tel: 306.536.6545

Agent Photo

»Serving Your Regina Real Estate Needs

Seniors and Reverse Mortgages

Wed, 08 Aug by Pauline Relkey

A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows you to get money from your home equity without having to sell your home. You may be able to borrow up to 55% of the current value of your home tax-free.

Eligibility for a reverse mortgage
To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must be:
a homeowner
at least 55 years old. If you have a spouse, both of you must be at least 55 years old to be eligible.

Qualifying for a reverse mortgage
Your lender will consider:
your home equity
where you live
your age
your home’s appraised value
current interest rates

In general, the older you are and the more home equity you have when you apply for a reverse mortgage, the bigger your loan will be.

Accessing money with a reverse mortgage
You may choose to get the money from your loan through:
lump-sum payment
planned advances, giving you a regular income
a combination of both of these options
You must first pay off any outstanding loans that are secured by the equity in your home with the funds you get from your reverse mortgage.
You can use the remainder of the loan for anything you wish, such as:
pay for home improvements
add to your retirement income
cover healthcare expenses

Repaying the money you borrow with a reverse mortgage
You don’t need to make any regular payments on a reverse mortgage. You have the option to repay the principal and interest in full at any time.
Interest will be charged until the loan is paid off in full. The interest will be added to the original loan amount, which increases the loan amount over time.
If you sell your house or if you move out, you’ll have to make payments. When you die, your estate will have to repay the loan.

Costs to get a reverse mortgage
Costs associated with a reverse mortgage may include:
higher interest rate than for a traditional mortgage
a home appraisal fee
a closing fee
a prepayment penalty if you sell your house or move out within 3 years of getting a reverse mortgage
fees for independent legal advice
Shop around and explore your options before getting a reverse mortgage.

Compare the costs and impact of the following:
getting another type of loan, such as a line of credit or credit card, etc
selling your home
buying a smaller home
renting another home or apartment
moving into assisted living, or other alternative housing

Where to get a reverse mortgage
Two financial institutions offer reverse mortgages in Canada:
HomEquity Bank offers the Canadian Home Income Plan (CHIP). It is available across Canada directly from HomEquity Bank or through mortgage brokers
Equitable Bank offers the PATH Home Plan. It is available through mortgage brokers in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario
Your financial institution may offer other products that might meet your needs.

Pros and cons of a reverse mortgage
Before you decide to get a reverse mortgage, make sure you consider the pros and cons carefully.
Pros
You don’t have to make any regular loan payments
You may turn some of the value of your home into cash, without having to sell it
The money you borrow is a tax-free source of income
This income does not affect the Old-Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits you may be getting
You still own your home
You can decide how to get the funds

Cons
Interest rates are higher than most other types of mortgages
The equity you hold in your home may go down as the interest on your loan adds up throughout the years
Your estate will have to repay the loan and interest in full within a set period of time when you die
The time needed to settle an estate can often be longer than the time allowed to repay a reverse mortgage
There may be less money in your estate to leave to your children or other beneficiaries
Costs associated with a reverse mortgage are usually quite high compared to a regular mortgage

Questions to ask a lender about reverse mortgages
Before getting a reverse mortgage, ask your lender about:
the fees
any penalties if you sell your home within a certain period of time
how much time will you or your estate have to pay off the loan’s balance if you move or die
what happens if it takes your estate longer than the stated time period to fully repay the loan when you die
what happens if the amount of the loan ends up being higher than your home’s value when it’s time to pay the loan back

Myth: The bank owns the home.
Fact: The homeowner always maintains title ownership and control of their home and they have the freedom to decide when and if they’d like to move or sell.

Myth: The bank can force the homeowner to sell or foreclose at any time.
Fact: A reverse mortgage is a lifetime product and as long as property taxes and insurance are in good standing, the property remains in good condition, and the homeowner is living in the home, the loan won’t be called even if the house decreases in value. Reverse mortgages provide peace-of-mind that the homeowner can stay in their home as long as they’d like.

Myth: Surviving spouses are stuck paying the loan after the homeowner passes away.
Fact: Surviving spouses can choose to remain in the home without having to make a payment unless they choose to sell the home.

Myth: The homeowner cannot get a reverse mortgage if they have an existing mortgage.
Fact: Many people use a reverse mortgage to pay off their existing mortgage and debts, freeing up cash flow for other things.

Myth: A reverse mortgage is a solution of last resort.
Fact: Many financial professionals recommend a reverse mortgage because it’s a great way to provide financial flexibility. Since it’s tax-free money, it allows retirement savings to last longer.

Home is where the heart is, but it’s getting more difficult for seniors to stay in their homes.
93% of Canadian Seniors live at home and prefer to age in place.
60% of retired Canadians say staying in their home is critical to their quality of life.
700,000 Canadian senior-led households face a housing affordability challenge.
Canadian seniors who live alone at home experience poverty at nearly twice the rate of other seniors.
1 in 4 Canadian senior-led households are spending more than 30% of their income on housing.
Only 1/3 of the Canadian workforce is covered by a registered pension plan down from 37% in 1992.
Almost 30% of Canadians who are nearing retirement have $50,000 or less in savings.
35% of those nearing retirement plan to use the value of their home to generate retirement income.
Nearly 70% of Canadians nearing retirement are still carrying debt.

THE TAKEAWAY
Most seniors prefer to live their retirement years at home but live on modest incomes and may face challenges to their financial security. Canadian seniors do benefit from access to CPP, OAS and housing assets but are feeling the pinch.

Tips for the First-Time Home Buyer

Wed, 25 Apr by Pauline Relkey

When venturing into the world of home ownership, first-time buyers often find themselves having to make important, fast decisions in what feels like a surreal situation — after all, it might have only been a few weeks since owning a home seemed more like a far-off daydream than an immediate reality. A few common sense tips will help you navigate these unfamiliar landscapes as you move towards one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

1. Get pre-approved
Though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage when you’re find a property, having one can give you a firm grasp on what you can afford before you start looking. A pre-approval from your bank or lender will save you time by narrowing your search to a more precise selection of homes, and this, in turn, can protect you from the all-too-common disappointment that follows setting your heart on a house you can’t afford.

2. Don’t expect your standards of living to change
It’s bound to happen: you see a house that maxes out your budget, but you imagine you can make it work by cutting out things like morning coffees, cellular data and cable TV. Remember, ‘roughing it’ for the sake of your house quickly loses its charm, and you’ll soon regret the lack of wiggle room for things like new furniture, redecorating, or unexpected repairs. Don’t regret your first home — avoid becoming ‘house poor’ by staying below the upper limit of what your bank is willing to lend you.

3. Make a list and check it as many times as it takes
Each property you consider will have its own unique combination of pros and cons, and going through them can feel a little like comparing apples to oranges. Don’t expect to stay clear-headed when the house with the poor walking score has the kitchen of your dreams; instead, stay on track by building a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves.” Though your list might evolve over time (especially if the “must haves” are rare for your price range), having a set of self-imposed guidelines can keep your search on course when you’re feeling overwhelmed by options.

4. Don’t confuse “first home” with “forever home”
Most first-time buyers start out a little starry-eyed, imagining that new home will be stylish, spacious, efficient … basically, everything they’ve been dreaming of. In reality, being able to afford a house that has everything you want is pretty rare in the first go-round, which can make you feel so discouraged you start closing yourself off to the available options. Remember, your ‘starter home’ doesn’t have to meet all the criteria of your ‘dream home,’ and the equity you’ll build for the next few years will get you closer to your goal.

With so much new information to absorb, steps to take, and decisions to make, buying a first home can feel like a rollercoaster ride. It’s important not to lose your head throughout all of it. Taking a few steps to keep your expectations rooted firmly in reality can help you glide through the process and feel confident in your final decision.

8 Things to Consider Before Selling Your Home

Mon, 26 Feb by Pauline Relkey

As winter moves closer to the finish line, the annual spring real estate market heats up. There are many things to consider before you put your home on the market – here are 8 of the more critical ones.

1. Budget

Know what you can afford so that you don’t stretch yourself thin. Talk to your mortgage person.

2. Know the costs.

There are plenty of expenses when selling your home. Some are straightforward such as renovations and paying for movers. Others may not be as obvious – nor who pays for them – such as land transfer taxes (buyer pays), real estate agent commissions (seller), mortgage insurance (buyer), legal fees, bank fees and possibly capital gains taxes.

3. Find out your home’s worth.

Knowing how much you’re likely to get for your home can dictate how much you may be able to afford when buying another house. Do your research by checking what similar homes have sold for in your neighbourhood. The best way to do this is to meet with your Realtor who will be listing your house for sale.

4. Choose a real estate agent.

You can choose to sell your home yourself to save the commission fees – but you also incur all the responsibility for writing legal contracts. Of course, I suggest that you choose a trusted real estate agent who knows your area and by asking for referrals. If your Realtor helped you find your present property and has stayed in touch with you, give her/him a call.

5. Decide when to sell.

Do you sell during the traditional peak markets of spring and summer or or off-season? Selling during the peak means more buyers and possible bidding wars, while selling off season means fewer homes competing with yours. As the saying goes, 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

6. Add visual appeal.

Creating curb appeal is an obvious benefit, but don’t forget to freshen up the interior as well. Make any minor renovations, declutter and consider staging, because professionally staged homes typically sell faster and for more.

7. Get a home inspection done.

While buyers will probably get their own inspections done, having one ready says that you’re confident in your home and have nothing to hide because you have taken care of what work is needed – it provides peace of mind for everyone.

8. Coordinate closing dates.

Being able to move from one home to another on the same day can be hectic and cause you stress. Hopefully you can take possession of your new place before you have to be out of your present one. If not, you may have to either rent another home short-term, put belongings in storage and generally cause unnecessary upheaval in your life. Talk to your bank about bridge financing.

Do you know your Credit Score?

Wed, 14 Feb by Pauline Relkey

GET YOUR CREDIT REPORT
Your credit history is an important part of your future – it can open doors for you or keep them locked. Decisions including approvals for loans and mortgage or rental applications may be affected by your credit history.

Make payments on time and always pay at least the minimum amount required
Notify creditors as soon as you move to ensure bills will arrive at your new location on time
Notify creditors right away if you experience problems making a payment
Review the accuracy of your credit report by checking with one of the two largest credit reporting agencies – Equifax or TransUnion
To receive a copy of your personal credit report, please send a written request to one of the following credit reporting agencies:

EQUIFAX CANADA INC.
Consumer Relations Department
Box 190 Jean Talon Station
Montreal, QC
H1S 2Z2
Phone: 1-800-465-7166
Fax: 1-514-355-8502
www.equifax.ca to complete and mail Equifax’s Credit Report Request form.

Requirements:
Equifax requires a written credit report request including your name, address, date of birth and Social Insurance Number (optional). Please also include photocopies of two forms of identification (both sides) and remember to sign your request.

TRANSUNION OF CANADA
(For all provinces except for Quebec)
Consumer Relations Centre
P.O. Box 338, LCD 1
Hamilton, ON
L8L 7W2
Phone: 1-800-663-9980
7 a.m. until 8 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday
Visit www.tuc.ca for TransUnion’s Consumer Relations Information form

TRANSUNION (ECHO GROUP)
(For Quebec residents)
1 Place Laval
Suite 370
Laval, QC
H7N 1A1
Phone: 1-877-713-3393 or 1-514-335-0374
8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday
Visit www.tuc.ca for TransUnion’s Consumer Relations Information form

Requirements:
TransUnion requires a written credit report request including your name, address, previous address (if present address is less than five years), phone number (optional), date of birth, place of employment (optional), and Social Insurance Number (optional).

Please also include photocopies of two forms of identification (both sides) from the following list:

Driver’s Licence
Passport
Certificate of Indian Status
Age of Majority/Provincial ID
Citizenship Card
Department of National Defense Card
Firearms Possession and Acquisition Licence (with photo only)
Social Insurance Number (optional)
Credit Card (primary account holder)
Or, you can include one or more of the above along with one of the following:

Credit Card (secondary account holder)
Birth Certificate
Legion Card
Hunting/Fishing Licence
T4 Slip
Student Card (only with photo, signature and currently enrolled)
Employee ID/Union Card (only with photo, signature and current employer)
If more than one member of your household is requesting their credit report, each separate request must contain all of the above information.

What Home Inspectors Want Buyers and Sellers to Know

Fri, 08 Dec by Pauline Relkey

The home inspection process can be terrifying to go through, whether you are the seller or buyer.

For sellers, it’s like having your annual physical and you are being reprimanded by your doctor for not eating right and not exercising, etc.

For the buyers, it can be like finding your soulmate then discovering they are already married.

Don’t let the inspection stress you out. That’s not what your inspector wants either. All he wants is to do his job and provide you with an inspection report so that you are a happy customer.

Work with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are 7 essential things you should keep in mind.

For sellers

1. Move your pets
We know your puppy/cat/snake is adorable and totally considered a family member, but even if your home inspector loves dogs or cats, pets on the loose while the inspection is happening makes the job much more difficult. For example, inspections require opening exterior doors, offering pets far too many opportunities to run out the door. Or the home inspector is afraid of your pet. When you leave the premises for the inspection—and many inspectors and agents ask sellers to do so – please take your pets with you.

2. Don’t forget to clean
Whether you plan on being there for the inspection or not, make sure to clean up beforehand. No, you don’t need to turn your house into an isolation ward by cleaning like a mad person — an inspector won’t ding you because your fridge has fingerprints on the door. But all that clutter? Yeah, that’s all got to go. It makes a huge difference when the inspector walks into a property where everything is put away.

For buyers

1. Any property will have issues/problems
Your home inspector will likely come up with a seemingly endless list of problems after the walk-through. Don’t panic! The inspector has been hired by you to do his job and report on what he discovers.  Put it all in perspective.  If you have never owned property, you might be overwhelmed, but speak to a home owner and they will totally understand. Every property including the realtor’s and the inspector’s, have problems and/or maintenance things. You are not alone. But there are times when you should worry, as in a major, costly fix (foundation, roof, etc). But not every issue is critical. Your inspector will explain which problems you should tackle first and even give you an idea of the approximate cost.

2. Almost anything can be fixed
There are a few scary home inspection terms that seem to be in everyone’s vocabulary: mold, basement walls and asbestos. Yes, they are scary, but no scarier than a roof that needs replacing. Don’t worry so much about mold and radon! Everything is upgradable, fixable, or replaceable. You just need to have a list of what those things are and decide how you want to address them. That’s another of the many reasons you should have a realtor on your side helping you. We will explain all your options at that point.

3. One thing you should worry about is water
Here is one issue that you might want to stress out about (just a little) – water. No, it’s not a deal breaker. Remember that part where I said almost anything can be fixed? But it’s important to address any water-related issues before the deal closes—or at least immediately afterward. Make note of issues such as water marks, mold and leaky ceilings. And give special attention to the basement. Addressing water problems in the basement can be an expensive and difficult proposition.

4. Home inspectors can’t predict the future
You might want to know how many more years the roof will hold up—and while your inspector might be able to give you a rough estimate, he can’t give you a precise timeline. Inspectors don’t have X-ray vision to see through walls or examine the motherboard in that funky new fridge that talks to you. He can’t tell you how long some things will last, but he can comment on the shape it is in, but remember that is relevant to the age of what he is talking about. Yes a furnace might be old but if it’s working fine and doesn’t need major repairs yet, then keep using it until you are ready to buy a new one.

5. Find the balance between your emotions and facts
I see this happen a lot with buying couples. One buyer is emotional at the beginning and the other is practical. Then after the purchase, they  reverse roles and the emotional one becomes practical and the practical buyer becomes emotional. It’s easy to forget your love for the home when you’re counting the dollar signs and hours you might have to spend on repairs. Just remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and consider whether it’s a smart investment in your future. The justification can sometimes be a horrible process, because our brains are all about money and time and thinking about ‘What kind of mistake am I making?”

Barring any major renovations needed—such as a new roof or mold removal—your inspector’s visit will simply provide a to-do list. But not everything needs fixing immediately, so don’t let a long list dampen your love for the home. Just take things one at a time.

Regina Home Sales Down, Listings at an all time high

Tue, 28 Nov by Pauline Relkey

My summary – even though the above title is true, sellers aren’t budging much when it comes to price.

Listings in Regina reached a record high for October with 1,444 homes for sale.

Sales numbers in and around the city dropped to their lowest level since 2008.

Average time to sell was 61 days which is the longest average listing to sale time in the last decade. The average sale price for October dropped by 1%.

Causes are overbuilding and lack of pressure on both buyers and sellers.

Diversified economy means people still have jobs and thusly sellers don’t feel pressured to sell at lower prices. Sluggish provincial economy causes buyer uncertainty. Buyers feel that prices might soon decrease. Regina has not seen big changes in prices as in other major cities.

Mortgage rules are tighter which reduces buying power.

The complete article is here.

Home Fixes Before Selling

Thu, 13 Jul by Pauline Relkey

Prioritize the projects that will bring the most value

Fix it to sell.

Structural is just as important as cosmetic.

Give the buyers what they want — create the “wow” factor.

The process of getting a property ready to put on the market can seem daunting enough. There is clearing the clutter, cleaning, organizing and scrutinizing your property with a fine-tooth comb. What needs attention and what can you leave alone?

Welcome to the new world of “fixing to sell.” Gone are the days of throwing it on the market and seeing what happens. Prepping for sale is a highly choreographed dance of repair along with a bit of renovation and presentation.

Pay attention to these 7 areas.

1.Structural and mechanical
It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking at big-ticket items like the age and condition of the roof, air conditioning and heating systems, electrical panel and pipes.

You don’t have to replace all, but if any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well as insurability of the property.

Appraisers can be notorious for requiring a roof to be replaced, for example, as a condition of a loan. Replacing a roof that is at the end of its life before putting your home on the market will go a long way to solidifying buyer confidence in deciding to make an offer. The buyer (and you) won’t have to sweat what an inspector says, deal with a potential renegotiation before closing or face a price reduction. The last thing you want to be doing is putting on a new roof in the midst of trying to pack.

If you lack the budget to replace these items, get estimates on the cost involved to replace. You can always offer to contribute to the replacement cost in the form of a credit to the buyer’s closing costs.

2. Exterior

How does the exterior of your home look? Is there any wood rot? When was the last time it was painted? Are there any stucco cracks that need attention?

First impressions start from the outside, and the exterior will show up in photos across a multitude of websites, etc. This is definitely an area worth spending the money.

3. Landscaping

Speaking of the exterior, how does your landscaping look? Are the trees and shrubs overgrown, worn and wilted? What about the ground cover? Are the planting beds in need of some fresh mulch, pine straw, rock, etc.? Are there any overgrown tree limbs hanging over the house or blocking the home’s view? For a relatively inexpensive investment, you can transform how your exterior looks by trimming back and freshening things up with new plants and landscaping.

4. Cosmetic

Buyers buy with their eyes, so now is the time to go through the interior in detail. Are there dents and dings on the walls, scratched moldings or worn paint? Now is the time to spruce up the inside with a fresh coat of paint. Pick light, neutral and on-trend colors. Choose a neutral palette that will transition well with any buyer’s furniture. The latest trend is a combination of grey and beige.

Look at your light fixtures, ceiling fans and light switches — these are relatively inexpensive things to update and replace, yet they go a long way toward creating value. The front door? This is critical! Does it need a fresh coat of paint or new hardware? Consider adding a glass panel to create light that evokes a sunny and warm space.

5. Kitchen

This area is always huge with buyers. Even if the buyers barely know how to boil water, they always envision themselves in the kitchen cooking and entertaining or perhaps auditioning to be the next Food Network TV star surrounded by sleek appliances and cabinetry.
Here’s where you need to give them the look for less. Think new hardware on cabinets, adding or changing out a dated tile backsplash and updating appliances. Also, consider changing out counters — you might be able to find a reasonably price remnant of a granite slab.

6. Bathrooms

Simple and clean rules the day. Sprucing up your bathrooms to sell can be as simple as having the grout on the existing tile steam cleaned or regrouting where needed. Caulking, new plumbing and light fixtures along with mirrors can create value.

7. Flooring

What you walk on creates value. If you can only afford to make the investment in one significant part of your home, consider updating the flooring. There are a ton of low-cost options to choose from that include wood plank tiles and highly upgraded laminate flooring — think wide plank, light colored or hand-scraped styles. New flooring can totally transform the look of your space and give it the “wow” factor that buyers desire. New flooring can transform the look of your space and give it the ‘wow’ factor that buyers desire.

In undertaking for sale preparation, strike a delicate balance between what to fix and what to leave alone, but in the end, make the right improvements that will result in a faster sale for top dollar.

How to Use Prepayments to Be Mortgage Free, Faster

Wed, 14 Jun by Pauline Relkey

Using your mortgage prepayment options can drastically reduce the total amount you spend on your mortgage and shorten the time it takes to pay it down. If you follow these 3 steps, you can be mortgage free sooner than ever!

1. Know your prepayment privileges
Most mortgages have allowances for you to prepay down your mortgage faster. The standard prepayment amount allowed per payment can vary depending on your mortgage provider.

Your mortgage provider may be able to increase and decrease your prepayment privilege at any time throughout the life of your mortgage.

This means that if any life event occurs and you need to reduce your payment to the minimum, you might be able to. Most mortgage providers allow this free of charge, but with some providers you can only change your payments a set number of times throughout the year.

2. Increase your payments
Anytime you increase your payments, the excess that you pay per payment goes directly onto the principal portion of your mortgage. This is a great way to drastically reduce the interest you will have to pay over the term of your mortgage.

Typical prepayments allow you to add between 10% to 20% of your payment amount to each payment, depending on your lender. Some lenders also allow the use of “double up payments” which let you double each payment!

Here’s an example of prepayments being used on a typical mortgage:

All calculations are based off of a $400,000 mortgage with a 5 year term and 25 year amortization at a rate of 2.59% with monthly payments.

No Prepayments:
Monthly payments: $1,809.84
Principal paid over 5 year term: $60,836.51
Interest paid over 5 year term: $47,753.89
Mortgage amount remaining: $339,163.49
Years remaining on mortgage after 5 years: 20 Years

Adding a 15% Prepayment:
Monthly payments: $2,081.32
Principal paid over 5 year term: $78,201.00
Interest paid over 5 year term: $46,678.20
Mortgage amount remaining: $321,799.00
Years remaining on mortgage after 5 years: 15 years & 9 months

As you can see, the mortgage was reduced by $17,364.49 and you saved $1,075.69 in interest! The mortgage term was reduced by 9 years and 3 months in only 5 years!

3. Make a lump sum prepayment
Making a large payment can be a great option for paying down your mortgage, but may not be ideal for everyone. Lump sum payments help you reduce the amount of interest you will be required to pay on your mortgage. They can also be used to reduce your mortgage amount before selling your home and will reduce the penalty you will be required to pay.

Lump sum payments are usually between 10% – 25% of the mortgage total. Typically, you can make a lump sum payment onto your mortgage once a year. Every mortgage provider has their own specific guidelines for how you can make a lump sum payment in a calendar year. Your provider may require you put down a minimum amount for a lump sum prepayment, or you may only be eligible for one on the anniversary date of your mortgage.

If you decide that prepayments are for you, you can achieve mortgage freedom sooner than ever!

Contact me today if you are looking for a mortgage person and I will be happy to connect you with a couple of great people I have worked with.

Canadian Real Estate Association meets with Federal Government

Fri, 17 Feb by Pauline Relkey

Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance:
Canadian Real Estate Market and Homeownership
February 2017

Gary Simonsen
Chief Executive Officer

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Thank you, Mr. Chair. The Canadian Real Estate Association would like to thank the committee
for the opportunity to participate in the study on the Canadian Real Estate Market and Home
Ownership. CREA represents over 120,000 REALTORS® from across the country. As one of
Canada’s largest single-industry associations, we represent real estate brokers and agents, as well
as home buyers and property owners throughout the country.

Canada’s housing market is a key component of Canada’s overall economic stability and an
important generator of jobs and economic security for the middle-class. In 2016, each home sale
generated over $52,000 in spin-off spending. This translates to one job for every three home sale
transactions. In addition, resale housing transactions through the Multiple Listing Service
(MLS®) generated more than $28 billion in consumer spin-off spending and created more than
198,000 jobs in 2016.

Most Canadians see their home as a source of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment not to
mention a safe environment in which to raise their family and create happy memories. This is
why CREA has been advocating for the indexation and modernization of the Home Buyers’ Plan
(HBP), a program that allows Canadians to use their RRSP savings to purchase their first home.
We were pleased to see that the plan was included in multiple election platforms in 2015 and we
will continue to work with the government to ensure it remains a valuable program for all
Canadians.

As all real estate is local, it is important to note that the housing markets in and around Toronto
and Vancouver have different realities compared to elsewhere in Canada – the vast majority of
which are either well balanced or amply supplied. It is crucial to consider and reflect upon
different areas of the country when enacting policy that affects a wide swath of housing markets,
including places not targeted directly by the government’s recent regulatory measures.
Consumer demand in markets like Toronto and Vancouver is at an all-time high and there is a
significant shortage in housing supply. Various factors have caused an imbalance on the supply
and demand of homes which in turn drives up prices significantly. As this is a complex matter,
CREA is encouraged that the federal government created a working group comprised of federal
officials as well as provincial and municipal representatives. The three levels of government will
be able to focus on the challenges in each region and recognize the local reality for all markets.
While the provincial governments in Ontario and British Columbia have recently introduced
measures to assist first-time home buyers, the federal government has tightened national
mortgage rules, thereby lessening affordability for those seeking to enter the market. If the
federal government continues to tighten mortgage rules, will this force the provincial
governments to implement further programs to assist-first time-time homebuyers? CREA and its
REALTOR® urges all levels of government to continue to work together to reach a healthy,
competitive and stable housing market. We are prepared to share analysis of local housing
market trends and apply our knowledge and data to help the government policy makers at all
levels better understand how changes to housing market regulations may affect communities
across Canada.

Assistance for first-time homebuyers should be top-of-mind for all levels of government. Firsttime
homebuyers need support to overcome the obstacle of saving for a downpayment in order to
reach their homeownership dream. The plan’s purchasing power is steadily declining and has
become less valuable due to the increase in home prices. We recommend the plan be indexed to
inflation to preserve its purchasing power and continue to help first-time homebuyers attain
homeownership.

Easing affordability concerns is a key principle of the plan and Canadians should be able to
benefit from this program more than once. Canadians and their families who face sudden life
changes such as job relocation, the death of a spouse, a marital breakdown or the decision to
accommodate an elderly family member may need support to maintain homeownership.
Expanding the plan for Canadians to use their RRSPs as a zero-interest self-loan is a fiscally
responsible way to support families through a difficult period of change.rrsp

In the last eight years, the federal government has implemented six rounds of changes to tighten
the rules for new government-backed insured mortgages and contain risks in the housing market.
These measures have been implemented over a short period of time and their full impact has yet
to be determined. We recommend the government take a pause to fully evaluate the cumulative
impact of the changes before looking at implementing additional measures.

Thank you for your time, I would be pleased to answer any questions the Committee might have.

Top 5 Things Buyers Should Know When Buying Real Estate

Thu, 15 Dec by Pauline Relkey

There are 9 million Canadian millennials, representing more than 25% of our population. Born between 1980 and 1999, the eldest are in the early stages of their careers, forming households and buying their first homes. Buying a home is a daunting process for anyone, but especially so for the first-time home buyer. This is the largest and most important financial decision you will ever make and it should be done with the appropriate investment in time and energy. Making the effort to be financially literate will save you thousands of dollars and assure you make the right decisions for your longer-term financial security.

1. Don’t rush into the housing market. (can you believe that I am saying that as a Realtor?)
Do your homework and learn the basics of savings, credit and budgeting.  Lifelong savings is a crucial ingredient to financial prosperity. You must spend less than you earn, ideally saving at least 10% of your gross income. Do your savings automatically, having at least 10% of every paycheck put into a savings account. Hopefully if you don’t see the money, you won’t spend it. Contributing to an RRSP, especially if you are fortunate enough to have any matching funds from your employer, is essential.

The Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an ideal vehicle for saving for a down payment and now you can contribute as much as $10,000 per year.

400-07048228 © frenta Model Release: No Property Release: No Puppets with piggy banks and coins. Isolated over white

You also need to establish a good credit record. Lenders want to see a record of your ability to pay your bills. As early as possible, get a credit card and put your name on phone and utility bills. Pay your bills and your rent in full and on time. Do not run up credit card lines of credit. The interest rates are exorbitant and the only one who benefits is your bank. Keep your credit card balances well below their credit limit.

Do a free credit check with Equifax and TransUnion once per year to learn your credit score and to see if there are any problems. They do make mistakes and sometimes put someone else’s problems on your report. Or you might think that the problem you had is all taken care of and you discover that the company you dealt with did not inform these credit places of the situation. I have done this more than once for myself and it can be a pain, but you are responsible for your own credit report and it’s good to know what info these companies have about you and if it needs updating.  These companies track all of your credit history, which includes student loans, car loans, credit cards and cell phone bills. Then they grade you based on your responsible usage and payments.

Budgeting is also essential and it is easier than ever with online apps. You need to know how you spend your money to discover where there is waste and opportunity for savings. The CMHC Household Budget Calculator or any other online budget calculator helps you take a realistic look at your current monthly expenses.

2. Make a realistic projectory of your future household income and lifestyle and understand its implications for choosing the right property for you.
Millennials are likely relatively new to the working world. Lenders want to see stability in employment and you generally need to show at least 2 years of steady income before you can be considered for a mortgage. This also applies if you have been working for a few years in one career and then decide to change careers to something completely different. Lenders want to see continuous employment in the same field. If you are self-employed, it is more challenging, and you need professional advice on taking the proper steps to qualify for a mortgage.

Assess the stability of your job and the likely trajectory of your income. Millennials will not follow in the footsteps of their parents, working for 1 employer for 40 to 50 years. In today’s world, no one has guaranteed job security. Take a realistic view of your future. Will your household income be rising? Will there be one income or two? Are there children in your future? Will you remain in the same city?
The answers to these questions help to determine how much space you need, the appropriate type of residence, its location and the best mortgage for you. Financial planning is key and it is dependent on your goals and expectations.

3. This is not a Do-It-Yourself project: build a team of trusted professionals to guide you along.
You need expert advice. The first person you should talk to is an accredited mortgage professional. There is no out-of-pocket cost for their services. Indeed, they will save you money. These people are trained financial planners and understand the ever-changing mortgage market. Take some time with them to understand the process before you jump in and find your head spinning with all the decisions you will ultimately have to make. They will give you a realistic idea of your borrowing potential. Before you fall in love with a house or condo, make sure you understand where you stand on the mortgage front. Mortgages are complex and one size does not fit all. You need an expert who will shop for the right mortgage for you. There are more than 200 mortgage lenders in Canada and they will compete for your business.

It is a very good idea to get a pre-approved mortgage amount before you start shopping (mandatory in my books). Just becuase you work with someone at a similar job, this doesn’t mean that you will qualify for the same amount of mortgage as your co-worker.  One of you might have more debt or more savings than the other, or issues with your credit report. Getting pre-approved is a more detailed process than just a rate hold (where a particular mortgage rate is guaranteed for a specified period of time). For a pre-approval, the lender will review all of your documentation except for the actual property. There is far more to the correct mortgage decision than the interest rate you will pay. While getting the lowest rate is usually the first thing on every buyer’s mind, it shouldn’t be the most important. Six out of ten buyers break a 5 year term mortgage by the third year, paying enormous penalties. These penalties vary between lenders. The fine print of your mortgage is key and that’s where an expert can save you money. How the penalty for breaking a mortgage is calculated is key and many lenders have significantly more consumer-friendly calculations than the major banks. A mortgage broker will help you find a mortgage with good prepayment privileges.

The next step is to engage a great real estate agent.           pauline-yellow-jacket-2-relkey-7092rev-2x3-300dpi hint hint

The seller pays the fee and a qualified realtor with good references will understand the housing market in your location. Make sure the property has lasting value. Once you find the right home, you will need a real estate lawyer, a home inspector, an insurance agent and possibly an appraiser. Make any offer conditional on a home inspection and financing, among other conditions that your realtor will help you with.

4. Down payments, closing costs, moving expenses and basic upgrades need to be understood to avoid nasty surprises.
The size of your down payment is key and, obviously, the bigger the better. You need a minimum of 5% of the purchase price and anything less than 20% will require you to pay a hefty CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium, which is frequently added to the mortgage principal and amortized over the life of the mortgage as part of the monthly payment. Your lender will want to know the source of your down payment. Many Millennials will depend on their parents to top up their down payment. The down payment, however, is only part of the upfront cost. You can expect to pay from 1.5 to 4% of the purchase price of your home in closing costs. These costs include legal fees, appraisals, property transfer tax, GST on new properties, home and title insurance, mortgage life insurance and prepaid property tax and utility adjustments. These can amount to thousands of dollars. Don’t forget moving costs and essential upgrades to the property such as draperies or blinds in the bedroom.

5. Test drive your monthly housing payments to learn how much you can truly afford.
Affordability is not about how much credit you can qualify for, but how much you can reasonably tolerate given your current and future income, stability, lifestyle and budget. Most Millennials underestimate what it costs to run a home, be it a condo or single-family residence.

The formal qualification guidelines used by lenders are two-fold:
1) your housing costs must be no more than 32% of your gross (pre-tax) household income; and,
2) your housing costs plus all other debt servicing must be no more than 40% of your gross income. Lenders define housing costs as mortgage payments, property taxes, condo fees (if any) and heating costs.
3) But homes cost more than that. In your planning, you should also other utilities (such as energy, power and water), ongoing maintenance, home insurance and unexpected repairs. Taking all of these costs into consideration, the 32% and 40% guidelines might well put an unacceptable crimp in your lifestyle, keeping in mind that future children also add meaningfully to household expenses and 2 incomes can unexpectedly turn into 1.
The best way to know what you can afford is to try it out. Say, for example, you qualify for a mortgage payment of $1400 per month and adding property taxes and condo fees might take your monthly housing expense to $1650. A far cry from the $500 you pay now to split a place with 3 roommates. Start making the full payment before you buy to your savings account and see how it feels. Do you have enough money left over to maintain a tolerable lifestyle without going further into debt?  Yes it might be a bit tight, but if you really want to be a home owner, you will make some sacrifices for that goal.  Keep in mind that this is not a normal interest rate environment. Don’t over-extend because there is a good chance interest rates will be higher when your term is up. Do the math (or better yet have your broker do it for you) on what a doubling of interest rates 5 years from now would do to your monthly payment. A doubling of rates may be unlikely, but it makes sense to know the implication.

Do Your Calculations Look Discouraging?
If so, here are some things you can do to improve your situation:
Pay off some loans before you buy real estate.
Save for a larger down payment.
Take another look at your current household budget to see where you can spend less. The money you save can go towards a larger down payment.
Lower your home price — remember that your first home is not necessarily your dream home.

Footnotes:
People break mortgages because of:
– job change,
– decision to upsize or downsize,
– decision to change neighbourhoods,
– change in family status (marriage/divorce)
– to refinance.
The last thing you want to discover is that discharging a $400,000 mortgage and only being 3 years into a 5 year term is going to cost you $15,000.

Lenders now also assess you on a 5 year term, presently at 4.64% even though you might be getting a lower interest rate on your mortgage.

Thanks to many mortgage professionals of Dominion Lending Centres who contributed to this report.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Association of Regina REALTORS® Inc.. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.