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What to Expect from a House Inspection in Canada

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What to Expect from a House Inspection in Canada

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A house inspection is a vital step to consider when shopping for a home, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer. While it can be exciting to find a dream house, knowing what’s behind the walls can be quite tricky. That’s where a home inspection comes in.

A professional house inspector will examine the condition of the house you are about to buy to ensure it’s in great condition. They can identify flaws that buyers can’t, making them an ideal choice for potential homeowners. So, what do home inspectors look for?


House Inspection Checklist for Homeowners in Canada

What does a house inspector do? When hired, a house inspector will examine both your home’s interior and exterior to see if they can find something wrong. They can also find things that could potentially pose significant risks in the future.

After examining the entire house, the home inspector will give you a detailed report covering all the findings. Some home inspectors will even give pictures and the potential timelines for certain projects, including systems or components not performing properly.

New build homes tend to have few or no flaws, simplifying the inspection process. So, buying such homes can help you save a lot on the house inspection cost. Thanks to home builders like Paradise Developments for building flawless structures in Aurora.

As inspectors examine a home you intend to buy, make sure you accompany them. It will also give the home inspector the chance to show you how various house items operate. You’ll also get to know the location of all the shut-off valves in the house.

The house inspection checklist below will ensure that the house is in good shape. Here are the things to check during a home inspection.

  • Attic: Ensure that there’s sufficient insulation, proper ventilation, and no signs of water damage
  • Basement: No signs of water damage, sufficient insulation, and solid foundation, floors, and walls
  • Bathrooms: Ensure adequate water flow and pressure in the fixtures and a functioning toilet, bathtub, sink, and shower.
  • Ceilings: Check if the ceiling is straight and level and ensure there are no cracks or stains
  • Electrical Systems: Ensure that there are working light fixtures, exhaust fans, smoke detectors, and circuit breakers
  • Exterior Surfaces: Ensure there are no damages on the sides, no peeling paint, and no loose or damaged stucco
  • Garage: Functional garage opener, no ceiling damages, up-to-code electrical systems, and a solid foundation
  • HVAC System: Ensure there are no air-conditioning and furnace malfunctions. Also, check if the water heaters are working efficiently.
  • Kitchen Appliances: Check if all the kitchen appliances are functional, including the dishwasher, stove, fridge, and microwave
  • Plumbing Systems: Ensure there are no damaged or leaking pipes and confirm if the sinks, faucets, toilets, bathtubs, and showers are functional
  • Roof: The roofs’ shingles shouldn’t be loose or damaged. Also, ensure that the gutters are functional and chimneys in good condition.
  • Windows: Ensure that the windows are well-aligned and the drip caps properly installed

A house inspection should occur after making an offer, but before you are fully and financially committed to buying the house. Make an offer to buy the home on the condition of an inspection. You must also ensure that all your bases are covered.

What Does a Home Inspector Look for?

A house inspection aims to give information on your home’s components and systems at the time of inspection. The visual inspection aims at finding anything that’s unsafe, or needs replacement, or requires repairs.

One of the things that most inspectors will check for during inspection is the state of the roof. They will inspect the roof coverings, accessible drainage, flashing, and skylights. However, they might not get to the rooftop but check the conditions from the ground.

The inspectors will also inspect a house’s foundation and framing for any deterioration. However, they can’t report anything happening behind a finished basement’s drywall. If any investigation might cause damages, the inspector will not inspect the section.

Generally, here are the other major things that a qualified house inspector can look at:

  • If the house plumbing and electrical connections require upgrades
  • How good the home’s ventilation and insulation are
  • If there are cracks or other damages on the roof and foundation
  • Structure’s overall integrity

What Happens Next after a House Inspection?

After inspecting the house, a home inspector will provide a detailed report highlighting all the defects that require repairs. Read the report carefully and inquire about anything you do not understand. Issues like unstable roofs and foundations can be very costly.

To avoid costly repairs, you can include a clause in the agreement that you will buy the house upon a successful inspection. If the home fails during the inspection, you can adjust the agreement to cover all the necessary repairs then purchase the house.

How to Choose a House Inspector

When hiring a house inspector, you want someone well-trained, knowledgeable, and experienced in doing home inspections. Look for inspectors who have completed inspection courses on building sciences, home construction, and defect-recognition.

You can hire a house inspector certified by the Canadian Association of Housing and Property Inspectors (CAHPI). They understand the various systems and components of a home. Besides, most of them have a background in construction engineering.

A professional house inspector should also understand all the standards of practice and codes and ethics. Here are the other things to consider when hiring a house inspector.

  • Certifications, qualifications, and training
  • Number of years inspecting houses in Canada
  • Related work experience in the industry
  • References and referrals from friends and family members
  • Knowledge of all the building codes

Final Words

Performing a house inspection will help you understand the kind of house you intend to buy. Consider hiring a house inspector who is qualified and has multiple positive reviews. Such an inspector must have inspected several homes in Canada for many years. Most importantly, their home inspection prices need to be affordable.


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Humber Bay, Etobicoke

Why Canadians should think long term in real estate – especially now

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Why Canadians should think long term in real estate – especially now

Humber Bay, Etobicoke

Unprecedented doesn’t even begin to describe it. A few weeks ago, we awaited an exceptionally active spring real estate market in the GTA, buoyed by the recent easing of mortgage regulations and interest rates.

Now, however, instead of seeing a spike in buying activity, we’re hunkering down, battening down the hatches and riding out the COVID-19 crisis, all in an attempt to flatten the curve.

Historic, surreal and unbelievable might be more suitable adjectives to describe these times.

And under such circumstances, with normal life routine displaced by the daunting and unknown, people naturally tend to worry.

In real estate, if location, location, location is the No. 1 rule of thumb, thinking long term is right there along with it, as 1A.

We’ve been through similar challenging times: The 1989 recession, Y2K, 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008-09 and SARS. Now we face COVID-19.

At times of economic uncertainty and extreme stress in the marketplace, people always revert to their number one emotional and financial investment – their home. People trust real estate. Buying that first condo, a new home for their growing family, downsizing once the kids move out or renovating the place you already love.

And, so it will be again.

Long-term lift

But don’t take our word for it. Consider, for example this report from the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a national group of investors which bases everything it does on independent research.

According to the REIN Special Report: The Coronavirus’ Impact on Canadian Real Estate, Canadian real estate will see an immediate cool-down – but a long-term lift. We may see a temporary decrease in GDP growth, but key drivers of real estate such as population growth and increased foreign capital, demand and property values will eventually rise.

“It’s still premature to predict how the coronavirus outbreak will be resolved, but data suggests that panic will only worsen the country’s economic situation,” says Jennifer Hunt, REIN’s vice-president of research. “There is reason to be alert, but there’s absolutely no reason to further raise alarm and cause more public fear. In fact, as a Canadian real estate investor, this may represent a buying opportunity for investors, with a likely future positive lift in rental and housing markets.”

Open for business

It might be a stretch to say it’s “business as usual,” but life does have to go on, as soon and as safely as possible. New home builders and developers are open for business, are accepting presentation centre visits to by appointment only, and as much as possible are moving communications to digital.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada recently lowered its influential overnight rate target twice in less than two weeks – from 1.75 to 1.25 per cent on March 4, then again to 0.75 per cent on March 16. Canada’s Big Five banks are following suit by lowering mortgage rates, and they, too, are increasingly going digital to facilitate business.


All of this means the opportunities to buy are still there (though with a modified process), with less short-term competition and a more buyer-friendly mortgage and borrowing landscape.

Indeed, as challenging as these times may be, it’s even more important to focus on the long term. And on that front, new-home ownership in the GTA is still a solid investment.


GTA home price growth to hit 10 per cent this year: TRREB

Outlook 2020 – 5 things you need to know about real estate this year

Get ready for a hot market in the GTA this spring




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ReMax Housing Market Outlook Report

Ontario markets expected to continue to lead home price growth in 2020

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Ontario markets expected to continue to lead home price growth in 2020

ReMax Housing Market Outlook Report

Housing markets in Southern Ontario will lead in home price growth this year, and are expected to continue to do so in 2020, according to a new report from ReMax.

ReMax is expecting a leveling out of the highs and lows that characterized the Canadian market in 2019, particularly in Vancouver and Toronto, as we move into 2020. Healthy price increases are expected next year, with the ReMax 2020 Housing Market Outlook Report estimating a 3.7 per-cent increase in the average residential sales price.

Some regions in Ontario continue to experience higher-than-normal year-over-year gains from 2018 to 2019, including London (10.7 per cent), Windsor (11 per cent), Ottawa (11.7 per cent) and Niagara (12.9 per cent).

“Southern Ontario is witnessing some incredibly strong price appreciation, with many regions still seeing double-digit gains,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice-President and Regional Director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. “Thanks to the region’s resilient economy, staggering population growth and relentless development, the 2020 market looks very optimistic.”

As more Canadians have adjusted to the mortgage stress test and older Millennials move into their peak earning years, it is anticipated that they will drive the market in 2020, particularly single Millennials and young couples. A recent Leger survey conducted by ReMax found that more than half (51 per cent) of Canadians are considering buying a property in the next five years, especially those under the age of 45.

Ontario leading the way

Toronto is set to experience a strong housing market in 2020. Lower unemployment rates, economic growth and improved overall affordability in the GTA are expected to drive the market forward. ReMax is forecasting average sale price growth for 2020 of six per cent, two points higher than the increase from 2018 ($835,422) and 2019 ($880,841 ). While Toronto is experiencing a busy construction season this year, housing supply still falls short of the demands of the city’s rapidly growing population.

ReMax Housing Outlook Report


Cities such as Ottawa and Windsor are seller’s markets, showing substantial increases in average residential sale price at 11.7 and 11 per cent, respectively. This strong growth is expected to continue into 2020, with Ottawa’s new LRT system impacting surrounding development and Windsor’s continued affordability attracting young professionals to the area. Buyers are also not burdened by the mortgage stress test, as they were in 2018, ReMax says.

The Niagara region is also showing strong growth, with average residential sale price increasing almost 13 per cent, from $378,517 in 2018 to $427,487 in 2019. Value-conscious consumers from the GTA are buying in droves, with many choosing to live in the region and commute to Toronto.



Consumer confidence in regions such as Vancouver West in early 2019 was extremely low and remained relatively shaky throughout the year, resulting in an average residential sale price drop of 7.5 per cent, from $2.27 million in 2018 to $2.10 in 2019. However, consumers have acclimatized to the mortgage stress test, and confidence has begun to return and will prevail in 2020, with prices expected to rise four per cent.

ReMax Housing Outlook Report

Fraser Valley also experienced a price drop of almost four per cent year-over-year, from $724,740 to $696,502. However, the region is also expected to witness substantial growth, particularly in downtown Surrey, due to the high number of real estate developments catering to businesses and educational institutions. First-time buyers are expected to drive the market in 2020 due to the relative affordability of the region compared to Vancouver proper.

“The drop in sales in some key British Columbia markets represents the last of the ‘down’ market spillover from 2018,” says Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, ReMax of Western Canada.

“Consumer confidence is poised for a comeback, leading to more healthy and sustainable growth, as more buyers come to terms with the stress test and interest rates are unlikely to increase in any meaningful way in 2020.”


ReMax Housing Outlook Report

Alberta continues to experience slowing economic conditions, leading to a decrease in average residential sale prices in Calgary, from $478,088 in 2018 to $460,532 in 2019. Condos are the easiest way for first-time homebuyers to get into the market, with starter units going for as low as $150,000. While the city’s unemployment rate continues to remain high compared to the rest of Canada, the population is increasing, with more people moving to the city from other parts of the province.

Winnipeg, on the other hand, has shown a small increase in average residential sale price, both for freehold and condominium properties, by 1.5 and 0.8 per cent, respectively. Immigration to the city, in combination with reasonable prices and ample supply, is expected to drive sales going into 2020.

Atlantic Canada

ReMax Housing Outlook Report

Halifax, NS and Saint John, NB have experienced solid price appreciation of six and five per cent, respectively. Affordability continues to attract many buyers in the region, most of whom are buying single-detached homes. At the same time, the region’s condominium market is being driven by retirees. Conversely, the market in St. John’s, Nfld. is expected to recover in 2020, with increased consumer confidence expected to bring about stabilization. However, the city’s aging population and high rate of outbound migration is expected to have an impact on housing market activity at some point.


Outlook 2020 – what’s in store for GTA housing next year?


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5 Landscaping ideas to steal from Canada

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5 Landscaping ideas to steal from Canada

Canada is a country filled with breathtaking scenery. From sweeping plains to mountains covered in snow, its diverse landscapes are a joy to behold. Homes across Canada are just as complex as the landscape. Dwellings look different from each other, depending on where you go. In Nova Scotia, you’re likely to come across timber-framed houses, while in British Columbia you’ll likely see newly-built homes. Interestingly, residential landscaping is booming right now. People just can’t wait to get outdoors and make their piece of heaven more attractive. In case you were searching for landscaping ideas for your home, you’re in luck.

Here are five landscaping ideas to steal from Canada.

1. Hardscape your yard

Chances are that you’re not familiar with the concept of hardscaping. What you need to know is that it involves the use of man-made features in the surrounding environment. Examples include, but aren’t limited to, brick patios, stone walls and wood arbors. Basically, you use hard elements to add style and functionality to the outdoor space. Even if hardscaping may sound difficult, it couldn’t be simpler. You have the same landscaping principles you’ve been accustomed to. Most importantly, you’ll get the yard that you want while maximizing space and adding modern elements.

In Toronto, it’s not uncommon to see gardens featuring brick paths, various paving materials and wooden arbors. Research pays off when it comes to adding a completely new element to the environment. Take into account the entire area before making a decision. You can’t install just about any design element. When tackling the outdoor space, it’s a good idea to get the help of professionals. They will analyze every parcel of land to understand the ins and outs of the design. Moreover, a professional landscape designer will help you transform your ideas into actionable plans.

2. Landscape with lush greenery

Take advantage of nature. Why not, after all? Plants purify the air around the home, not to mention that they have an astounding visual impact. There is something about green plants that makes them so beautiful. There’s the symmetry and the color. Consider introducing greenery to your landscape. They’re perfectly suited for Canadian homes. Make sure your house boasts views of trees and lush greenery. When decorating with greenery keep in mind the following:

  • Combine green plants that have something in common: To achieve the perfect look, add greenery that shares something in common. You can use Japanese yew, boxwood hedges, English hedges, Hosta, and, of course, perennials.
  • Mount a wire grid: Wire mesh will make your project a lot easier to handle. You can create a mini greenhouse. Some wire grids come with mountable shelves that offer many opportunities for customization.
  • Buy natives locally: Needless to say, you shouldn’t purchase just any greenery. Florists deliver hand-picked fresh flowers. Get help from a local business. Be cautious about generic plants. Maybe what you’ll be planting isn’t really indigenous. Be very picky when it comes to your purchases.

3. Opt for pretty vignettes

Garden vignettes aren’t just plants – they’re small collections of things that touch the visual senses, including pots and metal panels. Let’s not forget about glass. You can use glass anywhere in the environment. Don’t waste your time thinking of whether to vignette. Just do it. vignettes are incredibly powerful landscape elements that look so good it’s impossible not to include them in your photos. Try to create a sort of escape. This way, you’ll enjoy the outdoor space even more.

4. Install artificial grass

Have you thought about landscaping with artificial grass? If not, there’s no better time than now to try. In Toronto, for instance, more and more homeowners are turning to artificial grass. Why? Because they are sick and tired of mud and weeds. Faux grass doesn’t require any kind of maintenance. All you have to do to make it look brand new is to remove the dust, dirt and leaves. In this sense, you can use a broom or a brush. Many companies install artificial grass in Toronto. They handle the project from start to finish, so you have a guarantee that the outdoor space will look great.

Since artificial grass doesn’t require special maintenance, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. If you didn’t know what more you could to reduce your carbon footprint, now you have the answer. Have artificial grass installed. There’s nothing better than having a true outdoor carpet. While it can be a little expensive, faux grass has a long lifespan. It doesn’t last a lifetime, but it will certainly keep you company for 25 years. Working artificial grass into your landscape isn’t hard. Since it’s so versatile, it can be placed virtually everywhere.

5. Plan for a grand entrance

An impressive entrance will welcome visitors into your abode and enhances visible parts of your property. The entrance should be designed to be easily reachable and reflect the informal nature of the home. And soften the lines of the raised foundation. Here’s an idea you should keep in mind: A groundwork of evergreen trees and shrubs. Time and space will be in contrast with the unchanging backdrop of the yard. If you head on over to Vermont, you’ll no doubt see this entry way design. The arrival experience is one of a kind.

Make sure that the evergreens are tall enough. Create a sense of harmony by using several shrubs and plants. Plant three or five on each side of the entrance. Owing to the fact that the environment depends on openness, you need to add a more enclosed space. The perfect choice would be an arbor or a gate. What you want is an entrance that offers a neat contrast with the plant color. Using planting pots can really make a difference.


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GTA waterfront homes

Budget 2019 comes up short

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Budget 2019 comes up short

GTA waterfront homes

The federal government released the much-anticipated Budget 2019 this week, with homebuyers, builders and others awaiting measures to address housing issues.

And in short, it comes up, well… a little short.

First-time homebuyer help

Much of the housing focus in Budget 2019 was on addressing the needs of first-timers, namely with a new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.

  • The Incentive would allow eligible first-time homebuyers who have the minimum down payment for an insured mortgage to apply to finance a portion of their home purchase through a shared equity mortgage with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).
  • About 100,000 first-time buyers would benefit from the Incentive over the next three years.
  • Since no ongoing payments would be required with the Incentive, Canadian families would have lower monthly mortgage payments. For example, if a borrower purchases a new $400,000 home with a five-per-cent down payment and a 10-per-cent CMHC shared equity mortgage ($40,000), the borrower’s total mortgage size would be reduced from $380,000 to $340,000, reducing the borrower’s monthly mortgage costs by as much as $228 per month.
  • CMHC to offer qualified first-time homebuyers a 10-per-cent shared equity mortgage for a newly constructed home or a five-per-cent shared equity mortgage for an existing home. This larger shared equity mortgage for newly constructed homes could help encourage the home construction needed to address some of the housing supply shortages in Canada, particularly in the largest cities.
  • The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive would include eligibility criteria to ensure that the program helps those with legitimate needs, while ensuring that participants are able to afford the homes they purchase. The Incentive would be available to first-time buyers with household incomes of less than $120,000 per year.
  • Budget 2019 also proposes to increase the Home Buyers’ Plan withdrawal limit from $25,000 to $35,000, providing first-time buyers with greater access to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan savings to buy a home.

Noticeably absent from the housing measures was any adjustment to the stress test, which a number of experts say is necessary.

Industry reaction

“The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) agrees with (Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s) comments that there aren’t enough homes for people to buy or apartments for people to rent,” says Dave Wilkes, president and CEO.

“BILD feels the policies presented in (the) budget are a step in the right direction to help first-time homebuyers. We will continue to advocate for a review of the stress test so that first-time homebuyers can realize the dream of homeownership. Supply challenges still exist and are at the centre of the current unbalanced market, and we call for action on these by the provincial and municipal government.”

Supply challenges in the Greater Golden Horseshoe are serious, and Budget 19 fails to address them.

“This was a re-election budget that didn’t move the dial for new-home buyers in the GTA,” Richard Lyall, president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) told HOMES Publishing. “While increasing RRSP borrowing for first-time homebuyers is helpful, creating The First-Time Homebuyer Incentive at a maximum of $500,000 doesn’t help many Torontonians or GTA residents.”

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) had been recommending a shared appreciation mortgage approach for some time, as a tool to help those who can’t get into homeownership but have the means to pay rent.

The modification to the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan will help get Canadians into their first home, but will also act as a burden because the loan has to be repaid within 15 years, including a minimum of 1/15th per year.

“This means that, in the years following their home purchase, a homeowner has the additional financial responsibility of repaying their RRSP,” says James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and president of CanWise Financial.

Important details of the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive program have yet to be released. For example, says Laird, it remains unclear whether the government would take an equity position in homes, or whether the assistance would act as an interest-free loan.

“This is an important distinction because if the government is taking an equity stake in a home, the amount the homeowner would have to pay back would grow as the value of the home increases,” he says.

The very launch of the program is surprising, Laird says, given that the BC Government implemented a similar measure a couple years ago, with unsuccessful results, and it was terminated in 2018. First-time home buyers found it difficult to understand and unappealing to have the government co-own their home.

Let’s do the math

Under existing qualifying criteria, including the stress test, homebuyers can qualify for a house that is 4.5 to 4.7 times their household income.

Under the new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, however, the government has set a purchase limit of four times household income for the mortgage, plus the amount provided by the government, according to Ratehub.

By participating in this program, first-time homebuyers effectively reduce the amount they can qualify for by about 15 per cent, and their monthly mortgage payment naturally decreases in lockstep.

A household with $100,000 of income, putting a minimum down payment of five per cent, can currently qualify for a home valued at $479,888 with a $2,265.75 monthly mortgage payment.

Affordability calculations

The maximum purchase price for the same household, if they participate in the first-time homebuyer incentive, drops to $404,858.29 with a five-per-cent minimum down payment. The total mortgage amount would then be $400,000 (or four times their household income).

Mortgage payment calculations

If the household took a five-per-cent incentive from the government (for resales), their mortgage amount goes to $378,947.37, and monthly payment is now $1,810.90.

If the household took a 10-per-cent incentive, (for new homes) their mortgage amount goes to $357,894.73, and  monthly payment is now $1,710.29.

Stress test modifications

The CHBA is among the industry groups that is pushing for modifications to the existing mortgage stress test, which has served to lock out too many well-qualified Canadians due to the market and interest rate changes of the past year.

“The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, if coupled with immediate adjustments to the stress test, has the potential for getting the housing continuum functioning again,” says CHBA CEO Kevin Lee. “It is essential that these changes come quickly, though. Current restrictions on mortgage access mean that many millennials and new Canadians are seeing homeownership slipping away, and in many markets the economic impacts are substantial.”

Looking ahead to the 2019 federal election, CHBA will be encouraging all federal parties to address housing affordability in very meaningful ways in their respective platform documents.

Budget 2019 housing measures

Budget 2019




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Today’s modular homes are a whole new world

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Today’s modular homes are a whole new world

In 1908, Sears and Roebuck started selling homes in mailorder kits. You could choose from more than 400 different designs – everything from a cottage-style bungalow to a colonial mansion – and Sears would package and ship the pre-cut and fitted components for you to put it together.

When you hear the term “prefabricated” or ”modular” home, you might think it’s the kind of house that comes in a do-it-yourself kit. In fact, these terms actually refer to the way the home is built.

Most new homes are built from the ground up on the construction site. Modular homes on the other hand are produced in factories in sections or modules that are then transported to the job site and installed on a foundation. Modular homes can look like, and be of equivalent quality, to homes built in the traditional way. The main advantages are that they can be cheaper and may come together faster because various stages of the build can be happening simultaneously off-site.

When it comes to warranty coverage, as a general rule modular homes do qualify – but they have to meet certain criteria.

As a general proposition, Ontario’s statutory warranty coverage applies to homes where the vendor or builder supplies the work and materials for the dwelling. This means either the home is built and sold by a person who owns both the land and the home, or the home is built by someone who contracted with the owner of the land to supply and build the home. If you as owner are purchasing and supplying all the materials or all the modules to build the dwelling, then statutory warranty coverage will not apply. Instead, you will need to rely upon the builder’s contractual warranties, if any, and manufacturers’ warranties for the materials.

Other key requirements for coverage are that the home is not for seasonal or temporary use, the dwelling has not been previously occupied, and that the same person who builds and sells the home must also have supplied the permanent foundation.

Housing where the components are constructed off-site and assembled on-site is popular in other parts of the world and is gaining ground in Canada. Whether you decide this type of modular home is for you or you want to invest in a more traditionally built new home, it’s important to understand warranty coverage and to work with a registered builder. Before signing a contract, be sure to look them up in the Ontario Builder Directory on tarion.com. And if you are looking to invest in a modular home and have questions about warranty coverage, contact Tarion at 1.877.9TARION or email customerservice@tarion.com.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corp.



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Canadian interest rates

Fixed mortgage interest rates fall, but future hikes likely

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Fixed mortgage interest rates fall, but future hikes likely

Canadian interest rates

Well, that didn’t take long. We reported on Jan. 9 that mortgage interest rates might actually take a dip in the coming weeks.

“The (Bank of Canada’s) moderated outlook in the last two announcements has caused bond yields in Canada to drop lower than any point in 2018,” James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and President of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage, told HOMES Publishing. “However, we are yet to see a corresponding decrease in mortgage rates. We would advise consumers to keep a close eye on mortgage rates in coming weeks.”

RBC first to lower rates

And sure enough, a week or so later, RBC has done just that – lowering its posted five-year fixed rate to 3.74 per cent from 3.89 per cent. It was the first time RBC has lowered this rate since October 2017.

“RBC is the largest mortgage lender in Canada, so whenever they move their mortgage rates, we can expect that the other four banks will follow suit. We anticipate that the other big banks will soon have a publicly posted rate of 3.74 per cent as well.”

Experts have expected this move from lenders since bond yields dropped in December 2018, Laird says, after the BoC announcement stating that future rate hikes would be slower and less frequent. The most recent Bank on Jan. 9 announcement highlighted policymakers’ concerns with Canada’s energy and housing markets, which suggested that rates will be stable for a longer period of time than had previously been anticipated.

Deep discounts

The Bank of Canada held its target for the overnight rate at 1.75 per cent on Jan. 9, where it has been since October 2018, and is lowering its growth forecast this year for Canada and around the world.

Canadians who need a mortgage this year should frequently check rates and mortgage providers. As the spring homebuying market approaches, says Laird, many lenders will offer deep discounts and promotions in order to attract new customers.

“Anyone looking for a variable rate should act quickly, because the current stable interest rate environment is causing lenders to reduce the discounts being offered on variable rate mortgages,” he says.

Let’s explore a couple different scenarios.


Scenario 1: $400,000 mortgage 

According to Ratehub.ca’s mortgage payment calculator, a homeowner with a $400,000 mortgage and five-year fixed rate of 3.89 per cent will have monthly mortgage payments of $2,080.

Comparatively, a homeowner with a five-year fixed rate of 3.74 per cent would have monthly mortgage payments of $2,048.

A 0.15-per-cent difference in their mortgage rate would lower mortgage payments by $32 per month, or $384 per year.


Scenario 2: $800,000 mortgage 

A homeowner with an $800,000 mortgage and five-year fixed rate of 3.89 per cent will have monthly mortgage payments of $4,161.

Comparatively, a homeowner with a five-year fixed rate of 3.74 per cent would have monthly mortgage payments of $4,096.

A 0.15-per-cent difference in their mortgage rate would lower mortgage payments by $65 per month, or $780 per year.


Hikes likely to come

Personal finance guru and Homes Publishing columnist Rubina Ahmed-Haq says the Bank remains optimistic about Canada’s economy, noting it has performing well overall. In its statement, the Bank says, “Growth has been running close to potential, employment growth has been strong and unemployment is at a 40-year low.” But still not enough to raise rates at this time.

Still, consumers can expect rates to begin to inch higher in the coming months, she says. Forecasters are predicting two hikes this year, down from earlier predictions of as many as three increases in 2019.



Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come

Where are interest rates headed in 2019?

Interest rate hikes may not cost you as much as you think



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6 ways to enjoy your backyard this winter

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6 ways to enjoy your backyard this winter

We may live in the Great White North, but far too many backyard-loving Canucks eagerly countdown to 30C days before enjoying their outdoor oasis. In actuality, there’s far more outdoor time to be had before the ice melts. It’s time to stop giving the winter months the cold shoulder. Even in Canada there is a way to make the most of your exterior living space in every season.

Pulling from the National Home Show’s list of experts in everything from decor aesthetics and technology to horticulture, here are six ways to use your backyard in any of the four seasons:

Light it up

On chilly nights, investing in a chic firepit or heat lamp can help extend your outdoor time. Footpath lights and twinkling patio sting lights add additional ambiance and just enough luminesce to keep things from getting too dark on shorter days, and in the summer will help with pesky mosquitoes. But remember less is more. Don’t feel the need to over illuminate, as too many lights may ruin the view of a perfect starlit night sky.

Bring the indoors, out

For those who love to lounge but are worried about the elements damaging furniture, making the investment into water resistant fabrics for couches, cushions and throws from retailers like Andrew Richard Designs will be what will be what keeps things homey and fuss-free. You can even find fabulous, low maintenance outdoor accessories such as rugs that will help tie everything together.

And, don’t forget that your living room isn’t the only space you can take outside. Mancaves, playrooms and even office spaces now offer outdoor weather-resistant materials that will withstand the elements. Fully heated and lit, these spaces can have all the comforts of their indoor counterparts with an added outdoor wow.

Do more than grill and chill

Your senses are heightened in the cold, so what better time to throw some savoury bites on your outdoor grill and get your guest’s mouths watering. Pizza ovens and smokers are often overlooked champions for outdoor entertaining, not to mention an outdoor rated sink, fridge, dishwasher and even a beer tap like those at TA Appliance. No more need to rush back indoors when entertaining.

Call the landscape experts

Even when the greenery of your backyard is covered in snow, it may still be time to call in the experts. Landscaping can be used for so much more than giving your grass a trim. Peter Bonanno of Curb Appeal says bringing in an outdoor expert in the off season can help better determine how to best define and split up a space. Without any clutter of pre-set furniture, you’ll get a better picture of how to maximize your square-footage and determine what you want to use your backyard for. Landscaping can help define exterior areas into separate “rooms” like the inside of your home, leading to a better utilized outdoor area.

Embrace the elements

Patio enclosures are a perfect way to take in all the elements you love and close yourself off from the undesirables: wind, rain and pesky insects. From sleek retractable glass walls to more traditional screened in porches, you’ll be covered no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

Make a spa day, every day

Being outdoors shouldn’t be all about roughing it. Investing in your backyard is an investment in you. Not just a 1970s fad, hot tubs and jacuzzis have come a long way. From swim spas to saunas and so much more, you can find an option to pamper yourself that will fit in just about any backyard, and at every price point.

If you’re looking for even more inspiring home and garden ideas, and to see these backyard tips come to life, visit the National Home Show presented by ReMax and co-located with Canada Blooms from March 8 to 17 at The Enercare Centre in the Exhibition Place in Toronto.



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Bank of Canada

Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come

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Bank of Canada holds interest rate for now, but hikes still to come


Bank of Canada

The Bank of Canada held its target for the overnight rate at 1.75 per cent on Jan. 9, where it has been since October 2018, and is lowering its growth forecast this year for Canada and around the world.

After raising the rate three times last year, some experts expected the Bank would do so again, either in late 2018 or early this year.

So, what does this latest non-action mean, and what can Canadian consumers expect in the coming months?

“The Bank gave several reasons for its decision to keep rates steady,” says Rubina Ahmed-Haq, personal finance guru and Homes Publishing columnist. “This includes lower oil prices, a weaker outlook for the global economy and Canada’s economy slowing more than expected.

Weaker investment

“It was a surprise that market pessimism did not come up,” she adds. “Despite stock market volatility making headlines for the last two months, there was no mention of the wild swings investors have been experiencing. The Bank did talk about weaker consumer spending and housing investment. This could be because of Canadian investors watching their portfolios and not feeling as confident in their spending.”

Sill, Ahmed-Haq says, the Bank remains very rosy on Canada’s economy, noting it has performing well overall. In its statement, the Bank says, “Growth has been running close to potential, employment growth has been strong and unemployment is at a 40-year low.” But still not enough to raise rates at this time.

Energy sector a concern

“The energy sector has been a concern for the Bank for some time now, but there seems to be a new focus on the housing sector, especially on the impact of mortgage guidelines changes and the five rate increases that have happened in the past 18 months,” James Laird, co-founder of Ratehub Inc. and President of CanWise Financial mortgage brokerage, told Homes Publishing.

Ahmed-Haq and Laird agree we should still expect higher rates in the coming months.

“The policy interest rate will need to rise over time into a neutral range to achieve the inflation target,” says Ahmed-Haq.

Rate hikes to come

Forecasters are now predicting two rate hikes this year, down from earlier predictions of as many as three rates hikes in 2019.

“The Bank’s moderated outlook in the last two announcements has caused bond yields in Canada to drop lower than any point in 2018,” says Laird. “However, we are yet to see a corresponding decrease in mortgage rates. We would advise consumers to keep a close eye on mortgage rates in coming weeks.”


Highlights from the Bank’s announcement

  • Bank of Canada maintains target for overnight rate at 1.75 per cent
  • Canadian economy performing well overall
  • Employment growth strong
  • Unemployment rate at 40-year low
  • Canadian consumption spending and housing investment weaker than expected
  • Housing markets adjusting to municipal and provincial measures, new mortgage guidelines and higher interest rates
  • Household spending to be dampened by slow growth in oil-producing provinces
  • Real GDP growth forecast at 1.7 per cent for 2019
  • Growth of 2.1 per cent forecast for 2020



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2019 web

Forecast 2019 – where are Canada’s hottest housing markets?

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Forecast 2019 – where are Canada’s hottest housing markets?

2019 web

Wondering where Canada’s hottest housing markets are, as 2018 comes to a close and 2019 is just around the corner? Well, that all depends on who you ask.

Two of Canada’s large realty firms – Royal LePage and ReMax – both issued their 2019 housing market outlooks on Dec. 11.

Yes, the very same day.

Rather than produce two stories on the exact same topic, just from different sources, we thought it would be interesting to compare them. And while there are some commonalities in their forecasts, there are also some interesting discrepancies.

There is no ‘Canadian’ market

Let’s begin with the headline of ReMax’s 2019 Housing Market Outlook: “Canadian home prices expected to increase by 1.7 per cent in 2019.”

Yeah, about that. Forget that headline. As we recently wrote, those national numbers are pretty meaningless. It’s like trying to summarize the weather, temperature or traffic as “Canadian.”

But, just for comparison purposes, ReMax estimates Canadian home prices will grow 1.7 per cent in 2019; Royal LePage, 1.2 per cent.

National numbers that do matter are interest rates, GDP growth and employment. Then there’s immigration, which affects some markets more than others, mortgage regulations and housing supply. All of these factors are the key drivers of real estate. But more on that later.

Now let’s take a look at some of the regional highlights.


ReMax says:

  • Toronto average prices down 4% in 2018 to $789,181
  • Toronto average prices forecast to rise 2% in 2019 to $804,964

In Toronto, rising interest rates and the mortgage stress test were the two major factors affecting market activity in 2018, with average sale prices dropping by four per cent from $822,572 in 2017 to $789,181 in 2018, and unit sales down by 16 per cent. Lack of affordability in the single-detached segment will make it difficult for buyers wanting to enter this market. Resale condos, on the other hand, now represent almost 37 per cent of total sales, fueled by affordability.

ReMax Housing Market Outlook, select major markets

Region 2018

 Average Home Price



Average Home Price




Vancouver $1.05M $1.01M -3.0%
Edmonton $379,539 $360,562 -5.0%
Calgary $487,399 $487,399 0.0%
Saskatoon $333,187 $343,182 0.6%
Regina $322,500 $322,500 0.0%
Winnipeg $323,001 $335,921 4.0%
Windsor $299,750 $329,725 10.0%
London $379,654 $398,636 5.0%
Kitchener-Waterloo $473,275 $487,473 3.0%
Hamilton-Burlington $707,949 $849,538 2.0%
Barrie $477,839 $492,174 3.0%
Oakville $1.08M $1.13M 5.0%
Mississauga $705,406 $733,622 4.0%
Brampton $577,846 $600,959 4.0%
Durham $594,585 $612,422 3.0%
Toronto $789,181 $804,964 2.0%
Ottawa $678,670 $705,816 4.0%
Halifax $299,982 $308,981 3.0%
St. John’s $265,523 $265,523 0.0%


Elsewhere in Ontario

Rising interest rates and the stress test continue to make it difficult for prospective buyers in Barrie, Oakville and Durham regions.

“This is particularly true for first-time buyers and single Millennials, as evident in cities like Brampton, Kingston and Durham,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

Hottest in the province

The hottest market in Ontario? Windsor, which showed price growth of 13 per cent in 2018, to $299,750, with another 10 per cent increase forecast for 2019. London is also expected to be strong, with prices to increase another five per cent next year, after rising 17 per cent this year to reach $379,654.


Royal LePage says:

  • GTA average price in 2018 $844,000
  • GTA average price forecast to rise 1.3% to $854,552

“Compared to the record pace of home appreciation seen in 2016 and 2017, the GTA housing market is now positioned for much healthier and sustainable growth in future years,” says Chris Slightham, broker and owner, Royal LePage Signature Realty.

Many regions outside of Toronto’s core saw price declines in 2018, a result of overshooting in previous years. The continued population growth should cause the suburbs to stabilize and reignite price growth. In addition, the potential subway expansion into the suburbs should stabilize and increase home prices in close proximity to new transit infrastructure.

Elsewhere in Ontario

The median price in Ottawa is expected to increase 2.5 per cent in 2019 to $487,910, benefitting from the city’s healthy economy and high income per household, driven by the public and technology sectors.

Interestingly, Royal LePage also notes that neither the new mortgage rules nor recent interest rate hikes have notably affected Ottawa’s housing market.


Highlights from other Canadian markets

The star performer of all major Canadian markets in 2019? Montreal, according to Royal LePage.

“Quebec will out-perform the nation in 2019,” says President and CEO Phil Soper. “Like other regions of the country, the economy is strong and people are working. What is different is affordability. We have to remember that Montreal sat out the rapid home price inflation we saw in Vancouver and Toronto this decade, and in Calgary the decade before.”

As for the ReMax outlook for Montreal, Quebec did not participate in this year’s forecast.



Royal LePage Market Survey Forecast


2018 Aggregate Home Price
(Year End Estimate)

Home Price 
Year-over-Year (%)
Canada $631,000 $638,257 1.2%
Greater Toronto Area $844,000 $854,552 1.3%
Greater Montreal Area $409,000 $421,306 3.0%
Greater Vancouver $1.28M $1.29M 0.6%
Ottawa $476,000 $487,910 2.5%
Calgary $484,000 $473,104 -2.3%
Edmonton $386,000 $378,691 -1.9%
Winnipeg $306,000 $309,829 1.3%
Halifax $321,000 $326,096 1.6%
Regina $327,000 $311,505 -4.7%


Influential factors

Now for more on those national factors that do influence real estate.

“I would call attention to two factors influencing our forecast that deserve special consideration,” says Soper. “Firstly, home prices are appreciating, albeit at a snail’s pace. Secondly, the Canadian market is supported by strong economic fundamentals, including a robust rate of new household formation and excellent employment growth.

“The future for Canadian housing remains bright, perhaps too bright. With an increasing number of gainfully employed people looking to put a roof over their heads, and the scarce availability of rental accommodation, policy makers in our major markets will once again be struggling with housing shortages. More than an affordable housing problem, we will once again be facing an overall housing supply crisis.”

As for interest rates, the Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate of 1.75 per cent on Dec. 5, citing a weaker than expected energy sector. Further rate increases are expected in 2019, making it more difficult for Canadians to buy a home in 2019.

The Bank forecasts GDP will increase 2.1 per cent in 2019, a modest increase over 2018, while Canada’s unemployment rate fell to 5.6 per cent in November, the lowest on record since 1976.


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