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Tips To Safeguard Your Property

Securing your home and property from break-ins is vital to protecting both your family and your investment while feeling safe every day. Luckily, there are proven ways to ensure your property is protected that won’t cost a bundle.

Common Sense

Using common sense will go a long way towards keeping your property safe from thieves. For instance, always keep valuables out of sight and in a safe space. You can install a safe for valuables, but make sure it is bolted to the floor so thieves don’t try to run off with it.

If you can, keep valuables in a safety deposit box at your bank, where you know they’ll be safe. Avoid keeping valuables in any bedroom or bathroom as thieves usually head there first.

Doors & Windows 

Unless they are really enterprising, you shouldn’t worry about thieves digging a tunnel under your home in order to enter through the floor. Odds are, burglars will use the door or windows to try and enter. Using steel doors (as opposed to wood) as well as deadbolt locks can go a long way in frustrating a thief’s attempt at getting inside your home. These types of doors and locks can easily be found at any large hardware store.

If you have any sliding doors and windows, make sure they aren’t compromised by wear and tear. If they are, you may have to replace them. Also, add an extra layer of security by placing a long piece of wood or metal in the track of sliding doors and windows in order to prevent them from being opened.

Tech To Keep Your Property Safe

Luckily, there are technologies available to keep your property safe. An alarm system is arguably the best way to keep your property protected. Alarm systems work because they scare thieves stiff. Often, a sign from a well-known alarm company will be enough to keep burglars away from your property.

Another tech option is a smart doorbell. This tool allows you to see who is at your door without actually opening it, either on an accompanying screen or on your smartphone. Many smart doorbells offer two-way communication, allowing you to give the impression you are home, even if you aren’t.

If you want a cheaper option, many apps such as Presence and Alfred allow you to repurpose old phones and tablets as part of your home security system.

Protecting your home is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make. If you are looking to start the process of finding a home, contact us to discuss your options. We have everything you need to secure a mortgage and find the home of your dreams!

 

 

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How To Successfully Upgrade Your Property

Living in a small space, whether an apartment or starter house, forces you into being efficient. When you move into bigger digs, it might be tempting to throw old habits to the wind and indulge all your square-footage related fantasies. But before you surrender yourself to the euphoria of owning a bigger home, read these three tips to prevent any future splurge-related regrets.

Keep Your Credit Card Safely Holstered

If you aren’t careful, your credit card can turn into a weapon of mass destruction…to your finances. Just because you’ve got a shiny and bigger space to call home doesn’t mean you need to fill it to the brim with new stuff right away. After all, you have mortgage payments due every month, and those take precedence over that sumptuous L-shaped couch you’ve been pining for.

Instead, create a budget and take stock of what you need, such as replacing a broken fridge, buying a new bed or investing in a sensible kitchen table. After all, your house is an investment, so take your time and spend wisely in turning it into the home of your dreams.

One Room at a Time

Time and physics dictate that we humans must live one day at a time—we can’t fast forward through the winter just because we hate the cold, right? On that note, take it one room at a time when you are moving into a bigger house. If you can’t resist the urge to redecorate, attack the most-used spaces like the kitchen and bathroom.

Redecorating an entire home can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t used to the space. If you are planning on having kids, keep that in mind as you decide which rooms to focus on and which ones can be saved for extra space (or people). So, head to a wallet-friendly store such as Ikea to find good looking solutions that won’t break the bank.

Becoming DIY Experts

While moving into a bigger space is exciting, be aware that having a bigger house can lead to more problems. If you are used to renting, you won’t be able to call your landlord to fix any minor problem. Being handy can go a long way in maintaining your new home as well as keeping potential repair costs down.

If you are planning on upgrading and moving into a bigger home, Oppono’s mortgage specialists will help you find—and afford—the one of your dreams!

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House or Condo: Which is a Better Investment?

Purchasing either a house or a condominium is a big investment. Despite the Greater Toronto Area’s (GTA) recent run of high housing prices, a house is the safer investment than a condo with respect to resale and property value.

Here are a few reasons why buyers should prioritize making an offer on a house over a condo.

Why A House is Better

Historically, a house appreciates more in value than the average condo. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the value of the average house has increased roughly five percent each year since the 1970s. While the market will always fluctuate, the fact that returns on houses have been relatively consistent over time prove their worthiness as sound investments.

If being a landlord is your thing then houses tend to carry more value as income properties. Ideally, you charge enough rent to cover your mortgage in addition to a possible profit. This also allows you to hang onto a retirement asset while you upgrade your living conditions.

While prices for detached homes in Toronto remain high, the difference compared to one bedroom condos is shrinking. Tighter mortgage rules, higher interest rates and foreign buyers taxes have cooled what was an overheated housing market by 10%. At the same time, condo prices rose 14%.

The GTA Condo Boom Continues 

As Toronto grows, demand for housing has kept pace. This demand, combined with the inability of many buyers to purchase a detached home, has contributed to developers churning out more condo units. The condo market has been far less impacted by policies designed to cool housing prices, which has allowed prices to rise.

Why Buyers Should Keep Looking for a House

There is still hope if you are looking to buy a house. First, as mentioned above, tighter lending rules have somewhat stabilized prices. Second, in 2018, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled in favour of publicly listing sale prices in Toronto. Now, realtors must list the selling history of a property. Consumers will be able to see when and for how much a home was sold, and how often it has been on the market.

One result from this ruling has been the decline in bidding wars. Before the ruling, realtors would often list a home under its assessed value, fueling a bidding war that resulted in a final sale price far higher than the listed price. Now, buyers will have crucial information to make a sound financial decision, making them far less likely to overbid for a house.

If you are looking to buy a home in the GTA and need a mortgage, Oppono provides timely funding without the hassle of dealing with traditional lenders. Get in touch today!

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Facts About Property Tax

While being a homeowner will bring you many joys, it will also come with some costs, including an annual property tax bill from the Government. Here are a few quick facts about paying property tax in the Greater Toronto Area.

Property Tax – What it is and How it is Calculated

Property tax is a fee paid by the homeowner, based on the assessed value of the property, to a governing municipality. In the City of Toronto in 2018, homeowners paid a total property tax of 0.64% to the city, based on the value of their home. So, for example, say your home is assessed at having a value of $500,000. You would multiply this amount by the property tax rate, 0.64%, which equals $3200. That would be the amount of property tax you’d pay in a year.

The Purpose of Property Tax 

Your property taxes are used to fund a variety of services. In Toronto, the lion’s share of property tax revenue goes toward funding the police, Toronto Transit Commission and other emergency services. The tax also funds services such as forestry and recreation, community housing and shelters, as well as servicing the city’s debt.

Property Taxes on Detached Homes and Condos

Not surprisingly, you’ll pay more in property tax for a detached home than semi-detached or a condo unit. If you are a renter, you could still be affected by a property tax hike. True, the renter wouldn’t pay the tax themselves, but the landlord may increase rent to account for any boost in a municipality’s property tax rate.

GTA’s Highest and Lowest Property Tax Rates

It may be a surprise to learn that the City of Toronto has one of the lowest property tax rates in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). According to Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, homeowners in the City of Toronto pay the sixth lowest property tax rate in the GTHA. If you own property in the municipalities of New Tecumseth or Milton, you’ll pay the lowest rate in the region. However, if you own a home in King City or Oakville, you’ll have to bite the bullet—those two municipalities are home to the GTA’s highest property tax rates.

If you are thinking about buying a home, the location will have an impact on the amount of property tax you’ll have to pay. If you want to start house hunting, get in touch with Oppono to get all the information you need about getting a mortgage!

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The Psychology of Housing Market Trends

Psychology is a driving force of any housing market. It can influence bidding wars or convince sellers to only accept offers well over asking. Many even believe that psychology is responsible for people staying in the rental market despite having the means to buy a property. Whatever role it plays, psychology is a pervasive force whose role is often forgotten.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at how psychology drives the Greater Toronto Area housing market.

Ontario’s Fair Housing Strategy

The Provincial Government implemented the Fair Housing strategy to tackle housing affordability, including a 15% tax on foreign buyers. Many believe that the presence of this strategy, not the actual policy changes, led to a market dip in the later part of 2017 and early 2018.

This slowdown was caused in part by new homeowners experiencing stricter legislature for the first time. Additionally, these policies will most likely have positive long-term effects but their presence can shift current behaviours.

Market Tendencies

Outside of a few instances in Canadian history, markets rarely crash. The belief that a market is going to crash is largely influenced by psychology, or more specifically, fear of impending doom.

Markets have tendencies. They dip and rise and most often do the same thing at the same time every year or because of the same factors. Unfortunately, it is common for buyers and sellers to take a small amount of knowledge and create a “sky is falling” scenario.

Psychology can be boiled down to risk tolerance and that will determine how you view the housing market.

Fragile Psychology 

Fear of buying a property in the GTA is exacerbated by social and traditional media. It only takes one story about a crazy bidding war or a house being on the market for too long to make people think a certain thing.

We’re all scared of losing money on an investment or losing our home because of a rate hike. A fragile psychology is something you will need to overcome so you can invest in an asset that can set you up for a healthy and stable retirement.

The housing market will always be volatile but it will continue to yield returns for those who take the leap.

Looking to Buy?

Markets are gaining momentum making 2019 a great time to buy or move. Contact us to discuss your mortgage options and we can even provide insight into current trends.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Selling your First Home

Selling your first home is exciting but a potential landmine of mistakes. Mistakes that can cost you dearly. From choosing the right time to sell to make sure your home is ready to go, there is a lot you need to consider and do before your listing can go live.

Having a real estate agent guide you through the process is valuable but knowledge can mitigate any surprises.

Here is a beginner’s guide for people looking to sell their first home this year.

Is your Home Ready to Sell?

Trying to sell your home before it’s ready is a big mistake. Selling too early doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t find a buyer, it means you could be undermining your profit.

To maximize a return, you’ll want to make sure you do the following:

  • Make all repairs
  • Remove all clutter
  • Stage the entire home, focusing on the kitchen and living room.
  • Make sure key components—furnace, roof, plumbing—are in working order.
  • Invest in front and backyard landscaping because curb appeal is buy appeal.

The more effort you put into your home, the more likely you are to receive better offers or multiple offers.

Sell at the Right Time

It’s probably not a good idea to list your property in the middle of December. Most people are preoccupied with the holidays or simply do not want to traverse the frigid weather to attend open houses.

As the winter thaws, the market tends to heat up. Spring is the best season to list. Properties show better in warm weather and the summer is the most popular time to move as parents don’t want to disrupt their kids’ school year, which begins in September. 

By making springtime your goal to list, it gives you the entire winter to get your home up to par and in the best shape to wow potential buyers.

Sell First and Buy Second

Selling first is a good idea because it removes some of the anxiety that comes with essentially owning two properties. By buying first, you place a deadline on selling your home, which could be stress-inducing and pressure you to take an offer even if it’s not the best.

Buying first could conceivably come with its own stresses but it’s a more ideal situation. By selling first, you also have some control over the closing date and can plan accordingly.

Looking to Sell your Home

Before you buy or sell a home, you need to get approved for a mortgage. Contact us to discuss your mortgage options and we’d be happy to answer any questions.

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Is it a Good Time to Buy?

People who have been saving and looking to buy a property in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) must weigh the pros and cons of when to start the process. Buying property in the GTA has historically been a healthy investment. In 2019, it means figuring out if the time is right based on the market and your financial situation.

Let’s review why 2019 is a good time to buy and why the first two quarters could make the most sense.

Price Growth

It seems that the average price of a home has dropped in the GTA since the start of the year. This means that buyers could find savings, avoid bidding wars or can consider certain properties that were once off-limits due to price.

This is most likely the result of the Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan and interest rate hikes. Keep in mind, with a new PC Government in power, things are bound to change so if you’re looking to buy in 2019, sooner might be better.

Demand Over Supply

GTA has been experiencing a supply issue over the last year. This has been most noticeable in midtown and downtown Toronto. The situation might not improve in the next year or two so it makes sense to start shopping. If you find a place you like, then there is little sense in waiting to make an offer.

Less inventory means less options and with the insanity of the rental market still impacting GTA residents, you should jump at the chance to enter the market.

Your Financial Situation

The biggest factor in buying a home in the GTA this year is your own financial situation. Whenever you buy you want to make sure you can afford all the upfront costs and then comfortably carry a mortgage.

Do you have the following?

  • A steady income that can carry a mortgage plus any household maintenance fees.
  • A down payment of at least 10%
  • Closing fees (roughly $5,000)

If so, then you should consider buying a home. Your own financial situation should always trump a housing market that will always be susceptible to outside influence.

Even in a seller’s market, there is value to be found.

Looking for Mortgage Pre-approval

If you’re ready to buy, then contact us to start your mortgage pre-approval process. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have and help you take your first step toward becoming a homeowner.

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How to Gauge a Neighbourhood’s Appeal

When you buy a home, you are also buying a neighborhood, the place where you will spend most your social time and where your children will attend school. Before making an offer on a property, you need to check out the neighbourhood and figure out if it’s right for your lifestyle.

Let’s review the best ways you can measure a neighbourhood’s appeal to determine if it’s the right place for you to call home.

Create a Checklist

First thing is to make a list of the things that matter to you. Some are mostly concerned with commute to work where others want the vibe brought forth by local restaurants and bars.

Here are some items for your checklist but be sure to customize it based on what you want from a neighbourhood. This list includes features that people with children should consider.

  • Quality and quantity of schools, including daycares
  • Social or family programs, including recreational sport leagues, music classes, art classes, libraries, after school programs, etc.
  • Walk Score, which measures the walkability of a neighbourhood. This means can residents walk to do their errands and do walking routes exist to local amenities.
  • Public transportation, including access to the subway, streetcars and buses.
  • Nightlife, which includes cinemas, theatres, bars, cafés and restaurants.
  • Green space, including parks, parkettes, dog parks or even hiking trails.

Adjust this list to what you are seeking in a neighbourhood. If you can cross off the majority than a neighbourhood might be a good fit for your life.

Online Research

The internet is rife with information specific to neighbourhoods. Yelp can give you an idea of the local restaurant scene. Greatschools can help you understand the quality of local schools. Dwellr uses Census Burea Dara to provide statistics on community.

Be sure to leverage the information provided by their online resources to get a better idea of a neighbourhood on your list. 

Speak to the Locals

The best way to measure a neighbourhood’s livability is to visit it. Spend time in the popular spots and visit the schools to speak with the administrators.

It’s wise to strike up conversations with the local to get a more personal and honest view of what it’s like to live in the area. You can strike up conversations with people in the coffee shops or restaurants but we would also recommend speaking with the people who work in the area—postal workers, bartenders, store owners, to name a few.

Keep an Eye Out for Red Flags

When neighbourhood shopping, here are a few red flags to be aware of:

  • Lack of new developments. This can be proof that the neighbourhood is not experiencing growth.
  • Low housing prices. Make sure you look at regional data to see how homes in the area are selling.
  • General friendliness. This one is more subjective but try to gauge whether the residents are friendly and what the experience is like patronizing some of the establishments. This can ultimately be very telling.

Happy Home Hunting!

Searching for your next home is a daunting task but understanding what to expect from a neighbourhood can simplify the decision-making process. It will also ensure you aren’t surprised by something local after moving in.

Reach out to us if you are ready to discuss your mortgage options. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Down-Payment

Where to Invest your Money if Saving for a Down Payment

A down payment is typically between 10-20% of the purchase price. Of course, the more you can pay upfront the better, but most buyers in the GTA aim for at least 10%. To reach your down payment goal quickly, here are some options with respect to investing your money.

Remember, this is for people who are comfortable with investing, have the knowledge to successfully navigate the world, or have someone they trust—like a broker—to guide them. It is not recommended to ever risk your money to grow it.

Where can you invest your money to build a down payment to get the mortgage you want?

High-Interest Savings Account

High-Interest savings account from any of the popular institutions is one of the better and more common places for people to grow their down payment. Granted, it stretches the definition of the word, “investment”, but your money can grow and be secure.

Most banks allow you to set up automatic deposits, making savings easier.

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)

A GIC offers a guaranteed safe return so there is no risk involved. You know the return will be limited but if you are only looking to raise the last little bit of your down payment then a GIC could make sense.

There’s another downside besides the low return. If you pull your money too early you could be forced to pay a fine.

RRSP

This is the one that first-time homebuyers should consider.

RRSPs is usually viewed as part of a retirement savings plan. While your money won’t necessarily grow, it can help you in other ways. Canadian residents who are buying a property for the first time can take advantage of the Home Buyers’ Plan, which allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 from a RRSP tax-free. If there are two people who are buying the home, then each can use the plan to withdraw up to $50,000.

Remember, you must repay the withdrawn amount within 15 years.

Saving is never easy. Even if the property is fairly priced, a down payment will be a lot of money. You need to be prudent and save diligently.

Contact us to discuss your down payment or to start the pre-approval process.

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The Technological Disruption to Real Estate

From listing apps to contract platforms, technology has changed the face of real estate and will continue to evolve every aspect of how people buy and sell properties. Technology streamlines a complicated process and every real estate agent and lender should be taking advantage.

Let’s review some of the most exciting web and mobile applications that buyers and sellers should consider adopting to maximize efficiency, drive the value of their property or to even help them negotiate a sale.

DocuSign

This app has over 200 million users and allows users to sign documents from any device. It has replaced cumbersome old methods like faxing and doesn’t require a courier or postal office. It’s secure and easy to use and automatically sends fully executed documents to all parties.

Your realtor should be using DocuSign to secure your signature on key documents. It will speed up the purchase process.

Magic Plan 

This app is a bit more niche but it allows people to turn photos into floorplans by marking the corners. Once you have a floorplan, you can edit and decorate and start to see how you can make the property more valuable or how you can add your own personal touches.

The app creates 3D views and users can export their floorplans. This is a great tool for real estate agents to use with their clients.

Canadian Mortgage App

The Canadian Mortgage app is a well-built and simple mortgage calculator that uses industry qualifies and the 2018 stress test. Its algorithm includes land transfer taxes and rebates. We recommend speaking with a lender to get pre-approved as no app can replace the opportunity to ask your questions to an expert in the mortgage field.

For those looking to learn more about mortgages or to get an idea of what they can afford, this app is useful.

BiggerPockets 

BiggerPockets is an online resource that educates people on everything real estate. Users can find out about specific markets and gain access to analytical tools. You can also get connected to agents and vendors.

This is an education website for people who want to learn more and have the comfort of knowing what they are getting into.

Get Pre-Approved Today!

Online resources and apps are useful but they work best when you partner with an agent and lender. Contact us today to start the pre-approval process and we would be happy to answer all your questions.