Tag Archives: COVID-19 pandemic

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Is buying pre-construction worth the risk?

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Is buying pre-construction worth the risk?

Who doesn’t love the word new? It’s one with many possibilities: I just got the new iPhone, I just started a new relationship, I’m excited about the new school year. You know you’re lying if you say you don’t love that new car smell.

The thought of owning a new home is extremely enticing and exciting. However, the market for new condominiums in the GTA is extremely competitive, and suites sell very fast. To purchase your dream home or ideal investment unit, you need to move fast, and that means purchasing off plans without physically walking through the unit, and waiting three to five years or more to take possession.

The desire to own something new is offset by the trepidation that comes with buying real estate from a brochure, and not knowing when (or even if) the building will complete. The development industry is a risky business, with the requirement for a significant number of the units to be sold to qualify for construction financing, and the unknowns that come with selling in one market and building in another. Just like many of the items you’re shopping for today, construction costs are going up, too.

Ultimately, it comes down to the question: Is it worth the risk? Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits-all response. A purchaser needs to consider the experience of the developer, the value proposition of the new building to a recently completed condo nearby, the expected occupancy date, the condo fee, parking cost, ceiling heights, interior finishes, common building amenities, balcony size, proximity to transit, future development plans nearby, other infrastructure investments on the way and more.

A pandemic has thrown another monkey wrench into the equation, as many GTA residents are reconsidering their housing needs. Interest in Toronto new home properties has declined, while interest in new developments in areas such as Whitby, Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Oakville has increased. Figures from rentals.ca and Bullpen Research & Consulting show that asking rents for downtown condos have declined by 15 per cent year-over-year. How does one forecast prices and rent in 2024 and 2025, when we can’t even forecast what those levels will be in the fall of 2020?

The resale housing market dropped significantly in April and May of this year during the COVID lockdown, but just recently set a record high for average pricing to the surprise of just about everyone. New condominium prices have increased for 25 consecutive years, including the 2008-09 global financial crisis, and the 2017 Toronto housing bubble and correction, and so far prices have survived the COVID-19 pandemic. All to the chagrin of many pundits and housing bears who predicted the demise of the industry for more than 15 years.

The truth is house prices can and will go down, the new condo project you buy into could get cancelled, and based off reasonable projections, the likelihood of renting a new downtown condominium that is cash flow positive from day one is pretty low. However, Canada is one of the most desirable countries in the world, and the tech sector in Toronto is blowing up. And when our borders open back up, expect a flood of new immigrants, and the return of the short-term rental market, specifically Airbnb. It’s unlikely a 25-year-old wants to live alone in a single-family home in Woodstock; they want to be where the action is in downtown Toronto.

Having followed the Toronto market for nearly 20 years, I do not believe supply can keep up with demand over the long term. However, I expect Toronto prices to continue to grow at a pace above-inflation on average over the next 10 years. There will be short-term fluctuations, and there will be price declines. But if someone purchases with a long-term hold mindset, does the research, and surrounds themselves with an experienced team (realtor and mortgage broker), buying a new home can be worth the risk.

Ben Myers is President of Bullpen Consulting, a boutique residential real estate advisory firm specializing in condominium and rental apartment market studies, forecasts and valuations for developers, lenders and land owners. bullpenconsulting.ca Twitter@benmyers29

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Virtual care during COVID

New resources for virtual health care during COVID-19

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New resources for virtual health care during COVID-19

Have you tried to get a doctor’s appointment during COVID-19, even once the restrictions began to lift? Easier said than done, eh?

As concerns rise over the well-being of Canadians, leading mental health and substance use organizations are highlighting the value of virtual care during the pandemic. When it is difficult for caregivers and clients to meet in person, technology can enable them to meet virtually.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

A new resource, Virtual Care for Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19 highlights the importance of seeking care and support early on, and provides information on how to access the many virtual care options available, to help people in Canada, including the new Wellness Together Canada portal.

“Recent polling conducted for the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) by Nanos Research tells us that, while the mental health of people in Canada is worsening, access to online services remains low,” says Louise Bradley, MHCC president and CEO.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) – in partnership with the MHCC, the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine, The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and the Canadian Psychological Association – developed this resource to address concern that people in Canada may not be seeking or accessing help for mental health and substance use issues.


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BILD construction survey

Survey shows almost 500 projects delayed due to COVID-19

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Survey shows almost 500 projects delayed due to COVID-19

A majority of residential construction projects in the GTA have been delayed due the COVID-19 Pandemic, according to a survey from The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

BILD construction survey

The survey covered 498 active projects (276 in Toronto) representing 156,000 units at various stages of construction. These interruptions will have far reaching impacts on housing supply in an already tight market and will have negative financial impacts on government coffers.

The residential construction industry was granted essential workplace status under Ontario’s emergency orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the industry was only able to complete homes that were near completion. Nevertheless, overall development and building projects across the region were delayed.

Slowed processing

“One might ask, if the building industry was granted essential workplace status, why are there new housing slowdowns,” says BILD President and CEO Dave Wilkes. “The response is a bit complicated. Disruptions to the supply chain negatively impacted the ability of the industry to secure vital building materials. Worksites had to appropriately adjust to COVID-19 protocols, as social distancing rules negatively impacted productivity and some municipalities had to adjust to working remotely. This slowed processing of planning and building applications and stalled developments and construction projects.”

The survey found that 65 per cent of projects in Toronto reported interruptions of three to six months, and 32 per cent were greater than six months. Eighty-three per cent of not yet above grade projects reported delays of three to six months, and 11 per cent are greater than six months. Eighty-five per cent of projects under construction permitted for above grade reported a delay of three to six months, and five per cent are greater than six months.

Significant losses

Altus Group estimates that these holdups will result in the loss of about 9,000 housing starts over the course of the next 18 months. This will set back occupancy of more than 8,000 units by the end of 2021, potentially exacerbating an already existing shortage of housing in Toronto, reduce construction activity and see the loss of 10,000 jobs per year.

“Now more than ever, all levels of government must work together to make sure that proper measures are in place to remove barriers that will unlock consumer and industry construction investments to help kick-start the economy,” adds Wilkes.


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Shorter work week? Yes, please... half of Canadians say

Shorter work week? Yes, please… half of Canadians say

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Shorter work week? Yes, please… half of Canadians say

Canadian working lives have been altered in ways unimagined by most at the beginning of 2020. A new study from the Angus Reid Institute finds growing support for another fundamental change – a shorter work week.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Asked if they feel it would be a good idea to make a new 30-hour work week standard in Canada, 53 per cent of adults in this country say it would be a “good idea” – more than twice the number who say the opposite.

The increase in support may be driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and difficulties it has presented for many out of work Canadians. Consider that among those who have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, enthusiasm for a shorter work week rises to 58 per cent. This is eight-points higher than those who have not applied for the program.

Conservative opposition

Canadians of all income levels, too, are more receptive of this idea than disdainful. Support is highest at the lowest levels of household income (64 per cent) and lowest among those with incomes over $150,000 per year (47 per cent).

This idea runs into most of its opposition among past Conservative voters. This group is most likely to say that shortening the work week is an ill-conceived idea, 40 per cent feel this way, while past Liberal and NDP voters voice support at a proportion of two-thirds.


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Boost your immune system through exercise

Boost your immune system through exercise

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Boost your immune system through exercise

We are living in a new world where terms such as social distancing, lockdown, shelter in place and flattening the curve are all part of our lexicon. COVID-19 is global, effecting all races, socioeconomic status and mostly all ages. However, the aging population is at higher risk for developing serious complications.

Photo: bigstockphoto.com
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

Your first line of defense

The immune system is an intricate response system that even science is continually studying, as it is not fully understood. Your first line of defense is to follow a healthy lifestyle.

  • Do not smoke
  • Diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Minimize stress

We are living in a stressful time where many of our most common de-stressors have been removed – time with family and community, traditional forms of exercise and spiritual venues. Stay connected through technology or your phone. Schedule regular calls or video chats with loved ones. If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, please go to camh.ca for great advice and resources.

Current challenges at the time of writing are that gyms and some outdoor spaces are closed. Even when they reopen, some of us may be understandably nervous to go back to the social life we lived before.

The benefits of exercise

One of the best ways to combat stress is through exercise, as it:

  • Lowers your body’s stress hormones and blood pressure
  • Improves sleep quality, mood, and feelings of well being
  • Increases strength to perform tasks of daily life, thereby increasing confidence and safety
  • Studies support increasing circulation through exercise the immune system functions more readily

When exercising at home, motivation is a challenge:

  • Set a schedule, same time every day
  • List your goals and follow up
  • Have a workout calendar
  • Play upbeat music, no TV
  • Vary between cardiovascular and resistance training
  • Download an app specifically for a mature population or explore YouTube for follow-along videos such as Pocket Yoga, Pilates-Lumowell, Tai Chi for Seniors or Workout Trainer.

Exercise routine

All exercises should be reviewed online for proper form. Never start a new workout routine against your doctor’s advice.

DAY ONE: Cardiovascular focus (go at a pace that gets the heart rate up but allows for you to speak): 20 repetitions x 4 cycles through:

  • Alternating side reaches with squat between
  • Alternating knee to elbow
  • Squat floor-to-ceiling reach
  • High knee standing march
  • Air boxing

DAY TWO: Resistance training focus: Series of the following, 8 to 12 repetitions x 4 cycles

  • Chair squat
  • Wall pushup or floor knee pushup
  • Crunches (not full sit up)
  • Lying hip bridges
  • Side plank
  • Bird dogs
Agnes Ramsay is a Registered Nurse, Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach who specializes in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.

agnes.ramsay@xbodyworld.com


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Our economic recovery will be led by building and development

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Our economic recovery will be led by building and development

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canada, Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area, and my heart goes out to residents of the GTA who have been affected or lost loved ones to this terrible virus.

Millions of people were let go from their jobs and the economy has all but ground to a halt. As governments at all levels begin to look at recovery, they will need to focus on the GTA. Our region is the heart of Canada’s economy, accounting for 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP and 50 per cent of Ontario’s GDP.

The residential and commercial building and development industry, and the professional renovations industry, are major contributors to economic activity in the region. Collectively, they employ more than 360,000 people in the GTA, paying $22 billion in wages and generating $42 billion in investment value annually. Our industry is well-positioned to play a significant role in the recovery of our region, Ontario, and Canada. Working with our colleagues at both the Ontario and Canadian Home Builders’ Associations, we have put together a roadmap for simple changes that can have a big impact.

Our industry submitted a report to the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee that includes 19 recommendations to all three levels of government to get our economy back on track. These recommendations will create an immediate and significant impact to consumers and businesses, and will involve little to no new money from government. Proposed measures include suspending the Canadian mortgage stress test, transferring mortgage tenancy to the date of occupancy for new condominiums, eliminating security deposits for the Ontario land transfer tax on affiliated transfers, and freezing municipal increases to property tax reassessments and development charges. Many people have lost their jobs in all sectors of the economy.

Many projects have been delayed, constraining consumer and industrial/commercial liquidity. Government coffers are also not bottomless, which is why they need to focus on liquidity and freeing up funds that would otherwise be stuck in such things as municipal agreements (refundable deposits paid by developers) and replacing them with surety bonds. These changes can be transitory until such time as we can all fully adjust to the new normal, or when a vaccine for the coronavirus is widely available.

Other suggestions include reinstating home improvement tax credits for homeowners to support ageing-in-place improvements or energy retrofits. In the past, these programs have paid for themselves, since they cut out the black and grey renovation market.

I encourage you to read the full report at bild.ca and support us as we work toward recovery in the GTA, Ontario and Canada through residential and commercial construction and professional renovation.

Dave Wilkes is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

bild.ca

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Downtown Toronto

Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

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Toronto still one of the fastest growing cities in North America – even with the impact of COVID-19

Toronto was the fastest growing metropolitan area in Canada and the U.S. last year, overtaking Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, Tex., according to new data from the Centre for Urban Research and Land Development (CUR) at Ryerson University.

Downtown Toronto
Photo: Wayne Karl

And even though Toronto will take a hit as a result of COVID-19, it is still expected to be one of the top cities in North America.

Toronto was the only Canadian metropolitan area in the top five; Montreal was sixth and Vancouver twelfth.

Metro Toronto grew by 127,575 persons in 2019, outpacing Dallas-Fort Worth Arlington, which grew by 117,380 persons, to become the fastest growing metropolitan area in all of the U.S. and Canada.

Short-term impact

The research for this latest report was conducted prior to COVID, covering the period of July 2018 to July 2019, so the results are likely to change over the next year, CUR says.

“COVID is estimated to drop immigration (to Toronto) by half this year,” Diana Petramala, senior CUR researcher told Condo Life. “Therefore, this will likely push Toronto down the list of fastest growing cities.

“Toronto’s main strength is immigration, whereas places like Dallas are benefiting from millennials leaving more expensive areas like New York. Toronto, however, will continue to do better than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – areas that are seeing large outflows of millennials in search of more affordable housing and jobs.”

The impact of COVID in Toronto will be short term, Petramala adds. “Immigration is still allowed, so as other countries move out of lockdown and processing offices open up and airlines start flying again, you will like see a snap back in immigration.”

Outpacing New York

Toronto, in fact, had almost three times the population growth from immigration as New York in 2019. Both regions experienced a loss in resident population to other areas (domestic net migration), but the rate was four times faster in New York.

In terms of population growth on a city basis, as opposed to the metropolitan area (GTA), Toronto (45,742 persons) and Montreal (31,565) represented the two fastest growing cities in all of the U.S. and Canada over the study period. Overall, Canadian cities represented 11 of the top 20 central cities in the U.S. and Canada in population growth, with Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton placing fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

While the city of Toronto’s population grew by 45,742, New York City’s decreased by 53,264.


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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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Supporting condo owners and communities during COVID-19

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For the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), which recently embarked on its third full year of operations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is as unique a challenge as we have faced in our journey together with Ontario’s condominium communities thus far.

Yet, as chair of the CAO’s Board of Directors, I am proud of the steps our organization is taking in light of the current situation, and I remain optimistic about what lies ahead. Our vision has always been to promote harmonious condo communities across the province and to be of value to condo owners. By empowering the growing number of Ontarian’s who take part in this unique form of homeownership, we remain committed to achieving these goals.

We operate under the Condominium Act, 1998 (the Act), and we have a mandate to support consumer protection by providing services and resources for condo owners, buyers and directors across Ontario. This mandate remains our priority, even as we proceed through the uncertainty created by the current situation, which has had a significant impact on our province.

Suite of resources

I take great pride in announcing that we continue to deliver our full suite of resources and services throughout the pandemic to the more than 1.6 million condo residents in the 11,000-plus condo communities across Ontario. Ever since we were identified as an essential service by the provincial government in March, our dedicated team has not missed a beat, transitioning to a work-from-home business continuity plan, and maintaining the service standards that owners, directors and all our users have come to appreciate.

Our website is updated regularly and is where users can continue to access all our digital resources. Our information services team remains available by email or phone to help users and answer questions and concerns directly. The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), Canada’s first fully online tribunal, has also stayed active throughout the pandemic, accepting cases and resolving disputes.

What’s more, we recognize the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 situation poses for condo communities, and have responded accordingly with new measures to provide additional support during this difficult time.

In addition to the 25-per-cent assessment fee reduction already implemented for the year, all late fees were suspended until June 30, 2020. We have also been ramping up our efforts to help condo directors meet the six-month deadline to complete director training. We want to keep directors active on their boards, so that they can continue to operate on behalf of owners and provide their corporation with governance and guidance, which are especially needed in this uncertain period.

Unique pressures

Condo owners in particular face a unique set of financial pressures, which may prevent them from making their common expense payments. With this in mind, our staff developed resources to help corporations consider various factors when trying to strike a balance between the collective owners’ interests and an individual unit owner’s circumstance.

Our team is also hard at work developing new resources to help owners navigate the constantly evolving ways that business must be conducted now and in the future. One example is in-person owners’ meetings, which are now a health and safety concern. To lessen the need for face-to-face contact, we created a guide to help condo corporations establish a bylaw for holding owners’ meetings and/or voting by telephonic or electronic means. We also provided an overview of the subsequent temporary changes to the Act, introduced through the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order, to provide temporary relief for how and when owners’ meetings can be held.

With social distancing becoming our new collective reality, the place that we each call home has never been more important. For us at the CAO, this means doing everything in our power to ensure that Ontario’s condo communities can continue in a manner that respects their collective responsibility for addressing the current situation, while still striving towards harmonious condo living for each and every member.

In our efforts to connect with owners across the province, we encourage you to subscribe to subscriptions@condoauthorityontario.ca for further updates from the CAO, and to share this article with other owners and members of your own condo community.

Heather Zordel is Chair, Board of Directors, of the Condominium Authority of Ontario, Toronto.


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Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

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Canadians loving their neighbourhoods in COVID-19

If the crisis of the few last months has proven anything, it’s that Canadians love their neighbourhoods.

According to a Leger survey conducted on behalf of ReMax, 82 per cent of Canadians say they would sacrifice at least one desirable attribute in order to live in the neighbourhood they believe meets their liveability “must-haves,” and 90 per cent of Canadians love the neighbourhoods they live in.

Liveability is about quality of life at a local level. A neighbourhood’s dynamism involves a delicate convergence between independent small businesses, public institutions, arts and culture, greenspaces and housing and other factors. COVID-19 will impact neighbourhood ecosystems differently across the country, just as the virus itself has. Yet, civic and local pride has been proliferating throughout this crisis in inspiring ways, giving Canadians hope that micro-economies, including real estate, have the resilience to be restored in the near- and mid-term.

“For the benefit of local small businesses and the capacity of residents to restore a high quality of life, or liveability, to their respective communities, the degree of local pride should give us all optimism,” says Christopher Alexander, executive vice-president and regional director, ReMax of Ontario-Atlantic Canada.

The 2020 ReMax Liveability Report explores the qualities that give each homeowner the true satisfaction of living in their neighbourhood, such as access to greenspaces or restaurants and entertainment. According to the report, 91 per cent of Canadians have at least one important liveability factor that’s very important to them when it comes to the neighbourhood they live in now or would like to live in, in the future.

Not surprisingly, housing affordability came in at the top at 61 per cent, followed by:


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Should you refinance your mortgage in the COVID-19 crisis?

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Should you refinance your mortgage in the COVID-19 crisis?

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented all kinds of unprecedented challenges, affecting both household finances and the global economy. During the crisis, many are considering refinancing their mortgages. But is this actually a good time for you to refinance your mortgage? This is really a question best answered with a professional, such as a mortgage broker, who can walk you through all of your options and personal circumstances. And this consultation is free of charge.

Here’s what you need to know about whether you should refinance your mortgage during the COVID-19 crisis.

What is refinancing a mortgage?

A mortgage refinance is when you break your current mortgage and start a new one. Your old mortgage is paid off by the new mortgage, which gives you the chance to borrow additional cash or change the conditions of your original contract. While you’ll be charged a prepayment penalty for breaking your mortgage, the benefits of starting a new mortgage may be worth it.

The three main reasons you might consider refinancing are:

  1. Accessing equity
  2. Lowering your rate
  3. Consolidating debt

Another thing to note is that if your mortgage is coming up for renewal (and your financial situation is stable) now could be a good time to refinance. Refinancing is generally less expensive when it is done at renewal time.

How much can a refinance cost?

Refinancing a mortgage means breaking your mortgage early, which will incur at least two costs. First, a lawyer must change the financing on title, and this cost is sometimes fully or partly covered by the lender.

The more significant cost is your prepayment penalty, which your current lender charges you for breaking your mortgage contract. This amount is calculated as either three months’ interest or the interest rate differential payment (IRD), whichever is greater.

Example: The penalty for refinancing a mortgage with a remaining balance of $300,000 with BMO, that has two years left on the current term, a fixed rate of 3.00 per cent, and a 25-year amortization could cost about $8,000, according to the ratehub.ca Penalty Calculator.

3 reasons to refinance your mortgage

There are three main reasons you might want to refinance your mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regardless of your motivation, you shouldn’t refinance if you’re in a shaky financial position due to COVID-19. Refinancing your mortgage means you’ll need to requalify, which is the last thing you want to do if you’ve lost income or can’t make your payments, as you could end up in a worse position. If this applies to you, check the alternatives to refinancing, below.

1 – Accessing equity in your home

Equity is the part of your home you actually own, worked out by taking the market value of the property, less the remaining mortgage balance you have on it. If you’ve built up equity in your home, you might be able to get a loan using your equity as collateral.

There are several ways to access your home equity, and two important options to consider are:

Option 1: Accessing equity by refinancing

When refinancing your mortgage, you can choose to increase your current mortgage balance to access a lump sum of money from the amount you’ve already previously paid off. You would start a new mortgage with a higher mortgage amount that includes the additional cash amount you want to take out, plus your remaining balance. Because it is a new mortgage, you’ll start paying interest on the additional amount immediately, so this option makes sense if you know with certainty that you require that extra cash in the near future.

Option 2: Obtaining a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Another way to tap into your home equity is through a Home Equity Line of Credit, or HELOC. A HELOC works a bit like a credit card in how you access the funds – you just draw money from your HELOC. You can then choose to pay a minimum of just the interest on the HELOC loan each month, in addition to your mortgage payment. HELOCs are normally used for big one-off costs, such as remodeling your home or university tuition, but they can also be used as a personal line of credit. HELOCs make sense if you are concerned that you may need some extra cash in the future but don’t really need it right now.

Bonus option: Refinance to get a HELOC

You’ll only be able to use a HELOC if you originally opted for a mortgage that included one. If your current mortgage doesn’t include a HELOC, refinancing allows you to get one added to your current mortgage. Moreover, since you are already refinancing to get the HELOC, you can make any necessary adjustments to your mortgage at the same time.

2 – Lowering your rate

In Canada, mortgage rates are adjusted regularly. In normal circumstances one of the most common reasons to refinance is to get a lower rate, which can save you money on interest over time. When those savings are more than the prepayment penalties, it makes good financial sense to refinance.

During COVID-19, the situation is a little more complex. Bond yields are extremely low, and the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate target is at a record low of 0.25 per cent. Normally, such conditions would warrant low mortgage rates to be available. However, mortgage lenders are now pricing in a risk premium. This results in higher mortgage rates so that lenders can somewhat protect themselves from uncertainty in unemployment and the overall economy.

The upshot is rates aren’t as low as you might expect given current market conditions. That means it could be unlikely that you’ll get a low enough mortgage rate that will justify the cost of prepayment penalties. Check ratehub.ca’s mortgage refinance calculator to run the numbers for yourself.

3 – Refinancing to consolidate debt

Because mortgages are secured loans, they have lower interest rates than other sources of credit, such as credit cards or personal loans. As such, they’re a great place to consolidate your debts, thus reducing the overall amount of interest you pay.

This is done is by accessing your home’s equity. When refinancing, you’ll take out a larger mortgage than you need to pay off your current mortgage, then use that cash to pay off your other debts. This gives you a single payment to make each month, likely at a lower overall rate (versus the various interest rates of your other loans).

Alternatives to mortgage refinancing during COVID-19

If you’ve lost income or can’t make your payments due to the COVID-19 crisis, now is probably not a good time to refinance your mortgage. This is because you’ll need to requalify for your new mortgage. If your financial situation is not as good as it was when you took out your existing mortgage, you may not qualify, or could end up with a worse deal.

If you need to free up cash, for whatever reason, there are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Ask family for help: If you have parents or other family members who haven’t been hit as hard by the pandemic, consider asking them for help. This is never easy, but if there’s a time that people will understand, it’s now.
  • Get government assistance: If you haven’t yet done so, make sure to check if you or other members of your family are eligible for government assistance, such as EI or the CERB.
  • Mortgage deferral: Canada’s big banks have offered to defer mortgage payments in an effort to assist those who have lost income. Mortgage deferral isn’t free, but it could help if you’re struggling to pay your monthly bills.

The bottom line: Is the COVID-19 crisis a good time to refinance?

If you’re in need of cash during this pandemic, but aren’t in dire financial straits, then refinancing could be an option for you during this time. Additionally, it might be worth refinancing if mortgage refinance rates are significantly lower than your current rate.

However, you’ll need to consider your own needs and circumstances. The best thing to do is speak to a mortgage professional, who can give you a free personal assessment – do it sooner rather than later. They’ll be able to help you calculate costs and consider different options available to you during the coronavirus pandemic.

This article has been republished with permission from ratehub.ca, a website that compares mortgage rates, credit cards, high-interest savings accounts, chequing accounts and insurance to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money.

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