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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
What To Do When Your House Won’t Sell
May 31, 2010 at 11:54 am 0
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! ---- A few months ago I had a 2 bedroom condo, in a brand new building in downtown Toronto, for sale. A very pretty unit in itself, but even after two price reductions and many showings it just WOULDN’T SELL. Whoever entered would say: “Wow nice view, big rooms, good floors, great bathroom and kitchen”. Yes I know, want it? … No. It was as if it was cursed. So, sitting at my usual spot, a large green tea in my hand, an idea occurred to me. I called my clients and suggested to stage the unit. In a matter of two days, with the help of professional stagers the unit was transformed, the new design complementing the units’ qualities. The next day I had multiple offers and it was sold for $12,000 over the asking price. Most surprising was the fact that the couple who had bought it had been there a while ago and at the time paid no special attention to the unit. Now, they couldn’t believe that they have already seen it before.
Before Staging

a nice condo, but just wouldn't sell

a nice condo, but just wouldn't sell




After Staging

bright, sunny and sold over asking after staging

bright, sunny and sold over asking after staging


Creating an unforgettable image of your unit is necessary thus, staging is very important (it changes the entire atmosphere of a place). Some companies allow you to pick and choose furniture to fit your budget without using a stager. There are also some great books; the recently published “Staging for Dummies” by Christine Rae and Jan Saunders Maresh has a whole chapter dedicated to colour choice and offers advice on combining colors effectively, explaining the rules of a 60/30/10 ratio: 60 for walls,“Wall color is the most dominant space in the room and claims 60 percent of the color in the room. Remember the ceiling and floors are walls, too! You use the secondary color on the larger pieces of furniture and window treatments[30%] . Use the color on throw pillows, florals, art, and accessories [10%]”. Now I must admit that the apartment wasn’t cursed, it just wasn’t memorable enough. But staging did the trick. And luckily I had my green tea, which always does the trick too. --- For more posts on women and real estate investing check out: Condo Sale Pays Big. Women and Real Estate Investing Julia is a real estate agent with Re/Max Condos Plus and you can find her here.</a
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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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