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Marisa DiPassa
Sales Representative

Royal LePage Your Community Realty, Brokerage

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Helpful Tips For Buyers



Each year, millions of homes are sold across the country. Are you one of these new homeowners? If so, you've most likely felt the urge to settle in immediately. However, before making any major renovations, try starting small and work your way up to big projects. Here are a few swift swaps that will have a big impact in making that new house feel like “home sweet home.”
Personalize with Paint
It may be the most obvious update, but painting is an easy solution to change the look of a room in an instant. Whether you paint an entire room, create a bold accent wall or incorporate glossy white trim, paint is an affordable fix for any home.
Painting is also a great way to add a personal touch and showcase your design style. Looking to add a fun pattern to a space? Rather than messing around with wallpaper, try using a patterned paint roller to create a beautiful stencil-like design. By taking this route, you'll get the beauty of expensive wallpaper at the cost of ordinary paint – all with an ease never before imagined.
Fabulous Frames
When moving into a new space, the things you love should take centre stage. Once your home reflects who you are, the rest will slowly fall into place. Photo frames are the ideal choice to add a decorative and personalized touch to any room. Bring this common décor pick into the modern age by creating a personal gallery and displaying frames of varying shapes and sizes. To do this, plan the layout of the frames before hanging, either with paper on the wall or by arranging them on the floor. Once the design is determined, fill frames with your favourite art pieces or personal photos for an eye-catching display that will make your house your home.
Faucet Focus
Kitchen and bath makeovers tend to have the biggest impact on a home and its resale value. However, new homeowners who are strapped for cash may not have a large budget for a full-scale bathroom remodel.
The easiest way to remodel your bathroom is to replace its hardest-working fixture – the faucet. This is also a project new homeowners can tackle themselves at a reasonable price. Moen offers a wide variety of faucet options, like the single-handle Boardwalk bathroom faucet, to add a fresh, elegant look to the sink. Boardwalk fits almost any décor and comes in Moen's Spot Resist Brushed Nickel finish, which resists fingerprints and water spots, so the faucet will stay looking clean as you show it off to family and friends. For a polished look, swap out old hardware with affordable, coordinated accessories including robe hooks, towel rings and towel bars.
Let There be Light
Light is an essential element for any room. Until your home is furnished and decorated to your liking, lighting is a great way to add warmth to a sparse space. With just a few fixtures in the right place, a space can easily appear bigger, taller, longer or cozier. If you're looking to reduce the overall scale of a room, consider placing several table lamps throughout to create an intimate atmosphere. In addition to setting the mood, amp up energy savings with lighting by switching to LED bulbs – these bulbs don't cause heat buildup and last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents and 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
When making these changes to a new home, keep track of your hard work by creating a homeowner's journal. Purchase a ring binder to keep insurance papers, repair receipts and all other paperwork pertaining to home upgrades, energy improvements or damages. Storing all home information in one handy place will make life easier during future repairs and can be helpful tool when selling down the road.
It's very easy for decorating to become overwhelming for new homeowners. By starting with these few swift home décor swaps, your new home will be a comfortable and welcoming environment in no time.


You signed the deal. You waited patiently for it to be built. Now, at last, your new home is move-in ready.
When you purchase a new home or condominium, your builder is required to conduct a 'pre-delivery inspection' with you on or before the day you take possession.
Called the PDI, it is your first opportunity to view your home in its entirety, learn about how to maintain it and take stock of anything that may be damaged, incomplete, missing, or not working properly.
You may be excited to show it off to your friends and family, but now is not the time. The PDI is an important part of taking possession of your new home and deserves your full attention, say advisers in this field. If you are not able to attend yourself, you can ask someone you trust to be there on your behalf.
You should carefully examine your home both inside and out. Look for things like chips in bathtubs and sinks, scratches on counter tops, damage to floors, walls, cabinetry or other finishings, and doors and windows that are not secure or do not open and close easily.
Outside, check things like the quality of brickwork and siding, whether window screens have been installed, and the appearance of the driveway and landscaping.
Your builder's representative will note everything down on a PDI form. Review the form carefully to make sure it's complete. You will get a copy, which will become the official record of the condition of your home before you moved in. Tarion Warranty Corporation, who regulates new home builders and guarantees your new home warranty, may refer to your PDI form at a later time if there is disagreement between you and your builder over whether any damage occurred before or after you took possession.
Sometimes, due to weather or other factors, you may not be able to inspect a certain item. If you are unable to assess something during the PDI, simply make note of it on the form.
The PDI is also an excellent opportunity to ask questions and learn about how your home functions. Your builder will show you how to operate your home's systems, like heating, electrical, air conditioning, and plumbing, and provide you with operating manuals.
You can find a detailed PDI checklist and other helpful resources online at


First-time buyers have a lot to consider as they forge into the world of home ownership. According to the recent RBC Home Ownership Poll, four-in-10 Canadians are looking to purchase their first house within the next two years – and many wonder where they should begin.
“Purchasing a home is often the biggest financial decision in a person's life, so it's important to take your time, set realistic goals, assess all the costs and get the right advice before you buy,” said Rachel Wihby, a strategy manager for first-time home buyers at RBC. Take a look at her answers to the most commonly asked questions:
Am I ready?
A home purchase is an emotional and financial journey that marks a key milestone in life. Are you ready for the responsibilities and upkeep associated with owning a home? Do you have a stable income? Have you saved up enough for a down payment? Be honest with yourself about your current lifestyle to gauge your readiness and ability to put together a good down payment.
Can I afford it?
While you may feel pressure in a competitive market to just buy something, fight that feeling and buy only when you find a property that meets your needs and lifestyle within your price range. Review your household income and current debt and remember to budget for closing costs, land transfer fees, property tax and everyday expenses. Talk to your bank about a mortgage pre-approval so you know exactly how much you can borrow and afford.
3. Who can help me?
Most often, first-time homebuyers turn to family and friends who have already been down the same road. Your realtor or banker can help you get a sense of the market and financing options. Arming yourself with more information and planning ahead can help you confidently navigate this first time journey so you can land the home of your dreams.
More information is available online at


Today's higher prices, market volatility and tighter lending conditions pose challenges for first time home buyers that did not exist 10 years ago. The barriers to get into the housing market, especially in urban centres, can seem insurmountable, but with some financial discipline in place, young Canadians may be able to realize their dreams of buying a home.
Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says the key to breaking into the housing market is to follow three simple strategies: pay down debt, increase savings, and set realistic goals.
“Whether it's credit card balances or student loans, it's important to get your debts under control before you take on a mortgage,” says Haque. “Consider consolidating higher interest credit balances into a loan with a lower rate. It may also help to set up a regular preauthorized transfer of a portion of your pay cheque onto your loan, so you can chip away at your debt without having to think about it.”
With high house prices, saving for a down payment may seem daunting for first time buyers, but Haque says a little creativity can help overcome this. “Look at your budget for opportunities to cut expenses and give your savings a boost. Remember even a small increase can make a big difference in the long run,” she says.
“Finally, do your research so you will have realistic expectations. Meet with a mortgage specialist who can help review your finances so that you are aware of what you can afford when you get into the market,” says Haque. “Carefully consider all your available mortgage options before choosing a mortgage that works for you.”
For more information on buying a home, visit


For over 65 years, CMHC has helped millions of Canadians meet their housing needs. CMHC provides mortgage loan insurance that enables you to buy a home sooner with a minimum down payment of 5%. And CMHC is there with you every step of the way — with information before, during and after your home purchase.
Great website for Buyers!! is under the left hand menu under CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING CORPORATION


For most people, buying a home is a significant milestone and the biggest purchase of their lifetime. While Canadians protect their residences with home and title insurance, many are not addressing who will inherit what may be their largest asset. A survey of more than 2,000 Canadians revealed that a majority of adults (56 per cent) do not have a signed will. The survey was released by LAWPRO's TitlePLUS insurance program.
A will is a legal, written document that sets out the person's wishes about how his or her estate should be taken care of and distributed after death.
“The absence of a clear, signed will can become a divisive and contentious issue at a time when families are already experiencing grief, and can result in a range of complications, from belongings not going to the person they were intended for, to court battles that cost thousands of dollars,” said Ray Leclair, vice-president of public affairs at LAWPRO.
According to the survey results, only 13 per cent of Canadians sign a will when they purchased a home or condo. This is an ideal time to do it, says Leclair, who is also an experienced real estate lawyer.
“Homebuyers already have a lawyer working on the purchase and should be thinking of having wills and powers of attorney drawn up.”
Working with a lawyer to create a will can cost as little as internet access for a year and will reduce the risk of relevant issues not being addressed or of a breach of a technical requirement for a valid will.
Having a will not only ensures assets and interests are protected now and in the future, it can also bring peace of mind and provide greater assurance for loved ones.
A useful resource for homebuyers looking for information on the buying process and what real estate lawyers can do to protect their interests is the TitlePLUS Real Simple Real Estate Guide at


When you're buying a home, starting with a large down payment can really pay off. Sometimes saving for a large down payment means postponing your purchase, but the long-term benefits can be worth the wait. Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, explains some of these benefits:
Pay less interest:
The larger your down payment, the less money you borrow to finance the purchase of your home, so you'll likely pay back the loan sooner, paying less interest in the process than with a smaller down payment. Additionally you may qualify for a lower interest rate because your loan-to-value ratio will be higher (meaning the amount you borrow compared to the value of your home), which your lender will look favourably on.
Avoid additional costs:
With a down payment greater than 20% of the purchase price, you can avoid having to pay for mortgage default insurance, which generally ranges from 0.5% to 2.90% of your mortgage principal amount.
“Over time the financial benefits of a larger down payment are significant. By saving diligently, you can pull together a sizeable amount in less time than you may think,” says Haque. “According to recent TD Canada Trust research on homebuyers, two-thirds said it took them less than four years to save up a down payment of 10% to 20%.”
There's more information on how to start saving for a down payment and prepare for homeownership available at


Home ownership is a big dream for many young Canadians, and is likely the single biggest investment most of us will make in our lives. While saving for a down payment can be challenging, Farhaneh Haque, director of mortgage advice at TD Canada Trust, says that young Canadians can save for a down payment a little quicker by following a few simple rules.
“First, examine your budget and set a savings goal,” says Haque. “Take advantage of online budgeting tools to gain insights into where you spend your money. Also remember that in addition to your down payment you will need to save for the additional costs involved with a home purchase, which include land transfer tax, moving costs and legal fees.”
Next, curb your spending and increase your savings. “Even a small adjustment in your spending habits can go a long way toward helping you save a bigger down payment,” says Haque. “For example, consider using transit to get to work instead of driving and paying for parking – it can really add up over time.”
One of the most effective – yet overlooked – strategies is to put money aside before you can spend it. Haque suggests setting up a regular, preauthorized transfer service that moves a specific amount from each pay cheque into a high interest savings account. Making savings automatic is a simple and effective way to stay disciplined while saving for a down payment.
Finally, Haque reminds first time home buyers that they may be able to take advantage of the federal government's Home Buyers' Plan. “Those who have been actively saving for their retirement can access up to $25,000 from their RSPs to bump up their down payment when they purchase their first home. The RSP funds must be paid back within 15 years, so it is important to factor this repayment into your monthly budget.”
For more advice on saving for a down payment, visit


Paying extra amounts on your mortgage can make a big interest saving over time. When we select a mortgage company, privilege payments options are something that we look for. A 20% privilege payment will allow you to pay off up to $20,000 per year on a $100 000 mortgage. It is important that the privilege payment also be flexible to allow you to pay smaller payments on the mortgage and as often as you wish. An extra $1000 periodically paid on a mortgage can help you become mortgage free faster.


When you require a mortgage for more than 80% of the purchase price of a property, that mortgage must be insured by Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) or GE Mortgage insurance. The premium charged by these company`s decreases as the down payment increases. When you finance your property at 95%, a premium of 3.75% is added to the mortgage. By increasing the down payment to 10% of the purchase price the premium can be reduced to 2.5%. If you can put down 20%, you can avoid any additional insurance fee. Depending on your situation there are ways that you can structure this financing to avoid the CMHC or GE insurance premium.


As mentioned above, when you put a 20% down payment on your purchase you can avoid the CMHC premium. More importantly the larger the down payment, the lower the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your mortgage. It is important to note that it may not be wise to stretch yourself to increase your down payment and end up borrowing on credit cards or a line of credit at a higher rate.


The options for mortgages available can be very confusing for most mortgage shoppers. Terms for mortgages vary between variable and fixed rate, 6-month terms to 10 year terms. Taking a variable or floating rate mortgage can have savings. Typically the shorter the term or guarantee of the rate, the lower the rate will be. This does not always happen, depending on the market place and the economy, but history has shown that short-term rates tend to be lower than long-term rates. The up side of variable rate is the strong potential for interest rate savings. The down side is the fact that you are accepting the interest rate risk without a guarantee. If you are considering a variable rate mortgage you need to look at your own risk tolerance, and your cash flow available to deal with potential increased payment. Considering projections of rates and where we see interest rates heading can also be important in this decision. Make sure you talk to an expert when you are making this decision.


When buying a home, it's important to be aware of the extra expenses associated with your purchase. However, many Canadians may not be sure how much their total costs will be to settle into their new home.
Before purchasing a new home, it is recommend you take some time to understand and plan for those expenditures that go beyond the purchase price of the home. By doing this, you can budget for the move and not be blindsided by additional costs.
Here are some additional costs to consider when purchasing a home:
• Mortgage loan insurance is required if your down payment is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price.
• Home insurance is often required by your mortgage lender and provides protection against loss or damage of your property and its contents and liability claims.
• Appraisal fees may be payable if the lending institution requires that your property be appraised.
• Legal fees include reviewing the offer, drawing up the title deed, conducting a title search and preparing and registering the mortgage.
• A home inspection could helpevaluate any structural and mechanical problems with the property before you purchase.
• A property survey may be required to verify the location of the property's boundaries, measurements and structures and any registered or visible easements or encroachments on the property.

Ask the right questions before you buy a condo

Condos can be an affordable and low maintenance way to live. You don't have to shovel the snow, mend a leaky roof or mow the lawn. Paying for convenience may be within your budget, but what if you're also unexpectedly hit with a bill for your share of major building repairs?
As a condo owner, you are responsible for the cost of maintaining the building you live in. Your Realtor can help you to look beyond the four walls of your condo and give you the whole story on your new home before you commit.
“Realtors serve as the liaison between the buyer and the property manager, asking the right questions to make sure there are no surprises once you've settled in your new home,” says Barbara Sukkau, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association.
These surprises can come in the form of skyrocketing maintenance fees or, if your building's property manager has not kept up with both major and minor repairs, you might receive an unbudgeted surprise bill.
“Your Realtor can help you find a lawyer to review the building's reserve fund study,” Sukkau adds. According to the Condominium Act, all properties must complete this report, which provides information on the history of the building, past maintenance fees and the projected fees for the next 5 to 10 years.
Realtors are trained professionals who are regulated by a provincial board and they will make sure you get answers to important questions:
1 What is the history of the building's maintenance fees?
2 Are repairs or construction to major elements of the building such as stairwells, elevators and the front lobby scheduled soon?
3 What planned interruptions are there to major services and amenities for the building?
4 Are there any contracts for building revitalization?

Choosing the Right Community for You

When choosing a new home, your choice involves more than the home itself. Often, homebuyers are so wrapped up in the home that they forget the importance of the surrounding community. Do you dream of a smaller community that is unique and charming? Or, are you willing to sacrifice peace and quiet to be closer to amenities and other conveniences?
Start by making a list of the desired lifestyle factors that are most important to you and your family. Consider location, proximity to work and schools, activities and local attractions in the community.
Knowing your requirements will help narrow your home search and save time. What are the most important amenities for you? Do you want to be close to parks and forests or restaurants and shops? What sorts of activities are you and your family likely to be involved with? The answers to these questions will help you determine what type of neighbourhood or community is best for you and help you and your real estate agent to locate the perfect home.
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