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It’s a buyer’s market in New York City, but will it carry over into 2019?

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Despite a record number of homes for sale in 2018, sales throughout New York City have dropped sharply creating the perfect buyer’s market, according to a new report by the listing site StreetEasy.

“More New Yorkers seeking to accommodate a growing family, to relocate, or simply to cash out their investment will inevitably look to sell in 2019, adding to a market that’s already saturated. These sellers will need to take much greater measures to move their homes,” writes Grant Long, StreetEasy senior economist, in the report.

In an effort to attract buyers in 2018, sellers have been willing to cut prices and negotiate to close a sale. The share of listings that had a price cut hit its highest levels since the financial crisis. However, the average amount of those price cuts — on both a percentage and absolute basis — has not changed.

“Instead of coming to grips with the fact that asking prices are too ambitious, most sellers are making small, incremental adjustments to attract buyers. This strategy didn’t work in 2018, and isn’t likely to in 2019,” says Long.

But homebuyers in Queens are likely to face the most challenges — and not because of Amazon’s arrival in the Big Apple.

Over the last year, Queens home prices have risen at a consistently faster pace than in Brooklyn or Manhattan — yet remain relatively affordable.  The average listing price in Queens is $657,000, compared to $1.39 million in Manhattan and $950,000 in Brooklyn.

The price growth is more about making up for lost time than Amazon — home price appreciation in Queens has significantly lagged behind growth in Manhattan and Brooklyn since the end of the 2008 financial crisis and is only now starting to catch up.

“The borough’s performance will likely grow with Amazon’s plans to move into Long Island City, but it was likely to continue anyway, given the number of New Yorkers seeking out the relative convenience and affordability of Queens,” says Long.

Yet despite all the controversy, Amazon’s presence will likely not take much of a bite out of the Big Apple’s housing market in 2019. Tech-giants Google and Amazon made massive waves by announcing massive hiring plans in the city, and some real estate professionals salivated at the prospect of a large influx of highly paid professionals — hoping they will push up the cost of housing, much as it did in San Francisco and Seattle.

“While diversifying away from financial services is a welcome move for the New York City economy, it’s unlikely to provide a bailout for those speculating on high-priced luxury condos languishing on the market,” says Long.

Additionally, despite the lauded high salaries, many HQ2 employees still won’t be able to afford the asking price of the city’s many languishing luxury condos sitting on the market.

“The $150,000 average annual salary of a new Amazon HQ2 employee is well above the city median, but still far from sufficient to make a multimillion-dollar condo affordable,” says Long.

Meanwhile, New York City renters should expect to see a very competitive market in 2019.

As interest rates and home prices continue to climb higher, renting will remain more attractive than buying for many New Yorkers. Competition in the city’s most desirable neighborhoods will likely escalate next summer — peak moving season.

The outer-boroughs will also likely be scorched by fierce competition in the rental market next summer.

“Rents in newly chic neighborhoods in outer-boroughs now equal those in many Manhattan neighborhoods,” says Long.

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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