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Mortgage loans: FAQ

Here are the answers to your questions about mortgage loans.

What is the minimum down payment?

You need to put down at least 20% of the selling price to qualify for a mortgage. If you don’t have 20%, you can take out mortgage insurance and you’ll only need to put down 5%. In both cases you need to prove you have 1.5% of the selling price to cover start-up costs.

How can some builders have properties for sale without requiring a down payment?

Some builders do offer Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)-approved programs that don’t require a down payment. However, the programs usually have very specific eligibility criteria and the down payment is often just delayed.

There are really only a few exceptions to the legal requirement to make a down payment when buying a property. The best way to lower your down payment is to insure your mortgage with CMHC or Genworth. Insurance can get your down payment to 5%.

As with traditional mortgage loan insurance, every down payment has to come from the buyer’s own resources or close relatives.

Debt-savvy buyers can put 5% down and access many resources, including a loan or lender incentives, as long as the down payment is from a source that is arm’s length to and not tied to the purchase or sale of the property. Contact your lender to see if they can offer you mortgage insurance and if you’re eligible. Continue reading

Let’s build a deck!

Used on a regular basis in summer, the deck has practically become a room on the same level as the living room or gaming room. It is widely considered to be a living space, even in the spring and fall when the temperature is nice and mild.

If you plan to add or transform a deck on your property, the Association des professionnels de la construction et de l’habitation du Québec (APCHQ) provides advice before you start on the layout and construction:

If the deck can be located in different places, its location initially depends on municipal regulations. Most cities only authorize the construction of a balcony or deck in the side yard or back of the house. The authorized height and surface could also be the subject of a municipal regulation.

It is suggested that you determine the desired amount of sunshine. The orientation, neighbouring constructions and high trees are factors to consider to obtain a sunny deck or one that has more shade.

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There are many styles of deck, including rectangular, multiple level or “L” shaped. A series of levels allows for more effective integration of a deck to a property’s landscaping, while eliminating the need for railings, under the condition of course that these levels are less than 0.6 metres (2 feet) from the ground.

Several materials can be used as flooring for a deck. If the owner wants to avoid regular upkeep, a recycled plastic surface can be a good option. However, keep in mind that if the deck has strong exposure to the sun, recycled plastic becomes hotter than wood. Continue reading

The five trumpet-blasts of Stockholm

Calling them skyscrapers would be a bit pretentious. They are just 72 metres or 18 storeys high. They do not have a revolutionary design and they are not breathtaking. So why are they so intriguing? Because they are musketeers in their soul. “It’s all for one and one for all.” These buildings come in a package of five or they don’t come at all. And there have curtains too.

The official name of this real estate complex is Hötorgsskraporna, which translates into scrapers or Höterget Buildings, but the people of Stockholm affectionately call them the five trumpet blasts.

Hötorgsskraporna de soir (son nom populaire) par Holger Ellgaard sur Wikipedia
Hötorgsskraporna by night (its popular name) by Holger Ellgaard on French Wikipedia

Driven by renewal at the time, the authorities replaced an entire neighbourhood, destroying historical buildings and replacing them with modern ones. The idea to create “brother” buildings surged within the team. They just had to decide on the number.

Four was proposed. An indignant architect: “One offers a lady five roses, not four.” It was a powerful argument, since they finally settled on five.

When the Swedish architects presented the project to the municipal administration, the mayor’s assistant was carried away by emotion. “For me, this urban project evokes the creative power of Man and his belief in the future, five major chords, five trumpet blasts in a Handel score,” he said. Handel is a composer known for his use of brass instruments.

The five buildings were erected one after another between 1952 and 1966. Look closely at the façades of each building. They may seem like nothing to you, but this type of façade was not very widespread at the time. Each one is a curtain wall. Continue reading

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The art of dressing a window

Dressing a window is an overlooked art. Yet, from a white, almost gossamer-like veil to an opaque velvet fabric, curtains contribute greatly to the look of a room.

For the choice of colour, the strong points are the same between the curtain and the room to decorate: contrasting, harmonic or complementary.

A pale and discreet curtain highlights the colour of a wall or another surface that you want to emphasize, such as an artistic wall. This same curtain would overshadow the flashy look of a room that needs to stand out from rest.

However, a dark curtain will add character to a pale, monochrome room. For example, brown has a tonic effect on a deluge of white or cream. Continue reading