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Webequie First Nation completes multiple housing projects

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The federal government announced the completion of recent housing projects in the indigenous community of Webequie First Nation in Ontario.

Bob Naulat, MP for Kenora, on behalf of the Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, joined Chief Cornelius Wabasse and the community of Webequie First Nation to celebrate the completion of several recent housing projects. These include 14 new modular homes, two new four-plexes, five single-family homes, and renovations to 14 existing homes.

The Canadian government is working in partnership with First Nation communities to build new and renovated housing, reduce overcrowding, and enhance the quality of life of families and residents.

All of these housing projects were funded through the Canadian government’s Community Wellbeing Pilot Project, launched in February 2016. Since 2016, the federal government has invested a total of $9,387,564 toward these housing projects.

“Every person deserves a safe and healthy place to call home. Our government was proud to partner with Webequie First Nation on their newly completed housing projects, which will provide 29 families in the community with new, safe and modern homes,” said Philpott

“Through the Community Wellbeing Pilot Project, a whole-of-government approach focusing on First Nation-identified priorities, we are working with Webequie and other communities to reduce the housing gap and support the needs of First Nations families in communities across the country.”

As a result of these collaborative efforts, the community is able to provide new, safe and modern homes to 29 families, and was able to benefit from employment and business opportunities associated with housing construction and renovations.

 

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Here’s How Halton Real Estate Patterns Have Changed Over the Years

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We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, the real estate market is constantly fluctuating. In a recent inhalton article, it was noted that the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) called 2018 “a volatile year” for the housing market.

Although 2019 is expected to a little bit better in terms of sales and average selling prices in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), we still have some 2018 statistics and facts that may come as a shock to some Halton residents.

According to a recent RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada press release, migration patterns of residential homebuyers in the GTA have shifted west. This, according to the release, is due to the Halton Region’s and Toronto west’s market shares rising between 2013 and 2018.

The release notes that the Halton Region captured 10.1 per cent of total market share in 2018, leading with a 2.3-per-cent increase over 2013. On the other hand, Toronto West climbed almost one per cent to 10.5 per cent. The release also looked at market sales in the Peel Region, Toronto Central, Toronto East, York Region, Durham Region, Dufferin County, and Simcoe County.

Over the past five years, there have been many factors that have contributed to Halton’s increase market shares.

“Growing demand for affordable housing buoyed new construction and contributed to rising market share in Halton Region over the five-year period,” Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada, said in the release. “Product was coming on-stream at a time when the GTA reported its lowest inventory in years and skyrocketing housing values were raising red flags. Freehold properties in the suburbs farther afield spoke to affordability.”

As a result of people flocking to the Halton Region in order to avoid these skyrocketing housing values, an increase of construction and development has become quite common for the region.

According to the release, new housing starts in Halton was averaged to be around 3,100 annually between 2013 and 2016. Between 2013 and 2017, almost 39,000 residential units came on-stream in Toronto’s Downtown and Central Waterfront areas.

Another real estate pattern that has changed, that may not come as a shock, is the average price to buy a house.

The average price for a home sold in Toronto’s west end in 2018 hovered near $755,658. The ever-increasing prices, as noted by Alexander, will have an impact on what type of properties will be more popular in the future.

“Freehold properties remain the choice of most purchasers in Halton Region and Toronto West,” Alexander said. “The same is true to a lesser extent in Toronto Central, but condominiums continue to gain ground. Just over one in three properties sold in the GTA was a condominium in 2018 and that figure is higher in the core. As prices climb in both the city and suburbs, the shift toward higher-density housing will continue, with fewer single-detached developments coming to pass.”

In recent years, as a result of increasing prices, many buyers, including younger buyers, empty nesters, and retirees have shifted towards Simcoe County where the average price ranges from $528,942 to $746.

“As the millennials move into their homebuying years, they will displace baby boomers as the dominant force in the GTA’s real estate market,” Alexander said. “Their impact on housing will have a serious ripple effect on infrastructure in the coming years, placing pressure on transit systems, roadways, local economies and their abilities to attract investors and new businesses, parks and greenspace development.”

However, there has been a demand for condominium apartments and townhouses areas like City Place, King West Village, and Liberty Village. There has also been gentrification in many Toronto neighbourhoods such as Oakwood-Vaughan and Dufferin Grove as they offer smaller freehold properties at more affordable prices.

Over the next 10 years, the increase in demand is projected to re-ignite homebuying activity in Toronto East, York, Peel, and Durham Regions regardless of the affordability, lack of available housing, and fewer transit options that may be apparent now.

What do you think of these shifting real estate patterns in Halton and the surrounding areas?

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How sweat equity and a little home DIY can help you avoid a down payment on mortgage loan

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Saving a down payment is challenging for many first-time home buyers, and even if they manage it, more obstacles lie ahead.

After choosing a lender and getting approved, buyers still have to find a good house that fits their budget. Looking at fixer-uppers can expand their options, but not everyone can afford major improvements after such a big purchase.

Buyers could find a solution in Home Possible, a low-down-payment conventional mortgage from Freddie Mac. These loans offer an attractive option for borrowers willing to apply a little elbow grease: a sweat equity provision that can eliminate the need for a cash down payment.

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Sweat equity allows buyers to “earn” their entire down payment by improving a home before purchase, says Danny Gardner, senior vice president of affordable lending at Freddie Mac. Buyers do the work themselves, and the change in appraised value after the renovations becomes a credit they can apply to the purchase.

Some conditions apply: Using the sweat equity feature requires home improvement know-how and money to purchase materials. The sellers also must be willing to let someone work on their house before buying it.

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But in the right situation, this feature gives first-time home buyers more bang for their buck, particularly in markets where move-in ready starter homes are hard to come by.

Young homeowners love to DIY

America’s desire to bootstrap home improvements could be attributed in part to something known as the “HGTV effect,” which refers to a recent surge of popular home improvement reality shows and YouTube channels featuring do-it-yourself experts.

Thirty-eight percent of all home renovation projects are DIY, according to NerdWallet’s 2018 Home Improvement Report.

Younger homeowners are especially eager to roll up their sleeves – those under age 35 complete more than half of all their own home repair and improvement projects instead of hiring a professional. As a result, they spend several hundred dollars less on a typical project, the report found.

With sweat equity, DIY-obsessed home buyers may be able to channel that energy into a more affordable home.

Who can use the sweat equity feature?

Buyers interested in the sweat equity feature should talk with a lender that offers Home Possible loans. The option is open to any borrower who meets general financial guidelines.

“Home Possible is a great loan program,” says Keith Kampe, vice president of sales at Flagstar Bank. “The only challenge is getting people into it, because there are income limits.”

The program sets household income limits by census tract, an area that’s usually similar to a neighborhood in size. Freddie Mac has an eligibility tool that lets users see the limits by property address.

No matter how you slice it, buying a house requires some money upfront. For sweat equity borrowers, each dollar spent improving the property before purchase pulls double duty as a credit toward their down payment.

But before they can break out the power tools, sweat equity borrowers have to find the right house and a seller who’s comfortable with the unique arrangement.

“There has to be a lot of trust there between buyer and seller,” says Joe Zucht, a loan originator at NBKC Bank. Those looking to buy from a friend, family member or their current landlord may already have that trusting relationship, he says.

If both parties are on board with a sweat equity arrangement, the buyer’s real estate agent will draft an offer that describes all planned improvements and explains what will happen if the deal falls through. Once the agreement is signed, the work must be completed by the buyer before the loan closes – in other words, before he or she owns the house.

Sweat equity borrowers should also be ready for an appraiser to look over their shoulder throughout the process. The appraiser will estimate the value of the remodel and verify that the materials and workmanship match what was promised in the contract.

It’s important for sweat equity borrowers to choose their presale improvements strategically, weighing the money and effort required against the down payment credit they’ll earn. Buyers should also be realistic about their DIY skills and avoid biting off more than they can chew.

While some changes are merely cosmetic, others are capital improvements that can significantly increase the property’s value, extend its useful life or adapt it for new uses. These are typically bigger projects that could include installing a new roof, renovating the kitchen or adding a garage.

Even though it’s a more intense commitment, Gardner says buyers who hope to capture the full benefit of their sweat equity should “focus on capital improvements because once you become the owner of that home, you can always make the cosmetic improvements.”

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A Cheat Sheet For First-Time Home Buyers In Today’s Tight Market

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In today’s housing market where affordable single-family homes are difficult to come by, potential first-time buyers have been forced to make compromises in how they shop for a home and what’s on their wish list to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

The 2019 NerdWallet Home Buyer Report finds that 36% of Americans plan to buy a home in the next five years. Of them, 24% say they’ll be making the purchase within the next 12 months.

The report examines the compromises and ways first-time buyers could save money. Here are some key findings from the report based on a new online survey conducted by The Harris Poll in January.

Upping the ante. Nearly half (45%) of Americans who have purchased a home in the last five years offered more than the asking price before having their offers accepted. NerdWallet home expert Holden Lewis attributes this to stiff competition in a sellers market.

“When we looked at the people who bought homes in the last five years, people who were first timers and the people who were repeat buyers, we found that first-time home buyers made more offers before finally having one accepted,” said Lewis. “For all buyers, the average was three offers before an offer was finally accepted, and that might be for one house or they made offers for more than one. But for first timers, they made nearly four offers before having one accepted.”

First-time home buyers are likely to be younger and on a leaner budget. Those with less to spend stand to feel squeezed more.

“They might be low-balling in their first offer in a market in which that is not really the way to do it,” said Lewis. “I think a bigger part does not have that much to do with inexperience. When you’re buying an entry-level home, it’s tougher. There are more buyers, there’s more competition, and therefore, you’re going to have to make more offers on average.”

Down payment misconceptions. Sixty-two percent of Americans believe they must put at least 20% down in order to purchase a home.

“This is something we try to continually educate people about,” Lewis said. “You do not need a 20% down payment. With a conventional loan you can often get a home with a 3% down payment. With FHA, you can get a home with a 3.5% down payment and your credit doesn’t even have to be that good. If you’re a veteran, you can buy a house with a VA loan with zero down. Or if it’s a rural area, you can get a loan with zero down.”

With a smaller down payment, you don’t have to fork over as much money initially, but your monthly house payments are going to be larger. Lewis said that with home prices continually rising, a buyer might be better off buying in the current market.

“Essentially if you buy a house today, you might be buying it for 10% less than a year from now,” he said. “The earlier you buy that house, the more likely you are to get that house at an affordable price.”

Missing out on savings. Home buyers could save more than $400 in the first year of a 30-year mortgage by comparing mortgage rates among lenders before applying, the report finds.

“Mortgage rate shopping is extremely important and is not done nearly often enough,” said Lewis. “In our survey, we found that half of people who got a mortgage in the last five years applied to only one lender. If each of them had applied to at least five lenders, they would have saved an average of $400 in interest in their first year of having their mortgage. Of course, if you have a mortgage in its first year, that $400 would compound year by year.”

Lewis said digital mortgage platforms offer convenience and savings. “The income information is available to the lender online, bank account information, information about debt payments.  When it’s that easy to apply for a mortgage, why not apply for five mortgages?” he said.

With that in mind, Lewis added, “It’s really a good idea to not max out the absolute most you can afford to borrow and pay every month. I always recommend giving yourself a little bit of wiggle room. With money that is saved over every month after you paid all your debts, including your mortgage, you can pay for car repairs and vacations and save money for the inevitable maintenance and repairs on the home.”

Feeling the pinch after the purchase. One-fourth (25%) of American homeowners say they no longer felt financially secure after buying their current home, and more than one-third (34%) of first-time home buyers echoed that sentiment.

Lewis attributes this insecurity to lack of experience. “They might not fully comprehend how much it costs to own a home with insurance and taxes,” he said. “And since they are more likely to get caught up in bidding competitions, they are more likely to pay a little bit more than they expected to pay. Therefore, after they close they are feeling a little bit financially precarious.”

Lewis recommends working with a licensed real estate agent and using a home affordability calculator to estimate how much you realistically can afford to pay for a home.

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