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Appetizer recipes

Appetizer recipes

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Appetizer recipes

Just in time for the entertaining season, Canada’s baking superstar Anna Olson shares two great appetizer recipes from her latest book Baking Day with Anna Olson, Recipes to Bake Together.

Roasted carrot dip

* Simple *

The natural sweetness of carrots really comes through in this dip, and while the chickpeas give this dip some structure (and protein), they don’t overwhelm the carrot taste, so you won’t mistake this dip as hummus. I love roasting parsnips and carrots together in the fall; why not try a variation of this dip made with half carrots and half parsnips?

• serves 8 (Makes about 2 cups/500 ml) • prep time: 15 minutes • cook time: 45 minutes

1 lb (450 g) carrots, peeled and diced (about 3 cups/750 ml)

3 tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tsp chopped fresh thyme salt and ground black pepper

1 cup (250 ml) cooked chickpeas (or tinned, well drained and rinsed)

¼ cup (64 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

Dress up this colourful dip by adding a dollop or a swirl of plain yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds or pomegranate seeds – or all of these things!

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Toss the carrots with the olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large baking dish. Roast the carrots, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Cool before making the dip.
  3. Puree the carrots in a food processor along with the now-roasted garlic cloves, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and coriander until smooth, adding a little water if needed (up to half-cup/125 mL) to make it smooth. Season to taste and chill until ready to serve. The dip will keep for up to 4 days, refrigerated.

********

Hummus crackers

** More Involved **

I love crackers. A strange admission, yes, but I would choose crackers over potato chips in a heartbeat (but don’t ask me to give up popcorn). These crispy crackers are a delicious savoury snack all on their own or as an addition to a cheese platter, and served with a roasted carrot dip (page 110) it’s as if you’ve reversed the traditional carrot sticks and hummus.

• Makes about 5 dozen crackers • prep time: 15 minutes, plus chilling • cook time: 8 minutes

¼ cup (60 ml) water

3 tbsp (24 g) ground flaxseed

1.5 cups (180 g) chickpea flour

3 tbsp (27 g) sesame seeds

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

¾ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp fine salt

1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tsp dried granulated garlic)

1 tbsp (30 ml) extravirgin olive oil

2 tbsp (32 g) tahini (sesame paste)

2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the water and ground flaxseed together and set aside. Place the chickpea flour, sesame seeds, lemon zest, cumin, salt and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to combine. Add the flaxseed water, oil, tahini and lemon juice and pulse until the dough comes together. If the dough feels sticky, wrap and chill for 10 minutes (to let the chickpea flour absorb some of the liquid) otherwise turn the dough out onto a rolling surface.
  3. Roll out the cracker dough to under quarter in. (6 mm) thick, dusting it and the work surface with chickpea flour as needed to prevent sticking. Use a 2-in. (5 cm) round cookie cutter to cut out crackers. Arrange them on the baking trays so they are close together but not touching. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting until all of the dough has been used. Bake the crackers for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Cool the crackers on the trays on cooling racks. The crackers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

These crackers are a perfect balance: substantial enough to hold up under a good scoop of dip but also delicate enough note to be enjoyed on their own.

Baking Day with Anna Olson

$28, indigo.ca

Visit annaolson.ca


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Sarah Richardson for Palliser

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Sarah Richardson for Palliser

How did you come up with the four design styles?

Whether someone chooses an entire room or just a single piece, we’ve designed four collections that feel well suited to any home. Some people have a more contemporary style, some gravitate to a lighter palette, and some prefer a coastal feel, so we wanted to offer an assortment of different design perspectives. My goal was to create a collection that’s foolproof and offers something for every taste and style!

What are some of the fabrics and materials you used?

The Shore collection uses whitewashed oak with cream lacquer, woven rattan elements, and is finished with brass accents for a casually elegant yet sophisticated collection that celebrates layered textures.

The Annex collection celebrates the natural character, and wood grain in ash swirl veneer applied in a checkerboard pattern on several pieces for a look that is equal parts rich and restrained while the lines are thoroughly modern.

The Vista collection speaks to consumers who are drawn to the elegance of updated transitional style dressed in light neutrals. With refined parquetry details and pale oyster-hued veneer, the Vista collection has contemporary silhouettes that embrace old world techniques and can easily integrate into any home.

The Boulevard collection takes inspiration from the rounded silhouettes, timeless walnut finish and warm brass tones synonymous with the enduring appeal of 20th century Art Deco design.

What piece or pieces are you most excited for consumers to see?

Shore

I designed the Silhouette chair and sofa for my own home to blend a curvaceous profile and deep, lounge-y comfort. I always want even the most inviting upholstered pieces to be streamlined and elegant, which these are thanks to the sleek frame, rounded corners, and tapered legs. I also love the woven rattan featured in a number of the Shore case pieces. Working with artisans is one of the most fulfilling aspects of what I do, and I got to see craftspeople hand-weaving the rattan in Indonesia.

Vista

With its curved back, arched arm profile, compact proportions and octagonal block legs, the Pier chair is one of my all-time favourite chairs in the Vista collection. I designed it over 15 years ago, and it remains one of the most adaptable chair profiles to date for its go-anywhere flexibility. I’m excited about the Vista bedside and occasional tables with their crisp mitered frames – and the DIY enthusiast in me loves that I mixed the pale oyster stain myself in the factory in Indonesia.

Boulevard

I’m partial to the Avenue sofa and chair silhouettes in this collection, especially on the optional plinth base since this is what I have in my living room at home in the city. It’s a sleek, modern frame that works in any room. There are so many interesting and unique design details incorporated into the Boulevard collection occasional pieces that it’s hard to pick a favourite. Still, the banded profile of the salon tables, the pedestal dining table and the console make these pieces signature style standouts!

Annex

The Promenade sectional is on the top of my list with its innovative design and softly curved lines. It’s comfortable without looking messy, plus it can be configured in a multitude of ways – from a cosy two-chaise grouping to the biggest sectional imaginable. In the case pieces, it’s all about the dynamic effect achieved by using ash swirl veneer in a hand-applied checkerboard pattern that’s scaled to fit each piece perfectly.

I noticed a lot of neutral tones, beiges, creams, ivory and light wood. Is this a trend that homeowners can expect going into the new year?

Absolutely. At my core, I’m somebody who loves to live with the beauty of naturally neutral materials. Cream on cream, mixed with oyster, flax, linen and shell tones are my happy place. Everything in the natural realm is what I could live with until the end of time and never tire of, and that’s why you’ll see a real celebration of naturally neutral tones in every part of my four collections.

With people working and spending more time at home during the pandemic, how do you think this has changed furniture design?

One of the hardest things about 2020 is that we’ve all been at home for longer than we ever could have expected or thought possible. Because of this, adaptability and flexibility in furniture design are more important than ever – you might need a desk to also function as a console table, or a sofa table that has storage and can become a bar or buffet. Although the collection was designed before the pandemic, we wanted everything to be able to go into a multitude of locations, so height, width, depth was thoroughly considered making sure versatility and practicality were always top of mind.

For more information, visit sarahrichardson.palliser.com

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DIY Garland

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DIY Garland

Don’t leave your mantle naked this season! Dress it up with a beautiful and easy to make garland from lifestyle blogger Rebecca Heart of Mike and Me

Instructions

  • Start with a faux piece of garland. Use Command hooks by 3M to hold it up (holds strong, easy to use, removes cleanly). The piece I used in this picture was only $3 from a thrift store.
  • Now using bunches of real greenery ($5 each at the hardware store, I used two) cut small pieces and start filling in the greenery, adding to the faux strand. It’s best to do one type of greenery at a time to make sure it’s even and balanced throughout.
  • Use floral wire or clips to attach it to the faux piece and secure it into place.
  • You can also use the faux wired garland to help wrap around pieces to hold it and shape it the way you want.
  • Go over it to cut any stray or lose looking pieces.
  • Mist it every couple days to keep it alive and voila!

Rebecca Heart is a decor-obsessed, bargain enthusiast based in Toronto. She and her husband Mike run a full-time home renovation and decor blog called mikeandme.ca which follows their journey updating a century-old Craftsman home. From styling tips to decor hacks to full-blown do-it-yourself renovations, this comical and down-to-earth duo provides thoughtful inspiration for re-imagining home decor and loving the space you are in.

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Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a skylight

Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a
skylight

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Invite the sunshine into your bathroom with a
skylight

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Bathroom renovations can be fun, exciting and sometimes even stressful. Over the years, we have seen bathrooms morph from only functional spaces to highly stylized rooms of function that speak not only of personal style but also in customized luxury. It may be a “spa-like” retreat or a simple, classic look, a bold, colourful tile or the elegance of book-matched marble on your shower walls. Whatever you desire, today’s bathrooms are delivering large on glam, luxury and functionality. And no matter what your design tastes are, your bathroom is the first room you see in the morning and the last you see at night, and it should reflect a bright start or a relaxational end to your day.

Design trends may come and go, but one thing that does remain consistent when planning a renovation is maximizing lighting – a definite must for a bathroom. When I’m designing a bathroom, I look to add layers of lighting options, and one of them should be natural light – the perfect way to start your day. Adding natural light to a bathroom offers many benefits, starting with our own physical and mental health and well-being to the health of your home. Windows paired with skylights will maximize the amount of natural light in your bathroom and can become the primary source of natural lighting.

Photo by Jeff Mindell
Photo by Jeff Mindell

Installing a skylight in your bathroom will undoubtedly improve the look and feel of your overall design aesthetic, brightening the room and making it feel like a much larger space. The bathroom is also a perfect place to add a skylight or sun tunnels, as you will gain the additional natural light without compromising your privacy.

If you’re wondering how skylights can improve your home’s health, this is where the venting skylight comes into play. VELUX’s programmable skylights will open and help prevent trapped moisture from producing mould or mildew by letting out the humid air and bringing in the fresh air – which is perfect for your bathroom. These are skylights that open to provide fresh air in your room. As hot air rises, this seems a natural addition to the bathroom to assist in the circulation of air and help to prevent trapped moisture from producing mould or mildew.

In the end, be inspired by all that you see in colour, finishes and design, but also be realistic about your space and budget. Good bathroom design should bring together all that is best of what you envision. It should deliver the maximum of light, storage, usage and aesthetics for you while creating a wonderfully luxurious and inviting room that reflects your individuality. Your bathroom should offer you optimal convenience and relaxation for years to come – adding a key element like a skylight to the mix will make it seem like the “icing on the cake.”

If you’re planning to give your bathroom a whole new look by adding a skylight or sun tunnel, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Set a realistic budget. Once you start looking at all the finishes and fixture options available, you may be surprised at the costs involved.
  • Depending on your bathroom size, a series of skylights or sun tunnels can be a complementary design feature.
  • Be sure that when you’re positioning your skylight or sun tunnels, you are also considering the placement of other lighting in the room. Whether it’s pot lights or surface mounted lights, you want to make sure that your ceiling does not appear chaotic or messy in design.
  • Remember, a vented skylight is an excellent option for increased ventilation in the bathroom.
  • Good quality porcelain tile is durable and doesn’t fade from increased amounts of sunlight. If you are south facing, you may be concerned about too much natural light or heat in the summer, consider adding a built-in blind, a perfect option to diffuse the light.

Known for creating innovative, stylish interiors and full-scale design builds, Linda Mazur Design Group is a multi-discipline design firm with more than 15 years of experience in both residential and commercial design.


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4 colour decorating tips from designer Rebecca Hay

4 colour decorating tips from designer Rebecca Hay

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4 colour decorating tips from designer Rebecca Hay

As a designer, I love to infuse a healthy amount of colour in the spaces I design. And, when it came to decorating my own home, I made no exceptions. With two young kids and a small furry dog, I wanted a space that felt friendly, yet looked polished – a place for neighbours to gather and kids to play.

1 Trust your instincts

Before designing any space, think about the mood you want to convey. Is it a calm, relaxed space or a warm, inviting space where dinner parties evolve? You don’t need a degree in psychology to figure out what colours are right for you. Trust your gut, and you will never go wrong, but it’s important to be mindful of the mood and energy you are trying to evoke. There’s no surprise that yellow is a cheerful colour that promotes optimism. While blue is associated with tranquility, it also happens to be the preferred colour by men. I incorporated a little bit of navy for the men in my own home.

For the living room, I wanted it to be bright and energizing, as this is the main sitting and socializing area of the home. The drapery fabric was my inspiration and starting point. I knew we wanted to energize the space with yellow. We already had the retro navy chairs to work with, so I chose to balance the navy of the chairs with bright yellow custom drapery.

2 Balance

Colour is an integral element to creating the right mood. When decorating with colour, it’s important to balance any bold colours with lots of neutrals. A little trick I use is the 60-30-10 rule. When decorating a particular room, divide the colours into percentages: 60 per cent of a dominant colour, 30 per cent of a secondary colour, 10 per cent of an accent colour and you will never go wrong.

3 Complementary colours

The dominant colours in our living/dining space are beige, yellow and navy. I also chose to complement the blues with hints of orange in the living room. Adding a few “bonus” colours adds further interest. I found an old traditional wingback armchair on the curb once. It was in desperate need of TLC, and so I had it stripped down and recovered with a piece of bold contemporary orange fabric. It’s cosy, warm and inviting while adding some traditional sophistication to the space.

4 Repetition

Repetition is key to any successfully designed home. By repeating a colour multiple times in a space, it feels purposeful and comforting. We repeated the orange in the custom toss cushions and with smaller accessories. By having the same colour layered throughout the space, it creates a unified design.

It’s a family space that is now an inviting and fun place for social gatherings or curling up by the fire. It’s proof that by taking the plunge and designing with colour, you can create a space that is visually beautiful, intriguing and sometimes surprising.

Designer Rebecca Hay is principal of Rebecca Hay Designs Inc., a Toronto based Design firm specializing in classically livable family homes.

Offering complete decorating and renovating services for over a decade Rebecca and her team manage all of the details from start to finish.


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Available and affordable: How our online dispute resolution model served condo communities during COVID-19

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Available and affordable: How our online dispute resolution model served condo communities during COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the government of Ontario’s ensuing emergency order shuttered most forms of face-to-face interaction across the province, which left many organizations scrambling to usher in new forms of service delivery. For tribunals and dispute resolution professionals in particular, this meant a widescale effort to move adjudication and mediation online.

The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), which was launched in 2017, is Canada’s first fully online tribunal. As the Chair, I would like to share a few lessons to help owners and condominium communities understand how to proceed into a new era of online dispute resolution.

First, some background. The CAT is an online tribunal that currently helps owners and condo communities across Ontario resolve and decide records related disputes. We developed an online dispute resolution system (CATODR) to help people settle issues conveniently, quickly and affordably, while encouraging users to work together to build harmonious condo communities.

The first stop for owners and condo community members with a problem is Guided Steps to Common Issues, which is available on the Condominium Authority of Ontario’s (CAO) website. If they are unable to resolve their problems with that resource, they can submit a case to the CAT. The tribunal features a three-stage process of Negotiation, Mediation and Tribunal Decision. If parties cannot reach a solution amongst themselves in Negotiation, then a tribunal member can help to resolve the dispute in Mediation. If the issue remains unresolved, they can proceed to the final stage, Tribunal Decision, where an adjudicator will issue a binding decision to close the case.

We designed the CAT to be user centric. Their needs and experiences guide the design, implementation and continuous improvement of the CAT-ODR system. It also supports information and dispute prevention activities; administrative assistance for parties; and mediation and adjudication approaches.

CAT processes are almost entirely asynchronous, meaning that they do not all occur at the same time. This allows parties to participate on their own schedule. Most interactions take place in the afternoon and evening, outside of traditional work hours, which means that our users do not have to take time away from other priorities to participate in their case. We have received cases from Windsor to Ottawa, and Niagara Falls to Elliot Lake. This flexibility is key in promoting and enhancing access to justice across the entire province.

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Being user-centric also means adapting to the changing circumstances of those who we serve, particularly during the uncertainty of the current pandemic. In one case, an owner was unable to access their local library computer due to COVID-19 restrictions, so we processed and resolved their case entirely over the phone. In other cases, the CAT accommodated the scheduling requests of front-line workers, and the needs of condo corporations, both of whom continued to provide their services during Ontario’s emergency order.

The CAT also works towards timely resolutions. Cases move at the speed of the parties. One time-sensitive case progressed through all three stages towards a resolution in less than a month, while another case saw a negotiation settled in as little as nine minutes.

Overall, the CAT has been able to proceed through the pandemic without a hitch, which is a testament to the effectiveness of the fully online model as an accessible, affordable and easy-to-use dispute resolution service to weather such unpredictable circumstances.

In these difficult times of social distancing and isolation, it is especially important for all who own and live in condos to adopt a mindset of promoting a positive culture and togetherness in your community.

Owners are encouraged to consult the CAO’s Guided Steps to Common Issues first, which can help resolve issues early before they escalate to disputes. Then, if you still need to file a case with the CAT, you can use the CAT’s Negotiation or Mediation stages to continue to work towards a collaborative solution.

Ian Darling is Chair of the Condominium Authority Tribunal

In our efforts to connect with owners across the province, we encourage you to share this article with other owners and members of your own condo community. They can subscribe by emailing subscriptions@condoauthorityontario.ca

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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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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

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In2ition Realty, other homebuilding industry firms step up to aid in COVID-19 relief

As challenging as the pandemic has been, there’s also been no shortage of good news, feelgood stories among new home and condo builders, developers, marketers, suppliers and others, as they pitch in to do their part for COVID-19 relief.

Among them is In2ition Realty. The Mississauga, Ont. new home and condo marketing and sales firm has long been involved in charitable initiatives.

“For us, being involved in a charity has been part of our work life and our work culture,” Founder and CEO Debbie Cosic told HOMES Publishing.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, uncovering other needs in the community, and other ways In2ition could help.

“We were looking for a charitable endeavour during these trying times, when many of us were home in the beginning kind of wondering what to do with our time, until more normalcy of our meeting schedules returned,” says Cosic.

Feed Mississauga reached out to In2ition, asking not just for much needed funds, but to help provide some social media and creative expertise to further raise awareness.

“It’s turned out to be very timely for us, that we could really roll up our sleeves and lend a hand,” Cosic says. “The food bank was down 50 per cent in both donations and in volunteers, so they were at a crisis point.”

Other COVID-19 relief initiatives from the homebuilding industry

Kids artwork raising funds for COVID-19 relief

Real estate firms raise more than $200,000 for COVID-19 relief

Flato Developments supporting Ontario frontline workers in fight against COVID-19

Program helps builders get back to business safely after COVID-19

Ambassadors for The Mikey Network aid with coronavirus relief efforts at SickKids


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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?

This article has been republished with permission from ratehub.ca.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a world of trouble, affecting both household finances and the global economy. During the crisis, many are considering refinancing their mortgages. But is the coronavirus pandemic a good time for you to refinance your mortgage?

First, a disclaimer. Whether you should refinance during the coronavirus pandemic is a question best answered with a professional who can walk you through all of your options and personal circumstances. Speaking to a mortgage professional such as a mortgage broker is the best thing you can do (and consulting with one is free of charge).

Here’s everything you need to know about refinancing 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.

There are three main reasons you might consider refinancing, which 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. 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. Check the Ratehub.ca mortgage refinance calculator to run your own numbers and learn more.

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. Keep in mind that during the current crisis, some may not be practical for your situation.

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 section 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, 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 little 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 like remodelling 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 risk premium 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.

The way 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 current 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 you can do is speak to a mortgage professional such as a mortgage broker, 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.

Ratehub.ca compares mortgage rates, credit cards, high-interest savings accounts, chequing accounts and insurance with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money.

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La Mansion Prince Painted Purple Is For Sale!

La mansion Prince painted purple is for sale!

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La mansion Prince painted purple is for sale!

It may have been the most infamous house-painting job in Los Angeles history in 2005 when mega-rocker-star Prince painted NBA-star Carlos Boozer’s Beverly Hills home in purple stripes. New to the market, the home just as elegant as when Prince and Elizabeth Taylor lived there decades before, is now for sale priced at $29.995 million.

When Alaskan-native Boozer signed with the Utah Jazz in 2004 for big money, he wanted a home in the sun and bought a stunning Southern California tennis estate, decorating it with the best expensive furnishings. Almost as good as his new home, his music idol, Prince, offered him $95,000 per month for a one-year lease and soon moved in. A couple of months later when Boozer was back in LA, he discovered that Prince had changed almost everything about his house. His beautiful furnishings were gone and replaced by black-and-purple everything. The weight room was now a disco dance floor with a DJ booth and his bedrooms converted to a hair salon and massage parlor. Boozer called “foul” and threatened to sue but Prince soon returned everything back to the way it was when he first rented the home. The two became best friends up until Prince’s death in 2016.

Today, the mansion is on an estate comprising the main house of approximately 15,101 square feet and an English Tudor home of 3,300 square feet, along with two extra parcels of land making up the total compound of 2.15 acres. The palatial main house has 10 bedrooms, 13 baths, a ballroom, wine room, large terraces for entertaining with views of city and ocean, a rooftop tennis court, and a pool with stone grotto reminiscent of the Playboy Mansion. Built in 1953 at the cusp between Old Hollywood and the new, it is a home that was designed for entertaining and saw many a grand party over the years, including a few Prince concerts for his friends.

Now seeking its next new owner, one of L.A.’s most significant homes and former residence of Prince and Elizabeth Taylor, is for sale at $29.995 million, or for lease of the main mansion at $80,000 per month. Brokered by the Oppenheim Group in West Hollywood, its leader Jason Oppenheim and bevy of starlet real estate agents are seen on the Netflix series Selling Sunset.

Photo credit: The Oppenheim Group


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