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Getting Started with Mortgages

You may be understandably confused if you’ve started to research mortgages in preparation for buying your first home, to renegotiate your current mortgage  or perhaps to remortgage your existing home. Thoroughly understanding the ins and outs of mortgages takes many years of experience and education. We’re not even going to try to cover the topic in this short article.


Instead, we give short explanations of some of the common words you’ll come across and then point you in the direction of some excellent web resources that explain the ins and outs of mortgages and provide some useful tools.



The principal is the amount that you borrow for any loan, including a mortgage. This doesn’t  include the interest.


Interest is the money paid by a borrower to a lender for the use of their money. The interest is usually paid in regular installments along with the principal payment.

Interest rate

The mortgage interest rate is the amount of interest charged by the lender and is expressed as a percentage annual rate of the total borrowed; e.g. 4% per year.

Amortization period

The amortization period is the length of time it will takes to pay off the entire amount of the mortgage, both the principal and the interest. Don’t confuse this with the term of the mortgage. The most common amortization period is 25 years.


Mortgage term is the length of time your mortgage contract is for. The term is usually for between 6 months and 5 years.

Mortgage payment

This is a regular, scheduled payment to the mortgage lender consisting of the calculated interest plus a set part of the principal amount.


To be pre-approved for a mortgage means that you have a letter from your lender stating that you are pre-approved on certain terms (amount, down payment etc). It also lists any requirements that you must meet to get final approval.


Excellent Resources

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada


This Federal government resource really does explain, and very clearly, everything you need to know about mortgages. There’s Mortgages 101 for those buying their first home, sections on renewing and renegotiating your mortgage, welcome advice on how to pay off your mortgage faster, and information on borrowing on home equity and understanding reverse mortgages for the more advanced mortgage scholars. Make this your first stop for all your mortgage questions.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Mortgage Payment Calculator

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provides a simple calculator that allows you to figure out how much your mortgage payments will be for a particular mortgage amount, interest rate, amortization period and payment frequency. You can adjust any or all of these to see how the payment amount varies.

While you’re on the CMHC website, check out the rest of the Buying a Home section for practical information on home and condo ownership


Mortgage Affordability Calculator

All Canadian banks have online Mortgage Affordability Calculators, so check your bank’s website for their version. The CIBC calculator asks you to enter your income, monthly expenses and debt payments and then offset this with your down payment info and the type of mortgage you’re considering, along with the interest rate and amortization period. The result shown is the maximum mortgage amount you can borrow. Playing around with any of these numbers will give a different maximum amount. You’ll also see your monthly mortgage payment for that amount.

For more information on how mortgages apply to your situation, you’ll need visit the local financial advisor at your bank – they know your story.

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Four Frequently Costly Mistakes That Home Sellers Make

Selling a home is hard work and is all about preparation, both of your home and of yourself . Before you open your front door to the, hopefully, eager hoards of potential buyers, review these all-too-often costly mistakes that sellers make so you can avoid them.

Home Sellers can either make too many, too few or the wrong repairs

There’s a balancing act in preparing your home for sale between doing the repairs necessary to make the sale, doing those that are cosmetic and investing in large renovations. A pre-sale inspection report will identify all the repairs that your home needs, and you can choose which ones to make so that it’s structurally sound and looks well-cared for. Cosmetic changes, such as a new paint job throughout and updated light fixtures, are not necessarily just “nice to haves” but do make a lasting impression on potential buyers. And you may need to invest in big-budget renos such as a kitchen upgrade to get the purchase price you’re after.

Mis-pricing the property

Asking too much money for your home is a frequent mistake and may put off potential buyers who just don’t have the budget. On the other hand, under-pricing your home will also lose you money, though it may lead to a bidding war. Work with your realtor to investigate how much other properties in the area have sold for but be careful to compare your home to others that have similar features.  Be realistic about how much value any unique renovations and additions have made to your house – they often don’t add as much as you think. 


Neglecting your Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is one of the key factors in whether people decide to buy a house. Will prospective buyers pull up to your home, take one look and rapidly drive away? Will they yawn but come in anyway, without much enthusiasm? Or will they jump out of their car and bounce excitedly through the front door, eager to see what else the property has to offer. Increasing your home’s curb appeal can be as simple as weeding the yard, adding a few new plants and washing the windows and siding. Perhaps a punch of colour on the front door to draw the eye or repainting any fences and gates. Increasing curb appeal can be done thoughtfully and creatively and not necessarily expensively.

Making it personal (and emotional)

Your home is not about you. Sure, you’ve enjoyed many years of great times there, but now that you’re moving on, your home is just a building, a piece of property to be sold for the best possible price. And selling your home is not personal – there’s no room for emotions. You need to detach yourself emotionally from the home and be objective: about the selling price and about negative comments that potential buyers may make. And you must remove yourself personally from your home. Clear out all your clutter and personal items before you start to show the property; your viewers should be able to imagine themselves in the space. And don’t be there, or have your kids and pets there, during viewings and especially during an open house. It’s awkward for everyone, makes the viewers leave quickly and you can miss a sale.

Selling a home is both an art and a science, and really hard work. Your realtor is your partner in this, so check out our article on the questions to ask your realtor when you’re selecting her or him.

How to Choose a Realtor

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Five Avoidable Mistakes Home Buyers Make

There’s only one secret to ensuring a successful home buying experience and that’s research, research, research. All of these mistakes that home buyers make can be avoided by investigation and by asking questions Yes, it takes time and effort and sometimes requires you to invest some money upfront, but in the long run, you’ll be certain that you made the best possible purchase of your new home.test

Here are five of the most common mistakes that home buyers make.

Looking before you know what you want

Take the time to sit down and think hard about what’s important to you and your family about your next home. Separate your needs, wants and must-haves and put them in order of priority in a checklist. Is it essential that everyone has their own bedroom? Does a finished basement outweigh a large yard? Is a large kitchen more important than the jet tub in the master ensuite? This will save you, and your realtor, time and effort from viewing homes that are clearly not a practical fit for you.

Hispanic couple outside home with sold sign
Hispanic couple outside home with sold sign

Not knowing what you can afford

Falling in love with the house that meets your needs and has many of your wants only to find out that you can’t afford it is heartbreaking and can seriously derail your enthusiasm in your new home search. Before you set foot inside the first property, some experts suggest that you go through the application process for a mortgage and get pre-approved. This tells you and your realtor your buying power; but it can also give you leverage in negotiating a better deal on your chosen home as the seller knows that you will definitely quality for the loan.

Going without a home inspection

We can’t emphasize enough that there is absolutely no reason to ever miss out on obtaining a certified independent home inspection of your potential new home. You’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, at least, so make sure you know where all the home’s deficiencies and damages are. You can ask the seller to correct any problems as part of your offer to purchase or use the inspection report to negotiate a better purchase price. And this applies to new builds as well as to pre-owned homes.

Not spending time in the neighbourhood

“Location, location, location” is more than just a realtor’s catchphrase, it’s actually a great piece of advice to keep in mind when choosing where to live. The value of your home is not only affected by its geographic location, it’s also changed by the homes around it. Having the smallest home in the area may seem like a great investment but your taxes will still be high because of the surrounding houses. Spend time in the neighbourhood at different times of the day and night. Observe the traffic and noise patterns; talk to neighbours about schools, shops, the library, kid’s playgrounds, gyms, restaurants. Don’t forget to check the zoning laws so you won’t be surprised about in-fill housing or a new shopping centre.

Forgetting about the hidden costs of buying

Not knowing how many extra dollars you have to spend beyond the price of the property is such a frequent and potentially distressing mistake that we’ve devoted an entire article to it.

More information: 

How much does it cost to buy a home?

For the flip side of this, read our article on the frequent (and costly) mistakes that home sellers make.

Four Frequently Costly Mistakes That Home Sellers Make

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Furnishing a Small Condo Space

Living in a small condo

Living in a small condo? There is no particular way when it comes to decorating small spaces, although there are some significant techniques that would make a small space feel stylish and functional.

When living in a small space, it is curial to invest in the “key” furniture. By invest I don’t mean by the amount of money you spend on. Take time to develop a theme that would work best for you and your space.

Now days the minimalism trend/theme is taken seriously, whether into fashion, interior decor or any art related element. The minimalist is a challenging and fun trend but definitely not for everyone. The key for this trend is “less is more” which makes sense when you live in a small space, you don’t want to surround yourself with furniture.

Don’t go all minimalist, stick to your theme whether vintage, modern or classic. Just remember not to over do it with the furniture or décor, that’s when playing minimal, comes in hand.

 Tips when buying furniture for small spaces

  • Invest in multi purpose furniture
  • Invest in scaled-down furniture
  • Invest in organizers whether for your closet or cabinet. (They will become your best friend)
  • Invest in furniture that is easy to move around. You don’t know when to transform your living room to suit a party theme.
  • Invest for smaller appliances.

Where to buy

The buying process can be the most difficult part. The good thing is if you are on a budget, it is easier and less spending on decorating smaller spaces than larger spaces.

As you probably have guessed, IKEA would be the ideal spot to check out. You can definitely find amazing deals on furniture. In fact IKEA is known for their simple but yet functional designs.

If not sticking to budget is not a problem! The Hudson Bay has dedicated a whole collection for small spaces “THE SMALL SPACES SHOP”. Breaking it down to 4 segments, eat, sleep, live and organize. While feature endless brands and products, making the buying process easy!

decor tips

Décor tips for small spaces

  • Use curtains to divide two spaces.
  • Match curtain color to wall. Creating an impression for the room to feel larger and spacious.
  • Add plants. Creating an impression for the room to feel fresh.
  • Take advantage of walls. Install shelves to storage, display objects.
  • Hang mirrors. Creating an illusion of more space.
  • Use hard cover and magazines as decorative pieces.

Get creative

There are endless DIY projects when it comes to home décor. I suggest looking on Pinterest, tumbler and YouTube to collect some fun ideas.

You can even shop you home! Crazy I know.

Take a look at what’s into your closet, for example are a fashionista? You can display your “high-end” cool looking garments like bags as décor.

Get inspired

Remember is going to take time when designing your space, whether small or large. I suggest to create an inspiration board of the ideas and inspiration you collected from magazines and blogs. This will also help define the theme you are going for, but of course it gives the directions of where to start. You don’t want to jump into purchasing furniture and appliances right away, you will just accumulate and clutter your space right away with unnecessary junk.

Keep your options open.

Happy furnituring!


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Video tour

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on Wednesday a proposal to delay the effective date of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule until Oct. 1.

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Real Estate Roundup!

May new home sales gain 2.2% from April

Sales of new single-family houses in May 2015 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000, which is up 2.2% from April, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. — From Housing Wire

3 ways to tame student loan debt and afford a mortgage

It’s no secret that student loans can make buying a home a challenge. But what exactly is the problem, and how can buyers overcome it? The problem is that student loans can be included in the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio, or DTI. — From Bankrate

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We’re ready for the TRID rules!

At 5 p.m. EST June 17, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a statement that the effective date for the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rules would be pushed back to Oct. 1, 2015.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a prepared statement: “The CFPB will be issuing a proposed amendment to delay the effective date of the Know Before You Owe rule until Oct. 1, 2015. We made this decision to correct an administrative error that we just discovered in meeting the requirements under federal law, which would have delayed the effective date of the rule by two weeks. We further believe that the additional time included in the proposed effective date would better accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers whose families will be busy with the transition to the new school year at that time.”

Rainier Title has been working towards the TRID implementation for over a year and felt prepared for August 1st. However, with the proposed delay we will be taking this opportunity to continue our education and training of TRID. While we believe that we have been proactive and ready for this change, there are still so many unknowns that will have to be addressed at the time of implementation. The industry should still prepare for 45-60 days for transaction to close due to the new timing parameters of the forms.

We’re working hard to be ready for all changes!


Real Estate Roundup

Active Home-Building Industry Will Lead to More Demand for Warehouse Space

Strong consumer spending and the rise in housing construction activity are currently the prime factors for the incredible rebound of the U.S. industrial real estate sector, and experts say as home buying continues to increase, so will demand for warehouse space. — From NRE Online

To Buy or Not to Buy: That Is the Developer’s Question

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5 Restaurants in Liberty Village to Add to Your List

Does your restaurant repertoire need an upgrade? Here are five restaurants you need to check out, that will surely make your list of ‘go-to’ spots in Liberty Village in Toronto. You will find a collection of diverse styles of restaurants, each with its own charms and eccentricities. Skillful culinary execution, impeccable service, and sustainability are all part of what makes these restaurants a must visit destination for your next culinary adventure.

1 – School

This breakfast/lunch/brunch spot is a local favourite that is sure to be yours too. Inventive take on a simple concept. This isn’t your typical diner. School brings the bacon and eggs, pancakes, waffles, and French toast, but they bring it with a funky schoolhouse twist. Local, Canadian ingredients are all over the menu, and they offer healthy options that you wouldn’t normally find in a ‘greasy spoon’ joint, like 101 Quinoa Chicken Bowl. This is a great spot for anyone venturing out of their Liberty Village apartment, looking for a satisfying meal.

2 – Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

Temple Kitchen focuses on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and has the pedigree from renowned Chef Donna Dooher to deliver outstanding food and service within walking distance of many Liberty Village condos. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen is the reincarnation of Mildred Pierce, the first restaurant in Toronto to make the warehouse district cool, and to bring the city brunch as a culinary trend, which is still alive and well today. Temple Kitchen is devoted to its philosophy of heartfelt food that pays respect to its source, and is dedicated to the freshness of every ingredient. MTK is one of the best restaurants in the city, not just Liberty Village.

3 – Williams Landing

Here is your next upscale casual dinner spot, perfect after a day of viewing new condos in Liberty Village. It has something for everyone on the menu, but still emphasizes local, organic, sustainable, and seasonal, which sets it apart from the chains. Set in a beautiful and stylish space, it is sure to keep its guests coming back. There is also a patio on the second floor for the beloved patio season in the city.

4 – Bugigattolo

This one is sure to become your favourite Liberty Village secret hang-out. A traditional southern Italian kitchen run by Chef Quin Josey, who earned his stripes in Rob Gentile’s Buca empire. This place specializes in breakfast, lunch, and sweets, with emphasis on grab-and-go items for a neighbourhood on the run, but with the warmth and charm of a place you want to settle into, and never leave. Fresh Italian cheeses, bread, and cured meats, along with serious attention to detail will make this place a favourite for many of Liberty Village apartment owners.

5 – Maizal

Keeping with authenticity, this place is so authentic; they pay homage to the life-blood of the Mayan people, Maize. At Maizal, the traditions of the Mayan kitchen are practiced in every way. Using heirloom seeds of corn, they mill, knead, and roll their own tortillas in keeping with traditional tortillerias in Mexico. Maizal is another scratch kitchen that prides itself on its rich cultural history and believes it is their job to defend it so that you can enjoy it.

Trendy, hip, and cool are typically fleeting, but with these five restaurants, they all should become mainstays for all Liberty Village condo residents. All of these joints have the philosophies that should keep them grounded and true to their roots. Liberty Village looks like it has some really great additions to the neighbourhood, and you should help make them permanent fixtures on your list of favourite spots to eat.

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3 Key Considerations When Condo Buying in Liberty Village

Before you make one of the biggest commitments in your life, make sure you do your research first. There can be lots of little things you may not be aware of when buying a Liberty Village condo, like occupancy fees for example.

It always pays to spend some time asking around about the building, builder, and neighbourhood, before you buy. Visit the neighbourhood, ask some of the current residents about their experiences to gain some insight into what your life might look like if you decide to live there. Below are some key factors to consider before you buy a condo in Toronto’s Liberty Village.

1 – Return on Investment

Upgrades can certainly be a deal breaker or what seals the deal. Whether you plan on making them yourself, or you are asking the previous owners to upgrade before closing, it is a good idea to know which upgrades translate into higher resale value.

Modern kitchen, up-to-date bathrooms (fixtures, tile, grout, sinks, windows), hardwood floors, ample storage space, and new appliances, are five of the top upgrades that can make or break your decision to purchase your new condo. Don’t forget about purchasing parking spaces as an upgrade as well. These become more valuable as parking lots get developed into the next high-rise condominium.

2 – Location, Location, Location

We all know the adage of location, location, location. Well, there is no denying how important it is to property value, and even though Liberty Village is quite the location in itself, you should still dig deeper. Proximity to shopping, school, transit, entertainment, restaurants, can be more important than the amenities contained inside the space.

Having the much sought after downtown address in Toronto’s Liberty Village can add thousands to the value of the condo itself. Be aware of what developments are planned for the space around your condo too. New buildings can obstruct views down the road, which you may be paying a premium for today. Look into the future as best you can.

3 – Affordability

What is your budget? Being honest with yourself and what you can really afford is crucial in the decision-making process. You may have to compromise the number of bedrooms, or a number of upgrades in the unit to comfortably maintain your mortgage payments, and be in the neighbourhood you want to buy in.

If you consider all the points we just covered, you should be in a good position to make an offer on the Liberty Village condo of your dreams. Living in one of Toronto’s hot neighbourhoods, like Liberty Village can be a reality, but if you don’t take the time to do some research, your dream could quickly become a nightmare. Don’t let that happen to you.