Friday, August 29, 2014

Steps to Take Before Buying a House in Ottawa

The Bennett Property Shop Realty understands that Ottawa home ownership is a big dream and a huge step for many people. Turning this dream into a fact or a reality requires a lot of dedication and effort and anyone who wants to realize it has to both financially and mentally commit to the project because buying a house requires one to spend a lot of time and energy both when hunting for that Ottawa home and afterwards when maintaining and managing it and paying off its mortgage.

Since the vast majority of home-buyers use the services of lenders, this article will assume that the reader will borrow some money to buy their home and explains what actions a buying borrower needs to do to better their borrowing success.

Strengthen Your Credit

The first step towards home ownership is to strengthen your credit. The better your credit, the better (i.e. the lower) the interest rate your will qualify for. Make sure to pay off your credit cards and settle up any credit delinquencies or disputes.   Even if you cannot pay off a card’s entire balance make sure that you pay the stated minimum payment by the due date indicated on your monthly statement.  Also, get a credit report so that you can evaluate it and understand what the lenders will be looking at and basing their lending decision on before you approach a lender for a loan.

Determine What You Can Afford

Figure out how much you can afford for a house and how much you will be able to borrow. Most people taking out loans for home ownership are expected to put down 10% to 20% of the appraised value of a home. For example, if you have $30,000, you can make a down-payment for a home that is worth $300,000 (with a 10% down-payment) or $150,000 (with a 20% down-payment).

You also want to calculate your projected housing expenses. Determine the average annual costs for insurance, natural gas or oil, electricity and real-estate taxes in your area. Add that to the price of the home you want to buy and also add how much you are estimated to pay in closing costs (lawyer fees and land transfer taxes etc.). You can either use an on-line mortgage calculator or make a spreadsheet to calculate the total. If you find that the total is above 28% of your gross annual income, then it is probably not a good time to get a mortgage.

Get Pre-approved

Now you are prepared to seek the actual amount of money that you will need to borrow for your new home. When you do apply to various lenders, submit all of these applications within the span of a two-week period so that your inquiries do not alter your credit report as repeated credit report requests (other than ones that you request for yourself; and obviously each possible lender  will request) have a negative effect upon your credit rating. So that you have a realistic idea of what money you will have and therefore what price range you can afford, make sure to do this before you get in touch with a real estate agent. If you do qualify for a loan, make sure to look at first-time buyers' programs - which usually have lower down-payment requirements. These are sometimes offered by various lenders and/or by various levels of governments.

Start House Shopping

To get a sense of all your options, make sure to check out as many Ottawa homes for sale and open houses and housing styles as possible.  Do not make any rash decisions. In order to help with this process, sign a buyer representation agreement with a well-known local real estate agent, they can then sign you up for the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is an “Alerting” service that helps you search for properties in your desired areas by letting you know when a property becomes available in an area in which you are considering buying.

Also, find a real-estate agent who is knowledgeable about your target area to represent you and work with you in your search process. Make sure to provide him or her with every “must have” or “Must not have” detail of the home you are seeking: such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, the size of the yard, whether you want a garage, the overall layout (bungalow, duplex, town-home, split-level), traffic and population densities, etc.

Scout out the area in which you would like to live by visiting it at different time of the day and week.  Check out its proximity to shopping, schools, public transportation, and other amenities that you want. Also take note of the amount and the speed of vehicular traffic, available parking, noise levels, and business and general activities in the area and whether the neighbourhood is being up-graded by new residents or its overall maintenance is drifting sideways or downwards. Once you have assessed all these factors, then you will be far better informed as to how much and what sort of house or in what neighbourhood you can afford and wish to make an offer to buy.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Buying Country Property

Whether you are buying a country property for the first time or the tenth, you will realize that there are some differences when you buy a property with features such as a well. Your Ottawa real estate agent will help you understand the different things that you have to check before you have the property transferred to your name.

One important thing that you will need to do is check the Offer to Purchase Agreement drafted by your real estate agent. It is vital that it includes a clause that allows you to test the water supply of the property. This will help in determining if the water is safe for usage and human consumption. Your agent will advise you against buying property in areas surrounding Ottawa that are known to have water problems.

Ground water can easily become contaminated. Different human activities lead to undesirable substances being added to the water. Such substances when left on or under the ground cannot be moved and are added to the water supply through the ground. 

Ground water has been proven to cause the spread of the effects of spills and dumps to other regions far beyond the original site of contamination. There are two ways in which ground water can be contaminated: either through point sources or through non-point sources. 

Point sources include leaking septic tanks, landfills, accidental spills and leaking gasoline storage tanks. Industrial waste disposal sites and municipal landfills are two of the most significant sources of this type of contamination. Non-point sources include any type of infiltration from farms that are treated with fertilizers and pesticides.

You might also want to test the water supply for a high content of sulphur, salt and iron. Your real estate agent will help you find the best water testing companies in Ottawa. You will also need to test the flow of water that is available for your family’s use.

If the property you are buying has a septic tank, it is again of utmost importance that you have it inspected by a professional engineer who deals with such systems. You might think that the inspection is costly, but it will save you thousands of dollars in replacement or upgrading the system in the future. 

You do not have to go about getting the tests and inspections done yourself before purchasing. If you are buying a property that has a septic tank or a well, you can leave all these things to your Ottawa real estate agent. The agent will offer you the best care that is available and will give you details at every step.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ottawa Real Estate Agent Wins Prestigious North American Business Award

Ottawa Real Estate Agent Wins
Prestigious North American Business Award

– [Aug 19/14] – Marnie Bennett, a Broker of Bennett Property Shop Realty, Ottawa, Ontario, was awarded the prestigious “Daniel Passante Entrepreneurship Award” in a ceremony at the Toronto Hilton on Saturday, August 16 by Craig Proctor Coaching International.

An admitted workaholic, Bennett was #1 for Keller Williams International in 2010 (besting more than 80,000 other Keller Williams’ sales reps worldwide), before starting her own boutique agency in 2012; and has consistently ranked in the top one per cent of salespeople in North America for the last several years. She has a bachelor’s degree in law and economics, and even back in 1981, in her first year of real estate, she was one of the top agents in Canada.

While Bennett’s drive took her far on her own, her real estate business more than doubled when she aligned herself with Craig Proctor Coaching. “I went to my very first Craig Proctor Super Conference in Los Angeles in May 2010,” said Bennett. “At that time, I was on target to be the #1 Agent for Keller Williams International - but if the truth be known, I was mainly using - but was far less than happy with - the “old school” real estate systems that just didn’t fill our brokerage’s unique needs. But I had done a lot of research into methods and systems that were being used by large and successful brokerages and discovered that the common denominator of the most successful agents in my market place was that they were all Craig Proctor students.”

Over the last four years, by gradually implementing and integrating Proctor’s Quantum Leap Real Estate Success System with some of her brokerage’s existing systems, and ultimately after joining Proctor’s elite Titanium Coaching group, Bennett rapidly grew her business doubling her sales after opening her own boutique brokerage in a beautiful heritage office building in downtown Ottawa. “We now have 40 people on our team; and in one of the toughest markets that I have ever experienced, we have grown our resale numbers by 58% over last year,” said Bennett.

“If Marnie doesn’t inspire you,” said Proctor, “you’re tough to impress. We selected Marnie as the recipient of the Daniel Passante Entrepreneurship Award from among the brightest and best real estate agents from across North America because she exemplified the same huge energy, intelligence, entrepreneurial spirit, and dogged perseverance of the superb agent after whom the award was named.”

“I was completely taken by surprise and am thrilled and honoured to receive such a prestigious award and for being recognised for all my hard work and dedication. For the last 33 years, my goal has always been to offer the highest quality professional real estate services and to build the best real estate brokerage which provides my clients with what we call “5-Star Service” and I appreciate receiving this award as it shows that my colleagues recognize how successful we have been in taking care of our clients’ needs,” said a grateful Marnie Bennett.

The Daniel Passante Entrepreneurship Award was created in May 2012 in memory of an exceptional business leader and an inspiring Craig Proctor coach, Daniel Passante, who tragically passed away on March 25, 2012. The award is presented annually to the most innovative, inspiring, and successful team leader. Past winners include Realtors Len Wong in 2012 and Rick Brash in 2013.

Craig Proctor Coaching is an International Real Estate Success Coaching organization that has shaped the lives of over 30,000 Real Estate Agents across the globe. Founder and CEO Craig Proctor designed the Quantum Leap Real Estate Success System that underpins his coaching programs for his own highly successful real estate business, only recently devoting 100% of his time to coaching other agents worldwide. While an active agent (not a broker), Proctor consistently sold over 500 homes a year for annual GCI of almost $4 Million. He was twice named the #1 agent in the world for RE/MAX®, and was one of the top RE/MAX® agents in the country for 15 years. As a Real Estate Trainer, Proctor has coached more agents to Millionaire status than any other trainer. For more information, visit 


The Bennett Property Shop Realty is a one-of-a-kind international boutique brokerage in Ottawa, Canada whose business philosophy is based on exceptional personal service, leadership and industry-leading and innovative policies and practices. Bennett is an award-winning marketer and has become one of Canada’s most highly-regarded Real Estate marketing and sales consultants and strategists because her company provides a full scope of integrated services that are customized to produce the highest possible degree of success for each client. With a team of 25 elite sales representatives who routinely go above and beyond the call of duty, the Bennett Professionals have built a steadfast reputation for excellence in the nation’s capital where their clientele includes Ottawa’s buyers and sellers, countless investors (including Ottawans buying outside of Ottawa and foreign nationals investing in Ottawa properties), as well as local and international developers. Turning this business into a one-stop-real-estate-shop has proven to be no small feat for the Bennett team, but a challenge which Marnie Bennett and her team enthusiastically take on. With over 9,000 sales, and $3.1 billion in real estate sales, the Bennett Property Shop hands down is the number one choice among discriminating home sellers and buyers and real estate developers.


Marnie Bennett is one of the capital’s most prominent businesswomen, entrepreneurs and media personalities. Marnie’s personal life experiences have given her the ability to address women with insight, empathy and compassion, along with her trademark frankness.
From the beginning of her real estate career, Marnie’s sales numbers were among the highest in Canada – which results confirmed that this was the right fit for her particular gifts.

Recognizing that there was an ignored by critically-important niche to fill in the Ottawa housing market, Marnie began her own boutique marketing and realty firm in 1994 – a company that rapidly became a “one-stop shop” for numerous local real estate developers, builders, property managers and investors. Her passion for encouraging women has found expression as she coaches her team members to develop and expand their talents, and as she mentors private clients to take control of their financial futures. But most rewardingly, she’s watched confidence levels steadily rise among clients who have taken part in her “Women on Wealth” (WOW) workshops, learning skills that help them to make the most of their hard-won earnings.

On the media front, unhappy with the “boys’ club” attitude of the local real estate radio show, Marnie began the first of two radio shows. In the first, Marnie offers real-world, practical and inspiring information and advice that is easily understood to a broad range (by both age and financial savvy) to listeners from different walks of life. In the second show, Marnie interviewed various local entrepreneurs to elicit their secrets for success and to inspire other would-be entrepreneurs “to get their ideas in motion”.

She’s also a frequent columnist in local newspapers and magazines, offering fresh, down-to-earth advice that often specifically addresses women home buyers at various stages of life.

In 2008, Marnie was named Ottawa’s Businesswoman of the Year.

In 2010 Marnie was named #1 Realtor Worldwide with Keller Williams Realty International distinguishing herself among 93,000 other sales representatives.

In February 2012, Marnie and her family opened a boutique real estate brokerage in downtown Ottawa - just steps away from Parliament Hill – The Bennett Property Shop.

The Bennett Property Shop is a unique real estate firm that provides their clients with “white glove 5-Star service” and meticulous attention to detail.

For further information, photographs or to set up an interview with Marnie Bennett, please contact:

Jo-Anne Suitor
Twitter: @BennettPros

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New vs. Used - The Difference is in the System

The first question you will ask yourself when you decide to buy a home is if you should buy a new house or an older one? When you are looking through Ottawa real estate properties, you are bound to get confused. One thought that you may think is that older homes are built better than newer ones. On the other hand, there are also many reasons that may incline you towards choosing a new home over an old one.

Better Built
One thing you should know is that new technology has helped improve the construction process as well as the building material used during construction. Canadian Building Standards have improved drastically over the years. Most new townhouses and detached houses include at least two full bathrooms on the upper storey and a powder room off the entrance hall. Improved kitchen standards and laundry areas have also made the new homes more convenient and acceptable.
The concept of central air-conditioning was not available for condos in the 1970s. Now, however, this has changed. Also, a home office is another essential room that is now available in many new homes that wasn’t available a few years back.

Less Maintenance Required
A new home won’t require much maintenance for at least the first 10 to 15 years. This is usually because the building material used is more advanced and long lasting. The presently used vinyl-clad window frames don’t require frequent repairs unlike older wooden frames. Nor do you have to worry about roof repairs with every change in weather. If you buy an old home, you will be worried about aluminum wiring and steel or lead plumbing. The brick front also adds to the durability of the new home.

Energy Efficient
Insulation standards have improved in all new homes and the furnaces installed are more energy efficient nowadays. Since 1993, basement insulation has become a common practice and the minimum ceiling heights have also been increased. The flimsy windows have been replaced with double-glazed casement windows that help keep the cold drafts out and the warmth trapped in. The new Energy Star Program has helped bring down monthly energy costs for home owners.

Tarion Warranty
This new warranty has provided an added protection for new home buyers. It helps with all repairs and corrections that are required during the initial years of the home.

All homes in Ottawa are required to meet safety standards and smoke detectors are to be wired in with the updated electric systems. Older homes will have to replace aluminum wiring, if it has not already been done by the previous home owner.

The newer communities in Ottawa are designed to make sure that parks and playgrounds are within walking distance. Different environmental factors have also been considered during the planning of these communities. There are some builders who specialize in creating small communities where children can grow up without worry.

Even with all these advantages, you will still have to cater to the one most important fact before you buy a house – Location. You will find that most of the best locations in Ottawa already have communities built and the houses that are available are all resale. Therefore, check with your Ottawa real estate agent and find the best house for your family.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Mortgage FAQs

Once you find your dream home in Ottawa you will need to look at your different mortgage solutions
Mortgage solutions are provided by many bankers and mortgage brokers in Ottawa and other cities in Canada. Though there are many things you have to consider about mortgage payments, there are a few questions that are frequently asked by Canadians who are looking for a good mortgage plan and payment solution.

Why hire a mortgage broker when the Bank is there?

When you deal with a bank for the mortgage solution, you are bound by the list of products they have. It is possible that the list does not have the best solution for you. Also, banks have to think about their profit margin and will offer you the highest rate that is acceptable to you. A mortgage consultant on the other hand will have a list of lenders and mortgage products. You could potentially benefit from lower interest rates. However, if you are buying a new home or condo that is not built and you require a pre-approval letter, you must go through a bank, because a mortgage broker cannot guarantee the rate for long enough.

What fee charges are involved?

Typically there is no fee. The lenders who receive your mortgage application hand a certain amount of commission to mortgage consultants. If your application is not accepted because of job instability or bad credit, you are subjected to brokerage fee.

Do I have to wait for my mortgage to mature?

It is not a good idea to wait for that long. You should inform your mortgage consultant around 4 months before the time of maturity of your mortgage. During this time, the consultant can easily shop for other mortgage rates and your mortgage will be easily transferred if there is a possibility.
I recently heard of Mortgage Loan Insurance. What is it?

Mortgage loan insurance is required by law and is provided by three major companies in Canada: AIG Insurance, Genworth Financial Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Do not confuse this with mortgage life insurance. Here the lenders are ensured against default on mortgages with an 80% ratio of loan to value. Borrowers pay insurance premium between 0.5% and 3.7% which is directly added to the mortgage account.

What is a high-ratio mortgage and how is it different from conventional mortgage?

Conventional mortgage is the typical mortgage where the down payment is equal to 20% or more of the property’s purchase price and there is no mortgage insurance required for it.
High-ratio mortgages are where the down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. You are required to attain mortgage loan insurance from one of the three companies that provide insurance. The borrower is allowed to purchase the house with a small amount of down payment and the lender is also protected with the loan insurance.

What form of down payment is acceptable?

If you have cash, then it is good. If, however, you do not have cash, you can use:
             Accumulated savings
             Sales proceeds that you gain from an existing house
             Your Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP). Up to $20,000 can be used for down payment and if it is repaid within 15 years it will not be subjected to income tax.
             Investments that are not registered
             Borrowings from an unsecured Line of Credit.
For more information contact your local real estate agent inOttawa today.

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