Wednesday, September 23, 2015

CMHC to consider 100 per cent rental income in loan applications

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. is going to make it easier for homeowners renting out apartments in their principal residences to borrow money, a move that could further heat up markets in Toronto and Vancouver.

The Crown corporation, which controls a majority of the mortgage default insurance market in Canada, announced changes to its rules Monday and effective Sept. 28 which are aimed at boosting affordable housing. The changes from CMHC would allow homeowners to count the income from their secondary units when qualifying for a loan, something that would seemingly bring more people into the housing market.

Homeowners with less than a 20 per cent down payment and borrowing from a regulated financial institution must get government backed mortgage default insurance. Even financial institutions not regulated by Ottawa, like credit unions, must abide by CMHC rules to be covered by the government backing.

The agency announced that it will allow 100 per cent of the rental income from a unit to be considered for new loan applications submitted to it for mortgage insurance. That means that a secondary rentals suite’s income, minus costs including property taxes, will boost the size of loan that buyers can secure. Qualifying units must have sustainable income, proven by two years of rental rent payments. These payments will be averaged to assess the unit’s income. Applicants will also need a credit rating of at least 680. Properties with more than a single rental unit will have slightly different rules and this change is most positive for homeowners with one rental unit.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Home maintenance tips to breeze through summer

Working on your home may be the last thing that comes to mind in the summer season. But the effort you put in today to maintain your home is important to protect the big investment you have in your home, and to correct some of the most common problems before they become more costl

Home maintenance items tend to be seasonal but there are some things that need to be taken care of year round. Setting up a maintenance schedule for the whole year will help you to concentrate on the tasks appropriate to each season.

However, it’s not necessary to tackle all the jobs on your “to do” list all at once. If you spread them out over the summer months they will be much more manageable.

Also, you should only perform the jobs you feel capable of doing yourself. For some tasks, it might be best to hire a professional.

If you have a plumbing fixture that is not used frequently such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom sink, tub or shower stall, run some water briefly to keep water in the trap.

The basement floor drain also has a trap so check to see that it contains water and refill it if necessary.

High levels of humidity — especially in the basement — are a common summertime issue for homeowners that can lead to excess moisture.

Check your basement pipes for condensation or dripping, and take corrective action to reduce humidity. It’s a good idea to monitor your basement humidity and avoid relative humidity levels above 60 per cent.

You can get a small, inexpensive and easy-to-use instrument called a hygrometer (sometimes referred to as a humidity sensor or a relative humidity indicator).

The hygrometer can measure the humidity level in your house and confirm whether the house has too much or too little humidity. If you discover the moisture levels are too high you can use a dehumidifier to maintain lower relative humidity levels. Running your air conditioner can also help.

Now is the time to clean or replace your air conditioning and ventilation system filters and clean your bathroom fan grilles. It’s also a good idea to disconnect the duct connected to your clothes dryer and vacuum lint from the duct, the areas surrounding your dryer and your dryer’s outside vent hood.

Next, move to the outside of your home and do an assessment. Start by checking that all guardrails and handrails are secure and walkways and steps leading to your home are in good repair.

Lubricate your garage door hardware, and ensure it is operating properly. Also check for overhanging tree branches that may need to be removed and remove any plants that contact — and roots that penetrate — the siding or brick. Once you’ve got your routine down, regular home maintenance will be a breeze.

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