Saturday, March 21, 2009

Remodeling Your Home

Remodel to sell or to stay!

Do you need more space?
Less space?
New kitchen?
Another bedroom?
So what to do? Remodel or buy a new home?
Experts say that if the cost to remodel is higher than 10% of your home’s current value, it may be wise to sell the property and buy a new one, just like the one you want... and in the location you want.
But it is always a good idea to have some remodeling before listing your property. Most buyers—like you—pay close attention to kitchens, flooring, bathrooms, siding, windows and roof.
An important consideration before formulating your home renovation plan is remodel cost. Your budget will define how extensive the renovation project can be and whether your plan is feasible or not.
In some regions there are possibilities of qualifying for a renovation rebate program (like upgrading your old windows to Energy Star® products).
And do not forget to check the local building codes!
REMAX Survey
RE/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada is announcing the results of the RE/MAX Survey of Home Buying and Selling in Ontario (conducted by COMPAS Research). Some highlights are:

· Investment in home improvement is a key point in the competitive housing market.

· 79% of sellers made improvements to their homes in a period of two years prior to listing (39% of them did so with selling in mind).
Homeowners look to boot resale value by renovating. Doing so they bring their home up to today’s standards.

· According to Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President and Regional Director of RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic Canada, “...with buyers visiting an average of nine properties before settling on the one they want to call their own, sellers need a distinct advantage over the competition. Location is still the primary factor for buyers, but a property’s condition also plays an important role. Our Survey found properties with updated kitchen cabinetry, hardwood flooring, new windows, an open-concept and a finished basement appeal most to today’s selective purchaser.”

· The most appealing upgrades were:
1) Kitchen cabinet
2) Hardwood floor
3) New windows
4) Removing walls and create open concept living
5) Finishing the basement
6) Kitchen appliances
7) New shingles
8) New bathroom taps and plumbing
9) New bathroom tiles
Return on Investment

Remodeling can make your home more valuable and saleable but it does not mean that you will have a return on investment higher than 100%. If in your neighborhood all houses have hardwood floors, buyers will expect to find this feature in your home. If you don’t have it, your house may be ignored at the time you put it on the market. But have in mind that if you spend $10,000 with the hardwood, the value of your house may increase in only $7,500. But the most important fact is that buyers may become interested on it.
The Appraisal Institute of Canada has interesting studies about renovations and expected returns on the investment. You can find it at the following address: . The following table is an adaptation of the data from the site:
Renovation Expected Return
Kitchen renovation 75% ~100%
Build a fence 25% ~100%
Exterior / Interior painting 50% ~100%
Install central air conditioning 25% ~75%
Roof shingle replacement 50% ~80%
Landscaping 25% ~50%
Install a fireplace 50% ~75%
Bathroom renovation 75% ~100%
Basement renovation 50% ~75%

Friday, March 20, 2009

Canad's Budget 2009 - Real Estate

I have picked from the new Canadian budget interesting information concerning real estate (Source: Department of Finance Canada / Ministère des Finances Canada)

Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC)
Home renovations can represent a smart investment in the long-term value of a home and generate broad-based economic activity. They can also reduce energy consumption and the long-term cost of owning a home. To support economic growth during these challenging times, Budget 2009 proposes to introduce a temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC). The HRTC will provide a temporary incentive for Canadians to undertake new renovation projects or accelerate planned future projects, thus providing timely stimulus to the Canadian economy while boosting energy efficiency and the value of Canada’s housing stock.

How the Temporary HRTC Will Work
The proposed HRTC will provide a temporary 15-per-cent income tax credit on eligible home renovation expenditures for work performed, or goods acquired, after January 27, 2009 and before February 1, 2010, pursuant to agreements entered into after January 27, 2009. The credit may be claimed for the 2009 taxation year on the portion of eligible expenditures exceeding $1,000, but not more than $10,000, and will provide up to $1,350 in tax relief.

Who Can Claim the HRTC
The HRTC will be family-based. For the purpose of the credit, a family will generally be considered to consist of an individual, and where applicable, the individual’s spouse or common-law partner. Family members will be able to share the credit. The amount eligible for the credit will be based on the total value of eligible expenditures incurred across all eligible dwellings. A dwelling will generally be considered eligible if it is used for personal purposes. This will include a house, a cottage, and a condominium unit. It is estimated that about 4.6 million families in Canada will benefit from the HRTC .

Benefits of the Temporary Home Renovation Tax Credit Examples
The following examples illustrate how homeowners can benefit from the HRTC.
1. Sally and Ed are a couple who have recently purchased a house. To take advantage of the temporary HRTC, they decide to replace their windows and improve the insulation in their home in 2009, instead of waiting, incurring $10,000 in expenditures. After taking account of the $1,000 minimum threshold, a 15-per-cent credit will be available on $9,000 in eligible expenditures, providing tax relief of $1,350.
2. William and Marie are a couple who are planning to purchase a more energy-efficient furnace for their home, and build a deck at their cottage sometime later. To take full advantage of the temporary HRTC, they decide to do both projects
in 2009 rather than waiting. They pay $5,000 for the furnace and $3,500 for the deck. They also decide to have the area around the deck landscaped for $2,500, bringing their total costs to $11,000 ($5,000 + $3,500 + $2,500). Marie claims a credit of $1,350 on the maximum allowable amount of $9,000. This credit is in addition to the ecoENERGY Retrofit grant that William and Marie expect to receive for installing a more energy-efficient furnace.
3. Karen and Heather are sisters who share ownership of a condominium unit. They each incur $7,500 in expenditures renovating the kitchen in the condominium, in part to provide access for Heather’s wheelchair. Karen and Heather each claim a $975 credit on eligible expenditures of $6,500 ($7,500 – $1,000). This credit is in addition to the Medical Expense Tax Credit that Heather may claim on the portion of expenses eligible for that credit.

Expenditures Eligible for the HRTC
It is proposed that the HRTC be claimed for renovations and alterations to a dwelling or the land on which it sits that are enduring in nature. For example, homeowners will be able to claim expenditures for major renovation projects such as finishing a basement, renovating a kitchen, or building an addition. Costs associated with such projects will be eligible for the credit, including permits, professional services, equipment rentals and incidental expenses. Routine repairs and maintenance normally performed on an annual or more frequent basis (e.g. cleaning, lawn fertilization, and snow removal) will not qualify for the credit. The cost of purchasing furniture, appliances, audiovisual electronics and construction equipment will not be eligible. Individuals will need to keep receipts for expenditures, and may claim the HRTC when filing their income tax returns for 2009. The HRTC will complement support provided by the Government for Canadians to undertake energy-saving improvements to their homes. Federal grants paid through the ecoENERGY Retrofit program will not reduce the value of claims made for these expenditures under the HRTC. Eligible renovation expenditures claimed under the Medical Expense Tax Credit may also be claimed under the HRTC. The effectiveness of the HRTC will be enhanced to the extent that retailers also encourage homeowners to undertake renovations to their properties. It is estimated that this measure will cost $500 million in 2008–09 and $2.5 billion in 2009–10.

Enhancing the Energy Efficiency of Our Homes
Promoting energy efficiency and conservation is an effective means of reducing energy demand. The ecoENERGY Retrofit program provides home and property owners with grants of up to $5,000 to offset the costs of making energy-efficiency improvements. Grants apply to a variety of measures that reduce energy consumption from increasing insulation to upgrading a furnace. Building on the success of the existing program, Budget 2009 provides an additional $300 million over two years to the ecoENERGY Retrofit program to support an estimated 200,000 additional home retrofits.

Increasing Withdrawal Limits Under the Home Buyers’ Plan
Saving the down payment for a home can be a challenge for many first-time home buyers. The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) allows first-time home buyers to withdraw up to $20,000 from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to purchase or build a home. Unlike regular RRSP withdrawals, HBP withdrawals are not included in income when withdrawn. Amounts withdrawn under the HBP must be repaid over a 15-year period, starting the second year following the year of the withdrawal, or included in the individual’s income if not repaid. To provide first-time home buyers with additional access to their RRSP savings to purchase or build a home, Budget 2009 proposes to increase the HBP withdrawal limit to $25,000 from $20,000 in respect of withdrawals made after January 27, 2009. It is also proposed that the increase apply to HBP withdrawals made for the purchase of a more accessible or functional home where the individual making the withdrawal is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), or if the withdrawal is made for the benefit of a DTC-eligible person who is related to the individual making the withdrawal. This is the first increase in the withdrawal limit since the HBP was introduced in 1992. With the $5,000 increase to the withdrawal limit, two first-time home buyers purchasing a home jointly (e.g. a married or common-law couple) with sufficient RRSP funds in each of their names may now together withdraw up to $50,000 from their RRSP funds toward the purchase of a home in Canada. It is estimated that this measure will cost $15 million in each of 2009–10 and 2010–11.

First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit
The costs associated with purchasing a home, such as legal fees, disbursements and land transfer taxes, can be a particular burden for first-time home buyers, who must pay these costs on top of saving the money for a down payment. To assist first-time home buyers with the costs associated with the purchase of a home, Budget 2009 proposes to introduce a First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit—a $5,000 non-refundable income tax credit amount on a qualifying home acquired after January 27, 2009. For an eligible individual, the credit will provide up to $750 in federal tax relief starting in 2009. It is also proposed that the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit be made available to existing homeowners in respect of a more accessible or functional home purchased by an individual eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), or for the benefit of a DTC-eligible person who is related to the individual purchasing the home. It is estimated that this measure will cost $30 million in 2008–09, $175 million in 2009–10 and $180 million in 2010–11.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Home Sales in Ottawa

Here we have the average prices for houses and condominiuns in Ottawa (click to enlarge) Here is the number of units sold (click to enlarge)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

First‐time buyers driving force in Canada’s residential real estate markets

Mississauga, ON (March 11, 2009) ‐‐ A report released today by RE/MAX confirms that entry‐level purchasers are now the engine driving home‐buying activity in almost every major centre in Canada.

The 2009 RE/MAX First‐Time Buyers Report, highlighting first‐time buying activity in 32 residential housing markets across Canada, found that improved affordability is prompting many first‐time buyers to get off the fence, out of the rental, and into the market. While a sense of caution still prevails, more and more firsttimers are finding it hard to pass up the chance to become homeowners in today’s buyer‐centric real estate climate. Increased inventory and longer days on market coupled with the lowest lending rates ever are presenting opportunities that have not been seen in almost a decade.

“While the current economic crisis has caused some first‐time buyers to either take it slowly or apply the brakes, home ownership remains a top priority for those who are able to take advantage of reduced carrying costs, rock bottom interest rates and lower house prices,” explains Michael Polzler, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX Ontario‐Atlantic Canada. “Affordability has greatly improved and buyers are firmly in the drivers’ seat in just about every market we surveyed. The new reality is that homeownership remains well within reach for most first‐time buyers.”

Although the year got off to a slow start, February home sales were well ahead of those reported in January.

The upward trending is expected to continue as more and more first‐time buyers enter the market in the weeks ahead. The flurry of activity in the lower‐end may also serve to kick‐start sales in the mid‐to‐upper end of the market, which have, as expected, been relatively sluggish in recent months. While inventory and days on market was up virtually across the board, it’s noteworthy that several markets reported tighter conditions in the lower end of the market, where demand and buyer activity remains quite healthy.

“Canadian markets from coast‐to‐coast are ripe for a reawakening as the weather warms up,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “First‐time buyers seem more acclimatized to economic factors, even though the barrage of bad news continues to flow. Those who are secure in their jobs, have accumulated good down payments, and have acceptable credit ratings are continuing to venture forward, undeterred by tighter lending criteria.”

According to the RE/MAX Report, buyers are clearly in control in most Canadian markets. Of the 32 markets surveyed, 22 (69 per cent) remain firmly in buyer’s market territory. These include Vancouver, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, Chilliwack, Kelowna, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Ottawa, Peterborough, London‐St. Thomas, Niagara Falls, Mississauga, Metro Toronto, Northern GTA, Kingston, Windsor, Hamilton‐Burlington. Barrie, and Halifax‐Dartmouth. Ten (31 per cent) report more balanced conditions: Winnipeg, Kitchener‐Waterloo, Sudbury, North Bay, St. Catharines, Saint John, Moncton, Fredericton, St. John’s, and

Forty per cent of markets offered single‐detached homes priced under $200,000, including Charlottetown, Saint John, Moncton, Peterborough, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Windsor, Fredericton, Halifax‐Dartmouth, London, North Bay, Kingston, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. More than two‐thirds (71 per cent) offered condominiums starting under $200,000, (Moncton, Fredericton, Halifax‐Dartmouth, Sudbury, North Bay, Peterborough, Mississauga, Burlington, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Kitchener‐Waterloo, London, Windsor, Surrey, Chilliwack, Victoria, Kelowna, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg).

The most affordable markets for detached homes, based on starting prices are: Moncton ($115,000), Charlottetown ($120,000), and Saint John ($130,000) in Eastern Canada; Windsor ($75,000), Niagara Falls ($119,000), and St. Catharines ($125,000) in Ontario; Winnipeg ($185,000), Saskatoon ($190,000), and Regina ($210,000) in Western Canada.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Property Zoning

* I don't know the current zoning of my property. How can I find it?

Please visit the following address:

Is is a great site with a lot of information about zoning in Ottawa.