Archive | April, 2012

The Time is NOW to Reduce Debts

April 30, 2012

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I recently read a fantastic article by Rob Carrick (a Personal Finance columnist from the Globe and Mail) that I encourage you to read called “Once again: Pay down your debts before rates rise.”  The gist of the article is that rates are currently at historic lows, but the Bank of Canada is seriously indicating that these low rates will start to disappear now that economic conditions seem to be improving.  We’ve been hearing this for a couple of years, but Rob gives us “10 reasons not to tune out this time around.”  Without giving away the whole article (because, seriously, go read it), here are his 10 points:

  1. Rates will eventually rise – it’s inevitable
  2. Borrowing means you can’t afford the stuff you’re buying (houses excepted, of course)
  3. Cutting debt gives you a buzz (try it – like I mentioned last week, use your tax refund as a mortgage pre-payment, and you’ll understand what he means)
  4. Less stress
  5. Your next mortgage renewal could be scary (especially if you’ve gotten a mortgage in the past year in the 3%-4% range)
  6. Your kids need help affording university
  7. You get more control over when you retire
  8. You won’t retire with debt (a financially secure retirement starts with zero debt)
  9. You’re covered for emergencies
  10. There’s no down side (long term, you’re never going to regret paying off your debts)

Of course, all this starts with good financial advice.  If you want some mortgage-related financial advice, talk to your favorite mortgage broker – we love helping folks get their finances in order (I know some great financial advisors, too, if you want to go that route)!

Tim

Tim is a mortgage agent in Barrie who specializes in helping first-time home buyers. He works with a variety of lenders and can help customize a mortgage with the best rates & options that fit the needs of each customer.

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5 Tips to Sell Your Home

April 27, 2012

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It’s a big decision to sell your house. Here are some easy tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible!

  1. Interview a few different agents before making a decision. Despite what you may think, we’re not all the same! We offer different services for different commission rates. Make sure you’re comfortable with the person you hire and know exactly what you’re getting for what you pay.
  2. Know your rights and obligations. There are so many contracts you have to sign from the listing agreement to the offer you accept. Have your REALTOR explain everything in detail before you sign anything, or have your lawyer go over it with you.
  3. Price it right. Base the price of your home on current market information instead of what you think it’s worth. Even if you put $20,000 into a renovation doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it back when you sell.
  4. Take your agent’s advice. If he or she suggests your home needs some TLC or de-cluttering, do it! It’s not an insult, we’re only trying to help. The better your home looks, the more money you’ll get in the end.
  5. Take the first offer seriously. It’s true what they say; it’s often the best one that comes across the table. Also consider that after your home has been on the market for 45 days (or whatever it has been) the market conditions may have changed from when you originally picked the price. Make sure your agent brings current comparables when you look at the offers.

These are just a few things you can do during the process of selling your home. Ask advice from your agent and other real estate professionals; they know what they’re doing!

Good luck!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Down by the bay

April 25, 2012

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Up here in Simcoe County, there is a lot of waterfront property. In Barrie alone there are homes all along Kempenfelt Bay, and there are numerous lakes throughout the County where people own homes with waterfront access.

There are particular issues to be aware of when purchasing a home right on the water, such as access, whether you are allowed to put in a dock, and even whether you own the river or lake bed – with some older properties, in certain areas, there is ownership out into the water. One other major practical concern: taxes are almost always higher on the water. Make sure you know how much they will be so that you are prepared to budget for them.

If you are thinking of buying a little piece of vacation, be sure to find out as much as you can so that you spend less time worrying about your title and more time enjoying the sun on the dock.

Cesia

Cesia is a real estate lawyer at Wall-Armstrong and Green, a boutique law firm in Barrie focusing on real estate and estates. When she’s not online, she can usually be found in her garden.

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Use Your Tax Refund as a Mortgage Pre-Payment

April 23, 2012

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I know… it’s the last thing you really want to do with that “bonus money” you get back from the government… but hear me out.

Last year, the average Canadian tax refund was over $1,500. The temptation is to spend it – on a new LED TV, a new computer, a vacation – or even worse: to just whittle it away on random little purchases.

But if you plop that money down on your mortgage as a pre-payment, that $1,500 lump sum could save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your mortgage. So your mortgage is $1,500 closer to being paid off, plus you’ll save $2,000-$3,000 in interest – basically doubling or tripling the value of your pre-payment.

Look at it this way. It’s like buying a $1,500 LED TV, but paying $4,000 for it over the long run. Is that new TV you were thinking of buying with your tax refund worth 4 G’s?

Tim

Tim is a mortgage agent in Barrie who specializes in helping first-time home buyers. He works with a variety of lenders and can help customize a mortgage with the best rates & options that fit the needs of each customer.

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Don’t take my land – please

April 18, 2012

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There is a lot of construction going on in the south end of Barrie right now, with one of the major projects being the expansion of Mapleview Drive between Bayview Drive and Huronia Road. There is also talk that Mapleview is going to be expanded straight through to Yonge Street, once the City works out some expropriation issues with the landowners along Mapleview. After driving through the construction again this morning, I thought it might be useful to write a bit about what exactly happens on an expropriation.

In Ontario, expropriations are governed by the Expropriations Act. The Act sets out everything to do with expropriations, from who can expropriate, to when an expropriation has occurred, to what compensation is possible for someone who has had land expropriated. In a nutshell, any government authority has the right to expropriate – federal, provincial and municipal. Sometimes, the federal or provincial government can also give authority to a school board, hospital or university to expropriate as well.

Expropriating authorities do not have blanket powers to take whatever property they want, however. The taking must be reasonable and necessary, and if the people whose property is being expropriated want to contest the expropriation, they can do so. They can also contest the value of the property being expropriated, and insist on being paid more for the expropriation.

It is also possible to claim under the Act for what is called “injurious affection” – basically, damages relating to construction by an expropriating authority. If your land is not expropriated, but its value is affected by works being done by an expropriating authority, you can claim compensation for, essentially, not being expropriated.

Cesia

Cesia is a real estate lawyer at Wall-Armstrong and Green, a boutique law firm in Barrie focusing on real estate and estates. When she’s not online, she can usually be found in her garden.

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