Monday, March 7, 2016

The tax benefits of home ownership

Now that February is over, all those tax-related documents have likely started arriving in your mailbox. Whether you’re socking them away to use at a later date, or hoping to put them to work this weekend, there are a number of housing-related deductions and credits you should keep in mind as you go through the tax filing process. Pay particular attention if:

You’re a first-time homebuyer
Anyone who has purchased a home for the first time can claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $750.

You’ve made your home more accessible
If you have mobility impairments and spent money making your home more accessible in the last year, you’re eligible to claim those renovation expenses under the medical expenses deductions.

You bought a new house
If you bought a new build for under $450,000, you may be eligible to claim the GST/HST new housing rebate—provided it’s your principal residence.

You own a rental property
The downside to owning a rental property is that you have to claim your rental income as, well, income. The upside is that you can claim many expenses that go into maintaining a rental property—such as advertising costs, insurance and mortgage interest.

You work from home
Whether you are self-employed, or a commissioned or professional employee who works from home, you can claim a portion of your home office expenses—such as heating, home insurance, electricity and mortgage insurance.

While your accountant or bookkeeper is likely the best person to ask about other household deductions, I can definitely help with any mortgage-related queries you might have! So whether you’re looking to renew, refinance or simply want to chat, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Homebuyers’ Tax Credit 101

If you bought a home in 2015, you may or may not be aware that you’re eligible for a Federal tax refund this upcoming tax season. If you’d like to learn more about the First Time Homebuyers’ Tax Credit—including how to qualify—the Canada Revenue Agency put together this informative video  with all you need to know!

If you have additional questions about the First Time Homebuyers’ Tax Credit—or about your mortgage—please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

You can call our office at 905 372 7367

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Having trouble affording your first home? You're not alone.

If you’re an aspiring first-time buyer getting frustrated by how hot—and expensive—your market is, you’re not alone. Many young people are in your exact position. In fact, this professor at UBC actually did research on the plight first-time buyers face, and determined that they’re by far worse off than their parents were.

That being said, there are ways to land a new home if you really want it. You may just have to employ creative measures, such as:

Buy with friends
You’d obviously have to be very careful which friends you choose—and make sure you employ the help of a good real estate lawyer when devising the contract—but this strategy has worked for some people. In one case I’m familiar with, a group of three roommates decided to just buy the home they were living in. It came up for sale and, after doing the math, they realized today’s low interest rates (coupled with a good down payment) made their mortgage payments cheaper than their rent payments. In another situation, a married couple and their friend bought a home together with a basement apartment. The bachelor lived downstairs and the couple—and eventually their kids—took the upstairs.

Be resilient
In a hot market, it’s easy to get discouraged—but it’s important not to let the endless bidding wars get you down. One buyer I know looked at every house that came up in her price range—regardless of what the photos in the real estate listing looked like. She eventually came across a gem—a recently-renovated home with a basement apartment in a decent neighbourhood. Not a single soul put an offer on the place because the agent hadn’t updated the listing photos—and the ones posted were pre-reno (and quite scary).

When necessary, settle.
Sometimes you just can’t get what you want. Sure, a three-bedroom three-bath detached home would be ideal, but sometimes a smaller townhouse is all you can afford (and find). If you can find a place that will make do for the next five years (that doesn’t overextend you), you may have to settle—and buy your dream home after you’ve built up some equity.

If you or anyone you know is trying to break into the housing market, please don’t hesitate to send them my way. Referrals are always appreciated!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How to quickly find your ideal mortgage payment

When shopping for a new home (and a new mortgage), it's best to work backwards-figure out how much you can afford to spend on your monthly mortgage payment and use that number to determine your ideal housing price point.
How do you come up with that monthly number? Well, one way is to go through your last three months' worth of bank statements, figure out what your spending habits are decide how much you could comfortably spend on housing. The other (quicker) option? Try the 40X rule .

The 40X rule is simple-and a calculation that's been used by New York City landlords for quite some time. Divide your annual salary by 40, and you'll end up with the approximate monthly payment you should be spending on your mortgage. Fiddling around with a mortgage calculator will help you translate that monthly number into a total mortgage amount-and, combined with your down payment, your housing price point.

While this isn't a foolproof method, it will give you a starting point to look for houses in your price range (and avoid disappointment when you find out that the multi-million dollar mansion you had your eye on is actually not in your budget).

Friday, December 11, 2015

The New Mortgage Rules Effective February 15th. 2016

Breaking News:

Today Bill Morneau, Finance Minister, announced some significant changes to mortgages.  Effective Feb 15, 2016 the minimum down payment for house purchases over $500,000 will require a bigger down payment.

Here's how that works:

A purchase price of $800.000 until Feb 15th, 2016 would require a down payment of $40,000.  After Feb 15th the down payment changes to 5% on $500,000 ($25,000) and 10% on the amount over $500,00 (10% x $400,000 = $40,000).  Your new down payment required is $65,000.

This is a dramatic change and deserves to be read between the lines.  The Minister today said he was ensuring  credit worthy borrowers maintained enough equity to protect them. There is also a lot of talk of the US raising borrowing rates next month.   There appears to be a lot of pressure on the government to cool the housing market before it corrects itself.

A market that shuts out first time buyers is not a good thing.  First time buyers are shut out more by the price of housing than down payments.  At this time first time buyers have little hope of getting into the market because of the price and not because of their inability to save money.  They are also affected by the interest rates.

Lets take a look back to the early 1990's.  First time buyers were shut out of the market.  Prices were out of reach and buyers were flocking to the suburbs and small towns in big numbers.  Those lucky people that managed to get into the market soon found they owed more money than their houses were worth.  It would appear the government has not forgotten the lessons of that time.  While they won't out right say there is a correction on the horizons its getting ever more apparent.  The changes today will ensure those buying will have a cushion.

More to come on this for sure.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A simple way to save energy this winter

Now that the weather has gotten chillier, households across Canada are turning up the heat. But are they doing it efficiently?

If you're like most homeowners, you probably haven't combed through the instructions of your high-tech thermostat-but you should. Knowing how to properly take advantage of your thermostat's features could save you a ton of money in energy bills this winter. Read this article  to find out which features you should be paying attention to.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Winterize Your Garage

With the cold winter months fast approaching, there is no better time to reorganize your garage to make room for more important things-like your car!

If you're looking for some inspiration, check out this blog  post from the professional organizers at Tailored Living. It's full of really interesting floor-space-saving ideas and racking configurations (that make storing things like sports equipment and holiday decorations so efficient!)

Which part of your home is in most need of some reorganizing? Let me know-I'd love to hear!