Thursday, 31 July 2014

5 Financial Missteps to Avoid When Buying a Home

5 Financial Missteps to Avoid When Buying a Home
5 Financial Missteps to Avoid When Buying a Home
You might have pulled off a great feat, like saving up for that down payment, but there are several financial missteps that can complicate your prospects of buying a home. Avoid these five blunders by managing your spending and bills long before you look for a new home.

1. Letting Your Credit Score Drop
Your credit score directly impacts your ability to get a home loan, the type of loan you qualify for and the interest rate. If you have borderline credit – a score in the low- to mid-600s – further credit mishaps can prevent approval. If you have credit challenges such as bankruptcy or late payments, start your house search several months earlier. Re-establish your credit by paying down credit cards to 30 percent or less of the limit and correcting errors on your report. And avoid checking your credit score too much; constantly checking it counts against you.

2. Languishing in Debt
Consumer debt accounts for 35 percent of your credit score. A late payment's effect depends on the strength of your score, but the account type and the time since the last late payment also matters. If any of your accounts are in collection, it's highly advised you pay them off before seeking loan approval.  Not sure how much you can afford?  Click here for an easy mortgage calculator.

3. Shopping Sprees
Stay far away from credit-driven shopping sprees. Even paying cash for big-ticket purchases can raise red flags with a lender. They'll check your bank statements for unusually large deposits and withdrawals and may require an explanation for them.

4. Changing Jobs
A job change may have an adverse effect on your loan approval because lenders calculate your ability to pay a home loan by averaging your past two years of income. If you can avoid interrupting stable employment during the home-buying process, that's probably best.

5. Maxing Out Your Purchasing Power
Even though your lender qualifies you for a certain amount, only you know whether you can comfortably afford the payment. Try to stick with the price range that yields your ideal monthly payment. Looking for homes at the top of your budget limits your ability to increase your offer in a multiple-offer situation (visit the buyers page at for more tips on making the mortgage decision).

When you've nurtured your credit and are ready to start looking for a home, contact a lender – and, of course, a RE/MAX agent who can help you find the right home at the right price for you.​

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

6 Lessons Learned During My House Hunt

By Dorota Wright-O'Neill, RE/MAX Editor

I recently lived the adventure that is house hunting (under a tight deadline and in a competitive market with low inventory, but that's another story). Here are some lessons I learned during my home search that I'd like to share with fellow homebuyers:
  • Dress appropriately. The serious house hunter should have slip-on shoes that can be taken off easily and frequently. And layering clothes is a big help, especially when there's no telling whether homes you're touring will be heated or cooled.
  • Bring tools. Don't guess whether your king-sized bed or piano will fit, whip out the tape measure, or your tablet or smartphone and use apps like Photo Measures or MagicPlan. They let you take snapshots of interiors and include measurements and room specs. Many smartphones also have a flashlight feature – very helpful in dark basements.
  • A lot of art is a lot of holes in the wall. Yes, they may look impressive, but the owners' expensively framed oil paintings will leave behind a lot of big holes you will be patching when they move out. Which also means you'll likely have to repaint, too. It's not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it's good to think about in advance.
  • Remember your pet peeves. It's easy to fall in love with a house if you're desperate to find one, but remember to stick to your guns and your key must-haves. My pet peeve is a lack of natural light. Hollow, faux-wood doors annoy my husband. If we had bought a house that had them, I know he would have insisted on costly door replacements.
  • Start packing. If you're serious about moving, get serious about packing. Start collecting boxes now, because you never have enough boxes. Make a point of packing every day, consistently, little by little, room by room. Don't save anything for the last minute because at the last minute there's always more to do than you have time for. Trust me on this.​
  • House hunters deserve treats. A sure way to stay cheerful during house hunting is to reward yourself afterward with a fortifying happy hour. Or a visit to a bakery, ice cream shop or spa. You can always justify your treat by chalking it up to the process of getting to know the area. And it will make the prospect of next weekend's house-hunting excursion that much nicer. 
Are you about to start looking for your next home? Let a RE/MAX agent guide you.

Take it from one who's just been through this: You can never, ever underestimate the expertise, community connections, patience and steady calm your the right agents will bring to the table – especially in a market where every advantage counts.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Canadian Home Sales Edge Higher in June

Ottawa, ON, July 15, 2014-According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity edged up almost one per cent on a month-over-month basis in June 2014.
  • National home sales rose 0.8% from May to June.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 11.2% above June 2013 levels.
  • The number of newly listed homes was little changed from May to June.
  • The Canadian housing market remains in balanced territory.
  • The national average sale price rose 6.9% on a year-over-year basis in June.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.4% year-over-year in June.
The number of home sales processed through the MLS® Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 0.8 per cent on a month-over-month basis in June 2014, marking the fifth consecutive monthly increase and the highest level for sales since March 2010.
Sales rose in about half of all local housing markets in June, led by gains in Greater Vancouver where activity hit its highest level in more than three years, and Montreal where activity is now 10 per cent above post-recession lows reached earlier this year.
“Sales have improved compared to their slower start earlier this year,” said CREA President Beth Crosbie. “That said, there are still important differences in how housing markets are faring depending on location, housing type and price point. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, your local REALTOR® is your best source of information on all the factors driving the market where you currently live or might like to in the future" (click here for a list of REALTORS® in your area).
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in June stood 11.2 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year. June sales were up from year-ago levels in three out of every four local markets, led by Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Calgary, Greater Toronto and Hamilton-Burlington.
The number of newly listed homes was little changed in June, having eased by 0.1 per cent compared to May. In May, new listings reached their highest level since April 2010. On an actual (not seasonally adjusted) basis, new listings set a record for the month of June.
“At least some of the recent burst in new supply reflects the slow start to the year, when a harsh winter caused many sellers to delay listing their home in many parts of the country,” said Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist. “In markets with tight supply and strong demand, the strength of sales in recent months reflects how many properties were snapped up once they finally hit the market. Because the impact of deferred listings and sales has likely run its course, activity over the second half of the year may not be able to maintain the kind of pace we’ve seen over the past couple of months.”
The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 53.6 per cent in June, up slightly from 53.2 per cent in May but still well entrenched within the range between 40 and 60 per cent that marks balanced market territory. Just over half of all local markets posted a sales-to-new listings ratio in this range in June, with a fairly even split among the remainder between those in buyer’s market and seller’s market territory.
The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity.
The number of months of inventory has firmed since the beginning of 2014. There were 6.0 months of inventory nationally at the end of June 2014. This was unchanged from May but half a month below where it stood at the beginning of the year. As with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the number of months of inventory continues to suggest that housing markets remain generally well-balanced.
The Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up by 5.40 per cent year-over-year in June following slower price gains in April and May. Price growth picked up in all Benchmark categories tracked by the index. (Chart B)
Two-storey single family homes continued to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+6.19 per cent), followed closely by one-storey single family homes (+5.35 per cent) and townhouse/row units (+5.07 per cent). Price growth for apartment units remained comparatively more modest (+3.85 per cent).
Year-over-year price growth varied among local housing markets tracked by the index, with the biggest gains having been posted by Calgary (+10.74 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.77 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+4.37 per cent). (Table 1)
The MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends than is possible using averages because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in June 2014 was $413,215, up 6.9 per cent from the same month last year.
The national average price continues to be skewed upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canada’s largest and most expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $336,164 while the year-over-year increase shrinks to 5.2 per cent.
PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this news release combines both major market and national sales information from MLS® Systems from the previous month.
CREA cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate actual prices in centres comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas. Statistical information contained in this report includes all housing types.
MLS® Systems are co-operative marketing systems used only by Canada’s real estate Boards to ensure maximum exposure of properties listed for sale.
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is one of Canada’s largest single-industry trade associations, representing more than 111,000 REALTORS® working through some 90 real estate Boards and Associations.
Further information can be found at
SOURCE: Canadian Real Estate Association

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

How Long Will It Take to Sell My Home?

That is THE QUESTION, isn't it!  There are three main factors that affect a property's time on the market: location, condition and price.

1. Location is the one thing that you cannot control in the home selling process. In conjunction with condition and price, people choose a home based on the location and accessibility of the property. In many cases, homes will sell faster in desirable neighborhoods because the demand is high. Take into consideration what the demand is to live in your neighborhood. Your local RE/MAX REALTOR® can provide information on yours and surrounding neighbourhoods to help you assess this factor.

2. The condition of your property is also a major contributing factor to the time it will take to sell. When evaluating a home, buyers will first assess the structural condition of items such as walls, ceilings, floors, doors and windows. They will want plumbing and electricity to work efficiently. They will then consider paint, carpets and floor coverings. The front and back yards should be in reasonably good shape. If there is major damage or deterioration to any of these items, buyers will likely hesitate in making an offer. Discuss ways to cosmetically improve your home for a more rapid sale with your REALTOR® (or read last week's blog posts about renovations: What Kind of Homebuyer Are You?, 7 Tips for Successful RenovationsThe 6 Smartest Home Renovations, and Top 10 Contractor Questions).

3. Pricing your property to sell in the current market is absolutely crucial. Obviously, the condition and location of your property should be major considerations when deciding on a price. If your home is priced too high, it will likely remain on the market longer, resulting in a lower final sales price. Your REALTOR® can guide you on appropriately pricing your property for the shortest listing time with maximum profits.
There are several additional factors that can affect the speed of a sale including:
  • Local supply and demand
  • Marketing
  • Closing terms
Is there a surplus of homes for sale in your area? Are technology tools and networking resources being utilized to market your property? Are your closing terms favorable to buyers? The right REALTOR® will be able to coach you in dealing with each of these things to ensure the quickest possible sale (if you're not currently working with a REALTOR®, click here for a list of professionals in your area.)

Unfortunately, there is no magic time frame when it comes to selling real estate. Some properties sell before a sign hits the front yard, and others may sit for months before the first offer comes in. Your REALTOR® can provide you with the average days on the market for properties that have recently sold in your neighborhood; however it is important to remember that the variables affecting this data are not detailed in these comparables. Your REALTOR® will most likely have viewed a majority of the properties included in the comparables and can give you a better idea of why a specific property sold in the time frame recorded.

Do not to get discouraged if a sale takes longer than you anticipated. Instead, try to analyze the reasons your property is not selling and ask your REALTOR® what you can do to facilitate the process.
This information is meant as a guide. Although deemed reliable, information may not be accurate for your specific market or property type. Please consult a REALTOR® Professional for more information on selling your individual property.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The 6 Smartest Home Renovations

Maximize the value of your most important investment.  Making the right renovations and upgrades to your home improves its resale value. RE/MAX has identified the 6 smartest renovation priorities to maximize the resale value of your property. Check out our Smart Renovator Guide and consult your neighbourhood RE/MAX agent to learn what’s driving values in your area. RE/MAX agents sell over one third of all properties in Canada. Put the experience of a RE/MAX agent to work when you are ready to sell your home.

1. It all starts at the curb
Everyone knows the value of a first impression. RE/MAX has learned that landscaping the front and  backyard of your home will give you a 7% better return on your renovating dollar over the average return on other popular renos. Increasing your curb appeal can be as simple as adding containers of brightly coloured flowers. Another idea would be to add a low maintenance garden for blocks of colour and texture. Also consider a simple water fixture in the backyard to add ambience.

2. The kitchen is the hub
Ever wonder why “kitchen parties” naturally occur every time you have a get-together? Well, it’s because the kitchen is the hub of every home. It’s where we get nourishment and refreshment, where we gather and regroup after a busy day. It is a room with real value for every family. At RE/MAX we’ve learned that kitchen upgrades can really deliver, with a 44% higher return on investment than the average return on other popular renos.

3. Rekindle your passion for living
Nothing beats the feeling of curling up around a fire on a cold winter’s night. Not to mention the comforting feeling of hearth and home that a fireplace adds to a room. The return on reno index says that installing or upgrading the fireplace in your home will generate an 11% greater return on investment than the average return on other popular renos.

4. Try a fresh coat of paint
The dramatic effect paint can have on any living environment is often overlooked but RE/MAX knows that the simple repainting of walls gives you a 29% better return than other popular renos. Whether you go neutral with splashes of colour, or warm and dramatic, trends include mixing strong colours with nature-inspired neutral energy colours like orange, aqua, sage and blue, along with neutral palates leaning toward bisque, fawn, grey and walnut.

5. Disappear in your personal spa
Today’s stress-filled world leaves us all crying out for rest and relaxation. RE/MAX knows making your bathroom the best it can be will generate a 56% better return on investment than the average popular reno. The goal should be to create a spa-like environment in your bathroom by installing a soaker tub with relaxing jets, or perhaps a new steam shower stall.

6. Great ideas underfoot
Great-looking floors are a strong feature of any home. They often make all the difference. RE/MAX knows this upgrade can generate a 22% better return on investment than the average. Start by ripping out that dated wall-to-wall carpet. Then sand your existing floors down and refinish them, or choose one of the many easy-to-install affordable laminants now available. A darker stain gives an elegant yet up-to-date look.

Maximizing your Renovation Dollars
Deciding which reno is best for your home can’t be done simply by referring to a laundry list of the “latest” renovation trends. Discovering what renovations will provide you with the most value comes from analyzing a variety of factors, from the price and location of your home, to who is likely to buy it. Since the preferences of buyers change when considering various housing price points, use the index provided to weigh your renovation priorities based on house price. Work on the areas that are most attractive to that price point. Also, consider the right size expenditure for that price point so that you don’t over invest in “say” a “killer kitchen” that no one in that price point can pay back what you invested. Most of all, do the renovations that you will enjoy and enjoy the renovations that you do. Your home is a direct reflection of your lifestyle.