More New Mortgage Rules

October 7th, 2017

On January 1st, new mortgage qualification rules will be coming into effect. These rules are being brought forward in an effort to make sure that borrowers can pay their mortgages if (and when) mortgages interest rates climb.

It's no surprise that mortgage rates are expected to go up this year. This change means that all mortgage borrowers will have to qualify at the Bank of Canada's five-year benchmark rate- OR, at their contracted mortgage rate + 2%.

This change will not affect you if you get pre-approved, make refinancing arrangements before the end of the year or sign an Agreement to Purchase before the end of 2017.

Experts suggest that this is likely to affect first-time home buyers the most... effectively reducing their purchasing power. It's expected that about 18 % of buyers will not qualify for their preferred home with these new rules... and that only about half of those people will find their way clear to adjust their budgets AND their expectations. First time buyers need to realize that the mortgage they qualify for and what they want to spend can be very different. These days, lifestyle considerations are very important and buyers may have to make compromises if they want to become home owners. Buying a house is more than making mortgage payment, there are other expenses like insurance, property taxes, utilities like water, sewer, heat and electricity and maintenance.

It's a good idea to have savings of 3 - 6 months that you can hold on to, as well. That's a safety net, in case rates go up or something unexpected happens, like a leak in the roof.

Top 5 Features for Baby Friendly Living

September 28th, 2017

Often, first time Buyers are shopping for a home the is appealing right now, but provides enough space for a bundle of joy- or two. Often, the concern seems to be confined to number of bedroom and it becomes the Realtor's job to explain the desirable features of a family friendly home. Here are my top 5 considerations for potential parents:

#1 on my list is ground level entry, single-story and as few stairs as possible. Sure, you can always block stairs off with baby gates, but they can be a pain when your hands are full and you can't always trust others to close them properly- never mind the mess they can make as you try to affix them to your walls or other surfaces. Crawling babies and adventurous toddlers seem to be drawn to stairs and eliminating the lure will also eliminate potential falls- even the worry of slips and spills.

#2 on my wish list for young families is a fenced yard. Little can be deceivingly fast and there's a certain level of comfort that comes with knowing that they can't travel too far.

#3 is parking. Those fabulous, legislated car seats are heavy... especially when they're filled with a sleeping baby. When you have young children, you travel pretty much every where with luggage and you will feel like you are loading and unloading the car continuously. You need to be close to the car, so you can schlep the groceries and the baby into the house without taking your eyes off them for a second. You really don't want to be lugging the baby through the wind and the rain a whole lot either... so a good private driveway and a garage or carport is a life saver.

#4 is about maintenance. Little people can make some unbelievably ginormous messes... plush white broadloom won't likely last very long and as a parent, you spend a substantial amount of time vacuuming and mopping. Cleanable surfaces and finishes like hardwood or laminates and washable paint are good choices.

#5 is about routines and relaxation. Bath time often becomes a nightly routine. You'll want to have a child-friendly tub and a bathroom big enough for you to hang out in there, too. You won't want to be hiking far from the bath to the change table, to keep your little munchkin warm, so you want that bathroom handy to to their bedroom. What's even better, is if there is a second full bathroom, too... a place where grown ups can take turns relaxing... and having some alone time.

Over 90%

September 15th, 2017

Asked what is more important: location or style, over 90% of Realtors will answer location.

It's really very simple... you can improve the layout or even the size of a house... it's not so easy to remedy issues when it comes down to how or where the home is situated. Sometimes, it is difficult for Buyers to grasp the idea that location is the most significant factor.

For instance, we recently showed the perfect cottage, it had the right amount of bedrooms, beautiful cathedral ceilings, a stunning view, sandy beach, a spacious deck and many other excellent attributes... the only problem was that it was built at the bottom of a dangerously steep hill. We had warned the clients about that, before going. We had also mentioned that the cottage was very close to the area dump, but that hadn't been a deterrent either.

There really wasn't any way to drive to the door of the cottage, without feeling like you could end up swimming. To be honest, you felt like that was a possibility even walking down the hill. It was the middle of the day and the pathway was clear... and it was slightly overwhelming for all of us... and we were all quite mobile. We stood at the top of the hill, talking about back fill and bridges and other possible remedies but it all seemed somewhat overwhelming... not to mention concerns about water run off. As we stood, discussing possible solutions to the access issue, one of the Buyers said that the smell of burning garbage was beginning to upset their stomach and she asked if we could move back inside to continue the conversation.

It was time to explain that properly managed, a landfill operation could continue in the same location for years... and the lights came on.

The Beauty of September in Cottage Country

September 2nd, 2017

It's no secret that September is one of the best months to enjoy cottage country. With most of the kids back to school and bug season out of the way, it's somehow quieter... more peaceful. September is generally studio tour time... when artists throw open their doors, inviting the public to browse, schmooze and hopefully purchase some of the work.

Early in the month, local farmers markets are still bustling and with it being slightly slower than peak season, the vendors have time to chat. From mid-late September, the evenings are cooler and the days are still warm... often the leaves begin to change. Many towns and villages host fall fairs in September... with activities from demolition derbies to pumpkin competitions, recipe contests to pie eating challenges... there is always something happening.

As the days begin to shorten, the night skies have some extraordinary offerings. If you watch the sky for the entire night, they say you will actually get a look at most of the constellations that appear in summer, autumn and winter. Of course, on the 22nd of September there will be an equal amount of night and day.

When Wild Weather Hits Cottage Country

August 21st, 2017

Okay, we've had some fabulous storms this summer and endured too many downed trees blocking roads and cutting off our electricity... it happens, to a degree, every year. This year, we've also had extraordinarily high levels of rain and most of us are feeling more than a little water-logged.

In Canada, every year, about 10 people die from lightning hits... and about 100-150 others are injured. While nothing is fool proof, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself during bouts of bad weather, at the cottage.

1. Keep an eye or ear on weather forecasts... and if a storm is in the offing, you might want to postpone any hikes, long distance swims or boat rides.
2. If you see lightning and then hear the thunder less than a half a minute later, get yourself indoors and stay there until at least a half hour after the last thunder clap!
3. Don't take a shower, or bath. Don't wash dishes or your hair. Lightning can actually travel through cottage plumbing, so stay clear of anything to do with water.
4. Lightning can also travel through electronics, land phone lines, lawn mowers... anything with metal... so before the storm hits, unplug your tv, the radio and any other appliances you can easily access.
5. Gather up anything that can be torn loose or blow away- remember things like garbage cans and lawn chairs can become deadly projectiles during a severe storm. This is why it's a good plan to keep trees trimmed and take down dead trees.
6. Shelter your pets, ensuring they have food and water.
7. Stay away from windows, fireplaces and doors.