Avoiding homebuying mistakes

royal bankMagnifying glass

Everyone makes mistakes, but when it comes to buying a home, those mistakes can be costly. According to data from the Royal Bank of Canada's 20th Annual Homeownership Poll, most Canadians admit to make some kind of mistake during the homebuying process. While 40 percent said everything went smoothly, 60 percent said there was some type of error on their part.

The following are the most common homebuying mistakes according to the RBC poll, as well as ways to avoid them. Continue reading

Buying an older home

old houseMagnifying glass

It may seem like everything in modern life is about the latest and greatest, but sometimes you can't beat the charm and craftsmanship of something from the past. When it comes to purchasing a property, newer isn't always better, and at the end of the day, mortgage rates and home loans take a back seat when a buyer falls in love with a house. However, deciding on an older home means taking the property's unique characteristics into account. Older properties can present certain challenges not found in newly constructed homes, meaning home buyers need to fully understand what they're getting into.

Foundation
A solid foundation is vital to any property, and older homes may be more vulnerable to foundation issues. While the architecture or location of an older home may be what draws you to it, determining the condition of its foundation should be the No. 1 priority. Foundation problems are very costly to fix, so checking for signs of cracking or shifting is essential. Hiring a professional home inspector should be a part of any home buying process, but it's especially important for older homes, as they have the expertise necessary to find any problems with a property's foundation. If an older property does have foundation issues, it's probably in your best interest to move on. Continue reading

Hiring a contractor

contractor renovationMagnifying glass

When it comes to owning a property, paying off home loans isn’t the last expense owners will experience. At some point, you will likely want to make repairs or renovations to your property, and unless you plan on undertaking these projects yourself, you’ll want to hire a contractor. When you decide to let someone work on your home, it’s important to know what you’re getting into, especially when you’re paying that person. Taking the time to find the right contractor and understand how the process works will not only save you money and stress, it will give you peace of mind.

Plan
Before you hire a contractor, make sure you have a solid idea of what kind of work you want done. It won’t help matters to approach a contractor with vague ideas. Once you know what you’re in the market for, you can narrow your search for contractors who specialize in that type of work. Continue reading

Healthy Housing

healthy housingMagnifying glass

While focusing on home loans and mortgage rates is well and good for your finances, shouldn’t purchasing a home be good for your health too? There are a number of ways to ensure that your property is not only protected, but protecting you from illness and poor health.

Moisture
It seems strange that something as vital as water could cause so many health problems, but anyone who has ever dealt with mold in their home understands the dangers moisture can pose. Moisture can lead to mold, microscopic fungi that grow and spread rapidly. Not only can mold damage household materials, but the chemicals and spores released by mold can cause severe health problems, ranging from allergic reactions to respiratory disease. Mold also weakens the immune system, making it especially dangerous to children, the elderly and pregnant women. Continue reading

Home renovation programs

While renovating an existing property can be a costly proposition, there are programs available for qualified Canadian homeowners that help with expenses. Taking advantage of home renovation programs can ease financial strain and ensure that your home is in peak condition.

Homeowner Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP)
This program is offered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to low income homeowners looking to make vital repairs to their property but can’t afford to pay for them. Homeowners looking to apply for the RRAP should make sure that their property is eligible.

Eligible properties must be valued below a certain amount, be at least five years old and need major repairs for either heating, structural, electrical, plumbing or fire safety issues. In addition, the RRAP may be available to homeowners who need help to reduce overcrowding in their property. However, in order to qualify, homeowners must have a total household income at or below the CMHC’s income threshold.

The Homeowner Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program will assist homeowners with a fully forgivable loan. The loan does not have to be repaid as long as homeowners agree to continue owning and living in the property during the earning period of the loan. Continue reading

Paying for home renovations

home renovationMagnifying glass

Purchasing a property may be the first step to living in your dream home. Whether it’s adding a room, building a pool or anything in between, home renovation can be a financial burden outside the world of mortgage rates and closing costs. Luckily homeowners have a number of options when it comes to paying for home renovations. The important part is figuring out which method works best for you.

Credit card
Qualifying for a credit card may be easier than getting a loan from a bank, but it can also be riskier. Credit card interest rates tend to be high, meaning that if you use your credit card for large renovation projects and don't pay your balance in full each month, the amount you owe can skyrocket quickly. Also keep in mind that keeping the balance for too long can harm your credit score. If you do plan on using a credit card to pay for home renovations, use it sparingly and only for smaller projects. Also try to find a credit card with low interest rates and generous repayment terms. Continue reading

Adding value to your home

Property valueMagnifying glass

Buying a house is a huge investment, and dealing with home loans is far from the only practical matters you need to consider. Once you actually own the property, it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s properly maintained. Letting your home fall into disrepair will only hurt its value, and if you plan on selling the house at some point in the future, losing value means losing money on your purchase.

Luckily there are a number of ways to add value to your home. Repairs and renovations both big and small can make a major difference in how much your property is worth. If you plan on making the most of your investment, exploring these options is a great way to ensure your home not only maintains value in the market, but far exceeds what you payed for it in the first place.

Home office
Transforming a room into your house into a home office space not only adds value, but increases incentive for buyers who work from home. By making sure that the room features all the requirements for working equipment, such as an extra phone line and computer access, you can create the perfect working environment for a low cost. Extra shelf space and proper electrical outlets go a long way toward turning a guest room into an inviting home office. Continue reading

How to plan financially sound renovations

bathroomMagnifying glass

In the digital age, it's especially easy to get wrapped up in the possibilities that home renovation can afford – even if you weren't able to buy your dream home in your ideal neighborhood, the possibilities are (almost) endless when it comes to customizing your property. In fact, a recent BMO Financial Group survey about home renovation revealed that almost half of all Canadian homeowners are planning renovations this fall.

Not surprisingly – especially in this unique housing market – people are focusing on renovations that are sure to up the value of their homesteads, choosing to focus on bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms. But instead of falling prey to what many Canadians automatically assume about renovations being costly, time-consuming ordeals, more than half of the hopeful renovators plan to spend less than $1,000.

But not all people are planning renovation projects that are just for looks; actually, 52 percent of respondents say their planned renovations are both for looks and function, and 34 percent say that the renovations are to make their property and spaces more attractive. But no matter the driving force behind these renovations, most people are planning to do the work in the next few months to get it off their plates before winter. Continue reading

Winterizing your home without breaking the bank

winter homeMagnifying glass

It may not have the same appeal as making snowmen or sledding down a hill, but winterizing your home is still an important part of the winter season.

While Mother Nature prepares to unleash a barrage of rain, wind, sleet and snow, homeowners have the chance to ready themselves and, in the process, add value to their homes and pocketbooks. Getting your house into tip-top shape before winter will drastically cut down on energy costs while simultaneously making your dwelling a much more valuable piece of property.

Of course, it often costs money to make money, and winterizing your home is no exception. Luckily there are plenty of ways to winterize your home without having to empty your bank account in the process. Check out the following tips and tricks to get the most out of your home on a budget. Continue reading

3 easy jobs that will sell a house faster

Either we've been there or know somebody who has: A house on the market needs to sell fast, but … it just won't. It sits, sometimes for many months or a year. Perhaps the price needs to be lowered – or not, depending on how much the owner has invested in the property and how much money is on the line and may be lost – or the property type isn't as desirable as it once was.

These days, plenty of condo owners are feeling pressure to sell in what many experts call an oversaturated market, but before taking the house off the market to become a landlord or taking a loss on the property, there are three easy tips to make property selling not only easy, but hopefully lessen the wait before offers roll in too. Continue reading