Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., has updated its free guide to the process of buying a home, with an emphasis on encouraging Canadians to think long term about what kind of home they should buy — or whether they would be better off renting.
The national housing agency first released the guide, called Homebuying Step by Step, in 1998, but has updated it over the years. The latest version streamlines the document, splitting off workbook content and making it available online as a series of interactive printable checklists and questionnaires.
The previous iteration of the guide received almost eight million unique page views in 2016 alone, according to CMHC.
The guide is meant for any prospective homebuyer, but first-time buyers could particularly benefit from reading it, said Ina Wielinga, a consultant at CMHC who updated the guide. She said the new version puts a greater focus on calculating the true cost of owning a home over time, emphasizing costs like taxes, utilities and repairs.
"This used to be peppered through the document, but we're bringing it up front because people often get focused on acquisition," said Wielinga.
The new guide also encourages readers to reflect on what kind of home suits their lifestyle, and whether or not homeownership is a better financial choice than renting.
"It's not just buying that house that's brick and mortar," said Wielinga. "There's a lifestyle that goes with it also."
By asking would-be homeowners to consider how a home will fit into their lives over the long term, Wielinga said, the guide could help users feel more confident about their purchase.
Key concepts to consider
The most confusing concept in the guide is also one of the most important ideas to understand before buying a home, according to Wielinga: calculating your gross debt service ratio (also known as the gross debt-to-income ratio) and total debt service ratio (also known as the total debt-to-income ratio).
Click on image below for your copy:
The CMHC guide for homebuyers is available for free online. (CMHC)
The gross debt service ratio includes total monthly housing costs, which CMHC says should be no more than 32 per cent of average gross monthly income. The total debt service ratio covers all monthly debt payments, including housing costs. CMHC recommends that ratio not exceed 40 per cent of average gross monthly income.
"You have to understand that, even if you're the best person in the world and you know you can afford it, you have to follow that kind of guideline," said Wielinga.
Financial axioms like these are often left unexplained to potential homebuyers, said Wielinga.
"Honestly, it's not talked about enough," she said. "I think when we do explain it to people, then they do get it."
The rules for Canadian homebuyers have been changing quickly, especially as the government tries different policies to mitigate risk in the real estate market.
For that reason, the guide avoids getting into the details of certain aspects of homebuying, like calculating mortgage loan insurance. Instead, it refers readers to the CMHC website, where the details of mortgage rules can be quickly updated as the government changes them.
Lauren Haw, CEO of an online real estate brokerage, lauded CMHC for its interactive workbook for prospective homebuyers, although she's skeptical that many people will actually take the time to sit down and read the guide in full.
"People like to have it and hold it, but most first-time homebuyers don't seem to ingest the information in this format very well," said Haw. "Because even if you give them these documents, very few people are the personality type that will read it and really truly understand it."
Haw said real estate brokers often end up explaining these concepts to their clients as they go through the buying process.
"If everybody would sit down and read one of these things, I think we'd have much more informed buyers," she said.
When it comes to buying and selling homes, most contracts include a contingency that will allow buyers to back out or re-negotiate the sale based on issues found during a home inspection.
Selling a home can be stressful, to feel confident in the sale of your home check out these common home issues before listing.
We recommend a pre-sale home inspection – which may even sweeten your home sale by adding an element of transparency when you share the report with the buyers agent.
Regardless if your basement is beautifully finished or could have been the location for the latest big screen thriller, a major issue found in home inspections is moisture or seepage.
If your basement shows signs of moisture, leakage or has an air of dampness you may have an issue. Call a trusted home inspector to get the lay of the land, or a contractor who specializes in basement repair.
The possibility of basement flooding will not appeal to even the savviest of ‘fixer upper’ home buyers.
The hat for your home. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but if your roof is old you run the risk of facing major leaks during the next rainy season.
If left unattended, an old roof may lead to major damage of other existing home systems and property. If your shingles are peeling and look old, you likely need a new roof – get on the phone and start calling local roofing companies.
DIYers take heed! There are (for example) building codes for things like your deck, car port, garage, retaining walls, plumbing, electrical and other home projects and systems.
If you are going to tackle these projects yourself, make sure to do your research and learn what building code requirements exist in your city. Better yet, have a professional come double check your work before you pat yourself on the back – it could save you from property damage, personal injury, costly lawsuits, or the sale of your home.
All major components of your home do require maintenance. Just as you get an oil change, replace brake pads, and rotate tires on your vehicle, your home needs regular attention and cleaning.
Be sure to pay attention to things like furnace and central air maintenance, cleaning dryer vents, water heaters, exhaust fan filers for your stove, check caulking in places like tubs and shower surrounds yearly. Prevention is better than a cure – and it costs less!
In all the excitement and packing, buying & selling, many people forget to take care of some essential items before they move. Don’t look past these 5 things you need to take care of, or it could cost you $$$.
1. Take care of all subscriptions: Magazines, memberships, recurring orders, gym memberships. Get a head start on updating your address or cancelling memberships before charges mount on your credit card. We suggest you take care of this at least 30 days prior to your move, as many gyms, clubs, and mail subscriptions require this much time for cancellation or updates.
2. Change your address at the post office: For a small fee Canada Post will allow you to register your new address to ensure all your mail finds its way to your new home. Leaving bills or an outstanding balance behind, may impact your credit score, as well as lead to accumulated interest charges -–neither of which you are likely o want.
3. Call utility providers: Cable, internet, electricity, gas, etc…These are all services that you should be making contact BEFORE you move. Many of these services can pivot on a dime so not much notice is required, but we do recommend making contact at least 1 week prior to your move date. Make a list of required utility providers & check it twice! Or, you could wind up paying for someone else’s electric bill!
4. Manage your motor vehicle insurance: If you are new to British Columbia here is what you need to know; ICBC allows up to 90 days to switch over your license, and 30 days to register, license and insure your vehicle.
If you are moving within the Province, you must update your address within 30 days of moving. Your auto-insurance policy must always show your current home address and vehicle use, so do not forget to update this information!
5. Get a ‘To-Go’ box ready: Whether you are moving across the country, province, or just down the street, make sure that you have a go-to box ready. This should contain items you will need as soon as you get to your new home; cleaning products, toilet paper, garbage bags, paper towels, clean sheets, fresh towels, paper plates and eating utensils and maybe even a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.
It turns out homebuyers are really into barn doors.
When Zillow looked at design features that sell homes at the best price and with the shortest listing time, that feature topped the list.
Anything craftsman-style, like rectangular farmhouse sinks, also got homes off the market at a premium.
Zillow Digs screened over 2 million listings for homes sold between January 2014 and March 2016 and looked for the keywords that had the best effect on how much more than the expected price and how much faster they sold.
Here are the top 15 design features:
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 3.7%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 19
Tankless water heater
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 43
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Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 46
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.2%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 42
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.3%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 28
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 48
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 36
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 5.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 14
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.0%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 50
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 63
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 7.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 58
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 9.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 45
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 13.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 57
Residents and businesses are responsible under City Bylaws to clear any accumulated snow from sidewalks located adjacent to their property as soon as possible to make sure pedestrians are safe.
Report un-shovelled sidewalks by email email@example.com or by calling 604-591-4370 with specific details of the location.
Report a snow or ice problem, or ask any questions about our snow and ice control operations by submitting your inquiry online or calling us at 604-591-4152.
Tips for Snow:
Shovel snow onto your lawn, adjacent snow piles or onto your lawn, not the street
During snow removal operations, the snow is ploughed toward the road-edge. Accordingly, this may result in some driveways and/or sidewalks being blocked by the ploughed snow where snow plough operations occur. We apologize for this inconvenience; however, in some cases this is unavoidable. Should this occur along your property frontage, please do not shovel snow from your driveway onto roadways as this may result in snowploughs pushing the snow back into your driveway and may contribute to vehicle access problems along your street. We recommend that you place snow onto your lawn or onto adjacent snow piles or onto your lawn. This may also present a hazard to motorists or cause vehicle access issues. In an effort to minimize these challenges, consider hiring a snow and ice removal contractor.
Park your vehicle along the curb during snowfall events
This ensures snow and ice operations are conducted in the most effective and efficient manner. If this is not possible, we ask that you please make an attempt at coordinating efforts with your neighbours to park vehicles along the same side of the street within your neighbourhood.
Keep garbage and recycling bins off roadways where snow ploughing may take place
Prolonged snowfall combined with icy conditions may result in delayed garbage and recycling collection. Should this occur, the City will make every effort to resume collection the following day, or allow residents to place double their weekly limit at curb-side the following week.
Keep catch basins free of debris, especially during melting conditions
Contact us to get your home sold in 2017
If you are aware that a catch basin exists in front of your property, please help us by ensuring to keep it clear especially during melting conditions. Blocked catch basins may result in excess accumulation of water along the road area, a situation that could become dangerous if it subsequently freezes. It may also result in flooding of adjacently properties depending on the extent of the blockage and the amount of melting snow.
Snow clearing services for commercial and large residential properties
Residents or businesses using this list will be advised that the City of Surrey has not negotiated any pricing with any of the contractors listed. In addition, the City does not warrant the work nor does it endorse any one of the contractors on the list. The cost of any service provided is to be established between the contractor and the customer. The customer will be responsible for providing payment directly to the contractor for any snow clearing service performed. The City will not act as an intermediary for any disputes relating to non paying customers or complaints of unsatisfactory work performed by the contractor. Also, the burden of risk shall be borne by the contractor with respect to carrying out services to residents. All contractors must also ensure appropriate levels of insurance coverage and required licensed.
Foreign buyer tax has resulted in “policy shock,” but market will quickly recover to see prices higher than they are now, predicts Central 1 Credit Union chief economist
Courtesy of Joannah Connolly REW.ca September 20, 2016
Left to right: Tom Davidoff of UBC, Helmut Pastrick of Central 1 Credit Union and Tsur Sommerville of UBC listen to Arnon Dachner of Dentons at the UDI's September16 lunch panel on the Foreign Buyer Tax — Ryan Broda Photography
The “policy shock” of the new foreign buyer tax has created a “temporary market disruption” that will play out over the next three to six months, after which “market fundamentals” will mean the market recovers, according to a leading economist.
Speaking to a sold-out audience at the Urban Development Institute’s Foreign Buyer Tax luncheon and panel debate September 16, Helmut Pastrick, chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union, said that he expects house prices to recover so that they are higher this time next year than they are today.
Pastrick said, “I fully expect September’s sales to be down again, year-over-year, probably by 30 or 35 per cent compared with last September. The average price will probably fall again, relative to August, and this will play out over the next three to six months – it’s a temporary market disruption.
“After the market has absorbed this new tax regime, we will begin to see other market fundamentals come into effect. Prices will then continue to rise, and they will be higher this time next year.”
Pastrick’s fellow panellist at the UDI lunch, Tsur Sommerville, associate professor at UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, added, “In other markets where a foreign buyer tax was introduced, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, in both those markets, prices continued to rise.”
Pastrick said later in the discussion, “I think home prices will begin to increase again, but at a slower rate. I expect to see higher prices until this economic cycle comes to an end, as all cycles do… But recessions only last a short while, and the cycle begins again. And in the long term, I would expect that over the next two or three decades, [Vancouver real estate] prices will double again, if not more than double. But there will be more economic cycles between now and then.”
He added, “Right now we don’t see any signs of an economic recession due to a shock event – we’re in a strong economic cycle.”
Sommerville added, “In terms of the demand side, you’ve got the combination of the strong economic cycle, low interest rates, and a demographic profile where you’ve got a large number of young people ramping up into home ownership. There are more Millennials than any other group, so you’re going to have a huge increase in housing demand, in a market where the ability to respond on the supply side is securely constrained.”
Sommerville’s colleague Tom Davidoff, associate professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, who was also on the luncheon panel, said that despite the strength of the economy and demand, there was still a significant risk of a sharp correction in home prices due to the foreign buyer tax.
He said, “A potential collapse in foreign buyer demand… could result in a less-bad version of what happened in the United States [in the sub-prime crisis of 2008]. There is a significant risk of an over-correction in prices – but I wouldn’t say that is the most likely outcome.”
The fourth member of the panel was lawyer Arnon Dachner, a partner at Dentons LLP, who warned delegates that tactics to avoid paying the foreign buyer tax – even seemingly legal approaches, such as contract reassignment – could be defined as an “avoidance transaction” that could leave the party still liable for the payable tax or other monies lost to the BC government.
The panel debate was moderated by Neil Chrystal, president and CEO of Polygon Homes, who recently told REW.ca that that he thought the overseas buyers’ tax was “morally and ethically wrong” and added, “I wouldn't be surprised if it was challenged legally.”
Joannah Connolly is the editor and content manager of REW.ca and Real Estate Weekly newspaper, and editor-in-chief of Western Investor and West Coast Condominium. She also moonlights as the host of the Real Estate Therapist call-in show on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM every Saturday, 9-10am. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 20 years of media experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture and business media. Like many of the residents of her newly adopted town, Joannah has a decidedly unhealthy passion for Vancouver real estate and is often to be found scouring property listings well above her pay grade.
To all "Property Brothers" or "Love it or List it" fans:
Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV ‘show hole’*? We’ve all been there… watching entire seasons of“Love it or List it,” “Fixer Upper,” “House Hunters,” “Flip or Flop,” “Property Brothers,”and so many more, just in one sitting. Sad to admit it, but I have done that too...
When you’re in the middle of your real estate themed show marathon, you might start to think that everything you see on TV must be how it works in real life, but you may need a reality check.
Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:
Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and make a decision to purchase one of them.
Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but more often than not the process of buying a home means touring more than three homes.
Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.
Truth: The reality is being staged for TV. Many of the homes being shown are already sold and are off the market.
Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.
Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy.
Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the Open House.
Truth: Of course this would be great! Open Houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but are only a PIECE of the overall marketing of your home. Just realize that many homes are sold during regular listing appointments as well.
Myth #5: Homeowners make a decision about selling their home after a 5-minute conversation.
Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their home and move on with their life/goals.
Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee that you can make the home of your dreams a reality. And speaking with a local lender about your financial situation will ensure that you are protected throughout the transaction. Ask your lender how strong your pre-approval should be to beat other offers.
*Show Hole - A side effect of binge-watching. Symptoms include a sense of emptiness and depression brought on by realizing you just wasted a good portion of your life watching several seasons of a TV show or an entire movie franchise all at once when you could have managed your time better.
Renting out property to get easier as CMHC changes rules
by Steve Randall28 Jul 2015
The rules around the income from rental units considered in home loan applications submitted to the CMHC are changing. The agency announced Monday that, from September 28, it will allow 100 per cent of the rental income from a unit to be considered for new loan applications submitted to it for mortgage insurance.
That means that a secondary rentals suite’s income, minus costs including property taxes, will boost the size of the loan that buyers can secure. Qualifying units must have sustainable income, proven by two years of rental rent payments. These payments will be averaged to assess the unit’s income. Applicants will also need a credit rating of at least 680. Properties with more than a single rental unit will have slightly different rules and this change is most positive for homeowners with one rental unit.
Get a great start on this year’s garden at the Historic Stewart Farm’s annual seed and plant sale and seed exchange.
Shop for rare heirloom vegetable, herb and flower seeds grown in the Stewart Farm’s heritage gardens. Find seeds for centuries-old varieties such as echinacea, stately hollyhocks, wildflowers, 200-year old pole beans, and rare peas.
Get tips from the heritage garden volunteers about the historic varieties they grow and how to save seeds.
Master Gardeners and other experts will be on site to answer your gardening questions.
Visit the heritage flower and vegetable gardens.
Tour the beautifully restored 1894 farmhouse with costumed guides, and sample fresh baked goods from the woodstove.
Kids get a start on their gardening skills through "seedy" crafts and activities.