Archive for Buying a Home in Kitchener-Waterloo – Page 2

The Pros and Cons of Renting out Part of Your Home

PROS and CONS

Know the PROS and CONS Before Taking the Plunge

On the surface it seems like a fabulous idea: Carve out a portion of your home, rent it out and use the rental income to pay your mortgage. You get to live basically “rent free” while at the same time reaping the tax benefits of writing off some of the costs associated with accommodating a rental apartment in your home.

With the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s recent announcement of relaxing the rules for how homeowners looking to rent out apartments in their principal residences can borrow money, getting some rental income seems like a sure bet.

In reality, however, it is not. From difficult tenants and unanticipated costs to insurance claims to the simple and sometimes inevitable experience of not being able to find a stable, long-term renter, there are many things that homeowners need to consider before taking on the role of landlord.

The Pros

Second source of income
The most obvious gain is the extra money that you will be receiving each month. This money can help you pay your mortgage, property taxes or other bills, which is a sweet deal if you are renting out a part of your home you rarely use anyway.

Renovations increase value
Aside from the monthly payoff that you receive from your new tenants, the renovations that you make may also be a future investment. At the time, you may renovate to make areas of your home accessible to tenants, for example finishing your basement, but such renovations will also increase your home’s resale value.

The Cons

Investing and responsibility
First of all, it is an investment before it is a benefit. In order to rent out part of your home you need to ensure that it is in prime condition. This means that renovations will most likely have to be made. It also means that every problem that your tenant has becomes your problem. There is no putting off a repair; you are now a landlord and have inherited a responsibility to your tenant(s).

Impact on resale value
There is also re-sale valuation to consider. While you may have no intention to sell your home now, you still need to consider what it will be valued at with a rental suite later. While many potential buyers will appreciate having a turnkey rental apartment that they too can reap the economic benefits from, some may not want the same kind of setup, reducing the prospect of a sale.

Reliability
It seems like the great idea to be able to rent your home, but you are now depending on someone else to pay you. Not all tenants are reliable, and it can be difficult to trust a stranger to hold up their end of the bargain. A quick glance through the Landlord and Tenant Act can provide a good snapshot of some of the issues landlords face.

The Pitfalls

Regulations
While it differs by province and city, renting out part of your home automatically puts you under numerous provincial and municipal regulations, many of which if not followed can result in hefty fines. When a landlord can enter the area rented differs across the country, as one example, as does the types of property that fall under provincial or territorial tenancy legislation — a detached home versus a duplex or condominium, for instance. Both landlords and tenants should inform themselves of the laws applicable to their location.

Repairs
Repairs can be extremely expensive and seem to occur a lot more often when housing tenants. You can potentially avoid recurring repairs by calling professionals the first time around, but try to budget for repairs when renting out your home.

Six key things any homeowner considering renting out a portion of their residence needs to consider:


1) Know the laws and follow them
: Before renting your home, look into the provincial and municipal laws to ensure to take the appropriate steps. Always draft a contract that acknowledges the regulations set by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation that are applicable to your location.

2) Have a backup fund:
 Do not depend on rental money as a primary source of income. Always have some extra money in the piggy bank for possible repairs or tenant issues and, of course, to cover your own bills.

3) Mortgage flexibility:
 A flexible mortgage is recommended when renting out part of your home. It can give you wiggle room on the requirements for monthly payments should something go wrong. This allows homeowners to avoid penalties that occur in a fixed mortgage rate when a monthly payment is missed. Flexible mortgages also give homeowners the opportunity to pay off their mortgage sooner as you can accelerate payments.

4) Have rules in place:
 Renting out part of your home should be seen more as a business deal then a simple rental agreement. Always have written and signed documentation to cover all your bases. This ensures liability on both your end and the renters.

5) Check-in
: Make a habit of checking in with your tenants on a regular basis to ensure both your happiness and theirs. You can have monthly visits to ensure that your property stays in good shape and they are properly accommodated.

6) Hire professionals: A real estate lawyer should be at the top of your list, as well as a mortgage expert and other professionals who can help navigate the legalities and other circumstances of being a landlord.

Overall, renting your home can be a viable source of income if you do it properly. Following the rules and maintaining your property are extremely important and necessary. Renting property comes with responsibility and patience, and should not be done as a get-rich-quick scheme.

This article was written and published with permission on this website by: Samantha Brooks, Founder and CEO of Mortgages of Canada with 14 years of experience specializing in mortgages, debt consolidation, and refinancing. You can find Samantha on Twitter as @Mortgagesof Can. For mortgage questions or advice, you can visit Samantha at www.mortgagesofcanada.ca

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

What Does a Real Estate Agent on The Mark Maurer Team do for YOU?

 

Four and a half year old Masen, son of Jaymes and Natalie jumps for joy!

 

You might think that the profession of selling real estate is all about showing homes and taking a commission. Showing homes is certainly part of the job but any GREAT agent earns their commission. There are dozens of tasks involved in the purchase or sale of a home and each must be accomplished with precision and skill. Many people are ill-informed about the role of a real estate agent, even if they’ve bought or sold a home before. It’s not all pretty houses and pleasant conversations! Here are a few of the important tasks the stellar Maurer Team real estate agents will accomplish exceedingly well on your behalf.

Before a Listing

Listing your home isn’t the start of a sale; the work starts well before that. A few things that our real estate agents will complete before your home even hits the market.

  • Assess your property. Our Realtors will assess your property’s value. This involves a thorough examination of your home along with a great deal of research and attention to details. They will take into consideration all the tangible features of your home including elements such as finishes and square footage. They will also try to evaluate the less quantitative elements including location, curb appeal, and the value of the neighbourhood placed on it by residents living in it.
  • Establish a market value and price. Realtors on The Mark Maurer Team have to research recent comparable sales from the past 18 months on the listing services and also in the public records. He’ll have to research the average number of days on the market for properties similar in type, price, and location. Current and past listings will need to be researched. They will also prepare a comparable market analysis to establish a competitive market value.
  • Verify all of your property’s details. Our agents will need to obtain a copy of your property survey to verify the property lines and dimensions of the lot. They will verify the legal description of the home; it’s previous ownership and title, the land’s deed restrictions and coding, and the school system information. All of the utilities (e.g. sewer, gas, hydro) will be checked.
  • Prepare your property. Our real estate agents will help you get your home ready to sell by advising you on staging, decluttering, depersonalization, and curb appeal modifications.

We also have a professional photographer take high-quality photos and record videos and virtual tours that highlight the best features of your home. Beware of real estate agents who say they can take their own photos! Photos are very important to the marketing of your home as they are used across multiple marketing methods to attract potential buyers.

During a Listing

So much will have been accomplished by the time your home is listed that you might think there isn’t much left to be accomplished. However, that’s just when things can start getting interesting.

  • Marketing your home. In order to submit your home to be featured on the MLS system, thorough preparation is required. Our agents will need to prepare an MLS profile sheet since they are responsible for the accuracy of the listing data. They must enter the data into the system, proofread it for accuracy, include your property’s placement for the mapping feature and upload the many quality photos and your virtual tour. They have to create and distribute flyers as well as create Internet ads and postings on the various social media platforms.
  • Making appointments. In many cases, agents on The Mark Maurer Team will first show your home to other agents. They will install a lockbox and set up appointments with agents who they feel could have the perfect buyer in mind. Then they will start making showing appointments with potential buyers on their contacts lists too.
  • Follow up. All of those showing appointments will require follow-up calls to help keep buyers interested and your property in the forefront of other agents’ minds. We have a system in place that keeps us on our toes to ensure that phone calls are made to each and every agent who has shown your home.
  • Maintenance. If you’re no longer residing in your home, our agents will help you to manage its upkeep. They will make sure the lawn stays mowed or the leaves are raked. They will also maintain all the methods of marketing like refilling brochure and flyer boxes.
  • Verify financing. Our agents always check to see if buyers are pre-qualified for financing. This is very important and if not in place, will stall your sale and waste time.
  • Negotiation. Real estate agents on The Mark Maurer Team will be your advocates in negotiations, whether you are buying or selling a home. They will do all in their power to make sure the price you get or pay is a good value. They will receive or send offers and advise you on the strength of the offer regardless of whether you are buying or selling. They will review the contracts and details of any offer or contract.

After the Listing

Some of the most difficult tasks still lay ahead for our Realtors, even after an offer is extended and accepted. There are many details to cover but here are just a few.

  • The Plethora of paperwork. Any sale of property generates reams of paperwork and our agents must wade through it all. They make sure everything is signed and delivered to all the appropriate people or agencies involved, on time. An agent on The Mark Maurer Team will explain each item to you so you understand what you’re signing.
  • Order inspections and appraisals. Our agents order all thorough home inspections through a reputable company we have been using for the past 20 years. They will schedule an official appraisal and provide the documentation within 24 hours that was obtained through research about the home to the appraiser.
  • Follow ups. Our Realtors follow up with all parties throughout this process, keeping everyone in the loop and well-informed.

The Closing

The closing process is fairly detailed, legally-speaking. It would take more space than we have here to list all of our agent’s duties. Here’s just a small number of notable jobs for your agent from The Mark Maurer Team.

  • Solve title problems. If there are clouds on the title, it’s our job to blow them away. In some cases, we may need to obtain a death certificate or legal signature from a previous owner.
  • Request closing figures. It’s our agent’s job to make sure you have the exact amount(s) for your certified cheques at the time of closing.
  • Forms, forms and more forms. Our Realtors review, proofread and process a huge number of forms to complete the sale of your home. These forms also have to be filed with the right agencies and deliver to the buyer and seller and the lender with all the signatures in the proper places.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by downloading my free eBook here. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Relocating to Kitchener-Waterloo? Resources To Help (Part 2)

Moving to Kitchener or Waterloo? We Can Help!

Moving to Kitchener or Waterloo? We Can Help!

The Kitchener-Waterloo area has a history that dates back to 1784, and this rich background means great things for its residents. With a regional population of nearly half a million people that’s growing fast, a variety of different industries, and an historically low unemployment rate, this is one area that is ideal for families, young professionals, and seniors alike. If you plan to move here,  it might be helpful to have some resources at your fingertips. Part 1 of our post took a look at moving companies you can use, how to get around the area, changing your address, the utility companies you may need to contact, and healthcare options while you’re here. Once you’ve moved, though, you’ll need more resources at your fingertips outside of the nuts and bolts of your daily life. Take a look at our continued list below.

Houses of Worship

As you look for the right place to fit into the Kitchener-Waterloo community, you may want to take a closer look at the many houses of worship in the area. With options that encompass all of the major faiths, you’re certain to find a place of worship that meets your needs here. This, however, is just an overview of the many worship options in the area, as exploring each would take far more than the confines of this blog post. For a more complete listing, please click here.

  1. Area Catholic Churches: With a number of Catholic congregations around the region, you’re certain to find services that meet your needs. Many also have associated schools for young children.
  2. George’s of Forest Hill: An Anglican church, this congregation offers a variety of worship services on Sunday and during the week as well as a church school for children. They also have book clubs, study groups, and family nights.
  3. Unity Centre: A non-denominational congregation, the Unity Centre offers fellowship for those of all faiths as well as a number of other programs.
  4. Stanley Park Community Church: A very welcoming church, Stanley Park is located right on the Route 8 line of the Grand River Transit, making it convenient for members and visitors alike.
  5. The Lutheran Churches of Kitchener-Waterloo: Our community has nine different Lutheran congregations to help meet your needs. Located across the area, there’s one near almost anywhere you decide to settle.
  6. Kitchener Gospel Temple: A community of faith that was initially founded in 1909, this church has a rich history and a wonderful congregation.
  7. Grandview Baptist Church: Easy to reach, this church offers Sunday services and much more. Perfect for worshipers of all ages, they offer great activities and a wonderful chance to connect with others.
  8. Waterloo Masjid: The Muslim Society of Waterloo & Wellington Counties offers services, events, and regular prayer times.
  9. Kitchener Masjid: Undergoing great renovations to help better meet the needs of Muslims in the area, this is a wonderful facility with a regular prayer schedule as well as other activities and events.
  10. Beth Jacob Congregation: Serving the local Jewish community since 1908, Beth Jacob offers modern Orthodox services as well as a number of other program options.
  11. The Rohr Chabad Centre: With services, classes, and even meals, Chabad is the best place to join the local Jewish community. Initially launched in December 2008, they serve a wide population, and can help you better connect once you’re here.
  12. Temple Shalom: A reform congregation, Temple Shalom draws members from across the area, including young Jewish families. They also have a growing religious school that combines study in Judacia with Hebrew training.

Schools in Waterloo Region

If you’re moving here with a family or you expect to have children while you’re here, never fear. This is a family-friendly community with lots of resources to help you settle in. Below is a listing of schools and care options to help you find the right resources for your family.

  1. Waterloo Region District: If you want your child to attend public schools, this is the place they’ll likely go. Encompassing nearly a hundred elementary schools and a number of secondary schools, you’ll find excellent staff and programs throughout the district.
  2. Waterloo Catholic Schools: Looking for a solid Catholic education for your child? With 47 different Catholic elementary schools and five secondary schools, this area offers an excellent selection to choose from for your child.
  3. Colleges and Universities: If you’re looking to further your own education or you have a student headed for college, you have several choices in the area. Conestoga College, Emmanuel Bible College, Heritage College & Seminary, University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University all make their homes in this area.

Things to Do!

Worried you might not find anything to do while you’re here? That will never be an issue. There are so many great options you may have trouble keeping up. It’s possible you may even discover spots you haven’t had time to visit even if you’ve lived here for years.

  1. Kitchener Market: Looking for a feast your senses will love? This is the place to be. With food and wares that represent things from an international perspective it’s one spot you’ll want to visit regularly.
  2. Victoria Park: A prize spot in the heart of downtown, here you’ll find a playground, splash pad, and great walkways. There are winter rinks, a boathouse restaurant, and special events throughout the year.
  3. Doon Heritage Village: A beautiful living history village, there are more than 60 acres that show life in Waterloo in 1914. Every visit comes complete with interpreters dressed in 1914 clothing as well as animals and activities for the family.
  4. Waterloo Region Museum: This museum features two galleries, a main one that tells the story of the Waterloo region and a changing showcase gallery that has new exhibits on a regular basis. It’s worth a visit for you or the kids.
  5. Woodside National Historic Site: The boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, this house has been fully restored to the way it might have looked in the 1890s. A national treasure, it’s a must-see while you’re here.
  6. Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery: A destination for those who love contemporary art, this fine craft gallery showcases the best of Canadian ceramics and glass and offers numerous educational programs for children and adults alike.
  7. Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery: Emphasizing contemporary art throughout, here you’ll find frequently changing exhibitions and a 4,000 work permanent collection designed to feed your artistic side.
  8. Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony: Phenomenal performances dominate when you catch any of the shows in the symphony season. Consider a customized ticket package to catch the concerts you want to see most.
  9. The Registry Theatre: From great movie series to fantastic concerts and shoes, keep an eye on the schedule here to catch as much as you can.
  10. The Aud: A great place for ice and floor rentals, hall rentals, corporate meetings, and other special events, this complex is one you’ll want to visit on a regular basis.
  11. Chicopee Resort: In the winter, this is a great place to ski and snowboard. In the summer, they offer summer camps, disc golf, beach volleyball, and more. It’s the perfect place for some activity with the whole family.
  12. Iron Horse Trail: Need a place to walk, roller blade, or bike? This is it. Part of the Trans Canada Trail, it runs 5.5 kilometres and connects downtown Kitchener to uptown Waterloo.
  13. McLennan Park: Once a former landfill, this is a wonderful destination for everyone. It offers an accessible play-structure and splash pad, beach volleyball and basketball courts, a skate park, a BMX bike park, a leash-free dog park, pedestrian trails, a toboggan hill, and gazebo you can rent for any event.
  14. Centre in the Square: Looking for fantastic shows and events? This is the venue to visit. There’s not a bad seat in the house, so check the schedule regularly.
  15. The Museum: With five floors of interactive exhibits, this is a great place for you and the family alike. Lots of everything is packed inside, and imagination is the key word here.
  16. Joseph Schneider Haus: If you want to step back in time, this is the place to do it. A dynamic museum, this local landmark is Kitchener’s oldest home. Take the family and take a closer look at the history behind this amazing area.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for more great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Preparing to Buy a House in Kitchener-Waterloo: A Quick-Prep Guide!

Kitchener-Waterloo Home Buying Guide

Home Buying Guide

You’ve spent hours dreaming about the possibilities involved. Maybe you’re envisioning a fireplace in the living room. Perhaps a nice sunroom and reading area. And well, that perfect little breakfast nook would be nice! After the dreams, though, reality begins to sink in. Looking to buy a house in Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario is a huge life step, and it takes a bit of preparation before you can even start the shopping process. With so much to think about and do, where should you focus your energy? We have compiled a quick guide to help you prepare to buy a house in Kitchener or Waterloo Ontario.

Down Payment Funds

The majority of potential homeowners can’t afford the entire purchase price of a home upfront, so a mortgage is typically necessary. Depending on your credit history, down payment requirements can vary from bank to bank but they’re usually about ten percent of the purchase price. Saving that money for your down payment is an absolute must. You may even want to set up a separate account to help you keep back the funds you need for the home of your dreams. The more you add to that account on a regular basis, the better off you will be when going to potential lenders when it’s time to obtain a mortgage for your home.

Prepare Your Credit

There aren’t many lending companies and banks that will offer you a mortgage without the right credit score, and it may take some work to get there. If you currently have a problematic credit score, you may want to sit down with a loan officer now to look at what you can do to improve it before you’re ready to buy. Simple steps like checking your credit report often, paying bills on time, paying down credit cards and/or loan balances, and dealing with any problem credit report entries is an absolute must. A credit counselor can help guide you with regard to any other steps you may want to take.

Save for Additional Expenses

The cost of the down payment and closing expenses are hardly all you’re going to be facing with a house purchase. There are always little things that come up when you get ready to buy a home. Having funds set aside specifically to deal with those issues has to factor into your readiness checklist. Think about the cost of the move, any repairs you might want to do to the home, and any additional furniture you may need to purchase once you move in.

Understand Financial Terminology

Mortgage loans are steeped in financial terms, and it can take some time to get your bearings in this overwhelming arena. Learning as much as you can about mortgages and the terms a loan officer might use as he or she is getting ready to offer you a deal, is essential. You need to become familiar with the types of mortgages available, the terms they use to describe them, and what’s required in order to obtain each type. Most banks have first time home buyer guides posted to their websites to help make sense of terms like APR and Good Faith Estimate. It’s still a good idea to utilize a variety of resources to ensure you get the best possible picture of what you’re going to be expected to have knowledge of.  Waterloo Region mortgage broker Rosanna Congi has a Mortgage Glossary you can access on her website.

Consider Various Housing Types

Your dreams may be big, but you have to think about the housing types available in the Kitchener-Waterloo neighborhood in which you want to live. Single-family homes are great, but in some cases condos can offer many of the same amenities with lower costs. Investment properties that include multi-family housing that may allow you to live in one unit while you play the role of landlord for the other unit(s) could be the right choice for you as well. The goal is to understand what is available and what can meet your dreams.

Find the Right Realtor

Not all real estate agents are created equal. There are many in Kitchener-Waterloo who will help you find exactly what you need and others who leave you feeling somewhat disappointed. You want to find a Realtor® who will help you find just what you want in a home, not what they want to sell you. Conducting your own research is always helpful. You may want to consider a team versus a singular agent. You need help and advice immediately. With an individual agent you’re likely to stay in a holding pattern while he or she helps other clients. With a team, you’ll always have access to a professional Realtor® who is familiar with your situation.

Although “right now” may not be the “right time” for you to buy a house in Kitchener-Waterloo, preparing yourself both physically and mentally for the world of home ownership can take a bit of time. The longer you give yourself, the more likely it is that you’ll truly be ready when the time comes.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

You’ve Outgrown Your Home. Do you Buy First or Sell First?

Real Estate Tips: How to Buy and Sell Real Estate in Kitchener-Waterloo

Real Estate Tips: How to Buy and Sell Real Estate in Kitchener-Waterloo

Moving up from a starter home is an exciting prospect, especially as it often comes with a big change in your life, such as a new partner, child, or a new job. Once you start to look at the logistics, the process can become a daunting one. Apart from the joy of packing, at some point you realize that you’ll have to find and buy a new home in addition to selling your current one. Perhaps the most important question is: Which one do you do first?

If you can afford to straddle two places at once, there are benefits to buying a home before selling your current one. You don’t have to worry about temporary housing and moving twice, which can be costly as well as stressful – not to mention that in some places, rental markets are extremely competitive. If there are other people in your household, moving more than once can be disruptive to your school/work routines, especially if the temporary location isn’t ideal. If you want to buy a home before selling your current one but don’t have the necessary cash, you have the option of applying for a bridge loan. A bridge loan is a short-term financing tool that helps purchasers during the period between closing dates. Bridge financing allows you to use the equity in your current home as a down payment for your new home while waiting for the sale of your existing home to close. These loans are a very short-term solution, though, typically for only 90 days, and are generally only an option when a sale agreement is already in place for your current home.

If you buy your new home first, you can move as soon as you would like to set the closing date and get the keys. This eliminates the need for storage rentals that you might need if you decide to sell your current home first. In certain markets, it’s also expected that you stage your home. Even if staging isn’t expected, it can boost the final sale price or help it sell faster than it would otherwise. If you buy a home before selling your current place, you don’t have to worry about keeping your home pristine for weekend open houses and surprise showings; you can move out and leave the place clean and clutter-free without feeling that you’re living in a showroom.

Get help from a professional real estate agent or mortgage expert

Working with a mortgage professional will help you determine the financial implication of buying or selling first, and working with a real estate professional will help you figure out the climate of the areas where you’re looking to buy or sell. Sellers’ markets can work for you when buying and selling. Right now we are in a hot market in Waterloo Region and you don’t have to feel as much pressure to wait for your home to sell because desirable inventory is low (I wish it wasn’t this low). In this current real estate climate you may feel that you have to jump on submitting on offer on a property that you like because you can be fairly confident if you don’t snatch it immediately, someone else will. While a soft market gives you more time to look and make a decision, it often means longer wait times for the right buyer to come along for your property.

Conventional wisdom, however, is that you sell your existing home before buying a new one.

The obvious advantage to selling your home first is that you don’t have to carry two mortgages. Not only are two mortgage payments expensive, but if you aren’t porting your mortgage and are getting a new one, then you have to go through the application process again and already owning a property might impact your borrowing capacity and/or interest rate for your new mortgage. Additionally, if you’re getting a new mortgage the sale price of your current home probably has some bearing on what you can afford for your next home. Even if you think you and your Realtor have listed your home at fair market value, you ultimately won’t know what that sale price is until you accept an offer.

If your home sells quickly like the majority of our clients’ homes do, finding temporary housing with friends or family or even renting isn’t always a bad thing. Doing so can mean that you can put an offer on a new home without the condition of sale of your current home, making your offer more attractive to sellers. You may also be more flexible in terms of closing dates. Of course you want to get settled into your new home as quickly as possible, but being able to tailor your needs to that of the seller can make the difference between your offer beating another.

When you sell first, you also have a little more freedom than you would if you buy another home first. You don’t have to settle if you don’t see the perfect property right away. Or you can sell your home, get a long closing when buying another home and take some time off before you get the keys. If you’re in a situation where your things are in short-term storage until you find a new home anyway, maybe you can even take the opportunity to travel, even if it’s just for a short period of time. You’ll come back relaxed, refreshed, and ready to unpack in your new home.

I also answer this question in my video

 

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by downloading my free eBook here: bit.ly/MMSelling. Also for more great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions, feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Mark

 

Tax Guide: Helping Waterloo Region Save More

If you live in Kitchener-Conestoga area, you probably know Harold Albrecht is your MP. This week Harold sent out a handy little “Tax Guide” to his constituents designed to help residents of Waterloo Region save money through awareness of the various tax breaks we can take advantage of.

Mark and Harold at a Confederation Club Luncheon

Mark and Harold at a Confederation Club Luncheon

Harold covers tax deductions for families, seniors, working Canadians and job creators, and of course for home buyers. If you haven’t received this tax guide, we would like to go over the section Lower Taxes for Home Buyers. 

First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit

Harold Albrecht Tax Guide

Harold Albrecht Tax Guide

If you are a First Time Homebuyer, you can receive a credit on your income tax that allows you to save up to $750 on qualifying homes purchased after January 27, 2009. This tax credit is also available to existing homeowners who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) who purchase a home that is more accessible or functional for them. Other individuals who qualify for the DTC tax credit are people who purchase a home for the benefit of a disabled family member who is related to them by blood, marriage, common-law or adoption.

Home Buyers’ Plan

Saving for a downpayment for your first home is the most challenging step to home ownership. Home buyers in Canada usually have several income sources that contribute to the downpayment of their first home. The largest source is known to be from savings (56% of downpayments). There are various ways you can contribute to a downpayment; for instance you can have it “gifted” to you (this is true for 18% of Canadians). You can also withdraw from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). The amount that you can withdraw from your RRSP has been increased to $25,000 – a significant contribution to your total downpayment when you consider that in Canada the average downpayment for a first home is $67,060.

In the meantime, if you are first time home buyer looking for more information on pre-shopping for homes, arranging a mortgage, viewing homes or what is involved in a purchase offer, closing and moving – be sure to download our free Home Buyers Guide here. Wondering if you’re financially ready to buy a home? Read our article about financial preparedness by clicking here. If you have questions about any of the content in the Tax Guide, contact Harold Albrecht, MP by calling his office at 519-578-3777 or email him at harold@HaroldAlbrechtMP.ca.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by downloading my free eBook here: bit.ly/MMSellers. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Mark

RE/MAX 2016 Spring Market Trends Report for Kitchener-Waterloo

Spring Market Trends

From today’s report released by RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario- Atlantic Canada

The real estate market has had an active start in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Spring market trends include the fact that sales were up 23.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. Our area is continuing to see a surge in buyers who are selling properties in Toronto, which have appreciated greatly in recent years, in order to upgrade to larger homes at a lower price in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. The average residential sale price rose 6 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2016 to $371,733 while days on market decreased from the previous year.

Properties under $450,000 are attracting multiple offers and often selling within hours of being listed. In addition to the surge of buyers relocating from Toronto, the region has also seen an increase in investors eager to take advantage of the potential real estate price appreciation that is expected from the region’s five year transportation plan connecting the area to Cambridge.

The low Canadian dollar has reinvigorated the local auto manufacturing sector while the University of Waterloo continues to be a core driver in the local economy. Its internationally recognized engineering program has recently grown by 15 per cent.

FIRST-TIME BUYERS

Low interest rates continue to attract first-time buyers, however, once they begin their search many are becoming increasingly frustrated as multiple offers and the quick pace of sales becomes a new reality. With little time to make decisions, it is highly recommend that potential buyers do their homework and work with an experienced local real estate agent.

CONDO MARKET

Condos and townhouses are seeing a lot of activity as the low price point is attractive to both first-time buyers and investors. While March’s year-over-year sales of strata properties have witnessed an impressive increase of 26.4 per cent, the demand has not been reflected in price appreciation. Ongoing construction of condo style apartments built for students has created a robust inventory and is putting downward pressure on rental values.

LUXURY HOMES

Interestingly, Toronto buyers relocating to the region are having a minimal effect on Kitchener-Waterloo’s luxury market as this buyer group is typically looking at properties less than $700,000. Typically selling for 1 million and above, the region’s luxury market buyer is often a very well-established professional at the University of Waterloo or in the auto manufacturing sector.

 

Future Trends for the Kitchener-Waterloo Market; spring market trends

Future Trends for the Kitchener-Waterloo Market

The New Era of Condo Living in Kitchener-Waterloo

buying a home in Waterloo, buying a home in Kitchener, buying a condo in Kitchener-Waterloo

Benefits of Condo Living

The Growing Condo Population in Waterloo Region

Condos have a lot to offer for many different categories of buyer. From first-time buyers to downsizers and from singles to families, there are good reasons to think about condo living. They offer an ease of living that everyone can appreciate.

The Kitchener-Waterloo area has a huge student and post-grad population and this group is often attracted to condo living. The lower price point of a condo over a single-family home is typically a strong selling point. The communal atmosphere and added luxuries some condos offer (such as pools, fitness facilities and rooftop decks) are also very attractive to those just transitioning from dorm and apartment life to homeownership. It’s a good way to make the move from university to adult life.

Twenty-somethings love living in the areas where condos are most populous, too. Living near nightlife as well as work makes commuting so much easier. Our thriving tech sector is providing a healthy pool of buyers that’s only going to grow in the next several years so a condo could also be an excellent investment.

The millennials may love condos and we are finding that adults with a little more life experience are also becoming condo buyers. Empty nesters and retirees are buying condos now too. The ease of letting someone else do the gardening or paint the shared hallways can make a condo life much easier than a single-family home. A few less square feet means that much less to clean and maintain so many of these folks are making the switch to condos later in life.

Benefits of Condo Living

Condo life offers more than just the square footage within your walls. Here are just a few of the benefits of condo living that you might not have considered.

  • Security. Many buildings have security features you won’t get in a single-family home or apartment. Features like car-only access and paid security staff on-site 24-7 in addition to nearby neighbors to make you feel more secure. Condos have a lower rate of break-ins when compared to other form of housing.
  • Location. Condos are often located in the trendiest areas close to the best shopping and restaurants. This is definitely the case in Kitchener-Waterloo! Any of our condos are just a short stroll from some of the hottest hotspots in town.
  • Maintenance. It would be more accurate to say “lack of maintenance” because if you buy a condo, most of the hardest work will be handled for you! Landscaping, roofing and the upkeep of common areas will be performed by professionals and covered by your monthly fees.
  • While condo pricing has a wide range based on location, size, and amenities, the price per square foot is typically lower than a single-family home. This makes homeownership a little more reachable for more buyers.
  •  Amenities. A great condo has features outside your own walls. Many have 24-hour fitness facilities, pools, beautiful common areas for large-scale entertaining, secure parking and perhaps even concierge services.
  • Community. Perhaps one of the best features of condo life in the sense of community that you often find in these buildings. The shared spaces give you a feeling of being part of a larger family of residents that is often missing in our modern lives.

This affordable, innovative approach to creating a community could be the best move you’ve ever made. If you haven’t considered a condo yet, perhaps it’s time you called your Realtor. Take a look at how you could be living if you choose a Kitchener-Waterloo condo property.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by getting a copy of my free eBook here. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

 

5 Things to Know About Real Estate Disclosure and Disclaimer Clauses

Mark Weisleder is a real estate lawyer, author and speaker in Toronto. We follow his work because he is a thought leader in his field and is one of the most knowledgeable real estate lawyers in the province of Ontario. Mark recently shared this article with us and we thought The Mark Maurer Team readers would appreciate learning more about disclosure and disclaimer clauses in their Kitchener-Waterloo real estate transactions.
Real Estate Clauses

Inform Yourself About Real Estate Clauses

5 Things to Know About Disclosure and Disclaimer Clauses

 The basement floods after closing. Can the buyer sue the seller? The agreement contained wrong information about the property dimensions but also included a disclaimer clause. Can the buyer sue if there is a problem after closing? Do you need to disclose a murder that occurred in a home? These are not simple questions, but if you remember the following principles, you should be able to understand the law.

 Here are 5 key lessons to remember:

1.    When there is a flood after closing, the buyer will have to prove that the seller knew about this defect and that it was serious or else that the seller actively concealed the defect from the buyer. It will also depend on whether the buyer conducted a home inspection and in the case of basement water, whether the seller actually finished the basement themselves. A buyer will have to prove that the seller must have known about the problem during their ownership. Buyers will have to take pictures of the damage and bring in an experienced contractor who will be able to look at the damage and then give an expert opinion, in court if necessary, that the seller either must have known about the problem or did work behind the walls to conceal the problem. If the buyer cannot prove this, they will likely not be successful.

2.    The defect must make the property uninhabitable or dangerous. This means that the defect must be so serious that the buyer may not be able to continue living in the property. This would include a foundation problem. It is not clear if this would include a disclosure that the property was previously used as a grow op, as it would depend on the extent of the operation and whether it was actually remedied according to accepted industry standards. It would also depend on whether the buyer could obtain insurance for the property. Suffice to say that if the seller does not disclose a minor basement leak, the buyer will not be successful suing about it after closing.

3.    The law is not settled as to whether a seller needs to disclose a property stigma, whether it is a murder, suicide or neighbourhood condition, such as a pedophile who lives next door. Most appraisers will tell you that this will affect a property’s value. However, it will still be hard to prove that this stigma would make the home uninhabitable and this is why many lawyers will tell you that you do not have to disclose property stigmas.

4.    If you advertise the boundaries of a property in a listing, can the buyer get damages or get out of the deal if it turns out the boundaries are incorrect? Will it make a difference if there is a disclaimer clause in the offer itself, saying that the information, while believed to be correct, is not guaranteed and should not be relied upon without independent verification? In most cases, if the disclaimer is there, the buyer will not be able to sue the seller for any damages and will need to make sure that they do their own proper due diligence in advance. The lesson for any buyer is to make sure that if there is a disclaimer present, that you check a survey of the property or make the deal conditional on your own independent verification of all boundary lines.

5.    If you have any concerns about disclosure, ask the sellers point blank if they have had any water in the basement, murders or grow houses on the property in the past, or insert a clause to this effect in your offer. The sellers then have to respond truthfully. Speak to the neighbours and ask if any repairs were done at the property during the past year or whether there are any other issues with the property that you should know about. Also ask the neighbours about anything peculiar going on in the neighbourhood, including asking about the neighbours on either side of the property you are interested in buying. A major reason sellers sell a home is simply to get away from a neighbour.

When you understand the rules about disclosure and properly protect yourself, you should be able to minimize any problems that could arise after closing. Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by downloading my free eBook here: bit.ly/MMBuyers. Also for more great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

If you have any stories to share about disclosure, or just need some advice, please contact Mark at mark@markweisleder.com. If you are selling your own home in Kitchener or Waterloo and have questions about disclosure, feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.

Mark

Before You Make the Move: What You Need to Know Before Hiring Movers

 

hiring movers in Waterloo Region

Hiring Movers in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge

It almost seems crazy. You hire people you’ve never met to take everything out of your house, put it in their trucks and take it away. Then you trust them to make sure all of your precious furniture and personal items make it safely into your new home. Hiring movers can be scary because of the incredible amount of trust involved in this transaction.

A Local Horror Story

Recently, residents in Waterloo Region unfortunately learned just how vulnerable we could be when we hire movers. The “Two Small Men with Big Hearts” company were recently implicated and charged for running a moving scam. A single mother on social assistance (obviously with a limited income) hired the moving company to move her belongings for a set price that they quoted on. Once Two Small Men with Big Hearts went to unload her belongings at her new home, they quoted her an entirely different (higher) price. When she wouldn’t pay, the movers drove off with all of her belongings in the back of their truck. Before you make the move, make yourself aware of the potential risks. Protect yourself against the unscrupulous elements in the business as well as the less nefarious mistakes.

Lowballs and Add-ons

Beware of the lowball offer. It may sound like a bargain but it’s often not all it seems on the surface. You might be quoted a bargain rate only to find out on the day of your move (when it’s far too late to make a change) that many of the services you expected aren’t included. Your mover might say that packing a fragile item or disassembling a piece of furniture isn’t included and hit you with a big add-on charge. What can you do at this point if you have a deadline to be out of the home? When asking for quotes, be sure your written quote includes specifics with a list of fragile items and furniture dismantling (beds, dining room hutches etc).

Make sure that you get all of the details in writing. An honest company won’t hesitate to give you a written estimate and a list of what is and isn’t included in their fees. Have it on-hand the day of your move in case one of the moving company employees tries to unfairly increase your costs. Also don’t let anybody convince you that pads, tape, or “special” boxes are extra costs. Know exactly what you’ll be paying and have it in writing before the movers arrive.

Cash-only dealings are rarely smart

If your mover is a “cash only” operation, choose another company. How many places where you shop are run this way? Would you trust a cash-only electronics store? Or a cash-only auto repair? Of course not – you’d assume something less than legal was afoot. So why trust everything in your home to a cash-only moving company? You need the protection of a traceable transaction.

Be smart and check the details

A reliable mover will have a good reputation, referrals, and all of the required licenses and insurance policies to operate their business. It’s up to you to check to see that the one you are hiring is fully insured and bonded. If they don’t have sufficient insurance and a worker is injured on your property, guess who is liable? That’s you.

Be extra careful with your precious items

Any decent mover can relocate a couch without incident. Many good movers can pack and safeguard your grandmother’s china. Some can be trusted with your baby grand piano and only a few with your fine art.

Specialty items like fine art and large musical instruments require specialty movers. These often one-of-a-kind items may be irreplaceable and unfixable so no insurance claim can fill the void if they are lost. Don’t take chances; hire a specialist for the items that require it. It may cost a bit more to hire the folks in white gloves with climate controlled cargo holds but what would the cost be if your item wasn’t properly handled?

Have the contract in hand

It is wise to have a copy of your contract where it can easily be accessed on moving day. You should also have working phone numbers for the company’s management. Someone should be available by phone even if you’re moving on a weekend. Trust your gut – if you feel uncomfortable in any way with the people who arrive or the way they are behaving, make the call.

Be attentive and protective, within reason

Be protective of your belongings and attentive to the way they are handled. If you are not happy (within reason) about the way something is being done, kindly let the movers know. You have a voice in this process so don’t be afraid to use it. It’s not rude to say, “I’m a little nervous about that item. Could you please put an extra layer of wrapping on it?” That “please” will go a long way so don’t forget to include it!

Consider what you pack yourself

Your moving company probably won’t be liable for anything you pack yourself so be judicious in choosing what you take on alone. Go ahead and pack small valuables like jewelry and watches and move them yourself if you can. These small items could prove to be a little too tempting. Expensive electronics (iPads, tablets, laptops) fall in the same category.

Many hands will fall on your belongings on the way. Don’t make your things easy to pocket.   If you can do it yourself, perhaps you should. But study up on how to pack and move those items since you’ll be the only one to blame if they arrive at your new home in less-than-ideal condition.

Be reasonable and polite

This is good advice for any situation really. Be reasonable in your expectations and understand that packing and moving takes time. Movers are just like you. They are there to do a job and most want to do it well.

Use kind words and a soft voice. Don’t be the ugly customer they talk about the next day. Yelling, threatening and using abusive language will only buy you trouble. Your movers might want to get away from you as fast as possible and the work may suffer for speed.

Speaking of speed, you probably don’t need to have an eagle eye on the clock. Most reputable movers just want to do a good job and get home to their families, just like you at the end of a long work day. The crew probably won’t let any of its members lag on the job.

Moving is stressful enough without adding in more drama on moving day. Be sure to hire a trustworthy company and take the time to become educated and well-informed on the costs and processes involved long before anyone packs the first box. It’s up to you to do your homework to choose the right movers and to make sure everything goes according to plan.

Recommended Movers in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge

I have personally had excellent moving experiences with Evergreen Transfer, who has been in business in Kitchener-Waterloo for more than 30 years. In one particular move Evergreen Transfer packed every single item in my family  home (even including my wife’s underwear!) and unpacked it all on the other end. Although this is a more expensive option, it is fast, convenient and perfect for people whose time is valuable (or can’t get much time off work). I have also used Mike the Mover for one of my smaller moves. This company can handle any size move, their employees are friendly and polite, and I found their rates quite reasonable.

Find out how I’ve helped more than 2,000 families buy and sell homes in Kitchener-Waterloo by downloading my free eBook here: bit.ly/MMSellers. Also for great real estate videos you won’t find anywhere else, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I love to share my expert knowledge so if you have any real estate questions feel free to call me at 310-SOLD or email me at mark@maurerteam.com.