First-Time Apartment Renter? How to Make Sure Your Application Is Approved

 

Applying for a rental is similar to applying for a job. In fact, most landlords consider their rentals a business aimed to generate income and will scrutinize your application as closely as any employer. And while landlords are aware that everyone has to start somewhere and that first-time renters do exist, it’s your job to convince them that you are the best possible candidate — or, in this case, tenant. Here’s how:

Prove That You Have a Stable Income

The first step towards making sure your rental application is approved is showing the landlord that your income is stable. It’s also the first thing the landlord or property manager will check to make sure you’ll be able to pay your rent on time. Use pay stubs from the last three months and, if possible, tax forms from the previous tax year as proof of income. Also, aim to rent within your budget. If your financial figures show that you would be spending more than 30% of your gross income on rent, the landlord may deny your application.

Improve Your Credit Score

Apart from a stable income, the second most important thing a landlord will check is your credit score. This, along with your credit report, will help them determine how well you can handle your financial affairs — including rent payments. Although the credit score requirements for renting aren’t as stringent as those for taking out a loan, most landlords will look for a score of around 600. Meeting that figure will increase the chances of having your application approved, especially if you’re renting for the first time.

Ask for References

As a first-time apartment renter, you won’t have references from previous landlords, yet there are other ways you can prove your accountability and professionalism. The easiest way to do so is to ask your current employer for a reference letter. Another solution is to ask for a character reference from previous employers, co-workers or even professors and coaches. However, avoid references from family and friends. Most landlords will consider them biased, and they can also indicate that you’re trying too hard to provide references.

Have All Your Paperwork Ready

One of the easiest ways to make sure that your application is approved is by getting all your paperwork ready. After all, the landlord won’t be inclined to spend time chasing you for additional details and will just choose another tenant, especially in a hot market. Also, having a file ready when you apply is yet another proof that you’re a reliable tenant. The rental documentation should include:

  • Your rental application
  • Pay stubs and bank statements
  • Photo of your ID or driver’s license
  • Social Security/Insurance Number
  • Employment history or resume
  • Credit report and credit score
  • References

Write a Cover Letter

Landlords don’t typically require a cover letter with your application, yet submitting one can improve the odds of being approved. The letter can explain, for example, why you have no previous rental history. You can also use it to explain why you want to move into that particular apartment and why you believe you would make a great tenant. Think of it as a cover letter for a job application: even if you have no prior work experience, the letter can highlight your positive qualities and why you could be a real asset.

Be Honest about Having Pets

Although more than 70% of renters have a pet, most landlords aren’t keen on the idea of allowing a dog or cat on their property. Pets can increase the odds of property damage and disturbing the neighbors, which is why even pet-friendly rentals come with hefty pet deposits or limitations on pet size and how many you can have.

As tempting as it is, never hide the fact that you have a pet from your landlord. In the worst-case scenario, this can result in an eviction. Instead, try to prove that you are a responsible pet owner. Write a resume for your pet, set up a meeting where the landlord can see the pet for themselves and address any questions or concerns before signing the lease.

Consider a Co-signer

Even if you have a stellar set of references and a compelling cover letter, you may find that, sometimes, your credit score or income is just too low for the landlord’s requirements. In this case, bringing a co-signer along can improve the odds of your application being approved. The best candidate is usually a family member who can act as a guarantor for your lease. This will put the landlord’s mind at ease regarding who will be taking responsibility for making the rental payments.

 
 

First-Time Apartment Renter? 6 Things You Need to Know

 

Image: Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock.com

Finally flying the nest and moving into your own apartment is an important step in the game of life. Equal parts thrilling and nerve-wracking, the more you look into the logistics of renting your own place, the more you realize that it’s not as easy as taking the keys and moving in. Independence comes at a price, but with a few tips and tricks, you’ll be able to avoid any major pitfalls and can enjoy your own space to the max.

Let’s take a look at six things any first-time apartment renter can benefit from knowing.

Your Budget Has to Cover More than Just the Rent

At first glance, this seems obvious; on top of your monthly rent payments, you’ll need to pay utilities and food. But there’s even more to it. Before you start looking for apartments, it’s essential to create a realistic budget that works for you. To do this, you need to fully understand all the costs involved in renting your own place.

Initial Costs

Before you move in, you’ll need to make sure you’ve saved up enough cash to pay the following upfront costs:

  • Security deposit
  • First and last months’ rent
  • Furnishings (if required)
  • Moving costs
  • Application fees (if required)

Ongoing Costs

Once you’ve moved in, there are several monthly fees you’ll need to take into account:

  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Internet and phone
  • Parking
  • Laundry
  • General Maintenance (e.g., snow removal)

Knowing all of these costs in advance enables you to save for a deposit and budget for the ongoing monthly costs. In doing so, you’ll be able to find an apartment that you can comfortably afford, rather than living paycheck to paycheck. As a general rule of thumb, limit yourself to spending 30% of your income on housing needs.

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

If you find that no matter how you crunch the numbers, renting alone just isn’t feasible right now, don’t despair. Moving in with a roommate is a superb way to split the costs and enjoy a more desirable location and a larger living space. However, think long and hard about who you’re comfortable living with, and don’t assume that your best friends are always going to be a good fit.

Living with someone is a big step, and it’s important that all parties involved understand what they’re getting themselves into. Write down on paper the house rules and the needs of each person to figure out whether you’re compatible or not.

Viewing in Advance Is Essential

No matter how amazing the photos look online, it’s always essential to visit a potential apartment before you make a decision. There’s no other way to get a feel for the neighborhood and location, as well as the apartment itself. Photos can be flattering, but visiting for real will soon let you know if your dream apartment is the real deal or not.

If you’re happy enough to sign the lease agreement and make the plunge, don’t forget the final walkthrough. This is an opportunity to discuss with your landlord all the issues and damage the property had before your arrival. Take photos as evidence so that when your lease is up, you cannot be held accountable for issues that existed before you moved in.

Understanding the Lease Agreement Is Important

Your lease agreement is a legally binding contract between you, the tenant, and the owner, the landlord. It details the basics, such as the duration of the lease, the cost of monthly payments and the consequences of late payments. Landlords can also use this document to set their own rules and terms, so be sure to read thoroughly before signing anything. If in doubt, ask a professional or someone with more experience for advice.

Good Relationships with Your Neighbors Go a Long Way

Your relationship with your neighbors can make or break your first rental experience. First impressions count for a lot, and it helps to be open and friendly. Introduce yourself early on — a simple hello and a smile will normally suffice. On top of this, remember that you’re responsible for the noise in your apartment, so if you’re planning a party, let your neighbors know in advance and maybe invite them along.

Renters Insurance Is Worth Considering

Renters insurance can be a useful way to protect your belongings and yourself in case of accidents, vandalism, theft or natural disasters. It’s not overly expensive and can save you thousands of dollars if something bad does happen.

 
 

Comparing Election Promises to Increase Housing Supply

All parties are pledging to drastically increase housing supply, with the Liberal Party leading the race by pledging 1.4 million new homes; the Conservative Party pledging 1 million new homes; and the New Democrat Party (NDP) promising 500,000 new homes. While these lofty ambitions show that housing is top-of-mind for all three parties, it’s important to have a closer look at the proposed policies that will enable (or not) an increase in housing supply. This article highlights a few marquee policies proposed by the three largest parties. (Note: The Green Party has not released its platform at the time of writing).

 

Liberal Party

“Introduce a new Multigenerational Home Renovation tax credit for families wishing to add a secondary unit to their home for…extended family members to live with them.”

BCREA endorses gentle densification in pre-existing communities, especially those around transit corridors. This measure will assist with incentivizing gentle densification, but there continues to be more that can be done, especially as many local governments have zoning restrictions on this type of housing.

“Establish an anti-flipping tax on residential properties, requiring properties to be held for at least 12 months.”

Canada already has a capital gains tax for non-principal residences in Canada, which seems to make this proposed tax unnecessary.

“Introduce a Home Buyers Bill of Rights.”

We are supportive of the idea of a Home Buyers Bill of Rights and the objective of increasing consumer protection. If well-implemented, ensuring total transparency on the history of recent house sale prices, moving forward with a publicly accessible beneficial ownership registry and establishing a legal right to a home inspection can further protect consumers. We are, however, concerned with the proposed ban to blind bidding. There is no evidence that this would curb a hot market or address issues of housing affordability. The true remedy to rising housing prices during a hot market would be to increase supply across the housing spectrum.

Conservative Party

“Leverage federal infrastructure investments to increase housing supply.”

This policy would implement BCREA’s recommendation, although there are questions that remain. It’s unclear how this would be implemented and how the federal government would hold local governments to account. However, we are hopeful that whomever forms the next government would adopt this policy.

“Remove the requirement to conduct a stress test when a homeowner renews a mortgage with another lender instead of only when staying with their current lender, as is the case today.”

We support this policy as it would allow for more homeowner flexibility. We would additionally ask for reinstating 30-year amortizations and that the stress test be modified to reflect the reduced risk for longer term mortgages.

“Encourage Canadians to invest in rental housing by extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and reinvesting in rental housing.”

We are supportive of this recommendation as a means to encourage more development of rental housing.

NDP

“Set-up dedicated fast-start funds to streamline the application process for co-ops, social and non-profit housing.”

Red tape and wait times are a huge roadblock in preventing more housing supply from taking place in a reasonable amount of time and these delays increase development costs, which are passed on to buyers. We are encouraged by this proposal and recommend that it be extended to all types of housing.

“Provide resources to facilitate co-housing and ease of access to financing by offering CMHC-backed co-ownership mortgages.”

This policy is positive, and while there’s anecdotal evidence that more people are considering co-ownership, co-ownership makes up only a small portion of mortgages and is unlikely to have a widespread impact.

“Double the Home Buyer’s Tax Credit to $1,500.”

We support this measure as it would increase consumer flexibility and buying power.

We encourage you to learn about each of your parties and your local candidates. Read each parties’ full housing platform here.

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Opinion: Are flipping, foreign buyers and blind bidding really to blame for Canada’s housing crisis?


As Canadians head to the polls to elect a new government later this month, it’s no surprise that housing affordability is a key campaign issue for all parties. As markets across the country continue to experience levels of activity not seen before, multiple polls place housing among the top areas of public concern.

And the parties have taken notice, making promises to make homeownership more achievable for Canadians. But are they focusing on what’s really needed to make a difference.

Here in BC, the topics of flipping houses – specifically shadow flipping, where a property is sold multiple times before completion inflating the sale price – and foreign ownership have long been blamed for the rising cost of homes.

And while these issues have rightfully been and continue to be examined (the Liberals are proposing further crackdowns on foreign ownership and measures to hinder homeowners from flipping properties) they are but small fish in a big pond that is the BC housing market.

Where additional time and attention needs to be placed is on the creation of a National Housing Strategy that makes increasing supply a top priority. To ensure the new government is acting in the best interest of British Columbians, we need to be asking candidates and future government to think more holistically about housing affordability.

In a country where Ontario and Quebec are often heavy influencers of federal politics, this time around BC voters may find themselves wielding far more influence. BC has a high number of swing ridings across the province, which is sure to make us a major deciding factor in the election outcome. The Liberal Party is hoping to win an additional 15 seats to establish a majority government, and with many ridings throughout BC being a two- or even three-way race, BC is an important battleground province.

Many parties have pledged to make home buying easier by increasing purchasing power and flexibility for buyers. But when it comes to housing affordability, the focus needs to expand well beyond obvious measures such as incentives and assistance for first-time home buyers. Increasing support for first-time home buyers without increasing the available housing stock will only exacerbate the ongoing mismatch between supply and demand.

Other measures proposed, like the banning of blind bidding in real estate transactions, are a reaction to recent heated market conditions but do not provide enough detail or data around effectiveness and implementation to be taken particularly seriously.

To their credit, the Conservatives, Liberals, and NDP have also made lofty promises to build more homes. But without a detailed, coordinated, and collaborative national strategy – which identifies roles for all levels of government – the goals are not likely to be met and Canadians will once again be left disappointed.

federal leaders debates

Justin Trudeau/Facebook | Jagmeet Singh/Facebook | Erin O’Toole/Facebook

The federal government has other tools that could effectively help improve housing affordability, and yet, it appears they have yet to consider using them. Take, for example, the nearly $15 billion in federal funding for transit infrastructure announced earlier this year.

We at the BC Real Estate Association strongly endorse tying federal transit infrastructure funding to commitments from local government to increase housing density around new transit stations and major transit corridors. Additionally, municipalities need to be incentivized to speed up development approval times and actually make a dent in the supply deficit in their communities.

While the focus of the election is on the federal government, it’s regional and municipal governments that are key to actually achieving the housing targets needed, and whichever party takes power will need to use existent policy levers to influence municipalities to meet expanded housing goals. The time of three-tiered government with disparate housing agendas needs to end. A National Housing Strategy that coordinates all three levels of government to the singular goal of expanded housing targets is the clearest path to moving the dial on housing affordability.

Canada has endured much over the past year and a half due to COVID-19 but what we’ve also demonstrated is our resiliency. Emerging from this election we have the opportunity to build a stronger, more equitable, and more prosperous Canada by focusing on policies that tackle housing affordability in a holistic way, instead of focusing on soundbites, trends and outright bad or ineffective policy. Housing is in a crisis state in BC and we encourage Canadians to discuss these critical issues with your local candidates.

 

Wildfires in British Columbia

 
 
As of August 26 there were nearly 243 wildfires in BC, impacting over 3,700 properties with evacuation orders. According to a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these sorts of extreme weather events are likely to become more severe in the future. If current greenhouse gas emission levels remain the same, global temperatures are likely to increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040. Even if countries meet their Paris Agreement targets, temperatures are still expected to increase.

Even as the current wildfire season winds down in coming weeks, issues with insurance remain for potential homebuyers. Mortgage companies may not fund mortgages for homes that have not secured insurance. REALTORS® help their clients by reminding them of the importance of home insurance year-round and when buying or selling a home. Realtors remind buyers of the importance of including an insurance clause in their offer of purchase. Securing home insurance early in the sales process can help mitigate these sales completion risks, as buyers may find it more difficult to secure insurance during a wildfire season, causing delays to the sale. Realtors help sellers by advising them to wait to cancel their home insurance until after a deal is closed so that they can remain protected in case the deal is delayed or collapsed.

Wildfires are a reminder for homeowners to better understand risks and improve adaptation and mitigation measures for themselves and their communities. Homeowners can become more resilient to wildfires by incorporating the BC Government’s FireSmart disciplines to reduce the risk to life and property.

BCREA is advocating for continued improvements to buildings’ energy improvements through more long-term, widespread programs to help property owners voluntarily retrofit existing buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions remains a top priority to avoid the most extreme forecasts from becoming a reality, British Columbians need to also work towards improving mitigation of the extreme weather events that are all but certain to be coming.

To subscribe to receive BCREA publications such as this one, or to update your email address or current subscriptions, click here.

Election Housing Promises Destined to Fail Without Detailed Plans to Increase Supply

 

Vancouver, BC – September 1, 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) is encouraged by the focus on housing affordability as a key priority in each of the major party’s platforms in the lead-up to September’s federal election. However, while parties pledge to build more homes and make purchasing easier, without detailed plans to quickly turn those promises into action that will increase supply, campaign promises will lead to municipal bottlenecks, failed policy and disappointed homebuyers. 

“We are pleased to see the discussions around housing affordability take center stage during the election campaign,” says BCREA Chief Executive Officer Darlene Hyde. “However, what we’ve seen promised so far falls short of what is needed to make a significant, long-lasting impact. It is important for our new government to make creating a comprehensive housing strategy focused on increasing supply an immediate top priority.” 

Many of the measures proposed so far focus on increasing consumer flexibility and purchasing power and while the Liberals and Conservatives have lofty goals to build more market homes, neither of the parties addresses how they will do so in the face of significant barriers.  To adequately increase supply, establishing a federal housing strategy – one that incentivizes municipalities to speed up development approvals that are getting bogged down by public hearings which cater to airing the grievances of a vocal minority – is key to scaling up the number of units being built in the relative short term. 

While BCREA supports assistance for home buyers and the creation of non-market housing, without detailed plans on increasing supply across the housing spectrum these measures will likely be met with disappointment as prospective buyers will experience a market that can’t meet their demand, causing continued upward pressure on prices. 

“We know through our assessment of the current and historical market conditions that there just aren’t enough listings to satisfy demand,” says BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “To truly improve housing affordability and help British Columbians and Canadians get in homes, increasing supply is where the focus needs to be. Working with municipalities is essential in achieving this.” 

It’s clear that tackling housing affordability is a primary campaign focus for each of the major parties this election, but without a comprehensive and collaborative strategy to increase supply, can their commitments extend beyond the campaign and into government? Developing the details of these plans needs to be an immediate focus for our new government otherwise their promises to help more Canadians achieve their homeownership dreams will fall flat. 

For the PDF news release, click here.

Types of Mortgage Loans, What Mortgage Is Right for Me?

 

Image: MIND AND I / Shutterstock.com

When buying a home, the vast majority of people need to take out a mortgage. But of the many different options, how do you know which is the right one for you? In this guide, we’ll take a quick look at the different types of mortgage loans available.

Conventional Loans

A conventional loan is any mortgage loan that is not guaranteed or insured by a government entity. It is also the most common type of mortgage loan and likely the first thing that comes to any homebuyer’s mind when they need to apply for a loan.

Conventional loans are provided through private lenders, banks or credit unions. In general, buyers are required to have a minimum credit score of 620 to qualify for a conventional loan, with a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 43% or less. Conventional loans come in different shapes and sizes, each with its own benefits. Here are the most common types to look out for:

Fixed-Rate Mortgages

These mortgages span several years and feature an interest rate that stays the same for the duration. This ensures that your monthly payments are predictable, making it much easier to budget for them. However, the duration of the loan impacts how high the monthly payments will be:

  • A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is among the most common and is ideal for homebuyers looking for smaller monthly payments.
  • A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage allows you to pay off your loan in half the time, but your monthly payments will be significantly higher. On the plus side, the interest rate is typically lower than a 30-year mortgage, and you’ll pay less in total interest payments. These shorter-term loans are great for refinancing and for buyers with a bit of spare change in their pockets.

The minimum duration of a conventional loan is 5-years, ideal for those buyers that want to avoid paying too much in interest and have the cash available for larger monthly payments.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

The interest rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage is variable, fluctuating over time. This can be great if interest rates drop but an expensive gamble if they increase throughout the term of your loan. However, the introductory rate is typically far lower than most fixed-rate mortgages, resulting in sometimes drastically lower monthly payments. In addition, it’s locked in place for either 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 years.

After this initial rate, it will adjust periodically, often annually, though different schemes can be discussed with your lender. Adjustable-rate mortgages are available for various lengths and are ideal for buyers who believe that rates will drop in the future.

Unconventional Loans

Most unconventional loans are backed by a government entity. They are designed to help segments of the population that might otherwise find it hard to qualify for a conventional loan. Here are the most common types of unconventional mortgage loans.

FHA Loans

Insured by the Federal Housing Association, FHA mortgages are aimed at buyers who don’t meet the credit score or DTI ratio requirements of conventional loans. It’s possible to obtain an FHA loan with a credit score as low as 500, though you’ll need 580 to put down a down payment of as little as 3.5%. FHA loans are great for first-time buyers and experienced buyers alike with lower credit scores looking to avoid a 20% down payment.

VA Loans

Guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are designed to help serving and veteran members of the military and their spouses. There are several benefits, including no down payment, no mortgage insurance requirement and competitive interest rates. You will need to pay a VA funding fee, either upfront or rolled into your mortgage payments. This is a relatively modest cost ranging from 1.4% to 3.6%, depending on how much your down payment is.

USDA Loans

Backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USDA loans are designed to ‘improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.’ Only buyers seeking properties in rural areas will qualify, though there are other criteria to meet. USDA loans don’t always require a down payment and provide caps on property prices and income limits. Ideal for buyers looking to settle down in the country.

Conforming and Non-Conforming Mortgages

The loans discussed above fall into the category of conforming loans. These adhere to the loan limits set by the government (Federal Housing Finance Agency – FHFA). In addition, conforming loans meet the underwriting guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Non-conforming mortgages, on the other hand, exceed the limits set by the FHFA and do not conform to guidelines. Jumbo loans are the most well-known type.

Jumbo Mortgages

These are reserved for buyers who meet the strictest criteria, with a minimum down payment of at least 20% and a higher credit score (at least 700) and DTI requirements. They’re designed to finance expensive properties in which conforming loan limits would be breached. Jumbo loans are suitable for buyers of expensive homes who have the funds and credit reliability to make the high repayments.

 
 

Why You Should Sell Your Home in 2021 and How to Prepare

 

Image: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com


Last year was crazy to say the least — both inside the home and in the outside world. Now, going into 2021, you’re probably wondering what to do with the year and your living situation going forward. Perhaps you’ve thought about it before or are just beginning to consider whether you should sell your house. Although the right and wrong time to sell a house depends on much more than the outside world, 2021 might be one of the best times to sell if you’re already considering doing so.

While the market can direct the exact time you sell, only you can determine the right time for you and your family. That’s because when you should sell your house is about your personal life circumstances, timing, and finances. But, once you’re at a place where you’re ready to sell, looking at the world to gauge the market can help you determine the perfect timeline for your sale and move.

Fortunately, 2021 brings hope not just for finding the home you love, but also for making a great sale on your current place. Specifically, finding someone you trust to handle the sale, prepping the place well, and moving forward in your own journey can help you sell your home and make the most of 2021.

Here are a few reasons why 2021 is the year you should sell your home.

You Have Time

COVID-19 brought lockdowns and quarantines for much of the world, and many people took to baking bread or doing home DIY projects at the beginning of the pandemic. That said, 2021 is still a year of caution and spending quality time inside, and you can regain that spirit and motivation when it comes to home projects, prepping the place to sell, and getting everything in order. Granted, having a lot of extra time to spend at home might not feel quite as exciting as it did when you were filled with inspiration, but you can still channel it into getting things together fully.

The Market Is Hot

The housing market can be tumultuous, and no year has proven that like this one. Even with the economic plights of the pandemic, the housing market has boomed into a seller’s market — which is good news for those looking to sell.

Many people are also looking to put down permanent roots, primarily outside of major metropolitan cities. The widespread desire to own a home in a quieter suburban area is a strong motivator to sell in 2021 — provided you have that kind of property. With this boom in the housing market, desirable homes are getting snatched up quickly and entertaining multiple offers. So, if you’re selling a home this year, expect to receive offers above your asking price.

While the market is subject to change — as it always is — right now is a hot time to sell houses, especially in areas with ample room and outdoor space. The pandemic is unpredictable and the market is, too. But, you can take advantage of it by selling at the right time — and as soon as possible.

You Can Take Your Time

While the market is hot right now and selling as soon as you can is a smart move if you’re ready, you also have the power to take the time you need this year. Right now, lots of signs point to the pandemic sparking new priorities in the market, even if the public health crisis clears up. Nevertheless, you can feel a bit more relaxed taking your time to get everything just right with your home.

How to Prepare

So, you’ve decided to sell your house this year. Now what?

While there are some specific things you can keep in mind for the 2021 housing market, there are also a few tips that are always good to keep on your radar when prepping for a sale. Whether this is your first time selling or you’ve been around the block a time or two, it’s important to prepare however you can. Here are a few ways to do just that:

  1. Find a Real Estate Agent You Love

No matter when you’re selling, finding a great real estate agent to support and guide you through the process is a great way to make the sale of your home easy — for you and potential buyers. In fact, a real estate agent reduces the stress of negotiation and saves you time in the process.

  1. Start Your Search, Too

This one might not be as obvious, but in a housing market so suited to sellers, those looking to move somewhere new should get a jump on their search, too. You don’t want your own house to sell fast and then end up with nowhere to go next.

  1. Make Little Fixes

Small improvements can contribute significantly to the big picture, especially when putting your house on the market. Fixing cracks and dents; thoughtfully highlighting your entryway; and even putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls can truly change the game and make your house look totally move-in ready.

  1. Clean

One of the most important aspects of selling your house is making sure potential buyers can see your house. In particular, doing a deep clean and decluttering not only helps you prepare to move, but also gives you the opportunity to neatly and concisely show off your home. Cleaning out closets, spare rooms and garages are all necessary when prepping your place for sale.

 

Selling your home at any time is about what you want and what you need. Not every year will work for you. However, if you feel ready to sell in 2021, it could pan out in your favor.

 

Real estate industry worried Liberal housing plan won’t alleviate supply issues

TORONTO – Liberal leader Justin Trudeau unveiled his party’s housing plan Tuesday, but real estate industry members are concerned it won’t do much to alleviate a lack of supply.

Trudeau’s plan, announced at a Tuesday campaign stop in Hamilton, Ont., is built around helping renters become homeowners through $1 billion in loans and grants, but also involves a two-year moratorium on foreign buyers, banning blind bidding and a Bill of Rights creating a legal right to a home inspection.

The Liberals plan to help young, first-time buyers with a new savings account allowing Canadians under 40 to save up to $40,000 toward their first home, and withdraw it tax-free to put toward their purchase, with no requirement to repay it.

The plan also includes a Housing Accelerator Fund, which would make $4 billion available for large cities to speed up their housing plans, in hopes of building 100,000 new middle-class homes by 2024-25.

“They’re treating the symptom of the problem and not the real problem, which is the supply,” said Ben Young, the senior vice-president of development at Southwest Properties in Halifax.

With the number of available homes failing to keep up with demand in recent years, he would like to see federal and provincial government lands opened up for development, which could boost housing inventory.

He also thinks parties should be less focused on housing tax incentives, even though he admitted they garner broad appeal, because he said they don’t often help supply.

“It’s like saying, ‘come on in my store it’s 100 per cent off, but I don’t have any inventory,” he said.

Davelle Morrison, a Toronto broker with Bosley Real Estate Ltd., thinks the Liberal’s incentive for people under 40 is “nice to have,” but “doesn’t really move the needle.”

She believes the country’s housing sector would be better off if it had a 30-year amortization rate, more attention paid to Indigenous needs and more allowances for laneway housing and basement apartments.

She also wants politicians to stop fixating on foreign buyers, who some have blamed for driving up home prices in recent years.

“We need to stop making foreign buyers the Bogeyman and saying that everything is their fault,” said Morrison, noting studies show they account for less than five per cent of homes owned in the Greater Toronto Area.

“We have had very few foreigners buying into the market because of COVID-19, and real estate prices have still climbed.”

The average price of a home sold reached $662,000 in July, up 15.6 per cent from the same month last year, the Canadian Real Estate Association said earlier this month.

The average price of a Toronto home was just over $1 million in July, up 12.6 per cent compared to a year ago, the city’s local board said.

As those prices climbed, bidding wars intensified, brokers complained of a lack of supply and prospective buyers felt pressure to stretch their budget and drop more cash on already expensive homes.

The Liberals want to take some of the pressure out of that process by banning blind bidding, but Morrison said open auction systems, where all parties know each others offices, have done little to cool the Australian market.

The Ontario Real Estate Association made the same observation.

“Auction fever creates a three-ring circus on front lawns, as hopeful buyers crowd in front of a home with a live auctioneer, or online, and the bidding begins,” said OREA President David Oikle in a statement.

“Far from making homes more affordable, auctions can drive prices higher, and dangerously push buyers to make rushed decisions involving tens of thousands of dollars in just minutes.”

While blind bidding is often criticized because of its secrecy, Halifax broker Sandra Pike said her region differs from many others because people can readily access plenty of data to make informed offers.

Local real estate websites, she said, share when a home was listed, how many days its been on the market, when and for what price a home was sold for and what nearby listings are priced at.

She said, “Our consumers here have all that transparency already.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 24, 2021.

Forecast: B.C. home prices soar as supply falls

 

Typical B.C. home price will top $937,000 in 2022 – and $1.2 million in Metro – as housing starts plunge 12.8 per cent
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Multi-family construction continues at the Oakridge Centre in Vancouver. | Chung Chow

Despite election pledges from every major political party to boost new home construction, B.C. housing starts will plunge 12.8 per cent next year, helping to drive average home prices to record highs across the province, according to a recent forecast from the B.C. Real Estate Association (BCREA.)

“With strong demand being supported by low mortgage rates and a rapidly rebounding post-COVID economy, the more significant concern is whether there will be an adequate supply of listings in the market,” said BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson in a third quarter Housing Forecast Update released August 19.

BCREA is forecasting that the lack of supply coupled with high demand will see the average B.C. composite home price increase 16.6 per cent this year to $911,300 and a further 2.9 per cent in 2022 to $937,300.

In Greater Vancouver, the average home price will hit $1.2 million next year, up 2.1 per cent from 2021 and nearly $200,000 higher than two years earlier, the forecast said.

Using Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. forecast data, the BCREA said B.C. housing starts will plunge 12.8 per cent next year, compared to 2021, to 39,000 units. The drop will be led by the multi-family sector, where starts are forecast to fall 16.8 per cent to 28,300 homes.

Many of the multi-family starts, however, will be rental housing or subsidized social housing, not market condominiums or townhomes.

Housing supply has become a key election plank for Canada’s three major political parties as they campaign for the September 20 federal election, but the emphasis is not on encouraging private-sector housing.

Here is how the election housing supply promises stack up among the federal parties.

Liberals: If re-elected, they would invest $4 billion in new money to construct 100,000 “middle class homes” over the next four years. A close look at this proposal, however, shows most of the funding would go toward subsidizing rental housing. The Liberals further pledge to put up $600 million (double the funding announced in spring 2021 under its space conversion plan) to help transform vacant office space into rental housing. Urban B.C., though, has one of the lowest office vacancy rates in the country.  The Liberals would also put $1 billion toward loans and grants for rent-to-own projects.

Conservatives: The Conservatives plan to build one million homes over the next three years and release 15 per cent of government-owned real estate for new builds or conversion into rental properties. The Conservatives promise to mandate higher-density residential development near federally-funded public transit., such as SkyTrain extensions in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. The Conservatives would also  encourage private developers by extending the ability to defer capital gains tax when selling a rental property and re-investing in rental housing.

NDP: The federal NDP propose building 500,000 new “affordable” homes over the next 10 years with an emphasis on subsidized social housing. The NDP’s stated aim to “get big money out of housing” apparently refers to private, not public investing.

B.C. consumer demand is for homes they can purchase, according to the BCREA, and this is where the shortage is most severe.

“Even with sales moderating slightly in the second half of this year, we are forecasting that home sales in 2021 will set a new record of 118,350 units before slowing to 100,150 units in 2022,” the BCREA forecast stated.