22 Dec

10 Steps to Making Your Home Your Own!

Home Tips

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

Congratulations! There is nothing more exciting than moving into a new home. Whether a new building or re-sale property, there are a few things you can do as soon as you take possession in order to make it your own. Invest a weekend or two into warming up a featureless space or refreshing someone else’s old homestead.

Here are 10 things you can do to really own your new space and turn it into home sweet home:

  1. Change The Locks: Secure your home by changing the locks as soon as you take possession. Even DIY beginners can change a deadbolt lock. A replacement deadbolt set can be installed in place of the current lock with just a screwdriver— no drilling required. Another option is to rekey the lock. Purchase a rekeying set from the same manufacturer as the existing door lock, and reset it for a new key
  1. Consider a Professional Deep Cleaning: Hiring a professional cleaner to deep-clean and detail your home before you move your possessions in can make your new home feel that much more YOU! It will be easier without any furniture to work around, allowing them access to every nook and cranny. Yes, you’ll have to clean again after moving day, but the heavy lifting will have already been done!
  1. Clean Out Your Pipes: Years of dust, pet dander and detritus collect in the hidden workings of any home. One of the most effective ways to refresh a new home is to get right into the guts of it! Have your ducts, furnace and air conditioning unit professionally cleaned and be sure to change the filters as required to maintain that clean, fresh air.
  1. Apply a Coat of Paint: Painting provides the most bang for your home-improvement buck! Whether the walls of your home are dingy or you’re simply not feeling the magic of beige, it only takes a few hours to repaint your space with a colour that makes you feel at home.
  1. Freshen Up Your Floors: Much like worn-out walls, old floors can really put a damper on that new-home buzz. If your hardwood has seen better days, you can consider hiring professionals to re-do it or tackle the project yourself by renting a floor sander and varnishing over a weekend. For carpet, a deep steam clean can do wonders! For laminate, you can get that extra shine with a special laminate floor cleaner. Although if any of your floor coverings are lifting or have holes in them, you may want to replace it. You can further personalize your new space by adding floor runners or area rugs!
  1. Neutralize Odors: Any re-sale home can benefit from a deep-clean refresh to eliminate any lingering odors from previous tenants. While some of the above steps will dramatically reduce any lingering smells, stubborn aromas require spot treatments such as:
    • Putting dishes of activated charcoal (also known as activated carbon) in a musty, damp basement. These can be found at aquarium stores.
    • Running a dehumidifier during the spring and summer.
    • Placing a sock filled with dry coffee grounds or baking soda in closets, refrigerators or freezers to absorb stale odors.
    • Pouring white vinegar down a stinky drain.
  1. Enjoy the View! Dirty windows and screens can make rooms feel dark and dingy. A thorough cleaning will have your windows shining, and your space will feel brighter and fresher too. If your home came with the previous owner’s window coverings, be sure to clean or launder them; it’ll remove allergens as well as reduce any lingering odours. Or consider replacements with colours and patterns more suited to your style!
  1. Lighten Up! A well-lit home is immediately warmer and more inviting than its darker counterparts. If your rooms feel dim, replace the existing bulbs with bright, energy-saving LED or CFL bulbs for more light and cost-savings! Dated lighting fixtures can also foil your redecorating efforts, so consider replacing them with something more your style.
  1. Time for a Switch: Replacing your switch plates only requires a screwdriver but you would be surprised how much swapping out old lighting switch plates can refresh your space. With a little DIY expertise, screwdrivers, pliers and a voltage tester, you can install energy saving dimmer switches instead.
  1. Display Your Art: Once you have deep-cleaned your new home and organized it to your heart’s content, it is time to dress up your walls with your favourite artwork and family photos! Get your kids’ kindergarten masterpieces onto the fridge and deck out your mantel with family photos.

Moving into a new home is one of the best times to make your space perfect for you! With a clean slate and empty floor space, now is the time to include all the things that make your house a home – to you! Unpack your knick-knacks and personal items and add a splash of colour with throw pillows or rugs to brighten things up.

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16 Dec

Selling Your Home in Winter


Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

While you might think selling your home in winter is harder, with the right considerations it doesn’t have to be! When selling your home during warmer months, the focus is typically on curb appeal and gardening, as well as having bright colours and patterns to draw out different rooms.

While curb appeal should not be forgotten in winter months, the focus should be centred on creating a warm, comfortable and welcoming space. You can do this through the following:

  1. Curb AppealIf you live in an area that receives high amounts of snow, be diligent about keeping your sidewalk and driveways clear for visitors, and to keep your home looking clean for viewing. Always make sure to sweep any fallen leaves or debris.
  2. Keep it CozyEnsuring your home is sufficiently heated during showings will also go a long way to making it feel more comfortable; a steady 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during showings is ideal.
  3. Light and InvitingWith days being shorter and darker during winter, ensuring your home is light and inviting can make a big difference. In some cases, you may consider repainting the walls before listing your property.
  4. DeclutterWhen selling, it is important to declutter your home so that it looks its best and gives room for people to imagine their own belongings in your space.
  5. Define Property BoundariesIf you are showing your home in the middle of snow season, be sure to mark the four corners of your property so that potential buyers can see exactly what they are getting.

While there is some extra work with selling your home in the winter due to the weather conditions, it can pay off! Buyers tend to be highly motivated and often there is less competition for sales during this time giving more focus to your home.

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15 Dec

Canadian Economic and Fiscal Update – December 15 2021

Latest News

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

DECEMBER 15 2021

Federal Fiscal Update: Canada Has Weathered The Pandemic Storm Relatively Well

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland extolled the performance of the Canadian economy in response to the extraordinary support provided by the federal fiscal authorities and the Bank of Canada in the past 21 months. The economic recovery has been the second strongest in the g-7, and the death rate from Covid-19 was the second-lowest. Emergency spending by the federal government was enormous, but the federal government maintained its triple-A credit rating. The Canadian government on Tuesday cut its deficit forecast for the current fiscal year, citing higher tax revenues and less emergency aid spending while earmarking new funds to fight the Omicron coronavirus variant.

“As we look ahead, we are mindful of elevated inflation,” Freeland said in the forward of the update. “We know inflation is a global phenomenon driven by the unprecedented challenge of re-opening the world’s economy. Turning on the global economy is a good deal more complicated than turning it off. We, like other countries, are experiencing the consequences of a time unlike any other.”

Here are some of the key forecasts presented in the fiscal update:

  • The budget deficit came in at $327.7 billion in the last fiscal year (FY) 2020-21–almost $27 billion less than forecast in the spring budget. As it turns out, revenue came in $20 billion stronger than expected, while expenses were $6 billion lower than expected.
  • This year’s red ink is expected to be $144.5 billion versus the $154.7 billion forecast in April.
  • Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio at 47.5% last FY will peak at 48% this FY versus 51.2% expected in April and fall subsequently to 44% in FY 2026-27. This compares to the pre-pandemic levels of roughly 31%.

“It has been a hard 21 months,” said Freeland. “As we brace ourselves for the rising wave of Omicron, we know that no one wants to endure new lockdowns,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in prepared remarks.

The Trudeau Liberals are pointing to improvements in the labour market, personal incomes and corporate profits as it forecasts tens of billions of dollars in additional revenue annually through 2026.

There is $13 billion in additional spending since the budget aimed at “finishing the fight against COVID-19” and another $4.5 billion in provisions for any Omicron response this fiscal year. There is $1.7 billion for rapid COVID tests in the fiscal update and $2 billion for COVID therapeutics and treatments. In a nod to the persistence of COVID, the previously announced extensions of the wage, rent and recovery benefits in the fall will put another $6.7 billion on the COVID tab this fiscal year.

When it comes to feeding Canada’s economic growth in the years to come, Ottawa is touting the importance of immigration to address labour shortages. The fiscal update earmarks $85 million in the 2022-23 fiscal year to speed up the application process to bring in workers for key industries hit by labour shortage coming out of the pandemic.

The “Underused Housing Tax Budget 2021” announced the government’s intention to implement a national, annual 1.0% tax on the value of non-resident, non-Canadian-owned residential real estate in Canada that is considered vacant or underused. It is proposed that the tax be effective for the 2022 calendar year.

Bottom Line

Today’s fiscal update document may well be most notable in what it omitted. There was no mention of the many new spending promises marked in the summer’s Liberal election platform. Those promises added up to $78 billion over five years.

The Opposition parties in the House of Commons harped on rising inflation and its negative impact on Canadian households and businesses. To be sure, the Trudeau government is not responsible for the surge in global inflation arising from the supply disruptions, labour shortages and enormous pent-up demand. Still, with the Bank of Canada poised for rate hikes next year, the Liberals could well be accused of stoking inflation with additional fiscal stimulus. We will undoubtedly hear more on the election promises when the government’s 2022 budget is announced, likely sometime this spring.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper

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10 Dec

Mortgages for the Self-Employed

Mortgage Tips

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

Did you know? Approximately 15%+ of Canadians are self-employed, making this an important segment in the mortgage and financing space. When it comes to self-employed individuals seeking a mortgage, there are some key things to note as this process can differ from the standard mortgage.

For self-employed individuals with an established business seeking best rate financing, the business must have a minimum of two years of history. This includes self-employed applicants who own a full or part-time business and covers sole proprietorships, incorporations, and partnerships.

In order to obtain a mortgage when self-employed, most lenders require Revenue Canada personal tax Notices of Assessment and respective T1 Generals be included with the mortgage application for the most recent two years. Typically, individuals who can provide these documents – with acceptable income levels – should have little issue obtaining a mortgage product and rates available to the traditional borrower.

One primary benefit of being self-employed is the privilege of writing your income down. You enjoy less tax because you get to write-off expenses, but you lose borrowing power. It is important to be aware of this because you can either pay less tax or have more borrowing power.

As a self-employed individual, you will fall into one of the following three categories:

1. You can provide the tax documents and you have a high enough income, so there aren’t any initial impediments to your application.

2. You can provide the Revenue Canada documents, but don’t have enough stated income due to write-offs. In this case, you need a minimum of 10% down with standard interest rates. If you put down less than 20% down payment when relying on stated income, the default insurance premiums are higher.

3. You cannot provide the Revenue Canada documents, which means you will be required to put down 20% and may have higher interest rates.

For a typical borrower, lenders often require a letter of employment and recent pay stubs to confirm and calculate income. When it comes to calculating income for a self-employed application, lenders will either take an average of two years’ income or your most recent annual income if it’s lower.

When it comes to submitting your mortgage application, you will need to provide the standard documentation in addition to the following:

  • For incorporated businesses – two years of accountant prepared financial statements (Income Statement and Balance Sheet)
  • Two most recent years of Personal NOAs (Notice of Assessments) and tax returns
  • Potentially 6-12 months of business bank statements
  • Confirmation that HST/Source Deductions are current

If you’re self-employed and looking to qualify for a mortgage, or simply have some questions for when you are ready in the future, please don’t hesitate to reach out today! I would be happy to work with you to ensure you have the necessary documentation, understand your options and can obtain a pre-approval to help you understand how much you qualify for!

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3 Dec

Great News On The Labour Front In Canada – December 3 2021

Latest News

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton


Another Blockbuster Jobs Report in November

Statistics Canada released the November Labour Force Survey this morning, reporting employment gains of 153,700 last month–four times bigger than expectations. The unemployment rate fell to 6% from the 6.7% rate posted in October and is only 0.3 percentage points above the 5.7% rate posted in February 2020 before the pandemic began. This, along with the solid third-quarter GDP report released earlier this week, locks in expectations for a Bank of Canada interest rate hike next year.

Employment is now 186,000 jobs above pre-Covid levels. November’s report marks the sixth straight month of job gains. Markets are already pricing in five Bank of Canada interest rate hikes next year.

Employment increased in both the services-producing and goods-producing sectors in November. Both full-time (+80,000; +0.5%) and part-time (+74,000; +2.1%) work increased, and employment gains were spread across six provinces.

Total hours worked increased 0.7% and returned to the pre-pandemic February 2020 level for the first time. Hours rose across most industries, led by manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and construction. Despite increasing in November, hours in the goods-producing sector were still below their pre-pandemic level (-3.6%). All of the growth compared with February 2020 was in the services-producing sector (+1.3%), most notably in professional scientific and technical services (+12.5%).

Record high employment rate among core-aged women

More than 8 in 10 (80.7%) core-aged women aged 25 to 54 were employed in November, the highest employment rate recorded since comparable data became available in 1976 and 1.0 percentage points higher than in February 2020. In November, employment among core-aged women grew 66,000 (+1.1%), primarily in full-time work (+47,000; +0.9%), with growth spread across several industries.

Employment rose by 48,000 (+0.7%) among core-aged men in November, with gains entirely in full-time work. The employment rate for men aged 25 to 54 increased 0.5 percentage points to 87.1%, which is on par with the recent high in September 2019, and 0.5 percentage points higher than in February 2020.

Unemployment rate declined for the sixth consecutive month

The unemployment rate fell 0.7 percentage points to 6.0% in November. This was the sixth straight monthly drop and the most significant decline since March 2021. Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate had hit a record low of 5.4% in May 2019 and was 5.7% in February 2020.

First decline in long-term unemployment since August

The number of Canadians unemployed for 27 weeks or more fell 62,000 (-16.2%) in November, the first monthly decline in long-term unemployment since August 2021. Long-term unemployment fell more for women (-43,000; -24.2%) than for men (-19,000; -9.4%), with the decline spread across the core-aged and 55 and older age groups. The decline was particularly sharp for those who had been unemployed for 52 weeks or more (-56,000; -23.4%).

Long-term unemployment as a proportion of total unemployment fell 2.2 percentage points to 25.6% in November, following four months of little change. The share remained elevated compared with the level of 15.6% observed before the pandemic.

Wage rates rise 5.2% over two years after adjusting for employment composition

Average hourly wages were 5.2% higher (+$1.46 to $29.57) in November 2021 compared with two years earlier, controlling for the unprecedented changes in the composition of employment since February 2020. The October CPI indicated an increase of 5.3% from two years earlier. In comparison, fixed-weighted average wages had increased 5.1% from October 2019 to October 2021, or 7.5%, without controlling for composition changes.

Not surprisingly, wages increased more for recent hires than for established employees. The record-high job vacancies in September have continued to focus attention on the question of whether employers in some industries might raise wages to address recruitment and retention challenges. Average wages increased faster for new employees than for employees who have been in their current job for 18 months or longer.

Bottom Line

When the Bank announces its policy decision next week, Governor Macklem will undoubtedly confirm that the economy has bounced back from its Q2 weakness. Though the omicron variant has increased uncertainty regarding the pandemic outlook, the economy is rapidly approaching full employment. Moreover, as inflation remains well above target and wage pressures are mounting, the Bank will be mindful of its commitment to normalize interest rates next year. If anything, today’s labour market report may accelerate expectations for a BoC rate hike to the first quarter of next year rather than the second.

Please note: The source of this article is from Sherry Cooper

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