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How to best leverage your home equity

A house can also be a wealth-building asset—if you know how to leverage your equity properly. It can also be a wealth-building asset for many.

Home equity is simply how much of your property you own, i.e. how much you’ve paid for versus how much mortgage is left to pay off.For instance, if your property is worth $200,000, and you have $150,000 left on your mortgage, your home equity is $50,000.

When you borrow against your home equity, your property becomes collateral. In return, you get lower interest rates as opposed to, for example, those of credit cards. The obvious risk is losing your house if you are unable to make the payments, but this risk can be mitigated if you are careful about your finances and make wise decisions that are right for your personal circumstances.

The word “debt” usually carries with it negative connotations, but acquiring it can be a great leg up on increasing your personal wealth, often at a much faster rate than if you were to just do it by saving up. When investing, you can put to work either your own money—which might affect your cash flow and make immediate needs impossible or difficult to fulfill—or other people’s money. The second scenario is essentially what it means to leverage your home equity.

There are two ways lenders will allow you to borrow using your house as collateral. One is through a fixed-term home equity loan and the other through a home equity line of credit (HELOC). In a home equity loan, a lump sum is released to the borrower. Payments are amortized over a set period of time. On the other hand, a HELOC is much like a credit card that allows you to withdraw any amount within the credit limit and period of validity. It allows you a lot of flexibility because paying off the principal frees up your available credit. If your maximum line of credit, for example, is $20,000, and you pay off $5,000 of the $10,000 that you’ve borrowed, then your available credit becomes $15,000 ($20,000 – $10,000 + $5,000 = $15,000).

According to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, HELOCs are second only to mortgages as the largest contributor to the growth of household debt, thanks to their accessibility and flexibility. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, we need to look at some facts.

49% of borrowers spent their debt on renovations, 22% on debt consolidation, 19% on the purchase of a vehicle, 19% on daily expenses, and 13% on vacations. Only 11% used their HELOCs to acquire residential properties and make financial investments.

36% of HELOC borrowers aged 25-34 used their loans to pay off other debts. Initially, this seems to make sense, as it is essentially replacing those debts with one that has lower interest rates. However, is this the most efficient use of a loan?

But where do you put that money, and how do you manage the risks? Here are some ideas.

RenovationsRenovations, which account for the lion’s share of loan spending, may actually be a wise investment if the homeowner plans to sell the property at some point. Depending on the location and the real estate trends there, renovations can increase the value of the property.

Stock market. Purchasing stocks is known to be high risk, but a quote from Investopedia is worth mentioning: “There are no perfect definitions or measurements of risk.” Market volatility is definitely a concern, but some stocks carry more risk than others. This will depend on many factors like industry sector, economic trends, and the company’s history and profile. When investing in stocks, the first thing one must take into consideration is the expected returns versus the cost of acquiring the debt used to pay for them.

Business. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of putting their business expenditures on credit cards. The high-interest rates can be fatal to an enterprise; when the company hits a downturn, which is common for any business, those debts can balloon faster than people realize. Borrowing against one’s house is a cheaper way to start a business or fund its expansion.

EducationWhen making the decision to pursue further studies, you must ask yourself whether or not education is a good investment that can realistically benefit you financially in the long run. One thing to note is that education is something that, unlike a house, cannot be foreclosed or taken away from you, but that is not to say that a diploma will automatically increase your wealth either.

Investment property. Some will opt to make another real estate investment using their existing homes as leverage. A residential, commercial, or retail property can be rented out and turned into self-liquidating assets.

Risk is, of course, a cause for concern, and putting all your eggs in one basket, while it may yield high returns, can also prove financially disastrous. Diversification is a great way to spread out these risks over multiple investments.

There isn’t a single type of investment that is right for everybody. It will depend on your personal circumstances, existing assets, and tolerance for risk. The bottom line is that one should treat debt as a way to increase one’s personal wealth, and not as a means to instant gratification.

If you are a first time home buyer, or an investor, reach out to H. Jaggi homes. We will make your process easy to navigate and answer all your questions in this journey. As a team of experienced realtors,  we can help you get into home ownership or start your road to real estate investing! It is easier than you think!

 

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5 Tips for Vacation Homeowners

Your vacation home still requires significant maintenance over time, just like your primary residence. There are ways to keep your vacation paradise in good condition, even if you’re not there all year to check on it.  
  1. Hire a Property Caretaker or Manager

A good property caretaker/manager will really make all the difference. These services can be pricey, but they give you peace of mind. If you live in a planned vacation community, such services are likely part of your association fees. Otherwise, find a caretaker with good references who is a long-time area resident. Any caretaker should visit the home at least every two weeks to make sure there are no damages. They should check faucets, toilets, heating and the like. This person can handle lawn duties, clean-ups and minor repairs, but professionals are needed for emergencies.
  1. Install Keyless Entry

Installing a keyless entry system to your vacation home can be really helpful. This allows repairmen to enter in case of an emergency, or cleaning people to make the place spic and span before your arrival. Painters can come in the off-season to freshen the home’s look. Keyless entry also allows HVAC personnel to enter if you want the furnace tuned up just prior to winter, or the air conditioning inspected before your summer vacation, which otherwise would need a physical key and things can be delayed. 

Check on Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

You want to ensure your air conditioning works on the hottest days of summer and that you can rely on heat in the midst of winter. Your HVAC contract should include an annual inspection and maintenance agreement. Get a report on your unit’s condition when the inspection is completed, so major repairs or replacements can be completed before you use the home.

Research Local Repair Services

Keeping a list of local repair services—plumbers, electricians, septic providers—can be very handy! Ask locals or other vacation homeowners for recommendations or just google it. Make sure you read the reviews. If your community has a Facebook page, join it so you can get information about the best home technicians available.

Master Opening and Closing

If you don’t have a property manager or caretaker, opening and closing the home each season becomes your obligation. These are also occasions to inspect the property carefully and note any necessary repairs or items requiring replacement. When opening the home, take a good look at all water fixtures for evidence of leaks. Check for signs of termites or other infestations. Opening day is the best time to replace your smoke detector batteries and filters in the furnace.

Here is a basic checklist for closing your home at the end of the season:

  • Take in outdoor furniture and other items you do not want to be left out.

  • Shut off and unplug appliances and electronics.

  • Set your furnace at the proper temperature.

  • Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked.

  • Turn on your alarm system.

At HJaggi Homes, we are passionate about finding you the perfect vacation home for you and your family. We would love to connect you with a beautiful property in the area that we know best, not just because we know it, but because we are proud of its beauty and growth and believe it should be shared. Reach out to us today to help you get started on your next real estate investment!  
Condo living
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Is condo living for you?

While real estate has cooled in some parts of Canada, competition in the Golden Horseshoe area has remained fierce. Aside from their excellent location and proximity to Toronto, their stunning waterfront and high quality of living, the Mississauga, Oakville, and Burlington areas remain local economic powerhouses.
At HJaggi Homes, we are experts in this region, thus we can help you find the right condo for your lifestyle at the best price possible.

Why should I choose this part of the GTA?

GTA has been well-regarded for its luxury dwellings, perfect location, and plentiful amenities. In the past 5 to 10 years, we’ve seen rise in economic development and global investment added to an already robust local community, positively affecting the job and housing markets.

Our new condo listings in Mississauga, Oakville, and Burlington are some of the hottest ticket items on the market. If you’re an avid investor looking to purchase somewhere new, or you’re thinking about where you’d like to settle with your family, we invite you to consider this incredible area and all of the things it has to offer.

Why Mississauga Condos?

Mississauga is booming. Being the closest of the three cities to Toronto, it has a flourishing business center and attracts all ages to its lively, multicultural neighborhoods. It has a different feel to the other areas and ticks all of the boxes of a great property investment:

  • A strong growth market, expected to continue for the foreseeable future due to 1300+ multinational companies and approximately 88,000 businesses

  • Access to the Go Train, ViaRail, and other methods of public transport

  • A robust local economy, and close proximity to Toronto

  • Great public facilities, including highly reputable medical facilities, schools, and more

  • A myriad of lifestyle activities, markets, shops, and events

Mississauga, known as the ‘Gateway to Canada’ due to its close proximity to Toronto Pearson International airport, is experiencing a surge in new condo developments. In fact, the city has its very own impressive urban skyline, with more development expected as investments pour into the airport with the intent of making it one of the world’s largest travel hubs. It’s clear that new condos in Mississauga make incredible investment properties in this region, and with our expert knowledge of this area, we can help you find the best property for your needs and budget.

The benefits of living in beautiful Oakville

If you’re looking for a more serene way of life, still with access to all of Toronto’s jobs and big-city feel, Oakville is for you. This region has a reputation for its picturesque waterfront, excellent schools, and luxury living, while still being nestled away from the intensity of other cities in the GTA.

Oakville has been experiencing robust growth in new condo developments and in the condo resale market. Prices continue to increase, but so does local and global interest. There are many buyers heading to this area, and some are waiting to see how the market progresses. However, based on our knowledge of the local economy, housing market trends, and estimated developments in the GTA, we see a continuous increase in Oakville condo sales and encourage people to get their feet wet sooner rather than later.

New Condo developments on the Burlington waterfront

A little further down the highway, and right next door to Oakville, is Burlington, Ontario. If you are already familiar with this area, you know that it offers a stunning lakefront lined with trails and open green space and rests adjacent to high-end boutiques and restaurants. This is the suburban city, with excellent schools, quiet neighbourhoods, and all of the amenities of a big city. It even holds one of the biggest national music festivals, plus food festivals, and more.

Burlington is also uniquely situated right in the middle of the Toronto to Waterloo ‘Corridor’, otherwise known as Canada’s answer to Silicon Valley. It boasts hundreds of tech companies and startups, bringing in more and more investments from south of the border and globally. It makes this region fantastic for anyone looking for work in the tech field, but also anyone looking for a career in health sciences or education, driven by Hamilton’s nearby economy. You can mix career with idyllic suburban living by shopping for a condo in the Burlington area, as its location keeps it safely away from the hubbub of places like Mississauga and closer to nature with a smaller-town feel.

With all of these elements to boast about, it’s no wonder that lakeview condos are springing up along the waterfront. With modern design elements within walking distance of local parks, these condos will make an excellent investment for many, including singles, retirees, and avid investors. There are other condo developments being built with careful consideration as to public transportation proximity, while still in keeping with a beautiful neighbourhood. The real estate market is expected to grow as more people discover this hidden gem and all it has to offer.

What are the benefits of condo living?

Condo living is expected to increase over the next decade, especially in the Oakville, Burlington, and Mississauga regions. But, why is that the case? 

There are a few reasons for why you should consider investing in a condo. Condos attract all kinds of investors, families, singles, retirees, and new people to Canada.

The number one benefit to a condo is that it’s luxurious, while also being less work than owning a home:

  • There is no exterior repair maintenance needed

  • Condo fees cover a myriad of responsibilities you would prefer to avoid, including garbage disposal and snow removal

  • Condo living also provides favourable locations, including the downtown core or the ultimate proximity to amenities

  • They provide security and seclusion

Finally, condos can also cost less than a house while providing you with the same square footage. So, if you are an investor or a first-time home buyer, investing in a luxury condo can be an excellent choice, and ultimately, the smarter route for long-term growth.

Condos offer great design at an even better price

If you love modern design and city living, condos provide everything you could want and more. They offer modern facilities and aesthetics, but at a rate that is often more affordable than in a home unit, which is why the demand for condos is driving development and a high resale value. There are countless benefits to condo living!

Why condos are becoming a great option for families

For a young family, the GTA offers countless opportunities for career growth, education, and activities to get involved in with your little ones. However, the soaring costs of the housing market have made it more challenging for parents, even if both have stable careers. This can make buying a home daunting, or even downright impossible for some, which is where a condo can make a fantastic option.

With its better size-to-price ratio than many traditional homes, condos can offer the space families need. With the growth in demand for family condos, developers are taking note. The rise in three-bedroom condos has begun in response to this interest, especially in the Mississauga, Burlington, and Oakville areas. Investing in a condo can mean saving for a larger down payment for a future home investment, perfect as your children grow.

Other benefits for families include the local communities living in the same condo units, where children can make friends and play together in a safe, closed environment. They often also provide swimming pools and playgrounds and tend to be pet-friendly, with walking trails and green spaces located right outside the front door. A condo can be a fantastic all-in-one opportunity for a family; an investment worth making again and again.

How we can help you find the best condos for sale in the Golden Horseshoe

At HJaggi Homes, we are passionate about the Mississauga, Oakville, and Burlington areas we serve. We would love to connect you with a beautiful property in the area that we know best, not just because we know it, but because we are proud of its beauty and growth and believe it should be shared. Reach out to us today to help you get started on your next real estate investment!
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Tips for First Time Home Buyers

Since buying your first home is a big decision of your life, it’s easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of home shopping and make mistakes that could leave you with buyer’s remorse later. The lure of first-time homeownership is powerful. Thus, even as a first time home-buyer, your focus could be building generational wealth or creating an investment to sell when you retire.

1. Shopping for houses before Mortgage Pre-Approval

Many first-time buyers start shopping around for homes before ever getting in front of a mortgage lender. In today’s market, housing inventory is tight because there’s far more buyer demand than affordable homes on the market.

In such a competitive market, you’ll find it almost impossible to get your offer taken seriously unless you have a mortgage pre-approval (or cash in hand). That’s because sellers won’t want to take a risk on someone who isn’t even certain they can get a mortgage — especially when they have many other offers on the table.

2. Talking to only one lender

First-time buyers often get a mortgage from the first (and only) lender or bank they talk to, and that’s a big mistake. By not comparing offers, you’re potentially leaving thousands of dollars on the table.
The more you shop around, the better basis for comparison you’ll have to ensure you’re getting a good deal and the lowest rates possible.

3. Buying the house over your budget

It’s very tempting to fall in love with homes that might stretch your budget, but overextending yourself is never a good idea. With home prices trending upward, it’s especially important to stick close to your budget. It puts you at the risk of foreclosure in unforeseen times.

4. Exhausting your savings

Spending all or most of your savings on the down payment and closing costs is one of the biggest first-time homebuyer mistakes. Aim to have at least three to six months’ of living expenses in an emergency fund, even after you close. Paying mortgage insurance isn’t ideal, but depleting your emergency or retirement savings to make a large down payment is a risk best avoided.

5. Not being careful about your credit

A mortgage lender will pull your credit report at pre-approval to make sure things check out and again just before closing. Your lender wants to make sure nothing has changed in your financial profile.

Try to keep the status quo in your finances from pre-approval to closing. Don’t open new credit cards, close existing accounts, take out new loans or make large purchases on existing credit accounts in the months leading up to applying for a mortgage through closing day.

6. Making a decision over emotions

Buying a house is a major life milestone. It’s a place where you’ll make memories, create a space that’s truly yours and put down roots. It’s easy to get too attached and make emotional decisions, so remember that you’re also making one of the largest investments of your life. Emotional decisions could lead to overpaying for a home and stretching yourself beyond your budget. Having a monthly budget and being realistic about it, is the correct approach to it. 

7. Miscalculating the hidden costs of homeownership

If you were shocked from seeing your new monthly principal and interest payment – wait until you add up the other costs of owning a home. As a new homeowner, there are many other potential expenses to budget for, like property taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, hazard insurance, repairs, maintenance and utilities and more. Homeowner pays $2,000 annually for maintenance. Not having enough cushion in your monthly budget — or a healthy rainy day fund — can quickly put you in the red if you’re not prepared. 

8. Not tapping into First Time Home Buying Incentives

Speaking of saving money, don’t forget to take advantage of these first-time homebuyer incentives in Canada. It could save you some serious dough. Some first time home buyer programmes are:

  • RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan: Allows first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $35,000 from their RRSP (or $70,000 for a couple) to finance a down payment. The RRSPs must be at least 90 days old, and you must sign an agreement to build or buy a home; but as long as you repay within 15 years, the withdrawal is tax-free.

  • First-Time Home Buyers’ (FTHB) Tax Credit: Offers a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit amount on a qualifying home acquired after January 27, 2009. For an eligible individual, the credit will provide up to $750 in federal tax relief.

  • GST/HST New Housing Rebate: Reimburses eligible homeowners for part of the GST/HST paid on the purchase price or cost of building a new house, on the cost of substantially renovating or building a major addition onto an existing house, or on converting a non-residential property into a house.

  • Mortgage default insurance: Known as “CMHC insurance,” this is a mandatory insurance policy for those who purchase a house with less than a 20% down payment.

If you are a first time home buyer or know someone in the same boat as you, reach out to H. Jaggi homes. We will make your process easy to navigate and answer all your questions in this journey. As a team of experienced realtors,  we can help you get into home ownership! It is easier than you think!