It PAYS to shop around.
Many Canadian homeowners pay too much for their homes because they are not getting the best mortgage financing available in the market.
The mortgage process can be intimidating for homeowners, and some financial institutions don't make the process any easier.
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Keep it Simple
Keep it simple when buying a houseSpring is here, which means increased activity in the real estate market. If you are thinking of buying a house, keep these simple tips in mind.Decide whether the time is right for you to buy – “If you currently own a house, you should buy and sell at the same time, which will help ensure you don’t sell low and buy high,” explains Chartered Professional Accountant Eli Palachi, a partner with Crowe Soberman LLP in Toronto. “If you are a first-time purchaser, try to buy when you can secure low mortgage rates so that your monthly cash outflow is lower.”Determine what you can afford – “Establish a budget that includes the cost of the new house and then try living with that budget for a while to make sure you won’t become financially strapped and end up house rich and cash poor,” advises Chartered Professional Accountant Albert Yu, a sales representative with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd. in Toronto. “Mortgage rates are at historically low levels these days. But keep in mind that every one-per-cent increase in interest rates means you can buy 10-per-cent less house.” Yu says your budget should also include other costs, including a rainy day fund that covers three to six months’ worth of expenses, retirement savings and a children’s education fund. Your Chartered Accountant can help you set up a realistic budget and help with decisions on how to finance a house purchase.Don’t forget to factor in the hidden costs – “In addition to the price of the house itself, your other costs include legal fees associated with closing the sale, adjustments for property tax and utilities, the land transfer tax, mortgage fees, house appraisal fees and moving,” says Palachi. “If you are buying a bigger house, you may also have higher insurance costs.”Shop around for the best mortgage rate – “Speak to several banks to see what their rates are,” says Palachi. “It doesn’t hurt to get an idea of what competitive rates are, and banks don’t charge a fee or commission for securing financing. Your CA can also introduce you to mortgage officials at the bank.” If you are going to shop around for rates, Yu cautions against signing several applications that would result in a credit check. “Your credit score will decrease if too many checks are done at once,” he explains.Make the biggest down payment you can afford – “You must pay at least 20 per cent of the purchase price down to avoid a high-ratio mortgage and paying one-time Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation premiums,” explains Yu. A larger down payment will also lower your monthly payments.
Ontario just introduced a 16-point plan to control real estate, including a Foreign Home Buyer Tax
On April 20, 2017, the Ontario government introduced the Ontarios Fair Housing Plan, a 16-point plan to control real estate, address thedemand for housing, increase supply, and protect buyers and renters.
The 16 measures in the plan include a legislation that would implement a new 15 % Non-Resident Speculation Tax (NRST), similar to the 15 % tax on foreign buyers already introduced in Vancouver last May.
Once legislation passes, the tax would be effective retroactively to April 21.
The measures are aimed at cooling down the hot housing market in the Greater Toronto Area, where prices were up 33 % from a year ago while condominium rents rose 8.3 % in the first quarter from a year ago.
Now that two major cities have been impacted by a Foreign Buyer Tax, only time will tell if investors will look to other Canadian cities to invest their funds.
Canadian home sales up on a month-over-month basis in March
According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were up on a month-over-month basis in March 2017.
- National home sales rose 1.1% from February to March.
- Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in March was up 6.6% from a year earlier.
- The number of newly listed homes climbed 2.5% from February to March.
- The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) was up 18.6% year-over-year (y-o-y) in March 2017.
- The national average sale price increased by 8.2% y-o-y in March.
Home sales over Canadian MLS Systems edged up 1.1% in March 2017, surpassing the previous monthly record set in April 2016 by one-quarter of a percent.
March sales were up from the previous month in more than half of all local markets, led by the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, London St. Thomas and Montreal.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in March was up 6.6% year-over-year, with gains in close to 75% of all local markets. Sales in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) posted the biggest increase, which offset a decline in the number of homes changing hands in Greater Vancouver.
The number of newly listed homes rose 2.5% in March 2017, led by gains in the GTA, Calgary, Edmonton and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
With new listings having climbed by more than sales, the national sales-to-new listings ratio eased to 67.4% in March compared to 68.3% in February.
A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings below and above this range indicating buyers and sellers markets respectively.
The ratio was above the sellers market threshold in about 60% of all local housing markets in March, the majority of which are located in British Columbia, in and around the GTA and across southwestern Ontario.
There were 4.1 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of March 2017, down from 4.2 months in February and the lowest level for this measure in almost a decade. The number of months of inventory in March 2017 stood at or below one month in the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, Guelph, Barrie District, parts of the Niagara Region and parts of cottage country.
The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI rose by 18.6% y-o-y in March 2017. Price gains accelerated for all benchmark housing categories tracked by the index.
Prices for two-storey single family homes posted the strongest year-over-year gains (+21%), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+17.9%), one-storey single family homes (16.6%) and apartment units (16.3%).
While benchmark home prices were up from year-ago levels in 11 of 13 housing markets tracked by the MLS HPI, price trends continued to vary widely by location.
In the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver, prices have been recovering in recent months after having dipped in the second half of last year. On a year-over-year basis, home prices in the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver remain well above year-ago levels (+19.4% y-o-y and +12.7% y-o-y respectively).
Meanwhile, y-o-y benchmark price increases were in the 20% range in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island. Guelph recorded a similar price gain, while Greater Toronto and Oakville-Milton saw prices rise in the 30% range in March.
By comparison, home prices eased by 1.2% y-o-y in Calgary and by 1.5% y-o-y in Saskatoon. Prices in these two markets now stand 5.4% and 5.1% below their respective peaks reached in 2015.
Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+1.7%), Ottawa (+4%), Greater Montreal (+3.3% y-o-y) and Greater Moncton (+4.7%).
Year-over-year price gains were led by different benchmark housing categories in each of these markets. In Regina, apartments posted the biggest price increase, which snapped a long series of price declines for apartments that began in early 2015. In Ottawa, prices rose most for one-storey single family homes. In Montreal, two-storey single family home prices posted the biggest gain; meanwhile in Moncton, it was townhouse/row unit prices that climbed the most.
HPI) provides the best way of gauging price trends because average price trends are prone to Home Price Index (MLSThe MLSbeing strongly distorted by changes in the mix of sales activity from one month to the next.
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in March 2017 was $548,517, up 8.2% from where it stood one year earlier.
The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets.