Friday, July 9, 2010

Planning a Move

There's little doubt that Canadians are on the move. Whether moving from an apartment to a home, apartment to apartment or home to home, moving is no simple matter. With careful planning, however, your transition can be facilitated in an organized and efficient manner, allowing you the peace of mind you need to settle into your home. The following moving tips are provided by the Ontario Real Estate Association.

Advance Planning
Planning should begin at least two months in advance. Confirm with your REALTOR® your closing date before scheduling your moving date. If you are renting, confirm your move-in date. Make a list of all records that must be transferred to a new location, such as children's school records, and financial and medical records.

Whether moving two blocks or 2,000 miles, decide what must go with you. This may be a good time for a serious cleaning of the closets or the basement where you've been storing your "valuables." It can be expensive and time consuming to move things you really don't need, or worse, to find that there's no place to put them in your new home.

If you are disposing of a large number of items, consider holding a garage or moving sale to offset some of your moving expenses. If you're donating items to charitable organizations, ask for a receipt for tax purposes.

New Address
Send change of address cards to magazine publishers and organizations who you are affiliated. Most magazines request 4 to 6 weeks notice. Provide change of address notice on credit card bills and leave forwarding instructions with the post office. Let your friends and neighbours know your new address. This also is a good time to request help you may need with packing and moving. If you are moving yourself, schedule a moving party providing pizza and beverages for anyone who can help.

Take inventory of borrowed or lent items. Return what is not yours and retrieve your items. Mailing that hedge trimmer across the miles to its owner will be expensive as well as a nightmare to package. Dispose of flammable liquids, such as gasoline or oil. Is there gasoline in your lawn mower?

Two weeks before you move, contact local utility companies to advise of a date to disconnect service. Arrange for utility service in your new home. Clear up outstanding accounts, particularly if you are leaving the area. Plan carefully for the transfer of checking and savings accounts. Open an account in advance in your new community so you have access to money, but make sure your old account stays open until all checks have cleared.

If you are driving any distance, service you car before you move. Car problems in an unfamiliar community can be troublesome. This is also a good time to make appointments with doctors and dentists arranging for a final check-up and discussion of potential problems of which to advise a new doctor.

Packing up
Begin packing early, particularly those items seldom used. If you have a hired a moving company, request boxes and packing paper. A local grocery store is a good source for boxes and packing paper. Ask for boxes in advance. Smaller stores may receive shipments only once a week and will only give away boxes if you are there at a specified time to pick them up. Collect both large and small boxes, keeping in mind that filling a large box with books or records will make moving them difficult at best.

Have plenty of packing supplies handy. Save old newspapers for packing material. For delicate items, you may want to purchase special packing boxes to materials to ensure safe moving.

Be creative in your packing particularly with odd-sized or fragile items. For example, move mattresses with old sheets on them as a protection from dirt. An antique floor lamp rolled up in a rug, or a crystal decanter packed in the middle of bath towels adds increased protection.

Of course, creative packing can lead to confusion when unpacking. Make sure all boxes are clearly labeled with their contents. Mark boxes "fragile" which have breakable items. For those items too precious to risk damaging move by hand.

Make a list of items to pack separately; items needed on the road (maps, prescription medicines, toys for children); items needed to settle in (cleaning supplies, light bulbs, tools); and those items you will need within the first few days of arrival (food and utensils for the first meals). Pack a suitcase which you could live out of if it should become necessary. Keep important papers such as medical records and insurance policies in one place where they can be retrieved quickly if needed.

Moving Day
When the moving day has finally arrived, makes sure someone is home to meet the mover and point out items to be loaded onto the truck. If your are handling your own move, organize loading to maximize space in the truck and to ensure that the heavy box of books does not get loaded on top of the china box.

Before leaving, make a final check of all rooms, closet shelves and other spots where items may have been overlooked. Have an empty box handy for those "found items," or items which didn't seem to fit in anywhere else. Turn off all lights and close and lock all windows and doors. Leave your keys with the REALTOR®, Landlord or new owner.

Make sure you are there to meet the movers to avoid possible additional charges. During warm weather, have cold beverages available for movers--professionals or volunteers. Finally, don't try to unpack everything at once. Unpacking carefully and in an organized manner, keeping in mind which boxes can be stored as they are, will save time in the long run.

The Ontario Real Estate Association suggests that by following these tips, your move into a new home or apartment will be a smooth and enjoyable experience. Source, Orea.com

You Bought a House, Now What's Next

Understanding The Next Step After Your Agreement of Purchase & Sale has Been Accepted

It's an exciting time. Your offer has been accepted. You can't wait to move into your new home. But don't start celebrating yet. There is one final stage involved in purchasing a home -- closing the deal.

Closing is the point at which ownership and usually possession of the property is transferred from the seller to you. It takes place after the parties involved agree that all legal and financial obligations have been met. Your lawyer and your REALTOR® will do much of the work, but here's a checklist that will show you what to expect as the process unfolds:

• Make sure a copy of the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale is sent to your. Your REALTOR® will usually do this for you. Your lawyer needs to see any conditions that exist, and the date you and the seller have agreed to close. The lawyer will ask you how you (and others involved in the purchase) want to be registered on the title to the property.

• Immediately begin satisfying any of the conditions of the agreement that require your action. These have definite dates attached to them and if you miss one you may have to arrange an extension or possibly risk losing the entire deal. As each condition is met, the REALTOR® will fill out a waiver form for signatures. Note that most lawyers won't be doing many of the tasks they need to do for closing until the conditions are waived.

• Upon your direction and after the conditions have been met, your lawyer will begin searching title to the property. This is an exercise of going back through government records to ensure a clear title that is transferable. Electronic registration and title insurance have significantly changed the way titles on properties are transferred.

• If you decide to have the home inspected, your offer should contain a condition that the property passes inspection.

• If no current land survey exists on the property, arrange for one soon. Your lender may require it, and you'll want it for your own peace of mind, anyway.

• Contact your lending institution to begin the process of finalizing mortgage documents. Ask if your lawyer can draw up the documents; this will usually save money.

• Your lawyer will contact the seller's lawyer with any questions or issues regarding title and costs.

• Your lawyer will check with local utilities (hydro, gas, water) to ensure there are no outstanding claims and to get final meter readings on the day of closing. You should contact the utilities and telephone and cable companies well in advance to arrange for services in your name.
• Meanwhile, your lawyer is busy making sure that property taxes on your new home are up-to-date, local zoning and building restrictions have been met and there are no liens on personal property, such as appliances, to be sold with your house. You want your lawyer to make sure that what you've agreed to buy is what you'll get -- nothing more or less.

• Well before closing; contact your insurance agent to arrange homeowner's insurance coverage to become effective on the date of closing. Your agent can give you a "binder" letter, certifying coverage is in place. If you're moving from your current owned (rather than rented) home to another, your agent will handle the homeowner's insurance transfer for you.

• Your lawyer will review and verify the draft deed, statement of adjustments and other closing information provided by the seller's lawyer, and will deal with any problems as they arise.

• A day or two before closing, you'll meet with your lawyer to go over and sign the closing documents. Bring the certified cheque(s) to cover costs involved. Your lawyer will let you know the amounts in advance.

The big day arrives. You don't need to be present, usually (this can be pre-arranged). The lawyers for both parties exchange documents, keys and cheques and then register the deed and mortgage. Soon thereafter you'll be given the keys to your new home.

Source: Orea.com

Understanding Real Estate Terms

If you're buying a home for the very first time, the process may seem a little daunting. After all, buying a home is probably one of the biggest investments you'll ever make. It helps to have a REALTOR® on your team -- someone who speaks the language of real estate very well.

A REALTOR® has the experience and the knowledge to guide you through the process of buying your first home and can help take the mystery out of the many terms, phrases and clauses you will encounter.

The following glossary, an excerpt from the Ontario Real Estate Association's "How to Buy Your Home" book, provides definitions of some of the most common real estate terms you are likely to come across.

The book also fully explains the process of buying a home and is available free-of-charge by calling 1-800-563-HOME or talk to your local REALTOR®.

Amortization: The number of years it takes to repay the entire amount of a mortgage.

Appraisal: An estimate of a property's market value, used by lenders in determining the amount of the mortgage.

Appreciation: The increase of a property's value over time.

Assessment: The value of a property set by the local municipality, for the purposes of calculating property tax.

Assumable Mortgage: A mortgage held on a property by the seller that can be taken over by the buyer, who then accepts responsibility for making the mortgage payments.

Blended Mortgage: A combination of two mortgages, one with a higher interest rate than the other, to create a new mortgage with an interest rate somewhere between the two original rates.
Blended Mortgage Payments: Equal or regular mortgage payments, consisting of both a principal and an interest component. With each successive payment, the amount applied to interest decreases and the amount applied to the principal increases, although the total payment doesn't change. (Exception - see variable rate mortgages.)

Bridge Financing: Money borrowed against a homeowner's equity in a property, usually for a short term, to help finance the purchase of another property or make improvements to a property being sold.

Buy-down: When the seller reduces the interest rate on a mortgage by paying the difference between the reduced rate and market rate directly to the lender or to the purchaser, in one lump sum or monthly instalments.

Closing: The real estate transaction's completion, when the parties involved agree that all legal and financial obligations have been met, and the deed to the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer.

Conventional Mortgage: A first mortgage issued for up to 75 per cent of the property's appraised value or purchase price, whichever is lower.

Counteroffer: One party's written response to the other party's offer during purchase negotiations between buyer and seller.

Debt Service Ratio: The percentage of a borrower's gross income that can be used for housing costs, including mortgage payment and taxes (and condominium fees, when applicable).

Deed: A legal document that conveys (transfers) ownership of a property to the buyer.

Easement: A legal right to use or cross (right-of-way) another person's land for limited purposes. A common example is a utility company's right to run wires or lay pipe across a property.

Encroachment: An intrusion onto an adjoining property -- such as a neighbor's fence, storage shed or overhanging roof line that partially (or even fully) intrudes onto your property.

Equity: The difference between the price for which a property can be sold and the mortgage(s) on the property. Equity is the owner's "stake" in a property.

Foreclosure: A legal process by which the lender takes possession and ownership of a property when the borrower defaults on the mortgage obligations.

High-Ratio Mortgage: A mortgage for more than 75 per cent of a property's appraised value or purchase price.

Land Transfer Tax: Payment to the provincial government for transferring property from the seller to the buyer.

Lien: Any legal claim against a property, filed to ensure payment of a debt.

Mortgagee: The lender.

Mortgage Insurance: Government-backed or private-backed insurance protecting the lender against the borrower's default on high-ratio (and other types) of mortgages.

Mortgagor: The borrower.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS): A system for relaying information to REALTORS® about properties for sale.

Prepayment Privilege: A mortgage feature that allows the borrower to prepay a portion or all of the principal balance with or without penalty. This privilege is frequently restricted to specific amounts and times.

Principal: The mortgage amount initially borrowed, or the portion still owing on the mortgage. Interest is calculated on the principal amount.

Status Certificate: A written statement of a condominium unit's current financial and legal status.

Variable-Rate Mortgage: A mortgage for which payments are fixed, but whose interest rate changes in relationship to fluctuating market interest rates. If market rates go up, a larger portion of the payment goes to interest. If rates go down, a larger portion of the payment is applied to the principal.

Vendor-Take-Back Mortgage: When sellers use their equity in a property to provide some or all of the mortgage financing in order to sell the property.

Zoning Regulations: Strict guidelines set by municipal governments regulating how a property may or may not be used.

Source: Orea.com
*All Articles pertaining to Financial Matters are Offered by a third party unrelated to my services. Please ensure you seek-out the advice of your own financial expert. The rule of thumb is to get the advice and rates of three separate companies or professionals*