Thinking of Buying a Home? 3 Questions Every Buyer Should Answer First

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If you are thinking about buying a home, you are likely getting lots of advice from friends and family. They no doubt have your best interests at heart, but there are three questions you should ask yourself to decide if NOW is the right time.

 

 

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This is the most important question you should ask yourself, as if will determine if you should be buying, and if so, what is most important to you in your home buying process. Financing doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you really need.
Many studies have been conducted, and 4 major reasons consistently turn up. These reasons are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does it mean to you to own a home? What benefits will moving provide you with?

Once you have answered this question…

2. Where are home values headed?
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s outlook for 2016 indicates that the Hamilton-Burlington area will experience a moderate price increase this year. This area is an exception to the general expectation that prices will cool across Canada. For an in-depth review of the local market, be sure to speak to your REALTOR®

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates. If you have been watching the news lately, you will notice that a couple of the large banks have already increased their mortgage rates. While the increases are small, and likely will have a small impact on affordability, you should ensure that your financing plans consider the possibility that rates may increase over the next few years, as that could affect the affordability of your mortgage payment when your current mortgage comes up for renewal.

Bottom Line
Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

Be sure to speak with one of our real estate Professionals. They will advise you on the current market conditions, and help you make an informed decision.

To Buy or Rent – that is the question!

Our current market has been fueled to some extent by First Time Buyers, and sometimes getting to the point of being ready to buy is the biggest hurdle they face.

For a lot of people, the number one reason they choose to rent versus buy their own home is their fear of signing their name to a long-term mortgage agreement. But let’s face it – very few of us can go through life without paying for our place of residence in one form or another. In that sense, you’ve already made a commitment to a fixed schedule of payments for housing — whether it’s in the form of a mortgage or a rental lease. In actual fact, one of the major advantages of a mortgage agreement is that it usually covers a longer time period than a lease — which can work in your favour. Since no one can guarantee what your rental payments may be two or even five years down the road, your mortgage agreement actually protects you from the increases – compounding annually — which you can often encounter when you rent.

Nevertheless, some people are still intimidated by the total debt that a mortgage agreement represents. Yet if you added up all the rental payments you could expect to pay over an extended period of time, you may find that going the mortgage route is actually the more affordable of the two options. With today’s relatively low mortgage rates, and financing options, the cost of carrying a home may be lower than what you might expect. Your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professional can show you how owning your own home may be more affordable than you ever imagined.

While making mortgage payments may actually be more affordable than paying rental costs, let’s not lose sight of the biggest financial benefit of buying a home.
The simple fact of the matter is, when you rent, you’re slowly but surely building someone else’s ownership equity in the property. On the other hand, when you buy a home, a portion of your mortgage payment is building personal equity for you. And if sometime in the future, you decide to sell, that equity is something you’ll take with you as you make your next move.

Finally, let’s not forget the creative freedom and pride of ownership that comes with owning your own property. When you buy, you decide the extent of home improvements, and decor changes you want to make. You decide on colour schemes and where you want to build that bookcase. Maybe best of all, you gain the equity that those improvements add to your home. Spending money to improve a rental property just puts value in someone else’s pocket.

If you’re tired of paying off someone else’s home for them, talk to your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate sales professional for a no obligation consultation and find out how to make your dream of home ownership a reality.

What are Home Shoppers Looking For Now?

What do you think are the most popular trends? I recently read an article outlining the currents house hunting wants and was surprised by some of what I read.

Not surprising, buyers are still looking for large great rooms and spa like bathrooms.

The ideal home is now open concept, with the great room encompassing the entertaining area of a living room, the secluded space of a technology work area, likely at least two eating areas, and a large very functional kitchen. People want to be more connected to what is going on in the family.

We are seeing this in renovations that are being completed, and in some areas, in the new home designs that are being put forward. Many of these homes no longer have the halls to each separate area of the house, which traditionally was used for privacy between the different use areas. These hallways added considerably to the square footage of the home, and prevented the free flow that home owners are now looking for.

The sought after design today allows you to be part of the party when you entertain, even when you are doing the prep work. Your breakfast bar area serves as a buffet area, and you likely have a small eating area for casual meals, and a larger space for more formal/large family get togethers. Home owners don’t worry about guests being able to see the prep area. Likely that’s where everyone was gathering anyhow! Kitchens have always been the gathering place at the party.

And bathrooms… apparently we all want the spa bath from the high end hotel. Soaker/jetted tub, separate glass shower with multiple shower heads and a seat, heated floor, modern vanity with double sinks, showpiece mirrors… I don’t know about you, but I feel relaxed just picturing that.

What I did find surprising, is that the average square footage of the home that many buyers are looking for is 1800 to 2400. It would seem that everything mentioned above, plus 3 bedrooms can be accommodated in that space when you lose the halls.

Don’t take this to mean there are not buyers looking for larger homes with the same features, but about a third of buyers are searching for what I described above.

Are you in the buying phase? What are you looking for? Let us know if the housing gurus have it right…

How to plan for an In-Law Suite?

This week I would like to touch on in-law suites. They come in all shapes and sizes so here are a few ideas to make sure you end up with the appropriate situation.

Today’s home buyers are often young parents, trying to find enough hours in the day to meet all their commitments.  Many are responding to this challenge by having live-in help assist with childcare and household chores…and that means you’ll probably need an in-law suite.  In some cases, you may be one of the fortunate homebuyers who find caregiver accommodations ready-made in your new home.  Other homeowners may go with the DIY approach.  Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when planning your space.

An effective in-law suite will be appealing to your caregiver, while at the same time giving you some privacy.  The challenge is to do that without putting too much strain on your pocketbook.  A good benchmark to help you determine what improvements are worth doing is to measure the cost against the expected lifespan of the expense.  For example, putting in a 4-pc bathroom can be costly, and may not be worth doing if you only see it being needed for three or four years until the kids go off to school.  In a case like that, rather than adding a full bath, you might consider a compromise of adding a sink and counter to a bed-sitting room, that could later evolve into a den with a wet bar.

On the other hand, if you can see the caregiver’s space being used long-term as a permanent in-law suite or used as additional living space as your family grows, then you’ll probably feel the cost is well worth it.  Remember too, the number of bathrooms is an important factor when determining the resale value of your home.  If you do it right, you have an excellent chance of re-couping some, if not all, of the expense when the time comes to sell. Your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professional will be glad to advise you on how such improvements may impact a home’s future value.

Privacy and space are important issues with an in-law suite.  Your caregiver will probably appreciate a lock on the bedroom door, or at least a cabinet that can be locked.   As to decorating, keep it simple.  Light colours, mirrors and recessed lighting will all help make a small space seem larger.  Keep it bright with extra task lighting, including a reading lamp.  Choose inexpensive window treatments such as mini-blinds that let in lots of light, but still allow for privacy.  Add a large framed corkboard for photos, notes and other mementos which will allow your live-in help to personalize their space without it looking cluttered.  Include a writing area, either a small table or desk with a lamp and chair.

Plan your room layout in advance, and don’t forget to take wiring and other facilities into consideration before you start painting.   For example, you may want to install a cable TV or internet outlet or add a phone jack, or a baseboard heater.  A little planning can help make your space a pleasure for years to come.

Please share your ideas on how your in-law suite has made your life easier.

GIVING BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY!

Last week Ann talked a little about the community of organized real estate. I would like to express how proud we are to be part of this community of REALTORS® that help people realize the dream of home ownership. We are even more proud of how our fellow REALTORS® give back to the communities where they live and work and other communities that may need their help.

Let me give you an idea of some of the ways we REALTORS® support communities across the country.

In 2012 REALTORS® donated more than 30 MILLION DOLLARS nationwide to various local charities and housing initiatives. Just this past summer REALTORS® donated over $200,000 to help the flood victims in the Calgary area.

On the local scene the REALTORS® Association of Hamilton-Burlington have donated, to date, over $700,000 to the CHML/Y108 Children’s Fund. Each year our local association conducts the REALTORS® Annual Charity Auction to raise funds for this worthwhile charity.

On a more personal level, we at Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate adopt families during the holiday season providing them with food baskets and gifts to those in need. Since 2009 we have adopted 30 families with over 100 children. Staff and sales reps alike donate their time and money to shop, wrap, and distribute food and gifts to the families. Our offices are just a hive of activity during the holiday season.

I have touched on a few of the good deeds performed by REALTORS® but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the individual activities of REALTORS® such as donating blood, volunteering at schools and hospitals, driving cancer patients to appointments, delivering Meals on Wheels to name but a few.

Are we proud to be part of the REALTORS’® community? Absolutely! So the next time you see your REALTOR® give them a big THANK YOU!

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE COMMUNITY?

Every once in a while Ann and I talk about what’s going on in our community. Well, this weekend we have one of the great summer festivals happening. The Locke Street Festival takes place this Saturday, September 7th from 10AM until 9PM.

Something that I find interesting this year is the festival is featuring the music of Westdale High School. If you didn’t already know, Westdale High has a great history when it comes to Rock and Roll music. Groups such as Teenage Head and Harlan Pepper had their roots at Westdale.

While you are exploring at the Locke Street Festival be sure visit all the unique shops on the street. They range from antiques to gifts to spas and more. You won’t be disappointed.

One more thing I would like to remind you about is the FOOD!! It is impossible to go hungry on Locke Street. There are great places to eat on both sides of the street from end to end. There is fine dining, pub and diner style food, gourmet burgers and pizza, just to name a few.

So if you have never been to the Locke Street Festival before and you don’t have anything planned for Saturday then I highly recommend you check it out. You won’t be disappointed!!

 

WHAT WILL BE THE BABY BOOMERS’ TREND IN REAL ESTATE?

For quite some time real estate “experts” have been predicting that there will be a glut of single family homes coming on the market as the Baby Boomers sell off the family home and downsize. Now that the first wave of Boomers are hitting the retirement age, are we seeing all the downsizing that was predicted? Let me share with you a few observations regarding Boomers.

First, we are not seeing the rush to sell the large home and downsize to a smaller residence. Many Boomers are continuing to work into their retirement. Some do it because they need to financially, and others, such as small business owners continue to operate as there is no one to take over their business. Therefore many of these Boomers are staying put.

Another scenario is the one where the adult children return home after university because it is more difficult to find good jobs or they are continuing their studies while remaining at home. As a result Mom and Dad still need the larger home. In this case, are Mom and Dad going to stick to their initial downsizing plans, not likely.

Many Boomers are struggling to make sure they have enough money to retire while others are very comfortable due to savings and investments, inherited money or both. Some Boomers are actually upsizing after all the children have left, to the house of their dreams. Maybe it’s the one with the gourmet kitchen, or the main floor master bedroom with full ensuite, the all on one floor home, or maybe it’s the waterfront home with their boat in their front yard.

Whatever the trend may be, we as REALTORS® need to make sure we are ready for that Boomer client for whatever choice they make, upsizing, downsizing, making a lateral move or just staying in their current home.

To all you Boomers out there, if you are contemplating a move in the future, be sure to consult a Coldwell Banker Real Pinnacle Real Estate professional to help guide you through the process of selling and buying your home. After all it is probably your largest single investment.

TRENDS IN REAL ESTATE – ARE YOU ONE?

There seem to be many trends happening in the real estate world today, such as, upsizing, downsizing, lateral moves, adult children not leaving home or moving back home, to name but a few.

I thought I would talk about the trend of having one of your parents move in with you. My wife and I are going through this process as we speak and hopefully I will be able to give you a few ideas to consider when making this decision.

First you have to confirm with the parent or parents that this is something they would like to do. Sometimes the parents would suggest it or as in our case we suggested it to my father-in-law. When my wife asked him, he immediately agreed. It was like he was waiting for us to ask.

Then you need to discuss it with your siblings to see if they are in agreement. You certainly don’t want anyone’s nose out of joint. You know the old joke, “Mom or Dad always liked you best!”

The next thing you need to consider is what type of living arrangements you want. Does your parent want to be totally independent with their own kitchen etc., or do they just want to share in the daily family activities, such as dining, watching TV or whatever and just have a room of there own.

You also need to have a discussion with your children as this will affect how they go about their daily routine. In our case, all our children were supportive of having their grandfather living with us, but two of our three children did not want to move. We haven’t made our decision as yet, but if we decide to move forward we will be moving, as our house is not conducive to this sort of situation.

The list of things to consider goes on and on… Are stairs an issue? Do the bathrooms need to be altered?

This decision can be a little overwhelming but remember you can always count on your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle real estate professional to help guide you through this very emotional decision.

A BUYING TIP!

More and more you are seeing real estate marketing directed toward the home buyer’s lifestyle.

Although, some buyers still buy homes because they show very well and are furnished nicely, they make buying decisions based on their emotions rather than logic.

For example, if a buyer likes to walk or ride a bike to run errands then perhaps the location of the house needs to be close to as many of these amenities as possible or if the buyer has a long commute to work their new house needs to be close to public transit or have good highway access. If there are children in the family then the location of schools and parks is important.

Now let’s talk about the house. What does the house need to have to fulfill the buyer’s lifestyle needs? In other words, how do they intend to use the house?

If they like to have friends over and everyone likes to pitch in with the food preparation then they may need a house with a large kitchen that opens up to a family room. This set up would also work well if there were younger children as they could be in the family room, in full sight, while the adults are preparing the meal.

Another thing to consider with children is the location of the bedrooms, because of noise levels in the house when children are sleeping. The yard should be an adequate play area for the children to enjoy their outdoor activities. As the children get older, will the house adapt well to their new needs, such as a place to go when their friends come to visit. It’s funny how your house seems to shrink as your children grow up.

To sum it all up, the buying tip is, when you are looking to buy your first or next home, make sure you seriously consider all your lifestyle needs and make your decision based on how you will be using the home to satisfy those needs.

WOW!!! IS IT REALLY SPRING?

 

spring pictureWhen I was driving to the office yesterday I noticed a few things were happening that I hadn’t seen in a while. I noticed that there was a green haze in the landscape replacing the browns and greys of the winter months. Spring flowers were finally in bloom.

I enjoyed the smell of fresh cut grass as I passed a soccer field. Motorcycle riders have awakened and they are everywhere. Classic cars are reappearing for their first outing after a long winters’ nap.

The long range weather forecast is sunny and warm for the next several days. I think spring IS finally here and summer is just around the corner. Winter seemed to drag on this year as we experienced a cooler and wetter transition into spring.

Friends and clients are asking if the spring real estate market is finally going to start. This is a tough question. Over the past few months housing inventory has been low, buyers had less to choose from, which resulted in bidding wars for some properties with sale prices over asking. The average sale price in our market continues to rise.

I think the weather did play a part in the overall attitude of the consumer this year but I think change is in the air. Over the last week we have seen more listings coming on the market and the number of incoming calls to the office is definitely on the rise.

Now back to this glorious weather. Take advantage of it. Get started on those outdoor projects. Go for a long walk. Enjoy a bike ride. Take the kids to the park. Whatever you do, do it outdoors!

And if you’re thinking of making a move this year, now is time to talk to your real estate professional. Good luck and enjoy this fantastic weather.