Q. 1 What is a Home Buyers' Plan in Canada(HBP)?
The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw up to $20,000 from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability. For more information, visit Web site at www.cra.gc.ca or call us at 1-800-959-8281.
Q. 2 Is there a Grant available for energy efficiency retrofits?
The Government of Canada now provides grants to property owners who complete energy efficiency retrofits based on the energy advisors’ recommendations. Owners of low-rise residential rental properties may also qualify for a grant. The grant amount is based on carrying out energy efficiency retrofits such as increasing your attic insulation or replacing your gas furnace with a qualified ENERGY STAR® model. Only homes that have undergone a residential energy efficiency assessment by an NRCan-licensed advisor will be eligible for grants.
For More Details: Visit : www.ecoaction.gc.ca
Or call : 1-800-O-Canada • 1-800-622-6232 (toll-free)
Q. 3 What Home and Property Inspectors do?
One of the best ways to understand about a home’s condition, habitability and safety is to hire a professional home inspector. A properly trained home inspector will review your house as a system, looking at how one component of the house might affect the operability or lifespan of another. Home inspectors will go through the property and perform a comprehensive visual inspection to assess the condition of the house and all of its systems. They will determine the components that are not performing properly as well as items that are beyond their useful life or are unsafe. They will also identify areas where repairs may be needed or where there may have been problems in the past. Inspections are intended to provide the client with a better understanding of property conditions, as observed at the time of the inspection.
A pre-purchase inspection for a 165 to 205 m2 (1,800 to 2,200 sq. ft.) home typically takes about three hours and costs around $500. Following the inspection, the buyer is presented with a written report, consolidating the details of the inspection. The home inspector should be willing to answer any questions a buyer might have and to clarify the limitations of the inspection to avoid misunderstandings. CMHC recommends that potential buyers accompany the inspector as the inspection takes place. It can be a valuable learning experience.
Q. 4 Who Needs Mortgage Loan Insurance?
Typically, lenders require mortgage loan insurance for loans made to anyone that wishes to purchase a home with less than 20% of the purchase price. The Canadian Bank Act prohibits most federally regulated lending institutions from providing mortgages without mortgage loan insurance for amounts that exceed 80% of the value of the home or purchases with less than 20% down payment.
Through your lender, CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance enables you to finance up to 100% of the purchase price of a home.
Use our mortgage calculator to help calculate the maximum house price you can likely afford, the maximum mortgage amount you can likely borrow, and your likely monthly mortgage payments (principal + interest). To learn more about the process of buying a home, see Home buying Step by Step. It can take the confusion out of the home buying process by helping you understand the various aspects to buying the home you really want.
Q. 5 What is home staging ?
Home Staging is the very best proven way to get top dollar for your home as you prepare it for sale. Homes that are Staged with an ASP Professional Home Stager sell faster and for more money! This is because Staging sets the scene throughout the house to create immediate buyer interest in your property. This will then lead to your home selling for the highest possible price in today's market. Remember, "The way you live in your home, and the way you market and sell your house are two different things."
Q. 6 What's Bridge Financing and what do Bridge Loans Cost?
Many real estate transactions require bridge financing. This occurs when the closing date of the home you are selling may not match the date of the home you are buying. In fact you may not receive the proceeds from the sale until after you want to purchase. With a "firm" sale of your home you can usually "borrow against the sale" of your home. This is what is referred to as bridge financing or obtaining bridge loans. This financing (the bridge) is advanced and then paid back once the sale of your own home closes at a later date. It is replaced by the new and "final" mortgage.
Bridge financing loans are often necessary because of conflicting interests on the part of buyers and sellers with regards to their own timing. This is especially the case when the sale of other homes may be involved. It also occurs when closing dates of home sales do not match by design. In some cases home buyers want to take possession of the home they have purchased prior to the closing of their own home sale so that they can perform renovations before moving into it.
The cost of bridge financing varies. There is certainly mortgage interest cost - similar to regular mortgage loans. There may also be a set up fee, which is sometimes negotiable, depending on the circumstances.
Q. 7 Real Estate Offer to Purchase - Mortgage Financing Conditions etc.
When buying a home, your real estate agent will often place conditions in an offer to purchase that allow for acceptance subject to further acts being carried out. The most common conditions placed in offers allow buyers time to obtain their real estate financing commitment from a mortgage lender and to also have a home inspection carried out. The timing of these two conditions usually flow in this order since the real estate agent often recommends that you first know you have been approved for mortgage financing before you pay for a home inspection.
Such clauses often read " This offer to purchase is conditional upon the buyer obtaining satisfactory mortgage financing…failing which this offer will become null and void and the buyers deposit will be returned in full etc…" followed by "This offer is conditional upon the buyer being satisfied with the findings of a home inspector…within 4 days of removal of the mortgage financing condition…etc"
Naturally, a seller must agree to these terms and often does unless confronted with competing offers that may have better terms and conditions or if presented with other circumstances or information.
Once conditions are met your agent will have you sign a waiver form, as they must be removed within the time period allotted for the sale to become firm.
These are just examples and there may be other conditions that need to be included in a real estate offer to purchase and your real estate agent can help you determine that.
Q. 8 What are the average square foot costs of building a home?
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation does not publish building cost / square foot data. The average cost of building a home can vary greatly depending on the style of house, materials used, level of finish and other factors. However, there are publications available on the topic which could be helpful to you. Information on costs (in square feet) for residential construction can be found in reference manuals such as the following:
- "Means square foot costs: residential, commercial, industrial, institutional", Kingston, Mass.: R.S. Means Co.
- "Means residential cost data", Kingston, Mass.: R.S. Means Co.
- "Residential cost handbook", Los Angeles: Marshall & Swift
These are manuals you may be able to consult through your local public library. Although most of the above publications are published in the United States, they contain location conversion factors which allow you to convert the square foot cost in the manuals to local square foot costs, in the correct currency.
Your local home builders association may also be able to guide you in the matter of square foot costs for your region. You can find a link to local home builders associations across Canada on the web page of the Canadian Home Builders Association.
Q. 9 IS A HOME A GOOD INVESTMENT?
For those wanting a steady return on their money, houses can be a sure bet. When the baby boomers started madly buying houses in the 1980s, suddenly real estate seemed like the path to instant wealth. The real estate markets fluctuate constantly. There have been times when house prices have gone down. However if you look at the overall price of homes in your area over the last 10 years, in most cases, (depending on your region) prices have risen.
Where is the housing market headed? Nobody can accurately predict. But even if house prices don't rise phenomenally, a home has two strong things going for it as an investment. First, any capital gains on your principal residence are tax-free. If your house appreciates by 6 per cent, you get to keep every cent of your gains.
Now 6 per cent may not sound like much, but in terms of how much you end up with, you'd have to earn as much as 12 per cent on a fixed-income investment such as a GIC to match that return, after tax.
Second, you don't have to come up with the full purchase price, meaning you're able to harness leverage. The conventional mortgages require a down payment of 25 per cent of a house's appraised value. Where as the High Ratio Mortgage, requires only 5% down payment.
For example, if you buy a $200,000 home, you need to come up with around $50,000 for a conventional mortgage. If the home's value rises to $220,000, that's an increase of 10 per cent. But what's really happened is you've put up $50,000, and made $20,000. Your real gross return on your invested funds is around 40 per cent. But notice the word “gross”. Don't forget that your real return will be less.
Buying a home and having a mortgage is also a tremendously powerful forced savings program.
Q. 10 RENTING VS. BUYING, WHICH IS BETTER?
One thing is for sure; we all know that we need a roof over our head. In most people’s case they end up having to pay either Rent for this roof or a Mortgage payment, unless of course you have a rich family that can offer you FREE or Reduced Rent. The point is, we ALL have to pay for a roof over our heads.
Real Estate has always been considered a Long-Term Investment. The real question you need to ask yourself; do I really want to pay RENT for the rest of my life? Generally, a home makes financial sense if you are going to live in it for at least three, four, or preferably five years. When you buy you need to take into consideration the costs involved in buying and selling a home, from appraisal fees and home inspection to real estate commissions, all must be taken into consideration.
When people lose money in the real estate market it is usually because they did not own it long enough, they sold to quickly. This usually means within the first 3 years of the purchase. You cannot depend on making any real profit in real estate in the first 3 years. In fact, the market may fall after you buy your home. However, also keep in mind; the longer you own your property, history has shown us, you can be sure it will have increased in value when you come to sell.
Real estate has proven to be one of the most stable long-term investments there is. It is your guarantee of retirement security. Overall, it is far better to own your own home than rent. Not only for the pride of ownership but because it is your only long-term hedge against inflation. With rental rates increase constantly, there is no guarantee you will be able to afford them as the years go by.
Q. 11 When is the good time to buy your dream home ?
How will you know a good house when you see it? What if you buy a house and can't sell the one you own? How can you make sure you are making a good investment? What if you think you paid too much and home prices drop?
After years of hefty home-price appreciations, it's natural to wonder how long the good times will last. Real estate markets are cyclical: prices go up and they go down. However, over the long term in Canada, prices have tended to move higher. At the end of the 1970s, after a big run up in home prices, real estate agents had a hard time believing that prices could go any higher. The market did cool in the early 1980s. But today home prices are much higher than they were in the early 80’s.
HOUSE HUNTING TIP: To protect yourself when you buy a home, adopt a long-range horizon. Don't buy unless you plan to hold the property for at least 5-10 years. This way you can ride out any downturns in the market and sell when the market improves. Try to avoid getting into a situation where you are forced to sell in a down market. If you have any questions about how long you'll be staying in the area, postpone your buying plans until there's more certainty in your life.
For the buy and hold strategy to work you need to make sure that the home you buy will suit your long-term needs. This usually means: don't buy a home that's too small. Many first-time buyers make the mistake of buying a tiny starter home because it's charming and it's in the right neighborhood. But, two bedrooms, one bath and a postage-stamp lot doesn't leave much room for growth.
A better strategy to consider might be to buy on the outskirts of a prime neighborhood where you can buy a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home for the approximately the same price. You might not have the most prestigious address today, but you could experience good appreciation, which will finance your trade-up move. And, you'll be comfortable in the mean time.
Some floor plans are better than others. Ideally, there should be good flow between the rooms. A home with a central hall that leads to many rooms usually is easier to live in, and often times more saleable when the time comes to sell. Considering central hall layouts rather than layouts that ramble; where you have to pass through rooms to reach other rooms. A home with indoor-outdoor living space makes a big difference. A deck or patio off the kitchen, family room or separate dining room provides additional usable space and makes the home feel larger.
Some buyers put off their home buying plans for fear that the real estate market will fall. This seemingly sane strategy can be risky if prices don't drop. You could be kicking yourself next year when you haven't bought and home prices are further out of reach.
THE CLOSING: Remember, there is usually no need to rush to buy in a market that's loaded with inventory, particularly if new housing developments are in the works near the home you are planning to buy. An over-supply of housing relative to buyer demand (supply and demand theory) puts a downward pressure on home prices.
For more information on Home Buying or Selling Tips, Please contact me, I will be pleased to help you. » Click here to find your dream home in Ontario Canada.
Q.12 Is there a home closing protection insurance offered in Greater Toronto?
Yes, This is what we always strongly suggest our buyers & sellers clients. Home closing protection insurance can solve many of the problems associated with delayed closings.
Due to the growing possibility of buyers being declined their mortgage financing at the last minute, sellers need some protection in the event their closing is delayed or cancelled and they are forced to carry 2 homes for an extended period of time.
Canadian Home Shield provides such coverage and insurance protection. For as little as $99, sellers can purchase a $25,000 insurance policy that will cover all mortgage payments, real estate taxes, utilities and insurance premiums up to a total of $25,000 in the event that the deal does not close through for no fault of the seller.
This Insurance may be purchased by both that is Home Buyers and Sellers. In case a home buyer is unable to close the transaction/ Buy the home under contract due to refusal of mortgage financing by the lenders/banks at the last minute they may be sued by the seller for thousands of dollars in damages. Such an insurance may protect and save the buyer and seller both.
Q.13 Buying a resale home in Ontario, Canada: Can the home buyers buy some insurance for the protection of home systems and appliances ?
When you buy a home under resale in most cities of Ontario, Canada most real estate contracts provide that sellers only warrant their systems and appliances to the date of closing. That means if any of the heating, air conditioning system or any appliance like Fridge, Stove etc brake down even just after 24 hours of closing date the buyers have nowhere to go but get them fixed as their own or replace. The cost for such repair or replacement may be in several thousand dollars in some cases and may be big financial crises specially for first time home buyers with limited means.
Most home buyers are not aware off that Yes, Home Buyers can also purchase breakdown insurance protection for their home systems and appliances. this provides buyers with the opportunity to purchase additional insurance protection for a year after closing.