Martin with the new addition to the Elder home, Mila.
House pets are a welcome comfort in the home. I love dogs but for practical reasons, cats have been my chosen companions for years.
As a child I remember going to the corner store to buy Black Cat cigarettes for my Dad! You can’t do that today! Black cats have since been my favourite.
House pets rely on us, their caretakers, for their wellbeing. When selling a home, extra care should be taken to prepare them, and the house, for the special Buyer who walks through the front door. Take steps to prepare your house pets, especially cats, for the change in routine. Cats have feelings, too!
Canadian mortgage rates have dropped
for the first time since the Canadian government implemented new stress rules
on mortgages, allowing potential homebuyers to qualify for bigger mortgages
The stress test was introduced in
January 2018, becoming the financial bar in which any Canadian wanting to
obtain a mortgage must pass before getting approval. Irrespective of whatever
deal a lender may have offered, before regulators can approve a loan, the borrower’s
finances must be tested as though their mortgage was at a high rate.
The whole idea of the stress test is
to save borrowers from incurring more debt than they can afford and ensure they
have the financial capability to thrive in the instance where the rates
The stress-test level is placed at
either two percentage points above the actual mortgage rate or as calculated by
the Bank of Canada, whatever the average five-year posted rate is at Canada’s
big banks. The highest of either one is then selected as the benchmark.
Since May 2018, the bank rate hasn’t
changed after rising to 5.34 per cent. But in July, it decreased for the first
time in almost three years to 5.19 per cent.
The effect of slightly lowering of
the bar allows people qualify for a bigger mortgage than they could before,
even if there are no significant changes in their finances. The move by Bank of
Canada to lower the qualification rate, gives prospective homebuyers slightly
more purchasing power, allowing them to bid for slightly more expensive homes
than the previous rate allowed.
Nonetheless, there are Toronto certified mortgage brokers whose aim is to make it
easier for you to make these important decisions by helping you understand the
various options available to you—and their respective advantages.
The move isn’t exactly a huge one as
according to calculation from rate comparison website Ratehub.ca, the typical
borrower can now afford about 1.4 per cent more home than before.Under the
previous test level, if a borrower had an initial payment of at least 20 per
cent and earned $100,000 annuallywith no other existing debts, they would
qualify for a home valued at $589,000. Today, that borrower can now afford a
house worth $597,000.
The new reduction doesn’t make
mortgages any easier to pay off, it just allows borrowers to theoretically
afford a slightly more expensive home than they would have previously been able
Although the new five-year benchmark
rate spells good news for some prospective homebuyers, in reality, it hasn’t
really affected the system, noted Samantha Brookes, CEO of broker Mortgages of
“It allows someone purchasing to buy
a little bit more but it’s not that significant,” she told CBC. “Consumers are in this
wait-and-see pattern — it’s still difficult to get into the market because that
stress test is there.”
While the little room afforded to
homebuyers may make home sales look a little better on paper, but the real
impact may just be in our imaginations, says Nick Kyprianou, president of
RiverRock Mortgage Investment Corporation, a Toronto-based alternative mortgage
Kyprianou’s business has been made
busier by the new stress-test level, as borrows began to ignore traditional
lenders and move towards alternative lenders. “But it was a reasonable thing to
do,” he says. “As a homeowner and a citizen it wasn’t the wrong decision —
things were irrational.”
The stress testing level moving
almost unnoticeably lower is likely to help instil more confidence in the
market, as not only is testing level lower but actual mortgage rates are dropping
Fixed mortgage rates are priced based
on happenings in the bond market, which has been suggesting for months that lower
mortgage rates are expected.
With the U.S. central bank planning
to cut its benchmark interest rate soon, the Bank of Canada would not be immune
to the global forces that may drop the rates down even further.
“This is a psychological game. If
people feel confident, they’ll get back in the market,” said Kyprianou, who
noted that a reduction in rates in the real world would have a much bigger
impact than the little reduction in the stress test.
Collecting your keys soon? It’s time to start planning for your
renovation! Purchasing and putting together a home calls for wise
decisions to be made, especially so you don’t break the bank. Together
with BankBazaar, we bring you a list of tips and tricks to help you
balance your budget easily.
1. PLAN YOUR BUDGET (AND STICK TO IT)
Decide exactly what you need for your new home and list out the
cost of each purchase. With this budget in mind, stick to it as closely
as possible. However, there may be certain unforeseen circumstances
that may cause you to exceed your pre-planned budget due to. With that
in mind, be sure to give yourself an allowance of about 20 per cent on
top of that pre-planned budget so that you don’t end up with an
is the best teacher – read up on what people have done and learn from
their experiences. Read reviews on interior designers and look at their
portfolios. It is important to note that some interior designers are
more skilled in certain home types than others. Try to get at least 3
quotations for your ideal home. Compare them before deciding on a
3. PLAN YOUR PURCHASES
fairs attract a range of merchants selling products you might need,
which can be a great place to check out! Warehouse sales are also a
place to get furniture at a bargain. Compare prices across different
merchants before your eventual purchase.
If the purchases are not urgent, wait for discounts during occasions
like the Great Singapore Sale, National Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday
or Christmas. Keep on the lookout for cyber sales throughout the year
where retailers will have discounts that can save you some money.
For the true bargain hunters, head over to Johor Bahru to get lights
and furniture at a fraction of the cost. Tampoi Lighting Centre is
immensely popular among Singaporeans, and JC Bespoke is great for good
quality teak furniture.
4. DIFFERENTIATE YOUR NEEDS AND WANTS
the excitement of preparing for a new home, we tend to fail to consider
what we really need. Do you really need that S$800 bright red
professional mixer, or does it just look great on the kitchen counter?
Pro tip: Consider if your purchase will make your home a more
functional one. If not, you may want to wait till you’ve moved into your
home to really know. In that way, it may be wiser to leave some of the
nice-to-have purchases till after you’ve moved in.
assembling your own furniture instead of paying someone to do it for
you. Just imagine that sense of satisfaction after you’re done! Of
course, be discerning as to what you can do. As a general rule of thumb,
it might be wise to leave the specialised tasks, such as installation
of gas pipes, to trained professionals.
Furniture stores such as IKEA are good bets to get the furniture
needed at fairly reasonable prices. Check out Youtube’s home renovation
videos, Pinterest or ikeahackers.net for nifty DIY tips.
6. DRAW INSPIRATION FROM OTHERS
Internet is full of inspiration, from renovation saving tips to
creative, style tips! Of course, Qanvast has thousands of local home
ideas that’ll pique your interest – a real treasure trove of ideas on
personalizing your home!!
7. DECIDE ON A COST-SAVING THEME FOR YOUR HOME
design of your home plays a role in your renovation cost as well. A
home with a minimalist theme is likely to be cheaper to renovate than an
apartment that is intended to exude a sense of opulence. Having said
that, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style: after all,
simplicity is beauty.
8. DO AWAY WITH UNNECESSARY FRILLS
is important to focus on what is functional for your home. For example,
it might not be very practical to get carpets if you have young
children or pets at home. At the same time, wallpaper may not be the
best idea in Singapore’s tropical climate as it causes the wallpaper to
discolour and replacing wallpaper can be a little pricey as well.
9. REFURBISH OR REUSE WHEN POSSIBLE
you are moving into a second-hand home, consider what can be kept, such
as structural elements or pieces of furniture. Refurbish them if they
are still functional and in relatively good condition. If you have
current furniture, consider what can be reused and brought to your new
For first-time homeowners, it is important to note that while you may want to have custom carpentry throughout the house, you won’t be able to bring these pieces to your next house if you plan on moving again.
Tackling a renovation project can be
both rewarding and challenging. Unlike building a home from scratch,
you’re never starting with a clean slate. Renovations are often
complicated, as you need to correct the mistakes of the previous owners,
as well as to deal with unforeseen issues and costs. While being
prepared is essential, before you take on your own renovation, make sure
you’ve run through the rest of these tips.
Plan everything carefully
When you’re about to spend some
serious dollars, your better make a plan of what goes where before you
hit the ground. Failing to do so can result in unnecessary
post-reparations which cost even more. Don’t forget to establish a
timescale of renovations, to make sure any changes to the structure and
finish go before replacing fittings and fixtures, which in their turn go
before painting, window upgrades, and lighting.
You need a
budget sheet that outlines every detail of furniture, finishes, and
fittings. This is an essential part of any interior design project, as
it includes details such as door hardware, paint, lights, locations,
prices, the lead time, and other specific requirements. When you see how
your costs are spreading throughout the project, it’ll be easier for
you to foresee items that may lean heavily on the budget, and replace
them with cost-effective alternatives without compromising the result.
Choose materials wisely
Even the most contemporary
minimalistic spaces can be made much cosier with the right choice of
materials. While striking a balance between functionality and aesthetic
can be challenging, carpets in bedroom and natural stone in common rooms
can make a nice combination. While a lot of homeowners avoid natural
stone because they think it shows wear quickly, the latest sealants and
protective coats can make a stone floor impervious to normal wear and tear, as well as resistant to spills and dirt.
Customise storage to your needs
While seeing storage options on a home
improvement TV program is one thing, make the changes to match your
style of living is another. Kid’s wardrobes, for example, can fit more
shelves per unit, since their clothes are much smaller, while you should
design the kitchen storage that matches your appliances and utensils.
In both cases, built-in solutions offer the less cluttered look, with
great backdrops. You can even hide your cables by wiring the appliances
into custom-made cabinets.
Have someone evaluate your budget
For most people, coming up with a budget is like making a shopping list and adding a proverbial 20% margin. However, if you enlist licensed quantity surveyors
from the early start, they can get you more accurate estimates on every
aspect of the job, even saving you some money in the process. Have a
certified quantity surveyor inspect, assess, and record the value of
items you’re planning to dispense with. Things like old window
furnishes, floor coverings, and many other items have a residual value
that can be written off and claimed as a tax deduction. Such scrapping
costs can literally earn you some money, especially if the property
isn’t too old.
Design a floorplan with future in mind
While the final floor layout is as
much of a personal thing as anything else, keep in mind that every
change might affect the ventilation scheme, traffic flow, and lighting
fixtures. If you’ve decided to relocate doors or windows, make sure you
have enough wall space, as well as floor space to accommodate all your
furniture. Feng shui or not, it’s always better to have a clear path
through your rooms. If you’re not sure what to do with the floorplan
arrangement, take a walk through empty rooms and see what would be the
most natural way of moving from one to the next.
Give bathroom to the experts
While moving plumbing pipes and
fixtures is generally not recommended unless absolutely necessary, if
you decide to do it, bring along an interior designer to make sure your
plumber has the correct inputs. Keep in mind that re-routing even a single fixture
costs a lot, and once concrete slabs have been poured, plumbing and
wires laid in, going back and undoing mistakes isn’t easy at all. A
friendly renovator’s tip: make sure the toilet is away from view and
make the centerpiece, which is usually the vanity, the first thing a
visitor sees when stepping through the door.
Small details, big impact
After you’ve gone through heavy-duty
renovation phases, details like power points, switches, and fans might
seem insignificant. However, in order to prevent them from appearing all
of a sudden in the wrong spot, you need to work out their position, as
well. Make sure your new home layout isn’t missing on power points, and
try to keep as much of wiring hidden in the floors, walls, or ceiling as
possible – which is especially tricky in open-plan spaces.
No two home renovations turn out the same, however, you should still follow certain guidelines to avoid unnecessary work and retracing your steps.