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Government Extends Foreign Buyer Ban

In an attempt to address the ongoing housing supply and affordability crisis in Canada, the federal government announced earlier this month that the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act – otherwise known as the foreign buyer ban – will be extended for an additional two years. The Act was previously set to expire on January 1st, 2025, and has been extended to January 1st, 2027.

The Liberals say the ban, which restricts foreign commercial enterprises and individuals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents from acquiring residential properties in Canada, is part of a broader strategy to cool the nation’s overheated housing market and make home ownership more attainable for Canadian citizens.

Given that housing affordability has not greatly improved since the Act’s implementation more than a year ago, Royal LePage believes that an extension to the foreign buyer ban will not make a material difference on bettering access to housing for Canadians.

“We do not foresee an extension to the foreign buyer ban resulting in a drastic improvement to housing affordability. Non-Canadian property ownership makes up a small percentage of the overall housing market, therefore a ban on such ownership is not likely to improve access to housing in a material way,” said Karen Yolevski, COO, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. “Given the imbalance between available inventory and buyer demand, the best way to solve Canada’s housing crisis is to significantly increase supply.”

The ban comes with specific exceptions, notably for individuals holding temporary work permits, refugee claimants, and international students who fulfill certain conditions. Those in violation of the ban could face penalties up to $10,000 and may be compelled to sell the implicated property.

More information is available on the government’s website.

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New Housing Legislation for 2024

With a new year now underway, Canadians can expect to see a variety of changes coming to federal, provincial and local government housing legislation in 2024.

From updated taxes to revised urban planning regulations, new housing laws and policies will roll out across the country in the coming months. Several of these policies promise to boost much-needed housing supply, which remains at a critical shortage in both the resale and rental segments.

Here are the new federal housing policies that you should know about in 2024:

Short-term Rental Restrictions

In November, 2023, the Government of Canada unveiled its 2023 Fall Economic Statement, which details new tax, spending and inventory-boosting measures. This includes new efforts to incentivise short-term rental operators to return properties to the long-term housing market. Going forward, income tax deductions will be denied in cases where short-term rental owners are not compliant with provincial or municipal licensing, permitting or registration requirements. This applies to all expenses incurred on or after January 1st, 2024.


Pre-approved Home Design Catalogue

To boost construction of new home supply, the federal government intends to revive a post-Second World War housing policy of standardized, pre-approved home designs, making it easier and faster for developers to build new properties. The modern version of the catalogue will focus on creating blueprints for a variety of low-rise housing, and potentially higher-density homes and different forms of building construction, such as modular and prefabricated homes.

Consultations for the home catalogue are expected to start in January, 2024.

If you are curious about this article or the real estate market, please reach out! I'd be happy to answer your questions.

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Spring Resurgence of Activity Expected in Canada’s Housing Market

High interest rates have caused many homebuyers and sellers to push pause on their real estate plans over the last six months, significantly curtailing overall activity in housing markets across the country. However, as Canadians continue to adjust to higher borrowing costs, and the first anticipated rate cut by the Bank of Canada nears, a brisk spring market is on the horizon.

“I believe the narrative suggesting that the housing market will rebound only when the Bank of Canada lowers rates misses the mark,” said Phil Soper, president and CEO of Royal LePage. “The recovery will begin when consumers have confidence the home they buy today will not be worth less tomorrow. We see that tipping point occurring in the first quarter, before the highly anticipated easing of the Bank of Canada’s key lending rate.”

According to the Royal LePage House Price Survey released today, the aggregate price of a home in Canada increased 4.3% year over year to $789,500 in the fourth quarter of 2023. On a quarter-over-quarter basis, however, the national aggregate home price decreased slightly by 1.7%, highlighting that elevated borrowing costs continue to affect market activity, as Canadians adapt to the higher interest rate environment.

Royal LePage recently issued its 2024 Market Survey Forecast, projecting that the aggregate price of a home in Canada will increase 5.5% in the fourth quarter of 2024, compared to the same quarter in 2023.

In December, the Bank of Canada once again held its key lending rate steady at 5.0%, and indicated that it has likely concluded its interest rate increase campaign and could begin making modest cuts later this year.

“The Bank of Canada governing council will soon face the difficult task of trying to balance the lowering of interest rates without simultaneously stimulating spending, which would cause inflation to rise again,” said Soper.

In November, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.1% per cent on a year-over-year basis, matching the increase in October. If mortgage interest costs are taken out of the CPI calculation, inflation sits at 2.2%, close to the Bank of Canada’s target rate.3

“Similar to what we witnessed last spring, when the Bank of Canada paused rates for the first time in a year causing sales activity and prices to increase almost immediately, the first sign of rate cuts – even if only by 25 basis points – could create a flurry of activity in the real estate market, releasing pent-up demand. Those who have been holding off listing their homes will follow close behind,” added Soper.

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6 Interior Design Trends We’ll See in 2024

With a new year comes a new wave of home design trends. From furniture to colour schemes, the arrival of 2024 is the perfect time to think about updating your home interiors to incorporate current styles. Refreshing your living spaces doesn’t require a major overhaul — swapping out your cabinetry hardware or revamping your linens can make a noticeable difference in any room.

Here are six interior design trends for 2024 you can try in your home:

Bold Colours and Patterns

If you’ve got a love for dramatic interiors, then 2024 is the year for you. This year is all about “go big, or go home,” with punchy colours, patterns and textures taking centre stage. Begone with all neutral interiors and playing it safe — this is the year to experiment with zesty kitchen backsplashes, maximalist accessories and artwork, and over-the-top lighting fixtures.

Handmade and Artisan Goods

Our craving for natural elements in home interiors continues in 2024 as handmade accessories rise in popularity. Bespoke pieces made from wood, clay, wicker and glass will be a sought-after statement piece in interiors this year, as earthy inspiration remains a dominant design theme. If you’re looking to incorporate unique pieces into your living space, seek out ceramics, wood carvings and glass work at local markets and galleries to add to your walls and tables. Bonus points for adding pieces you’ve collected on your travels around the globe!

Shades of Brown and Blue

Earth-like colours will be a standout component of 2024 home interiors.

Several paint companies have named a shade of blue as their 2024 Colour of the Year, such as Benjamin Moore’s Blue Nova, or Sherwin Williams’ Upward. Interior designers are also forecasting that varieties of brown will be a big hit this year as a rich neutral accent colour, over the cooler gray tones we’ve seen in recent years. You can bring browns and blues into your home in 2024 through paint, tile and wallpaper choices, or by incorporating natural elements like wood furnishings, curtains and accessories.

Begone Basic Bouclé

We’re all familiar with creme-coloured bouclé — the nubbly fabric that has dominated everything from living room chairs to sweaters for the past couple of years. With 2024 seeing bolder and brighter patterns, the sheep-like bouclé we know and love is being phased out. Instead, bouclé with fluffier texture and more vibrant colours is coming into style. Don’t feel the need to go full-on, wall-to-wall bouclé to capture this trend. Opt for a rug, cushion cover or accent furniture that can easily be swapped out as interior styles evolve.

Continuation of Curves

Round shapes were a staple in 2023 interiors, and the trend is continuing into this year. Parting from straight, perfect lines, curves embrace the imperfections and organic shapes we find in the natural world. If you’re looking to take a page from the book of biophilic design, bring curves into your interiors with round furniture, such as bar stools, sectional “conversation,” sofas and coffee tables, or curved accessories like mirrors and rugs.

Mixing Metallics

Mixing metals was once considered a fashion faux pas, but not this year. Taking a break from matte black fixtures, 2024 will see the rise of mixed metal finishes and hardware, combining varieties of nickel, bronze, gold and brass. You can experiment with metals beyond just door handles and drawer knobs — introduce a mix of metals with contrasting accent lighting fixtures, faucets, appliance finishes and decor accents.

Your home is a reflection of who you are. Don't be afraid to hop on the latest trend - or to break it. At the end of the day, the style of your home should work for you. So jump in, decorate, and have fun!

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Six Tips to Make Your Home Snug for the Winter Ahead

Preparing your home for winter can be a daunting task. Even if you haven't had the time to check off everything on your cold weather to-do list, it's not too late! Your efforts will keep out the cold, keep money in your pocket through energy savings and keep your home running efficiently. 

Here are six ways to winterize your home this season.

Maintain machines and Appliances

Having your furnace and ventilation system serviced by a professional can prevent potential emergency calls when the temperature drops.

For improved air quality throughout your home, have your ducts cleaned annually before the onset of cold weather. Outdoor air conditioning units should be covered properly and their power disconnected during the off-season. While you’re at it, cover any lawn furniture or landscaping that will be exposed to the elements.

Conduct a thorough inspection on your yard tools too – drain fuel from your lawn mower and water from your pressure washer, and complete a maintenance check on your snowblower. This will prolong their lifespan and ensure they work efficiently when you need them. If you heat your home with wood, oil or propane, be sure to top up your supply before the cold months hit.


Seal Windows, Doors, Decks and Concrete 

If the caulking or weather stripping around your windows and doors is cracked, it can let cold air and moisture in, damaging window sills while causing mildew, mold and significant heat loss. Repair and replace what is necessary and cover older windows with a protective window film until they can be replaced.

Decks, driveways and concrete surfaces are not impermeable. Purchase proper sealants or stains that you can apply yourself before ice and snow arrives, or hire a professional. Preserving the integrity of these large surfaces will only serve you in the long run, saving you from major repairs or full replacements.


Outside Water

Before draining your pipes, disconnecting hoses or winterizing your sprinkler system, always turn off the outside water supply. Leaving the outside water on during winter can cause pipes to burst, leading to flooding and damage to your property. If you haven’t already, you may want to consider insulating your water pipes, especially if you leave a summer home unattended off-season or vacation for extended periods of time in the winter months.


Check your Gutters

Make sure the gutters are in good condition and properly secured to your home. Prevent damage by clearing out debris to allow snow to melt and drain easily, and point the downspout away from your home. Water should always be moving away from your property to avoid flooding and water damage.

Gutter guards are a worthy investment, as they can help to keep debris and pests out. Clogged gutters can result in leaks that lead to mold and mildew, and act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and bacteria.


Tend to the Attic

Pests can cause damage to your home and your health. Safeguard your attic from birds and rodents who may move in during the winter by checking for access points and placing a screen under any vent. Contact pest control if you suspect an infestation.

To keep warm air from escaping through your roof, determine the R-Value of your current attic insulation and add more to areas not properly insulated, or completely replace the insulation if needed. For added warmth and energy efficiency, you can add insulation to your garage doors and basement.


Inspect your Smoke Detectors

This important task is not limited to just one season… Inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly, replacing batteries and cleaning them when necessary. Smart home devices can be installed to continuously monitor smoke detectors (and much more), providing added peace of mind.


If some of these tasks are not within your skillset or you simply don’t have the time, hire a general contractor for the small jobs and a certified technician for specialized tasks. Whoever does the job, it will be worth it to keep cozy and warm all winter long!

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Jill's December Market Report

As we quickly approach the Holiday Season with less than 7 days before Christmas, I wanted to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Holiday. I hope you are enjoying your time with family and friends. I know it's a time of parties, festivities and get-togethers with friends and families and the fun never stops. But, our team also likes to take the time to help out those in need in my community. I'm so proud of my team for all of their hard work with the coat drive for the homeless and the food bank drive in Newmarket, Tottenham & Stouffville. We collected over 200 coats and warm clothes for those in need and everyone in our neighbourhoods donated over 900 lbs of food to the local food banks.

I know that the Real Estate Market has been like a roller coaster over the past few year with prices and activity going up and down and then up and down again. On top of that, the last 21 months saw the Bank of Canada rapidly increase its policy rate from 0.25% in March 2022 to 5%, bringing higher prime rates and variable and adjustable mortgage rate. That was in response to a high inflation rate, reaching a 30 years high of 8.1% in June 2022, which brought one of the most aggressive interest rate hikes in Canada's history. Inflation has cooled since June 2022 and reached 3.1% in November 2023. The path to lower inflation has been painful for debt holders and those with Variable Rate Mortgages. But, the banks are now starting to offer some lower rates with hopefully a reduction in the Bank of Canada rate by the Spring of 2024.

According to the November 2023 Market Watch Report, sales were down on a year-over-year basis while listings were up. With more choices for buyers, selling prices remained basically flat year-over-year. The average selling price was down 2.2% month-over-month but it some areas, such as Georgina, it was down by 5.66%. The higher that prices increased in an area, the more of a drop in price you will see.

There have been some major changes in the real estate industry, which I will go over in later blogs. All of these changes are for the benefit of the consumer and to raise to level of professionalism in our industry.

Once again, Happy Holidays from all of us at the Jill Renshaw Real Estate Team!


- Jill Renshaw, Broker

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Government Pledges Funding for Homes

On November 21st, the Government of Canada unveiled its 2023 Fall Economic Statement, an annual fiscal report that provides an update on the state of the Canadian economy and the government’s plans for future spending. The report – acutely focused on Canada’s housing affordability and supply crisis – announced new funding for the creation of more affordable housing and purpose-built rental units. New rules regarding the mortgage stress test were also unveiled.

For Canadians planning to buy a home or rent a property in the near future, these initiatives will lead to the creation of some much-needed housing supply in some of the country’s most expensive regions.

Here’s what you need to know about housing initiatives announced in the 2023 Fall Economic Statement:

The Canadian Mortgage Charter – Since interest rates started to rise in March 2022, many variable-rate mortgage holders have faced fast-rising monthly payments and, in some cases, negative amortization as interest payments outpace their mortgage principal. Thousands of Canadians will also be required to renew their mortgage at a much higher interest rate in the next two years compared to the ultra-low rates offered during and just prior to the pandemic. In light of these financial challenges, the federal government has put forward new measures for financial institutions to provide Canadian borrowers with mortgage relief options.

The Charter includes:

  • Permitting temporary extensions of mortgage amortizations
  • Waiving fees that would have previously applied for relief measures
  • Dropping the requirement for insured mortgage holders to requalify under the insured minimum qualifying rate (stress test) when switching lenders at the time of their mortgage renewal
  • Requiring lenders to contact homeowners four to six months prior to their mortgage renewal to inform them of their financial options
  • Giving homeowners at risk the ability to make lump sum payments to avoid negative amortization, or sell their principal residence without any prepayment penalties
  • Waiving interest on interest in the event that mortgage relief measures result in a temporary period of negative amortization
  • New funds for affordable housing – In an effort to build more homes faster, the federal government has pledged billions of dollars in spending towards the creation of affordable and purpose-built rental housing. An additional $1 billion will be allocated over three years to non-profit, co-op, and public housing providers through the Affordable Housing Fund to build more than 7,000 new homes by 2028. The Co-operative Housing Development Program will also receive nearly $310 million in new funding.

Incentives for apartment builders – To encourage the creation of much-needed rental housing, the 2023 Fall Economic Statement outlines new funding for home builders. Starting in 2025-2026, the federal government says it has committed an additional $15 billion in funding for the Apartment Construction Loan Program, which provides low-cost financing to builders and developers. This top-up will support the creation of more than 30,000 additional new homes across Canada, bringing the government’s total goal to 101,000 new homes by 2031-2032.

Tax limitations on short-term rentals – With the demand for long-term housing options so high across Canada, the federal government is placing stricter measures on short-term rentals in the hopes of encouraging property owners to list their homes for sale or for longer leasing periods. The 2023 Fall Economic Statement introduced $50 million in funding over three years to support municipal enforcement of restrictions on short-term rentals. Additionally, income tax deductions for expenses incurred on short-term rental income will be denied in provinces and municipalities that have banned short-term rentals. This will also apply to short-term rental operators who are not compliant with provincial or municipal licensing, permitting, or registration requirements.

If you are curious about what the new housing initiatives will mean to you, please reach out! I'm happy to answer all your questions.

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A Heartfelt Thank You to our Community!

Last week we finished up our annual coat drive, collecting over 150 coats, along with cold weather accessories, for families in need in our local area. ⁠

This collection of winter clothing, including many coats, hats, mittens + gloves, was donated by our neighbours, friends and the Royal Lepage RCR team. ⁠

Our donation was graciously accepted by both Inn from the Cold Newmarket and Blue Door, and we are so happy to have helped both of these wonderful organizations in this small way. ⁠

If you are looking to help out one of these amazing organizations, it's a super simple process. Visit their websites (links below) to learn more. ⁠

Inn from the Cold Newmarket

Blue Door

⁠Again, to all who donated- we are so very grateful. You have helped provide warmth to those in need in your community.

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Locals Love - The Trick or Treat Trail

Family Trick-or-Treating on a Nature Trail

On Saturday, October 28th, one kilometer of the Dave Kerwin Trail becomes a ghostfest for the whole family. Children 10 and under and their families are invited to show up in their Hallowe'en costumes and walk the Trick-or-Treat Trail! There will be spooky decorations, animatronics, and actors in costume. Want to help make the magic happen? The Town of Newmarket is looking for volunteers to assist with setup, takedown, and handing out candy. (In Hallowe'en costume, of course.) Hope to see you there!

Details: 
Date: Saturday, October 28th, 2023 
Location: Dave Kerwin Trail (Entrance at the Environmental Park, 325 Woodspring Avenue) 
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 
Note: This free event is held on a first come, first serve basis, and no pets are permitted.

Learn More

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How to Save Money to Buy a House

Three Great Ways To Save Money For Your First Home

It’s no secret that buying a house or condominium is a challenge these days. In addition to the cost of real estate, the Bank of Canada has been raising interest rates since March of 2022. Buyers are feeling the pinch these days and we wanted to show you some of the different ways to save money for your first home. 

When you’re saving money to buy a home, it makes sense to use the financial instrument that fits your circumstances. The best are TFSAs (Tax Free Savings Accounts), RRSP HBPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plan Home Buyer’s Plans) and FHSAs (First Home Savings Accounts). Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each. Talk to your financial advisor about which one is right for you. 

TFSA

In a Tax Free Savings Account, you invest your eligible contributions and use them to purchase whatever you like, including a home. Canadian residents of 18 years or older with a valid SIN can contribute up to $6,500 annually. 

Pros:
- There is no lifetime contribution limit. 
- Funds in the account grow tax-free. You can invest your down payment savings and will never be taxed on the returns.
- Unused contribution room can be carried forward. 

Cons: 
- Contributions are not tax deductible.

RRSP HBP

The Home Buyer’s Plan allows you to withdraw from your RRSP to buy or build a qualifying home. Canadian residents who have earned income and filed a tax return can contribute.

Pros: 
- You can withdraw up to $35,000. 
- Eligible contributions are tax deductible. 
- Within the plan, investments can grow tax deferred. 
- Unused contribution room can be carried forward.
- No lifetime contribution limit.

Cons:
- The funds must be paid to the RRSP over 15 years, beginning in the second year after withdrawal. If payments are not made on schedule, the withdrawal amount becomes taxable. 
- You cannot use the HBP if you are older than 71.

FHSA

Investments within a First Home Savings Account are used to purchase a home. Canadian residents between the ages of 18 and 71 who are saving for their first home qualify.

Pros: 
- Funds in the account grow tax-free. 
- Eligible withdrawals do not need to be paid back. 
- Contributions are tax deductible.
- Qualifying withdrawals are not taxable.
- A FHSA can hold cash, GICs, and Mutual Funds.

Cons:
- The yearly contribution limit is $8,000.
- The lifetime contribution limit is $40,000. 
- You can only hold a FHSA for 15 years, until you turn 71, or the year following your first withdrawal. 
- Withdrawals not made to purchase a qualifying home are taxable.

Whether you are a first-time buyer, a family in need of a bigger home, or a downsizer thinking of the condo of your dreams, you need an experienced agent in your corner. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to help you explore your options.

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October Market Update

With Thanksgiving coming up this weekend I just wanted to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and I hope you are all able to celebrate the abundance with family and friends.

I often get asked what the best time to sell a house is and as we all know the Real Estate Market has been up and down like a roller coaster the last few years. In recent times, we have witnessed the emergence of several factors that have brought about significant changes in the industry. From the impact of high interest rates and recently the increase in inventory plus the prevailing economic uncertainty, both buyers and sellers are facing new challenges and opportunities.

New listings were up strongly in October and that gives buyers more choices. With buyers having a wider range of options this can lead to a more competitive environment, as Sellers must work harder to attract potential buyers. Pricing strategies and property condition become crucial in order to stand out in a crowded market. On the flip side, buyers have an opportunity to negotiate better deals and find their ideal home with move choices.

According to the October 2023 Market Watch Report “The short and medium-term outlooks for the GTA housing market are very different. In the short term, the consensus view is that borrowing costs will remain elevated until mid-2024, after which they will start to trend lower. This suggests that we should start to see a marked uptick in demand for ownership housing in the second half of next year, as lower rates and record population growth spur an increase in buyers,” said TRREB President Paul Baron.

While the changing real estate market brings its fair share of challenges, it also presents exciting prospects for both buyers and sellers. High interest rates, increased inventory, and economic uncertainty require careful consideration and strategic planning. For buyers, it's important to explore various financing options and be patient in finding the right property. Sellers must focus on effective marketing and pricing strategies to make their homes stand out. Ultimately, adaptability and proactive decisions are key to thriving in this evolving real estate landscape.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and please don't hesitate to reach out if you would like a comprehensive report on your property value or if you are thinking of buying and we can discuss the best strategy for you in today's market.

The next Bank of Canada rate decisions will be on Tuesday, October 23.

- Jill Renshaw, Broker

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Locals Love - Central York Fire Services Open House

Do you like to explore fire trucks and rescue vehicles? Do you enjoy coffee, donuts and hot dogs? Would you like to brush up on your fire safety knowledge, play games, and say hi to Sparky the Fire Dog? There's an event coming that's just right for you! 

Central York Fire Services is holding its annual Open House in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week. There will be games, prizes and fun for the whole family. Activities include morning coffee and donuts, BBQ hotdogs, Tim Horton Express Train, arts and crafts, fire safety wheel, vehicle rescue, fire trucks, prizes, games, "Sparky the Fire Dog", fire extinguisher demonstration, fire safety information and much more!

Details below:

Date: Saturday, September 23rd, 2023

Address: Station 4-5, 300 Earl Stewart Drive, Aurora

Time: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. 

This popular event is sure to be fun for everyone. See you there!

Find out more HERE.

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