The Bank of Canada hiked interest rates twice this summer and the increases come at a time when many Canadians are struggling to pay off debt.
First, in July, the bank announced a raise from 0.5 to 0.75 per cent and then, at the beginning of September, hiked rates again to a full one percentage point. A report by TransUnion last year estimated that if interest rates were raised by one percentage point, 700,000 Canadian households would face serious financial ramifications.
Those most affected by the interest increases are those paying back debt — such as Canadians with mortgages. According to Scott Hannah, the president and CEO of the Credit Counselling Society of British Columbia, new homeowners who have just taken out a large mortgage are the most vulnerable to the changes.
His recommendation is to try to pay off debts as quickly as possible to avoid future interest hikes or, in the case where that is not possible, to try to switch to a fixed-rate mortgage to mitigate against economic ups-and-downs.
After the latest hike, the Forum Poll found that a third of Canadians fear the proposed change will negatively impact their finances — especially those in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.
The bank’s announcement has been met with vehement criticism, especially as the Canadian dollar continued to slip, and some experts say the bank may well pause the interest rate hikes for now. Others, however, are adamant that the rises will continue and that it is up to individual Canadians to do the best they can to safeguard their finances.
The Bank of Canada is expected to finalize its plans in the coming weeks but, even if the most recent spike is held off, that will not necessarily mean an end to raising rates for the year, experts say.
The relationship between the quality of a school district and real estate prices in the neighbourhood is a bit of a “chicken-and-the-egg” question.
The highest-ranking school districts tend to have higher house prices than less sought-after districts. At the same time, more affluent homeowners often live in more popular school districts. It’s not always clear which is the motivating factor: do school districts influence house prices or vice versa?
Regardless of which came first, at the end of the day, the fact remains: schools that have higher rankings are, on average, in neighbourhoods with higher real estate values. According to a survey by the Ontario real estate brokerage TheRedPin, homeowners pay a premium of between 20 to 36 per cent for living in proximity to the best schools in Toronto.
91 per cent of prospective homebuyers said that school rankings were important in their search, according to a survey by Realtor.com®, and 60 per cent of buyers said they would pay above their budget to live in their desired school catchment.
Why are schools so influential?
In large part, it comes down to the age-old search for better education and opportunities for the next generation. Parents will sacrifice a lot to improve their offspring’s future and a higher-ranking school is part of that.
It’s also a matter of convenience. Once you have your heart set on a school, it’s a huge time-saver to live a bus ride or walk away. The same Realtor.com® survey found that more than half of buyers are willing to give up other comforts – such are more room or proximity to shopping centres – in exchange for living in the right school catchment.
All this, as a total, means there is a huge demand for family homes in certain areas because of school rankings. Even for homeowners without children, a good school is typically seen as a sign of a strong, stable community — a good thing for house prices for everyone who lives nearby.
When you are buying a new home, choosing the right neighbourhood can be just as crucial to consider as the house itself.
In general, people tend to be creatures of habit and, when moving, will look at the neighbourhoods they know best first and opt to stay in the same part of the city that they are accustomed to whenever possible.
But sometimes circumstances like family, work relocation, school or other life events push us into unfamiliar territory and so the search for a new neighbourhood must broaden.
What are the factors that make us choose a specific area or, as the case may be, stay in one location? How can we make more unbiased neighbourhood selections? Here are some questions to ask and factors to consider.
Distance and convenience
Distance from work, school and other daily activities are one of the most important considerations because the impact commutes have on day-to-day quality of life. If you commute by car, what is the traffic like at peak hours? If you take public transit, how accessible is it? How far away are shopping malls, parks and leisure centres? City councils have this kind information publicly available online.
Price is always a factor. When looking for a new place, make a list of neighbourhoods by price range. Sometimes this means considering different property types—a townhouse in one neighbourhood might be a better fit than a single detached home in another. One way of judging this is by looking at the real facts and MSL sold prices.
What schools are nearby? What are the neighbourhood demographics like—are there other young families around? Community social statistics and national Statistics Canada reports can give you a taste of what to expect. Looking at where schools, playgrounds and green spaces are located is also important.
Safety is paramount. Higher levels of home-ownership in an area typically lead to more investment in the community so that is a factor to look at. But also, dig up municipal police reports, available online, to find out what kind of crimes are occurring, how frequently and in which areas.
Summer barbeque season and outdoor patio gatherings are upon us. Whether you have an expansive garden, a cute nook patio or an overhanging balcony, there are always ways to make the most out of what you have.
There is no getting around it — you need space to keep items you are not using but, in limited areas, that can be tricky. One of the best ways around storage issues is to have hidden places to keep things that are out of the way but easily accessible. One of the most common ways is to have a bench that can lift up to reveal storage underneath for blankets, cushions and whatever else you need to hide away.
Always keep in mind, when you are buying furniture, the versatility factor — one item that can be used twice saves space in the long run! A low table with strong legs can hold your drinks when it’s just you or double as a stool when guests are visiting. Sturdy cushions plush out your seats or can be arranged in a circle for extra seating.
Fake it till you make it
If you don’t have a garden, consider putting down fake grass to brighten up an otherwise bare ground. The grass may be greener on the other side but, when it’s on your side, it can make your space seem that much bigger.
Take your gardening to new heights
If you can’t expand out, then move up. Hanging plants, creeping vines along a wall and shelves of pots can give you all the benefits of a larger yard in a smaller space.
Multiple small spaces
If you have a larger area, make it more user-friendly by setting up multiple small spaces: one corner as a bar, another for gardening, a few chairs for taking in the sun. If your space is more limited, such as one small apartment balcony, consider using it for one specific designated space. Put down a huge cushion and use it as a hanging area for reading, attach a table top to your balcony railing and use it as a bar with a skyline view, the options are endless.
Simple and elegant
Be intentional in how you use your space and how you decorate. Clean lines and minimal colours will make it seem less cluttered and, therefore, bigger. Don’t give up on the essentials but use only what you really need.
The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.