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

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

Find the perfect school with REALTOR.ca Local Insights

REALTOR.ca Local Insights map


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

  1. clicking on the “Neighbourhood” tab;

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

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

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

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

Do your homework

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


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

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

Talk to your future neighbours

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


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

Map out the commute

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


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

Visit the schools

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


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

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


Original Article from: Realtor

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

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


A REALTOR® makes the sales process less overwhelming


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

Via Giphy


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

A REALTOR® can negotiate on your behalf

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

Via Giphy


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

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

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Via Giphy


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

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

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

Via Giphy


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

A REALTOR® will provide guidance and support throughout the transaction

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


A woman gesturing towards the stove in front of two men

1. Motivated seller 

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


Couple looking at a clipboard

2. Less competition 

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


House in winter with snow on the roof

3. Reality check

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


Man opening a window in winter

4. Winter durability

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


Men lifting boxes out of a moving truck

5. Hiring movers is easier 

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

Little girl jumping out of a cardboard box


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



Original Article from: Realtor
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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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For some people, living in a city loft is the epitome of style; think skyline views, plank hardwood floors, exposed brick walls and heritage features offering inimitable character. With open floor plans and central locations, lofts make ideal crash pads for downtown living. However, the loft lifestyle isn't for everyone. 


Here are a few things to know before deciding if a loft is the right home for you. 

The high rise of loft living  

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash


Lofts today are seen as upscale urban dwellings for city slickers, but this wasn't always the case. In the 1950s and ‘60s, New York City's decommissioned factories and industrial warehouses became popular housing alternatives for artists and bohemians. 

Lower costs and high ceilings made these spaces perfect canvases for galleries and workshops of large-format artists, like Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Warhol famously converted a loft on East 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan into a studio called The Factory, which became a denizen for artists like David Bowie, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry and Lou Reed. Rent cost $100 a month at the time. 


Andy Warhol at ‘The Factory’, 1966, via Kristine on Flickr


As uptown art buyers turned up for exhibitions and downtown happenings, the lure of the loft lifestyle prompted many to buy and retrofit lofts of their own. As the affluent moved in, market values went up and lofts became hot commodities. 

“Over the next few years, magazines praised the versatility and the creativity of loft design,” writes Sharon Zukin in Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change. “In many lofts, the integration of work space, living areas, and art objects was paralleled by a fluid adaptation to structural features (primarily light, floor and volume) and “incidental” arrangements.”    

Loft living was instrumental in defining the Industrial aesthetic. And perhaps more importantly, the popularity of lofts redefined a way of living in the city. 

The difference between hard lofts and soft lofts 

Demand for the “loft look” has inspired many developers to replicate loft aesthetics in newly-constructed developments. Known in real estate as soft lofts, these constructions mimic characteristics of typical lofts, such as open concept spaces, large windows, high ceilings and exposed features. 


Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash


By contrast, hard lofts can be found in heritage buildings, vacant factories and other places that have been repurposed for residential living. While these industrial buildings tend to be a little rougher around the edges, they often abound with character via exposed brickwork, original wood beams and other inherited traits. 


Photo by Orlova Maria on Unsplash

Two-storey lofts  

Photo by Antoine Gayraud on Unsplash


Unlike single-floor lofts, two-storey lofts have the advantage of offering occupants more privacy. Two-storey lofts often preserve the open concept feel by limiting the reach of the second storey. Often, this top tier overhangs the first floor and is finished with open walls, so the bottom floor is kept in view. Bedrooms are the most common use for the second floors, as added distance allows for more privacy. Two-storey tall ceilings and walls are often utilized for an expansive gallery of windows. 

Pros and cons of loft life  

Photo by Nathan Van Egmond on Unsplash


Because soft lofts tend to be more modern constructions, they're often equipped with more modern furnishings, plumbing and electricity. Hard lofts, on the other hand, may require more work and repairs, depending on the condition of the property. Tall ceilings can mean tall energy bills, too. 

While hard lofts were once located in rundown parts of the city, many of these areas have gentrified and transformed into vibrant urban centers thrumming with activity. For young professionals who work in city centers, lofts are often well connected and ideally located for short commutes and enjoying the cultural advantages city life has to offer. 

Arguably, the primary feature of a loft is an open-concept layout. This setup is ideal for those who feel at home in tall and airy spaces but, for others, it can lack privacy and coziness. These spaces are ideal for singles or couples but can become cramped when children enter the equation. Likewise, hosting company can pose the occasional challenge, especially for a more private person. 

Decorating your loft  

Lofts leave space for a fair deal of decorative freedom, but also pose some unique challenges. Here are a few design tips to help you make the most of your loft lifestyle. 

Define spaces

Via Jennifer D. Ames on Creative Commons


Use large pieces of furniture, such as L-shaped couches, bar counters, bookcases, or even folding screens to help divide and define spaces in your loft. In small spaces, curtains can make for good hanging room partitions. Install a curtain track so they can be easily drawn or closed. 

Opt for oversized art 


Stay true to the loft's legacy by investing in a large painting or sculpture. Small pieces tend to get lost on tall ceilings and in open spaces, whereas larger prints and installations have obvious impact and can help to organize space. 

Add contrast with soft furnishings 

Photo by Israa Hilles on Unsplash


A large area rug lends warmth to hardwood or concrete floors typically found in lofts. Try curtains instead of blinds for window coverings, as they can bring contrast to gridded industrial panes, while still exposing their character. Look to Urban Modern design for examples of how to embrace this aesthetic. 

Embrace character  

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst


Think twice before covering up raw features of your loft like exposed brick walls or open ducts and beams in the ceiling. These characteristics are prized by fellow loft buyers. 

Ready to embrace the loft living? Work with a REALTOR® to help you find the perfect space.


Original Article from: Realtor

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You found your dream century home and your conditional offer has been accepted. But after receiving your home inspector's report, it turns out your charming Victorian cottage needs more than a fresh coat of paint.


Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash


While this doesn't mean you need to back out of the deal, it's important to know you can always head back to the negotiating table. Your REALTOR® is a great resource for knowing the repairs you might be in for—and what they could cost you—before buying an older property.

“Disposable” systems that need replacing



Roofs, air conditioners, furnaces and boilers don't last forever, so don't be surprised if you learn at least one is at the end of its lifespan, Graham Clarke, President of the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors in Toronto said.

“For a 50- or 100-year-old house, there’s a really good chance one of those systems needs to be replaced in the short term,” he explains. “Buyers should really expect that and it shouldn’t taint the house as being a ‘bad' house.”

While having to replace multiple failing components at once can be a budget-buster, Clarke notes you'll typically get 15 to 20 years of use after replacing one of these systems. Here's what he estimates it could cost you.

Expect to fork out:

  • Between $5,000 to $15,000 for a roof, depending on the size and whether it's pitched or flat;

  • $3,000 to $8,000 for a new furnace;

  • $5,000 to $15,000 to replace the boiler;

  • $2,500 to $6,000 for a new air conditioning system.

Note: Costs for these systems can vary outside these ranges depending on the size and condition of the home and more.

Foundation cracks and sloping floors


Nobody wants to move into a house that's sitting on a crumbling foundation, but cracks aren't always a sign of doom, Clarke said.

“Foundational cracks, in some cases, aren't structurally significant, but may still have water leakage implications, a common finding during a home inspection,” he explains.

“However, more significant cracks are often the result of structural movement, which can be very difficult to determine during a home inspection, because there are so many invisible factors: The quality of the soil underneath the footings and the footings at the bottom of the foundation themselves, which are outside the scope of a home inspection.”

Because home inspectors base their professional opinion on what they can see or reach, they'll evaluate the performance of a house instead, Clarke adds.

“If I have a 100-year-old house that is dead level and dead straight, that’s good performance. But if it’s developed sags, slopes and leans, and the doors and windows aren't square, it's moved.”

Expect to fork out:

  • A few hundred dollars to repair cosmetic cracks and up to $10,000 or more for major structural fixes.

Plumbing and electrical elements


According to Clarke, many older homes include obsolete plumbing or electrical systems, whether that's knob-and-tube wiring or galvanized steel piping. Often, any remaining original wiring and plumbing are located in difficult-to-access areas.

“I may go into a Victorian house and see brand new wiring in the basement, but on the second or third floor, I'll see ungrounded receptacles indicating knob-and-tube,” he said. “The stuff that was easy and less expensive to replace was done, but the stuff buried in behind the plaster walls 30 feet up from the basement hasn't been.”

Expect to fork out:

  • For a two- or three-story house, it can cost between $20,000 to $30,000 to replace wiring, with a portion of that going towards making holes in plaster walls, patching and painting.

  • Galvanized steel pipes or cast-iron waste piping in upstairs bathrooms can run several thousand dollars to replace.

Windows

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Just because a home inspection report reveals a house still has its original windows, that doesn't mean you need to replace them if they're functioning properly, notes Clarke.

“A lot of people spend a lot of money replacing their windows, either for windows that are easier to open or to improve energy efficiency or to enhance the aesthetics of the house,” he says.

Expect to fork out:

  • A minimum of $500 per window, plus installation costs, for a less expensive model.

Other issues a home inspector might recommend outside tests for in older houses include checking for the presence of lead paint, mold, or asbestos tile or insulation.

“To determine whether there’s asbestos in a house, an environmental consultant has to take a lot of samples,“ says Clarke. “But even if a house has asbestos — and most homes built before 1970 do — that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a problem. If it’s in the drywall joint compound, that’s probably not a problem, but if it's in vermiculite insulation up in the attic, that can represent a hazard for people.”

If your home inspection report includes a number of issues, remember it’s not the end of the world. Trust your REALTOR® for guidance and support and together, you can make the right decision.

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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he question of whether to buy a condo or a house may be obvious to some, but for others, it's not so simple. Each comes with its own pros and cons as far as convenience, amenities, resale value and space is concerned.

It's important to start by identifying your goals, lifestyle and budget. A REALTOR® can help you navigate the different options in your desired market, including the factors to consider when choosing between a condo or a house. Get started on REALTOR.ca by using the property type filter and compare all the options in your neighbourhood.

Condo types

There are two main types of condos on the market, freehold and leasehold. Freehold condos can be buildings divided into a number of units, row townhouses and even standalone townhouses or homes. Within freehold condos, there are standard condominiums, in which you buy your unit and have an interest in the property's common elements but do not own the land. In common elements condominiums, there are no units but you own the property and the land on which it sits. The owners within the common elements condominiums community share ownership of common elements, jointly funding their maintenance and repair. There are also leasehold condominium corporations, in which the land is not owned by the condominium corporation, but where lease purchasers buy a leasehold interest in units and common elements.

Price


Photo by Liao Je Wei on Unsplash


Buying a standard condominium is a bit different than buying a house, as you're only purchasing a unit in a building, not a parcel of land. (This may not be the case for other kinds of condominiums). Generally speaking, a condo is more affordable than a house in the same area, however the gap is much wider in some markets than others, and may not be all that different if it's a common elements condominium, for example. In cities like Vancouver and Toronto, your willingness to sacrifice a more central location for a lower price will play a big role in whether you opt for a house or condo.

Expenses



Condos come with monthly fees, which pay for services like security, maintenance and amenities. They're typically determined by the size of your unit and how many units are in the building. Some condos offer luxurious amenities, like a 24-hour concierge, pool, gym, sauna, big-screen theatres and in some cases, even a bowling alley. It's important to note, the more amenities offered, the higher your condo fees will likely be.


Photo by Casey Schackow on Unsplash


Condo fees also generally cover the costs if anything breaks within the building (not inside your unit). For homeowners, no such luck. A leaky roof or window upgrades are a few of the big-ticket items you'll be responsible for yourself, especially in an older home.

Insurance is another expense that varies between a house and condo. Typically, insurance rates for a condo are much less than a house as the walls are insured by the building. Same goes for heating and electric bills, which are typically higher with houses.

Maintenance

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash


If you hate mowing the lawn, shovelling snow or emptying out eavestroughs, a condo may be just the ticket. Houses require a lot more work and physical maintenance, which means more time on the homeowner's part.

Location and lifestyle

Photo by LinedPhoto on Unsplash


Condos usually have central locations, giving owners easy commutes and accessibility to public transit, as well as proximity to shops and restaurants. For professionals, these urban conveniences may be more of a priority than an extra bedroom or backyard. And while houses outside of the downtown core are more affordable, you'll sacrifice location and other conveniences associated with condo living. To help discover locations matching your lifestyle, get started with REALTOR.ca Local Insights.

If you have kids or plan on having them soon, you want to carefully consider things like space, noise and privacy. While two people might be content in a condo, if their family grows, a house may have a lot more appeal. Even a two-or-three-bedroom condo will generally have less room for a burgeoning brood than a house.

Freedom

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash


Condo boards have rulesall owners or tenants are expected to follow. These can limit the number or size of pets allowed, prevent smoking in common areas or private balconies, restrict the use of visitors in common elements (such as a pool or gym), prohibit owners from renting out their units (like on Airbnb), prevent using personal BBQs on patios or dictate certain decorative elements, such as hanging Christmas lights or even the colour of your curtains.

Pros of a condo:

Photo by Daniel DiNuzzo on Unsplash


  • You won't be responsible for most repairs or maintenance outside of your unit.

  • You could have access to amenities like a gym, pool or 24-hour concierge.

  • They offer increased security.

  • They're often easier to rent in the short term.

  • They're more likely to be in a central or convenient location.

Cons of a condo:

Photo by Joseph Albanese on Unsplash


  • You generally have less privacy.

  • There's limited outdoor space.

  • You will have to pay monthly maintenance fees (on top of mortgage payments and property tax).

  • You might have to pay for amenities you don't use.

  • You'll face possible restrictions on things like usage of common elements, parking, pets, renovations and decorations.

Pros of a house:

Photo by Morgan Thompson on Unsplash


  • You typically have total freedom over how you decorate and renovate.

  • You have more control over your own space.

  • You'll likely have more outdoor space.

Cons of a house:

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash


  • You are responsible for all maintenance.

  • You are responsible for all repairs.

  • Utility bills and insurance is usually higher than in a condo.

 
a decision-tree graphic on wheether you should buy a house or a condo
 
Original Article from: Realtor
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Moe Pourtaghi


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

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