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Articles, Real Estate News

Buying a home is a big investment and a huge commitment, but most homeowners will attest that the pay-off is worth the pains and strains of making those regular mortgage payments. Most people focus on their mortgage interest rate as a way of saving money (or at least, ensuring more of it goes toward your principal), but there are other ways to decrease the amount paid in interest. One way is to pay your mortgage off faster. More on that below, but let’s start with a basic mortgage 101.

What is a mortgage?

In order to buy a home in Canada, you’ll need a down payment of at least five per cent of the home’s purchase price (but it can be more). These funds are typically saved over time and can be boosted with the help of programs such as the first-time Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP) and the new(ish) First Time Home Buyer Incentive, administered by the federal government. The remaining amount owing on the home is borrowed in the form of a mortgage loan. This loan is amortized over a number of years (commonly 25 years for first-time homebuyers) with mortgage terms and an interest rate that are renegotiated after a given period of time (commonly five years, but the term can range anywhere from 6 months to 10 years). The total amount borrowed is divided up as monthly or bi-weekly payments over the amortization period.

How your mortgage rate impacts the price you pay

A portion of every payment you make goes toward paying down the principal loan (the final purchase price of the home) and a percentage of it will go to the lender as an interest payment on your loan. The higher your interest rate, the more money goes to the lender versus to paying down your principal loan. When all is said and done, it’s in the homebuyer’s best interest to secure a mortgage loan at the lowest possible rate.

Some homebuyers choose to go with a variable rate mortgage, which fluctuates based on the prime lending rate.

Why should you pay off your mortgage faster?

Aside from the interest rate, your amortization period also impacts the amount you’ll pay in interest over the life of your mortgage. Stretching your mortgage out over a longer term will decrease the amount of each mortgage payment (which can help with day-to-day expenses) but doing this will also lengthen the time it will take to pay off the loan (obviously) and increase your total interest paid. Depending on the amount of the mortgage loan and your interest rate, this translates to a considerable sum of your heard-earned, harder-saved money going to the lender instead of building your home equity.

With every mortgage payment you make, you increase your home equity, decrease the borrowed amount and thus, decrease the amount you pay in interest.

How do you pay off your mortgage faster?

To put this simply, the faster you whittle away at the amount you owe, the less you’ll pay in the long run. Here are 8 tips to pay your mortgage off faster, from our friends at DebtReviews.com:

#8 Pay More

It’s an obvious solution, yet the majority of debtors just don’t do it. They would rather have a few extra hundred dollars in their pocket than the knowledge that they can save thousands over the course of their mortgage.

But the figures are hard to ignore. For example, if you have $250,000 left on a 25-year mortgage and you pay an extra $500 a month, you could save yourself over $65,000 and reduce the term of your mortgage to just 15 years.

This applies to any additional payments that you can make. An extra $50 a month in the above scenario will only reduce your term by just under 2 years, but it will also save you over $10,000. A good way of looking at it is that every additional payment you make will increase the value of all following payments by ensuring that a higher percentage goes towards the house and not the debt.

#7 Pay Your Other Debts First

It may sound counterintuitive based on what we said above, but one of the easiest ways to pay off your mortgage is to clear your other debts first. A mortgage is a long-term debt with a relatively small interest rate. Credit cards and personal loans, on the other hand, are short-term debts with huge interest rates.

You may save more money in the long-term by focusing on your mortgage, but a credit card or personal loan debt will do much more damage in the short-term. The payments are typically harder to meet, the penalties are very severe, and if you do struggle and those debts are prolonged, they will be considerably more damaging than a mortgage.

Your first priority should be to pay off any loans or credit cards that have accrued penalties or have otherwise high interest rates. The money you save by not paying interest on these debts can then be used to increase your mortgage repayments.

#6 Pay Bi-Weekly Instead of Monthly

This may seem like a strange tip, but it’s an effective one nonetheless. There are 12 months in a year but 26 bi-weekly cycles. If you convert your monthly payments to bi-weekly payments, paying 50% each time, you’ll essentially be making one extra repayment every year.

Of course, this is no magic trick and you’ll still be paying more, but it’s a great option for debtors who crave order and structure and are looking to pay a little extra money every year. This is not something that lenders offer, so you need to take the time to deposit money into your account every two weeks and then give that money to the lender at the end of the month. If you do this throughout the year then you’ll have enough to make a double payment by the end of the year.

#5 Pay Lump Sums

You don’t need to agree to additional monthly repayments just to clear more of your debt. You can also pay lump-sum amounts whenever you have the money to do so. Again, it can be difficult to find the willpower to give up a sizeable sum of cash with the knowledge that you won’t see the benefits for years to come, but it’s just a case of adopting the right attitude.

You have to understand that a significant portion of every repayment you make is being used to pay interest, as opposed to the principle. But once that repayment has covered the interest then you can attack the principle and start actually paying for the house. So, if you get an unexpected windfall, consider using it to pay off your mortgage and you could save yourself a small fortune over the long haul.

#4 Rent Out Your Home

If you have a spare bedroom, garage, basement or attic space that you’re not using then consider renting it out. Property is at a premium these days, and in many cities you won’t need to wait long to find a willing tenant.

#3 Refinance

If you have had your mortgage for a few years and you’re not happy with it, your financial situation has changed or you simply want a new approach, then it is time to refinance. You may be able to negotiate a better interest rate, especially if you are willing to pay some money upfront or agree to higher monthly repayments.

#2 Spend Less

There are a number of ways that you can reduce your household expenditure, before using all of the money that you save to pay off more of your mortgage. Over the course of a year the average American spends $500 on food they end up throwing away; $1,000 at coffee shops; $3,000 eating out; and several hundred dollars on bottled water.

If you tighten your purse strings even just a little, you’ll have more money in your pocket at the end of each month.

#1 Sell-Up

If you’re sitting in your home right now, take a look around you. Of all the things you see, how many do you actually use and need? If you’re like the average Canadian there will be piles of CDs and DVDs that are no longer listened to or watched; stacks of video games that were cast aside as soon as the next must-have title was released; closets full of clothing that’s too big or small; old phones and computers.

What about the guitar you promised you’d learn but haven’t touched for years, the telescope/camera you bought before you lost interest, or the stack of textbooks from your last college course?

The average home contains an abundance of junk just begging to be sold. And with the advent of apps that let you list your items for sale online, there’s no excuse not to sell-up.

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Articles, Real Estate News

Canadian real estate has been a tough nut to crack for some homebuyers, and those with less than 20 per cent as a down payment now face another challenge, with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s (CMHC) tighter qualification rules for borrowers of high-ratio mortgages. This move is in response to the global pandemic that has left many Canadians vulnerable. The changes, which include lower debt thresholds and higher credit ratings, are in effect as of July 1, 2020.

New Mortgage Qualification Rules:

If you have less than 20 per cent to pay down, CMHC will now be:

  • limiting the Gross/Total Debt Servicing (GDS/TDS) ratios to its standard requirements of 35% (from 39%) and 42% (from 44%), respectively;
  • establishing a minimum credit score of 680 (from 600 previously) for at least one borrower; and
  • no longer treating non-traditional sources of down payment that increase indebtedness, as equity for insurance purposes.

What Is a High-Ratio Mortgage?

In order to buy Canadian real estate and qualify for a mortgage, buyers must have a minimum down payment of five per cent of the home’s total purchase price. However, when the homebuyer has less than 20 per cent to make as a down payment, they will need to take out a high-ratio mortgage, which requires mortgage default insurance. This is designed to protect the lender in case of mortgage payment default by the borrower. Insurance premiums can either be paid up front, or added to the mortgage payments.

Mortgage Changes & Canadian Real Estate

In the past, news of mortgage qualification changes have prompted a flurry of activity leading up to the deadline, as homebuyers tried to get in under the wire. This was the case before the OSFI mortgage stress test on high-ratio mortgages took effect in October 2016. The mortgage stress test was then expanded to all mortgages on January 1, 2018. Prior to these changes and others, transactions increased.

Leading up to the looming deadline, in November 2017 the Canadian Real Estate Association reported that national home sales in November 2017 were up 3.9 per cent month-over-month. Then in December 2017, Canadian real estate markets saw home sales surge 4.5 per cent month-over-month.

“National home sales in December were likely boosted by seasonal adjustment factors and a potential pull-forward of demand before new mortgage regulations came into effect this year,” Gregory Klump, CREA’s Chief Economist, noted in the Canadian Real Estate Association’s release. “It will be interesting to see if monthly sales activity continues to rise despite tighter mortgage regulations that took effect on January 1st.”

This time, however, RE/MAX did not anticipate a similar response from buyers.

CMHC is one of Canada’s mortgage insurers. CMHC’s two private-sector counterparts, Genworth Financial and Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Co., have confirmed that they will not follow suit, meaning homebuyers with a down payment of less than 20-per-cent will still be able to get a mortgage at historically low interest rates.

“I think this time it’ll be a little bit less of a frenzy,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Typically, when CMHC changes their requirements, the other insurers follow suit. This time they didn’t, so I think this is going to create better balance heading into the summer.”

Low Housing Supply, Rising Prices in Canadian Housing Markets

“RE/MAX wholeheartedly supports responsible lending practices, such as CMHC’s most recent adjustments to mortgages, but this is a temporary solution to a bigger issue – not enough housing supply to meet demand,” says Alexander, who points out that major hubs such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal will continue to be challenged to keep pace with demand in the foreseeable future – particularly due to the fact that our government continues to attract and promote more and more immigration to help bolster the Canadian economy. “This is a great thing, but all of those people are going to need a place to live.”

Alexander has been vocal about the need for a national housing strategy to address problematic inventory levels and resulting rising prices.

“There’s a huge delta between [supply] and demand, and there’s no national housing strategy to alleviate some of that pressure.”

Alexander further said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg, “If we don’t find a long-term strategy that will bridge the gap between supply and demand, we are going to continue seeing price appreciation and continued affordability issues in the foreseeable future.”

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Uncategorized

RE/MAX Canada releases insights in key global markets amidst the COVID-19 crisis 

Canadian Real Estate Market Sentiment

  • 56 per cent of Canadians who are planning to engage in the real estate market say they expect to do so within less than a year
  • Almost half (44 per cent) of Canadians believe that the real estate market will bounce back to the strength it was before COVID-19 by 2021
  • 29 per cent of Canadians believe that before the end of 2020, the Canadian housing market will return to its pre-pandemic strength

Toronto, ON and Kelowna, BC, June 16, 2020 – Nothing is symmetrical about the effect of COVID-19 on the housing market. In the same manner that Canada learned containment lessons from other countries where the virus hit earlier, we can also look to these economies to assess the potential rebound in our own economy and the Canadian housing market.

Looking at European markets that are similar to Canada in economic strength and regulatory frameworks, such as parts of Scandinavia, optimism in the Canadian housing market seems well placed. The same can be said in the U.S., where despite a national decline in sales of 20 per cent, consumer fears are beginning to subside as restrictions start to ease and activity picks up, particularly in secondary and tertiary markets.

According to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of RE/MAX Canada, 56 per cent of Canadians who are planning to engage in the real estate market expect to do so in less than a year, showing an eagerness to get back to buying and selling.

“The market has definitely seen a steep decline in the volume of transactions in the last few months, but in much of Canada, transactions have been happening and prices in particular have been resilient. Now that economies are beginning to re-open across the country and in light of some of the recent activity we’ve seen in various cities across Canada, as well as in certain European and U.S. markets, we anticipate that demand could begin to improve much faster than we initially anticipated at the beginning of COVID-19,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Regions such as Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver are excellent examples, and are already experiencing an uptick in activity and the number of multiple-offer scenarios, pointing to a post-lockdown housing market outlook that is not nearly as dire as some suggested.”

As restrictions begin to ease in Europe and the U.S., outcomes are dependent upon locality and the economic conditions of a state, country, and city prior to the crisis.

Europe Real Estate Market Sentiment

  • RE/MAX Europe reports website traffic is up 70% in May 2020 compared to May 2019, signalling growing demand.
  • Requests from end consumers were up 63% in May 2020 compared to May 2019.

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease in countries such as Austria, RE/MAX brokers and agents in the region noted that recent demand was higher than before COVID-19 took hold, even in comparison to the same period in 2019, as indicated through an increase in website traffic (up 70 per cent in May 2020 compared to May 2019) and requests from end consumers (up 63 per cent in May 2020, compared to May 2019). RE/MAX Europe attributes this to accumulated demand that fell dormant during quarantine, but has since returned in a manner greater than has been experienced in other countries.

In Norway, which is comparable to North America in terms of real estate technology and transparency, insights from RE/MAX Europe coupled with local real estate board data indicate the market experienced its lowest level of transactions during the week of March 16, when sales declined 36 per cent year-over-year. By May 2020, sales were trending upward again, reaching levels just 7.5 per cent below May 2019 activity.

Norway experienced an initial 10-per-cent drop in listings, which trended upward to 50 per cent during the lockdown. However, by May 2020, listings returned to the market and were 18 per cent below May 2019 levels.

RE/MAX Europe believes that Norway is showing signs of stability as restrictions continue to ease and consumer confidence returns. It is estimated the market could bounce back to sustainable levels by the end of 2020.

In Italy and Spain, which were among the hardest-hit regions in Europe, real estate markets are just now beginning to reopen. Current levels of uncertainty combined with the quickly-changing environment diminishes the reliability of any forecasting in the short term.

The actual impact of COVID-19 on the housing market across all of Europe differs from country to country. Markets heavily dependent on industries hit especially hard by the pandemic, such as tourism, may experience a slower housing market recovery, according to RE/MAX Europe.

“It’s still too early to tell when the housing market across Europe will recover to pre-COVID-19 levels, particularly given the asymmetry of countries and cities concerning their economies, regulatory processes, and pandemic containment efforts,” says Kurt Lukas, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX Europe. “What we do know is that COVID-19 has shifted the practice and focus of our industry as a whole, whether that’s through the increased use of technology such as virtual tours, e-signatures, or video conferencing by consumers and real estate agents a potential shift in buyer trends, such as different types of properties; or economic resilience. While there are still many unknowns in the short-term, I’m confident that real estate will continue to be a good long-term investment, as it historically has been. There’s no question of this.”

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Articles, Yukon News

A Whitehorse company will construct a mixed-income housing project in the south end of the city’s downtown.

The Yukon Government is awarding the construction contract for a 47-unit mixed-income housing project in Whitehorse.

According to the government’s Tender Management System, Wildstone Construction of Whitehorse is getting the project at a cost of just under $16.9 million.

There were three other bidders on the project including one other local firm.

The four-story building is to be constructed at Fourth Avenue and Jeckell Street. The contract includes all site services including hard and soft landscaping.

Construction is to begin shortly and be completed by November of 2021.

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Articles, Real Estate News

It seems difficult to forecast the future of the Canadian real estate market during this time. Many of us have questions about when social distancing measures will be loosened, and life will return to normal.

Earlier this year the market was sizzling and in most major cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, it was a sellers’ market. Right up until early March it was projected to be a busy Spring homebuying season. Yet, things have cooled down significantly as a result of the covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Many people are not sure what the future of the Canadian housing market holds. This uncertainty has caused the market to dry up. Yet, many are predicting that this is a momentary sting to our economy and housing market.

Here are a few indicators of what we may be able to expect in the coming months and years:

Real Estate Market Activity in the Short-term

The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is projecting that as social distancing measures loosen, real estate market activity will quickly ramp up again. This is expected to happen near the end of Summer and likely early Fall. The organization believes that the economy will recover, as business operations go back to normal and unemployment rates decrease.

Homebuyers will have more financial power and will be more inclined to start their home search again. While, sellers will feel more comfortable allowing people to visit their homes for open houses.

For now, some economists are predicting that property values will fall temporarily, and lower home prices will be on the table due to tight market conditions. Sellers will be forced to negotiate on price opening the door for buyers who have job security and financing to swoop in.

Relief measures

The Canadian government has stepped in during this time to bolster the economy and aid to Canadians across the country. They’ve created financial relief measures to help soften the impact of the coronavirus on our economy. These benefits have been put in place to reduce household debt as people navigate this challenging time.

The Canadian government has also created specific measures for businesses. As a result of social distancing, many businesses have taken revenue hits or have had to close their doors for the unforeseeable future. Yet, financial benefits will allow more businesses to keep people employed and provide job security. This could encourage more Canadians to continue to engage with the real estate market

However, it’s unclear how much these financial relief measures will entice Canadians to enter the market and to what degree they will.

Interest rates

The mortgage stress test along with high-interest rates have made it challenging for many homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage. This is especially the case for first-time homebuyers who typically don’t have as much money available for a down payment. The good news is that the stress caused by these obstacles may be eased by recent interest rate interventions.

In the short-term the Bank of Canada has significantly lowered the benchmark interest rate to 0.25% to help boost the economy and keep inflation stable. This is the lowest the rate has ever been. For those who want to jump at the opportunity and take advantage of low interest rates, they can qualify for more affordable mortgage payments. This can also allow them to borrow a larger amount, which could help to finance a home with mores square footage include features they desire.

For first-time homebuyers who don’t have cash tied up in stocks or other investments and have enough money for a down payment this can be an ideal time to make a purchase. Other key considerations include having job security to ensure they’ll be able to make their mortgage payments even a few months from now.

As the coronavirus situation unfolds, it is hard to say how much lowered interest rates will entice people to purchase homes.

Real Estate Market Activity in the Long-term

Data from Google trends  during the recession in 2008-2009 caused by the housing crisis, show that the search volume for homes for sale in the US and Canada continued to increase through these years into 2010/11. This trend provides evidence that following the economic downturn, the market recovered at a relatively fast rate.

This can be promising data that can put people at ease that after the coronavirus pandemic, our economy is likely to rebound. Employment rates will increase since businesses will be able to operate fully again. As a result, household debt will decline because people will be able to afford to pay their bills.

The demand for homes will grow and we will likely see a lot of pent up demand from the time of social distancing that will push people back into the market. This will especially be true in markets where there has already been a lot of interest, such as Vancouver and Toronto. Coupled with the low inventory we saw before this issue occurred; competition in the market will cause housing prices to be on the rise again.

You may be concerned about the direction the Canadian real estate market may take in the future. However, with government intervention the impact of the coronavirus may not hurt the economy as bad as we think. It’s also important to note that previous recessions have shown us we’ve made strong recoveries. The real estate market has been hot the past few years. Once the coronavirus pandemic is under control, we will likely see the market heat up once again.

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Articles, Real Estate News

With social distancing advisories and non-essential business closures in place, many people – some realtors included – are scrutinizing whether real estate is an essential service as it has been classified in many regions across Canada and the US. Those who argue against the essential classification are coming from a good place, with hopes that more-stringent lockdowns will stop the spread of COVID-19. On the surface, shutting down such real estate services as those provided by agents, lenders, lawyers and land registry offices may seem like the sensible thing to do given the current climate. However, the unintended consequences would be detrimental to many people and for many reasons.

Real Estate as an Essential Service

The fact is, real estate is an essential service. This is something that RE/MAX leadership has lobbied hard for, for the right reasons. Alongside food, water and clothing, shelter is one of life’s basic necessities. While agents are advising their clients to “hold off” on selling their homes right now if they can avoid it, it’s important to recognize that under certain circumstances, waiting is not an option.

When Moving is a Must

Someone has already sold their home, and must now find a new place to live. Many of Canada’s housing markets were in seller’s territory in early 2020, prompted by low housing supply and growing demand. This motivated many homeowners to list.

A homeowner has to sell their existing home to finance the new home they’ve already agreed to purchase. Precluding homeowners from selling would have a detrimental domino effect.

A family is living in a precarious place, with no choice but to move. Factors such as neighbourhood crime or unsafe conditions inside the home itself may have forced a decision to move.

A homeowner has to liquidate their home equity in order to finance their business or their life. Social distancing measures mean many businesses are suffering huge losses. Furthermore, Canada’s unemployment rate in March 2020 rose to 7.8 per cent, up from 5.6 per cent in February 2020. Incomes are down. Meanwhile, the monthly bills continue to roll in.

READ: COVID-19 Relief Measures To Help Canadians

Those who were already in the thick of the re-homing process as the pandemic set in are now finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place – and homelessness is not an option. With that said, this spring real estate market is anything but “business as usual.” RE/MAX, along with other real estate brands and association, has strongly advised against open houses and in-person showings. The real estate industry has responded in an incredibly responsible way, limiting face-to-face contact and facilitating real estate transactions virtually.

Agents Are Doing Business Differently

Recognizing the need to proceed with real estate transactions, agents have adapted their business practices to meet social distancing measures. This include digital listing presentations, virtual open houses and showings, video conferences, e-signatures and e-transfers, among other things. RE/MAX agents are increasingly completing 100-per-cent digital transactions, and their clients are open to this new approach.

READ: Ontario Real Estate Pushes Forward with Virtual Deals

It’s understandable that people are on edge, as they come to terms with the shaky ground beneath us and the uncertain road ahead. Together, we will get through this and as always, RE/MAX professionals are here to provide guidance to homebuyers and sellers, to help them meet this most basic of human needs.

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Articles

Local pride will be more important than ever in restoring liveability

While Canadians from coast to coast to coast isolate themselves from the many local enjoyments they derived from their neighbourhoods prior to COVID-19, their genuine love for their local community offers many glimmers of hope in the months ahead. In its latest report, RE/MAX explores some of Canada’s best places to live, what makes them so.

According to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of RE/MAX prior to the outbreak, 82 per cent of Canadians say they would sacrifice at least one desirable attribute in order to live in the neighbourhood they believe meets their liveability “must-haves” and 90 per cent of Canadians love the neighbourhoods they live in.

Liveability is about quality of life at a local level. A neighbourhood’s dynamism, or lack thereof, involves a delicate convergence between independent small businesses, public institutions, arts and culture, green spaces and housing, to name a few. The COVID-19 tragedy will impact neighbourhood ecosystems differently across the country, just as the virus itself has. Yet, civic/local pride has been proliferating throughout this crisis in inspiring ways, giving Canadians hope that micro-economies, including real estate, have the resilience to be restored in the near and mid-term.

“For the benefit of local small businesses and the capacity of residents to restore a high quality of life, or liveability, to their respective communities, the degree of local pride should give us all optimism,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “We have to remind ourselves that this underlying pride and the remarkable local relief efforts in aid of small businesses are ultimately what we believe will help our neighbourhoods return to the dynamism we have all come to highly appreciate, and I’m confident we’ll be successful.”

Alexander adds, “While we’ve seen transactions across the country drop considerably in the last six weeks, I am hopeful that housing prices and demand will remain steady with the help of local resilience and local activity in the months ahead.”

The 2020 RE/MAX Liveability Report explores the qualities that give each homeowner the true satisfaction of living in their neighbourhood, such as access to green spaces or restaurants and entertainment. According to the report, 91 per cent of Canadians have at least one important liveability factor that’s very important to them when it comes to the neighbourhood they live in now or would like to live in, in the future.

Not surprisingly, housing affordability came in at the top at 61 per cent, followed by:

Walkability (37 per cent)
Proximity to work (34 per cent)
Low density neighbourhoods (30 per cent)
Proximity to transit (30 per cent)
Access to green spaces/dog parks (30 per cent)
With affordability as the top liveability criteria for Canadians, this lowered the overall liveability score for neighbourhoods in hot markets such as Vancouver and Toronto, despite both having high liveability rankings in other categories.

Canadian homebuyer lifestyles were also considered in determining the best neighborhoods for their specific needs and tastes, based on a specific set of liveability factors. Location scores provided by Local Logic, a Montreal-based data analytics company that partnered with RE/MAX for this report, were leveraged to determine the top neighborhoods in Canada for each lifestyle based on the liveability factors that Canadians deem most important to them.

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Terence Tait Tips

Whenever you leave your home — whether it’s for a fall vacation, the school run, or a just a long day at Costco — you want everything to be in its place when you get back. Protect yourself from theft with these do’s and don’ts of home security.

DO: Lock It Down

Sure, it’s home-security common sense to have locks on all exterior doors, but have you thought about other entrances? Basically, any entrance into the property should have a locking mechanism, including gates and windows. Many burglaries aren’t forced entries; the intruders just walk through unlocked doors.

DON’T: Hide and Seek

After going to the trouble of installing all these locks, don’t hide a door key outside “just in case.” Your home security is compromised the second someone finds out about its “secret” location (yes, thieves will look under the flower pots). If you must have a spare key, keep it in your car, which should also be locked at all times.

DO: Look Who’s Knockin’

Installing a peephole in your front door lets you check out who’s knocking and gives you time to determine the next action. Simply having a peephole in your door can be enough to deter unwanted guests.

DON’T: Encourage “Window Shopping”

Keep valuables such as high-end media centres, jewelry collections, and expensive sports equipment away from windows. Treating your home like a store-window display will just advertise to potential burglars that your home is worth keeping an eye on.

DO: Light It Up

Putting up a set of outdoor motion-sensor lighting near the front door, garage and any nearby alleyways provides a visual deterrent for would-be thieves. After all, uninvited guests tend to stay out of the spotlight.

DON’T: Socialize

We get it — you want to update your social media channels about what’s new and cool in your life. But you may want to keep your plans for that exciting winter vacation or your new Wednesday-night Barre class to yourself. Letting strangers know your whereabouts is another way of telling them your home is up for grabs.

DO: Change It Up

If you’re moving into a new home, take the time and invest in a whole new set of locks. You have no way of knowing who’s got keys to the current locks, and it simply isn’t worth risking it. The same goes if you lose your current key — replace the whole system ASAP.

DO: Safe Landscaping

Hedges, shrubs, and fencing segments provide excellent places for crooks to hide while checking your property for security vulnerabilities. Cut back bushes, trim hedges, and limb trees so that all entrances are visible from the street.

We should all hope for the best but prepare for the worst when it comes to our home security. Fortunately, it only takes a few easy measures to make you and your family feel safe and secure in your own home.

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Articles, Uncategorized

As Covid-19 sweeps its way through our cities and neighbourhoods, we’ve also seen acts of kindness emerge in its wake. From cities and countries pulling together to weather the economic storms ahead, to online communities offering support for individuals, families, students, homeowners, renters, business owners, employees, those looking for work, and those trying to manage their day to day in this new environment. Staying connected to your community while respecting the rules of social distancing is totally possible. Here are some ideas for being a good neighbour while social distancing.

Check in. This could be especially impactful for your elderly or otherwise vulnerable neighbours. They may not be able to run important errands such as getting groceries and medications, or they may be emotionally fragile and might benefit from a friendly check-in from time to time. Reach out to your soon-to-be “next-ies” by leaving a note that includes your phone number, email address and an offer to drop some groceries off on their porch steps.

Join an online group. Apps like Facebook, Slack, WhatsApp and Zoom are simple to use and can help fill the void left by social distancing. Join an online community of neighbours, a local parents’ group, or like-minded hobbyists. Meet at regularly scheduled days/times, much like you might in person, to connect and “chat” with folks who are facing similar worries and wins.

Don’t hoard. Social distancing dictates that people should only leave home for essential errands. While out on your limited outings, stock up on enough groceries that you won’t have to go shopping again in a couple of days, but be mindful of other people’s needs. Canada is not currently experiencing a shortage of toilet paper, canned good or anti-bacterial hand soap – aside from the scarcities caused by hoarders.

Shop online, shop local. Many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. When ordering your groceries, food delivery or other items online, consider buying from a local business.

Give what you can. Many local homeless shelters, food banks, animal shelters and other non-profits are still operating, so consider donating extra supplies or money if you can spare it. If you’ve already paid in advance for piano lessons, dance classes or a child’s school excursion, rather than requesting a refund, consider leaving that money with the organization/service provider as a donation instead.

Stay informed. Don’t get swallowed up by all the doom and gloom, and ensure you’re getting your news from credible sources.

Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer. Cough and sneeze into your sleeve. Tissues are a single-use item. And for the love of Pete, don’t touch your face! This is all fairly basic stuff that we’ve all heard from Mom every time cold and flu season rolls around. Furthermore, clean frequently touches surfaces and of course, maintain a safe distance if you must be in contact with anyone.

And last but certainly not least…

Stay home! In order to flatten the curve, government and public health agencies are strongly urging the public to stay home. Have a hankering to go shoot some hoops at the park? Stay home. Feel like stopping by a friend’s place, just to say “hi”? Stay home. Need to quickly drop off a gift for Grandma’s birthday? Stay home. Not feeling well or have you recently travelled? Stay home. Have you been in close contact with someone who has recently travelled or isn’t feeling well? Stay home. The longer we ignore the rules of social distancing, the longer we’ll have to do it.

It’s possible to be a good neighbor while social distancing. In fact, staying away from your neighbors is the best thing you can do right now. Technology has come a long way, allowing us to stay connected with those near and far without ever leaving the safety of home.

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When buying or selling a home, it’s important to think big. Look beyond the home itself. What does the neighborhood have to offer? These features factor into the “livability” of a community and help contribute to a home’s appeal (translation: higher resale value). Unfortunately, livability factors are often lost among a home’s marble countertops and square footage.

Livability is key to the quality of life that a home offers. Here are five amenities to consider:

Green spaces & parks

According to the survey for the 2019 RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook report, 59 per cent of Canadians expressed a wish to live closer to green spaces. Green spaces and parks are not only beautiful but functional as an extension of living areas, fostering a sense of community.

Bike lanes & walking paths

Safe walking and bike paths are crucial to livability and benefit not only your health but the environment as well.

Public transit

Having access to a good public transit system is ideal, particularly for those living in urban city centers. Removing the need to own a car and reducing environmental footprint are valuable features that close proximity to transit can provide.

Retail & restaurants

The ability to walk to a selection of shopping and restaurants is an important quality for many people, bringing efficiency and character to neighborhoods.

Cultural & community centers

A sense of community fosters quality of life. Visits to local shops, cafes or community centers offer the opportunity to meet and connect with neighbors.

Thinking about community qualities can be an effective way to distinguish properties. Look beyond the home’s physical features add livability to your list of must-have features when you’re buying or selling a home. Not only will you enjoy life more while you live in the home, but these factors can also boost its resale value when you’re ready to make your next move.

Source: RE/MAX Canada

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