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5 things that may need a closer look next time you buy a house

Jun 29

2015
To help you protect that investment and find a safe, comfortable place for your family to call home, here is a list of some of the things you should look at before you buy a home, to make sure you wont end up having to pay for a lot of expensive repairs: Decks and porcheslook for signs of rotting wood, even under a fresh coat of paint. Soft spots or places where the wood is splintered could be a sign of more widespread damage. Electrical systemif you are buying an older home, find out if the electrical panel has been upgraded. If the service says 200 amps, it is an upgrade. A 60 or 100 amp panel has probably not been upgraded, and may not be enough to meet the electricity needs of your family. Floorswhat shape are the floors in? If the floors are hardwood, do they need to be sanded and refinished? Refinishing isnt very expensive, but it is easier if done before you move in, while the rooms are still empty. Heatingfind out how old the furnace is, and what kind of energy is used to heat the home. Natural gas is generally the least expensive option, but it is not available everywhere. Oil and electricity are common sources of energy in Canada but are more expensive, especially for a house with baseboard heaters. source: CMHC
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Ten obstacles to getting the best mortgage rate

Jun 9

2015
Anyone with a mortgage wants the lowest possible rate. But theres an array of requirements for snagging the best all-around deal, and some of them are counter-intuitive. Once people have chosen the term and rate type for their mortgage, they often find that rates for that same term can vary by a percentage point or more. Countless factors can keep borrowers from getting a rock-star deal. Here are 10 of them: 1. Rates vary by province Ontario usually has the most competitive rates in Canada, partly because it has the greatest number of competitors. People living in the Prairies or the East Coast, for example, often pay one-tenth to two-tenths of a percentage point more than folks in Ontario. Other examples: Home owners in Alberta sometimes have to put down more equity to get the lowest available rates (thanks to larger default risks in that province); borrowers in Manitoba have the cheapest six-month rates; borrowers in Quebec have some of the best 10-year rates. Click here to read the rest of the Top 10obstacles! Source: Robert McLister for The Globe and Mail
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Provincial Outlooks: Ontario on the path to a bright year while Alberta will post a decline in GDP

May 28

2015
Although oil prices seem to have stabilized, Albertas economy will post an overall decline in real gross domestic product (GDP) this year, according to The Conference Board of CanadasProvincial Outlook: Spring 2015. Albertas economic performance will be underwhelming this year and next, especially compared with recent years, said Marie-Christine Bernard, Associate Director, Provincial Forecast, The Conference Board of Canada. Oil prices remain well below break-even levels for most new projects in the oil patch, and conditions are not expected to turn around until sometime next year. Reminiscent of last year, the Ontario economy got off to a slow start this year. The weakness, however, will be temporary, as economic growth should pick up in the coming quarters. Overall, real gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to expand by 2.6per cent in 2015 and 2.3per cent in 2016. Ontario has not performed up to expectations, but the outlook over the short term remains positive, as strength in the United States economy will help bolster the province, said Bernard. Along with exports, consumer spending will continue to increase at a good pace in Ontario, fuelled by improving consumer confidence. Saskatchewans economy will feel the effects of the drop in oil-related activities in 2015. However, the province is not expected to fall into recession this year, as other industries will keep the economy growing. With the oil sector an important part of the Saskatchewan economy, the province is feeling the impact of lower oil prices. The number of wells drilled was down this past winter, and capital expenditures in the energy sector are not expected to recover until 2017, said Bernard. However, strength in potash and metal mining, as well as a rebound in the agriculture sector, will temper the impact of lower crude oil prices on Saskatchewans economy. Manitobas economic performance will be one of the strongest among the provinces in 2015 and 2016. Manitoba is expected to post real GDP growth of 2.8 per cent in 2015 and again in 2016, when it will lead all provinces. As a wind of change blows through the country thanks to the slide in oil prices, Manitoba will be one of the countrys strongest economic performers until at least 2016, said Bernard. Strong growth in construction, a rebound in agriculture, and stable domestic demand are expected to lift labour markets and increase disposable household income for Manitobans.
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Housing markets will remain stable says CMHC

May 26

2015
According to CMHCs second quarter 2015Housing Market Outlook, Canada Edition1, housing markets will remain stable with housing starts moderating slightly in 2015and 2016. There are, however, a number of risks and vulnerabilities that can affect the market outlook for Canada and each province. To account for these risks and vulnerabilities, CMHC produces forecast ranges for resale and new home markets. Lower oil prices are contributing to disparities between provincial housing markets. A slowdown in housing starts and resale transactions in oil-producing provinces such as Alberta will be partly offset by increased housing market activity in other provinces, such as Ontario and British Columbia, which benefit from the positive impacts of declining energy prices, a lower Canadian dollar and continued low mortgage rates, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist for CMHC. Moreover, since the inventory of completed and unabsorbed units remains above the historical average, we expect the pace of new home construction to moderate over the next couple of years as builders focus on managing the existing inventory, added Mr. Dugan. On an annual basis, housing starts are expected to range between 166,540 and 188,580 units in 2015, with a point forecast of 181,618 units. For 2016, housing starts are forecast to range from 162,840 units to 190,830 units, with a point forecast of 181,800 units. MLS2sales are expected to range between 437,100 and 494,500 units in 2015, with a point forecast of 475,400 units. In 2016, MLSsales are forecast to range from 424,500 units to 491,300 units, with a point forecast of 469,000 units. The average MLSprice is forecast to be between $402,139 and $439,589 in 2015, with a point forecast of $422,129. For 2016, the average MLSprice is forecast to be between $398,191 and $457,200, with a point forecast of $428,325. The gradual slowdown in the rate of price growth is explained by the expected change in the composition of MLSsales toward more moderately priced homes. Due to the recent decline in oil prices, our assessment is that there is more downside risk than upside risk to our forecast. CMHC Housing Market Outlook and other market analysis reports are available for download athttp://www.cmhc.ca/housingmarketinformation.
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Canadian home sales up again in April

May 19

2015
Highlights: National home sales rose 2.3% from March to April. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 10% above April 2014 levels. The number of newly listed homes was little changed from March to April. The Canadian housing market overall remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 4.97% year-over-year in April. The national average sale price rose 9.5% on a year-over-year basis in April; excluding Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, it increased by 3.4 %. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 2.3 per cent in April 2015 compared to March. This marks the third consecutive month-over-month increase and raises national activity back to where it was during most of the second half of last year. April sales were up from the previous month in two-thirds of all local markets, led by the Greater Toronto Area, the surrounding Golden Horseshoe region, and Montreal. As expected, low mortgage interest rates and the onset of spring ushered many homebuyers off the sidelines, particularly in regions where winter was long and bitter, said CREA President Pauline Aunger. All real estate is local and REALTORS remain your best source of information about sales and listings where you live or might like to in the future. In recent years, the seasonal pattern for home sales and listings has become amplified in places where listings are in short supply relative to demand, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. This particularly stands out in and around Toronto. Sellers there have increasingly delayed listing their home until spring. Once listed, it sells fairly quickly. Sales over the year as a whole in Southern Ontario are likely being constrained to some degree by a short supply of single family homes. However, the busy spring home buying and selling season has become that much busier as a result of sellers waiting until winter has faded before listing. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in April stood 10.0 per cent above levels reported in April 2014. This marks just the third time ever that sales during the month of April topped 50,000 transactions. Sales were up on a year-over-year basis in about 70 per cent of all local markets, led by activity in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Greater Toronto, and Montreal. Of the 18 local markets that set new records for the month of April, all but two are in Southern Ontario. The number of newly listed homes was virtually unchanged (+0.1 per cent) in April compared to March. Below the surface, new supply rose in almost two thirds of all local markets, led by a big rebound in Halifax-Dartmouth following a sharp drop in March. This was offset by declines in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, and the Okanagan Region, as well as by a continuing pullback in new supply in Calgary. New listings in Calgary have dropped by one-third from their multi-year high at the end of last year to their current multi-year low.
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Housing starts decline slightly between March and April says CMHC

May 12

2015
The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 179,299 units in April compared to 179,114 in March, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1of housing starts. Elevated levels of multi-unit starts during mid-2014 caused the trend to peak in September. Starts activity since then has trended down to current stable levels as builders have adjusted activity to manage inventories, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHCs Market Analysis Centre. This trend is in line with CMHCs expectations for housing starts in 2015. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 181,814 units in April, down from 189,546 units in March. The SAAR of urban starts decreased by 6.6per cent in April to 165,445 units. Multi-unit urban starts decreased by 14.2per cent to 107,216 units in April while the single-detached urban starts segment increased by 11.4per cent to 58,229 units. In April, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Atlantic and British Columbia, while it essentially held steady in Ontario and decreased in the Prairies and Qubec.
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CMHC Releases Updated Results of its House Price Analysis

May 4

2015
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation(CMHC) released updated results today from its House Price Analysis and Assessment (HPAA) framework, which is designed to detect the presence of problematic conditions in Canadian housing markets. Modest overvaluation based on national indicators reflects a variety of price conditions across the country with some centres showing more signs of overvaluation than others. Likewise, housing market risk factors such as overheating, acceleration in house prices and overbuilding also vary by CMA said Bob Dugan, CMHCs Chief Economist. Toronto, Montral, and Qubec In our model these CMAs continue to indicate risks that exceed those at the national level, but remain moderate nonetheless. This largely reflects the detection of some risk of overvaluation in these centres, with an added note of caution for Toronto and Montral related to the risk of overbuilding. Condominium units under construction are near historical peaks. Inventory management is necessary to make sure that these condominium units under construction do not remain unsold upon completion. Regina and Winnipeg In these CMAs, the risk of problematic market conditions evident in our model is high. In Regina, this reflects price acceleration, overvaluation and overbuilding, particularly of condominium apartments. In Winnipeg, risk of overvaluation and overbuilding are detected. Calgary and Edmonton These CMAs are currently assessed as low overall risk, despite a risk of overvaluation in Calgary. However, MLSsales have declined in recent months in these CMAs, pushing the sales-to-new listings ratio to buyers market levels, reflecting the impact of lower oil prices on housing demand in these oil-producing centres. This is expected to place downward pressure on house price growth, which could lessen the current risk of overvaluation in Calgary. Vancouver Low overall housing market risk is observed for Vancouver, as none of the individual risk factors are currently detected. The HPAA is a comprehensive framework that is designed to assess housing market conditions by taking into consideration the economic, financial and demographic drivers of housing markets. The use of multiple indicators of housing conditions, which incorporate various data sources and prices measures, provides a robust picture of overall housing market conditions. The results released today include those for the national market as well as 12 CMAs Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montral, Qubec, St.Johns and Halifax.
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Changes in debt and assets of Canadian families 1999 to 2012

May 1

2015
Between1999and2012, the value of debt and assets held by Canadian families both rose. However, the debt and assets increased at different rates by category of family. In2012,71% of all Canadian families had some debt, up from67% in1999. Debt includes both mortgages and consumer debt such as car loans, lines of credit, vehicle loans, personal loans and student debt. Between1999and2012, the median debt held by indebted familiesthe value separating the top half of families with the most debt from the bottom halfincreased by $23,400(in2012constant dollars) to $60,100. To provide a complete perspective on household finances, it is important to also examine changes in the value of assets among families with debt. The median assets of Canadian families with debt rose by $179,800over the same period (in2012constant dollars) to $405,200. Assets include financial assets (employer pension and non-pension) and non-financial assets such as real estate assets. Such results suggest that the value of assets rose at least as rapidly as the value of debt for many Canadian families. In fact, median assets increased by80% while median debt was up by64%. Even though both debt and assets increased for nearly all types of families, the magnitude of the changes was not necessarily the same in all family categories.
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How to “Green” Your Bathroom Renovation

Apr 28

2015
Bathroom renovations are one of the most popular home improvement projects in Canada. Creating your dream bathroom can add greatly to both the value of your house, as well as your familys enjoyment of your home. But bathroom renovations also offer a number of opportunities to include several features that can dramatically improve the energy- and water-efficiency of your house, while making your home healthier and more comfortable. If youre thinking about renovating your bathroom, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the following tips on how to make sure your renovation is as efficient, green and affordable as possible: Install low-flow faucets, showerheads and fixtures, as well as ultra-low flush toilets that consume 6litres of water or less per flush. Bathrooms account for about 75per cent of the water used in the average Canadian home. Water-efficient fixtures can significantly reduce the amount of water your family sends down the drain on a daily basis. To conserve resources and minimize your environmental footprint, select certified forest flooring and cabinetry, recycled countertops and tiles, and locally-sourced products and materials. Plus, choose materials, products and finishes that are low-emission, low-polluting, easy to clean and maintain, and which will remain in good condition for years to come. Plan for future renovations by making sure your bathroom will be able to adapt to changes in your needs as you or your family members get older. For example, make sure the controls and fixtures are within easy reach, install grab bars beside the toilet and bathtub, use a non-slip surface in the bathtub or shower, and install a shower head on a vertical slide bar so it can be set at a variety of different heights.
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Bank of Mom and Dad Expected to Fund Nearly Half of Upsizers and First-Time Buyers

Apr 24

2015
According to a 2015 Home Buying Report released, Canadian homeowners looking to upsize will be turning to their parents for financial help that is higher than the amount first time buyers are hoping to get from their family. In fact, 42 per cent of current home owners looking to upsize their home are expecting financial help from family. Another 42 per cent of first-time buyers are also expecting their parents or relatives to help pay for their first home, up 12 percentage points from last year. The BMO report also found: - Buyers looking to upsize plan to spend $473,900, while first-time buyers budgets have decreased slightly to $312,700 - down from $316,100 in 2014 - Upsizers plan to put down 26 per cent, or $123,214, as a down payment, while first-time buyers plan to put down 19 per cent, or $59,413 - First-time buyers who are depending on family help expect family to pay an average of 12 per cent of the average cost of a home towards their purchase; current home owners looking to upsize who are depending on family help expect family to pay an average of 20 per cent of the average cost of the home - 50 per cent of upsizers and 40 percent first timers who are depending on this help say they would not be able to afford a home without this financial help from family If you want to help your kids get into their first home, talk to me. I can help you and your family secure financing for a home!
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Should you renew your mortgage early?

Apr 21

2015
If you are 4 years or more into a 5 year term, should you consider an early renewal? A Manulife survey in 2011 found that almost 2 in 3 survey respondents didnt compare products from lenders when their mortgage was up for renewal. The number of Canadians who dont compare mortgage products are surprising considering the dollars that you could save just by asking a few questions. This is especially the case since the Bank of Canada decided to maintain an overnight rate of 0.75% in early March. This means that your newly negotiated rate will be lower than even the record lows we have experienced in the last 5 years. Here are some key questions you should ask your mortgage broker in order to make this important money saving decision: What penalties will you have to pay to renew your mortgage early? If you were to renew your mortgage early how much money would that save you in the long term? If you decide to sell your property before the term ends on your newly negotiated mortgage what impact will that have on your penalties? If you arent sure whether you should renew early, talk to me! Im here to help you with your mortgage decisions.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 3/4 per cent

Apr 15

2015
The Bank ofCanadatoday announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent. Total CPI inflation is at 1 per cent, reflecting the drop in consumer energy prices. Core inflation has remained close to 2 per cent in recent months, as the temporary effects of sector-specific factors and pass-through of the lower Canadian dollar have offset the disinflationary forces from slack in the economy. The Bank expects global growth to strengthen and average 3 1/2 per cent per year over 2015-17, in line with the projection in the JanuaryMonetary Policy Report(MPR). This is in part because many central banks have eased monetary policies in recent months to counter persistent slack and low inflation, as well as the effect of lower commodity prices in some cases. At the same time, economies continue to adjust to lower oil prices, which have fluctuated at or below levels assumed in the January MPR. Strong growth inthe United Statesis expected to resume in the second quarter of 2015 after a weak first quarter. The Canadian economy is estimated to have stalled in the first quarter of 2015. The Banks assessment is that the impact of the oil price shock on growth will be more front-loaded than predicted in January, but not larger. The ultimate size of this impact will need to be monitored closely. Underneath the effects of the oil price shock, the natural sequence of stronger non-energy exports, increasing investment, and improving labour markets is progressing. This sequence will be bolstered by the considerable easing in financial conditions that has occurred and by improving U.S. demand. As the impact of the oil shock on growth starts to dissipate, this natural sequence is expected to re-emerge as the dominant trend around mid-year. Real GDP growth is projected to rebound in the second quarter and subsequently strengthen to average about 2 1/2 per cent on a quarterly basis until the middle of 2016. The Bank expects real GDP growth of 1.9 per cent in 2015, 2.5 per cent in 2016, and 2.0 per cent in 2017. The very weak first quarter has led to a widening ofCanadasoutput gap and additional downward pressure on projected inflation. However, the anticipated recovery in growth means that the output gap will be back in line with its previous trajectory later this year. Consequently, the effects on core inflation of the lower dollar and the output gap will continue to offset each other. As the economy reaches and remains at full capacity around the end of 2016, both total and core inflation are projected to be close to 2 per cent on a sustained basis. Risks to the outlook for inflation are now roughly balanced and risks to financial stability appear to be evolving as expected. The Bank judges that the current degree of monetary policy stimulus remains appropriate and therefore is maintaining the target for the overnight rate at 3/4 per cent.
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Canadian Housing starts rebound in March

Apr 10

2015
The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 179,016 units in March compared to 180,236 in February, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts. Despite recent month-to-month changes in the SAAR, the trend in housing starts essentially held steady in March compared to February, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHCs Market Analysis Centre. However, the trend in housing construction has moved lower since September 2014, partly reflecting efforts to manage the level of completed but unsold units. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 189,708 units in March, up from 151,238 units in February. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 28.1per cent in March to 177,459 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 48.2per cent to 125,263 units in March while the single-detached urban starts segment decreased by 3.4per cent to 52,196 units. In March, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Ontario, British Columbia, Qubec and the Prairies, while it decreased in Atlantic.
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BMO Household Savings Report reveals 19 per cent of Canadians did not put any savings aside in 2014

Apr 7

2015
According to the BMO Household Savings Report, more Canadians are making saving a habit by using a fixed savings plan that includes monthly contributions. In fact, one-in-three Canadians (31 per cent) have a fixed savings plan in place heading into 2015, a year-over-year increase of 19 per cent. However, the report also found that 19 per cent did not save anything in 2014. Also, 40 per cent do not feel they are saving enough to meet their goals for the coming year, with one in three (31 per cent) citing their lack of a plan as a barrier. Furthermore, according to Statistics Canada, Canadas household saving rate hit a five-year low of 3.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Over the last 10 years, the average household savings rate is 4 per cent, down from 7.9 per cent during the 1990s.
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Genworth Canada Releases Winter 2015 Metropolitan Condo Outlook

Apr 2

2015
The long-predicted soft landing for condominium markets in cities across Canada is in sight for 2015, with modest gains in sales and prices in most major Canadian cities, according to the latest Conference Board of Canada condo report released by Genworth Canada. The Winter 2015 Metropolitan Condo Outlook forecasts positive condominium price appreciation in most major cities, with the exception of Calgary and Edmonton which are expected to experience some softening as a result of lower oil prices. From a national perspective, these findings support an overall balanced outlook on Canadas condo market for 2015, with the exception of certain oil-exposed regions, said Stuart Levings, President and CEO of Genworth Canada. We continue to see evidence that population growth and employment remain key drivers of demand for condos in urban centres. Divergent underlying economic conditions help to explain the majority of the regional differences in sales and prices. According to the report, Toronto and Vancouver will see the strongest GDP advances, while economic growth will be weakest in Calgary and Edmonton. This uneven economic backdrop, combined with growing inventories in some markets, is expected to trim starts in all but Quebec City, Ottawa, Vancouver and Victoria. Still, all eight cities are predicted to experience decent population growth over the forecast period, providing continued support for condominiums. While the health of apartment condominium markets varies significantly by region, nowhere do we see a bubble about to burst, said Robin Wiebe, Senior Economist at the Centre for Municipal Studies at The Conference Board of Canada. Resale prices for condominiums are expected to rise modestly in most of the eight cities during 2015, but drop in Calgary and Edmonton. British Columbia is poised to do well with resale price increases of 2.1% and 4.5% projected for Vancouver and Victoria respectively. Click here for the condo report.
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CPI rose 1.0% in the 12 months to February, matching the increase in January

Mar 31

2015
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose1.0% in the12months to February, matching the increase in January. Lower gasoline prices continued to be the largest downward contributor to theCPIon a year-over-year basis in February, posting a21.8% decline. However, Februarys decline was smaller than the26.9% year-over-year decrease observed in January. Excluding gasoline, theCPIincreased2.2% on a year-over-year basis in February, following a2.4% rise the previous month. On a non-seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the gasoline price index rose9.4% in February, following seven consecutive declines. This increase was the largest in almost eight years. Despite the monthly gain in February, gasoline prices were27.7% below their June2014peak. Prices rose in seven of the eight major components in the12months to February. Higher prices for food led the rise in theCPI, followed by increased shelter costs. The transportation index, which includes gasoline, declined on a year-over-year basis for the fourth consecutive month. Food prices advanced3.9% in the12months to February. Prices for food purchased from stores were up4.3% on a year-over-year basis in February, after rising5.4% the previous month. Price gains for meat (+12.4%), fresh vegetables (+8.4%) and fresh fruit (+3.5%) contributed the most to the February increase, although these gains were smaller than in January. Prices for food purchased from restaurants rose2.8% year over year in February. The shelter index rose1.8% on a year-over-year basis in February. Natural gas prices increased10.8% in the12months to February, while the cost of homeowners home and mortgage insurance rose8.6%. Consumers also paid3.8% more for electricity. In contrast, prices for fuel oil declined23.4% in February compared with the same month a year earlier. Transportation costs fell5.0% in the12months to February, following a5.3% decrease the previous month. In addition to paying lower prices for gasoline on a year-over-year basis in February, consumers paid1.0% less for the purchase of passenger vehicles. February marked the first year-over-year decrease in the purchase of passenger vehicles index since May2013.
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Asian Investors Lead International Commercial Investment in U.S. and Canada, says NAR Survey

Mar 25

2015
International investment in commercial real estate is dominated by Asian interests in bothCanadaand the U.S., according to anew surveyfrom the Richard J. Rosenthal Center for Real Estate Studies at REALTORUniversity and the National Association of Realtors. The survey found that 47 percent of Canadian respondents and 41 percent of those in the U.S. indicated that their international clients were from Asian countries. Commercial real estate has become a global industry, and Realtorsfrom across the U.S. andCanadanow regularly serve clients from all over the world, said NAR PresidentChris Polychron, executive broker with 1stChoice Realty inHot Springs, Ark.This survey proves the fact that while all real estate is local, not all investors are local. The survey was done in collaboration with the Canadian Real Estate Association and with assistance from the CCIM Institute and Institute of Real Estate Managers. Nearly 3,000 Realtorsanswered questions about their international commercial clients and the perceived changes they see in the demand for and utilization of office space. According to the survey, 45 percent of Realtorswho practice commercial real estate inCanadanoted an increase in international clients. Similarly in the U.S., more than a third of responders, 36 percent, observed an increase in international investment. The survey found that in the U.S., 22.5 percent of international clients came fromEurope, 21 percent fromLatin Americaand 20 percent from theMiddle East. InCanada, Realtorssaid 18 percent of international commercial real estate investment came from theMiddle East, 17 percent fromEuropeand 5 percent fromLatin America. It is important to note that the heaviest cross-border investment in commercial real estate continues to be between the U.S. andCanada. International investors brought significant capital intoNorth America, nearly$13 billionin the latter half of 2014. Investors fromAsiainvested$5.7 billionin real estate,$4.8 billioncame fromEurope,$1 billioncame from Oceania and$390 millioncame from Latin American investors. The survey also found a changing demand for office space in both the U.S, andCanada. Commercial clients are seeking more flexible office spaces, reducing the amount of personal space for workers and increasing the amount of communal space; 40 percent of Canadian respondents and 45 percent in the U.S. said their clients are looking for more open space in their offices. The location of offices spaces is also seeing a shift. InCanada, a majority of investors is looking at property in metropolitan areas with populations of more than 1 million. In the U.S., however, investors have begun moving away from larger markets into secondary and tertiary markets; more than one-third of U.S. respondents reported investors are interested in markets with populations less than 750,000. Highlights from the report are available atwww.realtoru.com/real-estate-studies/current-research-programs/international-commercial-real-estate-investment. A full copy of the report is available to news media upon request.
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Canadian home sales edge up in February

Mar 20

2015
According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity edged up slightly on month-over-month basis in February 2015. Highlights: National home sales edged up 1.0% from January to February. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.7% above February 2014 levels. The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5% from January to February. The Canadian housing market remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.01% year-over-year in February. The national average sale price rose 6.3% on a year-over-year basis in February. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose by one per cent in February 2015 compared to January. The monthly increase was led by Greater Vancouver, the Okanagan region, and Greater Toronto. Gains there offset sales declines elsewhere, with more than half of all local markets having posted weaker sales in February compared to January. A number of buyers across the Prairies stayed on the sidelines in February, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. Thats likely to remain an important part of the national housing story until the outlook for oil prices starts improving. Meanwhile, home sales in British Columbia and much of Ontario are improving, which underscores the fact that all real estate is local. Nobody knows this better than your local REALTOR, who remains your best source for information about the housing market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in February stood 2.7 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year, but remained five per cent below the 10-year average for the month of February. Sales came in below the ten-year average for the month of February in two-thirds of all local markets, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. That said, the opposite was true in a few large urban markets in British Columbia and Ontario despite a shortage of listings there, which is fuelling prices higher. The number of newly listed homes fell 2.5 per cent in February compared to January, led by Greater Vancouver, the Okanagan region, and Calgary. New listings in Calgary have retreated in recent months after having climbed sharply toward the end of last year. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 52.2 per cent in February. With sales up and new listings down, this marked an increase from 50.4 per cent in January.
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Calculate how money-smart you are

Mar 16

2015
Do you have a household budget? Do you know how much youll need to save to maintain your lifestyle in retirement? Do you know how to get your credit report? If you dont consider yourself particularly money-savvy, youre not alone. Nearly two-thirds of Canadians taking part in the 2014 Canadian Financial Capability Survey (CFCS) rate their own financial knowledge as poor. The CFCS tests peoples financial know-how in five basic areas: keeping track, making ends meet, planning, staying informed and choosing products. The 2014 survey found that fewer than half of Canadians bother to take the most important first step in personal financial managementmaking a household budget. In fact, the number of people who do has gone down since 2009. While almost 70 percent of those surveyed said they have no problem keeping up with their bills, three in 10 struggle to make their regular payments, and six in 10 do not know how much money theyll need to save for retirement. There is some good news however: More parents are saving for their childrens post-secondary education today than five years ago, while the number of new immigrants who use TFSAs rose from 13 percent to 33 percent. According to Financial Literacy Leader, Jane Rooney, The lack of financial knowledge continues to be a problem. Statistics show Canadian households are dealing with record levels of debt and with chronically low rates of saving. Those interested in measuring their own financial literacy can use a self-assessment quiz on the website of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: ItPaysToKnow.gc.ca. The quiz shows the users strength or weakness in each of the five key areas, and compares the results to those of other Canadians. Also on the site is the portal to the Canadian Financial Literacy Database, which will guide you to resources and tools to improve your knowledge about money. www.newscanada.com
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How Canadians are keeping their home warm

Mar 10

2015
How Canadians keep their homes warm in winter depends on which part of the country they call home. Data from the2013Households and the Environment Survey reveal that those from Ontario and in the West mostly opt for forced air furnaces burning natural gas. In Quebec and in the East, it is electric powered baseboard heaters and furnaces using heating oil that are found in an overwhelming majority of households. Heating Forced air furnaces were the most common type of heating system reported as a households primary heating system (53%), followed by electric baseboard heaters (28%). Those figures were unchanged from2011. Forced air furnaces were the dominant type of heating system in Ontario (73%) and the Prairie provinces (between73% and83%). Households in Quebec (64%), Newfoundland and Labrador (59%) and New Brunswick (52%) were all more likely to have reported electric baseboard heaters. Forced air furnaces and boiler systems each accounted for about one-third of the primary heating system of households in Prince Edward Island. The type of heating system used is strongly tied to the types of fuel available In general, natural gas is available to most households from Ontario to British Columbia, with households in some parts of Quebec also having access. In Quebec and Atlantic Canada, heating oil replaces natural gas as the most common petroleum-based type of energy available. Cooling Unlike heating, cooling the home is optional for most Canadian households. In2013, over half of Canadian households (55%) reported having an air conditioner, a slight increase from2011. Two-thirds of the households that had an air conditioner had a central air conditioning system, while the other third had standalone systems, such as those mounted in windows or that could be moved from room to room. Air conditioners were most commonly reported by households in Manitoba (80%), Ontario (78%), Saskatchewan (67%) and Quebec (54%), and less frequently in Prince Edward Island (23%), British Columbia (21%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (9%). Households in provinces with higher rates of having an air conditioner were more likely to have had central air conditioning systems than standalone units.
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Bank of Canada maintains overnight rate target at 3/4 per cent

Mar 4

2015
The Bank of Canada today announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 3/4 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 per cent and the deposit rate is 1/2 per cent. Total CPI inflation in Canada has fallen as expected, reflecting the significant drop in oil prices. Core inflation remains close to 2 per cent and continues to be temporarily boosted by the pass-through effects of the lower Canadian dollar, as well as sector-specific factors. The global economy is evolving broadly in line with projections in the Banks JanuaryMonetary Policy Report(MPR). The United States remains the main source of momentum in the global economy, while headwinds to growth linger in many regions. In this context, a growing number of central banks have taken actions to ease monetary conditions. Crude oil prices are close to the Banks MPR assumptions. Canadian economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2014 was consistent with the Banks expectations. The oil price shock had a modest early impact on aggregate demand, and a larger effect on income. The Bank continues to expect that most of the negative impact from lower oil prices will appear in the first half of 2015, although it may be even more front-loaded than projected in January. Nevertheless, data for 2014 as a whole suggest the anticipated rotation into stronger growth in non-energy exports and investment is well underway. Financial conditions in Canada have eased materially since January, in response to the Banks recent monetary policy action and to global financial developments. This easing is reflected across the yield curve and in a wide range of asset prices, including the Canadian dollar. These conditions will mitigate the negative effects of the oil price shock, further boosting growth through stronger non-energy exports and investment. In light of these developments, the risks around the inflation profile are now more balanced and financial stability risks are evolving as expected in January. At present, we judge that the current degree of monetary policy stimulus is still appropriate and the target for the overnight rate remains at 3/4 per cent.
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Canadian home sales dip in January

Feb 25

2015
According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity was down on a month-over-month basis in January 2015. Highlights: National home sales fell 3.1% from December to January. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.0% below January 2014 levels. The number of newly listed homes rose 0.7% from December to January. The Canadian housing market remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.17% year-over-year in January. The national average sale price rose 3.1% on a year-over-year basis in January. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations fell 3.1 per cent in January 2015 compared to December 2014. January sales were down from the previous month in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets. On a provincial basis, the monthly decline largely reflected fewer sales in Alberta and Saskatchewan. As expected, consumer confidence in the Prairies has declined and moved a number of potential homebuyers to the sidelines as a result, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. By contrast, housing market trends in the Maritimes are continuing to improve, which underscores the fact that all real estate is local. Nobody knows this better than your local REALTOR, who remains your best source for information about the housing market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in January stood two per cent below levels reported in the same month last year, marking the first year-over-year decline since April 2014. Comparing sales activity for January this year to sales one year earlier, there was a fairly even split between the number of markets where sales were up versus the number of markets where sales were down, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. The decline in national sales largely reflects weakened activity in Calgary and Edmonton. If these two markets are removed from national totals, combined sales activity remained 1.9 per cent above year-ago levels. The number of newly listed homes rose 0.7 per cent in January compared to December. New supply climbed higher in just over half of all local markets, led by Edmonton and Greater Toronto. By contrast, Greater Vancouver, Calgary, and Regina posted the largest monthly declines in new listings. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 49.7 per cent in January, marking the first time this measure of market balance has dipped below 50 per cent since December 2012. A sales-to-new listings ratio between 40 and 60 per cent is generally consistent with balanced housing market conditions, with readings above and below this range indicating sellers and buyers markets, respectively. The ratio was within this range in more than half of all local markets in January. The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. There were 6.5 months of inventory nationally at the end of January 2015, its highest reading since April 2013. As with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the reading for the number of months of inventory still indicates that the national market remains balanced. The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI rose by 5.17 per cent on a year-over-year basis in January. This continues the trend, in place throughout 2014, where year-over-year price gains held steady between five and five-and-a-half per cent. Year-over-year price growth held steady in January for one-storey single family homes and decelerated for other Aggregate Benchmark housing types tracked by the index. Two-storey single family homes continued to post the biggest year-over-year price gains (+6.57 per cent), followed closely by townhouse/row units (+5.00 per cent) and one-storey single family homes (+4.61 per cent). Price growth remained comparatively more modest for apartment units (+3.11percent). Price gains varied among housing markets tracked by the index. As in recent months, Calgary (+7.76 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.47 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+5.53 per cent) continued to post the biggest year-over-year increases. That said, while prices in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto continue to trend higher, the trend for prices in Calgary has been fairly stable since last summer while year-over-year gains continue to shrink. In other markets from West to East, prices were up on a year-over-year basis in the Fraser Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver Island, while remaining stable in Saskatoon, Ottawa, and Greater Montreal. By contrast, prices declined on a year-over-year basis in Regina and Greater Moncton. The MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends than is possible using averages because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in January 2015 was $401,143. This represents an increase of 3.1 per cent year-over-year and the smallest increase since April2013. The national average home price remains skewed by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canadas most active and expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price is a relatively more modest $312,280, which represents a year-over-year decline of three tenths of one per cent.
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Home Buying costs you don't know about

Feb 19

2015
If you are buying your first home, chances are you are stretching your savings to the max. Depending on your situation, you may have some other initial expenses to consider: Moving expenses Whether youll be hiring a moving company or renting a truck and asking friends for help, there are likely to be moving expenses. Renovations or repairs Can renovations or repairs be delayed, or are some necessary to do immediately? Condominium Fees Do you have to make the initial payment for these monthly fees? Service connection fees Telephone, gas, electricity, cable TV, satellite TV, Internet, and so on, may charge service connection fees. Some utilities may ask you to pay a deposit. Appliances Does your new homecome with appliances? Do you already have your own? Gardening equipment Will you need to buy gardening equipment the first summer in your new home? Snow-clearing equipment Will you need to buy snow-clearing equipment the first winter in your new home? Window treatments Do blinds or curtains come with the house? Decorating materials Do you want to re-paint or apply wallpaper? Do the floors need to be refinished or re-carpeted? Do you have all the tools you need for decorating? Hand tools Do you have the basic hand tools youll need for your new home? Dehumidifier Will you need a dehumidifier to control moisture levels? Check out this short video to learn more about home buying costs that you may not know about.
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Action Canada taskforce releases report on innovative finance for urban spaces and places

Feb 6

2015
Five Fellows in the Action Canada leadership development program will release a policy report on innovative finance for urban spaces and places. Action Canadas 2014-2015 theme focuses on Canadian cities. Urban public spaces - such as streetscapes, parks, bike paths and green spaces - enhance a citys quality of life and competitiveness by attracting the skilled workers and investment that fuel economic growth. However, municipalities today face tight budgets. Attention to urban spaces and places often takes a backseat to traditional infrastructure needs such as roads, bridges, water and sewers. As a result, innovative finance mechanisms - such as crowdfunding, municipal bonds and community bonds - are emerging that are being used to fund the development of urban public spaces. The policy report, Financing Future Communities: innovative finance for urban spaces and places, examines innovative finance mechanisms and makes recommendations to help governments and cities engage with these emerging tools.
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How the BoC overnight rate cut affects homeowners

Jan 29

2015
The Bank of Canada recently announced a cut to the overnight rate recently from 1% down to .75%. This can be seen as a proactive approach to protect the Canadian economy from the potential risks due to lower oil prices. Heres what this cut to the overnight rate might mean to you. The 5 year fixed bond rate (which determines the 5 year fixed mortgage rates) has dropped below 1.00%. This means fixed rate could potential come down even lower than the record lows that we currently have.Chances are lenders will be offering very attractive Variable and 5 Fixed rates for the upcoming spring market. In fact as of January 28, some lenders have already announced a drop in their fixed rates. If you currently have a fixed rate mortgage, your mortgage payments will remain unchanged. However, if your mortgage is coming up for renewal in the next 16 months, now is the time to talk to your mortgage broker and discuss what your options are to save more of your money. If you have a variable rate mortgage, you may see your mortgage payments reduce over the next few months. The Variable rate is dependent on the lenders Prime Rate. The Prime Rate is set at the discretion of each lender and is influenced by a number of economic factors, one of which is the Overnight rate. For those who are thinking about opening a HELOC (Home Equity line of credit) to do an upcoming renovation or to put into a college fund the cost to borrow may come down along with the variable rate. Dropping the Overnight rate was an unexpected decision by the Bank of Canada which will impact all home owners. If you have any questions about your home financing, feel free to contact me and I can help you work on a long term plan to reach your home ownership goals.
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Multi-Family Real Estate Sector Contributes $24 Billion to Canadian Economy, Supports 140,100 Jobs

Jan 12

2015
Capital investment in the multi-family real estate sector totaled $10.1 billion in 2013, according to a report released by the Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac) titled The Contribution of the Multi-Family Real Estate Sector to the Canadian Economy. Some $2.9 billion was spent on new buildings, with the rest ($7.2 billion) invested in capital improvements, renovations and the upgrading of existing buildings. The ongoing operations of multi-family rental buildings also generated about $1.3 billion in building management fees and approximately $211 million in brokerage fees from sales and leasing of multi-family rental buildings in 2013. According to Thomas Schwartz, President CEO of CAPREIT, Canada is fortunate to have an efficient and responsible multi-family real estate industry. Landlords, large and small, continue to invest in rental housing, which is an integral part of the Canadian housing spectrum. This provides a wide range of housing options for over 4 million tenants across the country. Taken together, the construction and investment in multi-family rental buildings and the ongoing operation of these buildings make a substantial contribution to the Canadian economy, producing $24 billion in annual economic activity. These activities add to the economy in various ways by: Supporting 140,100 jobs each year, many of which are high-paying professional jobs; Generating $8.3 billion in income, related to personal income and other sources of income; Generating $5.0 billion in corporate profits earned by many small and medium companies, and some of the largest companies in Canada, such as pension funds and insurance companies; and Contributing $3.1 billion in personal and corporate income tax revenues for the federal and provincial governments. The multi-family rental sector plays an important role in Canadas economy. The development and construction of multi-family rental buildings and their daily operations directly support thousands of work opportunities for Canadians and adds tremendous value to Canadas gross domestic product. In addition, the sector represents a significant share of the housing stock in Canada, providing shelter to millions of Canadians. In addition, owners of the multi-family rental buildings contribute substantial revenue to municipalities and school boards across Canada through realty taxes.
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Entering 2015, personal financial confidence takes a hit

Jan 7

2015
A poll conducted by Nielsen finds that two-thirds (65 per cent) of Canadians are entering the new year feeling confident they will reach their financial goals, a decline from the same poll last year (76 per cent), and the lowest number in five years. Canadians aged 45 and up accounted for most of the decline, while younger Canadians remained confident about the future. Canadians aged 45-54 were among the least confident this year, with only 58 per cent feeling confident about reaching their financial goals, a decrease from 77 per cent in the same age group just last year Among Canadians aged 55-64, 61 per cent feel confident about reaching their financial goals, down from 74 per cent last year By comparison, 75 per cent of Canadians aged 25-44 said they are confident they will reach their financial goals, relatively unchanged from a year ago (76 per cent) Another recent poll from CIBC showed that paying down debt is the number one financial priority for Canadians for the fifth year in a row, with those nearing retirement even more focused on debt than Canadians on average. We are seeing a real conflict among Canadians close to retirement, who are trying to balance their short term need to reduce debt with the longer term goal to save for the retirement they want, says Christina Kramer, Executive Vice President, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. As Canadians approach traditional retirement age it can be a challenge to keep focused on both, and that can impact their overall confidence in their future finances. This decline in confidence among boomers is the most significant weve seen in five years, says Ms. Kramer. As each year goes by and boomers increasingly focus on debt reduction as an immediate priority, they also get closer to retirement without a long term plan in place that will deliver the retirement they are looking for. Having a financial plan that addresses all economic conditions can help build the personal financial confidence they may be seeking.
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Busy year ahead for B.C.'s construction industry

Dec 30

2014
A new survey released by the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. (ICBA) reveals that B.C.s open shop construction companies expect 2015 to be even busier than 2014. This is welcome news because the construction industry is a strong indicator for the rest of the economy, said Philip Hochstein, president, ICBA. If our guys are busy, then we know our economy is doing well. The survey revealed that 47 per cent of companies are predicting increased work in 2015 and 50 per cent believe their business volume will stay the same. One of the biggest surges in business is in the north with 58 per cent expecting an increase in work in 2015. Overall, the expected change for 2015 is nine per cent higher than the net change predicted for 2014. In construction, excavators are the canary in the coal mine, added Hochstein. We are seeing that they are even more confident than last year. This bodes well for the entire industry. When there are holes in the ground, it means were building, growing and attracting investment to our province. The ICBA commissioned Sentis Market Research Ltd. to survey its members in November 2014. The survey also revealed that companies are largely looking to hire more tradespeople in order to meet the rising demand. Four times as many companies plan to add employees than to increase existing employee hours (42 per cent versus 10 per cent). This continues the trend from 2014 when 35 per cent were planning to hire and 8 per cent were planning to increase hours. The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. services and represents B.C.s construction sector. ICBA is the single largest sponsor of construction apprentices and trains the largest number of management personnel in B.C. Our 1,200 members build in the multi-family residential and Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) construction sectors and are involved in virtually all major capital projects in British Columbia. SOURCE Independent Contractors And Businesses Association of BC (ICBA)
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Manulife Asset Management Shares Investment Insights in "Global Intelligence: The Year Ahead"

Dec 27

2014
Manulife Asset Management has issued its annual Year Ahead report, which highlights monetary policy divergence, the need for structural reform in many economies, declining oil prices and a strengthening U.S. dollar as key topics of interest to investors in 2015. Drawing together the individual views from Manulife Asset Managements investment and economic teams on the ground in the U.S., Canada, Europe and in ten markets across Asia, the report addresses the outlook for 15 investment areas and asset classes - including fixed income, equities, commodities and asset allocation. Accompanied online by an interactive map showing global growth and inflation forecasts as well as a video featuring Chief Economist Megan E. Greene, the report is available at: www.manulifeam.com. The year ahead is likely to see the global economy caught in a tug-of-war between a modest recovery in the U.S. on one hand and a slowdown in China and low-to-no-growth in Japan and Europe on the other, says Ms. Greene. We expect these competing influences to keep global growth bumping along a baseline of around 2.5 percent. Among the insights covered in the report: Monetary policy divergence With the U.S. and UK likely tightening, other major economies are likely to loosen monetary policy or continue in a holding pattern. The timing of a U.S. interest rate rise is uncertain but experts agree that it is unlikely to happen until the second half of 2015 at the earliest, and possibly may be delayed until early 2016. The need for signs of progress towards structural economic reforms particularly in Japan, Europe and emerging markets. Impact of a stronger U.S. dollar on global economies and markets A repeat is not expected of 2013s taper tantrum, which resulted in outflows from Emerging Markets and Asia. Views from Manulife Asset Managements investment teams are also quoted in the report: The Global Multi-Sector Fixed Income team outlines why it will be important for Japan, Europe and emerging countries in Latin America to make progress with needed structural reforms in 2015, in order to regain the confidence of investors. The team believes we are in the midst of a multi-year uptrend in the U.S. dollar and suggests it will be vital for investors to understand the impact of this in the year ahead. The Asian Fixed Income team provides a local perspective from 10 bond markets in Asia on why they will continue to focus on credit with relatively short duration due to the potential for a rise in interest rates. The team expects to be overweight carefully selected credit issuances which offer higher spreads including high yield credit and favor hard currency bonds in the year ahead. The Emerging Market Debt team explains why 2015 is not a year for simply getting beta by accessing the market indiscriminately. Rather, they advise focusing on discerning those emerging markets that are likely to be the most resilient in the current economic environment and to avoid weaker markets that may struggle to push through the longer-term reforms needed to put their economies on a surer footing. The U.S. Equities team believes U.S. equity returns could be in the high single digits in 2015 if the economies of its trading partners stabilize. They also explain why they see particular opportunities in the U.S. financial, housing and energy sectors. The Asian Equities team outlines the attractive valuation opportunities in some Asian markets, notably South Korea and Taiwan. They find that many Taiwanese companies have robust balance sheets and therefore are well-positioned to pursue growth while at the same time maintaining decent dividend pay-outs to shareholders. From the Global Natural Resources team, a view on oil prices: If prices remain weak over a longer period the team expects investment in future production to be curtailed as the average supply cost for industry break-even is closer to $90 to $100 per barrel. Over the long run, the team anticipates oil prices to range between $80-$100 to sustain investment to meet future oil demand needs.
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Canadian home sales hold steady in November

Dec 15

2014
According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity was unchanged on a month-over-month basis in November 2014. Highlights: National home sales were unchanged from October to November. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 2.7% above November 2013 levels. The number of newly listed homes edged down 0.4% from October to November. The Canadian housing market remains balanced. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.2% year-over-year in November. The national average sale price rose 5.7% on a year-over-year basis in November. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations was unchanged in November 2014 compared to October. As a result, activity remains much improved compared to the quiet start to the year. November sales strengthened in half of all local housing markets, with monthly increases in Montreal, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton- Burlington, Barrie, and Windsor-Essex tempered by a monthly decline in the Greater Toronto Area. The Canadian housing market remains a story about how sales and prices are still running strong in some areas while others are seeing subdued levels of activity with slower price gains or modest price declines, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. All real estate is local and your REALTOR remains your best source for information about how the housing market is shaping up where you currently live or might like to in the future. The effect of lower oil prices on Canadas housing markets is something of a wildcard at the moment, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Its not clear how far oil prices may drop or for how long theyll stay down. How that plays out may affect the outlook for interest rates, job growth, consumer confidence, and sentiment about making major purchases.
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Plans to build up in BC, AB and SK according to new building permit numbers

Dec 8

2014
The total value of building permits was $7.5billion in October, edging up0.7% from September. The increase came mainly from higher construction intentions in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The value of non-residential building permits increased2.4% from the previous month to $3.1billion in October. Gains were posted in five provinces, led by British Columbia, followed by Quebec, a distant second. Yukon also posted a noticeable increase in October. Ontario registered the largest decrease, following a notable increase in September. In the residential sector, the value of permits edged down0.4% to $4.5billion in October, following a7.4% increase in September. Residential construction intentions fell in five provinces, with Quebec and Ontario accounting for most of the decline at the national level. Alberta and Nova Scotia posted the largest increases. Provinces: Large increase in British Columbia The total value of permits increased in four provinces in October, led by British Columbia, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan. British Columbias gain was primarily attributable to higher construction intentions for institutional and commercial buildings. In Alberta, all components, except institutional buildings, were responsible for the increase, while in Saskatchewan, the advance was the result of higher construction intentions for multi-family dwellings and industrial buildings. After posting a38.0% gain in September, Ontario posted the largest decline in October. This decrease was due primarily to lower construction intentions for commercial and institutional buildings, following large increases in both components a month earlier. Manitoba was a distant second, with a decrease in construction intentions for non-residential buildings.
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Quick tips and answers about RESPs

Nov 28

2014
(NC) New parents have hundreds of questions and well-meaning family and friends have plenty of advice when it comes to putting money aside for education of children. But how do you know what is really right for you and your family? As one example, lets examine the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Why save with an RESP? Firstly, as your savings earn interest, that income is not taxed. Significant government grants also contribute to your savings potential. In an RESP, your contributions can grow much faster than in a regular savings account. When shopping for the right provider, look for funds that wont be impacted by stock market performance. For example, a new Canadian company called giraffe friends, offers a worry-free guarantee. With that safeguard in place, even if the stock market crashes, your money is secure. The biggest advantage of an RESP is the government support like the Canadian Education Savings Grant. It will add an extra 20% to your contributions, with a total contribution cap of $7,200 over the life of the RESP. There are also multiple provincial grants available dependent on your income and province. Not all RESPs are created alike. When researching your options, keep an eye out for activation fees and management expense ratios (MERs), which can put a dent in your savings. giraffe friends tell us they have launched a first-of-its-kind no-fee, guaranteed RESP to take the uncertainty out of investing in your childs future. Its an ideal solution for people seeking risk-free savings without typical bank fees or the stress of worrying about an investment strategy. It allows you to spend more time with your kids, not your financial advisor and with an online company, youre spared the hassle of having a representative come to your house. When it comes to your childs education decisions, the RESP is more flexible than you might think. It will support most post-secondary education that results in a degree, diploma, or occupational skill. This means that you can give your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew, or family friend) the best possible head start for success in life. More information is available online at giraffeandfriends.com.
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Shift into winter driving

Nov 20

2014
An early blast of winter will make for a messy and slow commute across Canada this week. Thats why CAA is reminding members to be prepared for higher than normal call volumes and longer than normal wait times. Remember that winter driving takes a change in mindset and technique. Winter driving tips: Check your local weather forecast Plan your route and give yourself extra travel time Dress for the weather Remove all the snow and ice from your vehicle Top up windshield washer fluid Drive according to the road conditions Give yourself extra braking distance Be alert behind the wheel Keep the following in your vehicle: Ice scraper Snow brush Shovel Windshield washer fluid Booster cables Flashlight and extra batteries Blankets Extra clothing and footwear First aid kit Smart phone and charger Unexpected weather or car trouble can happen when you least expect it. When it does, members can track their roadside service requests using CAA Service Tracker. Download the CAA app or visit caasco.com to enable CAA Service Tracker when you need it.
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17 per cent of first-time homebuyers’ down payment comes from family

Nov 18

2014
First-time homebuyers on average make a 21 per cent down payment on the purchase of their new home; since the 1990s, about 40 per cent of this has come from personal savings, suggesting Canadians wait to be financially stable before purchasing. But recently, as home prices have risen, 17 per cent of the down-payment has come from family gifts or loans, a higher number than in previous years. These are just some of the facts found in the Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada, the latest consumer survey report released today by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP). The report probes into how Canadians are managing their mortgage debt. In this low interest rate environment, they continue to aggressively pay down their mortgages even though most renewing their mortgages are going to find interest rates unchanged or lower than their current rates. Questions related to why people do not own a home produced interesting results: the majority of people 18-34 indicated they were waiting for prices to fall and savings to increase. At the other end of the age spectrum, more than two-thirds of those over 55 said they were renting because it was a better option for them. Highlights About 425,000 live in homes that they purchased during 2014 (up to the time of this survey). The average price was just over $400,000, for a total value of $173 billion. About 125,000 Canadian homeowners fully repaid their mortgages during 2014 (up to the date of this survey). A further 50,000 to 75,000 expect to fully repay their mortgage before the end of 2014. In combination, about 190,000 mortgages will have been fully repaid during the year. About 900,000 current mortgage holders made lump sum payments in the past year, totaling $16 billion. Among the 190,000 to 200,000 Canadians who have repaid (or are expected to repay) their mortgages during 2014, lump sum payments total about $5 billion. About 900,000 mortgage holders voluntarily increased their regular payments during the past year, by amounts that equate to more than $3 billion per year. The average mortgage interest rate is 3.24 per cent, identical to what we saw in the spring survey and down from the average 3.5 per cent found in the fall 2013 survey. On average, Canadian home equity amounts to 74 per cent of the value of their homes; more than 85 per cent have 25 per cent or higher. About 11 per cent of homeowners took equity out of their homes, using the money for debt consolidation and repayment, renovations, investments, purchases, including education, and other. Overall, the CAAMP fall report paints a picture of homeowners whether just starting out on their ownership journey or long time mortgage holders, as remarkably confident, said Jim Murphy, AMP, President and CEO of CAAMP. They wait until they are financially stable before buying, and they take advantage of low interest rates to aggressively reduce their mortgage debt. Home ownership continues to be an important anchor for the Canadian economy. A tale of two resale markets CAAMPs research tabulated by Chief Economist Will Dunning indicates that a drop in resale activity in slow growth regions east of Ontario has led to statistically significant job losses. Dunning has been tracking the impact of the federal governments tightening on mortgage lending since the summer of 2012. Broadly speaking, resale activity has improved by 50 per cent from where it was in 2012, Dunning said. However, resale activity lags in slow growth regions and that in turn undermines job creation in parts of the country which rely on the housing industry to generate employment. Dunning estimates that the reduction of resale market activity has negatively affected employment leading to a loss of 29,000 jobs over the past two years. Since the housing market impacts have been greatest in the slow growth provinces, job creation impacts have been greatest in these provinces, he said. For a full copy of CAAMPs fall 2014 survey report, visit www.caamp.org.
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Four warning signs to replace your car battery

Nov 13

2014
Bone-chilling temperatures gripped southern Ontario during this past winter one of the longest and coldest in 20 years. Parts of the province plunged into a deep freeze and polar vortex made its way in to everyday conversations. Before the deep freeze returns this year, remember to have your car battery tested by a professional to make sure it is ready to face another frigid winter. The harsh winter temperatures can drain the power from your vehicles battery, said Silvana Aceto, Communications Consultant, CAA SCO. Before you try to start your car, make sure you have turned off all your accessories including the heater, radio and lights. The average lifespan of a battery is 3-5 years, but driving conditions, weather and lack of care can shorten it. Here are some warning signs that your battery may need to be replaced: Your vehicle cranks slowly when trying to start. You hear a grinding, clicking or buzzing when you turn the ignition on. Your vehicle has previously stalled. Your headlights dim when you are idling but brighten when you rev the engine. Drivers can help avoid breakdowns by keeping their vehicle properly maintained throughout the year. But if you end up stranded on a busy highway its important to know what to do in an emergency situation: Stay calm and pull off the road safely. Remember your vehicles location. This will come in handy when calling for help. If you must get out of your vehicle, exit from the side away from moving traffic. Never stand behind or directly in front of your vehicle, as you are at risk of being struck by drivers who might not see you. If you CANNOT pull off the road, turn on your emergency flashers. Call 9-1-1 for help.
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Picking a real estate agent is like flipping a coin for most Ontarians

Nov 6

2014
Ontario home buyers and sellers could use better tools and resources to help pick the right real estate agent. A recent survey release today from Zoocasa and Survey Sampling International (SSI) revealed most (86%) Ontario home buyers and sellers used a real estate agent on their last transaction, but only half (50%) reported being confident that they picked the right one. Buying or selling a home is one of the most important decisions a person will make in their lifetime, so it is surprising that Ontarians are settling for whats essentially a coin flip when picking a real estate agent,says Carolyn Beatty, General Manager for Zoocasa. Its our goal to make buying or selling a home easy for consumers, and a big part of the experience is matching consumers with top agents who have knowledge of the housing market in the specific area they are looking tobuy or sell. A good relationship with a talented real estate agent makes a huge difference in a persons experience buying or selling their home, yet for many Canadians picking an agent is random. In fact, 67% of people surveyed did not interview their agent before hiring them and 17% hired an agent sight unseen. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that only slightly more than half (58%) of Ontarians reported being very satisfied with the value their agent provided. Other survey highlights included: Only 12% of those surveyed interviewed 2 or more agents Overall, Ontarians had a more positive buying vs. selling experience (79% vs. 63%) Ontarians rated agents a lower satisfaction overall in services including providing background information (56%), photos (56%), open houses(53%), negotiations (51%), appraisals (50%), advertising (47%) and staging (43%) 86% of Ontarians would look to use an online site to find an agent the next time Offering a unique and personalized service, Zoocasa has selected top agents from leading brokerages that receive high ratings for client service and have a strong track record of success. To learn more about Zoocasa, visit www.zoocasa.com.
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Freshen Your Home for the Holiday Season

Oct 31

2014
(NC) During the holiday season, our homes often become a revolving door for friends and family but the constant entertaining can make it difficult to keep your home smelling fresh. As people spend approximately 90 per cent of time indoors where the air can be 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air it is important to keep the air we breathe clean. To ensure that you are remembered for your entertaining skills and not a smelly home, here are a few simple tricks: 1. Open a couple of windows in the house at least once a week. The cool, fresh air will help dissipate the stale air throughout the home and just 10 minutes can go a long way. 2. Regular surface cleaning will help remove allergens and keep these particles from becoming airborne again. 3. Try an air purifier like the Honeywell Air Genius available at Canadian Tire and Home Hardware. This will provide 99.9 per cent air filtration as well as allergen and odour reduction. 4. Find products that give you long-term solutions throughout the year like the Febreze Air Purifiers that releases scent while purifying the air. Following the above tricks will not only make your nose happy but your holiday guests too. More information is available online at www.febrezeairpurifiers.com and airgenius.ca source: NewsCanada
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Tips to make your mortgage renewals work for you

Oct 31

2014
In a Manulife survey in 2011, almost 2 out of 3 respondents failed to compare mortgage products and rates from various lenders when their mortgage came up for renewal. Not knowing what your options are could costs you thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in extra interest and fees. Here are some things you should know about mortgage renewals. Mark your calendars. Most Canadians have a 5 year mortgage term and a lot can change in that time. From marriage and kids or job and lifestyle change, its no surprise that mortgage renewal dates are the last thing on your mind. But its important to make a note of this date in your calendar so you can get a head start and make sure you are in a good position to renegotiate your next mortgage term. Know what your overall financial goals are Mortgage products have different features. Some allow you to prepay without penalty, others allow you to port your mortgage to a different property if you sell before your term is up. Its smart to have an overall idea of what you want to accomplish financially and in your life overall before committing to a new mortgage term. If you are unsure about the next 3 to 5 years, maybe you want to look at mortgage products that have a slightly higher rate but lower penalties if you need to break the mortgage term. Penalties can be up to tens of thousands of dollars. Do the math or let me do it for you. Mortgages are complicated. Put yourself in a better position by being informed of your choices. There are over forty mortgage lenders across Canada. And much like how a bank offers different credit cards with different fees and options, mortgage products have different features and options. If you want sound advice so you make a smart decision for your future, talk to me. I would be pleased to assist you or any friend or family members who are in need of a mortgage.
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Canadians spending more on home improvement and travel

Oct 31

2014
Canadian consumer spending increased by a small margin following two consecutive quarters of stagnant growth, according to the Quarterly Spending Report released by Moneris Solutions Corporation (Moneris), Canadas largest credit and debit card processor. Moneris Quarterly Spending Report revealed that consumer spending rose 0.40 per cent relative to the same period last year. Spending climbed during the summer months, with a 0.5 per cent increase in July and 0.62 per cent in August before tapering off to 0.01 per cent in September. Canadians spent more on improving their homes and on vacations, and less on restaurants and entertainment, according to Moneris. While this is the first time that Moneris has recorded three consecutive quarters of flat consumer spending, key areas of growth emerged,said Angela Brown, President and CEO of Moneris. Summer 2014 demonstrated Canadians keen interest in home improvement and travel. It will be interesting to see if that trend continues into the remainder of the year or if the holiday season will see spending spikes revert back to entertainment and retail. Spending rose in six out of nine categories highlighted in Moneris Quarterly Spending Report including household (3.75 per cent), airlines (4.32 per cent) and drug stores (1.81 per cent), but fell in the restaurant category, where dine-in restaurants witnessed a decrease (-6.4 per cent) in spending. Accompanying the rise in vacation spending, consumers spent more on luggage and leather goods (3.62 per cent). Spending at home and away Purchases at home improvement stores rose by 8.49 per cent over the same period last year, and spending on plumbing and heating equipment, and on electrical contractors climbed by 5.14 per cent and 5.08 per cent respectively. Home is obviously very important for many Canadians, said Brown. Their spending patterns demonstrate enthusiasm for do-it-yourself projects, but they are willing to call in the professionals to perform specialized work, such as electrical and plumbing. Those who choose to leave the comfort of their houses are choosing to spend more on vacations as opposed to one-off experiences such as dinner and a movie. While spending on apparel decreased modestly (-2.07 per cent) overall, consumers spent 8.05 per cent more on family clothing in September as children headed back to school. In the same vein, spending in bars rose in August (1.34 per cent), but Canadians buttoned down as the kids went back to school, and spending at watering holes decreased slightly (0.62 per cent) in September over the previous year. Growth in contactless payments The number of contactless transactions1 grew by over 200 per cent over the same period in 2013. Some 9.6 per cent of credit transactions were contactless; 3.7 per cent of debit transactions were contactless. The number of contactless purchases exceeding $50 increased nearly fivefold. Contactless transactions continue to represent an area of growth in the Canadian payments market as more consumers become comfortable with the technology, said Brown. We anticipate this trend will continue, particularly with the growth of mobile payments technology. Modest gains, some losses Most Canadian provinces posted gains under 1 per cent (0.46 per cent-0.81 per cent). However, sales in Prince Edward Island and British Columbia increased by 2.31 per cent and 1.15 per cent respectively. Quebec and New Brunswick were the only provinces to post losses (-1.32 per cent, -1.51 per cent). About The Moneris Spending Report The Moneris Spending Report provides a snapshot of consumer spending activity in Canada by analyzing credit and debit card transaction data. As the market leader with the largest merchant base, Moneris presents detailed analysis and insight on a quarterly basis. The percentages cited are derived from actual sales volumesthe dollar values of credit and debit card transactions being processed by Moneris merchants compared to the sales volumes from the prior year.
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Boomers: how will you finance your 'grey' divorce?

Oct 27

2014
With the number of grey divorces on the rise in Canada, many Boomers may not realize the cost of maintaining two homes can increase expenses by as much as $20-$30,000 per year. This can have a serious impact on finances during retirement. In fact, according to Statistics Canada 2011 census data, divorce among Baby Boomers is becoming more common and the numbers are expected to steadily increase. Approximately 60,000 Canadian couples divorced in 2013 and 25% of these divorces were grey, occurring among couples aged 55 and older. Boomer couples are divorcing even though its not in their best financial interests to do so, notes Marion Korn, family law lawyer and co-author of the book When Harry Left Sally. The good news, however, is that most couples recognize that they should not be investing in a costly divorce and need to find another way. The age of people who are divorced or separated has been shifting upward, for both men and women, and the share has been especially increasing for individuals aged 50 and over. In 2011, about one in five people in their late fifties were divorced or separated (21.6% of women and 18.9% of men), the highest among the age groups. In comparison, in 1981, 6.9% of women and 6.2% of men in this age group were divorced or separated, according to Statistics Canada Marital Status Overview 2011. A large number are splitting amicably, explains Eva Sachs, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and also the co-author of When Harry Left Sally. Grey divorce is different. Its a time where divorce and retirement come together. Divorce is a breakup of a family unit but its also the breakup of an economic unit, she adds. So, how can splitting Boomer couples face the big financial hit of maintaining two homes? Some opt for a reverse mortgage, which can allow one person to stay in the family home which is most often desired - while using equity to buy out their spouse. It is one solution we advise couples to consider, explains Ms. Sachs. If the house is fully paid, then a reverse mortgage can help address financial shortfalls. For an Alberta couple aged 73 and 58, the HomEquity Bank reverse mortgage allowed them to have funds for their divorce settlement. In fact, the number of mortgages HomEquity Bank arranges each month for couples going through grey divorce has been steadily increasing. How the CHIP reverse mortgage works: Visit www.chip.ca or call 1.877.503.2447 to determine the amount of money available, which is based on the homeowners age and the location and type of home as well as the homes current appraised value. Access money as a one-time lump sum, as monthly payments or both its tailored to individual needs. Up to 50% of the homes value can be accessed and the money is tax free. Unlike a traditional loan, no payments are necessary until its time to move or sell the home.
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The turkey has been carved, pies have been devoured and belts loosened. But what can you do with all the turkey leftovers?

Oct 15

2014
Here are some great ideas to ensure that no morsel goes to waste! Tastes like thanksgiving casserole - This hearty, rich-tasting main dish is sure to be a hit with your family. Its a delicious way to use up Thanksgiving turkey, and you can substitute 5-1/2 cups leftover mashed potatoes for the 6 potatoes. Mary Lou Timpson, Centennial Park, Arizona Turkey a la King with Rice - I like to make this dish with our leftover turkey. Its a nice change from casseroles and so simple. Serve over rice, noodles, biscuits or toast. Pat Lemke - Brandon, Wisconsin Next Day Turkey Primavera - I make this recipe often around the holidays. Its a wonderful way to use leftover turkey without feeling like its a repeat meal. I love pasta, and the creamy sauce in this primavera is so easy to make. Robyn Hardisty, Lakewood, California Turkey Fettuccine Skillet - I came up with this simple dish as a way to use leftover turkey after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. My children really enjoy it. Kari Johnston, Marwayne, Alberta To get more thanksgiving leftover recipes, check out the full article from http://www.tasteofhome.com Source: www.tasteofhome.com
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List of Canada's Top 100 Neighbourhoods to Invest for 2015 Officially Released

Oct 8

2014
Alberta is now vying with Ontario for the best and, indeed, the largest number of real estate investment opportunities this country has to offer, according to the annual Top 100 Neighbourhoods report from Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine. The sea-change in Canadian real estate is coming, if its not, in fact, already here, says Canadian Real Estate Wealth Senior Editor Vernon Jones, who headed three months of research to formulate the list. Investors in real estate may be wise to follow the economic development patterns of this country in deciding where to park their real estate investment dollars for maximum growth. Canadas leading magazine for real estate investors leveraged data from The Teranet - National Bank House Price Index and industry analysis to form definitive rankings on price appreciation, yield and rental values. (See below for evaluation criteria.) The results, hitting newsstands today in the magazines October/November issue - pinpoint the exact locations and property types investors should consider for both short- and long-term growth. While Ontario continued to claim the largest number of neighbourhoods on the list, Alberta has grown in importance to claim second spot. Geographic Distribution: 34% Ontario 23% Alberta 18% BC 13% Quebec 5% Manitoba 4% Nova Scotia 3% Newfoundland
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Top 5 Picks for a greener household

Oct 6

2014
In these heady days of innovation, we dont necessarily need to hire someone to do the dirty work of a home renovation. Some of the household upgrades may be easier than you think. Start by familiarizing yourself about the job at hand. There are many reliable self-help books and websites dedicated to giving you the best environmentally-friendly suggestions when it comes to do-it-yourself home renovation projects. These Top 5 Picks will improve your home, save you money, will give you the green life and are easy to do: 1. Cool down your house with a ceiling or electric fan and open up the windows at night. Ceiling fans cost about 1 cent for two hours of use, compared to 67 cents to a dollar for central air. Use your air conditioner only when necessary and be sure to turn it off when youre going to be away from home for long periods of time. 2. Check the tightness on your refrigerator seal by closing the door on a piece of paper. If its held in place, the seal is still good, if not, its time to replace the seal or fix the doors alignment. 3. Invest in a programmable thermostat. It will automatically adjust the temperature in your house, saving you energy while youre away or sleeping. 4. Pull out a caulking gun and weather strips and seal up doors, windows, electrical sockets and baseboards. 5. Insulate your walls, ceilings, piping entrances, attics, and basements with a professional-quality, stone wool insulation product such as Roxul. Installing insulation saves you money and wastes less energy throughout your home in every season.
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Teach kids early about money responsibilities

Sep 29

2014
Many of us agree that it takes decades, if not a lifetime of trial-and-error to master sound money management so lets make it easier for our kids.November is Financial Literacy Month across the country and that presents an ideal opportunity for families to explore teachable moments. Attaining financial literacy is often one small step at a time, but each experience adds to our knowledge, skills, and confidence with day-to-day money decisions, says Tony Garcia, president and CEO at ForestersTM, an international financial services provider known for its commitment to enhance family well-being. Those skills are fundamental to the well-being of families and of course, children do learn quickly by example. Since the average lifestyle today must deal with an increasing number of financial decisions at an ever-younger age, it is an eye-opener when Canadians admit to significant money challenges from reading financial statements, to managing credit cards, to planning for retirement. Did you know, for instance, that 38 per cent of households say they do not follow a budget, according to anABC Life Literacysurvey conducted by Ipsos Reid1? This number wont improve if children in those homes grow up to do the same. Parents are exacting on some things, like arranging for life insurance to replace lost income in the event of their death, but they may miss those little opportunities, like involving children in adding and subtracting household money, Garcia continues. The key to raising money-smart kids is to involve them in some of the day-to-day money decisions. Foresters, which provides its members with access to competitive scholarships and emergency assistance grants2, and is also known for building playgrounds and providing funding and volunteer opportunities for organizations like Ronald McDonald House Charities, has posted some valuable tips (at foresters.com) for guiding children towards healthy financial habits, including: Talk to young kids about the family grocery budget in the supermarket Link their allowance to household chores so it shows the connection between money and work Explain to teens the difference between needs and trendy must-haves Ask for a contribution to their expenses (like cell phone bills and sports) if your teen has a part-time job Demonstrate caution with a first credit card, explaining how interest is charged and the consequences of not paying the monthly balance Show young adults how to manage their cash flow and stick to a monthly budget Clearly define the repayment terms and conditions if you make them a loan.
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Five tips for quick and healthy school lunches

Sep 24

2014
Youre out of bread, cant find a water bottle and the school bus will arrive in four minutes. Is this a familiar scenario in your house? If making your childs lunch seems stressful, here are five tips to ensure their lunchbox is filled with healthy, quick options. Think about balance:Use a lunch container with divided compartments, so you remember to add the four food groups: Vegetables and Fruit: such as carrots, grapes and watermelon Grain Products: such as whole grain bread, corn bread and bulgur Milk and alternatives: such as cheese, milk and yogurt Meat and alternatives: such as tofu, eggs and chicken Stock convenient items:You can still include whole grains without preparing ingredients from scratch! Use whole grain breads, wraps and crackers to get Canadas Food Guides recommended Grain Products at lunchtime. Choose foods that list 100% whole grain as the first ingredient. Use the freezer:Stock your freezer with items that can be defrosted for quick lunches: Quick-to-cook vegetables like peas as great additions to grain-based salads. Whole grain breads for quick sandwiches and wraps. Sliced peaches, pineapple or mango for fruit salad or kebabs. Convenience tip: you can prepare and freeze soy butter and jam sandwiches, which can be slipped into lunch bags as-is they will defrost by lunch! Organize a snack drawer: For easy snacks, pre-fill containers with trail mix made with soy nuts, raisins and whole grain cereals. You can also have a snack drawer in the fridge, filled with ready-to-go Greek yogurt, cheese strings or hummus cups. Have a go-to lunch: When supplies are low, dont stress. Have a staple lunch in mind one thats made from on-hand ingredients. The go-to lunch for my daughter is whole grain crackers, cheese cubes and soy butter, artfully arranged in paper muffin cups in a square container. With some fruit on the side, lunch is ready. To learn more about the goodness of grains, visit www.goodineverygrain.ca or www.healthygrainsinstitute.ca.
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CREA Updates Resale Housing Forecast

Sep 18

2014
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations for 2014 and 2015. The deferral of sales and listings during an extraordinarily bleak winter delayed the start to the spring home buying season earlier this year. This deferral boosted activity in May and June as properties were snapped up after finally hitting the market, particularly in markets with a shortage of listings. Although this boost was and still is expected to be transitory, sales have yet to show signs of cooling as activity strengthened slightly further over the summer. The increase reflects continuing strength in home sales among large urban markets that initially drove the spring rebound together with gains in markets where activity had previously struggled to gain traction. Lowered mortgage interest rates supported this trend. Sales are now forecast to reach 475,000 units in 2014, representing an increase of 3.8 per cent compared to2013. This is upwardly revised from CREAs forecast of 463,400 sales published in June, and reflects stronger than expected sales in recent months. Even so, sales activity is expected to peak in the third quarter as the impact of a deferred spring dissipates and continuing home price increases erode housing affordability. This would place activity in 2014 slightly above but still broadly in line with its 10-year average. Despite periods of monthly volatility since the recession of 2008-09, annual activity has remained stable within a fairly narrow range around its 10-year average. This stability contrasts sharply to the rapid growth in sales in the early 2000s prior to the recession. British Columbia is forecast to post the largest year-over-year increase in activity (11.9 per cent) followed closely by Alberta (7.7 per cent). Demand in both of these provinces is currently running at multi-year highs. Activity in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick is expected to come in roughly in line with 2013 levels, with sales increases ranging between one and two per cent in the first three provinces and edging lower by about one per cent lower sales in the latter two provinces. Sales in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador are projected to be down this year by 3.9 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively. Mortgage interest rates are expected to edge higher as Canadian exports, business investment, job growth, and incomes improve. These opposing factors should benefit housing markets where demand has been softer but prices have remained more affordable. Sales in relatively less affordable housing markets are likely to be more sensitive to higher fixed mortgage rates. National activity is now forecast to reach 473,100 units in 2015, representing a decline of four tenths of one per cent. Sales activity is forecast to grow fastest in Nova Scotia (+3.3 per cent), followed by Quebec (+1.3 per cent) and New Brunswick (+1.3 per cent). Alberta is the only other province forecast to post higher sales next year (+1.0 per cent). In other provinces, activity is forecast to decline in the range of between one and two per cent. In British Columbia and Ontario, this trend reflects eroding affordability for single family homes. The national average price has evolved largely as expected since the spring, resulting in little change to CREAs previous forecast. The national average home price is now projected to rise by 5.9 per cent to $405,000 in 2014, with similar price gains in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. Increases of just below three per cent are forecast for Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island. Newfoundland and Labrador is forecast to see average home price rise by about one per cent this year, while Quebec is forecast to see an increase half that size. Prices are forecast to be flat in New Brunswick and recede by almost two per cent and Nova Scotia. The national average price is forecast to edge up a further 0.7 per cent in 2015 to $407,900. Alberta and Manitoba are forecast to post average price gains of almost two per cent in 2015, followed closely by Ontario at 1.3 per cent. Average prices in other provinces are forecast to remain stable, edging up by less than one percentage point.
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New tax relief will save small businesses more than half a billion dollars over two years

Sep 16

2014
Minister of Finance Joe Oliver announced more action by the Harper Government to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity: the introduction of the new Small Business Job Credit which is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million over the next two years. The Small Business Job Credit will effectively lower small businesses Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from the current legislated rate of $1.88 to $1.60 per $100 of insurable earnings in 2015 and 2016. Any firm that pays employer EI premiums equal to or less than $15,000 in those years will be eligible for the credit. Almost 90% of all EI premium-paying businesses in Canada will receive the credit, reducing their EI payroll taxes by nearly 15%. The Canada Revenue Agency will automatically calculate the credit on a business return, ensuring no new paper burden will be imposed on business owners. In addition, all employers and employees will benefit from a substantial reduction in the EI premium rate in 2017 when the new seven-year break-even rate-setting mechanism takes effect. This will ensure that EI premiums are no higher than needed to pay for the EI program over time. Quick Facts Canada has created more than 1.1 million net new jobs since the height of the recessionone of the strongest job creation records in the Group of Seven (G-7). In 2013, Canada leapt from sixth to second place in Bloombergs ranking of the most attractive destinations for business. According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are the lowest in the G-7 and 46% lower than those in the United States. In September 2013, the Government announced a three-year freeze of the EI rate at its 2013 level of $1.88 to prevent it from rising to $1.93 in 2014, saving employers and employees an expected $660 million in 2014 alone.
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Canadian economy can't sustain growth without low interest rates and a weaker dollar: CIBC

Sep 11

2014
Unexpected growth in consumer spending and residential construction have seen the Canadian economy outperform in 2014, but continued low interest rates and a cheaper loonie are necessary to sustain growth going forward, finds a new report from CIBC World Markets. The report notes that while Canadas economy will see better than three per cent growth in both the second and third quarters, the drivers are not sustainable. Neither housing nor consumption funded from a falling savings rate can be the permanent drivers of growth, so all eyes will be on capital spending and exports, says Avery Shenfeld, Chief Economist at CIBC. The markets response will be less about getting two and a half per cent growth to close the output gap, than about the policy backdrop needed to do so. Mr. Shenfeld expects the U.S. economy to continue to improve and Canadas to track along with it but with the countries taking a differing approach to monetary policy. Were not at zero, so theres less urgency to begin dialing down the stimulus. But more critically, Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz wants growth led by exports and capital spending. Theres no specific FX target, but a weaker Canadian dollar will be a key ingredient in restoring competitiveness and making Canada an attractive place to expand capacity. He says this will be achieved by letting the U.S. eliminate the entire Canada-U.S. short-rate differential before we see even one Bank of Canada hike. A much weaker loonie could then allow the Bank to carry on to a 1.5 per cent overnight rate by year end 2015. Co-authors, Benjamin Tal and Nick Exarhos write that an improving economy stateside has already started to help Canadian exports. Geography always makes the U.S. key to Canada, but Americas outperformace vs. other G-7 countries is enhancing that dependence. In fact, exports destined to the U.S. market are already growing at a near 17 per cent year-on-year pace, while those destined elsewhere up by just under 11 per cent. However, much of the current momentum is coming from energy exports, now delivering a quarter of Canadas dollar value of outbound shipments. Estimates from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers suggest that black golds shine isnt likely to fade any time soon. Applying production estimates to their relatively stable historical relationship to exports destined for the U.S., suggests that Canada in 2016 will have exported more than 230 million additional barrels than it did in 2013. But energys growing share also reflects what was, until very recently, a lacklustre performance by other exporters. The Bank of Canada identified sectors like forestry products, machinery, aircraft products, and other electronics as key in carrying the next leg of Canadian export resurgence, but this group has actually trailed other non-energy exporters in the past year. A key factor in this is that many non-energy exports historically came from sectors sensitive to the exchange rate. The long period in which the Canadian dollar was overvalued led to exits of plants from this country, taking out the capacity that would now typically be responding to better news stateside. With the weaker value of the Canadian dollar providing a more competitive exchange rate and positive price shocks for some products such as food, the loonie-sensitive sectors have seen an 11.8 per cent gain in nominal exports in the past twelve months, vs. 8.7 per cent for other non-energy industries. But there is much more to do ahead, says Mr. Tal. There are lags before the full impact of the late 2013 depreciation will be fully felt by existing plants. And we will likely need even more time, and a still weaker exchange rate, to prompt the entry of new production facilities that can start to fill the void left by earlier exits. Thus far, after the steepest correction in the post-war period, and an initially strong rebound, capital spending is well below where it typically should be at this more mature stage of the cycle. And the issue is not capability. Our business capability index, which uses an array of indicators to measure the ability of Canadian firms to spend, is close to a record high. That suggests that financial limitations arent the culprit. Its all about the willingness to invest. He notes that Corporate Canada appears more inclined to spend on bricks and mortar or takeovers elsewhere. Foreign direct investment (FDI) by Canadian companies rose by a record high nine per cent in 2013the exact opposite of the decelerating growth trajectory in capital spending at home. The ratio of the outflow of FDI to capital expenditure is close to 20 per centagain a record high. But he says that at some point businesses have to invest in existing facilities at home. Right now a growing proportion of each capital spending dollar is devoted to replacement investments that simply maintain existing levels of production. The practical implication is that capital investment must rise much more quickly in order to accommodate both replacement and expansion investments. There are signs that, despite some reservations, spending is about to accelerate. Mr. Tal says the Bank of Canadas Business Index is now at a level that, in the past, was consistent with real business investment climbing by close to five per cent on an annual basis. Mr. Shenfeld says that with the backdrop, corporate earnings still have room to run. Our top-down model, which ties key economic indicators - such as Canadian and U.S. GDP and various resource prices - to bottom line results, projects TSX Composite earnings growth of 11 per cent in 2015. Thats above the historical average. Bond yields will provide some noisy volatility for stocks, but double digit earnings gains should still see major indexes close next year at moderately higher levels. The complete CIBC World Markets report is available at: http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/fsep14.pdf
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Moving up out of "starter homes" getting much more difficult for Canadians

Sep 9

2014
While, on average, Canadian house prices have climbed five per cent in 2014, a new report finds that price increases in mid- and high-priced homes are far outpacing those of lower-priced ones, which is making it increasingly more difficult for many Canadians to move up out of their starter homes. The value of bigger and pricier properties is rising notably faster than less expensive propertieswidening the gap between starter home and dream house, says Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist at CIBC. Regardless of what your starting point is, and by how much your property has appreciated, the desired move up target is getting further and further out of reach. He notes that, historically, most Canadians followed a well-known narrative. You graduate from school, land your first job, get married, buy your first house, start a family, and after a number of years, move up to a larger house to accommodate your growing family. However, there are many indications that this cycle that dominated the Canadian housing market for decades, is breaking, he points out. The report shows that, in Toronto, the price of homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range rose, on average, about 28 per cent between the first quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2014. However, homes priced between $800,000 and $1.2 million jumped over 40 per cent and homes priced between $1.2 million and $1.6 million shot up better than 50 per cent in the same period. That means the family that paid $500,000 for a house in 2010 has seen their home value climb to about $640,000, a tidy $140,000 increase in value. The problem is the $800,000 home they want to move into has jumped by more than $300,000 to $1.12 million. Its a similar situation in other urban centres, including Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton, where the move up category has risen notably faster than the start-up category. In Vancouver, with the highest prices in the country, that gulf is even wider. Homes that sold for $500,000 to $800,00 have increased by only a few percentage points whereas homes prices at $1.1 million and higher have jumped by close to 18 per cent. The gap between these homes has grown by close to $200,000 in the last four years. Mr. Tal notes that while, on the surface, the volume of house resale activity in Canada looks stable - with unit sales fluctuating between 35,000 and 40,000 units per month since 2010 - it is anything but. This apparent stability masks a more complex story, he says. Sales of units at the low-to-mid price range fell notably since 2010. Sales rose modestly for the mid-to-high price range, and advanced rapidly for units in the upper end of the market. This picture of soft sales at the low-to-mid price range of the single-detached market has affordability written all over it. Tightening mortgage regulations in general, and the reduction in amortizations from 40 years to 25 years for high-ratio mortgages in particular, alongside rising prices worked to price out many first-time homebuyers that dominate activity in this price range. He found that the homeownership rate among Canadians aged 25-35 (first-time homebuyers) has fallen from 55 per cent in 2012 to the current 50 per cent. For those over the age of 35, the homeownership rate remained stable. There is also a big difference between markets with sales and price increases increasingly being driven by activity in the countrys large and pricy cities. Conversely, weve seen prices fall in Saint John, Qubec City and Victoria in the last year and overall more than one-fifth of sales are now in cities that see prices rising by less than the current rate of inflation. Homeowners in many of Canadas larger cities that cant afford a larger home - or wont get into bidding wars - are increasingly recognizing they will be in their first home for longer than expected. With limited move up options, its no surprise then that many Canadians choose to renovate their existing homes, says Mr. Tal. Over the past five years, spending on home renovations as a share of total residential investment averaged close to 46 per centby far the largest share on record. Renovation activity will remain robust and, in fact, might accelerate in the coming years. Mr. Tal says thatwhile home values will be tested when interest rates rise, the asymmetrical nature of the market, the stabilizing role played by the condo market in major urban centres - which is providing a cheaper alternative to single-detached units - and the significant constraints on land availability may all work to limit the damage. The complete CIBC World Markets report is available at: http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/if_2014-0908.pdf
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Canadian employees will see average salary increases of 2.6 per cent in 2015 according to Hay Group's survey of top employers

Sep 4

2014
Canadian employees can expect to see average base salary increases of 2.6% in 2015, according to a national survey of over 400 Canadian public and private sector employers conducted by Hay Group in June and July. Participants include many of Canadas leading employers. The 2.6% projected increase is the same as that in 2014, and lower than the 2.9% projection for 2013. Canadian projections have now fallen further behind the U.S. where American workers can expect an average increase of 3.0% in 2015, up from 2.8% projected for 2014. Projected base salary increases for Canadian workers continue to be much lower than those of 3.7% before the 2008/09 economic downturn. U.S. projections were also considerably higher at that time. According to the survey, 83% of Canadian employers will provide their employees with base salary increases in 2015. Resource-based provinces continue to lead the rest of Canada The highest increases continue to be seen in the oil and gas sector at 3.8% where demand for key skills continues to outweigh the strategic supply challenges that persist in the industry. Chemicals (3.3%), credit unions (3.2%), and financial services (3.0%) are all sectors with forecasts considerably higher than the national average of 2.6%. These high forecasts are also a continued reflection of the demand for key skills and experience. Alberta (3.1%) and Saskatchewan (2.9%) will lead the country with projected overall base salary increases higher than the national average, these are again buoyed by the demand for key skills in the resource industries despite the economic challenges in other sectors in these provinces. All other provinces are predicting increases of 2.1 - 2.6%, which are at or below the national average. Looking at the 2015 projections for major Canadian cities, workers in Calgary (3.2%), St. Johns (3.1%) and Saskatoon (3.0%) will see the highest salary increases. For all organizations, actual base salary changes realized in 2014 were exactly as forecasted at 2.6%. Projections by job level show that most positions will be at or just above the national average of 2.6%. Only unionized clerical positions will see average increases (2.3%) which are below the national average. Alberta (3.1%) and Saskatchewan (2.9%) have the highest 2015 base salary projections in Canada. BCs projections will increase to the national average of 2.6%. No change to the Ontario and the GTA projections of 2.5%. No change to the Quebec (2.6%) and Maritimes (2.1%) from last years projections. Projections for countries such as U.K. (2.5%), Canada (2.6%), U.S. and Australia (3.0%) continue to lag behind those for India (10.7%) and China (8.2%) although the 2015 forecasts for China are lower than the 9.0% made a year ago.
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Department of Finance reports a $1.6-billion surplus in June 2014

Sep 2

2014
Finance Minister Joe Oliver released The Fiscal Monitor for June 2014 last week. There was a budgetary surplus of $1.6 billion in June 2014, compared to a surplus of $0.2billion in June 2013. Revenues increased by $0.9 billion, or 3.8 per cent, due mainly to higher revenues from non-resident income tax, excise taxes and duties, and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums. Program expenses decreased by $0.7billion, or 3.2 per cent, largely reflecting a decrease in direct program expenses. Public debt charges increased by $0.1 billion, or 5.1 per cent. For the April to June 2014 period of the 201415 fiscal year, the Government posted a budgetary surplus of $0.4 billion, compared to a deficit of $2.6 billion reported in the same period of 201314. Revenues were up $2.5 billion, or 3.8 per cent, largely reflecting increased revenues from income taxes, the Goods and Services Tax and EIpremiums. Program expenses were down $0.4 billion, or 0.7 per cent, reflecting a decrease in direct program expenses, offset in part by increases in major transfers to persons and other levels of government. Public debt charges were down $49 million, or 0.6 per cent. The financial results through the April to June 2014 period and economic developments since Budget 2014 suggest that the fiscal projection for 201415 presented in the budget is on track.
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C.D. Howe Institute Monetary Policy Council Urges Bank of Canada to Hold Overnight Rate at 1.00 Percent for Next Six Months.

Aug 29

2014
The C.D. Howe Institutes Monetary Policy Council (MPC) recommends that the Bank of Canada keep its target for the overnight rate, the very short-term interest rate it targets for monetary policy purposes, at 1.00 percent at its next announcement on September 3, 2014. Looking ahead, the Council called for the Bank to hold the target at 1.00 percent through the spring of 2015, but called for a target of 1.50 a year from now. The MPC provides an independent assessment of the monetary stance appropriate for the Bank of Canada as it aims for its 2 percent inflation target. William the Institutes President and Chief Executive Officer, chaired the Councils 88th meeting. The group generally took a positive view of Canadas current economic performance, expecting a solid reading for second-quarter real GDP (a key economic release between the MPC meeting and the Bank of Canadas announcement), continued progress in closing the gap between actual and potential output, and inflation expectations well anchored at the Banks 2 percent target. Looking abroad, members noted that disappointing news out of Europe and Japan was more than balanced by positive US growth. While some members noted that the Canadian dollar looks higher than Canadas terms of trade would support, many expected improvements in net exports and more buoyant business investment to complement continued spending growth on the part of Canadian households in the months ahead. In drawing conclusions about the conduct of Canadian monetary policy, however, the group wrestled with two major types of questions: about the size, duration and even the significance of the output gap; and about the normal level for the overnight rate the rate that would be appropriate if the output gap were zero and inflation were at 2 percent.
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Tenant insurance offers peace of mind

Aug 26

2014
Leaving home for the first time, going away to school and renting an off-campus apartment can make for an exciting yet stressful time for students and parents alike. As college and university students head to the classroom this fall, CAA Insurance Company (Ontario) is encouraging parents of post-secondary students to invest in tenant insurance. Whether your child is renting a house or an apartment, tenant insurance offers peace of mind. It will cover their personal possessions, such as furniture, clothing, electronics and jewelry, in the event of a fire or break-in. Tenant insurance is often overlooked. Renters think their belongings are protected because their landlord has insurance, but that isnt the case, said Matthew Turack, VP, CAA Insurance Company (Ontario). Sending a teen to university or college can be expensive. Now imagine if you have to replace all their belongings because they were destroyed in a fire or stolen, added Turack. Once tenant insurance is purchased, CAA Insurance recommends making a detailed list of all your personal belongings, photographing each item and keeping receipts and warranties in a safe place should you need to make a claim. For over a hundred years, CAA has been helping Canadians stay mobile, safe and protected. CAA South Central Ontario is one of nine auto clubs across Canada providing roadside assistance, automotive care, travel products, insurance services and member savings for more than 1.9 million members. SOURCE CAA South Central Ontario
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Summer flooding in Prairies pegged at over $60 million in insured damage

Aug 21

2014
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that the estimated insured damage caused by heavy rains and high winds across southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba in late June and July was just over $60 million, according to Property Claim Services (PCS). The flooding, wind damage and transportation disruptions caused by these storms disrupted peoples lives and businesses, said Bill Adams, IBC Vice-President, Western and Pacific. People were forced from their homes, roads were flooded and crops were destroyed. These storms are another example of the toll severe weather events are taking on Canadian families and communities. Parts of southeast Saskatchewan and areas of western Manitoba reported heavy rain fall. States of emergency were called in both provinces. Hundreds of residents had to leave their homes and dozens of roads were impassable due to flooding. Sections of at least 15 highways, including portions of the TransCanada Highway, were closed due to the flooding. The rain also led to record flow levels on rivers and streams in both provinces. The insurance industry continues to spread the word about the need to update infrastructure, to engage consumers on how to protect themselves and their properties against severe weather. The industry is also working with all three levels of government to help develop, promote and implement adaptation measures, Adams said. He also reminded residents that most insurers offer a 24-hour claims service for filing claims. Claimants should give as much detail as possible when providing information to their insurers, he said.
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Canadian home sales edge higher in July

Aug 18

2014
Highlights: National home sales rose 0.8% from June to July. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was 7.2% higher than July 2013 levels. The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.4% from June to July. The Canadian housing market remains in balanced territory. The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.3% year-over-year in July. The national average sale price rose 5.0% on a year-over-year basis in July. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 0.8 per cent on a month-over-month basis in July 2014, marking the sixth consecutive monthly increase and the highest level for sales since March 2010. (Chart A) Sales activity rose in about 60 per cent of all local housing markets in July, led by gains in Victoria, Winnipeg, London and St. Thomas, and Ottawa together with broadly-based increases in Quebec and New Brunswick. On the surface, national sales activity in July was similar to what we saw in May and June, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. That said, July sales picked up in markets that struggled to gain traction in the spring, while activity eased slightly in some of Canadas largest urban markets. As always, all real estate is local and whether youre looking to buy or sell, your local REALTOR is your best source of information on all the factors driving the market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in July stood 7.2 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year. July sales were up from year-ago levels in about 70 per cent of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley, the Okanagan region, Calgary, Winnipeg, Greater Toronto, Hamilton-Burlington, London and St. Thomas, and Ottawa. For the year-to-date, sales activity is up 4.7 per cent compared to the first seven months of 2013 and in line with the 10-year average for the period. The number of newly listed homes edged up 0.4 per cent in July compared to June. The number of markets where new listings rose was equal to the number where they declined. Regina, Winnipeg, Greater Toronto, Windsor-Essex, Ottawa and Montreal posted the biggest monthly increases in new listings, which offset fewer new listings in Fraser Valley, Calgary and Fredericton. New listings and sales activity trends have closely tracked each other since February. Many new listings have come on stream in markets with tight supply and continuing demand. As a result, the strength of sales in recent months likely reflects how many properties were snapped up once they finally hit the market following the harsh winter that caused sales and new listings to be deferred. Low mortgage interest rates continue to bolster home sales activity, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. With the Bank of Canada widely expected to hold interest rates steady until next year, mortgage financing will remain attractive over the second half 2014 and continue to support Canadian economic growth while waiting for Canadian exports and investment to improve. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 53.6 per cent in July, little changed from 53.4 per cent June and 53.2 per cent in May. This remains firmly entrenched within the range from 40 to 60 per cent that marks balanced market territory. The ratio has remained within short reach of its current level for more than four years, averaging 52.6 per cent since the beginning of 2010. Just over half of all local markets posted a sales-to-new listings ratio in this range in July. Of the remainder of markets, more than half were sitting above the 60 per cent threshold that marks the border between balanced and sellers market territory, many of which are found in Alberta and Southern Ontario.
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Soft Landing Still Likely for Canadian Condo Market

Aug 14

2014
Population, economic and employment growth all point to a stabilizing of the Canadian condominium market, according to the latest Conference Board of Canada condo report commissioned by Genworth Canada. The Summer 2014 Metropolitan Condo Outlook forecasts that while pockets of higher risk still exist in Toronto and Vancouver, a broad-based downturn is unlikely. The report findings align with our view that the condo market is stabilizing and that demographics and affordability continue to drive demand said Stuart Levings, Chief Operating Officer of Genworth Canada. As a result of our prudent underwriting standards, our portfolio quality in this market remains strong and we see value in partnering with our customers to meet the evolving needs of young urbanites. Despite modest price gains over the next two years in all eight cities studied in the report, increases in average household incomes will help to keep mortgage costs affordable. Continued growth in immigration, affordability pressures in major cities, and aging baby-boomers looking to downsize are all factors that support continued demand for condominiums in urban centres. Our research has long shown that the strong underlying economic factors in Canada would help most condominium markets achieve a soft landing said Robin Wiebe, Senior Economist at the Centre for Municipal Studies at The Conference Board of Canada and co-author of the report. Despite fluctuating sales and listing trends, markets are expected to be balanced across the country, with a slight lean towards the buyer in Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.
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CMHC’s Survey of Condominium Owners in Toronto and Vancouver

Aug 12

2014
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released the results of its 2013 Condominium Owners Survey today showing that 82.9% of the condominium owning households surveyed reside in their unit and 17.1% are condominium investors. As information on condominium investment is rather limited at this time, CMHC has gathered new data on a segment of domestic condominium investment activity in Toronto and Vancouver. While the results are not representative of other markets or all types of investors, the survey helps to shed some light on the profile and purchasing motivations of a segment of condominium investors in Toronto and Vancouver, said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHCs Market Analysis Centre. The survey found that about half of the surveyed condominium investors in Toronto and Vancouver rent out their last purchased unit. CMHCs survey also found that of the surveyed condominium investors in Toronto and Vancouver: 58.4% expect to keep their last purchased unit for more than 5 years; 17.9 % for 2 to 5 years; 7.6% for less than two years, and 16.1% did not know or answer; 11.9% of respondents said they bought their last secondary condominium unit with the intention of reselling it for a profit within a year of purchase. In addition, at the time of the survey, 42.1% of the Toronto and Vancouver investor households that were surveyed had no mortgage on their last purchased condominium unit. A total of 42,426 households, which owned their primary residence in the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) of Toronto and Vancouver, were surveyed in August and September of 2013. A subset of these condominium owners who own a secondary condominium unit are defined as condominium investors. Their primary dwelling can be either a condominium or a freehold1 unit. The 2013 Condominium Owners Survey gathered data to report on the extent of the activity of this sub-set of domestic condominium investor households in these two CMAs. This definition excludes households that own only one condominium unit in which they reside, as well as households that own a secondary unit but rent their primary unit. The survey did not cover Canadian households that own condominium units in Toronto or Vancouver but do not reside in these CMAs. Foreign investors, and corporate investors are also not covered by the survey. CMHC continues to explore opportunities to enhance the availability of information on foreign and corporate investment activities in the housing market, added Dugan. Results from the Condominium Owners Survey for Toronto and Vancouver were merged to increase their statistical reliability. The full text of this report is available at http://www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=68161
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Industry intentions for large buildings and single family homes on the rise

Aug 8

2014
According to the latest statistics from StatsCan, contractors took out building permits worth $8.0 billion in June, up 13.5% from May. The June increase was mainly due to higher construction intentions for institutional and industrial buildings in Quebec and commercial buildings in Alberta. In the residential sector, the value of permits edged up 0.4% to $4.2 billion, a fourth consecutive monthly increase. Municipalities issued $2.4 billion worth of building permits for single-family dwellings in June, up 5.5% from May. It was the third consecutive monthly advance. Increases were reported in six provinces, led by Alberta, with Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia following. The total value of permits was up in five provinces in June, led by Quebec, with Alberta a distant second. Quebec made substantial advances in construction intentions for institutional buildings, industrial buildings and, to a lesser extent, multi-family dwellings.
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Modernize quickly with the top décor trends for fall

Aug 6

2014
Theres nothing worse than feeling dated. That is, the out-of-touch kind of dated, not the chic and trendy vintage version. For inspiration, home dcor expert and TV host, Karl Lohnes, suggests giving your interior the type of trendy makeover that will hold strong for a few years. You dont need to have a huge budget and mimic exactly what the trends are, he says. Find ways to take them into your own hands, too. Heres a snapshot: No More Espresso:Grainy, raw oak with a simple coat of wax is whats trending for floors today. The look has enough sophistication to hold its own in formal settings, while still maintaining a casual look as well, Lohnes says. Avoid the honey/golden oak look from the 1980s and watch how this change brightens your space. Say Goodbye to Grey:Platinum is the new neutral. Think grey with a dollop of brown to warm it up. As an overall neutral, it looks great with almost every colour, so Lohnes suggests using the new tone at the window to complement your existing furniture. A good choice here, he says, would be innovative Pirouette window shadings from Hunter Douglas, which feature soft, horizontal fabric vanes that open and close against a sheer backing. The fabric vanes come in many hues, including a soft platinum called Tawny. Neutral Rugs Are a Thing of the Past:When shopping heres the best advice: Go big or dont bring it home! Both art and rugs are going big and colourful. In fact, rugs are now seen as artwork for the floor. If youre not sure how to choose a rug, says Lohnes, match the colours with the artwork on the wall. Together they will work hard to add mega personality to any room. Silver and Nickel Tones Be Gone:Gold and brass are both very popular right now. Metal tones are warming up with polished gold for a luxe vibe, or tarnished brass for a casual, industrial look. The easiest way to introduce gold into your home, says Lohnes, is by choosing stand-alone accents like a desk lamp, cart, wastebasket or hardware finishes. With these tips, your homewill have a stylish, modern edge, and as our home dcor expert points out, you dont have to make every change at once. Save these trends for future projects, too, he says, and spread out the happy decorating over time. More information is available at www.hunterdouglas.ca.
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TORONTO COUPLE WINS $5000 FOR RENOS! ASK ME HOW!

Jul 29

2014
VERICO Canada and VERICO Capital Mortgages Inc. are pleased to announce the June winners of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvements Contest. Brad Nemes of VERICO Capital Mortgages along with Martin Marshall, Eastern Regional Sales Manager of VERICO Canada, presented a cheque to winners Marc Pepin and Rebecca Thompson of Toronto, ON. When Brad called we thought Wow, were really lucky because our renovation budget is squeezed to the max!, laughs Rebecca Thompson. Weve had our eye on some high end appliances that will bump up the value of the home, says Rebecca when asked what the couple would do with the prize money. Clients of VERICO mortgage brokers can win 1 of 6 prizes of $5000.00 to go towards their home renovations through the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvements Contest. Another four prizes are still up for grabs. A Purchase Plus Improvement mortgage gives qualifying you the ability to access up to $40,000 for the purpose of renovations. This amount is rolled up into your mortgage so you are able pay it off as a part of your regular mortgage payments. This mortgage option allows home buyers, especially first timers, to take their first step into home ownership and still have the funds to renovate their purchase into their dream home. To find out how you can qualify for this mortgage or this contest, please contact me!
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Number of home sold edged up slightly in June

Jul 23

2014
According to statistics released by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity edged up almost one per cent on a month-over-month basis in June 2014. Highlights: - National home sales rose 0.8% from May to June. - Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity stood 11.2% above June 2013 levels. - The number of newly listed homes was little changed from May to June. - The Canadian housing market remains in balanced territory. - The national average sale price rose 6.9% on a year-over-year basis in June. - The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 5.4% year-over-year in June. Sales rose in about half of all local housing markets in June, led by gains in Greater Vancouver where activity hit its highest level in more than three years, and Montreal where activity is now 10 per cent above post-recession lows reached earlier this year. Sales have improved compared to their slower start earlier this year, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. That said, there are still important differences in how housing markets are faring depending on location, housing type and price point. Whether youre looking to buy or sell, your local REALTOR is your best source of information on all the factors driving the market where you currently live or might like to in the future.
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Should you invest in an income property?

Jul 21

2014
Owning a rental property can be a profitable investment - but its not for everyone. Its important to do the research needed to have a clear understanding of the steps in financing an income property and all the responsibilities that will come with an investment. Ive provided some information below to help you get started. If you are interested in finding out if investing is right for you, contact me and Id be happy to assist you. Why purchase an investment property? Real Estate is still a great long-term investment Property values have been historically more stable than the stock market A source of monthly income, if you do not have a monthly shortfall There are some tax deductible expenses Approved Rental Property Types: Single-family dwellings Town homes Condos Duplexes Triplexes Fourplexes Most lenders allow applicant to hold a maximum of 4 rental properties. Anything over is considered a commercial business. Downpayment Most lenders require 25% -35% for downpayment. If between 20-25%, the mortgage will need to be insured for default with CMHC/Genworth/Canada Guaranty and a premium will be added to the mortgage. Downpayment cannot be borrowed or gifted Must provide proof of downpayment (30 to 90 day account history) An investment property is a big commitment for you and your family. Im here to help you figure out if its the right move for you! As a professional mortgage broker in one of Canadas largest Mortgage Broker Networks, I have access to an array of lenders and products that may suit your needs. Dont hesitate to contact me for a meeting.
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Are housing starts rebounding?

Jul 18

2014
Consensus is looking for Canadian housing starts numbers for the month of June to come in near 190k, down from the strong 198.3k in May but still stronger than levels seen earlier this year when a mix of harsh weather and uncertainty weighed on overall levels of construction, driving housing starts to an annualized low of 157k in March. We wouldnt make too much of the very soft levels of construction during Q1: Canadas weather is very harsh in the winter, and the low seasonally adjusted monthly housing starts numbers seen during Q1 didnt actually represent a massive decrease in the quantity of housing starts that the country will actually see in 2014. As we noted at the time of the weak March housing starts number (157k), in unadjusted terms, the first three months of the year only constitute 18-20% of the cumulative quantity of housing starts that typically happen over a full 12-month stretch. Peak housing starts months in absolute terms occur in May through July, with those months typically averaging 55-60% more actual starts (not seasonally adjusted) than is typical during Q1. In other words, the strong numbers that were seeing for Q2 are much more important than the weak numbers that we saw for Q1 and represent much more actual building. Source: Scotiabank
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Major Real Estate Boards Report June Results

Jul 16

2014
The spring market unofficially ended last month and Canadas three most followed housing markets finished off the spring selling season strongly. Sales volumes, prices and new listings each increased in June in all three cities. Low interest rates continue to fuel strong buyer demand. Vancouver Sales volumes were up in Vancouver by 29% in June, compared to the same month in 2013. They were also 3.7% higher than in May but only 0.6% above the ten year average for the month. Sales of detached properties were up a whopping 59% from the level seen in June of 2012. REBGV President Ray Harris commented that competition among buyers has increased and is as strong as its been in the region since June, 2011. The sales-to-new-listings ratio in Vancouver reached 21.3% in June, the highest since June, 2011. New listings were up 9.5% compared to a year earlier but were down by more than 10% from Mays level and 2.6% below the ten year average. Total listings stood at 16,011 which is down 7% from June, 2013. Average prices in Vancouver for detached homes in June were up more than 6% from a year ago but are still under $1 million at $976,700. For apartment condominiums, average prices rose 2.4% year-over-year to $378,000. Calgary The comparison of this years month of June to June, 2013 in the Calgary real estate market requires some context as last year at this time, Calgary was dealing with the aftermath of the damaging flood which took a large bite out of sales activity. This years sales volumes in June were 18% above the ten year average for the month as the market continued its hot streak. There was some relief from the severely tight market conditions which have plagued the market in recent months as new listings rose above the long term average in June for the first time since 2010. Inventory levels rose as a result but balanced market conditions remain well out of reach for now. The single-family unadjusted benchmark price was $509,700 in June, representing an 11% increase from the same period last year. For condominiums, the apartment-style benchmark price was $299,700 and for townhouse-style units, it was $326,000. Toronto The Toronto Real Estate Board welcomed a new President in June. Paul Etheringtons first monthly sales report featured an increase of more than 15% in sales volumes from a year earlier as there were more than 10,000 sales recorded in June. New listings also rose but not by as much which means that competition among buyers increased yet again in June. Many areas of the Greater Toronto Area have less than two month of inventory of listed properties. TREB predicts that with the current level of pent-up demand, sales should be strong throughout the rest of the summer. The average sale price of a home in Toronto reached $568,953 in June, a 7.4% increase from a year ago. Prices for detached properties in the 416 area the City of Toronto reached $921,127 in June, moving ever closer to prices in the Vancouver market. Despite the abundance of new units reaching completion and the number of resale units listed for sale, the condominium market in Toronto remains strong as average prices moved ahead by 6.8% from a year ago. source: MCAP
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Canadians' Confidence in the Housing Market Keeps on Surging

Jul 14

2014
Most Canadians expect home prices to keep on surging in 2014, according to a survey conducted by Point2 Homes, one of Canadas largest real estate portals. Canadian respondents who anticipate an increase in residential property prices think prices will rise by an average of 8%. 73% of survey participants in Alberta are confident local prices will go up, as compared to 45% in British Columbia and 40% in Saskatchewan. The survey is based on 1,232 responses and was conducted by Point2 Homes between April and May 2014. Most Canadians Expect Home Price Growth in 2014 51% of respondents expect to see a significant jump in local house prices this year, while 26% think they will remain largely unchanged. Only 23% of survey participants said they expected home prices to decline. Among the respondents who anticipate an increase in real estate prices, the majority think they will rise by 8% on average. Those who said prices will head downwards estimate a drop by 14% on average. Albertans Show Most Confidence in the Housing Market The vast majority of Albertan respondents showed increased confidence in the local housing market fundamentals. While the national average sits somewhere around 51%, two thirds of survey participants in Alberta are confident home prices will continue to surge. The lowest percentage of positive answers was recorded in Saskatchewan, where only 40% of respondents believe home prices will remain on a growing trajectory. Real Estate Agents 30% More Upbeat about Canadas Housing Market than Buyers and Sellers 65% of real estate agents think the housing market is gaining positive momentum, while 50% of buyers and 49% of sellers are convinced that prices will go up. Click here for more details and charts on home price trends in Canada.
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High Net Worth Canadians may have cash on hand, but some also have mortgages

Jul 11

2014
A recent survey of high net worth Canadians, those with investable assets of $500,000 or more, reveals that for this group, having a mortgage may be a considered and deliberate investment strategy. Sixty-seven per cent of those who have a mortgage indicated they have the cash available to pay for their home in-full. The notion that a mortgage is used only when funds arent available to pay cash for your home doesnt ring true for many wealthy Canadians, says Peter Veselinovich, vice-president of banking and mortgage operations at Investors Group. The Investors Group survey, which examined how high net worth Canadians are using their mortgages, highlights strategies that touch on a variety of financial planning tactics that range from tax planning to income generating rental properties. Property ownership is part of the plan Overall, seven-in-ten high net worth Canadians say they would not think about purchasing property without reviewing it as part of their overall financial plan and almost half (46 per cent) say they wouldnt make changes to their mortgage without reviewing it as part of their overall financial plan. One-in-five were provided advice by their financial advisor on mortgage options that would best suit their financial situation. Property ownership by the numbers: 32 per cent of high-net-worth Canadians own additional commercial or residential properties; 1-in-10 own three or more; 51 per cent have additional properties for recreational use; 42 per cent have investment rental properties; 11 per cent have purchased property for their parents or children to live in Its good to see that some Canadians are including these important decisions as part of their overall financial plan and engaging experts for advice, says Peter. Your current and future business strategy, retirement plans, stage of life and overall financial goals will all influence the mortgage you select. Mortgages in retirement While some Canadians plan to pay off their mortgage before retirement, more than one-quarter of wealthy Canadians (with mortgages) dont have plans to become mortgage-free before retirement. Cashing in investments to pay off your mortgage before retirement could trigger capital gains. That would mean additional taxes and less money to invest, says Peter. Retirees in this financial demographic who are not concerned about meeting their mortgage payments see a tax advantage to maintaining a low-interest mortgage on their homes. Limited fear over rising rates When asked if they were worried about rising rates in the next year, three years or five, those with any concern amounted to eight per cent, 14 per cent, and 18 per cent of the overall group in each respective time frame. While fluctuating interest rates can play a role in selecting a mortgage that fits with your financial situation, there are a number of additional considerations that Canadians need to factor into the equation, adds Peter. A financial advisor can help you look at the entire picture and select an option that will work for you.
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Cook up some space in the kitchen

Jul 9

2014
Its the central hub of the home where we do homework, pay bills, charge electronics, surf the web and cook up a meal or two. We spend hours in the kitchen so its not surprising that a recent survey from the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) found that four out of five homeowners want to change something about their kitchen. Whether the change youre seeking is a complete overhaul or a simple update, the following tips and projects can help turn your kitchen from cluttered and chaotic to clean and organized: Conquer Counters and Cabinets While you may not be able to add square footage to your kitchen, there are many ways to conquer clutter and make the room feel larger. Start by clearing off the countertops by placing small appliances or unnecessary items in cupboards or closets. Next, focus on the sink area. Add some fashion and function with a new single-handle pulldown or pullout faucet and swap the dingy bottle of soap with a permanent soap dispenser. Many of them, like the new premium line from Moen, are available in several designs modern, transitional and traditional to coordinate with your new faucet. Are you tired of the kitchen dish towels lying on the sink or countertop or worse yet, on the floor? Towel bars, towel rings and hooks are an ideal solution to provide a permanent and convenient home for this kitchen necessity. Other accessories, such as robe hooks, can also be used to hang potholders. Whether mounting on the side of an upper cabinet, on the end of the island, or in other work areas, Moen tells us they also offer a variety of accessories, such as the Boardwalk and Banbury collections that perfectly match their kitchen faucets. And, dont stop there. Create continuity throughout your updated space with new knobs and drawer pulls that complement your faucets and fixtures. Whether you prefer modern or something more traditional, there are many options available to extend your sense of design down to the details. Creative Carts and Savvy Stools Another option to make your kitchen feel more spacious is to invest in a rolling cabinet or cart. It can be used for storage (for example, hiding those small appliances) or serve as a kitchen island which, when not in use, can be stored in the pantry or closet. And if you are hosting a family get-together or party, you can use the rolling cart as your bar when entertaining guests. If you already have a kitchen island, you can save even more floor space, install swivel stools without backs. These are a great solution, as they can be neatly tucked away after a meal or when homework is done. Drawer Storage We often have good intentions when organizing our kitchen drawers, but lets face it theyre usually a mess! According to the online remodeling and design platform, Houzz, many homeowners are taking a new approach to kitchen drawer storage and solving space dilemmas by installing customized sliding drawers. One example is an under-sink sliding drawer, which pulls out to provide easy access to cleaning supplies that often get lost behind the pipes. Another popular addition is a built-in utensil drawer. Rather than using traditional horizontal drawers that lead to utensils being piled on and lost in the back, this vertical pullout features a variety of deep cups to hold serving ware. Or, for a more affordable solution, Houzz recommends placing stainless steel pots in a deep empty drawer for a DIY solution. Soon, with these updates youll know exactly where that spatula is hiding. Order in the House Beyond the pots and pans, the kitchen becomes a dumping ground for everyday items like the mail, iPads, keys, books, bags, and more. Instead of letting paperwork collect on your island or countertops, create a central command station complete with stylish baskets to hide clutter plus built-in book shelves or mail slots to ensure everything has a proper place. Or, if you have enough space, add a desk as a devoted area for paper storage as well as a work centre to pay bills or do school work. With a few simple projects, you can cook up some space in your kitchen and achieve maximum organization and style. Contact your VERICO Broker for details on how you could win $5000.00* to renovate your home! You could be the next winner of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest! *Purchase Necessary. Residents of Quebec are excepted from this contest.
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CREA Updates Resale Housing Forecast

Jul 7

2014
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has updated its forecast for home sales activity via the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations for 2014 and 2015. Extraordinarily bleak winter weather made for a slow start to 2014 national sales activity. As the first quarter ended, sales momentum heading into spring was constrained by a continuing shortage of listings in a number of local markets. The rise in newly listed properties in April and May supported an increase in sales activity. The deferral of sales and listings reflects a delayed start to the spring home buying season, with combined sales for the period from March to May coming in largely as anticipated and at average levels. These deferrals are now likely to have been largely depleted, which suggests that the strength of sales momentum heading into the summer may be transient. CREAs forecast for sales activity in 2014 is largely unchanged from its previous forecast published in March. At that time, interest rates had been expected to start to edge higher in the second half of the year. However, it now appears that interest rates may not begin to rise until closer to the end of the year, which remains supportive for home ownership affordability over the balance of 2014. Sales are forecast to reach 463,400 units in 2014, representing an increase of 1.2 per cent compared to 2013. This is little changed from CREAs forecast of 463,700 sales (rising 1.3 per cent) published in March. Activity is still expected to remain in line with its 10-year average and to hold within fairly short reach of 450,000 units for the seventh consecutive year (Chart A). British Columbia is forecast to post the largest year-over-year increase in activity (8.3 per cent), and make the biggest contribution to the increase in national sales activity. B.C.s projected increase in sales this year largely reflects a slow start to 2013. Albertas annual sales are projected to rise by +3.8 per cent increase in 2014, while activity in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario is expected to be roughly in line with 2013 levels. Sales are forecast to fall by 1.7 per cent and Quebec, 4.2 per cent in New Brunswick in 2014, 5.1 per cent in Nova Scotia, and by 2.6 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2015, the outlook for the economy, jobs and incomes is one of further improvement, accompanied by a slow and gradual increase in fixed and variable mortgage interest rates. On balance, these two opposing factors should most benefit housing markets where sales are currently softer but prices remain more affordable. Sales in relatively less affordable housing markets are likely to be more sensitive to higher fixed mortgage rates, whether from the standpoint of higher monthly mortgage payments or qualification for mortgage financing based on the posted five-year mortgage interest rate. As such, provinces east of Ontario are expected to post the largest gains in activity in 2015 in the range of around 2.5 to five per cent, while sales in provinces from British Columbia to Ontario are forecast to remain little changed. National activity is now forecast to reach 467,800 units in 2015, representing a further annual increase of 0.9 per cent. This would result in sales staying in line with the 10-year average for the eighth year in a row. Average prices have remained firm and continue to reflect a rise in the share of national sales among some of Canadas most active and expensive markets compared to last year. Additionally, prices have been heating up in some markets, particularly in Calgary and Toronto where single family properties remain in short supply. The national average home price is now projected to rise by 5.7 per cent to $404,300 in 2014, with similar sized gains in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. More modest changes in average prices are forecast for all other provinces this year. The national average price is forecast to edge up a further 0.7 per cent in 2015 to $407,300. Alberta and Manitoba are forecast to post average price gains of two per cent in 2015, followed closely by Ontario at 1.2 per cent. Average prices in all other provinces are forecast to remain stable, edging up by less than one percentage point.
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Make two company, not a crowd, in your master bath

Jul 4

2014
They say: dont marry the person you can live with, marry the person you cant live without. But while you may be ready to share your life with someone, you may quickly realize you arent willing to shareeverything, and some of your partners habits you could definitely livewithout. So how can you achieve togetherness with bliss? His-and-her master bath bathrooms could be the perfect solution. The Wall Street Journalrecently reported that his-and-her master bathrooms (the industry term that allocates separate spaces for a couple) are no longer just for luxury homes; the trend is cropping up in a wide range of home sizes and prices. In fact, developers report that the size of master bathrooms has increased dramatically, making room for partner-friendly features. Why? Many working couples get ready at the same time each morning, making these separate spaces a way to combat scheduling bathroom time. Plus, many are enjoying the room as a place for morning conversations and planning the day,without tripping over each other. And for empty nesters and baby boomers, they are hitting the age where they seek comfort and tranquility and are willing to splurge on a space where they can spend time together. So what are homeowners adding to these new his-and-her baths? Here are a few suggestions on creating a master bath for two thats functional, fashionable and fabulous: Achieving Bathroom Bliss Do you find gobs of toothpaste left in the sink by your partner troublesome? Or have you tried to brush your teeth at the same time and at the same sink as your spouse? Research proves these are top annoyances. So, dont sweat these small things separate them.Separate sink spaces help eliminate tension and make getting ready with your partner easier. And when choosing new sinks and faucets, designers at Moen tell us that their new Align collection is the perfect solution to create a distinctly designed bath. This sleek and modern line offers a variety of faucet options with one or two handles and in popular finishes such as chrome or Moens own Lifeshine Brushed Nickel to meet any style preferences. In addition to splitting the sink area, be sure to install two of every bathroom accessory, ensuring each partner has their own designated space for storing personal belongings. To perfectly match your two new faucets, the Align collection gives you robe hooks, plus a unique swiveling double robe hook that combines two hooks in one to hold towels and robes for both partners, along with towel rings, and 18- and 24-inch (45- and 69- centimetres) towel bars. Sensational Showers For couples looking at a shower space thats customized to their specific needs, Moen also tells us that digital shower systems, like their IoDigial, bring a truly unique element to the space. Simply program the shower to deliver personalized, precise temperature and water flow. Once youve found your perfect combination, its simple to save as a pre-set and you can forget about fiddling with the temperature every time you step in the shower. Best of all, you can turn IoDigital on with a remote from across the room or while still in bed. Privacy Please A single toilet in the bath is still prevalent, but according to developers, nearly a quarter of homeowners insist on a private toilet compartment. While this might be a separate area for private time, be sure to keep the peace with your partner and dont forget the little things, such as restocking the toilet paper. Luckily, installing a pivoting- or single-post paper holder makes the task even easier to ensure you combat this common pet peeve. Closets Off the Master Bath Topping the list of the most-likely must-haves for homeowners in 2014 is a walk-in closet off the master suite. According to homebuilders, this extra space is the perfect solution for couples. Adding an organizational system will help designate spaces for you and your significant other, such as tie racks for men or drawers and shelves for womens accessories and shoes. With a bit more square footage and designated his-and-her amenities, todays homeowners are finding harmony when sharing their bathroom. Just dont forget the little stuff (like putting the cap on the toothpaste) to keep the serenity of the space and make two company, not a crowd. Contact your VERICO Broker for details on how you could win $5000.00* to renovate your home! You could be the next winner of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest! *Purchase Necessary. Residents of Quebec are excepted from this contest.
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Canadian home sales up in May

Jul 2

2014
According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales activity posted a sizeable month-over-month increase in May 2014. The number of home sales processed through the MLS Systems of Canadian real estate Boards and Associations rose 5.9 per cent from April to May 2014. This marks the largest month-over-month increase in nearly four years. Sales rose in four out of every five local housing markets in May, including almost all large urban markets. The largest gains driving the national increase were posted in Calgary, Greater Toronto and Montreal. The monthly increase in May activity was widespread among local housing markets, with some 80 per cent of them reporting stronger sales compared to April, said CREA President Beth Crosbie. Over the past 25 years, that widespread a monthly sales increase has been recorded only a handful of times. Even so, the improvement varied by location. Your local REALTOR is your best source of information about the factors driving the market where you currently live or might like to in the future. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in May stood 4.8 per cent above levels reported in the same month last year, and 3.8 per cent above the 10-year average for the month of May. May sales were up from year-ago levels in about 60 per cent of all local markets, led by Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Calgary, and Greater Toronto. Monthly activity trailed levels reported last May in Montreal and Halifax-Dartmouth. The national trend for new listings has mirrored the trend for sales in recent months. The number of newly listed homes rose 3.8 per cent in May, marking a fourth straight monthly gain. Also in line with sales activity, new listings were up in about 80 per cent of local markets. In markets where supply had become tight, we expected sales to improve in tandem with listings, said Gregory Klump, CREAs Chief Economist. Had it not been for such a brutal winter that delayed the launch of the spring market, the improvement in new listings and sales would likely have been more spread out over the past few months. Combined sales over the past three months are roughly in line with the 10-year average for that three month period. The national sales-to-new listings ratio was 53.1 per cent in May, up from 52.0 per cent in March and April but still well entrenched within the 40 to 60 per cent range that marks balanced market territory. Nearly 60 per cent of all local markets posted a sales-to-new listings ratio in this range in May. The number of months of inventory is another important measure of the balance between housing supply and demand. It represents the number of months it would take to completely liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity. The number of months of inventory has firmed slightly since the beginning of 2014. There were 6.0 months of inventory nationally at the end of May 2014 compared with 6.5 months at the beginning of the year. Nonetheless, as with the sales-to-new listings ratio, the number of months of inventory continues to suggest that Canadas housing market is generally well-balanced, with year-over-year price growth varied among local housing markets tracked by the index, with the biggest gains having been posted by Calgary (+10.12 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.08 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+4.27 per cent). The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in May 2014 was $416,584, up 7.1 per cent from the same month last year. The national average price continues to be skewed upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which are among Canadas largest and most expensive housing markets. Excluding these two markets from the calculation, the average price reaches a relatively more modest $336,373 while the year-over-year increase shrinks to 5.3 per cent. The MLS Home Price Index (MLS HPI) provides a better gauge of price trends because it is not affected by changes in the mix of sales activity the way that average price is. The Aggregate Composite MLS HPI was up by 4.98 per cent year-over-year in May, which is slightly smaller than gains of 5.03 per cent and 5.19 per cent in April and March respectively. Year-over-year price growth gained strength for two-storey single family homes and townhouse/row units, and lost a bit of momentum for one-storey single family homes and apartment units. Year-over-year price gains were led by two-storey single family homes (+5.98 per cent), followed closely by price increases for one-storey single family homes (+5.19 per cent) and townhouse/row units (+5.04 per cent). The price increase for apartment units was comparatively more modest (+2.93 per cent). Year-over-year price growth varied among local housing markets tracked by the index, with the biggest gains having been posted by Calgary (+10.12 per cent), Greater Toronto (+7.08 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (+4.27 per cent). Further information can be found athttp://crea.ca/statistics.
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Four kitchen fixes for great compliments

Jun 30

2014
No matter if youre an aspiring chef or TV dinner connoisseur, if the look of your kitchen makes you want to dine out it may be time for an upgrade. The kitchen should be the heart of your home where you entertain, hold family meetings and even pay bills. So why not take it from make-do to magnificent? Nothing reinvigorates a home like a newly remodeled kitchen, but its true that the costs to completely renovate this room can add up quickly. In fact, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), kitchen projects can range from less than $20,000 to more than $100,000, so its best to think of renovating this space as an investment. Here are five must-do updates that ensure your remodeled kitchen will earn compliments from anyone who enters. 1. Faucet Facelift The sink area is among the most hardworking ofkitchenspaces, and the faucet in particular, gets the most grueling daily workout. Because of its constant use, updating the faucet will immediately improve the function and look of your prep space. To easily obtain a contemporary look in the kitchen, the new Tilt pullout kitchen faucet from Moen is the ideal choice for homeowners wanting to create a sleek and chic statement at the sink. Tilt offers compact, modern styling that works well in any size kitchen. Its also offered in two on-trend finishes: Chrome and Spot Resist Stainless, which helps the faucet stay visibly cleaner, longer. And dont just stop with the kitchen faucet. Fixtures such as built-in soap dispensers or beverage faucets can further the functionality and improved styling at the sink. In fact, research shows that more than one-third of homeowners remodeling their kitchens are interested in beverage faucets with filtration systems, as well as matching soap dispensers. Moen points to its line of soap dispensers, plus its Sip beverage faucets. Each is available in traditional, transitional and modern designs in matching finishes, elegantly coordinating with the rest of the space. 2. Amp Up Accessories Much like fashion, accessories can make a room. Think of hardware asthe finishing touch to make your space feel polished, but also serve a purpose. To start, easily answer the age-old question: Wheres the dish towel? Most homes dont have a convenient place devoted to hanging this commodity in the kitchen. For a stylish solution, install accessories such as hooks, towel bars or towel rings on the side of an upper cabinet, the end of the island or in other work areas. Next, think of the sink: accessories such as colanders and cutting boards can now fit seamlessly into the sink to help make meal prep and clean up a breeze. 3. Enhance the Lighting Lighting is a critical element in kitchen design, both for its decorative and functional benefits. But not all lighting is created equal; the best way to enhance the room is to install custom lighting to suit your kitchens needs. It can also make the space look roomier and more elegant. With styles ranging from incandescent bulbs with vintage glass shades to ultra-chic halogen cones, hangingpendantsare popular ceiling fixtures for thekitchen. For an instant update, install pendants over an island or countertop where the low-hanging fixtures wont interfere with traffic flow. 4. Add Personality After tackling your kitchen updates, be sure to treat yourself and your kitchen to something nice. Adding something pretty like a bouquet of flowers, new linens, or a bright new tea pot will bring life into the space. You can also jazz up yourkitchenwith lively artwork. Whether its a professional painting or fun vintage posters, artwork helps complete your renovation. For a more personal touch, hang a grouping of family photographs, or frame some of your childrens more colourful artistic creations for a vibrant and charming display. Before starting demolition on your kitchen remodel, make sure the design is a reflection of you. By following these five steps, not only will you have a kitchen that complements your lifestyle, you will also draw plenty of compliments from family and friends. Contact your VERICO Broker for details on how you could win $5000.00* to renovate your home! You could be the next winner of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest! *Purchase Necessary. Residents of Quebec are excepted from this contest.
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Five reasons why every Canadian woman should have her own will

Jun 27

2014
Making a will is a sensible and worthwhile task that everybody, whatever their age or financial status, should do. However there are some special reasons why women should make a will of their own: Women usually live longer than their husbands, so its a good idea for each of you to have your own will. Planning for children or other dependants is something that women usually want to pay special attention to. Taxes and legal concerns (especially if there was a previous marriage or other dependants) should be looked at. Many women will want to make special arrangements for the distribution of family heirlooms, jewellery, items of historical or sentimental value, and their own property. Continuing the support for charities and organizations that many women supported during their lifetimes may be a consideration. A will lets you decide With a properly prepared will, you can ensure that: Property will be distributed exactly as you would have wished; You can name your own executor to administer your estate; Guardians of children will be named in the way you want; Personal items such as jewellery and antiques will be handled the way you intend; Individuals, your church, health charities and organizations like Amnesty International will receive the support you had always intended for them. Common questions include: How do I start? If you do not have a will, now is the time to prepare one. While a will does not need to be a complicated document, it is always advisable to contact a lawyer or trust company to help you. The peace of mind which comes from ensuring there are no small mistakes or omissions which could cause difficulties for your heirs is well worth the costs of such services. Can I change my will? Yes, you can always change your will, either completely or by means of a codicil, which is a document that adds to or alters your existing will. You should seek legal advice to do this as requirements vary from province to province. Should I leave money to a good cause? Always take care of your loved ones first, but then consider if there are organizations and causes youd also like to support with your estate. The tradition of leaving money to charities that benefit society and your community is many centuries old. Today, people at all income levels support organizations like the Cancer Society or Amnesty International through their wills. These bequests are a vital source of funds for the organizations and stand as a lasting memorial to the donor. For individuals who feel that they cannot afford to make a large donation to a cause they support during their lifetime, a bequest in a will can be a good way to make a lasting contribution.
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Canadian Mortgage Market Rests in Delicate Balance (Part 2)

Jun 25

2014
Low interest rates stimulate home purchase, mortgage debt reduction, optimism Canadians are reducing their mortgages by negotiating lower interest rates, making lump sum pre-payments and repaying their mortgages at, on average, two-thirds of their contracted amortization periods. This has created an attractive landscape for new homeowners, as historically low interest rates have attracted increasing numbers of first-time buyers, who made up fifty-five per cent of new homes purchased in 2013. In the survey, Canadians express a strong belief that real estate in Canada is a good long term investment and agree that mortgages are a form of good debt. Canadians still feel optimistic about the economy in the coming 12 months, and say they have no regrets taking on the size of mortgage they did. Economic storm clouds Even as the housing market appears buoyant, new housing starts have dropped, a slowdown that is just getting started, raising warning flags over bigger negative impacts to come. Across Canada the housing market is slowing, and has been on a downward swing since the mortgage policy change in 2012, said Will Dunning, CAAMP Chief Economist. While the national market may look healthy, activity in the Greater Toronto Area (including Hamilton), the Greater Vancouver Regional District and the Calgary area is skewing the numbers high. In the rest of Canada sales activity has weakened and house prices are flat, and even falling in some communities. Housing has played a key role in driving economic growth and job creation in Canada. But looking ahead, decreased starts and slower price growth will throw off the balance between the housing market and the overall economy. The Report urges policy makers not to confuse rising home prices in the Greater Toronto Area (including Hamilton) and the Greater Vancouver Regional District where urban land shortages are driving prices, and the Calgary area, which currently benefits from strong job creation, with the slowdown which is evident in other communities across the country. The strongest indicator is housing starts. The Report says new urban low rise housing starts have dropped by around 15 per cent and it is expected that apartment starts will also soon follow. The overall impact is that starts will have dropped by 20 per cent by late next year, compared to 2011 and 2012 levels. This matters because the housing market is closely tied to the economy, generating jobs in construction, manufacturing, financial services and more. Each new single family home built in Canada creates 2 to 2.5 person years of employment, so a slowdown in starts will inevitably result in fewer jobs. In addition, a slowdown in the housing market dampens consumer confidence, which is typically boosted by house prices. Declining consumer confidence leads to a decrease in spending, which will negatively impact the broader economy. For a full copy of CAAMPs spring survey report, visitwww.caamp.org.
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Canadian Mortgage Market Rests in Delicate Balance (Part 1)

Jun 23

2014
The Canadian mortgage market rests in a delicate balance: CAAMP Housing activity high in three major markets; while most of Canada experiences slowdown First time home buyers continue to enter the Canadian housing market in substantial numbers, encouraged by low interest rates and acting in response to their own favourable economic circumstances, according to the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP), in its newest consumer survey report, Looking for a New Normal in the Residential Mortgage Market. The report spends some time looking at Canadians attitudes about their purchase decisions and found that homeowners appear to be happy with the decision to buy their home. They say they feel confident they can weather a downturn in the housing market and they consider mortgage debt to be good debt. Their attitudes are the same whether they live in Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver where prices continue to rise, or in areas where home prices are stabilizing. Highlights 55 per cent of homes purchased in 2013 were bought by first time buyers Most Canadians say they have no regrets taking on the size of mortgage they did and that real estate is a good long term investment 66 per cent agree in some degree that mortgages are a form of good debt House prices in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver have increased by a year-over-year rate of 8.2 per cent, compared to just 2.9 per cent in the rest of Canada By next year, housing starts will have fallen by 20 per cent compared to levels in 2011 and 2012 More than 80 per cent of homeowners in Canada have 25 per cent or more equity in their homes The average mortgage interest rate is 3.24 per cent, a drop from the average of 3.5 per cent found in the fall 2013 survey From the consumer perspective we have a picture of a very confident, healthy mortgage market, said Jim Murphy, AMP, President and CEO of CAAMP. Key to the current stability in the mortgage market is the fact that Canadians continue to pay down their mortgage debt faster than they are required and they continue to take out five-year, fixed rate mortgages. Canadians who renew their mortgages are seeing their interest costs reduced, which is boosting their personal financial circumstances, and this will continue to be a positive force during the coming year.
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May 2014 Housing Starts in Canada

Jun 20

2014
Housing starts in Canada were trending at 184,438 units in May compared to 183,872 in April, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR)1of housing starts. In May, the trend in housing starts was virtually unchanged for the third consecutive month. This is in line with CMHCs analysis indicating that the new home construction market in Canada is headed for a soft landing in 2014, said Bruno Duhamel, Manager, Housing and Economic Analysis. Builders are expected to continue to manage their starts activity in order to ensure that demand from buyers seeking new units is first channeled toward unsold completed units or unsold units that are currently under construction, including condominium units. CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of the housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading in some markets, as they are largely driven by the multiples segment of the markets which can be quite variable from one month to the next. The standalone monthly SAAR was 198,324 units in May, a slight increase from 196,687 in April. The SAAR of urban starts increased to 180,813 units. Multiple urban starts decreased to 117,709 units while the single-detached urban starts segment increased to 63,104 units. In May, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and British Columbia, held steady in Ontario, and decreased in the Prairies. If you are thinking about buying a new home, contact me and I can help you make the most of your finances.
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YOUNG BC FAMILY WINS $5000 FROM VERICO TO RENOVATE PURCHASE INTO DREAM HOME!

May 30

2014
VERICO Canada and VERICO Compass Mortgage Group are pleased to announce the first winners of the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest. Dean Larson and Aaron Marsh of VERICO Compass Mortgage along with Sean Widdess, Vice President of Business Development and Jared Dreyer, Vice President of Corporate Relations, VERICO Canada, presented a cheque to winners Ryan Bohonos and Elaine Bohonos of New Westminster, BC. We are so very grateful for Aarons assistance in the whole mortgage process, but winning VERICOs renovation contest is icing on the cake, says Elaine Bohonos. We cant stop sharing this story with everyone we meet...its incredible, adds Mrs. Bohonos. When I told my clients the good news, they were very excited, but most of all, they were extremely appreciative. This extra $5,000 will go a long way in their renovation project. It is such a thrill to be part of this fantastic VERICO promotion. These clients couldnt be any happier,says AaronMarsh, Mortgage Broker of VERICO Compass Mortgage Group. What a great privilege to be able to brighten someones day, says Dean Larson, Owner of VERICO Compass Mortgage Group. In partnership with VERICO Canada, we were able to greatly enhance the overall home buying experience for these clients, and I was thrilled that VERICO Compass Mortgage Group could be a part of it. VERICO Canada is delighted to support Dean and Aaron in helping to create a great experience for their clients, says Sean Widdess, Vice President of Business Development VERICO Canada. We look forward to giving away another $25,000 to the 5 next lucky winners! Clients of VERICO mortgage brokers can win 1 of 6 prizes of $5000.00 to go towards their home renovations through the VERICO Purchase Plus Improvement Contest. Another five prizes are still up for grabs. A Purchase Plus Improvement mortgage gives qualifying clients the ability to access up to $40,000 for the purpose of renovations. This amount is rolled up into their mortgage so clients are able pay it off as a part of their regular mortgage payments. This mortgage option allows home buyers, especially first timers, to take their first step into home ownership and still have the funds to renovate their purchase into their dream home. To find out how you could win $5000.00 please contact me!
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How to be a road warrior

May 13

2014
For many of us, exercise isnt easy. So its no surprise that when taken out of our regular routines its one of the first things to fall to the wayside - along with that strict diet youve been following, of course! Whether youre flying or driving, at a hotel with a gym or without, here are eight simple tips for your next trip: Pack healthy snacks Travelling can be stressful which will make you want to eat junk. But with nutritious snacks on-hand, youll avoid giving into that temptation. Stock the mini fridge with fruits and yogurt and use the coffee makers water dispenser to make oatmeal as a healthy breakfast. Slip on those walking shoes We recently read that sitting is the new smoking, so make sure to get up and walk as much as you can. Whether its a few blocks to your next meeting or just around the airport terminal - just remember to pack comfortable shoes. Stay hydrated Flying dehydrates you, which makes you tired and when youre tired you can overeat. Keep a bottle of water with you at all time and youll make friends with your waistline and skin. Note: Alcoholic beverages do not count. Stretch it out Do a little yoga after youve been sitting for an extended period. Your body will thank you. Its a great idea to also stretch out before bed as it can help alleviate stress. Pack lightweight fitness essentials Aside from your running shoes and workout gear, a skipping rope can be your best friend if youre craving some cardio on the go. Resistance bands are also useful. Schedule your workout Its easy to say theres no time or brush it aside when outside of your normal schedule, but by adding it into your daily agenda, youll increase the likelihood of actually getting to it - whether youre a morning person or night owl. Check your gym options If you know that the gym in your hotel is a claustrophobic box with a 1980s treadmill, make sure to bring your membership from home with you. Bring Rover Now this might not be possible for some professions, however, if you have an animal-friendly joband hotel, consider bringing your furry friend along. Those daily walks will help keep you in shape and its someone to cuddle with at night.
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Housing Starts on stable trend says CMHC

May 8

2014
Housing starts in Canada were trending at 183,515 units in April compared to 184,602 in March, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. In April, the trend in housing starts was essentially stable at 183,515 units. This is in line with CMHCs analysis indicating that the new home construction market in Canada is headed for a soft landing in 2014, said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist. Over the remainder of the year, builders are expected to continue to adjust activity, particularly with respect to multiples, in order to manage inventory levels.
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Join in the discussions about your Canada Pension Plan

May 5

2014
Are you one of millions who wonder how your CPP contributions are invested? This is the year to find out. On June 9, 2014, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is inviting Canadians to join their electronic town hall, an interactive webcast to hear about the organizations most recent financial performance, and pose any questions we might have to top executives. CPPIB is a professional investment management organization and on behalf of the 18 million contributors and beneficiaries, it invests the assets of the CPP that are not currently required to pay benefits. The organization holds public meetings every two years to give Canadians an opportunity to find out how it is helping to secure their retirement futures. It also follows rigorous disclosure practices to ensure transparency in its investment operations. Every two years, the board holds in-person events at one location in each of the nine provinces where Canadians contribute to the CPP. But starting in 2012, it began to offer the live interactive webcast to coincide with the in-person events. This addition gave far more Canadians the opportunity to participate in the meetings. This year, viewers will see a presentation about the investment strategies and financial performance from CPPIBs president and CEO Mark Wiseman, and from Robert Astley, chair of the board of directors. The two executives will then participate in a live question and answer period, responding to both webcast viewers and to those in the various live locations. Anyone interested in viewing or participating online can find more information at www.cppib.com. Participants are encouraged to pre-register and submit their questions. The website also lists the locations of the live event locations in each province. The webcast will remain on CPPIBs site after June 9th so that anyone who missed it can view the meeting. The good news for Canadians is that the CPP remains financial sound. The chief actuary of Canada examines the financial health of the Canada Pension Plan every three years and issued his latest report in December 2013. In it he reaffirmed that the CPP will remain sustainable at the current contribution rate of 9.9% throughout the future 75-year period of this report, even with the aging of the Canadian population. The assets of the CPP Fund totaled $201.5 billion at December 31, 2013. The fund is invested in Canada and globally in a broadly diversified portfolio of public and private equities, real estate, infrastructure, and fixed income instruments. www.newscanada.com
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Ways to use the equity in your home

Apr 30

2014
Once youre a homeowner, the payoff can be great. When you make a mortgage payment each month, you build equity in a place of your own. As the equity in your home grows, your financial flexibility also increases. Think of it as an extra source of financing for when the unexpected happens. An added benefit of borrowing money against the equity in your home, is it usually comes with a lower interest rate than other forms of credit, such as consumer loans, lines of credit and credit cards. Here are some ways you can use the equity in your home: Pay off other debts with higher interest rates (like credit card debt) Renovate or repair your home build a new room or put in a swimming pool For important life events a wedding, dream vacation or university tuition Purchase a second home or vacation property Emergencies like a serious illness Want to know more about how you can access the equity in your home? Contact me for more details. Genworth Canada
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Buy a home sooner to build equity

Apr 28

2014
Buying a home can be very beneficial to your finances in the long-run. This is because a home allows you to buildequity.When you make a mortgage payment each month, you build equity in a place of your own (unlike renting). Equity is the difference between the value of the home and your outstanding mortgage. The longer you stay in your home (and the more payments you make), the more equity youll have. And, unlike most things you buy, a home will almost certainly increase in value over time which builds even more equity. Follow my blog, to find out ways to use the equity in your home. Source: Genworth Canada
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Canadians are locking into Fixed Rate Mortgages (Part 2)

Apr 25

2014
New homeowners looking for greater predictability A recentpoll conducted by Nielsen finds that Canadians are increasingly focused on moving to fixed-rate mortgages. The poll also revealed thatyounger Canadians are even more likely to choose a fixed rate mortgage, with56%of Canadians aged 25-34 saying they would lock in to a fixed rate today; the number has been steadily increasing over the last four years. In contrast, more established homeowners (aged 45-54) were among those less likely to lean towards a fixed rate (43%). For Canadians who have recently taken out a mortgage, have additional expenses, or are still holding debt, the predictability of a fixed mortgage rate may be appealing. According to the survey, many Canadians still prefer fixed mortgage rates over VRM (Variable Rate Mortgages). Homeowners at any stage in life should consider their tolerance for fluctuating rates when choosing between a fixed or variable mortgage rate. If you are unsure whether fixed or variable rate is right for you, contact me to find out more.
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Canadians are locking into Fixed Rate Mortgages (Part 1)

Apr 23

2014
A recentpoll conducted by Nielsen finds that nearly half of Canadians dont think low rates will last forever and expect mortgage rates to be higher a year from now. The poll also shows that Canadians are increasingly focused on moving to fixed-rate mortgages. According to the Consumer Insights survey, many Canadians still prefer fixed mortgage rates over VRM (Variable Rate Mortgages). The survey found that about 48% of Canadians would choose a fixed rate mortgage if they had to make that decision today, 31% would choose variable rate mortgage today, and 19% were undecided as to which type of mortgage they would choose. The survey also notes, that although Canadians have had a relatively stable rate environment for a number of years, they are becoming more prudent when it comes to mortgage planning. By locking into a fixed rate mortgage, Canadians reduce their risk of an increase in interest rates during the term of their mortgage. If you are unsure about choosing between a Fixed Rate Mortgage or Variable Rate Mortgage, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to assist you.
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Have an early discussion with your kids about money management

Apr 16

2014
The Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson and Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) Deputy Commissioner Brigitte Goulard, kicked offTalk with Our Kids About Money Day, a financial Literacy campaign for youngsters. Talk With Our Kids About Money Dayencourages parents and teachers to be involved and actively engage in conversations with kids and young adults about money management. From their first cell phone, to their first credit card, many young Canadians are making financial decisions without proper guidance. Having an early discussion about money will help your kids build knowledge and skills for decision making in their financial future. Parents can start by modeling good spending behaviour and ensuring your child practices sound money management. Make sure to discuss money management in a variety of settings and get your childs opinions and input about money both at home and when you are out and about. There are a number of tools, guides, and support materials you can use to help you get started.Click here for more information.
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Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment (Part 3)

Apr 14

2014
There are many factors as to why Canadian homebuyers are thinking more about smart home investing and careful financial planning -As discussed on our previous blogs, Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment Part 1 2. Based on the Canada-wide survey commissioned by Genworth Canada, homebuyers are working harder and making larger contributions towards their down payment for a new home purchase. Canadians are slowly building up more confidence in their goals towards homeownership while young professionals are saving up for their down payments, 67 percent of the older generations say their goal is to pay off their mortgage faster which has increased from 62 percent in 2013. Over the last two years, financial literacy attitudes of Canadians have stayed consistently stronger than before. While our financial well-being is strengthening, we are also becoming more fiscally responsible. For example, the proportion of First-Time Buyers/Intenders who say they dont know what their credit rating is has declined from 32 percent to 23 percent. According to the official release, 95 percent agree that children should be taught basic finances and budgeting in school, and 93 percent would like to see education provided before people take out their first loan or credit card. For more information on homeownership, please feel free to contact me and I can give you guidance on making your first home purchase. Source: Genworth Canada
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Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment (Part 2)

Apr 11

2014
In the last blog, Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment Part 1, we discussed some of the factors as to why Canadian homebuyers are thinking more about smart home investing and careful financial planning. According to a Canada-wide survey commissioned by Genworth Canada, homebuyers are working harder and making larger contributions towards their savings in order to make a home purchase. Image sourced from Genworth Canada Canadians are slowly building up more confidence in their goals towards homeownership. According to the official release of the survey, about nine out of ten people believe that owning their own home gives them a greater sense of emotional well-being. Despite the fact that it could mean more work needed towards saving up, Canadians would rather own a home than pay rent. For more information on homeownership, please feel free to contact me and I can give you guidance on making your first home purchase. Source: Genworth Canada
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Canadians believe that buying a home is a great investment (Part 1)

Apr 9

2014
According to a Canada-wide survey commissioned by Genworth Canada, homebuyers are working harder and for a longer period to save for a down payment; though many remain confident in buying a home as a long-term investment, according to the national poll surveying Canadians about their financial well-being and preparedness. Image sourced from Genworth Canada Despite tighter mortgage qualification criteria over recent years, survey results point towards positive trends in homebuyer behaviour, Stuart Levings, Chief Operating Officer of Genworth Canada noted in the official release. With a stable economy and real estate market, Canadians appear to have more confidence in the value of homeownership and see their goals of homeownership and financial well-being as more achievable. Canadian homebuyers are definitely thinking more about smart home investing, and by doing so, the first step in making the down payment is by saving up and through careful financial planning. The official release states that about 50 percent of potential home buyers will save up for 1-2 years; whereas, 29 percent estimates that it could take them up to 3-4 years to save up. Additionally, about 17 percent say now would be a good time to make a home purchase, with 19 percent being a higher proportion of those individuals whom are optimistic first-time buyers. Regardless of the increased prices of the housing market since 2013 and many Canadians believing that it will increase in the next 12 months,according to the official release,home ownership is still considered more favourable in comparison to renting. The study also found that 53 percent of the respondents are worried about missing the big opportunity this year of buying a house, as most are financially stretched. Source: Genworth Canada For more information on homeownership, please feel free to contact me for guidance on making your first home purchase.
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Take the hard work out of spring cleaning

Apr 7

2014
(NC) Look on the bright side. Annual spring cleaning doesnt have to be a chore, but rather a chance to revitalize your home. The tasks come in all shapes and sizes, and more often than not, some items are bound to be overlooked. Real top-to-bottom housecleaning can take hours, but not always. Many of the high-tech home appliances do extra work now, giving us valuable time back every day. So here are a few pointers to put the shine back quickly, and get you out of the house: Nitty-gritty The best way to get a thorough clean is to tackle the hard-to-reach places. Behind the couch, under the carpet, and in the corners of the basement office, dust and cobwebs reside just waiting to be caught. To get the best results, dont forget to reach high and low. When the chores are done you will appreciate the extra effort. Keep clean year round Innovative technology in your appliances is an easy way to ensure time-saving cleaning practices are in place, every day. For example, LGs new Fully-Integrated Dishwasher with TrueSteam technology has a third rack to give you the room and flexibility you need and also eliminates the time spent pre-washing. Additional information at: LG.com Think outside the box Spring cleaning doesnt have to be lacklustre. Think of those unconventional spaces that are due for a refresh. Dust and grime often reside on doorknobs, light fixtures and ceiling fans, so get creative and switch up your cleaning routine. Let appliances do the work for you Many appliances have self-clean settings, which saves you the time and effort of scrubbing till they sparkle. www.newscanada.com
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Is it better to buy a new or resale home?

Apr 4

2014
(NC) The decision to buy a home is usually both exciting and daunting. While you may know the size or style of home you want, such as condominium or townhouse, the choice between a new or resale home is another important consideration. Both new and resale homes have their advantages and drawbacks, which may range from having a home with character and history to customizing a brand new space for a turnkey experience. What some people may not know is that there are different legal considerations when purchasing a new versus resale home, says Ray Leclair, vice president of public affairs at LAWPRO. Purchasing a home is a significant investment, so be sure to protect it by addressing uncertainties with a real estate lawyer. To help in your decision-making between a new or resale home, Leclair advises considering the following factors: New home Advantages: The work is compliant with the latest construction and safety code requirements; Warranties for construction/appliance/system defects provide peace of mind; A building-location survey is generally available. Drawbacks: Construction may not be completed in time for the proposed move-in; The buying decision may be based on plans, rather than actually viewing the property or seeing a similar model; There may be ongoing construction around the home or in the neighbourhood and landscaping and upgrades are discouraged while work proceeds or within warranty periods. Resale home Advantages: Buyers can see what they are buying and have the opportunity to inspect the home; Generally the home will be in an established neighbourhood without ongoing construction; The neighbourhood landscape and infrastructure is known and ready to enjoy think parks, schools and shopping. Drawbacks: There will likely be no warranties or recourse if a defect is discovered; It may be difficult to see any hidden problems and there is no guarantee that plumbing, electrical or the construction are up-to-code; If there is a building-location survey, it is likely dated. While these lists arent comprehensive, they can help buyers determine whats most important when shopping for a new home. Ultimately, the key is to make an informed decision and find something that suits budget, neighbourhood preferences and personal style. Source: www.newscanada.com Mortgage brokers are an important part of buying owning a home.For more information on purchasing a new home, please feel free to contact me.
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Canadian Housing Market: Housing starts to remain stable in 2014 and 2015

Apr 2

2014
Date Released: First Quarter 2014 Overview Housing starts to remain stable in 2014 and 2015 2014 187,300 2015 184,900 MLS sales to rebound in 2014 and increase slightly in 2015 2014 466,500 2015 474,700 *Theoutlookissubjecttouncertainty.Althoughpointforecastsarepresentedinthispublication,CMHCalsopresentsforecastrangesandriskswhereappropriate. The forecasts included in this document reflectinformation available as of January 22, 2014. *Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a registered trademark owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association. While housing demand will be supported by an improvement in fundamentals, total housing starts will remain more or less stable over the forecast horizon. With a relatively high number of units under construction in some local markets, builders are expected to adjust the pace of new activity in order to manage their inventory levels. Overall, total housing starts are expected to remain mostly unchanged in 2014, reaching 187,300 units, before moderating to 184,900 units in 2015. Existing home sales are expected to rise moderately along with economic conditions in 2014 and 2015. On an annual basis, sales through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are expected to reach 466,500 units in2014 and 474,700 units in 2015. *Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a registered trademark owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association In line with expectations that most local housing markets will remain in or near balanced market conditions, the average MLS price average for Canada is expected to grow at a rate near inflation over the forecast horizon. The average MLS price is expected to reach $390,400 in 2014 and $397,100 in 2015, representing increases of 2.1 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively. Economic Forecasts CMHC uses publicly available information and the consensus among major Canadian forecasters as a basis for its economic forecasts. GDP growth is estimated at 1.8 per cent in 2013. In accordance with the consensus among prominent Canadian economic forecasters, growth in gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast at 2.2 per cent in 2014, rising to 2.5 per cent in 2015. Over the forecast horizon, the sources of economic growth are expected tobe more diverse. While consumption will continue to provide support, the contribution of business investment and exports to economic growth will expand as they progressively strengthen in 2014 and 2015. Employment increased by 1.3 percent in 2013. CMHC expects that employment will grow by 1.5 per cent in 2014 and 1.8 per cent in 2015.The anticipated employment growth is expected to sustain moderate income growth and household formation over the forecast horizon. This will, in turn, support demand on the housing market. Consistent with a somewhat higher economic growth prospect, interest rates are forecast to register gradual and modest increases by the end ofthe forecast horizon, ultimately leading to a slight increase in mortgage rates. Nevertheless, this interest rate outlook will continue to support housing market activity over the forecast horizon, as mortgage rates will remain low by historical standards. According to CMHCs base case scenario for 2014, the average for the one-year posted mortgage rate is forecast to be within 3.0 per cent to 3.50 per cent, while the average forthe five-year posted mortgage rate is anticipated to be within 5.25 per cent to 5.75 per cent. For 2015, the average for the one-year posted mortgage rate is expected to rise and be in the 3.75 per cent to 4.25 per cent range, while the average for the five-year posted mortgage rate is forecast to be within 5.50 per cent to 6.25 per cent. Housing Forecasts Over the forecast horizon, the sources of economic growth in Canada are expected to continue to improve and broaden, as exports and business investment progressively strengthen. As the shift occurs, economic fundamentals, including employment and disposable income growth, are expected toincrease modestly. These factors will help to sustain demand for new home construction in 2014 and 2015. While the above cited fundamentals will help to sustain the demand for new homes in 2014 and 2015, the influence of other factors will cause housing starts to moderate over the latter part of the forecast horizon. With a relatively high number of units currently under construction in some local markets, builders are expected to gradually adjust their pace of activity in order to manage their inventory levels. Also, the expectation of modest and gradual increases in mortgage rates toward the end of the forecast horizon will also contribute to tempering demand. This, combined with a slow down in the growth of the pool of first-time buyers in late 2014 and into2015, will lead to further moderation of housing starts next year. Nevertheless, housing starts are projected to remain somewhat stable, at 187,300 units in 2014. In 2015, housing starts are expected to moderate to184,900 units. Multiple housing starts expected to stabilize in 2014 and decline in 2015 High level of activity in the years prior to 2013 left a reltively high number of multiple housing units* currently under construction in some local markets, when compared to historical averages.The strengthening of economic fundamentals over the forecast horizon, will provide support to multiple housing demand and contribute to offset the effect of a gradual and modest increase in mortgage rates and slower growth in the pool of first-time home buyers. However, in the face of relatively high numbers of units under construction, builders are expected to adjust the level of starts, so as to channel demand toward the absorption of inventories. Overall, these effects will result in multiple housing starts remainingrelatively unchanged, at 110,600 units, in 2014 and 108,700 units in 2015. *Multiple housing startsconsist of row, semi-detached and apartment units MLS sales expected to reboundin 2014 and increase slightly in 2015 In 2014 and 2015, MLS sales are expected to continue to rise along with improving economic conditions. Specifically, sales through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are expected to reach 466,500 units in 2014, before seeing an increase to 474,700 in 2015. Balanced market conditions expected to prevail over forecast horizon Balanced market conditions are expected to persist in most regions across Canada throughout the forecast horizon, and the average MLS price is expected to remain relatively stable at a rate slightly above inflation.The average MLS price is expected to increase by 2.1 per cent to reach $390,400 in 2014. In 2015, the average MLS price should move up modestly, to $397,100, for an increase of 1.7 percent. For more information on the Housing Market Outlook, and the statistical details on the housing forecast, please go toCMHC - Housing Market Outlook - Canada Highlights - First Quarter 2014. CMHCHome to Canadians Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canadas national housing agency for more than 65 years. Together with other housing stakeholders, we help ensure that the Canadian housing system remains one of the best in theworld. We are committed to helping Canadians access a wide choice of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordablehousing solutions that will continue to create vibrant and healthy communities and cities across the country. For more information, visit our website at www.cmhc.ca The information, analyses and opinions contained in this publication are based on various sources believed to be reliable,but their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information, analyses and opinions shall not be taken as representations forwhich Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or any of its employees shall incur responsibility. SOURCE: CMHC
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Four steps to buying your first home

Mar 31

2014
(NC) If this is the year in which you resolved to buy your first house, youre about to enter a period in your life that is both exciting and nerve-wracking. With so many factors to consider before you sign the dotted line, the financial experts from Desjardins Group have some tips and suggestions to help get you started. First, can you even afford a house? Although interest rates are low now, its important to remember that they may increase in the future. Typically, mortgages are amortized over 25 years and are offered in six-month, five- or even ten-year terms. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford because your life and financial priorities will change. Second, secure your down payment Experts advise that prospective home owners should down a down payment of up to 20 percent of the houses value. One option is to borrow against your RRSP. Each person is eligible to withdraw $25,000 or $50,000 per couple. If you havent enough in your account, its possible to take a top-up RRSP loan to reach the right amount. Once you have bought your home, youll have 15 years to repay the amount to your RRSP. Another option is to put down 10 percent and to accept a higher mortgage loan insurance amount. Third, fixed or variable rate? A fixed interest rate offers stability and predictability, but you lose out on lower interest rates should they become available. The payments with variable interest rates also remain constant but there is the risk that interest rates may go up. This means more goes to your interest payment and less to your principal. If you cant choose between the two options, a split mortgage offers you the best of both worlds. Another idea for first time home buyers is to consider qualifying for a pre-authorized mortgage. This process evaluates your financial situation to determine the maximum financing amount for which you are eligible. That way when you start looking at houses you will know which ones fit your budget. Fourth, have enough to close Avoid closing sticker shock by knowing ahead of time what other fees and taxes youll need to pay, such as: Inspection fees: If you decide to purchase an existing home, this detailed report will focus attention on any hidden defects that will require repair in the short- and long-term. Appraisal fees: Your financial institution will request that an appraiser evaluate and determine the true value of the property you wish to acquire. Legal fees: You will be responsible for hiring a lawyer who will prepare, sign and register the various legal documents related to the purchase of the property. Additional taxes and fees: Transfer tax, property tax, school taxes, electricity and natural gas bills are due at sale closing. Mortgage brokers are an important part of buying owning a home. I am a knowledgeable advisor that can help you ensure you have the right mortgage at the best interest rate available. For more information about mortgages, feel free to contact me. Source:www.newscanada.com
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Valuable Fraud Prevention Tips for Homebuyers and Homeowners: Part 2

Mar 28

2014
March is Fraud Prevention Month. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has consistently been a leader in the fight against mortgage fraud and offers the following tips to protect yourself against becoming a victim of mortgage fraud. What Can You do to Protect Yourself? Be an informed consumer! Be wary of anyone who approaches you with an offer to make easy money in real estate. Remember: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of or accomplices to mortgage fraud. This means: Never deliberately misrepresent information when applying for a mortgage. Never accept money, guarantee a loan or add your name to a mortgage unless you fully intend to purchase the property. If you allow your personal information to be used for a mortgage you could be held responsible for the entire debt if the mortgage defaults. Always know who you are doing business with and never sign anything without understanding exactly what you are signing. Use licensed or accredited mortgage and real estate professionals. Get independent legal advice from your own lawyer/notary and talk to them about title insurance and other methods of protection. Contact the local provincial land titles office to obtain the sales history of any property you are thinking about buying and consider having it inspected and appraised. An accredited appraiser will provide the property sales and MLS history. Find out from your lawyer if anyone other than the seller has a financial interest in the home or if there are any outstanding liens or tax arrears. If a deposit is required, make sure the funds are payable to and held in trust by the vendors realty company or by a lawyer/notary. You can also help to protect yourself by inspecting your credit report at least annually by contacting Canadas two credit-reporting agencies:Equifax Canadaatwww.equifax.caandTransUnion Canadaatwww.transunion.ca. Reporting Fraud If you suspect that you or someone you know has been the victim of mortgage fraud, please contact your local police department or The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. On-line:www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca Toll Free: 1-888-495-8501 Toll Free Fax: 1-888-654-9426 Email:info@antifraudcentre.ca To find out more about mortgage fraud, visit the fraud prevention section of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) website athttp://mortgageconsumer.org/protect-yourself-from-real-estate-fraud. For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canadas national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information. Source:CMHC
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Valuable Fraud Prevention Tips for Homebuyers and Homeowners: Part 1

Mar 26

2014
March is Fraud Prevention Month. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has consistently been a leader in the fight against mortgage fraud and offers the following tips to protect yourself against becoming a victim of mortgage fraud. Misrepresentation of Information Mortgage fraudoccurs when someone deliberately misrepresents information in order to obtain mortgage financing that would not have been granted if the truth had been known. This can include: Misstating ones position or inflating ones income or length of service at their job; Misstating employment status (ie. salaried/full time versus contract, part time, hourly or commission-based or self-employed); Misrepresenting the amount and/or source of the down payment; Purchasing a rental property and misrepresenting it as owner-occupied; Not disclosing existing mortgage and/or debt obligations; Misrepresenting property details or omitting information in order to Inflate the property value; Adding co-borrowers who will not be residing in the home and do not intend to take responsibility for the mortgage. Another common form of fraud is when a con artist convinces someone with good credit to act as astraw buyer.A straw buyer is someone who agrees to put his or her name on a mortgage application on behalf of another person. In return for their participation, straw buyers may be offered cash or promised high returns when the property is sold. Often, straw buyers are deceived into believing that they will not be responsible for the mortgage payments. Consequences of Misrepresentation Borrowers who misrepresent information and straw buyers who allow a property to be purchased in their name are committing mortgage fraud and will be responsible for any financial shortfall in the event of default. They may also be held criminally responsible for their misrepresentation. Reporting Fraud If you suspect that you or someone you know has been the victim of mortgage fraud, please contact your local police department or The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. On-line:www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca Toll Free: 1-888-495-8501 Toll Free Fax: 1-888-654-9426 Email:info@antifraudcentre.ca To find out more about mortgage fraud, visit the fraud prevention section of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) website athttp://mortgageconsumer.org/protect-yourself-from-real-estate-fraud. For over 65 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canadas national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing information. Source: CMHC
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Top five home renovations that increase property value

Mar 24

2014
Looking to increase your homes property value? Here are five of the best renovations you can do to your home to increase property value. These five renovations can sometimes have a return on investment 5-6x what they cost. #5 Flooring Flooring is one of the most important aspects of your house. You will see an immediate rise in property valuation with the installation of hardwood floors. Existing hardwood floors that you can refinish are ideal as they are less costly to restore and in higher demand than new flooring materials. For the bathroom, tile will always be in demand and retain value exceptionally well. #4 Fixtures Kitchens often look tired and dated, in large part due to old fixtures. Replacing or updating cabinet hardware, light fixtures, countertops and faucets will result in an immediate increase in your homes value. This small, but effective upgrade will also revitalize the entire home. Pot lights are in high demand in open concept style homes. #3 Bathroom Thebathroomis the second most important room in the home in terms of valuation. If you can add a three-piece bathroom to a home with only one full bathroom, you will see a dramatic rise in the market value of your home. While you should never compromise bedroom space for a bathroom, try sneaking one in dead space in the home. Scott managed to fit in a 3-piece bathroom under a staircase the width of the room measured just 44 inches. As an added tip, use glass for the shower to make the bathroom feel more spacious. #2 Kitchen Kitchens are the single most important room in the home relating to valuation. The kitchen can make a significant difference in the value of your home. As such, it is crucial that you invest in having a modern, fresh anddesirable kitchen. Modern cabinetry, under cabinet lighting and new appliances will all significantly increase the value of your home on the market. To save on cost without compromising construction and desirability, look at options like Ikea cabinets as opposed to custom cabinetry. #1 An Income Suite No surprise, but the single biggest way to increase the value of your home is to build an income suite within the property. Whether this is converting yourbasement into a rental, or another floor in the home, an income property will increase your homes worth. The main reason for this is that it covers a portion, or sometimes all of your mortgage payments, and results in your home being cash flow positive which creates real wealth that can supplement your income. sources:www.homeownership.ca; www.genworth.ca
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New thinking on BoC rate hike

Jan 6

2014
Source : by MBN (mortgagebrokernews.ca)| 03 Jan 2014Brokers are anticipating a particularly busy 2014 as clients look to move before the Bank of Canada does, although there’s new thinking on the timing of its long-awaited hike in the overnight rate."The Federal Reserve calmed potential homeowners and investors by signalling it won’t raise the rate until the economy improves further, which by its own estimates, probably won’t be until 2015," Bob Aggarwal, president of Canadalend.com said in a statement. "And because the Canadian economy is so dependent upon the U.S.economy, the chance that the Bank of Canada will raise its overnight rate, which is what the prime mortgage rate is tied to, ahead of the U.S. is remote."And with the central bank refusing to raise its rate until late 2015, the next two years may still provide ultra-low interest rates to entice buyers to jump into the market."By keeping its policy rate at one per cent, the Bank of Canada has created one of the most stable and favourable borrowing environments for potential homeowners in decades,” Aggarwal said. “It looks like it will continue to be agreat time for home buyers for at least a couple more years."However, that opportunity won’t last forever as, sooner or later, the Bank of Canada will have to raise its rate."The near-record low interest rate environment cannot last against the backdrop of an improving economy," Aggarwal said. "The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development believes that with the Canadian and global economies returning to more stable ground, the Bank of Canada will need to raise interest rates in 2014 and more than double the current interest rate by the end of 2015."The Bank of Canada has held its overnight rate at one per cent since September 2010 and many believe it will continue to do so until after the U.S. Federal reserve raises its own benchmark rate.
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