Friday, December 20, 2013

See your home in a new light

(NC) They call it mood lighting for a reason. Whether it's a cozy and intimate den or a bright and functional work space, choosing the right location, wattage, and fixtures is one of the most important design decisions you can make. 

And with the news that incandescent light bulbs are being transitioned out across the country, now is the best time for a re-evaluation of your lighting needs. According to the experts at The Home Depot, the right lighting for every space is as easy as following these trusted tips. 

Setting the scene: Each room should have a mood that reflects its use. Direct or task lighting focuses on a workspace, like a countertop; and ambient or indirect lighting is used to create atmosphere, for example in a dining area. Remember to vary the brightness levels in different areas of a room to help prevent "lighting fatigue" which often occurs in shadow-less spaces, such as conference rooms.
The layering effect: Using a variety of light sources in a room creates a multitasking space – from under cabinet kitchen lights for prepping meals to pendant lights for homework and casual entertaining. Start with ambient light to evenly illuminate, then spotlight work areas with directional lighting. Accent and decorative lights, such as chandeliers and lamps, bring it all together.
Go for drama: Why not add a crystal chandelier to an ensuite bath or emphasize a wood-beam with focused accent lighting. Creating drama is all about up-lighting to focus attention on important elements like a fireplace, painting, or an architectural detail.
Multi-directional: Consider using directional lightingon countertops, kitchen islands, dressers and seating areas to add interest. Reduce shadows without creating the “office” effect by training recessed fixtures on the table and chandelier in the dining area, or down-lights directly over sinks and vanities.
Dimming for dollars: Dimmers are the quickest fix for setting the mood and won't break the bank. And as the days get shorter and we need more lights on, switching to high efficiency bulbs will help reduce the monthly bills. In fact, why not try out the latest in LED, CFL, or halogen technology? The lighting department at The Home Depot has a wide selection of bulbs including the options from manufacturers like Philips and Cree.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Expert tips for safe and stress-free Holiday travel

(NC)—As the cool weather sets in and the busy holiday season approaches, Canadians have travel on their minds. Before booking, a leading travel and service expert advises would-be adventurers to plan ahead in order to stay safe and stress free while vacationing at any time. 

Gerald Parent, the Director of Membership Travel at American Express Canada has seen first-hand the pain points that can quickly turn a travel dream into an unforgettable nightmare. In fact, last year alone, Amex helped solve 12,732 medical cases overseas. Some emergencies are unpredictable, but the most common causes of travel dilemmas come from those who are less prepared. 

“A vacation away is the highlight of the year for many people, but so often we are blinded by our own excitement, leaving us open to certain dangers and risks,” says Parent. “For a truly stress-free summer vacation, travelers need to do their research ahead of time.” 

Here are three tips for staying safe and stress free while away:

• Be prepared: Be it a weekend away or a month long sabbatical, proper preparation before you leave ensures that you get full enjoyment from your trip while away. Be sure to keep copies of your travel documents, hotel bookings and itinerary so details are always at hand.
• Get insurance: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Travel insurance is available to cover a variety of risk factors such as health and medical, cancellations, delays and accidents. The good news is that some credit card providers, like American Express Canada, offer free travel insurance if you book travel on your card.
• Treat yourself: Upgrading to a better hotel or paying a little extra for a business class flight can make your time away feel all the more special. You don't have to break the bank to experience increased luxury; check out some of the perks offered by your credit card company or frequent flyer program and you might get the V.I.P treatment for free.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to Dress Up Your Smile For THe New Year

More than half of Canadians rank a great smile as the top attraction when meeting new people. Here's how to make your smile a star.

(NC) The New Year is the time for goal setting, personal rejuvenation, and feeling your best. According to a study conducted by Philips Sonicare a great smile is the feature 53 per cent of Canadians find most attractive when they first meet someone. Beauty expert Janine Falcon shares a few tips on spotlighting yours that will help you sashay through the new year. 

• Winter-proof your lips to keep them smile-ready. Buff away dry patches with a washcloth dampened with hot water, then immediately apply a buttery, squeeze-tube lip balm rather than a waxy stick. An emollient formula such as Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 blankets even cracked lips with a soothing layer of conditioning protection.

• Keep teeth in top shape with a solid regimen that includes brushing twice-daily, flossing before bed, and an antiseptic mouthwash every day. Use a high-tech power toothbrush such as the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean, which is clinically proven to deliver whiter teeth in just one week. 

• For those of us who forget to floss on a regular basis, try the Sonicare AirFloss, which cleans between teeth with micro-bursts of air and water. You can do your whole mouth in 30 seconds. Get your mouthwash step in at the same time by substituting it for water in the reservoir.

 Women should wear bright lip colour with a blue undertone to make teeth look their whitest. Try long-wearing Make Up For Ever Aqua Rouge #8 Iconic Red, a universally-flattering shade.

• Stash a portable whitening pen in your purse for stealth smile brightening. The Philips Zoom Whitening Pen is ideal to quickly enhance your smile.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Consumer confidence nears year high as Canadians put faith in rising house prices

According to the Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index, Canada’s economic mood rebounded last week as consumers head into the holiday season buoyed by rising house prices.

The weekly sentiment measure increased to 59.3 in the period ended Dec. 6, up from 58.9 the week before. The index has climbed from 54.8 at the end of May and is approaching a one-year high of 59.8. The share of respondents who think real-estate prices will increase over the next six months rose to 40.3 from 40.0 the previous week, reaching the highest level since March 2012.

“Canadians are poised to finish 2013 with more buoyant consumer confidence which is more likely to be fuelled by increasingly positive views on the value of real estate,” said Nik Nanos, head of Ottawa-based Nanos Research Group. Even though policy makers take steps to cool growth, Canada’s housing market remains strong.

Read more by clicking here.....

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Don't let your Christmas tree lead to tragedy this season

(NC)— It's the Christmas holiday season, our most treasured time of the year. It's a time of celebration, joy and sharing time with family and friends. Unfortunately, this important time can also be one marked by tragedy if precautions are not taken against accidental fire. According to the Canadian Safety Council, every year about 400 Canadians lose their lives in an accidental household fire. In fact, it's during the holiday season that the number of deaths caused by accidental household fires is at its highest.
Patrice De Luca, vice president of marketing and business development for Reliance Protectron

Security Services, says the major culprit for this significant increase is the famed Christmas tree. “You need to take every possible precaution to minimize the risks of fire, especially if you choose a natural tree,” he added. “Fire is one of the greatest threats to your family and home. People do not realize the emotional toll a fire can take, even if there is no loss of life.”
Here are safety tips to consider from Protectron's free “Saving Lives Program”:
• If possible, consider an artificial tree. They are much safer and cleaner.
• Leave the tree outside until you're ready to decorate.
• The tree stand should hold at least 1 gallon of water. It's crucial to check the water level every day.
• Detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide should be installed at strategic locations – your kitchen, stairwell, bedroom hallways and other high-traffic household areas. Monitored smoke detectors can save lives by having operators standing by 24-7 and dispatching emergency services if required (for example if fire occurs while sleeping).
• Keep the tree away from floor heaters, fireplaces, or other heat sources.
• Use only CSA-listed lights, and no more than three strands linked together.
• Use miniature lights–which have cool-burning bulbs.
• Turn off the Christmas lights when you sleep, or if you leave your home for very long.
• Examine light strings each year, discard worn ones.
• Fasten the bulbs securely and point the sockets down to avoid moisture build up.
• Avoid overloading wall outlets and extension cords.
• Have an operable fire extinguisher readily available.
• Practice an escape plan at least once a year. Make sure the whole family is involved.
• Finally, make sure to dispose of your tree properly at the end of the season.
Protectron's “Saving Lives Program” is offered free to families considering home security solutions. More information on the program or on fire safety and home security is available online at

Saturday, November 23, 2013

BoC chief Stephen Poloz says Canadian housing market not a bubble, predicts soft landing

OTTAWA — Canada’s housing market is not in a bubble and not likely to suffer a sudden and sharp correction in prices unless there is another major global shock to the economy, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said this week.

The central banker, testifying before the Senate banking committee on his latest economic outlook Wednesday, said he believes the most likely scenario is a soft landing where home prices stabilize, although he acknowledged that an imbalance in the market and high household debt remain key risks.
Poloz used the testimony to pointedly disagree with a couple of forecasting organizations that weighed in this week on the Canadian situation — the Fitch Rating service that judged Canada’s housing market as 21% overpriced, and an OECD recommendation that he start raising interest rates in a year’s time.

Click here to read more....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Alternative mortgage lenders get boost from Canada’s resilient housing market

Shares of 3 of Canada's biggest alternative mortgage lenders look set to rise over the next year because of ongoing resiliency of the country's housing market.
“Alt-A lenders should continue to see enviable growth,” said Shubha Khan, an analyst at National Bank Financial. “We believe that near-term housing market risks have moderated, particularly in view of more dovish comments on interest rate policy from the Bank of Canada.”

Click here to read more  . . .

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bank of Canada drops rate guidance, lowers growth forecast

For the first time in 18 months policymakers have dropped any reference to borrowing costs eventually rising and therefore adopting a neutral position and waiting to see which way the economic winds blow.

The benchmark lending rate, which has remained at a near-record low of 1% since September 2010 and which has been locked in by lower-for-longer inflation and weaker-than-forecast growth.

Those policymakers — now under the leadership of Stephen Poloz, who replaced Mark Carney in June —  kept their key rate as is, and where it will likely remain until mid- or late 2015.

Click here to read more about the Bank of Canad Drops Rate Guidance...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Former CMHC competitor petitions for mortage insurance fees to drop

Brian Bell, a former senior executive at one of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s competitors,  says it’s time for mortgage default insurance premiums to drop as much as 15% because the Crown corporation doesn’t have the same percentage of risky clients due to tighter loan regulations. A move he says will provide much needed relief to the first-time home buyer.

Click here to read more from the Financial Post. . . 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Year-end financial planning tips you can't afford to ignore

End of yet another year is fast approaching, there are some financial considerations to ponder and proactively look now to maximize future gain.

Here are some tips that you can't afford to ignore:

1. Top up your TFSA's.
2. Crystallize Capital Losses.
3. Make a Charitable Donation before Dec 31.
4. Prepay expenses eligible for tax credits.
5. Maximize the effectiveness of RESP's.
6. Age 71 this year? Convert RRSPs to an income option.

Click here to read more about the above tips.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Consumers turned around the housing market

We have been seeing some of the best mortgage rates in Canadian History.  Because of these low interest rates consumers have made the jump on home buying and in return seemed to have turned around the housing market.

The Ottawa-based Canadian Real Estate Association, which represents about 100 boards across the country, has once again upped its forecast for sales in 2013, citing low interest rates and a strong economy.

Click here to read more on the forecast....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stated income just as good as T4

The banks may start taking a closer look at your finances if you are self-employed. Stated-income customers, or the self-employed who don’t come to their bank officer or mortgage broker with a government tax form with their income on it seem to be in cross-hairs. What has changed is the examination of that stated income. The banks want to see the cash flow going in and out of accounts, a net worth where you can track the history.

Click here to read more....

Friday, September 27, 2013

Top 10 Things That May Trigger an Audit of Your Business

Tax time obviously has come and gone, however now it’s the Canada Revenue Agency’s turn to review millions of tax returns. Because of the number of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) continue to grow, CRA is paying particular attention to these returns to make sure tax rules are followed. No matter how big or small you are not immune....if you’re open for business, the CRA is watching.

Click here to find out how to be prepared when filing your taxes.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Home ownership holding steady across Canada

According to Stats Canada 7 in 10 Canadian households own their homes, this number has not changed over the recent years.

A 2011 National Household study showed that approximately 9.2 million households were owners, thus putting the homeownership rate at 69%. While not directly comparable, the findings indicate a similar level of ownership to the 2006 census, which revealed a homeownership rate of 68.4%.
As per the latest data, his trend of rising homeownership rates continues to rise over the last several decades.

Click here to read further about home ownership in Canada.

Friday, August 30, 2013

No more tightening needed after measures averted housing bubble

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he isn’t planning new measures to restrain the country’s housing market because his past four rounds of action have already worked to avoid a bubble.

"So far, I’m satisfied that we have a balance in the real estate sector,” Flaherty told reporters in Wakefield, Quebec, at the start of a policy retreat with business leaders. “There are some bumps along the road in Toronto and Vancouver, in particular in the condo markets, but overall, I’m satisfied,”
Flaherty has warned consumers to avoid mortgages that could become unaffordable when borrowing costs rise, after Canadians took on record household debts relative to disposable income.

Flaherty said that “we have been watching the condo market and the housing market very closely for at least five years.” He also said that he does have “contingency plans” he can use if the need arises.

The Bank of Canada has identified household finances as the biggest risk to the domestic economy, while Governor Stephen Poloz has said there are recent signs of a “constructive evolution” in that area.
Flaherty today also reiterated his own commitment to pare the federal budget deficit and spoke out against the extraordinary monetary stimulus seen in the U.S. and Europe.

“We are going to balance the budget without doubt in 2015,” Flaherty said, adding that this will “put Canada in a position of strength” to react to any future global weakness.

Feel free to click here to read more about what Flaherty has to say about the budget.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Canada’s housing market: The one that no one can predict

Another month of housing data is guaranteed to produce one thing: more arguments about where the market is going.

Statistics from the Ottawa-based Canadian Real Estate Association show actual July sales were up 9.4% from a year ago while average sale price nationwide rose 8.4% to $382,373 during the same period.

Given the housing market seemed to be sliding just a few months ago, the question is where is it headed next? At stake is further federal government intervention, something Ottawa seemed to do this month as Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. tightened some mortgage lending rules.

On one side of the divide you’ve got the real estate community with people like Phil Soper, chief executive of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, saying improved results for sales and prices in July are not all that dramatic by historical standards.

Their opponents are the housing naysayers like David Madani of Capital Economics who has been calling for a housing pullback since February 2011 and portrays the recent bump in sales as a last gasp before the market cools for the rest of 2013.

Mr. Soper said people have been predicting the market was going to fall going back to 2008. “It is as believable as the prediction from Capital Economics that home prices are going to fall by 25%. They just keep rolling out the same forecast year after year,” he said. “They try desperately to come up with a new reason [for the market to fail] — and now it’s because interest rates are going up.”

Click here to read more about the Canadian Housing Market ...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Stricter Debt Ratio Standards on the Way

If you’re a typical borrower, your debt ratios will largely determine if you’re approved for a mortgage.
For applicants who push the limits of qualification, those approvals have been tougher to come by. That’s a direct result of last year’s mortgage rule tightening, which imposed stricter debt ratio calculations (among other things).

And by year-end, those calculations will get even more conservative. On June 27, CMHC issued new guidelines for calculating debt ratios and confirming income documents. “Under current practice, CMHC stipulates standard formulas for calculation of debt service ratios but has not been specific as to how each key input is to be treated,” says CMHC spokesman Charles Sauriol.

These new guidelines will clarify that, and they become effective on CMHC-insured mortgages on December 31, 2013. (In practice, many lenders already apply them.) These standards will apply to all insured 1-4 unit residential mortgages, regardless of the loan-to-value ratio. Uninsured (conventional) mortgages are allowed different policies, but most lenders will use the same rules for all their approvals. Here are some of CMHC's newly minted insured mortgage “clarifications”:
  • For variable income: Lenders must use “an amount not exceeding the average income of the past two years.” Variable refers to things like bonuses, tips, seasonal employment and investment income.
  • For rental income:  If a borrower owns other non-owner occupied rental properties, the principal, interest, property taxes and heat (P.I.T.H.) on those properties must either be:
    • deducted from gross rent revenue to establish net rental income; or
    • included in ‘other debt obligations’ when the Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio is being calculated.
  • For guarantor income:  A guarantor’s income must not be used in GDS/TDS ratios “unless the guarantor…occupies the home and is the spouse or common-law partner of the borrower.”
  • Unsecured credit lines & credit cards: For these debts, “No less than 3% of the outstanding balance” must be included in monthly debt payments. Interest-only payments are no longer considered on credit lines. Furthermore, lenders must assess the borrower’s credit history and borrowing behaviour when determining the amount of revolving credit that should be accounted for in debt ratios.
  • Secured lines of credit:  Lenders must factor in “the equivalent” of a payment that's based on “the outstanding balance amortized over 25 years.” That payment must use the contract rate (of the LOC) or the 5-year Benchmark rate (V121764) published by Bank of Canada (if the contract rate is unknown). Again, interest-only payments are no longer allowed for debt ratio calculation purposes.
  • Heating costs:  Lenders must now obtain the “actual heating cost records” of a property. When no such history is available, the heat expense used in debt ratio calculations “must be a reasonable estimate taking into consideration factors such as property size, location and/or type of heating system.” That’s why some lenders have now moved to a set heating cost formula, like:

           (square footage x $0.75) / 12 months
Compared to past methods (which entailed flat heating costs, like $100/month), the new guidelines can double or triple the heating cost that must be factored into debt ratios on larger properties, and reduce it on smaller ones.
It’s important to repeat that most of these policies are already being followed by most lenders. But there are exceptions.

Those exception-case lenders are commonly viewed as go-to sources when borrowers have tight debt ratios. These new guidelines are designed to minimize those “loopholes.”

All of this has come about, in part, because of Ottawa’s rule changes last July. At that time, the government fixed the maximum Gross Debt Service and Total Debt Service ratios for insured mortgages at 39% and 44% respectively.

Sauriol says that change “reinforces the importance for CMHC to ensure that debt service ratios provide the same measure of a specific borrower’s ability to service the mortgage debt, regardless of the lender submitting the application to CMHC for insurance.” Source: CanadianMortgageTrends

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Stable is the Word in the Canadian Housing Market

TORONTO, June 25, 2013 /CNW/ - After three years of varied periods of growth and decline across the country, the Canadian housing market is starting to stabilize, according to the latest housing report released by Genworth Canada.  While the economy continues to strengthen, modest growth in the housing market is the trend for the next five years.

"The Canadian housing market is transitioning to a balanced level of supply and demand," said Brian Hurley, Chairman and CEO of Genworth Canada. "While lower demand has cooled the housing market, this latest research shows moderate growth over the next few years which points towards a more stable market for both buyers and sellers."

The current condition is due in part to the tightening of regulations, but also continued warnings to consumers on their debt levels.  Consumers appear to be heeding the advice and stabilizing their financial position before the Bank of Canada begins to raise its rate. The Spring 2013 Metropolitan Housing Outlook notes that healthy employment gains since the end of the recession have helped move mortgage payments in arrears and bankruptcies to a downward trend, except in British Columbia where payments in arrears have flattened after an upward trend from 2008 to 2010.  Despite the low interest rates, price growth for both new and existing homes has been decelerating.  The report also notes that while total mortgage approvals are falling, this decline is entirely fuelled by resale homes, as mortgage approvals for new homes increased by 3.4 per cent.

To read more about the Canadian Housing Market - click here!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Don't leave money on the table: RESPs and government grants

(NC)—One of Canada's best-kept secrets for parents wanting to save for their children's future education needs has been around since 1998. That's when the federal government began offering the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) as an incentive for parents and relatives to set up RESPs (Registered Education Savings Plans), with their children as beneficiaries. 

CESGs will match 20 per cent of your annual RESP contribution – up to an annual maximum of $500 per eligible beneficiary until your child reaches age of 18, or a potential total of $7,200 over the life of the plan. 

“Parents in Canada who aren't taking full advantage of these government grants are leaving a good deal of money on the table,” advises David Birkbeck, the head of registered products strategy at RBC. “With post-secondary education costs continuing to rise, it's important to be aware of this additional funding as it can help your plan grow well beyond your own contributions.” 

The other “secret weapon” to help grow your plan is the way you choose to invest your RESP funds. As a low- to no-risk investment, you can place your RESP savings into a standard savings account. You can also opt for GICs (Guaranteed Income Certificates), for higher returns than a standard savings account. Or, for the potential to earn a higher rate of return than most GICs over the long term, you could consider mutual funds.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Secure your home with the most advanced devices

(NC)—The latest in electronics is giving our households improved security, better options for our budget, is quickly making keys a thing of the past – and is now letting us control our premises from a smart phone. Instead of hiring a security service, for example, install deadbolts with a built-in alarm. The first of its kind, this keyed-entry lock lets you hear instantly when someone goes in or out, tampers with it, or tries to force their way in, says the innovator, Schlage. Details are at While on the website take a look at the other options for a keypad entry. This latest deadbolt technology, for instance, lets you add controls for lights, heating, cooling and more. If security management is important while you're away, connect your mobile device to an optional subscription-based service called Nexia Home Intelligence. It gives you camera surveillance, plus the ability to lock and unlock your doors, to pre-schedule the security monitoring for specific times every day, and to receive text alerts when the alarm is triggered.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Protect your home against flooding

(NC)—Many homeowners are surprised to hear that water damage is the most common insurance claim. Water damage—often in the form of a flooded basement—can come out of nowhere and cause extensive damage to the house. 

“Once homeowners understand the most common types of insurance claims, they can take steps to guard against them,” says John Jenner, vice-president of marketing and communications at Western Financial Group. “Measures might include making sure their home insurance policy covers sewer backup, installing a sump pump, having properly installed drainage systems, or making sure that downspouts are sending water away from their home.”

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, there are many circumstances that can cause a flooded basement, including tree roots growing through cracks in the waterline, overloaded stormwater and sanitary sewer infrastructure, frozen pipes, vandals blocking lines and more. 

To keep your home safe, practice the following guidelines:

Have someone check on your house when you're away
When you leave home for more than three days, make sure you have someone come and check the premises. A flooded basement, leaky pipe, or a broken window can be devastating if it is not discovered immediately. 

Keep drains clear
It may seem simple, but many homeowners need to be reminded to keep their basement drains clear of obstructions. That means moving large objects such as furniture and making sure the drain is not sitting under a layer of dirt or debris. In older houses, drains may need to be snaked to ensure they can do their job properly.

Install a sump pump and backflow valves
This will greatly reduce the frequency and severity of basement flooding. Backflow valves or plugs can be installed on drains, toilets and other sewer connections to prevent water from entering the home. 

Move items that are in flooding prone areas
The 10 minutes spent on inspecting your home for items that are in flooding prone areas could save hours later. Make sure you store important documents and irreplaceable personal items where they will not be damaged. 

“It is important for homeowners to go over their insurance policy yearly with a representative,” adds Jenner. “This will make sure you have the coverage you need.”

Thursday, August 1, 2013

In the Canadian Housing Market, Stable is the Word

TORONTO, June 25, 2013 /CNW/ - After three years of varied periods of growth and decline across the country, the Canadian housing market is starting to stabilize, according to the latest housing report released by Genworth Canada.  While the economy continues to strengthen, modest growth in the housing market is the trend for the next five years.

"The Canadian housing market is transitioning to a balanced level of supply and demand," said Brian Hurley, Chairman and CEO of Genworth Canada. "While lower demand has cooled the housing market, this latest research shows moderate growth over the next few years which points towards a more stable market for both buyers and sellers."

Click here to read the full report....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

David Rosenberg: All’s fine on the Canadian homefront

There’s no sign of a housing collapse in Canada, Gluskin-Sheff’s chief economist says.

David Rosenberg, the latest pundit to weigh in on the hard versus soft landing debate, says Canada’s housing market has almost recouped all the losses brought on by Ottawa tightening the mortgage rules in 2012.

Last year the federal government, concerned about Canadians’ rising debt levels, cut the maximum amortization period for a government-insured mortgage to 25 years from 30 years and capped home equity loans at a maximum of 80% of a property’s value — down from 85%.  Economists at the time expected the tightening to shave 10% to 20% off property prices, and cut into Canada’s GDP.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Second Quarter Market Trends Defy Suggestions of Housing Bubbles

Royal LePage forecasts modest house price gains for remainder of 2013, as Canadian housing emerges from current market cycle

TORONTO, July 9, 2013 – The average price of a home in Canada increased between 1.2 per cent and 2.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2013, according to the Royal LePage House Price Survey and Market Survey Forecast, released today.

According to the survey, markets across the country continue to post gains. In the second quarter, standard two-storey homes and detached bungalows both showed a year-over-year average price increase of 2.7 per cent to $419,614 and $386,547, respectively. Average prices for standard condominiums showed a more modest increase during the same period, rising 1.2 per cent to $248,750. Royal LePage forecasts that house prices will see modest gains throughout the remainder of 2013, projecting a 3.0 per cent increase for the full year when compared to 2012.

Dialogue concerning the direction of Canada’s housing market has remained front and centre in recent months. Changes to Canada’s mortgage lending rules in mid-2012 coupled with concerns about consumer debt levels, housing affordability in cities like Toronto and Vancouver and continued international economic uncertainty have prompted a number of analysts to forecast large downward price adjustments.

“As we have stated consistently since the current market downturn began late in the second quarter of 2012, this is a normal cyclical correction which brings fewer home sales and softer prices. Those hoping their predictions of a bursting bubble and cataclysmic drops in home values will come true are out of luck again,” said Phil Soper, president and chief executive of Royal LePage. “Price appreciation in most markets across the country has been well below the long-term average for Canada and will remain so through to the end of the year. We expect to see the number of homes trading hands to begin to rise slightly on a year-over-year basis in the second half of 2013, with price softness continuing until mid-2014, at which point we’ll see an emergence from the current cycle.”

Read on by clicking here for the rest of the story.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Housing market fuelling loonie’s rise from two-year-low

The Canadian dollar rose from its lowest level in almost two years before a report Tuesday forecast to show the pace of home construction in June stayed above the year-to-date average for the second month in a row.

The currency strengthened against the majority of its most-traded counterparts along with those of its commodity-exporting peers after Canadian building permits rose for a fifth straight month. A report Tuesday will show work began on 188,000 homes in June compared with 200,178 the month before, according to a Bloomberg survey of 21 economists. This year Canada has averaged 179,400 new homes each month.

“The data itself is more of a reassurance of the theme of a soft landing that we expect to see in the housing market,” said Mazen Issa, Canada macro strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank’s TD Securities, by phone from Toronto. “We’ll probably see that filter into the housing-starts data.”
The loonie, as the Canadian dollar is known, rose 0.3% to $1.0553 per U.S. dollar at 10:17 a.m. in Toronto. The loonie touched $1.0609 per U.S. dollar July 5, the weakest since October 2011. One loonie buys 94.76 U.S. cents.

To read more.... click here!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The buyers are back as Canada’s housing market defies doomsayers

TORONTO — Daniel DiManno sold his Toronto house for less than he had hoped and wanted to see if prices would cool before he bought a new one. But Canadian mortgage rates are rising again and that’s spurring DiManno and others to jump back into the market, cutting short an already brief housing downturn.

“I saw that they are going to increase rates, so I called my bank last Friday and locked in 2.5% for 120 days,” said the 31-year-old accountant, starting the clock on a four-month search for a new home before borrowing gets more expensive.

After nearly a year of cooling sales and plenty of concern that Canada could head for a U.S.-style housing crash, demand has roared back in key markets. What’s still unclear, however, is whether the recent surge is a reinflation of a real estate bubble, a final rush of buyers before rising rates choke off demand, or just a sign of market resilience.

The rise in mortgage rates comes after North American bond yields jumped on fears that an improving U.S. economy will cause the Federal Reserve wind down its monetary stimulus program, known as quantitative easing, more quickly than expected.

After a long cold spring that dampened house hunting, May sales of existing homes rose 3.6%, the biggest monthly gain in almost 2-1/2 years, returning the market almost to where it was before Canada’s Conservative government tightened lending rules in mid-2012 to stave off a housing bubble.

Click here to read more. . .

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Canadian home sales rise 3.6 per cent in May over April

Canadian home sales were up 3.6 per cent in May over April as one of the more unusual and unpredictable spring markets took hold across the country, but transactions were off 2.6 per cent year over year, according to May sales numbers released Monday by the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Prices were up 3.7 per cent year over year with the average Canadian house price at $388,910 in May, up from $375,062 a year earlier.
The month over month increase in home sales was the biggest gain seen in more than two years, according to CREA.
“The increase lifted national activity almost to where it had been just before new mortgage rules came into force last summer, marking the first noteworthy increase in the past nine months,” the national housing association said in a statement Monday.
Virtually every major urban centre, including Toronto where prices hit a record $542,174 in May, up 5.4 per cent from May of 2012, saw an improvement in home sales, says CREA. May and June are typically the biggest months for home sales.
The number of homes listed for sale was up almost 2 per cent.
“The pop in Canada’s resale housing numbers adds one more to a series of upbeat economic indicators that exceeded expectations in recent weeks,” said CREA economist Gregory Klump.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Canada’s impending housing collapse not in sight

OTTAWA — Not so fast. The purported collapse of Canada’s housing market does not appear to be in sight, and any correction down the road could likely be a mild one.

Recent data have defied warnings from market watchers of an impending plunge — caused mainly by the impact of tighter mortgage rules imposed by the federal government last summer to slow the race by consumers for record-low lending rates.

The latest figures show sales of existing homes strengthened for a second month in May, up by a seasonally adjusted 3.6%, after declining 10% between July and March.

The Canadian Real Estate Association, in a report Monday, also said home prices were up 3.7% in May from the same month a year earlier, to a national average of $388,910.

For all of this year, CREA pegs the average price rise at 2.1%, to $370,900, weaker but far removed from correction territory. And in 2014, the average value is expected to rise 1.8% to $377,700, the Ottawa-based industry group said.

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“Prices remain stable, perhaps maddeningly so for the legions of bubble mongers,” said Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Mr. Porter noted the May data show “housing remains on track for a fabled soft landing … making a mockery of talk of an imminent collapse.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Deck Makeover in 10 Easy DIY Steps

One day's work can revive the most tired outdoor spaces. Today's do-it-yourself products make deck restoration as easy as 1, 2, 3, like this:

1. Splash-test an inconspicuous area for water absorption (if the water penetrates into the wood it needs to be protected).
2. Wet the plant life around deck and cover it to protect against product run-off.
3. Wear old clothes, protective glasses and gloves.
4. Clear the deck of all furniture and decorative items.
5. Clean with the most effective solutions like a product called Thompson's WaterSeal Heavy Duty Deck Cleaner. This product label recommends agitation with a deck brush following the application.
6. Rinse with a garden hose or pressure washer and wet the plant life after cleaning process.
7. Repair loose screws or damaged boards on deck surface.
8. Allow deck to dry for a few hours.
9. Protect the finish and your work, with another top-selling DIY product called Thompson's WaterSeal Advanced Formula. It is available in clear, honey gold, nutmeg brown, and natural cedar finishes.
10. Clean up all equipment with soap and water.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ready For Your Next Big Adventure? 4 Tips For a Stress-free Summer Move

The majority of Canadians prefer to make their big move during the summer season. There are a variety of reasons for choosing this time of year: it is easier to transport boxes in non-icy conditions, no need to worry about your belongings freezing during transport, and children's lives are not disrupted by the transition since they are on summer holidays.
Minimize potential moving chaos by asking yourself the following questions:

• Do you need to keep everything? Moving offers a good opportunity to reorganize your life by giving away, donating or recycling items that you no longer need. You'll thank yourself later when there is less to pack and transport.

• How well do you know your moving company? The Office of Consumer Affairs drafted a Consumer Checklist for choosing a moving company and it reminds Canadians to request their moving estimate in advance and be mindful of seasonal rates (a summer move can be pricier). Will your items be held in the transport vehicle overnight or a secure facility? Consider purchasing Replacement Value Protection, which will ensure the company is liable if your possessions are damaged.

• Do you have enough boxes and packing materials? Start collecting boxes and newspapers in advance; ideally you should begin packing non-essential items a month in advance. Pack and clearly label a couple boxes with important first day arrival items, such as toothbrushes, remote controls, medication, and pet food, which could otherwise become lost in the shuffle.

• Once you step in the door, what are your top priorities? After the bed is set up, most people are eager to get connected by hooking up their TV, internet and home phone. Rogers introduced a free concierge service which makes this process easier by setting you up with a personal concierge agent. The agent proactively connects with customers throughout the transition, reviews order details, answers billing questions, and can assist with any changes to your order if your moving date needs to shift.

Entering the next chapter of your life can be a thrilling time, but like any significant life change, the process can be quite overwhelming. Control potential moving chaos by jotting down questions and tracking their completion on your personal checklist.