Lauren Souch,

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Blog Posts by Lauren Souch,

  • Waterfront homes for a fraction of the cost

    Imagine waking up in the morning before work, and heading out to your deck to watch the sunrise over the water. If this sounds like the perfect start to the day to you, a float home lifestyle may be just what you need.

    “It sounds cliché, but you feel like you’re on vacation when you’re in your own [float] home. You’re on the water, you’re surrounded by nature, the air is fresh and clean,” said Ricki Willing, a B.C. float home owner and realtor.

    A float home, unlike a houseboat, is an actual stationary house that just happens to be on the water. According to Willing, float homes are gaining in popularity, especially with baby boomers, many of whom have no interest in downsizing to a condo. According to the TD Canada Trust Boomer Buyers Report, conducted in British Columbia, while 61 per cent want a smaller-sized detached home, only 24 per cent are interested in a condo.

    Of course, there are lots of ways to go smaller without hitting the waves, but if you are interested in a place on the

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  • Hidden costs of home ownership

    Buying a home costs a lot more than a deposit and down payment. Things like land transfer tax, legal fees, a home inspection and title insurance need to be paid for, and the total costs can add up quickly. According to a report by TD Canada Trust, 6 per cent of Canadians didn't budget for any additional costs on top of their down payment, and 13 per cent said they forgot about many of the one-time fees.

    "We have a hefty land transfer tax in B.C.," said Vancouver-based mortgage broker Dara Fahy, "and often clients aren't aware of this fee or they simply forgot about it."

    In August 2012, the average cost of an MLS listed home in B.C. was $517,000. The land transfer tax on a home at that price would ring in at $6,540 — a staggering amount to pay, if you didn't budget for it.

    The cost of closing

    Buyers should be prepared to spend anywhere from 1.5 to 4 per cent of the total cost of their home on closing. On a $350,000 home, this means you'll need to save between $5,250 and $14,000 just to

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  • Biggest mistake new homebuyers make

    When Ashley Sparkman and her husband Dave were buying their first house in Welland, Ontario, they didn't think they'd be moving just a few years later — but plans quickly changed.

    Had the young couple thought ahead — the job prospects in the area were slim, especially for Dave, a recent teacher's college grad — they might have opted for a different mortgage term than the 5-year fixed rate they locked in at in December 2010. They've since moved to Kingston and listed their home for sale, but are facing a hefty penalty for breaking their mortgage before the original term was up.

    According to Vancouver-based mortgage broker Dara Fahy, selecting the wrong mortgage term is one of the most common mistakes first-time homebuyers like Ashley and Dave make.

    Selecting the wrong term

    In the Sparkman's case, a 5-year fixed mortgage term was an attractive option at the time. They liked the stability of always knowing what their monthly mortgage payment would be and the rate they were offered was

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  • The risk of buying, before marrying

    Between today's steadily rising property market and historically low mortgage rates, it's no wonder Canadians are getting the urge to stop investing in their landlord's equity and enter the housing market for themselves.

    For many, this also means purchasing a home with a partner — even if marriage isn't yet in the picture.

    In fact, according to the recently released 2011 Canadian Census data on families, households and marital status the number of common law couples in Canada increased by 13.9 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

    However, what many Canadians may not realize is that your property rights while in a common law relationship differ from those of legally married couples.

    In Ontario, couples in a relationship become "spouses" after living together for three years (or less if there are children involved). After you pass that three-year mark, you're considered unmarried spouses.

    "Many people don't realize that unmarried spouses don't automatically have the same property rights — for

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