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Stand-alone showers have been rising in popularity as the primary bathing method in many homes—they’re practical, spacious, and downright gorgeous. If you’ve been reconsidering your bathroom’s space with a shower conversion, think about the following important considerations to help you get started.

Can it affect my home’s resale value?

While it’s usually recommended to maintain at least one bathtub in a home, some Houzz polls indicate this may not be as important to homeowners as it used to be. One poll showed that 67% of respondents agreed that having only a large shower stall would not hurt a home’s resale value. Another poll indicated 54% of respondents believed having a shower is more important over either a tub, or both a shower and a bathtub, while only 6% believed having only a tub was most important.


Demographics for urban condos are shifting towards younger buyers whose preference leans towards maximizing the use of bathroom space. Homeowners are using tubs less and prefer the spacious appeal of shower stalls.

Clearances and codes


Before running out to your local building centre or calling contractors, it’s best to do some preliminary planning. There are codes that must be followed. It’s best to adhere to the International Plumbing Code, which indicates a minimum of 24” clearance between your shower stall and any object or adjacent wall—the ideal amount of space is at least 30”.


Rona has broken down these codes into a helpful set of measurement guidelines that you can follow when planning your space. Be sure to check your local and provincial building codes as well to ensure compliance. Having a good understanding of your space will help guide your design decisions and avoid any last-minute disappointments.


This is also a good time to determine if your space allows for a swinging door on your shower stall. If space is at a premium, then a sliding door or shower curtain are the solutions to consider.



You should also keep an eye on your overhead clearance, especially when dealing with a bathroom in an attic conversion. You need to ensure there is always a minimum ceiling clearance of seven feet.

Custom or kit?

Whether you use a custom design or shower kit really comes down to budget. Kits can be found at most major building centres, and run from $470 for a Basic 36” x 36” shower stall kit, right up to $3,900 for a 60” x 32” alcove shower stall. You’ll find the majority of kits within the $1,000 to $2,000 range. 

If you have a heftier budget and a desire for a unique installation, then consider hiring a professional contractor. Be prepared for a minimum budget of $5,000, though if you are renovating your entire bathroom this could jump to more than $10,000 depending on your bathroom’s size and materials used.


Curbed over curbless?

This is another design decision that should be carefully considered and decided on early in the process. Curbed showers are relatively uncomplicated installations and are more widely used, but if this is the home you plan on living in through retirement, then a curbless shower can address possible future mobility restrictions. If an accessible bathroom is a must, whether for immediate or future need, then a curbless shower is the way to go for ease of access with a wheelchair, walker, or crutches. Just be aware that while a curbless shower will make your bathroom feel more like a professional spa, the drainage system requires precision installation to avoid water damage.


Demolition and plumbing

If you’re doing your own conversion, you’ll need to remove any tiles and backing board from the walls and disconnect and remove the bathtub. Be sure to shut off the water, and also be on the lookout for any possible water damage to your framing and underflooring, plus wear and tear to your plumbing. If you detect any issues, now is a good time to repair and if needed, update the plumbing. If you encounter black mold, take precautions to remove it safely. 

The two videos below demonstrate how to remove both a porcelain and a cast iron tub, as well as tiled walls.


https://youtu.be/--7B9ZrfX6A

https://youtu.be/a2FtGH8uATI


Now that you have your pipes exposed, it’s time to update to a pressure balancing valve and say good-bye to unpleasant surprises whenever someone flushes the toilet!

Windows

It’s advisable to avoid having a window where your shower is located. If the window and frame are not sealed properly, you’re risking water incursion, mould—and unpleasant financial headaches. If you do have a window that can’t be avoided, check for water damage and mold when removing the tub and wall coverings, and ensure your window is properly sealed and waterproofed when installing your shower.

youtube.com/watch?v=YB98UHdvouE

 

Accessories


Once all the basics are covered, then it’s time to consider accessories, like specific types of showerheads, a bench, or something to hold extra shampoos and body washes. Waterproof benches are a lower-cost option over custom bench installs and run from $100 to well over $500. If you installed a custom shower—or even if you used a kit—there’s likely a ledge or shelf to hold personal care products, but if you need some extra space, a shower caddy is the simplest solution. Shower caddies come in a wide range of styles that either hang from an existing fixture or are spring-loaded to stand between the floor and ceiling.



There’s a lot to consider when converting a bathtub into a shower stall, but once it’s done you might find the hardest part at the end of all this will be having to get out of the shower before the hot water runs out.


Original Article from: Realtor.ca


 
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If you’re thinking of buying a home, you’ve come to the right place. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to buy, REALTOR.ca can guide you through the entire process and a REALTOR® can help take care of the rest.

Here’s an overview of what to think about:

Prepare to buy

Few joys can match the pride of owning a home, but the responsibility can also come with sacrifices – from the financial commitment to the required care and maintenance. You’ll want to be sure both fit within your current or preferred lifestyle.


Plan your finances

Buying a home is a big deal; it’s probably the largest purchase you’ll ever make. Being prepared means also understanding that expenses go beyond purchase price.

To secure your new home, you’ll likely need to arrange for a mortgage but before you do, take a look at how much you can afford each month. Based on your income and expenses, our affordability calculator can help you estimate your maximum affordable mortgage payments.

View properties

A REALTOR® can review your wants and needs to help you determine your price range, as well as answer questions about the markets you’re interested in and help you compare homes and neighbourhoods. Your REALTOR® can also provide access to exclusive listing information, preview properties to ensure you’re only shown homes that meet your needs and budget and make appointments and show you homes that interest you.

Make an offer

You’ve found the perfect home? Congratulations! Now, if you actually want to make it yours, you have to make a successful offer, one the seller will accept. REALTORS® can prepare the offer for you.

Close the purchase

Buying a home involves piles of legal documents. You need someone to translate the ”legalese” and ensure your best interests are protected.

There are many experienced real estate lawyers out there. Like choosing any other professional, ask your friends, family and co-workers for their recommendations. Your REALTOR® can also give you the name(s) of experienced real estate lawyers in your area.


Original Article from: Realtor.ca

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Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the number of transactions in the Metro Vancouver housing market.


This morning, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver announced a 56.1 percent decline in sales in April compared to the previous month.


The April sales were a whopping 62.7 percent below the 10-year average for that month and the lowest since the deep recession of 1982.


Listings through the multiple-listing service dropped 2.3 percent from the previous month to 9,389.


“Predictably, the number of home sales and listings declined in April given the physical distancing measures in place,” REBGV president-elect Colette Gerber said in a news release.


Then she tried to put a positive spin on the situation by saying this: “People are, however, adapting. They’re working with their realtors to get information, advice and to explore their options so that they’re best positioned in the market during and after this pandemic.”


The MLS Home Price Index's benchmark price rose 0.2 percent from March to $1,036,000.


The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver includes Whistler, Squamish, and the Sunshine Coast.


White Rock, North Delta, Surrey, and Langley are part of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.


Original Article from: Straight


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From virtual picnics to video-chat mimosas, you can still celebrate her from afar.


From birthday car parades to virtual happy hours, we're starting to navigate this whole "shelter in place" thing relatively well, all things considered. But a socially distanced Mother's Day feels particularly hard, doesn't it? After all, your mother's likely the very person you need most right now—for a reassuring hug, for her homemade lasagna, and, okay, for occasional supervision of the grandchildren. (They. Are. Climbing. The. Walls.) And while those things may not be possible at this given moment, you can find solace in her voice as you catch up during a virtual brunch, seek refuge in her laughter while tuning into the perfect mother-daughter television show or movie, and watch her light up with the grandkids—even if she has to watch them pick strawberries via video ("We love you so berry much, Nana!") After you've shopped for the perfect Mother's Day gifts and put together some sweet Mother's Day crafts (yes, there's still time!), consider embracing one of these stay-connected activities that will serve up some much-needed quality time during quarantine. Whether you're socially distanced in the same town (surprise her with a Love Actually-esque poster board message!) or toasting her from many miles away, one of these ideas will leave you feeling a little bit closer in these distanced times. And if there's anything Mom taught you, it's to stand up straight, mind your manners, and always, always, look on the bright side.


Go on a Picnic "Together"



Mother's Day falls during that magical time of year when the weather is pleasantly warm and the trees and flowers are blooming. Surprise mom with a pre-packed picnic basket—either via porch drop-off or a snack-filled mail delivery—and schedule a time to enjoy your alfresco fixins at the same time (either on speakerphone or video chat). For another fancied up twist, make it a "Rose & Croquet" Mother's Day, and gift her the fun lawn game.


Original Article from: Country Living


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(BPT) – This year spring cleaning is more than ever about the deep clean. Spring typically inspires a little more time dedicated to cleaning, in fact, a recent survey commissioned by Bona and conducted by Harris Poll found that more than half of U.S. adults say that the start of spring triggers extra cleaning in the household. While in the past it might have been more about simply dusting hard-to-reach corners and cleaning out the fridge, this year it’s also about deep cleaning and disinfecting for health and safety.


Here are a few tips to deep clean this spring for anyone tackling the task.


Focus on high-use areas first

It may not be realistic to deep clean your whole home in one weekend so consider targeting busy areas of your home first. Bedrooms, bathrooms, family room, kitchen and entry areas likely get the most foot traffic, so start there and leave lesser used areas of the home for later. Gather some helpers and set a timeframe to establish a clear goal and end time. Consider a second round of cleaning if you’re unable to complete the task.

Clear out the clutter

Create a system that works for you to clear out the clutter and make space to deep clean. Set up boxes or bags clearly labeled “Trash,” “Recycle,” “Donate,” and “Belongs elsewhere.” Go through each target room, putting anything that shouldn’t be there in one of the labeled containers.


Be sure to get these boxes or bags where they belong to avoid additional house clutter (we’ve all been guilty of moving a pile from one room to another!). You’ll feel lighter and happier just seeing those boxes and bags head out the door. Consider tasking a family member with trash or donation drop-off.

Prioritize large surface areas

Once you’ve cleared the excess clutter, wipe down the room from top to bottom. Clean the dust accumulated on top of bookshelves or ceiling fans first, then wipe down walls from top to bottom to remove dust and grime, using a microfiber mop or cloth. Prioritize large surfaces like countertops and tables as well as potential germ hotspots like the kitchen sink. Finish up with the floors by vacuuming carpet or by using a cleaner tailored for your hardwood or hard-surface floors.

Disinfect

At every opportunity look for areas that can be disinfected. Focus on high-use items and areas like remote controls, doorknobs, drawer pulls, and keypads. Consider using products that use hydrogen peroxide, a proven, healthier way to kill germs. Many traditional antibacterial cleaners use quaternary ammonium compounds or “quats.” This specific class of chemicals is linked to skin irritation and respiratory problems and use of quats is contributing to the global problem of antimicrobial resistance.


For example, Bona PowerPlus® Antibacterial Hard-Surface Floor Cleaner is a new, hydrogen peroxide powered cleaning solution specifically designed to clean and disinfect hard, non-porous flooring surfaces. This ready-to-use antibacterial cleaner is formulated to clean and remove stubborn stains while killing 99.9% of household germs* with the power of hydrogen peroxide when used as directed. It also leaves your home smelling fresh and clean with no residue left behind.

Finishing touches

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned and refreshed your rooms, brainstorm other ways to improve your living space:


· Donate excess, little-used furniture to create more space


· Identify tasks best left to professionals, like exterior window cleaning or hardwood floor refinishing


· Display brightly colored artwork to renew your walls


· Set out a vase or two of colorful flower arrangements


Let your deep cleaning this spring bring a little renewal and brightness to your home. A clean home is also a healthy home for family, pets and friends.


*Kills 99.9% of Influenza A H1N1 Virus, Rhinovirus, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA], and Trichophyton mentagrophytes on hard, non-porous surfaces in 10 minutes.


Original Article from: My Motherlode

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Sure, you can afford your home now, but what if mortgage rates go up?


Low interest rates and mortgages have been a fact of life in Canada for some time now. At the time of publication, the 5-year average mortgage rate has hovered around 5% for nearly a decade. This is a far cry from late 1981 when mortgage rates were as much as 21%.


New mortgage rules

In 2017, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) took steps to help protect lenders and home buyers alike against future interest rate increases. Since January 1, 2018, new mortgages are subject to comparison with higher interest rates than the one issued at the time of the mortgage. Homeowners must be able to afford a mortgage at the Bank of Canada’s current five-year average posted rate or at an interest rate that’s 2% above what they’re currently applying for, whichever rate is highest.


Why OFSI made the move

Perhaps motivated by the foreclosure crisis in the United States, the OSFI felt Canadian consumers needed protection from forces deemed outside of homeowners’ control.


The effect of the stress test means you may not qualify for the home you desire. If you’re targeting a home with a $700,000 mortgage, for example, you may only qualify for about $550,000 under the new stress test rules. This could make a big difference in your choice of neighbourhoods in certain markets.


Working the stress test process

The new mortgage rules don’t have to be a barrier, however. First, there are ways around the stress test standard, which only applies to federally–regulated lenders. Credit unions, which are regulated at the provincial level, are exempt from stress test provisions. The same is true for private lenders. Alternatively, adding a co-signer to your mortgage can increase your mortgage target, even with the stress test rule in place.


How REALTORS® help

There’s always lots to consider, particularly if you’re a first-time home buyer. In addition to helping you find your dream home, your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the new stress test rules and requirements.


Start by downloading a copy of the Homebuyers’ Road Map—a guide covering virtually every aspect related to buying a home. Then, to get an idea of what you might be able to afford, our mortgage calculators include interest rate risk in its parameters, assuring your estimates will pass the mortgage stress test.


Armed with a little know-how and backed by the support and expertise of your REALTOR®, you’ll be on your way to holding the keys to your new home in no time!  


The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel.


Original Article from: Realtor.ca


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Is It Different This Time? Recessions and the BC Housing Market

Summary Findings:
  • The 2020 COVID-19 driven recession will be deep, though the duration may be shorter than past recessions
  • We expect that home sales will post an initial sharp decline as households and the real estate sector adhere to social distancing
  • As measures implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are gradually lifted, we expect that low interest rates and pent-up demand will translate to a significant recovery in home sales and prices
The Canadian economy has weathered three recessions in the past 40 years, each unique in cause, depth and duration. However, there is considerable similarity in how the BC housing market has both endured and recovered from those recessions.

In this market intelligence, we examine the impact of past recessions on the BC housing market and provide preliminary projections on how COVID-19 may impact provincial home sales and prices over the next 24 months.

The 2020 Recession – How bad and how long?

The 2020 recession likely began in February, meaning it is still in its very early stages. Since 1980, the average Canadian recession has lasted between 8 and 25 months and is characterized by a contraction of about 4 per cent in real GDP and a jump in the unemployment rate of 4.5 percentage points.

Provincial economic data is only available annually, making it much harder to track the duration of recessions. We know that during the 1981/82 recession, the BC economy contracted by 6.4 per cent, and the unemployment rate jumped nearly 10 points in the worst recession on record for British Columbia. The provincial economy performed much better in the 1990-92 recession, with real GDP eking out meager growth over that period, though the provincial unemployment rate did spike to nearly 11 per cent. During the 2008- 09 Financial Crisis and recession, we estimate the BC economy peaked in November of 2008 and contracted 3.7 per cent over the following 12 months while the unemployment rate rose more than 4 points.

Historical Recessions: Canada and BC
Our current forecast is for the Canadian economy to contract approximately 4 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, followed by a startling 21 per cent decline in the second quarter on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis (on a non-annualized basis,
the second quarter decline is roughly 5 per cent). The peak-to-trough decline in total Canadian output will likely be on the order of about 7 per cent before the economy starts to grow again.
Likewise, our tracking of the BC economy indicates that provincial real GDP growth will turn negative in February and the contraction of the economy may reach double digits by April, reflecting the shutdown in economic activity.
The COVID-19 recession is unprecedented in that it is not man-made. It did not evolve due to collective poor business decisions, bad loans, or misadventures in financial engineering.
Rather, the economy has been purposely halted for the greater good. The implication being that, the shorter the duration of this unusual period, the more likely it is that demand can snap back to near where it was pre-COVID-19. However, the longer the duration, the more likely that jobs do not return, businesses fail, and the recovery is much slower.
While a recession looks to be unavoidable, the country has already experienced staggering job losses in March and, just as there are necessary measures to flatten the curve of COVID-19, we can also implement measures to flatten the recession curve. Fortunately, Canadian policy makers are following the playbook to do just that. If these policies are working, we expect the pace of job losses to slow considerably, and the number of EI   claims and business failures to decline.
COVID-19, Past Recessions and the BC Housing Market

In past recessions, BC home sales typically posted an initial steep decline before bouncing back along with the wider economy. In the year following the start of a recession, home sales have recorded significant recoveries, rising 24 to 46 per cent, largely as a result of pent- up demand and low interest rates.
In the COVID-19 recession, we expect home sales will decline approximately 30-40 per cent year-over-year in April 2020 and remain depressed over the summer as households and the real estate sector adhere to social distancing. As measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 are gradually lifted, we expect that pent-up demand
and low interest rates will entice buyers back into the market. We project home sales will return to a baseline 85,000-unit annual pace by early 2021.

The response of home prices to prior recessions was broadly similar to that of home sales, with average home prices initially declining before springing back as the Bank of Canada lowers interest rates, and pent-up demand builds. Those factors are often powerful enough that home prices finish the year higher following the initial decline. The one clear outlier is the 1981/82
recession in which prices were crashing following a 41 per cent increase the year prior and an increase in mortgage rates to a now unimaginable 22 per cent.

Crucially, the impact on prices is largely determined by the reaction of supply. If the inventory of listings accumulates significantly, and particularly if  that inventory represents foreclosures or desperation selling by those impacted by rising unemployment,  then prices will be more severely impacted.
Our COVID-19 model assumes that listings accumulate as in past recessions. However, given the unusual nature of COVID-19, listings are likely to decline for at least the first month due to social distancing before normal recession dynamics take over and listings begin to rise. That alternative scenario is represented by the broken line in the adjacent chart.
Conclusions
While a recession in Canada and BC is at this point unavoidable, the one thing all recessions have in common is that they end. We know from history that the housing market bounces back with vigor following recessions, usually aided by a steep drop in interest  rates. We expect this time around will be no different. Given historically low interest rates and pent-up demand, we expect the impact of this recession will evolve as in the past, with home sales and prices recovering into 2021.


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In Iran, the idea of “spring cleaning” isn’t just a seasonal excuse to gut your closet; it’s the basis of a national holiday dating back millennia.

Every year, millions celebrate Persian New Year, or Nowruz (prounced “no-rooz”). In Iran, the new year begins with the advent of spring, and most everyone in the country — not to mention the millions of Iranians and non-Iranians who celebrate the holiday elsewhere around the world — observe it by doing a deep clean of their homes, celebrating a season of new life, and wishing for good luck in the year ahead.

You might have heard about Nowruz peripherally. The United Nations formally recognized it as an international holiday in 2010; President Obama extended Nowruz greetings to observers every year of his administration since 2009 (although they often doubled as statements on the relationship between the United States and Iran). Then-first lady Michelle Obama even held a Persian New Year celebration at the White House in 2015, complete with the Obama family’s own haft-seen (more on what a haft-seen is later).

If you didn’t grow up celebrating Nowruz like I did, though, the concept might be confusing — actually, it was even a little confusing for me, since my childhood memories of Persian New Year mostly concerned salivating over the delicious rice dish my mother would make in its honor.

But once I started to learn more about what Nowruz means outside of food — which, to be fair, is an important part of most holidays on this planet — I realized how fascinating its layered traditions really are.

What is Nowruz?

Nowruz marks the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one, and it occurs on the day of the vernal equinox.

More accurately, the new year begins the second the equinox does — so, not just at the stroke of midnight. Usually, the equinox happens from March 19 to 21; this year, Nowruz lands in the evening of March 20. (Though if you’re an expat Iranian, the equinox arrives around 12 pm Eastern.) But there are also aspects of Nowruz that permeate Persian culture for weeks leading up to the holiday and even a couple of weeks afterward.

 

No one knows exactly how far back Nowruz dates. The best estimates sit somewhere in the range of 3,000 years. But the most important thing to know about Nowruz’s origin story is that it’s rooted in Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion that predates both Christianity and Islam. (Since Zoroastrianism dates back thousands of years, it’s hardly confined to within the borders of Iran or the many versions of the Persian Empire there have been — which is why Nowruz is also celebrated by millions of non-Iranians around the world.)

When the 1979 revolution ended with Persia becoming the Islamic Republic of Iran, the new government tried to scale back the level to which Nowruz is celebrated, citing the holiday’s pre-Islamic roots as grounds for its removal. But even in a nation that was fragmented to the point of revolt, the prospect of losing Nowruz prompted furious pushback that was too overwhelming to brush aside.

After thousands of years in the making, Nowruz remains too beloved, universal, and deeply embedded in Persian culture to ignore.

And because the holiday has been around for so long, it suffers no shortage of related traditions. But there are nevertheless a few basic, foundational tenets that nearly everyone who celebrates Nowruz — in Iran and elsewhere — upholds.

How do you prepare for Nowruz?

People start getting ready for Nowruz about three weeks before the actual vernal equinox. Pretty much everyone goes into serious spring-cleaning mode, ridding their homes of any unnecessary clutter and lingering grime that’s settled in over the past year so they can start fresh. At this time of year in Iran, you’re likely to see countless Persian rugs hanging outside, where their owners can beat the dust out of them.

 

Wash away the dust. carpet cleaning, , Iran.

View image on Twitter
 
 
 

Washing away the dust of the previous year.
Nowruz khaneh tekani (cleaning), North province, Iran.

View image on Twitter
 
 
 

In these same weeks leading up to the actual day, families also set aside a space for a “haft-seen,” or a collection of items that symbolize a different hope for the new year. While some families add their own variations to the haft-seen (more on those in a bit), there are seven things that are always included:

  • Sabzeh: Some kind of sprout or grass that will continue to grow in the weeks leading up to the holiday, for rebirth and renewal
  • Senjed: Dried fruit, ideally a sweet fruit from a lotus tree, for love
  • Sib: Apples, for beauty and health
  • Seer: Garlic, for medicine and taking care of oneself
  • Samanu: A sweet pudding, for wealth and fertility
  • Serkeh: Vinegar, for the patience and wisdom that comes with aging
  • Sumac: A Persian spice made from crushed sour red berries, for the sunrise of a new day

While these seven S items are the foundation of a haft-seen (which literally means “seven S’s”), the tradition has evolved to the point where there are several other things you can include. For example, when I was growing up, my family’s haft-seens always included a mirror symbolizing reflection, colored eggs for fertility, coins for prosperity, and, if we were feeling ambitious, a live goldfish for new life (an ironic association in my house, where pretty much every goldfish we brought home died immediately).

A Nowruz haft-seen, with plenty of sabzeh in the background. Nini Ordoubadi/Tay Tea

Once you have the seven cornerstones set, the haft-seen is yours to customize. Muslim families will sometimes include a Quran. Sometimes a place of honor will go to a volume of poetry by Hafez, one of Iran’s most beloved poets.

Once the day of Nowruz arrives, it kicks off a 13-day celebration of dinners, family visits, and reflections on the year ahead. On the 13th day, you take the sabzeh that’s been growing in the haft-seen to whatever natural body of running water you can find and let it float away, to release the old and usher in the New Year.

My mother, who grew up in Tehran, told me that Nowruz usually saw everyone piling their sabzeh into their cars to head off into the mountains, the better to find a water runoff to set their greens adrift. And even though that meant braving a traffic jam like none other, everyone did it.

But Nowruz isn’t all about cleaning and plant life; other rituals involve fire, money, and — stay with me — banging on pots with spoons

Though my family always assembled a Nowruz haft-seen, I grew up in New Jersey without many other Iranians around, so we couldn’t indulge in some of the more communal traditions — which is a shame, because they sound fun.

The last Tuesday before Norwuz is known as shab-e chahar shanbeh suri (a loose translation from Persian into phonetic English), or “Eve of Red Wednesday.” The day involves building public bonfires, jumping over them, and repeating a single phrase: “Zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man!” This roughly translates to, “Give me your beautiful red color, and take back my sickly pallor!”

 
 

Tonight Iranians celebrate Chaharshanbeh Soori, an ancient festival of fire & prelude to .

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
 
 

The idea, in keeping with Nowruz’s overarching theme of renewal, is to cleanse away the past year so you can start the new one refreshed and renewed.

Children and elders make out especially well during Nowruz. At the beginning of the 13-day celebration, families will gather at the home of their oldest family member to pay their respects. Children will walk up to houses with cooking pots in hand, bang on those pots with spoons, and not let up until someone comes out and puts something sweet in the pots. (Like an Iranian version of Halloween, except you don’t have to dress up as a vampire to get your candy; you just demand what’s yours.)

Finally, children will receive monetary gifts in the form of fresh banknotes from their parents and other adult family members — again, in keeping with the overarching theme of getting a fresh start.

Okay, it’s all about freshness and renewal. But what about the food?!

Ohh, reader. Let’s talk about food.

If you’re not familiar with Persian cuisine, the very basics are that if you’re invited to an Iranian home for dinner you’ll likely be served some combination of grilled or braised meats and rich stews, flavored by deeply aromatic spices (though not many of them pack much heat) and accompanied by piles upon piles of steamed rice. (Persian rice is the best rice, and I will hear no arguments to the contrary.) For more on Persian food and ceremonies, you can check out Najmieh Batmanglij’s beautiful, thorough cookbook Food of Life.

On the actual day of Nowruz, though, you can expect to see a couple of dishes that are specific to the holiday, often centering on greens and herbs to represent its themes of — say it with me now — freshness and renewal.

The centerpiece of most Nowruz meals will be sabzi polow ba mahi, an herbed rice served with some kind of whitefish. Then you might have a kuku sabzi, which bakes eggs with a whole mess of herbs like dill, cilantro, parsley, fenugreek, tarragon, and more. (My mother helpfully describes kuku sabzi as “an ancient relative of the frittata.”)

No matter what, though, Iranians will always make you more food than you know what to do with — and at the end of the meal, you’ll still wish you could still eat more.

Above all, Nowruz is a celebration of the possibility of new life

As is fitting for Persian and Zoroastrian culture, the ceremonies surrounding Nowruz center on community, family, and a deep respect for tradition.

But Nowruz is less about a single day than a general celebration of being able to wipe away the dust, grime, and sadness of the old in order to start anew. It’s about closing the door on one chapter and turning the page to the next one with excitement instead of trepidation. It’s about the endless possibilities that come with a blank slate.

The hope of being able to start new, and better, is about as universal as they come — which might explain why Nowruz hasn’t just survived through generation upon generation of tumult and prosperity alike, but thrived.

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Information related to the efforts to mitigate the outbreak of COVID-19 is constantly evolving. First and foremost, we recommend to follow the guidelines and precautions set by Canada’s public health authorities. See Health Canada’s website for comprehensive coverage.

In ongoing discussions with government officials from various departments and agencies, we continue to emphasize the unique challenges as economic measures to support self-employed Canadians and small businesses are considered. The result of these advocacy efforts since the emergence of COVID-19 are captured below.
  • Government introduced the Emergency Care Benefit, providing up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks, to workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19, as well as those who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020 through the Canada Revenue Agency My Account secure portal, My Service Canada Account, or through an automated application process by telephone.
  • Also announced was the Emergency Support Benefit, which will provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. This will be available to Canadians who are self-employed; more details will be provided in the coming days.
  • For small businesses, government will provide a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months, equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. The subsidy is available to corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.
  • Businesses will also be allowed to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing between now and September 2020. This applies to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 


The full list of measures announced by the government today is available here. It is expected the House of Commons will be recalled next week to pass the emergency economic measures.

While all the details of the various programs announced today are not yet available, the Governor of the Bank of Canada concluded today's press conference with the assurance that "if people need the support, they will get it." 


Canada's six largest banks also announced financial relief for Canadians impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19, including up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.


Source: 

The Canadian Real Estate Association
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For free Real Estate Advice please call/text me at (604) 537-9791 

Summary Findings: 

  • While it’s unknown how the unfolding COVID-19 outbreak will impact the economy in the long-term, BC is facing a sudden stop in economic activity with little guidance to when things may return to normal. 
  • Based on our scenario analysis, BC home sales and prices will likely face declines in the spring and early summer but should recover along with the wider economy in the second half of the year, contingent on the outbreak resolving. 
  • The postponed change to the mortgage stress test rate, originally slated for April 6, 2020, will mute the impact of falling interest rates for the BC housing market. 

How will the COVID-19 outbreak impact the BC economy and, more specifically, the BC Housing market? The correct answer is a rather unsatisfying “nobody knows.” 


We have already seen a steep decline in interest rates, however it’s unknown how severe the impact will be on economic activity. Global supply chains will be impacted, as well as tourism and travel. The magnitude of impact is expected to vary by province but may be significant for the BC economy given the importance of tourism to our economy and our strong trade linkages with China. The additional shock to the Canadian economy due to a collapse in oil prices – itself the by-product of a price war between the world’s largest oil producers due to COVID-19 – makes the probability of a recession in Canada that much higher. 


An unfortunate but unavoidable product of recessions is losses in employment and incomes, which may put some financially vulnerable families in an even more precarious position. The CMHC announced that it would be working with lenders to defer mortgage payments by up to six months if needed, which should stem potential mortgage defaults and foreclosures. However, there is still a need to address lost income for those who cannot afford to practice social distancing by staying home from work and for those who have to make monthly rent payments and can’t take advantage of payment deferrals. For those individuals and families, cash is king. That means these households will need government cash transfers to meet their financial priorities during this time, and we hope this will be part of the yet-to-be-announced stimulus package from the Canadian government.


On the positive side, governments and central banks seem to be taking lessons from the last crisis and have implemented measures to ensure small businesses and the financial system have ample liquidity and access to credit. The Bank of Canada has reduced its overnight rate to 0.75 per cent and we expect they will follow the US Federal Reserve down to near zero in short order. This should help prevent a 2008 scenario of spiking borrowing costs due to rising risk premiums and credit rationing. 


These measures should help to dampen the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the economy. However, faced with an almost unprecedented paralysis of economic and social activity, monetary and fiscal policy can only safeguard against a worst-case scenario and hope the outbreak resolves in the coming months so we can all get back to normal. 

Of note, the Canadian government has postponed changes to the mortgage stress test. The qualifying rate for insured mortgages was set to change from the 5-year posted mortgage rate to the average 5-year fixed rate plus 200 basis points on April 6, with the B-20 stress test for uninsured mortgages to follow suit. By postponing that change, the government has muted the passthrough from monetary policy to the housing market, particularly since the 5-year posted rate has maintained at 5.19 per cent, despite the average 5-year contract rate falling to near historical lows. The impact of dramatically lower rates will still help those renewing or refinancing mortgages at lower rates by freeing up monthly cash-flow due to lower mortgage payments. 


Scenario Analysis: COVID-19, the BC Economy and the BC Housing Market 


The Canadian economy has endured three recessions since 1980. During those times, the BC economy has experienced an annual contraction of GDP or growth falling to near zero. In each of those periods, BC homes sales have experienced sharp declines that have lasted between 12 and 14 months. We will not begin to see the impact of COVID-19 in economic data until later in the spring due to lags in processing data, but we know based on our own tracking that the BC economy was growing slowly even before the outbreak, with estimated real GDP growth under 2 per cent for the last several months.


The COVID-19 outbreak is occurring at a time in which BC housing markets are recovering from a two-year slowdown in activity. Home sales are currently trending at a healthy pace, close to their long-term average, and growth in home prices has been strong due to a lack of inventory. 


With those initial conditions and historical precedents in mind, we have sketched out how the rapidly changing financial and economic environment may impact the BC housing market. 

Given the level of uncertainty, we limit our analysis of the impacts of COVID-19 to 2020, to concentrate on immediate short-run impacts and abstract from any potential supply-side impacts such as changes to residential construction that may occur over a longer time frame. To model the possible impacts for home sales and prices, we concentrate on how COVID-19 impacts factors that shift short-term housing demand. In particular, we are interested in whether lower interest rates will dominate the impact of slower, or even negative, economic growth. 


Real estate is a face-to-face business, so practices that are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus are at odds with buying and selling homes. This may produce stronger impacts than we can model using standard frameworks. As guidance, and reflecting on the immense uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook, we based our simulations on several scenarios: 



Results 

Unsurprisingly, the results of our simulations show a steep decline in home sales in the second quarter of this year as economic activity becomes eerily quiet. From there, home sales slowly recover, though remain below baseline for 2020. In the event of a deeper and more prolonged recession, home sales remain depressed for the remainder of the year, falling about 20 per cent below baseline. In contrast, in Scenario #1, where the fall in interest rates is passed through to the qualifying rate, home sales rise above baseline after an initial steep drop.  



As for home prices, the growth slowdown and associated decline in transactions will likely cause a temporary but modest swoon in home prices, which are then expected to recover to baseline over the next year as growth recovers. Again, the pass-through of falling interest rates to the qualifying rate makes a large difference in outcomes. Our simulations show that a much lower qualifying rate would lead to home prices in some BC markets ending the year higher than our pre-COVID-19 baseline. This result is likely why the Federal Government has opted to postpone the change. However, given the uncertainty surrounding the outlook, this may ultimately be a mistake. If the growth outlook deteriorates, the housing market may need a lower qualifying rate to fully recover. 



The results of these simulations are far from definitive, but they provide a framework for thinking through the potential magnitude of the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Most important to remember is that this period, no matter how unusual and anxious it is now, will pass and the economy and housing market will return to health.



For free Real Estate Advice please call/text me at (604) 537-9791 

To Subscribe for more Market Updates, please submit your email address on the right hand side of the page. 


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BoC just announced a 50 basis point drop on its interest rates. See how it can affect home buyers and sellers.
By Catherine Musgrove Mar 5, 2020
 

In a bold move on Wednesday (March 4, 2020), the Bank of Canada slashed its key interest rate by 50 basis points to 1.25%, in an attempt to keep the economy moving. It cited COVID-19 as the primary reason for its decision. Although winter weather, the rail blockades, and the political climate have also played a role.  

As the country braces for economic impact, the Bank of Canada is attempting to curb anxiety and ease the concern of a possible recession.  

In an interview with BNNBloomberg, the Chief Economist with Manulife Investment Management Frances Donald says,  “We are living through history that will end up in textbooks and case studies as we analyze central bank policy, how effective it is, how quickly central banks should be reacting, and whether or not we look back and say: ‘They acted too late,’ ‘too early,’ or ‘right on time.’ Fifty basis points is a very strong message from the Bank of Canada. They are concerned about downside risks. But, I suspect that this is in conjunction with globally-coordinated rate cuts.”

What does all this mean for the real estate market? Here is what we know.

Savings for Home Buyers

The cut could mean significant savings for home buyers. The lower rate will potentially translate into lower mortgage rates

According to Ratehub.ca, a “full 50-basis cut to a $450,000 mortgage on a 2.6 variable rate would shift the mortgage rate to 2.1%, and mean about $115 per month in savings per month, while an $800,000 mortgage is more like $200 a month in savings.”

Banks may choose not to pass on the additional savings because it means more profit for them. Make sure to consult with a mortgage broker to get the best possible rate for your situation. They will be able to compare mortgage rates across multiple lenders.

Stimulate the Real Estate Market

Lower rates could stimulate the real estate market in slower growth areas like Newfoundland and the Prairies. 

An Imbalance

This interest rate drop might create a further imbalance in the Victoria, Toronto, Southern Ontario, Ottawa, and Montreal markets that are already facing hotter markets. Homes are in shorter supply, creating more demand and increased pricing. Economists say this is short term pain for the long term good of the economy and will help keep us out of a recession.

Higher Prices

Home prices may start to rise. As buyers are increasing the amounts they can borrow, supply might begin to drop, driving home prices up. Something to watch!

Global Considerations

Economists are predicting the international markets will slow due to the global impact of COVID-19. Why is this important? There is an anticipated slowing of the global economy, which will impact foreign investments and the supply chain in Canada.

Existing Mortgages

As explained by the Educators Financial group, if you have a mortgage already, how much – and when –you’ll feel the impact of the rate decrease will depend on whether your mortgage is variable or fixed rate, open or closed.* 

If you have a variable rate mortgage, the amount of interest is contingent on the overnight rate. Financial institutions pass on any decrease in the rate to consumers almost immediately.* 

If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, nothing will change until the fixed term ends, and it’s time to renew. * 

The New Mortgage Stress Test  

With new changes coming to the Mortgage Stress test in April, it will be interesting to see how the Bank of Canada rate drop will impact the qualifying rate.

Under the new stress test, the rate will be the weekly median five-year fixed insured mortgage rate plus 2%. A few percentage points can translate into thousands of dollars in savings for the borrower.  

Overall, it’s a great time to cash in on a lower mortgage rate if you were on the fence about purchasing. It is also a great time to sell, supply may drive housing prices up in some areas. Consult with your real estate professional for a complete view of market conditions in your area.  


*source: 

Educators Financial Group

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How to Qualify for a Mortgage as a Self-Employed or Small Business Owner

In 2018, there were 2.9 million self-employed Canadians, accounting for 15 per cent of the total workforce. In 2017, Small business owners in Canada accounted for 97.9 per cent of entire employer businesses or 1.15 million.  Those numbers continue to rise. Self-employed and small business owners can deduct certain business expenses; they can keep more of what they earn. Pretty attractive gig, would you think?

Unfortunately, the fortune runs dry when applying for a mortgage. If small businesses are thriving, making an income, having a bright future, why is it so difficult for lenders to hand over a mortgage loan?

"Those who are self-employed or own a small business have the opportunity to claim or write off many business expenses against their income. So their taxable income looks much less on paper, reducing the amount of taxes they pay," says Mary Major Allen. Mary is a Mortgage Broker with The Mortgage Group in Halifax.

By lowering their taxable income by maximizing business expenses and personal deductions, they may be limiting their mortgage potential. There is a discrepancy between what's on their tax return and how much money they earn.

What Do You Need When Applying For A Mortgage

The earlier in the home buying process as possible, consult a Mortgage Broker or Specialist. Knowing what you will need to produce upfront will decrease the feeling of frustration and disappointment down the road. For an in-depth look at the different stages of the mortgage approval process, you may want to check our previous blog.

Homebuyers are required to contribute a 10 per cent down payment on the portion of the price of a home above $500,000, plus 5 per cent on the amount up to that amount. The average small business owner's salary in 2019 was $66,373, according to PayScale data. Eighty-three per cent of small business owners take an annual salary of less than $100,000, and 30 per cent report they take no pay at all. With this in mind, it is crucial not to overextend yourself – so you have adequate income to qualify for a mortgage and also to ensure you have money to reinvest in your business.

"You will have to show two to three years' notice of assessments for reliable proof of income," says David McDill, Mortgage Consultant with Mortgage Insight: The Mortgage Centre in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island.

If you are new to the self-employed scene or just opened your business, you will have to produce other evidence of income.

You may want to consider completing a statement of income. A Stated Income or grossing up your income to qualify for a mortgage is an option with some lenders. You should be able to show the extra income you are claiming to make in retained earnings in the company or your investments.

If you are taking the Stated Income route, remember to stay reasonable in your declaration of income. Your lender will look at an average salary for someone of similar experience and occupation.

"So, for example, as a plumber, you say you make $100,000, but the average self-employed plumber only makes $75,000, the lender is going to want to know why there is such a discrepancy," says McDill.  You also cannot be stating your income higher than the gross business income.

McDill says there are three mortgage insurance companies to consider: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canada Guaranty, and Genworth Canada. Genworth is the only one currently taking Stated Income as an option as an unverified income.

And remember, being self-employed can mean tax savings, which should be taken into account when offered a higher rate. It is often more advantageous in the long run to accept a higher rate mortgage than paying additional income tax.

Be Pro-Active

The bottom line: Best rates are for those who are income-qualified and are reporting their income.  To ensure the best possible success, and possibly the best interest rate, make sure you have your ducks in a row when meeting with your mortgage professional. Here are things you should put on your must-have list:

  • Accountant-prepared business financial statements for the last two years (particularly crucial if you are incorporated)
  • Business license documentation
  • Accountant-prepared personal T1 general tax returns
  • Most recent and possibly the previous three years' Notice of Assessment and proof that taxes are up-to-date. Owing taxes can do more damage than anything else. If you owe, pay off immediately.
  • Corporate bank statements illustrating current cashflow. These statements are not necessary, but it is a great document to have handy.  
  • Bank statements showing regular income for the past six months or longer.
  • Be ready to discuss your business. Things like income, business expenses, and specific milestones will be among the topics addressed.

Are You a Sole Proprietor or Are You Incorporated?

Depending on your credit, and the way your business is registered, some lenders may add between 15 and 20 per cent to your total income as a way of "adding back some expenses." If you are incorporated and have verifiable income, some financial institutions can gross-up your income by as much as 15 per cent. If you are issuing a T4 to yourself as an employee of your company, the lender will use whatever salary you are reporting.

"If you are a proprietor, many lenders will look at your statement of business activities and things you may have written off, such as the depreciation on a work vehicle," says McDill. "Those things may be added back in as income or at least taken into consideration and averaged out in terms of your previous income."

These tips are not exhaustive of everything your lender might ask from you.

"Lenders usually take each case individually. They do not want to find a reason to turn you down. They want things to work out if it makes sense," says McDill. Take your time to prepare your materials, save for your down payment, and consult a mortgage broker or banker as early in the process as possible, and you will find yourself in your dream home before you know it.


By Catherine Musgrove


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Multi-generational living—where two or three generations of a family live under the same roof—continues to grow in Canada and the real estate market is taking note.

According to Statistics Canada, multi-generational households are fastest growing type of households in the country. Between 2001 to 2016, multi-generational households rose 37.5%, which was well above the median increase (21.7%) for all households.

From an ageing population (more seniors living with their children and grandchildren) to increasing levels of immigration, there are a number of factors influencing the demand.

“I think of it as going back to times of yore, where parents are now living with their children,” says Pauline Aunger, REALTOR® and former president of the Canadian Real Estate Association. “What we're seeing is a widowed parent coming back to live with their children.”

Increasingly, retired parents are selling their homes and moving into their children's in-law suites, allowing them to play a bigger role in their children's and grandchildren's lives.


a woman holding up a baby girl while the woman's mother gives her a kiss on her cheek


But while older parents moving in with their children is the most common generation-combination, extended families purchasing homes together—whether siblings or with extended family like cousins—is also part of the growing phenomenon.


two kids, their parents, and grandparents baking together in a kitchen


Indigenous and immigrant families, which account for a growing share of Canada's population, are more likely to live with their extended families. In 2016, multi-generational households were most common in Nunavut (12.2%) and the Northwest Territories (4.3%), followed by Ontario (3.9%) and British Columbia (3.6%).

The two largest markets for multi-generational households are Toronto and Vancouver. Besides both cities have high proportions of immigrants, they're also Canada's priciest housing markets, where sharing expenses might a lot of financial sense.

Homebuilders have responded by offering homes accommodating multi-generational living. “We definitely see opportunity in providing multi-generational living options to our customers,” says Justin Castelino, marketing manager at Brookfield Residential in Calgary.


two kids, their parents, and grandparents relaxing on a sectional couch


Castelino says fully developed basement suites are popular because they provide a sense of independent living while also maintaining a connection to the rest of the house. Those suites typically have separate entrances, their own kitchen and full bathroom, bedrooms and living area. Use the REALTOR.ca “keyword search” filter to find homes with particular keywords like “accessible” or “in-law”, etc. to find the perfect fit for your family.


a basement apartment


Multi-generational living has a lot of benefits. It fosters a sense of familial and cultural connection—keeping families closer together. Another key driver is cost. Sharing household expenses can make a lot of financial sense for big families.

Keep in mind, however, there are also costs associated with buying suitably large abodes with multiple configurations. To get a better idea of what your family can buy, make sure to use REALTOR.ca's Affordability Calculator.


two kids, their parents, and grandparents watching television on a couch


For example, Castelino says a traditionally developed basement could cost $25,000 to $30,000 but adding a self-contained suite can run up to the $40,000 to $50,000 range. And of course, there will be additional hydro, maintenance, insurance and other costs to consider.

Additionally, the greater the number of people living in a home, the greater the challenges; often, a healthy dose of patience is needed. This living arrangement is best suited for families who get along.

Still interested? Work with a trusted and informed REALTOR® to help you find the best property for your family.



Original Article from: Realtor

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The idea of quitting your 9-to-5 and working from home, a beach or on the opposite side of the world may sound like a dream, but if you ask the 4.2 million Canadians who are either temporarily employed or self-employed (without employees of their own) they might tell you it's great—until you want to put down roots.

Buying a home is often seen as a milestone towards adulthood. But as the real estate market grows, mortgage criteria has become stricter and the path to homeownership more challenging—especially if you freelance.

Intuit Canada predicts 45% of Canadians will be self-employed by 2020, so whether you freelance by choice or by circumstance, knowing the ins and outs of getting a mortgage in the gig economy could have you into your dream home in no time. Here's what you need to know:

Have all your documents ready

a T1 tax document next to a calculator and a calendar


Before you even start looking at properties, you need to know how much you can borrow, which means you'll have to speak to a mortgage lender or a bank. The bank will look at the two most recent years' Notice of Assessment (NOA) and T1 Generals, and use either an average of the two years or the most recent year, whichever is lower.

Ramón Pérez, a freelance comic book artist based in Toronto, was rejected the first time he applied for a mortgage, even after nearly four years of self-employment. “My requests fell on deaf ears, even though I could prove to maintain a monthly rent that exceeded my monthly mortgage commitment,” he says.

This was before the mortgage stress-test that came into effect in 2018 (also known as B-20), which now requires banks to use one of two qualifying rates: the five-year benchmark rate (5.34% today) or the rate your lender negotiates with you plus 2%.

It wasn't until nearly a decade later Pérez was successful, but the path to homeownership remained rocky. “I had 15 years more experience and a higher income, but I still was given poor deals by my personal financial institution,” he says.

Most lenders are hesitant to approve a freelancer's mortgage application from the get-go — even with a high income and years of experience — so it helps to show up to your first meeting with as much proof as possible you can handle a mortgage. If you have clients on monthly retainer and you feel comfortable asking them for a letter confirming they pay you X-amount each month, it will strengthen your case in the eyes of the underwriters.

Declare your income

a woman at a desk working on tax forms


Many freelancers don’t declare 100% of their income, and while an extra hundred dollars here and there may not seem like a big deal, it can add up over the year. Not declaring enough of your income will hurt you when applying for a mortgage—especially now that most banks have tightened up their lending policies.

If you're planning to purchase a home shortly after starting your freelance career, it may be worth slowly transitioning from a full-time job to self-employed life rather than jumping straight into freelancing. Banks can only accept your income as stated on your NOA, so if your first year as a freelancer was slow, even if you're on track to meet your financial goals for the year, it won't make a difference to your application. You would have to wait until the following year when that income has been recorded on your NOA, to be considered for your mortgage.

Consider speaking to a broker

two businessmen in a meeting


Even if you're approved by a bank, your income instability may get you a higher interest rate. “As a freelancer, no matter how much you make, your income looks irregular and unstable—even though in today's economy I would consider it far more stable,” Pérez says. “I would say a freelancer has to prove themselves much more and will have a harder time acquiring a comparable mortgage to an individual with a comparable income.”

Ultimately, a less-than-ideal interest rate led Pérez to seek out a mortgage broker. “When I ended up getting what I thought was a poor deal, even though the bank touted it as great, I decided to go through a broker based on the recommendation of a friend.”

The broker will work with you and explain where you need to make adjustments, if any, to increase your chances of approval and they'll negotiate with lenders on your behalf to get you the best possible interest rate.

Talk to your accountant

a husband and wife in a meeting with a businessman


As soon as you've decided you want to buy a home, talk to your accountant. Tell them about your financial goals and give them an approximate timeline for when you think you'll be ready to buy. Your accountant can then begin preparing your taxes in an appropriate way to increase your chances of being approved when the time comes for your lender to submit your application.

Team up

two females seated on a bed looking through documents and on a laptop


If you have the option, you can always team up with someone you trust to either co-own the property or co-sign for you, which simply means they would help guarantee to the lender they will always get paid—if not by you, by them.

When it came time to buy his second property, Pérez opted for the former: “[B]y teaming up with a friend on the investment property—a friend who looked “better” on paper in the bank's eyes—the second mortgage went much smoother.”

If you're not quite ready to buy a home with your (full-time-employed) significant other but think you'd eventually like to, it may be worth it to hold off until you're both ready. Not only are two incomes better than one (and the closer you can get to your 20% down payment, the less you'll have to pay in mortgage insurance), but their income stability may get you a better term and lower interest rate.

Ultimately, if you're organized, know where to look and take the necessary steps to prove your ability to make your monthly payments, you'll be in your new home and adulting like a pro in no time.

The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel.


 
Original Article from: Realtor
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Are you thinking about breaking your fixed-rate mortgage? While traditionally considered a financial faux-pas, many Canadians choose to break their fixed-rate mortgage when they find their current terms and conditions no longer meet their needs.

“Breaking a fixed-rate mortgage occurs more often than you would think,” Jared Ksenica, Regional Vice-President, Mortgage Specialist, with BMO Bank of Montreal said.

Of course, there are penalties to pay for breaking a mortgage. When you break a mortgage contract, the penalty is supposed to cover the lender's costs related to unwinding the loan, while also recouping part of their lost profit. The amount is dependent on the interest rate and the mortgage balance.

According to Ksenica, some of the most common reasons for breaking a mortgage include refinancing for debt consolidation, purchasing a second property and helping children with their education or helping them buy a home.


an application for a fixed percentage rate mortgage application


Another reason to break a mortgage is to take advantage of a lower interest rate. If you've been watching rates lately, you may be wondering if you could break your fixed-rate mortgage to save money in the long-term with a cheaper interest rate.

This may sound like a good idea, but be forewarned: trying to figure out what you'll be charged for breaking a fixed-rate mortgage is very difficult, with homeowners often miscalculating the cost of their penalty.

What are the advantages of breaking a fixed-rate mortgage?

a calculator on top of a sheet of calculations

Via Pexels


John Tarnowski, Executive Vice President, Retail Financial Services at ATB Financial, says it's important customers look beyond the rate and compare the full mortgage package to determine what's best for them.

“If moving to a variable or new fixed-rate term will save interest costs over the remaining mortgage term, it might be worth doing, even if they have to pay a prepayment penalty,” he says. “If a person’s life or lifestyle has changed, it might also be a good time to consider this option.”

These kinds of decisions shouldn’t be taken lightly and it’s best to discuss options with a mortgage specialist. Despite paying the penalty upfront for breaking a mortgage, there may or may not be effective savings in the long-term—especially if you're facing high penalties.

What are the penalties for breaking a mortgage?

a person at a desk doing some financial-related work

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels


The biggest disadvantage of breaking a mortgage is the out-of-pocket penalties. And they're often much, much higher than you might have anticipated.

Fixed-rate mortgage penalties are always calculated based on whichever is greater: “the greater of a) three months interest or b) the interest-rate differential (IRD),” with the IRD being the difference between the existing mortgage rate and the interest rate currently charged.

However, there are key differences in the actual rates lenders use to calculate your IRD and this can greatly impact your penalties. The Standard IRD is what most people think of when breaking a mortgage, whereby the lender takes the difference between your contract rate and their current rate that most closely matches your remaining term.

But there's also the Discounted Rate IRD Penalty (used by RBC, BMO, TD, Scotia and National Bank). Banks who use this IRD format take your contract rate, compare it to the posted rate that most closely matches your remaining term and then subtract the original discount you got off of their five-year posted rate.

This small tweak that can make a huge difference in terms of the penalties you can incur. Using this calculation, it's possible for an IRD to jump from the Standard $1,500 to $9,000.

The Posted Rate IRD Penalty (used by CIBC) can have even steeper penalties. In this variation, the bank calculates your IRD penalty using the five-year posted rate they offered when you initially got your mortgage.

Get informed about the penalty calculators your particular lender will use before signing any mortgage contract so there are no nasty surprises down the road.


people at a table looking over contracts

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


If you decide to break your fixed-rate mortgage but you want to stay with the same lender, ask if they offer penalty discounts. While not all lenders offer this type of incentive, some may be willing to reduce your penalties if you decide to stay with them. mortgage contract but still stay with them. In this case, Tarnowski says you can break your mortgage “in conjunction with a new mortgage,” minimizing the penalty by making a lump sum payment on their mortgage.

Be sure to check out our affordability calculator to find out how much you can afford and use our handy mortgage calculator to determine your ideal amortization period and down payment options.

The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel.



Original Article from: Realtor


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There are many factors to consider when searching for your dream home, including cost, number of bedrooms, layout and neighbourhood. But if you have children—or plan to someday soon—you need to think about another important selling feature: schools.

After all, you don't want to buy a house only to discover the local schools don't get a passing grade.

Find the perfect school with REALTOR.ca Local Insights

REALTOR.ca Local Insights map


Home buyers can access comprehensive schools and catchment information across Canada while searching for properties on REALTOR.ca. To make finding the perfect school easier, you can narrow down your search by using filters like public or private, elementary or secondary, and language. To get started from the map page, click on the “stacked paper” icon found in the bottom left corner. Love a home but want to learn more about the neighbourhood? On a listing, it’s as easy as:

  1. clicking on the “Neighbourhood” tab;

  2. selecting the amenities to get a list view of nearby schools, groceries, transit routes and more; and

  3. clicking on a school to see nearby schools and their catchments.

You can also dive into demographic details like household income, population by age and number of children at home.

Here are a few more tips to help you find the right school for your children, whether you’re moving across town or to the other side of the country.

Do your homework

young children in a classroom with a teacher at the front of the class


Most provinces offer online directories of school boards and individual schools, which can be useful for learning about class sizes, student-teacher ratios and whether they can accommodate children with special needs. Just as you would research a hotel before going on vacation, you'll want to read what others have to say about a given school. Many parents rate schools online, based on teacher quality, curriculums and enrichment programs.

For academic information, the Fraser Institute's handy tool, CompareSchoolRankings.org, provides detailed school-by-school performance reports. In addition, don't forget to scroll through a school's social media feed, which can yield a wealth of great information, such as photos and newsletters.

Talk to your future neighbours

two families with young children sitting on stairs in front of an apartment


Take a walk through your prospective neighbourhood and check out the area's parks and community centres. Don't be afraid to approach parents pushing kids on a swing or watching their child's swimming lesson. Strike up a friendly conversation and tell them you're thinking about moving to the neighbourhood. Ask about schools in the area and if they have any advice for choosing the right one for your children. Find out whether the local schools encourage parent volunteers or how many field trips are organized each year.

Map out the commute

young students standing in a single file, waiting by a school bus


Is a home within walking distance of the school at the top of your priority list? Will your children need a drive twice a day? You can calculate your potential commute by walk, bike, public transportation or car using the neighbourhood tab on your favourite listings. Additionally, call the school board to find out if they offer bus services or if you'll be juggling carpool schedules as part of your morning routine.

Visit the schools

a father and daughter holding hand while walking out the gates of a school


Make an appointment with the principal to tour each school you're interested in and arrive with a list of questions, such as whether special programs are offered. Ask to see classes in progress, along with the facilities and grounds, to help you evaluate which school works best for your children. If your children are athletic, ask about extracurricular sports teams; if they're artistic, inquire about their music, arts or drama programs. Can't go in person? Set up phone calls with the principal, administration and ideally the teachers who'll be teaching your children.

Armed with all this information, you'll be sure to get top marks in your housing search.


Original Article from: Realtor

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Home buyers might assume there's no need to work with a REALTOR® when purchasing a pre-construction build. After all, the builders and developers have on-site representatives promising to take care of all the paperwork, right?

Not so fast. There are a number of advantages to working with someone who has your best interests in mind. Here's what you need to know if you're thinking about buying a brand-new build.


A REALTOR® makes the sales process less overwhelming


GIF of a man saying: "Calm down, beathe."

Via Giphy


Buying a new build can be a lot more complicated than purchasing a resale. You'll benefit from working with a local expert who knows the project's neighbourhood, target audience, materials used and sales data. Enhance your search for homes by saving your search and getting notifications from REALTOR.ca favourites. Most importantly, they'll know which builders are most reputable for delivering on time. A REALTOR® can also offer information on what is the best time to buy—pre-construction, mid-construction or after the building is completed—since they might have intel on upcoming promotions. For example, builders may be a free parking spot during pre-construction or they may lower the purchase price when the building is unloading the last few units.

A REALTOR® can negotiate on your behalf

GIF of a woman in a store saying: "I'l give you a dollar for all of this"

Via Giphy


Sure, you can simply trust a sales representative to haggle with the builder, but that may not get you the best deal or added perks, like free upgrades or new appliances. Understanding the fine print in a purchase contract is not for the faint of heart. A real estate professional can point out the confusing clauses you're better off negotiating on.

You'll get the low-down on the up-sells

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Via Giphy


Immaculately designed model homes offer all the bells and whistles, tempting buyers into adding all sorts of extras onto the standard price. Sometimes, these upgrades aren't worth it. Your REALTOR® can help you decide what's worth doing and what can wait.

You won't fall for sales pitches that seem too good to be true

GIF of a man in a suit asking: "Are you sure?"

Via Giphy


Buyers are led to believe if they don't use an agent, the builder will subtract the price of a REALTOR®'s potential commission from the purchase price. But since the seller (i.e. the builder) pays your agent's commission, it only makes sense to insist on having one. Builders are reluctant to reduce prices because those discounts are available for other buyers to see.

A REALTOR® will provide guidance and support throughout the transaction

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Via Giphy


When it comes to pre-construction, home buyers must navigate multiple steps and interact with several people before closing. In addition to making decisions around design, buyers must also make technical choices about electrical work or construction add-ons during the build. In addition, some buyers will be dealing with loan officers, appraisers, notaries and home inspectors. Having a trusted REALTOR® means you can access their vast network to find the best professionals.

Bottom line? The builder's rep has the builder's goals in mind, while your own agent is a valuable resource with just one person to satisfy: You.

a illustrated quiz about whether of not you should use a REALTOR when buying pre-construction


Original Article from: Realtor 

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Buying a house can be an exciting, but complex process. So when you embark on your journey, one of your first stops should be familiarizing yourself with the lingo.

We've curated helpful information from our Homebuyers' Road Map and Tips for Buyers, to share with you some of the most important terminology a new buyer needs to know—from pre-purchase to post-purchase.


Man and woman meeting with a real estate agent in their home

Before you buy

First things first, you need to find yourself a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® can bring you peace of mind thanks to their experience and professionalism. From helping you find a home that meets your needs and price range, to negotiating your purchase price, directing you through complex contracts, a REALTOR® is an important part of your home buying journey. 

While it's exciting to start visiting open houses, you must first determine how much a mortgage lender is willing to let you borrow to purchase your first home. Your mortgage is a loan that can help you cover the cost of buying a home. How much you're able to borrow will depend on factors including your total current debt, monthly household income, how long you’ve been at your current job and how long it will take you to pay it back: Introducing theamortization period. A longer amortization period means lower monthly payments but higher interest rates. 

Mortgage lenders use Principle, Interest, Taxes and Heating (PITH) as a tool to ensure mortgage affordability by determining the monthly payments that can be made by the home buyer. The REALTOR.ca mortgage affordability calculators can help you perform your own PITH test to estimate affordable mortgage payments.

When taking out a mortgage, home buyers grant the bank a lien on the property. This gives the bank the right to seize your property in the event you don't repay your mortgage.


Couple smiling while approaching a man


Types of mortgages: 

  • Fixed-rate mortgage: Your interest rate is locked in for a specified period called a term. Your payments stay the same for the mortgage's term so you will not pay more even if interest rates increase over time.

  • Variable rate mortgage: The rate of interest you pay may change if rates go up or down.

  • Conventional mortgage: Requires a down payment of 20% or more of the property's value. You're not required to get mortgage default insurance with a conventional mortgage.

  • Closed mortgage: The mortgage cannot be paid off early without paying a prepayment charge.

  • Open mortgage: A mortgage that can be paid off at any time during the term, without having to pay a charge. The interest rate for an open mortgage may be higher than for a closed mortgage with the same term.

Now that you know how much you can afford, your REALTOR® can help determine what type of neighbourhood you want to live in and what type of house you want to buy.


Two people looking at a map on their phone while driving

Buying a home

You've found your dream home…now what? It's not time to pack your bags just yet. There are many expenses you must consider beyond the purchase price(the price you're willing to pay for the house). 

You need to consider how much of a down payment you can afford. This refers to the initial up-front portion you pay against your home purchase. The larger the down payment, the smaller your mortgage. Are you a first-time home buyer with a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) account? You can now withdraw up to $35,000 without paying income tax through the Home Buyers' Plan.


Man wearing hard hat and pointing to something on exterior of home


Other factors you may want to consider at this stage are:

  • Property taxes: This annual fee, imposed by the local government, pays for services like public education, local police and libraries. 

  • Home insurance: This is a form of property insurance protecting you financially in the event of damages or losses to your home and its contents. In most cases, you can include these payments in your monthly mortgage payment. 

  • Home inspection: Even if the home appears to be flawless, many home buyers arrange a home inspection as a condition of their purchase. Hiring a professional to inspect the overall condition of the home can cost a few hundred dollars, but can reveal any serious defects.

Now that you have figured out all of the costs associated with your purchase, you're ready to make an offer. An offer to purchase is a formal, legal agreement made between the buyer and seller which often contains certain conditions. This is commonly known as a conditional offer and includes factors that must be met in order for the sale to be successful such as financing terms, appliances and fixtures, inspections and the physical condition of the house. 

Generally, the seller has between 24 and 48 hours to accept, reject or counter-offer. This is known as irrevocability of the offer, the length of time the seller has to consider your offer. 

Once your offer is accepted, you will need to determine your closing costs. This includes your mortgage broker's fee, real estate commissions, moving costs, title insurance—an insurance policy protecting you against challenges related to the title of your home—and more. 

While there's a lot more lingo in the real estate dictionary, hopefully you now have a better understanding before taking plunge into one of the biggest single purchases you’ll ever make. These resources available on REALTOR.ca may also help you along your journey to homeownership:


Original Article from: Realtor

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Scroll through your Instagram feed and you'll likely see hundreds of photos documenting your friends' renovation progress, interior décor choices and house hacks. Social media has given us a sneak peek into the best parts of other people's lives. What were once intimate celebratory moments are now carefully-curated photo-ops to share with followers. REALTORS® are even setting up photoshoots for their first-time home buying clients to document the occasion (and subsequently post to their social media pages). And, the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is real; 27% of millennials report being inspired to buy after seeing photos of homes posted by their peers on Instagram. 

The dream of homeownership is alive and well with millennials–among those who don't yet own a home, 86% say they'd like to and more than two-thirds consider themselves passionate about owning. 

However, most millennials feel it has become more difficult to buy a residential property and consider the down payment, monthly payments and mortgage interest rates the biggest obstacles. But, don't be deterred … or get caught up in FOMO. If you aren't yet a homeowner but would like to be, make a plan and consider these next points. 

Do you have enough saved up? 

A woman stands in the kitchen pouring water from a kettle into a mug a mug


You can buy a home with as little as 5% down, but unless you put down at least 20% of the home's purchase price, you'll also be required to pay mortgage insurance. 

There are many mortgage calculators to help you determine what you can afford. REALTOR.ca’s mortgage affordability calculator can help guide you through this process. Remember, even if you have enough saved up for your down payment, owning a home comes with expenses beyond your mortgage. Up front, you'll have lawyer fees, closing costs and home insurance. Once you're moved in, you'll have monthly utility costs, maintenance and property taxes. You should also have an additional contingency fund set aside in case of unforeseen expenses.

How stable is your job? 

A couple sits on the couch, sharing earbuds, as they look at an iPad


If your goal is to travel the world in the next five years or if you're in the middle of a career change and don't know where you'll be working next, it might be wise to hold off buying a property. .

And who knows? If you've been eyeing a coveted promotion at work, that extra income might be the boost your budget needs to help land your “forever” home.

Do you plan to get married, have kids or get pets?

A couple and their baby are sitting together on the floor of their living room


A studio apartment might be all your single self needs, but a lot can change in five years. If you plan to have kids or get a pet anytime soon, take that into consideration when house hunting or hold off until you're ready to look for something better suited to your needs and lifestyle.

Turn FOMO into JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out) 

Friends working on a laptop in the kitchen.


Remember, social media is like your “highlight reel.” Homeownership is an exciting milestone, but only when you're financially and emotionally ready for it. If you don't own yet, consider it an opportunity to save more toward your down payment, work toward your dream job and get to know the features of a home and neighbourhood that are important to you. REALTOR.ca listings offer enhanced neighbourhood information including, commute times, nearby schools, restaurants, parks, shopping and whether the community is pedestrian friendly.  

Another plus: if you're the last of your friends to buy a home, you'll have plenty of experiences to learn from.

When you're ready to start looking for your first or next home, a REALTOR® is your best ally to navigate the ins and outs of home buying … and maybe even help you capture that perfect Insta shot, too. Oh, and don't forget to create an account so you can save your searches, make notes on your favourites, and get access to our monthly newsletter that covers all things “home”.



Original Article from: Realtor

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In 2017, 22% of Canadians (about 6.2 million people) reported having at least one disability but the real number is likely higher and growing. With such a staggering statistic, it's unsurprising the focus on accessibility is gaining traction in architecture, design, real estate—and even in outdoor public spaces.

Why is accessibility so important?


Accessible parks and playgrounds connect people through universal design by providing opportunities for people of all ages, sizes and levels of ability to participate in activities together.

What is universal design?

Universal design is an approach to accessibility aiming to create products, experiences and spaces that are accessible by default and usable by anyone regardless of their age, size or ability. When we consider the needs of the most extreme users at the outset, we save time and money by avoiding retrofitted inclusive design solutions and we make things that are better for everyone.



A great example of this is a sloped curb. Yes—a sloped curb is wheelchair accessible—but it's also stroller accessible, skateboard accessible, easier for small children learning to walk, can use less materials than a standard curb and generally safer and easier to use.

The StopGap Foundation raises awareness for universal design by building simple, modular ramps for businesses to make their shops wheelchair accessible. The focus is on accessibility but also how it benefits everyone.

What makes a park or playground accessible?


In their guide to creating accessible play spaces, the Rick Hansen Foundation says:

“Play spaces based on the principles of universal design are inclusive and offer a rich variety of physical and creative play opportunities. They are designed specifically to allow children of all abilities to play and enjoy the same activities together.”

Rick Hansen Foundation

This can include elements like: a shock absorbent surface with lots of room to manoeuvre around equipment safely and easily, wheelchair-accessible ramps leading up to elevated play structures and ground level features with a mix of sensory and physical interactive elements.

Some typical park equipment can be made accessible with minor design changes. For example, a sandbox, if elevated, becomes a sand table which can be accessed by children who use wheelchairs. The OmniSpin® Spinner is a carousel with high-backed seats offering support for kids with limited mobility, with alternating low spots to enable transfers to and from wheelchairs and walkers.



Kate's Place For Everyone in Elmira, Ontario is an accessible playground boasting a variety of shareable park equipment—slides with rollers, high-backed carousels and sensory ground-level equipment. The project was spearheaded in 2010 by Kelly Meissner, whose daughter Kate was diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Kelly, with the help of her community, raised the funds to build a playground that would be fun for anyone. 

How can I find a home near an accessible park?


Looking to live close to an accessible park? The REALTOR.ca search feature has a couple of great tools to help you find exactly what you're looking for. First, each listing has a “neighbourhood” tab that lists a number of nearby amenities, like parks and playgrounds. To narrow down your search results, you can filter by keywords like accessibility, universal design and wheelchair accessible.

The other benefits of accessibility

Research reflects that inclusivity can help us become more empathetic and learn to be better critical thinkers. Accessible parks and playgrounds provide this opportunity for people of all ages and abilities.



If you live near one, you're lucky! If you've never gone to one, you should! If you live in a community where parks are being updated or built, advocate for accessibility. There‘s no downside to spaces that are fun, safe and easier for everyone to navigate.




Original Article from: Realtor

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Moe Pourtaghi


"Nothing brings me more joy than seeing my buyers & sellers have success in their Real Estate endeavours. I hope you find the articles on my blog inspiring and educating in your ventures." - Moe Pourtaghi

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.