Dealing with home emergencies

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After dealing with mortgage rates and home loans, the last thing you want to do is add more stress to the home owning experience. However, it’s essential that homeowners understand how to keep their family and property safe in case of an emergency.

While less dangerous than other emergencies, power outages can still wreak havoc when it comes to your health, security and comfort. Besides the obvious inconvenience of your home’s appliances failing to work, power outages leave you vulnerable to things such as fire or carbon monoxide poisoning if your detection devices lose power. In addition, losing power could mean losing heat, something that could lead to serious damage and discomfort in the middle of winter.

One way to deal with power outages is to make sure that you have a backup system in place. Purchasing a generator will allow your home to continue functioning in case of a power outage, although you will likely need to ration power to the most important parts of your home. You can help cut down on wasting back up power by installing energy efficient appliances. Not only will these help in the case of using a back up generator, but they will save you money on energy costs as well. Continue reading

Security and your new home

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It can be so easy to get wrapped up in the process of buying a new home that people forget to take other important matters into account. After all, when it comes down to it, isn’t you and your family’s safety more important than mortgage rates and closing costs? Security means more than installing an alarm system in your new home. It means making sure that safety goes hand in hand with your home purchase, from the initial search to moving in.

The first step toward ensuring your security is deciding where you want to live. The geography and demographics of your neighborhood are the strongest influences on your home’s security, so take these into account when searching for a property. Is your home closer to schools or bars? Is the neighborhood made up of families or young people? Are the surroundings more urban or suburban? Does the area feature a neighborhood watch program? These all affect the environment you’re moving into. It’s also easy to look up crime statistics for separate neighborhoods online. Before finalizing your deal, you might want to see if burglaries or car thefts are problems near your house. Make sure to ask your realtor about the neighborhood. You want to own a home in a safe environment that fits your needs. Buying a home is a major investment, and the peace of mind that comes from a safe neighborhood is priceless. Continue reading

Is your home insured for natural disasters?

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With Hurricane Sandy ripping her way through homes and neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada, leaving thousands of people homeless and even more without power, it's a little late to worry about whether your home is insured for natural disasters.

But hurricane season and tropical storms aren't the only concern for Canadians, and tornados, earthquakes and flooding (usually not insured under standard policies, but there may be exceptions) may also do severe damage to a home – does your insurance cover all possibilities?

All insurance policies are different and vary on the home's location, policy amount and company, so the first step in double checking insurance coverage is to take a look at the policy or contact your insurer to ask a few questions. If you do have natural disaster coverage, do you know how much the deductible is? Is it a deductible separate from your homeowner's policy? Continue reading

Hurricane Sandy?s full effect not yet known

Hurricane Sandy has dominated all aspects of the news for the last few days, as it rightly should. The toils and troubles of everyday life tend to take a backseat when a force as powerful and volatile as Mother Nature rears its head.

Besides obvious fears regarding the safety of family and friends, the biggest speculation has come from the financial world. The full effect of Hurricane Sandy won’t be known for some time, but that hasn’t stopped analysts from trying to figure out the costs.

The CBC has estimated that the hurricane may cause as much as $45 billion in losses, affecting 25 percent of the U.S. economy.

"It seems likely that Sandy will impose greater destruction of property [than last year's Hurricane Irene], and add to that the loss of about two days commercial activity, spread over a week across 25 percent of the economy, an initial estimate of the economic losses imposed by Sandy is about $35- to $45-billion,” said macroeconomist Peter Morici in the CBC report. Continue reading

Don’t get burned when planning home renovations

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So, you were able to secure a mortgage and buy your dream house. OK, so maybe it isn't your dream house as it currently stands, but it has tons of potential, right? All it takes are a few tweaks and renovations and voila! It will be the perfect property and exactly what you've always wanted.

The first step is to secure a contractor for the job or jobs, depending on how large a project you're taking on. Whether you know a friend of a friend who is talented – or so you've heard – and will accept cash under the table or you go the route of hiring a true-blue professional, remembering one key factor: Always get everything in writing. All the time. No exceptions.

Still thinking about that cash-under-the-table contractor? You know, the one who promised you the moon, stars and a granite countertop at a quarter of the price? Before shaking hands and sealing the deal, it's wise to make sure this person is aware of laws and rules surrounding home renovations. OK, so if it's a bathroom tiling project, it's probably fine, but what if you're looking for someone to help you build a deck or add a room onto the house? Continue reading

High-income Canadians financially plan differently

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Clearly when families have more money it's easier to set funds aside, but some experts say wealthy Canadians are more likely to have an economic plan, less debt and a strong marriage.

According to an Edmonton Journal report, some financial experts say wealth is related to consuming frugally, a lower divorce rate and having frequent family meetings.

"I would say in regard to these high net worth individuals, that the common thread seems to be that they are very good at being frugal and controlling debt," said Coady Cormier, a financial planning expert at RBC Wealth Management Services. "It's this discipline – this being frugal, this managing debt – that allows individuals to develop a bit of a foundation for nice financial net worth going forward." Continue reading

Tips for an effective move

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A recent Globe and Mail article provided several tips for consumers to ensure a move is effective and safe.

The article references a family that recently moved, but had to store their belongings in a van between move-out and move-in dates. Unfortunately, the van was broken into during this time. While not much was stolen, items were damaged. Thus, the article recommends consumers invest in property insurance, which can cover stolen or damaged items. Continue reading

Drunk Driving Highest in Interior BC Towns, Not Urban Areas

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According to ICBC investigation records, as accessed by Global News in an exclusive investigation, the postal code areas showing the highest rates of alcohol-related suspensions are within interior towns, not heavier populated urban areas.

The top 10 highest volumes of alcohol-related suspensions per postal code – ranging from 12-hour license suspensions to impaired driving causing death – were found in the following locations, as reported from April, 2010 to April, 2011:

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Home warranty included with new BC homes

Those checking posted rates looking at new homes in British Columbia will already have assurances that the home will be in good working order. Provincial regulations require that most new homes be covered by warranty insurance.

According to the Homeowner Protection Office, that insurance covers everything from the materials used in construction to the structure itself.

Home warranty coverage is required to include at least two years of coverage for the labor and materials used in the cost of a home, and five years on the building envelope – or the home’s outer shell.

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Recession may lead to longer lives

While the recession caused financial issues for many families, it may also have had some benefits. The Globe and Mail reports a new study has found that a rise in unemployment actually leads to drop in mortality.

The paper says the new research, completed by two economic professors at Wilfrid Laurier University, found each 1 percent jump in the jobless rate leads to a drop in the death rate for people in their 30s and women close to retirement.

The Globe and Mail says that other research has found that people may take fewer risks during a recession, or take up exercise or other healthier habits.

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