SURREY, BC – The demand for Fraser Valley real estate is the strongest it's been since the spring of 2018.


The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,592 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in October, a 18.5 per cent increase compared to sales in September 2019, and a 37.8 per cent increase compared to the 1,155 sales in October of last year.


Darin Germyn, President of the Board, says, "Our market started to pick up in the summer and we've been steadily improving since. It's rare to see October home sales in the Fraser Valley outpace April and that's what we've seen this year; our typical spring and fall markets have flipped.


"Consumers are feeling more confident. Buyers have grown accustomed to the government's regulation changes. Interest rates have thankfully remained stable and we're likely seeing some pent-up demand from buyers who were holding off earlier this year. October's beautiful, sunny weather didn't hurt either."


Germyn adds, "We're still seeing some hesitation from sellers to list as they continue to watch for further price erosion, however, it's important to talk to your local market expert because prices in some areas have turned the corner and are starting to creep up again."

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SURREY, BC - For the third straight month, home sales in the Fraser Valley surpassed 2018 levels bringing the market back in line with long-term averages.


The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,343 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in September, a 3.5 per cent increase compared to sales in August 2019, and a 29.8 per cent increase compared to the 1,035 sales in September of last year.


Darin Germyn, President of the Board, says, "The market's return to balance is good news for both buyers and sellers, however it's important to put the 30 per cent year-over-year increase in sales into context. September's sales went from amongst the worst in 10 years to just above our 10-year average."


"Home prices are still dropping compared to a year ago, but on a month-to-month basis, prices are moderating because supply is shrinking. Our incoming supply of new listings has dropped consistently for the last four months pushing our total inventory in the Fraser Valley to the lowest it's been since April, which has had an impact on prices."



There were 7,946 active listings available in the Fraser Valley at the end of September, an increase of 3.9 per cent compared to September of last year and a decrease of 1.2 per cent compared to August 2019. The Board received 2,769 new listings in September, a 17.5 per cent increase compared to August 2019's intake of 2,357 new listings and a 6 per cent decrease compared to September of last year.


Germyn adds, "Financing is still a challenge for many clients, but fortunately in a balanced market like this, REALTORS® have the time to work with clients and advise them of the best strategies for them, whether they are buying or selling."


MLS® HPI Benchmark Price Activity

  • Single Family Detached: At $950,000, the Benchmark price for a single-family detached home in the Fraser Valley decreased 0.4 per cent compared to August 2019 and decreased 3.9 per cent compared to September 2018.
  • Townhomes: At $520,000 the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley in the Fraser Valley decreased 0.3 per cent compared to August 2019 and decreased 4.8 per cent compared to September 2018.
  • Apartments: At $405,500, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley decreased 0.9 per cent compared to August 2019 and decreased 7.6 per cent compared to September 2018.


For the Fraser Valley region, the average number of days to sell an apartment in September was 41, and 37 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 46 days before selling.



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Only wrap your palms before the cold weather begins (in Vancouver this is usually the middle of November) and remove it just before the weather warms up (in Vancouver this would be February). If one leaves the wrapping on too long you risk rotting the plants in the warmer weather of spring.


Step by step instructions from Cedar Rim Nursery here..


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Hi folks! Click on the image below to see a "live" interactive graph of real estate prices for the last 36 months right up to July 2019. Move your cursor over the timeline and see the values pop right up for you! 



This graph displays detached "resale" home prices in Langley 1100-1999 sq ft.

 
*Sales activity picked up last month, momentum is building and this is not a bad time to sell. Especially if you just need to downsize or upsize!
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One more time for CONDO's! You know what to do - click on the image and run your cursor over the live interactive graph to see values each month along the timeline. Let us know what other information you would like to see at DANMACHOMES!


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It’s not unusual to find you owe some money to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) after filing your personal tax returns. Especially if you have neglected doing them for a few years. And like any other unexpected expense, you need to tighten your belt buckle, work even harder and try to find ways to eliminate the debt before you run up lots of interest charges and late payment penalties.

You may find other immediate obligations are more pressing, so if you’re not able to settle the tax debt right away, it is best to stay in touch with CRA and let them know your plan to reduce and eliminate the debt. They do have some flexibility. (This is a good way to manage all debt, not just tax debt.)

Occasionally we encounter homeowners whose tax debt is so large it cannot be readily paid through the normal course of life. The end result is a debt that can’t be negotiated away, with a creditor you can’t afford to ignore.

In recent months, we have dealt with several homeowners who found themselves in this predicament. In these instances, the smallest CRA debt was $40,700 and the largest more than $200,000. In each case, the debtor also owed money elsewhere – and had significant credit card balances and other unsecured debt. The size of the problem was way beyond the norm.

This seems to happen more often to small business owners and self-employed individuals. Regular folks are not immune though; we recently met a family with an unexpected $32,000 tax debt incurred as a result of selling an investment property and triggering a taxable capital gain.

You might think all these folks could just tap into their personal line of credit or take out a loan to pay this off, but these solutions were not available to them.

Fortunately, if you own a home and have decent equity, sometimes a creative mortgage financing solution can help clean things up, even if the amounts due are substantial, bank accounts have been garnished or even liens have been placed on your property.

Ways home equity can be used to pay very large CRA arrears

Keep in mind, when there is a large CRA debt, very few traditional lenders want to complete a mortgage refinance before the debt is remedied. In such a predicament, there are several ways home equity can be used to pay off CRA debt:

  1. If you already have a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), and there is sufficient room to pay the tax debt, this can make tons of sense. You basically just write a cheque and be done with it. The interest rate is probably around prime + 0.5%, and that might be as good as it gets in these situations. This will solve the immediate problem; then you need a plan to reduce your HELOC balance by saving aggressively and paying it down. Or, ultimately you may decide it makes sense to refinance and roll the HELOC balance into your mortgage.
  2. Borrow money from a family member or close friend, pay the debt, then consider refinancing your mortgage and repay your benefactor.
  3. Borrow money from a private second mortgage lender, pay the debt, then refinance down the road. The length of time you wait to refinance depends on the strength of the file, which lender currently holds your first mortgage and when that mortgage is set to mature. A few “B lenders” have second-position financing options, which may suit this approach.
  4. Refinance the first mortgage to a “B lender” (alternative lender). The new mortgage amount is ideally large enough to clear CRA completely, and cover all fees and other debts.
  5. When there’s insufficient equity to pay CRA in full, it may be time for a negotiated settlement. My own experiences along these lines involve trustees who will file a consumer proposal on behalf of the debtor. Others report they’ve had success with skilled tax accountants.

The right solution will depend on the circumstances of each situation. It’s also important to note there are circumstances where homeowners will not be good candidates for eventual traditional lending no matter how we solve the immediate problem. This often happens when:

  • Their income doesn’t meet the stress test qualification rules and they may need to work with alternative lenders allowing higher debt service ratios
  • They’re self-employed with income that’s difficult to verify by traditional methods
  • Their personal credit history has shut the door to traditional lenders (e.g., multiple insolvencies or recent late mortgage payments)

So, let’s examine the scenarios where each of these approaches is most appropriate.


Scenario 1. Homeowner’s finances and credit are in good shape. The only issue is a large CRA debt where no traditional lender wants to complete a mortgage refinance before the debt is remedied.

This lack of interest by traditional lenders is common when there’s a large CRA debt. CRA is a very powerful creditor which, in some instances, can take preference over all other creditors. This means we need to fix the CRA problem first, and then find the right loan to get the costs as low as possible.

The cheapest solution is to consider asking a family member or close friend if they’ll lend you the money for a short period of time (option 2 above). Funds may only be required for a month or two. If you go this route, your real estate lawyer should be involved to protect your benefactor’s interests. As soon as you can prove to an institutional lender that there’s no tax debt owing, it’s then possible to refinance the traditional way, and pay back your emergency loan hero.

Scenario 2. If you don’t have someone who can bail you out via a loan, then you would move to the second option, which is working with an experienced mortgage broker who can find a suitable lender willing to grant you a second mortgage. Ideally, that mortgage will be open without prepayment penalty. That’s hard to find with a private mortgage, so if the terms would not allow the loan to be open immediately, then having it open after a few months is also a good option. As with the first option, once you have proof of payment for CRA arrears, you should be in fine shape to refinance your primary mortgage with your current lender. That may save prepayment penalties too, depending on your lender.

Scenario 3.Not only is there CRA debt, but the credit history is weak, resulting in a low score. It will take time to bring the file back to traditional lender status. In this case, your best option is to refinance the mortgage with an alternative lender, or first secure a second mortgage for a year or two. Our goal in this scenario is to determine what kind of lender will take on your deal once the situation is fixed; and we will recommend the lowest cost and least painful overall approach.

Scenario 4. CRA tax arrears and other unsecured debt exceeds the amount of equity that can be extracted. Keep in mind, though, if the CRA has already placed a lien on your home, you are unlikely to be able to negotiate a discounted settlement with them.

In this scenario, the homeowners might work with a trustee to negotiate the terms of a consumer proposal. At that point, all unsecured debts, including the CRA debt, are packaged together, and most proposals agree to repay a certain amount of money (usually $x per month) to all creditors over the next five years. With no further interest costs and late payment penalties.

Once the proposal has been accepted by the creditors, it might be possible that a mortgage broker experienced in this sort of lending can arrange a second mortgage to complete a lump-sum payout of the consumer proposal, or even refinance directly to an alternative lender to pay the reduced debt amount

The takeaway

As you can see, when you own your own home there are many options to address the issue of large CRA tax arrears impacting your borrowing power. Obviously, some real estate markets lend themselves to this approach better than others – the more equity you have in your home, the more likely one of these solutions might work.

The key is to deal with the issue ASAP. This situation will not work itself out and CRA will not give up. Oftentimes indecision and paralysis make the situation worse than it ever needed to be.

During the process, it is best to stay in contact with your CRA case officer, and explain you are looking at different ways to raise capital to settle your debt. The process can be painful, but having the right experts on your side will make all the difference.

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Thanks to tighter mortgage qualification rules and higher-priced real estateparticularly in the greater Vancouver and Toronto areasit’s not always easy to qualify for a mortgage on your own merits.

You may very well have a great job, a decent income, a husky down payment and perfect credit, but that still may not be enough.

When a lender crunches the numbers, their calculations may indicate too much of your income is needed to service core homeownership expenses such as your mortgage payment, property taxes, heating and condo maintenance fees (if applicable).

In mortgage-speak, this means your debt service ratios are too high and you will need some extra help to qualify. But you do have options.

A co-signer can make all the difference

A mortgage co-signer can come in handy for many reasons, including when applicants have a soft or blemished credit history. But these days, it seems insufficient income supporting the mortgage application is the primary culprit.


We naturally tend to think of co-signers as parents. But there are also instances where children co-sign for their retired/unemployed parents. Siblings and spouses often help out too. It’s also possible for more than one person to co-sign a mortgage. A co-signer is likely to be approved when the lender is satisfied he/she will help lessen the risk associated with loan repayment.

Under the microscope

When you bring a co-signer into the picture, you are also taking their entire personal finances into consideration. It’s not just a simple matter of checking their credit.

Your mortgage lender is going to need a full application from them in order to grasp their financial picture, including information on all properties they own, any debts they are servicing and all of their own housing obligations. Your co-signer will go through the wringer much like you have.

What makes a strong co-signer?

The lender’s focus is mainly centred around a co-signer’s income coupled with a decent credit history. Some people think that if they have tons of equity in their home (high net worth) they will be great co-signers. But if they are primarily relying on CPP and OAS while living mortgage free, this is not going to help you qualify for a mortgage.


The best co-signer will offer strengths you currently lack when filling out a mortgage application on your own. For instance, if your income is preventing you from qualifying, find a co-signer with strong income. Or, if your issue is insufficient credit, bring a co-signer on board who has healthy credit.

Co-signer options

There are typically two different ways a co-signer can take shape:

  1. The co-signer becomes a co-borrower. This is like having a partner or spouse buy the home alongside a primary applicant. This involves adding the support of another person’s credit history and income to the application. The co-signer is placed on the title of the home and the lender considers this person equally responsible for the debt if the mortgage goes into default.
  2. The co-signer becomes a guarantor. In this scenario, he/she is backing the loan and vouching you’ll pay it back on time. The guarantor is responsible for the loan if it goes into default. Not many lenders process applications with guarantors, as they prefer all parties to share in the ownership. But some people want to avoid co-ownership for tax or estate planning purposes (more on this later).

Nine things to keep in mind as a co-signee

  1. It is a rare privilege to find someone who is willing to co-sign for you. Make sure you are deserving of their trust and support.
  2. It is NOT your responsibility to co-sign for anyone. Carefully think about the character and stability of the people asking for your help, and if there is any chance you may need your own financial flexibility down the road, think twice before possibly shooting yourself in the foot.
  3. Ask for copies of all paperwork and be sure you fully understand the terms before signing.
  4. If you co-sign or act as a guarantor, you are entrusting your personal credit history to the primary borrowers. Late payments hurt both of you, so I recommend you have full access to all mortgage and tax account information to spot signs of trouble the instant they occur.
  5. Understand your legal, tax and even your estate’s position when considering becoming a co-signer. You are taking on a potentially large obligation that could cripple you financially if the borrower(s) cannot payA prudent co-signer may insist the primary applicants have disability insurance protecting the mortgage payments in the event of an income disruption due to poor health. Some will also insist on life insurance.
  6. A prudent co-signer may insist the primary applicants have disability insurance protecting the mortgage payments in the event of an income disruption due to poor health. Some will also insist on life insurance.
  7. Try to understand upfront how many years the co-borrower agreement will be in place, and whether you can change things mid-term if the borrower becomes able to assume the original mortgage on their own.
  8. There can be implications with respect to your personal income taxes. You may accumulate an obligation to pay capital gains taxes down the road. This should be discussed this with your tax accountant.
  9. Co-signing impacts Land Transfer Tax Rebates for first-time homebuyers. The rebate amount is reduced based on the percentage of ownership attributed to the co-signer.

Tips from a real estate lawyer

We spoke with Gord Mohan, an Ontario real estate lawyer, for unique insights based on his 22 years of experience.

“The cleanest way to deal with these situations is for the third party (which is typically a parent) to guarantee the main applicant’s mortgage debt obligation,” Mohan says. “This does not require the guarantor to appear on the title to the property, and so it prevents most later complications.”

Following are five key suggestions from Mohan:

  • Co-signers should seek independent legal advice to ensure they fully understand their obligations and rights.
  • All parties should have updated wills to address their intentions upon death and give their executor clear direction with respect to their ownership.
  • Many co-signers try to minimize future tax impact by opting for 1% ownership and having a private agreement that the borrowers will indemnify them or make them full owners if there is a tax bite down the road.
  • Some co-signers try to avoid future tax consequences completely by having their real estate lawyer draw up a “bare trust agreement”, which spells out that the co-signer has zero beneficial interest in the property.A bare trust agreement can come in handy for the Land Transfer Tax (LTT) rebate, enabling the co-signer to apply for a refund from the Ministry of Finance – LTT bulletin.
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There's always lots to consider, particularly if you're a first-time home buyer. In addition to helping you find your dream home, your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the new stress test rules and requirements. 


Start by downloading a copy of the Homebuyers' Road Map—a guide covering virtually every aspect related to buying a home. Then, to get an idea of what you might be able to afford, our mortgage calculators includes interest rate risk in its parameters, assuring your estimates will pass the mortgage stress test.


Armed with a little know-how and backed by the support and expertise of your REALTOR®, you'll be on your way to holding the keys to your new home in no time!  

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Sure, you can afford your home now, but what if mortgage rates go up?


Low interest rates and mortgages have been a fact of life in Canada for some time now. At the time of publication, the 5-year average mortgage rate has hovered around 5% for nearly a decade. This is a far cry from late 1981 when mortgage rates were as much as 21%.

New mortgage rules

In 2017, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) took steps to help protect lenders and home buyers alike against future interest rate increases. Since January 1, 2018, new mortgages are subject to comparison with higher interest rates than the one issued at the time of the mortgage. Homeowners must be able to afford a mortgage at the Bank of Canada's current five-year average posted rate or at an interest rate that's 2% above what they're currently applying for, whichever rate is highest.

Why OFSI made the move

Perhaps motivated by the foreclosure crisis in the United States, the OSFI felt Canadian consumers needed protection from forces deemed outside of homeowners' control.

The effect of the stress test means you may not qualify for the home you desire. If you're targeting a home with a $700,000 mortgage, for example, you may only qualify for about $550,000 under the new stress test rules. This could make a big difference in your choice of neighbourhoods in certain markets. 


Working the stress test process

The new mortgage rules don't have to be a barrier, however. First, there are ways around the stress test standard, which only applies to federally–regulated lenders. Credit unions, which are regulated at the provincial level, are exempt from stress test provisions. The same is true for private lenders. Alternatively, adding a co-signer to your mortgage can increase your mortgage target, even with the stress test rule in place.

How REALTORS® help

There's always lots to consider, particularly if you're a first-time home buyer. In addition to helping you find your dream home, your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the new stress test rules and requirements.

Start by downloading a copy of the Homebuyers' Road Map—a guide covering virtually every aspect related to buying a home. Then, to get an idea of what you might be able to afford, our mortgage calculators includes interest rate risk in its parameters, assuring your estimates will pass the mortgage stress test.

Armed with a little know-how and backed by the support and expertise of your REALTOR®, you'll be on your way to holding the keys to your new home in no time!  


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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has weighed in on Canada’s housing market, saying it would be “ill-advised” to stimulate housing activity by easing the mortgage stress test.

In a report released by IMF staff this week following an official visit to Canada, the IMF noted the government has been under pressure to “ease macroprudential policy or introduce new initiatives” that would support increased housing activity.

“This would be ill-advised, as household debt remains high and a gradual slowdown in the housing market is desirable to reduce vulnerabilities,” the report reads.

Last week, Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer said he would eliminate the stress test on mortgage switches at renewal, and consider re-introducing 30-year amortizations for insured mortgages if his party is elected in October.

Research released last month by TD Economics estimated that the B-20 regulations (stress test) resulted in 40,000 fewer home sales in 2018. Similar research from Benjamin Tal, CIBC’s Deputy Chief Economist,  estimated the stress test is responsible for an 8% decline in new mortgages started in 2018, translating into a $15 billion drop in lending activity.

Meanwhile on Thursday, CMHC CEO Evan Siddall said the stress test is “doing what it is supposed to do,” he wrote in a letter dated to the Standing Committee on Finance.

“The mortgage stress test is exactly the kind of policy we need to protect our economy,” Siddall wrote, saying calls from industry groups such as Mortgage Professionals Canada, the Canadian Home Builders Association and the Ontario Real Estate Association to ease the stress test would add to housing demand and price inflation of 1-2% in the larger cities.

“My job is to advise you against this reckless myopia and protect our economy from potentially tragic consequences,” he said.

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Earlier this month, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz called on banks and other lenders to start pushing longer-term mortgages. Last week, HSBC responded by offering a record-low 10-year fixed rate of 2.99%.


That means the peace of mind of knowing mortgage payments won’t change for 10 years can be had for just a quarter-point premium above HSBC’s own 5-year fixed rate special.


In a recent post, RateSpy.com’s Rob McLister called HSBC’s 2.99% 10-year fixed rate offer “simply remarkable.”

But despite the competitive pricing for long-term rate stability, he cautioned that decade-long mortgages still aren’t for everyone, especially if 5-year fixed rates continue to fall.


While someone with a 10-year fixed rate could switch into a lower 5-year rate should rates drop, that would entail penalties—three months’ interest if the switch is made after the first five years of the 10-year mortgage, or a more onerous interest rate differential (IRD) penalty if the mortgage is broken in the first five years.


“That risk, and the small market-implied odds of meaningfully higher rates in five years, are largely why 5-year mortgages still have the edge over 10-year terms, for most people,” McLister wrote.


In a previous interview, Ratehub co-founder James Laird told Canadian Mortgage Trends that 10-year rates are most suited for those who are most risk-averse, as it allows them to set their budget over a longer horizon and reduces the risk of renewing into higher rates, given that renewals are more frequent with shorter mortgage terms.


“The 10-year fixed rate is an insurance policy, so if you’re really, really concerned about rates rising, and really want to take the risk out of your borrowing, it’s that type of consumer,” he said. But he noted that BoC Governor Poloz himself indicated that rates weren’t likely to make any major moves for an extended period of time. “That is not a good reason to go with a longer term. That’s justification for taking a variable rate or a short term.”

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Last week’s market reports from real estate boards including those in Vancouver and Toronto show that there is recovery underway with even the tough market conditions in Vancouver suggesting a bottoming-out.

This is unlikely to end calls for the mortgage stress tests to be altered or scrapped, says RBC Economics’ senior economist Robert Hogue, but it should “quiet down critics fearing a market collapse.”

In his latest assessment of the Canadian housing market, Hogue says the rebound for Toronto sales in May (resales up 19% year-over-year) says more about weakness a year ago than market momentum, with seasonally adjusted figures pointing to stabilization rather than a surge.

And ‘back-of-the-envelope’ calculations on the slowing of declining resales in Vancouver (-6.9% year-over-year in May compared to -30% in April) show that resales increased by more than 25% month-to-month in May on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

“This is the strongest sign yet that the market isn’t spiraling out of control. In fact, we believe it indicates that a bottom has been reached,” writes Hogue.

The report also notes several other Canadian housing markets as showing encouraging signs.

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MLS® data confirms that the ratio of sales of detached homes compared to strata has flipped in only five years.

Our infograph shows that in 2015, sales of single-family detached homes represented 60 per cent of Fraser Valley’s main residential market. The combined sales of townhomes and apartments picked up 40 per cent. In comparison to year-to-date sales for 2019, that ratio has now reversed. Combined sales of attached homes now garner 60.4 per cent of our market and detached, 39.6 per cent.  

Fraser Valley REALTORS® have been watching the shift towards multi-family housing units for many years now. A myriad of factors impact housing demand, from geography and land scarcity, to population growth and economic conditions. The geographical limitations of being fenced in by the North Shore Mountains, the Strait of Georgia, the border with the United States and the Agricultural Land Reserve in the Fraser Valley, have necessitated a shift in the housing stock toward higher density projects. 

The other main reason behind the shift is affordability. Since the introduction of the federal government’s mortgage stress test January of last year, the typical borrower now qualifies for about 18 to 20 per cent less than they used to.  Taking a typical detached home in the Fraser Valley as an example, instead of being able to afford a home that costs $964,600 (the benchmark price in April), they can now only afford a home that costs a little over $735,000. 

For buyers, the only option is to save more money or consider buying a smaller or less expensive home. The trend towards attached is here to stay. Given the rapidly growing population of the Fraser Valley, a push for increased density as land supply becomes even more constrained is anticipated. That means that attached housing will become an increasingly important part of the Fraser Valley market and we expect that its share of sales will continue to grow.

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A third of Canadian Millennials would rather live in the city than the ‘burbs but for two thirds of those, they are willing to sacrifice that wish to buy the home they want.


A new TD survey finds that 81% of Millennials say they want to own their own home but with affordability (78%) and home size (60%) beating neighbourhood (58%) as the top factors informing homebuying decisions, a move to the suburbs is the right choice for many.


"We're now seeing Millennials looking beyond the city for their housing needs, particularly as they start thinking about their needs for the future, like having more space to raise a family," said Pat Giles, Vice President, Real Estate Secured Lending at TD. "As a result, many are choosing the suburbs to either make the move to a new home or upsize from their current one, a shift from just a few years ago when city living was this generation's preference."


Affordability and space, both inside and outside, are the main reasons for relocation from the city to the suburbs but this may clash with the desire of 45% to live close to work.


CUTTING SPENDING TO BUY A HOME


Millennials are willing to curb their day-to-day spending to further their homeownership dreams.


Most said they would limit eating out, shopping, and entertainment, to be able to afford a home.


"Although homes in today's housing market cost much more than they used to, the desire to own the right home hasn't wavered, especially for Millennials," said Giles

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Mortgage lenders are less likely to approve same-sex couples according to a new study.


Iowa State University's Ivy College of Business studied US mortgage application data from 1990-2015 and found approval rates for same-sex couples were between 3% and 8% lower than for heterosexual couples.


When more detail about applicants' work history and credit worthiness was included in a subset study, same-sex couples were 73% less likely to be approved.


Even for those that were offered a mortgage, rates and fees were higher.


"Lenders can justify higher fees, if there is greater risk," said Lei Gao, assistant professor of finance. "We found nothing to indicate that's the case. In fact, our findings weakly suggest same-sex borrowers may perform better."


There is requirement for borrowers to disclose their sexual orientation on mortgage applications and the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity acts prohibit discrimination. For the study, same-sex couples were identified as co-applicants of the same gender.


"Policymakers need to guarantee same-sex couples have equal access to credit," said co-author Hua Sun. "Using our framework, credit monitoring agencies also can take steps to investigate unfair lending practices."

Steve Randall-CanadianRealEstateMagazine

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Your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system keeps your home breathing – consider it the lungs of your house. A strong, durable HVAC system keeps your home nice and healthy throughout the year. Homeowners play a big role when it comes to maintaining healthier homes, and it’s important to understand what’s in your mechanical room and how it’s affecting your indoor air.


The furnace (or utility) room is my favourite room in the house. It is the lifeline to your home and it often gets no attention. All the ductwork in your home is like the veins in your body. Cycling air throughout the house is the most important thing. If you unbalance the system, that will create a problem. 80% of all homes have poor indoor air quality. If you have spent your money correctly and invested in a house built by a good builder, you are protecting the health of your family. So what’s in your furnace room..


Heat Recovery Ventilator


A healthy home is one that has features that get rid of excess moisture. Although opening up windows is a good option for air exchange, that’s not practical during the winter. That’s why an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator) is just plain smart, and is part of the building code in most areas. It brings in air from outside, conditions it to the temperature inside the house and then feeds it throughout your home. That means a constant supply of fresh air. On top of that, an HRV is also wired to the furnace so it actually REMOVES stale air.


Some HRVs have a humidistat which should be installed in a central spot in the house. It’s usually set at around 35-40%. If the humidistat detects that there is too much moisture in the air, it starts up the HRV. How simple is that?


When it’s running well, your HRV can recover up to 80 per cent of the heat from the outgoing stream — which can go a long way to reducing your ventilation and space-heating costs. Now that’s smart.


Your Furnace Is The Heart Of Your Home


Think of your furnace as the beating heart of your home. Ducts are the blood vessels that carry heat to all parts of your home, and return cold air back to the furnace to be reheated. It’s important that you don’t restrict the airflow from your furnace through your home. A clogged furnace filter, furniture blocking cold air returns and heat registers will all help do that. A lot of people think that filters were created to help clean your air, but they were actually made to protect your furnace.


NOTE: A clean furnace filter will let your furnace work more efficiently, and work to protect the unit against circulating dust. If your filter is clogged, that means your furnace fan has to work overtime to pull in air through the filter. You’ll be making your furnace work overtime to compensate – and that means more energy output every month causing wear and tear on the unit more quickly, and a higher energy bill at the end of the month.


Managing Moisture In The Air with an ERV


ERVs manage the moisture in the air that’s being pulled into your home. Some builders install an ERV instead of an HRV. In the winter, your ERV will transfer humidity from the air being extracted from your house, keeping your humidity levels relatively stable. During the hot summer months, the opposite happens, where moisture is pulled out from the incoming air — which reduces the work your air conditioner and dehumidifier have to do to keep things even.


I love ERVs for Canadian winters, when the air coming into your house is dry. In extreme climates like ours, an ERV can take some of the load off your HVAC system.


Maintenance Tip: Pay attention to your HVAC filters. I change mine every three months – but during the summer and winter months (when our systems tend to work harder), I change them monthly. A clean filter really does make a difference in how well your unit works. That means money saved on your monthly energy bills.


By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Home Safety & Maintenance

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The Internet of things, or IoT, is all about connecting smart devices for people’s comfort, convenience and efficiency. What began a few years ago as mostly a technical phenomenon is today a social trend: connected devices change the way we behave, live, interact and think of our privacy and safety.


IoT is here to stay. The research firm Gartner says that 2019 is the year in which IoT adoption becomes mainstream, with practically most devices and gadgets becoming connected.


For example, the number of wearable devices will increase 25.8% to 225 million in 2019.


Global shipments of wearable devices are forecast to increase by 25.8% year over year to $225 million (GBP 176.3 million) in 2019, according to the latest figures from Gartner. The research firm also predicted that that the end-user spending on wearable devices will reach to $42 billion (GBP 32.9 million) in 2019.


As for smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, they will be the fastest rising category, with a five-year CAGR of 39.1%.


IoT includes all connected devices from smart cars, kitchen appliances, surveillance cameras, locks and doorbells, light bulbs, heat sensors to smart toys and baby monitors.


Gartner predicts the number of connected devices will exceed 50 billion by 2020.


What could these numbers (and IoT statistics) mean for you?


The bigger the smart home market gets, the greater the chance that smart gadgets get into your home, one by one. You start living in a smart home without even thinking of it that way. But, as long as you have devices that ”talk” to you or each other, that connect to your wifi and have an app to control them, you are there.  New sensors, new algorithms and new experiences will make your life more connected, more productive and more comfortable.

Even if your devices are smarter, it’s still your job to make sure they’re safe.


2018 was the year in which people started to pay attention to “data protection” and privacy.  Beyond the legal concerns, people want their privacy to be respected, and they started to push for a change in businesses approach of using their data. Although this problem is far from being solved, people are at least aware of it.


Why would anyone hack your family?


Another challenge that IoT brings for this year is safety. Connecting your devices to the internet creates a gateway into your home and family. Like a real door, it can be used by people who want to force their way in – and many of the smart devices available aren’t even protected by security software and thus are vulnerable to hackers.


They want to take control of your devices to steal your money, use your identity, spy on you or use the processing power of your fancy smart appliance to take down web targets.


You may have read news about IoT devices being infected and exploited, but never thought it could happen to you.


What you can do to secure your smart home

  1. Buy IoT devices only from reputable manufacturers and vendors.
  2. Choose devices with built-in security.
  3. Change the default login and password.
  4. Check for security software updates.
  5. Keep an eye out for sudden spikes in internet traffic or slowdowns in devices — they may be signs of trouble.
  6. Get a security solution for your entire home network to safeguard all the smart devices that share your wifi connection.
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