March 28, 2014
Singles buying homes can get a leg up in market
And that's a good thing according to real estate and financial experts, who say the investment is worthwhile.
"The rental market is very expensive in Toronto and mortgage rates are so low that, in a lot of cases, it makes more sense to buy," said realtor Miranda McKenna of Life and the City, Remax Hallmark Realty Ltd., who says nearly half of her clients are single.
People understand that it's worth buying a property to get into the market and build equity as early as possible, she said, and many of her clients use that first purchase as a stepping stone toward buying the home they really want.
That also means buyers are getting younger, McKenna said, noting that more people in their 20s are buying, and that many of them are single professionals.
Jordan Allison was 23 when he bought his first condo. At the time, he just wanted his own place and figured it would be a good investment, given how quickly home prices were climbing.
"The condo was a dress rehearsal in a way," said Allison, now 30. "After going through it with the condo, I knew what I was in for with the house."
He sold his Toronto condo to buy a house four years ago, and rented the house as two units while he did his masters degree in Boston.
Once he moved into the house, he kept one of the units as a rental to help cover the mortgage -- something he'd recommend to other single home buyers.
"Those tenants are really your second spousal income," Allison said.
David Stafford, managing director of real estate secured lending at Scotiabank, said one of the biggest differences between buying as an individual, versus a couple or group, is income instability.
"If you have a couple, or a partnership of some sort, buying a home - there's two incomes to service the home. If somebody gets sick, or loses their job, then you don't go from all to nothing," said Stafford.
"If you're on your own, (you should) make sure you have a backup plan."
He recommends purchasing disability or health crisis protection insurance, or, like Allison, taking advantage of rental income (if the property has the right set-up for it) to help cover base expenses.
He also advises all homeowners to take a close look at the closing costs, maintenance expenses and property taxes that will come with the mortgage payments in order to get a true sense of the monthly payments.
TD Canada Trust also recommends setting a realistic budget and determining the total down payment, and then test-driving the monthly mortgage payment by making an automatic transfer of that amount into a TFSA or other high-interest savings account. That will help determine how comfortable the commitment is before locking in, while allowing you to save for a larger down payment.
A recent online survey of 6,000 Canadians aged 18 years and older by TD found that a quarter of those who bought a home in the past 24 months (or are planning to in the near future), did so on their own. The results of the poll, which was conducted between Feb. 11 and 25, were in line with figures from Statistics Canada, suggesting singles have increasingly moved toward home ownership.
According to McKenna, another key consideration is to buy into a neighbourhood that will provide good resale value.
"You don't want to buy in a terrible area that isn't going to have good turnover in the future and isn't going to be a good investment," she said.
As for Allison, he is now in a relationship and he and his partner are thinking about moving in together.
He says the rental suite in his home has done so well that they're considering keeping that house as a rental and buying a new place. Meanwhile, he knows people who are now just looking to get in the market and can't even afford the neighbourhoods they want.
His advice to anyone still debating whether to buy and wondering whether it will be a worthwhile investment is to "just jump in" and start building equity in their home.
"I would say the sooner the better," Allison said.
March 23, 2014
65 Wow-Worthy Before-and-After Makeovers
These rooms are transformed in a flash, thanks to clever budget-friendly ideas and an eye for reinvention.
When a pipe burst under the sink, this homeowner knew it was time to remodel.
March 23, 2014
Maple Ridge: Here we grow again
The municipality is preparing for a substantial hike in people coming to live in the area in the next 30 years.
Construction continues on homes in the Montgomery Acres development along 112th Street in Maple Ridge. Photograph by: Troy Landreville/TIMES
By 2031, Maple Ridge’s population – currently estimated at close to 80,000 – will spike to roughly 108,900.
The projected number is based on a study done for the District’s Official Community Plan (OCP) review, drafted in 2006.
When the District put together its regional context statement – a document that identifies how its OCP is in alignment with the regional growth strategy – Maple Ridge council revisited the population numbers.
“For 2041 it will be 118,000,” said the District’s director of planning Christine Carter. “That’s not a cap. It’s a best guess and if we don’t come anywhere close to it, it’s fine. If we exceed it by 20- or 30,000 people, that’s fine, too. It’s just an acknowledgement that we will likely hit this number.”
According to the District, its town centre area is expected to grow by close to 14,700 people during the next decade.
In part to prepare for this influx of new residents, the District adopted its town centre area plan in 2008.
“The town centre is council’s No. 1 priority and there is an expectation that the town centre will accept 50 per cent of all new growth in the District,” Carter said.
The plan focuses on adding density to the 700-acre downtown area, and to improve amenities available.
“We talked to our economist and he was saying, if you want to get commercial growth in your town centre, quit insisting that every development have a commercial component,” Carter explained. “Allow residential density. Focus on getting people to live downtown. You’ve got to get people to live in your downtown, and then the retailers will come because there’s a market.”
In 2001, there were approximately 8,000 people living in Maple Ridge’s downtown. By 2031, that number is projected to triple to 21,000 people.
More people will hopefully bring an improved transit system to the area, Carter said.
“One of the reasons council has committed to the town centre is we know that if we can get enough people living down there, we’ll get better transit,” she said. “Getting people out of their cars, giving them the option, and getting them faster routes elsewhere – because a lot of people are commuting, and they just hate it.”
The District has a vision of having SkyTrain or some equivalent of rapid transit from Haney Place Mall.
But in the immediate future, the focus is bringing a rapid bus system to Maple Ridge.
Another factor for the projected population growth in Maple Ridge is a relatively affordable real estate market.
Based on the benchmark price in February, Maple Ridge is the second cheapest area, under the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver umbrella, in which to buy a single-family, detached home.
The benchmark price is a relative bargain, averaging $458,400, up half a percentage point from January and 7.1 per cent higher than it was in February 2009, just after the global economic crisis.
In other parts of the Lower Mainland, prices have spun out of control, most notably in West Vancouver where the cost for a single-detached home has spiked 61.7 per cent during the past five years.
The benchmark price of a single-detached home in that community is a mind-boggling $2.15 million.
“We all know someone who sold a townhouse or a condo in Vancouver and came out here and bought a house,” Carter said. “And those are the people who are having kids and living here.”
Sandra Wyant, president of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver and a local realtor for the past 23 years with Re/Max LifeStyles Realty, said Maple Ridge is becoming a much sought-after area, especially for first-time home buyers.
“We now have buyers coming from south of the river who would never even consider this area before,” Wyant said.
“Low price points” bring house hunters to Maple Ridge, especially with the recent change by the provincial government to the property transfer tax, Wyant added.
Another dangling carrot for newbie home owners: first time home buyers can qualify for a full exemption on the property transfer tax if the property they’re buying is worth $475,000 or less if registered on or after Feb. 19, 2014 and is 1.24 acres or smaller.
But with fewer detached homes available comes demand and multiple offers from buyers, Wyant noted.
© Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times
March 23, 2014
The 11 Biggest Trends in Kitchen Design Right Now
By Michelle Profis
Read on to see the results of their research—and if they align with your 2014 renovating plans:
When it's time for a kitchen reno, 49% of people opt to start from scratch...
See this kitchen's unbelievable renovation here.
...while 42% just make updates to their existing plan.
Fixing the kitchen of this Pennsylvania home proved inexpensive, thanks to subway tiles and plenty of white paint.
A whopping 77% of people want their kitchens to open into other rooms, like a living or dining area...
... and 61% plan to incorporate a kitchen island.
AFFINITY FOR APPLIANCES
65% of homeowners add stainless steel appliances in their kitchens...
A stainless-steel worktable provides extra space in the kitchen of this California home.
...but only 12% choose white or colored appliances.
When it comes to backsplashes, 50% of people go for tile...
...and 35% want hardwood flooring.
75% of people want soft and neutral colors in their kitchen.
14% add light and bright colors.
A meager 11% go the dark and dramatic route.
March 23, 2014
THE KITCHEN TRENDS THAT WILL SCRATCH THAT RENOVATION ITCH
Spring brings that itch. You know the one. It's waking you up in the middle of the night with thoughts of French door refrigerators and self-closing drawers. It occupies your waking thoughts too, as you watch episode after episode of Love It or List It and Kitchen Crashers and spend just a little too much time haunting the local Home Depot, gazing longingly at cabinet glazes.
You're obsessed with redoing your kitchen. We can relate.
The itch to pretty up our homes in spring is no coincidence. Just take a look at the fact that Home Depot is hiring80,000 new associates and Lowes 45,000 new associates for the spring busy season. That itch... it's contagious.
But we can help. If you are looking to embark on a kitchen remodel, big or small, check out the newest trends.
After a foray into dark mahogany and even black cabinetry, light cabinets have been trending for several years. But lest you think the all-white kitchen is the only way to go, there are several hot options for keeping it light.
"Neutral palates continue to dominate," said CBS News. "Most are still being painted white. Sandy tones and gray tones are also popular."
Gray, undoubtedly the hottest color in home design right now, is showing up in kitchen cabinetry, as is blue, another of today's trending colors.
There are also a number of structural trends in cabinetry, from open shelving that can bring a more industrial look and feel to a kitchen or can open up a small space, to built-in cabinetry that resembles furniture, according to Style At Home.
Perhaps nothing will ever replace the popularity of wood or tile for floors, but tile that replicates the appearance of wood is coming close. Wood-look tile looks like the real thing, comes in an increasingly vast array of colors, styles, and sizes, is ideal for areas where water is present, and is often more affordable than wood. It's the overwhelming trend right now for floors throughout the home, and is also being seen in wall and backsplash applications.
When it comes to appliances, there is no comparison. Stainless steel rules. A recent home trends survey showed that 65 percent of homeowners who are renovating their kitchens add stainless steel appliances. Presumably, the other 35 percent already have stainless steel appliances and don't need to add them. That's how pervasive this continued trend is.
Energy-efficient appliances are also popular. "Homeowners are still opting for new appliances where the energy or financial savings is readily apparent, said CBS News. For example, homeowners are choosing high-efficiency dishwashers, and "touchless faucets have skyrocketed in popularity. Not only are they easier when you've got your hands covered in kitchen mess, but they significantly cut down on water use - a savings homeowners will notice in their water bills."
The demise of granite has been whispered about for the past year, and now CBS News has all but proclaimed it dead. "Factory-engineered quartz is the new granite," they said. "While granite has held strong as the most popular countertop material for more than a decade now, quartz is starting to overtake it.
Quartz has the same look and feel as granite, but it's more practical. Quartz is more durable, so it better resists cracking and chipping, and it is non-porous so it's easier to clean and resists staining.
Freshome likes the timeless appeal of dark counters contrasted with light cabinetry. "Again, we're going natural black countertops here using black granite or quartz," they said. "Whether left glossy, or has a dull matte finish, in contrast with a cool white interior, oozes a timeless and clean cry of, 'I'm not new, but I'm here to stay, and I look GOOD!'"
It seems like every home with a renovated kitchen in the past five years has a backsplash fashioned from subway tile. And while this classic look that found its way home again in this century may never totally go out of style, backsplashes may be beginning to move into the same distinct configurations and graphic patterns that have been dominating textiles.
"Kitchens are yearning for a sip of excitement and edge which is why interesting and colorful backsplashes will be popular in 2014," said Freshome. "Grand Designs magazine has placed this as the number 1 Kitchen trend for 2014 and we at Freshome believe it'll be a winner too. Look for tiles with interesting patterns, in colors (blue), colorful splashes of the rainbow or exotic designs.
Style at Home predicts a move away from tile altogether, and instead toward large-scale design. This year, it's all about the beauty of nature's materials taking the forefront in the kitchen," they said. "With more open space surroundingrange hoods and sinks, there's greater opportunity for large-scale backsplashes. To really showcase the backsplashand make it a focal point in your kitchen, opt for slabs of marble and limestone – their natural veining essentially creates a work of art."
March 19, 2014
Vancouver first-time home buyers expect to pay 60% more than Canadian average
Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:39am PST
High real estate prices in Vancouver are leading first-time home buyers to set budgets considerably higher than the Canadian average across the country, delaying their purchases and leading to cutbacks in their lifestyles, according to a March 18 BMO report.
The report found first-time buyers in Vancouver expect to spend over half a million dollars – $506,600 – on their first homes, compared with $316,100 nationwide.
By comparison, those in Toronto plan to spend $408,300 and Calgarians expect to spend $363,400.
Of those surveyed in Vancouver, 57% said their timelines have been delayed due to rising real estate prices, compared with 39% across the country.
Laura Parsons, mortgage expert for BMO Bank of Montreal, said these delays are not surprising.
“In a real estate market such as Canada’s, where prices have been consistently rising, those who put off their purchase need to ensure that the rate at which they are saving outpaces price gains,” Parsons said.
“Otherwise, they may find themselves further behind in the long run.”
The survey also found that 40% of those in Vancouver expect parental assistance, compared with 30% across Canada.
March 19, 2014
B.C. to see biggest jump in housing resales in 2014: CREA
Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:46am PST
British Columbia is forecast to have the biggest jump in housing resale activity in 2014 in Canada, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).
The CREA expects B.C. to see an increase in resale activity of 8.3% year-over-year – well above the anticipated national growth of 1.3%. While this means the province will be the biggest contributor to the expected growth across the country, the association said this is due to having had particularly slow sales in 2013, mostly in the early part of the year.
The opposite holds true for Canada as a whole, with 2014 starting out with low levels of growth compared with previous years. This is due to the particularly strong activity in the summer and fall of 2013.
“I expect fixed mortgage rates will edge marginally higher in the second half of 2014 as evidence confirms an anticipated pick-up in economic growth,” said CREA chief economist Gregory Klump.
“Marginally higher mortgage rates are likely to counterbalance the lift provided by stronger economic and continuing job growth, and restrain the momentum for sales activity.”
National sales are expected to climb to 463,700 units this year, and a further 1.2% in 2015 to 469,400 units.
The national average home price across the country is expected to rise by 3.8% in 2014, with similar gains in B.C.
March 19, 2014
Sotheby’s projects healthy spring for Vancouver real estate
Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:28am PST
Sotheby’s International Realty Canada (SIRC) expects both sales and prices to rise in the Vancouver real estate market this spring, according to a report that the real estate firm released March 18.
Metro Vancouver home sales have been consistently below the 10-year average for each month in the past year, according to Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) statistics. SIRC expects that trend to end and for sales to be in line with 10-year averages starting this spring.
“We will also continue to see a 3% to 5% increase in prices,” SIRC CEO Ross McCredie told Business in Vancouver.
The REBGV pegged the benchmark home price for the region to be $609,100 in February, or 3.2% above what it was in February, 2012.
“Compared with a year ago at this time, we were wondering what would happen with the election and everything else. Since then, there’s been a lot of positives coming out of the Vancouver marketplace,” McCredie said.
He dismissed both the impact of federal government scrapping the immigrant investor program, which was popular with wealthier Asian immigrants, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) raising the rates it charges to insure mortgage loans by an average of 15% starting May 1.
“The No. 1 contributor to buying property right now is that interest rates are incredibly low,” McCredie said. “Even if they go up two or three percentage points, they’re low by historical standards.”
He expects the migration from rural areas into cities to continue across the country and for new immigrants to also favour cities.
The lower Canadian dollar has also had the impact of encouraging Canadians interested in investment property to buy in Canada instead of in the U.S., where properties in so-called “sand states” such as California, Nevada and Arizona have been rising.
“The last factor that has really impacted the Vancouver marketplace is the impact of the transfer of wealth,” McCredie said. “There are a significant number of Canadians who are either recipients of an inheritance or are children in families where the parents have decided to help their kids out in buying real estate.”
March 14, 2014
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING TO YOUR HOME IN SPRING
We're all aware of the idea of Spring cleaning (whether or not we do it - we mean REALLY do it - is another story). If you're ready to delve in, we've got some tips for Spring cleaning, plus a few other Spring things you should be doing to your home. Ready to Spring forward?
1. Sell something
When the weather gets warmer, it's time for a garage sale. Gather up all your unwanted stuff and put it out on the lawn. Might as well make some money for that old, ugly chair you're embarrassed to put in your living room.
2. Donate something
Take everything that doesn't sell over to a local charity. Not only will you be doing a good deed for people in need, but your donation is also tax deductible.
3. Trash something
If you have large items that cannot be sold or donated, you don't have to live with them taking up all the space in your garage. Haul ‘em out. Many cities will schedule a large trash pickup one time a year, while others have sites where you can drop off for free. Check with your local city for options.
4. Clean something
The concept of spring cleaning isn't about your normal program of vacuuming and dusting. It's time to go deep. Move furniture and clean underneath and behind. Those are some world-class dust bunnies. Pull back the blinds and clean the windows. And while you're at it, clean the blinds. They're gross.
5. Scrub something
It's a good time to get to those things that need a little extra effort. That weird spot in the shower you've been watching grow? Zap it for good. Clean out your washing machine. Yes, they actually make washing machine cleaner. Irony is good, and so is a sparkling clean washing machine.
6. Organize something
The closets you've been ignoring? It's time. Really. Plan your attack and go for it. You never know what you'll find in there that you've been missing (or forgot about). And cleaning out your closets are also a great way to find items to sell and donate (see #1 and #2).
Photo / The Container Store
7. Renew something
That ugly chair that didn't sell at your garage sale? Maybe you could pretty it up with some paint or fabric? With a little time and effort, you might actually create a new favorite piece.
8. Plant something
Spring is the time to get your garden in gear. Flowers, bulbs, and certain veggies thrive in Spring. Urban Farmer has a great seed calendar, and see Huffington Post for vegetable planting ideas.
9. Update something
Paint colors stuck in a decade-old funk? It's time for a fresh coat. Check out Benjamin Moore for the latest trends in paint colors.
10. Upgrade something
Maybe it's just time to chuck it all and move. The Spring buying season is upon us, after all. If you are thinking of moving, remember that all the same rules apply for getting your home sale-ready as they do for getting Spring ready. So, basically, you're not going to be able to get around that whole shower scrubbing thing!
March 12, 2014
Vancouver house prices continue to climb, hit record high
Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:05am PST
House prices in Vancouver hit another record high in February, according to the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index released March 12.
House prices in the city increased for the 10th month in a row, with growth of 0.9% from January. Prices were up 7.7% compared with one year ago.
Prices in Victoria dipped 0.9% from January – the 12th consecutive monthly drop – and 3.4% year-over-year.
Across the country, house prices increased 0.3% compared with January and 5% year-over-year. Compared with February 2012, prices were up in 7 out of the 11 cities Teranet includes in the index, with the strongest gains seen in Calgary (up 9.6%), Vancouver and Toronto (up 6.1%). Gains were also seen in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Montreal.
Prices were down in Halifax (down 4.7%), Victoria, Quebec City (down 2%) and Ottawa-Gatineau (down 0.6%).
Teranet's Composite House Price Index uses property sales records from public land registries to track price increases or decreases monthly.
March 4, 2014
9 Creative Looks for Kitchen Cabinets - WHEN PLAIN CABINET FINISHES JUST WON’T CUT IT, CONSIDER THESE ELEGANT TO INVENTIVE APPROACHES
Houzz Contributor. Visit me at Lolalina where... More
1. Stained glass. Get the warm, handmade look of an antique home even if your house is brand new with a set of lovely stained glass cabinets like the ones shown here. Installing interior cabinet lighting will enhance the look even more, casting a warm glow through the colored glass.
2. Cubbies. Break up all of the long, rectangular shapes usually present in the kitchen with neat little cubbyholes. If you go with nonstandard-size cabinets, be sure to measure your kitchenware first to be sure everything will fit.
3. Sliding barn-style doors. Love the look of open shelves but don’t want to go all the way? Consider adding sliding barn doors to your cabinets — they will allow you to conceal or reveal what you want.
4. A few colored doors. Want the crispness of an all-white kitchen but with a dash of pizzazz? Swap out one white cabinet door in every three or four for a brightly hued one, and watch your kitchen spring to life.
5. Glossy pink. Pink is a bold and undeniably fun choice for cabinets. Bubble gum pink, as shown here, has a distinctly retro feel, while deeper raspberry would take the look in a more sophisticated direction.
6. Two bold hues. Why stop with one bold color when you can have two? Choose one hue for the upper cabinets and another for the lowers, or do most of the cabinets in one hue and just one set in another color for contrast. Match the intensity across hues — pair lime green with bright turquoise, for instance, or pale lemon with soft spring green.
7. Open on top. Want open shelving without having to reveal all of your stuff? Consider cabinets with one open shelf at the top — it will be just enough to display favorite items while still allowing most of your stuff to reside behind closed doors. Take a cue from the kitchen shown here and line the open shelf with pretty wood and cabinet lights.
8. Chalkboard doors. Chalkboard insets made from real slate and framed in reclaimed wood are a refined take on a rustic look that is also quite practical. You can write your grocery lists and favorite recipes right on the cupboards! For a budget-friendly cabinet update, paint your existing cabinet doors with several coats of chalkboard paint and get writing.
9. Reclaimed wood. Standard plasticky cabinets getting you down? Try old reclaimed wood instead— rich in character, reclaimed wood adds charm and patina. The custom cabinets shown here were made from reclaimed oak, then finished with a whitewash and a clear protective finish.
If you love the look of reclaimed wood but don’t want to redo your entire kitchen, you can get the look without nearly as much work (or cost) by lining a single opening with old wooden boards. Install a floating shelf in the same color and style as your cabinets to help fold in the new feature.
Tell us: Which of these cabinet designs caught your eye?