Real estate

July 27, 2021

Why rent when you can buy?

Although it varies widely from city to city, the upfront cost of buying a home is only a little more than renting in some areas of the country.

Which means, with interest rates still relatively low, this might be the time to seriously evaluate the decision of whether to rent or own, say realtors.

Let's say you’re renting now for $1,300 per month. Assuming a mortgage rate of $5.25%, $1,300 will be equivalent to a monthly payment on a mortgage of $218,000, based on a 25-year amortization.

Continue reading »

July 02, 2021

Duped, woman now on the hook for mortgage fraud

A Toronto woman is on the hook for $95,000 after failing to realize she was being tricked into a mortgage fraud.

Angela Isaacs accepted $6,000 to co-sign a stranger's mortgage and signed the documents without actually reading them, according to the Toronto Star. The house was then flipped and she was stuck with the bill.

What’s worse, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that she owes 6.3 per cent annual interest on the $95,000 loss going back two years, as well as $13,500 in legal fees incurred by the lender, the Royal Bank of Canada.

Continue reading »

June 03, 2021

The high costs of building green

Have you survived the green renovation project from hell? Still up to your eyeballs in BluWood and geo-thermal units? Government grants dried up during construction?

If your eco-friendly reno has weathered a number of mistakes, budget blow-outs or shoddy construction, you’re certainly not alone. Most renovation projects come with a surprise of some kind but giving your home a green feel can come at a high cost – financially and emotionally.

The green building industry is moving so fast, with technology and products being introduced and improved all the time. That's why it's really hard for homeowners – and even for contractors – to keep up, says Mike Holmes, Canada's white knight of home renovation.

Continue reading »

May 20, 2021

Hybrid mortgages catching on with homebuyers

It's the question Canadian homeowners continue to obsess over: Should I stay fixed or go variable?

Historically, borrowers have saved money by choosing a variable mortgage. But a pending upswing in interest rates, which can only move higher as the economic recovery takes hold, has some consumers looking to lock in at still low fixed rates.

Then why not do both by taking out a hybrid mortgage

Hybrids – sometimes known as 50/50 mortgages – include a mix of fixed-rate and variable-rate elements within a single mortgage. You get the best of both worlds, argue supporters: the security of fixed repayments with the flexibility of a variable rate. 

A good way to go? Well, some people seem to think so. 

Continue reading »

April 12, 2021

Price war among realtors starts to heat up

Are we seeing a price war among the country's realtors?

Now that Canadian Real Estate Association says realtors can post listings on the MLS without handling the entire subsequent sale of the house, some in-your-face agents are jumping in with significantly lower fees.

One such maverick is Ontario-based Joe William, who claims his approach of placing listings for just $109, has made him “the most hated realtor in Ottawa.”

The cheap listing, which leaves the seller to take care of everything else, flouts rules put in place by CREA that, until recently, had discouraged the practice of discounting in this way. 

Continue reading »

April 07, 2021

Could you retire overseas?

Looking to stretch that strong dollar even further? The answer for some Canadians is moving to a country with a lower cost of living.

Some 3 million of us live abroad, not counting military and embassy folks. And while many of these are naturalized Canadians returning to their first home, some are retirees. Could you be one of them?

Tax laws, medical care and security may not seem that important when you're dreaming of gentle tropical breezes but they quickly become a preoccupation once you move to another country.

Continue reading »

February 17, 2022

Are full-service realtors a dying breed?

Competition Bureau Commissioner Melanie Aitken has cut the heart out of the Canadian Real Estate Association's restrictions on the use of the Multiple Listings Service, the database at the centre of Canada's housing market.

Is this the beginning of the end for CREA's 98,000 members? Will they soon be replaced by U.S.-style budget brokers, in the same way that upstart online brokers muscled their way into the financial industry a decade ago? 

I doubt it. But it's a nice idea nonetheless.

Continue reading »


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...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...