Home buying

October 29, 2021

Man discovers dead body in newly purchased France apartment

It's a surprise that we hope never happens to us.

The new owner of an apartment walked in to find the hanged body of the previous owner behind the front door when the locksmith opened up his newly purchased property. While it's odd that the body wasn't found earlier, you think the buyer would have visited the property before signing any papers, apparently the body was undisturbed for eight years, according to a local France newspaper.

Thomas Ngin, a security guard, had been fired from his previous job, dealing with court proceedings with his employer in legal court and facing debt issues.

The bank seized his property and sold it at an auction where it was bought for 415,000 euros (about $598,889) in early October. It explains why the owner never saw the property in advance, but he's likely regretting that decision now.

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October 14, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg buys his neighbours' homes for $30 million

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg came up with a unique but pricey way to ensure his privacy: buy out your surrounding neighbours for $30 million.

Thanks to his $19-billion net worth, the Facebook CEO bought four of his neighbours' homes in San Francisco, but it turns out that a mega mansion isn't in the cards. Instead, the 29-year-old will become a landlord and lease the properties to their previous owners, says the San Jose Mercury News.

It turns out that Zuckerberg only started buying the surrounding properties in December 2012, when he heard a developer was hoping to use the Facebook founders status to help sell the property. The last house was sold on October 1, where he paid $14.5 million for a 2,560-square-foot lot or $5,470 per square foot, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Whether you like it or not, the value of your home is affected by your neighbours. If you have a hoarder as a neighbour with an overgrown yard and tons of clutter, it can hurt your home's sale price by five to 10 per cent, President of the Appraisal Institute told Business Insider. This Toronto-couple built themselves a six-foot fence, but let's face it, their home's value will remain lower if their neighbour's junk stays out in the yard.

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July 25, 2021

Should you be locking in your mortgage sometime soon?

Over the last few weeks, longer-term fixed rates have jumped by roughly half a percentage point.

The fixed-rate five-year closed mortgage, which was once as low as 2.99%, has risen steadily in the past few weeks and is closer to 3.5% at most banks. That may not seem like a big difference but it means a larger payment.

Even though rates aren't expected to jump significantly until next year, if you're coming up for renewal then it may be time to at least work in higher rates into your budget.

Mortgage debates used to centre around whether to go fixed or variable but the discussion these days is often not whether to lock in a rate but for how long? Most people choose a 5-year term. But is that the best option? You could, for instance, lock up a 7-year rate ... or even a 10-year term.

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July 16, 2021

What constitutes full disclosure when selling a house?

Would you want to know if the house you were buying had once had human ashes buried in the back yard? I would, but no one would have to tell me it seems.

Recently, one Toronto couple bought a midtown house with plans to demolish and rebuild it. They were in the process of obtaining permits from the City of Toronto when someone alluded to the house's history.

It turned out that the widow of a previous owner had buried her husband’s ashes in the back yard even though they'd originally been stored in a cemetery vault.

After awhile, the couple found and removed them. But they were worried, since the back yard had been used temporarily as a burial ground for human remains, whether the property was 'stigmatized' -- in other words, whether they would have to fess up to future buyers.

No, they don't, explains Toronto lawyer Bob Aaron.

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July 11, 2021

Do 'rent to own' housing deals actually work out?

If you've been in the U.S. over the last couple of years, you've seen the signs, generally at large intersections: “Rent To Own! No Financing Necessary! Call Now!”

They're touted as a good deal for owners who have trouble selling and buyers who can't get conventional financing.

In most cases, the seller gives the tenant the right to buy the house at some point in the future, usually one to three years out, for a price that's agreed upon today, plus a fee that will keep the option of buying open.

Tenants are also typically required to put down a deposit towards the final sale price which will be held by the homeowner as credit towards the price of the home at the end of the lease option.

While these offerings are nowhere near as common on this side of the border, several small Canadian companies have been using a similar pitch to entice prospective homebuyers into the market as well as targetting cash-strapped homeowners looking to get out from under. 

And for many people, things haven't been working out that well. When one B.C. couple tried the rent-to-own route last year, the deal fell apart early. The so-called prospective buyer ended up squatting in their property.

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July 04, 2021

Rise in interest rates expected in 2014

Buying your first home is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make.

While 31 per cent of first-time homebuyers expect interest rates to stay the same over the next five years, that just may not be the case, according to market projections.

BMO Economics reports that interest rate hikes are expected in the second half of 2014.

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June 21, 2021

Real estate is a hot topic for Canadians

1302218_50183007The start of summer is officially here and the conversation quickly turns from the weather to -- well, real estate of course.

Forget hockey. A new national survey revealed that talking about real estate is becoming Canadian's new national pastime.

It is a hot topic, with 84 per cent of Canadians admitting they think about real estate on a regular basis, according to a poll by Zoocasa.

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May 31, 2021

Canadians in market to buy condos

CondoWell we're movin' on up. To the east side. To a deluxe apartment in the sky.

The Jeffersons lived the high life, and according to a new report from BMO Bank of Montreal one-third of Canadian homebuyers are looking to purchase a condominium in the next five years.

But what is it that is attracting buyers to the condo lifestyle?

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May 22, 2021

Home buying looks good for most Canadians

1099196_67954355Thinking of buying a new home? You may not be alone in your thoughts.

According to the BMO Housing Confidence Report, nearly half of Canadian homeowners intend to buy a property in the next five years signalling a high level of confidence in the housing market.

Despite reports of a cooling down in market, in our eastern Ontario neighbourhood 'For Sale' signs are popping up everywhere. The houses are only staying on the market a few weeks -- if that.

It seems that everyone on our street is catching the moving bug after witnessing their next-door-neighbours packing up and heading for larger homes in desirable neighbourhoods.

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May 14, 2021

Canadians are sold on safe neighbourhoods

1302218_50183007When it comes to buying a new home, the majority of Canadians are sold on safe neighburhoods.

There's a lot to consider when looking for a new home besides the price and the features it has to offer.

In fact, a safe neighbourhood is the big sell for homebuyers, according to a survey by BMO Bank of Montreal.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...