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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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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

GIF of a man signalling to another man to not do/go for something

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

GIF on a girl in a crowd cheering someone on

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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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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Whether you're renovating, redecorating or spatial planning—you know there's an app for that. We're taking a closer look at seven mobile apps that will give you a leg up on your next home project.


Magicplan 

This is an app for everything from a brand new build to a redecorating project. Since you can recreate all of your doors, windows and furniture in the app (right down to their exact measurements), you can rearrange an entire room and see what works before rolling up your sleeves and pushing heavy beds or couches around.

There are different ways to create a floor plan in magicplan, from individual rooms with well-lit photographs, to free form drawing or even an augmented reality (AR) feature that will scan the space and create a to-scale plan. Once your room is sized, tap the “Add Object” button and add everything from doors, plumbing, furniture and electrical in various styles and sizes. On your floor plan, tap where you want to place your object and then add it. From there you can move it along the wall or across the plan.

Rating: 4.5/5 magicplan takes some getting used to, and there are a lot of options within the  app, but nothing here is trying to trick you or make you do complicated 3D math. The ability to create a floor plan of your space without grabbing a ruler and pencil is super efficient.

Cost: Free + in-app purchases

Platforms: iPhone, iPad and Android devices

Download for iOS

Download for Android


DecorMatters

Be your own designer with the DecorMatters app. With a free account, you can save your designs, build mood boards and portfolios, follow your favourite designers and be part of a vibrant and creative community. 

Full of design inspiration, DecorMatters lets you fill a room with with features like furniture, art and lighting options from their expansive library—including real products from your favourite stores.

Even cooler:  Its augmented reality features. Scan the floor of a room through the in-app camera and add to-scale products to your space in front of your eyes. There's plenty to explore in DecorMatters, but the technology behind the app is seriously impressive.

Rating: 4.6/5 It feels like a game with how much you can play around with the products. Cycle through décor, furniture and colours to see what you like best before committing to a style. It's a full room transformation without the price tag. 

Cost: Free + in-app purchases

Platform: iPhone

Download for iOS


Pantone Studio

This colour palette app invites you to “explore a universe of colour and discover harmonies and colour values”. Simply put, this is a colour swatch app with plenty of perks.

Sure there are a lot of features you can unlock for a price, but the free components of Pantone Studio are a great starting point to find complementary colour palettes. If you allow Pantone Studio access to your device's photo gallery, the app will create a five colour swatch based on the hues and tones in pictures you select. From there, you can drag the swatch to the bar at the bottom for a closer look and detailed read-out of the colours.

You can even use built-in AR technology to create a swatch in real-time using any object in your home. 

Rating: 3.8/5 This is an easy-to-use app to help harmonize a room and get creative with your colour choices. If you want to design a room around your favourite piece of art, upload the photo to Pantone Studio and the app will pick five colours to work with. From there, you can paint walls, find textiles and stain woods to help tie the room together. 

Cost: Free + Free Trial and in-app purchases of the Pantone swatches

Platforms: iPhone

Download for iOS


Morpholio Board

Do you like to gather all of your ideas in one place before you start a big project? Morpholio lets you create mood boards with photos from your device's camera roll and real products from an extensive library (complete with links to websites with more information) or photos from the web.

Visit your favourite websites and crop out images to add them directly to your board and when you're done, simply export your board to save it to your device's photo gallery.

This app comes with a handy feature tour right away so you can get familiar with the app before you start collecting ideas.

Rating: 4.5/5 There are many products to scroll through and tools to alter each image you add, but the mechanics are simple enough that it won't take long to get used to. This app is like kind of like Pinterest if you could cut and paste each pin onto a corkboard for a more holistic view of a mood or idea. 

Cost: Free to build boards + in-app purchases to unlock special features

Platforms: iPhone, iPad

Download for iOS


iPhone built-in measuring and level

If you have an iPhone or iPad, there's an app package that can come in handy during your renovations or redecorating: the Measure app, which uses AR to measure objects and distances. Follow the on-screen instructions and simply tap a point at one edge of your object and move your phone along its length until you need to make a turn. Anchor another point and keep going. Once you're done, tap the measurement on the screen to get a final reading. Then, if you swipe to the right, you'll also find the built-in level. The level works in any direction; you just need to tap to calibrate 0º and let the red or green screen tell you if you're level or not.

Rating: 5/5 The design of both features is super streamlined and simple to navigate, and the AR component of the Measure app is still new enough to be pretty thrilling.

Cost: Free

Platforms: iPhone, iPad. 

Hey Android users, don't feel left out. Search “Bubble Level” on Google Play for your own built-in level.


iHandy Level

This one is a pretty straightforward app. Can't reach your level buried somewhere in your garage? iHandy Level will get the job done. 

The level is actually very sensitive and will give you an accurate reading in degrees from a flat, vertical or horizontal position. You can even turn on a beeping sound that will help guide you hot or cold style.

Rating: 3.9/5 iHandy Level has a simple design but it requires frequent calibration. You can also add on tools like a protractor, ruler, Plumb bob and surface level as in-app purchases.

Cost: Free for the level tool + in-app purchases for additional tools

Platforms: iPhone and Android

Download for iOS

Download for Android


Compass

The iPhone's compass app can help you figure out what kind of light each room will get throughout the day—like soft morning sun from the east or hot, direct afternoon light from the west. Knowing what light you'll get is helpful, especially if you're decorating with plants or art, or installing skylights.

Android's Compass Galaxy is a comparable app, with simple calibration and accurate readings.

Rating: 5/5. Works like a charm!

Cost: Free

Platforms: built-in on iPhone, available to download for Android

While enlisting the help from professionals is always the way to go when it comes to major home renovations or large-scale projects, the helping hand these apps offer can give you a lot of freedom to really plan and visualize your project. Plus, with so many augmented reality features, you can see the finished project before it's even started! Pretty cool. 

Do you have a favourite home design app? Let us know what's worked for you in the comments or on our social media channels.


Original Article from: Realtor


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Staying at home for the holidays? Use some of your downtime to tackle a house project or two, and you can start 2020 with a fresher, cleaner space. Take the time to work on a project you would never usually have time for (like editing photos from the past year), get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions (by building a healthy pantry) and put away those ornaments and string lights (actually untangled for once). These eight ideas may just motivate you to put down the Christmas cookies.

Higby Design

1. Clean Up Your Digital Life


The end of the year is a good time to edit digital photo files — you get to reminisce over the past year and create room on your hard drive for the year to come. Delete the fuzzy, out-of-focus and unflattering shots right away, then narrow your collection down further by choosing to keep only the best image when you come across a bunch of very similar shots. Once that’s done, order yourself a book of your favorite snapshots from 2013.


While you’re at your computer, be sure to back up data using a cloud service or an external hard drive (or both) if you haven’t already done so. Collect all of your passwords in one secure place and clean up your virtual desktop.

Impact Remodeling and Construction

2. Organize Your Book Collection


Sifting through old books is sort of like going through photos — they offer a snapshot of your interests and passions at the time you read them. Work your way through your bookshelves one by one, setting aside books you no longer love in a pile to donate or sell.

S. B. Long Interiors

3. Wipe Down Glass Light Fixtures


This is one of those things that’s actually pretty quick and painless to do, but that we don’t necessarily get around to very often. Use a sturdy stepladder to reach the fixture, and wipe it with a dry cloth or duster. If that doesn’t cut it, move up to a spritz of glass cleaner and another wipe with a dry, lint-free cloth. Your lights will be so sparkling and bright, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

deSigneR - Architects and Interior Designers

4. Organize Your Wardrobe


Get some new clothes for Christmas? Make room in the closet by getting rid of a few old, worn or ill-fitting pieces. Sort what’s left by type (pants, skirts etc.) and then, if you’re feeling really ambitious, by color.


Houzz TV: See a Small Apartment Become a Glamorous Dream Home

Wettling Architects

5. Sort Out the Kids’ Stuff


After the holidays is a great time to weed out old toys and clothes from children’s rooms, since kids tend to be more focused on the new stuff they got as gifts. For very young children, you may want to do the editing on your own; older kids should get a say. It can help if you choose a children’s charity together and learn about how the items they give away will help a child who doesn’t have new toys or clothes.


Find an interior designer near you on Houzz

Evens Architects

6. Clean the Kitchen From Top to Bottom


Has marathon cookie baking left your kitchen looking a little worse for the wear? Give it some TLC before the new year. Clean out the pantry and fridge, set your oven to self-clean, wipe down the backsplash and walls, scrub the sink and counters and, last but not least, mop the floors.

KuDa Photography

7. Build a Healthy Pantry


Is one of your new year’s resolutions to eat more healthfully? If so, take this downtime as an opportunity to set the stage for healthier eating. Look at the raw ingredients you have and consider making some healthier swaps — whole wheat for white flour, quinoa or other grains for white rice, maple or brown rice syrup for refined sugar and so on. Make some healthy meal plans and shopping lists, and store them in your pantry where you can easily access them.

Portico Design Group

8. Put Away Holiday Decorations the Right Way


Commit to putting away holiday decor properly this year, and your future self will thank you. Wind Christmas lights around flat pieces of cardboard and stack the cardboard pieces in a box. Wrap delicate ornaments in tissue paper and pack them gently into a cardboard box (plastic can trap moisture and damage ornaments); pack less-fragile decorations in boxes with dividers meant for glassware. Old egg cartons are the perfect size and shape for storing small ornaments. Keep all of your holiday decor together, and label the boxes clearly.


Tell us: What home projects would you like to tackle over the holiday break? Share in the Comments.


Original Aritical from: Houzz

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On the northeastern coast of Vancouver Island, with cool neighbours like Nanaimo and Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach is designed for those prescribed to a coastal agenda. With a temperate climate and four kilometres of sandy beach along the Georgia Strait, Qualicum is an instant love affair. With a population of 8,943, there's enough space for everyone's beach towel!


Located within the traditional territory of Qualicum First Nation at the base of Mount Arrowsmith, Qualicum Beach is a distinct part of “Lighthouse Country,” a nearly 100km seaside stretch through Horne Lake, Qualicum Bay, Bowser and Deep Bay. Tidal flats and beachcombing beckon—as do the just-caught oysters and clams sold on the docks along the way.


It's no surprise then, that Qualicum’s natural beauty and easy access to both Victoria and Vancouver have made it a popular destination for tourists, with adorable rental cottages punctuating its pristine coast. Buyers of a certain age will be thrilled to learn that Qualicum is a thriving retirement community, and features the oldest average population in Canada with a median age of 65.9.


Photo courtesy of Town of Qualicum Beach, Facebook

Did you know?

  • At Free Spirit Spheres, you can sleep suspended in the trees. The spherical orbs are the kind of stuff grown-up dreams are made of and are kitted out with every possible tiny-home-for-a-night need. Just add falling stars to wish upon (*oh, and there are skylights too).

  •  A hotel in Bowser, just north of Qualicum Bay, made Ripley's Believe It or Not history for having a dog that not only served beer to patrons—but also collected their money and made change! “Mike” was trained to tend bar by his owners in the 1930s.

  • This summer, Qualicum Beach hosted their 61st Annual Ocean Mile Swim. A family-friendly event that features–you guessed it!–a mile-long swim in the ocean!

Things to do

Vancouver Island has the highest average winter temperatures in Canada,and with 14km of maintained trails, a paved promenade along the sea, 280-acres of town-owned parks and green space, there's little reason to stay indoors. Picnic spots abound with several nearby provincial parks: Rathtrevor Beach, MacMillan's surreal Cathedral Grove and Horne Lake Caves. From sushi to schnitzel, hiking to fiddling (the local all-ages Oceanside Jammers encourage play-by-ear fiddlers), life in Qualicum Beach is what most people seek from a restorative vacation.

Photo courtesy of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

  •  At Morningstar Farm (home of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Mooberry Winery), you can order a genuine cow's milk latte from the cleverly named Calfé. Or, fill up a take-home bottle at, what's believed to be, Canada's first milk-on-tap dispenser.

  • Just 10 minutes away in Coombs, the legendary Goats on Roof Old Country Market has taken a roadside fruit stand to the next level. Through the roof, actually! While the goats get a lot of fanfare (you can actually email the resident goats' questions), the market sells more than 60 flavours of ice cream and Billy Gruff Bomber donuts that are loaded with bacon and caramel.

Photo credit: Old Country Market –Goats on Roof, Facebook

  • Looking for a touchy-feely experience? Deep Bay Marine Field Station in Baynes Sound has an interpretive centre with aquariums and touch tanks. Operated by Vancouver Island University, you can learn about local marine research projects, conservation initiatives and sign the kiddos up for a March Break Ocean Critter Camp.

  •  At Milner Gardens & Woodland, marvel at the rhododendrons and 10 acres of elaborate gardens or daydream in the shadows of ancient coastal Douglas firs. This 70-acre property was visited by Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth—so, do as the royals do and enjoy an afternoon tea in the drawing room of Milner House.

Home sweet home

According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB), in August 2019 a single-family home in Qualicum Beach, and the greater metropolitan area of Parksville, saw its benchmark price increase by 3% from the year before to $590,000. VIREB's president Kaye Broens, reports that “…sellers now recognize that the market has changed and are pricing their homes accordingly.”

The mix of homes in Qualicum range from townhomes to detached two- and three-bedroom properties with waterfront access or located in the town's residential hub.

Work with a REALTOR® to help you find your dream home or investment property in Qualicum Beach today!


Original Article from: Realtor 

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With the booming sharing economy and travellers often preferring to forgo traditional hotel stays, the notion of renting out a room in your home (or the entire house itself) could seem appealing. But before you jump into peer-to-peer short-term rentals, there are some things you should consider:

Costs of hosting: starting up, cleaning, higher utility bills and more

Becoming an Airbnb host requires some startup cash along with ongoing expenses. These include the costs to set up and furnish the space, ongoing utility and cleaning fees which is usually not more than $30 per room.

You'll want to make sure each guest space is attractive and has all the amenities that a weary traveller needs such as fresh backup sheets and plenty of towels. A savvy host can reasonably furnish an empty room for about $1,000. However, $500 can do the trick if you already have an extra bed. Big box stores can help supply furniture for a range of pricing. 

The upside of being a host is that if you work hard, possess excellent customer service skills and treat the platform like your own personal business, the revenue generated from the listing can surpass the initial startup costs and provide a nice monthly return. 

Have you read: Is Buying a Home and Renting It Out a Good Investment?


Young man and woman shaking hands

Permissions

If your property is controlled by a homeowners' association or co-op, check its rules to make sure you're allowed to host; some may restrict Airbnb activity, while others may have no issue. If you rent, you'll want to get your landlord's blessing. 

A proportion of Airbnb hosts could very well be renters, who may or may not be telling their landlord. It is recommended to get your landlord's approval through a signed agreement. In most Canadian provinces, tenants cannot rent out their apartments without the approval of their landlords. 

Airbnb Canada details here how tenants should go about this process.


Bike hanging on living room wall.

Taxes and business licenses

Depending on where you live, you might require a business license and you might owe local taxes on any income you earn.

Quebec law requires short-term rentals of less than 31 days to obtain a licence from Tourism Quebec. Vancouver has proposed regulations that only allow the issuing of short-term rental licences for a primary residence — meaning the host, whether owner or tenant, must live in the dwelling. This rule targets hosts with multiple investment properties who operate as commercial hosts and eat into the housing stock.

Toronto has proposed a two-pronged approach to licensing, requiring both companies such as Airbnb and hosts to register and pay an annual fee. Hosts of short-term rentals in Toronto would be required to pay an annual fee ranging from $40 – $150. 

As tax is a relatively complex topic, Airbnb has provided some information about local regulations in different Canadian markets. Above all, it's good to consult a tax professional to get more specific information.


Clean + Declutter

You'll want to tidy your space, present it in the best possible light and hide your valuables before you photograph it.

Like the listings you love to peruse here on REALTOR.ca, the photos and listing title are the first thing a potential guest will see on Airbnb. This is your opportunity to catch their attention. 

You can either take your own photographs or contract out a professional photographer. Many hosts opt for professional shots, given how important eye-catching photos are for your space's profile.

Before photographing, ensure that you prep by arranging suitable lighting conditions and use a quality camera (now available on most smartphones).


Woman standing at bottom of stairs smiling

Insurance and liability

Airbnb's Host Guarantee provides up to $1 million in insurance coverage for property damage in 29 countries, including Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Airbnb's insurance is not a substitute for homeowner's or renter's insurance and it doesn't protect against theft or personal liability.

Airbnb states that damage to a host's property (home, unit, rooms, possessions) in every listing is covered up to $1 million USD. However, hosts must provide documentation as part of the resolution process. Payments made through the Host Guarantee are “subject to Host Guarantee Terms and Conditions,” meaning there are exclusions, limitations and conditions. As well, it's common for Airbnb hosts to receive emails from Airbnb, at random, informing them that various terms and conditions have changed. 

Call your insurance company to see what is covered, as some home insurance policies cover short-term rentals. But if there are multiple short-term visits, the insurance company might require you to buy a business policy that would cover a hotel or a bed and breakfast. 

Damage

Airbnb's host guarantee doesn't protect against wear and tear to your place, but you can charge a security deposit to cover possible damage.

Installing a reasonable security deposit is a no-brainer move for new hosts. Airbnb allows hosts to set up a security deposit to cover minor damages that would not be covered under the Host Guarantee. For example, if a guest breaks a door handle while staying at your property, you'll want to replace that before the next guest comes.

However, Airbnb won't consider this damage to be major and won't cover it under the Host Guarantee. As a result, this becomes an out of pocket expense for you, unless you charge the guest a security deposit. When guests make a reservation, they are not immediately charged for the deposit – only if a host makes a claim.

Even if a host is only renting a single room, a security deposit is a safe move just in case anything gets damaged. 


Couple meeting with another woman.

Getting paid

Airbnb could require you to refund a guest's payment if you cancel a reservation at the last minute, forget to leave the key, misrepresent your listing, don't clean your home or otherwise fail to meet Airbnb's hospitality standards. Airbnb suggests making sure you're available during the guests' scheduled check-in to address any concerns. 

Airbnb's payment system is quick and efficient. Payments are sent through direct deposit after the guest completes their first night (regardless of the length of stay). 

When a guest books a host's space, they also agree to the host's cancellation policy, which dictates the percentage of the booking costs (minus Airbnb's cut), if any, they will get back. Most moderate policies allow a guest to cancel within two days of the first night to get their money back. Less moderate policies allow the host to collect more of the booking money. 

Host cancellations also happen from time to time. One study found host cancellations are the top complaint on Airbnb, representing about 20% of all complaints. 

Depending on when a host cancels a stay, they'll be deducted either $50 or $100. If a host cancels three or more reservations within a year, Airbnb may deactivate the listing.

To Airbnb or not to Airbnb 

If you talk to enough long-time Airbnb hosts, they'll be able to tell you an endless number of stories about inspiring and interesting guests who shared their home. Others might have bad experiences. There are clear potential advantages and disadvantages to becoming an Airbnb host.

However, if all the regulatory checks are taken care of, the space is up to par and you're taking your hosting responsibilities seriously, the platform can serve as a nice way to earn extra cash and meet interesting travellers from around the world.

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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Aside from connecting the lower and upper floors, an elegant staircase can also take a home’s design to the next level. But there are countless ways to design this key element in a multistory home. If you’re looking for staircase designs, this countdown of the top 10 staircase photos uploaded to Houzz in 2019 might help you find your way.


Birdseye Building


10. Classic Character


The newel post that anchors the staircase in this Vermont farmhouse was custom-made by Birdseye. Paired with the space’s wide-plank floors, white shiplap walls and warm wood treads, the vintage-style piece sets the tone as homespun but polished.


Pacific Hardwood Flooring


9. Bright White and Wood


Embellished woodwork and glass, abundant natural light and a substantial traditional staircase come together in this Los Angeles-area home to create a sophisticated entryway. Beneath the stairs, wide planks of ashy European oak from Pacific Hardwood Flooring keeps the room looking fresh.


Find a flooring professional near you on Houzz


The Fox Group


8. Warm and Welcoming


A medium-warm wood set against bright white in this Salt Lake City home designed by The Fox Group establishes an immediate sense of cozy farmhouse charm. Overhead, a more contemporary gold light fixture updates the look and adds another element of warmth.


Shop for lighting

Thos. Moser


7. Transitional Charm


With a complementary old-fashioned rocking chair in the background and neat, geometric metalwork, this staircase doesn’t stick to just one style. Wood accents, added by custom furniture maker Thos.Moser, introduce more character.


Timeless Interiors


6. A Touch of Colorful Tile


By decking these stair risers in colorful patterned tile, the team at Timeless Interiors incorporated a fun, unexpected component to an otherwise refined space in New York. Alongside the graceful curve of the staircase, the rich dark-wood railing and the ornate metalwork, the tile strikes a balance between laid back and luxe.


Robert H. Delafield, Inc.


5. Contemporary Storage


Form and function shine in this Tampa, Florida, staircase. Aside from the striking contemporary railing made by local fabricator Vasquez Custom Metals, the staircase stands out with its clever storage spaces. General contractor Robert H. Delafield and other design pros made the most of an often-overlooked space with natural wood cubbies that are playful and practical.


Solitude Homes


4. Shades of Wood


Solitude Homes’ rustic staircase in this Idaho home features a statement-making wood railing in a slightly richer stain than the wood floors. Combined with the house’s open shelving, a comfy carpet runner, white walls and other wood accents, the stairs feel immediately inviting.


NUMI Home


3. Surprise Shelving


Another home making smart use of its under-the-stairs space, this Los Angeles-area property, developed by NUMI Home, makes tucked-away storage the star of the show. With clean lines, simple shelf styling and that bold pop of saturated blue, it’s no wonder the shelves-and-staircase combination was a hit among the Houzz community.


8 Clever Ideas for the Space Under the Stairs

Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design


2. A Reading Rainbow of Risers


Who says you can’t have a little fun with your staircase? Artist and designer Kathryn J. LeMaster gave this Little Rock, Arkansas, stairway a literary look by painting colorful book spines along the risers. The result? A library’s worth of details to love.


Park City Design Build


1. Floating Modern Features


The modern Utah staircase that users most saved to their ideabooks this year mixes clean lines with mountain views. The team at Park City Design Build wanted to emphasize the walls of glass that look out over the surrounding natural scenery in the house, so airy details like the cable railings and custom floating wood stair treads are meant to keep sight lines clear and dramatic.


Original Article from: Houzz 

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vancouver-is-awesome-founder-bob-kronbauer-with-dog-frankie-his-wife-kate-and-son-arlo-at-their-new


Vancouver Is Awesome founder Bob Kronbauer with dog Frankie, his wife Kate and son Arlo at their new home that’s not in Vancouver. Photo courtesy Bob Kronbauer


The issue surrounding affordability in Vancouver is nothing new. No matter what your opinion or your income, the one thing most everyone can agree on is that Vancouver is an expensive place to live.


That fact was driven home again recently, when Bob Kronbauer, founder and editor of Vancouver Is Awesome, which shares office space and owners with the Vancouver Courier, moved out of the city he has passionately repped for more than a decade. Bob, his wife Kate and son Arlo have joined an exodus of young families feeling Vancouver’s financial pinch. They have relocated to a much smaller, more affordable town. Kronbauer now makes the commute into the city four days a week.


“I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be able to own a house in Vancouver a couple years ago, and I have already mourned that fact,” Kronbauer told me last week. “We could have bought a condo, but I grew up in Vernon, in a house, I wanted my son to have the same freedoms and joys that come along with that. I'm buying him a drum kit for his birthday this weekend. We're planting a tree that we'll watch grow over the years that we live here.”

Back in his early 20s, after a short stay in Vancouver, Kronbauer moved to Southern California. He immersed himself in the skateboard industry, landing a gig working for Spike Jonze’s company Girl Skateboards. He returned to Vancouver in the early 2000s, and thought that, compared to L.A., Vancouver felt like Shangri La. He couldn’t figure out what all the complaining was about.


“I was like, ‘This is the best!’ and everyone else was like, ‘This is No Fun City!’” he told the Courier in 2017.

Around the same time Kronobauer returned from the states, Vancouver was also considering whether it should put in a bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.There was so much public discourse at the time that then mayor Larry Campbell held a citywide plebiscite that saw a record number of citizens turn up at the polls. Somewhat surprisingly, the “yes” side won by nearly two-thirds, and the rest is gold medal memories.


A few years after that vote, Kronbauer decided to do something else for the city, founding the then-ultra-positive Vancouver Is Awesome website on Valentine’s Day 2008. Over the last 10 years, it has grown into an empire of sorts, spinning off into books, podcasts, a T-shirt line, award-nominated TV shows and a massive reach on social media.

How is it that a person who has arguably done so much to boost the morale of this city can’t live here?


“I don't feel like the city owes me anything for ‘passionately repping’ it for all those years while I was a renter,” Kronbauer told me. “I made good money off of that ‘repping,’ and I continue to do so. We made the decision as a family. The kid had a veto, but he wanted to move. I feel extra good about us all having a say in it, and it not being about yanking the kid out of his school and away from his friends so we could own a home.”


It could be argued that Vancouver’s affordability crisis has been a great thing for small towns. With the influx of young families comes new businesses such as breweries, restaurants and tourism ventures. As such, many smaller towns in B.C. are experiencing renaissance-like upswings in economy, culture and livelihood.


And despite what you may hear about Vancouver, it’s apparently still awesome. Newcomers continue to flood in, searching for places to rent and own, as they have done since this city was incorporated. Why? Vancouver has always been viewed by those looking in as a great place to live — expensive, “no fun” or otherwise.


As for Kronbauer, the man who promotes the awesomeness of Vancouver for a living, he seemingly has no regrets on leaving it, or spending his first Christmas in a decade outside of the city limits.


“I'm so happy to have moved out of the city,” he exclaimed. “No mixed emotions about it. I'd be driving out to the sticks on the weekends to fish and camp, so I basically just flipped that schedule upside down. Now I drive into town during the week and live in the sticks on the weekend. My son also gets to see his grandma every day as opposed to every month. And my house feels like a palace!”


Kronbauer and I haven’t always agreed on some of the issues facing this city, but we can agree on this: home is where the heart is.


@grantlawrence

grantlawrence12@gmail.com



Original Article from: Vancouverisawesome
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moderate income housing project 1


One building is proposed for 3680 East Hastings (left) and a second is proposed for 3600 East Hastings (right). Rendering BHA Architects

Vancouver council referred another three rezoning applications under the city's Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP) to public hearings in the new year. The referrals were made at council's Dec. 10 meeting.

The public hearings get underway Jan. 21, 2020.

Council already approved the first three of 20 projects allowed under the pilot program in December — two on Renfrew Street in East Vancouver and, despite significant pushback from neighbouring residents, one on Larch Street on the city’s West Side.

To qualify under the MIRHPP, proposals must devote 20 per cent of the residential floor area to units for moderate income households earning between $30,000 and $80,000.

Average starting rates for moderate income rental units for East Side buildings are $950 for studios for average household incomes of $38,000; $1,200 for one bedrooms for households incomes of $48,000; $1,600 for two-bedrooms for household incomes of $64,000; and $2,000 for three-bedrooms for household incomes of $80,000.


moderate income housing project 2


The proposal is for a five-storey rental building for a site at 1990 to 1956 Stainsbury Ave. near Victoria Drive. Rendering Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects

January’s public hearings will deal with PCI Developments’ rezoning applications for a pair of 14-storey buildings on East Hastings Street — one at the corner of Boundary Road and the other at the corner of Kootenay Street.

The projects faced general neighbourhood opposition at a joint open house last June, but they also earned some support. Together, the two East Hastings buildings would create a total of 212 rental apartments, 43 of which would be for moderate income households — the one at 3680 East Hastings at Boundary Road would produce 118 rental units, 24 for moderate income households, while the one at 3600 East Hastings at Kootenay would produce 94 rental units, 19 for moderate income households.

Carscadden Stokes McDonald Architects submitted the third rezoning application going to public hearing Jan. 21. It’s for a site at 1956 to 1990 Stainsbury Ave. near Trout Lake.

The proposal is for a five-storey building. Approximately 13 of the 80 rental units proposed would be for moderate income households About 59 people attended a May open house for the Stainsbury proposal. The city received 67 responses about the project through comment sheets, letters, emails and online comment forms.


Original Article from: Vancouverisawesome
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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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