Thursday, December 19, 2013

Selecting The Perfect Place To Live In Ottaw

Housing is one of the most basic needs that every person has to satisfy, one way or another in their life.

Usually, during the first few years of independence, most people move around from place to place depending upon the place’s affordability and the person’s job situation.

Most people try to make the best of what they have with each place they live in, whether that place be owned or rented.

However, almost everyone at one time or another aspires to eventually have his or her own perfect Ottawa home – their “Dream Home” - and that’s when and where the search begins for the perfect place to live.

Location, Location, Location

Just about everyone has an ideal location for where they want to live. For some, it is the peace and quiet of the countryside; while others prefer the hustle and bustle of the big city. There are yet others who want a little bit of both, so they move into the suburbs.

Generally speaking, where a person chooses to live will dictate the type of housing they want and how much it will cost. Hence property evaluation is hugely impacted by “Location, Location, Location:

There are pros and cons to each and every environment or location, and, in a nut-shell,  here are a few of them:

City/Urban – Cities are always the cultural hubs for any region. Many younger people, when they first live on their own, tend to flock toward city living for the multitude of things to do and people to do them with. Depending on the city, noise, crime, traffic patterns and congestion, population densities and smog can be negative factors for people who are starting families or prefer some quiet.  For other folks, however, those factors, coupled with numerous restaurants, clubs and social events are a great lure to locate there.

Rural – Small town and country living account for a large number of residences across Canada.  Small towns are surrounded by large tracts of land or water.  Farming and industry comprise the major structure of such communities, and the culture that exists in these small towns most often results from or revolves around those activities.  This is the best locale for people who prefer peace and quiet, open spaces and cleaner air; as well as for those who seek a simpler environment in which to raise their kids. But in order to enjoy the excitement of what a city has to offer or to go to one’s downtown office requires a commute – sometimes of considerable distance and time - and often through less-than-desirable weather.

Suburban – This type of residence location is the so-called “happy medium” between the above two extremes. Suburban settings have reasonably-ready access to the cultural highlights of city living, usually have their own small sets of businesses, while maintaining a semi-placid atmosphere for those who desire it. Suburbs can vary from being quite city-like to almost rural depending upon how close it sits to either the city or the country.

Of course, the cost of living is directly affected by the location chosen. Typically cities and suburbs will cost more to live in because of the amenities and services these communities provide as well as because of the income level and spending habits of the majority of people who choose to live or work there.

Type of Housing

As we all know, different people have different needs and wants – or as it’s summed up colloquially:  “Different strokes for different folks”.

A person with a need or desire for less space usually doesn’t buy a big house. And equally true is the exact opposite.

Condominium-living is a great option when looking for a place for one or two people. After all, for a myriad of historical and economic reasons, condos are often all a person can find or afford in a downtown setting anyway.

Historically, as industrialization and crime sullied inner city environments, the desire for safer, cleaner, quieter and more family-friendly areas sprang up and so the “urban sprawl” started.  This migration from the city core to houses in the near-city countryside provided these homeowners with more space, more quiet – but also created greater demand for roads, vehicles and a myriad of home maintenance products – and all of this extra commuting and property maintenance ate up a lot of the home-owners’ free-time and budget.  Nowadays, the resurgence of people into the centre of cities is in part due to the suburbanites’ kids’ desire not to spend their time commuting and maintaining the property surrounding a suburban home as the new generation’s dream is not the same as was their parents’ or grandparents’.   It also reflects the desires of the aging population to be closer to the entertainment and health amenities or facilities (restaurants, museums, hospitals, etc.) that they now value more.


The Bennett Property Shop Realty knows that the ultimate decision in finding the “perfect” place to live comes down to each person’s personal preference based upon their specific life-style and economics situation whether they currently be a renter or a home-owner.

They strongly recommend that each person consider or investigate several different types of locations and different Ottawa homes for sale before deciding what is “right” for them because, quite succinctly, there is no black or white in housing selection, but rather only a balancing of one’s attraction to a specific place in light of and balance with one’s personal needs, personal preferences and personal affordability.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

5 Reasons Why You Should Open an RRSP

The RRSP or the Registered Retirement Savings Plan is a Canadian account registered with the federal government and the accounts characteristics are based on holding investment assets and savings. The RRSP was first introduced in 1957 to encourage employees to save for their retirement. However, there are certain rules and regulations that determine the timing of the contribution, the tax credit, the claim of the contributing value, the asset allowed, the maximum contribution and the conversion to RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund) during retirement.

There are a lot of benefits of having an RRSP as a savings options for retirement and here a just a few:

Tax Deductions on Contributions
Your RRSP contribution is basically a claim for a deduction on your tax returns. For instance, you’re positioned on the top tax bracket and every $1,000 that you contribute decreases your tax amount by approximately $460. However, if you find yourself with lower income, in a year you can carry forward your deductions for your contribution to the next year when your income increases. This way even though you would be in a higher tax bracket your tax savings would be greater.

Tax Free Savings
As long as your investment earnings stay within the RRSP you won’t have to pay any tax. Instead this investment earning is tax free; since it is compounded, your savings increase much faster.
Converting Your RRSP to Regular Payments during Retirement
If you’re looking for regular payments then you can convert your RRSP tax free savings into an annuity or a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) which pays out regular payments when you retire, but you’ll have to pay tax on the regular payments that are made.

Reducing Your Combined Tax Payment by Opting For a Spousal RRSP
If you’re thinking about helping your spouse with their tax free savings account, you can easily contribute especially if you earn more than your spouse. The both of you can go for a spousal RRSP, where on retirement the amount will be split equally amongst you two and thus reduces the total tax amount that you have to pay.

To Pay For Your Home or Education You Can Borrow From Your RRSP
If you’re thinking about borrowing money from your RRSP, you can take out up to $20,000 for the payment of yourself or your spouse’s education according to the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP). You can borrow up to $25,000 as a down payment for your home according to the Home Buyers Plan (HBP). You won’t have to pay any tax.

If you already have an RRSP and it is not performing, the Bennett Team has a great program that can use your RRSPs to invest in real estate and generate a 8% secured annual return - that's better than any bank at the moment! Are you tired of loosing money in your RRSPs or STRESSED about your retirement visit for details on this innovative program.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

After the Move: Handling Warranty Issues during the First Year

From those first tentative steps towards purchasing a new home in Ottawa, you’ve come a long way! As you unpack your boxes, position your furniture and hang your artwork, you can feel this home becoming your own. You’re probably a little tired – but the exhilaration is enough to keep you going.

Ideally, this feeling is strengthened with the confidence that your Ottawa home has been built to meet both building codes and your own exacting specifications. In most cases, when you’ve chosen your home builder after proper research, and completed a thorough pre-delivery inspection (PDI) as I discussed in my previous blogs, you can rest easy that things are as they should be.

Sometimes, however, items are missed during that initial inspection. When this happens, it’s important for you to understand the proper course of action to take. Ontario’s Tarion Warranty Program is structured to deal with Ottawa homeowner complaints in a very specific manner; in order to take advantage of the program, it’s necessary that you fill out the appropriate forms and meet set deadlines.

Details of the process are outlined in A Guide to Your New Home Warranty, provided by Tarion to all new home buyers. As much as I urge my clients to become familiar with this guide, the truth is that amid the flurry of your Ottawa home search, purchase and move, it can be a lot of information to digest. Here are some major points to remember:

There are one year, two year and seven year warranties that apply to various aspects of your home.

If you discover a problem with your home within the first year of living there, you have two opportunities to file a warranty form. The 30-Day Form must be filed within 30 days of taking possession, while the Year-End Form must be filed within the last 30 days of the first year.

Naturally, it’s in your best interest to submit a report sooner rather than later, so I recommend paying particular attention to construction details during your first couple of weeks of occupancy. As well, some Ottawa homeowners who missed the chance to hire a home inspector during the PDI may choose to do so prior to the end of the year for an added sense of security.

New home ownership isn’t without its responsibilities; but attention to detail now will pay off in the long run. Here’s to a wonderful first year!
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Investing your capital in the Capital: Home ownership in Ottawa

Ottawa-Gatineau has earned the first-place ranking for best Canadian city as ranked by MoneySense magazine for 2011 and 2012, in fact, Ottawa has taken it a total of five times in the past six years. As far as cities go, we’re the one to beat.

For the 2013 results click here.

What is it that makes Ottawa-Gatineau so appealing? The MoneySense study ranks 180 Canadian cities, taking into account such diverse factors as arts and culture, crime rate, household income, medical doctors per capita, rates of employment and air quality. We had consistently good scores in nearly every category – including, believe it or not, better-than-average marks for weather!

Now, I know that not many of us have the luxury of choosing the city in which we live strictly according to the appeal of its image. (Hello, Honolulu!) Most of us have to work our jobs, families and pocketbooks into the equation. On top of that, a lot of us feel deep emotional connections to the places we live, and no study is going to determine whether we stay or go. We Ottowans already know firsthand what we love about our Ottawa Home.

However, if you’re toying with the idea of home ownership in Ottawa, it’s great to know that you’re about to buy in one of the most desirable markets in the country. It’s often been said that your Ottawa home is probably the biggest financial investment you’ll ever make – and you’ll want to make that investment in a place that will hold its value over time. 

While Ottawa home prices here are higher than many in smaller communities, they compare favourably with other large cities in Canada. According to MoneySense, this region has an average home price of $352,020. Given the enviable average household income in Ottawa ($98,980), this is pretty affordable. Contrast these prices with Vancouver, where it will take you $882,000 to net you an “average” home!

Here’s what I take away from the MoneySense study: whether you’re Ottawa-born and bred or a relative newcomer, you can feel confident about purchasing a home in Ottawa, the city you already call home.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Compatibility Testing: Finding the Builder who Rings your Bell

You probably already suspect this, but random guesswork really isn’t the best method of choosing a Ottawa builder. (Just remember how long it’s taken you to find the right hairdresser.) So, how can you go about ensuring that you’re putting your eggs in the right basket?

First of all, you can narrow down your options fairly quickly by looking at your list of must-haves. Blogs and the Bennett Property Shop website are terrific for zeroing in on possible builders according to neighbourhood, housing type and budget. Some Ottawa builders specialize in features you may be looking for, such as wide lots, green technology or R-2000 construction. The Internet is another excellent tool for locating builders who meet your requirements.

But making the shortlist is the easy part. When it comes to actual research, the most important piece of advice I give my clients is this: don’t be afraid to be nosy!

In your day-to-day conversations with friends, acquaintances and co-workers, dig around. You may not realize it, but you have a network of important contacts at your disposal – even if no one in your immediate circle has had recent experience with a builder, they all know someone who does.

When you speak with a Ottawa builder’s sales representative, work from a list of prepared questions: for instance, how open is the builder to adapting their plans to suit your personal needs? What is the builder’s rating for after-sales service with the Tarion Warranty Program? Ask for references from previous clients.

When you tour a model home, inspect every nook and cranny: if the model can’t withstand the closest scrutiny, you can be fairly sure that your home won’t, either. If there are no models, request a tour of a customer’s home. As wonderful as the plans may look on paper, you need solid evidence of good workmanship.

Talk to people in your prospective Ottawa neighbourhood. If you’re too shy to knock on doors, stop and chat with people on the street. You’ll find that most are glad to share their stories, whether they love their builder to bits or encountered issues. Be sure to speak with more than one Ottawa home owner.

And remember: whatever may have happened to the cat, there are some situations where curiosity pays!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

In-law suites: Purchasing a new home with rental potential

I’ve always found the rise and fall of housing trends inOttawa incredibly interesting. Of course, staying on top of these patterns is also a vital aspect of our career. One surging trend in the Ottawa housing market is the in-law suite – and I believe this one has real staying power

“In-law suite” is the name most commonly given to self-contained apartments within a larger home, whether or not the occupants happen to be in-laws. Family custom is, however, one of the main reasons for the growing popularity of these secondary suites. While there have always been Ottawans who value multi-generational living, their number is steadily increasing as Ottawa continues to receive the most family-related immigration in Canada. For many of our newcomers, living in close proximity to grandparents or extended family is the cultural norm.

The other significant group interested in secondary suites are those who have realized the terrific income potential of such spaces. With its many contract workers and post-secondary students, Ottawa has no shortage of renters. While zoning by-laws make secondary suites a no-no in some jurisdictions, the City of Ottawa (excepting the former Village of Rockcliffe Park) has no such restrictions, as long as by-law conditions are followed.

More often than not, in-law suites are basement apartments, although they’re occasionally located on the second or third floors. They possess private entrances, bathrooms, kitchens and sometimes laundry facilities.

Renovating an existing Ottawa home to accommodate a separate suite can be expensive, and unforeseen complications may arise. The beautiful thing about including a secondary suite when purchasing a new home is that you can have everything built to your specifications, rather than being limited by the existing structure. Some builders make a specialty of in-law suite homes, with a portfolio of available plans, but others are happy to alter standard plans for a fee.
A few things to consider:

             Basement apartments aren’t noted for their great natural light. Invest in great lighting, making good use of pot lights. Where possible, install larger-than-typical windows.
             Include a bathtub in the bathroom to appeal to as many tenants as possible.
             Features such as a double driveway, soundproofing panels and separate gas and electrical meters can make everyone’s lives easier.

With a thoughtfully designed suite, the income – or the in-laws – will be sure to roll in to your Ottawa Home!

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Seriously Rewarding: The Pre-Delivery Inspection

Seriously Rewarding: The Pre-Delivery Inspection

Without a doubt, it’s one of the most thrilling parts of the new home in Ottawa purchasing process – touring your beautiful, newly finished home shortly before you take possession. This is when the space you’ve been dreaming about so long is crystallized into reality.

All of the finishes and features you’ve chosen with so much care are assembled together: for the first time, you’re able to see the way the way the drawer pulls on the kitchen cabinetry complement the lighting fixture, or the way the coffered ceiling and gleaming hardwood floors create the most glamorous dining room you could have imagined.

That’s the fun part. But there’s a serious purpose to the pre-delivery inspection (PDI), which is a necessary step for Ottawa new home buyers enrolled in Ontario’s compulsory Tarion Warranty Program. This is your opportunity to go over your new home with a fine-toothed comb, the builder at your side.

This is the time to speak up if you see incomplete items, workmanship that doesn’t meet your expectations, or if one of your finishes has been substituted without your authorization. (I always remind my clients to read their purchase agreements carefully, as such substitutions may be perfectly legal once you’ve signed the dotted line.)

Tarion provides builders with a standard PDI Form that lists all the items contained in a home, from faucets to furnaces to flooring. Outdoor elements such as landscaping and driveways are all included. As you inspect the home together, the builder is responsible for noting any unsatisfactory items on the form, while you are responsible for signing each item indicated. This document stands as proof of your home’s condition before you’ve moved in, so there can be no question about responsibility.

The inspecting process differs somewhat for Ottawa new home condominiums, depending on which elements are considered “common” to the building owners. Items such as furnaces and air conditioning systems are sometimes inspected by the condominium Board of Directors rather than the individual purchaser.

If you feel hesitant about your ability to recognize properly installed work or systems, I’d strongly encourage you to hire an independent building professional to come along. Missing a deficient item isn’t the end of the world – there are other opportunities to notify Tarion. But, by my calculations, paying a little bit more for a lot more certainty is always a good investment.
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Glass Act: Making the best of a less-than-heavenly view

If every window revealed a view of stunning beauty, it would make my job so much easier. But here on earth, some vistas leave something to be desired. The good news is that I’ve been seeing more ways than ever before to address these problems.

Scenario 1: You feel as though you’re living in a fishbowl.

Scenario 2: You have a marvelous view – of a brick wall, or the legs of passersby.

For both daytime privacy and obscuring undesirable views, light-filtering blinds are an increasingly popular option. This is in large part because they don’t block out natural light. A similar – though more romantic – effect can be achieved by using sheers. Both can be paired with lined curtains for nighttime privacy.

If you’ve got panoramic windows, treatments like these can cost a pretty penny. Here’s an Ottawa Real Estate industry secret: you may be able to negotiate with your builder at the time of purchase for blinds to be included in the purchase price.

Half-height plantation shutters work beautifully with tall, narrow windows, lending historical character to a room. For a smaller window, you might consider a hanging stained glass panel; even a small panel will act as a focal point, drawing attention away from an unbeautiful view.

Your local hardware store carries two inexpensive alternatives: privacy window film and acrylic wall glaze. Both of these give the illusion of frosted glass, and both are easily applied and removed. In many cases, applying these treatments to only the lower pane of glass will give you the privacy you require.

Scenario 2: Your windows are too small, or too few.

Small windows can be made to look larger by artfully installing blinds and curtain rods higher than necessary, with curtains extended on either side. On a blank wall that cries out for a window, try hanging a large piece of landscape art; installing a picture light above will give your evenings a lovely ambience. Have as many different sources of light as possible coming from different points in a room. This gives you options for different effects at various times of day. And large mirrors are wonderful for reflecting light from both windows and lamps.

As a glass half-full kind of gal, I’ll close with this: your imperfect views are the perfect opportunity to make a terrific design statement.
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don’t curb the curb appeal!

The importance of landscaping your new home

The first time you pull up in front of your newly completed home in Ottawa, you should be dazzled. Here it is – your carefully selected architectural model, brick, trim colours, front porch – exactly as you wanted. Welcome home, indeed!

The good news is that your home’s curb appeal is only going to get better. How? Well, the one aspect that usually remains to be completed is the landscaping. (The exception here is for condominium properties, which tend to include full landscaping and lawn maintenance.) Most of you will be met with a nice green lawn and, often, the single planted tree that many builders include among their standard features. That’s a great start – but it’s only a start!

Now, I’m not recommending that you go over-the-top in terms of money or style. Gazebos and waterfalls are lovely, but simple gardens can be just as beautiful. Trees in particular are one of the best investments you can make: they increase in value every year until they reach maturity. Trees add beauty, shade and a sense of neighbourliness to your Ottawa home and the whole community – just think how dramatically a streetscape is changed when a big oak or maple is struck down by lightning. As an added benefit, large shady trees can decrease both your air-conditioning costs in summer and, acting as a windbreak, your heating costs in winter.

When selecting a tree, talk to an expert at your local nursery. They’ll help you decide on the right tree and the proper location, taking into account such variables as your home’s exposure to sun and wind, the size of a tree’s root system and the amount of upkeep necessary.

Keep in mind, you don’t need to have a green thumb to have gorgeous gardens. Again, rely on your nursery experts to help you choose low-maintenance plants. Planting perennials (plants that return each year) is one way to reduce labour. If you time it right, you can often pick up incredible flowers, shrubs and ornamental grasses for half-price towards the end of summer.

The love you give your lawn will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, it will also pay off years down the road when you put your home in Ottawa on the market. Take it from me: great landscaping can dramatically increase interest from buyers, and can definitely boost your asking price. So get out there and get your hands dirty!
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Monday, September 23, 2013

A marriage of tastes: When two homes in Ottawa become one

I spend a lot of time with couples who are buying their first home in Ottawa together. It’s often enlightening to watch them agree, disagree and compromise until they’ve found the home that clicks for both of them. When the right decision has been made, both parties breathe a huge sigh of relief . . . for about two weeks. Then it’s time for round two: whose stuff do you keep?

Just a couple of generations ago, it was common for newlyweds to move straight from their parents’ homes into their own. That meant they needed everything, from teaspoons to a bedroom suite. Couples collected their belongings together, virtually from scratch.

Today, this scenario is rare. While singles may not own their own homes in Ottawa– though many do – nearly all have rented their own places and amassed a good deal of furniture, appliances, et cetera along the way. And it’s human nature to become attached to our possessions.

In some cases, one partner owns the obviously superior dining table. In others, when both partners love their belongings, there’s real potential for hurt feelings. My first rule of merging households: be respectful. You don’t have to pretend to like the framed poster of dogs playing poker, but express your feelings as diplomatically as possible. Accept that compromise is necessary on both sides. If you want to confiscate his decorative swords, you may have to surrender the dried flowers.

You may be surprised to find that combining your two homes in Ottawa works, if your pieces are good and the scale is right; pick up any decorating magazine and you’ll see antiques, vintage and contemporary furniture mingled together to beautiful effect. When your beloved things simply look wrong together, it may be necessary to “give” the bedroom to one partner while the other gets the living room.

Ideally, you can come up with a furniture placement plan and sell your unneeded possessions before the big move. When opinions clash over a specific item, though, biding your time can be a less painful way to resolve the issue. As you naturally develop tastes in common, the pieces that don’t look quite right will migrate to the basement, replaced by newly acquired pieces that both of you love.

And one day, you may find your patience rewarded with these wonderful words:

“Whatever you like, honey”.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Different Types of Closing Costs for Canadian Home Owners

Picture this. You just bought a fantastic Ottawa home, your family can’t be happier, it’s close to main amenities and stores and you can’t wait to start mingling with the neighbours. But wait, your home is still not paid for completely!

Have you considered the closing costs you still have to pay? These are the list of additional charges that your lawyer might be coming over right now to present to you. These are completely legit by the way. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Association (CMHC) and Genworth Canada in addition to the down payment, 1% (or 2 – 2.5%) of the purchasing charges are allotted to closing costs either land transfer taxes or legal fees. These can change from city to city, but the main particulars of these additional charges remain the same. The following are some of them in detail:

Appraisal Fee

The appraiser may have provided you with a professional view of the market value of your brand new home, but he/she needs to be paid too. The charges can vary location wise and depending on your lender, but you can expect a bill as low as $300 for a partial appraisal. A full appraisal can come to about $550 plus G.S.T, but it can go higher if your home is large, custom made or situated in a remote location.

Home Inspection Charges

A complete Ottawa home inspection is made to ensure buyers their money will not go to waste. Since that analysis was for your benefit, you can expect a bill amounting to $300 - $450. No need to baulk at the price though! These inspections are well worth the investment since those professionals can pinpoint problem areas your untrained eye might miss.

However, make sure you are getting your money’s worth by making sure the home inspector has liability insurance in case of accidents during the home evaluation.

Fire Insurance

Once you move into your new home, your mortgage lenders will ask you to acquire a fire insurance certificate for it. The charges can mirror the original mortgage amount or replacement cost of the home to an extent, but it typically falls between $250 - $600 for most homes or properties.

HST or Harmonized Sales

If the mortgage you owe is insured by Genworth Canada or CMHC, you can expect a 13% HST or Harmonized sales if you call Ontario your home. This is supposed to be paid at the time of closing along with the charges owed to the abovementioned entities. HST only applies to the services rendered for the transaction but will also apply to the purchase price of a brand new home (on builder forms).  Even if the insurance charges are included in the mortgage fee, you will still need to pay the P.S.T as one of the closing charges.

Besides these, there are a few other closing costs that need to be taken care of after you purchase your new Ottawa home. However, not all of them may be applicable to you since each varies by location, type and price of the home. Keep these points in mind when you are talking with your lawyer so that you are completely prepared to take care of those costs and you won’t have anything to worry about.

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Things to Consider when Selling your Ottawa Condo

If you plan on selling a condo in Ottawa, chances are you are facing some difficulty locating prospective buyers. No, it’s not because of your home. Condos are hot in today’s market! If you would like to make a successful sale, there are a few things you have to keep in mind before you put on your salesman hat:

First Impressions Count

The owner of a home is ultimately responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. If you show potential buyers a condo that looks rundown and is in desperate need of a new coat of paint, no one is going to take you seriously. Even if your Ottawa condo looks presentable, those real estate agents and buyers will still go through each room with a fine toothed comb before they even think of buying it.

The simplest way to fix this problem is to actively participate in condo association meetings. This includes gathering (and implementing) as much information regarding your condo’s upkeep as you can. Once you put them in practice, you will have an easier time convincing potential buyers to give your home a chance.


See through your Buyer’s eyes

No matter how frustrated you get seeing those buyers walk out the door, your condo will remain owner-less until you know what they actually want. You see, buyers aren’t stupid. They know what they are looking for and even the slightest defects can make them back off.

Your job is to make them feel completely comfortable by ensuring that all taxes are clearly identified on the property and disclosure documents don’t leave them scratching their heads in confusion. The latter is of particular concern to real estate agents and buyers since it details the condition of the entire condo such as the state of the plumbing, overdue taxes (if any), additional charges etc. If they feel uncertain, they might hire a building inspector for a detailed inspection!

Give Your Condo a Personal Inspection

Even if you are a regular at those condo association meetings, make sure to run a critical eye over your home before inviting any interested buyers. Check for leaky plumbing, mould, water damage and any other defects that can put them off. Fix them yourself or hire a handyman to do general repairs for you before asking anyone to come over and analyze your home.

Better yet, hire a professional to thoroughly examine your walls, ceilings and floors. They know what to look for and can even give you relevant advice regarding your condo’s upkeep. If they can give you papers stating your condo is in top condition, even better! Present them to buyers to reassure them that proper measures were taken to ensure they received the best home their money could buy.

Condo or Ottawa homebuyers are not just looking to place a roof over their heads. They are on the lookout for homes that can enrich their life style and be a welcome port in a storm after a hard day outdoors. Even if your condo is considered to be the best, very few will consider buying it if it has defects. Respect their needs by maintaining your home. Chances are you’ll have a successful deal at the end of it.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

People Who Will Help You with Your Real Estate Investment

For most the purchase of the home is the biggest investment we make in our lives. It is therefore pertinent to have the best team of professionals to guide you through the process. It is essential that you hire the best Ottawa real estate agent, mortgage broker, lawyer, inspector, builder and insurance broker. It is possible that you might add or remove a few of these professionals depending on the type of home you are purchasing.

Real Estate Agent

By far the most important person in the whole process. The real estate agent’s job is to provide you with all the necessary information that you require related to the area you have chosen. They will also write down an Offer of Purchase for you and negotiate and bargain on your behalf for the best possible price for the selected home. They will also arrange the home inspection and help save your time. You can ask them different questions about the charges and all other things that need to be considered when buying a home.

Mortgage Broker

 Even if you are planning to go through mortgage pre-approval, you have to talk to a mortgage broker. A good lender will help through the entire purchase process and even after that. It is the lender’s job to make sure that you are able to make timely payments and if you have any issue meeting the deadline you should go and talk to them. Mortgage is provided by many different companies including banks, credit unions, trust companies, pension funds and finance and insurance companies. Look around and see which lender would best suit your needs.

Home Inspector

It is important that you get a home inspection done by a qualified professional for any property that you are thinking of buying. The home inspector will let you know if there are any faults in the construction or installation of different items around the house. He will also let you know where repairs are required and he might also be able to identify if there were any problems with the home in the past.


You might not be aware but lawyers play a very important role in the home buying process. The lawyer will make sure that your interests are protects and that the house you are planning to buy does not have any statutory or building charges or liens. The lawyer will review all disclosure contracts before you sign the papers. It is important that the lawyer you hire is familiar with real estate law and is licensed to carry out the paper work.

Insurance Broker

Your home and your mortgage will require insurance. Your lender will insist that you get property insurance at all costs. This is because your property is their security against the loan that they provide you. A mortgage life insurance will help you and your family through tough times. Be sure that you compare rates before you hire an insurance broker.

To able to buy your dream home and retain the right to own it, it is important that you have all the professional help when you buy real estate in Ottawa. At Bennett Property Shop, we will help you compile the best team of professionals.

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Time Sellers: Things you need to Know

Did you find the process of buying your first home daunting? Were you are overwhelmed by the end of the whole buying process? Now that you are getting ready to sell your first home, you might be skeptical and not that excited about the whole selling process because of your prior experience. Also, the Ottawa real estate market looks complex and the rules of the market have changed over the past few years. However, by hiring a good realtor and following the tips given below, you can easily sell your home.

Believe in Yourself

Many Ottawa home owners have been involved in the selling process. You might have even bought your home from a family who used to live there. Remember to have faith in yourself. If they can survive the process and live to tell the tale you surely can to.

Set a Goal

What are you looking for at the closing? A bigger check or a higher selling price? Remember they are not the same. Not only do you have to look at the selling price but you also have to look at the terms and have a good realtor on your side.

Changing Times

The real estate market in Ottawa has changed over the past few years. Purchases and Sales through the internet are now common. Along with this you also have to provide disclosure forms to the buyer, get a home inspection and deal with the line of brokers from many potential buyers. It is therefore important that you have decided on all aspects of your sale before you put the house up for sale.

Clean Your Home

Just imagine going to a grocery store and finding fruits and vegetables thrown together in a large box. Not a nice picture right? You like your fruits and vegetables neatly lined along the shelves. This is why you need to keep your home clean and everything should be placed in an organized manner. Buyers will not be happy to see a mess home with clothes falling out of the closets and doors creaking with every move.

Fix instead of Hiding

Home inspections are now very common. It is to help buyers from being duped. As a buyer you expect everything to be perfect therefore it is your duty as a seller to make sure that you have taken care of all the issues in the house that would put you off from buying it. Even if a buyer is not able to see any technical faults, a home inspector will see them easily.

Current Market Trends and Rivals

Contact your local Ottawa real estate agent when you decide to sell your home. Your agent will explain the current trends of the real estate market including what type of homes are in demand these days and how you should price your home according to those trends. The realtor will also help you understand that your property will face competition and how to make the best of the competition and come out on top.

If you are selling your house for the first time there are many things that you need to look at. There are 185 steps in the home selling process. Just putting up a sign and an ad in the real estate section of your local Ottawa newspaper is not enough. Talk you your real estate agent today and sell your home without fast, for top dollar and with the least amount of hassle.
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Things to Do After Buying a House

Finally! You have managed to buy your dream home. Of the many different types of homes available in the Ottawa real estate market, you have finally managed to find the perfect house. We can understand that the process was stressful and you had to keep meeting the realtor, lenders, lawyers and all the other people involved.

The diverse housing styles available in Ottawa probably did not make the choice any easier. With unique brick homes with Victorian design in Glebe and the more traditional homes in Kanata you may have had to rethink and put in a lot of effort before you bought your humble abode.

However, this does not mean that you can kick back and relax. Your financial responsibilities as a home owner are just beginning.

Timely Mortgage and Insurance Payments

It does not matter if you have to make payments weekly, monthly or biweekly; always make your mortgage payments on time. Late payments may affect your credit rating negatively and will also result in late charges. If you continue to fail to make mortgage payments you could even lose the house because of foreclosure.

To avoid such situations, have payments deducted automatically from your account and keep at least three months worth of payments as savings for hard times. If you still have trouble making your timely payments, talk to your lender and see what can be done. Insurance and property tax payments also follow same route. However, instead of foreclosure you might face legal and financial charges in case you are not able to make the payments on time.

Operating Costs

There are many on going costs that are related with everyday operations of your home. These include costs like security alarm service costs, gardening service, snow removal service and maintenance and repair costs. If you own a strata or a condo some of these costs will be a part of your monthly association fee.

Save for Emergency Repairs

There are some repairs that you can do on your own and you may also be able to identify most of the repair and maintenance work beforehand. However at times there are some repairs that are unexpected. These can be costly and you be corned into a tricky situation if you do not have an emergency fund set aside.

Live Within a Budget

Though you should have prepared a monthly budget before you bought the house, it is a good idea to start one now. You should monitor your monthly spending and evaluate the change every month. This will help you determine how close you are to reaching your financial goal.

If you have the habit of buying things on credit and spending more than what you earn, it is time to cut back. If you cannot manage your money on your own talk to a professional and save your home and money while you still can.

The real estate market in Ottawa is blooming and flourishing at the moment. Talk to an agent at Bennett Property Shop today and find what else you can do to save costs and the dream house you just bought.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Many Types of Homes to Choose From

When you live in a country like Canada, you are bound to see different cultural styles. The styles are also evident in the construction of the real estate around the country. When you are searching for a home in Ottawa, you will see that there are many different types available and you can easily choose from them.

While Cape Cods are more popular in Atlantic Canada and North-eastern United States, there are some of them found in Ottawa. This type of house usually has two floors and the master bedroom is on the first floor. Generally these houses are smaller (1300 to 2000 square feet) and ideal for first time buyers. Colonial houses are found in most upscale areas of the city. These traditional styled homes are greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance period.

The word cottage always etches a picture of a small and cozy living space. However in Ottawa, they are found usually in a non-urban setting and are of varying sizes. Detached homes are also very common and are basically single family homes that are completely separate from the neighbouring homes. Duplexes are also a form of detached homes with two units. The units are designed so that one is on top of the other.

Bungalows are single story homes with an optional basement. These can be small or large in structure. All living areas are on one floor making it convenient for the homeowner to access different areas without stairs. It is very easy to convert it into a wheelchair accessible home and they offer greater privacy compared to two-story homes. Strategic placement of trees and shrubs can easily block the view of neighbours.

Ranch Bungalows are a type of bungalows that are made strategically. The bedrooms are situated in one side of the house and the areas with guest access (these include the family room, dining room, kitchen, etc.) are on the other side. For attached garages, the access is provided on the public area of the house so that it can be accessed directly.

Split level homes have three types of configurations: a front split multilevel home appears like a two-story house from the front and a bungalow at the back. A back split multilevel home is more common and gives the appearance of a bungalow in the front. A side split multilevel home shows different levels from the front elevation.

Townhouses are three or more houses placed in a row such that they share a ‘party wall’. There are many townhouses in Ottawa. Semi-detached homes are two single family homes that are attached by a common wall. Two or three story homes are found in varying styles all over Ottawa. They come in styles ranging from classic Victorian era all the way to contemporary modern.

With so many different styles of homes available in Ottawa, you are bound to find one that you love! Contact Bennett Property Shop today and find your dream home.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why Home Ownership is Better

Canada experienced an increasing demand in rentals and single family homes after World War II ended. The increased demand led to involvement from the Canadian government and led to the development of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). When you buy real estate inOttawa and other parts of Canada, you are allowed a mortgage loan of up to 80% of the property’s value. Investors who are increasing their real estate portfolio by adding rental properties are also guaranteed return.

The Canadian Bank Act prohibits most federally regulated lending institutions from providing mortgages without mortgage loan insurance for amounts that exceed 80% of the value of the home or purchases with less than 20% down payment.

Through your lender, if you are a first time homebuyer CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance enables you to finance up to 95% of the purchase price of a home. The government program is mainly designed to help people with home ownership and has nothing to do with real estate investment.

Home ownership has its advantages. The two basic and most important advantages are that a home has the potential to be your most monetarily valued asset and the second is the emotional satisfaction that one gets after owning a house. Though many first time buyers may perceive the different rules of CMHC to be very strict for Ottawa, there are a few reasons why it is better to buy a home instead of renting one.

The mortgage payments may seem like a hassle but they should be considered as a savings plan. Instead of paying off someone else’s mortgage, (when you pay rent you are indirectly helping the landlord gain profits and make mortgage payments) as a home owner you make the monthly payments for yourself. Keeping up with your monthly payments you gain a two-fold advantage: the value of your home rises over the years and eventually the amount owed becomes smaller because most of the principal loan is paid. You can also get a second mortgage that can be used against built up equity as low interest loans.

As a homeowner you are more relaxed. You do not have to worry about the landlord increasing the rent or selling the house. You can maintain and repair the house and even renovate it the way you want. In a rental property you have to first talk to the landlord and wait for his/her approval.

However, if you have a job that keeps you on the move then it is better to rent a property instead of buying a house. You might not be able to look after the home or keep up with the maintenance and repair if you are not around often.

If you have questions about mortgage rules set by the CMHC and how they apply to you, contact your Ottawa real estate agent and ask them to help you figure out the answers while they help you figure out if owning a home is a good idea or not.
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Seize the Day

Seize the day:
Buying sooner pays off as mortgage rates begin their slow but inevitable climb

I can remember when mortgage rates sat at 21%. That was back in 1981. (Of course, I was only an infant at the time. ) Compared with those difficult days, recent news of a mere 0.60% increase in the big banks’ posted rate seems almost cute.

But, while the overall outlook is good for 2013 and 2014, too much complacency can cost you hard-earned dollars.

You don’t have to be a veteran market-watcher to know that Canada has been enjoying historically low mortgage rates: discounted rates have been hovering around 3%. (That’s for a five-year fixed rate mortgage.) Thousands of first-time homebuyers have jumped at the chance to lock into rates like these.

But, from the Governor of the Bank of Canada to the heads of the big banks, financial experts agree that interest rates cannot remain so extraordinarily low. BMO Capital Markets Senior Economist Sal Guatieri has suggested that a “normalized” mortgage would be closer to 4.99%.
Now, over the past few weeks, it seems the big banks have begun the slow but inevitable mortgage rate hike. How might it affect you? Let’s do some simple math:

Let’s say you’re looking at purchasing a $250,000 condominium. As of press time, the posted rate of several of the big banks is 3.69%. Lock in now, and  (assuming 25-year amortization ), you’ll pay $1,273 monthly.

If you wait till rates normalize at 4.99%? You’re looking at $1,452 monthly – that’s  a difference of $179 a month. Over a five year term, you’re losing $10,740. I don’t have to tell you what you could do with that money.

But perhaps more significantly, an higher rate will decrease the amount you’re approved for – by tens of thousands of dollars. Play around with an online mortgage approval calculator: you’ll be amazed. With an income of $64,000 and a down payment of $20,000, today’s mortgage rate will get you approved for $252,000. At 4.99%, that approval suddenly drops to $228,000. That may mean the difference between buying the home you love and settling for one you can afford. 

I’m all for buying the home you love.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Which Type of Home Ownership Would You Prefer?

Owning a house is not as easy as it seems. However, by reading our blog and contacting the right real estate agent in Ottawa, you can get the chance to own a home of any style that you want. With a wide variety of homes available, there are bound to be different type of ownership choices. It does not matter what type of home you own, you can choose the ownership depending on your means and requirements.

Among the different ownership types, freehold is the most common. As an owner, you have full access to the land and the structure built on it. You are responsible for all indoor and outdoor maintenance and repair. As the owner of the freehold interest, you have full right to control and use the building and land, subject to any rights of the Crown, local bylaws about land usage and any other terms that were put forward during the purchase.

A condo ownership will allow you ownership of the unit and a shared ownership for the common areas. As a home owner, you will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the interior of the unit. The condo association will be responsible for everything outside the walls including the common areas and grounds.  The rules for condo are a bit stricter about the use of common area, renovations and noise. The condo association fee covers costs that include common utility bills, taxes and maintenance costs. Though a condo is cheaper than a freehold house, it offers lesser privacy.

Co-ops (co-operatives) are very similar to condos. The difference is that you own a share in a complex or a building instead of owning a unit. If you decide to sell your share, the co-op board has every right to reject your prospective buyer.

You might even opt to get a lease on your property. This gives you the right to use the property for a limited but long period of time. This type of ownership is commonly known as leasehold interest. This type of ownership is available for homes (usually apartments or townhouses) that are built on land that is owned by the city. Usually the contract allows ownership for 99 years. Occasionally, the ownership is made available for detached homes built on First Nation reserves and farm land.

A Strata is another type of ownership that allows you to use and own a particular housing unit which is contained on a larger property. Just like condo ownership, you will have share in the common areas of the property. You can find this type of ownership for different types of properties throughout the city.

Contact your Ottawa real estate agent today and find out which type of ownership and home would best suit your needs given the circumstances.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mortgage Basics

If you have already had a look at our blog, you surely have seen a couple of posts that explain a few of the most basic mortgage related questions that buyers have. When you look for Ottawa real estate properties, the first and foremost thing you need to do is understand the basics that are involved with buying a mortgage and how the monthly payments are calculated. After this, you get yourself pre-approved for a mortgage. There are few benefits of a pre-approved mortgage that can help you in buying your dream home.

We define mortgage as a loan that is specific for real estate. The loan is provided with one basic condition that if for any reason the borrower is not able to keep up with the timely payments the lender has the right to sell the property so that they can get their money back.

The monthly payments are based on the amortization rate and the time period for which the mortgage loan is issued. These payments are inversely proportional to the amortization time period; the larger the amortization period, the smaller the monthly payment. The time period is usually between 10 to 25 years.

Your mortgage calculations will depend on the amount of the mortgage you qualify for. The pre-approval process can give you a fair idea of the amount that you can avail and the amount you have to pay for down payment. The pre-approval process begins after you provide all the necessary financial documentation to your lending institution. The lender will then check for your credit score with the credit bureaus. It is against this information that the lender will provide you a complete mortgage plan that will include the amortization period, interest rate and the monthly payments that you will have to make.

While many people do not believe in getting pre-approved for a mortgage, we cannot stress its importance enough. Pre-approval will save you many complications that can come once you set your eyes on a particular home. Also, many realtors will not work with you if you are not pre-approved.

The most important reason why you need to be pre-approved for mortgage is that it will give you a clear picture of the type of real estate you can afford. Another reason is that a seller would be more interested in your offer if you have the means to quickly provide the cash.

Therefore before you get yourself pre-approved make sure that you have not provided any false information to the lender. Another reason you might not get pre-approved is if the mortgage inspector values the property to be worth less than the asking price. Thus, when you decide to look for a real estate property in Ottawa make sure that you are pre-approved so that you have a better chance at ownership.
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to Invest in U.S Real Estate

The US investment market is still suffering from the consequences of the recession that hit its financial market in 2007. Although the market has picked up quite a bit areas like Nevada, Florida, Arizona, and California, areas that were hit the hardest are still below the replacement value. The Ottawa real estate market is quite different, but as an investor you should try to have a look for an investment opportunity in our neighbouring country.

The Canadian dollar still holds strongly against the U.S dollar. This in turn means that if you invest in US assets, you are likely to get a decent return over time. Taking a close look at these facts suggests that Canadians have an opportunity to invest in the best US real estate. In addition, you will be able to enjoy the summers with your family in the sun and the value of the property is likely to appreciate in the coming years.

It may sound like a dream come true but there are few things that need consideration before you dive into the opportunity. If you are planning to buy property for purely business purposes then you have to consider the following:

Passive Real Estate Investment does not Exist

You will require local knowledge of the area in which the property is located. You want the house to be located in the perfect neighbourhood and you might even let it out on rent while you wait for the value to increase. A local professional will help you manage the property and keep it occupied without any problem.

Mortgage Issues

If you are planning to find leverage or a loan from an American lender then you are in for a surprise. Even with mortgages cheaper than before, it is very difficult for Canadians to qualify for a mortgage therefore you might have to pay for the home in full. Your Ottawa Real Estate agent can look into alternative solutions


Unless you have prior experience and property in the US, you might want to expose yourself to the various US taxes that are involved in the buying and renting of an investment property. Not to mention you will have to file for yearly tax returns. We would highly recommend talking to an account familiar with investing in US properties.

Lack of a Diversified Investment Portfolio can be Disastrous

If you have just one rental estate in the US, you should be ready for all consequences. Deadbeat tenants, uninsured damages and property in the wrong area are all ingredients to a recipe for disaster. It is therefore important that you have more than one type of housing property in the US.

Your Ottawa real estate agent will help you in making the right decision for your real estate investment in the US. They can help you rent, sell and buy homes in the US along with all the help and information you require for mortgage.
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Things to Consider When Buying a House

If you have read the previous blogs, you surely understand that it is not easy to buy a house on your own. There are so many things to consider. Here we will discuss a few of the most important things to consider when buying real estate in Ottawa. These things will help you make purchase decisions and you can also appear real estate savvy to your realtor.

The first thing that you have to do is get a pre approval on your mortgage. You might not be aware of the many elements that work together to help you buy your dream home. A pre approved mortgage loan will help you in the process to buy a home. It will also help you understand exactly what price range is available for you. Also, sellers are more likely to prefer you if you have a pre approved mortgage.
Here's a great video to help you off on the right foot:


Your credit rating will play a vital role in your ability to buy a home. It will help in determining the interest rate that you are charged and will also help in determining if you will get approval for the mortgage that you require. It is therefore important that your finances are properly managed and you have a complete understanding of your financial records.

You will also have to search around to see what area or town you would like to live in. You might want to hire an Ottawa real estate agent who will help you through the process if you intend on living in the Ottawa region. The agent will also help you identify sellers who are available in the market and walk you through the budget plan that you have marked.

When you make an offer, make sure that you have gone through all the technicalities and you completely understand what is written in the documents. You will also need to hire a home inspector. You might not be able to understand any architectural issues with the construction until it’s too late. It is therefore important that you have a home inspector go through the house and find if there are any faults in the structure. This will help you during price negotiations and therefore it is imperative.

You will have to study the neighbourhood. Come around at different times of the day to understand if the neighbourhood is ideally located. Is it close to schools? Is the nearby playground a safe place for kids? Are there any offenders in the area?

There is one last thing you need to consider before you sign on the dotted line. The additional costs like property tax, repairs and other such costs need to be considered. You will have to ask your real estate agent to help you understand these additional costs.

Talk to your Ottawa real estate agent and make sure that you consider all the things that are mentioned here before you buy the house. It is after all one of the biggest and most important investments of your life.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Avoid Homebuyer Traps

It does not matter what type of house you buy, real estate is a major investment and requires a lot of cash. For some buyers the process can be even more costly because they fall prey to costly mistakes and end up paying extra for the home they want or losing it to another buyer, or worst of all buying the wrong house. Your Ottawa real estate agent can help you avoid the different buyer traps that are set so that you can get the house of your dreams.

Blind Bidding

It is important that you study the market before you place a bid. It will help you figure out if the seller is asking the right price or not. Without proper market research you could easily bid a lot for a house or you could bid too low.

Buying the Right Home

As a buyer, it is very easy to be swept away by all the excitement and emotions of buying a new house. You might make a hasty decision and end up with a house that is either too big or small or too far from work. And by the time you realize that you made the wrong decision, it might be too late. Before you go to a real estate agent in Ottawa make a list of the things that you really need in your new home. Follow all the steps that are necessary when you buy a house before you sign on the dotted line.

Clear Ownership

Before you sign the ownership papers make sure that you are the sole owner. You do not want to deal with any tax liens, leases, easements, or undisclosed owners. Have a complete title search before you sign the papers.

Accurate Survey

Make sure that you have a copy of the updated property survey that clearly marks the boundary of your property. If the survey is not updated, you will see that there are structural changes that are not shown. Make sure that you carry out a thorough inspection of the house. By hiring a home inspector you can find the different faults that are present. Remember that the seller is also there to maximize his profit so you need to take all the necessary precautions.

Pre-Approval on Mortgage

Many buyers make the mistake of not getting a preapproved mortgage. A pre-approval on your mortgage helps you shop for a home without worrying if you can afford it or not. It is not only free, but also convenient for you and your real estate agent.

Covered Costs

You need to identify all covered costs. You will be surprised at the number of costs that will come up when you close the transaction. Talk to your real estate agent and ask them about all the hidden costs. Make sure that you see all the paper work before you close the deal.

Your Ottawa real estate agent will help you avoid all these mistakes and many more that you might make unknowingly. Contact Bennett Property Shop today and talk to the best real estate agents in the city.

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