Putting a price tag on your dream home

Crunch the numbers before you make an offer

The big question for young couples just starting out is whether to move out of that downtown condo unit and borrow to buy a home. This becomes especially critical if you’re planning a family or if a baby is already on the way. Those new little people with all their gear take up an amazing amount of space, and suddenly the need for more room becomes pressing. READ MORE

How to cut the cottage-sale tax bill

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The ABCs of the ACB

Thinking of selling your cottage, cabin, or recreational property? Unless it’s truly your principal residence, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will want its share of any capital gain you make on the sale. It calculates the capital gain as the proceeds of the sale minus the cost of selling and the adjusted cost base (ACB). Here’s where you can find ways to cut the tax take. But a note of caution: The CRA are fully aware of ACB games people play with cottage sales, so ensure that all the components of the ACB are documented and are all bona fide. READ MORE

Stressed out over mortgages stress test?

Know the rules before you sign on the dotted line

If you’ve been shopping for a mortgage for your new home, you probably have run across something called a “stress test.” It raises the bar on your financial health a lot higher before you can qualify for a mortgage – even if you don’t have to be insured! This has been stressing us out many unprepared borrowers. But by understanding a few of the rules beforehand, you can smooth out the path to buying that home. READ MORE

How to take advantage of the Home Buyer’s Plan

A source of funds for first-time home buyers

Looking for a source of funds as a down payment on your first home? If you have a good chunk of money sitting in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), you may be eligible to use some of it towards the purchase of a home under a federal government plan called the Home Buyer’s Plan (HPB). Naturally, there’s a long list of rules and regulations, but if you’re a young couple, it could mean as much as an extra $50,000 to tack on to a down payment. READ MORE

Fading sunsets: selling a cottage can be a taxing problem

Unless it’s a principal residence, you’ll pay tax on any gain in value

If the likes of Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Tom Hanks, and Bill Murray have been spotted vacationing at summer homes in the exclusive Muskoka lakes region of Ontario, there really must be something to the whole cottaging experience. And judging from recent price trends, demand for prime waterfront properties is as strong as it ever was. Owning a recreational property is almost iconic in Canada. But what do you do if you own a cottage now and want to sell to a willing A-list buyer? Right now, there’s plenty of incentive to cash in. What pitfalls should you watch for? READ MORE

Does an RRSP withdrawal make sense for first-time homebuyers?

 

When to take advantage of the Home Buyer’s Plan

First-time homebuyers who have RRSPs often look to supplement their down payment by taking advantage of the RRSP Home Buyer’s Plan. But frequently, they have only a sketchy idea of how it works and whether it’s even a good idea to take money out of what is really their retirement savings. READ MORE

Don’t get burned in the red-hot real estate market

Timely tips for first-time homebuyers

Real estate is hot, hot, hot. Just ask anyone trying to buy a home in Vancouver or Toronto. The Teranet-National Bank National Composite House Price Index was up 0.5% in January from December. The rise matched the largest January increases in the index, set in 2003 and 2010. Home prices were up in seven of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed by Teranet. And the composite index rose above 200 in January, signalling that home prices in the 11 markets as a whole have doubled since June 2005. READ MORE

Insured-mortgage rule changes give homebuyers the creeps

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Why some first-time homebuyers are scared stiff

If you’re looking to buy your first home, you’ve probably heard about the recent changes to mortgage lending rules recently announced by the government. If you’re shopping for an insured mortgage, these changes could affect you significantly. First-time homebuyers who are relying on high-ratio insured mortgages to help finance their purchase have reason to feel the chills. Here’s a look at what’s in store. READ MORE

Cut the tax take on cottage sales

Beware capital gains tax on non-principal residences

With real estate prices going through the roof across the country, you may seriously be considering selling the family cottage to capitalize on the investment your great grandparents made 50 years ago – or that you made 10 years ago. Trouble is, you have an uninvited partner in the sale: the Canada Revenue Agency, waiting to take its cut of the proceeds. Here’s how to reduce the tax take on a cottage sale. READ MORE

Mortgage refinancing costs could slash any rate savings

Beware the fees and penalties!

Sometimes it makes sense to refinance a mortgage – and it’s tempting if your rate is higher than prevailing rates – but mostly it doesn’t. It would make sense only if you have a longer-term mortgage at an interest rate considerably higher than what’s on offer at current low rates. It all boils down to the math, and like it or not, you’ll have to do some number-crunching to determine whether refinancing makes sense for you. READ MORE

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