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Professional home inspector holding a brief case in front of a home that has a fallen roof

Are Home Inspections Making a Comeback?

During the pandemic, many homebuyers in Canada skipped home inspections to win bidding wars. Now that the market has calmed down, home inspections are popular again, giving buyers confidence in their big purchase.  Understanding Home Inspections for First-Time Buyers A home inspection is a detailed check of the property you are planning to buy. A qualified inspector looks for any problems before you finalize the deal. This step is crucial and can help you negotiate a better price or back out if there are major issues.  Why Home Inspections Matter Home inspections help both buyers and sellers by revealing potential problems. If problems are found, you can ask for repairs or a lower price. If the inspection reveals severe issues, you can withdraw from the deal without financial penalties. This protection is called a home inspection contingency. Finding the Right Inspector Many first-time buyers might overlook the importance of hiring a qualified and reputable home inspector. A good real estate agent can help you find a trusted professional because they understand the industry and have strong connections. Find more details here What an Inspection Covers A thorough home inspection should include the following components: – Foundation – Structure – Exterior and interior – Plumbing – Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning – Electrical system The inspector will provide a report summarizing their findings, listing inspected items and their condition, and including photos of any problematic areas.  Dealing with Inspection Results No property is perfect. You must decide which issues are deal breakers and which can be fixed. For example, structural or foundation problems can be costly and affect your quality of life. In such cases, you might negotiate with the seller for a better deal or choose to back out. Inspections usually take two to three hours and are scheduled two to three weeks in advance. The inspector typically delivers the report within one to three days after the inspection. Importance of Home Inspections Feeling anxious on inspection day is normal, but remember the inspection helps ensure you get a good deal. The inspector is there to support you, not to harm your prospects. If you are unclear about anything, ask questions. The inspection process is meant to help you understand the property’s condition and what repairs might be needed. A home inspection provides valuable information that can help you negotiate with the seller. Often, sellers agree to make necessary repairs before closing. If significant problems exist, you can negotiate a reduced price to cover repair costs. Ultimately, a home inspection is not meant to ruin your deal. Its purpose is to inform you about the property’s condition and what improvements are Whether your looking for a home in Vaughan Ontario,or surrounding areas, we can help provide a list of home inspectors that can help facilitate a home inspection to give you peace of mind and know that your investment is a sound one.

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a couple holding a cheque, representing a downpayment for a home in Vaughan Ontario

What Is The Difference Between Deposit vs Down Payment

When buying a home in Vaughan, Toronto and surrounding GTA areas, deposit and down payment are two terms that are commonly used in the home buying process, but they have different meanings. Let’s break it down in simple terms. Deposit: When you’re interested in buying a house, you show your commitment by giving the seller a deposit. This money demonstrates that you’re serious about purchasing their property. Once you give the deposit, you usually can’t get it back unless there are specific clauses in the offer agreement. Down Payment: A down payment is a percentage of the home’s price that you pay upfront when you’re ready to close the purchase. It’s a significant payment that you make on the day of the sale. The down payment amount varies, usually starting at 5% of the home price. If your down payment is less than 20%, you may need mortgage loan insurance to protect the lender in case you can’t make your mortgage payments. Here are the key differences between a deposit and a down payment: 1. Amount and Timing:    – Deposit: There is no standard required amount, and it’s paid along with the offer.    – Down Payment: It typically ranges from 5% to 20% of the home’s purchase price and is paid on the closing day of the home purchase. 2. Minimum Down Payment:     -Deposit: The amount is not set and can be negotiated between the buyer and seller and stipulated in the agreement of Purchase and Sale    – Down Payment: The minimum down payment in Canada depends on the home’s purchase price, ranging from 5% to 20%. Remember that your lender may also consider factors like your credit history and employment status when determining the minimum required down payment. If your down payment is below 20%, you’ll likely need mortgage insurance. 3. Timing of Payment:    – Deposit: It comes before the down payment. You give the deposit when you make an offer on the house, and it’s held in trust until the sale is complete.    – Down Payment: It happens on the day of closing. The funds are released from the trust account and paid to the seller. In summary, a deposit shows your commitment to buying a house, while a down payment is a significant payment made on the closing day. Understanding these terms will help you navigate the home buying process more easily. By understanding the difference between deposit and down payment, and following these additional tips, you’ll be well on your way to successfully navigating the Vaughan real estate market. Additional Tips for Vaughan Home Buyers: Here is a great site to review options on some Vaughan Homes for Sale click here When buying a home in Vaughan, and you need further assistance, please feel free to contact one of our agents

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mage of the Bank of Canada headquarters in Vaughan Ontario

Bank of Canada warns of a steep jump in mortgage payments

Big news for Canadian homeowners! The Bank of Canada just released a financial stability report that’s a must-know if your mortgage is up for renewal soon. For those with variable rate mortgages, get ready — your monthly payments could skyrocket by more than 60%. 😱 Despite interest rates hitting us hard, most have managed to dodge the bullet with mortgage defaults staying below 0.5% across the country. But, the Bank of Canada is sounding the alarm for Toronto, Vaughan and surrounding areas in the GTA. The real test of our financial stability? Our ability to manage debt. Governor Tiff Macklem dropped a reality check too. If job losses climb, many might find themselves unable to cope with the steep mortgage rate hikes that are on the horizon. The message? It’s crucial for us to plan ahead. We know what’s coming, let’s get ready. For those who bought homes early in the pandemic, brace yourselves. Your mortgage renewal rates could look a lot different thanks to the rate hikes from a cozy 0.25% to a whopping 5%. And for those thinking relief is in sight with rate cuts? Well, they might not be as steep or swift as hoped. Here’s a kicker – homeowners with a fixed monthly payment on a variable rate mortgage will feel the biggest pinch in 2026, with payment increases possibly over 60%. Fixed-rate mortgage holders aren’t exempt from the pain either, facing over 20% increases. But it’s not just about mortgages. The financial system’s feeling the heat too, with hedge funds, pension funds, and the commercial real estate sector under the microscope for added risks and vulnerabilities. Bottom line – whether it’s managing higher mortgage payments, navigating the turbulent financial markets, or understanding the impact on the real estate sector, staying informed and prepared is key. Let’s tackle these challenges head-on, Canada! 🍁 And if the thought of navigating your finances or housing needs feels overwhelming, remember, you’re not alone. We’re here to help. Having a conversation and discussing a strategy now can make all the difference. By being proactive today, you can avoid the stress of making hurried decisions at renewal time. Let’s work together to ensure you’re in the best possible position when the time comes. We’d be more than happy to sit down, have a chat, and explore the best path forward for you.

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A stunning brick exterior with a touch of elegance in Vaughan Ontario

Are Brick Homes More Energy Efficient?

When searching for your dream home in Toronto, Vaughan and surrounding areas in the GTA, you should consider various factors like the neighborhood, bedrooms, and kitchen. But have you thought about energy efficiency? Choosing a brick home can lead to significant energy savings while providing a comfortable living environment. Let’s delve deeper into why brick homes are a smart choice. As Vaughan real estate agents, we’ve seen the advantageous of owning a brick home first hand. One major advantage of brick homes is their heat absorption capability. Bricks have high thermal mass, which means they absorb and store heat, slowing its transfer. Just like a stone wall under the sun, the outer surface of the brick heats up, but it takes time for the heat to move through the wall. This feature keeps your home cooler during hot summer days, reducing the need for excessive air conditioning. Additionally, brick homes help regulate indoor humidity levels, improving both comfort and air quality. Enhance this effect by adding plants to your home, creating a pleasant microclimate that stabilizes humidity and enhances the air you breathe. Brick homes also excel in cold weather by retaining heat. The high thermal mass of bricks allows them to store heat from the sun or internal sources like fireplaces. This stored heat is gradually released, keeping your home warm and reducing the need for continuous heating. With their natural buffering effect against external temperature changes, brick homes minimize heating requirements, resulting in significant energy savings. Furthermore, energy-efficient brick homes offer inherent air-tightness. The tight seal of brick construction reduces air leakage, preventing warm or cool air from escaping and minimizing the impact of outside temperature changes on your home’s climate. This effective sealing helps maintain steady indoor temperatures and plays a crucial role in maintaining indoor air quality. By limiting the entry of external pollutants, allergens, and particulates, brick homes provide a healthier living environment, particularly in urban or high-pollution areas. Luckily,most properties in Toronto and Vaughan and surrounding areas of the GTA are made of brick. These brick homes offer excellent sound insulation, creating a peaceful and serene atmosphere. As a Vaughan real estate agent, we have no shortage of 100% brick homes and its noteworthy to mention, it’s worth the upgrade from vinyl to brick as vinyl homes are becoming the more cost effective option compared to brick.

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Open book on a brown table showing a colorful illustration of a ranch style house with a red roof and white picket fence, set in a library with blurred bookshelves in the background, symbolizing real estate concepts in Vaughan Ontario

Learn Real Estate Terms: A Homeowners guide

Real Estate Terms: Home Buyer’s Glossary Buying a home is a huge commitment and one of the largest financial investments you’ll ever make. If you’ve never done this before, you can expect to get hit with a barrage of real estate terms and jargon that might leave your head spinning. When working with the Ragona Sisters Real Estate Team, they will guide you through the process.  Below is a list of some common real estate terms. By familiarizing yourself with these home-buying basics, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions and a wise investment. Especially when you’re a first time buyer, its essential to learn these terms. Home Buyer’s Glossary: Real Estate Terms You Should Know: Amortization The length of time allotted to paying off a loan – in home-buying terms, the mortgage. Most maximum amortization periods in Canada are 25 years. Assessed Value The dollar value assigned to a property by a public tax assessor for taxation. This valuation forms the basis for determining property taxes owed by the owner. Balanced Market In a balanced market, there is an equal balance of buyers and sellers, which means sellers often accept reasonable offers, homes sell within a good amount of time, and prices remain stable. Bridge Financing A short-term loan designed to “bridge” the gap for homebuyers who have purchased their new home before selling their existing home. This type of financing is common in a seller’s market, allowing homebuyers to purchase without having to sell first. Buyer’s Agent The buyer’s agent represents the homebuyers and their interests in the transaction. On the other side of the transaction, the listing agent represents the seller and their interests. Buyer’s Market In a buyer’s market, there are more homes on the market than there are buyers, giving the limited number of buyers more choice and greater negotiating power. Homes may stay on the market longer, and prices can be stable or dropping. Closing This is the last step of the real estate transaction, once all the offer conditions outlined in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale have been met and ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer. Once the closing period has passed, the keys are exchanged on the closing date outlined in the offer. Closing Costs The costs associated with “closing” the purchase deal. These costs can include legal and administrative fees related to the home purchase. Closing costs are additional to the purchase price of the home. Condominium Ownership A form of ownership whereby you own your unit and are interested in common elements such as the lobby, elevators, halls, parking garage and building exterior. The condominium association is responsible for building and common elements maintenance and collects a monthly condo fee from each owner based on their proportionate share of the building. Condos often have guidelines regarding noise, use of common areas and allowable renovations within the units. Contingency A condition or clause in a real estate contract that specifies certain events must occur or certain conditions must be met before the contract is legally binding. Curb Appeal The visual attractiveness of a property when viewed from the street or sidewalk. It’s often the first impression potential buyers have of a home and can significantly impact their perception of its value. Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI) A financial metric used by lenders to evaluate a borrower’s ability to manage monthly payments and repay borrowed money. It is calculated by dividing an individual’s total monthly debt payments by their gross monthly income, often expressed as a percentage. A lower DTI suggests that the borrower has a good balance between debt and income, making them a less risky loan candidate. Deposit An up-front payment is made by the buyer to the seller at the time the offer is accepted. The deposit shows the seller that the buyer is serious about the purchase. This amount will be held in trust by the agent or lawyer until the deal closes, at which point it is applied to the purchase price. Down Payment The down payment is the amount of money paid upfront for a home to secure a mortgage. The minimum down payment in Canada is five percent of the home’s total purchase price. Down payments of less than 20 percent of a home’s purchase price require mortgage loan insurance. The mortgage loan amount is the selling price minus the deposit and down payment. Dual Agency Dual agency is when one real estate agent (or real estate brokerage) represents both the homebuyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. There are limitations and requirements around dual agency, which differ by province. Equity The difference between a home’s market value and the amount owing on the mortgage. This is the portion of the house that has been paid for and is officially “owned.” Fixed-Rate Mortgage A fixed-rate mortgage guarantees your interest rate for a pre-determined amount of time, typically five years. When the term expires, you can stay with the same lender or switch to a different one. Freehold Ownership A form of ownership whereby you own the property and assume responsibility for everything inside and outside the home. Foreclosure The legal process through which a lender takes control of a property due to the owner’s failure to make mortgage payments. Initiated after a series of missed payments, foreclosure ultimately results in the sale of the property, usually at a public auction, to recoup the lender’s losses. Gross Debt Service The percentage of your total monthly income that goes toward housing costs. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. recommends your GDS remains at or below 39%. Check out CMHC’s Gross Debt Service calculator. High-Ratio Mortgage A high-ratio mortgage is a mortgage where the borrower has less than 20% of the home’s purchase price to make as the down payment. A high-ratio mortgage with a down payment between 5% and 19% of the purchase price requires mortgage loan insurance. In Canada, 5 percent is the minimum amount required for the down payment. Home

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Illustration of diverse homeowners around a house-shaped padlock with keys, representing refinancing strategies against a backdrop of rising interest rates graph

Unlock Your Savings: Strategies for Homeowners Facing Rising Interest Rates

Many people ask why interest rates go up and why interest rates go down. We will answer that but first a little recent history: Since the beginning of 2022, the Bank of Canada (BoC) has been taking measures to control inflation in the Canadian economy. They are doing this by raising interest rates among many other factors. As a result, interest rates in Canada have reached their highest levels since before the global financial crisis. Government Bonds have a significant impact on interest rates, particularly in how they influence the overall economic environment. Bonds are a good indication if our fixed rates will go up or down. When government bonds go up, fixed rates will go up which is what we’ve seen.When the government issues bonds, it’s essentially borrowing money from investors who buy these bonds. The more bonds the government issues, the more it needs to attract investors. To make bonds more desirable, the government might offer higher interest rates for these particular bonds. A reaction to these higher interest rate bond yields have increased the conventional five-year fixed-rate mortgage by around six percent, nearly double its level during the housing boom of 2020-2021. According to a recent report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), approximately 2.2 million mortgage holders will face an “interest rate shock” when they renew their mortgages in this higher rate environment. This represents about 45 percent of all outstanding mortgages, totaling over $675 billion. In the first half of 2023 alone, nearly 300,000 fixed-rate mortgage borrowers experienced this rate shock, resulting in a significant increase in their mortgage payments. For this year, some could see a 30-40% increase in their average monthly payments. On a $500,000 mortgage with a five year fixed term and a 25 year amortization period, a rate increase from 1.94% to 5.45% would result in a $950 jump in their monthly payments. To mitigate the financial impact of rising rates when refinancing your mortgage below are some options: Here are six options to consider with Refinancing your mortgage: 1. Breaking Up with Your Mortgage: Breaking your mortgage to refinance is generally not recommended, as it can lead to additional interest and penalties. 2. Adding to Your Current Mortgage: Some lenders allow borrowers to add new mortgage components to their current mortgages, enabling them to borrow additional funds without affecting their existing low first mortgage rate. 3. Second Mortgage: Older homeowners or those in need of extra funds may opt for a second mortgage. However, the interest rates for second mortgages can be high, even for borrowers with good credit. 4. Prime HELOC: A home equity line of credit (HELOC) allows you to tap into your property’s value. However, the interest rates for prime HELOCs can range from seven to ten percent. 5. Non-Prime HELOC: If you don’t qualify for a HELOC from a prime lender, you can explore non-prime HELOC options. Keep in mind that these may come with higher interest rates and fees. 6. Blend and Increase: This option involves increasing your existing mortgage and averaging the old and new interest rates. However, it is not applicable to default-insured mortgages. When will we see rates go down? No one has a crystal ball but many economist have stated that US Treasury bonds is to be closely watched as this will be an indication if interest rates are moving to increase or decrease this year.   As your probably aware, many predicted a rate decrease in 2024 which is yet to be seen. Another factor to closely watch is our inflation numbers.  Inflation reduces the purchasing power of money, meaning that consumers can buy less with the same amount of money. This can lead to decreased consumer spending, which is a major component of economic growth. Overall, while inflation is a normal part of most economies, excessively high or unpredictable inflation can be damaging. Central banks aim to maintain inflation at a moderate level, balancing growth without letting prices rise too quickly. If you see inflation going down is a good indication that rates might come down. The Canadian mortgage and housing market in 2024 is expected to experience some stabilization and gradual improvement after a period of volatility. The market has been characterized by cooling sales activity and rising interest rates through 2023. There are indications that the situation may improve later in the year. Additionally, the pricing trends in the housing market are showing modest increases, with national average prices expected to rise slightly. For instance, predictions for the end of 2024 indicate a potential increase in aggregate house prices by around 5% year-over-year​​. This suggests a market that is moving towards a more balanced state after the extremes of recent years. It’s worth noting… The CMHC reports a low number of mortgage delinquencies in many areas in the GTA such as Vaughan, Toronto, Mississauga and surrounding areas but many households are struggling with other debts such as credit cards, car loans, and lines of credit. As pandemic-era mortgages come up for renewal, monthly costs for many households are expected to increase. We have specifically seen an accelerated increase in credit card use with debt ratios surpassing levels from previous years. Many also have eyes on our National Debt which is also a factor of our economic landscape. Whether financing is the path to achieving savings remains to be seen, at the end of the day it all depends on individual circumstances and financial goals. Understand they many have options available. Now more than ever, you need to be connected to the right professionals to help guide you in the right direction when you’re ready to make a financial decision. — Are you Ready to navigate the Vaughan real estate market? or Ready to make a new financial commitment. Contact the Vaughan Real Estate Agents and In house Mortgage Team – Ask Ragona Sisters Real Estate Team today for expert guidance and personalized assistance. We have a very knowledgeable mortgage team to additionally help you make

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Canadian Flag waving in the blue clear sky

Federal Budget – April 2024

Federal Budget Just Announced – How will this impact you Disclaimer: The budget will need to be passed by the House of Commons, here’s what we know so far: Expanded Homebuyers’ PlanAs of budget day, first-time home buyers will be able to withdraw $60,000 from an RRSP to buy a home. That’s up from $35,000. And the grace period to repay the loan has been extended by an additional three years. People who have made withdrawals between Jan. 1, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2025, will now have five years to begin repayment of the loan. The Federal Government has indicated that these changes are meant to work in tandem with the First Home Savings Account, which it launched last year. The rules governing that program allow for an annual $8,000 contribution cap, with a lifetime limit of $40,000. Prospective homebuyers must use the accumulated funds within 15 years once they open an account.  New Mortgage Rules with Longer AmortizationsComing August 1st, first-time homebuyers will be able to take advantage of 30-year amortization periods on insured mortgages for purchasing newly built homes. Increasing the amortization period from 25 to 30 years translates into lower monthly payments. And it seems that there is a formalization of the Government’s – Canadian Mortgage Charter to facilitate stressed borrowers by extending amortization periods  for existing mortgage borrowers. Capital Gains IncreaseThe increase will apply for gains over $250,000. Business or non primary properties will be subject to now pay income tax on two-thirds of their capital gain earnings.  Ability to Leverage Rental Payment HistoryIn much the same way that Credit Scores are influenced by those who pay-down a mortgage, renters will be able to use their rent payment history to improve their Credit Score. A better Credit Score aims to help buyers qualify for a mortgage and likely lock-in better rates. Easier for Homeowners to Add Secondary SuitesBudget 2024 proposes a new Secondary Suite Loan Program to enable homeowners to access up to $40,000 in a low-interest loan to add a secondary suite to their home.  The announcement builds on the Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit, which launched in 2023. The value of the credit is 15% of qualifying expenditures up to $50,000 and provides up to $7,500 for constructing a secondary suite for a senior or an adult with a disability. More Homes… FasterThe Budget announcement also includes ambitious plans to have 3.87 million new homes built by 2031, bring down the costs of homebuilding, and help cities make it easier to build homes at a faster pace. Other Notable Nuggets in the 2024 Canadian Federal Budget Enhanced Tax Credits for Going Green: Retrofit your home with energy-efficient upgrades and watch the tax credits roll in. Want more information on how the 2024 Budget could impact you, connect with us. We would love to hear from you!

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