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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