East Village Development

Calgary’s East Village is the “latest and greatest!”

Here are 10 reasons you should consider living in Calgary’s newest vibrant neighbourhood!

  1. Need a place to live? Calgary’s East Village has a number of elegant, luxurious and contemporary condominiums. The Verve is the East Village’s newest addition, featuring studio to 2-bedroom apartments designed for efficiency and comfort. Cool fact: The Verve is the East Village’s first condominium to be built on The Riff pedestrian street!
  2. Worried that if you live in the heart of an Urban village you won’t be able to cook from home? Worry not! Currently under construction at the corner of 5th and 3rd is Loblaws City Market and a Shoppers Drug Mart! All of your home cooking needs can be satisfied right here!
  3. Can’t decide between natural wilderness and urban luxury? St. Patrick’s Island in the East Village is the place for you! This developed island amidst the Bow River features gorgeous walk ways and bike paths, open, clean and kept grass and trees, and a modern arbour to sit and relax. Not enough? The park is also animal friendly and has a playground fit for the most adventurous children.
  4. 5th Street Square, at the intersection of 7th Ave and 5th Street SE is a small urban park where one can six back, relax, and collect their thoughts. If you’re into a more buzzing social scene, worry not. The YYC food trucks gather in the summer to give you a taste of… well anything you really want!
  5. Direct access to Calgary’s award winning RiverWalk. You aren’t limited to just walking here! Run or cycle in dedicated lanes to make your experience exactly that, your experience! Featuring paths along the Bow and Elbow Rivers, there is an ever changing site to see here!
  6. Artisan markets – enough said.
  7. Want to experience a national historic site whilst in the urban East Village? Fort Calgary gives you exactly that opportunity. This national Historic site has been around since Calgary was born in 1875. Stop by for an educated visit, brunch, or to host an event and “Make History”.
  8. No car? No problem! The East Village’s location makes it very easy to get around! Minutes from the City Hall C-train, you have access to every corner of Calgary!
  9. Tired of Netflix? Not to worry, there are tonnes of events around the East Village that you can partake in. Every month there is something new, from 5-minute therapy to weekly running group, the East Village has an event for you!
  10. As one of Calgary’s most up and coming neighbourhoods, the East Village is guaranteed to have a restaurant for you! From Village Ice Cream to Vasili’s Greek the East Village offers a wide range of selection just to tame your appetite.

Kayleigh Demosky is a finance major at the University of Calgary. Demosky is also a co-founder for the Calgary-based start-up company, The DigiHand.

Getting your Home Ready to Sell

Thinking about selling your home can be overwhelming. There are many questions that need answers: Should I sell privately or through a Real Estate Agent? Are there any major changes that need to be done in my home? How do I appropriately decorate my home for open house?
This guide will help you answer any questions you have regarding selling your home.

  1. Selling your home privately and retaining all the money your home sells for may sounds appealing, but hiring a Real Estate Agent is your best bet to sell your home quickly and for the best possible price. Real Estate Agents know how to negotiate with buyers, have knowledge about a variety of neighbourhoods, and help get your place in top shape. They also save you plenty of time that you may not have to do it on your own.
  2. Keep your home up to date. Nothing is as unappealing as walking into a potential home and discovering that the current owners haven’t updated their home since the 70’s – shag carpet and all. You want your home to have a good first impression on potential buyers when they walk through the door, and the best way to do this is to make sure that anything that needs repairing is repaired, and any upgrades that will increase the value of your home are completed.
  3. The first thing that potential buyers see when they arrive at your home is the exterior. You want to keep the outside of your home looking well-kept and professional, which may include mowing the lawn, trimming any bushes or trees in the yard, keeping outside decorations to a minimum and tasteful, and cleaning the siding and windows.
  4. Depersonalize your home. Buyers want to be able to imagine themselves living in your home, and that can be difficult when they are surrounded by pictures of you and your family everywhere. This also includes removing any toothbrushes from the bathroom and removing any fixtures you plan on taking with you.
  5. The final thing you should do before you begin showing your home to buyers is de-clutter and organize. Make sure that the house has been deep cleaned and you’ve scrubbed any hard to reach areas, like the tops of door frames. Don’t leave anything lying around, try to get things out of the way so people viewing the home have a clear walking path. You should also organize your home. This includes the furniture, making the home look open and inviting, as well as your cupboards and any decorations you may have. When buyers are looking through your home, they do not want to see that you’ve stashed things away into crammed cupboards, as this may make them wonder what else you are hiding.

With these steps, you should be well on the way to selling your home.

Simone Wayling is a finance major at the Haskayne School of Business (University of Calgary). Wayling is also a co-founder for the Calgary-based start-up company, The DigiHand.

Downtown Or The Suburbs?

Justin and Angie Ahn are transitioning from being young adults to starting a family. They have previously lived in condominiums, apartments in downtown, suburbs, and now reside in the inner city. They are a family of three and with another child on the way, enjoying the middle ground between downtown and the suburbs.

Life Style

Before they began their life together, they lived in apartments and condominiums in the downtown areas of Calgary and Edmonton.  The downtown environment fitted their lifestyle at the time, because the central location offered them the convenience of being close to everything they needed. There were a variety of bars, restaurants, and clubs that were in walking distance or a bus stop away.

Starting their jobs after finishing their studies at the University of Alberta, the commute to work was very convenient as they were able to walk or take public transit, thus saving money from reduced driving and parking costs.

Living in a condominium or apartment, however, underground parking was almost always an additional cost and proved to be difficult for out of town visitors.

Angie’s job as an auditor had her traveling across Canada, and when she had the chance, she was able to stay with her parents in the suburbs part of Edmonton. The suburbs, being away from the central part of the city, there was an increase in the money required to commute to work, though she did find some benefits: she really enjoyed the lack of traffic noise, able to relax in the backyard with a cup of tea.

Once she and her husband settle down for a family they knew that living downtown would not be an ideal place to raise their child, wanting more space, and a better education opportunity.  Justin and Angie made the choice of a home in the inner city making their commute to work still walking distance. Their home is smaller than what they could have bought in the suburb,s but it offers enough space for their children to grow up. Living in inner city also provides them a parking space for them and their guests. Although bars and clubs may not be their thing anymore, restaurants and cafes are still in close distance.

When choosing to a place to live it depends on lifestyles, opportunities that are given, but you’re not limited to stay at one place forever.

Justin Park, is studying Business Technology Management at the University of Calgary. Park is also a co-founder for the Calgary-based start-up company, The DigiHand.

5 Tips To Make Your New Home Feel Cozier- WITHOUT Breaking The Bank

Warm Wall Colours

The importance of wall colour is often underestimated asthe colour of your paint can completely revolutionize the space. Painting a room is a great way to instantly make it over without spending too much. The general rule of thumb is, for a quieter ambiance, make sure your colours are not extremely bright, therefore choosing colours such as a light brown, soft reds, and purples.

Photo credit: Pinterest

If your new home has wood finishing, darker reds, navy, or a warm off-white can help create a more rustic-cozy feel to the room. Cooler colours make a space feel larger and airier. Warm colours do the complete opposite – they make a space feel smaller and cozier. Every colour, even whites and blacks, can have cool or warm undertones.

The most important aspect of picking a good paint is looking at the size of your room, large spaces often require these warmer colours to help make them feel cozier. However, a smaller room should have lighter greys or off whites with a warm tone in order to open up the space making it more inviting.

Use Rugs in your space

Whether that be in your bedroom or living room, adding soft and textured rugs can add to the warmth of the space almost immediately. Not to mention the fact that rugs on a bare floor keep the heat in, meaning that they are literally warming up a room.

Photo credit: Pinterest                         Photo credit: Pinterest

Pay Attention to Lighting

One of the easiest ways to make your home cozier is lighting. I can’t stress enough how important lighting is, and the effect it’ll have on your room. From the height of your lighting, the use of candles, to the colour of light bulb you choose, these quick changes can have a huge effect on the ambiance of the room.

Photo credit: Lindevegen

The general rule of thumb for choosing lighting for your new home is to evaluate the space. In a living room, for example, the use of table lamps will help to bring the lighting down to a working level, creating a warmer room that will make you want to cuddle up in a blanket and read. It is also important in these multifaceted rooms to have multiple sources of light – brighter ones for larger gatherings, smaller ones for more intimate gatherings, or a night in. As well, in the bedroom, the use of candles and warmer-tone light bulbs will help in creating a more warm and welcoming space.

Look for furniture that is “curl-upable”

There is a very big difference in furniture that is nice to look at, and furniture that is nice to sit or lay on. Ideally, the prefect love seat or sofa would strike a balance between the two. But if you truly are committed to the coziness, then prior to buying furniture you have to ask yourself, “Can I see myself curled up on this sofa of a Sunday afternoon, feet sunk deep in the cushions, reading a book and drinking tea?” If the answer is no – keep looking.

Photo credit: JYSK Canada

An additional way to cozy up an existing couch is throw pillows and blankets. Adding soft and textured throw pillows can completely change the atmosphere in the room and create warmth to any space.

Illuminate “feel good” objects in a room

When planning on moving to new home, the things you love should take center stage. Your home must ultimately reflect who you are, and the rest will fall into place. That collection of memorabilia, family photos, or old vinyl’s represent you, and that will be reflected in the space and the overall coziness of the room.

Photo credit: Crate & Barrel

Monica Turcotte, is a student at the University of Calgary, studying entrepreneurship with a minor in communication and media studies. She is also president of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority at the UofC. Turcotte is also a co-founder for the Calgary-based start-up company, The DigiHand.

Airbnb — Turning Your Home Into New Income

Founded in 2008, Airbnb has amassed over 3 million listings worldwide in more than 65,000 cities in 191 countries. Long gone are the days when you found yourself sleeping on a friend of a friend’s couch just to save some money while travelling; Airbnb has modernized couch surfing and created a new way for homeowners to generate some extra income.

Airbnb is a digital platform that allows homeowners to temporarily rent out their space to travellers from around the world. Similar to Uber, everyday people can generate income using an asset they already possess. However, before deciding to open your doors, it’s important to consider the benefits and risks of this opportunity.

Anyone who owns a space (a room, apartment, house, or even a castle!) can become a “host” and create a free listing. The listing can include photos, a description of the space and amenities, however there’s also an interactive rating feature and reviews from previous guests. Airbnb allows you to determine the value of your space and set your own price.

So when you create a listing, it’s important to consider qualities that might attract travellers, such as the property’s location and it’s location relative to transit or local spots (4th street, 17th avenue or the Calgary Stampede). According to Airbnb’s own economic impact studies, 91 per cent of travellers want to “live like a local” and 79 per cent of travellers want to explore a specific neighbourhood.

Let’s discuss the benefits of becoming a host. Besides benefiting local economies and local businesses, there are benefits to you, personally.

  1. Meeting new people: Airbnb provides a unique opportunity for hosts to meet people from all over the world and engage in a culture exchange. Without leaving the comfort of your own home, you can learn all about different cultures and languages through a primary source.
  1. Making extra income: maybe you’ve got some renovations planned or want to save up for a dream vacation, hosting travellers is an excellent source of additional income to any household. In fact, 48 per cent of current Airbnb hosts use the income to pay for house expenses like groceries.
  2. You have control: When creating listings on Airbnb, you’re able to charge what you want, when you want and to whom you’d like. As previously mentioned, you determine the value of your space when offering it to guests (If you’re unsure of how much to charge, Airbnb does offer a quick estimate based on your area, however there are other tools to estimate your income, like the Airbnb host calculator (http://learnairbnb.com/airbnb-host-calculator/)). Unlike traditional rental agreements, there’s no binding contract between yourself and a renter for months or a year. Hosts are able to rent out spaces for a varying lengths of time, such as a single night or months. Then after travellers have submitted requests, it’s your decision if you want to accept or decline each request.

What are some risks or concerns for a host?

The most obvious concern homeowners have is property damage.

Allowing strangers to stay in your home sounds like you’re asking for trouble, however Airbnb protects their hosts with it’s Host Guarantee (https://www.airbnb.ca/guarantee) and Host Protection Insurance (https://www.airbnb.ca/host-protection-insurance). These two policies are meant to shelter homeowners from property damage and liability, however it’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully (a few things that are not covered include: cash, artwork, jewelry and pets). Homeowners should talk to an insurance agent and discuss additional insurance coverage such as homeowners, renters and umbrella.

Along with these two policies, Airbnb further mitigates risk with profile verification (connecting an account to social media, phone numbers, emails and government-issued ID), as well as secure payments platforms.

Additional fees and costs

  1. It’s important to note that Airbnb takes a 3 per cent service fee for each transaction between a host and guest. Depending on location, there may be addition taxes such as VAT (Value Added Tax), JCT (Japanese Consumption Tax),GST (Goods and Service Tax) or Occupancy Tax. To determine which taxes apply to you, contact your local tax services office.
  2. Depending on the space you want to rent out, there might be certain laws and limitations that could prohibit you and not following these laws can result in fines.

Overall, Airbnb is a great idea if you’re interested in making extra income with your home and meeting new people! However, before decided to post a listing it’s crucial to do some research about insurance, additional fees or taxes and local rules and regulations related to rental properties. For more insight on the Airbnb process, check out their help page. (https://www.airbnb.ca/help)

Bailie Richards is 4th year student at the University of Calgary, studying Italian Studies and Business, with a concentration in Operations Management. Richards is also a co-founder for the Calgary-based start-up company, The DigiHand.

Everything You Need to Know About Buying Your First Home

If you’re anything like me, you’re growing rather tired of spending the majority of your hard-earned pay each month on rent. You find yourself thinking that rent is expensive. Paying rent really does nothing to advance your own financials, so really, why bother? If this sounds like your train of thought lately than maybe you’re ready to buy your own home.

It sounds absolutely terrifying, I know. It certainly can be. Especially if you lack the information and the “How To’s” of buying a home.

However, when you break it down, buying a home is not actually that scary or overwhelming. Just take it slow and know that you can’t move on to the next step before dealing with the one before.

Can You Afford To Purchase A Home?

Take a good hard look at where you spend your money. Calculate all your bills and debts and see if adding mortgage payments to the mix would be doable for you. Your monthly housing costs shouldn’t be higher than 32 per cent of your gross monthly income and your monthly debt load should be less than 40 per cent of your gross monthly income.

There are even government initiatives that are set in place to encourage first time buyers such as the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit. This $5,000 credit will help with all of the extra costs of buying a home including legal fees, disbursements and land transfer taxes.

Even with this credit, first-time homebuyers must still save for a down payment. The minimum deposit required in Canada is at least 5 per cent of the purchase price of the home. CMHC insurance is needed in order to protect the lender in case you default on your payments, but it can be avoided if you put down a down payment of 20 per cent or more.

Qualifying And Getting A Loan

Getting a pre-approval is step two. It’s one of the best ways to determine what your shopping budget will be. A lender will analyze all of your finances and debts and determine how much money they could potentially offer you to go towards a new home.

Before calling a lender, you should know some of these basics to help you feel more comfortable:

  • Lenders like consistency — they like loaning money to people who have worked at the same job for longer than two years
  • Explain every detail about all of your income to help your loan officer give you the correct information
  • Have all of your financial documents at hand so you can give your loan officer exact numbers
  • Be ready to have your credit checked, so be sure to close any open claims with collections before this is done; in fact, check your credit reports from either Equifax or TransUnion

Finding The Perfect Property

Once know how much you can, it’s time to start shopping. You can use builders’ websites, or directories like NewHomeListingService to help you shop more quickly and effectively when it comes to looking at new homes and condos.

Or if you’re feeling really lost and would like to shop with more confidence you can always find a Real Estate Agent.

You’ve probably already been scoping out listings online and you’ve found a few that you really like and if you have chosen to use a Real Estate Agent, they may have listings that fit all of your needs. Now it’s time to set up some viewings. You may choose to set up viewings yourself at a show home of a builder, or have your Real Estate Agent set them up for you.

You may find yourself getting frustrated after a few home viewings, but remember that this process can take weeks or months. This is your future home; take your time, enjoy the process and find that perfect place that you know you will be happy with for years to come.

Making An Offer

When you have finally found that home that fits all of your needs, you’re ready to make an offer.

A Real Estate Agent will come in handy here. They will run all of the numbers and together you can come up with an offer that you are happy with. Once the offer is written, your agent will give it to the seller or the builder, and negotiations will begin.

This negotiation process can take some time and can be stressful. But don’t worry, there are professionals on both sides.

Finally, when an agreement has been reached, the contract will be revised to the agreed terms and you’ll be ready to finalize the offer. Legal help may be an option that you would like to consider at this point as well.

From Contract To Keys

Now that the offer has been finalized there are a few major milestones – often referred to as conditions of the offer – you must hit before you get those keys and title of homeowner.

The home inspection – The home inspection is important because if there’s anything wrong with the home (plumbing, electrical, insulation issues, etc.), then you can change your offer to reflect these costs, putting the responsibility on the previous owner, or builder, before you purchase the home. The new home warranty is an important aspect to consider when buying a property.

Home appraisal – Your lender will often ask a licensed appraiser to the home and determine the actual value of the home versus the asking price. An appraiser is generally only utilized by the lender when making a down payment of 20 per cent or more.

Finalizing the mortgage – The lender will transfer the money to your purchase lawyer just before possession day, but only after you’ve finalized the terms and conditions of your mortgage.

Which Mortgage To Choose?

There are several options to customize your mortgage best to suit your needs. You can adjust the amortization period – or the length of time that you will need to repay your loan. This is typically 25 years.

You’ll set your payment schedule. You can pay monthly, biweekly, or weekly. The more frequent you make your payments, the faster you’ll pay off your mortgage and less interest.

You can have a fixed-rate mortgage, which is a mortgage with a consistent, locked-in interest rate. This is good for buyers who need to know how much their monthly home payments are.

Or you can have a variable mortgage, which means that the rate can fluctuate during the lifespan of the mortgage term. The interest rate is dependent on the prime rate and can go up or down during your term. This is a bit of a gamble, but it can work in your favour when interest rates are low.

Final Steps

Closing day is the day that you finalize your purchase and take possession of your home. You and your lawyer will go through all of the paperwork they have negotiated with your lender. Your lawyer will ensure that you’re clear on everything mentioned in the documents. When everything is signed and the payments have been transferred over to the vendor, you’ll get the keys.

Once you’ve completed all the steps, you’ll become a first-time homeowner and no longer have to pay rent. You’ll have taken a huge step in securing your future.

Caitlin Clow is a guest contributor to New Home Listing Service

Millenials and the Housing Market

Canada’s housing market remains strong despite the economic downturn, and more millennials are buying with Calgary’s ever-growing communities. Though the average housing prices are increasing, it’s the selection of homes and the buying incentives from builders that keeps the buying market strong.

The average price of a single-family home in Canada, in 1996, was $150,899, which seems pretty affordable.  Now – 20 years later, in 2016, the average price is up by 66 per cent at $442,264, per the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

The term, “millennials” colours the idea that more and more 20- to 30-year-olds are living at home for as long as they can when, in fact, the latest study on consumer housing trends from Zillow finds that about half of home buyers are under the age of 36. The market is also comprised heavily of first-time buyers: 47 per cent of those buying and 63 per cent of those selling a home are doing so for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, in a market where home prices are reaching all-time highs, homeownership remains a challenge for many. More than half of home buyers didn’t get the first house on which they made an offer. And even though 56 per cent of buyers saved over time for a down payment, 32 per cent found that their savings were not sufficient to buy a home and had to use other sources, per CREA.

Steve Thirlwall, 25, from Calgary, still lives in his parent’s basement but has decided to skip the renting phase all together, instead opting to buy his first home.

“The search for a REALTOR® and getting approved was quite easy, though finding the right home in the right community has been difficult.”

Thirlwall says that because most “regular” single-family homes run for “half a million or more”, finding a house that isn’t the size of an apartment for a reasonable price has been the challenge.

“From the beginning of our search we were adamant about saving the 20% down payment to avoid the CMHC fee. The hardest part was the two years of saving and waiting before we felt we could afford a house.”

Though the bright side of these challenges is the opportunity to afford in the some of the communities that may not have been an option before.

On average, first-time buyers spend $263,310.34 on their home—18% less than repeat home buyers, who spend about $309,389.65. Millennials are also buying homes that are only slightly smaller, at 1,800 square feet, than those purchased by Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, whose homes are on average 2,000 square feet, per Time.com.

Laura Bruce, 25, from Calgary, has owned her townhome in southern Calgary for two years, stating the process of finding her humble abode was “a lot of leg work” since Bruce and her fiancé Ryan Nephew didn’t hire a REALTOR® and had ended up going with a new build.

“The building process was easy once we had chosen. We found getting approved for a mortgage very easy. It was not until later we discovered sites like NewHomeListingService.com that makes it so much easier to find all of the Builders of new homes in one place.”

Bruce never faced any challenges in buying. “We found getting approved for a mortgage an easy process.”

A new poll by CIBC suggests home ownership is just as important to millennials as it is to most Canadians.

The survey shows 86 per cent of millennials view home ownership as important even though 42 per cent of them are renting and 21 per cent live with their parents. Overall, according to the poll, 85 per cent of Canadians consider home ownership a priority.

Of those, 63 per cent say it makes financial sense to build equity and save for retirement while 59 per cent of millennials in the 18-34 age group say home ownership provides a sense of personal freedom. Conversely, 15 per cent of Canadians say home ownership is not important, with nearly half saying it’s too big of a financial burden.

“We were keen to buy a house, as it’s a smart investment and wanted to build our own equity rather than pay rent,” Bruce said.

When asked if buying in your mid-twenties in 2016 is easier than it was 1996, she says it depends on challenges faced – there could be many factors.

“I think it’s harder as your purchasing power is less than it was 20 years ago, however, with lower mortgage rates and less down payment required it may make it easier for homebuyers now.”

Barry Gollom, vice president of mortgages and lending at CIBC, says it’s a myth that millennials don’t want to own their own home, per Huffington Post.

“In fact, our poll suggests that millennials place as much importance on being a home owner as Canadians in other age groups,” he said.

“Home ownership is an important milestone to many, and that hasn’t changed even though it has become increasingly difficult to get into the market.”

What is a Millennial: Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X.  Howe and Strauss define the Millennial cohort as consisting of individuals born between 1982 and 2004. (Source: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/millennials-millennial-generation)
Adrianna Thebault is the Marketing Communications Manager at NewHomeListingService.com, “The Most Trusted Newly Built Home Directory in Canada”

Tips for Adding an Income Suite to Your Home

Wish your mortgage payment had less of an impact on your finances? One way to offset mortgage carrying costs is to re-purpose part of your home as a rental – and with house prices bypassing the $1 million mark in many of Canada’s cities (such as the Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary real estate markets), this is becoming a common tactic for home-buyers and owners.

For those who want to afford more than a townhouse or condo but have limited affordability, the income from a rental suite can effectively help them move up in the market. It’s a practice encouraged by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), because it contributes to affordable rental options within cities. As it states on its website, “Not only are secondary suites a source of affordable rental housing, they can also provide the needed extra income to first-time buyers for whom that additional income makes housing affordable in high-cost areas.” The CMHC also recently passed rules to make it easier for homeowners with suites to borrow, allowing 100% of their gross rental income to be considered when they apply for a mortgage or loan.

But renting out an income suite also means assuming the role of landlord – something many homeowners have no experience with.

Here’s what you should consider when renting out an income suite.

Make Sure Your Rental Suite Follows the Rules

In order to be considered a legal secondary suite, the rental must fit the following criteria:

  • It must have its own separate, private entrance
  • The unit must have its own kitchen, living and sleeping areas, none of which are shared by the landlord
  • There may be only one rental unit per home, and only single detached residences qualify (there are other rules that govern rentals in rowhouses).
  • The unit must meet the safety and fire codes as outlined by the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) in your province
  • You must live in an area or zone where secondary suites are allowed

If you’re buying a home that already has a suite included, it’s important to know if it’s up to code, or includes illegal or shoddy work. You’ll have to update it with new renovations if that’s the case. This can especially be an issue in older homes, where units may have been built prior to new regulations, or require updates to their wiring and insulation in order to adhere to fire code.

Get Your Landlord Business in Order

Being a landlord isn’t an easy task; not only will you need to market your unit to prospective tenants, but you’ll be fully responsible for maintaining it and keeping it in safe, livable condition. For example, if the appliances stop working or the sink backs up at three a.m, you’ll need to deal with the situation ASAP, and will be on the hook for all costs and labour.

Running a rental unit is also more involved than picking your tenant and collecting a rent cheque each month. You’ll need to report the rent as income on your taxes, though you may be able to write off some expenses associated with it. Hiring an accountant to help you keep track of your assets and expenses is a good idea – and they’ll also be very helpful should you sell your home and need to report your capital gains.

It’s also important to know your landlord rights and legal requirements in your province as they can differ across Canada. Brush up on privacy laws, the CMHC’s Provincial and Territorial Fact Sheets, and your local legislation and RTA. Still not sure? Invest in a consultation with an experienced tenancy lawyer, who can answer any additional questions you may have. 

Prepare the Worst Case Scenario

While you may have been meticulous during your tenant selection process, disputes can – and will – happen. It’s important to know the processes for coping with such issues, and what it’ll cost you. If you’re unhappy with your tenant, you don’t have the power to simply turf them out, even if they’ve stopped paying rent. You’ll need to serve them with notice, apply for have a case for arrears opened, and may even need to have a tribunal hearing in order to resolve the issue.  This process costs time and money, and can jeopardize your finances if you’re relying on that rental income month-to-month. As with any smart financial plan, ensure you have a rainy day fund on hand to cope with unexpected repairs or loss of rent – just in case.

Plan for Life After Landlord

Do you intend to rent out your suite indefinitely, or is the goal to eventually reside in the entire home once on firmer financial ground? How many months, or years, will you need to keep the rental to recoup your costs and be profitable? Will you renovate your home to revert it back to a single-family residence when you’re no longer renting it out? As with any business, ensure you have a three, five, or even 10-year strategy in place. After all, it’s ultimately your home – so plan to enjoy it, along with all the responsibility.

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor of Zoocasa.com, a leading real estate resource that uses full brokerage service and online tools to empower Canadians to buy or sell their home faster, easier, and more successfully.

Is It Time To Become A Homeowner?

Many people dream of buying a home. For some, it proves they’ve become an adult. However, wanting a home and being able to afford a home are two very different things. Costs are definitely a factor, but money shouldn’t be the only reason why you decide to become a homeowner.

Get your finances in order

To qualify for a mortgage, you need to have a minimum of a 5% down payment. So that means if your purchase price is $400,000, then you need to have $20,000 saved. That, however, doesn’t factor in your closing costs which will cost you an additional 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price.

Keep in mind that if your down payment is less than 20%, you have to pay mortgage default insurance (also known as CMHC insurance). This extra insurance gets rolled into your mortgage, but you can see how rushing in with just 5% saved might not be the best idea. Be sure to use a mortgage affordability calculator to get a sense of what your overall costs will be.

Understand your monthly costs

Even with a down payment in place, you need to think about your carrying costs. First, take a look at the best mortgage rates available. Even better yet, get pre-approved so you’ll know how much you can afford and what your monthly carrying costs will be.

Your mortgage payments are just one of your monthly expenses. You’ll also need to factor in property taxes, hydro, maintenance, and homeowner’s insurance. Of course, there are also your daily life expenses such as bills, groceries, and entertainment. Don’t fall into the trap of looking at just the monthly carrying costs as things change and interest rates may go up. You’ll want to give yourself some wiggle room just in case.

Consider your goals

Owning a home is expensive and could potentially leave you with little savings. If you didn’t keep some money aside for your emergency fund, you’ll need to start rebuilding your savings. Even if you’re approved to spend a certain amount on a home, you shouldn’t spend it all because you could overextend yourself. Your monthly costs don’t even factor in potential long-term goals, such as vacations and the cost of having children.

Also, is a home the only asset you want? You should also begin to save for retirement by investing your money. To be on the safe side, you could buy a smaller a home and invest the rest so all of your money isn’t tied to a single asset.

The bottom line

In the end, buying a home is a personal choice. Only you can decide when you’re ready to become a homeowner, but you definitely need to consider the costs of owning a home before making a decision.

RateHub.ca is a website that compares mortgage ratescredit cards and deposit rates with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money.

Housing Affordability in Western Canada

Housing affordability is a big topic for major western real estate markets in Canada such as Vancouver and Calgary. This creates an obstacle and an opportunity for many home builders when they look to develop in these areas.

Affordability has been rising as a new defined term, where quality isn’t being compromised. Rather, space saving designs are leading the way for first time home buyers.

Newly built homes priced up to $750,000 will be fully exempt from the property transfer tax when purchased by Canadian citizens or permanent residents in British Columbia. This is another huge step towards progress in affordability.

Calgary is having a market slow down with only 1777 homes sold in 2016, while Vancouver remains on fire with 5173 homes sold in March. Vancouver housing has been historically high due to the pressures in supply and demand.

The population hikes have been a big reason as to why these pressures exist, and Calgary has faced similar circumstances. However, the 20-year trend of declining mortgage rates has made it easier for buyers to carry their mortgage costs.

With increasing demand and restricted supply of single-family properties, the prices have increased between 45-75% over the past few years and multi-family homes have increased between 15-40%.

Constrained geography for places like Vancouver puts a larger strain on the availability to increase housing supply, which forces builders to think outside the box when saving space and creating affordability.

How is Alberta thinking on affordability?

The new president for CHBA Alberta says that his biggest target during his term is to focus on affordability also.

Calgary is a strong market with a future for development in ways that can benefit all types of home buyers, on top of Edmonton’s steady growth and Alberta’s overall vision.

“A home for every Albertan,” is really what sets the tone about future progressions in new home development. New homes are paving the way for opportunity in Alberta.

One specific goal for CHBA is to continue to build positive relationships with our new government.

Every choice is impacting the big picture for Canadians, and new home builders can see that.  Innovative solutions are being created to help alleviate unwanted extra costs and help create affordable housing solutions in our communities.