What's one of the most important rooms in your home? When it comes to
selling your property quickly, and for the best price, the answer is clearly the
kitchen. In fact, one of the most common explanations a particular buyer
gives for not making an offer is, "I liked the house, but I wasn't too keen on
That doesn't mean you must do a major renovation. However, you should do what you can to make the kitchen as attractive as possibleto buyers.
Here are some ideas:
First, clear the countertops. Put away the toaster and other items. You want to make the entire countertop area seem as spacious as possible.
If the cabinetry is old, you can spruce it up by installing new knobs, handles
and other hardware. A fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling can also
make the kitchen look like it has had a major renovation – and it will only cost
you a few hundred dollars. According to an article on the website HDTV.com,
"The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new
Replacing the countertops is a more expensive renovation, but it may be
worth it if the current counters are old and worn.
Finally, when preparing your kitchen for a viewing, make sure it's clean and tidy. The garbage and recycling bins should be empty. Buyers will open cabinets so make sure items on shelves are neatly organized with the front labels facing forward.
There are many other ways to make the most important room in your home
look great to potential buyers. Call today for more ideas.
6 Tips to Help Renew Your Mortgage
The biggest monthly expense for most Canadians is their mortgage payment. So before you decide to renew with your current mortgage lender, take a look at these tips to help lower your payments come renewal time.
1. Get Started Early
3. Never Accept the Bank’s Posted Rate
4. Negotiate on other Available Options
5. You Can Change Lenders
6. Use a Mortgage Broker
Did You Know
By Andrew Allentuck, The Starphoenix
At the age of 38, Lisa, as we'll call her, finds herself in the vise of wage compression and rising living costs. Her salary has declined in the last year and mortgage payments, fees and taxes for her downtown Vancouver condo now cost her $2,149 a month, which works out to 57% of her $3,758 monthly take-home income. Lisa is able to make her mortgage payments and to afford some pleasures, but on her balance sheet, she has negative net worth. The problem will soon be resolved, for with just a few more payments on her mortgage, her equity will grow and her net worth will turn positive.
"Buying my condo was a big risk," Lisa explains. "I want to work toward paying it off. Is it possible for me to retire at 65 or maybe a little later after I have paid off the condo?" Family Finance asked Graeme Egan, a financial planner and portfolio manager with KCM Wealth Management Inc. in Vancouver, to work with Lisa. He sees the condo, which has an estimated market value of $335,000, as a foot in the door of the Vancouver housing market.
The problem now is that the condo's highratio mortgage, $321,052, is 96% of its equity. She borrowed $25,000 from her RRSP through the Home Buyers' Plan and has to pay that sum back over the next 15 years in equal payments of $1,666 a year. If she fails to do that, the annual payments not made will be considered income and will be included in her taxable income. The total of the two loans, $346,052, exceeds her total assets of $345,567.
Debt management Lisa has to deal with her high leverage. According to rules set by the federal Department of Finance, her 25-year amortization is the longest anyone can have with a high-ratio insured mortgage. Lenders cannot lower and stretch her payments further. She has little choice but to pay down the mortgage quickly, then use her cash flow to resume retirement savings that will be suspended while she deals with debt.
She does have a way out. Lisa could sell the condo, pay offher loans and walk away. She would be free to rent equivalent space and save perhaps $500 a month. She would be mobile, could easily take jobs in other cities and would be free of debt. However, she would have given up a good asset in valuable real estate. Moreover, unless she can get $350,000 or more for the condo, she would be in a deficit position after selling and moving costs.
If she decides to stay, mortgage debt should be her focus. That means increasing monthly payments to cut her leverage and to reduce her risk. She has the cash flow to do it. She could take $100 a month from her $200 allocation to dining out and entertainment, suspend contributions to her RRSP, $217 a month, and those to her TFSA, $542 a month.
If she then directs these savings, a total of $859 a month, to her mortgage and Home Buyers' Plan loan, she can cut the amortization from 25 years to 14 years, at which time she would be 52. She would save approximately $65,800 of interest. If she adds $200 more from her present miscellaneous spending, her monthly mortgage and HBP payments would rise to $2,815. She would cut her amortization to 12 years and three months and her total interest paid by $73,000. She would be mortgage free at age 50. She would be debt free and able to use her cash flow to prepare for retirement. Indeed, she would now be able to catch up. Her HBP loan would continue for about three more years, but the sum involved, $139 a month, is relatively small.
For most people, deferring retirement savings for 10 or 20 years as middle age approaches would be foolhardy. Yet Lisa is in a special situation, for debt service and savings make
Up a very large part of her spending. Cash going to service debt will become an advantage once the debts are paid.
At age 65, she could take Canada Pension Plan benefits at an estimated $12,150 a year. At age 67, she could begin Old Age Security at $6,612 a year, both in 2013 dollars. The total, $18,762, after income and age credits, would leave her with $1,564 a month with little or no tax to pay. That substantially exceeds her present spending net of savings and debt service.
Frugalness has given Lisa an opportunity to have what will be an unencumbered asset, her condo, after it is paid offby age 49 or 50. If the condo, with a present market price of $335,000, appreciates at just 2% a year over inflation, it will have a theoretical market price of $595,000 in 2013 dollars at her age 67. Every year she pays down the mortgage, her equity will grow.
The irony is that if she does nothing to change her allocation to real estate, which is virtually her entire asset base, she will bear an unusual amount of market risk. Therefore, when her mortgage is eliminated, even if she still owes several years of payments on the Home Buyers' Plan, she can direct some or all of her $2,815 a month debt payments to investment in diversified financial assets. At 49, with that cash flow, she could resume TFSA and RRSP savings, a total of $33,870 a year. She would have a lot of space to fill.
Lisa could generate approximately 18 years of growth on top of her present $10,568 of financial assets to retirement at age 67. If she obtains a 3% return after inflation, she would have $830,000 in her accounts in 2013 dollars. If she continued to obtain 3% after inflation from $830,000 in financial assets, she would have a pre-tax income of $24,900 to add to her government pensions for total pretax income of $43,662 a year or about $3,100 a month after 15% average tax.
If Lisa were to withdraw money from her investments beginning at age 67 so that all funds were gone by her age 95, she would have $42,950 from her capital and total pretax income, including government pensions, of $61,712 in 2013 dollars. That's $4,115 a month after 20% average income tax. On her balance sheet, at age 67, her portfolio would have a future value of $1,425,000. Real estate would constitute about 40% of her net worth. Note that a 3% property growth calculation would raise her property value to $766,500, her total net worth to $1.6-million and property would then be about half of her assets. She would have a paid-up home and a solid financial base.
Link to story: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/business/Condo+asset+retirement/9204163/story.html
Congratulations Ridernation, I hope you all celebrated responsibly and had the time of your lives this weekend. What a great event to be a part of! It couldn’t have went better, so thanks to all the volunteers, the Riders and anyone/everyone who made this experience a positive one for all Rider fans! A true dream come true.
Sales in the Saskaton real estate market rebounded in a big way last week as 85 firm sales (41 single family, 41 condominiums) were reported to the local MLS. The average price was $330,050 which is lower than usual due to a high amount of activity in the condominium market (50% of the weekly total sales). Over the past 4 weeks, there has been an average of 78 home sales per week with an overall average price of $348,839. Also over the past month the average listing sells in roughly 47 days while the average price under asking is $8779. In 2012 during the same month period, the Saskatoon MLS witnessed 68 sales per week with an average price 2.7% lower than this year, while the average listing sold in 5 less days on market. The average selling price under asking was quite a bit tighter in 2012 as it closed out at $6037 for the same month period. Ultimately prices and sales volume is higher than a year ago and the market continues to look very promising.
Listing inventory continues to remain high for this time of year as there are currently 1282 active listings (796 single family, 383 condominiums) in Saskatoon. While last week there were 114 new listings (74 single family, 26 condominiums) posted to the MLS. Listing inventory as begun to cool off the past few weeks and we are starting to see inventory finally slip below the 1300 mark. Expect the overall inventory numbers to continue to fall over the coming weeks.
If you have any questions about the current market or are thinking about buying/selling, contact us here.
Congratulations on the Saskatchewan Roughriders for their birth in their first home Grey Cup appearance! Enjoy the festivities everyone!
Sales have now cooled off in the Saskatoon real estate market for the past few weeks as there were 58 firm sales (39 single family, 18 condominiums) recorded to the local MLS. Due to a high amount of activity in the higher end of the market last week, the average price closed out at $392,439. Last week’s average price is higher than usual and is evident when looking at the current 4 week average price of $351,944 at 80 sales per week. In 2012 the Saskatoon market was averaging only 75 sales per week, while the 4 week average price during the same period was $337,127 (4.3% annual increase in price). Currently the average house is selling in 39 days on market which is identical to figures from 2012. Essentially prices are up and sales volume has also increased from 2012, so numbers are still promising considering the sales slowing due to the season.
There are currently 1302 active listings (791 single family, 409 condominiums) in Saskatoon. Last year during the same time period there were only 632 single family and 343 condominums. There are currently 21% more single family homes and 16% more condos on the market this year at the same time period. Last week there were only 106 new listings (62 single family, 34 condominiums) added to the Saskatoon MLS. This is a significant drop off from recent weeks, which is a positive because inventory levels are already much higher than usual.
For more information on the Saskatoon real estate market, or if you’re thinking about buying/selling contact us here.
On the heels of a week that saw 102 firm sales recorded to the Saskatoon MLS, sales dropped off considerably as there were only 67 sales (46 single family, 20 condominiums) recorded in Saskatoon last week. The weekly average price was $350,577, while the average house sold in 41 days on market. The current four week average is slightly lower than last week’s average and closed out at $346,838, while the average house sold in 39 days on market. Over the past 4 weeks there have been an average of 88 sales per week, which bests the 2012 average of 5 more per week. Not only are sales more brisk in 2013, the 4 week average price in 2012 was roughly $12,000 lower during the same period. Considering last week there were only 67 firm sales (21 under the 4 week average), sales were slow. However this is often a common occurrence during long weekends, so expect sales to bump up this week. Sales are continuing to occur, however listing inventory remains high and competition amongst sellers in the single family market is plentiful.
Currently there are 1307 active listings (806 single family, 404 condominiums) in Saskatoon, which is roughly 230 more listings than the same period in 2012. Last week there were 136 new listings in Saskatoon which is 34 more than were posted two weeks ago. Although listings are high, prices remain strong and there is still some balance in the market. New builds will cap off soon for the winter season and the extra activity we have seen in the new home market will eventually cool off and the re-sale market should see more activity.
For more information on the current market, or if you’re thinking about buying or selling, contact us here.
By Charles Hamilton, The StarPhoenix
Link to Article here
Saskatoon has big city aspirations for its downtown.
Getting rid of the bus mall, allowing outdoor cafés along Spadina, building a more robust cycling network, allowing taller buildings and installing heated sidewalks in some areas are just some of the suggestions contained in a sweeping city report that charts a new path for the city core.
On Thursday, the city released its much anticipated city centre plan, which outlines a plan for growth in the downtown, Broadway and other core neighbourhoods.
“It has such a big city flavour to it,” said Alan Wallace, the city’s manager of planning and development. “There are lot of things in there that a lot of big cities have and we don’t have. Maybe it’s time we did some of those things.”
The plan marks a shift in thinking, providing more emphasis on cyclists and pedestrians, incentives for development on vacant lots and rejigging how the bus system is laid out.
The plan, which was prepared for the city by Stantec Consulting, estimates 15,000 residents will live in the downtown in the coming years.
In order to make the core areas attractive as places to live, the report says some improvements are needed. The city could address the need for public spaces by installing a public plaza in front of TCU Place along 22nd Street, it suggests. The city could also build rain gardens and replace parking stalls with sidewalk patios to help beautify downtown streets, it adds.
“It’s not a pie in the sky kind of thing. It builds on the strengths that our downtown has,” Wallace said.
One of the key features of the sweeping plan is the focus on creating a “west downtown,” he said. While a lot of attention has been paid to the south downtown — the home of River Landing — and more recently the north downtown with the construction of the new police station, the west downtown, bordered by Idywyld Drive, has been largely ignored.
“The time has come when we start to focus on our back door,” Wallace said.
Incentives for more dense development along Idywyld Drive and a focus on specific intersections like Idywyld Drive and 22nd Street will improve pedestrian access and make the downtown more accessible, he said.
“It starts with someone jumping out with a plan and saying, ‘This street can be different.’ ”
The plan also incorporates many of the city’s existing ambitions. A rapid transit system, for example, would make the much-maligned downtown bus mall a thing of the past, and 23rd Street could once again be open to traffic. Under the new system, rapid transit routes would circulate through the downtown.
Transit is just one element of the sprawling report, which aims to attract more young people and seniors to a more walkable urban landscape. It also focuses on providing incentives for businesses and encouraging more street-level investment. The plan also proposes new design guidelines that would allow for larger, taller buildings.
The city is also considering an incentive for developers to occupy vacant lots used for parking that currently make up more than a quarter of the total downtown surface space. The report suggests encouraging developers to build multi-level parking garages.
The Saskatoon market is remarkably active at the moment. Two weeks ago there were 91 firm sales in Saskatoon and last week there were 103 sales (75 single family, 21 condominiums). It should be noted that eclipsing the century mark during this time of year is very rare. These figures show just how active the market currently is. Over the past month there have been an average of 90 sales per week in Saskatoon, which is 10 more per week than the same period in 2012. The current 4 week average price is $346,401 which is roughly $6000 more than the 2012 average. The average house is selling in 40 days on the market and $7990 under asking price at the moment.
Currently there are 1306 active listings (811 single family, 407 condominiums) in Saskatoon. Listing inventory levels have been dropping of late which is a good thing for a healthy balance in the market. In 2012 during the same weekd period, there were only 1092 active listings. Last week there were 114 new listings (80 single family, 20 condominiums) posted to the Saskatoon MLS.
For more information on the current market or specific neighbourhood, contact us by email.