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.



6 Things to Know About the Offer Process

Buying the perfect home is not as simple as it can look on TV. Buyers and sellers must first navigate the offer process, which can involve many steps and quick decisions. Here’s what first-time buyers and sellers can expect, and how your REALTOR® can help guide you throughout.

1) What must happen before you can make an offer?

Many renters think they can move on a house right away. But first, there are some things to take care of, says Katia Samson, a REALTOR® with RE/MAX L’ESPACE in Montreal.

“It’s very important to give your landlord notice three months before the end of the lease, because leases are usually renewed automatically every year,” explains Samson.

Next, get pre-approved for your mortgage unless you’re paying cash, she adds.

“Meet with a mortgage broker and provide all the required financial documents, so you can establish your budget and know what you can afford.”

Once that’s done, meet with REALTORS® to find a perfect match, explain what you’re looking for, and start an active search.

“REALTORS® have inside information about certain condo buildings and areas,” says Samson. “REALTORS® can also send you documents faster, such as the seller’s declaration, certificate of location, and any relevant financial documents.”

2) How is an offer drawn up?

When buyers are ready to make an offer on their chosen property, they must inform their REALTOR®, who will then advise the listing agent, says Samson.

“Otherwise, as soon as you walk out of a property, you don’t have to be informed if another offer comes in. This is especially important in this market, where we’re getting multiple offers,” she explains. “Your offer would include the price, the date of closing, and whether it’s conditional upon inspection (or other terms) and a review of documents.”

3) How long does the offer process take? 

Depending on whether yours is the only offer or if there are many other buyers interested, the entire offer process can be completed in as little as a day or take up to a week. 

“Right now, many properties are coming on the market with an established schedule for visits, offers, and deadlines,” says Samson.

4) What happens when there are multiple offers?

If you’re competing with other buyers, your REALTOR® might suggest being flexible with some conditions, and going in with your best offer. 

“It’s usually a one-shot thing: there are no negotiations when there are multiple offers,” adds Samson.

Some buyers write a letter to the sellers and include photos of themselves when there are multiple bids. 

“Some people like to know who they’re selling to because it’s not just financial, it’s also very emotional,” she says.

5) Are offers done in person or digitally?

First-time sellers might remember when they bought their home years ago and how everyone met in person to sign all legal documents; however, technology has changed that, says Samson.

“Everything is done electronically now and it’s so efficient,” says Samson. “All offers are emailed, and it’s very rare offers are presented in person to the listing agent.”

If the seller wants to counter-offer, negotiations will also be done digitally until both parties agree to terms, or someone decides to walk away. 

6) Should sellers accept the first offer that comes in?

Sellers shouldn’t feel pressure to respond quickly, says Samson.

“If I list a property and get an offer that’s valid for 24 or 48 hours, but I have a lot of interested clients and brokers, I’ll advise my seller to let that offer expire so everyone else can come in,” she says. “If someone’s really interested in your property, they’re going to wait; it’s in the seller’s best interest to allow about a week for those visits.”

Remember,  REALTORS® are trained to navigate the offer process from start to finish, helping both buyers and sellers meet their goals. Meet your home buying or selling MVP today if you’re ready for a move.



How to Put a Home up for Sale for an Aging or Ailing Relative

For our older loved ones, there comes a time when they may no longer be able to live on their own at home. In these cases, family members could find themselves dealing with the sale of a property they have not legally inherited while their relative transitions into an assisted-living facility or senior community.

So, what exactly does the process of selling your older relative’s home entail, whether it’s your grandparent or mother or father?

Magda Zecevic, a REALTOR®, Toronto-based master accredited senior agent, and salesperson with Royal LePage Signature, walks us through the important steps of selling a home for an aging or ailing relative.

Recruit the right REALTOR®

Before you sign your listing agreement, there are a few important steps to take when selling a property for a senior or ailing homeowner. This starts with hiring a REALTOR® who specializes in these types of real estate transactions.

You may want to consider working with a REALTOR® who is qualified as a Master Accredited Senior Agent (ASA). A professional who has this accreditation has received specialist training and can provide specific resources and services to assist seniors with their real estate needs, from handling paperwork to recommendations for living accommodations.

“You have to know a lot more than just a regular real estate agent,” said Zecevic. “It’s not just about ‘OK, we’re going to move a few things, get rid of some furniture, fix it up, get a stager, and put up the house for sale.’ You really have to look at what’s in the best interest of the client.”

Zecevic explains there’s no simple, straightforward solution when it comes to working with elderly homeowners​—every senior has a unique set of circumstances with their finances, health, family, and property that requires expert attention.

“You might have to roll your sleeves up because you might be dealing with a senior that has no family at all and they’re very scared, nervous, and vulne

Get all parties involved

At the start of the selling process, Zecevic says she likes to meet with the client and their family to see if they’re of the same mind and intentions, and to determine what their goals are for the sale of the home. This is also an opportunity to decide what the next step will be for the senior and what living needs they may have. 

You may also take this time to check for wills, powers of attorney, lawyers, and review where the money from the sale of the property is going, such as towards the expenses of long-term care. In cases where there’s a lot of stress or conflict between family members, you might start the selling process by hiring a counsellor to alleviate tensions and set the groundwork for a successful sale. 

When selling a property, it’s common to declutter your space and either sell or throw out possessions. In the case of a senior seller where some valuable or sentimental items may be expected to be left to someone, it’s crucial to review and document these pieces ahead of preparing the property for sale.

“If a senior is still OK, they might will an antique dish set or some other possessions to a certain person. You don’t really know,” said Zecevic. “If they’re cognitively not there, you really need to make sure everybody is on the same page, because let’s say you get rid of a dresser and you sell it and they’ve left it to one of their children, then there could be an argument.”

Prepare both the home and the seller

Putting a home on the market is a stressful event for any homeowner, but it can be especially difficult for vulnerable seniors or ailing relatives. 

In some cases, Zecevic explains it may be more beneficial to move the senior out prior to the home being listed. If repairs are needed on the property or people are coming over to assist with packing, Zecevic says she’s present with the senior seller so they’re not nervous with strangers coming and going from the house. 

You might be tempted to completely stage and renovate the property prior to listing it. Zecevic explains the priority should be to ensure the property is clean and free of any garbage, with some repairs and touch-ups made on the property where needed, like painting or removing damaged carpet. 

“I wouldn’t do any big, big staging and stuff,” she said. “If there’s something that needs to be repaired, again, it might not be worth fixing and just selling it as it is. It depends. [It matters] how the family and senior are involved.”

Take your time with offers

In today’s competitive housing market where there’s a shortage of supply, it doesn’t take long for purchase offers and hopeful buyers to quickly come knocking on your door. When working with a senior homeowner, however, the pace of the offer phase may be different than the norm.

Zecevic says she sees her senior clients in person during the daytime, making sure the offer allows for a couple of days for the client’s lawyer to ensure everything is above board. In some cases, an offer presentation date provides some control over the pace and process of how offers are received and reviewed. 

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s busy and there are 20 people waiting,” she said. “It doesn’t matter [because] my priority will be strictly the client and what’s in their best interest. If they’re cognitively available, I would sit with them and explain each one.”

When it comes to the process of selling a senior’s home, Zecevic emphasizes it’s important to ask your REALTOR® about their knowledge of senior accommodations where the client may live after the sale is complete.

If you’re starting the process of selling the home of an aging or ailing relative, consult the advice of a REALTOR® in your area.



Different Types of Investment Properties and What to Consider

When it comes to investment properties, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Aside from the financial and tax responsibilities, finding an investment property that makes sense for your situation requires some serious soul-searching.

It’s best to take a look at some of the pros and cons before getting into the market, as each type comes with its own set. However, there are some pros and cons that apply to every type of investment property. One pro, of course, is you’ll have a second income—always a plus. The biggest con for any investment property is you’re not guaranteed to have tenants at all times, which means that second income may not be consistent. As the landlord you’re also on the hook for any repairs or issues that need to be dealt with.

Let’s walk through some of the other pros and cons of the most common investment properties to see which one suits you best.

Duplexes are popular choices for investors looking to be close to their property—really close. They can also be great family investments, allowing different generations to live under the same roof but with private dwelling spaces. There are additional tax deductions available to you as well when you live on the property! Typically, work done to common spaces such as your yard, roof, or adjoining wall can be written off at 50% if the duplex is owner-occupied. Some people also consider the proximity to your investment to be a pro. If issues arise you can deal with them in a timely manner, plus you can keep an eye on how your tenants are treating the space. If you’re not living in the space and are instead choosing to rent out each portion of the duplex, the biggest advantage is collecting that additional rent.

On the flip side, duplexes can be more expensive to purchase, which puts you at a bigger risk if you can’t find tenants. It can also be harder in general to find tenants for duplexes, as more and more people are looking for privacy and larger spaces. Living attached to your tenants, albeit in a designated space, can also be a bit strange depending on who they are. If you’re not choosing to live in the duplex, you’ll have double the tenants to find—and double the repairs to deal with.

Single family homes
Over the last 18 months, single-family homes have been in demand as buying trends have changed. With an increase in working and schooling from home, the need for space has become paramount. Because of this shift, single-family homes could potentially be more attractive as investment properties.

Let’s start with the pros! In comparison to a full duplex, single-family homes are typically less expensive (depending on the home), which could see higher gains in your net income. Plus, the market for single-family homes is hot right now, meaning if you need or want to sell your property you’ll likely have an easier time doing so. From a rental perspective, single-family homes tend to attract longer-term tenants, providing a sense of stability to your financial situation.

In terms of cons, there’s one big one that stands out. Owning a single-family home as an investment property means a lower return on investment the longer it sits vacant. The costs to maintain a single-family home can be higher, and when the house sits empty those costs can quickly add up.

With new developments popping up all over the country, buying pre-construction properties (either homes, condos, or apartments) can seem enticing. It’s easy to find the big pros for this type of investment. The customization allows you to create a space potential renters will find appealing. When you choose fixtures and finishes for a new construction home, you can find options that are agreeable to most people without breaking the bank. Plus, newer builds are more attractive to renters since they know things are in good working order and there likely won’t be any repairs needed in the near future.

That being said, pre-construction comes with a unique set of cons some people just don’t want to deal with. These cons can really be summed up into two words: the unknown. Your build could be unexpectedly delayed, leaving you to navigate these financial waters without additional income. Your down payment could be up to 30% up front for a new build, and it may not be complete for up to two years, which means you’ll be waiting a while to recoup that money as well as start making any profits. You should always consider the type of tenant you’re looking for (students, young professionals, growing families, etc.) so you can assess and align the property and neighbourhood with what they’ll need and want.

Basement apartments
Basement apartments have come a long way in the last 10 years or so! They can be spacious, private, cost-effective, exactly what young professionals are looking for as they save to buy their own home. Having a basement apartment in your home shares a lot of the same pros (and cons!) as duplexes. They help pay the mortgage of the home you’re in and you can write off a lot of the repairs since the space is owner-occupied. But it also means you’re living in the same home as your tenants and you lose a portion of your home.

There are two additional cons to consider when it comes to basement apartments, though. The biggest one comes if you’re adding a basement apartment to your home vs. buying a home that already has one built. Adding a basement apartment requires money up front to ensure the space is up to code, not to mention any regional requirements (i.e. permits, inspections). You also have to consider things like parking for your tenants, how they’ll get into their portion of the home, etc. When it comes time to sell your home, not having a “typical” basement could affect your resale value. You eliminate the group of people who aren’t looking to purchase an investment property, which could make the home harder to sell.

Something to consider when it comes to basement apartments is actually living in it yourself! I got my start in real estate by purchasing a home with a basement apartment and renting out the main floor while I lived in the basement apartment. I was able to charge a higher rent, allowing me to pay off the mortgage more quickly and ultimately make my way up the real estate ladder. If you’re going to purchase a home with a basement apartment, or are considering adding one to your current home, I really do recommend living in the basement portion yourself if possible!

Identifying risk factors
As with any investment, you need to identify the potential risks. There are four main risks to consider before purchasing an investment property.


You need to spend money to make money, but owning an investment property does come with some financial risks. If you can’t find tenants for an extended period of time, you’ll need to cover the mortgage out of your primary income, which may leave things a little tight.

Property location

Do some research on the neighbourhood to see if there’s a high demand for rentals in the area. If not, you may struggle to find people willing to commit to a lease. It’s also a good idea to ask a REALTOR® about the projected evolution of the neighbourhood. If it’s an up-and-coming spot, you may find yourself getting a great deal! Other things to consider include transit access, proximity to schools and daycare, nearby amenities, and access to the highway.

Age of the property

Older homes can be appealing for a vintage look, but they may end up causing you more issues than they’re worth. Homes over a certain age will likely need more frequent (and more expensive) repairs, which will ultimately cut into your profits.

The real estate market

No matter when you buy, this will always be an important thing to consider. The real estate market is unpredictable, which means any time you enter the market there are a lot of factors to consider. However, when you’re buying an investment property, you really want to be sure you’re getting a good deal so your profit margins can be higher. You’ll need to look at it as a longer-term investment and consider how it will affect you over a course of years, not months.

Investment properties can be a great way to earn a secondary income while getting yourself onto the property ladder. There are plenty of different property types you can find, each with their own set of pros and cons, but one thing remains constant: owning an investment property is a commitment! It’s not something you can do on a whim, which is why doing your research is the most important first step you can take.

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



Closing Costs: What Buyers Need to Know

We know the thought of buying your dream home is exciting, and you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about what you can afford. Before you get too far into the house hunting process, make sure you’ve factored closing costs into your budget. These are upfront transactional expenses you’ll need to pay to finalize the buying process, above and beyond your down payment. Depending on how much your property costs, these fees can add up to thousands of dollars. Here’s what you can expect to spend before being handed the keys.

What are closing costs?
Closing costs refer to the legal and administrative fees you’re required to pay leading up to when your house closes. These charges include your mortgage broker’s fee, real estate appraisals and commissions, lawyer’s fees, and title insurance. Generally, closing costs range from 1.5% to 4% of the purchase price. Most of these costs can’t be rolled into your mortgage, so it’s important to save for them in advance.

What types of expenses are considered a closing cost?
Below are a list of the expenses included in most closing costs:

Land transfer tax
All provinces–except Alberta and Saskatchewan–charge a land transfer tax (LTT), which is a provincial or municipal tax based on a percentage of your property value. This one-time fee only applies to resale homes, not new construction, and is payable on closing day.

The amount varies depending on where you live, ranging between 0.5% and 2.5% of your purchase price. Consider using an online calculator and entering the purchase price of your home. The closing costs for a home in Halifax will be different than one in Toronto.

To help offset this cost, Ontario, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and the City of Toronto offer land transfer tax rebates for first-time home buyers. In Toronto, however, you’re required to pay both Ontario land transfer tax (OLTT) and Toronto land transfer tax (TLTT), which are calculated on the purchase price.

Land survey fee
It’s important to know your property boundaries, so most lenders require home buyers do a land survey if the current owners don’t have a recent one available. It can cost between $750 and $2,000 to get a survey certificate detailing the property lines.

Mortgage default insurance fees
If you plan to put down less than 20% on your down payment, you’ll need to obtain and pay CMHC insurance. This cost, which can be rolled into your monthly mortgage payments or paid upon closing, is meant to protect the lender if you default on your payments. And for homeowners in Quebec, Ontario, or Manitoba, you’ll pay provincial sales tax on your mortgage insurance fee. Remember, if you lump in this fee with your mortgage, you’ll be charged interest on it as well.

Legal fees
You’ll need to hire a lawyer or notary once you’ve signed the Offer to Purchase. Your legal team will protect your rights by doing a title search, getting title insurance proving you’re the legal owner, preparing and filing the mortgage paperwork, registering the transfer of property, and making sure the transaction goes through without a hitch. Expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $2,000 depending on where you live and what you require. Many lenders also require you purchase title insurance–available from your notary or lawyer at about $200 to $300–that protects against losses in case there’s a property ownership dispute.

Property insurance
You must have property insurance in place by closing day, which insures your house against fire, or major damage for an amount that matches the value of the home. Costs vary depending on the type of coverage you purchase, so be sure to shop around before you purchase your policy.

Adjustment fees
You’ll likely owe a portion of the utilities, property taxes, and other bills for the property, which will be reimbursed to the previous owner of your home. These are calculated by your notary or lawyer, and they’re based on your closing date within a given monthly payment cycle. You’ll also owe the interest on whatever gap there is between your closing date and your first mortgage payment date.

How much can homeowners expect to spend on closing costs?
Some experts recommend saving three to four per cent of your home’s purchase price to put toward closing costs. So if you buy a $400,000 home, set aside at least $12,000 to $16,000 to cover fees. Keep in mind, the costs mentioned above aren’t the only ones you might encounter. Other costs include prepaid utilities, a home inspection, your deposit, testing septic tanks or wells in rural areas, your appraisal fee, and more.

Your REALTOR® can help guide you through the entire buying process, including what you need to pay in advance. Then, on closing day, you’ll finally get the keys and legal possession of your new house. Now, you can pack up and get ready to move!



Understanding Property Tax and Assessments in Canada
If you’re on the hunt for a first home, or even settling in, you’re likely bracing for the inevitability of paying property taxes. You probably saw the annual property taxes displayed on property listings, and might be wondering who sets these rates, what purpose property taxes serve, and how tax rates are determined.
Fortunately, you’re in the right place! Let’s put the magnifier on property tax assessments across Canada. 
What is property tax?
Property tax is paid by landowners and funds municipalities’ public services, such as emergency services (fire, police, and paramedic), public schools, parks and trails, as well as road and sewer maintenance. The property tax is set based on the percentage of the market value of a given property, whether it be residential, commercial, industrial, or farm, and is paid to your municipality or regional municipality.
Can I be exempt from property tax?
Some properties and owners may be exempt from paying this tax, including religious buildings, low-income households, and any federal or provincial property. Municipalities set these rules, so it’s best to consult your local municipality for more details on exemptions and eligibility.
How is property tax calculated?
Property tax is determined by multiplying the value of a property by the base municipal and education taxation rate. These rates are set according to the type and use of a property by elected officials based on the city’s budget. They’re also determined by how much revenue comes from services, fines, and provincial transfers. Property values are determined with regular property tax assessments. 
For instance, if you owned a property valued at $300,000 and the combined municipal and education tax rate is 1.13%, your annual balance would be: $3,390. 
Your municipality will make the information in your tax statements as clear as possible so you know exactly what makes up your property tax. Some charges like waste removal or rural stormwater drainage (ditches) may show up as a flat fee, depending on your municipality or property location.
Your municipality will also give a detailed breakdown of how your tax dollars are being distributed between things such as emergency services, library services, roads and traffic, etc. Understandably, rates differ broadly across Canadian municipalities based on the types of properties, and density. 
What is a property assessment?
Property assessments are required to determine the value of your property, which then factors into how much your property tax will be. Keep in mind, property assessments are different from a home inspection or appraisal. A property assessment is the process of determining the value of a property based on the open market sale averages of other properties in the surrounding area. In the case of residential properties, the location (neighbourhood), size of the lot, building type, size, age, and the building materials used, plus any updates or additions, are taken into account to determine value.
Why are property assessments necessary?
Since all properties are different, assessments are necessary to ensure everyone pays a fair share based on the value of their property and how said property is being used. First, property values change over time, either appreciating or depreciating in value, depending on real estate market trends in those areas. Secondly, population sizes change when urban and suburban centres expand with new construction. Property assessments also play a part in determining taxation rates. If property values increase more in comparison to the municipality’s budgetary needs, a tax rate reduction may result.
Who assesses properties, and how often?
Assessments are handled differently in each province and territory and are conducted by either the municipalities, a specific branch of the provincial government, or by independent organizations commissioned by provinces and/or municipalities. Assessment intervals also differ from province to province. 
For instance, in British Columbia, BC Assessment was formed to assess all properties annually in the province. Ontario has a similar organization, MPAC (Municipal Property Assessment Corporation), a non-profit corporation whose members are made up of Ontario municipalities, and who conduct assessments every four years. 
To dig a little deeper into assessments for your specific province, check out the links below.
Quebec (Consult your municipal website for more information.)
What can I do if I don’t agree with my assessment?
Since assessments are applied based on averages for your area, it’s possible your property could end up valued higher than it should. Factors such as volume of sales, final selling price, volume of building upgrades or additions, or even densification can increase the perceived value of your home in an assessment. If, for instance, you have been living in your home for a long time without making updates, you can appeal your assessment if you feel it’s too high.
The appeal process differs based on your province. You can request a reassessment in the province or territory where you own property, but if the reassessment maintains the value you believe to be incorrect, then you can submit an appeal. 
By now your head may be spinning with all this new information, and that’s OK! Now, you’re better equipped to tackle this important aspect of homeownership. Plus, you’re making a positive impact by supporting the important services to keep your community safe, clean, and a great place to call home. 

Will the Desire for Larger Homes Be a Permanent Change?

With extended lockdowns, schools and offices shuttered, as well as many of our favourite amenities closed for long stretches due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have been spending a lot more time at home this past year. This has caused some buyers to reevaluate what they’re looking for in a home, including a desire for additional living space, whether it was in search of a dedicated home workspace or simply a larger backyard.

As provinces and territories continue to roll out vaccines and reopening plans move forward, it’s worth considering if the desire and demand for larger homes will persist as the pandemic recedes, and how the need for roomier residences has impacted markets across the country.

Today, we speak with Keith Stewart, Economist with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver’s economist, and Shaun Cathcart, Director and Senior Economist, Housing Data and Market Analysis at the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), who share their thoughts on the future of this trend. 

Why did people start buying larger homes in the first place?

Buyers during the COVID-19 pandemic have gone out hunting for bigger homes for a few reasons, including millennials who are starting families to form households of their own, changing home feature needs, and a boost in spending power for some families.

At a basic level, our homes have become much more than a place to eat and sleep since the first round of pandemic-induced lockdowns. Instead, where we live has evolved into a classroom, gym, conference room and all sources of entertainment. By upgrading to a bigger home, buyers are able to gain greater square footage to accommodate more of their needs.

“More space enables you to have those additional functionalities in your space,” explained Cathcart. “Of course, that’s where you have a lot of extra money rattling around to make home everything when so many other things people spend money on, we weren’t doing.” 

Since the Bank of Canada made its first round of cuts to its mortgage rate-influencing overnight rate in early March 2020, mortgage rates have been hovering around all-time lows. Stewart says plunging interest rates have been a catalyst for some people to jump on an opportunity to make a purchase. This also coincides with a bulge in the late-twenties to early-thirties millennial demographic, who are now entering family-rearing years and setting their sights on suburban markets.

“That’s been the backdrop behind COVID, and I think what you’ve really seen is some shifting in preferences and some untethering of people’s work, and I really point back to those plunging interest rates,” said Stewart. “They’ve really brought these moves people were going to do or contemplated [and] concentrated [them] into a very particular point in time. That’s why we see this record sales activity nationally.”

How does the demand for larger homes affect the market?

Competitive market conditions have persisted long after the first wave of lockdowns in spring 2020, which has influenced supply and demand for homes with a larger square footage.

Cathcart explains many communities were already in seller’s market territory prior to the pandemic. Since March 2020 however, more buyers entered the picture and were clamoring for the comparatively smaller number of listings that were available, leading to multiple offer scenarios on larger homes, he said. With the supply of homes already imbalanced compared to demand, CREA reported in its most recent national housing update that the number of newly listed homes dropped by 6.4% from April to May.

The desire for larger living spaces may have also played a role in fueling higher demand and prices in recreational and suburban areas over the last year. Commonly referred to as the Urban Exodus, the pandemic saw an accelerated trend of city dwellers with the ability to work remotely relocating to rural or suburban communities, locations that would typically offer more house for less money.

For instance, average sale prices for homes in some recreational markets are expected to see annual increases in the 20% to 40% range, according to research published in the 2021 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report.

What home trends will we see in the near future?

With the end of the pandemic on the horizon, the home buying frenzy looks to be slowly cooling off.

“A lot of the frenzy we’ve seen in the last year has seen people looking to find a place to ride out this pandemic in, and so you’d expect some of that urgency is going to fade at this point because we’re sort of near the finish line,” said Cathcart.

In June, CREA reported a 7.4% monthly decline in home sales from April to May. This can be attributed to freshly implemented lockdowns, high home prices, buyer fatigue, and increases in interest rates. The greatest deceleration of month-to-month price growth was found in the single-family segment when compared to townhome and apartment property types.

When it comes to buyers moving out of cities and into other areas, largely thanks to the freedom of remote working, Cathcart believes this trend will continue for some time after the pandemic, but not at its current rate. It will take time for companies and individuals to settle into the post-pandemic world, which will result in some continued movement in and out of cities in the meantime.

“Housing is typically a long-term thing you would plan for, but there’s not a lot of certainty about what a post-COVID world is going to look like yet,” explained Cathcart.

For urban buyers who may have traded in their single-family home and relocated to a more affordable place in the country, Cathcart predicts some people may purchase a smaller condo near their city workplace as a go-between.

“There have been lots of questions about whether this urban exodus will continue or reverse itself, but it’s more complicated. Maybe you buy that retirement place up in cottage country, but you also get yourself a condo in Toronto and that’s your pied-à-terre to go back into the office when you do have to do it,” he said. “Maybe your place of employment moves away or closer to you, or maybe you decide to take a new job closer to your new home, or one that is entirely remote work? There are a lot of moving parts to this.”

If you’re looking to upgrade to a larger property, or want more insight on COVID-19 trends in your local market, consult the advice of a qualified REALTOR® for the most up-to-date insights. 



For many Canadians, a home represents a secure, stable asset and an investment in their future.

Despite the challenges with housing affordability across the country, research shows homeownership can play a significant role in reducing inequality—with benefits that extend across income levels, ages and regions.

Lower-income Canadians benefit most from owning a home

This isn’t limited to high-income households—in fact, it’s more significant for lower-income households, according to data laid out in our recently released white paper, The Homeownership Dividend for Canadians. For many lower-income households, a principal residence may be their only source of wealth, which means the benefits are even more pronounced.

“Home is way more than just a house—home is a feeling, home is a sense of belonging,” says Stevenson. “There are financial benefits to owning a home, but when we’re talking about reducing inequality through homeownership, it’s significant. Regardless of what price point you enter the market, you benefit from market appreciation, from having an asset that helps you with access to financial vehicles.”

For the 8.5 million Canadian households with incomes below $56,495, housing represents nearly half of their total net worth. That’s why homeownership for low- and middle-income families is key to reducing inequality across the country, particularly for new Canadians and millennials, according to the white paper.

A 2018 study by Mortgage Professionals Canada (which draws on data from the LeForge House Price Survey and Statistics Canada’s Household Spending) shows the financial advantages of homeownership not only compare positively with other housing options, but are even greater for lower-income households. These findings also held for non-home assets, reflecting a greater propensity to save and invest among homeowners.

“We talk often about the high price of the average Canadian home, but with lower priced homes and markets, there’s still an equality benefit of getting into the housing market. We’ve seen appreciation increase over the years,” says Stevenson. Even for first-time home buyers who get into the housing market at a much lower price point, he says, they still receive that equality benefit.

Homes are an asset that increase net worth

Principal residences account for more than a third of the total value of Canadian assets, according to Statistics Canada’s 2019 Canadian Survey of Financial Security. For families who own their home, the value of their home doubled (on average) from 1999 to 2019. And as the value increases, we’ve seen a proportionate increase in median family net worth across the country.

“There’s a lot of financial benefits,” says Lisa Patel, President of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board and a member of CREA’s Federal Affairs Committee. “It’s a stable asset class and it can offer a straightforward way to build your wealth and save for retirement.”

While homeowners may be tied to a mortgage, they’re also tied to an asset class—one that continues to increase in value. “You’re building wealth for your family, your kids, your grandkids, so there are many different financial gains,” says Patel. “It’s a sound long-term investment versus the stock market.”

For example, in 2015 Habitat for Humanity—a non-profit organization that helps local communities address a variety of housing needs and provides support for affordable housing around the world—surveyed 402 households with a habitat home in the U.S. state of Minnesota. More than half of respondents reported having more money after moving into a habitat home, with a 20% reduction in the use of government assistance.

And a 2013 study of an American-based prime mortgage program—a collaboration between researchers from one Korean and two American universities—found if respondents maintained homeownership for at least three years, low- and middle-income homeowners experienced a greater increase in net worth, including non-housing assets, than renters. The results held up even during the 2008-09 recession.

All age groups reap the benefits

These financial benefits also extend across age groups, from young first-time home buyers to pensioners living out their retirement. Statistics Canada’s 2019 Canadian Survey of Financial Security, for example, shows a significant financial advantage from homeownership across age groups.

“If you purchase a home and you keep it for your entire amortization period, at the end of the day it’s paid off,” says Jill Oudil, CREA’s Chair-Elect. “That assists you not just during the time you own the home, but in your retirement years.” That’s becoming even more important as people tend to live longer compared to previous generations.

But as they build equity, they also have the freedom to upgrade, such as moving from a condo to a semi-detached house. Or, in retirement, they could trade across rather than up, moving to a larger countryside home without incurring debt.

“The younger you can get started, the better,” says Oudil. “If you need a roommate, get a roommate.” That might not be your goal or preference, she says, but it helps people get in the market. Or, a family might buy a home, live in the basement for a few years and rent out the main floor to start building wealth.

“For a lower-income household it raises the level of investments they have, and it will grow their long-term equity,” says Oudil. That in turn, promotes a sense of purpose and fulfillment, which has a positive impact on their families and their communities.

Research backs homeownership as a policy goal

But homeownership isn’t a panacea. There’s no guarantee of financial security and it’s not necessarily the right answer (or the only answer) for every Canadian. But research from Canada and around the world shows the financial benefits of homeownership can be significant—regardless of income, age and geography.

Indeed, the financial dividend “is a crucial part of why governments have historically supported homeownership,” as we noted in the white paper, “and why it would be a mistake to abandon it as a policy goal.”

Homeownership continues to be the single largest source of wealth in Canada, providing net worth and financial security for millions of low- and middle-income households. So, while there’s still much debate on how to best provide access to homeownership opportunities for all Canadians, the research points to why this is so critically important.

Lower-income Canadians benefit most from owning a home
This isn’t limited to high-income households—in fact, it’s more significant for lower-income households, according to data laid out in our recently released white paper, The Homeownership Dividend for Canadians. For many lower-income households, a principal residence may be their only source of wealth, which means the benefits are even more pronounced.
“Home is way more than just a house—home is a feeling, home is a sense of belonging,” says Stevenson. “There are financial benefits to owning a home, but when we’re talking about reducing inequality through homeownership, it’s significant. Regardless of what price point you enter the market, you benefit from market appreciation, from having an asset that helps you with access to financial vehicles.”
For the 8.5 million Canadian households with incomes below $56,495, housing represents nearly half of their total net worth. That’s why homeownership for low- and middle-income families is key to reducing inequality across the country, particularly for new Canadians and millennials, according to the white paper.
A 2018 study by Mortgage Professionals Canada (which draws on data from the LeForge House Price Survey and Statistics Canada’s Household Spending) shows the financial advantages of homeownership not only compare positively with other housing options, but are even greater for lower-income households. These findings also held for non-home assets, reflecting a greater propensity to save and invest among homeowners.
“We talk often about the high price of the average Canadian home, but with lower priced homes and markets, there’s still an equality benefit of getting into the housing market. We’ve seen appreciation increase over the years,” says Stevenson. Even for first-time home buyers who get into the housing market at a much lower price point, he says, they still receive that equality benefit.

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