Minimalism is the process of eliminating clutter. The decorative accessories are thrown out. Only the key pieces are salvaged. Everything is stripped to the bare essentials: colours, materials, and furniture. This gives greater depth to the decor, which is, to be frank, quite refreshing.
Minimalism is at the centre of the contemporary style, but it can also be expressed through other styles, like the rustic, lounge, industrial (loft, among others) decors or the shaker design, which is probably the barest look of all.
The simplicity of minimalism resides more in the shape and number of pieces than in the style itself. Sometimes, a room is so bare that only one expression comes to mind to describe it: it is naked.
The monochrome design is one of the secrets of minimalism. Usually, the colours are neutral. More often than not, everything is white, from the ceilings to the floors, as is the furniture. If not, you will find two colours, seldom three. Oftentimes, it’s the same colour that fades out into different shades. Featured somewhere: a concrete floor painted in turquoise with a sofa of the same colour. Continue reading →
Nowadays, buyers are lucky. They can search the web to get data on a desired property. They can then count on experts, such as the real estate broker, to obtain more data to bridge their knowledge gap. Having all the data on hand is the lifeblood of negotiation.
Some buyers use intimidation and tenacity to reduce the price of a property. When, in fact, raising your voice, constantly criticizing, and acting up are ineffective methods. All these attitudes lead to confrontation.
The buyer’s most persuasive argument remains his or her knowledge of a property’s data. The more the buyer knows about the property, the more negotiation power he or she will have over the seller, especially if the selling owner is unprepared. Continue reading →
Homeowners who wish to sell their home or condo should know the fair value of their property to set the selling price and to negotiate more effectively. Sometimes, homeowners will set the price according to their own calculations. This method is feasible, but not foolproof.
Many people rely on the municipal assessment to set their property’s market value. Bad idea. The real estate market evolves every day, whereas the municipal assessment services, bound by bureaucracy, are slower. Consequently, there is a gap between the fair price of the property and the municipal assessment. Oftentimes, this assessment is inferior to the true property price. The municipal assessment reflects the fair value of the property, but not the value itself.
Some rely on a very popular practice: finding a property that is similar to theirs that has been sold, not too long ago, in the same neighbourhood. The property must be, if possible, identical or nearly the same. Same type of home, same year of construction, same living space, same lot size, same outdoor layout (pool and other installations), etc. Continue reading →
Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make.
But before you can pack up and move in, you’ll need to secure a mortgage. This is often a long-term commitment. The average Canadian expects to pay off their mortgage by age 591, so it’s important to do your research and choose the option that’s best suited to you.
Basically, when it comes to the mortgage interest rate you’ll pay, you have.
Fixed-rate mortgages are predictable.
With a fixed-rate mortgage, the mortgage rate and payment you make each month (or whichever frequency you choose to pay) will stay constant for the term of your mortgage.
This means you’ll know exactly how much principal (the initial amount borrowed) and interest (the amount paid on the amount you borrowed) you’ll be paying on each scheduled mortgage payment throughout the term you select.
The downside? You won’t be able to tap into a lower interest rate — ensuring more of your payments go towards the principal and less to interest — if interest rates drop during the term of your mortgage.
What a fixed-rate mortgage offers:
Your “set it and forget it” choice
Doesn’t change if the bank’s prime lending rate goes up or down
Eases budgeting anxiety and increases predictability
You may pay a premium for the stability
You may miss out on potential interest rate drops
Tip: Interest rates vary widely depending on the term you choose. For example, the interest rate on a 10-year fixed-rate mortgage could be almost twice as much as the interest rate on a typical 3-year fixed rate mortgage.
Variable-rate mortgages will fluctuate.
With a variable-rate mortgage, the mortgage rate will change with the bank’s prime lending rate. In this case, your scheduled payments will remain the same, but the amount paid towards your principal will vary.
Cautious buyers often choose a fixed mortgage because it means they can budget for the length of their mortgage term without any surprises. Variable rates are more unpredictable, but could work to your advantage if you can handle a bit of risk and uncertainty.
What a variable-rate mortgage offers:
Your “let’s see what happens” choice
Costs will be less if interest rates drop
Offers the possibility to lock in a better rate down the road
Works against you if interest rates rise
May increase your financial uncertainty 05
Tip: If you’re the type of person that always buys the extended warranty, then a variable rate mortgage is probably not for you.
What’s more common in Canada?
Fixed-rate mortgages are more popular, but there has been a slight movement towards variable-rate mortgages in 2016. The accompanying chart, from the BMO Psychology of Home-Buying Report, gives you a sense of change over time.
Note: The percentage for variable rate mortgages in 2016 is a bit higher in more expensive markets. For example, 29 per cent of Toronto homeowners and 37 per cent of Vancouver homeowners say they’ve chosen a variable-rate mortgage. How to choose what’s right for you
How do you feel about risk? A fixed-rate mortgage means the lender takes the risk; a variable-rate mortgage means you do. While the interest rate may be higher on a fixed-rate mortgage, it will stay constant during your term so you can budget accordingly.
How do you feel about the current market? The difference between fixed and variable rates has narrowed considerably in the last few years, making fixed-rate mortgages more appealing. Interest rates have been at historical lows, and while opinions vary, few believe interest rates won’t rise over time — the question is more likely when.
Tip: It’s really difficult to successfully time interest rates. Going variable to save money in the short run — hoping to lock in a fixed rate “at the right time” — is really tough to do.
And what if interest rates rise? No matter which route you take, it’s crucial that you evaluate the impact of an increasing interest rate on your mortgage costs — a stress test, if you will. For example, if interest rates go up by two per cent, would you still be able to afford your monthly payment? It’s important to plan for the unexpected — you can start by building an emergency fund.
According to our research1, not everyone prepares for a rise in interest rates. In fact, themain reason home-buyers offer for not considering a rise in interest rates is that they simply didn’t think of it (45 per cent) or didn’t realize it was something they should be doing (27 per cent). You can do better by preparing for multiple scenarios.
The next step BMO mortgage specialists are here to work with you to help you make the right decision based on your needs and your lifestyle.
1The BMO Psychology of Home Buying, March 2016
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