You first need to determine where you’re at and what your current and future needs are, says Desjardins financial planner Angela Iermieri: “People who are close to retirement, especially empty-nesters, often realize they’d be better off to optimize their living space.”

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Do more with less

As a general rule, smaller costs less. Less taxes, less maintenance, less overhead. And let’s not forget the potential gains from the sale.

“Keeping your home provides great economic leverage, as your home continues to appreciate in value. However, some people have always considered this asset as capital that would serve them well in retirement, and others sometimes reach retirement with a level of debt that’s higher than their forecasts. Selling a home becomes a necessary source of income.”[……]

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Renewing your mortgage is an important step, and you should never underestimate the financial impact. Angela Iermieri, a financial planner with Desjardins Group, has a few ideas.

What’s right for you right now?

“Our financial, personal or professional situation often changes,” she says. “If your salary went up, you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future or you want to remodel your kitchen, this new information will have a significant impact on the type of mortgage that will be right for you.”

You also need to consider other factors, like current interest rates and how well you tolerate fluctuations.

Your personal finance advisor will take this information into account when recommending a personalized solution for you.[……]

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Robert* fell head over heels for a million-dollar home in Costa Rica and closed the sale while he was there. Barely a year later, he asked us how to sell his property without losing all of the money that he invested.

“His home definitely wasn’t worth a million… it never was,” states Louise Rémillard, a realtor specialized in foreign properties.

“If we think a foreign property is a good deal based on our frame of reference, it might not be after all,” she adds. “This is why you need to deal with a professional that knows the local market.”

Local expertise is key

“It’s impossible to know the ins and outs of every country,” notes Rémillard.

“You’d want to work with a realtor specialized in the country — and region — that you’re interested in.”

To find the right professional, contact a Canadian realtor affiliated with an extensive international network who can put you in touch with an expert in the region. Your local advisor can help you determine the best location for your needs, what you should budget, financing conditions and the regulations in effect. They can also help you figure out the local paperwork, which is often in a foreign language. Remember that what may seem straightforward at first can quickly become complex if any issues come up.

“You want to avoid paying too much, or buying a property on the wrong beach, where you can’t swim with your grandkids,” says Rémillard. “And it can be costly to buy a condo in a complex with a mismanaged contingency fund.”[……]

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Down payment options. Pre-arrange your mortgage. Get ready for your big move! Either way, you need to be financially prepared and comfortable enough to make one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime.

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STEP 1: How much can I afford?

There are many factors that determine how much you can afford when it comes to buying a home and having a mortgage. Some of the key considerations are:

  • family income
  • principal and interest payments
  • outstanding loan and credit card balances
  • property taxes
  • maintenance costs/condo fees
  • money available for down payment
  • closing costs such as legal fees, land transfer taxes, moving expenses, insurance and so on.

[……]

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Whether you’re buying a home, condo or cottage, Desjardins advisor Patrick Champagne has some exercises for you to make sure your dream doesn’t turn into a disappointment or hassle. “There’s some prep work to do before you start visiting homes and talking loans, rates and mortgage terms.”

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What can you afford?

The first order of business is to figure out how much you can afford to spend on a home, which you can determine by using our calculator on desjardins.com. Be as financially realistic as possible.

This calculator considers your household’s gross income and overall financial commitments1,  the amount you plan to use as a down payment and the approximate fixed costs of your future home (e.g., municipal and school taxes, condo fees).

Remember that the higher your down payment, the less you’ll have to borrow and the less interest you’ll have to pay. The minimum required down payment is generally 20% of the property’s cost.

However, if your down payment is between 5% and 20%, you’ll have to take out mortgage insurance from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) or Genworth Canada. The premium will be between 0.6 % to 4.5% of the mortgage loan depending on the percentage of your down payment. To pay your premium, you can either add them to your mortgage loan or pay them with a lump sum up front.[……]

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Once you’ve settled the question of open or closed term, you will inevitably have to decide between a fixed and variable rate. Which is best for your situation?

When the time comes to choose your mortgage term, there are a number of elements to take into account, including your financial means, your risk tolerance and the economic situation. To demystify it all and equip you to make the best possible decision, here’s some information that will help you make an informed choice about your mortgage type.

Fixed- versus variable-rate: which is lower?

As a general rule, variable-rate mortgages tend to be lower than fixed-rates. To understand the difference, you need to look at how these rates are calculated. Essentially, a financial institution’s variable interest rate corresponds to its preferential rate. This is established based on the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate. Add a certain percentage to this, and you have the variable rate.

As with fixed-rate mortgages, the monthly payment amount usually stays the same, but the ratio of interest to principal is subject to market fluctuations. There are also certain types of variable-rate mortgages where the monthly payment varies based on the fluctuation of market interest rates. With a fixed-rate mortgage on the other hand, you are guaranteed to always have the same amount dedicated to repaying your principal, regardless of what the market does.[……]

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