8 Features That Can Make Your House Surprisingly Harder to Sell

We usually think that the more features a house has and the more amenities are nearby, the easier it would be to sell the house later on, right? Well, the thing is, the features and amenities you like may be the exact opposite of what others prefer. Here are some of the most common features and amenities that are unappealing to some home buyers to help you in deciding your purchase and set your expectations if you are selling.

A Busy Location

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Some love the convenience of having stores, restaurants, and cafes just outside the door but some prefer a more quiet and ‘slow’ location. Know too that homes on busy streets usually have less value compared to a similar home in an interior street. This is something to think over if you’re buying now.

The Size of Your Yard

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Some people just don’t want anything to do with maintaining a yard, period. Some won’t want to move in unless the yard is big enough for big parties or to provide a substantial distance away from the neighbours.. It’s just near impossible to find the perfect balance.

Bedroom Location

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This is a big factor when purchasing a home. There are people who would balk out of buying a beautiful dream home just because one of the bedrooms is downstairs. The stakes go higher when it is the master’s bedroom that is in an unusual location, such as next to the kitchen. Generally speaking though, those in their senior years or near retirement usually want a one story home or for the bedrooms to be downstairs.

A School Just a Few Steps Away

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Having a school practically next door is heaven-sent for some but the very definition of a nightmare for other people. You may love the idea of walking your children to school but for someone who has no children, the idea of having children coming and going on the street right next to their house isn’t something they’d want. Not to mention the school buses and vehicles of parents dropping off and picking up kids for most of the year.

Fancy Renovations

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A granite kitchen or beautifully landscaped lawn can make buyers think that a home is a pain to maintain, more so if not situated in an affluent neighbourhood.

Having Tile Flooring

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Let’s face it, tile flooring isn’t the easiest to maintain. They are also difficult to remove, replace, and/or repair. Note too that tile patterns you love might be off-putting for some people. Hardwood is often the safest bet.

Having a Swimming Pool

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A swimming pool might be something you’ve always dreamed of having but someone who hates swimming or don’t want the cost of maintaining a pool will definitely not be into it. You may even have to take a loss when it’s time to sell a home that has a pool.

A Deck or A Patio

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It all boils down to maintenance being an issue. If you love being out in the yard while still being comfortable then, having a patio or a deck is something you love, but some would think that having them is just an inconvenience that they will be forced to take when buying a home. Just like having a pool, this might shave a few thousands off your home’s selling price.

With spring still more than a season away, selling your Oakville home may not be as easy more so in the upcoming weeks and months. Let our outstanding agents help you! Contact us today!

Are You A-Okay for Winter? Check Out These Tips to Winterize Your Home

Winter has officially started but it isn’t too late to winterize your home! We’ve compiled 15 amazing tips for a winter-safe home! Say hello to an energy-efficient warm and toasty haven that’s wallet-friendly and environment friendly too! Whether you’ve got only a few hours a day or just 1 weekend to fully prepare for winter, our list will take care of all your home’s winter woes.

Tackle Your Furnace

Have an HVAC Professional check-up and tune up your furnace before you even use it this year. An inspection is going to cost you around $100 but that’s nothing compared to the energy savings you’ll get and your family’s safety.

Clean Your Heating Ducts

The same HVAC Professional can take care of cleaning out your heating ducts. Leaks can cost you up to 60% more in your heating bill so better get that duct taped fast!

Reverse Ceiling Fans

A clockwise blade direction pushes warm air down, saving you a few hundred dollars in your energy bill.

Tweak the A/C

Drain any pipes or hoses to help extend the life of you’re a/c since you won’t be using it in winter. Vacuum up pools of water and/or any fluid to prevent it from freezing and damaging you’re a/c.

Trim Nearby Trees

Branches hanging over windows, cars, and roofs can cause major damage when they get too heavy with ice and break.

Regularly Replace Your Furnace Filter

Dirty filters impede air flow and are a fire hazard. You may also want to switch to reusable electronic or electrostatic ones to save some extra bucks in the long run.

Insulation Tune-Up!

Adding fiberglass insulation in your attic can really work wonders for your home’s energy efficiency. Just make sure that extra insulation doesn’t have a paper backing to avoid problems down the road.

Block Air Leaks

Up to 30% of your energy use can be wasted because of drafts. Caulking and lining places with draft can help keep your home warm and save you some cash.

Check Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

A home fire won’t be fun and not waking up from sleep forever is no joke either. Avoid fires and carbon monoxide poisoning by replacing batteries with new ones and making sure the alarms are working.

Have a 72-Hour Survival Kit

You won’t really know if you will get snowed in or if a major snow storm is going to hit your area so better be prepared and get yourself and your family members a 72-hour survival kit. Don’t forget your pets too!

Install Storm Windows and Storm Doors

This is an easy and clever way to reduce energy consumption by as much as 45%! Whoa! Just do it!

Inspect Your Chimney

Have your chimney swept by a professional before using it. A badly maintained chimney is one of the major causes of home fires during winter.

Make Your Gutters Pristine

Clean your gutters to prevent ice dams from forming on your roof. You won’t like the mess and the cost when that happens.

Wrap Your Pipes

Making your water pipes energy efficient can help conserve fuel, energy, time, and of course money. Think about no more waiting for the hot water for your shower!

Bring Out the Biggest Sweaters!

It won’t really be winter unless you’ve been spotted sporting some very winter-y sweaters. They’re not only cosy, they raise up your temperature by about 4 degrees and save you lots of dough on your heating bill!

Excited for winter? Then you’d love it at Oakville! Oakville has a wide array of winter attractions for the whole family. The community is extra warm and welcoming too! Contact us to help you find your perfect Oakville home!

Tap Your Home’s Value in Your Retirement

Are you near retirement but have not saved enough cash? Do you know that you can use your home’s value as extra retirement fund?

Your home is essentially a bank of wealth of the money you paid for it throughout the years.  The equity you’ve built up in it is a cash resource if only you know how to unlock it.

So, how do you unlock it? Below are 3 ways how.

Buy A Smaller House

Downgrading to a condo, a retirement facility, or a smaller house will leave you with plenty of spending money after you sold your current home. This is especially true for hot markets such as Toronto and Vancouver where selling now is very much in the favour of the seller right now.

But what if you wish to remain in your current home? Are there still ways to tap your home’s value then? There are! Two potential solutions are getting a home equity line of credit or getting a reverse mortgage. These are explained below.

Get a Reverse Mortgage

A reverse mortgage gives you flexibility because it allows you to get your money either as advanced in stages or as a lump sum. Another advantage is that there are no required  principal or interest payments. You won’t be required to pay up the loan until you sell the property, move, or die – in which case your estate will be charged. What you will be required to do is to keep paying the insurance and property taxes for the lender.

Reverse mortgages does have disadvantages, the most notable of which is the high cost because the typical interest rate is double that of a conventional mortgage. Note that although you are not required to pay interest payments, they will be added to your balance increasing it significantly over a few years.

Apply for A Home Equity Line of Credit

Getting a home equity line of credit is a less expensive option compared to other choices like a reverse mortgage. A HELOC will let you borrow up to 65% of your home’s value and you can choose to withdraw only the amount you need. You won’t be required to make regular payments nor withdraw an initial amount.

Note that a HELOC requires regular interest payments (you only pay interest on actual withdrawn amount) and that getting approved might prove difficult if you wait until you are actually retired before applying for one because a key factor that lenders consider is having regular income – something you won’t have if you apply for a HELOC too late. Know too that failure to pay down the road will mean that you’ll be forced to sell your home. This is why you have to really evaluate if this is right for you.

Unlocking your home’s value in your retirement can help you in a lot of ways, but understand that some solutions might be better for your specific needs. Ready to tap your home’s equity now? Contact us and we will assist you each step of the way!


Fraudulent CRA Phishing Scams Now Used for Identity Theft

Thousands of Canadians have fallen victim to scammers who pretend that they are from the CRA. Unsuspecting victims are usually contacted with threatening texts, emails, or calls telling them that a recent audit has uncovered that they owe a substantial amount to the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA has been used as a front by fraudsters in the past as well.

Worrying Calls

One victim recalled that a fraudster identified himself as officer Craig Williams from the CRA and called her about discrepancies with her maternity leave and employment insurance. This left the victim confused because she knew her paperwork have been filed months prior and that the caller’s phone number showed that it was a toll-free number from Vietnam. Luckily, she googled the number and knew it was not from the CRA so she called the number and asked for which CRA department the caller is from. The fraudster cut the call.

The incident above could easily be dismissed as just another attempt to scam but one disturbing fact was that the caller knew that the victim is a new mom who’s receiving employment insurance. That is something that is rather specific.

The victim then proceeded to check her social media settings and double checked possible leaks of her financial details but found none.

Similar Scams

Barring details of the story above, many of which are a red flag about the authenticity of the caller, it should be noted that the CRA has been used in many similar scams in the past (and even now).

Extortion schemes are the most common ones, making targeted victims pay for supposed mistakes in their returns. The victims are threatened via email, text, and/or calls and informed that they will be arrested and/or reported if they do not pay via prepaid credit card, iTunes cards, e-transfer, or Bitcoin ATMs. Some victims have been targeted twice by the same scammers.

Alarming Criminal Activity

Identity theft and identity fraud have been identified by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre located in North Bay, Ontario. Their office tracks identity theft, mass-marketing fraud, and identity fraud. They recorded a loss of about $100 million from 30,000 victims of mass marketing scams last year and logged 26,500 individual cases of identity fraud where criminals used another person’s identity to scam service providers, stores, and banks out of $14 million. As for identity theft, they’ve received more than 10,000 complaints last year.

Identity Theft On The Rise

One targeted victim for identity theft remembered a call from someone claiming to be from Visa verifying recent transactions made with his car. He discovered that a deposit of $4,000 has been made in his account. Because he works in finance and knew how bad people may use his details, he changed his social security number and thought that was it. A few months down the road, he received a call from a detective following the arrest of a man who’ve been using his identity.

We’ve shared with you some alarming cases of identity fraud and identity theft. Luckily for the people involved above, their quick thinking helped minimize the harm done to them by fraudsters.

Want us to help you with a possible case of identity theft or identity fraud? Contact us today at Haywood Hunt Private Investigation Agency and we’ll assist you with the private investigation services we offer.

Auto Insurance System Reform Being Pushed by Ontario to Slash Rates and Fight Fraud

Ontario has the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada despite the province having low rates of collisions and deaths – a big factor to that is the prevalence of auto insurance fraud.

Changes Ahead

Ontario is looking into ways to push for changes in the auto insurance industry to help try to combat fraud and eventually reduce premiums. This is in view of the reported cost of auto insurance fraud totaling to an estimated $1.6 billion a year as shared by Finance Minister Charles Sousa. He said it is now time to put a stop to the fraud, a move that may create new challenges for real crash victims.

Sousa shared that there are plans for the government to develop standard treatment plans for commonplace collision injuries such as whiplash and sprains. They will also create neutral and independent examination centres for the medical assessment of more serious cases and tackle fraud in the system by establishing a Serious Fraud Office. He hopes that getting rid of fraud will significantly reduce costs and subsequently lower premiums.

The Numbers

Ontario found out earlier this year via a government-commissioned report that the province pays Canada’s most expensive auto insurance premiums despite having the lowest numbers of fatalities and accidents. The higher cost is for covering loses due to auto insurance fraud.

All of the above comes at a time when the Liberal government is still working on their promise of a reduced rate. Although they are about halfway of their goal right now, they missed their self imposed deadline in August 2015.

Lawyers Say New Plan Will Unfairly Target Victims

Personal injury lawyers are not fans of the proposal, pointing out that the new process will work unfairly against real victims.

Michael Smitiuch of Smitiuch Injury Law based in Toronto stated that it seems the current government has a talent for punishing people who truly needed help the most as it will create unnecessary  roadblocks for victims. The lawyer also said that a cookie cutter approach like what the province is proposing will not be enough to adequately meet the needs of injured victims. He further voiced out that he sees more problems in the future regarding claiming of benefits and making sure that they are paid out.

Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ consultant Sebastian Gallagher said the proposed system will do the opposite of providing clarity and lessening confusion.

A Different Time for The Same Mistakes?

Critics expressed that the new plan have concerning similarities with the failed Designated Assessment Centres introduced in 1994 and shut down in 2006. The DAC failed because the process was usually long, drawn out, and a sinkhole of resources.

Should the new proposal be implemented, proving fraud or the absence thereof might become even more difficult. Some people will do anything for fraud. Luckily for you, we specialize in uncovering cases of it through the use of our legitimate private investigation services in Mississauga and techniques. Contact us should you wish to get data on someone or place them under personal surveillance the right way.

New Mortgage Regulations To Be Announced

Risks of high real estate prices and household debt will be addressed by the new OFSI residential mortgage lending guideline updates.

Mortgage Updates

Some of the risks that are part of partaking in the mortgage market will become significantly lower when tighter mortgage lending rules are implemented with the oncoming stricter regulations. The updates will be finalized by the end of this month, said the federal financial regulator.

The new updates will come in effect 2 to 3 months after the final changes to the residential mortgage lending guidelines or B-20 of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI). This was shared in a speech at Economic Club of Canada in Toronto by OSFI head Jeremy Budin.

The superintendent shared that the majority of changes will be quite similar to what was proposed in July, which includes a stress test for uninsured mortgages and prohibitions on co-lending arrangements that aim or seem to circumvent regulator requirements.

Budin says that they are doing this because they plan to act before lending risks become actual problems.

New Mortgage Stress Test

If implemented, the stress test will mean that homeowners will have to prove that they have the means or capability to continue making payments should interest rates increase. The stress test include those who were not required mortgage insurance, to begin with, and those who have a downpayment of 20% or more.

Rudin’s statements came after the Bank of Canada hiked up their interest rates twice this summer amidst unexpectedly strong economic numbers. He told reporters that the upcoming changes are to help provide support to the lending system as nobody can predict what will happen to house prices in the future.

Crackdown on Co-Lending

Budin said that the OSFI’s crackdown on bundled or co-lending mortgages (those mortgages wherein unregulated providers team up with federally regulated lenders to finance a property) is geared at making sure that financial institutions stick to rules that specify how much they can lend.

He added that the system needs to attain more integrity but that he also acknowledges that the changes to rules may push those thinking of buying a home to use riskier financing options, for instance, shadow banking. He further said that they recognize the fact that some lending activities might move outside the federal sphere but that does not stop them from acting on their responsibilities and mandate.

Safety Measures?

The more limiting lending rules by the banking regulator came into fruition after Ontario government chose to implement some changes in April in an effort to cool down the housing market. They’ve implemented a foreign buyers tax similar to what was implemented in Vancouver for the same purpose.

Note that the latest figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver show that home sales in September of this year is higher than that of last year and that the home price index is up by 10.9% compared to the same period a year ago.

Worried about your home loan application because of this update? We can help! Contact us today for assistance and more information on how we can give that to you.