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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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Custom home exterior with contrasting wood and white finish tones


For most, the fantasy of building a dream home is just that—a fantasy: the perfectly styled gourmet kitchen, the shower big enough to fit an elephant and every tiny detail carefully considered to be exactly what you want.

As a trained architect, it haunts me that at my age I still haven't designed and built my own home. With so much to consider, where do you begin? As always, a good place to start is with your budget.

The Basics: what is a construction mortgage?

View looking down through scaffolding at construction crew working


If you want to build a home from scratch or if you're planning significant renovations or expansions to an existing property, a construction mortgage can help give you the financial framework to make it happen. Essentially, it begins as a loan to finance the build during the construction period. When the construction ends, the loan is due and it becomes a normal mortgage.

To qualify, you'll likely need:

  • good to excellent credit;

  • A stable income;

  • low debt-to-income ratio; and

  • a down payment of 20%

Loan funds, totalling the full amount needed to complete the construction, are given to you in stages called “draws” throughout construction. Common stages include: purchase of land, foundation, framing, lock-up (for example, doors, windows and roofing) and completion. The work is inspected by the lender at each stage to ensure it's complete before the next draw is made available. Most lenders charge a fee for this inspection that goes beyond the cost of the loan. Also, keep in mind this inspection is different from the ones you'll require as part of your permit, so be sure the work is up to code.

If you're buying a new construction home through a builder, your construction loan is secured directly with them so you won't need to get one yourself.

Starting point

Construction plans and blueprints on a desk with notes, coffee and a black marker pen.


First thing's first: you need to consider what type of home you plan to build and how large you want it to be. Specific rules vary by province, so make sure you're well informed before you start. You'll likely want to (and may be required to) enlist the help of a licensed architect and/or engineer to help develop your plans. 

When building, you might be inclined to align your build's design with your wildest desires and whims. That might be fine for your forever home and if you have no intentions of ever leaving but, if future resale is a consideration, you might want to avoid unusual elements or unconventional floor plans. A REALTOR® is a great resource to help guide you through the most common and sought-after features of your neighbourhood.


Custom designed open concept kitchen, living and dining room.


Another consideration is the land you're going to build on. Do you want to raise animals or have a farm? Is accessibility an issue or do you think it might be? How important is privacy? If you're building a custom home to retire in, think about the future of that location and how its accessibility could factor in later in life. 

Choose what you want, but choose wisely. If you are buying your own plot of land to build on (opposed to buying a new home through a builder with predetermined land) you may need a different type of loan. Vacant lots can come higher interest rates and require larger deposits. Be sure to discuss your intentions with your bank so you can look at all of your options.

Getting the mortgage

Couple consulting with a mortgage broker


A construction loan can be obtained at any major bank or broker. The loan can be a fixed or variable rate depending on your preference and payment needs. 

Pro tip: fixed rate vs. variable rate

The difference between a fixed rate and a variable rate mortgage is fixed rates set the interest rate for the term of the loan, whereas the interest rate of a variable rate mortgage may go up or down depending on market conditions. 

Be sure to ask your lender the draw dates and percentage payout of their loan, as well as their inspection fee at each phase.

Post-approval

Smiling couple looking over constructions plans


Once you're approved (congratulations!), the construction mortgage can secure the purchase of land with an initial draw or pay off any existing loan if the property has already been purchased. 

You'll be able to request subsequent draws from the lender as the construction moves forward, pending inspection.

Timing

Woman looking over construction plans


Timing is the key to ensure everything runs smoothly. Consider the schedule around the completion of your project, including payment of subcontractors and inspection fees. You'll also want to consider the sale of your current home or whether you'll need to find a place to live in the meantime.

Post-construction

Custom designed living room with overlook from the second floor.


Once the scheduled construction is complete and on-time, the bank or lender will convert the loan into a mortgage with regular interest and principal payments. 

A construction loan/mortgage, coupled with the assistance of licensed, professional trades and contractors could be the key to your dream home! Imagine the satisfaction from moving into a house tailor-made just for you. 

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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If you're a millennial considering buying your first home, congratulations! You're probably excited until you remember: houses are expensive and—regardless of your current financial situation—you'll likely need to save money to afford one.  

This can be intimidating for anyone but, according to a recent survey, millennials in particular say it's become more difficult to buy a home. And, those feelings aren't just isolated to millennials who live in expensive housing markets like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. A majority from communities across the country agree


woman at kitchen table doing work


Do millennials struggle with short attention spans and a penchant for instant gratification? Who knows. Do they think saving for a down payment is the biggest hurdle to affording a home? They do. 


black man in a suit speed walking


Worry not! Where there's a will, there's a way and we hope these tips will help you exercise your delayed gratification muscles and save.

Set goals

Setting clear short and long-term goals can give you a roadmap towards your ultimate goal: homeownership.

It might start with bagged lunches and smaller investments but, in combination, those decisions can help bring you one step closer to where you'd like to be.

Pinpoint your priorities

Start by figuring out what you want in a home. Consider location, size and your desired current and future lifestyle needs. Compare your list with your preferred real estate listings to get an idea of what's available and how much it costs; this will help you adjust your expectations. 

Once you have a better idea of what you're looking for, find a REALTOR® to help you navigate the various stages of home buying and ownership. They're responsible for making the home buying process as easy as possible for you. They can also get you the information needed to make an informed decision: comparable prices, neighbourhood trends, housing market conditions and more.

Start saving

couple dancing in the kitchen


Once you know your price range, you can use a mortgage calculator to figure out how much you'll need to save for a down payment and an affordability calculator to see what you can comfortably afford in terms of monthly expenses (like living expenses and debt payments). 


birds eye view of person calculating and doing work on a laptop


From there, you can build a budget based on your goals. There are several tools, apps, techniques and systems for budgeting, but all of them start with tracking your income and expenses. For example, the envelope system helps you control your spending by putting a fixed amount of cash in an envelope every month for each expense category. Once you run out of money in your “groceries” envelope, you can't spend money on groceries until the next cycle. Whatever tools you choose, budgeting helps you clearly see how much your life costs, where your money is going and where there's room for adjustment. 


couple looking at finances


Saving money, working long hours and side-hustling requires discipline—so try to get comfortable with discomfort. When you feel burnt out, acknowledge it—give it space—but don't let it derail you. Practice things until they become good habits and prove the people who think you're wasting your life on Instagram and avocado toast wrong. Don't forget to reinforce your good behaviour by celebrating the small victories. 

Don’t be afraid to get help

girl at a bar staring at her phone


Does seeing your friends buy houses on social media make you feel isolated in your struggle? The truth is, you're not alone. 

According to Statistics Canada, despite being the most educated generation, concerns have been raised about millennials being “slower to launch.” 


young girl working as a barista


If you're struggling, open up about it. It might help relieve some of the pressure and hearing someone else's perspective could be a good reminder that everyone else is working hard to reach their goals, too. 

There are also programs and incentives to help make home buying easier, including: 

The new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (launching September 2, 2019) is intended to help qualified buyers reduce their monthly mortgage carrying costs. 

The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) allows you to borrow up to $35,000 from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy or build a home.

The First Time Home Buyers' (FTHB) Tax Credit allows you to claim up to $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home, providing up to $750 in tax relief to eligible buyers.  

Saving for a home isn't easy, but if you have a plan and stick to it, you'll be on the right track to affording a home that's right for you. 

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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People born between 1981 and 1996 (birth year definitions vary) who have reached adulthood in the early 21st century are dubbed “millennials”. It's an entire generation who have been collectively branded with a mix of stereotypes, including being smartphone-addicted avocado lovers who are content to live with their parents well into their 30s and who aren't interested in buying a home.

According to Statistics Canada, millennials’ economic well-being is quite varied as compared to previous generations.  But, millennials are still managing to buy their own houses and, subsequently, are impacting how real estate is bought, sold and marketed.

The demise of the starter home?

small interior view of kitchen, fridge and cupboards with light wood


Many millennials save money by living at home or taking advantage of affordable rental properties, even if it means getting into the market later. Others choose to dip their toes in the home buying waters with income and investment properties. By the time they're ready to buy a house of their own, they're in a better position to skip the traditional “starter” home.

Different priorities

photo of two millennial girls throwing hats off over a hilltop view


Being house poor isn't seen as a rite of passage by millennials. This doesn't mean they're not buying homes eventually, just that they also see value in prioritizing other things first, like travel, career opportunities and other investments. 

Government assistance

view of Parliament hill in Ottawa, ON


While it's too early to fully evaluate the effects of the federal government's latest efforts to help address housing affordability, the mortgage stress test, which came into effect in January 2018, added to millennials' worry they will never be able to own their own home because of tougher mortgage qualifying rules. It's expected changes to existing government programs and the introduction of others, like the First Time Home Buyers' (FTHB) Tax Credit and increase to withdrawal limits through the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP), will be tangible ways to make it easier for first-time home buyers looking to enter the market.

The internet economy

photo for 6 people's hands all on their cellphones

Millennials' affinity for technology – especially mobile devices – has helped change the way retailers operate. We've seen the shift on REALTOR.ca with 66% of visits to the site coming from mobile devices.  In general, the entire home buying journey is becoming more digitized: you can find open houses near you using smart home technology, take a complete tour of the properties that interest you without having to set foot in them and submit and accept an offer without a pen or paper. 

Now the largest generational segment of the Canadian population, millennials make up 27% of the Canadian population and are quickly becoming the largest segment of home buyers. All this ushers a new normal for the real estate industry, thanks to the changing values that accompany this influential generation's coming of age.



Original Article from: Realtor

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Wouldn't it be great if you could spot the next up-and-coming neighbourhood before it turns into a highly-sought after area? With a little research and by knowing what to look for, you can reap the benefits of buying in a neighbourhood on the cusp of revitalization.

Home values are always a good starting point to finding neighbourhoods that are beginning to turn the corner but several other factors go into the making of an up-and-coming neighbourhood. Here are a few clues:

1. Recent renovations

tools on work bench


If you notice an abundance of homes under renovation and repair, it could mean formerly downtrodden or lower-valued areas could be turning around. 

If the local city government is willing to invest money into local infrastructure, it can attract other developers looking to build their next project. When government and developers are all-in on an area, homeowners often become more invested in their own homes and community, as well. 

It might be worth taking a trip down to the city building permit counter to see whether staff have input on areas that have seen investment, and what they think the neighborhood might become.

Have you read: Buying an Older House? Here's What Unexpected Repairs Might Cost You

2. Proximity to other popular neighbourhoods

Downtown Montreal

Photo via Unsplash


As real estate values increase, people can get priced out of hot markets. These folks tend to look at spill-over markets that tend to mirror the attractive characteristics of the hot market.

Proximity to a desired neighbourhood often has positive effects for areas adjacent to it. When rents and home values increase, those closely impacted – like young professionals and families – move outward, seeking more a more affordable cost of living, and the cycle of redevelopment continues. 

3. Influx of young families and professionals

Young couple cooking in the kitchen

Photo via Unsplash


When young people are priced out of established neighbourhoods, they can often help lead the way to a less popular neighborhood's resurgence. 

The movement of artists, musicians, painters, tastemakers and other creatives can help change the feeling of a location, beautifying and adding character to it. Once they move in, restaurants and bars often follow.

Job growth and quality school boards are typical incentives for home buyers. Professionals starting businesses bring jobs, or at least more business to the area. Their kids go to schools and local businesses can run efficiently as they provide services to families, which can all help create more attractive areas from a home buying perspective.

4. Business expansion 

Starbucks coffee shop

Photo via Unsplash


High-end food chains and retailers possess big data on where they should invest their money next. They know where people are moving (and why) when they target a new location. They look for long-term growth in the local economy and they won't open unless they're sure the area can support their consumer base over the long haul.

There's also a follow-on effect as a result of trendier shops investing in an area. Larger chain retailers or even independent shops can follow suit when they see a big brand willing to put their money into a given area. It gives them faith that a larger pattern of spending and consuming is on the rise. 

5. Transportation 

Train arriving at station

Photo via Unsplash


Any development in an area that improves access to work is logically connected with housing. If a neighbourhood was once unattractive or downtrodden, its convenient proximity to employment centers, public transportation, freeways and bridges can lead to whole-neighborhood remodeling. 

Adding transit and transportation to any area will almost always benefit property values. If an area going through transition has plans to implement a transit system, this is a reasonable indication values will go up considering the area is now more accessible to a larger population base.

In southern Ontario's Greater Toronto Area, the bedroom community of Milton shot up from a population of 35,000 to 110,000 over ten years. Its close proximity to downtown Toronto, easy access to commuter transportation and aggressive residential development paved the way for the town's significant transformation.

6. Decrease in crime rates

Friends gathered around a laptop

Photo via Unsplash


Much of the transformation that occurs when a neighbourhood changes from worse to better fall under the umbrella of gentrification. People with higher incomes from neighbouring areas move in while local investments and infrastructure increase. Economic development follows and typically (but not always) crime rates fall. 

A neighbourhood with steadily falling crime rates is a good sign. Whether this indicates increased police presence, crime being pushed elsewhere or more law-abiding folks moving in and law-breaking folks moving out, it's a positive indicator. So how hard is it to find that gem home in a soon-to-be hot neighbourhood? It takes diligence, research and a willingness to get out and explore. Consider contacting your local REALTOR® to tap into their unique knowledge of the neighbourhoods where they work – a result of living and breathing these areas for years, or even decades. They also have access to in-depth data so know typical property values and are well-equipped to predict which areas are primed for change.


Original Article from: Realtor

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Seasons come and go, as do houses on the market! Curb appeal, less competition and serious buyers are just some of the many benefits to listing your home in the winter. Surprisingly enough, the winter months may also be the most wonderful time of the year…to buy a home. In fact, there are many benefits to buying a home in the off-season. Now that we have entered subzero temperatures, here are five reasons why you should brave the cold this season and join the hunt for your dream home!


A woman gesturing towards the stove in front of two men

1. Motivated seller 

What type of seller lists their home in the winter? A motivated one! Sellers who list in the winter either likely didn't have much luck in the peak real estate season or are eager to sell. This means the seller might be more willing to negotiate on selling price, closing costs, closing date or even terms of the sale in the slow winter months. Work with a REALTOR® to determine a negotiation strategy to ensure you aren't making unreasonable demands and are coming in with a fair offer.


Couple looking at a clipboard

2. Less competition 

In the same way there are fewer sellers in the winter, there are also generally fewer buyers. Worried about a crowd full of competition at your dream home's open house? Lower market activity means you are less likely to fall into a bidding war with other buyers. Between holiday planning, vacationing and a natural urge to hibernate, fewer people are inclined to look for a house in the winter season.


House in winter with snow on the roof

3. Reality check

In the winter months, chances are impeccable landscaping and well-manicured shrubs are replaced with blankets of snow and icicles hanging from the gutters. Without obvious elements of curb appeal, the buyer will get to see the house for what it truly is and will be less likely to overlook key functional elements.


Man opening a window in winter

4. Winter durability

Buying a home in the winter lets you see first-hand how the home functions in the colder months. Are the windows and doors draft-proof? Is heating evenly distributed throughout the house? These are important factors that are more difficult to evaluate in the spring and summer. All major systems including plumbing, heating, roof and gutters are put to the test.


Men lifting boxes out of a moving truck

5. Hiring movers is easier 

While it may not be easier to move all of your possessions in inclement weather, hiring movers is. Moving in the winter months when there are less people buying means there are fewer moving households that you need to compete with, simplifying the logistics of your moving day.

Little girl jumping out of a cardboard box


The weather outside might be frightful, but searching for a home in winter can be delightful! While it is true the market slows down in the winter, there are still many benefits to buying a home in the off-season.



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.