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Life
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Real Estate Investment
June 29, 2010 at 11:28 am 1
oz_house_streetlevel Today's post is from guest editor, Julia Stepanova, a local real estate expert who has done some great investments herself, and is on board to help guide us in our wealth building activities. --- In Toronto the real estate market has not been as affected as it is in the USA. In fact we've had a hot market for the past few months. Our 2010 Forecast called for a strong first half in sales and a slower second half due to three factors. Factor One - the introduction of the HST (which will NOT impact prices in the resale market but will increase the cost of services and new properties over $400,000). Factor Two - we are expecting a bump in Bank of Canada interest rates in the second half of the year, which will make it harder for some people to afford (and therefore fewer people will buy). Factor Three - more listings are coming to the market (particularly in the condo segment). Right now the market is still hot but will be softening towards the end of June/2010. And if you like to take your time looking for a place and multiple offers is not your thing this means it is your time to shine. If you are looking to get into the real estate market it's a great time. But how do you get the most out of it? First, make sure you're taking the right steps. 1. Get yourself preapproved by going to your local bank. 2. Decide on the area. 3. Write your wish list. 4. Find an agent specializing in your preferred area. 5. Do not forget to allocate 1.5% of the purchase price towards the closing cost. If you want a steady return on your money, houses can be a sure bet and it have two strong things going for them as an investment. First, any capital gains on your principal residence are tax-free. If your house appreciates by 6 per cent, you get to keep every cent of your gains. Now 6 per cent may not sound like much, but in terms of how much you end up with, you'd have to earn as much as 12 per cent on a fixed-income investment such as a GIC to match that return, after tax. Second, you don't have to come up with the full purchase price, meaning you're able to harness leverage. The conventional mortgages require a down payment of 25 per cent of a house's appraised value. Where as the High Ratio Mortgage, requires only 5% down payment. For example, if you buy a $200,000 home, you need to come up with around $50,000 for a conventional mortgage. If the home's value rises to $220,000, that's an increase of 10 per cent. But what's really happened is you've put up $50,000, and made $20,000. Your real gross return on your invested funds is around 40 per cent. But notice the word “gross”. Don't forget that your real return will be less. Buying a home and having a mortgage is also a tremendously powerful forced savings program. You need to pay for housing, whether you are renting, leasing, or paying your mortgage. So why not put your money towards a mortgage, and if you invest wisely when you sell you will get it all back. If you rent, you never get anythign back. ---- Julia is a real estate agent with Re/Max Condos Plus and you can find her here.
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Life
Women And Real Estate Investing
May 13, 2010 at 9:19 am 3
oz_house_streetlevel For many women the dream of owning their own home, having a successful career, and some solid investments is very appealling. Recently we've been receiving loads of questions on investing, women and money, and how to build a solid little nest into a big bag of cash! This month we're thrilled to have Julia Stepanova, a local real estate expert who has done some great investments herself, and is on board to help guide us in our wealth building activities. Here's Julia! --- When I was a money struggling student in England, my dream was to finally finish studying and to get a nice job. That day arrived: the end of university, but most importantly a job that provided me with a paycheck once a month. Like any other woman I spent it all on clothing and shoes! The next paycheck was used for new clothes and new shoes (a temptation impossible to resist). I soon enough realized that I was turning into a Carry Bradshaw; I mean how many shoes can I have? What happened to my dream of owning a home? I wanted to get married and have children, of course, but first on my list was building my own personal success and aquiring some solid investments including real estate. It’s an essential part of your life and makes you feel an accomplished woman. Since those struggling years 10 years ago, I got married, I had a child and guess what? I own a unit that has tripled in price since I bought it! Talk about an investment! I rent it out and it provides me with an income that I spend on… yes, shoes, clothes, and spa treatments. The thing is: real estate investing is easier than you would think, and can often reap some hefty rewards. If you're not convinced check out this story here. It's true that there is some risk associated, and there are no guarantees, but like any risk the reward can be huge, and all indicators are saying that things are a-ok in the real estate market here in Toronto. Right now, Toronto real estate continues to move towards balance and for someone looking to buy that's great news. There are lots of listings (i.e. choice for you) and now over 1,100 downtown condos for sale. The sale-to-list ratio (sales to active listings in a month) that was at one time over 80% is now down to 50% and will soon approach the 25-35% range of a balanced market. If you have already been thinking of buying, go while the interest rates are still low and the market is turning into the Buyers market. Don't be afraid, owning a home is one of the most liberating things a woman can do for herself. --- Julia is a real estate agent with Re/Max Condos Plus and you can find her here.</a
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Life
Investment Success: Condo Sale Pays Big
January 18, 2010 at 1:25 pm 5
Like many engaged women I will shortly be leaving my apartment to move in with my fiancé. The whole thing is very exciting, but even better because the recent sale of my condo turned out to be a big win. I bought my condo in 2007, and it was a major achievement for me. It was a dream that I’d had in my back pocket for so long, but it just seemed so hard to scrape together a down payment, and then the monthly payments that seemed to last forever were also extremely intimidating. But, despite it all, my dream came true. In August 2007 I bought my first place.

the messy kitchen that I bought

the messy kitchen that I bought



the messy sleeping area pre-renovation

the messy sleeping area pre-renovation

When I bought it I looked at it like an investment, a necessary step to get me to the next place in my investment goals. I planned on living in my place for 2.5 or 3 years, and then I would sell it – and hopefully make a big, fat profit – or I would rent it out while it continued to increase in value.

making improvements to the apt

making improvements to the apt

Two and a half years later I decided I would list it, and prey for the best. So, in the beginning of December I put my place on the market. While the real estate market may be suffering in most of North America, things are not so bad in Toronto. Actually they are pretty good. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss out this opportunity to make money off the sale of my apartment. What if things fell sharply in the Spring? What if the new buildings in my neighbourhood – set for construction to be completed in Spring 2010 - were more appealing than my 3 year old condo? What if the economy slipped into more of a recession and nobody was buying? I didn’t feel comfortable with waiting it out until the Spring market, so I listed it. Thank my lucky stars it sold in one week!!! At the end of January I will be closing the sale of my condo and moving into my fiancé’s place. And, I have to say, buying my condo was THE BEST INVESTMENT I’ve ever made. I made 275% return on my initial investment! I think I might just try this again…
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Life
What’s Your Home Style?
December 1, 2009 at 2:13 pm 0




Recently I discovered this super fun quiz by Ethan Allen to help figure out my house style, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Since I’m getting married next Spring I’ve been trying to find a place to live that my future husband and I will both like. As a part of my magazine project I’ve been clipping my dream houses out and also one’s that I think my fiancé will like. But every house I’ve chosen for him has been dead wrong! So now we’re going back to basics to try and figure out what style “category” each of us likes. That way we can figure out how to appropriately mix our styles. Hopefully we have it all figured out before we move in together!
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Life
What’s Your Home Design IQ?
November 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm 0




Ever wondered if you are really as style savvy as you think you are? I think I'm pretty smart in the home decor category...but when I did this Style at Home quiz it didn't agree. I'll tell you how I did if you tell me how you did!
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Life
Buying My First Place – On My Way to My Dream Life
August 20, 2009 at 2:53 pm 1

I’m a big believer in having life goals, and working towards those goals with solid plans. But one of the funny things about achieving a dream life, is that it takes a lot of work and determination to get there. For me, buying my first condo in 2007 was a dream come true. I bought my condo at a bit of a turbulent time in my life. I’d recently broken up with my long term boyfriend and it was a less than perfect ending, I was pulling crazy hours with a full time job and endless nights at university finishing my master’s thesis, and I was in a long distance rebound relationship. Needless to say there was a lot going on in my life, but I stayed on track so I could get that much closer to my dream life. When I bought my place I felt so accomplished. I’d dreamed of getting into the real estate market for so long, and scrimped and suffered to save up for my down payment. It was something that I had wanted to do for years, but my long term relationship was holding me back from doing this. While I sacrificed to save up to buy a place, without a supportive partner when you are in a relationship it’s almost impossible to make your dreams a reality. So when things ended I moved into a different phase in my life where I didn’t have to compromise my goals anymore. Finally I was able to buy my first place. I was filled with pride that I’d been able to succeed in one of my long term dreams…and best of all, it made me realize that I am able to achieve my dream life. Not only did I feel so proud for getting my first place, but it made me realize that relationships should bring out our better selves and make us closer to achieving our dreams. After I bought my place I was done with spending time in relationships that held me back, or didn’t enhance my life. And that’s one of the little changes in my life that has made a huge difference overall.
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Life
Seven Ways I Survived the Economic Crisis
July 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm 0
Recently I had a chance to reflect on life over the past year. It has been a great year for me in my personal life (just a hint, but I met someone lovely), and it's also been a good year for me financially. I was able to get a better job and weather the economic crisis with a good chunk of savings. Here are some of the things that I did that made a difference to my bottom line. 1. I bought a condo that was affordable. Instead of being tempted to buy a larger 1bdrm apt that was over my budget I settled on my bachelor apt. Yes, it`s small, but so are my mortgage payments. Besides, I know I won`t be here forever, and I`ve been able to save a lot living in this very affordable space. 2. I switched to a cash budget. Every month I watched my money very carefully and made sure I never over-extended myself. With cash it is so much easier because you never get a surprise credit card bill in the mail. 3. I paid off my debt and saved like crazy. I needed to have a large safety savings account so that I could feel comfortable everyday, in case something bad happened. Now I know that if I lose my job I will be okay for a few months. 4. I socialized differently. I love going out to fancy restaurants and very much enjoy great wine, but I don`t need to indulge all the time. This past year I`ve had friends over for dinner more than ever, and I drink my fancy wine at home, too. If I do go out it`s for a special occasion, or I meet my friends for drinks after dinner. 5. I shopped for less expensive clothing alternatives. Instead of going for the pricey brand names I`d opt for the less expensive clothing lines. The funny thing is, people often ask me if I got my dresses at designer stores. I was at a wedding in Montreal and a girl at my table asked me if I got my dress at BCBG, but really I got it at Bedo. As long as you stick with decent quality you`ll be fine. 6. I second guessed purchases. When tempted by a purchase I`d step back and figure out if I really needed it. If the answer was maybe, or no, I just moved on. 7. I didn`t go into stores if I wasn`t looking for something specific. I avoided the temptation. If I didn`t need to go shopping I`d do something else that made me happy, like read a book in a coffee shop, or go for a walk outside. That way I didn`t feel like I was denying myself.
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