Ashley Lo | Real Estate Solutions

Category Archives: First Time Home Buyers

5 Reasons why home ownership is better than renting

Why use your hard-earned cash to pay the landlord’s mortgage when you could be using the rent money to buy a home of your own? Although home ownership is not right for everyone, it does make sense in many cases.

Here are 5 reasons why home ownership is better than renting:

  1. Home ownership is a great investment. Although short term real estate prices may follow similar patterns as an economic cycle with peaks and valleys, there has always been a general upwards trend. Especially with cities such as Toronto, urbanization and gentrification become more predominant over time, and scarcity of land drives prices up. Over the past 40 years, the average Toronto home price increase per year still remains at 7%, even after a couple of recessions!

    1. Leveraging your money. With interest rates at an all time low and with as little of a down payment as 5%, you can still have completely control of your property. Act fast though, because lending rules are becoming more stringent!

 

    1. Home ownership acts as a method of forced savings.By getting into the real estate market early (imagine having your income trying to catch up with a 7% increase a year!), you are able to save for a more expensive home in the future by paying down your mortgage every month and leveraging your current home equity. Monthly costs of owning are often only a little more than what you would pay for an equivalent rental.

 

    1. Pride of ownership and being in full control. Any improvements or decoration changes need no approval from your landlord. Feel free to upgrade as your please! (Amen to that!)

 

  1. Tax benefits. Especially as a first time home buyer, there are many perks from a tax perspective such as RRSP withdrawals and land transfer tax credits. In addition, there are no capital gain taxes on a principal residence. Even for investment properties, there are significant tax deductions which can make property ownership a great investment strategy.

Buy vs. Rent Example


Featured listing: Gorgeous 2 bedroom + den at Yonge/Finch for sale at $299,000

MLS # C2437195

More information on this property: http://www.ashleylo.com/5785yongest202

Comparison

Purchase Price – $299,900
Down Payment 5% 10% 15%
$14,995 $29,990 $44,985
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage Amount (including Mortgage Insurance; Interest at 3% for 5 years)
Property Taxes
Maintenance Fees
Total Monthly Expenses
$1,479
$157
$886
$2,522
$1,367
$157
$886
$2,411
$1,281
$157
$886
$2,324
Annual Cash Spent
Average Annual Savings From Principle (based on 5 year term)
$30,268
$8,278
$28,929
$7,843
$27,890
$7,407
Annual Cost of Ownership
vs.
Annual Cost of Renting at $2,150/month
Savings From Home Ownership
$21,989
$25,800
$3,811
$21,086
$25,800
$4,714
$20,483
$25,800
$5,317

As you can see, even with a down payment of 5% and having to pay mortgage insurance, it would be more beneficial to purchase vs. rent, even without taking into consideration home price appreciation! As GoC bond yields decrease (which is what our fixed-mortgage rates are based on), interest rates will be even lower, allowing an even greater gap between this buy vs. rent scenario. In addition, this example is based on the first 5 years, with additional savings as time passes as you pay down more of your principle and have less interest in your mortgage.

Questions? Feel free to contact me at anytime!

Tarion changes good news for pre-construction purchasers

Regulator of Ontario’s new home building industry, Tarion Warranty Corporation has introduced a number of program changes which will benefit consumers, including lower enrolment fees and better disclosure of extra charges in builder sales agreements.

By law, every agreement of purchase and sale for a new home or condominium must contain a lengthy disclosure statement called an addendum. Tarion has now introduced a new schedule to be added to every addendum, called Schedule B.

Schedule B became optional for builders on July 1st, and on October 1st it will become mandatory for all homes and condominium projects where the first purchase agreement is signed on or after that date.

There will be two parts to the schedule. Part I will contain an itemized list of all charges, fees or other adjustments to the final purchase price or balance payable on closing, where the dollar value is set out in the builder’s agreement of purchase and sale.

Charges listed in this section may be items such as the Tarion enrolment fee (which has now been reduced by $150), a charge for holding the purchaser’s deposits in trust, a fee to discharge the builder’s construction financing and a fixed charge to subsidize the builder’s legal fees.

Part II of the new schedule will set out all additional charges, fees or other anticipated adjustments to the final purchase price, which are to be calculated after the purchase agreement is signed, according to the written terms of the agreement.

For condominium purchases, charges in this section may include items such as:

  • The unit’s proportionate share of the cost of installation of gas, hydro, sewers and water service and meters in the project,
  • Any new / increase in taxes, levies or development charges imposed on the unit by any level of government after the agreement was signed (such as parks and other municipal charges, education or transit development charges)
  • A portion of the costs associated with a development agreement entered into with the city,
  • HST on the value of the appliances included with the unit,
  • Interest on the balance of the purchase price until final closing,
  • A portion of the building’s first common elements study.
  • Each charge will be referenced to the relevant text in the purchase agreement so buyers can determine whether it is unlimited or capped at a particular amount.

    Your real estate agent should be limiting the charges on your behalf, however, assembling all the open-ended charges in one place will also alert purchasers to the additional financial risks involved in signing the pre-construction agreement.

    Another significant change to the Tarion warranty came into effect on July 1st. It affects all new houses sold after that date and all condominium units where the first purchase agreement in the project was signed after that date.

    A new definition of “major structural defect” has been implemented by regulation. The warranty program now protects purchasers against a defect in work or materials if it results in a failure of a structural load-bearing element, or adversely affects the use of the building for the usual and ordinary purposes of a residential dwelling.

    Breakdown of mechanical equipment like a furnace, where the builder has no control over its manufacture or ongoing functionality, will now rest solely with the manufacturer, either through the original warranty or ongoing service contracts.

    More information can be obtained here: http://www.tarion.com/Pages/New-Policies-in-Effect-July-1st-2012.aspx

    Questions? Contact me

    Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions

E Condos – Yonge/Eglinton VIP Access to prices & floorplans



E Condos is located in one of Toronto’s most sought after locations – Yonge & Eglinton. This mid-town condominium project will have direct access to subway and with the expansion of the much-anticipated Eglinton Crosstown below grade LRT, there will soon be another added convenience to the east-west transit link. This project is just steps to the Yonge / Eglinton Centre, an energetic entertainment/shopping complex with movie theatres, bookstore, supermarket and shops.

Contact me today for VIP access to prices & floorplans of this highly anticipated project!



Development Name: E Condos

Developers: Bazis Inc., Metropia and RioCan

Address: 8 Eglinton Ave E, Toronto, M4R 2H1

Estimated Completion: 2017

Number of Buildings: 2

Storeys: 64, 44

Architect: R. Varacalli Architect


View Larger Map

Buying Pre-Construction Condos



When looking to purchase a condominium, there are essentially two choices – resale or pre-construction. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, however when buying new, there are some details you should be aware of that differ from a typical resale.

Deposit Structure:

Unlike When buying resale where you could have a down payment as low as 5%, buying directly from the builder requires a minimum down payment of typically 20-25%. This may seem like a lot, especially for first time buyers, but this may be an advantage as there will not be additional CMHC loan premium insurance costs and this will reduce your monthly mortgage payment. In addition, the deposit is paid in installments, so it does allow for some time to save. A payment schedule could look like this:


  • $5,000 upon signing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale

  • Balance of 5% in 30 days

  • 5% in 120 days

  • 5% in 350 days

  • 5% at occupancy (see below)


  • TIP: Your Realtor may be able to negotiate a better deposit structure for you.

    10-day Cooling Period

    By-law in Ontario, anyone who buys a new property from a builder has a 10-day cooling off period, during which they can rescind their offer with no penalty. This also allows time to do 2 things: 1) have your Agreement of Purchase and Sale reviewed by a real estate lawyer, and 2) obtain a mortgage approval for your purchase to satisfy the builder’s requirements.

    TIP: Sometimes lenders work with specific builders to offer special rates and incentives.

    Closing Costs

    When you buy pre-construction, there are some additional closing costs that you do not incur when buying resale. Estimates are hard to make because they vary by developer, but averages are outlined below:


  • Development and educational levies ($500-$6000)
  • TARION Warranty enrolment fee ($900-$1200)
  • Utility hook-up fees ($1000-$2000)
  • Misc. fees (law society of Ontario, discharge of builder’s mortgage, etc.) ($200-$500)
  • Assignment fees (if you sell before final closing, or ‘flip’ your unit) ($3000)
  • Occupancy fees (see below)


  • TIP: some of these closing costs can be capped at a maximum figure so it’s important to have Realtor and a lawyer who are experienced in pre-construction condos on your side to help you negotiate these terms with the builder.

    Occupancy Period

    When buying new, there is usually a short period of time between when occupy the condo and when you actually receive title to your condo, known as the occupancy period. During this time, you must pay the developer for the right to occupy the suite. The amount of the occupancy fees is more or less equivalent to interest on the amount outstanding on the purchase price + monthly property taxes + condo fees. You will only pay occupancy fees until your final closing, where you begin paying for your mortgage, but you will never have to pay both at the same time.

    Learn more about Occupancy & Interim Closing

    TIP: to minimize your occupancy fees, buy as high up into the building as possible. Buildings take occupancy from the ground up, therefore the higher your suite is in the building, the shorter your occupancy period will be.

    Final Closing

    Final closing when the building is finally registered and your occupancy period is over. This is when your mortgage payments begin and you officially own your unit. You can choose to put down additional funds on your condo if you want to have more than the typical 20-25% that most builders require.

    TIP: remember that you can shop around for the best mortgage rate right up until final closing, so even if you obtained an approval during your 10-day cooling off period. You can even choose a different lender if you like. That is, your initial pre-approval will satisfy your credit worthiness to the builder, but you can always get another pre-approval from an alternative lender up until you close.

    Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions


    Why it’s still a good time to buy



    A couple of weeks ago, I did a home buyer seminar. I got a lot of good feedback so I decided, why not share some of the key points?


  • Interest rates are at historical lows! In the 1980’s, interest rates were at all time highs at about 18%. Now, interest rates are at all time lows! We are seeing interest rates such as 2.99% for a 5 year fixed term! The only caveat is that lending rules are becoming more and more stringent, so if you can approved, go for it!

  • We are not in a bubble! Contrary to what some people may say, we are not in a housing bubble! A bubble is It is characterized by rapid increases in valuations of real property such as housing until they reach unsustainable levels and then decline. We did see this in the late 1980’s when average percentage increase in the years leading up to the peak was 22%! Between 1986 and 1987, there was actually a 36% increase! In the past couple of years, we’ve been seeing increases, on average, at about 6%. (See previous post – The Canadian banking system is unlike the States)

  • The Canadian GDP is correlated with Toronto housing prices. There is a strong correlation between Canadian/Ontario/Toronto GDP and Toronto housing prices. The last time we saw a deviation, it was during the housing bubble in the 1980’s. Currently we are seeing a steady growth in Toronto GDP, which is expected to increase about 13% from 2010 to 2015! This is also in line with Canadian GDP growth.

  • Other factors. What can I say, Toronto is a great city to live in! Due to high immigration, population is expected to grow by 1 million people in the next decade. That’s an increase of 33%! Foreign investors also see the potential. We are seeing investors from all over the globe including China, Iran, India & European countries such as Greece and Italy.


  • There’s no time like the present! If you have any questions, feel free to Contact me.

    Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions


    Understanding Condo Occupancy and Registration

    When buying a pre-construction condo, it can be quite confusing as it is more complicated than a regular resale condominium. There are a couple of different phases that the building must go through before final closing. A ‘condominium’ is not technically formed until it completes and passes all approvals with the Land Registry Office. Only when the building is finally ‘registered’ that the title of your unit will be transferred you.

    Once the interior of the building is complete, a number of inspections and approvals also occur at this time by firstly the municipal council, then the regional planning department, and on to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Affairs. These checks and balances are in place to ensure that the building upholds what is stipulated in the draft plan and Condominium Declaration. Once all parties agree that all the requirements have been met, the registration is complete.

    When approvals are complete on a municipal level, an ‘occupancy certificate’ is issued. Owners will have a chance to do a PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) in the unit and report any deficiencies. Residents will begin occupying the units in phases and depending on your floor, this could take anywhere from 3 months to a year. This is known as ‘interim occupancy’, the period between the occupancy date and when the condominium is registered.

    Since the vendor still owns suites during the occupancy period, you will be required to start paying ‘occupancy fees’ which is the interest on the balance owed to the builder (based on a one-year Bank of Canada mortgage rate), your estimated share of maintenance, as well as annual taxes.

    There are also interim closing costs to consider including outstanding deposit amounts plus adjustments, occupancy fees, any upgrades, and enrollment of your suite to with TARION Warranty. You must have your homeowner’s insurance in place and arrange for your utility hook-ups at this time as well. Since you cannot obtain a mortgage until you receive title and it is difficult to predict the length of the occupancy period, you must ensure that you have enough savings preceeding the ‘final closing’.

    A couple of months before the closing, you will be notified to secure your mortgage as rules and rates may have changed. When the building finally registers, it will take a couple of weeks for a final closing date, in which the balance of your purchase price will be due (where your mortgage kicks in!). Additional closing costs will also include but are not limited to, the land transfer tax, development charges, and legal fees.

    Purchasing a new condominium is very exciting and has many benefits including increased value of your unit even before you take possession! However, it is important to understand the entire process very clearly to ensure a smooth transaction. Make sure you obtain a knowledgeable and trustworthy real estate agent to help guide your through this process.

    Contact me if you have questions regarding real estate!

    Ashley Lo | Real Estate Advice, Real Estate Solutions


    Why you should be a homeowner or landlord

    Are you currently renting? We’ll show you how feasible it is to buy your own home, and why you may be better off purchasing instead!


    Do you currently have some money saved and are looking to invest? We’ll show you why you should become a landlord!

    Real estate is a scary investment! But we’re here to ease your fears. Whether you’re currently looking to purchase your first home or looking to invest, we will be there every step of the way to guide you and answer all of your questions!

    Stay tuned for seminar details!! Contact me for more information or to be notified of upcoming events.



    17 Things to Know About Closing Your House Deal

    Source: http://www.moneyville.ca/article/1041152–17-things-to-know-about-closing-your-house-dea

    Closing day in a house deal is a milestone for both the seller and the buyer. To make it go smoothly, it is very important that both buyer and the seller are properly prepared.


    Here’s a checklist if you are selling:


    1. Make sure you have given your lawyer a copy of any deed, mortgage, survey and current property tax bills. You should have received these from your lawyer when you bought the house.


    2. Do not cancel your household insurance policy until you have heard that the deal has closed. Also, if you are moving out more than 30 days before closing, you need to notify your insurer that the home will be vacant. This way, you will still be covered if anything happens in the home up to the closing date.


    3. You will visit your lawyer a few days before closing to sign the papers. Make sure you give one set of keys to give to your lawyer, which will be passed on to buyer’s lawyer at closing.


    4. If you are a non-resident of Canada, you must obtain a certificate from Canada Revenue Agency regarding any income tax payable, or else the buyer will be holding back 25 per cent of the sale price until you do get it. Non-resident means you have not lived in Canada at least 183 total days in the past year before the closing day. This can take up to two months so let your lawyer know right away so that the proper application can be filed.


    5. Have all your utility meters read on the day of closing. That way you will only be responsible for your share of utilities. Also notify your cable and telephone provider so that your service can be disconnected. If your house is heated with an oil tank, you need to make arrangements to fill the tank on the closing day.


    6. Cancel any pre-authorized or postdated cheques at your bank, to make sure you don’t pay for anything after closing.


    7. As you have to be out of the property when it closes, arrange to move out before 5 p.m.



    Here’s a checklist if you are buying:


    1. Schedule your pre-closing visit shortly before closing, so that you can conduct your final inspection to make sure that the home is in the same condition as when you signed the offer.


    2. Arrange moving time late in the afternoon, as that is likely when the seller will have moved out. If it is a condominium, and you need use of the elevator, contact the management company well in advance of closing to reserve the elevator.


    3. Fire insurance must be arranged for the full replacement cost of the home. If it is a condominium, you need a policy to protect your contents and liability. Do not leave this to the last minute.


    4. If you are arranging a mortgage for less than 20 per cent down, the bank will be deducting certain costs, such as mortgage insurance, appraisal fees and HST. Find out early what all these deductions will be, as you will have to come up with any difference needed to close your deal. Make sure you have provided the lender with all required proof of income, or down payment well in advance so that it does not delay the money.


    5. Your lawyer will be receiving a statement of adjustments just before closing. This could add to your closing costs if the seller has prepaid some expenses, especially property taxes. Find out exactly what this is as it can add up to 0.5 per cent more to what you may owe.


    6. You will need to deliver, at least 2 days before closing, the balance of money needed for your lawyer to close the deal, by certified cheque, money order or bank draft.


    7. Let the lawyer know how you will be taking title to the property. If you take as joint tenants and one of you passes away, the other party immediately becomes the owner. If you take as tenants in common, you can transfer your interest to a beneficiary under your will.


    8. Tell your lawyer to order title insurance for you. This will protect your property against title defects, survey issues, work orders and frauds while you own the property.


    9. Arrange for your cable and telephone providers to install service on the day of closing or immediately after closing.


    10. Contact the utility companies, to make sure they read the meters on closing, so that you are only responsible for charges after you move in.



    Being prepared in advance will ease the stress of closing day and hopefully begin the creation of happy memories for you and your family.


    Tips for First Time Home Buyer

    So you have finally decided to make the big step and buy a home! This will be one of the most exciting moments of your life!  But before you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, make sure you consider the following:


    1. Get a pre-approved mortgage!

      Talk to a mortgage specialist to see how much you qualify for! This depends on how much you have for a down payment and what current interest rates are.

      A general rule is your monthly payments towards your home (which include mortgage, property taxes and utilities) should not exceed 32% of your monthly gross income. Your total monthly debt should also not be more than 40% of your monthly gross income.

      Investment Property?

      There are many people out there who are quite financially savvy and want to purchase their first time as an investment property. Keep in mind that with investment properties, you must have at least 20% for a down payment and that you will not be eligible for land transfer tax rebates if you are a first time buyer.

    2. Find a Realtor that suits your personality!

      This is the single largest purchase you have made to date, so make sure you find a knowledgeable Realtor that you also trust and get along with.  This is the biggest financial decisions of your life, so make sure it is a rational and well informed one! (hint hint…ME!)

      Home buying is an extremely complicated process with many different parties involved. Your Realtor is your first contact point to get you in touch with other experienced industry experts such as lenders, lawyers, home inspectors and movers.

    3. Make a list of ‘must haves’, ‘wants’, and ‘do not wants’

      Sit down and think of what you must have, want and do not want in a home. This list may change as you look as different properties but it is a good start in terms of where to begin! A couple of things to consider include:

      What you think your lifestyle will be like in a few years’ time? Will you be starting a family? Will you need to move for work?

      Are there upgrades to the home you can make yourself?

      It is important to remember that your home will probably not encompass everything on your list and that many things can be done to your home to make it your dream home!

    4. Home buying process

      Make sure you sign a Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA). This document outlines the duties the brokerage owes to the buyer. Included in those duties includes full disclosure of all property information known to the brokerage. It protects homebuyers to ensure that your best interests will be protected and reassures you are making the right decision.

      Acceptable / unacceptable problems. A qualified home inspector will be able to gain an objective view of the property. Limitations include problems beyond the walls of the property. Sometimes properties listed way below market value require extensive repairs.  With the help of your Realtor’s knowledge, you can gauge a good idea of what are quick fixes or costly repairs.

      Consider your future needs. What will your needs and lifestyle be like in the future? Will you be requiring extra space to start a family or create a home office? Thinking about this now will help with your decision for what type of mortgage you will be looking for. It may also be easier and less costly to take these changes into account now than to adjust for them in a couple of years time.

      Proceed quickly! Good properties sell fast. Realtors have the latest technology to track down the latest listings within hours which allows you to save time and effort! A great agent makes sure you have all the information you need and that your finances are in order so that you can make act fast when you find your dream home!

      Isn’t my only cost my mortgage? Don’t forget about closing costs! These costs are typically between 1.5%-4% of the purchase price. You will be responsible for items including mortgage insurance, appraisal fees, legal fees, inspection fees, transfer taxes, title insurance, inspections, property tax, fire insurance, increased bills, etc. A couple of days before closing, your lawyer will send you a list of adjustments that will outline the final costs.

      Happily Ever After? It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of home buying that other factors may not be considered until after your property is purchased. For example – how is your credit now? What are some ongoing costs you will be expecting? Do you have savings to ensure that any unplanned repairs can be taken care of? If you live in a condo, are you taking into account that maintenance fees may rise? A good Realtor and a proper home inspection can help you prepare for a future without many surprises.



    For more information on home buying, please visit the CMHC website: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/buho/