These are expenses pre-paid by the seller that need to be reimbursed on closing.
There may be other terms you come across on closing day as well.
Don’t worry, a good REALTOR® can help make the day go smoothly for you and your family.
Last year, a residential condo explosion in a major city’s trendy neighbourhood did more than rattle the walls of the adjoining units – it shook the owners to the very core of their condominium agreement. The residents learned that the probable cause was a laboratory set up in one of the condo units to manufacture illicit drugs. Many of the residents were astounded that such things could take place in their building completely unnoticed. Here are some tips to help ensure your building is not being exploited by similar activities:
1. Ask the police about known criminal behaviour or gang related activity in your building or neighbourhood, and seek out a community officer with whom you can be in regular contact.
2. Be vigilant. Report toxic or musty odours; if you observe unusual visitations, in terms of frequency, odd hours, and repeat patterns, inform your condo management.
3. Know your neighbours. Without intervening or putting residents at risk, adopt a culture of intolerance for loitering, graffiti, etc. If such activity persists, consider forming a neighbourhood watch program, or a volunteer patrol group.
4. Check your condo agreement with respect to prohibited activities, and ask your board members about their legal power and effectiveness at monitoring compliance and enforcing certain rules.
TORONTO, April 16, 2015 – Toronto Real Estate Board President Paul Etherington announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 4,635 home sales during the first 14 days of April 2015. This result represented a 3.4 per cent increase compared to April 2014. New listings over the same period were down by 4.6 per cent year over year.
“Home sales in the GTA continued to increase in comparison to 2014 as a diversity of buyers took advantage of affordable home ownership options. However, in many neighbourhoods, listings remain scarce, particularly for ground-oriented home types like singles, semis and towns. Given the amount of pent-up demand in the market today, sales growth would accelerate further if more homes were listed for sale,” said Mr. Etherington.
The average selling price for April mid-month home sales was $625,121 – up seven per cent in comparison to the same time frame in 2014. Average prices were up for all major home types,both in the City of Toronto and the surrounding regions.
“We are experiencing balanced to seller’s market conditions in most areas and market segments in the GTA. This suggests that home ownership demand is being driven by a wide swath of the population. On one hand, strong growth in condo listings has been met with strong growth in condo sales. On the other hand, we have also experienced growth in higher-end home sales,” said Jason Mercer, TREB’s Director of Market Analysis.
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