Everything You Need to Know About Gifted Down Payments

As home prices and interest rates increased this year, some Canadian families are choosing to help their kids get a foothold in the real estate market. One of the ways they’re doing that is with gifted down payments.

A 2021 CIBC report said 30% of first-time buyers in Canada got a boost thanks to receiving money as a gift for a down payment on a home. James Harrison, Mortgage Broker at estimates that, in some markets, that number is a lot higher, with gifts ranging anywhere from $10,000 to more than $1 million. There is no limit to the amount that can be gifted.

“At least two-thirds of my clients are getting a gift of some amount,” he says. “Parents just want to help their kids buy, with the goal often being a 20% down payment.”

According to the CIBC report, in 2015, the average Canadian gift was $52,000. In 2021 it was $82,000. Gifts in Vancouver lead with the highest average in Canada, clocking in at $180,000, and Toronto a close second at $130,000.

What are gifted down payments?
A gifted down payment is exactly what it sounds like: a monetary gift from a parent, grandparent, sibling, or other close relative, towards the purchase of a home. It isn’t a loan; it’s non-repayable. The person doing the giving should have zero expectations of getting that money back, and will often be asked to sign an agreement to that effect.

How are gifted down payments different from co-signing?
When you give a gift, you don’t own any part of the property, but you also don’t assume any of the risk. If you co-sign, you are on the title—and 100% liable if the homeowners default on their mortgage. Co-signing can also impact your ability to borrow: whatever amount you have co-signed for will look like you borrowed it yourself.

Do gifted down payments have any impact on a mortgage approval?
No. Your income determines the max you qualify for, and the down payment is on top of that. Of course, the more of a down payment you have, the less you’ll need to borrow. So if you only qualify for a smaller loan, a gift can help you buy something bigger than you could otherwise afford.

“A gift can also get you from an insured purchase (less than 20% down) to a conventional one,” says Harrison. “Insured only gets you a max 25-year amortization, with strict debt ratios. But with 20% or more down, you could potentially qualify for a 30-year amortization with more give on the ratios. That can make a big difference in the total mortgage you qualify for.”

What are the rules around gifted down payments?
Everyone needs to sign a mortgage gift letter (each lender has their own template). Harrison says you must also provide proof that the gifted funds have been deposited into your account, and they should be there no later than 15 days before closing. For funds coming from outside Canada, lenders want to see those in your (Canadian) account 30 to 90 days before closing.

Depending on how gifted funds are used in the transaction, there may also be obligations to comply with Canada’s anti-money laundering laws, according to Canada’s Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC). For example, if the gifted funds are provided directly to the REALTOR®, the REALTOR® would have an obligation to verify the identity of the individual providing the funds.

Can we use borrowed funds to gift money to our kids?
Yes, you can. However, it’s probably not as common as you think: only about 5.5% of gifting parents use debt to finance gifting. If you’re considering using your line of credit, just be careful about your debt load, especially if you’re looking to retire anytime soon.

Are there any tax implications to gifting a down payment?
In Canada, gifted down payments aren’t taxed. Immediate family members can provide the gift without either side being on the hook taxwise. Of course, it’s always prudent to check with a tax professional for info pertaining to your specific financial situation.

That being said, Harrison suggests to his clients they consider protecting the gift in the event the recipient splits from their partner. Otherise, half your gift could end up with the departing spouse/partner.

Getting into the real estate market can provide plenty of benefits, like housing stability, an investment opportunity for yourself, and numerous social benefits. Helping your immediate family members with a down payment, if you’re able to, can be a great way to get them into the market so they can begin their homeownership journey.

The information discussed in this article should not be taken as financial or legal advice. This article is for informational purposes only.



Maximizing Property Appeal: The Impact of Home Staging on Real Estate Transaction
In the dynamic world of real estate, the presentation of a property stands as a critical factor in driving its sale. 
This is where home staging comes into play, serving as a powerful tool to enhance a property’s appeal. By thoughtfully curating a property’s aesthetics to appeal to prospective buyers, home staging can significantly elevate a property’s perceived value. This strategic enhancement not only captivates potential buyers but also often translates into swifter sales and potentially higher transaction values, thereby underlining the profound impact of home staging on real estate transactions.
What is Home Staging 
Home staging is the art of preparing a residential property for sale by enhancing its aesthetic appeal to captivate potential buyers. 
Originating in the 1970s in the United States, this practice has evolved into an essential marketing tool within the real estate industry. It involves more than just tidying up; it includes decluttering, rearranging furniture, optimizing space, and sometimes making minor repairs. 
Modern staging techniques have expanded to include professional photography, which captures the essence of the property in its best light, and virtual staging, an innovative approach where digital furnishings and decor are added to pictures of empty rooms, making them more appealing and relatable to buyers.
Psychological Aspects of Home Staging
The effectiveness of home staging lies in its ability to influence buyer perception. By strategically styling a property, staging allows potential buyers to envision themselves living in the space, thus creating an emotional connection.
This emotional appeal is a powerful tool in real estate sales. A well-staged home not only creates a warm and inviting image but also helps buyers overlook minor flaws, focusing instead on the potential lifestyle the home offers. It also sets the stage for buyers to imagine future memories and experiences in the home, which can be a decisive factor in their decision-making process.
Essentials of Successful Home Staging
Effective home staging is much more than just cleaning and decorating; it’s about creating a mood. Key elements include decluttering to create a sense of space, and depersonalization to help buyers imagine their own lives in the home. Strategic lighting is used to highlight the property’s best features, while décor is selected to create a welcoming, universal appeal.
The property’s exterior, or curb appeal, is equally vital in making a memorable first impression. Landscaping, a fresh coat of paint, and minor repairs can significantly boost a property’s exterior allure. In staging, every detail counts, from the color of the towels in the bathroom to the placement of furniture, each element works together to create an environment that buyers can aspire to.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Home Staging
While there are upfront costs involved in home staging, these are often outweighed by the benefits. 
The investment can vary from a simple consultation and minor adjustments to a full-scale staging involving rental furniture and major landscaping work. However, the return on investment can be substantial. Staged homes not only tend to sell at higher prices but also often sell faster, which can be a significant advantage in markets where properties might otherwise linger. This quicker sale process can result in reduced carrying costs like mortgage payments, property taxes, and utilities, further emphasizing the financial benefits of home staging.
DIY vs. Professional Home Staging
For those on a budget, DIY staging can be a viable option. 
Key DIY tasks include deep cleaning, rearranging existing furniture, and making minor repairs. However, for properties in competitive markets or at the higher end of the price spectrum, the expertise of a professional stager can be invaluable. These professionals bring an objective eye and an understanding of what appeals to today’s buyers. They can also access rental furniture and décor to enhance the look of the home, something that might be beyond the scope of most homeowners.
Regional Trends and Future Directions
The approach to home staging varies by region, reflecting local tastes and lifestyles.
In urban centers, there’s a trend towards sleek, minimalist designs that appeal to a modern aesthetic, while rural and suburban properties may benefit from a more traditional, cozy feel. Looking ahead, digital advancements are making a mark on home staging. Virtual staging, where furniture and decor are digitally inserted into photographs of an empty room, is gaining popularity for its cost-effectiveness and convenience. Additionally, 3D virtual tours are increasingly being used, allowing potential buyers to explore a staged home online, which is particularly appealing in the current era of remote buying and selling. These technological trends indicate a future where home staging can be both more versatile and accessible.
Home staging emerges as a key strategy in real estate, offering a powerful means to elevate a property’s aesthetic appeal and marketability. By thoughtfully preparing a home for the market, sellers can effectively showcase their property’s full potential, often leading to quicker sales and higher returns.
Given its proven impact, incorporating home staging into the selling process is not just recommended but can be considered an essential step for those looking to maximize their property’s value. Sellers are advised to carefully assess their staging needs, considering both DIY approaches and the expertise of professional stagers, to ensure their home is presented in the best possible light to potential buyers.

Typical Conditions You’ll Encounter During a Home Sale

For most people, buying a home will likely be the most significant investment of their lives. With the emotional and financial aspects tied to purchasing and/or selling a home, it’s important to complete all due diligence to ensure your investment is protected.

This article will explore what conditions are, typical conditions you’ll encounter during the offer process, how they can affect the sale, and what happens if they’re not met.

What is a conditional offer and who benefits from one?
Simply put, “a conditional offer is when a buyer makes an offer on a property that contains conditions,” explains Duncan McDougald, REALTOR® with RE/MAX Executives Realty in Whitemouth, Manitoba. “Conditions are put in place to protect the buyer or seller as both have the right to include them in an offer to purchase. Realistically, conditions can be anything, as long as both parties agree to them. As a REALTOR®, it’s important to know what conditions to recommend to buyers and sellers in various scenarios.”

“Conditions don’t have to be accepted by either party, but if they’re reasonable and there’s no better offer on the table, it’s a very typical part of an ‘accepted conditional offer’, which is the status of a sale when the public sees it as ‘pending,’” he continues.

More often than not, conditions are put in place by the buyer because it facilitates a safety net for them.

“If a buyer’s condition(s) can’t be satisfied, they’re no longer under any legal obligation to move forward with the conditional deal,” explains McDougald.

In an offer, a buyer will include a time frame for their condition(s) to be satisfied. If they’re not satisfied by the end date, the deal becomes null and void unless both parties agree to extend the timeframe or the buyer gives notice that the condition(s) won’t be satisfied. In most cases, the buyer is entitled to a return of their deposit money if the conditions aren’t satisfied, but do keep in mind that there is an obligation to make an effort to satisfy the conditions.

It should also be noted here that “a condition made by either party is for the benefit of that specific party and they’re entitled to waive their condition any time before the condition’s deadline if they feel it’s no longer required,” emphasizes McDougald.

One of a seller’s favourite offers to receive is an unconditional cash offer. If they like the terms, they sign the acceptance and the property is legally sold.

“There are times, however, when an unconditional cash offer is made as part of a lowball offer in hopes it’ll tempt the seller into signing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” shares McDougald. “As a REALTOR®, it’s also our job to advise in those situations, but it’s ultimately up to the seller as to what they’ll accept.”

Common conditions

There’s a lot to consider beyond the price point of a home, and agreed upon conditions help ensure protection and a smoother sale. These are some of the more common conditions you’ll encounter during a home sale, though they won’t all be present in every offer.

Appraisal contingency

Buyers have the right to request an appraisal of the home to compare its true value to the asking price. If the home is appraised for less than what the seller listed in the contract, the buyer may not be approved for the mortgage asking price, re-negotiations may commence, or the buyer may walk away with their deposit.

Home inspections

While not a legal obligation, one of the most important and highly recommended conditions to include is a home inspection to ensure the property is structurally sound. Though sellers will occasionally foot the bill, home inspections are usually paid for by the buyer with an inspector of their choosing so they feel confident in the results.


A financing condition or clause lets a seller know the buyer’s offer to purchase the property is conditional on obtaining their financing. The condition affords the buyer time—usually five to seven business days—to confirm their ability to obtain mortgage approval. This protects the buyer in the event the home appraisal comes in low and they’re not approved for the amount offered.

Escape clause

Usually stipulated by the seller, this clause allows the seller to “escape” or terminate the agreement based on a condition. A common use of the escape clause is when a seller has accepted a conditional offer on their home whereby the buyer requires 10 days to secure their financing. If the seller is receiving better offers during this time, the escape clause allows them to provide the original conditional offer 48 hours to complete the sale and if they can’t, the sellers have the right to go with a new buyer.

Land survey review

A survey review differs from a home inspection by way of surveying the grounds the property is on and again, while not required, it’s strongly advised to pay for a qualified, chartered professional to survey the property.


Who doesn’t want to move into a clean home? This condition specifies the requirement for the home to be professionally cleaned before you move in.

Fixtures and chattels

If you expect to have appliances when moving into the new home it’s important to write it in the contract so you’re not met with an unexpectedly bare home on moving day. Make sure everyone is aware of what’s staying and what’s going.

Always consult your REALTOR®

During the negotiation period, most buyers will have at least a few conditions they present to a seller.

“Buyers and sellers should always discuss conditions with their REALTOR® for their specific purchase or sale and if uncertain, they should never be afraid to obtain sound legal advice from a lawyer,“ insists McDougald.

The conditions you include in your offer will vary depending on your situation, but with the help of a REALTOR® you can make sure you include the ones that make the most sense for you.



Checkpoints You Should Consider Over the Course of Your Mortgage

When you buy a home, you’re probably not thinking too much about where life will take you five, 10, or 20 years from now. At the time, you’re more preoccupied with getting moved in and settling into your new space. But as your personal, professional, and financial situations change over time, you might need to re-evaluate your mortgage, too. That’s why it’s smart to consult a mortgage expert every few years to find out how you can optimize your payments as your lifestyle evolves. Here’s what to keep in mind throughout the amortization period of your mortgage.

Why are regular mortgage check-ins important?

Reviewing your mortgage frequently, especially if your financial needs, personal circumstances, or homeownership goals change, is a good idea, says Craig Howie, Durham Region Mortgage Agent for Dominion Lending Centres in Whitby, Ontario.

During these check-ins, your mortgage specialist will review your finances, income, employment status, debts, and personal life events, such as divorce or illness. They’ll also want to discuss your short- and long-term homeownership goals. This can help you decide whether to change your mortgage strategy or structure, such as paying a lump sum, negotiating interest rates, or increasing your payment frequency.

What happens when your mortgage is nearing renewal?

You can renew with your current lender without the need for a credit check or income verification, but that’s not always the best financial move, says Howie.

“Lenders often don’t send out their best rates in a renewal letter because they know people are busy or their credit situation could have changed,” he explains. “Somebody who lost their job or has extra expenses will value the idea of paying a slightly higher rate without another credit or income check.”

You could switch to another lender to get a better rate, but if you’ve made big purchases (car, vacation, taking out loans, etc.) your debt-to-income ratio increases, and that can affect your ability to get another mortgage.

“Once you have a mortgage, you’re only qualified for that mortgage; if you take that mortgage to another lender, they view it as a completely new one,” says Howie.

Five years into your mortgage: kids and jobs can factor in

Five years in, homeowners may have started a family, which impacts your finances, says Howie.

“You can often end up in higher debt due to maternity or paternity leave and daycare expenses, so we can look at a potential refinance and consolidating credit card or line of credit debt and adding it to the mortgage at a much lower rate,” he explains.

Amortizing those costs over a longer period lowers your monthly expenses and increases your cash flow, he adds. Or, if you’ve changed jobs and boosted your income, you may decide to change the frequency and size of your payments.

“When rates were 1.5%, nobody was really itching to pay their mortgage off quickly, but if interest rates stay where they are now—in the 5% range—it does make sense to pay it off faster by changing monthly payments to biweekly, taking advantage of lump sum payments, or doubling up your payments,” says Howie.

These are the things your mortgage expert can walk you through, identifying what makes the most sense for your personal situation. Mortgages shouldn’t be a “set it and forget it” situation. It’s important to keep on top of things to see where and how you can optimize your payments.

10 years into your mortgage: time for some TLC around the house

After 10 years of living in your home, you may be thinking about renovations or repairs. You may want to add the cost of a remodel or a new roof onto your mortgage, or switch the home equity you qualified for over to your mortgage. Reviewing your mortgage with an expert will help give you the bigger picture so you can see what your options are.

15 to 20 years into your mortgage: tapping into your equity

Fifteen to 20 years into your mortgage, you might have kids who are learning to drive, getting ready to go to university or may want to travel for a year—all things parents often help support financially. Or maybe you long to buy a vacation property or retirement.

“Although previous generations had a mentality of paying off debt as fast as possible, for the past 20 years, we’re seeing more people refinancing their mortgage to use funds as investments,” says Howie. He has many clients who leveraged their mortgages to buy rental properties or condos for university-aged children—who then charge rent to their roommates to help pay the mortgage.

“Some people are also thinking about retiring and wondering how to use the equity in their home to buy a cottage or help their children purchase a home.”

After spending the time to build equity in your home, you should be exploring all the options on how it can work best for you. You can also take this time to look at your long-term goals and consider what your priorities are as you near retirement.

Into the home stretch

A mortgage specialist will guide you through your final payment and advise you of any paperwork to be done along the way. Right up to the end, it’s important to maintain good credit so you can have an option to requalify if you need to, advises Howie. He adds that many mortgage brokers reach out to their clients annually to make sure things are going smoothly and any questions are answered.

“We make sure to address any questions or concerns ahead of time, so when the mortgage comes up for renewal, they don’t just sign the renewal; we always see what else is out there.”

Once you’ve paid your last mortgage payment, you still have a few things to do. This process, called discharging a mortgage, also involves your lender and provincial land title registry office. First, you’ll request confirmation from your lender that your mortgage has been paid in full. Then, your notary or lawyer sends these documents to the land registry office so changes can be made to your property’s title. There are fees involved, which vary depending on where you live. Find out what’s required in your province to be sure you’ve followed all the steps.

Your situation in year one of your mortgage is almost guaranteed to be different from your situation in year five, 10, or 20. Regularly looking at your mortgage options—with the help of a mortgage expert—can help save you money in the long run and even achieve some of your goals sooner. If you’re not sure where to start, your REALTOR® will be able to point you in the direction of other trusted professionals.



Selling Your Home in the Winter: How You Can Make the Most of It

From creating a warm, inviting space in your home, to clearing your driveway for potential viewers, to making sure any essential home renovation and repair is complete, we’ve compiled some ways to prepare your home in the winter and help maximize your selling potential.

If you think selling your home in the winter is the same as selling your home in the summer, well, that’s a cold take. Each season has its distinct benefits when it comes to listing a home, so how can you take advantage of the snow and frigid temperatures?

“There’s less competition on the market during these slower months,” she says. “As a seller, you have the focused attention of all the buyers hunting for a home in your area, or even outside your location. When supply is low, demand for your property can be high simply by being the only option.”

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the winter, here are some tips on how to prepare for a successful sale.

Make the most of the outdoors


Despite not being able to appreciate the lusciousness of your garden or lawn in the winter, landscaping shouldn’t be neglected.

“Landscaping is your ultimate first impression,” said van den Broek. “A buyer makes their initial decision of like versus don’t like in approximately 60 seconds, so the walk up or drive by shouldn’t be underestimated. A buyer will feel confident that seasonal maintenance has likely been completed, and that you’ve taken care of your home inside and out.”

As a rule of the proverbial green thumb, remove anything that’s unlikely to survive the winter so there aren’t dead plants in the garden. If you’d like to add plants and shrubs, be sure they’re the evergreen kind such as Blue Holly or Winter Heath. If you have pets, ensure you’ve removed any droppings and yellow snow before potential buyers show up. Even if your area doesn’t get much snow, make sure your front yard is well-kept, with any dead leaves raked up and thrown away.

Clear your driveway and pathway

Shovelling snow is twofold in terms of safety and removing the thoughts buyers conjure up of having to do it themselves. Consider installing solar-powered lights to help illuminate the path and be sure to salt/sand any walking paths to lower the risk of a fall for potential buyers.

Lessen the chances of icicle formation

Icicles are very pretty to look at, but they can wreak havoc on your home. Melted snow from your roof contributes to ice dams being formed in gutters, which in turn can cause water to back up into your home. The formation of icicles can also indicate issues with your roof or ventilation, which could be a red flag to potential buyers. While you can remove small icicles yourself—make sure to take all safety precautions if you need to venture onto the roof–it’s best to leave the removal of larger ones or hard-to-reach icicles to the experts.

Winter-resistant furniture in the front and backyard

Create a welcoming first impression by staging your front porch with durable furniture and winter-resistant blankets and rugs. Warm lighting provided by lanterns that can withstand the cold will also add to the charm. The backyard is just as important, so be sure to shovel patios and decks, and set it up in a way that highlights how the space can be used year-round.

Cleaning the front entrance

This is technically an inside task, but it does involve elements from the outdoors. Salt, dirt, and snow all get tracked into your front entrance in the winter months, which isn’t visually appealing to potential buyers. You only get one chance at a first impression! Clean up any salt and dirt from your front entrance, and keep coats, mittens, boots, etc. in a closet so there’s no clutter when people come in.

Highlight the cozy indoor appeal

Create a warm and inviting space

“Selling in the winter months gives home sellers an opportunity to create a very welcoming, cozy vibe to their space,” van den Broek explains. “Staging works, and winter is certainly a time to get creative. Ensure the home is at a comfortable temperature, and if there’s a fireplace, make sure it’s turned on, or lit if it’s wood. We always use candles at our open houses in the winter time, nicely scented like gingerbread, baking, apples, or pine.”

“Having a tray of treats always makes buyers feel at home, and if it’s closer to the holidays some decorated cookies or candy canes for kids. The more your house feels like a home, the more a buyer will start to feel AT home!”

Did you know the World Health Organization recommends a range of 20 C to 22 C as the ideal temperature in your home to maintain overall good health and wellbeing? Aim for this temperature during an open house to keep things comfortable. No need to go too warm—people will likely be wearing jackets!

Round off any essential renovations

Be proactive with ensuring cosmetic renovations such as chipped paint and drafty windows are complete prior to listing your home. For van den Broek there are some common red flags buyers look for when purchasing a home in the winter. These include:

  • leaking window seals;
  • condensation inside the window panes, which can indicate humidity is too high in the house;
  • drafty windows and doors;
  • temperature differences in basement rooms;
  • no snow on the roof, which could indicate insulation issues in the attic;
  • back drafts of a smoky ash smell from a wood-burning fireplace; and
  • cracked corners of the foundation which can indicate a structural issue.

Sealing windows to reduce air leaks, adding further insulation where required to prevent drafts, ensuring the weather stripping around your front door has no leaks, checking the insulation levels in your attic, and updating old furnaces can be beneficial upgrades for homeowners and enticing for potential buyers. If possible, consider having your furnace serviced by an HVAC professional to be certain everything is in tip-top shape.

Certain provinces are currently offering rebates to improve your home’s energy efficiency, which could help with the costs of some of these repairs or updates. For example, Enbridge is offering Ontarians “up to $5,000 in rebates for insulation, air sealing, new windows/doors, water heaters, boilers, furnaces, and home energy assessments.” British Columbia has a similar program through BetterHomesBC for up to $6,000. Check with your provincial energy provider to see what’s available to you!

Embrace neutral seasonal décor

If you’re planning festive celebrations, it’s best to avoid flashing lights and large decorations that could shrink the size of your space, as well as overtly religious ornaments.

“For outside it’s nice to have some winter décor welcoming buyers to the property—a simple wreath, flower pots with birch branches and twinkle lights, solar powered walkway lights, and pay attention to overall lighting outside.”

Showcase your home’s versatility

Even when you’ve succeeded in transforming the exterior and interior of your home to be both charming and inviting, if possible, show photos from other seasons in your listing because, the more guesswork you take out of the equation, the more a buyer can make an informed decision they feel comfortable with.



Condo Fees and What They Cover

Condos are often attractive to buyers, not only because they can be in a more favourable price range than single family homes, they can provide easier access to amenities and a low-maintenance lifestyle.

However, these benefits don’t come without a cost. In addition to your mortgage, you’ll need to plan for the maintenance fees, also known as condo fees. This article will look at what condo fees are, when they can be reassessed, and what they mean for your mortgage, specifically related to an apartment-style condominium building.

What are condo fees?

To put it simply, condo fees are monthly contributions made by unit owners to a condo corporation (the organization that runs the condo building). This money is then pooled together and goes toward funding maintenance and general upkeep of the building. Every condo has a condo board, made up of people from the building, who manage the property on behalf of residents and owners. They’re responsible for making decisions in the best interest of all parties.

While every building is different, the most common costs included in the monthly fees are:

  • Utilities—A condo corporation may pay some or all of a building’s utilities. For example, it may pay for water and electricity, but not heat.
  • The reserve fund—A portion of condo fees will go toward maintaining the building’s reserve fund, which is essentially a sum of money set aside for unexpected repairs. For example, if the roof or boiler in a building needs to be replaced, the condo board can use some of this cash to pay for it. Before you buy into a building, knowing how much money is in its reserve fund can also help you understand the building’s financial health.
  • Common area maintenance—Condo fees can also go toward paying for garbage pick up, snow removal, and the upkeep of common spaces in the building or property including hallways, lobbies, elevators, and the grounds around the building or buildings.
  • Amenities—The more amenities your condo building has to offer, the higher your condo fees will usually end up being. Pools, reception services, saunas, shared rooftop patios, and parking all add to the cost of your condo fees, while admittedly offering a lot in return.

The size of the condo building can also be a factor in your overall condo fees. A building with 20 units will likely not have the same fees as a building with 200 units, as the required maintenance and utilities will be different.

Do townhomes have condo fees?

Not all townhomes have condo fees—owning a freehold townhome is the same as owning a freehold single family home. That being said, certain townhome communities will have condo fees as well which can cover gardening, fences, garbage pickup, shared amenities, and other general maintenance fees as laid out by the condo board. When looking at homes with your REALTOR®, they’ll tell you whether or not the townhome is a condominium or freehold.

When can your condo board reassess your fees?

When you’re looking at condos for sale, it’s definitely easy to gravitate towards ones with lower condo fees. However, lower fees could come with a catch. If the fees are too low, the condo corporation may not have enough cash flow to pay for larger repairs which, in turn, may lead to a special assessment. Your REALTOR® can help provide a more clear picture of the building’s history as they know the area well. They can also recommend properties with better track records to help make you feel more comfortable with your choice.

A special assessment is a payment unit owners must make to the condo corporation, on top of their regular monthly condo fees and mortgage payment. The terms around special assessments will vary based on provincial legislation, so it’s always important to understand what your board can and cannot do.

As an example, the Condo Authority of Ontario (CAO)—an organization that aims to improve condominium living by providing services and resources for condo owners, residents, and directors—indicates special assessments can occur for various reasons, but the most common include:

  • Unforeseen expenses—A major expense may arise unexpectedly, such as the roof needs to be replaced. The CAO says this might happen during a critical year for the reserve fund, which is when the condominium board has depleted its reserve fund to complete major projects. As a result, the remaining balance is too low to cover the unexpected expenses and the special assessment has to be paid.
  • Under-budgeting—A special assessment can also be paid if an expense or major repair ends up costing more than expected.
  • Losing a lawsuit—Finally, the CAO says unit owners must “bear any judgment against the condominium,” which means if the condominium can’t pay the judgment from the operating fund, the board must turn to a special assessment to cover the costs.

Do condo fees affect your mortgage?

When you’re looking for a condo, it’s always a good idea to double check your monthly spend—mortgage payment, property tax, insurance, utilities, and condo fees—and ensure you can afford everything before applying with your lender.

In short, Alex Obradovich, a REALTOR® and sales representative with Chestnut Park® Real Estate Limited Brokerage in Toronto, says condo fees can affect your mortgage.

“When applying for a mortgage or a pre-approval, the lender will most definitely account for condo fees when looking at how much debt they are willing to supply to a client,” he explained. “Condo fees are just one of many factors taken into consideration when determining the amount of debt a lender is willing to supply.”

Furthermore, when it comes to condo fees, Obradovich says they may also have an impact on an owner’s condo insurance.

“Not all condo fees are created equal. Each property may have different costs associated with it. Some condo fees may cover some sort of insurance and the type of home insurance policy you may want to secure may change,” he explained. “Conversely, the home insurance may or may not take into consideration what is provided by the condo or maintenance fees.”

If you’re unsure how to interpret what the condo fees represent, you can request for the condo board to share their status certificate with you. This report contains all the details about the current financial state of the condo maintenance corporation, as well as mention any details of the existing size of their reserve fund and if there are any ongoing lawsuits.

Regardless of whether you’re a first-time home buyer or not, it’s all about asking questions and keeping informed. Your REALTOR® can help navigate condo fees, status certificates, and every other aspect of your condo buying journey.

The information above is for informational purposes only and should not be used as investment or financial advice.



Buying a mobile home was the best financial decision his family made — just don't call it a trailer

For Stephan Gardner, buying the home in Calgary's Greenwood Village didn't feel like settling. 

Buying a mobile home has made Stephan Gardner's life measurably better, especially from a financial perspective.

Gardner lives with his wife and son in Greenwood Village, a mobile home park, in Calgary, Alta.

"I don't feel I settled here," he told CBC's Cost of Living. "We just walked in and we were like, 'This place is amazing."

The family had been renting a home in the city, and feared they would be evicted after it was sold to a new owner. They were paying $2,100 a month rent, plus utilities. That high cost was preventing Gardner from putting money toward his personal debt.

"I know what it's like to have only, like, cans of tuna to feed your kid, you know, and you [don't] eat for two days or three days just to save money," he said.

Skyrocketing housing costs

During their house hunt, Gardner and his wife weren't impressed with the houses and condos available to them. Some seemed like "money pits," he said. But they didn't want to keep renting because it didn't feel like a good financial decision.

Gardner didn't know that any mobile home communities existed in Calgary, until he stumbled across an MLS listing and was impressed by what he saw. 

They purchased a mobile home for $158,000. Now, "every month I put about anywhere from $1,000 to $1,200 dollars on my debt, which is unbelievable," he said.

In addition to mortgage payments of $376 every two weeks, they also pay $840 a month for the pad in the park that their home sits on, which includes water and sewer utilities, waste, recycling and green bin collection, as well as snow removal.

Gardner is among a number of new home owners in Canada who are embracing manufactured homes as housing costs skyrocket, and a way to own a home with outdoor space.

He said that people should forget about the stigma associated with mobile home parks and give them a second look.

"You'll never be as happy as you are in a mobile home," Gardner said. "Because it's affordable and you have options and you'll be able to save all this money."

Others he's met since buying his mobile home have been able to use the extra money to buy electric vehicles, invest, or to travel.

"They are not trailer parks, and they're not trailers anymore."
- Al Kemp, executive director of Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of B.C.

Al Kemp is the executive director of the Manufactured Home Park Owners Alliance of B.C., which has about 350 community owners. He says it's important to be clear that the homes are not "trailers," and strongly prefers the term "manufactured home" over "mobile home."

"They are not trailer parks and they're not trailers anymore. A manufactured home today is built to a national building code standard called Z-240," he said. He specifies that means homes are built with solid metal frames, two-by-four or two-by-six wood construction, drywall as opposed to panelled walls, and roofs guaranteed to last 25 years.

"They're designed to last as long, with major renovations every 25 years or so, just like your home and my home are designed. So CMHC [Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation] totally backs them from the mortgage insurance standpoint."

Kemp is critical of popular culture, like the TV show Trailer Park Boys, that portrays people who live in mobile homes in a stereotypical and negative way.

He says these preconceived notions make it more difficult to work with local and provincial politicians to build mobile home communities.

Stigma, zoning issues persist

Anna Lund, an associate professor of law at the University of Alberta, wrote a research paper on mass evictions of mobile homes that was published in April 2021. The paper confirmed Kemp's concerns and noted that government reports have found that stigma surrounding mobile homes might cause local politicians to avoid constructing new parks in their communities or try to shut down existing ones.

Those existing parks may be situated in less than ideal locations, "noisy, unsafe areas, close to incompatible commercial and industrial uses and far from residential amenities," according to Lund.

The study also noted that these reports recommend making zoning more inclusive. That is, allowing mobile homes to mix with conventional housing instead of being set apart, and using the term "manufactured homes" to avoid perpetuating the idea that residents are transient.

About half of all mobile homes in Canada are in B.C. and Alberta, according to the study.

Kemp said many people already see the appeal of mobile homes.

"Not only are they an attractive, affordable housing alternative, but they're also a good investment on the way to, you know, a site-built home or a larger home or whatever a young family's plans are," he said. 

"I've seen existing well-cared for manufactured homes that are 10, 15, 20 years old, are now selling in British Columbia for between $500- and $600,000."

Darcy Moore, a real estate agent with Re/Max in Spruce Grove, Alta., has been selling homes for 20 years. She estimates that mobile homes make up between 80 and 90 per cent of the homes she sells. 

Prices, sales rising

Prices for mobile homes are increasing, said Moore, but not to the soaring heights of site-built homes.

"A [mobile] home that's maybe 20 years old would have sold five years ago for $60,000. Now it sells for $80,000," she said.

"Say five years ago, I would list a home and sometimes it would sit for a year, sometimes longer," she said. 

Now, homes might sell in a couple months. In one particularly popular park nearby, Moore noted that a home might be on the market for as little as a week.

It is difficult to track national or even provincial figures around mobile home sales, because statistics may not be gathered by every local real estate board.

Some data provided by the Canadian Real Estate Association show that prices are increasing, along with sales, in parts of B.C. and Ontario.

The median sale price of a mobile home in Vancouver was $169,950 in 2017, and it has since jumped to $327,000 100 in 2021. Comparably, in Ottawa, the median sale price for mobile home in 2017 was $75,000, and in 2021 it increased to $160,000. 

The number of mobile homes sold in the Northern B.C. region, for example, jumped from 499 in 2017 to 651 in 2021.

Popular with retirees, young families 

Moore notes she's seen people buy homes near her in Spruce Grove, and move them further north in Alberta or to B.C., because the homes can be cheaper to purchase than new builds.

She sees both retirees and young people in the market for mobile homes. She also says she sees a few cases each year of young families who first bought larger homes, and then downgraded to more affordable mobile homes.

Kemp says he hears about young people and young families who want to move into mobile home communities, but in parts of B.C., all the communities are full. So, he's lobbying the province to make some Crown land available to build more.

Gardner said he's inspired by seeing others who have made the decision not to be "house poor" by living in mobile homes or tiny homes, and who put that extra money into savings or investments.

"It's ended up being the best option and the best choice that I've ever made in terms of my financial life," he said.



Reduce Household Allergens

Pollen, dust, pet dander, mold spores, bacteria, and many pollutants are so small that they float through the air. When people breathe in, touch, or consume these particles, the body recognizes them as foreign invaders and releases histamines. This natural chemical is produced in white blood cells and released into the body triggering allergic reactions such as sneezing, itchy eyes and runny nose. Sometimes, people have a dangerous reaction called anaphylaxis, which can involve swelling of the airways.

If you have a cough, itchy skin/eyes, or a runny nose throughout the year, then you are likely allergic to a substance within your own home. This puts unnecessary stress on your immune system and may sap your energy.

A clean home is essential to health, but how do you know when your home is clean? Common allergens range in size from 0.1 to 5 microns and most of us can’t see anything smaller than 40 microns without the aid of a microscope. For comparison, a typical human hair has a diameter of 70 microns. No wonder there can be a jungle of allergens inside our homes.

How do you reduce allergens?

  • First, use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter and follow the manufacturer’s directions to clean or replace the filter.
  • Clean your indoor air with a HEPA filter air purifier.
  • Carpeting harbours all sorts of allergens, so ideally, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with solid floorings such as wood or vinyl. If that is not an option, vacuum often and steam clean in the summer months when the warm, dry air speeds up the drying process.
  • Fabric curtains also attract allergens, which get stirred up each time the drapes are opened and closed. Better options include smooth slat blinds and washable curtains made of non-porous, synthetic fabric.
  • Solid wood, plastic, leather, or metal furniture is easy to keep clean compared to upholstered styles; however, consider using washable slipcovers if you like the comfort of plush couches and chairs.

Allergen-specific precautions:

Mold spores

Mold thrives in humid environments such as bathrooms and basements. You can purchase a hygrometer for as little as $20 online or at your local hardware store. According to the Mayo Clinic, the ideal relative humidity is between 30-50% humidity, which means that the air holds between 30-50% of the maximum amount of moisture it can contain. If your indoor air is too humid, be sure to run the bathroom fan when showering and install a dehumidifier, if needed.

Pet dander

Mammals naturally shed tiny flakes of skin. These flakes typically contain proteins secreted by sweat glands and these proteins are what cause allergic reactions in some people. If you love animals and can’t imagine life without them, try washing your pet frequently, keep your dog or cat out of your bedroom, vacuum your home often with a HEPA filter vacuum, and use a HEPA filter air purifier.

Dust mites

This is one of those times we can be thankful we can only see items as small as about 40 microns! Dust mites are frightful pests that live in warm, relatively humid areas such as our beds and pillows and feed off our dead skin cells. Although they do us a service by tidying up after us, many people have allergic reactions to proteins in the dust created by dust mite feces, urine, and their decaying bodies.

To reduce dust mites

  • Use airtight covers for your pillows and mattress
  • Vacuum your mattress with a HEPA filter vacuum
  • Wash your bedding in hot water
  • Lower the heat and humidity in your home


Trees, grass, and flowers can all release pollen, making spring and summer challenging for allergy sufferers. In addition to using a good quality air purifier, especially in the bedroom, close your windows on days when the pollen count is high. Many weather stations provide daily information about the local pollen concentration.

Allergens are Common

According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately one in six people suffer from allergies, but it is possible that many more people unknowingly suffer from mild, ongoing reactions to allergens in their homes.



What You Need to Know About Inflation and Real Estate

In recent years, it’s likely you’ve heard the media, your colleagues and even politicians speak about “inflation.”

You also may have noticed prices for regular everyday items including food, gas, or larger purchases such as homes, furniture and vehicles have risen sharply since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Up until a few months ago, when government officials and the media spoke about the current rise in inflation, they often defined it as “transitory”. Now, officials at the Bank of Canada are stating inflation may actually be more persistent, and have signaled the future path for Canadian interest rates may be a series of rate hikes to help bring inflation back down to within its target range of 1% to 3%. In fact, last month, the Bank of Canada announced that they would raise the policy rate from an all-time low of 0.25% to 0.5% and they are considering an end to their Quantitative Easing program.

What is inflation?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I think it’s important we take a step back and understand what inflation is and how it can impact our daily lives.

Inflation is a persistent rise in the average price of goods and services over time—or the increase in the cost of living. It can also be looked at as a reduction in the purchasing power of your money; as the prices of goods and services rise, your money can afford less. Therefore, the level of inflation has a major effect on the overall Canadian economy.

Part of the Bank of Canada’s mandate is to keep inflation low, stable, and predictable. The target aims to keep the total Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate at the 2% midpoint of the target range of 1% to 3% over a medium-term horizon. The Bank raises or lowers the policy interest rate as it deems appropriate by either raising it to control inflation or cutting it to help encourage spending and borrowing in economy. This was seen at the beginning of the pandemic to help support the Canadian economy devastated by pandemic-related lockdowns and monetary policy continues to remain accommodative.

How do we track inflation levels?

There are a few ways to track and measure levels of inflation in the economy, one being the CPI which is produced by Statistics Canada.

The CPI is calculated by comparing the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers over time. The CPI is a widely used by government agencies and private organizations as an indicator of the change in the general level of prices experienced by Canadian consumers. The goods and services in the CPI basket are divided into eight major components: food, shelter, household operations, clothing/footwear, transportation, health/personal services, recreation & education/reading, and finally, alcoholic beverages.

There are various measures of CPI that Statistics Canada produces, some include the price of more volatile costs such as energy and food which can be influenced by changes in weather patterns and other factors. When setting monetary policy, the Bank of Canada looks past these volatile and sometimes transitory moves in total CPI inflation and tries to focus on more “core” measures of inflation that may better reflect underlying trends in inflation. There are three core inflation measures the Bank focuses on: CPI-trim, CPI-median and CPI-common.

When looking at the chart, we can see Total CPI is well-above the target range for the Bank of Canada while the measure for CPI-common is within the target range but looks to be rising quick. Lingering supply-chain effects from the pandemic as well as rapidly growing/changing geopolitical tensions across the globe continue to drive inflation higher and could stay well above the Bank of Canada’s target rate for the foreseeable future. This has forced the bank to raise rates earlier than they were forecasting, and they are now forecasting the beginning of a period of “quantitative tightening” to try to bring inflation back closer to 2%.

Inflation and housing

In terms of how the Canadian housing market has matched up against inflation over time, I conducted an analysis to see how average home prices compared to overall consumer price inflation from 1971-2021.

First, I deflated the Canadian residential average price to remove the consumer price inflation amount, giving us the “real” average home price. This calculation is simply taking the Canadian annual average price and dividing it by the CPI number for that year. I then looked at the compound average annual rate of change in home prices broken out by decade over the last 50 years. Unfortunately, these decades do not all line up perfectly with housing booms/busts, but they do a decent job. There are probably many ways to present this data, but I think the chart below helps to capture both home prices and inflation for a reasonable time period going back with some historical differences, all just in six bars! So, what you’re looking at, is the real average price growth for Canadian real estate (that is, over and above inflation) compounded at an annual average rate for each decade since the 1970’s.

The chart above shows how the growth rate has differed over the past 50 years, with healthy levels of real growth in the 1970s when inflation was high. There was decent growth in the 1980s owing to the housing boom in the second half of that decade and negative real price growth in the 1990s, when home prices were basically flat. The highest amount of growth in the 2000s when the market boomed, up until 2007. And finally, another period of strong growth in the 2010s, all backloaded in the years 2016-2020, with 2020 being the second largest year for price growth on record (after 2021).

Throughout the last 50 years, the overall real growth rate over time has been in the 2.5% to 3% range, showing that over time, real estate has generally been a safe long-term and reliable hedge against inflation. One caveat worth mentioning, is that because inflation has been relatively subdued over the last few decades, we haven’t had much inflation scares in which our central bank had to react strongly to. If the current rate of inflation were to persist above the Bank of Canada’s target range going forward, the upcoming rate tightening cycle which would be needed to control that inflation could seriously slow down the housing market from its currently elevated levels.

There are many reasons why home prices would grow faster than inflation over time outside of those cyclical ups and downs. Canadian housing markets are influenced by a multitude of factors, including population growth, demographic factors, employment growth, the rate of new housing being built, the type of new housing that is being built, speculation, zoning, density, physical/natural constraints—the list goes on.

Keep up to date on the latest interest rate changes, consumer confidence and more on



Home Sales Forecast to Ease but Remain Historically Strong in 2022-2023
Home sales have kicked off 2022 below 2021 levels, while price growth has continued to set records. This is consistent with strong demand meeting end-of-month inventory levels that are lower than they have ever been.
Along with the ongoing supply crisis, the other main factor expected to impact housing markets this year and next will be higher interest rates.
While discounted five-year mortgage rates have already begun to rise – a jump last spring followed by a steady upward trend since last October – and are now back above pre-COVID-19 levels, the Bank of Canada has only just announced its first quarter point hike in early March.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg Economics see the overnight rate ranging from 1.75% to 2.75% by the end of 2023. That said, given markets are currently pricing in 1.75% by the end of 2022, it is more likely to be the latter. That would make for nine Bank of Canada quarter-point rate hikes by the end of next year.
Having said that, it’s important to note Canadian borrowers must qualify for their mortgage loans at the stress test rate (currently set at 5.25%), which is currently somewhere in the range of 245 basis points above the typical discounted five-year rate.
The original intent of the stress test was a buffer of around 200 basis points, which is likely why the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) chose not to move the stress test rate following their December 2021 re-evaluation.
As such, recent higher market rates have not really made it any more difficult to qualify for a mortgage, and borrowers are still being stress tested at a very robust level.
Another wildcard are the housing policy changes announced in last year’s federal election campaign. Which of these will become policy in 2022 and beyond and how will these affect housing markets across Canada? The answers should become clearer when the Federal Budget is published later this spring.
Finally, to quote the Bank of Canada from their most recent policy announcement: “The unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a major new source of uncertainty. Prices for oil and other commodities have risen sharply. This will add to inflation around the world, and negative impacts on confidence and new supply disruptions could weigh on global growth. Financial market volatility has increased. The situation remains fluid and we are following events closely.”
With all of that said, some 612,800 properties are forecast to trade hands via Canadian MLS® Systems in 2022 — a decline of 8.1% from 2021 but still the second-highest annual figure ever by a sizeable margin.
This projection is basically the same as it was in the December 2021 forecast, though under the surface, downward revisions to British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia offset a considerable upward revision to the sales forecast for Alberta, along with smaller upward revisions to Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador.
The national average home price is now forecast to rise by 14.3% on an annual basis to $786,000 in 2022. Not surprisingly, this is higher than the previous forecast, as prices have continued to set new records, reflecting the unprecedented imbalance of housing supply and demand. The number of months of inventory nationally was a record-low 1.6 in December 2021, and January and February 2022. The long-term average for that measure is a little over five months. It is quite possible the risk to this price forecast is still to the upside.
Home sales are forecast to remain historically strong in 2023 while continuing to move slowly back in the direction of the longer-term trend. Limited supply, higher prices and higher interest rates are expected to further tap the brakes on activity and price growth in 2023 compared to 2022, particularly in Canada’s most expensive markets.
National home sales are forecast to edge back a further 2.7% to 596,150 units in 2023 – still the third-best year on record. This easing trend is expected to play out most notably in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Alberta and Saskatchewan are forecast to buck the trend with moderate sales gains in 2023.
Other provinces are forecast to see fairly little change in sales between 2022 and 2023 as economic growth, population growth, and supportive demographic trends under the surface are counterbalanced by supply and affordability challenges.
The national average home price is forecast to rise by a modest 3.2% on an annual basis to just under $811,000 in 2023. While the $800,000 mark may seem an unlikely milestone to hit given where the market was just a couple of years ago, it should be noted that with the national average price having already surged (though likely only temporarily) to more than $816,000 in February 2022, this is a conservative forecast.

What Homeownership Looks Like for Younger Generations

The COVID-19 pandemic has paved an unexpected path to homeownership for many young Canadians. Sure, mortgage rates fell to historically low rates, but a severe lack of supply and highly competitive sellers’ markets meant many Millennials and Gen Zers were left watching from the sidelines.

As restrictions loosened and life returned back to “normal”, demand for housing increased, pushing prices up in the process. As of November 2021, the average price for a home in Canada was $720,854, a 19.6% year-over-year increase according to data from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

So what exactly does homeownership currently look like for younger generations?

When it comes to where and how younger generations are choosing to live, it turns out they’re forced to be more practical. Austin D. Titus, real estate broker for Century 21® First Canadian Corp based in London, Ontario, explained while he hasn’t noticed “too much” change in terms of homeownership preferences, he has observed younger demographics are more flexible and understanding of what they can actually afford in current market conditions.

“Often, first-time home buyers or younger generations are less likely to feel comfortable doing renovations and want more of a move-in ready option. I would also say younger generations don’t want much yard work or maintenance,” explained Titus, who added condo living can be an attractive lifestyle for this generation of buyers.

Titus also said as a result of the pandemic, young buyers are looking for homes with additional office or outdoor spaces—a trend that wasn’t as popular before.

Regardless of age, getting into the housing market is a lengthy process requiring a lot of patience, time, and money. But understandably, it can be even more challenging for younger generations if they don’t have adequate savings to compete in today’s market.

Titus says he thinks it’s extremely difficult for younger generations to get into the housing market because they’re dealing with much higher housing prices compared to two or three years ago. Wages aren’t increasing at the same rate as inflation and there are high expectations of first-time home buyers from parents.

“Unfortunately, I also feel buyers are expecting their dream home as their first property,” explained Titus. “In our initial consultation, a lot of what is discussed is actually breaking down the barriers of expectations versus the reality of the market. Parents often put the expectations on their children of what is acceptable versus not in a home and it’s often my job to paint a very different picture.”

Current programs available to first-time home buyers and younger buyers

Purchasing a home can be both exciting and overwhelming. The Canadian government does have a number of financial programs in place to help Canadians during their home buying journey, including incentives for first-time buyers, tax credits, and rebates.

“There are options for the Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) program where buyers can take from their RRSP and use it as a portion of their down payment,” explained Titus. “This amount currently sits at $35,000, however you must repay it in a 15-year period.”

He also explained first-time home buyers who are permanent residents and Canadian citizens are able to use the land transfer tax rebate, which rebates up to $4,000 of the land transfer tax. 

“The $4,000 rebate caps at $368,000. Any amount over that, and you’re left paying the difference,” said Titus. 

There is also the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, a shared-equity mortgage with the Government of Canada that offers 5% or 10% (depending on the type of home) of the home’s purchase price to put toward a down payment. There are stipulations, however, such as the borrower’s household income must be less than $120,000 a year ($150,000 if the home you are purchasing is in Toronto, Vancouver, or Victoria).

How parents are helping their kids

In today’s housing market, many younger buyers might find themselves struggling to afford a down payment and meet strict mortgage requirements. As a result, some assistance from parents has become increasingly common. Having the means to be able to help your children buy their first home is a luxury, ​but before you sign on the dotted line, consider the best way to do so. 

“Parents assisting their kids on the down payment wouldn’t have any tax implications for either party,” said Titus. “Co-signing on the mortgage where the parents would be equally responsible for the mortgage would have the largest impact when it comes to selling the property in the future.”

However, Titus says there are ways in which this can be avoided, and it’s best to have either a REALTOR®, accountant or lawyer advise you on the best route to take.

Parents assisting their children can also consider having a 1% ownership in the property, which would allow them to avoid taking high capital gains. But keep in mind, the first-time buyer incentive gets cut in half if there is a co-signer on the mortgage who already owns a property. 

If you’re a parent thinking of using the current RRSP program to help your child, parents aren’t eligible to do so. The current Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) allows you to withdraw funds from your RRSPs to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability. However, the Canadian Real Estate Association has been advocating for changes to the HBP since 2017, allowing for “intergenerational use of RRSP funds by one child or more for the purchase of a home.” The goal is to help close the gap for young Canadians when it comes to homeownership.

So if you’ve been thinking about entering Canada’s housing market, meeting with a REALTOR® can help you get the answers you need when it comes to programs available and options that would best suit your lifestyle and budget.



Can Housing Upgrades Affect Insurance?

There’s a lot to consider when you decide to renovate. Aside from choosing the right tile for your new backsplash or the perfect shade of paint, you have to think about insurance. Though home insurance isn’t mandatory in Canada, most mortgage lenders require it before financing, and it can help protect your property and home contents against damages.

Canada’s home renovation sector is now an $80-billion market with a recent survey indicating that 27% of Canadian homeowners have renovated during the pandemic, and another 20% plan on tackling renovations in the near future.

While some renovations can be costly, they can help increase the value of a home. Regardless of the size of your renovation, it’s always important to consider how any improvement will affect your home insurance so you can ensure you don’t run into any implications or added costs.

What types of renovations affect your home insurance? 

Before you make any home improvements, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. Namely, planning your reno, deciding on a budget, and making sure you’re insured, because some upgrades will have varying effects. 

We spoke to Matthew Johnson, customer care manager with Sonnet Insurance, who said any changes that would impact the cost or the likelihood of a claim would typically impact your insurance rates. 

This includes renovations such as: 

  • Changes to square footage;
  • updates to your roofing;
  • changes or updates to the plumbing or wiring;
  • the addition of a fireplace;
  • building a new deck or outdoor feature like a pool; or
  • adding a home office or workshop for your own business, which could result in needing additional liability insurance.

Depending on the company, anything that changes the replacement cost of your home could impact your policy, so it’s important to check with your provider before starting any major renovations. It’s also important to look into home insurance upgrades when adding a rental space. As a landlord, you’ll have additional responsibilities on top of typical homeowner duties.

What types of renovations don’t affect your home insurance? 

On the other hand, most cosmetic changes won’t result in an impact to your insurance rates or coverage. According to Sonnet, updating your kitchen counters or cupboards, changing your flooring, renovating the walls to expand a room, or updating your bathroom are some examples that might not impact your insurance rates or eligibility.

Johnson said, “it’s important to note you should still inform your insurance company of these renovations even if you think they may not impact your insurance rates/coverage.”

We also spoke to Justin Thouin, co-founder of, who said while some aesthetic upgrades may increase replacement costs throughout your home, other maintenance upgrades are unlikely to have an impact. Thouin says this includes new paint or other touch ups, like on grout.

When do you need to inform your insurance broker about renovations/potential renovations to your home? 

You should inform your policy provider of any renovations being conducted (or potentially conducted) in your home before the work actually begins. This will help avoid any problems or increases to your insurance rate, and guarantee coverage still exists during construction. Depending on the type of renovation, you may also need to consider adding additional insurance for the duration of the work.

“If you’re doing a major project and you are going to have contractors and builders working on your property, you may be advised to add temporary liability insurance in the event of a worker injury,” said Thouin.

While the company you hire will have some form of insurance in place, it might not fully cover your responsibilities. 

Informing your provider prior to construction beings also helps protect you if anything is damaged during renovations, like if there was a flood, for example. Your provider will be aware, and your new finishes will be covered. What’s more, Thouin says if you’re going to be away from your property for 30 days or more, including because of renovations, you also need to notify your insurer as an extended absence could void your insurance policy. 

Be sure to read the fine print of your policy so you can fully understand your coverage. Of course, if you’re unsure, it’s best to reach out to your provider to discuss your options.

It’s also a good idea to speak with your REALTOR® before starting any major renovations to learn what’s currently trending in your neighbourhood, potentially earning you a better return on investment.


MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.