1 Oct

Credit score tips, Why invest in a home inspection, Seasonal home preparation tips and More! – October 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

OCTOBER 2021

Hello!

In this issue:


Get Better Credit With The 5 C’s

Buying your first home is an incredible step in life, but it is not without its hurdles! One of which is demonstrating that you are creditworthy, which all comes down to your ability to manage credit. This is how lenders and credit agencies determine the interest rate you pay. A higher credit rating could mean a lower interest rate and save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

There are several attributes that lenders consider before granting credit, and these are commonly referred to as the “Five C’s” and consist of: Character, Capacity, Capital, Collateral and Conditions. Let’s take a closer look at each:

Character: The first C focused on YOU and your personal habits, which comes down to whether or not it is in your nature to pay debts on time. The determining factors for your credit character include the following:

  • Whether you habitually pay your bills on time
  • Whether you have any delinquent accounts
  • Your total outstanding debt
  • How you use your available credit:
    • Quick Tip: Using all or most of your available credit is not advised. It is better to increase your credit limit versus utilizing more than 70% of what is available each month. For instance, if you have a limit of $1000 on your credit card, you should never go over $700.
    • If you need to increase your score faster, a good place to start is using less than 30% of your credit limit.
    • If you need to use more, pay off your credit cards early so you do not go above 30% of your credit limit.

Capacity: The second component relating to your credit rating is your capacity. This refers to your ability to pay back the loan and factors in your cash flow versus your debt outstanding, as well as your employment history.

  • How long have you been with your current employer?
  • If you are self-employed, for how long?

Don’t be confused as capacity is not what YOU think you can afford; it is what the LENDER has determined that you can afford depending on your debt service ratio. This ratio is used by lenders to take your total monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income to determine whether or not you are able to pay back the loan.

Capital: Capital is the amount of money that a borrower puts towards a potential loan. In the case of mortgages, the starting capital is your down payment. A larger contribution often results in better rates and, in some cases, better mortgage terms. For instance, a mortgage with a down payment of 20% does not require default insurance, which is an added cost. When considering this component, it is a good idea to look at how much you have saved and where your down payment funds will be coming from. Is it a savings account? RRSPs? Or maybe it is a gift from an immediate family member.

Collateral: Collateral is what is pledged against a loan for security of repayment. In the case of auto loans, the loan is typically secured by the vehicle itself as the vehicle would be repossessed and re-sold in the event that the loan is defaulted on. In the case of mortgages, lenders typically consider the value of the property you are purchasing and other assets. They want to see a positive net worth; a negative net worth may result in being denied for a mortgage. Overall, loans with collateral backing are typically more secure and generally result in lower interest rates and better terms.

Conditions: The conditions of the loan can also influence the lender’s desire to provide financing. Conditions can include: interest rate, terms, length of loan and amount of principle needed. Typically lenders are more likely to approve specific-loans, such as a car loan or home improvement loan or mortgage as these have a specific purpose, as opposed to a signature loan.

There is no better time than now to recognize the importance of your credit score and check if you are on track with the Five C’s and your debt habits. A misstep in any one of these areas could be detrimental to your efforts to get a mortgage. If you are not sure or want more information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me today to determine your current credit score and if there are areas for improvement to help you get a better interest rate and mortgage.


Why Invest in a Home Inspection

While home inspections might not be the most exciting part of your home buying journey, they are extremely important and can save you money and a major headache in the long run.

In a competitive housing market, there can sometimes be pressure to make an offer right away without conditions. However, no matter how competitive a market may be, you should never skip out on things designed for buyer protection – such as a home inspection.

You may have a good eye for décor and love the layout of your potential new home, but what is under the surface is typically where headaches can lie. We have all heard the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover” so why would you make the most important purchase in your life without checking it out?

In fact, there are five reasons that a home inspection might just be the best $300-$500 you ever spend:

  1. It Provides an “Out”: When buying a new house, it is always best to avoid taking chances. While a house may look great on the surface, hidden structural issues such as cracked foundation or roof damage can easily turn into expensive repairs. A home inspection can help reveal any large and/or hidden issues, which can often provide an ‘out’ for the buyer. If you find something that will cost a considerable amount to replace or repair you can go back to the seller’s agent and ask for a reduction in the price. A leaky roof may cost a few thousand to replace. Perhaps the seller would split the cost with you? It’s worth asking. If the price cannot be re-negotiated if issues come to light, then it is best to just walk away on the basis that the home will cost you too much in the long run.
  2. Confirms Safety and Structural Integrity: Another benefit of having a home inspection is not only to find issues, but also to confirm structural integrity. During an inspection, the inspector will review everything from the attic to the furthest reaches of the basement and will look for things like mold, holes in the chimney, saggy beams or improper wiring.
  3. Reveal Illegal Additions or Installations: Similarly to determining any safety and structural issues, home inspections can also reveal hidden additions or DIY installations that may cause trouble down the road. If the seller wired the house improperly or used substandard materials, it not only could cost you big in the future but it could even null and void your home insurance should something happen!
  4. Forecast Future Costs: A home is an ongoing expense, much like a car. Unless it is brand new, there will be regular maintenance and updates required to replace things when they become old and inefficient. For instance, water heaters typically last for 6-10 years, the life of a good roof is around 20 years, while furnaces can last up to 25 years. The home inspection report will include an estimate on the remaining life for each of these big-ticket items, which will give you a heads up on future expected costs and provide you time to save for their eventual replacement.
  5. Peace of Mind: Finally and perhaps most importantly, getting a home inspection is important for your own peace of mind. A home is a huge investment, and one that you will be paying off for 20 or 30 years. It is much easier to feel good about your investment after you have gone through a home inspection and you know that the house is safe and that you won’t run into any surprise problems down the road. While a home inspection isn’t free, peace of mind is priceless and a few hundred bucks is worth it!

If you’re not sure how to get started with your home inspection, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly for some help or a few referrals!


Fall Home Tips!

It is hard to believe it is October already! Even though Fall has already started, there are a few things you can do still to ensure your home is well-prepared for the season:

  • Inspect Your Gutters: This time of year it is important to clean and inspect your gutters (replacing as needed) to ensure they are working properly as the rain and snow season hits. If they are clogged or damaged, it could result in a flooded interior and damaged exterior so don’t wait!
  • Check for Drafts: In the Fall and Winter, many homeowners are spending extra money heating their homes due to drafts, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Do a check on all exterior doors and windows to confirm if they are properly sealed. To do this, simply close a door or window on a strip of paper. If the paper slides easily, you need to update your weatherstripping.
  • Have Your Furnace Inspected: In Canada we are no strangers to chilly evenings! To ensure you are comfortable throughout the colder months, be sure to have your furnace inspected by an HVAC professional. They can check leaks, test efficiency, and change the filter. They can also conduct a carbon monoxide check to ensure air safety.
  • Fix Any Concrete/Asphalt Cracks: This one is easy to ignore thinking it will be fine, but it could easily turn into a bigger issue. When water gets into existing cracks during the colder months it will freeze and expand, causing the crack to become even larger.
  • Turn Off Outdoor Plumbing: Since your garden will not need attention until the Spring, it is a good idea to shut off and drain all outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems. Depending on where you live, you might also want to cover them to prevent freezing during the Winter months.
  • Change Your Batteries: It is a good idea annually to check that all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices are working. While you’re doing your Fall and Winter home preparations, this is a good time to test your existing gadgets.

Economic Insights with Dr. Sherry Cooper

Read recent insights here!


What Not To Say When The ‘Bank’ Calls

If there’s one thing we’ve learned as technology marches forward—from phone calls to email and text—it’s that fraudsters will always find inventive ways to keep up.

But even as we move to more sophisticated means of communication and security, there are still some basic things that posers do when it comes to bank fraud—and many are summed up in this short article and handy infographic.

For instance, fraudulent emails often arrive dressed in your bank’s brand colours and logo asking for account numbers and PINs or birthdates. It’s easy to think these queries are legit—you might even recall discussing this information with your bank at some point. But here’s the key difference: it was probably when you called them. Your bank would not reach out to you to verify these things.

Source: Bridgewater Bank

 

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1 Sep

Buying a Rental Property & 5 Approval Roadblocks – September 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

SEPTEMBER 2021

Hello!

In this issue:

  • Buying a Rental Property
  • 5 Approval Roadblocks You Should Know

Buying a Rental Property

You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need to be one of the uber rich or make six figures to have a second property. You just need to have knowledge, determination and financial planning!

If you are purchasing a secondary property with the intention to rent, here are a few extra things to know:

  1. The minimum down payment required is 20% of the purchase price, and the funds must come from your own savings; you cannot use a gift from someone else.
  2. Only a portion of the rental income can be used for qualifying and determining how much you can afford to borrow. Some lenders will only allow you to use 50% of the income added to yours, while other lenders may allow up to 80% of the rental income while subtracting your expenses. This can have a much higher impact on how much you can afford.
  3. Interest rates typically have a premium on them when the mortgage is for a rental property versus a mortgage for a home someone intends on living in. The premium can be anywhere from 0.10% to 0.20% on a regular 5-year fixed rate.
  4. If you do eventually want to sell this property, do note that it will be subject to capital gains tax. Your accountant will be able to help you with that aspect if you do decide to sell in the future.

Prior to taking on a secondary property, you will need to have your down payment in order (whether from savings or home equity) based on the minimum requirements, and also have sufficient credit score to qualify. In addition to the down payment, you will also need to pass the stress-test and prove that you can financially carry your existing mortgage and the new application.

If you are looking to purchase a rental property, let’s talk before you start. I would love to help review your financial situation, current mortgage and equity, and help you make a plan. The keys to success are right around the corner with a little bit of expert advice!


5 Approval Roadblocks You Should Know

When buying a home, there is nothing worse than having your mortgage broker or lawyer call and say “there is a problem”. If you have found your dream home and negotiated a fair price, and you have supplied all the documentation to your broker, you probably assume everything is fine.

The reality is that your financing approval is based on the information the lender was provided at the time of the application. If there have been any changes to your financial situation, the lender is within their rights to cancel your mortgage approval. To ensure that you don’t encounter any last-minute roadblocks on your home buying journey, there are five major things you must avoid for a smooth transaction:

1. Changes to Your Employment
When submitting a request for financing, whether for a mortgage or car loan or to handle personal debt, one of the most important aspects the lender looks at is employment. If you were working at Company X for five years at $80,000 a year and change jobs before your upcoming mortgage is finalized, the lender will require proof from your new employer. If you change industries, they will need more proof that you are capable of keeping the job. Plus, for employment involving overtime or bonuses, the lender often requests a two-year average, which is not possible from a new position. Another employment change that could hurt your financing approval would be moving from an employee to a self-employed contractor. A good rule of thumb is to wait to make any major employment or life changes until after the deal has gone through.

2. Down Payment Source
As mortgage financing is based on the initial information provided, you will most likely need to do a final verification of the down payment source. If it is different from what the lender has approved, it could spell trouble for your financing approval. Even if you said that your down payment was coming from savings and, at the last minute, mom and dad offer you the funds as a gift, it could affect your approval. This is an acceptable source of down payment, but only if the lender knows about it in advance and has included this in their risk assessment.

3. Existing Debt
A week or two before your possession date, the lender will obtain a copy of your credit report and look for any changes to your debt load. Since mortgage approval is based on how much you owed on that particular date, it is important not to increase your debt before the deal is finalized. Buying a new car or items for the new home must be postponed until after possession; even if they are “do not pay for 12 months” campaigns because you will need to fulfil those payments, regardless of when they start.

4. Bad Credit
One of the biggest roadblocks to mortgage approvals is credit card payments. When you are in the process of getting financing or waiting to take possession of your home, it is important that your credit score remains positive. If your credit score falls due to late payments, this can cause major issues with your financing. Even if you have a high ratio mortgage in place which requires CMHC insurance, a lower credit score could mean a withdrawal of the insurance and removal of any financing approval.

5. Missing Identity Documents
Before a mortgage is finalized, the lawyer is required to verify your identity documents and see that they match the mortgage documents therefore it is important to use your legal name when you apply for a mortgage. Even if you go by your middle name or a nickname, all legal documents should match.

To help avoid last minute roadblocks and catastrophes with your mortgage application, be sure to keep in touch with me at all times during the mortgage process. If there are any changes from your initial mortgage application, it is important to advise them well in advance and to run those changes by me to ensure they will not affect your application. Get in touch!

 

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1 Jul

Changes to the stress test, Common first-time homeowner mistakes & Canadian Jobs Market – July 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JULY 2021

Hello!

In this issue:

  • The changes to the stress test rules put in place last month
  • All you need to know to avoid common first-time homeowner mistakes
  • Economic Insights with Dr. Sherry Cooper

Changes to the Stress Test and What You Need to Know

As you may have heard, the Bank of Canada recently changed the stress test rules as of June 1, 2021. With these changes, now both insured and uninsured mortgage borrowers will be subject to a stricter stress test when qualifying for their mortgage.

The new qualifying rate on uninsured mortgages – where the down payment is 20% or more – is now the contracted rate plus two percentage points or 5.25%, whichever is higher.

This means that any buyer whose down payment on a home is one-fifth of the purchase price or higher must show they can afford the mortgage payments if the interest rate was two percentage points higher than what the bank is offering, or the new five-year benchmark rate per the Bank of Canada.

Overall, the implementation of these tougher stress test rules will reduce buying power by roughly 4-5% for borrowers. To help illustrate  how this change affects you, consider the following scenario with $100,000 gross income:

The previous stress test at 4.79% would give this individual the ability to borrow $469,530 (based on good credit score with max GDS/TDS qualifications at 39/44%). Now, with the current scenario of 5.25% stress test rate, the they can now only borrow $448,880 (based on good credit score with max GDS/TDS at 39/44%). This is a difference of $20,650 which reduces your home options.

To ensure you are searching in the right price range and budgeting accordingly, it is important to consider this stress test change. If you are looking to purchase your first home or move, please don’t hesitate to contact me today for a better understanding of the rules and what you qualify for.


Avoid These First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes

As a first-time buyer, I am here to give you some tips on homebuyer mistakes to be on the lookout for so you can avoid them for the best experience possible!

Thinking You Don’t Need a Real Estate Agent
You might be able to find a house on your own, but there are still many aspects of buying real estate that can confuse a first-time buyer. Rely on your agent to negotiate offers, inspections, financing and other details. The money you would have saved on commission can be quickly gobbled up by a botched offer or overlooked repairs.

Going With The First Real Estate Agent You Find 
As much as not having a real estate agent can be a disadvantage, having the wrong one can also make the process more difficult. You don’t want to get halfway into house-hunting before realizing your real estate agent is the wrong fit for you. Ideally, you want to source an agent from a friend or family referral. However, if you are stuck or looking for more options, I’d be happy to introduce you to a Realtor partner that’s best suited for your specific search and location.

Getting Your Heart Set on a Home Without Doing Your Homework 
The house that’s love at first sight may not always be what it seems, so it is important to keep an open mind. If you jump in too fast you may be too quick to go over budget or you might overlook a potential pitfall. Taking the time for proper inspections, budget comparisons and long-term family planning can go a long way in ensuring your first home is the right home!

Committing to More Than You Can Afford 
This is one of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers can run into, but to ensure your future financial security it is imperative to truly consider your budget. You don’t want to sacrifice retirement savings, an emergency fund or potential holiday for mortgage payments. You need to stay nimble to life’s changes and overextending yourself could put your investments—including your house—on the line.

Fixating on the Lowest Interest Rate
A reasonable interest rate is important, but not at the expense of heavy restrictions and penalties. Make a solid long-term plan to pay off your mortgage and then find one that’s flexible enough to accommodate life changes, both planned and unexpected. I would be happy to discuss all of your mortgage options with you to ensure that you get the best overall mortgage product with a rate that suits YOU!

Choosing a Fixer-Upper Simply for the Cheaper Listing Price
That old character home may have loads of potential, but it is vital to be extra diligent during the inspection period. What will it really cost to get your home to where it needs to be? Negotiating a long due-diligence period will give you time to get estimates from contractors in case you need to back out.

Diving Into Renovations as Soon as You Buy
Whether or not you choose a fixer-upper or simply want to update some things in your new home, it is important not to rush into them. While renovations may increase the value of your home, overextending your credit to get upgrades done fast doesn’t always pay off. Take time to make a solid plan and the best financial decisions. Living in your home for a while before renovating will also help you plan the best functional changes to the layout.

Not Researching the Neighbourhood
It may be the house of your dreams, but annoying neighbours or a nearby industrial zone can be a rude awakening. Spend some time in the area before you make an offer and talk to local business owners and residents to determine the pros and cons of living there.


Economic Insights with Dr. Sherry Cooper

Canadian Jobs Market Rebounds in June As Lockdown Eases.

Canada’s Jobs Recovery Resumed in June As Lockdown Began to Ease
This morning, Statistics Canada released the June 2021 Labour Force Survey showing employment rose 230,700 (1.2%) in June, rebounding from a cumulative decline over the previous two months of 275,000. Total hours worked were little changed. The national unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points to 7.8%.

Jobs continue to swing back and forth as the various COVID waves drive lockdowns and reopenings. Hopefully, we’re in the last of the reopenings. Services accounted for all of the gains. Hospitality jobs were the biggest gainer, as expected, adding 101k positions, but they remain well below pre-virus levels. Restrictions are expected to continue easing through the summer, which should mean more solid gains over the next couple of months. Other sectors seeing a boost from the reopening were retail/wholesale (+78k), education (+26k) and health care (+20.5k). Goods sectors were down across the board, with losses concentrated in construction (-23k) and manufacturing (-12k).

Beyond the headline increase, one of the bigger stories in this report is the sharp 0.6 ppt rise in the participation rate to 65.2%. That’s the largest increase in a year and leaves the rate 3-4 ticks away from pre-COVID levels. Compare that to the U.S., where the participation rate is still nearly 2 ppts lower than in early 2020. The rise in the participation rate limited the decline in the jobless rate to 0.4 ppts to 7.8%, still some wood to chop there. The rising participation rate should alleviate some concerns about widespread labour shortages.The bulk of the gains were in pandemic-exposed sectors, like retail, food and accommodation, that got hit most by the new containment measures. Employment in accommodation and food services was up 101,000. The retail sector added 75,000 jobs.

Increasing vaccination rates and falling Covid-19 case counts have allowed the country to finally re-open restaurants, bars and retail stores after months of closures. Ontario began allowing patio dining earlier this month, and several cities in Quebec have further relaxed restrictions, allowing indoor dining for the first time this year.

With the June gains, Canada has recovered 2.65 million of the 3 million jobs lost at the height of the pandemic last year. The nation created 263,900 part-time jobs, with full-time employment down 33,200.Employment growth in June was entirely in part-time work and concentrated among youth aged 15 to 24, primarily young women. Increases were greatest in accommodation and food services and retail trade, consistent with the lifting or easing public health restrictions affecting these industries in late May and early June in many jurisdictions.

The number of employed people working less than half their usual hours fell by 276,000 (-19.3%) in June. Total hours worked were little changed and were 4.0% below their pre-pandemic level.

The employment increase in June was in part-time work, which rose by 264,000 (+8.0%) following combined losses of 132,000 over the previous two months. The overall level of part-time employment was essentially the same as in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Increases in the month were driven by accommodation and food services and retail trade—two industries where part-time workers represent an above-average proportion of employment—and were concentrated among youth.

After falling by 143,000 over the previous two months, full-time work was little changed in June and was 336,000 (-2.2%) lower than its pre-pandemic level.

GAINS WERE DRIVEN BY PRIVATE-SECTOR EMPLOYEES, WHILE SELF-EMPLOYMENT DECLINES.
The number of private-sector employees rose by 251,000 (+2.1%) in June, following two monthly declines. As of June, the number of private-sector employees was 2.5% lower (-313,000) than in February 2020.

In the public sector, employment rose by 43,000 (+1.1%) in June, bringing it to 180,000 (+4.6%) above pre-pandemic levels. Employment in this sector has trended up following the initial wave of the pandemic, particularly driven by increases in health care and social assistance, public administration, and educational services.

The number of self-employed workers fell by 63,000 (-2.3%) in June and was down 7.2% (-207,000) compared with February 2020. Self-employment is a broad category that includes workers in various situations, including working owners of incorporated or unincorporated businesses and independent contractors. Compared with June 2019, declines in the number of self-employed were widespread across multiple industries and were concentrated among the self-employed with paid help.

THE EMPLOYMENT RATE REMAINS BELOW PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS.
To fully understand current and emerging labour market trends, it is essential to consider employment change against the backdrop of population change, which totalled 1.1% (+334,000) between February 2020 and June 2021. To keep pace with this population growth and maintain a stable employment rate—that is, employment as a proportion of the population aged 15 and over—employment would have had to grow by 203,000. Instead, total employment was 340,000 lower in June than in February 2020, and the employment rate was 1.7 percentage points lower (60.1% compared with 61.8%).

NUMBER OF CANADIANS WHO WORKED FROM HOME DROPS BY NEARLY 400,000
Among Canadians who worked at least half their usual hours in June, the number who worked from home fell by nearly 400,000 to 4.7 million. For 2.6 million of these people, working from home represented an adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic, as this was not their usual work location. At the same time, the number of people working at locations other than home rose by approximately 700,000 to 12.3 million.

Almost one-third (31.4%) of workers aged 25 to 54 and more than one-quarter (27.2%) of those aged 55 and older worked from home in June. Due to their concentration in industries where working from home is less feasible, such as accommodation and food services, a far smaller proportion of youth aged 15 to 24 (12.9%) did so.

Regionally, Ontario and Quebec led the way higher, though B.C. and Nova Scotia had solid increases as well. Interestingly, even with restrictions easing through most of the country, only five provinces reported job gains.

Bottom Line 

The jobs report is the last major piece of economic data before next week’s Bank of Canada policy decision, where it’s expected to continue paring back its stimulus efforts. The Bank of Canada is among the first from advanced economies to shift to a less expansionary policy, having already cut its purchases of Canadian government bonds to $3 billion weekly from a peak of $5 billion last year.

Analysts anticipate that will come down to C$2 billion per week at the July 14 meeting before eventually falling to a weekly pace of about C$1 billion by early next year. In addition to the bond tapering, the market has priced in at least one interest rate hike by this time next year.

Canada’s economy remains 340,000 jobs shy of pre-pandemic levels. The unemployment rate was below 6% before the pandemic.

With vaccination rates rising and restrictions easing, economists are predicting a strong rebound in the second half. According to a Bloomberg News survey of economists earlier this month, Canada’s expansion is seen accelerating to an annualized pace of 9.1% in the third quarter, with a 6% gain in the final three months of 2021. Consumer and business confidence regarding the outlook has recently hit record highs.

Please Note: The source of this article is from SherryCooper.com/category/articles/ 

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1 Jun

Building Your Own Home, Mortgage Penalties & Summer ‘To-Do’ List – June 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

June 2021

Hello!

In this issue:

  • Building Your Own Home? 5 Things to Consider
  • Real Talk: Mortgage Penalties
  • Summer ‘To-Do’ List

Building Your Own Home? 5 Things to Consider

Building a house is an exciting adventure and the ultimate way to customize your home. To ensure you have the best experience, I have put together 5 important things to know before getting started.

1. It’s All in the Numbers
Whether you are shopping for a pre-built home, or are looking to create your own from the ground up, it is vital to know what you can afford and stay within it. This is the key to building a home that you will be able to enjoy for the next 20 or 30 years, while still maintaining your financial stability.

When calculating the cost of building your home, there are many components from construction materials and contracts to tax benefits, funds for the down payment and slush account and other related expenses. In Vancouver B.C., the typical cost to build a house is between $200 and $350+ per square foot. In some cases, it could cost as much as $500 or more per square foot. Overall, the average cost to build a house can range $300,000 to $350,000 for 1,000 square feet to double or triple that amount. On average, a 2,500 square foot home could cost between $500,000 and $875,000 to build depending on materials, design, etc.

2. Choose a Reputable Builder
When you start looking it can quickly become overwhelming when you realize how many options there are for builders. When it comes to determining the head contractor for your project, careful research is needed.

Note that in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, builders must provide home buyers with a third-party warranty. In the rest of Canada, the decision is left up to the individual builder. The Canadian Home Builder’s Association has a list of reputable professionals you can start with or, if you reside in the province of Ontario, you can use the HCRA’s Ontario Builder Directory. This will allow you to confirm:

  • If a builder or vendor is licensed with the HCRA
  • If any conditions have been placed on their licence
  • If Tarion has had to resolve warranty claims for a builder in the past 10 years
  • How many homes they have built and where these homes are

It can also help to consult friends and family members who have gone through the process. I can also assist in providing references!

3. Build a Home for Tomorrow
As tempting as it can be to personalize your home to the tenth degree and include every cool little feature you can think of, it is important to always keep resale value and practicality in the back of your mind. Life can often throw a few curve balls that, for one reason or another, may result in your having to sell your home in the future. If that time should ever come, you will want to be able to appeal to all buyers easily and not have to hold the house longer than necessary. Ask yourself if  the features you are putting into your home will appeal to others, and also if the design suits the neighborhood you are building in as well.

4. Go Green!
Now, more than ever before, energy efficient upgrades are easy to add to your home. To make your home as efficient as possible, it is important to incorporate these options into your design BEFORE you start building. Options such as energy efficient appliances, windows, HVAC systems, and more can save you money in the long run and may also make you eligible for certain grants and discounts. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) green building program rewards those who select energy efficient and environment friendly options.

5. Understand the Loan
Aside from the costs of building a new home, what does a mortgage look like for an unbuilt home? In many cases, this is where a “construction mortgage” might come into play. In order to properly qualify for financing on an unbuilt home, you need to give me a budget that includes both hard and soft costs, as well as the reserve of money you plan to have set aside in case you run into unexpected events.

For example, based on the lender loaning up to 75% of the total cost (with 25% down):

  • Land purchase price: $200,000
  • Total soft and hard costs (as complete): $400,000
  • $600,000 x 75% = $450,000 available to finance

It is also important to understand that the lender will also consider the appraised value of the finished product. This value is determined before the project begins. In addition, depending on the lender, you may have a time frame within which you need to complete construction (typically between 6 and 12 months).

Below are a few key points to remember with regards to repayment on construction loans:

  • Construction loans are usually fully opened and can be repaid at any time.
  • Interest is charged only on amounts drawn; there are no “unused funds”
  • Once construction is complete and project completion has been verified by the lender, the construction mortgage is “moved over” to a normal mortgage

Lastly, the lender will always consider the marketability of a property. This includes not only demographic aspects, but also the geography. A lot that in a secluded area with minimal market demand may not be a property that they are willing to lend on, so it is important to review the entire property and plan before breaking ground. Please don’t hesitate to contact me to get started on the process so that you can build with confidence!


Real Talk: Mortgage Penalties

When it comes to mortgages, it is easy to focus on the rates and your current situation, but the reality is that life happens and when it does, rates won’t be the only thing that matter.

At the end of the day, a mortgage is a contract between you (the homeowner) and the bank. As such, there are often penalties involved if the contract is ever broken. This is something that every homeowner agrees to when you sign mortgage paperwork, but it can be easy to forget – until you’re paying the price. These things do happen as approximately 6 out of 10 mortgages in Canada are broken within 3 years. Should your circumstances change, knowing the next steps can help you navigate the process.

Calculating Penalties

Typically, the penalty for breaking a mortgage is calculated in two different ways. Lenders generally use an Interest Rate Differential calculation or the sum of three months interest to determine the penalty. You will typically be assessed the greater of the two penalties, unless your contract states otherwise.

1. Interest Rate Differential (IRD): In Canada there is no one-size-fits-all rule for how the IRD is calculated and it can vary greatly from lender to lender. This is due to the various comparison rates that are used. However, typically the IRD is based on the amount remaining on the loan and the difference between the original mortgage interest rate you signed at and the current interest rate a lender can charge today.

Ideally, you will want to be aware of what your IRD penalty would be before you decide to break your mortgage as it is not always the most viable option.

In this case, these penalties vary greatly as they are based on the borrower’s specific mortgage and the specific rates on the agreement, and in the market today. However, let’s assume you have a balance of $200,000 on your mortgage, an annual interest rate of 6%, 36 months remaining in your 5-year term and the current rate is 4%. This would mean an IRD penalty of $12,000 if you break the contract.

2. Three Months Difference: In some cases, the penalty for breaking your mortgage is simply equivalent to three months of interest. Using the same example as above – balance of $200,000 on your mortgage, an annual interest rate of 6% – then three months interest would be a $3,000 penalty. A variable-rate mortgage is typically accompanied by only the three-month interest penalty.

Paying The Penalty

When it comes to making the payment, some lenders may allow you to add this penalty to your new mortgage balance (meaning you would pay interest on it). You can also pay your penalty up front. Whenever possible, if you can wait out your current mortgage term before making a change to your mortgage, it is the best way to avoid being stuck in the penalty box. If you cannot avoid a penalty, do note that, while only calculators can be great tools for estimates, it is best to contact me directly to discuss your mortgage terms and potential penalty calculations.


Summer ‘To-Do’ List

It was a struggle coming-up with a to-do list for the month of June, but here goes:

Do – enjoy the sunshine.
Do – walk barefoot and wiggle your toes in the grass.
Do – enjoy long summer evenings on a patio, deck, or dock.
Do – take a road trip with friends or family.
Do – make the most of each day

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1 May

The Benefit of Rate Holds, Looking to Upsize & Your Gardening To-Do List – May 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

May 2021

Hello!

In this issue:

  • The Benefit of Rate Holds
  • Looking to Upsize Your Home?
  • Your Gardening To-Do List

The Benefit of Rate Holds

The term “rate hold” may be something you are familiar with if you have worked with me in the past. If not, it is a term that all prospective buyers should know!

A rate hold is offered by the majority of lenders to clients who are purchasing a new home and need a mortgage. The purpose of the rate hold is to secure the interest rate on your mortgage application for a certain time period. Often, these holds range from 90-120 days. Bear in mind, these are typically not provided for anyone refinancing their mortgage or looking to transfer it from one lender to another. Only those looking to purchase a home or establish a brand-new mortgage.

Once you have created an application with me, I can submit it to an available lender who is offering a rate hold on an interest rate you want to take advantage of – all without a property attached.

For an example of how a rate hold works, consider this. On day one you submit your application to a lender for a fixed interest rate of 2.64% for five-years. On day 60, that interest rate moves to 3.12%. As long as your mortgage closes in the next 60 days, you are protected and can keep your lower rate of 2.64%. Plus, if rates happen to trend downward, you can also take advantage of the lower interest rate.

This rate hold does not commit you to working with that particular lending institution, nor does it commit you to working with me. It also does not hurt your chances of receiving an approval down the road! All it does is protect the agreed upon interest rate for you while you shop the market, so you don’t have to worry about it increasing while you are hunting for your perfect home!

Once the 120 days expires, if you have not found that perfect home fit or want to take advantage of different interest rates, there is nothing stopping you from submitting another rate hold! It will just be subject to the current rates on the day of submission.

If you are looking to purchase a new or secondary home this summer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to get started on the pre-approval process and put your rate hold in place!


Looking to Upsize Your Home?

According to RE/MAX, one of the biggest trends for Canadian homeowners in 2021 are move-up buyers looking to purchase a home that offers more space for them and their families. In fact, this is true for a whopping 29% of Canadians! Unsurprisingly, this demographic is made up mostly of younger Canadians (under 35) with growing families.

If you are someone who fits this bill and is desperate for a home with more space because you’re feeling cramped or have a little one on the way, it may be time to consider moving on up! Before making this change, there are a few factors to consider from your existing mortgage to requalifying to upsizing costs!

Your Current Mortgage
If you are wanting to upsize, the first thing to look at is whether or not you have an existing mortgage. If not, you don’t have to worry about this part! However, if you are looking to upsize during your current mortgage cycle, it is important to note that you will be breaking the mortgage and will have to go through the entire qualification process again.

An additional point of note is that, if you do move forward with upsizing to a larger home, there may be penalties for breaking your mortgage. These penalties will depend on the lender and the terms set out in your mortgage agreement. In some cases, your current mortgage may be portable, which would make the transition smoother. However, you would need to check your mortgage agreement.

Since you are looking to upsize your home and may require more funds for a larger build, another option is to consider going the “blend and extend” route. This doesn’t require you to break your mortgage or pay prepayment penalties. If the original mortgage was variable-rate, it may not be portable, but this is a great option to consider if you have an existing fixed-rate agreement. However, bear in mind, you would still need to requalify since to increase the mortgage to purchase the larger home. More details on requalifying below!

Requalifying and the “Stress Test”
If you do have an existing mortgage and are unable to port it, you would need to re-qualify  for a new mortgage. This means going through the mortgage process again to qualify at the current interest rates being offered in the marketplace. This would also be subject to government changes – including recent “stress test” rules.

Since January 1, 2018, the stress test has been required for ALL mortgages – regardless of your down payment amount. This test is designed to determine whether a homebuyer can afford their principal and interest payments, should interest rates increase. It is based on the 5-year benchmark rate from Bank of Canada or the customer’s mortgage interest rate plus 2% – whichever is higher.

The Cost of Upsizing
Once you have considered the mortgage-related aspects of upsizing to a larger home, the next thing to look at are the costs associated with making this change. There may be large Property Transfer Taxes and you would also be paying realtor fees on the sale of the home you are leaving behind. These fees are typically 2.5-5% of the home’s selling price.

Beyond the costs associated with the sale of your current home and purchasing a larger residence, the costs of home ownership also rise in proportion to the home you live in. If you are moving up from a condo or apartment to a single-family home, you will save on strata fees but will become responsible for all of the maintenance of your home. It is a good rule of thumb to save one percent of your new home’s purchase price, per year, for maintenance. For instance, if you purchase a $600,000 new home then you would want to ensure $6,000 a year in savings.

Next Steps
Making the move to a larger home is both an exciting and daunting process – but it is entirely doable with the right preparation! No matter what stage you are at with your home, please do not hesitate to contact me if you are considering making a move up the property ladder. I would be happy to review your current mortgage and finances and discuss your options with you to ensure you can continue living the life of your dreams!


Your Gardening To-Do List

If you are looking to have a garden that is the envy of the neighbourhood, May is a great time to get started on your gardening to-do list. I have put together some helpful tips and ideas for how to get started so your garden shines all summer long!

  1. Plant Annuals and Perennials: This is a great time to start planting annuals and perennials in your garden. Some good choices include: cosmos, marigold, nasturtium, sunflower, sweet alyssum, and zinnia. For the best results, it is ideal to pick an overcast day for initial planting to avoid heat shock and be sure to keep all new plants well-watered until they have settled.
  2. Start Summer Veggie Seeds: If you’re hoping to enjoy fresh veggies all summer, be sure to plant them now! Beans, corn, cucumbers and squash can all be sown directly in the soil (ideally when evening temperatures are around 10 degrees Celsius). Another great option is to plant tomatoes as they love the sun and are very hardy, but be sure to provide trellis support! Plant all veggies in a bed of compost (4” – 6” deep) to ensure a healthy start and remember to keep new sprouts moist to avoid heat damage.
  3. Spice it Up: Now that the frost has passed, it is also a great time to plant seasonal spices. Basil, dill, rosemary, marjoram, cilantro and fennel are great options for planting this time of year. They require a bright area with 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and well-drained soil to flourish. Even better? Plant them in a container in your windowsill or on your porch so you can easily access them if you need a snip of fresh herb!
  4. Lawn Mower Care: Lawn mowing season is just around the corner and now is the perfect time to tune up your lawn mower! Get your blades sharpened, change the oil, filter and update the spark plugs to keep you riding smooth all summer.
  5. Lawn Maintenance Routine: Establish a lawn maintenance routine that includes watering your grass and garden, as well as weeding unwanted and unruly foliage and applying fertilizer. A helpful tip is to water your plants in the late afternoon or early evening to cut down on evaporation. This also allows your garden several hours to take up the water into their systems, without battling the sun.

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1 Apr

Mortgage Check-Up, Reverse Mortgages Explained & Getting Your Yard Spring Ready – April 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

APRIL 2021

Hello!

In this issue:

  • Time for a Mortgage Check-Up!
  • What is a Reverse Mortgage?
  • Getting Your Yard Spring Ready

Time for a Mortgage Check-Up!

There has never been a better time for your annual mortgage health check-up! By organizing a quick mortgage review each year, it may yield you some fruitful financial savings.

Your home loan review this year will examine the most common potential monthly savings opportunities, including high-interest credit card debt or fixed loan payments. Reviewing your options annually could result in having more money left over at the end of each month.

With interest rates at historic lows, now is the time to investigate all your options and perhaps save yourself thousands of dollars per year!

Imagine what you could do with the savings – anything from renovating or investing to going on a much-needed vacation or putting money towards your children’s education.

Borrowing costs are also lower than any time in modern history. If your current rate is above 3%, now may be a good time for a free mortgage check-up.

Completing a straightforward annual review will keep your home financing as lean and trim as possible. In other words, you will have a clean bill of mortgage health, which is just what the doctor ordered! Contact me today to schedule your mortgage check-up!


What is a Reverse Mortgage?

Did you know? Reverse mortgages are continuing to gain popularity for 55+ homeowners in Canada! For many Canadians who are looking to retire but currently facing high debt load and ongoing expenses, as well as reduced income, it can be a challenge. This is where the reverse mortgage can help!

This product is also a great option for anyone wanting to assist their elderly parents. Instead of selling the home and moving them to a care home or assisted living, a reverse mortgage is a terrific way to access the equity in the home, month by month, to pay for in-home and ongoing care costs.

The goal of the reverse mortgage is to allow Canadians over 55 years to tap into the equity of their home, which assists in comfortable financial living. With a reverse mortgage, however, borrowers are not required to make regular payments. This allows them a considerable inflow of cash, without having to pay off what they owe! The only time payment will be required is when you sell or move out of your home.

Reverse mortgages are designed to allow you to access up to 55% of your home’s equity, thereby allowing you to convert your home equity into cash. This can be done as either a one-time lump sum payment, or you can choose to structure it to receive monthly payouts.

Beyond being able to cash in on your home’s equity, a reverse mortgage has additional benefits including:

  • No monthly mortgage payments.
  • No income or credit qualifications.
  • Very low / little paperwork required.
  • Title and ownership of property remain in homeowner’s name.
  • Flexible options to break term early if needed
  • Penalty waived in the event of death or care home placement to preserve the estate.

If you are struggling financially or want to have a little extra equity on hand to pay off existing debts, gift money to family, expand your quality of life or simply increase your investment portfolio, contact me today! 

I would be happy to discuss the possibility of a reverse mortgage in further detail with you and ensure it is the best product to suit your needs.


Getting Your Yard Spring Ready

Spring is just around the corner and I have a few great tips to help you get your yard ready for the coming season!

  1. Clean Up Your Yard: Remove any branches or other debris that has piled up over the winter months and then rake out dead grass and old leaves to help your lawn start fresh. If you have an air blower, that will make the task even easier!
  2. Apply Fertilizer, Pre-Emergent and Weed Killer: To help your lawn shine this spring, now is a good time to start tending to your yard. Using a combination of fertilizer to feed your grass, in addition to herbicide now and again in 6-8 weeks, will help your lawn sprout up!
  3. Mow Early and Often: If you want to avoid stunting your lawn growth, you will want to mow your lawn every five days for the first 6 weeks of spring to ensure a thicker, fuller yard!
  4. Trim the Trees: Trees that are left unattended can cause damage and potential injury from falling, dead branches. Consider hiring a professional to do a prune every three years to prevent decay and damage.
  5. Avoid Seeding Until Fall: If you have brown patches in your yard, it might be tempting to fill them with grass seed. However, if you’re following these suggestions and applying pre-emergent or weed killer, the seeds won’t germinate. But don’t fret! If you simply fertilize the lawn, shoots will grow and fill in the brown spots within a few weeks.

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1 Mar

Preparing for the Spring Market, 6 Smart Ways to Cut Your Energy Costs & Spring Cleaning Tips! – March 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

MARCH 2021

Hello!

In this issue:

  • Preparing for the Spring Market
  • 6 Smart Ways to Cut Your Energy Costs
  • Spring Cleaning Tips!

Preparing for the Spring Market

Spring is almost here! To help you get prepared for the Spring market, I have put together some details on what you need to know whether you’re buying or selling!

Selling this Spring? Here are some great tips for those of you looking to sell your home this Spring!

  1. Hire an Experienced Realtor: Before preparing your home for the Spring market, you will want to hire an experienced realtor! A good realtor will serve as your guide through the entire sales process, helping you get your home ready for listing, showing potential buyers and finalizing the eventual sale. This is even more important given the changing landscape in relation to additional safety protocols with viewings and even virtual viewing options. Now, more than ever, the expertise of a realtor will help you navigate the sales process.
  2. Prioritize Repairs and Improvements: Before listing your home, it is important to go through room-by-room and address any issues such as chipped paint, small holes in the wall, broken fixtures, old appliances, etc. Correcting these minor issues will help your home truly shine when buyers walk through.
  3. Clean and Stage Your Home: Now that you have made the necessary minor repairs, you can start staging your home! Start with the exterior of your home and ensure you tidy up the yard, remove any junk and wash your windows! When it comes to the interior of your home, you will want to declutter and do a deep clean (a professional cleaning service can come in handy for this!). Once your home is decluttered and clean, your real estate agent can help you stage it so that it appears spacious and inviting.
  4. Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection: Once you are ready to list your home, it can be a good idea to consider a pre-listing inspection. The inspector would conduct a complete visual inspection of all interior and exterior elements (including HVAC systems, wiring, ceiling, chimneys, gutters, etc.), which would help put prospective buyers at ease.
  5. Organize The Paperwork: There is a lot of paperwork when it comes to selling your home. Having all of these documents organized and together for potential buyers will help to speed up the process and allow them to address any questions before the deal is finalized. Permits, renovation or repair receipts, warranties, rental agreements and copies of your utility bills are all good records for potential buyers.

Looking to Buy This Spring? If you want to enter the real estate market this Spring, there are some things you should consider – especially if you are a first-time home buyer!

  1. Get Pre-Approved: One of the best things you can do prior to starting your home search, is to get pre-approved for a mortgage! A mortgage pre-approval is NOT an approval, and does not commit you to a single lender, but it can give you a leg up on your home ownership journey. Pre-approval helps to determine your price range and budget, as well as guaranteeing the interest rate for 90-120 days while you search for that perfect home. Having a pre-approval also lets the seller know that securing financing should not be an issue. This is extremely beneficial in competitive markets where lots of offers may be coming in!
  2. Manage Your Expectations: When it comes to house hunting, it is important to understand and manage your expectations right from the start. All potential buyers should have put together a budget, which will assist in understanding what is affordable – and you must stick with it. You also need to be realistic about what you require in a home, versus what you want in a home.
  3. Prepare Your Down Payment: If you have been thinking about purchasing a home, odds are you already have a down payment ready or have at least started saving. Once you have determined your budget, you will be more equipped to calculate the down payment amount. Keep in mind, a down payment can come from funds gifted by an immediate family member and first-time homebuyers can also utilize their RRSPs up to $35,000!
  4. Hire an Experienced Realtor: A realtor is your best tool when it comes to the housing market. They often have access to listings that are not available publicly yet, in addition to understanding the processes around purchasing a home.
  5. Don’t Forget the Inspection: Once you find a home you think you are ready to buy, make sure not to skimp on the inspection! A proper inspection is important for buyer security as they can uncover potential issues that may cost you money down the line.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell, it is important to work with a trusted real estate and mortgage professional to ensure the best outcome for you and your family! If you’re not sure where to start a mortgage professional, such as myself, has contacts in the industry.  I’d be happy to introduce you to a Realtor partner that’s best suited for your specific search and location.


6 Smart Ways to Cut Your Energy Costs

In the last decade, climate change and energy efficiency have become top of mind for many Canadians. From wanting to do our part by recycling to making our home as energy efficient as possible, there are so many benefits to being environmentally and energy conscious.

If you are looking to cut costs or simply want to reduce your eco footprint, here are some great ways to cut your energy costs!

Get a Smart Thermostat: A pretty easy installation, a smart thermostat can help you better manage your in-home temperature. Whether you opt to install a basic programmable thermostat or try the Google’s Nest, which learns from you and works to predict which temperatures you prefer and when, getting a read on your in-home temperature can help you better manage your energy usage.

Look for Drafty Spots: When it comes to heating your home, it can quickly become a wasted effort and results in extra costs if you have drafts in your home. In addition to windows and doors, you should also seal any folding attic stairs, add a fireplace plug to seal the damper and install a dryer vent seal to reduce drafts in your laundry room.

Swap to LEDs: Most of us are already using LED bulbs throughout our home. If you aren’t yet, now is the time to make the switch! LED bulbs use 15% less energy than an equivalent incandescent, which can save you a ton of money each month especially in larger homes.

Turn Down Your Water Heater: While sometimes nothing beats a good scalding shower, you don’t want to be burned with a high energy bill. Did you know if you knock down that temperature gauge by just 10 degrees, you can save 3% to 5% on your bills each month!?

Examine Your Appliances: Since 1992, ENERGY STAR® has been backing energy efficient appliances and products, helping consumers make the right choices.

Some of the least green appliances in your home are your dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and refrigerator and, if you don’t currently have Energy Star certified versions of these machines, swapping to them is a sure-fire way to reduce your monthly expenses.

Can’t afford new appliances? Here are some other tips and tricks to help make them more efficient in the meantime:

  • Dishwasher: Use a citric acid-based cleaner in an empty cycle to rid your dishwasher of excess soap and calcium buildup that may be causing your machine to work harder.
  • Washing Machine: Maximize energy by stuffing your machine to the brim whenever possible as washing machines typically use the same amount of energy regardless of load size.
  • Dryer: For starters, ensure you are always cleaning out your lint filter to increase air circulation. In addition, keep an eye on the outside exhaust and clean when needed to reduce drying time and save energy.
  • Refrigerator: While most of us are more concerned with the food inside our fridges than the parts, it is important to check your condenser coils. Over time, dirt, food particles and dust can collect and reduce the efficiency. Another tip is to set your refrigerator to 36- and 38-degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Close The Blinds: When the temperature starts heating up, it is important to close the blinds and drapes to prevent the sun from beating in and warming up your home. The excessive heat makes your air conditioner work overtime causing your energy bills to skyrocket.

In addition to the cost savings and environmental benefits of improving your energy efficiency, CMHC also has a rebate available! This rebate can provide a 15-25% insurance premium rebate on buying new or performing renovations that meet energy efficiency standards! Click here for more details.


Spring Cleaning Tips!

As the sun starts coming back around, it is a great time to scrub those windows and deep clean your home! Here are some tips for a successful Spring cleaning adventure:

  1. Create a Playlist (or listen to my Apple Music Playlist here): Everything is more fun with a great playlist! Not only is music great therapy but it can make the cleaning process go by quicker and make it more enjoyable.
  2. Clean One Room at a Time: While we all like seeing our homes sparkly and fresh, it can sometimes be an overwhelming process to get to that point. To help minimize the stress of your Spring cleaning project, work one room at a time! Start with the smaller rooms, or those that need the least amount of cleaning, and work your way up to the larger, project rooms. Another option is to tackle one or two rooms each weekend for the month and by the time April comes, you’ll be ready!
  3. Declutter as You Go: Spring cleaning isn’t just about shining up the brass on the door and dusting. It is just as important to declutter your space! Before you start cleaning the room, it is a good idea to pinpoint items that can be discarded, such as old magazines and papers, as well as to go through closets and cupboards for anything that you can donate (like that sweater you bought and never wore). This will clear up space for new clothing and items and will make you feel that much more accomplished!
  4. Think Green: Spring cleaning allows us to start the season off on a fresh, clean note. Don’t muddy that up with harsh chemical cleaners. In today’s eco-friendly environment, there are many safe alternatives to regular cleaners. Vinegar is a great substitute in the bathroom or kitchen as well as combining vinegar, baking soda and water as a deep clean alternative. You can also opt for a steam cleaner to manage tile, hardwood floors, appliances and even outdoor areas as they only use hot water and vapor.
  5. Work From Top to Bottom: Starting from the ceiling and working your way down just makes sense! This will force debris downward and save you having to re-clean your space. Dusting first will prevent a headache later too!
  6. Don’t Forget The Fridge & Freezer: The best time to clean out your fridge and freezer is right before you do your grocery shop, so they will be at their most empty. Take everything out and dispose of anything that is past its expiration date and any almost-empty items you won’t use. Before you restock be sure to wipe down the interior of the fridge with disinfectant and a damp cloth. The same can be done for the freezer but you’ll have to defrost it first!
  7. Clean Air Reduces Allergies: Replacing furnace and HVAC filters is one of the most overlooked parts of Spring cleaning. Going as far as replacing your standard filter with a more robust one with a higher rating will help keep you even healthier this year as they catch smaller particles to ensure your home is void of allergen triggers, chemicals and even odors.

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1 Jan

Pantone of the Year decor ideas, Annual mortgage check-up tips & a 12-month home maintenance plan! – January 2021

Monthly Newsletter

Posted by: Matthew J. Charlton

JANUARY 2021

Hello!

In this issue:

  • Pantone of the Year 2021
  • Time to Check-In with your Mortgage!
  • New Year Home Maintenance Plan

Pantone of the Year 2021

The Pantone Color Institute has published their 2021 Pantone trends, which features 10 standout colors as well as 5 core classics to help bring some extra spark to fashion and home this New Year.

This year’s Pantone offers a range of shades that combine a “level of comfort and relaxation with sparks of energy that encourage and uplift our moods” according to Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. This year’s choices are not only bold and illustrative, but also combine our desire for flexibility and color choice that lasts year-round.

On the 2021 Pantone we have an inspiring palette composed of marigold, cerulean, rust, illuminating yellow, French blue, mint, amethyst, burnt coral and vivid raspberry! Paired with these are the core hues of inkwell, gray, buttercream, desert mist and willow beige.

To utilize this year’s incredible colors, without wasting your time or money, try sprinkling them throughout your home as accents to brighten and uplift your space. Consider throw-pillows and rugs or other accent pieces such as swapping out your curtains, lampshades or even a quick reupholster on worn chairs to help liven up your space in time for the new year!

From comforting oranges and friendly yellows, to calming and restoring greens and blues, the 2021 Pantone palette is sure to infuse your year with reawakened senses and a fresh perspective!


Time to Check-In with your Mortgage!

There has never been a better time for your annual mortgage health check-up! By organizing a quick mortgage review each year, it may yield you some fruitful financial savings.

Your home loan review this year will examine the most common potential monthly savings opportunities, including high-interest credit card debt or fixed loan payments. Reviewing your mortgage terms and options annually could result in having more money left over at the end of each month – and who doesn’t want that?!

For instance, are you exercising your penalty free extra payment privileges? Do you have any? Prepayment privileges allow you the opportunity to pay up to 20% extra per month and a total of up to 20% lump sum per year – without penalty! This means that for a $300,000 mortgage on a 25-year amortization, a 20% monthly payment increase can generate $18,000 worth of savings AND help you to pay off your mortgage 5 years earlier! When you add-on the annual lump sum of $2,500, the savings are increased to just over $25,000 for the year and bumps you up to being mortgage-free 8 years earlier! You can also use the My Mortgage Toolbox app to calculate the potential savings from an extra payment.

When it comes to mortgage payments, another great question for your annual check-up is whether or not you are on the best payment frequency for your cash flow and to best optimize savings! Most lenders offer various payment frequency and an annual mortgage review can help identify the best frequency based on changing needs and cash flow situations. A monthly payment is simply a single large payment, paid once per month; this is the default that sets your amortization. A 25-year mortgage, paid monthly, will take 25 years to pay off but includes the added burden of one larger payment coming from one employment pay period. Alternatively, an accelerated bi-weekly payment pays your mortgage every two weeks. This frequency allows the mortgage payment to be split up into smaller payments vs a single, larger payment per month. This is especially ideal for households who get paid every two weeks as the reduction in cash flow is more on track with incoming income.

These accelerated bi-weekly payments also offer interest savings, as you are actually making an extra payment each calendar year. For instance, a $300,000 mortgage on an accelerated by-weekly payment schedule will pay off your mortgage two and a half years faster and generate approx. $8,000 in savings!

That’s like getting a $10,000 a year raise just by changing your payment frequency! You can use the My Mortgage Toolbox app to also calculate these payment differences.

Another area to look at during your mortgage check-up are your penalties. Breaking your mortgage term early, and before the scheduled contract maturity date, will almost always incur a penalty. The amount depends on various factors such as how far you are into the existing term, your current interest and rate type, your existing lender, etc. However, with today’s rates sitting at such a historical low, there can still be savings! Now, if you break your mortgage early and incur a penalty, you can still come out ahead. For instance, it is possible to save $20,000 with a new low rate and incur a $15,000 penalty, which still puts you $5,000 ahead! Having an annual mortgage review can look at these options and determine if it is a benefit for you to chase these historically low rates.

Beyond your current payments and interest rate, consumer debt outside of the mortgage is another important area for review. Did you know? The average Canadian has $30,000 of credit card debt, at approximately 20% interest?! Reviewing your home equity situation could yield $10,000 savings, per year, by rolling debts into your home equity loan. Contact me today to discuss this further and see if it is an option for you!

Pay more to save more, pursue lower rates even with a penalty, and debt consolidation are just three examples of the financial savings an annual mortgage check-up with your mortgage professional can do! With interest rates at historic lows, now is the time to investigate all your options and perhaps save yourself thousands of dollars per year, especially if your current interest rate is over 3%! Imagine what you could do with the savings – anything from renovating or investing to going on a much-needed vacation or putting money towards your children’s education.

Completing a straightforward annual review will keep your home financing as lean and trim as possible. In other words, you will have a clean bill of mortgage health, which is just what the doctor ordered! Contact me to set up a mortgage check-up today!


New Year Home Maintenance Plan

Keep your home in comfy, cozy and working order all year long with this easy maintenance schedule highlighting important areas to check – and when!

  1. January: Safety check! Start your year off on the right foot by ensuring your home is in proper working order. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries as necessary.
  2. February: The colder months are a great time to tackle indoor maintenance. Take the time to inspect your shower, tub and toilet for any leaks and recalk as needed to save you on costly repairs later in the year.
  3. March: Inspect your windows and doors for cracks as any gaps will cause heat (and air conditioning!) to escape from your home. Add weather stripping as needed to ensure they are sealed.
  4. April: As we get closer to spring, this is a great time to focus on the exterior of your home. A power-wash and deep clean of your siding and windows will help your home look its best.
  5. May: With summer just around the corner, this is a good time to check your A/C unit and ensure it is up to the challenge. Contact a professional HVAC company to service your unit and ensure it is up to optimal efficiency and output.
  6. June: As we move outside in the warmer months, this is the perfect opportunity to spruce up your deck and outdoor space. Pressure washing and resealing your deck will help keep it functional and gorgeous, all year long!
  7. July: Insects run wild in the warmer weather. To prevent damage, it is a good idea to consider a pest control plan especially if you live in a highly active area.
  8. August: As the end of the summer approaches and we get closer to the rainy season, you will want to ensure your roof is in good working order. Check the areas around your eaves and gutters for any water damage and ensure there are no leaks or loose shingles that could cause issues down the road.
  9. September: To create that warm and cozy fall atmosphere, you will want to ensure your fireplace is doing its job. This is the perfect time for a thorough inspection of your fireplace – whether wood or gas – to ensure everything is working well.
  10. October: With the gorgeous colors of fall in full swing, October is a great month to touch up the exterior of your home’s paint and boost your curb appeal. While you’re at it, make sure to check your foundations for any damage that could worsen in the colder months.
  11. November: As the leaves start to fall, it could spell a mess for your home. In November, focus on leaf and gutter cleanup. Regularly rake your yard to keep your grass green and collect any debris that may have collected in your gutters or your roof from high winds.
  12. December: You made it! Another year of home maintenance is almost done as we move into December. Get yourself snow ready by prepping your pipes and considering added insulation to keep them from freezing.

 

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