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Canadian homes haven’t been so unaffordable since 1990, and a big bank asks is ownership only for the rich?





Photo: James Bombales/Flickr

You’d have to go back to the year 1990 to find the last time Canadian homes were so unaffordable for the typical buyer, leading one of the country’s biggest banks to question whether ownership is only for the wealthy now.

According to RBC, which just released its third-quarter analysis of the cost of home ownership, households in Canada need to fork over 53.9 percent of their incomes to afford the average-priced home.

The “main culprit” as RBC sees it is rising interest rates. Mortgage rates have risen for five consecutive quarters as the Bank of Canada has embarked on monetary tightening. The central bank has hiked its overnight rate, which influences the mortgage marketplace, five times since July 2017.

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Homebuyers are most stretched in Vancouver, where it takes an 86.9-percent share of a household’s income for a typical home. Toronto follows as households need to shell out 75.3 percent of their incomes to saddle the cost of ownership.

To rank affordability, RBC looks at what share of a median pre-tax household income would be needed to afford an average-priced home. Calculations assume a 25-percent downpayment and a 25-year mortgage with a five-year fixed rate.

High housing costs in Canada led RBC to ask “are only the rich able to buy a home these days?” The answer, according to the bank: “That certainly looks like it in Canada’s most expensive markets.”

Specifically, RBC highlighted Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto — where buyers need two to three times the median income to even qualify for a mortgage and carry the cost of ownership — for their respective affordability issues.

On top of rising rates, the federal government’s stress testing on uninsured mortgages has further intensified challenges for buyers. In fact, for Vancouverites, the stress test means the minimum qualifying income shot up $36,000. Minimum qualifying incomes in Victoria and Toronto surged $25,000 and $27,000, respectively.

That means that in Vancouver, a household would need to pull in at least $211,000 annually. Meantime in nearby Victoria, the minimum income as $154,000, while for Toronto it was $167,000.

“Thousands of dollars more in income are now needed to buy a home with a mortgage in every market across the country because of the stress test,” says RBC.

RBC doesn’t expect the situation for house hunters will improve meaningfully next year as economists predict two more Bank of Canada rate hikes in 2019. However, RBC isn’t expecting a significant worsening in affordability either. “A generally soft environment for prices and rising household income will contain some of that pressure,” the bank notes.

Of Canada’s major markets, Edmonton was the most attainable market for homeowner hopefuls. There, an average home requires 28.2 percent of the median income for a local household. The next most affordable market was Ottawa, where 38.6 percent of the median household income was needed. Calgary and Montreal followed at roughly 45 percent each.

But the tide seems to be shifting in Montreal. In fact, Montreal’s affordability measure worsened the most of any market RBC tracked last quarter. The share of household income needed to afford a home in Montreal increased by a whole percentage point from the previous quarter.

“The area has been one of the stronger markets in Canada in the past year—another being Ottawa—that saw solid price gains amplify the effect of higher interest rates on ownership costs,” says RBC. “Despite some deterioration in the latest period, owning a home remains affordable in the majority of other markets in Canada.”


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5 DIY Home Improvements for the COVID-19 Lockdown





The global coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of people around the world, to spend more time in their homes this year than they have spent in a long time. As people sit around day after day within the confines of their home, it becomes easier to notice all the areas of the house that need some work. Fortunately, everyone can now afford the extra free time to do the home renovation project they’ve been putting off for years.

Due to the on-going global health crisis, you may not be able to hire any help for your home improvement project; this means that whatever new project you plan to do around the house, whether it’s repainting the home, or installing floor heating systems, you would have to do it yourself.

Here are some do-it-yourself that you may like to try out.

Upgrade to Smart Home Appliances

It’s 2020, what better year to embrace the future by installing a range of high-tech devices that make life extra easy. For instance, with a smart thermostat, your home’s heating and cooling system can go off on their own when not needed, keeping your electricity bills lower. Other appliances that you can make smart include your lighting, home security, music and more.

Clean out your Garage

Homeserve suggests a garage cleanout as a great home improvement project for this season because cleaning out your garage provides some fresh air, the heavy lifting provides some workout and you feel an enormous sense of accomplishment when it’s done.  What’s more, the day would be far spent by the time you’re done with this project. Cleaning out your garage would require you to sweep out any dirt or debris, and get rid of other useless items that may have been stored there for a long time.

Start a Repainting Project

There’s always room for a fresh coat of paint to make everywhere look more alive, so grab a paintbrush and add some extra character to your home. The good news is that you don’t even have to go out for the paint, you can have it shipped directly to your door. Southlandremodeling suggests that if you had 2019 palette or older in your home, now is the time to embrace the latest colour hues of 2020, that show off a more contemporary style and make your home look more sophisticated.

 Build a Patio

Now is the time where every family would enjoy having a paver patio or an outdoor deck, somewhere to sit and get some fresh air when you’re tired of being cooped up inside all day. First you have to ensure that your home has enough space for a patio and that you have enough skills to handle a hammer and other tools for simple construction.

Next you order your needed materials online and get started. There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes with being able to create an outdoor space that your family can enjoy while being stuck at home.

Install some floor heating systems

Installation of floor heating systems is one of the best home improvement projects that one can get. Many people prefer to hire professionals to do these kinds of installation but if you are up for it, it’s not impossible to do this on a DIY project and get a valuable addition to your home for about half the cost.


There is no reason to continue holding out on your dream DIY home renovation projects, especially now that you have all the time in the world due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Now is the perfect time to transform your home all by yourself!

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13 Montreal Apartments For Rent That Have Breathtaking Outdoor Spaces





With Quebec’s moving day just around the corner, many people are starting to look for a new property to rent. And, now that Montreal real estate activity is back in action, you can start trying to find the perfect space again. And, if you ask me, an apartment that comes with outdoor space is a must when living in the city.

From balconies to shared rooftop spaces, we’re all looking for a place where we can be outdoors. 

Now, more than ever, fresh air is something that we’re all craving. And, with summer coming faster than we think, finding a place with access to the outside is on so many of our checklists. 

Luckily for you, we at MTL Blog have made your job very easy and have gone through listings throughout the city to showcase some of the best rentals, all of which have outdoor spaces. 

Some of these properties offer private balconies while others have surreal rooftops you get access to. Regardless of which one you fall in love with, you’ll be sure to have a summer to remember living in any apartment on this list. 

Get ready for moving day because after looking at these properties, you’re going to be ready to pack your belongings.

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Montreal real-estate market hit hard by pandemic





Like many industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the red-hot Montreal real-estate market has suddenly chilled.

After 61 consecutive months of increases, the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area reported a 68-per-cent decrease in residential sales transactions in April 2020 compared with the year-earlier period, according to the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers.

The most recent residential real-estate market statistics for the Montreal area showed 1,890 residential sales transactions were concluded last month. Those figures are based on the real-estate brokers’ Centris provincial database.

Montreal has been hit harder than other Canadian cities by the pandemic, and the drop in sales was seen in all six main areas of the Montreal CMA.

The drop in sales applied to all three property categories. Single-family home sales fell 68 per cent (1,048 transactions): plex sales dropped 67 per cent (161 transactions); and condominium sales tumbled 69 per cent (675 transactions).

Despite the drop in sales, real-estate prices rose in the CMA. The median price of single-family homes increased by nine per cent to reach $360,000, while the median price of condominiums climbed 12 per cent to $289,900.

Compared with April 2019, the median price of plexes (two to five dwellings) increased 10 per cent to $595,000.

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