Becoming a homeowner is about more than simply finding your dream home. Before closing a deal, you'll have secure your financing, complete inspections and set up your home insurance.
Insurance companies take many factors into consideration when compiling your quote, but they don't all ask the same questions. Quotes can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The goal when purchasing home insurance isn't just to find the lowest price. It's wise to speak to at least three different insurance companies (or a broker who will present you with quotes from multiple insurers) to compare prices and coverage, so you can find the plan that best suits your needs and budget.
While some things are out of your control, like the age of your home or the area's risk of water damage or flooding, knowing which questions to ask and which details to provide can help you get the best price for the best coverage. Before you get stuck paying more than you need to, here are a few things to bring up to each company when you're shopping around for a quote.
Your existing policies
If you have an existing auto or life insurance policy, you could be eligible for a bundle discount. Speak to your existing insurance lender; this will set the bar when it comes to negotiating with other lenders, but don't automatically assume your agent will be giving you the best price.
When I moved from a condo to a detached home, even with bundled auto and home policies, a different insurance lender was able to provide me with a quote of nearly $250 less (for the same amount of coverage) than my existing insurer had quoted me. So always remember to shop around even if your existing lender offers you a discount.
Your credit score
Credit scores aren't something most people think about when purchasing home insurance, but if you and your partner are buying a home together, try putting whoever has the higher score first on the application. For example, when my boyfriend and I swapped out his name for mine (my score is about 40 points higher), we managed to lower our quote by $300.
If you're buying a home solo, work on improving your score as much as possible before you begin the insurance application process. Pay off credit cards and student loans (if possible), and pay your bills on time. The higher your credit score, the more you could save.
Location and other details
Many factors affect your home's insurability and insurers can't inquire over every detail. Make sure to point out any additional features making your home less of a liability. If you plan to revisit the home before closing, drive around the area and keep an eye out for a few things:
Fire hydrant: A fire hydrant on your property or across the street will lower your premium.
Sump pump: A sump pump is vital if the area has a high risk of flooding. If your home has a sump pump, your insurer may lower the water damage premium.
Fire or police stations: The closer your home is to a fire and/or police station, the lower your premium will be.
Security system: If the home doesn't have a security system but you'd like the added safety, let your insurer know, and find out which systems are eligible for the best insurance discounts. Installing the cheapest system won't necessarily save you money, but the right one can lower your premium by as much as 15 to 20%.
The roof: Some homeowners forget to inform their insurance company when they make an update, such as replacing the roof. If the insurer has it on file your roof was last replaced in the ‘80s, but the shingles look brand new, have your REALTOR® contact the seller to determine whether they've been replaced recently. The newer the roof, the less of a liability and the lower your insurance premium.
Amount of coverage
Depending on the home's location and the company you're dealing with, you may be able to choose to increase or decrease the amount of coverage you get for certain parts of the home. For example, if you're moving to a high water-risk zone and your home has a finished basement, coverage will be costlier; but if you plan to strip the basement past the drywall and rebuild it in a year or two, you might not feel the need to have such high coverage.
Once you've found your dream home, the hardest part of your house hunt is over. But you're not done just yet! Now, you still need to inspect it, pay for it, insure it and decorate it. A REALTOR® is a great resource for helping you make informed decisions and navigate the next steps. Armed with this knowledge, you can negotiate for the best possible insurance quote for the best coverage and save yourself money and headaches in the future.
Orginial Article from Realtor.ca
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 includes 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.
Orginial Article from Realtor.ca
Kitchen renovations are disruptive, so it's easy to fall into a diet of instant ramen, microwavable meals and takeout. This can leave you feeling drained and likely craving more.
Having strategies for working around temporarily-limited space and equipment will help you produce tasty, nutritious meals, and hopefully, alleviate stress during the remodel. Read our tips below for a happier, healthier and more organized kitchen renovation.
1. Bulk prep in advance
Prepare, individually portion and freeze meals in large quantities before the renovation starts. Things like lasagna, chili, stews, soups and curries are easy to scale up and have ingredients in common—so you can create different meals by making slight changes to ingredients bought in bulk (for example, adding corn, beans and spices to meat sauce makes chili).
With all the prep work taken care of, thawed and reheated portions make for quick, easy meals.
2. Set aside essentials
Before packing away your kitchen, collect the items from this list that make sense for you:
- Eating utensils
- Set of reusable dishware
- Cutting board(s)
- Large knife
- Paring knives (one serrated)
- Cooking utensils (spatulas, stirring spoons, tongs, vegetable peeler)
- Large and small metal mixing bowls
- Measuring cup
- Small appliances (toaster oven, microwave, kettle, slow cooker, blender, cooktop)
Don't forget: you'll need a sink or basin to wash dishes, produce and your hands.
3. Stock for versatility, plan for success
The ingredients below are building blocks for a wide variety of simple, nutritious dishes—and should be considered essential for eating well during your renovation:
|Pantry||Salt, pepper, oil, salad vinegar, sugar, flour, soy sauce, dried
or canned legumes, potatoes, onions, canned tomatoes, peanut butter, garlic, spices, pasta, rice or quinoa, bread, nuts
|Salad Vegetables||Lettuce/salad greens, kale, cucumber, tomato, cabbage, carrots|
|Grilling Vegetables||Zucchini, long eggplants, broccoli, peppers|
|Dairy/Meats||Milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, cold cuts or cured meat to slice yourself for sandwiches|
|Fruits||Apples, oranges, bananas|
Grocery shop once for the whole week and plan your meals around what's on sale. If you shop on the weekend, you can prepare ahead of time to make the week easier. Make a schedule of meals at the beginning of each week to help eliminate guesswork.
Cover meat and vegetables with stock in your slow cooker in the morning and you'll have stew waiting for you when you get home. Make dip (hummus, bean dip, tzatziki) at the beginning of the week to supplement snacks and lunches. Cut and wash veggies for a few days' worth of salads at a time. BBQ if the weather is warm enough—marinade in resealable bags or storage containers in the fridge overnight and grill the next day.
This planning means you won't have to decide what to make for dinner, each night; you'll just have to deal with assembly.
4. Buy dinner, make salad
Takeout will happen—and that's OK—but know that restaurants often use more fat and salt in their food. Making a salad or vegetable side as an accompaniment will help stave off renovation scurvy. And, if renovation life feels too busy to fathom going grocery shopping, consider one of the many meal delivery services. Simply register online, pick meals based on your preferences and available appliances, and have pre-prepped and measured ingredients delivered to your home with clear assembly instructions included.
You'll want to keep your strength up to survive any long-term renovation project. With a little planning and prep work, you'll be able to eat like a chef … even without your chef's kitchen.