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These are the top performing Canadian housing markets of 2018

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With under a month left in the year, a picture of the Canadian housing market’s clear winners — and losers — is quickly emerging.

Following the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)’s release of November home sales data today, BMO ranks the country’s biggest markets in terms of how average prices have performed over the past 11 months.

Montreal has outperformed all other major markets, with prices up 5.5 percent so far this year, followed by Ottawa, where prices have grown by 3.6 percent.

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“With solid market balances and steady underlying economies, we expect these cities to remain generally healthy in 2019,” writes Douglas Porter, BMO’s chief economist, in a report.

BMO notes that the hottest markets in the country are actually mid-sized Ontario cities, with home prices in London and Windsor surging by double digits, the only cities in the country to achieve this rate of growth.

Prices were up 2.1 percent in Halifax, while Winnipeg and Vancouver have both seen gains of 1.8 percent from January to November.

For Vancouver at least, it appears the number is set to drop as sales in November plummeted 42 percent on a year-over-year basis.

“Prices are gearing down,” says Porter, noting how far sales activity has fallen from a year ago, partly the result of provincial policy such as the increased foreign-homebuyer tax.

The remaining four markets all recorded year-to-date price drops, led by the country’s most-active housing market, Toronto.

Toronto home prices have dropped 4.8 percent this year — faring worse than the national average, which was down 4.1 percent — while sales are off last year’s tally achieved over the same period by 16 percent.

“Notably, with the late-year pullback in sales, the GTA’s market balance is below the national average, suggesting there is no quick turn on the horizon,” says Porter.

Declines in Regina weren’t far off at 4.2 percent, while Edmonton prices tumbled 1.6 percent. Meantime, Calgary prices declined by 1.2 percent.

“The soggy story is echoed across most of the Prairies, which generally struggled through a tough year,” Porter notes, adding worries over slumping oil prices once again roiled Calgary’s market in November.

“The more recent rebound in Canadian oil prices may put a floor under confidence, but with global prices hovering around their lows for the year, we wouldn’t look for a big snap-back in oil-related cities in 2019,” he explains.

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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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