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Tammy Sharp

New BC Anti-Flipping Legislation/Tax

By In the News, Real EstateNo Comments

Reference: Greater Vancouver Realtors website, April 11, 2024

The BC NDP government has followed through on a February 2024 budget promise and introduced legislation to tax home flipping, beginning in 2025.

Bill 15 2024: Budget measures implementation (Residential Property (Short-term holding) Profit Tax) Act, known as the home flipping tax, applies to income from the sale of a property, including presale contracts, in BC if the property was owned for less than 730 days.

Types of properties

The tax will apply to income earned from the sale of:

  • residential properties with a housing unit;
  • properties zoned for residential use; and
  • the right to acquire properties, such as the assignment of a purchase contract for a pre-build condo building.

Presale contracts

If you enter into a presale contract to buy a property under development, and buy the property – meaning you close on the property once it is complete, for the purposes of the two-year window of the tax – you will be considered to have acquired it on the date you entered into the presale contract.

If you purchased an assignment of a pre-sale contract and then close on the built property, the acquisition date is the date you were assigned the contract.

When you assign a presale contract to another person within two years of entering into the presale contract, you will pay tax on any income received from the assignment.

Tax amount

The tax applies to:

  • individuals or companies selling property; and
  • net taxable income from the sale of taxable property that was owned for less than 730 days.

The tax is:

  • 20 per cent tax on profits of homes sold within a year of purchase.
  • 10 per cent if sold after 18 months.
  • Not applied if your client sells after two years.

Key dates

The tax is effective on January 1, 2025. Residential property bought before this date may be subject to the tax if sold on or after January 1, 2025 and owned for less than 730 days unless an exemption applies.

For example:

  • If you purchased a property on May 1, 2023, and sold the property on January 31, 2025, income earned from the sale of the property would be taxable.
  • If you decided not to sell the property until June 1, 2025, then income earned from the sale would not be subject to the tax since you owned the property for more than 729 days.

The property seller may be a BC resident or a resident anywhere else in the world.

Exemptions

There are exemptions for:

  • life circumstances including separation or divorce, death, disability or illness, relocation for work, involuntary job loss, a change in household membership, personal safety, or insolvency; and
  • those adding to the supply of housing or engaging in real estate development and construction.

The tax doesn’t apply to Indigenous Nations, charities, governments and government-owned corporations, and non-profits.

Primary residence deduction

If you sell your primary residence and you owned the property for less than 730 days, you may qualify for a deduction of up to $20,000 from your taxable income if:

  • you owned the property for at least 365 consecutive days before you sold it; or
  • the property includes a housing unit that you lived in as your primary residence while you owned it.

If you sell a portion of your interest in the property, your primary residence deduction amount will be proportionate to that interest.

More information available

The Ministry of Finance has provided more details on their website, including how the tax is calculated and additional examples related to pre-sales.

Note: the BC home flipping tax is NOT the federal property flipping rule, which is a separate federal tax.

Learn more

The Ultimate Relocation Guide: From Finding a House to Feeling at Home

By GeneralNo Comments

May is “Moving Month,” as designated by the Better Business Bureau and Canadian Association of Movers.1 It also happens to kick off the peak moving season, which generally runs from May through September.2 

According to a survey by Statistics Canada, respondents listed their top motivations for moving as “bigger or better housing” (28.0%) or “a more desirable neighbourhood” (16.8%).3 But no matter the reason, a relocation can feel stressful and overwhelming.

If you’re one of the many Canadians planning to relocate in the coming months, this guide is for you. We’ve outlined six steps to make your move easier. Our hope is to alleviate some of the hassle of relocating—so you can focus on the adventure ahead!

 

1. CHOOSE A COMMUNITY

When planning a relocation, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is where you want to live. This could be as broad as an area of town, or you might narrow it down to a specific neighbourhood. 

Depending on your priorities, you may want to start with communities that are close to work, friends, family and/or your preferred schools. If you commute, map out the route and check on the availability of public transportation, if you plan to use it. Then, if possible, try out the commute during rush hour to see what it’s like.

Next, it’s crucial to consider housing prices and cost of living so you don’t set your sights on an area that you can’t realistically afford. Don’t forget to look up local crime statistics to ensure the community is safe. Finally, visit any neighborhoods you’re considering to gauge the vibe and observe characteristics, like pedestrian accessibility, retail offerings, and population density. 

Researching the ins and outs of various communities can be a time-consuming and sometimes difficult process, but we’re here to help! Give us a call to discuss your needs and aspirations, and we’d be happy to provide our recommendations of neighbourhoods that may be a good fit for you.

 

2. FIND YOUR NEW HOME

Once you’ve chosen an area to settle, the next decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to rent or buy a home. Renting can be a good option if you’re new to town, especially if you’re still saving up for a downpayment or you’re not ready to commit to a permanent location. Benefits include flexibility, less maintenance, and lower upfront costs. 

But, if you want to avoid multiple moves—and you’re financially able—there’s no reason to delay the benefits of buying a home. Not only has homeownership been shown to increase your quality of life, but it’s also one of the best ways to protect and grow your wealth.4 

The value of real estate will typically appreciate over time, and owners can build equity as they pay down their mortgage. Homeowners and buyers may also be able to benefit from certain tax incentives.5

But, perhaps most importantly, homeownership offers stability, as property owners aren’t subject to the mercy of their landlords each year. According to Rentals.ca, average asking rent prices in Canada rose nearly 30% between February 2021 and February 2024.6 In contrast, many homeowners enjoyed a fixed mortgage payment during that same period.

If you decide to purchase a home and you choose us to represent you, you can rest easy knowing that we will be there for you throughout the entire journey, working hard to make the experience as easy as possible. Or, if you’re moving to a new area, we can refer you to a local agent in our network who shares our commitment to client service.

For more information about buying a home and a timeline of the home buying process, reach out to request a free copy of our Home Buyer’s Guide.

 

3. SELL OR RENT OUT YOUR CURRENT HOME

If you already own a home, you’ll also need to start the process of either selling it or renting it out. We can help you evaluate your options based on current market conditions.

In many cases, our clients choose to sell so that they can use the equity in their current home to make a downpayment on their next one. But selling your home while simultaneously buying a new one can feel daunting to even the most seasoned homeowner. 

Here are some of the most frequent concerns we hear from clients and our tips for addressing them:

  • What will I do if I sell my house before I can buy a new one?

Check out furnished apartments, vacation rentals, and month-to-month leases. You may even find that a short-term rental arrangement can offer you an opportunity to get to know your new neighbourhood better.

  • What if I get stuck with two mortgages at the same time?

Ask us about conditions that can be included in your contracts. For example, it’s possible to add a condition to your purchase offer that lets you cancel the contract if you haven’t sold your previous home. We can discuss the pros and cons of these types of tactics and what’s realistic given the current market dynamics.

  • What if I mess up my timing or burn out from all the stress?

Enlist support as early as possible. It’s our job to guide you and advocate on your behalf, so don’t be afraid to lean on us throughout the process. We’re here to ease your burden and make your move as seamless and stress-free as possible.

In addition to answering your questions, we’ll give you an idea of how much equity you have in your current home so you know how much you can afford to spend on your new one. Part of that process will include a plan to maximize your current home’s sale price. We utilize a proven strategy that’s designed to achieve an efficient sale while boosting your profits.

For a thorough breakdown of the technologies and marketing activities we use to get you the most money for your home sale, ask us for a copy of our Property Marketing Plan.

 

4. PLAN YOUR DEPARTURE

Preparing for a move can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Fortunately, you don’t have to do everything in a day. You don’t have to do it all alone, either. When you work with us, we’ll be there every step of the way to help you navigate this process with ease. To that end, here are some of our top tips to help you plan for your departure.

If you have children, we typically advise that you start by sharing news about the move in an age-appropriate way. If possible, take them on a tour of your new home and neighbourhood. This can alleviate some of the mystery and apprehension around the move. Don’t forget to contact their current and future schools, as well, to arrange for transfer and enrollment.

Next, you’ll want to start packing. To maintain order and make unpacking easier, we recommend packing one room at a time. Clearly label each box with its contents and the room it belongs to. And remember, there’s no use taking extraneous items with you. Use this opportunity to purge or donate possessions that you no longer need.

If you will be using a moving company, start researching and pricing your options. Make sure you’re working with a reputable service, and try to avoid paying a large deposit before your belongings are delivered. Once you have a moving date scheduled, you should arrange to have your utilities turned off or, if possible, transferred into the new homeowner’s name.

Finally, if you will be leaving friends or family behind, schedule get-togethers before your departure. The last days before moving can be incredibly hectic, so make sure you block off some time in advance for proper goodbyes.

Parting with a home and community you love can be hard, so try to stay focused on the exciting opportunities ahead. Feel free to reach out for referrals to moving companies, packing services, housekeepers, or any other resources that will make your move easier. We’d love to help.

 

5. PREPARE FOR YOUR ARRIVAL

While it’s tempting to get wrapped up in the departure details, don’t forget to plan ahead for your arrival at your new home. To make your transition go smoothly, you should start preparing well before moving day. Here are a few pro tips to help you get started.

First, think about the utilities that will need to be turned on, especially essentials like water, electricity, and gas. Be sure to notify any relevant parties—banks, credit cards, subscriptions, etc.—about your change of address so you don’t miss any important bills, notices, or deliveries. You’ll also want to notify the postal service and submit a mail forwarding request.

If you plan to remodel, paint, or install new flooring, it’s often easier to have it done before you bring in all of your belongings. You may also want to have the house professionally cleaned before moving in. 

Don’t forget about the items you’ll need (think toothbrush, towels, bedsheets) to make it through the first night in your new home. Designate some boxes with “Open Me First!” labels. (Pro tip: Keep a tool kit front and center for all that reassembling.) 

Finally, create a list of all the restaurants you want to try and places you want to visit around your newly purchased home. Having a to-explore list keeps everyone’s spirits high and gives you starting points to settle into the neighbourhood.

If you’re relocating to our area, we can help! We offer “VIP Relocation Assistance” to all of our clients. Contact us for a list of our favourite restaurants, retailers, cleaning services, contractors, and more!

 

6. GET SETTLED IN YOUR NEW SPACE

Studies show that moving can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.7 However, there are ways to combat these negative effects. Here are a few strategies to help you and your family get settled in the new space.

If you have children, start by unpacking their rooms first. Seeing familiar items will help ease their transition and establish a “safe zone” where they can hang out away from the chaos of moving day. If possible, let them have a say in how their room is decorated.

Pets can also get overwhelmed by a new, unfamiliar space. Let them adjust to a single room first, which should include their favourite toys, treats, food and water bowl, and a litter box for cats. Once they seem comfortable, you can gradually introduce them to other rooms in the home.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Try to schedule breaks to get out of the house and investigate your new area. If you travel by foot or bicycle, you’ll gain the mood-boosting advantages of fresh air and exercise. 

You can combat feelings of isolation by making an effort to meet people in your new community. Find a local interest group, take a class, join a place of worship, or volunteer for a cause. Don’t wait for friends to come knocking on your door. Instead, go out and find them.

To that end, make an effort to introduce yourself to your new neighbours, invite them over for coffee or dinner, and offer assistance when they need it. Once you’ve developed friendships and a support system within your new neighbourhood, it will truly start to feel like home.

 

LET’S GET MOVING

While moving is never easy, these steps offer an action plan to get you started on your new adventure. With a little preparation—and the right team of professionals to assist you—it is possible to have a positive relocation experience.

We specialize in assisting home buyers and sellers with a seamless and “less-stress” relocation. Along with our referral network of moving companies, contractors, cleaning services, interior designers, and other home service providers, we can help take the hassle and headache out of your upcoming move. Give us a call or message us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Canadian Association of Movers –
    https://www.mover.net/may-is-moving-month
  2. United International Removals –
    https://www.unitedremovals.com/canada/best-time-to-move-to-canada/
  3. Statistics Canada –
    https://www.statcan.gc.ca/o1/en/plus/3333-canadians-move
  4. Canadian Association of Realtors –
    https://www.realtor.ca/blog/health-and-happiness-the-societal-benefits-of-homeownership/20531/1361
  5. Turbo Tax –
    https://turbotax.intuit.ca/tips/tax-deductions-canadian-homeowners-need-to-know-about-15718
  6. Rentals.ca –
    https://rentals.ca/national-rent-report
  7. Psychology Today –
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/is-where-you-belong/201607/why-youre-miserable-after-move

6 Strategies to Save on Home Insurance Premiums

By GeneralNo Comments

From extreme cold to wildfires and floods, the past few years have brought a historic number of devastating climate and weather events to Canada. In 2023 alone, unusually harsh weather and a string of natural disasters caused more than $3.1 billion in insured damages, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, making it the fourth most expensive weather year on record.1 

These events delivered a huge influx of home insurance claims, and analysts expect the increase in both catastrophes and claims to continue. Adding to the problem, construction labour and supply costs have risen, making it more expensive to repair affected homes. Consequently, homeowners’ insurance rates have surged: In 2024, My Choice Financial reports that premiums are already up 7.66% since last year and are likely to climb further still.2,3   

In disaster-prone regions, the situation is even more challenging. According to Public Safety Canada, flooding is especially common now, accounting for roughly $2.9 billion a year in residential damages. Yet, a rising number of Canadian homes are located in areas so flood-prone that owners can’t get affordable protection.4,2

For most homeowners, comprehensive home insurance coverage is crucial for financial security—but massive rate increases can turn a once-affordable home into a financial burden. They can also pose a serious challenge for sellers. Although homebuyers who are willing to risk inadequate coverage may be able to skip optional add-ons, such as flood protection, a standard home insurance policy is still required for most mortgages. In some hard-hit regions, we’re also seeing homes sit longer on the market or decline in value because climate risks are higher.5,6

But don’t panic! While these broader trends may be out of your control, there’s still plenty you can do to save. Here are our top six strategies to slash insurance premiums while maintaining the protection you need. 

 

1. SHOP AROUND

Getting multiple quotes is a smart move for many major purchases, including home insurance. We recommend reviewing at least three estimates before you commit to a policy. You can get quotes either by reaching out to insurers directly or by working with an independent insurance broker.5 You’ll need to provide detailed information about the property you’re insuring and your claims history.

Make sure you read policies carefully before you choose. Sometimes, a policy can look like a better deal at first glance but turn out to have important coverage gaps. Be sure to consider how much the policy will pay out to repair or replace your home and review caps on personal possession and liability claims. It’s also smart to read reviews from policyholders (Trustpilot is a good place to start) and ratings published by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power. 

For help choosing the right policy, reach out to us for a list of trusted insurance professionals.

 

2. INCREASE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE

The size of your deductible—which is the amount you pay before your insurance coverage kicks in on a claim—is a major factor in your insurance cost.

A low deductible, such as $500, comes with higher premiums, while a higher deductible, like $2,500 or even $5,000, costs less on a monthly basis. In some cases, you may be able to customize your insurance further by designating a different deductible for add-on coverage.

If you are confident that you have enough in savings to cover that initial outlay if needed, choosing a higher deductible can help you save significantly over the long term. According to Ratehub, raising your deductible from $500 to $5,000, for example, could save you an estimated 15% each year.7

 

3. BUNDLE MULTIPLE TYPES OF INSURANCE

Insurers want to get as much of your business as possible, so most offer significant discounts if you bundle your home and auto insurance, meaning that you package the two policies together. With some insurers, you can get even higher savings by bundling more than home and auto—RV, boat, jewelry, and life insurance are potential options to consider. 

According to Ratehub, insurers typically offer customers who bundle home and auto insurance up to 25% or more in savings on monthly premiums. This approach also has other advantages: It cuts down on your paperwork, and in some cases—like if a storm damages both your home and car—you may be able to pay just one deductible instead of two when you file a claim.8 

However, before you sign on the dotted line, remember strategy #1 and be sure to shop around. In some cases, bundling isn’t the cheaper option, and bundling deals vary between companies. It’s also critical to carefully check that the bundled coverage offers everything you need.

 

4. ASK ABOUT AVAILABLE DISCOUNTS

Did you know that being a non-smoker might qualify you for a home insurance discount?9 Some insurers offer some surprising incentives for policyholders who pose a statistically lower risk of filing a claim. In the case of non-smokers, that’s because of the decreased risk of a home fire.

Some carriers also offer discounts to first-time homebuyers, “mature” homeowners, or affiliated group members, such as college alumni or union workers. Sometimes, you can also save by upgrading your home’s protective systems, paying off your mortgage, or paying your premiums for a full year upfront.9 

Since available discounts vary significantly between insurers, the best strategy is to simply ask a representative for the full list of available discounts so you can see what cost savings might be available to you. 

 

5. AVOID MAKING SMALL CLAIMS

Worried that your premiums will rise significantly in the future? Try to avoid making a claim unless truly necessary. Many insurers offer discounted rates to policyholders who go a certain number of years without filing a claim, and filing multiple claims often results in big increases. If you file too many, you may even risk nonrenewal of your policy.10,11

Since the cost of even a small premium increase can add up significantly over time, if you have minor damage to your home—for example, if a few shingles blew off your roof in a windstorm—it may be a wiser long-term financial decision to pay out of pocket instead of filing a claim. 

If the cost of the repair is less than your deductible, it never makes sense to file, and if it’s just slightly above your deductible, it’s also usually best to pay for the repairs yourself. Additionally, always be sure to review your policy before you make a claim. Even claims that are denied can count against you, so it’s not worth filing if the damage is clearly excluded from coverage.11 

If you find yourself in this situation, feel free to reach out for a list of reasonably-priced professionals who can help with home repairs.

 

6. BE STRATEGIC ABOUT HOME IMPROVEMENTS

Insurance premiums alone may not be the deciding factor for a home improvement project, but it’s important to know how renovations could impact your rates—for better or worse.

For example, some upgrades and repairs can reduce your premiums by making your home safer or less prone to certain types of damage. These include:10

  • Upgrading your electrical system
  • Updating your plumbing
  • Installing a monitored security system
  • Investing in a sewer backup valve and sump pump
  • Replacing the roof

On the other hand, some upgrades can raise premiums significantly, either because they increase the value of your home (and therefore the cost to replace it) or because they pose a hazard. These include:12

  • Installing a swimming pool or other water features
  • Building an extension or expanding your living space
  • Upgrading materials, like flooring or countertops
  • Adding a fireplace or wood stove

Whether or not your planned renovations are on either of these lists, it’s wise to inform your insurer about changes you make to your home—otherwise, you may risk gaps in coverage. And you’re always welcome to check with us before you begin any home improvement project to find out how it could impact the value and resale potential of your home.

 

BOTTOMLINE: Protect Your Investment Without Sacrificing Enjoyment of Your Home

Getting the coverage you need for financial security without overpaying can be a tricky balance, especially in today’s environment. But remember, while it’s important to find the best deal you can, home insurance isn’t an area to skimp on. 

For advice on your specific risks and the type of coverage you need, we recommend consulting with a knowledgeable insurance professional. We’re happy to connect you with a trusted adviser in our network. And if you’re considering a home renovation, feel free to reach out for a free consultation on how it might affect your property value (and your premiums). 

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial, legal, insurance, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Insurance Bureau of Canada –
    https://www.ibc.ca/news-insights/news/severe-weather-in-2023-caused-over-3-1-billion-in-insured-damage 
  2. MoneySense –
    https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/insurance/home-insurance/how-climate-change-affects-home-insurance/ 
  3. My Choice Financial –
    https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/home-insurance-rates-increase-7-66-in-canada-in-2024-876966380.html 
  4. Public Safety Canada –
    https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/2023-nrp-pnr/index-en.aspx 
  5. Nerdwallet Canada –
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/ca/mortgages/what-is-home-insurance 
  6. Waterloo Climate Institute –
    https://uwaterloo.ca/climate-institute/news/homes-sell-82-cent-less-after-catastrophic-floods 
  7. Ratehub.ca –
    https://www.ratehub.ca/blog/how-home-insurance-deductibles-work/ 
  8. Ratehub.ca –
    https://www.ratehub.ca/insurance/home-and-auto-bundle 
  9. LowestRates.ca –
    https://www.lowestrates.ca/resource-centre/home-insurance/12-home-insurance-discounts-can-help-you-save-money
  10. MoneySense –
    https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/insurance/how-to-get-lower-home-insurance/ 
  11. Rates.ca –
    https://rates.ca/guides/home-insurance/claims
  12. CREA –
    https://www.creacafe.ca/can-housing-upgrades-affect-insurance/

Downsize Your Home, Rightsize Your Life: How to Choose the Ideal Smaller Home

By GeneralNo Comments

When you’ve lived somewhere for many years, it can be tough to say goodbye. But if you (or a loved one) currently have a home that is bigger than necessary or is too high maintenance, it may be time to trade unused square footage for a smaller, more manageable space. 

Take it from the downsizers who’ve been there: Although living small might require some adjustments, it can also be liberating––especially if you’re in a stage of life where past responsibilities have given way to new possibilities and adventures.  

In fact, many downsizers report feeling invigorated by the change, according to American journalist and real estate writer Sheri Koones. “It scares people to think of moving into a smaller space,” said Koones to the Associated Press. “But every single person I interviewed who has made the transition says they are so happy they did.”1

The key is to find somewhere you can live well and move around comfortably, without feeling overly restricted. If you like the idea of aging in place or are already in your golden years, you may also want to look for signs that a new home can conveniently age with you. 

With that in mind, we recommend focusing your search around three key factors: desired lifestyle, optimal design, and long-term accessibility. Read on for specific tips, then call us for a free consultation. We can help you identify the types of homes that are best suited to living large with less.

 

Do you have a loved one whose housing needs have changed?
Share this information to help start a conversation about the benefits of downsizing.

 

DESIRED LIFESTYLE 

The best part of downsizing is the lifestyle you unlock when you trade square footage for convenience. With fewer chores and home maintenance tasks to worry about, you can instead channel your energy into other pursuits. 

For example, instead of spending your afternoons working in the yard or cleaning, you can catch up on the news, read a bestseller, start a new craft project, or pursue other hobbies. You may even be able to travel or spend more time with friends and family. 

Research has found that Canadians over the age of 65 tend to have higher life satisfaction when they have more time available for the things they “like doing.”2 But regularly engaging in favourite hobbies and activities can be hard to do when you’ve got a home that needs constant attention or you live far from your community.

As you compare potential homes, keep in mind the type of lifestyle you envision. Do you plan to travel? If so, a home with extra security, such as a condominium or gated community, may give you some welcome peace of mind. Or do you plan to have friends and family stay overnight? In that case, you may want to look for a floor plan with flex space or a property that has access to separate guest suites. 

Alternatively, a senior community that offers catered meals and housekeeping may be a better choice if you or a spouse need extra support. 

Action item: Grab a pen and take some time to envision what your ideal future might look like. Write down the activities and hobbies you hope to add to your life or continue with going forward, as well as the chores and responsibilities you’d love to drop. We can use those answers to help shape your house hunt.

 

OPTIMAL DESIGN

Even though your new home will be smaller, that doesn’t mean it has to feel cramped. As Koones explains, “The key is to have a home that is efficiently designed, both in terms of energy use and in terms of space.”1 

Look for features that can help make a space feel bigger, like high ceilings, large windows, and an open layout. 

Built-in shelving that extends all the way to the ceiling can also make a small room feel more expansive by helping to draw the eye upward. The same goes for highly placed window treatments and striped or mural-style wallpaper.3  

Efficient layouts with flexible, multi-purpose rooms and few, if any, hallways work especially well for small-scale living. You can also limit dead space in a home by steering clear of layouts with awkward corners, unusable nooks, and other space-eating design elements. 

In addition, look for features that support a simpler, lower-maintenance lifestyle, such as easy-care floors, durable countertops, and bare walls with little, if any, crown moulding. 

Don’t write off a home too soon, though, if it feels narrow or congested because of outdated design or poor staging. Cosmetic issues that visually shrink a space are often easy to fix. 

For example, you can instantly make a room feel bigger just by painting it a lighter shade. Adding mirrors and swapping out heavy curtains for sheer ones can also be effective. Plus, utilizing multipurpose furniture with hidden storage is a great way to maximize space. 

Action item: Make a note of your must-keep furniture and other items. Then pull out a measuring tape and write down the dimensions. Once it’s time to visit homes, we’ll have a more accurate sense of what will fit and how much space you’ll need.

To get your creative juices flowing, you may also want to flip through some design magazines that specialize in compact living or catalogues that feature space-saving furniture and accessories. If you give us a list of your favourite features, we can use it to pinpoint homes that are a good match. 

 

LONG-TERM ACCESSIBILITY

Buying a home that you can age well in can be a great way to boost your health prospects and happiness. According to the National Institute on Ageing, research shows that homeowners who age in place instead of in an institutional environment not only save money over time, they also enjoy greater health and emotional benefits.4,5

Aging in place is also popular. A survey by Ipsos found that the vast majority of Canadians over the age of 45 would prefer to age in their own homes.6

But even though many adults want to age in place, few currently live in a home with the features to make it possible. According to research by Statistics Canada, only half of adults over the age of 55 say their current home is accessible to someone with a physical limitation.7  

If you’re already in the second half of your life, then it’s smart to prioritize accessibility now, even if you’re highly mobile. 

Choosing an accessible home will improve your odds of staying put for longer. Plus, you never know when you might need an accessible light switch, handrails in the bathroom, or a seat in the shower, says Koones. “Yes, older people with disabilities need them, but even younger people break a leg skiing, or have situations where they want a barrier-free shower.”1  

As you consider your options, try to imagine what your needs might be as you get older and be proactive in identifying potential obstacles, recommends the Government of Canada.8 

For example, a single-level home or one with wide enough stairs for a stair lift or access to an elevator may be a more practical choice than a home with lots of narrow stairs. Alternatively, a home with at least one ground-level bedroom and bathroom may also work well for you. 

Consider your needs outside the home, as well: If you frequently visit the doctor, grocery store, or community centre, for example, then you may benefit from choosing a property nearby. 

Action item: Review the checklist below, adapted from the accessibility standards developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Accessibility Standards Canada, or download the full booklet from the CSA Group’s website.9 Highlight the items that are most important to you. We can reference these guidelines as we consider potential homes and suggest ways to adapt a property to meet your current or future requirements.

 

HOME ACCESSIBILITY CHECKLIST 9

☐ If a walker or wheelchair is needed, can the entrances to the house be modified — perhaps by putting in a ramp to the front door?

☐ Are there any tripping hazards at exterior entrances or inside the house?

☐ Are outdoor areas level and textured to prevent falls in wet or icy weather?

☐ Are the hallways and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, cane or walker if needed?

☐ Does the home have at least one ground-floor bedroom and bathroom?

☐ Are there any staircases, and if so, could they accommodate a stair lift?

☐ Is the house well-lit, inside and out, particularly at the top and bottom of stairs?

☐ Does the home’s interior make use of colour contrasting to help prevent falls? 

☐ Do the stairs have uniformly-sized, gap-free risers and level treads?

☐ Could handrails be installed on both sides of the staircase?

☐ Is there at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps on each flight of stairs?

☐ Does the washroom have at least 1,500 to 1,800 millimetres of turning space to accommodate an assistive mobility device?

☐ Are there grab bars near toilets and in the tub or shower?

☐ Have a shower stool and hand-held shower head been installed to make bathing easier?

☐ Are operating controls, such as light switches, thermostats, door handles and locks, set no higher than 1,100 millimetres from the floor?

 

BOTTOMLINE

You don’t have to compromise on comfort to downsize successfully. We can help you strategize your next move and identify the best new home for you—whether that’s a smaller home for rent or another one to call your own. We take pride in offering a full-service real estate experience and assisting our clients through all stages of the real estate journey. And we’ll go the extra mile to maximize your current home’s sales price so that you’re set up for financial security.

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Associated Press (AP) –
    https://apnews.com/article/lifestyle-f094372b46bae82020c174907eb953c0
  2. Statistics Canada –
    https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2018001/article/54977-eng.htm 
  3. Washington Post –
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/home/2023/02/07/make-small-room-appear-larger/ 
  4. National Institute on Ageing –
    https://www.niageing.ca/airp 
  5. CTV –
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/what-do-senior-citizens-need-to-do-to-age-in-place-1.6141831 
  6. IPSOS –
    https://www.ipsos.com/en-ca/news-polls/Nearly-All-Canadians-45-Want-Age-Home-But-Only-1-in-10-Afford-Cost-PSW
  7. Statistics Canada –
    https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/75-006-x/2023001/article/00010-eng.htm 
  8. Government of Canada –
    https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/aging-checklist.html
  9. CSA Group –
    https://www.csagroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2430606.pdf

Upgrade Your Home With These 2024 Design Trends

By GeneralNo Comments

One of the best parts of owning a home is the freedom to make it truly your own with design choices that reflect your personality and lifestyle. Whether you lean toward contemporary design or a farmhouse aesthetic, your home is your canvas.

Even so, it’s always smart to think about the long-term impact those decisions might have on your home’s value. Choosing over-personalized or unpopular materials and finishes could make your home less appealing to future buyers. And selecting out-of-style or overly-trendy elements could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

To help inspire your design choices, we’ve rounded up some of the top trends we’re watching in 2024. Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to list or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

 

      1. Spa-Like Bathrooms

We could all use a little more relaxation in our lives—so why not bring the spa into your home? In 2024, more homeowners will remodel their bathrooms to turn them into personal oases.1,2

If you’re undertaking a renovation, consider upgrading fixtures and materials. Handmade tile and custom cabinetry can add a touch of style and luxury. Trade stark whites for warm neutrals to create a more relaxed feel—think light wood tones, creams, and beiges.3 Complete the look with soft ambient lighting from a backlit mirror or pair of decorative sconces.2,3

If you want to maximize the mind-body benefits of a relaxing bathroom (and have the budget to spare), you might consider installing a steam shower, infrared sauna, or cold plunge tub. Not looking to spend as much? Even minor upgrades like a massaging showerhead or heated towel bar can add some pampering to your morning routine.3

But remember, if you’re modifying your bathroom, it’s always wise to work with experienced and licensed professionals to avoid water damage that could lead to costly repairs. We can refer you to a trusted contractor for help.

 

      2. Maximalist Decor

In 2024, maximalism is back in vogue, contrasting the neutral aesthetic that dominated design in recent years.4 While maximalism can be summed up as “more is more,” there’s nothing sloppy or cluttered about this look. Instead, it’s all about intentional curation.5

Hallmarks of maximalist style include rich and saturated colours, bold wallpaper, statement rugs and furniture, and lots of art. And forget matching—maximalist interiors often include plenty of contrasting colours, textures, and patterns selected to complement one another.5

If you’re trying to embrace maximalism on a budget, check out thrift stores. They’re often a great place to find unique furniture, colourful rugs, and interesting art or collectibles. Before you invest in rolls of vintage wallpaper, though, it’s important to note—if you plan to sell your home in the near future, the maximalist look won’t appeal to every buyer.

We typically advise sellers to remove clutter and personal items to help buyers imagine their own future lives within the home. Sometimes, that means repainting or redecorating in a more neutral palette. Of course, this shouldn’t stop you from embracing your own style now—just be aware that you may need to walk back your aesthetic prior to selling. We can advise you when the time comes.

 

      3. Japandi Style

Not quite ready to embrace maximalism? Japandi style, which blends Japanese and Scandinavian influences, offers a more subdued approach that still has plenty of character. The look dates back about 150 years to a time when many Scandinavian designers were travelling to Japan for inspiration.6

Japandi style brings together clean lines, simplicity, and a focus on natural elements and light. It emphasizes the beauty in imperfection, or “wabi sabi,” and a deep connection to Mother Earth. And like Scandinavian decor, the look prioritizes comfort and a sense of sanctuary in the home.6

Interested in playing with Japandi? Common features include calming colour palettes and organic materials like raw wood and bamboo. Try softening harsh edges with softer textures, like cozy blankets and ceramic pieces.

The look also minimizes clutter, but that doesn’t mean you need to be a minimalist. Instead, Japandi style embraces storage solutions like baskets, folding screens, and sofas with built-in storage to give everything a place.7 If you’d like some help implementing Japandi-style organization in your home, contact us for a list of recommended professionals.

 

      4. Mixed Metals

Mixing metals used to be a “no-no.” But in 2024, it’s definitely a “yes.”

According to designers, mixing the colours and finishes of metal fixtures and hardware can bring visual interest to a room—as long as you go about it the right way.1,8

The most important rule to keep in mind is to stay away from near matches, like brass and gold—that’s more likely to look accidental than intentional. Instead, go for bold contrast: Think polished nickel and matte black.8

Some designers recommend using each metal at least twice in a room to make it look cohesive. Another good rule of thumb is to stick to two types of metals in a small room and two to three in a larger space.8

Finally, you might think about playing with undertones (brass is warm, chrome is cool) to change the “temperature” of a room. And don’t be afraid of a little shine—many designers predict that a retro, high-polished look will replace matte finishes in 2024.9

Want some help sourcing fixtures and hardware in a variety of finishes? Reach out for a list of our favourite retailers.

 

      5. Wood Cabinetry And Accents

The all-white kitchen has been ubiquitous in recent years. But in 2024, classic wood cabinetry is back in a big way.10 In fact, industry professionals surveyed by the National Kitchen & Bath Association predict that wood cabinets will be more popular than white in the next three years.11

Natural wood tones offer a sense of warmth and natural beauty. And today’s cabinets aren’t anything like the heavy, dated versions of the past. Instead, light to medium versions—like white oak and walnut—and warmer undertones are trending.12

The addition of wood-grain accents to painted kitchen cabinets—like with a contrasting island or range hood—is another popular option. And wood continues to be a favoured choice for flooring. A recent survey found that 40% of homeowners opted for either hardwood or engineered wood when renovating their kitchen floors.13

You can also expect to see more wood in bathrooms in 2024. According to Houzz, last year, wood vanities surpassed white in popularity for the first time in recent years, and designers expect the trend to continue.14 While white countertops and walls still dominate bathrooms, a wood-grained vanity brings a relaxed, organic element into the space.

Dreaming about new cabinets or hardwood floors? We’d be happy to share a list of recommended trade professionals who can help.

 

      6. Timeless Renovations

In its latest Kitchen Trends Study, Houzz found that “nearly half of homeowners (47%) opt for a timeless design as a sustainable choice during renovations.” Respondents cited long-term cost-effectiveness and environmental consciousness as their main motivators.15

In a rapidly changing, technology-driven world, it’s no surprise that homeowners want a nurturing space with lasting appeal—especially if they plan to stay in their homes for years to come.14

Traditional materials and quality craftsmanship lie at the core of timeless design, which some designers are calling “quiet luxury.”16 Think of enduring classics, like hardwood floors, hand-crafted tiles, and marble countertops.14 A timeless colour palette will also often include warm neutrals and muted shades of blue and green.17

If you’re thinking about remodelling, it’s wise to incorporate as many classic elements as you can. These stylistic choices tend to hold up well over time, which can prolong the life of your investment and make it easier to sell your home down the road. If you’d like advice on an upcoming project, contact us for a free consultation.

 

BEAUTIFY YOUR HOME WHILE BOOSTING ITS VALUE

If you’re thinking about making design changes—whether that’s repainting or a full remodel—it’s important to be informed about how your choices could impact your home’s resale potential. Buyer preferences can vary significantly based on your home’s neighbourhood and price point. Before you begin your project, reach out to discuss your plans and how they could impact the value of your home.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. HGTV –
    https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/design-101/2024-home-and-garden-design-trends
  2. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-design-trends-8411457 
  3. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-bathroom-design-trends-8380169 
  4. Calgary Real Estate Board –
    https://www.creb.com/News/CREBNow/2024/January/interior_design_trends_2024/
  5. Homes and Gardens –
    https://www.homesandgardens.com/interior-design/maximalist-decor-ideas 
  6. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/japandi-design-4782478 
  7. House Beautiful –
    https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/a45851530/japandi-interior-design-style/ 
  8. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/4-rules-designers-say-you-should-follow-or-ignore-when-mixing-metals-in-a-room-5199031 
  9. The Spruce –
    https://www.thespruce.com/2024-lighting-trends-8365056 
  10. Toronto Sun –
    https://torontosun.com/life/homes/2024-trends-youll-see-everywhere
  11. Good Housekeeping –
    https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/a45576463/wood-kitchen-cabinet-trend-2023/ 
  12. Better Homes and Gardens –
    https://www.bhg.com/2024-kitchen-trends-840656
  13. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/10-kitchen-trends-to-watch-in-layouts-features-and-more-stsetivw-vs~165050822 
  14. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/28-home-design-trends-that-will-define-2024-stsetivw-vs~172317389 
  15. Houzz –
    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/2023-u-s-houzz-kitchen-trends-study-stsetivw-vs~164970160
  16. Better Homes and Gardens –
    https://www.bhg.com/quiet-luxury-home-trend-7554026

Real Estate Market Forecast: Opportunities for Home Buyers and Sellers in 2024

By GeneralNo Comments

Home buyers surprised everyone last spring when they shook off higher borrowing costs and showed up to new home sales in droves. The surge in competition for a still-limited pool of properties helped home prices pop and renewed sellers’ confidence in their ability to get top dollar for a home. But experts caution that the 2024 housing market could unfold quite differently, especially if Canada’s economy experiences another dip later this year.1

Ever since the Bank of Canada hiked interest rates last summer, home sales have dropped in many areas as buyers and sellers alike struggle to close deals.2 Canada’s economy has also softened, prompting some home buyers to move forward more cautiously.3 But with the Bank of Canada now widely expected to cut rates in the spring, competition could reheat quickly.4 

Not every neighbourhood is cooling at the same rate either, making the familiar adage that “all real estate is local” especially relevant.5 With a market this fluid, the home buyers and sellers with an edge will be those who proactively leverage a real estate agent’s on-the-ground expertise and stay flexible so that they can quickly adapt to hyper-local changes.

What does that mean for you? Read on to learn more about the current state of the Canadian housing market, the potential opportunities for buyers and sellers, and economists’ predictions for the coming year.

 

MORTGAGE RATES MAY DROP SOONER THAN EXPECTED

The best news we’ve got incoming for 2024? The extra high mortgage rates that have weighed heavily on Canadian real estate for some time may finally be headed south.

Citing a global economic slowdown and improving inflation, policymakers at the Bank of Canada opted to leave the central bank’s key rate unchanged in December after pushing rates to a 22-year high last summer.6 The feds cautioned that another rate hike was still possible in 2024. But now that Canada’s economy is slowing down, market watchers widely predict that the central bank is more likely to cut rates instead—possibly as soon as March.7 

Fixed mortgage rates could slide even more quickly. Market expectations have a big impact on bond yields. So, if traders expect a rate cut from the feds, bond yields are likely to drop even further. “It’s all about expectations,” said Ratehub CEO James Laird to Global News.8 

Already, the bond market has cooled significantly since autumn. As a result, Canadians with great credit may now be able to secure rates closer to 5% than 6%—and possibly even lower.9  

If rates fall as expected, that could have an energizing effect on the housing market. As mortgage expert Clay Jarvis told Nerdwallet in 2023: “If fixed rates dip below 5% next year—and we’re not in a full-blown recession—it’s likely Canadians will return to the market fairly enthusiastically. The pent-up demand and FOMO will be too strong for many to resist.”10

What does it mean for you? If you’re a prospective home buyer, declining mortgage rates could give you the opening you’ve been waiting for to purchase a home with a more affordable monthly payment. And if you buy before the market reheats, you could secure an especially good deal. To find the lowest rate, it pays to compare lenders. Ask us to refer you to a mortgage broker who can negotiate a competitive mortgage rate.

Sellers also have reason to celebrate buyers’ lower interest rates: As the barriers for entry to the housing market decline, sellers could enjoy more or better offers. Reach out to discuss how we can help you maximize your home’s sales potential.

 

DESPITE LOWER RATES, A WEAKENING ECONOMY COULD CHILL DEMAND

As pent-up demand continues to build, surveys show that Canadians are still deeply interested in real estate. For example, a recent survey by Dye and Durham found that a growing number of Canadians are thinking seriously about buying a home in 2024.11 

But with interest rates so high, buyers with typical household incomes often need either a substantial amount of cash saved or a lot of home equity to buy at today’s prices. And the softening economy may be shaking buyers’ confidence. According to the Conference Board of Canada, Canadians are feeling more pessimistic about their employment and finances.12 

Meanwhile, many home sellers remain stuck in the recent past and are slow to let go of outdated prices. As a result, home buyers and sellers in many regions are locked in a persistent stalemate and the volume of home sales has dropped considerably.5 

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), new listings are now outpacing purchases in some of the country’s biggest housing markets as market loosening spreads.13 However, the softening is uneven, with some areas still highly competitive.5

As rates continue falling, experts predict that demand for housing will increase, helping fuel a tighter market. But a slowdown in Canada’s economy could complicate that scenario. “We now think that most major markets will experience softer sales and prices through the spring months, as weakness has spread significantly,” forecast economists at Desjardins.14

What does it mean for you?
The days of easy home sales with minimal, if any, prep work are long gone––at least until the market rebounds. Instead, home sales are more likely to take some legwork and planning to stand out from the competition. We can help you maximize your home’s appeal to attract serious buyers.

Home buyers, on the other hand, will have a distinct advantage in the coming months––especially if they jump into the market early while competition is limited. Call us for a consultation so we can help you plot your strategy.  

 

HOME PRICES WILL FACE HEADWINDS, BUT MAY CLIMB WITH LOWER RATES

Home buyers who have faced both persistently high prices and historically high rates may finally get a much-needed break this year.

With Canada’s economy cooling, experts are now actively revising their pricing forecasts. For example, economists at TD predicted in November that home prices would drop 10% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the third quarter of 2023––twice what they had previously forecast.15  

As sales dwindle, the home buyers who are still around “are taking advantage of their stronger bargaining position,” said economists from RBC. “They’ve successfully extracted price concessions from sellers.” As a result, the MLS Home Price Index is slipping.16 

Analysts still expect home prices to remain higher than they were before the pandemic. However, fewer sales amid rising levels of inventory could dampen prices in some regions.16 In fact, eagle-eyed home buyers may find the best bargains in previously hot neighbourhoods that had overheated amid frenzied competition.

But with Canada’s historic supply crunch still ever-present, home buyers who wait too long to score a deal could wind up settling for a bigger mortgage in the future. As CIBC’s Tal put it: “A year to two years from now when things will be back to normal—and they will be back to normal, with one million newcomers and non-permanent residents—guess what will happen? The supply will not be there, the demand will be there. The market will be crazy.”17

What does it mean for you? Homeowners with a property to sell may want to put it on the market sooner than later while there are relatively few homes for sale.  We can help you chart the best course to maximize your profits, starting with a professional assessment of your home’s current market value. Reach out to schedule a free consultation.

Meanwhile, savvy buyers with an eye for opportunity will be thrilled to know that the affordability challenges that have made home buying so difficult are expected to ease significantly. In fact, there could be a brief window when mortgage rates and home prices are both on the decline, giving home buyers who are ready to pounce a rare opportunity.  Contact us if you’re ready to begin your home search.

 

BUYERS SHOULD HAVE MORE CHOICES, BUT A SUPPLY SHORTAGE WILL PERSIST 

Home buyers who are eager for options should have more homes to choose from this year than they did in 2023. The share of existing homes for sale is already up in many regions as new listings outpace purchases, and more inventory could be added to the market in the coming months.13 

Many sellers out there have been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for rates to fall or for the market to pick up. If a greater share of those sellers decide they can no longer wait, the number of resale homes on offer could quickly increase. 

In addition, a growing number of Canadian mortgage holders are expected to experience some payment shock in the coming year as they renew with rates that are several points above their current rates.1 If more homeowners then default on their loans or choose to list because they can no longer afford their monthly payments, that could also lead to an uptick in homes for sale. 

But given Canada’s severe housing supply crunch, the chances of a market oversaturation are low. As economists at TD Bank note: “Canada could be short over 300,000 housing units from 2023-2025 as population growth collides with a slower pace of homebuilding.”18

What does it mean for you? With the market cooling this winter, there’s more supply opening up. In the short term, buyers who can afford to jump quickly should benefit from this winter’s temporary buyer’s market. Contact us to discuss your goals and budget, and we can help you make an informed decision about the right time to buy.

While sellers will continue to benefit from the overall supply shortage, they should be prepared for increased competition. We can help you prep your property for the market and highlight the features most likely to appeal to today’s buyers.

 

WE’RE HERE TO GUIDE YOU 

While national real estate forecasts can give you a “big picture” outlook, real estate is local. And as local market experts, we know what’s most likely to impact sales and drive home values in your neighbourhood. As a trusted partner in your real estate journey, we’ll keep our ears to the ground so that we can guide you through the market’s twists and turns.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2024, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. Let’s work together and craft an action plan to meet your real estate goals.

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources: 

  1. Financial Post –
    https://financialpost.com/news/economy/canada-mortgage-math-means-crisis-looming
  2. Financial Post –
    https://financialpost.com/news/canada-housing-market-sales-prices-fall-further
  3. Global News –
    https://globalnews.ca/news/10068567/statistics-canada-jobs-report-oct-2023/
  4. Canadian Mortgage Trends –
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2023/12/bank-of-canada-preview-rate-hold-expected-as-attention-shifts-to-rate-cuts/
  5. Global News –
    https://globalnews.ca/news/10098594/canada-housing-market-home-sellers-fall-2023/
  6. Bank of Canada –
    https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2023/12/fad-press-release-2023-12-06/
  7. The Globe and Mail –
    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/article-bank-of-canada-interest-rate-live-december/ 
  8. Global News –
    https://globalnews.ca/news/10142334/bond-yields-canada-mortgage-interest-rates/
  9. Canadian Mortgage Trends –
    https://www.canadianmortgagetrends.com/2023/12/mortgage-rates-under-5-theyre-coming-back-as-lenders-slash-fixed-rates/
  10. Nerdwallet –
    https://www.nerdwallet.com/ca/personal-finance/financial-trends-that-could-shape-2024
  11. Dye and Durham –
    https://dyedurham.ca/new-data-shows-canadians-remain-concerned-about-looming-recession/
  12. Conference Board of Canada –
    https://www.conferenceboard.ca/focus-areas/canadian-economics/housing-market-update/
  13. CREA –
    https://www.crea.ca/media-hub/news/canadian-home-sales-see-downward-trend-continue-in-october/
  14. Desjardins –
    https://www.desjardins.com/en/savings-investment/economic-studies/canada-housing-outlook-nov-2023.html
  15. Global News –
    https://globalnews.ca/news/10110607/canada-real-estate-td-housing-price-forecast/
  16. RBC –
    https://thoughtleadership.rbc.com/ontario-leads-canadas-housing-market-cooldown/
  17. RENX –
    https://renx.ca/interest-rates-are-coming-down-soon-benjamin-tal
  18. TD Economics –
    https://stories.td.com/ca/en/article/canada-housing-supply

Celebrate Sustainably: 5 Ideas for an Eco-Friendly Holiday at Home

By GeneralNo Comments

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. But for many families with festive plans and hectic schedules, it’s also the most wasteful. 

According to one survey, for example, 60% of respondents admitted to throwing away more than usual during the holiday months as they filled up their trash bins with uneaten food, wrapping paper, gift bags, and commercial packaging.1

The reality is, Canadians routinely toss about 25% more trash during the holidays, according to Zero Waste Canada.2 In fact, we throw away so much wrapping paper that the waste, combined with castoff shopping bags, is estimated to weigh as much as 100,000 elephants.2,3

As our holiday schedules grow busier, many of us also forget to take simple steps at home to shrink our carbon footprints or prepare for a more energy-efficient winter. 

Luckily, it’s not that hard to shift our habits and plan for a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly celebration. Here are five ideas for ringing in the holidays this year without overstressing Mother Nature.

 

1. PREP YOUR HOME FOR WINTER

Depending on the amount of time and resources you have available, you could cut your carbon emissions significantly this season just by winterizing your home. According to Natural Resources Canada, around 61% of the average home’s energy usage goes to heating.4

Investing in a more sustainable way to warm up your surroundings, such as a conventional or cold climate heat pump, could be especially impactful if your current HVAC is underperforming. The Canadian Climate Institute’s Heat Pump Calculator estimates that homeowners can potentially save hundreds of dollars a year by switching from a gas furnace to a more energy-efficient heat pump.5 Replacing old appliances or things like chronically leaking windows with newer, more energy-efficient solutions can also save you money over the long term.6 Plus, you may qualify for a federal grant or loan to help fund certain upgrades.7

You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot upfront, though, to prep your home for winter. Even simple tweaks—such as sealing windows and doors or upgrading to more energy-efficient window coverings—can lower your energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint.8

Incorporating environmentally healthier habits into your routine can also make a meaningful difference. For example, Natural Resources Canada recommends dialling back your thermostat to 17 C when you’re sleeping or away and otherwise leaving it at 20 C.4

Consider an EnerGuide home evaluation to help you pinpoint what needs fixing and see if you qualify for a federal grant. An energy advisor registered with Natural Resources Canada will audit your home’s energy efficiency and provide you with a report and score.9 

 

2. DECORATE SUSTAINABLY

Decking your home’s halls is one of the most jolly seasonal activities of all. There’s something special about gathering ’round with friends and family and relaxing in the comforting glow of a festively decorated space. 

But since so much of the holiday-themed decor that’s sold in stores is notoriously disposable, it can be a challenge to spruce up your home sustainably. Cheaply produced and rarely recyclable, store-bought decorations are often made with plastic, styrofoam, and other environmentally unfriendly materials that can crowd landfills for generations.10 

Luckily, you don’t have to trade style for sustainability when making your holiday decor. Thrifting is still in vogue, so consider crafting new and on-trend decorations out of secondhand finds or upcycling items already in your closet. 

For example, you could transform an ill-fitting sweater into a holiday-themed pillow, turn teacups into candles, or turn leftover shipping boxes into creative decorations. Alternatively, natural decor foraged from your yard—such as dried leaves, flowers, pine cones, and branches—can make for especially beautiful wreaths and centrepieces. 

If you do purchase store-bought decor, proactively look for the most environmentally friendly options. LED lights are now ubiquitous in stores and use far less energy than incandescent versions.11 Similarly, if you celebrate with a Christmas tree, think twice about choosing an artificial option. Plastic trees may be reusable, but natural trees are generally thought to have a smaller carbon footprint.2

 

3. CUT BACK ON HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Shopping online or at the mall may be convenient, but it can be costly for the environment. The greenhouse emissions from shipping and transportation alone add up fast, as do the emissions that are produced when an item is first made. According to the online consignment and thrift store, thredUp, around 4.5 billion pounds of carbon emissions could be saved if every consumer bought just one used item instead of new this year.12 

Splurging on brand-new products also makes it more likely that the gently used but still functional items that you’ve got at home will wind up in the trash. 

Rather than buy new, check vintage stores and consignment shops for unique gifts that you and your recipient can both feel good about. According to research by thredUp, most people are open to receiving gently-used presents, especially if they’re socially-conscious members of Gen Z.12 In fact, research by Value Village found that at least 80% of Gen Z members in Canada and the U.S. have already bought second-hand clothing.13 Alternatively, consider regifting items that you haven’t used, upcycling something you own, or try crafting gifts by hand. 

Giving away special experiences, such as concert tickets or community memberships, may also be a more eco-friendly option. So is donating to a favourite charity in a gift recipient’s name or offering gifts of time, such as promising to help a loved one clean out their garage or fill their freezer with home-cooked meals. 

Research shows that gift recipients often value thoughtful gifts with sentimental value, especially if they’re homemade or nostalgic or will provide them with a unique experience.14

And if you prefer to buy something tangible, look to local businesses that source or manufacture their goods nearby. Craft fairs and community markets are a great place to start. Or, give us a call and we’d be happy to share a list of our favourite local stores, depending on the type of gift and your budget. We make an effort to patronize the independently-owned shops and restaurants around town and would love to share our recommendations.

 

4. GREEN YOUR HOLIDAY DINNER

Do you hail from a family of passionate carnivores? If so, trading your meat for a vegetarian option may seem like a step too far—especially for a holiday dinner. 

But swapping your meat for beans isn’t the only way to “’green” your holiday meal. For example, you can consciously source your meat from ethical sellers, prioritize local producers for seasonal sides, and serve enough filling vegetables to satisfy a large portion of your appetite.

You can also minimize food waste by planning ahead so that you don’t cook more than necessary. According to MoneySense, the average Canadian family of four tosses roughly 10% of their groceries in the trash, adding up to hundreds of dollars in wasted spending.15 To avoid buying more than necessary and throwing out good food too soon, check out Good Harvest’s Still Good to Eat Guide.16 The Natural Resources Defense Council’s dinner party “Guest-Imator” can also help you narrow down how much food you and your guests will actually need.17 

Once you’re finished eating, clear the table immediately and either freeze the leftovers you’d like to keep or send guests home with reusable containers. Or, if you have untouched food that’s still whole or in unopened packaging, take it to a local food bank or homeless shelter. We’d be happy to share a list of options in our area.

 

5. DONATE OR RECYCLE WHAT YOU CAN

Once the festivities are over, the real work on behalf of Mother Nature begins. This is the time when taking a few minutes at the end of your holiday celebration to swiftly collect wrapping paper and ribbons, unwanted packaging, and other discarded items can make a real environmental difference by reducing what you send to landfills. Your goal should be to reuse what you can and compost or recycle what’s left over. 

For example, if you upgrade any electronic gadgets over the holidays, you can conserve resources and limit pollution by donating or properly recycling your old versions. According to researchers at the University of Waterloo, the average Canadian generates about 25.3 kg of e-waste every year, including discarded cell phones, laptops, and appliances.18 But you can help trim that number by repairing or refurbishing products instead.

It can also help to reimagine new ways to make old traditions more eco-friendly. For instance, if lighting candles is part of your holiday celebration, consider choosing beeswax candles this year instead of the typical paraffin wax, which is a petroleum derivative. Not only are they cleaner burning and less toxic, but the leftover wax is biodegradable and can be composted, unlike traditional candle wax.19

There are also plenty of earth-friendly ways to dispose of a natural Christmas tree without kicking it to the curb. Trees that are sent to landfills release a potent greenhouse gas called methane.2 So, it’s important to properly dispose of a live tree, if you have one, so it can be recycled or composted. If you’re not sure how, reach out for a list of local options.

 

BOTTOMLINE

We can still celebrate a fun and festive season without draining our community’s resources or sending leftovers to the landfill. And remember, we’re here to lend a helping hand, now or in the new year. This is the perfect time to strategize your next move or set some real estate resolutions with personalized guidance from an expert. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. Eco Watch –
    https://www.ecowatch.com/sustainable-decor-winter-holidays.html
  2. CBC –
    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whatonearth/holidays-recycling-christmas-tree-composting-1.6688865 
  3. Global News –
    https://globalnews.ca/news/6229467/we-toss-540k-tonnes-of-wrapping-paper-after-the-holidays-heres-how-to-give-without-the-garbage/ 
  4. Natural Resources Canada –
    https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/spotlight-energy-efficiency/2020/11/05/winter-coming-top-tips-heat-your-home-for-less/23141 
  5. Canadian Climate Institute –
    https://heatpumpcalculator.ca/ 
  6. Natural Resources Canada –
    https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/make-small-changes-add/21850
  7. Natural Resources Canada –
    https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/canada-greener-homes-initiative/24831 
  8. Canadian Geographic –
    https://canadiangeographic.ca/articles/keeping-the-heat-in-and-the-cold-out-live-net-zero-families-take-on-home-envelope-challenge/ 
  9. Natural Resources Canada –
    https://natural-resources.canada.ca/energy-efficiency/energuide/energuide-energy-efficiency-home-evaluations/after-your-energuide-home-evaluation/20572
  10. Architectural Digest –
    https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/best-holiday-and-seasonal-decor-for-the-environment 
  11. Statistics Canada –
    https://www.statcan.gc.ca/o1/en/plus/2605-northern-electric-lights-stats-brighten-your-day-and-night 
  12. ThredUp –
    https://newsroom.thredup.com/news/thredup-releases-thrift-for-the-holidays-report-revealing-that-new-waves-of-consumers-are-planning-to-gift-secondhand-this-year 
  13. BNN Bloomberg –
    https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/pre-loved-doesn-t-mean-second-best-young-canadians-thrift-holiday-gifts-1.1858787 
  14. The Conversation –
    https://theconversation.com/the-4-biggest-gift-giving-mistakes-according-to-a-consumer-psychologist-195169 
  15. MoneySense –
    https://www.moneysense.ca/spend/shopping/how-to-keep-food-costs-down-watch-for-food-waste/ 
  16. Good Harvest –
    https://www.secondharvest.ca/resources/still-good-to-eat 
  17. Natural Resources Defense Council –
    https://savethefood.com/guestimator 
  18. University of Waterloo –
    https://uwaterloo.ca/news/media/canadian-e-waste-has-tripled-new-study-finds
  19. CanICompostIt.com –
    https://canicompostit.com/candle-wax/

35 Tips to Furnish Your New Home for Less

By GeneralNo Comments

Buying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences in life. And if you’re like most homebuyers, you’ll be planning your furniture placement and decor before the ink dries on your offer letter.

But before you run to the nearest home goods store, take a deep breath. First, you’ll need to delay any major purchases before you close on your new home. A large outlay or additional line of credit could affect your credit rating and, thus, impact your mortgage terms.1 Second, moving and closing costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to be strategic with your remaining budget.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to save on home essentials, and we’ve rounded up some of our favourites to share with you. 

 

PRIORITIZE WHAT YOU REALLY NEED BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING

According to the nonprofit Furniture Bank, you could spend around $8,300 to outfit a one-bedroom apartment with the essentials, and the costs only go up from there for larger homes and higher-end items.2 That’s why we recommend starting with a thorough assessment of what you already have and what you actually need to start life in your new place. Here are some steps to help you prioritize your purchases and keep spending in check. 

  • Make a list of everything you need. Going room by room could help you brainstorm—for example, you might list items ranging from a mattress to blackout curtains for your new primary bedroom. 
  • Inventory what you already have. Cross the big (dining table) to the small (kitchen knives) off your list as you go. 
  • Divide the remaining items into three groups: things you need right away (a mattress), items you’d like to have in the near future (a coffee table for your living room), and pieces that can wait (an area rug). 
  • Calculate your budget. Figure out how much money you’ll have available for immediate purchases after the sale has closed, and start researching the items on your priority list to understand how they’ll fit into your budget.
  • Don’t rush the process. Bringing older items to your new space doesn’t mean you need to keep them forever. Consider hanging onto pieces that can tide you over for a year or two until your bank account has recovered from the costs of a home purchase. 


Before you start shopping, make sure you know which appliances and fixtures are included with your home purchase. We can inform you of the standard contract terms when you’re making an initial offer and note any additional items that you would like to request.

 

TIME YOUR PURCHASES TO MAKE THE MOST OF SEASONAL SALES

Did you know that some home items predictably go on sale at certain times of the year? If you can wait to buy these pieces when prices are lower, you could save significantly. Here are some of the best times to buy household essentials:3

  • Carpeting: January
  • Indoor furniture: January and July
  • Linens: January
  • TVs and home theatres: February and November
  • Appliances: May and September
  • Office furniture: May
  • Mattresses: May 
  • Tools: June
  • Flatware and dishes: June
  • Outdoor furniture: September
  • Electronics: November 


Generally speaking, holiday weekends (as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) tend to be great times to find deals. If the item you’re looking for is seasonal—like patio furniture or holiday decorations—waiting until the end of that season usually pays off.

 

FIND ALTERNATIVE SHOPPING SOURCES

Can’t wait for a sale? It’s time to think outside of the box (the big-box stores, that is). There are plenty of surprising places to find great furniture and houseware deals. 

  • Check out overstock and liquidation stores. These stores purchase items other retailers haven’t sold and offer them at a steep discount. The inventory can be hit or miss, but you can often get a great deal if you find what you’re looking for.4
  • Try private membership/warehouse stores. These retailers often have great deals on home goods. If you’re not already a member, ask family or friends if they are willing to take you to look around before you commit.
  • Consider open-box items.  When buyers return items like furniture or electronics, retailers can’t always sell them as new, even if they haven’t truly been used. Look online for open-box deals from retailers like Wayfair and Amazon Warehouse or visit local retailers to see what they have in stock.
  • Give scratch-and-dent appliances a chance. These appliances are brand new but sold at deep discounts because their external packaging was damaged. Typically, this means that flaws are purely cosmetic—but it’s always possible that the merchandise has suffered more serious damage. So, be sure to check out the appliances carefully and ask about included warranties.5
  • Expand your window treatment search. Window treatments can be surprisingly expensive, but it’s often possible to save by buying off-the-shelf offerings in standard sizes. If you need a custom size or material, consider ordering online from a discount supplier and installing them yourself. 
  • Shop secondhand. In addition to thrift stores and garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and Kijiji are all great places to find deals in your area.


Are alternative shopping sources still a stretch for your budget? Check out local Freecycle or “Buy Nothing” groups, which are often hosted on Facebook. Participants offer big and small items they no longer need—everything from furniture to clothing hangers—for free to other members.
6,7

 

DON’T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE FOR A BETTER DEAL

Many people don’t realize that prices for home goods, from furniture to appliances, are often negotiable. While asking for a discount can be intimidating, it’s common practice in many industries, although more so at independently-owned stores than chains. Here are a few tips:8,9

  • Comparison shop before you walk into a store. If you can find a lower price for the same item elsewhere, many retailers will match it.
  • Ask the store associate or manager for the best price available. They may be able to offer additional discounts or coupons. 
  • If you can pay in cash, ask if you can get a discount for doing so. The seller may be happy to offer a small price reduction to avoid paying processor fees. 
  • Call ahead to ask about applicable discounts. Some retailers offer price reductions for active military, veterans, teachers, first responders, or senior citizens on certain days or times of the year.
  • Point out scratches or dings to the sales associate. They may be willing to offer a discount to compensate for the imperfection. 
  • Ask about floor models. Many stores offer these pieces at a lower price, even if they’re in like-new condition. 


After you’ve negotiated a killer deal, don’t forget to ask for free or discounted delivery! Sometimes furniture and appliance stores will offer complimentary delivery or installation if you spend a certain amount or purchase multiple items.

 

MAKE THE MOST OF REWARD PROGRAMS AND COUPONS

Every penny counts when you’re on a budget—and spending a little extra time maximizing reward programs and discounts is usually worthwhile.

 

  • Make sure you never miss a sale. Sign up for your favourite retailers’ email lists and follow them on social media for discounts and sale alerts.
  • Take advantage of loyalty programs. If you’re making a big purchase or getting multiple items from one store, ask about free loyalty programs. Signing up often comes with an introductory coupon.
  • Consider store credit cards (carefully). Store credit cards can offer significant discounts—but only charge items you can pay off right away to avoid interest, and never open new lines of credit until your home purchase is complete, since it can affect your credit score.
  • Enroll in coupon and cashback programs. When you’re shopping online, programs like Rakuten and Great Canadian Rebates can help you find coupon codes and give you cash back on purchases.


While you’re at it, why not set up a housewarming registry?
10  You can share the link with family and friends if they ask what you need—and you can also use it to score discounts. Many stores offer a percentage off to help you buy unpurchased items on your registry. 

 

GET CREATIVE

If you want to avoid a cookie-cutter home aesthetic—and save a few bucks—try reimagining your existing furniture and how it could fit into your new space. Here are a few of our favourite strategies. 

  • Repurpose what you have. Instead of buying a new item to fit a specific purpose, ask yourself if you can use what you have in a different way. For example, repurpose an old dresser as a television stand or use a mismatched dining chair in your home office.
  • Upgrade existing items. Sometimes, a new coat of paint or varnish, or simply swapping out drawer pulls and handles, can lend a new lease on life to an old piece of furniture. You can also keep this strategy in mind if you see second-hand items that would be just right if they were a different colour or had nicer fixtures.
  • Reupholster instead of buying new. If you have a tired-looking sofa or chair that’s still comfortable and stable, think about getting it reupholstered in new fabric instead of replacing it.
  • Get handy. Building furniture is certainly not for everyone, but with some basic tools and help from the internet, you may find that simple items like headboards are well within your grasp. You might also be able to repair pieces you already have and avoid shopping altogether. 


Do-it-yourself projects can be fun, but they aren’t for everyone. If you’d like some professional help, reach out for a list of our recommended service providers.

 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP

We know budgeting for a new home can be overwhelming, and we want to make the process easier for you. If you’re considering a home purchase, we can advise you on a realistic budget and help you review your options. We can also offer insights on other financial considerations and programs and incentives that can help make homeownership more attainable. Reach out for a free consultation. 

 


The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources: 

  1. Financial Consumer Agency of Canada –
    https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/services/credit-reports-score/improve-credit-score.html 
  2. Furniture Bank –
    https://www.furniturebank.org/how-much-does-it-cost-to-furnish-an-apartment/  
  3. Global News –
    https://globalnews.ca/news/3973885/buy-stuff-on-sale-canada/  
  4. Business Insider –
    https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/strategies-to-save-money-on-furniture-for-my-new-home?r=US&IR=T 
  5. CNET –
    https://www.cnet.com/home/kitchen-and-household/buy-scratch-and-dent-appliances/ 
  6. Global News –
    https://globalnews.ca/news/9298486/buy-nothing-groups-canada/
  7. Freecycle –
    https://www.freecycle.org/
  8. Consumer Reports –
    https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/08/how-to-bargain/index.htm 
  9. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/furniture-stores-money-saving-tricks/
  10. Taste of Home –
    https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/housewarming-registry/

Income Properties Are Trending, But Is Landlord Life for You?

By GeneralNo Comments

If the thought of investing your money into brick and mortar—or perhaps some stylishly-painted siding—excites you, join the club. 

Investing in real estate has long been one of Canadians’ favourite ways to grow their wealth. According to a poll by CIBC, 15% of Canadian homeowners already earn some rental income, while another 11% aspire to it. What’s more, over a third of current homeowners (37%) say they’d look for a property with income potential if they were buying a new home.1 

Baby boomers over the age of 55 are especially likely to own an income property these days.2 But according to Statistics Canada, a growing share of millennials in their 30s and 40s have also cashed in on the real estate investment trend.3 The Bank of Canada estimates that at least 20% of newly purchased homes are now owned by individual investors, up from 18% in 2015.4 

Canadians have historically embraced real estate, in part, because of the strong return on investment it can offer—especially to investors willing to stick with a property over time. It’s also a popular way to hedge against inflation since both rental income and property values tend to rise in tandem with overall prices.5 

But how do you know if you’re well-suited to take advantage of real estate investment opportunities? Here are three signs that owning a rental property could be right for you.

 

1. YOU’RE A HOMEBUYER WHO WANTS HELP COVERING THE MORTGAGE

If you’re looking for a creative way to buy a home without overspending, “house hacking” could be the answer. Increasingly popular with first-time homebuyers and budget-conscious investors, house hacking simply means buying a home that you intend to live in while renting out a portion of it to one or more tenants.6 

In addition to padding your monthly income, buying a home with a self-contained income suite can make it easier for you to qualify for a mortgage. If a secondary dwelling is move-in ready, a lender may be willing to add half of the rental payments you can plausibly collect from future tenants to your qualifying income, making it easier to pass the mortgage stress test.7  

House hacking also tends to be simpler to break into than traditional real estate investing since you don’t need as large a down payment to qualify for a mortgage. For example, if you buy a home you only intend to rent, you’ll need to put down at least 20%, regardless of whether or not your mortgage is insured. But if you intend to move into the property yourself and only rent out a part of it, you can put down as little as 5%.7 Plus, your mortgage rate will be lower and you may still qualify for a principal residence exemption for some or all of the home if you later sell it.7 8 

When it’s time to start your search, we can help you find a property that’s ideal for house hacking, such as a house with a walkout basement, a multifamily unit, or a home with enough outdoor space to build a laneway or garden suite.

 

2. YOU’RE AN INVESTOR LOOKING FOR STEADY AND RELIABLE INCOME

If you’re not crazy about the idea of a live-in tenant but still desire an additional stream of income, a dedicated long-term rental property could be a better option for you. Besides the monthly proceeds, purchasing a rental home can also add diversity and long-term stability to your investment portfolio and help you build wealth over time.9

According to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association, real estate owners have historically prospered. In early 2020, for example, the average home price was 120% higher than just 15 years prior. Then, during the pandemic-era real estate boom, average home prices grew at an especially frenzied clip, climbing by more than 60% in less than two years.10 

However, the rate of appreciation can be hard to predict, so it’s prudent to invest in a property that also offers positive cash flow, which means the rent you take in exceeds your expenses. This strategy helps to ensure that you’ll put money in your pocket each month, even if the property’s value takes time to grow.

While today’s higher mortgage rates can make it more challenging for landlords to turn a profit, a tighter rental market also means you can demand higher rents. Turnover on your rental unit may also be lower as many would-be buyers remain priced out of the purchase market.9  

Plus, research by Statistics Canada suggests that many landlords now earn significantly more than they once did. In 2020, for example, more than 76 percent of independent landlords reported earning more rental income that year than they spent on upkeep, taxes, mortgage payments, and other annual expenses. That’s up from 63 percent in 2008.3

If you want to explore opportunities for a residential rental property that’s good for your wallet and attractive to renters, we can help. 

 

3. YOU’RE AN EXPERIENCED INVESTOR LOOKING TO MAXIMIZE YOUR POTENTIAL RETURNS

Another increasingly popular way to draw income from an investment property is to convert it to a short-term vacation rental. But beware: This strategy can be riskier as some municipalities have tightened rental restrictions and others are suffering from market oversaturation.11 

With that said, if you’re an experienced investor who can afford to take on some uncertainty, then investing in a short-term rental could make sense for you. 

If you find the right property, for example, you could earn significantly more renting it short-term on a platform like Airbnb than if you rented the home to a long-term tenant.12

The key is to keep it occupied as much as possible at a premium nightly rate. To do that, you’ll need some marketing savvy, hospitality skills, and business acumen. Of course, you can always hire a professional property manager, but you’ll need to factor the cost into your budget.

Vacation rentals have boomed in recent years, and some inexperienced investors are finding they bit off more than they can chew.13 As a result, there’s an opportunity to snap up some of these properties, but you’ll need some cash on hand and a willingness to learn the business.

We can help you scout opportunities in our local market or, if you’re interested in investing in another area, we can refer you to an agent there for assistance.

 

BOTTOMLINE

Investing in real estate can be a great way to build your wealth long-term and earn some extra income. But to make the most of your investment, it pays to be strategic. 

Call us for a consultation so we can discuss your goals and budget. We’ll help you discover neighbourhoods with the best income potential, point out the homes most suited to renting, and help you brainstorm the best investment strategy for you.  

 

Before you take the plunge, make sure you can answer “YES” to these three questions:

      1. Are you ready to be a landlord?

Owning a rental property can take a lot of time and energy. You’re not just buying passive income, you’re also building sweat equity since the time you spend maintaining, marketing, and managing your rental can add up quickly. So be prepared to do some soul-searching to ensure you’ll not only flourish as a landlord, but actually enjoy it.If you want to invest in real estate but aren’t prepared to put in the day-to-day effort required, we can refer you to a property management service for help. 

 

      2. Can you afford to invest in real estate?

The last thing you want is to get over-extended with your new real estate venture. Besides the cost of purchasing the property, you’ll need to consider additional expenses, like property taxes, insurance, administrative costs, and maintenance and repairs. You will also need a cash reserve for unexpected issues or potential vacancies.

We can help you run the numbers to determine if you can charge enough rent to offset your expenditures.


3. Have you found the right income property?

Even if you’ve got your finances in order and are emotionally ready to invest, your success as a landlord will also depend on the property you buy. The criteria for a good rental home and a good family home are often different, so it’s important to lean on professionals for advice. 

We can help you find an ideal rental property, taking into account your budget, risk appetite, and investment goals. If you decide to invest in a different area, we’ll connect you with an agent who’s more plugged into that community. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation.

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. CIBC –
    https://www.cibc.com/content/dam/personal_banking/advice_centre/tax-savings/landlords-en.pdf  
  2. Statistics Canada –
    https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/46-28-0001/2023001/article/00002-eng.htm 
  3. Statistics Canada –
    https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/221102/dq221102b-eng.htm 
  4. Bank of Canada –
    https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2022/01/staff-analytical-note-2022-1/#chart4 
  5. Canadian Real Estate Magazine –
    https://www.canadianrealestatemagazine.ca/news/the-relationship-between-inflation-and-real-estate-335369.aspx 
  6. HGTV.ca –
    https://www.hgtv.ca/expert-tips-that-will-help-you-become-a-homeowner-before-40/ 
  7. Wowa.ca –
    https://wowa.ca/rental-property-mortgage 
  8. CTV News –
    https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/selling-a-home-how-to-know-if-you-qualify-for-a-capital-gains-exemption-1.6249394 
  9. MPA Magazine –
    ​​
    https://www.mpamag.com/ca/mortgage-industry/guides/real-estate-investing-in-canada-where-to-put-your-money/447803 
  10. Canada Real Estate Association (CREA) –
    https://stats.crea.ca/en-CA/ 
  11. The Canadian Press –
    https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/more-canadians-turn-short-term-151015862.html 
  12. TurboTax Canada –
    https://turbotax.intuit.ca/tips/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-tax-implications-of-renting-your-property-on-airbnb-14945
  13. Statistics Canada –
    https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-621-m/11-621-m2023008-eng.htm

Top 7 Tips To Attract the Best Offers for Your Home

By GeneralNo Comments

Not long ago, home sellers were in their heyday, as historically-low mortgage rates triggered a real estate buying frenzy. However, the Bank of Canada shut down the party when it began raising interest rates last year.1

Now, it’s not as simple to sell a home. While pandemic-era homebuyers were racing the clock—trying to lock in a low mortgage rate and gain a foothold in the market—current buyers are much more discerning. Higher prices and mortgage rates have pushed their limits of affordability, leading them to prioritize cost, condition, and overall value.

The reality is, home inventory remains low, so most properties will still sell with some basic prep, the right price, and a good real estate agent. But owners who go the extra mile are more likely to sell faster and for a higher amount.

If you have plans to sell your home and want to net the most money possible, this list is for you. Here are our top seven strategies to attract the best offers and maximize your real estate returns.

 

1. UNDERGO A PRE-LISTING INSPECTION

Many homebuyers hire a professional to complete a home inspection before they close. But did you know that a seller can order their own inspection, known as a pre-listing inspection, before they put their home on the market? 

Having a pre-listing inspection on hand and ready to share shows interested buyers that you’re committed to a transparent transaction. This can help you market your home, strengthen your negotiating position, and minimize roadblocks to closing.2 

Of course, it’s always possible that a pre-listing inspection—which looks at the home’s major systems and structures, among other things—could turn up a significant problem. This does carry some risk, as you’ll be required to either fix or disclose any issues to potential buyers. However, in most cases, it’s better to know about and address deficiencies upfront than to find out mid-transaction, when it could cost you more in the form of repair credits, a delayed closing, or a cancelled sale.

We can help you decide if a pre-listing inspection is right for you. And if it identifies any concerns, we can advise on which items need attention before you list your home.

 

2. CONSIDER STRATEGIC UPGRADES

Embarking on major renovations before putting your home on the market doesn’t always make financial (or logistical) sense. However, certain upgrades are more likely to pay off and can help elevate your home in the eyes of buyers.

For example, new flooring can generate up to a 150% return on investment at resale and a countertop upgrade could pay for itself.3  Similarly, research shows landscaping features can increase a home’s value by up to 12%.4

Often, even simpler and less expensive fixes can make a big difference in how your home comes across to buyers. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour, modern light fixtures and hardware, and new caulk around the tub or shower can help your property look its best.

But before you make any changes to your home, reach out. We know what buyers in your neighbourhood are looking for and can help you decide if a particular investment is worthwhile.

 

3. HIRE A HOME STAGER

To get standout offers, you need potential buyers to fall in love with your home—and they’re much more likely to do so if they can envision themselves in the space. 

That’s where home staging comes in. Staging can include everything from decluttering and packing away personal items to bringing in neutral furniture and accessories for showings and open houses. 

According to the U.S.-based National Association of Realtors, home staging can both increase the dollar value of home offers and help a property sell faster. In fact, 53% of seller’s agents agree that staging decreases the amount of time a home spends on the market, and 44% of buyer’s agents see higher offers for staged homes.5 

There’s plenty of strategy and research behind the process, so it’s smart to consider a professional. Reach out for a connection to one of our recommended home stagers who can help your property show its full potential.

 

4. EMPLOY A COMPETITIVE PRICING STRATEGY

While it’s tempting to list your property at the highest possible price, that approach can backfire. Homes that are overpriced tend to sit on the market, which can drive away potential buyers—and drive down offers.6

Alternatively, if you price your home competitively, which is either at or slightly below market value, it can be among the nicest that buyers see within their budgets. This can ultimately lead to a higher sales price and fewer concessions.

To help you list at the right price, we will do a comparative market analysis, or CMA. This integral piece of research will help us determine an ideal listing price based on the amount that comparable properties have recently sold for in your neighbourhood.

Without this data, you risk pricing your home too high (and getting no offers) or too low (and leaving money on the table). Combined with our local market insights, we’ll help you find that sweet spot that will attract the best offers while maximizing your profit margin.

 

5. OFFER ALTERNATIVE FINANCING

Conventional mortgages, while widely used, may not be accessible to everyone. For example, higher mortgage rates and home prices have made it difficult for some homebuyers to pass the required mortgage stress test.

Consequently, certain alternatives, like vendor take-back (VTB) mortgages, are becoming increasingly popular.7 A VTB mortgage is a unique financing arrangement in which the seller of a property provides a loan to the buyer for all or a portion of the purchase price.

Buyers who don’t qualify for a traditional mortgage can be highly motivated to purchase from a seller offering a VTB loan. Sellers, consequently, can benefit too, by commanding a higher price or collecting more interest on their capital than they could from a standard investment. Depending on the seller’s circumstances, there may also be certain tax advantages.8

It’s important to note, however, that there are risks involved. Therefore, both buyers and sellers should seek legal and financial advice before entering into a VTB mortgage agreement to ensure all aspects are properly structured and understood. If interested, we can refer you to the appropriate professionals for help.

 

6. USE A PROVEN PROPERTY MARKETING PLAN

Gone are the days when it was enough to put a “for sale” sign in your yard and place a listing on the MLS. A strategic marketing plan is now essential to get your home in front of as many interested and qualified buyers as possible. 

The truth is, buyers who don’t know about your house can’t make an offer. That’s why we utilize a multi-step approach to marketing that starts with identifying your target audience, effectively positioning your home in the market, and communicating its unique value. We then use a variety of distribution channels to connect with potential buyers and performance-based metrics to monitor and improve our campaign results.

Our proven approach can have a big impact on the success of your sale. Reach out to learn more about our multi-step marketing plan and discuss how we can use it to generate interest and offers for your home.

 

7. WORK WITH AN AGENT WHO UNDERSTANDS YOUR AREA

To get the best offers possible, you need a real estate agent who knows your area inside and out. 

Any agent can pull comparable sales data, but in a quickly-evolving market, even the latest comps can lag the current market reality. We have our fingers on the pulse of the local market because we’re working directly with sellers like you. We also represent local buyers who are active in the market, searching for homes like yours.

That puts us in an ideal position to help you price your home for a quick sale and maximum profit. And since we hear first-hand what local buyers want, we can help you prep your home to broaden its appeal and highlight its most-coveted features. Additionally, we can use our extensive network of local agents to solicit feedback and get your home in front of more potential buyers. 

All of these factors can add up to a significant difference in your profit: According to a U.S.-based study, in 2021, the typical home sold by owner went for $225,000 compared to a median price of $330,000 for agent-assisted home sales.9

 

LET’S GET MOVING

Are you ready to get a great offer for your home? Our multifaceted approach can help you maximize your real estate returns. Reach out for a free home value assessment and customized sales plan to get started!

 

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be financial, legal, or tax advice. Consult the appropriate professionals for advice regarding your individual needs.

 

Sources:

  1. National Post –
    https://nationalpost.com/moneywise-pro/high-interest-rates-are-still-a-problem-for-potential-homebuyers-here-is-advice-for-navigating-the-real-estate-market
  2. Bankrate –
    https://www.bankrate.com/real-estate/prelisting-inspection/
  3. RE/MAX Canada –
    https://blog.remax.ca/best-home-renovations-biggest-roi/
  4. Journal of Real Estate Research –
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5142154_Landscaping_and_House_Values_An_Empirical_Investigation
  5. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/infographics/staged-for-success 
  6. The Balance –
    https://www.thebalancemoney.com/looking-twice-at-overpriced-homes-1798671
  7. Real Estate Magazine –
    https://realestatemagazine.ca/the-return-of-the-vendor-take-back-mortgage/
  8. RE/MAX Canada –
    https://blog.remax.ca/how-to-take-advantage-of-the-vendor-take-back-mortgage/
  9. National Association of Realtors –
    https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/quick-real-estate-statistics