December 11, 2012

Vast Majority Now Favour FIXED MORTGAGES

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While it looks like interest rates will remain low for some time, there has been a large swing from variable to fixed-rate mortgages over the past year, says a new report by the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals.
CAAMP’s annual report on the state of the residential mortgage market, released last month, suggests that 79 percent of the new mortgages taken out this year have been fixed-rate, 10 percent have been variable, and 11 percent are a combination.

That’s a significant shift from prior years, during which fixed-rate mortgages generally accounted for about two-thirds of the total, while variable or adjustable-rate mortgages were about one-quarter.

Canadians are likely locking in because of the very small difference between interest rates for variable-rate mortgages (which are in the neighbourhood of three percent) and five-year fixed-rate mortgages (which are closer to 3.2 or 3.3 percent, after discounts that the banks typically offer), the report says.

“The current spread of about one-quarter of a point is negligible compared to the average of 1.7 points during 2010 and 2011,” it says. Meanwhile, the average mortgage interest rate for homeowners has fallen to 3.55 percent, from 3.94 percent a year ago. For homes bought this year, the average rate is 3.26 percent.

The report, which is based in large part on an online survey of 2,018 Canadians by Maritz, also found that about six percent of homeowners took equity out of their home in the past year. The average amount is estimated at $49,000, implying that $30-billion of equity has been taken out during the year.

But 87 percent of Canadians have at least 25 percent equity in their homes. Sixteen percent of mortgage holders have increased their payments, 15 percent have made lump sum payments, and 6 percent have increased their payment frequency.

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June 20, 2012

Learn About Condo Ownership Before You Buy

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Condominium living can be an appealing form of housing tenure. It’s often affordable and someone else may handle much of the maintenance and repairs, such as shoveling snow and replacing a roof. Before you decide to buy a condominium, however, it’s a good idea to learn about condo ownership and what it’s like to live in one.

Condominiums are often thought of as high-rise residential buildings, but “condominium” refers to a form of legal ownership, as opposed to a style of construction. This form of ownership can also apply to townhouse complexes, individual houses and low-rise residential buildings.

Condominiums consist of two parts. The first part is a collection of private dwellings called “units” which are owned by and registered in the name of the purchaser of the unit. The second part consists of the common elements of the building that may include lobbies, hallways, elevators, recreational facilities or walkways. Common elements may also include structural elements and mechanical and electrical services. The creation of a condominium is regulated by provincial condominium laws and regulations. Once a condominium corporation has been established, a board of directors, which is elected by, and generally made up of the individual condominium owners, takes responsibility for the management of the corporation’s business affairs. When you buy a condominium, you own your unit, as well as a percentage of the common property elements allocated to the unit. The ownership of these common elements is shared amongst the individual unit owners, as is the cost for their operation, maintenance and ongoing replacement. Some elements – including balconies, parking spaces, storage lockers, driveways and front or rear lawn areas – are examples of “exclusive” use common property elements. Although these spaces are exclusive to your use, there may be restrictions on how and when you use them. For instance, you may not be able to park a boat, RV or commercial vehicle in your assigned parking spot.

There are two types of condominium ownership – regular and freehold. With a regular townhouse or house condominium, the unit typically consists of the interior of the house itself, while the exterior of the house and the plot of land on which the unit sits are considered part of the common elements. This means that repair and maintenance of items like exterior walls, windows, lawns, gardens and driveways may be the responsibility of the condominium corporation.

With a freehold condominium, you own the plot of land and any structure on that land such as a house or townhouse. You are normally responsible for the care and upkeep of the entire house, including the exterior walls and roof, as well as the lawn, garden, driveway and garage. With a freehold condominium, the common property elements might include access roads to the units, recreational facilities, visitor parking area or a park with a playground.

Both freehold and regular unit owners pay a monthly condominium fee to cover their portion of the operating expenses of the common property elements. A portion of this fee is allocated to the reserve fund which ensures that sufficient funds are available for major repairs and replacements over the life of the building.

You usually have more freedom to make improvements to the unit in a freehold condominium. However, there are likely provisions that give the condominium corporation some control over owners modifying the unit. So, for example, if you want to change the colour of your door or build a deck in your backyard, you may have to ask for permission from the board of directors.
To help you determine if condominium ownership is right for you, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a publication called Condominium Buyers’ Guide. Download your free copy at www.cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.

Source: Royal LePage Team Realty – Real Estate News

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June 20, 2012

Do You Live in One of Ottawa’s Top 20 Neighbourhoods?

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Last month’s issue of Ottawa Magazine was the annual Real Estate Issue – and in it writer, Lauren Byrne Paquet, summarizes (but does not rank) the twenty neighbourhoods in Ottawa that they have deemed the best. We will try to recap it here using the statistical quips dotted throughout the article. It is broken up by types of buyers.
You can read the entire article here – http://www.ottawamagazine.com/homes-gardens/neighbourhoods/

THE “COST IS NO ISSUE” CROWD
Alta Vista/Faircrest Heights: average price range for homes is $568,000 – $1,975,000
Glebe: Most educated ‘hood with 68% having completed a bachelor’s degree
Manotick: No condos available, it is a neighbourhood with a varied price range of $289,000 – $2,800,000
Rockliffe: Ottawa’s most exclusive and expensive neighbourhood with the average condo price being $799,000 and the top end of the price range for homes sitting at $4,500,000
Rothwell Heights: This neighbourhood sits along the Ottawa River near Blair and Montreal Road – seemingly one of Ottawa’s hidden gems.

DINKS (Double income, no kids)
The Byward Market: No surprise, the market area has the highest number of singles with 54% of women and 64% of men living in that area.
Golden Triangle: A lovely area bordered by the Rideau Canal, Elgin Street and Laurier Ave. W. – they have Ottawa’s  priciest condos ranging from $2255,000 – $1,250,000
New Edinburgh/Lindenlea: Ottawa’s other “village” – not as trendy but full of foodies and hipsters.South Hintonburg: Less gritty and more expensive than the other half of Hintonburg/Mechanicsville (north of Wellington Ave.)
Westboro/Hampton Park: Westboro’s borders vary depending on who you talk to. Everyone agrees that it begins at Island Park Dr. and goes west… just where it ends and Highland Park begins is debated. Some say Churchill Avenue is the border… most say Golden Avenue is the end of Westboro.

FAMILIES
Carlingwood: a nice neighbourhood but listed as one of the ‘hoods with the least green space along with West Centretown, Hawthorne Meadows – Sheffield Glen and Glabar Park – McKellar Heights
Chapel Hill West: 70% of the people who live in this ‘hood travel to work by car
Kanata Lakes: At the time of the article/survey there was only one condo available and there were 33 homes for sale
Old Ottawa South: Children and youth make up a quarter of this neighbourhood’s population
Pheasant Run (Barrhaven): This neighbourhood is in the catchment area for the two highest ranked high schools in Ottawa – John McCrae Secondary School and St. Joseph’s Catholic High School

FIRST TIME BUYERS
Borden Farm: Living here situates you between the shopping strip on Merivale Rd. and Hog’s Back Park
Glen Cairn/Hazeldean: 70% of the homes in this area were built between 1960 and 1980
Hunt Club Park: Great for animal (dog) lovers as this area boasts Pine Grove Park and Conroy Pit
Orleans Wood: Bordered by the Ottawa River on one side and Orleans Boulevard, Highway 174, and Champlain Street on the others
Riverside South: More green space than urban amenities if you are looking for more space and rural living than the nearby Barrhaven

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