Chris Ball

Personal Real Estate Corporation

604-512-9208

I have listed a new property at 109 675 PARK CRES in New Westminster.
Perfect for 1st time home buyer! Spacious, bright, and quiet. This 1 bedroom 1 bath patio level home at The Winchester built by Unimet features 9' ceiling, shaker kitchen, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, dining area, laminate & tile floors, insuite laundry, fireplace, & a lovely private garden patio. Only steps to Queens Park, Canada Games Pool, shopping, schools, and transit. The ideal location for quick and easy access to Patullo bridge or highway no. 1. Open Houses: Sat Nov. 25 & Sun Nov. 26 from 2-4.
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Please visit our Open House at 109 675 PARK CRES in New Westminster.
Open House on Saturday, November 25, 2017 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Perfect for 1st time home buyer! Spacious, bright, and quiet. This 1 bedroom 1 bath patio level home at The Winchester built by Unimet features 9' ceiling, shaker kitchen, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, dining area, laminate & tile floors, insuite laundry, fireplace, & a lovely private garden patio. Only steps to Queens Park, Canada Games Pool, shopping, schools, and transit. The ideal location for quick and easy access to Patullo bridge or highway no. 1. Open Houses: Sat Nov. 25 & Sun Nov. 26 from 2-4.
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Please visit our Open House at 109 675 PARK CRES in New Westminster.
Open House on Sunday, November 26, 2017 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Perfect for 1st time home buyer! Spacious, bright, and quiet. This 1 bedroom 1 bath patio level home at The Winchester built by Unimet features 9' ceiling, shaker kitchen, granite counters, stainless steel appliances, dining area, laminate & tile floors, insuite laundry, fireplace, & a lovely private garden patio. Only steps to Queens Park, Canada Games Pool, shopping, schools, and transit. The ideal location for quick and easy access to Patullo bridge or highway no. 1. Open Houses: Sat Nov. 25 & Sun Nov. 26 from 2-4.
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I have listed a new property at 1828 GEORGIA ST E in Vancouver.
Beautiful Commercial Drive townhome in a perfect location. Enjoy the city and mountain views from the cozy front patio, overlooking a terraced garden. Enter to a large open concept living area, with fabulous kitchen! Perfect for entertaining. Master bedroom up features vaulted ceilings, large closets, ensuite, private patio, and ocean and mountain views. Spacious lower level is an ideal space for a nanny suite, short-term rental, or cozy family lounge spot. Wonderful neighbours in an extremely friendly and well cared for 4-plex. An exceptional home only steps away from some of the best cafes, restaurants, parks and shops in the city. Sneak Peek Thursday, Nov.23 7-8pm
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Please visit our Open House at 1828 GEORGIA ST E in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, November 25, 2017 3:00PM - 5:00PM
Beautiful Commercial Drive townhome in a perfect location. Enjoy the city and mountain views from the cozy front patio, overlooking a terraced garden. Enter to a large open concept living area, with fabulous kitchen! Perfect for entertaining. Master bedroom up features vaulted ceilings, large closets, ensuite, private patio, and ocean and mountain views. Spacious lower level is an ideal space for a nanny suite, short-term rental, or cozy family lounge spot. Wonderful neighbours in an extremely friendly and well cared for 4-plex. An exceptional home only steps away from some of the best cafes, restaurants, parks and shops in the city. Sneak Peek Thursday, Nov.23 7-8pm
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Please visit our Open House at 1828 GEORGIA ST E in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, November 26, 2017 3:00PM - 5:00PM
Beautiful Commercial Drive townhome in a perfect location. Enjoy the city and mountain views from the cozy front patio, overlooking a terraced garden. Enter to a large open concept living area, with fabulous kitchen! Perfect for entertaining. Master bedroom up features vaulted ceilings, large closets, ensuite, private patio, and ocean and mountain views. Spacious lower level is an ideal space for a nanny suite, short-term rental, or cozy family lounge spot. Wonderful neighbours in an extremely friendly and well cared for 4-plex. An exceptional home only steps away from some of the best cafes, restaurants, parks and shops in the city. Sneak Peek Thursday, Nov.23 7-8pm
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Please visit our Open House at 401 688 16TH AVE E in Vancouver.
Open House on Thursday, November 23, 2017 5:30PM - 6:30PM
Newly renovated! This Stunning 1 Bed, 1 Bath home is a Penthouse/Corner Home in the "Vintage Eastside Bldg". A solid rainscreened building is centrally located steps from the "Golden Triangle" of Fraser, and shops and restaurants of Main Street. German engineered flooring, quartz counter-tops, SS appliance package, closet organizers, top/btm blinds, Mountain Views, skylights, and balcony. 1 Parking and large storage locker. Sneak Peek Thursday November 23 from 5:30-6:30pm
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I have listed a new property at 401 688 16TH AVE E in Vancouver.
Newly renovated! This Stunning 1 Bed, 1 Bath home is a Penthouse/Corner Home in the "Vintage Eastside Bldg". A solid rainscreened building is centrally located steps from the "Golden Triangle" of Fraser, and shops and restaurants of Main Street. German engineered flooring, quartz counter-tops, SS appliance package, closet organizers, top/btm blinds, Mountain Views, skylights, and balcony. 1 Parking and large storage locker. Sneak Peek Thursday November 23 from 5:30-6:30pm
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Please visit our Open House at 401 688 16TH AVE E in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, November 25, 2017 12:30PM - 2:30PM
Newly renovated! This Stunning 1 Bed, 1 Bath home is a Penthouse/Corner Home in the "Vintage Eastside Bldg". A solid rainscreened building is centrally located steps from the "Golden Triangle" of Fraser, and shops and restaurants of Main Street. German engineered flooring, quartz counter-tops, SS appliance package, closet organizers, top/btm blinds, Mountain Views, skylights, and balcony. 1 Parking and large storage locker. Sneak Peek Thursday November 23 from 5:30-6:30pm
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Please visit our Open House at 401 688 16TH AVE E in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, November 26, 2017 12:30PM - 2:30PM
Newly renovated! This Stunning 1 Bed, 1 Bath home is a Penthouse/Corner Home in the "Vintage Eastside Bldg". A solid rainscreened building is centrally located steps from the "Golden Triangle" of Fraser, and shops and restaurants of Main Street. German engineered flooring, quartz counter-tops, SS appliance package, closet organizers, top/btm blinds, Mountain Views, skylights, and balcony. 1 Parking and large storage locker. Sneak Peek Thursday November 23 from 5:30-6:30pm
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I have listed a new property at 1262 13TH AVE E in Vancouver.
FANTASTIC LOCATION! Amazing Investment property in top school catchment! Great house with fantastic layout, a Vancouver Special in design with 2 suites in Mt. Pleasant, a family neighbourhood close to everything. Updated 3 bed/ 2 bath Suite upstairs w/ Dining room and spacious living area upstairs and a large covered south-facing sundeck over double garage. Downstairs suite has 3 bdrm 1 bath with separate entrance. Concrete tile roof, South facing backyard, gardens, elevated location, ideal/flexible floorplan. Steps to parks and shops and transit Located in top Charles Dickens Elem. and Sir Charles Tupper sec. school catchment. Solid investment opportunity, getting fantastic rental income. Ideal for investor high CAP or family with tons of mortgage help!
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I have listed a new property at 2838 WATSON ST in Vancouver.
Located at the heart of Main Street! On one of the prettiest little streets in Mt. Pleasant! Steps to everything! Large 2 Bedroom + flex townhome, in the exclusive well-designed row home section of the Domain development by Holborn. Open floorplan on the main floor where the modern, cleanly finished kitchen flows in the Dining/Living room, fantastic for entertaining with soaring 12' ceilings, and a large patio. On the 2nd floor is the spacious 2nd bedroom,, flex space and main bath. The expansive Master bedroom is perched on the top floor with large walk-in closet, and fabulous ensuite bathroom, and city/mountain views. A huge rooftop patio occupies, perfect for entertaining! Sneak Peek is Thursday November 2 from 6-7pm.
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Please visit our Open House at 2838 WATSON ST in Vancouver.
Open House on Saturday, November 4, 2017 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Located at the heart of Main Street! On one of the prettiest little streets in Mt. Pleasant! Steps to everything! Large 2 Bedroom + flex townhome, in the exclusive well-designed row home section of the Domain development by Holborn. Open floorplan on the main floor where the modern, cleanly finished kitchen flows in the Dining/Living room, fantastic for entertaining with soaring 12' ceilings, and a large patio. On the 2nd floor is the spacious 2nd bedroom,, flex space and main bath. The expansive Master bedroom is perched on the top floor with large walk-in closet, and fabulous ensuite bathroom, and city/mountain views. A huge rooftop patio occupies, perfect for entertaining! Sneak Peek is Thursday November 2 from 6-7pm.
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Please visit our Open House at 2838 WATSON ST in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, November 5, 2017 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Located at the heart of Main Street! On one of the prettiest little streets in Mt. Pleasant! Steps to everything! Large 2 Bedroom + flex townhome, in the exclusive well-designed row home section of the Domain development by Holborn. Open floorplan on the main floor where the modern, cleanly finished kitchen flows in the Dining/Living room, fantastic for entertaining with soaring 12' ceilings, and a large patio. On the 2nd floor is the spacious 2nd bedroom,, flex space and main bath. The expansive Master bedroom is perched on the top floor with large walk-in closet, and fabulous ensuite bathroom, and city/mountain views. A huge rooftop patio occupies, perfect for entertaining! Sneak Peek is Thursday November 2 from 6-7pm.
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Government adds new qualifying requirements for uninsured mortgages, this could effect your buying power by 20% in many cases.

 

Effective January 1, 2018, home buyers who don’t require mortgage insurance — those with a down payment of 20 per cent or more — must qualify for their mortgage at a higher rate

 

This new stress test won’t apply to people renewing their uninsured mortgage.

 

Canada’s Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced these rule changes today. Draft changes were released in the summer for public feedback. (The Canadian Real Estate Association submitted this response to the draft rules in August on behalf of REALTORS® across the country.)

 

Under the new rules, the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages will be the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or the contractual mortgage rate plus two per cent.

 

OSFI will also require lenders to enhance their loan-to-value (LTV) limits and restrict certain lending arrangements designed to circumvent LTV limits.

 

These changes apply to all federally regulated financial institutions.

 

This is the seventh time since 2008 that the federal government has made mortgage policy changes.

 

Read the government’s full announcement here.

 

Economic analysis from the BC Real Estate Association (BCREA):

“The impact of the new stress test requirement will be to lower the purchasing power of households by up to 20 per cent. Like past tightening of mortgage regulations, we anticipate that the market impact will be sharp but temporary. In the past, we’ve seen home sales decline in the three to nine months following the implementation of tighter mortgage lending standards, with the severity of the impact fading within one year. However, these new regulations impact a larger pool of mortgages and so the impact could be more significant than in the past,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist

 

We’ll provide more details on these changes in an upcoming Realtor News.

 

CLICK HERE TO CONTACT ME OR CALL ME AT 604-512-9208

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Since the 2008 recession, Ottawa has made mortgage policy changes six times. In addition to the recent changes outlined above, here’s a timeline of changes.


October 2016

OSFI requires smaller banks to perform a stress test requiring low equity borrowers (less than 20 per cent down payment) to qualify for the Bank of Canada’s posted five-year rate; and borrowers with a down payment at or above 20 per cent (low ratio) to meet these same eligibility requirements.


December 2015

The federal government increased the minimum down payment for insured high-ratio mortgages for anyone buying a home valued between $500,000 - $1 million to 10 per cent down from 5 per cent down.


June 2012

The maximum amortization period was reduced to 25 years from 35 years for high-ratio insured mortgages. A new stress test was implemented. To qualify for a high-ratio mortgage, a home buyer’s debt costs could be no more than 44 per cent of their income. Home owners refinancing could borrow a maximum of 80 per cent of a property’s value, down from 85 per cent. Government-backed insured high-ratio mortgages were available only on homes valued at less than $1 million.


January 2011

The government reduced the maximum length of an insured high-ratio mortgage to 30 years from 35 years. The maximum amount home owners refinancing could borrow was reduced to 85 per cent from 90 per cent.


February 2010

The government lowered the maximum amount home owners could borrow when refinancing a mortgage to 90 per cent of a home’s value, from 95 per cent. A new rule required owners not living on a property to have a minimum 20 per cent down payment if they needed government-backed mortgage insurance.


July 2008

Then Finance Minister Jim Flaherty reduced the maximum length of an insured high-ratio mortgage to 35 years from 40 years.

 

***As noted from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Website***

 

Link to site and article:  http://www.rebgv.org/federal-government-actions-curb-housing-risks-2008

 

If you will be effected and will need some help in finding a home quickly before the new mortgage requirements are implemented on January 1. Please contact me at chris@chrisball.ca or by mobile: 604-512-9208.

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No matter if you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market, there are a few critical steps you can take to make a smarter purchase. Since buying a home is likely the biggest single investment you will ever make, being prepared will help you make a better purchase. Here are our best tips to buying a home.


Know your buying power

What is your buying power? It is the combination of your credit-worthiness and how much you can realistically pay for a home.

 

First, you need to understand the hidden costs of buying a home. You will need to save not only for the down payment of your home -- which is typically between 10% - 20% of the offer price -- but also for any additional transaction fees, such as transfer tax, PMI, title insurance, and legal fees.

 

Then you need to know what you can realistically afford each month to understand how much house you can buy.

Your mortgage rate will depend on your creditworthiness -- if you have a high credit score, your lender will likely approve you for a lower mortgage rate, which can save you thousands of dollars per year in interest.

 

How much of your budget should go to your monthly home costs? According to SmartAssets, you can use the 36% rule as a rough guideline. This means that your monthly obligation shouldn’t be more than 36% of your monthly gross income.

 

A loan professional can help you figure out how much house you can afford.


Fix your credit with the help of a loan professional

According to CreditKarma, a good credit score is usually 720 or above. You want to clean up your credit as soon as you can, and definitely before you go to a lender for a loan preapproval.

 

When you apply for your loan pre-approval, you don’t want to have anything to hide on your application. So don’t lower your credit score by doing anything that will originate more inquiries into your credit. For example, don’t open any new credit cards. Also, don’t omit any debts or loans when you apply. If the loan officer discovers them in the application process, they may deny you a pre-approval.

 

Get a loan professional to check your credit score for you. A professional can give you a clearer idea if your score is in the ‘good’ range, or if you need to do some credit cleanup before getting a mortgage preapproval.


Work with a knowledgeable buyer’s agent

Do you understand what kind of market you are buying into? Even within a city’s limits, there can be micro markets that are increasing or decreasing in value.

 

That’s why it’s important to hire a highly competent real estate agent who knows the specific market. You want to make sure that the professional who you’re working with really understands what the market is like and will help you find the home that you desire.

 

How can you tell if your agent knows the market? See if they can provide you with a buyer’s market analysis.

A buyer’s market analysis report outlines which neighborhoods are still up and coming -- with potential for increased property value -- versus those that have peaked with inflated home prices. Having this analysis at your fingertips will help you know if a home’s list price is above comparable properties so you don’t overpay for a home.


Don’t try to time the market...

Even in a hot market, there’s never a perfect time to buy a home. It can take a while to know exactly what you like, and you may have to look at 10 or more homes before you can recognize what suits your lifestyle best. While you’re shopping, take photos of your favorite properties and the details that you liked the best so that you can remember what you liked.

 

Another good reason to slow down the buying process: you might find a better deal if you do. Investigate expired listings. Expired listings may have gone off the market because they didn’t get any offers at the listed price, so you may be able to underbid the original listing price. It’s not likely worth your time to look at FSBO (for sale by owner) listings, though. Since they are not represented by a professional, they are often overpriced.

 

When you start shopping, have a one-hour initial consultation with your realtor. Give them every single detail that you know about your lifestyle, buying power, needs, wants and desires for your home. The more detail you can provide, the easier it will be for them to help you find your future home. Your agent may also know of exclusive listings not available to the general public.


… But make the offer as soon as you find the right home

If you love it, make the offer. Otherwise, that dream home may disappear faster than you think, especially if you’re buying in a hot market.

 

Your buying agent should contact the listing agent before you submit an offer so that they can decide what’s important to include in the offer. If you’re serious about it, you want to increase the chances that your offer is accepted.

 

Show that you’re serious about the purchase by creating a buyer’s offer packet. It should include your lender’s preapproval letter, a screenshot of your down payment money in your bank account, and comps that support the rationalization of the offer you are presenting.


Get a home inspection

Once you’re in the negotiation process, it’s essential that you get a third-party inspector to run a thorough home inspection. The inspector will be looking for major structural issues, including problems with the foundation, plumbing, and electrical systems. Your inspector should be extra picky, pointing out the most minor faults.

 

Make sure to have the inspection conducted before it is too late to back out of a deal. If there are any major structural issues, you may be able to make the seller repair them as a contingency to solidifying your offer. Minor issues that you can repair on your own may be points for negotiating a lower offer.


Protect your credit before you close

Don’t raise any red flags with your creditworthiness in the weeks before closing. Any one of these moves could mean that you’re denied the loan and the deal falls through -- even if you’ve already been preapproved!

  • Keep your spending to a minimum and don’t make any major purchases before closing -- that includes buying furniture, or a car, truck, or van, or any excessive charges on your credit card.
  • Keep your bank accounts stable. Don’t change banks, spend any of the money you have set aside for closing, or make any large deposits to your accounts without checking with your loan officer first.
  • Keep your employment situation stable -- do not change jobs, quit your job, or become self-employed. Any sudden change in your income can have that pre-approval offer rescinded.
  • Do not cosign a loan for anyone. It will open an inquiry into your credit and add to your debt, which could raise your mortgage rate and cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Looking for a home in our area? Let us help you find the home of your dreams. We’re well versed in the our local real estate market, and we can provide you with a buyer’s market analysis to help you find the right neighbourhood for you. Contact one of our trusted agents today.

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Please visit our Open House at 1262 13TH AVE E in Vancouver.
Open House on Sunday, October 15, 2017 2:00PM - 4:00PM
FANTASTIC LOCATION! House with 2 suites in Mt. Pleasant, a family neighbourhood close to everything. Updated 3 bed/ 2 bath Suite upstairs w/ Dining room and spacious living area upstairs and a large covered south-facing sundeck over double garage. Downstairs suite has 3 bdrm 1 bath with separate entrance. Concrete tile roof, South facing backyard, gardens, elevated location, ideal/flexible floorplan. Steps to parks and shops and transit Located in top Charles Dickens Elem. and Sir Charles Tupper sec. school catchment. Solid investment opportunity, getting fantastic rental income. Ideal for investor high CAP or family with tons of mortgage help!
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The ‘smart home’ is the new ‘internet of things’, or objects that can serve you better by communicating with each other or directly with you through apps on your smart phone. In the ideal version of the wired future, all of our appliances and gadgets talk to each other seamlessly.

 

What could living in a smart home look like? Picture something like this:

The lights in your bedroom slowly illuminate to quietly awaken you in the morning, replacing the typical blaring alarm. The aroma of fresh brewing coffee drifts in and stirs your senses. Once the lights are all the way up, the heating system kicks on, just in time to warm up your room so you’re not shocked once you crawl out from underneath the duvet.

 

When you step into the shower, it turns on automatically and remembers your preferred temperature and water pressure. And it will shut off right when you’re finished as it knows how long you take to bathe.

 

Once you’ve driven out of your garage, your home alarm system arms itself. And it will only unlock automatically when it “sees” and recognizes someone else from your family approaching through programmed in biometrics.

 

Do smart homes really work this way right now? Not exactly…while you may find some of these smart features in certain homes, we haven’t reached the point where every feature intuitively knows what you want and when you wanted. However, each year we’re getting closer and closer toward that shiny, idealized ‘Jetson’ future.

Here are some trends that we see for smart homes, many of which may also help you save money:


Smart Thermostats

Programmable thermostats that are synchronized with the clock have been around for decades. However, they’re often difficult to set and aren’t necessarily efficient; they simply turn on or off as programmed, whether or not you are there.

 

With the newer models, smart thermostats can be programmed to adjust the temperature when they sense you are present. And once you leave, they can kick back to standby mode so that you’re saving energy and money. Nest does all of this, and it also allows you to check your usage from your cell phone so that you can adjust the temperature remotely and save even more.


Smart Smoke Detectors

Having a working, effective smoke detector saves lives. But unfortunately, many of us still have those battery-run smoke detectors that make that annoying, piercing beep when their batteries are running low on power. And instead of replacing batteries right away, it’s often easier to pull them out and disable the detector (while risking our lives).

Many of the new smart smoke detectors, like the Birdi, monitor smoke, carbon dioxide, as well as air quality. With this new sensor technology, they know the difference between a real fire and burnt toast.


Smart Sprinkler Control

Weather in our area is predictably unpredictable. Often, especially during the summer months, we fall into a severe drought. But then we might have one season that brings extreme amounts of rain, like we did this past spring.

A smart sprinkler controller like Rachio Iro can not only help save you lots of money on your water bill but also help protect our precious resources.

 

Programmable by computer or smart phone, it can automatically adjust how often you water your lawn based on the season and the weather forecasts. You can also remotely adjust the settings through a mobile app.


Smart Solar Panels

You can put the sun to work for you by using solar technology to power your home. It’s green and renewable, and can save you money over the long term. A recent study conducted by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center determined that Austin customers who invested in a solar system saved an average of $66 per month during the first year that they owned the system.

 

With smart solar panels, you can program the technology to monitor their performance and even turn them off in case of a weather emergency or fire.


Smart Home Security Systems

Home monitoring has become much more sophisticated in recent years. With the old-style security systems, you had to call in contractors to wire your home with monitoring sensors.

With new smart technology, you can simply place a few smart devices in your home to monitor movement and sense whether doors and windows are closed or opened. Some systems include audio and video monitoring, as well as sirens to scare off intruders. You get real-time feedback on security breaches through an app. And, because you’re alerted as soon as the system senses an intruder, it’s more likely that they will be caught.

Canary is one popular all-in-one audio-video security system, complete with sirens and night vision.


Smart Locks

Go beyond the standard key locks, which can often be compromised by burglars. The new smart lock systems give you more control over those who can gain access to your home.

 

Some systems, like the Kwikset Kevo, include encrypted virtual keys that you can program for access for a limited amount of time—for example, allowing guests over for a weekend, or cleaning service in during a specific window of time.

 

Other door locking systems include biometric technology. The Ola smart lock allows you to program your lock to recognize your family member’s fingerprints. Other systems use facial recognition to greet you and unlock your door.

The new August smart lock integrates with Apple’s technology so you can ask Siri to open your door for you.


Smart lighting systems and light bulbs

A well-lit home feels warm and welcoming, and good lighting can instantly increase the value of your home.

However, annual lighting costs can account for up to 12% of your overall electric bill, or over $200 per year according to Energy Star. You can easily reduce this expense simply by using smart lighting technology to add efficiency.

 

The Philips Hue wifi-enabled lights make it easy to add to your home without installing specialized equipment. Smart lighting dimmers and sensors can give you more control over how much energy you use and allow you to turn them on and off through your smart phone.

 

New smart light bulbs can give you control over the warmth or coolness levels of your lighting. With the Lifx LED light bulbs, for example, you can program your light bulbs to turn on or off when you want, to slowly wake you up with increasing illumination, or to change from daytime work lighting to entertainment-friendly shades for parties.


Smart Appliances

Programmable slow cookers and coffee makers are the quaint, old-fashioned versions of these home conveniences. Newer, smart appliances give you more control over how your food is kept and prepared, and make it easier for you to complete pesky household chores.

  • Newer coffee makers, like the Smarter coffee machine, let you ‘order’ your coffee exactly to your liking, adjusting everything from bean grind to temperature to strength to time that it’s ready to drink.
  • Smart refrigeration technology can help you store your food at just the right temperature, adjusting the thermostat during peak usage times. For example, the LG THINQ fridgecan alert you via smart phone app if a door is accidentally left open.
  • Smart ovens can ensure that your food is cooked to the right level of done-ness, and alert you when your meal is ready to eat. June, a new counter oven invented by former Google, Apple, Go-Pro and Path employees will give you even more control—it will contain cameras, thermometers, and other technology to ‘learn’ what you like to eat and make menu suggestions.
  • Smart washers and dryers have customizable controls so that you can safely wash any type of fabric. Some units include controls to increase drying time to save energy. And soon, connected appliances from GE, Oster, Samsung, and other makers, will be able to re-order soap and fabric softener directly from Amazon, so you won’t even have to think about running to the store at the last minute.

Have you tested any of these technologies in your home? Did we miss any of your favourite home technologies? Let us know in the comments!

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What is Home Equity?

Home equity seems to be a very simple calculation — the total amount of mortgages owed subtracted from the current market value of a home. Here is a simple example:

 

Current Home Market Value  $325,000

Existing Mortgage                               $225,000

Homeowner Equity                             $100,000

 

One side of the equation is well defined, and it is found on the monthly mortgage statement, the loan balance. The other side is less obvious — the current market value of the property.

 

As a homeowner, your down payment purchases your initial equity, and your monthly (or additional) principal payments increase your equity. In strong real estate markets and in-demand locations, equity can increase quite rapidly as the property value increases, but the inverse can also happen — too much available inventory and market down-cycles can lead to falling home values and a reduction in homeowner equity.

 

It can be difficult to put an accurate value on something that you have emotional and monetary vesting in. It is safe to say that most people think their home is worth more than then it is.

 

Homeowners can make savvy assessments about their home’s current market value by following the sales of similar properties in the neighbourhood, but should stay away from websites such as Zillow and Trulia, which provide inaccurate and outdated estimates. The most accurate measurement requires a comparative market analysis from a real estate professional or having the home professionally appraised. But, the bottom line — your home is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.


Creating Value is in Your Hands

Maintaining the condition of a home is vitally important to retaining and increasing value. Homes are judged against their peers: how they compare to similar homes in the neighborhood. Another way to retain value is to not over upgrade, since it is rare to ever recoup the money spent if you exceed neighborhood value. Keep up the landscaping and do the little things to add curb appeal.


Putting Home Equity to Work

Home equity represents the largest single asset of millions of people, and because it represents so much of an individual’s net worth, it must be treated with respect. Home equity is not a liquid asset until a property is sold, or it is borrowed against.

 

There are two types of loans that tap into homeowner equity as collateral.


Home Equity Loans

Many home equity plans set a fixed period during which the person can borrow money, such as 10 years. At the end of this “draw period,” the person may be allowed to renew the credit line. If the plan does not allow renewals, the homeowner will not be able to borrow additional money once the period has ended. Some plans may call for payment in full of any outstanding balance at the end of the period. Others may allow repayment over a fixed period, for example, of 10 years.

 

A home equity loan, sometimes called a second mortgage, usually has a fixed rate and a set time to pay it back, generally with equal monthly payments.


Home Equity Line of Credit

A home equity line of credit is similar to a credit card. The lender sets a maximum amount you can borrow, and you can draw money as you need it, though many home equity lines of credit require an initial draw. The interest rate varies daily, and is usually prime plus a set number, but the required payment is usually interest only. Once the loan has been paid down, the payment is reduced, and it can be paid off and initiated as many times as a homeowner requires.


How Much Equity can be Accessed?

Since the financial institution is lending money and using a home as collateral, they will not lend 100% of the home’s equity. The bank does not want to take the risk that if the house price drops, they would be carrying a loan for more than its market value. Therefore, most banks will allow a qualified homeowner to borrow approximately 80% of their equity.


It’s Important to Use Your Home Equity Wisely

Because it is likely the biggest asset most people have, losing your home equity is hard to overcome. It must be used in prudent ways, and the payments against the loan must be affordable. Using equity money to make the loan payment is only acceptable for a short-term solution.

There are number of good reasons to use money from a home equity loan… and some really bad ones. First, let’s cover smart uses.

  1. Invest in Your Home

The best way to use the money is create more equity in the home. Among the very best returns on your investment (ROI) include kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding square footage or an extra bath, enhancing curb appeal and repairing/keeping the existing structure sound. Making prudent investments in your home is a wonderful win-win: you enjoy the upgrades and the repairs can add value to the home.

  1. Invest in your Children’s Education

Using your home equity to finance a child’s higher education may be the greatest payoff of all. Not only is the rate much lower than a student loan, it is an investment in the child’s future.

  1. Supplement Retirement Needs

Older homeowners spent their working lives paying down their mortgage. At retirement, when monthly income is reduced, a home equity loan could pay for a dream vacation or an unexpected major expense.

  1. Augment the Impending Sale of a Home

If you’re planning to sell soon, a home equity line of credit may be the best way to finance improvements, and you can pay it off entirely when you sell. Investing wisely on upgrades and repairs may even reap a profit on your investment.

 

Here are some examples of some not very wise choices.

 

Adding luxury amenities like a swimming pool, a hot spa, lavish landscaping, expensive appliances and exotic countertops and flooring rarely pay off.

 

Purchasing a car or boat or most any personal luxury items is a poor use of the funds, since these items quickly

depreciate in value.

 

Also stay away from using money on risk-heavy investments. Financing stock purchases, start-up businesses and paying routine bills is not financially smart. If you cannot afford to purchase those items with available funds, using equity from your home means they should not be in your budget.

 

You should treat a home equity loan as an investment and not as extra cash when making financial decisions. If your intended use of the money doesn't pay you back in some way, it's not the best use of your valuable equity.


We Are Happy to Assist You

If you would like an assessment of the market value of your home and the current equity you can access, give us a call for a comparative market analysis.

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