More Information About Summer Home Sales

r3With landscaping in full bloom, sunshine sparkling off a water feature or a pool, and the lawn a deep, inviting green, it’s easy to see why summer is a splendid time to sell. The warm weather and long afternoons cast the entire home in an attractive, golden light and showcase sunrooms, porches and decks—areas that shoppers would quickly pass over during the colder months. As well, families have extra leisure time to explore potential homes and vacation properties. Summer has all the elements of a perfect time to list with a few cautions. Consider this checklist:

1. Lawn and garden: A lush lawn and vibrantly-coloured flowers are key elements in curb appeal. If you don’t have a green thumb, pick up a fresh supply of annuals for your flower beds at your local nursery. Attractive potted plants can emphasize walkways and the front entrance. Avoid a collection of small pots; larger pots tend to look better and the soil will stay moist longer. To quickly bring some green into your lawn and plants, use bone meal. Refer to the package directions for quantity information then use only half that amount. Dissolve the granules in water overnight then mix it with enough water to cover the required area. This will quickly deliver nitrogen and phosphorus to your plants. Realistic artificial lawns are becoming a popular option for anyone wishing to save time and resources on grass cutting, watering, fertilizing and aerating.
2. Outdoor living areas: Few things can compare to a warm afternoon on the deck enjoying a barbeque and a dip in the pool. For anyone moving up from a condominium, your backyard oasis can be especially appealing! In some cases, a beautiful backyard is the deciding factor in a sale. Be sure that the deck is clean and painted or stained, if required. Cracks in concrete should be filled and sealed. Wipe down the barbeque splatter area. If your patio furniture is looking worn and weathered, consider replacing it or reupholster in a modern fabric. Be sure that gardening equipment and children’s toys are stored neatly.
3. Indoor/outdoor living space: On a hot day, a veranda or porch offers a breezy, shaded space while an enclosed sunroom is bright, warm and mosquito-free. These areas deserve care and attention when preparing a home for sale. Too often, clutter begins to build up and boxes of belongings make it difficult to enjoy the spaces as originally intended. Give these indoor/outdoor rooms a clean sweep, accessorize, wash the windows and add a fresh coat of paint.
4. ‘Summerize’ your indoor space: This relaxed time of year creates very positive feelings for most people so why not extend those sentiments to the indoors? Fresh flowers and bowls of fruit are simple ways to add colour and vitality. If your décor is generally dark, consider how you might brighten it up. For example, a cheery bedspread, pillows, attractive slipcovers for a couch or chairs, and a new area rug all add summery charm on a budget. Open the blinds or curtains during showings to make the rooms seem airy and spacious. Be sure that out-of-season decorations are tucked away.
5. Allergens: Chances are that some potential buyers who tour your home will be sensitive to dust, pet dander, pollen and/or chemicals. Simply walking across a carpet can send up microscopic particles that trigger a reaction. Wipe down surfaces with a duster that traps particles. Use a Hepa filter vacuum cleaner to capture allergens. Keep pets outside as much as possible and brush them outdoors to help keep their coats clean. When it comes to reducing plant pollen, it can be challenging. An international study conducted over several years by the Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics in the United States determined that climate change is extending the timeframe when plant pollens fill the air, which extends the allergy season for sufferers. For indoor flower displays, choose low-pollen options such as roses, lilies, geraniums and tulips. Outdoors, pull out weeds or keep them trimmed so that they will not produce pollen. To reduce chemical sensitivities, use natural air fresheners (e.g., a squirt of fresh lemon juice added to cleaning solutions) and avoid artificially-scented sprays and candles.
6. Pests: Summer is the time of year when pests are active and noticeable. Insects, snakes, lizards and small mammals are all part of our natural environment, including backyards. Generally, they are only a concern when they move into our homes. Termites are among the most destructive of these pests. Termites eat not only wood but cloth, carpets, and other cellulosic materials. They also use soft plastics, rubber and plaster to build their nests. Become familiar with the species in your region and watch for signs of activity around porches and siding. A professional extermination is the efficient way to deal with an infestation. Most other pests require an opening to gain access to your home, so ensure that any openings are sealed. Keep garbage tightly closed. If you have fruit-bearing trees or bushes, be sure to collect ripe fruit regularly since it attracts a variety of critters!
These easy changes can make your home more beautiful and healthy—for you, your family and potentially a new owner!

Some Tips On Buying Your First Home

r2Here Some tips for you that want to buy the first home:

– Make a list of all the features you want in your new home such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, proximity to schools, shopping and workplace.
– Be sure you can afford your home. Your monthly housing costs should not be more than 32% of your gross monthly income and your entire monthly debt load (which includes other debts such as car loans and credit card payments) should not be more than 40% of your gross monthly income.
– Calculate your other monthly living expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, personals and childcare to ensure you can afford your mortgage payments.
– Call a REALTOR in your preferred area. They are trained professionals with knowledge about local conditions and the housing market in general. Through the Multiple Listings Service they have access to virtually every property listed for sale in the province. Your REALTOR can narrow down your search and provide you with information on properties for sale and those that have recently sold. This will allow you to make informed decisions about pricing. Licensed by the province and members of local real estate boards, REALTORS must adhere to high standards of ethical behavior.
– Obtain a pre-approved mortgage form the lender of your choice. This will help you determine the price range you should be looking in. With a pre-approved mortgage, your lender will guarantee the interest rate for up to 60 days.
– You may wish to have an independent appraisal done of a property before you offer a price. It can keep you from paying more than the market value.
– Ask your REALTOR for a copy of the Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This document is completed by the sellers and ensures the buyer gets complete information about the property they are about to purchase, and alerts buyers when they need to do more research on a property.
– If buying a new or existing condo, look beyond style and amenities and investigate whether the construction is of good quality. You can ask for a copy of the minutes to Strata Council Meetings to determine what kind of problems the condominium has had in the past, and the expenses.
– To assess potential water leakage problems, visit a condominium project immediately after a rainfall and check to see if flat areas such as roof deck and walkways have large pools of standing water on them. All building surfaces except specially designed ponds should drain freely and be immediately clear of water after a rainfall.
– It is always a good idea to have the home inspected from a professional home inspector. An inspector’s written report should include how well-built the home is and whether any repairs are necessary and the estimated costs.
– Don’t forget about other costs when you buy your own home such as legal fees (they will most likely be at least $500), property taxes and the GST (if purchasing a new home).

Some Tips on Buying a New Home

r1Home buying is an important personal decision and a big financial investment. You want to find the home that’s right for you and the builder who provides the best value and service. Here are some tips to help make the buying process enjoyable and successful.

Do Your Research
Know what you want, what’s available and how the buying process works before you start thinking seriously about signing a contract. Browse through newspapers and magazines. Consult with family, friends and co-workers. Attend a seminar for first-time home buyers. Check the Internet. Visit model homes and talk with builders and their sales agents.

Pre-arrange your mortgage
If you are like most of us, you will borrow funds to finance your home purchase. Talk to your lender about mortgages early in the process. Knowing in advance how much you can spend comfortably and getting pre-approval for a mortgage means you can proceed from “just looking” to a signed contract with confidence.

Check the builder’s qualifications
There are many reputable builders who provide exceptional service and build great homes – both lowrise and highrise. As you talk with builders or their salespeople, ask questions: How long has the company been in business? Is it a member of the local home builders association? Will the builder give you references of previous new home projects? What after-sales service is offered? Does the builder offer an independent third-party warranty and, if so, what does it cover? “Personal fit” is also important: Does the builder or salesperson listen to you, understand your needs, and offer useful advice?

Check the home carefully
Whether a builder has a model home, a sales office or sells directly from plans, you’ll have an opportunity to look closely at the quality of the home and what’s included. The builder’s specifications list will detail the construction materials and finishing products. Ask to see a description and samples of the standard features included in the base price of the house, along with the description and cost of options the builder offers. When viewing a model home, don’t hesitate to try out windows, open drawers, look into every nook and cranny, and inspect the home’s mechanical system.

Understand the total cost of buying
Get detailed prices and estimates on everything involved in buying a home. Your builder and lender can advise you on the costs of securing a mortgage, taxes and so on. Ask your lawyer to give you a detailed breakdown of closing costs. Call movers for estimates. Determine if you need to buy new appliance, window coverings or furnishings.

Consult with a lawyer
Before you hire a lawyer, it’s a good idea to ask for a detailed estimate of fees for service.

Be realistic
Quality, solidity, good products, service – these are the things that add up to real value for the long term. Your objective is to find the home that provides the best overall value within your budget. A professional builder will work with you to find the right balance of features that will work well for you.

Tips To Get The Right Home

More than seven million American homes are sold every year. But, many new homeowners are not informed and not very experienced in the home buying process. Unaware of what they need to qualify for a home, what is available to buy, or what the heck a property tax is. Well, if your reading this article and have considered entering the market, I’m glad to see your interested in buying a home. And if buying a home is still far off in the future for you, it’s still important to get informed and start planning now so you’ll know what to expect when the time comes. Here a ten tips to get you going in the right direction:

1. Paying your bills on time. You have to this…Yes, even if you have lots and lots of money. Paying off debt and doing it on time, makes you a lower credit risk and, therefore, a better candidate for a mortgage at the lower rate. Paying your bills now can make it easier for you to get a mortgage later.

2. Keep your credit report up-to-date. Check and update your credit report before starting to look for a home. Credit reports are used by lenders to determine whether you will qualify for the mortgage you seek and for the interest rate you pay, so make sure your report is accurate, at least request a copy to know what is in there.

3. Determine what monthly mortgage payment you realistically can afford. Calculators to determine this can be found by doing a simple google search, but really think about your income and consider what amount you can feel comfortable paying each month.

4. Learn the market. Take time to learn important terms and trends understand their meaning. Become familiar with words, ideas or trends used in the home-buying process. This will make you a more knowlegdable home-buyer and inform your decision making whether it be about your loan details or the market fluctuations or where how close you are to Home Depot.

5.Choosing a lender. Find out what you can afford before you look at houses, this is a very important point. When you do come across a Home you really like, you can’t put in an offer without first getting qualified for an amount! In fact, many real estate agents consider this a sign of an “non-serious” buyer. Getting qualified, is usually a free service and you get to know exactly what you can afford. Shop around. After you are qualified, keep looking around to see if there is something better for you out there. Look at the different types of mortgages and the interest rates offered by different lenders. Have another the lender validate your calculations and confirm what you have already been presented with.

6. Understand the deal. Get a to know the process, how an escrow works and what “earnest money” is. Ask about the closing costs and other fees before you sign documents. Ask about the rules if you decide to refinance or prepay your mortgage. Find out about what short-sales or foreclosures are, and if they may be available to you.

7. Be available and interact with your lender, agent and movers. Quite frequently, they will need to talk with you and may need additional information or decision to be made. Make sure you get back to your whomever contacts you quickly so any loose paperwork or financing issues can be completed as soon as possible.

8. Avoid emotional buying. Before you look at any house have a plan, determine what features you really need, a price range you need to stay within, repairs your willing to make in a potential home and then try to stick as close as you can to the list you made.

9. Find an agent that understands your needs and listens to you. Someone knowledgable, professional, but also someone you like, because you will be spending a lot of time looking at properties and talking on the phone with this person.

10. Visit as many homes as possible. Find out what you like, get a feel for what you may need and compare and contrast and most importantly…have fun!

How To Become An Estate Agent

The Qualifications:

A degree is not in any way an essential entry requirement for a career in real-estate but the ever-increasing competition for employment means that taking a degree, foundation degree or even a Higher National Certificate in one or more of the following subjects might just give you a slight advantage:
● Business Studies (Or equivalent)

● Estate Management

● Property Development/Management

● Surveying

● Urban and Land Studies.

A postgraduate qualification isn’t really required for entering a career in real-estate and like a lot of different careers, professional exams can be taken once you’re actually in the role. You might be able to enter the profession as an administrator and then progress to the position of estate agent as you gain experience. Experience is not essential to become an estate agent, a sales background or an administrative and/or customer service background can be helpful for you as you’ll have developed some of the skills required to become an estate agent. Also a lot of people find that studying law helps them too as there is a lot of legislation coming into buying houses and the legal implications of property purchases can be difficult to navigate, although again, this is not necessary to become an estate agent.

The Responsibilities:

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland property sales are almost always handled by an estate agent, however in Scotland property sales are usually handled by a solicitor. As an estate agent you will need to:

● Collect information about a specific property (Or properties, if you’re doing multiple viewings) and arrange for photographs to be taken of the property (Or properties) in question.

● Visit and talk to the sellers about their property, find out as much as you can about said property.

● Estimate the value of the property

● Market and promote the properties for sale to buyers.

● represent the sellers in negotiation with prospective buyers.

● Liaise with all interested parties in the sale including mortgage brokers, any solicitors, the surveyors and any other estate agents.

● Advise your clients and help the buyers decide what it is that they want to buy.

● Make sure that the price agreed is acceptable to both buyer and seller.

● Keep up to date with trends in the relevant property market.

The responsibilities that come with the job can be very difficult and people have been known to crack under the pressure. But always turn to your employer for help should you need it.

Work Experience:

Starting a career in an estate agency is relatively straightforward as it is quite common to find trainee negotiator opportunities where no prior experience is necessarily required and full training is usually given. Experience in a related area like customer service or administration might help your application and having good IT skills is also very desirable, as it reduces the amount of training that you now need. Work experience as with almost every job will usually be unpaid, will require an awful lot of hard-work and determination to get the job and will require you to be at the top of your game every time you’re in work. Gaining work experience will help you in your application if you want to become an estate agent too.


Having a sales technique is always very useful for people. Learning about the way that people sell, working out a way that suits your personality and something that doesn’t pressure people when you’re trying to sell them something as well, is essential to being a real estate agent. The industry is very much run on sales and it is a ruthless business in that you can make an awful lot of money and if you don’t make the company money then they may look elsewhere. Be wary of this and work hard to develop your technique.

An Understanding of the Property Market:

Knowing the property market can be a lot harder than you think. You have to be aware of the various issues that are currently afflicting the housing market at the moment, are their external factors to this? You need to have a basic understanding of this because sometimes the housing market may drop, which means that sales dry-up and prices often rise, which makes it difficult to buy houses. Understanding of this and what makes these happen is very important to a successful career as an estate agent. This will also help you to understand why some of the buyers you have may not have a lot of money, or may be reticent to purchase a property at this time. As much industry knowledge as you can get is never ever a bad thing

How To Buying A Home For Someone Who Disabled

Owning your own home is considered a cornerstone in the society but sadly, only a few families are able to enjoy this privilege. This prospect seems daunting especially if you are physically or mentally challenged. Due to the condition, you may require a house in certain areas, which comes with various modifications that could be costly. All hope of owning a home despite your condition is not lost, as there are several assistance programs that can make this dream a reality. The programs make the process easier than going alone. Below are four useful tips to assist you in getting a house fast.

Beginning the Process

Before commencing on the actual home buying process, it is advisable to first of all consider and determine your needs in as far as your disability is concerned. This could be close proximity to the local pharmacies, public transport and the physical layout of the house. It is imperative to avoid features like long driveways and narrow stairwells. After establishing these needs, you will then see how much you can afford to shelve for the project in order to know the neighborhood or type of house to search for.

Seeking Assistance

Buying your own house is not a walk in the park especially if you are not familiar with the various procedures of making an application for a home loan and qualifying for the same. It might also be a daunting task if you are not well versed with the different terminologies used in real estate or you do not understand the industry as a whole.

Fortunately, aid is around the corner as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a number of housing counselors that have been approved in every state. These housing counselors are there to assist disabled persons in buying their homes. They will offer you a lot of insight if there are any pertinent issues regarding your case that need to be addressed. They can also point you in the direction of financial assistance programs that are relevant.

Learn and Understand Your Rights

Your rights as a disabled person are well protected in the Fair Housing Act that prescribes prohibitions to housing providers like sellers, lenders and real estate agents from doing discriminatory acts against you. The discriminatory acts could be in the form of altering the criteria for application and qualification, terms and conditions or fees payable. The Act also offers permission to make some reasonable modifications to the property like accessibility ramps or bathroom grab bars.

Financial Help

A number of people with disabilities are from the low-income bracket. As such, they cannot access the available standard mortgage loans since they cannot qualify for them. The section 8 Home ownership Voucher program was launched by HUD to help low-income families and individuals rent or buy their own homes. The program is able to assist by ensuring that it subsidizes the monthly mortgage payments. You should contact your local authority in charge of public housing to see how you can get help.

There is also the option of the Habitat for Humanity (HFH), a non-profit program involved in building and rehabilitating accessible homes for those in need. The HFH affiliates have their own rules but on a general scale, the homes are usually sold for the same amount used to build them and require a deposit first. You can also get a mortgage-assistance program with this option.

There are other places where you can get private or public housing loans and grants that can cover financial aid for making modifications. The American Association of People with Disabilities offers between $1,500 and $25,000 on extended terms for payback to build upgrades. You can also get mortgages from institutions that assist people with disabilities to acquire new homes. You could also decide to use the compensation you get from your personal injury claim to finance the buying of a new home.

Know More About Rental Vacancy Rates Create Opportunities

According to the most recent rental market information released by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC), rental vacancy rates have fallen across the country creating new opportunities for homeowners. At the same time, economists and government officials are predicting economic improvement, which in turn is expected to nudge up mortgage rates. Rental income may become a financial necessity for many households while also providing needed housing.

The average rental vacancy rate in Canada’s 35 major centres decreased slightly to 2.6 per cent in October 2010, from 2.8 per cent in October 2009, according to a survey released CMHC. Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre, attributes the reduction in rental units to improvements in the economy, which allow more people to purchase and rent, and high levels of immigration.

These housing market shifts create opportunities for homeowners, particularly those in communities with the lowest vacancy rates: Winnipeg (0.8 per cent), Regina, Kingston and Québec (1.0 per cent each). At a provincial level, the survey found that Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador posted the lowest vacancy rates at 1.0 per cent or less. These tight rental markets make it much more attractive for homeowners to convert part of their home into secondary suite or add a garden suite. A rental unit can also allow prospective homebuyers qualify for a mortgage when their regular incomes would not be adequate. As a guideline, the rent on a two-bedroom apartment in Canada was $860 in 2010 compared to $836 the previous year.

On the other hand, homeowners in Windsor, Abbotsford, Saint John and London are least likely to benefit from adding a rental suite. These Canadian cities have the highest vacancy rates: Windsor (10.9 per cent), Abbotsford (6.5 per cent), Saint John (5.1 per cent), and London (5.0 per cent). At the provincial level, the highest vacancy rates were in Alberta (4.6 per cent) and New Brunswick (4.5 per cent).

Regardless of statistics, many homeowners will continue to add secondary and garden suites for personal reasons. A suite can allow ageing parents to be part of the family and enjoy extra care and assistance when needed. Illness or accident can also create the need for wheelchair accessible housing for family members. The federal government provides some financial compensation for this type of construction ( Another common reason for adding a suite is simply to accommodate a growing family. Building an addition in the form of a suite creates space for a child or children now and perhaps a renter in the future.

Investing in a self-contained rental suite can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavour so it is wise to build for the long-term. Quality materials and design will add to the comfort and longevity of the unit and may justify higher than average rent. Lighting, flooring and layout are key considerations. Since many suites are constructed in basements or rooms that are partially below ground, proper drainage and a good subfloor structure can avoid flooding and uncomfortably cold floors. Adequate insulation, particularly in the ceiling and common walls, will give both parties privacy.

Aside from appearance and comfort, homeowners need to consider municipal guidelines for secondary and garden suites. Meeting these guidelines can help to avoid bylaw infractions and also allow homeowners to market their suite as a “legal suite”, which is generally more appealing to renters. Insurance companies should also be informed of the rental unit to avoid costly coverage lapses in the event of a flood, fire or other type of accident.

These important tips will help to protect the financial and physical health of both renters and owners:

– The height of the rooms should meet provincial building codes regulations

– If there are bars on the windows for security, these must be able to be removed or opened from the inside without tools or special knowledge in event of a fire

– Handrails and guards are needed on stairways as outlined in provincial building codes

– There must be at least one exit leading directly to the outdoors

– Occupants of secondary suites must be able to control the temperature of their unit

– A furnace must be separated from the rental unit with a wall

– There must be one smoke detector for each 300 square feet of space (this varies by municipality)

– Carbon monoxide detectors are necessary in suites with fireplaces or those heated by wood-burning stoves or gas furnaces

– Landlords should provide tenants with instructions on testing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors

– The walkways to the suite should be well light and kept clear of snow or other hazards

Once a secondary or garden suite is constructed or renovated, it can provide many years of extra income for relatively little effort. Quality materials and design can help to ensure that the suite remains rented even as vacancy rates fluctuate. A unit in a neighbourhood close to amenities, work centres or a college or university will almost always be in demand.

Let’s Learn About Costs and Value Benefits of Owning a Home

There is no doubt that one of the more pleasant and exciting times for most people is when they have decided to buy a home. This excitement exists whether or not you are buying for the first time or the fourteenth time.

There is no doubt that the experienced home buyer has a relatively good idea as to what it costs to buy a home today. However if it has been a long time since you last bought a home, you may have forgotten or not be aware of the associated costs involved

A lot of people think of the basic costs as legal fees, property tax adjustments, GST in some cases, the cost of movers, the set-up fees for utilities, new window coverings, etc. First timers should also consider home maintenance costs, like tools, a lawn mower, etc. Beyond the basic costs, are major cost factors like replacing flooring and roofs, or making additions. These costs may be necessary to give you everything you want from your new home.

On the opposite side, some buyers may gain a cost benefit from buying a new home. You could buy in a development that has a fitness centre, or a swimming pool. This means no more fitness club dues or transportation worries. Some developments offer more luxurious features like golf privileges or skiing benefits.

Just as the above features offer you a financial and non-financial benefit; there are non-financial costs to look at when buying your house.

A feature you must consider seriously when buying a home is its location. Look at location from many view points and perceptions. A suggested question would be:
where am I going to live relative to …………?

The relative to “what” includes work (my work, my spouses work), established leisure activities (golf membership, hiking trails, night school courses, children’s ballet or music classes), children school or daycare, proximity to family, best friends or the old neighbourhood.

Now to create a more interesting but realistic scenario, take all of the above factors and try to determine the likely disruptions to a perfect schedule.

How often do you or your spouse have to work late or work unusual hours? Does this mean that the public transit you plan to take at commuter time, is only viable 50% of the time? Does this mean that little Mary or John may have to miss a lot of soccer practices, or other activities that they enjoy?

Is the commuting experience likely to leave you too tired (physically or emotionally), when you get home?

How important is the ease of transportation for you, to be able to leave work to pick-up your sick child at school or at daycare?

If grandma or grandpa is in weak health; is being close by a true comfort?

Will you need to make new friends because you will only see our old ones at holiday occasions?

In summary; when buying a home, consider the value of your purchase in relation to the emotional costs imbedded in that purchase. Does a house 25 miles away from where you spend most of your waking hours (at work and with friends) have a non-financial cost? Is being anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes away (depending upon traffic volumes) from a valued and trusted daycare for your child a reasonable cost for you to deal with?

When you buy a home you want to be happy and satisfied on all counts, of which money is only one.

How to Planning for Retirement

Planning for a healthy, enjoyable retirement involves more than saving money. Our homes and the communities where we choose to live also have a significant impact on our quality of life.

Change in Lifestyle

Retirement can be a radical change in lifestyle, particularly for those who have worked outside of the home. When people retire, they often find themselves spending much of their time at home. It can seem like an isolating experience, but retirement can also be a wonderful time to pursue leisure activities. During our working lives, a common complaint is the lack of free time, so plan ahead to enjoy your retirement to the fullest. If you’ve always wanted to see Europe or some other destination, put aside money for travelling. If you enjoy woodworking or creating stained glass, for example, you may want to get started on setting up a workshop in your garage or basement. If you’ve always wanted to try painting, retirement presents the perfect opportunity. You never know – you may just end up being back in business selling your handiwork!

Another way to alleviate the feeling of being isolated is to become more involved in the community. Sharing your time, gifts and talents with others by volunteering can be deeply satisfying. Look under Volunteer Services, Community Services and Social Service in your local Yellow Pages to find organizations in need of volunteers. Going back to school is another way to get involved in the community. It can help maintain mental sharpness and provide a sense of belonging and opportunities for new friendships. Other options include learning a new language, gourmet cooking or learning to play a musical instrument.

Barriers in the Home

Another important aspect to consider is how well your home will age with you. Many of us will experience impaired vision, reduced mobility or reliance on a wheelchair at some point in our lives. These physical limitations may make it difficult for people to remain at home, particularly if their home presents certain obstacles such as stairs or narrow doorways. In some cases, people are forced to leave a home in which they have invested years of memories. By purchasing a home that can age with you and/or making renovations to an existing home, you will be able to enjoy the comforts of your own home for years to come. Consider the following:

Are the doors wide enough to allow a wheelchair to pass through? Doorways should be a minimum of 82cm (32 inches) wide and all entries should have a flat threshold. Allow a minimum width of 92cm (36 inches) for walkways.
Does your home have a sunken living room? Stairs are difficult or impossible to climb in a walker or wheelchair.
Is there room for a wheelchair in your kitchen? The open floor space should be 1.525 metres by 1.525 metres (5 feet by 5 feet) to allow a wheelchair to easily turn 360 degrees.

Where a person chooses to live can also affect how much they enjoy their retirement years. Having family close by can make it easy for retirees to socialize with children and grandchildren. Close proximity to family means that assistance is nearby when it is needed. Another important source of support and social interaction is the local community. Check into the social programs offered by community centers (and churches, if applicable). Typically, there are numerous activities for seniors such as card games, art classes and trips.

Medical and other services

Proximity to medical services is another important consideration when choosing a location in which to retire. Check into the availability of in-home (or outreach) services such as nursing care and meal delivery. Consider the distance to family doctors and hospitals.

Internet and E-mail

Age is certainly not a limitation to computer usage. Even people who think they are too old to use a computer may find themselves hooked on surfing the net and e-mailing their grandchildren after a few lessons!

The Internet has also become and increasingly important source of information. Business and government offer information online, making it easy for seniors to gather information at their fingertips. Most banks and financial institutions now offer online banking services allowing people to streamline their financial matters. Retirees can look up information about medical conditions and medications and keep informed on the latest research.

One of the best gifts children can give older parents is a computer and some lessons on how to use it. (Lessons are also available at most community centers and at organizations such as the YMCA-YWCA.) Before you know it, they’ll be surfing the net and perhaps playing online card games with new friends around the world.

Advances in medicine and technology mean that people can now enjoy a healthier more active retirement than ever before. With some planning, these truly can be the best years of a person’s life!

Some Benefits of Home Ownership

When weighing the options involved in purchasing a home, there are emotional and financial factors to consider. Most people can easily articulate their emotions such as a desire to be free of a landlord, to decorate and renovate as they wish, to set down roots in and enjoy the pride of homeownership. Financial considerations can be more complex and less obvious.

One of the main benefits of homeownership is tax-free capital gains. If a buyer purchases a home for $200,000 and sells it for $325,000, they can enjoy $125,000 in capital gains without tax. In today’s economy, tax-free is a rare and wonderful concept!

Real estate also offers the benefit of being a leveraged investment. This means that a mortgage allows a buyer to enjoy a home and take as long as 30 years to pay for it even as the value of the property increases during the intervening years. Consider the previous example with a mortgage:

• Home price: $200,000
• Down payment: $40,000
• Mortgage amount: $160,000
• Interest rate: 3.9% *
• Amortization: 25-years
• Bi-weekly payments (26 per year): $384.12 each

In this example, the buyers would spend $249,678 on the principal and interest over 25 years. Adding in the down payment, the total expenditure is $289,678. Canadian real estate generally appreciates over the long term so, if the value of the home is $325,000 after the mortgage is paid, the appreciation is $35,322. That is a nice, tax-free nest egg for retirement! In the unlikely event that the property did not increase in value at all, the owners still have a property worth $200,000.

*Note: interest rates will fluctuate but for this example, it was 3.9% for the mortgage duration

How does renting compare to purchasing? First and foremost, renting does not build equity. At the end of 25 years of renting, a person would have zero property assets. As well, the types of properties available to rent vary greatly.

Using the previous example, a $200,000 property in a medium-sized city could purchase a nice one or two-bedroom condominium. The owners would spend $832.26 per month on mortgage payments (384.12 x 26 payments/12 months) plus approximately $140 for strata fees for a total of $972.26 per month. Renting the same condominium, if something comparable was even available, would cost approximately $1,150 per month. At current low interest rates, owners are enjoying accommodation for less and, at the same time, building equity.

Clearly, purchasing a property offers many emotional and financial benefits. The challenge, of course, is choosing the time, place and property where the investment will grow.

Location is an important factor in price appreciation. Location refers to both the community and the neighbourhood within a community. While not everyone has the luxury of choosing where they will live due to job and family ties, when options are available, it pays to research. Some Canadian communities are thriving while others have suffered due to the loss of major employers, demographic shifts or environmental changes. There are costs and benefits to both. Prices in thriving communities generally increase steadily over time but are more expensive markets to enter. Struggling communities typically have lower priced properties but the trade-off may be longer commutes to work/social activities and less price appreciation.

The old phrase ‘location, location’ says so much. A property with a great view of a lake or parkland will always be in demand. Properties in close proximity to train tracks, busy roadways, industrial areas, landfills, etc. are a fact of life too. The latter generally offer great value in terms of home and yard size compared to view properties. The choice usually comes down to family size and personal requirements.

Remember that not every property is created equal. Buyers will ask for as much as the market will bear—and that may not accurately reflect the true value! Prior to purchasing a property, a home inspection by a qualified professional is essential. Inspections can reveal potentially expensive problems such as mould/moisture, roof and foundation damage, etc. In some cases, problems are worth fixing for a price adjustment.

The style of a home can also affect its price and long-term value. A very unusual design may attract fewer buyers when it comes time to sell. The same is true when the style of the home is not suited to the neighbourhood such as a log house in a city. A very old home may or may not last another 25 years depending on the construction and upkeep. The quality of a condominium complex is directly related to the care taken by owners and the decisions by strata representatives.

A well-built, attractive home that is maintained over the years is most likely to appreciate in value. A REALTOR® can provide market-specific expertise to help buyers make decisions that satisfy both emotional and financial needs far into the future.