SUTTON GROUP - first choice realty ltd., brokerage  

HST Highlights


 

 

·      HST is not applicable to the sale of a residential
resale home
.

·       Purchasers of newly constructed homes for primary residences up to $400,000 would not, on average, be subject to an additional tax burden in view of the new housing rebate up to $24,000.

·      Real estate commissions are subject to 13 % HST.

·       Lawyer's fees will also be subject to the 13 per cent HST, as will the cost of a Condominium Status Certificate; however the total cost of that status certificate will remain at $100.

·       Moving costs, the cost of a home inspection and even home staging will increase to reflect the HST.

 

 


New Mortgage Guidelines – Effective March 18, 2011


New Guidelines – Effective March 18th 2011

1) Lowering the maximum amount consumers can borrow when refinancing their home

This change will lower the maximum mortgage amount for refinances to 85% of the appraised value of the property from the current 90%. This change will help to promote savings in homeownership and ensure that homeowners don’t become overextended by using all the equity they have built up in their home when refinancing.

2)  Reducing the maximum amortization period for new government insured (default insured) mortgages

The maximum amortization for all new default insured mortgages will be reduced to 30 years from the current 35 years. This change will help reduce total borrowing costs for consumers, helping them to build up equity more quickly.

As an example, a $300,000 mortgage with a 4.5% interest rate and an amortization of 35 years has a monthly payment of $1412.05 and total interest cost of $293,059.17 over the life of the mortgage. The same mortgage with a 30 year amortization has a monthly payment of $1512.65 but total interest cost reduces to $244,551.49. The difference of roughly $100 a month in monthly payment reduces the interest cost by almost $50,000 over the life of the mortgage.

New Guideline - Effective April 18, 2011    

3) Withdrawing government insurance backing on lines of credit secured by homes

 

Home equity lines of credit generally offer a variable interest rate and often have no repayment terms associated with them, which exposes borrowers to an increase in interest costs should interest rates as expected. Due to an increase in the household debt associated with these loans, the federal government wants to limit the amount of equity for which these loans can be granted

 

Loans that have repayment terms associated with them will still be eligible for default insurance.

 

 


Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster & Save $$$


There's a major sense of accomplishment and peace of mind of owning your home outright. Paying off your mortgage sooner can make sound financial sense by saving you thousands of dollars in interest costs. Learning how to save on your mortgage can slice years off your loan. Finding out if you can save on your mortgage payments won't cost you anything, and you will discover whether you have the best loan available for your individual circumstances.

1. Shop around for the best mortgage possible with your credit score.
When a mortgage company has a small overhead cost to stay in business it typically means that they will not charge you unreasonable ongoing service fees. Make sure you know the fees charged by your mortgage company before you sign on a loan.

2. Select weekly or bi-weekly mortgage payments.
A bi-weekly mortgage payment means you make 26 half-monthly payments instead of 12 monthly payments. But keep in mind that unless your initial mortgage is set up as bi-weekly, some lenders charge an upfront fee of $300-$400 to make
bi-weekly payments, and even though you're making a payment every two weeks, the lender only applies it once a month.
If you make bi-weekly payments of $415 instead of monthly payments of $830, you could save almost $27,000 in interest over the entire amortization period of your mortgage, and you could own your home about 4-1/2 years sooner. 

3. Prepay a little extra every month, or any time during the term of your mortgage. Increasing your payment by even a few dollars each month will pay down your principal amount faster. It is a good idea to pay 10-15% more each month. This amount shouldn’t put too much extra burden on you, and it will help to pay off your mortgage much faster. For example, if you increased your mortgage payments by just $170 from $830 to $1,000, you could save almost $48,000 in interest over the entire amortization period of your mortgage, and you could own your home about 8 years sooner.  

4. Make an annual lump sum payment.
Use your tax refund, work bonus or any extra money you can save and apply it directly to your principal amount. Check your mortgage documents to find out how often you can prepay and in what amount. Many loans don't prohibit you from doing this, however the lender may have parameters on how many extra payments you can make. Ask this question when shopping for a mortgage loan.  
 
5. Pay as much as you can at renewal time.
Most mortgages become open at renewal. This means you can pay as much as you want on your mortgage. If you chose a 5-year, fixed-rate term, and made a $10,000 lump-sum payment every time your mortgage came up for renewal, you would save about $37,481 in interest over the entire amortization period of your mortgage. 

6. Red flag your extra payments.
Always check your mortgage statement to make sure that any extra payments you made are being counted against the principal and that your bank has accurately documented your payments. Make the extra principal payments on a separate cheque and make a note on the memo line stating that the payment should be applied to principal reduction only. At tax time, tally up those payments and make sure they've been applied correctly.  

7. Stay informed.
Once you have a mortgage, aside from making the payments, it's easy to forget about it altogether. By keeping up-to-date on interest rates and new products could save you money. You may want to shop for another product that better suits your needs. For example, to qualify for a mortgage, you may have started out with a lower-rate adjustable rate mortgage, but you want to switch to a more long-term affordable fixed-rate mortgage later.  

When Should You Hold Off on Paying Your Mortgage Faster?
While paying down a mortgage quickly may be a wise decision for many homeowners, it's not for everyone. For example, you may want to switch to investing in mutual funds when yields return 10-12% annually. For most people though, this is not a mathematical issue but one of security, as they just want that mortgage paid off. For people who are very debt-averse, the peace of mind of paying off the house more quickly is worth the price. 
  Secondly, if you are planning on moving soon, you may want to hold off investing money into your existing home as you may need the money for a down payment, closing costs or buying new furniture for your new home.  

As you can see, with a little research, you could save on your mortgage. The truth is: the banks won’t tell you how to save money on your mortgage as they want to make the interest on the money that they have loaned to you. If they were to help you save money, they would lose money and their profits would stagnate. Make sure that if you implement changes to save on your mortgage it is the right decision for you.

 

 

 


Renovating Your Home


Renovating your home will increase its value and make it a nicer place for you to live. But many people don't have the money to spend on expensive housing upgrades. Here is a few budget-friendly projects to add beauty, value and selling appeal to your home.

1.Give your kitchen a facelift 
The kitchen is the heart of any home, so spend a few hundred dollars to spice it up. You can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles, and update old lighting fixtures. If you have a dark or small kitchen, make it look larger and brighter by using a lighter finish on the cabinets.  If the kitchen countertop is outdated, consider using a Laminate countertop. They are inexpensive and come in all types of colours and patterns, some of which resemble much more expensive solid surface materials, such as stone or tile.

2. Liven up the bathroom
Buy "expensive-looking" hardware for taps and showers and get a sophisticated new look without cleaning out your wallet. Like in the kitchen, soft lighting and warm colours here can go a long way in increasing home value. Add vases and plants as design elements and make sure vanity mirrors are at an accessible height for every member of the family.  If your bathroom requires any plumbing or electrical fixing, get a professional to do it.

3. Add a fresh coat of paint 
New paint makes everything look clean and bright, and you can do it yourself relatively inexpensively on interior walls. 
Paint with a neutral colour such as beige. It will make the house seem larger, and it will be inoffensive to buyers. And don't forget the ceiling. Paint the trim a contrasting colour.

4. Add wood trim and cornicing
These are cheap and easy do it yourself, but can add tons of "WOW" factor to the look of your home. Simple ceiling trim and armchair railing are the easiest and most typical upgrades found in newer homes. 
To make an even bolder statement, paint the walls a neutral, flat colour and paint the trim a high gloss white.

5. Consider your flooring options
If your home has hardwood floors covered with carpeting, consider restoring the original hardwood floors, particularly if the carpeting is old and worn. 
If not, you can shampoo or steam clean your carpets, or use a dry cleaning system, which requires no water or steamer, and dries instantly while killing virtually all mold and bacteria. Apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and then vacuum. If all else fails, get a professional to do the carpets for you. You'd be surprised how much better your carpet will look after a good cleaning.

6. Enhance the lighting
Consider replacing the dining room lights with an eye-catching chandelier. Create a comfortable ambience with recessed lighting that is controlled with dimmer switches to provide the appropriate amount of light for different activities. 
Use indirect lighting focused away from television and computer screens to reduce eyestrain.

7. Install modern light switches and outlets
Some of the new style switches can be easily installed using the wires already running to the old switches. Turn off the power to the room or entire house before doing any work. The new outlets look nice, and give the impression that the electrical wiring in the house is newer than it really is.

8. Create more storage
Extra storage is always a plus. You don't need to renovate to add more storage space, you can create more space for free and without remodelling your home! Revamping your existing closets can do the job. 
Many old houses lack closet space. If you have cramped storage areas, add do-it-yourself wire and laminate closet systems to bedrooms.  Make your closets serve a variety of purposes. Try adding a shelving unit to a clothes closet where you can store pantry goods and other items.

9. Reframe your front entry
The front door is the statement that you make in your house, and a front door in need of work gives a wrong first impression.
Refinish the front door with a new coat of paint. Replace that worn, flimsy little knob on your main entry door with a more substantial-looking handle-and-lock set. A nice, big piece of hardware signals newcomers that this is a solid home. While you are preparing the door for the finish coat, be sure to check the weather stripping for damage. With soaring energy costs, adding some new weather stripping can quickly pay you back in utility savings.
Placing planters on either side of the front door will also enhance the image of your entry.

10. Landscape the front yard
A nicely mowed lawn, a few well-placed shrubs and a swept walkway make a great first impression. Get your green thumb on, install some new sod, plant a few evergreen shrubs, and give your front yard a good cleanup. This will draw attention to your home and change people's perception of your home.
Today, there are dozens of choices of plant materials that can add colour and style to your front yard. Stop by your local landscaping centre — they'll have dozens of ideas for you.

Ready to renovate but on a tight budget? Spend money on what can be seen versus what can't be seen. Think new door handles, not new doors, and spiffed-up appliance fronts, not new appliances. Fix up the exterior first, then the interior.  If you put some of these tips in action, you will boost your home's value and live happily ever after in your dream home. Enjoy!

  

Paul and Kim Graham 519.271.5515 Email Paul and Kim