Pamela Anderson, who found global stardom for her role as lifeguard C.J. Parker in TV’s Baywatch, is taking

another shot at development in her hometown of Ladysmith.


Ms. Anderson, also prominent in the animal-rights movement, told The Globe and Mail she is hoping to break

ground on a small “eco property” in Ladysmith, where she tried to develop a condominium-townhouse project in




“I hope to break ground really soon,” she said during a cocktail party before a sold-out $500-a-plate dinner and

private concert for the David Foster Foundation last week.


However, Ms. Anderson did not provide any further details on the project in Ladysmith, located between Nanaimo

and Duncan. She noted that she had started a sustainable design firm.


Ms. Anderson said she does not know how much longer she wants to stay in “the business” of entertainment, but

that she will do a few films for Canadian friends.


Ms. Anderson follows the pattern of other B.C. entertainment celebrities who got into real estate. Michael Bublé

and Jason Priestley are among those who have backed such projects in recent years.


This is a second shot at a development in the Ladysmith area for Ms. Anderson. In 2008, she teamed up with a

friend, former NHL player Geoff Courtnall, to plan an 83-unit development on family property.


The project called for 72 condominiums in three separate buildings and three other buildings with 11

townhouses. There would also have been moorage for 16 to 18 boats.


Mr. Courtnall has said Ms. Anderson backed out after the market slowed down. In April, 2011, he told The Globe

and Mail he hoped the timing would be right eventually for another such effort.


Bill Drysdale, a city councillor in Ladysmith, said on Wednesday that he expected any proposal from Ms. Anderson

would get a fair hearing before council whenever it was submitted.


“They will come in with their proposal and we will have a look. I am pretty sure we will look at it positively,” Mr.

Drysdale said.


Mr. Drysdale said Ladysmith is well aware of Ms. Anderson’s links to their community of about 7,000. “We have a

picture of her in our new museum on First Avenue to highlight that she is a daughter of Ladysmith,” he said.


He recalled that Ms. Anderson and Mr. Courtnall were diligent about modifying their earlier proposal to

accommodate concerns by Ladysmith residents. Council eventually backed the project.


It isn’t clear whether Ms. Anderson is aiming to develop her new project on the same property.


By Mark Weisleder | Moneyville


One common question asked by landlords are the rules that surround the sale of their property and tenants. The

main question is “Can I evict the tenant before I sell, so that I can fix it up?” The short answer is no.


If you want to sell a rental property, the first issue is does the tenant have a lease? Let’s say there is a lease and

the tenant has eight months remaining. They cannot be evicted before the end of their lease, just because you

want to sell. You can sell, but the buyer must agree to let the tenant stay. In addition, if the tenant has the right to

renew their lease, then you and any buyer will have to honour that as well.


If the tenant is on a monthly tenancy the only way to evict them is if the buyer is moving into the house on closing.

Therefore, you must sign an agreement with a buyer before you can start the eviction process. Then you must give

the tenant at least 60 days notice before the end of a month, assuming the tenant pays on the first of the month. 


For example, you sign an agreement with a buyer on June 15. On June 16, the owner can serve the tenant with a

60 day notice to terminate, that cannot take effect before Aug. 31. The closing date in your agreement should be

scheduled for Sept. 30 to make sure the tenant has vacated.


If there are concerns the tenant will not leave, a hearing should be scheduled before the landlord and tenant board

as soon as possible so that an order for eviction can be obtained, if necessary. Tenants are often suspicious that

the buyer will not move in, and will merely find a new tenant who will pay more rent. If a seller or buyer is caught

tricking the tenant into leaving early, then the penalty can be as high as $25,000.


There are also rules relating to showings and open houses. A tenant must be given 24 hours written notice before

an owner can show the property to a potential buyer. The time period must occur between 8 am to 8 pm. The

tenant does not have to leave the home. However, if the tenant agrees to a different time, or a shorter notice

period, that is OK. In my opinion, an open house that typically lasts two or more hours would not be permitted

unless the tenant agrees to it.

If you want to evict the tenant before you put the house up for sale, the only way is to reach an agreement with the

tenant to leave early. You may be able to accomplish this by assisting the tenant in finding another place to live

and paying part or all of the moving costs. By doing this, you will have the opportunity to then fix your home up

before putting it up for sale, thus potentially attracting more buyers. You will also not have to worry about notices or

eviction notices.


In all cases, it is best to inform the tenant in advance of your plans to sell the home. When you work with the

tenant, then you should have no problems with showings and then closing your home sale.


Buyers, if you are assuming any tenant and you are thinking of moving in later, make sure you find out all of the

details of any lease in advance, as you will have to honour it as well.


When all parties are properly prepared and informed, selling properties with tenants becomes a less stressful

process for buyers, sellers and tenants.


Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott and family


By Stephanie Holmes-Winton, personal finance expert


You gotta love a girl who grew up as one of the richest kids in the world (in one of the richest homes in the world –

a 57,000 sq ft mansion, known as “The Manor,” that went on the market for $150 million in 2009), yet refused to

bank on her parents’ money. Indeed, when her father - television mogul Aaron Spelling - passed away, she

reportedly got less than $1 million of his $500 million estate.


So it’s even more refreshing that Tori Spelling and husband Dean McDermott continued to surprise a lot of people

when they put their “mini-mansion” in Encino up for sale and moved into a much smaller home in Malibu. What

was Tori’s reasoning behind this decision? Given the costly Malibu real estate market, the new home has been

reported to cost about as much as the sale price of the former home, so it can’t be money; but it is remarkably

smaller (around 2,300 square feet). Indeed, Tori and Dean reportedly wanted a cozier home so their growing

brood wasn’t stretched over so much space. They wanted to make sure that as a family of five, they were together

most of the time when at home. They also wanted to have more animals, thanks to the new nearly 2-acre property

(have you seen the mini farm they had hidden in the backyard of their old place?), so their children would grow up

learning to care for other living things. How awesome is that?


Most of us have heard of downsizing once the kids fly the coop so we don’t end up rattling around a big old empty

house. But what about early life downsizing? What about seizing the opportunity to look at what you really want

from your life now? You might just find that for you too, less house could equal more of the life you want.

What could you do with less house?

Less to dust is just the beginning of the possible upside to downsizing much earlier in life. A smaller pad can

happen for all kinds of different reasons, the most important of which should be that it helps you to fulfill your true

desires in life.


Think about it…


  • What freedoms could you experience from less house?

  • What family time could you recapture?

  • What money could you save for fulfilling life goals and experiences?

With that in mind, let’s start by exploring some financial benefits to downsizing:

  • Less to clean. Whether you are a DIY duster or have a cleaning lady, time and money can be saved when 

    there is less space to clean.

  • Shrink your mortgage. If downsizing results in the purchase of a less expensive home, you can shave years 

    off your repayment clock and save thousands in interest on dollars you no longer have to borrow.

  • Less to heat. If you are strategic about it, you may be able to find a home that not only has less space to 

    heat, but also one with the most efficient type of heating.

  • Lower property taxes. Generally, if you purchase a less expensive home, you could save some serious 

    dough on municipal taxes.

And what about the lifestyle benefits?

  • Location, location, location. Downsizing may mean you can afford a home in a more convenient location to 

    reduce your commute. Perhaps you can move somewhere that allows you to walk to the grocery store or use 

    the subway.

  • Purge. Too many of us are drowning in stuff. There are way too many TV shows about money being spent on 

    storage lockers filled to the brim with stuff – and then abandoned for other people to bid on. How crazy does 

    that sound when you really think about it? Indeed, how freeing would it be to rid yourself of things you don’t 

    need; you may not even realize what’s bogging you down until you just let go.

  • Life lesson. Let’s be frank, kids don’t model the things you say, they copy what you do. Consciously opting for 

    less space can teach your kids a valuable lesson about what’s really important in life.

  • Together time. Think about time at the cottage vs. time at home. A smaller space means that the family just 

    can’t get quite so spread out. By the very nature of the space, you end up together more.

Smaller doesn’t mean cheaper

Be careful. Even if you decide to downsize, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically spend less. It’s easy to rationalize 

renovating a smaller space and get carried away fixing up your smaller abode to run more efficiently (cool

containers, shelves, and closet organizers really add up). And don’t forget to factor in moving costs, including real

estate fees, land transfer tax, furnishings that may need to be given away or sold (and replaced with more

compact alternatives), among other often unexpected expenses.


Instead of jumping right in, take the time to live in the smaller space so you can make strategic purchases. Set a

monthly limit on how much you will spend each month getting your new place sorted out. Don’t assume the rooms

or closets must be used for the same purposes as the last homeowner. A smaller kitchen may come without a

pantry, but a conveniently located coat closet may make a great alternative that you can convert with some

inexpensive shelving.

Where life meets money, true planning begins

Taking your family down a couple of hundred, or a couple of thousand, square feet isn’t for everyone. But it is a

great option that far too many of us leave off our list of possibilities until our golden years. We can all live our own

definition of success, and it doesn’t have to include a large home.


It comes down to asking yourself what you really and truly want from your life. If downsizing could help you achieve

that, do your homework, make a plan – and start thinking small!


<![CDATA[Tips for Finding the Perfect Vacation Home]]>

By: The


Buying a vacation home can be very rewarding, both personally and financially, but it’s certainly a big decision!

Before making any sudden moves, take the time to engage in some thorough research, organize your finances

and choose a trustworthy professional. For more leisure property buying tips, read on:

  1. Do Your Homework: The very first step to finding the ideal vacation home isn’t particularly glamorous. You’ve got to do your research! This means reading the classifieds, searching the internet and looking at maps. Jot down ideas and information in a notebook or computer file and save these for future reference.

  2. Go for a Drive: Continue the initial groundwork by going for an exploratory drive and identifying the towns, counties or regions that feel right for you. How far are you willing to drive? What kind of amenities do you want to have close at hand? What locations truly appeal to you? You don’t need to make any major decisions at this point, but should begin organizing your search criteria.

  3. Be Realistic: Ask yourself a few tough questions, such as:
    • How often you will be using the property?
    • Should you buy or lease?
    • How will you finance your purchase or lease?
    • Can you afford the mortgage, property taxes and upkeep of a second property?
    • Do you see this purchase as an investment or simply as a summer home?
  4. Narrow it Down: If you were able to get past number 2, then you’re well on your way to becoming a vacation property owner! Now it’s time to think about location, property and structure type. According to Terry Bryan, a real estate agent in the Rideau Lakes area of Eastern Ontario (, it’s important to look for a place that is fairly close to a few conveniences, such as a small town and/or grocery store – unless you really like roughing it! You should also clearly set priorities. “For example, establish whether you’re looking for privacy, which means trees and weeds on a waterfront would be okay, or if a clean shoreline, with less privacy is more important,” says Bryan. 

  5. Rent to Own: Once you decide on a location, you may want to consider renting a cottage in the area of your choice to get a true sense of its amenities and ambiance. This is not a must-do, especially if you’re in a rush to purchase, but can certainly make coming to an informed decision much easier.

  6. Find an Agent: You’ve established your main guidelines and requirements. Now it’s time to find someone who can help make this dream a reality. “You should find a local agent,” says Bryan. “The best thing to do is visit the place where you are wanting to by a property. Almost every local office has listings and information posted in their window, and you can go from there.” Local agents tend to have thorough knowledge of specific areas, and can easily help you sift through the merits of various properties. They will also likely be available to you when you want to go view a property, which means no waiting or rescheduling. 

  7. Choose to Invest in the Future: Are you looking at your vacation home from an investment or purely a recreational perspective? It will benefit you in the long run to make a concerted effort to understand the profit potential of this venture. As you search for your second home or property, keep resale value in mind. Try to get an idea of the future of the area you may be buying in, and make sure your purchase possesses as many distinctive features as possible. 

  8. Establish Price Point and Timelines: Work with your agent to establish your price point, and the timeline during which you are hoping to purchase your vacation home. Be honest with yourself about how much you can afford. If a turn-key cottage with a gorgeous boat house is attracting you, but the price seems a bit steep, think about a ‘fixer-upper’. If you’re patient, you can do the work yourself, over time. Also, if the prospect of waterfront taxes is getting you down, consider purchasing a property with shared water access, which will cut costs dramatically.

  9. Identify and Clear Up Accessibility Issues: You need to be fully aware of what you’re buying, says Bryan. “Make sure you can get access to a survey, so you know that you have complete access to the land, and don’t have to cross someone else’s property to get to it. Ask a local lawyer to check out the survey for you. ” You should also find out if the main road leading to the property is maintained year round. If it isn’t, you likely won’t have access to your property for a great deal of the winter and early spring. Island properties can also pose barriers in terms of access, so take all variables into account.

  10. Go For It! The time has come to make your move. Work closely with your agent to draw up an offer that protects you and your investment. Secure financing, get a lawyer to review the documents and prepare to become the proud owner of a second property!

Imagine what life would be like if one of your biggest expenses was eliminated. Here’s how to make it happen...



If you own a home, it's likely that you're still dragging the old ball-and-chain. No not that one - we're talking about

your mortgage. For many homeowners, 10, 20 or even 30 years down the road seems like an impossibly long

commitment, which often means we slog along, and forget all about what it would be like to be mortgage-free.


And who can blame you?  Assuming you have the average Canadian mortgage of about $280,000 at a 3.2 percent

interest rate amortized over 25 years, if you make the monthly payments, you'll likely be receiving a senior's

discount long before you pay off your home. So how can you pay down your mortgage faster? Here are some

simple steps to help you break free... 

1) Pay more often

There are many options for making your mortgage payments, but the more frequently you pay, the better. That's

because your mortgage accrues interest each and every day. The shorter the space between payments, the less

interest adds up. If you take the standard monthly payments on your $280,000 mortgage, it'll take you the full 25

years to pay it off, and you'll pay more than $126,000 in interest. Paying bi-weekly or weekly will help, but the

savings will be minimal because this only involves dividing your monthly payment to make 24 or 48 smaller

payments per year, rather than the standard 12.


It's with accelerated weekly and bi-weekly payments that things get interesting. That's because with an

accelerated bi-weekly mortgage, you'll make 26 payments in a year, and 52 payments for the accelerated weekly.

This is a way to sneak in a few additional payments over a standard monthly mortgage. In our example, the bi-

weekly accelerated option would shave two years off the time it takes to pay off your mortgage compared to a

standard monthly payment, and reduce your interest expense by $17,000. The weekly payments shave off even

more. The best part is, each payment will be smaller and easier to budget; you won't even miss the little bit more

you pay each year.

2) Make lump sum payments

When you get a tax return, an unexpected bonus or some other joyful cash injection, consider putting it on your

mortgage. Adding just $1,000 extra to your mortgage per year will allow you to pay it off four years sooner and,

combined with accelerated bi-weekly payments, chip another $8,000 off the interest you pay for your home. When

extra cash tempts you to spend, just think about how much disposable income you'll have when your mortgage

disappears. Then put it on the house instead.

3) Increase the payment amount

Another way to ditch that mortgage pronto is to increase the amount of each payment. This can be a good strategy

to apply as your income increases over time. Let's say you score a raise of $250 per month. Lucky you! Put that on

your mortgage and you'll really be leading a charmed life. You'll be mortgage-free seven years ahead of schedule,

and will shave a whopping $24,000 off your mortgage (assuming you're still making accelerated bi-weekly

payments). If you continue to apply your raises to your mortgage over time, the effect will be even more significant.

You might even own your home before your kids hit college!

4) A lower interest rate

These days, mortgage rates are near all-time lows, but it doesn't hurt to negotiate a better rate no matter how low

they are. Is there anything less satisfying than paying interest? We thought not. The difference between a 2.99

percent rate and a 3.2 percent rate adds up to about $6,000 in interest over the course of the mortgage. So

whether you're signing up for a first mortgage or renewing an existing one, shop around for the lowest rate you

can get. Over the long run, those efforts really pay off.  Hey, why pay more than you have to?

5) Make your mortgage tax-deductible

In the U.S., mortgage interest is tax-deductible. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, considering the trouble the

U.S. mortgage market's been facing), the Canadian government just isn't that generous. That said, there are still

some ways to make your mortgage tax deductible. This involves borrowing against it to purchase income-

producing investments. Under the Canadian tax code, interest paid on money borrowed to earn income is tax

deductible. This strategy can help homeowners become mortgage-free faster, but it isn't a sure bet. Borrowing

against your home can be risky, especially because your investments may not yield expected returns. With that in

mind, should you go with this option, find a financial advisor who can help you make it work to your advantage.

Think of the freedom

A mortgage isn't forever and (surprise) it doesn't even have to feel like it is. Give your debt a little extra care and

attention and you can be free of it years faster than you'd even dared to hope. What you do next - with all that

money! - is entirely up to you.




Canada’s economy is gradually recovering and is expected to grow by 2.25 % this year and 2.5 % in 2013,

according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.


Private consumption and investment will continue to be the primary drivers of growth in Canada, the report, said

which was published Tuesday.


Canada’s growth will slightly outpace the OECD average, which is expected to be 1.6% in 2012 and 2.2%.


Dow Jones reported that OECD economist Peter Jarrett said the improved Canadian outlook “more than offsets

persistent weakness in European export markets and the resulting uncertainty through the rest of the OECD and

the world economy.”


Jarrett described the housing market as the “biggest story in Canada.” Home prices, which corrected about 10%

during the recesion, have surged again, “making household balance sheets look increasingly fragile, he said.


Jarrett said macroprudential measures will probably be enough to cool markets in some cities but are “almost

certainly, we feel, not enough in places like Toronto and probably not enough, therefore, in the aggregate level.”


He said the government is right to be worried and predicted that the central bank will also have to act because

negative real short-term rates risk are stoking a housing bubble.


The OECD is calling on the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates by 25 base points this fall, followed by similar

increases in each quarter next year, according to Dow Jones. The organization called Canada’s current monetary

stance “appropriate” in light of downside economic risks related to raising interest rates.


The benchmark interest rate in Canada has been 1% since September 2010.


The OECD flagged Canada’s housing sector as imbalanced, but noted stiffer lending rules surrounding

mortgages have helped reduce risk. The report comes on the heels of a Fitch Rating report released Monday that

called Canada’s fast-climbing housing prices and record household debt levels unsustainable.


Overall the global economy is slowing recovering, the OECD said, but at substantially different rates.


The eurozone crisis is dragging down the overall economic recovery.


“The crisis in the eurozone remains the single biggest downside risk facing the global outlook,” said OECD chief

economist Pier Carlo Padoan in a statement.


Heading into a European Union summit in Brussels this week, the OECD urged leaders to take immediate action

to avoid a deepening of the crisis in the euro zone and spillover effects to other nations.


By Steve Bucci |

Dear Debt Adviser,

I am a first-time homeowner and just received a $5,000 tax refund. Is there a way to use it to lower my mortgage

payment (not the length of time I pay)?

-- Marci

Dear Marci,

As a first-time homeowner, I'll forgive you for getting a $5,000 tax refund. Many people don't realize the great tax

advantages of owning a home until after they purchase one. A rent payment of $1,500 a month is much more

expensive than a mortgage payment of $1,500 because almost all of the mortgage payment is deductible from

your taxable income, thanks to the mortgage interest deduction. The result for you is a sizable windfall.


You do have a few options to lower your mortgage payment: one short-term, one medium-term and one long-term.

Let's start with the short-term solution.


You could place your $5,000 tax refund into a savings account, and withdraw a portion of it each month to help with

your mortgage payment. For example, if you wanted to have a slightly lower payment for the next five years, you

could withdraw $83 each month from your savings of $5,000. So if your mortgage payment is currently $1,500, you

would need to use only $1,417 of your income to make the payment. Your savings would make up the rest. (You

could drastically reduce your mortgage payment by $416 per month, but your $5,000 in savings would be gone in

only one year.)


The long-term approach to lower your mortgage payment is to research refinancing opportunities. Contact your

current lender and a couple of competing lenders, and find out what terms you would qualify for in a refinance of

your mortgage. Be sure to do all your loan shopping within a 30-day period so the credit inquiries will count as just

one, for credit-scoring purposes. Once you know what terms you can expect, use Bankrate's calculator to

determine if refinancing will meet your goal of lowering your mortgage payment.


A medium-term option is to adjust your withholding so your annual tax refund is smaller -- only $500 or so, instead

of $5,000. Ask your human resources department at work to increase your personal allowances so that about

$3,500 less is taken out over the course of the year. You'll then have an additional $300 or so each month after

taxes that you can use to further lower your mortgage payment.


If you are trying to lower your payments because they are too high for you to comfortably afford, and you may be in

danger of missing a mortgage payment because you don't have enough income to consistently pay what you owe

each month, seek help now. The nonprofit Homeownership Preservation Foundation operates the Homeowner's

Hope Hotline at (888) 995-HOPE, which can put you in touch with a housing counselor. The counselor will help

you decide how to best solve a mortgage payment problem and avoid home foreclosure.


Does the condo or townhouse you own, or maybe one you&#8217;re thinking of buying, have an official depreciation report that assesses commonly owned assets and predicts what it will cost to keep them in good condition? Is it planning to prepare one soon? &#8220;If not, my radar would go on red alert,&#8221; says Tony Gioventu, the executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C.



Does the condo or townhouse you own, or maybe one you’re thinking of buying, have an official depreciation report

that assesses commonly owned assets and predicts what it will cost to keep them in good condition? Is it

planning to prepare one soon?


“If not, my radar would go on red alert,” says Tony Gioventu, the executive director of the Condominium Home

Owners Association of B.C.


These reports are a new, not-quite-mandatory legal requirement for all forms of strata properties that have more

than four units. A strata may exempt itself from the requirement to prepare such a report every three years only by

passing an annually renewable resolution that is supported by three quarters of the owners.


However, “If a strata chooses to exempt itself, the presumption may well be that it has something to hide,”

Gioventu said.


Gioventu said the legislation is “the most important change in the industry in 40 years” and, although some strata

owners will grouse at the cost, it will ultimately be good for both owners and potential buyers.


For owners, it will ensure future needs have been assessed, and make the future cost of ownership far more



“Special levies, as we know them now, are often unexpected,” he said. “That shouldn’t be the case in the future.

Strata owners might still decide not to raise monthly fees and build a large contingency fund, but at least the

owners will know when special levy is coming and how much it might be.”


For buyers, “it will make it much more difficult for sellers or for strata councils to withhold information.”


More detailed information on this legislation and its implications can be found on the CHOA website at


Bob Rennie, who spoke to a full house about the state of the Vancouver property market, said aging baby boomers with billions of dollars in equity will become a much greater force in the condo market as they increasingly downsize from expensive single-detached homes, and put money aside for their children.

By Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun

Bob Rennie, who spoke to a full house about the state of the Vancouver property market, said aging baby

boomers with billions of dollars in equity will become a much greater force in the condo market as they

increasingly downsize from expensive single-detached homes, and put money aside for their children.

Bubble? What bubble?


That’s Vancouver condo marketing guru Bob Rennie’s take on concerns that the region’s real estate market is

headed for a meltdown because of sky-high prices.


“It’s not a bubble,” said Rennie, director of Rennie Marketing Systems, in an interview following his keynote

address to the Urban Development Institute Thursday.


“With the 80 per cent of the [condo] market that traded in [Metro] Vancouver last year, you only needed a household

income of $52,800 to purchase. That’s not a bubble story.”


Rennie, who spoke to a full house about the state of the Vancouver property market, said aging baby boomers

with billions of dollars in equity will become a much greater force in the condo market as they increasingly

downsize from expensive single-detached homes, and put money aside for their children.


He also noted that the number of people between 55 and 64 will increase 38 per cent between 2009 and 2018,

those between 65 and 74 will increase 56 per cent, while those between 35 and 54 will only increase by 4.6 per



Because of that, he said, developers should shift their thinking into providing more larger one-bedroom condos to

accommodate the downsizing boomers.


“I believe the leaner, meaner baby boomer is the game changer,” said Rennie. “Baby boomers are sitting on $88

billion in equity in Greater Vancouver and they’re looking at their retirement years. That equity will be freed up over

the next 15 years [and] when they sell their home, they’ll buy down and help their kids.”


Rennie said there were about 19,000 condo sales in Metro Vancouver in 2011, and that while the average price for

80 per cent of those condos was $315,000, the overall average price was $427,000, which required an income of

$66,000 to finance.


Rennie noted that proximity to transit is paramount for today’s homebuyer.


“In the ’70s and ’80s it was location, location, location. In the ’90s through mid-’2000s, it was timing, timing,

timing. And from here forward, it’s transit, transit, transit.”


He also said that planning should be conducted more on a regional basis in order to make homes more



Meanwhile, Tsur Somerville, director, centre for urban economics and real estate, Sauder School of Business at

the University of B.C., said he also doesn’t believe there’s a real estate bubble in Metro Vancouver, largely

because there’s not an explosion in housing starts – typical for real estate bubbles.


Somerville said that while the affordability numbers have been skewed by the higher end parts of the market –

“there were double-digit increases in Richmond, Vancouver, Burnaby and West Vancouver, with single-digit

increases everywhere else” — the region is still very expensive compared to other cities in Canada.


“Compared to other cities, that income [$52,800] gets you a house. Here, it gets you a condo. That means we’re

expensive, but that’s the reality of what we are.


“It’s still an expensive place to live, but it’s not unaffordable. You’ll end up smaller and further away from the core.”


© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


The Bank of Montreal says the drop should continue for a couple of years

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Home prices will fall over the next couple of years in Vancouver according a report from

the Bank of Montreal.

Year-over-year home re-sales are down by more than 13 per cent in April and sales in the first four months of this

year compared to last year are down 20 per cent.

"I can best describe it as a softening of a market," says BMO Mortgage Expert Carolyn Heaney.  "In the last couple of

quarters we've seen prices in Vancouver escalate to almost 163 per cent of what they originally were, so I would say

we had a bit of an inflated market.  What we're seeing now is those prices are softening and it's a healthier market."

BMO Senior Economist Sal Guatieri says the price of homes in Vancouver and uncertainty over long-term mortgage

rates are creating a buyer's market.

He also says rich foreign investors who have driven up real-estate prices in Vancouver are now looking at cities that

are less expensive.

"The sizzle is coming off the Vancouver housing market," Guateri says.

"I think it's a good opportunity for buyers to take their time and look at the market," Heaney says.  "It's also a great

opportunity for purchasers to get in to their banks, see what they can afford and maybe look into longer term rates."

The report also says condos are being overbuilt in Vancouver and that is curbing demand.


Professional, single women are a growing force in the local real-estate market, and they know what they want

By Gail Johnson - The Georgia Straight

Andrea Visscher is on a mission. The 27-year-old Vancouver resident is shopping for her own home, which is no

easy feat for anyone in Canada’s most expensive housing market. But despite the obvious challenges, Visscher

is determined to go at it alone.


“I’ve been looking for about two months but considering this for a long time,” Visscher says. “I really want to

purchase a home on my own without assistance from a partner or my parents.


“Finding something I like in a price point I’m able to afford is my biggest obstacle,” she adds. “I don’t want to leave

things too long, though, because I think the earlier in my life I can get into home ownership the better it will be in

the long run.”


Visscher represents one of the latest trends in real estate: professional, single women becoming independent



According to a recent TD Canada Trust national poll that surveyed female first-time home buyers between the

ages of 20 and 45, 82 percent were single women. (That figure includes people like Visscher, who have a partner

but are buying on their own.) The average age was 29, and almost half had obtained a university degree.


When asked to describe the best thing about home ownership, 34 percent of Canadian women surveyed said it

was having a place of their own. Other factors were being able to decorate or renovate the way they wanted (34

percent) and having a backyard or garden (32 percent).


Eugen Klein, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, says that although no hard numbers exist,

single women have outpaced single men in home purchases recently.


“It does change from month to month, but if you look over the last 12- or 24-month period, by a few percentage

points, single women have bought slightly more properties than single men,” he says.


Local real-estate marketer Bob Rennie has seen the trend play out in Vancouver. At Marine Gateway, a

development on Marine Drive at south Cambie Street that sold out on opening day and offered more than 200

units under $270,000, 50 percent of buyers were female—a big jump from past projects.


“Although we didn’t track demographics as diligently 10 years ago, I think that a safe estimate would be that the

dial has moved from the 35-percent range to where it is today,” Rennie says.


The main concern among female buyers is security, with many women opting for units above ground level and for

buildings that require a pass card to access individual floors.


“Of course, safety and convenience are factors,” Rennie says.


Naturally, so is price. With a maximum purchase price of $200,000 in mind, Visscher is focusing on condos in

Surrey. She’s seen some units in Vancouver at about that amount, but they’re too tiny for her liking.


Making the move to the suburbs will be a big change for the media-relations specialist who has lived in a large,

funky, sunny West End studio for eight years. She pays $775 a month, including parking.


“I want to be near transit so I can get rid of my car,” Visscher says. “I don’t want to pay more for a mortgage than

what I’m paying in rent. I don’t want to sacrifice my lifestyle and be a slave to an incredibly high mortgage



Although she says she’s fortunate to have found a real-estate agent she trusts, Visscher admits she finds the

process overwhelming. It doesn’t help when well-meaning relatives and friends share their two cents’ worth:

everyone seems to have a different opinion on where she should be looking or if she should be contemplating

home ownership at all.


“My father is very pro get-into-the-market-whenever-you-can; my mother thinks it’s not a good time, that I shouldn’t

be investing in a home when my rental is working for me,” she says. “I’m also the first one of my friends to look

into home ownership, so none of them are really able to give me insights I’m looking for.


“Some friends and coworkers are telling me to look in White Rock; other people are telling me it doesn’t matter

where I look but just don’t be on the other side of a bridge. I just have to try and trust my best judgment.


“Although I have fantastic rent and an amazing landlord, I’m just ready to start investing in myself, and investing in

a home is a large part of that,” she adds. “As opposed to putting in rent for a really cool space, I just want to get

something that’s more my own.”


Inexpensive home pick-me-ups to give your place a whole new feel


By Tiffany Mealia - She’s So Savvy.


Feeling like it’s time to freshen up that fabulous place of yours, but don’t know where to start? Have you looked

through the design magazines, cleaned up your drool, and thought - I will never be able to afford any of that!


That may be true, but design doesn’t need to mean decadently priced. Might we suggest a few small and

inexpensive pick-me-ups which can be done for next to nothing and will give your place a whole new feel?

Consider the options…


  1. Throw pillows: These can be found at any department store or discount home store. Often found on sale, 

    throw pillows are a great way to put some colour into a space without committing too much to any one 



  2. Bringing outside items…inside: Think pinecones and fallen branches in the winter; sturdy greens and 

    pussy willows in the summer. Grab a pile of any one of these items and toss them in a glass jar or vase 

    (go for that scattered, vintage look). If you feel like getting crafty, head to a craft store and pick up some 

    iridescent glitter. Sprinkle that over your items and voila - something that looks like it came straight from 

    the gift section of your local boutique.


  3. Paint: If you do it yourself, this can be one of the cheapest ways to create a drastic change in your home. 

    For big impact, grab a gallon of paint and go at your walls! Or try painting just an accent wall; a gallon of 

    paint is likely all you need.


  4. Candles: We associate most memories with scents, so if your place smells warm and cozy, it will likely be 

    reflective of wonderfully warm memories. Find a scent you like, light the candle and relax


  5. Create a scene: Group books of similar colours, seashells, rocks . Put them in a decorative bowl, stand a 

    framed photo as the backdrop, and drape a throw over a nearby chair or bench. It’s about creating a 

    tableau (think, artful clutter).


  6. Rearrange your furniture: This one doesn’t cost a dime! Designers are known for switching up their 

    furniture - from room to room, or just rearranging the same pieces in a different configuration - to keep 

    their home and their inspiration fresh. See if it can work for you too.


By Bill Bischoff | MarketWatch


Prices in many real-estate markets may be close to bottoming out. We hope. So the old adage about buying low

may be something to consider if you have a kid who will soon be heading off to college. The idea is to buy a condo

for the kid to live in while attending school. That way, you’ll avoid paying through the nose for a dorm room or

apartment with no hope of any profit. And if you buy a condo that has some extra space, you can rent it out to your

kid’s friends and offset some of the ownership cost.


Lots of parents have made good money by following this strategy for the four or five or, God forbid, six years their

kids spent in college and then selling the condo after graduation. Of course, the longer you can hold onto the

property, the better the odds of cashing out for a profit. The other key factor to consider is the tax benefits. Here’s

what you need to know.


Deducting college condo ownership expenses

The tax rules generally prevent you from deducting losses incurred from owning and renting out a residence that’s

used more than a little bit by you or a member of your immediate family. However, a favorable exception applies

when you rent at market rates to a family member who uses the property as his or her principal home. In this

case, you can deduct tax losses from the rental activity (subject to the passive loss rules, which I’ll explain later).

This beneficial loophole is open for you if you buy a condo and rent it out to your college-going child (and roomies,

if any) at market rates.


You can deduct the mortgage interest and real-estate taxes. If you pay mortgage points, you can amortize them

over the term of the loan. You can also write off all the other operating expenses—like utilities, insurance,

association fees, repairs and maintenance, and so forth. As a bonus, you can depreciate the cost of the building

(not the land) over 27.5 years, even while it is (we hope) increasing in value.


So where will your poverty-stricken son or daughter get the money to pay you market rent for the condo? The same

place he or she would get the cash to pay for a dorm room or an apartment rented from some third party. In other

words, from you! You can give your kid up to $13,000 annually without any adverse federal tax consequences. If

you’re married, you and your spouse can together give up to $26,000. Your child can use that money to write you

monthly rent checks. Just make sure he or she actually sends the checks and make sure they say they are for

rent. Also, it’s best if you open up a separate checking account to handle the rental income and expenses. Taking

these simple steps will help keep the IRS off your back if you ever get audited.


Passive loss rules may postpone tax losses

If the condo throws off annual tax losses (which it probably will after counting depreciation deductions), the

passive activity loss (PAL) rules generally apply. The fundamental PAL concept goes like this: you can only deduct

passive losses to the extent you have passive income from other sources -like positive taxable income from other

rental properties you own or gains from selling them. Fortunately, a special exception says you can deduct up to

$25,000 of annual passive losses from rental real estate provided: (1) your annual adjusted gross income (before

the real estate loss) is under $100,000 and (2) you “actively participate” in the rental activity. Active participation

means being energetic enough to at least make management decisions like approving tenants, signing leases,

and authorizing repairs. You don’t have to mop the floor or snake out the drains.


If you qualify for this exception, you won’t need any passive income from other sources to claim a deductible rental

loss of up to $25,000 annually (your loss probably won’t be that big). Unfortunately, however, if your adjusted gross

income (AGI) is between $100,000 and $150,000, the special exception gets proportionately phased out. So at AGI

of $125,000, you can deduct no more than $12,500 of passive rental real estate losses each year (half the normal

$25,000 maximum). If your AGI exceeds $150,000 and you have no passive income, you can’t currently deduct any

rental real estate losses. However, any disallowed losses are carried forward to future tax years, and you’ll be

able deduct them when you sell the college condo. All in all, this is not a bad tax outcome--as long as your losses

are mostly of the “paper” variety from noncash depreciation write-offs.


Favorable tax rules when you sell

When you sell rental real estate that you’ve owned for over a year, the profit—the difference between sales

proceeds and the tax basis of the property after subtracting depreciation—is long-term capital gain. However, part

of the gain—the amount equal to your cumulative depreciation write-offs—can be taxed at a maximum federal rate

of 25%. The rest of the gain will be taxed at a maximum federal rate of no more than 15% under the current rules

(which I hope will be extended to post-2012 years).


Remember those carryover passive losses that we talked about earlier? You get to use them to offset any gain

from selling the condo.


By Liam Lahey | Yahoo! Finance Canada


There's good debt and bad. For first-time homebuyers, knowing the difference between the two and how to

manage debt wisely is a critical step towards owning a home.


Repeated warnings from the Bank of Canada and elsewhere that Canadians are overextended on debt might be

keeping some potential buyers at bay. But Rob Macdonald, a mortgage broker with Invis in Vancouver, says the

key to understanding whether or not it's time to buy comes down to planning and how you manage your debt.


"One of the biggest mistakes first-time homebuyers make is they get absolutely fixated on what interest rates are.

The interest rate in a mortgage is just a piece of the puzzle," he explains. "Managing the debt through the length of

the term is one of the more important features. Managing your mortgage to avoid payment shock can save you

thousands of dollars versus the best rate you would've got originally."


An average mortgage in Macdonald's market (the Fraser Valley neighbourhood in Vancouver) presently falls

between $300,000 to $400,000. Interest rates are terrific today he acknowledges -- a five-year mortgage is at 3.3

per cent currently versus 5.5 per cent just a few years ago.


"If you get a low rate today at 3.3 per cent you're enjoying a mortgage payment of around $2,000 a month," he

explains. "Five years from now it goes to 5.5 per cent and your payment jumps by $350 to $400 a month."


Chris Kiskunas, regional mortgage sales manager, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in Toronto, says to be wary of

the proliferation of personal debt.


"Sometimes a few hundred dollars on a credit card doesn't seem like a lot (of debt). But when you also have the

same or a little more on other cards and you total it all up, it can actually prohibit your ability to qualify for as much

as you might on a home," she says. "For someone preparing for first-time home ownership, evaluate your

financial situation and determine what you owe, to whom, and what are the interest rates? Position yourself to

qualify for the most home you can buy."


Kiskunas recommends potential buyers take in the big picture when thinking of home ownership, which will help

first-time buyers to get a sense of how much it costs to actually own and maintain a home.


"Any financial institution or lender that is going to consider approving you for a mortgage is going to look at the

mortgage principle and interest payments, the taxes on the property and the estimated cost of heating the

property," she explains. "The industry rule of thumb is all of those costs should not exceed 32 per cent of your

gross combined income."


Any other debt (credit cards, line of credit, car loans, etc.) should not exceed 40 per cent of your total gross income.

"The mistake that people make is they don't calculate the cost of carrying that home. Beyond taxes and heat

there's gas, hydro, TV and Internet, insurance, and then any other payments you're responsible for," she adds.

"When you want to determine the affordability factor on a home you want to know you have money at the end of the

month to be able to eat."


What to do when rates rise?

With current interest rates being as attractive as they are, is it worthwhile to strike while the iron is hot and buy

now? Or is it wiser to remain a renter for the time being? It depends on personal circumstances, Macdonald says,

but if interest rates are going to climb you'll likely face the same hike in the rental market. In short, it's a catch-22.


"If you don't buy today for example and interest rates start to go up, what happens is it's less likely more people will

be buying in the coming years. That'll put pressure on the rental market," he says. "That means less vacancy and

then landlords have the ability to raise rates. And if mortgages get more costly for landlords, landlords will typically

download that expense on the tenant."


Never too early to starting your research

Perhaps sorting that out comes down to having a discussion with a mortgage broker. But should you wait until you

believe you have everything lined up? Or is it recommended to embark upon the effort much sooner? RBC's

Kiskunas believes the latter is best.


"Studies have shown that regardless of the fact that people might feel better educated (about mortgages and real

estate) they still want to talk somebody," she says. "It's never too early to get educated about what you're planning

to do. You can get really good advice from a mortgage specialist whether or not you choose to buy within the next

six months or the next two years. The relationship should start now."


As for the all-important down payment, Macdonald says it too is based on individual circumstances. If you're

buying within your means and it's an affordable monthly payment not too far removed from the amount of rent

you're paying, most are comfortable with five per cent down.


"As long as you follow a plan and have someone assisting you with managing your mortgage that's taking

advantage of opportunities along the way -- if you were to lock-in for a longer term or an early renewal for instance -

- I don't think five per cent down is a bad thing," he says.


However, it's been reported Ottawa is considering raising the minimum down payment for homebuyers from five

to seven per cent in order to stop some consumers from taking on too much debt.


"It'd certainly be more challenging for many homebuyers to get into the market (should a hike come to fruition) in

some of the bigger cities," Macdonald adds. "At the end of the day, I don't think it'd be a tremendously bad thing for

Canada. It just means we're a little more cautious as to what our risk might be in the market."


If the thought of a higher minimum downpayment is causing anxiety, than it may be best for first-time buyers to

reconsider their purchase plan, Kiskunas  says. "If (Ottawa) shortens the amortization or imposes a higher

qualifying rate from an interest rate perspective, if it's that close to the wire for that individual buyer, then I'd suggest 

that maybe this isn't the right time to buy.


"You need to leave yourself some financial wiggle room to help insulate yourself against any changes that might

be brought in like that."


In any event, there are online tools that are worthwhile to use in order to gauge the difference between paying a

mortgage and paying rent. provides an online calculator that draws these comparisons.

So too does the online calculator offered by Industry Canada. Also useful is the Canada Mortgage and Housing

Corp.'s guides to renting a home and buying a home. RBC, too, provides a free, online tool for helping calculate

whether you should rent or buy.





OTTAWA — For most Canadians their home is the biggest investment they’ll ever make — but they might be

surprised to learn you can use if for more than just sleeping.


People generally don’t think of their homes as a potential pile of cash in the bank, but experts say it’s something

worth pondering now that home prices in Canada may have hit their peak.


In fact, analysts say if finance is the only consideration, conditions now and into next year or so form a seldom

seen sweet spot for using home equity as a type of asset for investment.


Why might it be a good time to sell?


At about $370,000 average nationally — and just under $800,000 in Vancouver — home prices are already at

record levels. Many observers believe prices are long due for a downward correction of anywhere from 10 per cent

to 25 per cent, perhaps more in some of the hottest markets.


“Home prices to income, housing price to rent, all the indicators are setting off warning signals,” said Derek

Burleton, a senior economist with TD Bank.


“If you are purely in it for reaping profits, now is not a bad time to sell” before prices drop.


The profits from selling a home can be used to build savings, eliminate debt, make traditional investments or,

ironically, buy more real estate — albeit in a different market where home prices are lower.


Of course, even if it makes sense financially, selling the family home to rent or move to a less expensive housing

market doesn’t make lifestyle sense for the vast majority of Canadians.


Burleton knows how they feel.


“I wouldn’t want to sell my home right now even if I wind up taking a hit on the home price, just because I enjoy

where I’m living and moving is a pain,” he said.


While there’s no guarantee of a correction, observers note there are additional signs that the housing market

could cool off in a big way.


With ownership levels near a record 70 per cent, demand is expected to wane, making it a buyers market for the

first time in years.


And Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney warned last month he was preparing to hike rates, which along with

tighter lending rules being applied by federal authorities could trigger a flight from real estate.


In market terms, selling a home at the peak is a way of “locking in” profits accumulated over the past decade of

price appreciation — and tax free if it’s the principal home.


Meanwhile, home valuations have been rising far faster than the rent they would fetch since at least 2000.

Canada’s home price-to-rent ratio is well above historic norms and among the highest in the advanced world.


That is a hard indicator that homes are over-valued, but also that renting is relatively cheap compared to buying.


David Madani of Capital Economics, who anticipates a 25 per cent price crash over the next few years, cautions

that like selling stock shares, timing is always tricky.


“We’re dealing with irrational exuberance. We’ve been treating housing like some magical financial asset that is

going to solve all our problems because prices are always going up,” he said.


“Of course, when the turn comes, the over-confidence that drove the market up can turn to fear. You are dealing

with emotion … so I don’t believe in a soft landing.”


The market is clearly at or near peak, he said, so soon may indeed be the time to act.


But then again he felt that way a year ago, he points out, and if households had acted on his advice they might not

have gotten all the value they could from the premature sale.


By Michele Lerner |


You spend a lot of cash when you buy a home. The down payment for your mortgage is only one expense. There

are other outlays: appraisal, inspection, deposit, cash reserves and more. The costs add up.


"How much cash you'll need depends a lot on the size of your home purchase and how much you intend to

finance," says Tim Ross, president and CEO of Ross Mortgage, based in Royal Oak, Mich.


Here are other expenses homebuyers incur (and have to save up for).


Earnest money deposit. Hopeful buyers need to be prepared with cash for a deposit to attach to their purchase

offer. The amount of the deposit varies, depending on local custom, the amount of your down payment and size of

your home purchase.


Ross says deposits can range from a flat fee of $500 to 1 percent or even up to 5 percent of the purchase price. An

experienced Realtor can advise you on how much to offer.


Home inspection. "Every buyer should have a home inspection, usually within 10 to 15 days after the contract is

approved," says Dyan Pithers, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Tampa, Fla.

Costs vary; Pithers says the home inspection can set you back $325 or more. In's annual closing

costs survey, pest inspections (which are separate from home inspections) averaged $119 in 2011.


If you are not on county or city water systems, a well inspection can cost $400, Pithers says.


Appraisal. In Bankrate's annual closing costs survey, the average appraisal cost a little more than $400 in 2011.

Buyers sometimes pay for the appraisal when it takes place, and sometimes the fee is included in the closing

costs paid on settlement day.


Down payment. "While some low- to moderate-income borrowers can find low down payment programs and zero

down payment programs, in general, most people need at least 3.5 percent of the purchase price as a down

payment on (a Federal Housing Administration) loan," says Michael Jablonski, executive vice president and retail

production manager for BB&T Home Mortgage, based in Wilson, N.C.


Veterans Affairs loans, available to veterans and active-duty military families, have no down payment



"For conventional loans, a minimum down payment of 5 percent is acceptable for borrowers with excellent credit,

but they will also have to pay private mortgage insurance," Ross says.


Some conventional loan and jumbo loan borrowers need to pay as much as 20 percent of the purchase price as a

down payment.


Mortgage origination fees and title insurance. Loan origination fees vary from lender to lender, and title insurance

varies from location to location, so there's no rule of thumb that applies everywhere.


"Sometimes buyers can negotiate to have the sellers cover their closing costs, but it's better to negotiate the home

price first and then negotiate the closing cost assistance to make sure the sellers haven't just inflated their price to

cover closing costs," Jablonski says.


Ross says buyers should be careful to review their good faith estimate as soon as they receive it, so they have an

idea of how much their mortgage origination fees and title insurance will cost.


Moving costs. "How much moving costs depends a lot on how far you are moving," Pithers says. "If you are moving

nearby and have friends and family to help, it can cost almost nothing. But a long-distance move of a 2,000-

square-foot home, including having the packing done for you, could cost $5,000 to $7,000."


Ross says the average moving cost is likely to be less than $1,000, especially if you are moving nearby.


Necessary home purchases. If you are moving from an apartment to a single-family home, you may have to buy

items such as a lawn mower, a snow shovel or window treatments.


"You need to be careful to really weigh each item against your budget," Jablonski says. "You don't have to start with

a top-of-the-line lawn mower, for example. It's a great idea to do some research, and talk to people in the area

where you are buying. See what they had to purchase right away, so you can budget for it."


Pithers says you may need to make deposits for utilities such as the water company or electric company,

especially if you are moving from another locale.


Cash reserves. "Lenders typically want you to have at least two house payments, including principal, interest,

taxes and insurance, in the bank after the closing," Ross says.


Jablonski says it's better to have six months' mortgage payments in savings after closing.


By Gail Johnson | Yahoo! Finance Canada

Buying a home can be as exciting as it is overwhelming. Two real-estate experts share their insights into all-too-

common house-buying mistakes.

Not being pre-approved for a mortgage
“This is the number-one mistake,” says Kimberley Marr, a Toronto real-estate broker and author of Your First

Home—A Buyer’s Kit for Condos and Houses. “I wouldn’t even go look at a house until you know what you’re

preapproved for. It’s a benefit when you’re putting in an offer, especially in a multiple-bid offer, being able to

provide written proof to sellers that you can complete this transaction. It could provide leverage in getting the


Marr also suggests shopping around for a mortgage and being clear on the terms and conditions. In other words,

don’t be too excited about a low rate until you read the fine print.

Not being clear about your needs and wants
“A lot of people want to go out and buy a house but they don’t have a plan,” Marr says. “Then they get hooked into

the emotional link to a home. They get caught up in the excitement and overlook necessary features like how many

bedrooms and bathrooms? What about Parking? Closet space? Don’t rush into looking before preparing and

considering what you’re looking for.”

Couples not being on the same page
“One will want to be in Langley and one will want to be in North Vancouver,” says Vancouver real-estate agent and

former developer David Setton. “Or one is just going along but not expressing what they really want. It’s not a good

use of anybody’s time. Sometimes one partner will delegate the other to find the house because they’re too busy

at work. If couples don’t do everything together, you spin your wheels.

Skipping a home inspection
“You need to make an offer conditional to a satisfactory professional inspection by a qualified home inspector,”

Marr says. “This is the opportunity for the inspector to discover and give you a heads-up about any flaws or issues

you may not have been aware of and help you understand the difference between maintenance issues or major

structural issues, faulty systems.

“When people get caught up in multiple offers or bidding wars, which happen often in cities like Calgary, Toronto,

Vancouver, a lot of them to try and look good so they clear the inspection from conditions. That is not something

you want to give up. And attend the inspection; don’t just hire someone to do it without you being there.”

Similarly, people looking at a condo should make the offer conditional on seeing strata certificate, which includes

information such as its budget, rules and regulations, and upcoming assessments or expenditures.

Leaving home insurance until the last minute
“Most people for some reason forget about it and leave it till day before they’re closing,” Marr says. “But you need to

make sure the property is insurable, especially if it’s a rural property. Maybe it’s heated with oil or has old wiring.  If

you can’t get insurance, the bank will not advance funds on closing.

Digging their heels in when negotiating

“Let’s say it’s a $500,000 home; the buyer wants$ 483,000 the seller wants $484,500,” Setton says. “I’ve seen

people say, ‘No, I want to win.’ Negotiating isn’t about winning; it’s about compromise. People might be 20 days

apart on completion date, and one will say ‘I’m not willing to wait.’ It can be a deal-breaker but shouldn’t be. In the

grand scheme of things, it’s nothing.”

Being swayed by bling
Granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances are appealing, but Setton says you need to focus on the floor

plan. “You can change everything else: cabinetry, lighting, wallpaper, carpet, and flooring. But you can’t change the

floor plan. Look for efficiency in your floor plan, especially if you’re buying a condo.”

Being indecisive
Sometimes people will see a home they love but they don’t make an offer because it’s the first one they’ve looked

at. “They hesitate,” Setton says. “Not being decisive can make you lose a house you really like. It’s never going to

be perfect. It’s never going to be 100-percent.”

Trying to time the market
‘That’s a huge mistake,” Setton says. “It’s not possible. If I could do it, I’d be a millionaire. There are too many

factors that affect the market; interest rates, global influence... I can tell you what the market is like right now and

maybe even three months from now, but if a world financial crisis hits or a tsunami hits... Anything can happen.

“A lot of it comes down to being ready in your mind. Are you really committed to buying right now or just curious

about what’s happening? The best realtor in the world can’t convince you to buy anything if you’re not ready. The

right time to buy is when you’re in the financial position to buy.”


By: Sonja Rasula HGTV


Are you considering making a spare space in your home into an apartment? Whether the kids have all moved out,

or you've thought about renting a space in your home to help with the mortgage, creating a second suite, and

becoming a landlord, can have many advantages.


While the most obvious benefits are the financial ones (income can subsidize the cost of ownership, property

value increases and tax deductions become available), becoming a landlord may give some a sense of pride and

responsibility, help derive a greater sense of safety and perhaps even provide a social, community atmosphere.


If you're thinking about renting space in your home, there are many things to think about, and lots of work to be

done. Read on to find legal and safety considerations, plus tips on finding great tenants.


Legal & Safety Considerations


How to Prepare

Before you place an ad in the paper, start installing a stove or get a set of keys made, you need to find out what

exactly makes a secondary suite legal. Make sure you check with your local municipality for the zoning bylaws-

don't wait until you've put time and energy into building a second suite to find out if you're even allowed to have

one! If you've purchased a home with an existing second suite, you need to make sure it stands up to fire code

requirements and planning standards. The Landlord's Self-Help Centre in Toronto suggests two extra steps to

further reduce liability once you've legalized your second suite:


1. Make your insurance provider aware of the second suite and enhance your insurance coverage accordingly.

2. Ensure your mortgage holder is informed about your second suite.


Once the Apartment is Ready

There is only one thing you need to think about now, the legal responsibilities of being a landlord. Before you start

to look for renters, you need to make sure you understand all your legal responsibilities as an acting landlord.

Some of the things you'll need to know include:


· How to comply with Fair Housing Laws, and not discriminate against anyone.

· How and when to make necessary maintenance repairs.

· Once rented, when and why you are allowed to enter the suite.

· Rent increase laws and how to inform tenants of an increase.

· How to serve an eviction notice.

· What a lease/renter's agreement should look like and include.


In order to educate yourself on the legal responsibilities, you should contact your municipal government for help,

as well, check your yellow phone book for any landlord or housing agencies listed under Social Services.


Tips on Choosing Tenants


First, be on the ball and be organized. It's your job to be prepared for both telephone calls and visitors. The best

thing to do is to create a list of basic information (monthly rent, size, advantages such as location or new

appliances), so you don't forget anything when talking to interested people over the phone. As well you should

have an application form ready to fax or handout.


The law is definitely on your side when it comes to choosing tenants. There are many great services available to

make sure you have sufficient information to make a decision. Credit checks are a great way to see an applicant's

history and confirm his or her actual identity.


Doing a credit check is not something to be overlooked because of the fees involved. The tenants you choose 

might appear to be wonderful people, but when it comes down to it, you need to know more about them before you

let them into your home. You have the right to ask for and contact references and past landlords. You can even ask

for their banking information, in order to obtain their history. While you can ask for income information, it is only

legal to do so if you also ask for rental history, credit information and get approval for a credit check (making a

decision based on income alone would be discrimination).


Don't just "go for the green" when choosing tenants. It's up to you to find trustworthy, reliable renters, but it's just as

important to choose renters you get along with. Once you have applicants that have passed the tests mentioned

above, there are helpful ways to decide between tenants:


· Set up a short interview, which will enable you to see what they are like, and allow for open communication

between both parties.

· Make sure to ask questions about their lifestyle habits. For instance, if they play an instrument, find out if they are

willing to restrict playing it to certain hours.

· Is their personality compatible with yours, and other family members that live in your household?

· Do they have pets? If you have pets, are they allergic?



May 2012


Is now a good time to buy?

It's a question that we hear in the real estate industry all the time. The answer is simple: It's the right time to buy when

(1) you want to, (2) you have a long-term view, and (3) you can afford to.


Buying patterns are dictated by a multitude of factors, but they mostly have to do with changes in life circumstance:

moving out of your parents' house, getting married, having a baby, getting transferred for work, and becoming an

empty nester are all strong incentives for changing your living situation. Sprinkled into this decision are thoughts on

what is going to happen to the real estate market.


But what is going to happen to the real estate market?


Take this headline from the Globe and Mail: 'Housing Market has Cracks'. The article, which points to a Canadian

housing market bubble, quotes economist David Rosenberg, who correctly forecasted the US housing crisis, who

says the Canadian housing market is 'overvalued by 15-35%' and predicts that the market is 'on the verge of

collapse'. It's a common theme in the news today. Except the article was written in 2009, right before the housing

market rose an additional 15%, in spite of its advice to 'brace yourself for a rough 2010'.


So it's hard to predict where the housing market is going to go, especially in the short-term. In the long-term, real

estate has been shown to appreciate at an average of 6-7% annually. Given that principle residences offer investors

the single biggest loophole in the tax code - capital gains on principle residences are tax-free - similar investments

would need to offer an historical return of 10+% per annum to compete.


But what if prices do fall in the short-run?


You may feel like you've made a mistake as prices begin to fall, but so long as you can afford the payments and you

do not move, it doesn't really matter. The only times that real estate prices matter are the day you buy and the day you

sell. What happens to the market in between is effectively irrelevant. This is why it's important to buy a home that you

can both afford and be happy with in the medium- to long-term. If the market turns negative, but you still like and can

still afford to live in your house, there's no need to sell at a loss. Conversely, if the market moves up, you're

participating in its gains.


Like any investment, however, you need a long-term view. In the short-run, fluctuations in the market and transaction

costs can eat up any gains that you expect to make. So go ahead. Jump in. But only if you (1) want to, (2) have a long-

term view, and (3) can afford


If you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me at the email address or phone number above.

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