How Much Should You Insure Your House For?

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How exciting, you got the house! After all the tumultuous ups and downs that come with searching for a home, you can finally take a deep breath and put it all behind you! But wait, now it’s time to get home insurance, and finding the right coverage is key.

Now that the hard part of finding a home is over, it’s time to take on the next task of finding the right home insurance coverage that suits your unique situation. No two homes are the same, and not all home insurance policies are alike either. So, how much home insurance coverage do you need?

Let’s take a look at your options!

What are the different types of home insurance in Canada?

There are four types of home insurance policies that you can choose from:

Standard home insurance: This is also referred to as ‘named perils’ and is relatively basic in what it offers. It financially protects homes and their contents from named risks and perils.

Broad-form home insurance: This is a hybrid form of home insurance that offers aspects of both comprehensive and standard policies. It protects your property from all risks and perils (with exclusions) and your possessions from named perils.

Comprehensive home insurance: This is the most expensive policy, but provides the most coverage. It financially protects your home and its contents from all risks and perils (with exclusions).

No frills home insurance: This is coverage for properties that don’t meet normal insurance standards. Because of this, very few homeowners in Canada have no frills home insurance.

What does homeowners insurance cover?

The five basic areas of coverage on a homeowners insurance policy are:

Dwelling Coverage: This applies to your home’s structure, including its walls, roof, and foundation. If these components are damaged – or even completely destroyed – in an incident that falls under your home insurance coverage, your provider can help you foot the bill.

Other Property Coverage: This applies to structures on your property that are not a physical part of your home. This would include, for example, a deck, fence, or detached garage.

Contents Coverage: This applies to your belongings inside the home such as furniture, electronics, appliances, etc. It covers them against theft, damage and destruction.

Liability Coverage: This coverage protects you in the event that a guest gets hurt on your property and pursues you for damages.

Living Expense Coverage: In the event that damage to your home requires you to vacate the property, living expense coverage will help you foot the bill for alternate accommodations.

A typical policy covers damage caused by fires, lightning strikes, windstorms, and hail, but not all natural disasters are covered.

Natural disasters and home insurance coverage

Your standard home insurance policy protects you from a wide range of natural disasters, but it doesn’t automatically protect you from everything.

Standard home insurance policies in Canada can include the following types of natural disaster coverage:

  • Fire coverage (including forest fire insurance)
  • Ice and hail coverage
  • Water damage coverage (from specified sources, like unavoidable damage due to a broken pipe)
  • Wind damage coverage (protection from high winds, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.)

But they do not cover things like earthquakes or overland floods. For this you would need to purchase a separate policy, and depending on where you live, it may be required.

We have you covered with more information about natural disasters and home insurance in Canada with this in-depth guide.

There are ways to add other coverages, not included in your typical policy, through endorsements.

What are insurance endorsements and do I need them?

You often hear about insurance endorsements, but what are they?

An insurance endorsement is a form of optional coverage that policyholders can include to their home, auto, condo, etc., insurance policies, that protect them from unforeseen risks that aren’t covered by basic policies. It is also referred to as an insurance add-on.

Policyholders can choose which add-on(s) they’d like to purchase, allowing them to tailor their coverage to their unique wants and needs.

Here’s a quick look at some typical home insurance endorsements:

  • Overland water coverage
  • Claim protector add-on
  • Service line endorsement
  • Sewer back up coverage

You can learn more about insurance endorsements and how they protect policyholders in Canada.

What happens if you’ve completed renovations to your home?

Doing renovations can add value to your home, but whatever modifications you do, you must let your insurance company know of the changes being made. Whether it be working on an unfinished basement, remodeling a bathroom or converting a shed out back to a more livable space, you should always inform them.

Homeowners are required to update their home insurance policy when they make significant changes to their home that directly influences the material risk level of the home and property.

A perfect example of this is an inground pool. Having an in-ground pool increases the risk of third-party property damage and injuries, negatively impacting the risk level of the home.

Aside from affecting the risk level of your home, making the necessary changes to your policy can help you maintain an accurate replacement value for your home. Replacement value is the amount of money required to replace covered losses with an item of equal value after an insured event damages your property (different from actual cash value).

If you don’t update your insurance policy after making a significant modification to your home your insurance provider won’t have an up-to-date replacement value for your property. So, if something happens, the modified aspects won’t be covered by your home insurance.

Find out the best way to implement changes to a home insurance policy in Canada. Learn how you can update your home insurance policy here.

In the end, you can’t put a price on the sentimental value of your home and its contents, so getting the best home insurance coverage is priceless and will help put your mind at ease knowing that you and your family are well protected.

Talk to your advisor to go over your current policy, or when purchasing a new one, and find out what coverage best suits your needs. They can help you sift through all the information to help find what you need to protect one of your largest investments.

6 Ways to Spruce Up Your Home on a Budget

If you’re looking for ways to spruce up your home without breaking the bank, you’ve come to the right place. Here are six jaw-dropping ways to update your home without breaking the bank. With creativity and elbow grease, you can achieve professional-looking results without spending a fortune.

  1. Paint Your Front Door
    One of the quickest and easiest ways to give your home a facelift is to paint your front door. Colour is a great way to add curb appeal and make an excellent first impression on visitors. If your front door looks dull and outdated, consider repainting it in a bright, bold colour. Red is always a popular choice, but any colour that complements your home’s exterior will do the trick. Just be sure to use high-quality paint so your new door colour will last for years.
  2. Install New Hardware
    Another quick and easy update you can make is to install new hardware throughout your home. Items like door knobs, cabinet pulls, faucets, and light fixtures. Adding new hardware is a great way to add a touch of style and personality to your space without making any permanent changes. Plus, it’s inexpensive to update an old piece of furniture or cabinets. Just be sure to choose hardware that coordinates with the existing style of your home.
  3. Create Accent Walls
    If you’re looking for a more significant project to make a statement, consider creating accent walls in strategic areas throughout your home. Accent walls are painted differently or covered in wallpaper or other decorative material. They can help break up a large room and add visual interest. When choosing accent wall colours, go for something bold and eye-catching to complement the rest of your decor. And when it comes time to hang wallpaper, be sure to measure twice and cut once!
  4. Update Window Treatments
    Window treatments are another great way to add style and personality to your space. If you currently have plain white blinds or boring curtains, consider adding more sophisticated window treatments like plantation shutters or draperies. You can make a significant impact without spending too much money. Plus, new window treatments can help regulate your home’s temperature, saving you money on your energy bills in the long run. Win-win!
  5. Accessorize Strategically
    Last but not least, don’t forget the power of accessories! A few well-placed accessories can go a long way in transforming the look of any room in your house—and they don’t have to cost much money, either. Get creative and think outside the box regarding accessorizing your space. A simple vase filled with fresh flowers or an antique mirror hung above the fireplace can make all the difference in the world. So go forth and accessorize!
  6. Lighten things up with lamps and candles
    Lighting can make or break a room, so ensure you have plenty of light sources—and they fit your style! Lamps are inexpensive to add light and personality to any room, so hit up some thrift stores or garage sales and see what you can find. Candles are another great option, especially if you opt for unscented candles not to overwhelm any senses other than sight!

These six incredible low-cost home improvement ideas can get polished results without breaking the bank with a bit of imagination and hard work. What are you waiting for, then? Start sprucing!

5 Things to Consider When Buying a Second Home

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If you do your homework and make plans ahead of time, buying a second home can be a great investment. But if you’re unprepared, it may also lead to financial difficulty. Following are five things to think about before purchasing a second property.

  1. What Will You Use It For?
    Typically, second homes are utilized as vacation dwellings, second homes for business purposes, or investment assets. Your lender will want to know your plans if you’re requesting a loan to purchase a second house.

For instance, because lenders view investment homes as riskier, they are often more difficult to finance. As a result, the interest rate on a mortgage for a vacation home or second home is typically cheaper than that of an investment property.

  1. How Will You Finance It?
    To buy a second property, the majority of people will have to take out a loan. You have a few alternatives depending on how you want to use your second home. You might be eligible for a standard mortgage, a secondary mortgage, or even a jumbo loan for a second home or vacation property.

As an alternative, you might think about refinancing your present loan. For instance, if you have a sizable amount of equity, you might be eligible for a cash-out refinance or a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). In the latter scenario, you essentially exchange your current mortgage for a new, larger one and receive access to the equity you’ve accumulated in your primary house. If you have enough home equity, this may enable you to buy your secondary property outright.

  1. Do You Have the Funds?
    It’s crucial to make an accurate budget and make sure you can afford the closing and continuing expenditures of owning a second property, regardless of the financing type you select. Think about the following:
  • Down payment: Lenders generally require a down payment of at least 25% for a second home.
  • Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio Requirements: You’ll typically need a DTI of 43% or lower to qualify for a second mortgage.
  • Maintenance costs: You may need to renovate or repair parts of your second home before it can be used.
  • Utilities: These aren’t usually high for vacation homes, but if you’re renting your second home out, you’ll need to keep on top of the utilities.
  • Insurance: Most lenders will insist you take out comprehensive insurance whether you’re renting or using the second home as a holiday residence.
  • Taxes: On top of regular property taxes, you may need to pay a conveyance tax.
  • Extras: Think about furnishings and decor, as well as things like HOA fees, if necessary.
  1. You Don’t Have To Go It Alone
    The cost of a second property is frequently divided between friends and family. This may be a fantastic method to acquire an asset that will benefit everyone while saving money. However, regardless of how close you are, the agreement needs to be viewed as a business one. Otherwise, things may quickly become less convenient and more complicated.
  2. Make a Plan for When It’s Not in Use
    It is important to have a strategy for what you want to do with your second house when it is not in use, regardless of your plans. For instance, if you intend to rent it out, you should be ready for the possibility that you won’t find a tenant right away.

What will happen to the house while you are away if you use it as a vacation home? Can you make it available to other vacationers? Will you be required to work with a management firm to handle tasks like maintenance?

Consider your options, and create a sound strategy.

What Do Home Appraisers Look For?

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A house assessment is a vital step in the process whether you’re buying, selling, or even applying for refinancing a home. Because of this, it’s important to know what an appraiser looks for when they come. Let’s examine a typical appraiser’s checklist in light of this and how the various items may affect their assessment.

Basics of Home Appraisal

Generally speaking, house appraisers examine the size and overall state of the property. They will also take into account the cost of the facilities and any house renovations that have been made. They will also take into account a number of factors that are unrelated to the property itself, including the area and comparables in the nearby market.

Checklist for Home Appraisers

The most typical elements a house appraiser will consider are listed below.

Exterior

  • Property age and size
  • The condition of the property compared to neighboring homes:
    • Foundations
    • Windows
    • Exterior walls
    • Roof, gutters and downspouts
    • Front and backyards
  • Driveway and other parking amenities, including the garage and the number of vehicles it can accommodate
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
  • Utilities:
    • Gas, electricity and water systems
    • HVAC unit
    • Sewer/septic tank
    • Solar panels and other energy-efficient systems
  • Pool, porch and other outdoor amenities
  • Evidence of pest and water damage

Interior

  • Floor plan and gross building area:
    • Total number of rooms
    • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Building materials and their condition:
    • Floors
    • Walls
    • Trims
    • Doors
  • Type and condition of appliances:
    • Stove
    • Oven
    • Washing machine
    • Dryer
    • Fireplaces
  • Style of home and type of decor:
    • Modern
    • Dated
    • Evidence of mold, pests, water damage, etc.
    • Home improvements and renovations
  • Attic and basement condition:
    • Renovated/habitable
    • Unusable space
    • Storage potential
    • Sump pump in the basement

Neighborhood

  • Location;
    • Rural
    • Urban
    • Suburban
  • Zoning:
    • Compliance with local laws
    • Condition of streets and neighboring properties
  • Local market:
    • Number of properties sold in the area
    • Are prices rising or dropping?
  • Proximity to desirable amenities:
    • Schools
    • Shops
    • Public transit stations
  • Proximity to undesirable amenities:
    • Landfill sites
    • Power plants
    • Airports
  • Likelihood of being affected by natural hazards:
    • Flood zone
    • Hurricane or tornado risk

What May Raise the Appraisal Value of a House

Every item on the checklist will have some bearing on the estimated worth of the house. The appraised value will almost always increase if the amenities and structural components are in good working order and condition. Energy-efficient amenities and any recent renovations (as long as they were done to a high standard) will also be a plus.

Having quality materials in the home, such as granite countertops and hardwood floors, will also typically increase the value compared to homes decked out in cheaper alternatives.

What May Lower the Appraisal Value of a House

The value of the house will decline due to a number of circumstances. For instance, a property in need of repair will be worth less than one that has recently been renovated. The biggest issues are structural flaws, such as problems with the roof, the foundation, or the walls.

Minor issues like mold, water damage, pest infestations, or even outdated furnishings and appliances can lower a home’s value. One thing to keep in mind is that older homes will typically be valued lower than new construction because they are perceived to need more maintenance.

Buying or Selling in 2023? Here’s How to Prepare Now

This year has not been at all boring for the Canadian real estate market. Early in the year, prices reached record highs, but when interest rates started to increase, the market swiftly came to a standstill between buyers and sellers. More than 1800 Zoocasa readers participated in a survey, and 60% of them said they planned to buy soon. Many people are clinging to the optimism that spring would bring more inventory and the end of interest rate increases. Now is the time to start planning if you want to enter the market in 2023. Although we are unsure of what the market may hold for us next year, we do know how you can get a head start on being prepared for it. Here’s how to prepare for the 2023 Canadian housing market.

Talk to a Mortgage Broker Now to Learn What You Can Afford

Many would-be homebuyers and current homeowners who have mortgages are obviously concerned about mortgage rates. In an effort to control inflation, the Bank of Canada has increased interest rates six times this year. The next announcement is planned for December. Inflation was 6.9% in September, and by the end of 2023, the target rate should be approximately 3%. If inflation doesn’t start to decline in 2023, it’s feasible that interest rates will have to go much higher. The prime lending rate for anyone looking to obtain a new mortgage, renew their current mortgage, or who is currently paying a variable rate would, of course, be impacted by this.

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Speaking with a mortgage broker is the first step in getting ready to enter the market. Your debt service ratios will be discussed with a mortgage broker after they have examined your present financial status. Lenders use this information to determine the maximum loan amount you are eligible for. It’s crucial to speak with a range of mortgage brokers and look into lenders besides the major banks. They frequently have lower rates and a variety of mortgage options. Pre-approval for a mortgage will aid in your search. A pre-approval ensures that you will be able to take advantage of the rate for the following 160 days. In the early stages of your property hunt, you are therefore protected in the event that rates rise in December or early in the following year.

If you plan to buy in 2023, monitoring inflation is essential. Rates may remain at or possibly fall lower if the economy continues to trend in a downward direction toward the Bank’s target, making the variable rate mortgage a wise choice. “Anyone with less budgetary wiggle room should think about locking up a fixed rate. According to James Laird, co-CEO of Ratehub.ca and president of mortgage provider CanWise, “Anyone with adaptable household finances might keep onto their variable-rate mortgage in anticipation of future dropping rates that may be required to stimulate the economy if we end up in a recession.”

What Are Your Needs vs. Your Wants?

It’s crucial to weigh your needs in relation to your wish list’s “nice to haves.” Living close to excellent schools might be on your “need” list if you’re a parent, but being adaptable and looking into various communities with excellent schools could speed up your search for the ideal house. Read more about how flexibility helped Zoocasa clients find their ideal family home here.

When purchasing a home, you should keep in mind the location, the kind of property, the cost of housing, and other significant facilities. You’ll have a better notion of how to choose a property that suits your demands once you know what budget you have to work with (and maybe some of your wants too). Once your finances are in order, you can determine how much wiggle room you have for these things.

Prepare for Changing Markets

The busiest season for real estate is typically spring. Learn more about real estate cycles by clicking here. Although the market has slowed recently as a result of interest rate increases, the spring often sees an increase in the number of buyers and sellers. There were 16,363 sales in April 2021. Due to interest rate announcements, April was less active than January this year, when interest rates were still low but there were 5,636 sales instead of 8,008 due to the lower activity. Just 4,961 were sold throughout the month of October.

Although there aren’t as many bidding wars and other competitive situations right now, many potential buyers and sellers are optimistic about the spring market, which may result in some competition. Find a local real estate agent that can help you achieve your homeownership goals if you’re buying right away. Finding a trained agent who will market your home to appeal to the most potential buyers is essential if you’re selling. This advice also applies to buyers!

Your best course of action, whether you’re looking to buy or sell in 2023, would be to speak with one of our knowledgeable real estate agents who can walk you through the procedure and assist you in making the best choice for your future. See how Zoocasa agents have assisted their clients in discovering their dream homes by reading our five star reviews.

9 Renter Mistakes to Avoid

The first rung of the real estate ladder is frequently renting your own apartment. Additionally, mistakes are all too easy to make, just like with many other first steps in life. In light of this, let’s examine nine mistakes tenants frequently do so you can prevent them.

  1. Budgeting only for the rent
    It would be wise for anyone seeking to rent to first create a budget. However, a tenant has a lot more costs in addition to rent. These are a some of the most typical up-front expenses:
  • Security deposit
  • First and last month’s rent
  • Moving costs
  • Application fees (if applicable)
  • Furnishings (if needed)
  • Don’t forget about recurring expenses as well, such as:
  • Food
  • Laundry
  • Utilities (if they’re not included in the rent)
  • Parking (if applicable)
  • General maintenance, like snow removal.
  1. Not watching ahead of time
    In a competitive market, it may seem as though the best apartments sell out immediately after being listed. As a result, some renters opt to move forward without first inspecting the property. Unfortunately, disillusionment is sometimes the result of this. You may see the condition of the house and the area by seeing an apartment first. Verify that the apartment you are viewing is the one you will be moving into as well.
  2. failing to read or comprehend the lease agreement
    The lease agreement is a binding legal document that outlines all of the terms and conditions of your rental arrangement as determined by your landlord. Consequently, reading and comprehending it are crucial. Otherwise, you can unintentionally violate the rules and risk getting evicted. If you require assistance, seek out a specialist.
  3. Failure to Record Existing Damage
    It’s crucial to document any damage when you initially move into an apartment. The best course of action is to document the damage that existed when you moved in, ideally with the landlord there. There are situations when the landlord may not be aware of the damage already there, and you may be held responsible and penalized for it.
  4. Not receiving a written rental agreement
    A verbal agreement and a handshake are insufficient when renting an apartment. You must create a binding contract that details all of the terms and circumstances of your lease. A verbal agreement, unfortunately, can be broken at any time, leaving your rights as a renter fully unprotected.
  5. Renter’s Insurance Is Rejected
    In the event of vandalism, theft, or natural disasters throughout the term of your lease, renter’s insurance will protect both you and your things. It doesn’t cost much, but if something happens, it might save you thousands of dollars.
  6. Lack of Roommate Checks
    A fantastic approach to reduce your housing payments is by finding roommates. But having the wrong roommate can also ruin your life. Make sure to interview potential roommates carefully if you decide to share your rental with them.
  7. Breach of the Lease Agreement’s Terms
    The most common error made by tenants is to violate the terms of the lease. This might manifest itself in a variety of ways, such as through lost or late payments, the sneaking of pets into no-pet apartments, or unauthorized subletting. Keep in mind that the leasing agreement is enforceable. If you violate the terms, you can soon face a fine or eviction.
  8. Postponing until the last minute
    It is best to begin your search for a new rental as soon as possible. Choosing an apartment out of necessity and eventually something that isn’t right for you can happen if you wait until the last minute.

Living in Orillia

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In Orillia, residents enjoy the best of both worlds. Greater Toronto Area may be reached from Orillia in less than 90 minutes. The Sunshine City has worked hard to maintain the small-town charm that has enthralled generations of people despite the recent growth and advancement.

In fact, Orillia has mastered the art of celebrating its past while looking to the future. In this city that is encircled by two lakes and offers year-round outdoor activities to both residents and visitors, the quality of life is unmatched.

Residents have access to a top-notch hospital as well as a variety of other public services, which complement a city that also has a lively, historic downtown. These services include a new state-of-the-art recreation centre and a brand-new public library.

The newest university in Ontario is located in Orillia. With two locations—its main campus in West Orillia and one in the downtown’s historic core—Lakehead University has an expanding presence in Orillia.

Opportunities abound in Orillia, where prominent businesses include Nordia, Casino Rama, and the Ontario Provincial Police Headquarters.

Orillia is a lovely area to live, work, and conduct business. It is also a beautiful place to visit.

How to Find a Real Estate Agent

Buying or selling a home is one of the most complex transactions many of us will ever carry out. Fortunately, real estate agents can make the entire process run more smoothly. Finding a good real estate professional isn’t always easy, though, and there are many things to consider. Follow these seven steps to be sure you end up collaborating with the right real estate agent for you.

  1. Know the Different Types of Real Estate Agents
    Before you get started, it’s essential to know which type of real estate agent will be best for your needs:

Real Estate Agent: Has completed the necessary training and qualified as an estate agent. They can be self-employed or work for a larger firm, and may have a full or part-time schedule
Realtor®: A member of either the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) in the U.S. or the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). They’re required to follow a strict code of conduct and ethics and will typically learn new skills continually
Broker: A broker is generally responsible for supervising a team of estate agents. They’re held to a high standard and are often the ones that agents go to with complex industry and legal queries
Additionally, you’ll often find agents specializing in different things, such as sales or rentals.

  1. Ask Friends and Family
    One of the best ways to find an agent you can trust is to ask for references from friends or family who have had good experiences. This can be a great shortcut, but even if friends or family give an agent a rave review, be sure to conduct your own research and interview them. Your needs and expectations may differ, or you just might not be a good fit.
  2. Do Your Research and Make a Shortlist
    Aim to make a short list of at least three candidates. Be sure to look for important attributes, such as whether they’re fully qualified, experienced, have good local knowledge and are comfortable negotiating.

Check online reviews and see exactly what services they offer to ensure they’re a good choice for your needs. It’s worth spending time and choosing a few options now rather than going with the first one and finding out things are not working out along the way.

  1. Start Interviewing Your Candidates
    Once you’ve made your shortlist, it’s time to start contacting your choices and arranging interviews. Try to interview at least three people so that you can see your various options. As you prepare for the discussion, put yourself in the shoes of a company’s CEO looking to hire their next star employee.

Essentially, you are conducting a job interview, and planning is essential. Draw up a list of questions for each candidate, covering things like: how long have you worked in real estate?, how well do you know the local area?, what’s your schedule? and can I see your credentials?

  1. Check References
    After interviews, you’ll have a better idea of how you feel about your candidates. Be sure to ask for references and follow up on them. Don’t hesitate to contact former clients to hear if their experience matches what you’ve been told.
  2. Choose Your Best Match
    If the references check out, it’s time to make your choice. Don’t worry if your choice isn’t necessarily the best-rated agent on paper. It’s generally best to go with your gut feeling. You’ll be working closely with your agent, so it’s vital that you feel comfortable with them and that you know they’ll be honest with you.
  3. Check Your Contract
    Read through your contract thoroughly, taking note of the payment requirements and the length of the contract. Usually, the seller must pay agent fees of 6% of the sale price on average, with 3% going to each agent. However, this can be negotiated.

In terms of the length of the contract, consider the state of the market. In a hot market, houses can sell in weeks rather than months. So, you don’t really want to be tied up with a single agent for six months if things aren’t working out and you haven’t sold or bought a home quickly enough.

The Societal Benefits of Homeownership

There’s a lot of talk about the financial benefits of homeownership, such as creating equity and wealth, but what isn’t always as obvious are the social benefits: making people happier, healthier and more civically engaged.

Owning a home has non-financial benefits

A large body of research from Canada and around the world finds homeownership contributes to higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction for homeowners and their families. And that results in a wide range of educational, health and socio-cultural benefits, which were laid out in the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA)‘s recent white paper,

The Homeownership Dividend for Canadians.

These non-financial benefits have spillover benefits to the broader community and surrounding civic fabric—all of which are positively linked to a culture of homeownership.

These “positive externalities,” extend beyond the homeowner to the rest of society, regardless of demographics, ethnicities, income levels and ages.
There are a number of reasons for this higher level of life satisfaction, from having a sense of financial security and ‘rootedness’ to having greater control over one’s life

Homeownership builds pride and stability

It’s also the Canadian dream for many. “We can’t forget that element—people don’t come to this country to rent, they come to be a homeowner,” says Lisa Patel, President of the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board and a member of the CREA’s Federal Affairs Committee.

“There’s a certain amount of pride that comes with homeownership. REALTORS® don’t just sell you a house, they sell you a home,” she says. And while homeownership comes with financial benefits, such as building equity and wealth, it also helps to build more vibrant communities, because “those who have a place to call home tend to want to better their neighbourhood.”

While pride might not show up on the balance sheet, it does affect behaviour and choices. Several studies cited in the white paper show that homeowners have improved satisfaction with their living conditions and higher rates of overall life satisfaction, regardless of income levels and socioeconomic backgrounds.

For example, CMHC’s 2013 Canada-wide survey of 326 Habitat for Humanity households found that habitat homeowners reported better well-being for their children, a greater sense of stability and a greater feeling of control. Of these respondents, 70% had previously lived in some form of rental housing.

Other countries have had similar results. A group of Dutch housing policy researchers, for example, studied 2000-2001 data from eight European countries and found higher levels of satisfaction with one’s living conditions among homeowners than non-homeowners in seven out of eight countries. Another European study drawing on data from 15 European countries found homeownership correlated with increased overall life satisfaction, regardless of household circumstances.

Better health and education outcomes

Aside from overall life satisfaction, building equity can help with other life goals, such as paying for higher education. The stability and security of homeownership has been shown to contribute to a better home and learning environment, resulting in better educational outcomes.

Several studies referenced in the white paper found when a family owns their home, school drop-out rates decrease, and the homeowner’s children are more likely to graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The research also reflects the influence of homeownership on physical and mental health. “Financial security and residential stability can serve as a buffer against market fluctuations that contribute to physical and mental stress, especially among low-income families,” CREA noted in the white paper.

“When you have the security of homeownership, you are the one in the decision-making seat, you decide when you’re going to move or relocate, so it eliminates the anxiety of someone telling you when you’re going to move,” says Jill Oudil, CREA’s Chair-Elect.
When you rent, your landlord may require you to move whether you like it or not. If you own, the decision to move is your own. If you want to renovate, paint or make a space feel completely your own, you can. If you want to own a pet, you can.

“It makes you content and healthy and happier in your own environment because you have that choice,” says Oudil. “It’s entirely different in how it promotes a feeling of success and achievement—it’s your home.”

Benefits include greater civic engagement

Although these mental health benefits directly affect homeowners and their families, they have positive spillover effects in neighbourhoods and communities. “You invest in the neighbourhood when you live there,” says Oudil. “You own a portion of that neighbourhood so you care about the whole neighbourhood.”

That community orientation of homeownership is often reflected in higher rates of civic engagement, and in turn results in more connected communities. For example, a 1996 literature review by researchers from the University of North Carolina found higher rates of homeownership were linked to greater neighbourhood stability (measured as property condition and length of tenure).

This ‘rootedness’ is a potential contributor to positive civic outcomes because, as noted in the white paper, “by virtue of their longer tenure and more stable financial situation, homeowners may be more inclined to invest into and participate in their neighbourhoods.”

“There’s stability with owning a home,” says Cliff Stevenson, CREA’s Chair. “I would argue that homeowners take more of an interest in the neighbourhood around them, running in community associations or volunteering. It’s a lot easier for homeowners to do that, given the longevity of the investment. The overarching terminology is about stability.”

Homeowners tend to be more active in their communities; they’re more likely to vote and more likely to volunteer for local organizations. They also tend to spend more time and money maintaining their homes, which contributes to beautifying their neighbourhood, which in turn contributes to community pride.

A 2009 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study on low-income households found that participants who purchased homes remained in inner urban areas, “suggesting homeownership can help reduce urban flight and strengthen neighbourhood connections,” according to the white paper.

“If a family owns a home, the children grow up with that example,” says Oudil. That might explain why, when children grow up and eventually move away, they often move back later to raise their own children.

“It’s so emotionally fulfilling,” she says. “You can say there’s the finance side and the health side and community side, but the fact is all of those are connected, which breeds more happiness.”

How to Make Your Own Live Edge Table

If you have a passion for building, and you want to take on a unique project, we’ve got just the thing for you: a DIY live edge table. Live edge furniture is a great way to add beauty to your home and create a unique talking piece for future entertaining.

What’s a live edge table?

Remember that beautiful table at your family cottage? The one they seemingly stole from a fairy tale? Yup, that’s a live edge. These tables incorporate the natural edge of a piece of wood directly into their design. They’re rustic, raw, modern, and chic, not to mention sophisticated and built to last. A traditional live edge table will have tree bark on its sides; however, some people choose to remove it to avoid the bark possibly becoming brittle and breaking over time. In recent years, live edge tables have grown in popularity among furniture and design enthusiasts everywhere. Here’s what you need to know to build one

How can I build my own?

For such a beautiful piece of furniture, a live edge table is relatively straightforward to make. It can be a one-day project if you have the right materials. Unlike most live edge tables, the process outlined here doesn’t require you to break out your welding gear.
To get started, browse crafty websites like Pinterest or Etsy to find inspiration. It’s also important to designate an area of your home as your workspace; we recommend a garage or backyard.

Start with a wood slab you think will work in your desired location, proper tools on hand, and your creative spirit ready to go! Keep in mind it can be dangerous to operate power tools without the right safety equipment and know-how—so be cautious. If you don’t have the required tools, you can likely rent them at your local hardware store.

How to source the right wood

Depending on the size of table you want, and the type of wood, slabs can range from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000. For the cost-conscious builder, a softwood like cedar or pine is recommended as it’s often less expensive and easier to work with; however, most species of wood will produce a beautiful finished product. Don’t worry, you don’t need to cut down a tree yourself; there are plenty of lumber yards or woodworking vendors who can sell you the perfect slab.

Materials and tools needed

To build your own live edge table, you’ll need:

  • A slab of live edge wood (three inches thick is optimal)
  • A hammer (optional to remove bark)
  • Two 2x4s and a sawhorse (or any tool to safely elevate your slab)
  • An angle grinder, a sharpening disc, and a flat carving disk
  • Sandpaper and an orbital sander
  • A tape measure, pencil and drill
  • Lag screws and metal table legs (you’ll need to measure and order custom sizes)
  • Lint-free rags and a tack cloth
  • Wood finish

Steps to follow

Step one (optional to remove bark)

If you don’t want your table to have the tree’s natural bark along its edges, elevate your wood slab to protect it and use a hammer claw to remove the bark.

Step two

Secure your slab on top of your sawhorses. Using your angle grinder and carving disk, shape it to your liking, following its grain and natural curves for the best results.

With your slab in its desired shape, use your orbital sander to buff out any aggressive marks. Start with a low grit and slowly increase.

Step Three

With your slab in its desired shape, use your orbital sander to buff out any aggressive marks. Start with a low grit and slowly increase.

Step four

Place your table face down on your 2x4s, position the legs, and mark drill holes. Drill your pilot holes and attach the legs using heavy-duty lag screws.

Step five

By now, you’re probably boasting your woodworking skills to everyone who will listen; this table already looks good enough to eat off! But it’s not done yet; you need to protect it with a finish.

Wipe down the surface with a lint-free rag, then with a tack cloth. Evenly apply your finish, letting it soak as per the manufacturer’s recommendation, then a smaller coat for any dry spots and wait again. Finally, buff out any excess finish with a clean, lint-free rag.

Now that you’ve completed your table, it’s time for the hardest part: deciding where to put it. Most likely, it will be the crowning jewel of your dining room, but just be careful—once you have one piece of live edge furniture in your home, you’ll probably want to add even more! There are plenty of live edge projects you can take on, such as shelves, desks, bedside tables, a striking coffee table for your living room, or even a fancy cutting board! They all carry the same, elegant look and natural look of a live edge table, and are sure to make a charming addition to any room in your home!

As with any DIY or home improvement project, safety is always the most important factor. If you’re unsure about building a live edge table on your own, or you don’t have the proper tools or safety equipment to complete the project, be sure to contact a professional woodworker who can help you plan, design, and build your dream live edge table.