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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.

WD40 – the answer to so much

Thu, 02 Aug by Pauline Relkey

Here Are 20 Little-Known Ways That WD-40 Can Change A Person’s Life

1. Polishing silver: If you have a collection of silver that always seems to be tarnishing over time, WD-40 can definitely help you out with that. Spray down your silver and wipe it clean. It’s just that easy to keep it looking sparkly and new! 

2. Cleaning shoes: When it comes to sneakers, WD-40 is a person’s absolute best friend. In the winter, you can remove stubborn rock salt spots that build up by spraying them and wiping them down. If you want to make your whole shoe waterproof, spray the entire surface with the stuff. 

3. Protecting bird feeders: While having a bird feeder in your yard is a great way to keep beautiful birds in plain view, squirrels are notorious for stealing seeds from them. To keep these critters away, spray down the center pole with WD-40 and the squirrels will slide right off. (Is this how they make those funny videos of squirrels twirling and slipping and sliding around like crazy?)

4. Cleaning toilets: Depending on the type of water in your house, cleaning your toilet can feel like a pointless task. If you use WD-40 the same way you would use your regular toilet bowl cleaner, you’ll notice that it gets clean quickly and stays clean longer.  Remember this blue color??? 

5. Unsticking gum: Chewing gum is delicious and a great way to keep hunger at bay—but when it doesn’t make it to the actual trash can, it can get stuck on shoes and other surfaces and never come off. If you need to banish hard, chewed-up gum, go ahead and spray it down with WD-40. That will help it come right off!
6. Removing crayon marks: Do you have kids or grandchildren who love to take their crayons and scribble on walls and even on furniture? Don’t break your back trying to remove the marks! Instead, lightly spray them with WD-40 and they should rub right off.
7. Defrosting ice: Whether you live in a cold climate year-round or you’re gearing up for the winter season, spray your windows down with WD-40 and then wipe the excess away. Believe it or not, this will keep the ice from sticking to your windows and save you time getting out of the driveway in the morning. 
8. Removing water stains: It’s so frustrating that the same shower you step into to get clean tends to collect a crazy amount of water stains. If you want to get rid of them fast, follow up your usual cleaning routine with a spritz of WD-40 and watch the water stains disappear.
9. Polishing scissors: If you use scissors in the kitchen or crafting regularly, then you know just how sticky they can get over time. If you want to keep that stickiness at bay, polish them regularly with a healthy dose of WD-40 and they’ll be just perfect. Use this on tools also. 
10. Removing stickers and price tags: If you have ever tried to peel off a sticker on a window or a bumper sticker on your car, you know what a hassle it can be. Using WD-40 makes it a breeze. Just coat the sticker and gently peel it away! 
11. Unsticking zippers: Is there anything more frustrating than having a zipper on your backpack or your favorite coat get totally and absolutely stuck in place? Here’s good news: if you spray WD-40 on the zippers and gently work them back and forth, they’ll slide right back into place! 
12. Removing tea and coffee stains: If you or a house guest have ever spilled a little coffee or tea on a table in your home, you know how hard it can be to ever get it out again. Thankfully, combining your regular cleaning routine with a squirt of WD-40 will banish it in no time. 
13. Banishing tar stains: If your car gets covered in tar, then it’s definitely time to break out the WD-40. Just spray down the surfaces and even the most stubborn patches should melt away like hot butter! How great is that? 
14. Taking off rings: If you wear a ring regularly then you probably know what it’s like when it gets stuck on your finger. It happens to everyone at some time or another. Don’t panic! The easiest way to remove it is to cover your finger with WD-40 and then slide it off. It works like magic! 
15. Remove lipstick: Lipstick is always a fun way to make your look for the day pop. Unfortunately, it’s less fun when it transfers onto other items of clothing and settles in to stain. Luckily for you, WD-40 as a pre-wash stain treatment will help remove that lipstick in no time flat. 
16. Helps Open Rusty Locks: If you’ve got a rusty key or a keyhole that won’t cooperate, apply some WD-40 and you should be able to gain easy entry. 
17. Extends the Life of Shower Heads: This is another little-known household use for WD-40. Shower heads have a tendency to break down over time, but applying WD-40 can extend their life span by years.
18. Removes Mildew From Refrigerator Gasket: We’ve all seen it before: Disgusting gunk builds up on your refrigerator gasket. Well, WD-40 will remove this. Simply apply, let it sit for a few minutes, wipe off, and you’re done.
19. Filters Dust When Sprayed on Air Conditioning Filter: Spray a light coating of WD-40 on your AC filter before installing, and your filter becomes exponentially more effective. I tried this method, and it did seem like I was breathing cleaner air in my home. Later, when I went to change out a filter that I had sprayed with WD-40, it seemed to have filtered a great deal more dust than normal.
20. Quiets Squeaky doors: whether it’s your front door or kitchen cupboard door, spraying a little WD-40 on the hinges will quiet things down. 

Sask Power Outages

Mon, 30 Apr by Pauline Relkey

Are you wondering if your area will have a planned outage soon? Check Sask Power’s website to plan ahead. Click here.

When an Outage Occurs

  • Step 1: Determine if the power failure is limited to your home

    • If your neighbours have power, check your electrical panel to see if the main circuit breaker has tripped. Even if it appears to be on, turn the breaker off and back on again to ensure a good connection.

    Step 2: If your electrical panel or main breaker isn’t the cause of the outage, call 310-2220.

    • Turn off or unplug any appliances, computers or electronics you were using when the power went out. Leave one light on so you’ll know when your power returns.
    • Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. If the power is out for a long time, make sure you check all refrigerated and frozen food before you eat it.
    • Close all doors, windows and drapes to conserve heat (unless the sun is shining in).
    • Never light a fire indoors unless you’re using an approved fire place or wood stove.
    • When faced with multiple outages, Sask Power prioritizes as follows:

      1. Life threatening or hazardous situations like power lines that have fallen on a road or vehicle.
      2. Large outages — Main lines and major equipment that return power to the largest number of customers.
      3. Small, isolated outages — Secondary lines and neighbourhood equipment.

When the Power Is Restored

They restore power when repairs are complete. If your neighbour’s power has returned and yours has not, there could be a problem specific to your home. Recheck your main breaker and reset it even if it appears to be on.

Occasionally, the power goes out again; this is sometimes the sign of another unidentified problem. Make sure to call us every time the power goes out (after you’ve checked your own main breaker). If power is not restored, call us toll-free at 310-2220.

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.

Want to be on TV?

Tue, 24 Apr by Pauline Relkey

I have been contacted by CBC to see if I have owners selling houses/looking to downsize/interesting stories/also if anyone is buying a cottage and what that experience is like for Canadians across the country.

The casting call will be sent out soon.

Four days of filming.

Selling between June and October 2018.

Let me know.

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.

January Residential Sales and Home Prices Move In Opposite Direction

Mon, 12 Feb by Pauline Relkey

2018 has started off to a solid start compared to the 2 previous years in Regina. (Personally I am saying not much of a change).

143 sales in Regina compared to 139 in 2017 = 2.8%.

The Home Price Index reported a price of $279,400 down from $293,600 one year ago. The downward direction on prices is because of the over supply of properties and it’s pushing sellers to keep reducing their asking prices.

We have 1,133 active residential listings on the market at the end of January, over 20% increase from 2017.

The ratio of sales to new listings for the month was 30% (meaning only 30% of listings sold). Still a buyer’s market.  Condos make up almost 30% of the listings which is high.

Click here for the full report.

Lessons learned from Adam Carolla

Tue, 23 Jan by Pauline Relkey

Some of you may have watched his show called To Catch a Contractor.

Before launching a successful career as a TV and radio personality, Adam Carolla was a master carpenter and home builder, so he knows the work of skilled craftsmen when he sees it. Likewise, he can spot shoddy construction, and in this series he trains his eye on building blunders and the contractors responsible for them. With the help of no-nonsense builder Skip Bedell and his wife, private investigator Alison Bedell, Carolla seeks retribution for homeowners who have experienced a construction nightmare, by tracking down unscrupulous contractors and forcing them to face the wronged parties. The contractors are then given a chance to redeem themselves by fixing messes they left behind — all while under Adam’s and Skip’s watchful .

I watched a few of his shows lately and was pleasantly surprised by some of the lessons that rang so true for me.

The first lesson hit home – Don’t work out of your area of expertise.  This is so true for most, if not all occupations.  If you’re not sure of what you are doing, get some help from an experienced person or refer the job/client to them.  I have experienced this situation many times over the last 26 years in real estate and I do feel badly when I have to tell one of my clients, “No, I don’t work in that area of real estate, but I can connect you with someone good that does work in that area.”  I have chosen to work residential in Regina and close areas around Regina, but real estate in commercial, acreages, cottages is not my area of preference or expertise.  Yes I was licensed quite a few years ago and even though my license does include those specific areas, I have not pursued them because I don’t have the interest in them and haven’t pursued more training in those areas.  I let the people that know what they are doing in these fields handle the clients.

Another lesson he talked about was “Don’t undercut your competition to get the job.”  So true.  Real estate commissions are a high number and we turn blue explaining why (our costs from advertising to insurance to memberships to our split with our company and with the buyers company, etc.)  The costs are a lot of money and thankfully they usually come from the sale price of the house as most property sellers don’t happen to have that amount of money just hanging around, waiting to be spent.

Undercutting happens a lot in my business and it hurts all of us.  Usually the agents that undercut other agents will also undercut their work for their client.  Maybe they don’t advertise as much as others, maybe they don’t spend time following up on showings and leads, maybe they don’t keep in contact with their seller, don’t keep on top of the real estate market and share that info with their clients, etc.  Unfortunately the seller doesn’t find this out until it is too late and they have listed with the agent who offered the lowest commission.  Food for thought – if that agent was so quick to give up their money (commission), how quick do you think they will be to give up your money (sale price of your property) when an offer comes in?  I’ve always believed in the saying, you get what you pay for.  Thanks Adam.

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.

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.