Home sales increase, but local real estate market still robust

St. Catharines, ON (July 8, 2019) - Residential home sales activity recorded through the MLS® system for The Niagara Association of REALTORS® (NAR) totaled 702 units in June 2019. This was an increase of 4.8 per cent from June 2018 and a decrease of 5.3 per cent from May 2019.

On a year-to-date basis, a total of 3,673 homes have sold over the first half of the year, an increase of 9.4 per cent from the same period in 2018.

“Home sellers in Niagara enjoyed a robust spring market this year,” says Deanna Gunter, President of the Niagara Association of REALTORS®. “Although the number of units sold has increased over 2018, new listings coming onto the market and our inventory, as a whole, are still down. This keeps Niagara in a seller’s market moving into the summer months.”

The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), tracks price trends far more accurately than is possible using average or median price measures. The overall MLS® HPI composite benchmark price for the Niagara region was $415,000 in June 2019. This was an increase of 6.7 per cent compared to June 2018.

The characteristics of the HPI composite benchmark is a home between the age of 51 to 99 with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. A full list can be found in the accompanying chart.

“Working with a Niagara REALTOR® to set a list price which reflects the current market value is key for sellers who wish to take advantage of a market moving in their favour,” says Deanna Gunter.

The dollar value of all home sales in June 2019 was $314.9 million, a 15.5 per cent increase from the same month in 2018. It was one of just a handful of times in history that the MLS® system for The Niagara Association of REALTORS® has processed more than $275 million in a single month.

Please refer to the accompanying chart for residential market activity in select areas in NAR’s jurisdiction. Note: these statistics now include the Township of West Lincoln.

About The Niagara Association of REALTORS® The Niagara Association of REALTORS® represents over 1200 REALTORS® serving the communities of Fort Erie, Fonthill/Pelham, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-lake, Port Colborne/Wainfleet, St Catharines, Thorold and Welland. Our mission is to empower REALTORS® to thrive. Our vision is to foster an environment where leadership and members provide influence, advocacy, enhance professionalism and business acumen.

New Rules on Disclosing a Death In Home

How would you feel if…

… you purchased a home and after closing found out that someone had died, was murdered or committed suicide in the house?

Feelings Vary Among Buyers

We have found that some people wouldn’t care, and yet others would be quite put off simply because they were not informed. Still others would be disturbed that someone died in the home; had they known, they would not have purchased. Still, different buyers would have reservations about buying depending on whether it was a natural or a violent death such as a murder or suicide.

Concern Over Resale Value

As well, finding out after the sale can still be upsetting for financial reasons. They are concerned that it would affect the resale of the home down the road. Had they known, they argue, they either would not have purchased or they would have offered less.

Case Study 1: Don’t Tell

In one case, the buyer bought after he was told that the previous owner had committed suicide in the home. He purchased to fix and flip. Yet when he decided to sell, he did not want the suicide disclosed. His lawyer informed him that he did not have to disclose it. The salesperson, however, felt that it should be disclosed as it could be construed a material fact, meaning that it might influence the buyer’s decision to buy or how much to offer. The seller eventually did agree to disclose the death and the property sold without a problem, and with very little variance from the list price.

Case Study 2: In or Out

The buyer asked if anyone had died at the property. The listing representative said, “Yes,” and mentioned that the owner had died from natural causes. The buyer proceeded with an offer in which the death was restated in writing. The buyer then asked whether the owner had died inside the home. On being told the death occurred outside the back door, the buyer proceeded with the purchase.

Case Study 3: 2 Offers

Here two buyers were competing for the same home. On being told of the suicide at offer presentation, the buyer with full price cash walked away. The 2nd buyer didn’t care, increased his offer to full price, obtained the needed financing and closed the deal.

Buyer Beware Applies But Now A New Ruling Exception

In a recent Canadian case, Wang v. Shao, 2019 BCCA 130 the Court of Appeal dealt with dealt a buyer complaint for nondisclosure of a murder on the property purchased The appeal court ruled that “buyer beware” applies. That is, when a buyer has a fear or subjective concern about a death, it’s up to the buyer to ask specific questions. Once asked the Seller must answer truthfully and cannot be silent or fail to disclose. The buyer did not specifically ask if a death occurred at the property but only asked why the seller was selling.

This is a New Twist. Prior to this, if the seller did not want to disclose and the buyer asked, the agent would have to say that he/she was not at liberty to disclose.

Summer Date Ideas for Any Budget

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Free

1. Picnic in the park

This is a summer date night classic. Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine and some cheese and crackers. For a fun spin on the classic picnic, go old school and make a playlist of all the songs that were popular when you were in high school and bring your favourite childhood candy.

2. Volunteer at an animal shelter

What better way to bond than by taking care of some cute animals at your local shelter. Often shelters get busy, so call up and book a time to come in to volunteer.

3. Go biking

Trade in four wheels for two and discover new places in your neighbourhood. FInd a restaurant you’ve always wanted to go and bike there instead of driving or taking transit. As you cycle along with the summer breeze in your hair, you will feel like you are the star of your own rom-com.

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Free-$50

1. Drive-In movies

This is a classic spin on going to the movies. Pack a picnic and bring a blanket in case it gets cold.

2. Fruit picking

Get outside and to your local “pick your own” strawberry, raspberry or blueberry patch. Once you’ve picked as many berries as you can carry then make some jam or a pie when you get home!

3. Have a camp-out

The best part about the summer? Camping! Going camping doesn’t have to be an elaborate trip that takes weeks of planning. Find a campground close to your house or set a tent up in your own backyard and have a cheeky weekend of camping at home!

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$50 plus

1. Attend a Minor League Baseball Game

Minor league baseball (MILB) is a really fun and a cheaper alternative to splashing out on a major league game. Tickets usually go for about $16.00. Factor in a couple of beers and a hot dog and it’s a relatively inexpensive ball game!

2. Get on the water

On a hot summer day, nothing beats the heat better than getting in the water! Rent some kayaks or a canoe and head out for a beautiful day on the lake! Then jump in after for a refreshing end to the day!

3. Rent a cabin

Cozy up for the weekend at a cabin by the lake. Depending on your budget, go away for either a night or two. Get food to bbq and some wine and you’re all set for a peaceful weekend away.

Refer a Friend Charitable Donation - Pathstone Mental Health

Wondering how you can help your community? If you can think of anyone in the area who might be interested in moving in the near future, please refer them to us. If they list or buy with us, upon the successful completion of their sale, we will make a $500 donation to the charity of your choice, providing you with the charitable tax receipt.

Click on the image above to watch the video or click here to view the video in YouTube window.

Recently, we made a donation to Pathstone Mental Health. This foundation’s mission is to strengthen the quality of life for children, youth and families who are dealing with mental health challenges. Pathstone Mental Health has been serving the Niagara Region since 1966 under the name Niagara Child Development Centre. In January 2011, Niagara Child and Youth Services changed its name to Pathstone Mental Health. “Pathstone” represents guidance along a pathway to improved mental health. The stepping stones in the logo represent strong, solid steps and important milestones in a person’s journey toward enhanced mental health. “Mental Health” was purposefully included in the name to reduce the stigma related to mental health.

Please visit their website (https://pathstonementalhealth.ca/) to learn more about them or to make your own donation to their foundation.

Does a pool add value to your property?

According to Doug Ellwood of Appraisals Niagara Real Estate Appraisers Inc., In-ground pools have gained greater acceptance in the last 5 or so years. When it come to market value, we need to consider the fact that some people want in-ground pools and some do not. We all know that pools are expensive to install, but when it comes to added value, we would expect most-likely a range from $10,000-$15,000 as a contributory value. Having said that, if the pool is brand new, we would adjust the value higher accordingly. We do not consider above ground pools as adding value.

In our last survey regarding pools and landscaping, here’s what our survey participants had to say.

1. Would you buy a house with a pool?

2. What is a pool worth to you?

Average value $6,000

3. Rank in order of importance.

4. Would an above ground pool add value?

5. What shape of pool do you prefer?

Niagara Region Residential Home Sales Statistics for May 2019

For the Niagara Region: 01-May-2019 to 31-May-2019 vs. Same Time Last Year*

The market is balanced, which is good news for both buyers and sellers. It is a great time to upsize or downsize your home. To learn more about how the market might affect you contact Ashley Czinege or Barbara Grumme for a no obligation, no charge consultation.

The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls in April 2019 has continued the trend of being higher. The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls has been consistently higher than last year’s prices for the past 12 months. This is a trend that is likely to continue with a moderate, but steady increase in home values.

The average number of days to sell a property remain relatively consistent over the past 18 months.

*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

It's Important to Know Today's Mortgage Rules

Confused About Getting a Mortgage Today?

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You’re not alone. Recently reports state that a majority of people (some 57%) are befuddled about qualifying for a mortgage. It has further been reported that the stress test causes some 47% of people additional confusion.

Mortgage Pre-Qualification Is More Important Than Ever

Why? Aside from the stress test, qualifying for a mortgage has become quite complicated. The website for Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) includes an article called: How key inputs calculate a borrower’s debt service ratios. This can help to clarify some of the essential steps lenders have to look to today to qualify you or a mortgage. Here are the highlights of these key inputs.

What is GDS?

GDS or Gross Debt Service represents 32% of your gross income. So if you have a combined gross income of $100,000. Your GDS works out to $2,667 per month. This amount must cover the mortgage Principal and Interest, property Taxes and Heat. The acronym PITH is commonly used.

What is TDS and How Can It Reduce GDS?

TDS or Total Debt Service represents 40% of your gross income. At a gross income of $100,000 your TDS works out to $3,333 for all debts, or $667 more for Other Debt Obligations. Should other debt obligations be greater, they will reduce your GDS. So if your other debts are $1,133, this will reduce your GDS to $2,200 for mortgage, taxes and heat.

Condo Fees

If applicable, 50% of condo fees must be included in the calculation.

What’s Included in Other Debt Obligations

These include credit cards, lines of credit, car and personal loans. For this type of debt, the lender must calculate and factor a monthly payment of 3% of the outstanding balance. A balance of $15,000 works out to $450 per month.

What’s Different About a Secured Line of Credit?

For a line of credit that is secured on your property the formula differs. Here the lender takes the outstanding balance and calculates a monthly payment based on a mortgage amortized over 25 years at the benchmark rate if the contract rate is unknown. The benchmark rate, currently at 5.34% represents a cross-section of posted bank rates and is set by the Bank of Canada.

For example, a $20,000 secured line of credit based on the above would have a monthly payment of $120.22 to factor into the qualifying mix.

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Finally the Stress Test

For an insured mortgage, typically one with less than 20% down, the borrower must qualify at the benchmark rate of 5.34%, though the contract rate might be in the area of 3% for a five-year term mortgage.

For an uninsured mortgage, typically a mortgage with 20% or more down, the borrower must qualify for the greater of the benchmark qualifying rate or the contract rate plus 2 points.

What’s More,CMHC requires a recommended minimum credit score of 680. With all of these rules, knowing how much mortgage you qualify for requires the help of an expert before you decide to shop for a home.

7 Dangers in Overpricing Your Home

Overpricing in today’s market can be hazardous to your sale. Here are 7 reason why:

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1. You Might Lose Qualified Buyers

That’s because they won’t even look at the home because the price is either out of their affordable range or higher than the maximum price they want to buy in.

2. Buyers Comparison Shop

Buying is a process of elimination by comparing competing homes to each other. So over-pricing helps to sell other homes and the over-priced home only serves to reveal the better value of competing properties. Your listing strategy should be to position your home to attract prospective buyers, not drive or scare them away.

3. Today Lenders are Often Require an Appraisal

The mortgage companies lend on the appraised price or the price paid, whichever is less. So if the appraisal is less, the buyer would have to kick in any shortfall. In most cases, the buyer does not have the extra cash. What’s more the buyer tends to lose confidence in the purchase and walks away from the deal. This make it futile to price a property for more than it's worth.

4. The Property May Become Stale After a Time

Properties left on the market for extended periods can become shopworn and even stigmatized. Prospects may wonder why it has been on the market too long and think there is something wrong with the home, even after you lower your price.

5. A Longer Marketing Time Can Have Negative Consequences

It can affect a lower selling price than would have been otherwise attained. You lose a strong negotiating position when your home is on the market a long time, both financially and mentally! Prospects will not "rush" to make an offer on an overpriced property, and you may feel compelled to accept less when they finally do.

6. Over-pricing Reduces Motivation from Buyer Agents

In today’s world of Buyer Representation, selling salespeople are obligated to give their opinion of a home’s market value as part of the disclosure process. As well, salespeople will not promote an overpriced property because they risk losing their client’s trust. All this makes it less likely the property will be shown.

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7. The Selling Price is Simply a Function of Supply and Demand

The buyer ultimately establishes the value of a property. Yet, as a seller, you need a pricing consultation report, prepared by a qualified real estate professional that provides an analysis of facts and figures, available to real estate brokers and salespeople, to help you arrive at a proper pricing position in a competitive marketplace. Resist giving into an agent that gives you a price you want to hear. Most unsold listings usually expire and are taken off the market because of overpricing. Select your agent on his/her ability to help you price your home for best market price based on comparable sales.

8 Natural Bee Sting Treatments

Contribution By Jami Cooley, R.N.

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Bee stings can be deadly if a person is allergic to the venom. If you or a family member is allergic to bee stings and gets stung, remove the stinger and seek emergency medical attention right away. Do not rely on a natural bee sting treatment alone. Use an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) if you have one.

Any person who is stung by a bee, needs to be monitored for signs of anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction). About 3 percent of people stung by bees quickly develop this condition. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Itching/redness

  • Hives/welts

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feelings of faintness or dizziness

If there is any concern that a person is developing anaphylaxis, call 911 right away. You can also take over-the-counter Benadryl, but this will not stop the anaphylaxis; it will only slow it. You must seek emergency medical attention immediately for bee allergy.

Non-Allergic Bee Sting Treatment Options

For a quick recovery from non-allergic bee stings, you have three things to do to begin the healing process:

Contact  Ashley  for your essential oil needs.

Contact Ashley for your essential oil needs.

1. Lavender essential oil. Add one or two drops of lavender essential oil to the wound. Lavender oil will help neutralize the venom immediately.

2. Ice. Apply ice for 20 minutes. Ice will numb the pain and slow blood flow to the area, which reduces swelling.

3. Honey. A degree of irony resides in this bee sting remedy since honey comes from bees, but honey is excellent for healing wounds. Apply a small dab of honey to the wound and cover with gauze or a small rag for 30 minutes to one hour. (If a person is allergic to bees or honey, do not use this remedy.)

4. Crushed garlic. Crush one or two garlic cloves to release the juices and press it against the wound. Cover with a moist rag or towel and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

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5. Plantain. This is not the fruit! Plantain (Plantago major, broad leaf and Plantago lanceolata, long leaf) is a common weed you’ll find around your home. It typically grows in places where the soil has been disturbed. It can also be found growing in the cracks of your sidewalks. Bee stings are never planned, so it may be a good idea to purchase the Plantago major plant from a local garden and keep it at your home. Although it is a weed, it has lovely purple foliage and leaves that look like small green roses. To use plantain as a bee sting treatment, you need to release the juices from the leaves. This can be done by using a food processor or putting the leaves in a plastic bag and crushing them with a spoon. You can even chew it slightly to release the juices. Once you obtain the juice, press the juicy leaves against the sting and cover with a moist rag or towel for 30 minutes.

6. Baking soda and vinegar. Make a paste using baking soda, a dab of vinegar and water and apply it to the wound for 30 minutes. Baking soda and vinegar helps neutralize the acid found in bee stings.

7. Toothpaste. Like baking soda, toothpaste is a base that will help neutralize the acidic bee sting, thereby reducing pain and swelling. Apply the toothpaste to the wound for 20 to 30 minutes.

8. Meat tenderizer. Make a paste using meat tenderizer and water and apply it to the wound for 20 minutes.

After achieving pain relief with one of these home remedies for bee stings, cleanse the skin by using a wet paper towel or rag and apply a small amount of an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or a natural first aid remedy to help prevent infection.



Outdoor Decor Musts

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After a ruthless winter and rainy spring, summer is finally here and we are deserving of a beautiful, sunny summer this year! There is truly no better way to celebrate the start of summer than hosting a BBQ or party in your backyard. No matter what size backyard or patio you have here are some outdoor decor musts that will make any garden party a success!

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1. Outdoor Herbs

Whether you have acres of land or just a couple square feet, outdoor herbs are a beautiful addition to your outdoor entertaining set up. They look pretty, smell great, plus you can harvest and cook with them. Farm to table doesn’t get any closer than that. Herbs need a lot of sunlight to grow, so make sure you plant them in the sunniest spots in your garden/ on your balcony. Some of the easiest herbs to grow are basil, mint, chives and coriander.

 
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2. Lighting

Proper outdoor lighting is essential to outdoor entertaining. Once the sun sets you don’t want to be stumbling around in the dark. Here are some C21 recommendations for great outdoor lighting options.

String lights: These LED string lights create a beautiful, rustic aesthetic to your backyard. They are environmentally friendly and can withstand bad weather.

Lanterns: Not only do these look stunning but they allow you to burn candles safely. They are a cheaper option than the string lights.

Plastic Lanterns: If you have small kids or dogs, plastic lanterns might be a great alternative to the glass lanterns. The plastic is very durable and will hold up against the elements for many years.

 
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3. Umbrellas/Canopies

For those sunny Saturday afternoon barbeques, you will want some protection from the sun. If your backyard or patio allows it, look at getting a canopy or a large umbrella. There are options for every space:

Half Round Umbrella: This umbrella is great if you are short on space as it is flatter than most umbrellas. It lies flush with the walls so you will hardly notice it.

Canopy: If you have a little more space, a canopy would be a great addition to your outdoor entertaining set up.

Trees: Get shade the natural way by planting some trees! Plan for the future and although it will take a little longer than buying an umbrella, in a few years you will have a cool, shady backyard.

5 Things to Avoid When Applying for a Mortgage

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Whether you are purchasing your first home or refinancing your mortgage, there are harmful things you can do to jeopardize your own approval. Here is our list of what to avoid and why:

Don’t change your job

Depending on how long you have to purchase or refinance, you could wait this one out, but typically mortgage providers are required to see you have stable employment. When you move between jobs, the mortgage provider will then need to wait until you are out of your probationary period. With probation often lasting about 3 months, this can hurt your purchase or refinance application in this window. Occasionally, if you have been in the same industry, the employer may waive the probationary period, but I wouldn’t count on it!

Don’t buy a car

This is a big mistake for many borrowers. When being qualified, mortgage brokers take all your debt, loans, and car payments into the calculations for your mortgage approval. Car payments themselves can range from $200/month to $800/month. With that in mind, these payments reduce your monthly cash flow, and in turn reduce the amount you can be eligible for in your mortgage. The best bet is to wait until after your mortgage funds to buy a car.

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Don’t extend credit balances further than when you were approved

With your mortgage approval, we are required to use a 3% payment on most of your debts (unless there are set payments such as car loans, or other set obligation loans).

Don’t miss any payments

When you are approved for a mortgage, the mortgage provider takes into account your income situation, your credit worthiness, and overall property to approve your mortgage. With that in mind, you do not want your credit situation to change – this means keeping all payments up to date and ensuring none slip to past due. Mortgage providers will usually do a final credit check right before funding to ensure everything is still in order. You do not want your mortgage approval getting cancelled last minute!

Don’t make unusual or large deposits between accounts

When you are approved for a mortgage, the bank requires 3 months of statements showing the accumulation of your down payment. When there are large deposits (typically over $3,000) which are not payroll deposits, these deposits must also come with 3 months of statements from the transfer account. That means if you are moving a lot of money around, this could be a headache to gather the appropriate statements!

Despite these things to avoid, the home buying process shouldn’t be challenging or alarming. Once your mortgage provider supplies you with your mortgage funds, you will be able to go buy that car you want, change your job, or extend credit card balances. But don’t neglect to make your mortgage payment!

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Sherri Vigna - Mortgage Agent

CENTUM Omni Mortgage Corp.

282 Geneva Street, St. Catharines, ON

T: (289) 337-1304

Niagara Region Residential Home Sales Statistics for April 2019

For the Niagara Region: 01-Apr-2019 to 30-Apr-2019 vs. Same Time Last Year*

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The market is balanced, which is good news for both buyers and sellers. It is a great time to upsize or downsize your home. To learn more about how the market might affect you contact Ashley Czinege or Barbara Grumme for a no obligation, no charge consultation.

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The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls in April 2019 has continued the trend of being higher. The average sales price for residential properties in Niagara Falls has been consistently higher than last year’s prices for the past 11 months. This is a trend that is likely to continue with a moderate, but steady increase in home values.

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The average number of days to sell a property remain relatively consistent over the past 18 months.

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The number of residential sales, total listings, new listings and expired listings follow a fairly consistent pattern with a slight drop in sales and new listings in the December - January time frame which is expected in the winter season.

*The above statistics are based in whole or in part on the MLS® System data owned by the Association.

Average Prices versus Home Price Index

Tremendous Gains in Home Prices Since 2016

Buyers from the greater Toronto area continue to buy in the Niagara region and it’s a real financial benefit for sellers. Over the last few years home prices have made tremendous gains. As a reflection of this phenomenon, and though these percentages may differ in diverse parts of the region, our records, drawn from MLS sales, indicate the following overall average price increases:

  • In 2016, the overall average price increased by about 18% compared to the year before;

  • In 2017 the average price increased by about 23.8% versus the previous year;

  • In 2018 the average increased by about 3% over the prior year.

  • Though not a strong metric, the 3-month year-to-date average to the end of March, 2019 indicates an overall average price increase of about 6%. This, of course, is subject to change over the following months.

The Internet’s Role

Through the internet, today’s buyers research homes for sale in any area. They can also shop different regions, cities and towns to compare prices. This ability to comparison shop has played a significant role in attracting people to Niagara. With this increased demand on a limited supply, prices have soared.

Let’s Take it One More Step...the HPI

Through the MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), we REALTORS® have the ability to track changes in home prices by comparing price levels at a point in time with price levels in a base (reference) period. The base period value is always 100.

The composite benchmark price for the Niagara Region is shown below as is the HPI. The HPI base period having a value of 100 is 2005. So the MLS® HPI composite value for homes in March 2012 is 122.1. This means the value of homes is up 22.1%, compared with the 2005 base period (122.1 − 100 = 22.1%). The chart below gives both the benchmark price and the HPI index to March 2019. The composite price is made up of the various styles of homes.

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How Does the HPI Differ from Average and Median?

CREA’s “MLS® HPI is based on the value home buyers assign to various housing attributes over time. Price changes, hence, are less volatile than average and median prices, which can swing dramatically in response to changes with high-end or low-end sales volumes over time. This is a great tool.

Hidden Canadian Destinations to Visit This Summer

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Summer is just around the corner so the time to start trip planning is now! We live in a big, beautiful country so it can be hard to decide where to travel. This summer try something a little off the beaten path. There are limitless places to explore, whether you want to explore somewhere in your own backyard or take a trip to a new province you will be spoiled. Here are five Canadian gems to consider:

03 Hidden Destinations

1. Cape Breton, NS

The east coast of Canada is home to some of the friendliest Canadians, stunning coastal landscapes and the most delicious lobster you will eat in your life. One of the most breathtaking spots in the Maritimes is Cape Breton Island. The island is located at the eastern end of Nova Scotia. Although it’s a small place, it is full of stunning coastal walks, wild forests and some of the best fiddle music in the world. Cape Breton is like no other place in Canada.

2. Elora, Ontario

Hidden away from the buzz of big city, Elora is 1.5 hours away from Toronto and is a secret gem in Ontario. The small town has become a hip, trendy local hotspot for all things art, culture, music and food/drink. A few years ago, the Elora Brewing Company opened its doors and it has become the cornerstone of the Elora community. The small town now hosts Riverfest every summer, bands such as The Flaming Lips, MGMT and Blue Rodeo have played at the festival . No longer a small, sleepy town, Elora will soon be in all the tour books-- check it out before it gets overrun with tourists!

3. Whitehorse, YT

The territories are hard to get to but, once you‘re there, it’s worth it. Yukon’s capital, Whitehorse, is home to some of the most majestic animals in Canada. The best place to see these animals is at the Wildlife Preserve, from moose to bears to musk-ox you’ll see them all living their best lives. Plus, the best part about visiting Whitehorse in the summer is you get almost 24 hours of sunlight!

04 Hidden Destinations

4. Yoho National Park, B.C.

B.C is an adventure playground when it comes to the amount of sports and activities that are available. In the southeastern part of B.C., by the Alberta border lies Yoho National Park. The park is small in comparison to Banff and Jasper, making it a good destination if you are short on time but still want to see a lot. The park has over 400 kilometers of hiking trails, waterfalls and snow capped mountains-- what more could you want?!

5. Elk Island National Park, AB

Banff and Jasper get all the attention in Alberta which means they also get all the tourists. Avoid the hordes of tourists and have your own adventure at Elk Island National Park. The park is located 35 km east of Edmonton along the Yellowhead Highway, which goes through the park. The park offers incredible canoe trips, sailing and hikes, so put on your boots and start exploring!

Should You Sell First or Buy First?

Whether to sell or to buy first depends on market conditions, affordability, and your tolerance for risk.

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In a balanced or buyer’s market, offers conditional on the sale of the buyer’s home are fairly common. Today in Niagara, we are again starting to see conditional sale contracts.

In a seller’s market, sellers favor purchase contracts free of a condition to sell the buyers property. Sellers often have the choice of accepting an offer with the fewest conditions possible. This is especially true if the home’s list price is based on a valuation that reflects market pricing.

Regardless of Market Conditions...

The most desirable homes tend to be positioned in seller’s market territory. These are homes that are competitively priced, appeal to and are affordable to the highest concentration of buyers. Also, the supply and demand of homes varies within different price ranges. For high-end homes the market can shift to a buyer’s market as seen below. Market conditions can be measured by the months of inventory, also known as the absorption rate.

Months of Inventory Analysis For Homes Listed for Sale

Under 5 Months Supply = a Seller's Market

5 to 6 months supply = a Balanced Market

7 to 9 months supply = a Buyer’s Market

Over 9 months supple = an Extreme Buyer’s Market

As an example, in a recent St. Catharines study of MLS listings and sales over three months, the following clearly makes the point: .5 months of inventory at $250,000 or less; 8 months at $250-$350K; 2.3 months at $351-$450K; 4.5 months at $451-$650K; 9 months at $651K +.

Anything under $650 indicates a seller’s market in varying degrees while anything above $650,000 points to a buyer’s market.

So How Does this Relate to Whether to Buy or Sell First?

  • There are buyers who have to know where they’re going before they can sell and those who have to sell before they’re ready to buy.

  • Not everyone can afford to buy a house before they sell theirs as you might have to qualify for two mortgages. Can you afford to hold two properties if your current home sits on the market and does not sell for a few months? If so, consider an open mortgage that can be paid off at any time. Once your home sells, lock into a fixed mortgage.

  • Have a detailed conversation with a mortgage broker and your REALTOR®. Strive to understand your options and costs.

  • Be ready to put your home on the market. Repairs take time, as does staging and listing a home for sale. Time is precious when you’ve got a pending closing date quickly coming up.

  • Ideally, you should be ready to list within 48 hours of signing paperwork to buy. You should also have had the property evaluated by your sales representative.

  • Selling first might mean temporary accommodation but eliminates the risk and cost of owning two homes. It can also give you a strong negotiating position.

  • Bridge financing can only be obtained when you have a firm and binding sale on your home.

5 Tips to Make Your Garden Blooming Fantastic This Summer

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April showers only bring May flowers if you also do some work! Having a blooming beautiful garden this summer will take hard work and patience. The good news is it will payoff when you have a lush garden in the end. Follow these five tips to have the prettiest garden on the block.

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1. Weed by hand

Try to weed only by hand as it is less harmful than using pesticides and will keep your soil healthier. Keep weeds under control and prevent them from seeding by weeding weekly. A C21 pro-tip is to use mulch to smother and prevent annual weeds. To avoid weeds altogether try replacing grass with clover, weeds have a harder time growing in clover. Plus it looks pretty!

2. Right time, right place

Different plants thrive in different environments, so make sure you design your garden strategically depending on what you want to grow. Before you start planting check the seed’s information to see when they need to be planted and how much sun and water they need.

3. Compost

Feed your soil what it wants- compost! Adding organic elements to soil will be more beneficial than chemical fertilizers. Healthy soil should be crumbly, easy to dig and rich in colour. If your soil is lacking in these components then consider adding on more compost to boost it’s nutrient intake.

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4. Trim and prune

Just like your hair, plants need a little trim to keep their branches healthy and strong. For smaller plants, deadheading wilted or dead flowers will promote new growth. Trees and shrubs require pruning shears and a measuring tape to see how much needs to be chopped. Look online to find out how much your plant needs to be pruned before you go in with the shears.

5. Keep it fruity

Add a sweet touch to your garden by planting fruit trees in your backyard. Not only do they look beautiful but they also provide shade and attract bees to your garden. Plus, there is nothing better than chowing down on fruit grown in your own backyard!

Rooting Out Fraud & Tax Avoidance

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13% of Canadians Would Lie Applying for a Mortgage

A survey by Equifax Canada, a leading consumer credit company, indicated the following regarding mortgage fraud:

  • 13% of Canadians felt when applying for a mortgage, a white lie to get the house they want is okay.

  • 16% believe “mortgage fraud is a victimless crime.”

  • 8% “admitted to misrepresenting the facts on credit or loan application.”

Equifax further noted that since 2013 there has been a 52% increases in “suspected fraudulent mortgage applications.

What is Mortgage Fraud?

CMH defines mortgage fraud as deliberately misrepresenting in order to obtain a mortgage. It cites the following 8 deceptive acts::

  1. “Misstating your work position, your income or the length of time you’ve held your job

  2. “Stating you’re a full-time salaried employee if you are not

  3. “Misrepresenting the amount or source of your down payment

  4. “Claiming a rented property is owner-occupied

  5. “Not disclosing other mortgages or debts

  6. "Omitting information to inflate the value of the property

  7. “Adding purchasers’ names on the mortgage application who do not intend to take responsibility for the mortgage

  8. “Acting as or using a “straw buyer” – a person whose good credit is used to get a mortgage for someone else”

Fraud May Create Liability and Criminality

Such acts, CMHC warns, make the borrower liable for financial shortfalls should default occur, and they can be held criminally responsible. Aside from some borrowers inflating their income, CMHC believes that notices of assessment from Canada Revenue Agency can be printed and easily falsified.

CMHC Asks CRA to Verify Incomes

CMHC recently asked CRA to take a more active role in verifying income borrowers are claiming on mortgage applications. CMHC sees this association as necessary due to sophisticated increases in fraudulent threats. So CRA is looking into secure ways to share information with financial institutions conditional on client consent. Such direct access by lenders should speed up income accuracy and verification, speeding up the approval process.

Budget: CRA to Crack Down on Tax Avoidance

To address tax non-compliance in real estate, the Feds are giving CRA $50,000,000 to create audit teams to ensure the following:

  1. Taxpayers report the sale of their principal residence,

  2. Any capital gain from a property sale is identified & taxed,

  3. Ensure money on real estate flipping is reported as income,

  4. Commissions earned are reported as taxable income,

  5. Builders of new residential properties remit the appropriate amount of tax GST/HST to the CRA.

To Deter Financial Crime in Real Estate, including mortgage fraud and money laundering, the Budget is strengthening enforcement by expanding its “outreach and examinations in the real estate sector.”

Share Equity First Time Buyer Incentive

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To Help First Time Buyers: the Liberal Government Budget included a First Time Home Buyer Shared Equity Incentive, and an increase in the RRSP Home Buyer Plan.

1. The First Time Home Buyer Shared Equity Incentive: One catch about this new initiative is that details of the plan won’t be out until sometime in September of this year, 6 months down the road. This may actually cause first-time buyers to wait it out until more details become available on how the plan will work.

The basic information: Through Canada Mortgage and Housing, the government will contribute 5% for a resale home and 10% for a newly built home to bring down the mortgage on a shared equity basis. The money is interest free and there is no monthly payment. You can choose to pay it back at any time or when you sell the home down the road.

What still needs to be unraveled is how the money is to be paid back. Will you simply be required to give the money back without interest or will the repayment include an equity share in the home’s value? With the second option, if for any reason the home’s value goes down will CMHC take a proportionate share of the loss?

To qualify the down payment required is 5%, the minimum for an insured mortgage and a household income of $120,000 or less. As well, the mortgage including the equity loan is restricted to 4 times the household income. So at an income of $120,000, the maximum mortgage loan would be limited to $480,000. A household income of say $100,000 would qualify for a mortgage loan of $400,000.

No Stress Test Relief or 30-Yr Mortgage

The hope prior to this announcement was that the government would ease up on the stress test and/or increase the amortization to 30 years from 25 years. Instead the stress test to qualify for a mortgage remains unchanged and the maximum amortization stays at 25 years. Here is a comparison in savings if the government had simply increased the amortization to 30 years vs. the Equity Plan of 5% & 10%:

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A Significant Savings with 30-Yr Plan

The 30-year mortgage gives a savings of $247.85 versus $119.88 and $239.65 per month. The 30 year versus the 5% assistance for resales ($247.85 - $119.88) gives a savings of $127.97 more per month. That would be especially significant for first-time buyers.

2. The RRSP Home Buyer Plan for first time buyers now allows a withdrawal of up to $35,000 per individual to purchase a home. Two first-time buyers in the same household can withdraw up to $70,000 for a downpayment to be repaid over 15 years.

People in marriage or common-law partner breakdowns will also be able to participate in the Home Buyer Plan as of this year.

How to Create an Urban Garden

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Having plants in your home not only brings life to a room but they also have incredible health benefits. They can make you feel less tired, decrease your chances of catching a cold and purify the air. It is recommended to have one potted plant per 100 square feet to feel the benefits. Whether you live in the country with acres of land or in a condo downtown Toronto, you can enjoy the pure and simple joy of gardening. Here’s how to create a plant oasis, regardless of how much space you have.

Tips for backyard gardens:

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  1. Prep the beds: Before you plant, loosen the soil and remove rocks so the space is ready for plants.

  2. Channel your inner landscape architect: Think about what you want to grow and then decide where to plant based on sunlight and shade.

  3. Learn their names: It can be hard once you plant everything to keep track of all your new plant babies. To help you remember, put the tags alongside each plant until you can distinguish the plants and know their names.

  4. Discover the secret of perennials: Save yourself some work next year by planting perennial plants; these are plants that will come up year after year. Some beautiful perennials to try are peonies, lavender and black-eyed susans.

  5. Maintenance: It is important to stay on top of watering, weeding and adding organic matter to keep your soil nourished.

Tips for Condo/ Apartment Balcony Gardens:

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  1. If you don’t have a backyard an herb pallet garden is ideal for a condo. Wood pallets are the perfect size to home most household herbs such as basil, mint and chives.

  2. Vines and fast-growing climbers are good for a small space because they lend vertical visual interest quickly.

  3. Layer plants that bloom at different times on top of one another in containers–and fertilize once a month. This will allow each plant to get the adequate amount of sunlight they require.

  4. Plants need different nutrients when they are grown in containers rather than in the ground. Use synthetic soils such as wood chips, peat moss and sawdust when you are planting in containers on your balcony gardens.

  5. Hanging flower baskets are a great alternative and take up very little room. Try to keep with the same colour scheme as you don’t want it to look chaotic and busy in a small space.

Solutions to gardening problems:

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  1. Now that you know the basics of gardening there are some common problems you will come across. Fortunately, they have easy solutions.

  2. Weeds: Weeds are the bane of any gardener’s existence. But they can be easily combated with the right tools! There is no need for harsh chemicals when fighting weeds. You can make your own natural pesticide by combining 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup rock salt, 2 tablespoons dish soap and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

  3. Pests: Unwanted garden guests like slugs or birds can ruin all the fruits (and veggies of your labor) if you don’t protect your garden. Scatter egg shells and used coffee grounds to prevent creepy crawlies from attacking your plants.

  4. Watering: For a first-time plant mum/ dad it can be hard to take care of new plant babies. Create a watering schedule for your plants so you can keep track of when your plants have been watered. When you go on vacation, a C21 hack for keeping your plants well hydrated is to fill a jar full of water and put a string from the jar to the plant. This will act as a straw so your plants can keep hydrated while you are away.