When Building, Renovating or Buying a New Home

I came upon this article and thought it was worth sharing especially when everyone is trying to conserve costs.

It helps to think in terms of the house as a system. You should understand how all the factors in the house work together to create an energy-efficient environment.

It’s a Balancing Act

There are many forces at work in a house: the effects of wind and weather and the flow of moisture, heat and air. These factors must all be kept in the right balance.

Adding insulation, air barriers or vapour barriers can each affect moisture conditions and ventilation. You need to know that it is energy efficient. That is why the house-as-a-system approach considers not just the individual parts, but also the interaction of all the facets of the house, its equipment and systems, occupants, potential weather conditions, environmental factors and its occupants.

Take a closer look at what energy efficiency means to a new home.

Click Below for complete Article:

 

Features to Look for:

  • properly installed and inspected insulation in floors, walls, and attics
  • high-performance windows: advanced technologies, such as protective coatings and improved frames, to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer. These windows also block damaging ultraviolet sunlight
    that can discolour carpets and furnishings.
  • tight construction and ducts: sealing holes and cracks in the home’s envelope and in heating and cooling duct systems helps reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen and noise. A tightly sealed home improves comfort
    and indoor air quality while reducing utility and maintenance costs.
  • ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment that can lower energy usage and also be quieter, and improve the overall comfort level of the home.
  • ENERGY STAR qualified products: lighting fixtures; compact fluorescent bulbs; ventilation fans and appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines
  • a third-party verification – independent inspection will verify the energy-efficiency measures, as well as insulation, air tightness and duct-sealing details

10 tips for first time real estate investors

First time investors in real estate are often very confused with the process. Here are some helpful tips to guide your buying decision.

Many people consider investing in real estate as a way to build a nest egg and have tenants help you pay the mortgage. There are pros and cons to taking that leap, but if you do, here are 10 things to know.

1. Visit with a mortgage broker or your bank to determine how much money you can afford to borrow responsibly for your investment.
2. Look for properties that generate a positive cash flow. What this means is that the rent that you receive from tenants should be enough to pay your mortgage payment, property taxes, utilities and insurance bills. Budget an additional ten percent on your overall payments to pay for minor repairs that will invariably arise. Currently this is very difficult to find in the Toronto area. Do not be afraid to expand your search to smaller communities, where you will be able to find more properties that match your search criteria.
3. Use an experienced local real estate agent who also invests in real estate themselves.
Investors learn about the pitfalls only through first-hand experience, both good and bad,
and you want that experience working for you as well.
4. Have any property inspected by a professional home inspector. In addition, find a contractor who you can trust to give you the right advice for any minor repairs or renovations that may be required, especially for older properties, in order to add the most value to your investment.
5. Consult with your accountant and lawyer as to how you will take ownership of the property. There are some benefits in taking title in the name of a limited company, in order to protect yourself against personal liability should someone get hurt on the property and for other tax planning purposes. However, on the other hand, you will also have to pay about $1,000 in incorporation fees and have to file a separate tax return each year for your company.
6. Keep proper records of income and expenses for your investment property. Do not mingle these with your personal bank account as it will become difficult to properly trace this when you have to file a tax return at the end of the year, regardless whether you own the investment in your personal name or in a company name.
7. If you are buying with a partner, make sure you have a proper partnership or joint venture agreement to protect both of you should things not work out as planned. In particular, provisions should be made if one of the partners wants to sell and the other one doesn’t, one partner is not paying their share of expenses or what happens if one of the partners dies.
8. Hire an experienced property manager to assist you in finding suitable tenants and dealing with any ongoing maintenance, repairs or other complaints by tenants. You do not wish to be woken up in the middle of the night to handle emergency repairs. Budget an additional $100 per month for this service.
9. Be careful not to buy and sell properties quickly. The Canada Revenue Agency may view this activity as business income. This means that you will have to pay tax on any profit you make on your investment. It is preferable to buy properties for the long term, rent them out and use your positive cash flow to reduce the amount of your mortgage owing, building equity in your property. If you then sell years later for a profit, it will likely be classified as a capital gain and thus one half of your gain will be tax free.
10. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the deal does not work for you, no matter how much time you may have invested in the property.

Be prepared before buying any real estate investment.

Click here for full article in Toronto Sun: http://www.thestar.com/business/personal_finance/2014/06/03/10_tips_for_first_time_real_estate_investors.html

Canadian home sales continue to pick up in April: CREA

Canada’s real estate market continues to post strong results with both the number of sales and average price edging upward.  According to a news release issued on May 15, 2014 by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national MLS® home sales activity picked up in April for the third consecutive month-over-month increase.

National Highlights:

  • National home sales on MLS® rose 2.7% from March to April.
  • This is the third consecutive month-over-month gain, and the largest increase since last August.
  • Actual sales activity was little changed from April 2013, just 0.3% below levels at the same month last year.
  • The number of newly listed homes climbed 2.9% from March to April.
  • New listings were up in about 60% of local markets.
  • The Canadian housing market remains in balanced territory.
  • National inventory (a measure of how long it would take to clear the listings on the market at the current sales pace) is slightly tighter at 6.3 months
  • Inventory has edged marginally lower each month since starting the year at 6.5 months in January
  • Canada’s national average sale price rose to $409,708 in April
  • This represents a 7.6% increase over April of last year.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI), a measure of prices in Canada’s most expensive urban markets, rose 5.0% year-over-year in April.

Of course these highlights represent the ‘big picture’ from a national perspective.  Sales, home prices and inventory of properties for sale can vary dramatically from market to market, between neighbourhoods, and even on the same street.  For insights on your local real estate market, talk to your local Coldwell Banker professional.  Let’s talk real estate!

Fireplaces

30 years of Evolution in Fireplaces

Just 30 years ago homeowners were using mainly wood burning devices to augment theimages heating of the home. In the early to mid 80’s the increased availability of natural gas to residential areas in many regions signaled significant changes. While people still maintain a warm affection for a natural wood burning experience the modern lifestyle in many cases no longer makes it practical since wood burning involves significant labor and clean up.

Early generation gas (or propane in more rural areas) fireplaces quickly developed from a relatively primitive beginning with the advent of direct and power vented systems that introduced external air to the combustion chamber rather than reheating circulated internal air. This produced a more effective burning process and a healthier internal home environment.

Along with the technical and equipment improvements, more recently, design improvements, new materials and trim options allow for consumers to have a great deal of control in customizing their fireplace units. Fireplace units are no longer simply found in living rooms and recreation rooms but can be installed on walls in just about any room in the home including the bathroom or simply used to provide extra comfort in a specific area of the home.

A complete home inspection includes an inspection of the gas or propane system (s) in the home. The inspector will perform a visual review of the device and if necessary recommend a service and cleaning program be implemented with the installer or a qualified heating contractor to check functionality of the safety devices, clean the unit and parts. Regular maintenance and service of the unit will improve performance and efficiency as well as extend the life of the equipment.

This was sent to me by Pedro Giorgana who works for “A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections”.  I found it very informative.

CMHC probes how much Bank of Mom and Dad may be skewing real estate market

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Federal housing agency trying to determine how much, and how often, parents are helping kids with down payments.
Between 18,000 and 20,000 new condominium units are expected to be sold in 2014, says the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corportation. Ontario’s housing market remains “modestly” overvalued, and that may be, at least in part, because of “gifting” — baby boomer parents who are helping finance down payments on pricey homes their grown children couldn’t otherwise afford, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

That’s why the federal housing agency has launched a study, trying to determine how frequently young buyers are making purchases backed by the Bank of Mom and Dad.

CMHC is also trying to determine how much money is being handed down to echo

boomers by their baby boomer parents, the wealthiest generation ever thanks to skyrocketing house prices and inheritances from their own parents.

“It may explain some of the gap between what’s fair market value and what people are paying,” especially in the Toronto market where bidding wars and fierce competition continue to drive up house prices, says Ted Tsiakopoulos, CMHC’s Ontario regional economist.

“It’s not data that’s readily available. It’s hard to get at, but it could explain a lot on the overvaluation front.”

CMHC has already compiled some preliminary data from Canada’s banks, which account for about 70 per cent of all mortgage lending.

Lenders are seeing a growing number of applications now accompanied by so-called “gift letters” worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from parents, outlining how much they are contributing toward the purchase in an effort to ease the monthly payments their grown children will have to carry.

Economists are now trying to factor that wealth transfer into housing models to see if it’s actually skewing house prices and purchases. Traditionally, economists have tended to focus on house prices compared to income, prices compared to rents and the impact of low interest rates to better understand the ups and downs of the real estate market.

“We’ve captured most of the variables we think are important. The missing piece is this wealth and gifting,” says Tsiakopoulos. “Industry people (lenders) have told us it’s happening. What we want to do now is quantify it in our (economic) models to help us understand this modest overvaluation, because we’re missing something.”

Statistics Canada data shows that between 1999 and 2012, Canadians’ net worth grew by 44.5 per cent, and the highest growth was among those over age 55, says Tsiakopoulos.

“That makes the wealth piece more important today versus 20 or 25 years ago.”

The data is critical, says CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal, because “it could be a market driver we’re not aware of.

“This transfer of wealth may be generating demand that otherwise wouldn’t be there.”

In a market like Toronto’s, where the supply of homes for sale continues to lag demand, it would also explain the bidding war mentality among young buyers armed with all the free money they need from their parents.

Tsiakopoulos mentioned the study Thursday while discussing CMHC’s spring outlook report for 2014 which found the GTA real estate market remains “resilient” and modestly overvalued, but no where near bubble territory or a major correction.

Sales of existing homes are likely to increase over the next two years but price growth ease, says the forecast.

Even the much-watched condo market is holding up well.

“Between 18,000 and 20,000 new condominium units are expected to be sold in 2014 as the pickup which began in late 2013 continues into this year,” says the outlook report.

Rental is expected to be a major growth sector over the next few years, says Ed Heese, senior market analyst for the GTA.

That’s because echo boomers, who average 24 years old, now outnumber their baby boomer parents. Many are expected to remain renters for years to come. That should drive strong demand for rental condos, especially close to the downtown core, with another 10,000 or so likely to come up for rent this year as more units, many bought by investors, come to completion.

Rental rates, however, which have been growing strongly the last few years, are likely to ease, notes CMHC.

Click Here for Complete Article:  Bank of Mom And Dad

Common Roof Problems

A roof of a house is designed to protect the building from weather invasion like rain, wind, snow and hail and against falling objects. Without proper maintenance or a regular roof inspection, minor problems can become disastrous. There are many ways to cause a roof to leak or fail. Here are some common problems that can affect roofs:

Flashing failure
Flashing problems can happen to any kind of roof and are often the most vulnerable part of a roofing system. Flashings are usually used when two angles of the roof meet, roof penetrations, or when there are valleys. The cause for flashing to fail can be from poor installation or corrosion.

Sagging
When re-roofing is not done properly, often new shingles are added on top of the existing layers of shingles. The extra weight of the roofing material increases the dead load for the house structure to carry. If the structure is not designed to carry this extra weight, it can cause deflection on the roof.

Pooling Water
This usually happens on flat roofs or low sloped roofs. Pooling water can indicate improper roofing slope or poor drainage. Ponds of water can cause more damage if roof seams are not sealed tight or flashing is not properly installed.

Moss/Tree/Vegetation debris
Moss or any vegetation takes moisture to grow. Having moss on the roof means holding moisture against the roofing material and can accelerate the deterioration of the roof. Roof cover by tree branches can also prevent roof from drying, and contribute to moss growing. Debris from trees can block proper water drainage from the roof.

Worn-out
Roofs are normally worn out due to the age of the roof or lack of maintenance. The latter usually speeds up the wear and tear and shortens the life expectancy of the roof. When roofs are completely worn-out they can no longer perform their function and are prone to leakage. The bottom line is to do a routine inspection and regular maintenance to ensure the roof lasts to its designed age.

Physical damage
Some roofing materials like concrete tile and clay are brittle and can be damaged by fallen objects, foot traffic, weathering and freeze/thaw damage. Sometimes you will find missing tiles as a result.

It is important to address the roof problems at the earliest detection through routine inspections to minimize the problems and maximize the roof age.

This was sent to me by Pedro Giorgana who works for “A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections”.  I found it very informative.

Stairway Safety

Slips and falls are the main cause of injury for older people in the home. Many of injuries to elderly persons in their homes result from hazards that are easy to overlook, but also easy to fix.

When we do a home inspection there are 3 things we check for on all stairways: lighting, handrails, and the condition of the steps and coverings.

Stairs should be illuminated so that each step, particularly the step edges, can be clearly seen while going up and down stairs. You should be able to turn on the lights before you use the stairway from either end. Falls may occur if the edges of the steps are blurred or hard to see. Paint edges of outdoor steps white to see them better at night.

We recommend the use of handrails on both sides of the stairway. We will ensure that handrails meet Canadian safety guidelines when we inspect your home.

Stairs and steps should provide secure footing. Worn treads and worn and loose carpeting can lead to insecure footing, resulting in slips and falls. Make certain the carpet is firmly attached to the steps all along the stairs and that it is in good condition.

Do not store anything on the stairway, even temporarily. People can trip over objects left on stairs, particularly in the event of an emergency or fire.

By spotting these hazards and taking some simple steps to correct them, many injuries might be prevented. Remember, a government licensed home inspector from A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections can answer many of your safety-related questions during your next scheduled home maintenance inspection. We care about the safety of your family.

This was sent to me by Pedro Giorgana who works for “A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections”.  I found it very informative.

5 things to Know when Selling a Home by Yourself

Real estate agents have experience and local knowledge to help you get the best price. Here are 5 reasons to use and real estate agent.

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Selling a home by yourself means more money in your pocket, but it’s a lot of hard work and there are some things to think about.

You don’t have to pay upfront: Do-it-Yourself marketing companies are not real estate agents. You usually pay $1,000-to- $2,000 up front, for pictures, videos and to have your home listed on the MLS system. However, you get no money back if your home doesn’t sell. With a real estate agent, if your home doesn’t sell, you pay nothing, even though the agent may have spent a lot of time marketing and using all of their own and their company contacts to sell your home.

bidding war is unlikely: Bidding wars are the norm in the GTA and other parts of Ontario. In virtually all cases, the home is sold by a real estate agent. The reason is that it takes experience to price the home properly. Second, the process is fair because no one knows what anyone else is bidding. With a private seller, there is no duty of confidentiality, so the seller can tell one buyer what another buyer is bidding. Buyers do not trust the process so there is no bidding war.

You negotiate on your own: When you do it yourself, it is difficult to know what a fair price is for your home. You might have to pay an appraiser to find out. When a buyer hears that you are saving commission, they will want to split the savings. So you don’t get all the commission savings and you also have to negotiate with a buyer who is likely represented by a real estate agent. This agent will use all their experience to figure out how low you will go, while giving nothing away about their own buyer.

Not knowing your obligations: Sellers cannot rely on the term “Buyer Beware.” You have to disclose problems with your home and you cannot hide or cover up anything. Otherwise, you can still be sued after closing. Who wants a court fight long after you move?

Lenders are more cautious when they see a private deal: I have seen deals collapse this way. In one case, the lender sent their own appraiser because they were concerned the buyer paid too much money. The appraiser agreed and the buyer’s loan commitment was cancelled. The deal died.

In another case, the seller was worried the buyers did not have proper financing. They wanted more proof about the buyer’s financial situation than the buyer was willing to give. Lawyers became involved when things could not be worked out amicably. When buyers are represented by agents, they are usually pre-qualified in advance so the seller can have comfort that they will have the money available to close the deal on time.

When you’re out for a walk this weekend have a look at the For Sale signs and see how many are represented by realtors. There’s a reason for that.

By all means, try and sell your house on your own, just beware that it’s not as easy as it looks.

For Complete article Click Here: 5 Things to Know When Selling Yourself

Landlord and Tenant Disbutes-How To Win

I came across this article and I thought it might be worth while sharing.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, if you expect to win before the landlord and tenant board, you better be acting in good faith. Here are some recent decisions that make that clear.

In a case heard in Waterloo, the tenant had a pet and lived in a building that was not subject to rent review. The landlord tried to raise the rent by 10 per cent claiming that since pets were damaging his property, he needed to raise the rent of those tenants who had pets to pay for it. The tenant successfully complained to the board that the landlord was imposing a pet tax arbitrarily.

10 per cent recent rent hike denied: In a case heard in Waterloo, the tenant had a pet and lived in a building that was not subject to rent review. The landlord tried to raise the rent by 10 per cent  claiming that since pets were damaging his property, he needed to raise the rent of those tenants  who had pets to pay for it.

The tenant complained to the board that the landlord was imposing a pet tax arbitrarily. The Board agreed and the increase was disallowed.

Who pays for hydro? In a case heard in Windsor, the tenant agreed to put the heat and hydro bill in  his name. The tenant had poor credit and so he asked the landlord to put the hydro bill in the landlord’s name temporarily. The understanding was that the tenant would pay all utility bills as  well as the security deposit. The landlord agreed to help out, but the tenant did not pay the bills.

The landlord asked the utility to suspend service. The utility gave one week for arrears to be paid and then cut off the power. The tenant went to the board, claiming that the landlord cut off a vital service, which is forbidden by law. The judge ruled that since it was the tenant’s obligation to pay for the utilities and he hadn’t, the landlord had not breached the Act.

When can you evict? In a case heard in Whitby, the landlord terminated a tenant’s lease because he was selling the property and the buyer wanted the unit for his own use. In fact, the buyer had signed a rent-to-own agreement, where he would become the landlord’s tenant with an option to buy the property at the end of the rental period.
This was not considered to be a good faith buyer. As a result, the landlord had
to pay the tenant $3,000. It broke down as $1,200 for the higher rent the tenant would have to pay for their new apartment and moving costs of $225.

As well there were damages of $1,600 for the inconvenience of having to move, the extra costs incurred getting the tenant’s kids to school and the fact that the tenant’s daughter had to give up a part-time job.

When to do repairs? In a case heard in Toronto, the tenant complained about the inconvenience caused by the landlord’s repair of the balcony in a small co-op unit. The 384-square foot bachelor apartment had a balcony that made up more than 25 per cent of the total area of the apartment. The tenant had no use of her balcony for 20 weeks and asked for a rent rebate.

The landlord claimed he had no choice since this was a decision of the co-op board. He did not however, give the tenant, among other things, the required 60 days’ notice before the repairs started. The tenant was able to obtain a rent rebate of 25 per cent of the total rent, for the entire 20 week period, totalling about $1,000. The moral of these stories is that when you come to enforce your rights before the landlord and tenant board, make sure good faith is on your side.

For Complete Article Click Here: How To Win Landlord-Tenant Disbute

How GFI Plugs can Save Your Life

One of the most common deficiencies Home Inspectors find during home inspections, in fact, is the lack of GFCI receptacles where they’re required. If you don’t know what a GFCI receptacle is, it’s the variety with the “Test” and “Reset” buttons. If functioning properly, these devices should protect people from serious shock or electrocution.GFCI stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter. A ground fault occurs when a current-carrying wire comes in contact with ground. This can occur in a faulty appliance, such as if a loose interior wire touches the metal case and that case is grounded.If you touch an appliance in this scenario, and you are also grounded – by standing barefoot on the floor, for example, or by also touching a grounded surface – you’ll get zapped. You can be injured by even relatively small levels of current running through your body. It takes from 100 to 200 milliamps to kill you. A GFCI will trip at 4 to 6 milliamps, it offers tremendous protection. You might still get hurt, but you’re not likely to be electrocuted.GFCI receptacles work by measuring the current on the hot wire with current returning on the neutral wire. Under normal circumstances, the current is equal on both. When a ground-fault occurs, the current goes to ground via an alternate route and thus the current on the hot and neutral wires is no longer equal. GFCIs detect this and stop power to the receptacle and the appliance.

Today, GFCI protection is required for all receptacles:

  • In bathrooms.
  • On kitchen countertops.
  • In garages.
  • Outdoors.

Protection is also required in all laundry, utility and wet bar sink receptacles located within six feet of the outside edge of a laundry, utility or wet bar sink. Luckily, the devices are affordable and electricians can quickly install them. They can also install GFCI breakers in your electrical subpanel. These breakers protect all receptacles, switches and fixtures on a particular circuit. In this scenario, you don’t need to replace each receptacle.

Home Inspectors inspect a great many homes in which the original two-wire system is in place. As opposed to new three-wire systems – which have a hot, neutral and ground wire – two-wire systems do not include a ground wire. If your home’s receptacles are two-pronged, it’s likely a two-wire system. GFCIs still work in a two-wire system. They don’t need a ground wire to function. As noted, they measure current on the hot and neutral wires.

It is recommended you test your GFCI receptacles to ensure they’re working OK. Simply plug a lamp into the receptacle, and push the “Test” button. You should hear a click and the lamp’s light should turn off. Push “Reset” and the light should turn back on. If both don’t happen, call your electrician.

GFCI’s are cheap insurance for you, your family or your renters and there is simply no good excuse to live without them

This was sent to me by Pedro Giorgana who works for “A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections”.  I found it very informative.

With You Every Step Of The Way

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