Are you ready to buy?


Thinking of buying a home during this red hot spring market?   The biggest question to ponder when considering home ownership is affordability.   Take the time to determine a realistic budget, taking mortgage payments, property taxes, closing and moving costs, monthly utility and home repair and maintenance into account.

If you’re confident that buying a home is within reach, contact me, I work with a great Mortgage Broker who will help you to determine your options!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

New rebate to encourage buyers to Go Green


For anyone looking to make your home more energy efficient, you’re in luck. The Government of Ontario recently announced the creation of a new program to help Ontarians improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
The province is investing $100 million from the Ontario Green Investment Fund to provide rebates for homeowners who conduct an energy audit on their property and then complete retrofits recommended by the auditor.

According to the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), offering rebates has been a great way to help consumers make green decisions when it comes to home retrofits or renovations. Between 2007 and 2011, the province administered the Ontario Home Energy Savings Program (HESP), which provided homeowners with up to $150 towards the cost of a pre-retrofit energy audit, and rebates of up to $5,000 for retrofits. This program helped over 428,000 homeowners complete energy audits and 380,000 to complete retrofits.
OREA has been a strong advocate for provincial funding to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their properties. Most recently, OREA made new rebates a central recommendation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs during the committee’s pre-budget consultations. The association’s two-pronged recommendation for helping homeowners reduce energy consumption also includes inserting an energy audit into a standard home inspection.
“According to our research, three quarters of home buyers make an inspection a condition of purchase,” said Ettore Cardarelli, Chair of OREA’s Government Relations Committee. “Inserting an audit into a voluntary home inspection would give buyers important information about the property along with recommendations for how the new owner can improve energy efficiency of their home.”
For more information, visit Ontario Green Investment Fund.

Jennifer Birch

Tips for Buying a Home solo

Single woman - house

According to a recent study, about 20 % of Canadian homebuyers are singles and of that number about 45 % are women.   In fact, Statistics Canada Census data shows that for the first time ever there are more people living alone in Canada than there are couples with children.  Households of one comprise 27.6 % of all homes. That’s three times as many since 1961.

If your stability quotient is high – you’ve been at your job a while and you plan on staying in the same city – buying is certainly a better option than renting given today’s low interest rates.

But there’s no doubt that saving up for the down payment will be more challenging with only one income to depend on. Ditto that for your monthly mortgage payments, condo fees and the maintenance that accompanies homeownership.

You should also consider your lifestyle. With more of your income going to your new house or condo, you may not be as free to spend your earnings on pricey clothes, dinners out and exotic travel.

What will your chore list be? If money is a concern you probably won’t be hiring someone to shovel snow, cut grass and wash windows. Do you have the extra time for these jobs?

Your location should be as equally important a decision as a couple buying a home but perhaps even more so. As someone who lives alone, you’ll want to be safe and secure in your new digs so check out the neighbourhood’s crime rate. Install a security system. Walk the neighbourhood to see how safe you feel.

Buying a home is a smart investment ¬and one that you’ll feel proud of for years to come – enjoy the feeling that comes with homeownership!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

5 Reasons your offer might be REJECTED


It’s no secret that buying a home can be a stressful experience. From securing financing to scouring online sites for the perfect home, touring open house after open house and finally submitting an offer, there are many “hold your breath” moments as you hope for the desired outcome.

But what happens when that offer is rejected and your dream suddenly crumbles? In the best case scenario, the seller has given some sort of indication as to why your offer wasn’t accepted, arming you with the knowledge you need to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

5 reasons why your offer may have been rejected:

Too many conditions:

It’s pretty common to include a home inspection and financing as conditions on your offer. But if you have also made the offer conditional on the sale of your own home, you might be asking for more than the seller is willing to deal with.

No pre-approval:

A seller wants to be sure that you can actually afford the home they are selling, especially if there are other offers on the table. While a pre-approval doesn’t guarantee financing, it shows the seller you have done your due diligence in preparing to buy a home and aren’t just making an offer on a whim.

The offer was too low:

Let’s face it, everyone wants to get a good deal. But if a home has been fairly priced according to market value and you come in with an offer thousands of dollars below asking price, there’s a good chance the seller won’t even entertain it. The current market is pretty hot, with many homes selling above asking price, so offer the top price you are willing or able to pay for a home off the get-go and hope for the best!

Inconvenient closing date:

If you’re asking for a closing date in less than a month or perhaps longer than 90 days, it may be a deal breaker for some sellers.

Asking for inclusions the seller doesn’t want to include:

It’s fairly common for items like appliances and light fixtures to be included in a home sale. But if you have asked for the crystal chandelier in the dining room that the seller clearly stated was excluded in the sale, don’t be surprised if your offer gets rejected.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

Benefits for First Time Home Buyers

In Ontario there are innumerable incentives for first-time homebuyers! Buying your first home is one of the largest investments of your life, and Ontario offers countless ways to aid and encourage first-time buyers. Canada’s Economic Action Plan introduced the First-Time Home Buyers’ (FTHB) Tax Credit and the expansion of the Home Buyers’ Plan to provide you with additional benefits and help you realize your dream of homeownership.


The RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan now allows first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $25,000 from their Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) for a home purchase, tax-free! With 15 years to repay it, many first-time home buyers take advantage of this opportunity and set up RRSP accounts well in advance, with the intention to reap the rewards when it is time to purchase a house.

The Land Transfer Tax Credit is a refund of the cost of Ontario’s land transfer tax up to a maximum of $2,000. This will allow first time homebuyers to purchase a home up to $227,500 without having to pay a land transfer fee. The refund can be given instantly at the lawyers office but advise the lawyer prior to the closing date if you qualify for the rebate.

If you want to call Toronto home, first-time homebuyers of a newly constructed or re-sale residential property qualify for the Toronto Land Transfer Tax Rebate. The maximum allowable rebate is $3,725, allowing first timers to purchase a home valued as high as $400,000 without having to pay a Toronto land transfer tax!

Although the good ol’ days of a no-money down mortgage (0% down payment) are no longer directly available through CMHC, 5% down payment mortgages with a 5% cash back component are. CMHC also permits down payments to come from borrowed sources such as Visa, Line of Credit or family. Used in conjunction, a homebuyer can borrow their down payment and obtain a 5% cash back mortgage allowing them to pay off the borrowed money once the home closes.

Buying one’s first home is, after all, completely overwhelming and likely the largest purchase a person will ever make. There are countless websites to help buyers do their initial homework and understand these incentives. Then there are the experts. Remember Canada wants you to own a home and has created these measures to support you in your first go-around!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor

Are you buying the right size home?


Is bigger always better? When it comes to purchasing a home, the answer is, in most cases, no. Unless you’re a family of 10, searching for a home with the greatest square-footage you can afford shouldn’t be your top priority. Instead, it’s more important to carefully consider usable living space, which is a very individual thing and different for every family.

Buying the right sized home goes both ways. It also isn’t in your best interest to buy a two-bedroom home when you know that you’ll be starting a family soon.

Tips for choosing the right size home:

For first-time buyers or young couples starting out, buy a home with the next five to seven years in mind. Even if you don’t plan on having kids for a couple years, moving is expensive and it isn’t a process you want to repeat two years down the road.

Empty nesters should be thinking of enjoying their golden years when house hunting. Buying a smaller home with fewer bedrooms and less outdoor space will make it much easier to enjoy those extended vacations.

One thing you definitely don’t want to do is search for a house that will accommodate your entire extended family during holiday dinners. It just doesn’t make sense to buy based on the needs of two or three days of the year. Find a home that is just right for your family, the people who will occupy it the other 363 days per year. You can always buy a few fold-up tables and chairs for that special Christmas dinner! ?

Buying a more modest-sized home has another advantage, and this one means big savings for your wallet – energy conservation. Heating and cooling a 5,000 square-foot isn’t cheap. Furnishing and decorating a massive home is expensive, too.

Finally, you can count on spending much less time cleaning a smaller home, which means more time to spend with family and doing the things you actually enjoy!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor



1. Make a budget together and discuss your finances

Seems like simple advice but doing things together really is the key to many things in life, not just buying a home. When two people discuss their finances, debts and expenses openly and honestly, it is easier to create a “real” budget. Most likely, you both have been running your own finances separately so taking the plunge to commit to debt like a mortgage is a serious discussion. Be sure both of you understand all the costs associated with owning a home – the down payment, mortgage payments, property taxes, possible condo fees, home insurance, repairs, property maintenance, etc. It’s not just the mortgage payment that counts.


2. Credit habits and the mortgage application

Your lender will most likely be looking at the credit habits of the higher earner and it is their credit score that will most likely be used to determine the risk level of your mortgage application, as well as interest rate options. The co-borrower’s credit can strengthen the overall application as well. Your lender can provide all of this information – do not be afraid to ask questions and don’t worry if you feel like you’re asking “dumb” questions. It’s also a good idea to grab the lender’s business card so that you can email any questions that come up after hours. Sometimes this is the best time to reflect on the meeting you had with the lender, review the information and gather your thoughts. If you do need a co-signer to qualify for a mortgage, please speak with a real estate lawyer to understand all of the legal implications.

3. Future goals and priorities

If you’re a couple and are intending to buy a home together, most likely you’ve already discussed your future, and probably at length. But have you discussed the unpredictability of life – job loss or job changes, maternity/paternity leave, etc. This can cause major stress in a relationship, especially if financial difficulty becomes a factor. Be open and honest with your vision of a future together.

Happy couple in front of home

4. The type of home you want to buy

With so many options out there it’s best to keep a good grasp on what the both of you are looking for. Together, discuss your needs and wants: most important rooms in the home, number of ideal bedrooms, whether the basement needs to be finished, the type of neighbourhood you are looking for, etc. Do you want a newer or older home? This input will help your real estate professional hone in on the right home for you, plus, keep you within your budget!

Jennifer Birch – Realtor