5 Disturbing Trends Facing Toronto Homeowners
1) There will be a slow down in the increase in housing prices in Canada.
- Housing prices may even stall in 2012-14 but will not endure the catastrophic crash that the US endured since 2008
- Interest rates are at all time lows and are going to eventually go up
- Household debt is at all time highs in Canada. Household debt is now 150% of personal disposable income vs less than 100% in the early 1990s.
(Source: Canadian Homebuilders Industry Oct 2011)
What can you do for Affordability of housing in Canada?
- Lower household debt as much as possible
- If you have debt, consolidate it
- Get a line of credit against the house to get the lowest interest rate possible
- Get rid of credit card debt at all costs as they carry the highest interest rate costs
2) Home Insurance premiums will be going up 14% in Ontario in 2012.
This is apparently due to the substantial increase in claims. Most of these claims were due to recent acts of natural disaster, weather etc. This premium increase is also due to the increase in home renovations (basements in particular) making homes more valuable and vulnerable if there was a break in or fire/water damage.
(Source: Canadian Capitalist 2011)
What can you do to decrease your Home insurance premium?
Shop around your rate
- If you have a 24 hour monitoring security system, make sure they are aware of it
- Ask them what a raising in deductible will do to lower your yearly cost. Many deductibles are at $500.
- Sometimes you can save up to 25% on your home insurance if you increase the deductible up to $1000.
- Find out if there is a decrease in insurance premium if you have your auto and home insurance under the same policy.
- Ask your insurer if certain home renovations will help lower your premium ie. more secure locks, security bars on basement windows, natural disaster proof your house (better shingles, better heating and electrical systems).
- If you have been with them for a while, and haven’t made a claim, ask them to review your premium and give you a lower price based on loyalty.
3) Home-owners will eventually be forced to adopt Energy Efficient homes standards.
- Government induced programs to encourage more energy efficient homes will continue.
- Solar and wind energy programs sponsored by the government will also continue to grow
- Expect a big push for more energy efficient construction by the government. This includes more energy efficient furnaces, windows, doors, insulation, hot water tanks, and the use of eco friendly products.
- You will eventually be forced to upgrade to these items. Why not sooner than later since the government sponsored programs offer rebates and will also save you on your energy costs in the meantime?
(Source: Intuitech Technologys May 2011)
What can you do to prepare a energy efficient home design?
- Hire companies and contractors that are schooled in Eco friendly, energy efficient products and green homes.
- Always look for the energy star label when buying windows, doors etc. Be conscious whenever you buy any home improvement products making sure they are Eco friendly whenever possible.
- Educate yourself on what is considered energy efficient and what isn’t.
- Take advantage of the 2012 home energy audit program due to expire March 31, 2012
5) Dramatic increases in the amount of contractor scams, contractor lawsuits, and homeowners being mislead by fraudulent ccontractors
- The home improvement industry has skyrocketed over the past 2 decades. But so has the amount of contractor scams and bad business practices. Add to this a recession, and all this results in higher amounts of litigation and contractor scams.
- Now is the time to be leeriest of who you hire
- Holmes on Holmes on HGTV is a show dedicated to depicting this occurrence
(Source: Daily Finance 2011, Holmes on Holmes)
What can you do to prevent the contractors’ scams?
- Make sure they are a reputable company in business 10 years or more.
- Make sure they have credible references. Preferably from 3rd party sources such as www.HomeStars.com, Google reviews, etc
- Make sure everything is in writing including approximate start and finish times, payment terms, warranty terms, products being used, and details of the job to be completed.
- Make sure they have a valid BIN#, business address, website.
- Workers Compensation is a must. Liability Insurance of over 1 million is a must. Any company without both of these necessities, don’t even deal with them. Million dollar lawsuits aren’t worth the risk.
- Any credible memberships such as Better Business Bureau are a bonus – give higher credibility to companies that take the time to affiliate with credible organizations such as these.
- Crime is on the rise, especially in recessions. If they are doing work inside your house make sure they are bonded, and have criminal background checks. If they aren’t bonded yet, it isn’t a deal breaker. But if they are criminals, it will be a deal breaker. So make sure they get a background check prior to starting the job and letting them into your house. It only takes 2 days for homeowners to get this background check. Www.backcheck.ca can do this for you.