Oct
21
2017
Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

With the winter just around the corner, it’s time to get your house in shape for the cooler months ahead. Although autumn can be one of the busiest seasons for homeowners preparing for winter, it’s also the best time to take advantage of the moderate weather to repair any damages before the first frost sets in. Here are some home maintenance tips that will keep your home running in peak condition all winter long.

Outdoor Preparation

  • Check the roof for cracked or missing shingles, bald spots on shingles, missing or damaged flashing, and other conditions that might allow leaks. Replace any roof shingles that are missing or damaged. Seal minor cracks or tears with roofing cement.
  • Check the gutters. If they are clogged with leaves and debris, clean them. Gutters prevent basement and foundation flooding and water damage to siding, windows, and doors.
  • Check the siding for cracks or damage and seal any leaky spots with clear caulking compound.
  • Windows and doors. Make sure they are properly sealed with weather stripping and replace any damaged parts. Weather stripping prevents drafts and winter heat loss.
  • Trim trees and bushes away from the house.
  • Cover air conditioner and barbecue to prevent winter damage.
  • Store lawn and patio furniture in a shed or basement. If space is limited, use weather-resistant covers that can protect outdoor furniture.
  • Close your pool before leaves start to fall and night-time temperatures begin to drop, otherwise you may risk an algae bloom.
  • Drain and shut off outdoor water faucets and remove and store garden hoses.
  • Store kids toys indoors or in an outdoor shed to prevent rusting and fading.
  • Check and repair exterior lighting before daylight fades.
  • Scrape peeling paint and apply touch up paint to your siding, trim and fences, and apply waterproofing sealer to your deck if necessary.
  • Examine driveways and walkways for cracks. Larger cracks should be sealed to keep out water.

Lawn and Garden

  • Prepare planting beds when the soil is relatively dry. By adding soil and mulch to your beds, you'll be a step ahead for spring planting.
  • Plant spring blooming bulbs and perennials.
  • Protect roses, saplings and small trees by sheltering them with a burlap screen.
  • Pull weeds to reduce the number of seedlings next spring.
  • Mow grass short for the final cut of the year by reducing the cutting height gradually to 3.5 cm (from 7.4 cm) until the grass stops growing.
  • Check ground grading around the house. All surfaces next to walls should be sloped to shed water away from the house. This is most important on warm winter days, as melting snow runs quickly across the surface of the frozen ground. If the grading is incorrect, water will potentially flow into the house, causing basement leakage. Now is the time to use a shovel to re-slope the grass, or call a paving contractor to correct a negatively sloped walkway or driveway.

Indoor Preparation

  • Bring container plants inside and make sure they are free of pests. Doing so may enable plants to survive the season and bloom again in spring.
  • Caulk around window and door casings to keep out air and water. If your house has wood siding with window frames that stand out from the siding, caulk the top and sides of the frame. Don't caulk under the sill as this space should be left open to allow moisture inside the wall to escape. If your house is brick or stone, with window frames that are set into the finish material, caulk all four edges of each frame where the brick mould meets the masonry.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters as needed. Check and clean dryer vent, air conditioner, stove hood and room fans. Keep heating and cooling vents clean and away from furniture and draperies.
  • Ensure that all smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order. Replace batteries as needed, or at least twice each year.
  • Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating/air-conditioning professional. Most furnace manufacturers recommend annual inspections.
  • Have your chimney(s) inspected by a chimney service and, if necessary, cleaned. Cleaning is generally recommended at least once a year for an active fireplace.
  • Store plenty of salt or rock salt, snow shovels, and any other items you will need during the winter.
  • Examine the basement floor and walls for cracks or leaks; seal as needed.

If you plan to reside elsewhere during the winter months, you may want to partially shutdown your home. In addition to the tips above, consider the following:

  • Leave the temperature at its lowest setting, usually between 5 to 7 degrees Celsius or install a low-heat thermostat to maintain the air temperature at approximately 5 degrees Celsius
  • Turn off and drain the water heater; leave a reminder to refill before restarting.
  • Keep the electricity on so lights will continue to function (put lights on timers).
  • Unplug the microwave, clothes dryer, televisions and other appliances not in use.
  • To avoid large repair bills and the hassle associated with breakdowns, take the time now to develop an action plan for the coming months. You'll feel secure in your warm home or while you're away from home.

Winter can be hard on a house, following these steps will help preserve your investment and prevent any unnecessary chores or repairs that might be difficult to do during winter.

Oct
6
2017
Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

Taking out a mortgage can be intimidating, there are many terms that might be unfamiliar to you as you go through the process. Here are the most common mortgage terms we think every homebuyer should know.

Amortization
This is a schedule that outlines your loan payments for the duration of the home buying loan. It details how much of each monthly payment goes toward the principal and how much goes toward the loan interest. Initially, the bulk of your payments will be applied toward the interest.

Appraised Value
An estimate of a property’s market value, used by lenders in determining the amount of the mortgage. Usually made by a qualified professional called an “appraiser”.

Assessment 
The value of a property, set by the local municipality, for the purposes of calculating property tax.

Assumable Mortgage 
A mortgage held on a property by the seller that can be taken over by the buyer, who then accepts responsibility for making the mortgage payments.

Blended Mortgage 
A combination of two mortgages, one with a higher interest rate than the other, to create a new mortgage with an interest rate somewhere between the two original rates.

Bridge Financing 
Interim financing to bridge between the closing date on the purchase of the new home and the closing date on the sale of the current home.

Buy-down
When the seller reduces the interest rate on a mortgage by paying the difference between the reduced rate and market rate directly to the lender, or to the purchaser, in one lump sum or monthly instalments.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)
The National Housing Act (NHA) authorized Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to operate a Mortgage Insurance Fund which protects NHA Approved Lenders from losses resulting from borrower default.

Closed Mortgage
A mortgage that cannot be prepaid, renegotiated or refinanced during its term.

Commitment 
A notice from a mortgage lender to a prospective borrower that the lender will advance mortgage funds of a specified amount under certain conditions.

Conventional Mortgage 
A mortgage loan of up to a maximum of 75% of the lending value of the property for which a lender does not require loan insurance.

Debt Service Ratio
The percentage of a borrower’s income that can be used for housing costs. Gross Debt Service (GDS) Ratio is the amount that a lender will permit a borrower to use from his/her gross income in order to qualify for a loan for housing costs, including mortgage payment and taxes (and condominium fees, when applicable). Total Debt Service (TDS) Ratio is the maximum percentage of a borrower’s income that a lender will consider for all debt repayment (other loans and credit cards, etc.) including a mortgage.

Default
Non-payment of instalments due under the terms of the mortgage.

Discharge
The removal of all mortgages and financial encumbrances on the property.

Equity
The difference between the price for which a property can be sold and the mortgage(s) on the property. Equity is the owner’s “stake” in a property.

First Mortgage
The first security registered on a property. Additional mortgages secured against the property are “secondary” to the first mortgage.

Foreclosure
A legal process by which the lender takes possession and ownership of a property when the borrower doesn’t meet the mortgage obligations.

Gross Debt Service (GDS) Ratio
The percentage of gross income required to cover monthly payments associated with housing costs. Most lenders recommend that the GDS ratio be no more than 32% of your gross (before tax) monthly income.

Gross Household Income
Is the total salary, wages, commissions and other assured income, before deductions, by all household members who are co-applicants for the mortgage.

Hazard Insurance
An insurance policy required by lenders to protect a property against damage or loss caused by fire, weather, etc.

High Ratio Mortgage
A mortgage that exceeds 75% of the loan-to-value ratio; must be insured by either the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or a private insurer to protect the lender against default by the borrower who has less equity invested in the property.

Hold-back
An amount of money withheld by the lender during the progress of construction of a house to ensure that construction is satisfactory at every stage. The amount of hold-back is generally equivalent to the estimated cost to complete construction.

Interest Rate Differential Amount (IRD)
An IRD amount is a compensation charge that may apply if you pay off your mortgage principal prior to the maturity date or pay the mortgage principal down beyond the prepayment privilege amount. The IRD amount is calculated on the amount being prepaid using an interest rate equal to the difference between your existing mortgage interest rate and the interest rate that we can now charge when re-lending the funds for the remaining term of the mortgage. For more information, click on compensation amounts.

Interim Financing
Short-term financing to help a buyer bridge the gap between the closing date on the purchase of a new home and the closing date on the sale of the current home.

Maturity Date
Last day of the term of the mortgage agreement.

Mortgage
A contract between a borrower and a lender. The borrower pledges a property as security to guarantee repayment of the mortgage debt.

Mortgage Broker
A licensed individual who, for a fee, brings together a borrower in search of a mortgage and a lender willing to issue that mortgage.

Mortgage Insurance Premium
A premium which is added to the mortgage and paid by the borrower over the life of the mortgage. The mortgage insurance insures the lender against loss in case of default on the part of the borrower.

Mortgage Life Insurance
A form of reducing term insurance available for all mortgagors. In the event of the death of the owner or one of the owners, the insurance pays the balance owing on the mortgage. The intent is to protect survivors from losing their home.

Mortgage Payment
The regular instalments made towards paying back the principal and interest on a mortgage.

Mortgage Term
The length of time a lender will loan mortgage funds to a borrower. Most mortgage terms run from six months to five years, after which the borrower can either repay the balance (remaining principal) of the mortgage, or renegotiate the mortgage for another term.

Mortgage Prepayment Penalty
A fee paid by the borrower to the lender in exchange for being permitted to break a contract (a mortgage agreement); usually three months’ interest, but it can be a higher or it can be the equivalent of the loss of interest to the lender.

Mortgagee
The entity who lends the money.

Mortgagor
The entity who borrows the money. The borrower pledges a property as security to guarantee repayment of the mortgage debt.

Open Mortgage
A mortgage that can be prepaid or renegotiated at any time and in any amount without penalty.

Payment Frequency
The choice of making regular mortgage payments every week, every other week, twice a month or monthly.

Principal
The mortgage amount initially borrowed or the portion still owing on the mortgage. Interest is calculated on the principal amount.

P, I & T
Principal, interest and taxes due on a mortgage.

P & I
Principal and interest due on a mortgage.

Oct
2
2017
Posted by Brian Lamb Marketing and Associates

One of the primary goals of home ownership should be the building of equity in your home. Equity is simply the difference between the current value of a property and the balance of all mortgage obligations.

For example, if you have a home that is valued at $375,000 (based on an appraisal or a Comparative Market Analysis) and a mortgage balance of $175,000, you have $200,000 ($375,000 -$175,000) equity in your home. As long as the market remains stable, this is like money in the bank. As your house value increases over time and mortgage payments you make reduces the level of your debt, your home equity increases.

Why Equity in a Home is Important?

Simply stated, the appreciation of equity in a home is one of the easiest and most successful paths to wealth that is available to you. To a large degree, it is almost painless—you make the mortgage payment that you would have to make anyhow and the balance is reduced. The value of the home, meanwhile, is rising. As a result, your nest egg should be growing. The quicker you find yourself at 100% equity—owning nothing on your home—the quicker the route to less financial stress and true wealth.

How to Build Additional Equity?

There are a number of ways to build additional equity in a home, some easier than others but all effective:

1) Higher initial down payment
The most obvious way to build additional equity is at the first opportunity—making a larger down payment at the time of purchase. This extra money is immediately "banked" in the home, making it much less tempting to spend.

2) Extra principal payments
Making extra payments of principal (or just adding money to your monthly payment designated to go to principal) has a double effect on your equity. First, every dollar you contribute reduces your debt by the same amount. Second, reduced debt means less interest paid, which means that each month more of your payment goes to principal and less goes to interest.

NOTE: Although most loans allow it, check with your lender to see if they accept extra payments of principal with no penalty.

3) Shorter mortgage term
The lower mortgage interest rates that we have seen recently means that for many buyers, they are able to either initially secure a mortgage with a shorter term or, if the are currently in a long term mortgage (such as 30 years) refinance and get a shorter term. Shorter mortgage terms mean that you will be paying down your principal much quicker and therefore gaining additional equity at a much faster rate.

4) Home improvements
When you improve the quality or size of your home, you also increase its value and thus your equity. Be aware, though, that although virtually all home improvement projects will bring some return, some are much more advantageous than others. For example, remodelling kitchens or bathrooms traditionally have brought a greater return than adding leisure amenities such as pools or whirlpools. To get the maximum equity enhancement, make certain that the kind of improvements you want to make will increase the home’s value appreciably.

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