Posted on Mar 6, 2017 Leave a Comment
Let’s be honest, with the rising prices of real estate, a thought that has crossed many people’s minds is, “How will I ever afford a place of my own?”
There are many people who are still waiting for the “bubble” to crash and refuse to commit to buying a place. I’m sure that if you’re one of them, prices have continued to increase while you’ve been waiting. As an investment professional and a person who follows the real estate market closely, I always tell friends and family (especially those looking to buy their first home) that if you plan to live in a particular area, it will be a market adjustment and your home value will increase again commensurate with the cost of living- even if the market “crashes”.
Think about it. There was a time when homes cost $18,000 for a detached bungalow on a large lot in Toronto. Prices went up to $50,000, $100,000, $500,000 to a norm of well over a million. The market will never correct itself back to prices like $100,000. If it does correct itself, it will likely fall 20-30%, and will move in line with the cost of living. As cost of living goes up, one of the things that will inevitably rise, is the cost of real estate.
That’s why I’ve put together some key tips on how to keep cool in this hot real estate market and how to ensure that you’re making the best decision possible.
Hire a Real Estate Professional
Unless you’re a pro and this is your 10th time buying a house, don’t try to save a few bucks on commission fees by forgoing a real estate professional. It’s well worth it when you’ve committed to several hundreds of thousands of dollars on a purchase. It’s important to find a real estate professional you like. Don’t hesitate to shop around for a real estate professional until you find one who you get a good feeling from. You should get the impression that they understand your needs and you’re on the same page. They should be there to make this process as comfortable as possible for you. Another benefit of hiring a real estate professional is that they can guide you through the process and walk you through all of the paper work. Buying a house is often synonymous with the term “signing your life away”. Be sure to sign it knowing what you’re signing off on. A real estate professional is there to guide you step by step.
Just because you’ve been pre-approved for a certain mortgage amount, doesn’t mean you can afford it
Before beginning this process, you need to figure out your budget. Not only do you need to save up for a down payment and pay closing costs, you will be responsible for many monthly expenditures, which are not just limited to your mortgage payments once you move in. As a homeowner, you are responsible for mortgage payments, property taxes, home insurance, hydro, gas, TV, internet, and the list goes on. When determining what you can afford, add up all of your monthly expenses (don’t forget entertainment!) and compare it to your monthly income. There should be a sweet spot of what monthly mortgage you can afford that doesn’t stretch you too thin.
Know your risk tolerance
Ensure that you’ve accounted for rising interest rates. If interest rates were to rise tomorrow, could you still afford your mortgage payments? What if the market does cool down and the price of your home temporarily decreases? Is this a setback you can withstand?
In a competitive market, you may forego home inspection to make your offer more desirable, but think about the possible risk you are taking on by doing so. What if you forego home inspection and you end up getting stuck with a big bill at the end – is this an unexpected cost you can afford? Generally, a newer home will have less complications. I recommend you tread carefully with older homes that can have a slew of problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye. A good thing to know is that the Tarion new home warranty covers some aspects of a home for up to seven years, even if it changes owners.
Emotions and home buying don’t mix
Don’t get attached to a home until it officially becomes yours. When searching for homes, I understand you can become infatuated with a listing, but leave all emotions at the door. You don’t want to get emotionally attached to a home in the moment and regret the decision later. This is especially important in bidding wars. You should set a budget and work with a real estate professional to determine the fair market value of a home and set a maximum amount you are willing to pay for a house. Don’t get caught up in a bidding war and try to get the home at any cost which could possibly take you well over your budget. Remember, an owner may deliberately list a home at a lower price to setup a bidding war, which is intentionally done to introduce behavioural bias by creating emotional attachment and competition.
Keep an open mind and be flexible
Sometimes, a good deal can happen at any moment, and you’ll need to be ready to jump on it when it does. Have a back up plan incase you end up in a situation where you own two homes, you’ve just bought one and now need to sell the other. Your closing dates may not align or there may be a period of time where you need to figure out an interim home. Do you have a plan for that?
Also, keep an open mind about location. Homes in Toronto and nearby suburbs are getting more and more expensive where untraditional suburbs nearby are becoming more attractive. With the rise of work from home options and flexible working hours, commute is becoming less of a factor and where you choose to live doesn’t necessarily have to depend on vicinity to your workplace.
For more tips and to brush up on your real estate knowledge, click here for some quick and easy reads.
This post has been generously sponsored by the Real Estate Council of Ontario, the opinions and language are my own.
Posted on Feb 10, 2017 1 Comment
All doctors will tell you that there is no way to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy and that they’re hereditary. A good indication is if your mom got them during pregnancy or if you got them through other means throughout your life.
By way of genes, both my mom and sister didn’t get them, so I was safe there. But I have some major tiger stripes on my bum from my growth spurt back when I was 15 years old – so being prone to them was definitely a concern for me. In addition to being prone to them, my mom and sister’s husbands are less than 6 feet tall and all their kids averaged less than 6lbs at birth, while my husband is over 6’7″ and was born a sizeable 10 lb baby (eek!). I thought to myself, boy or girl, Akhil’s offspring will likely not be under 6 lbs, which means my belly will likely do more stretching than my mom’s or sister’s ever did! (In case you’re wondering, my baby girl was 7 lbs). So I was determined to do whatever I could to prevent stretch marks and am happy to say that this time around, I was spared…almost. At my 8 week check up with my OBGYN, what I thought were clogged milk ducts, she chuckled at my self diagnosis and pointed out that they were in fact faint stretch marks on my boobs (damn nursing boobs!). I also know of women whose mothers got stretch marks during pregnancy, but by remaining diligent in their prevention care, they were able to avoid them. So for those out there that believe that perhaps we can prevent stretch marks, keep reading to see how I prevented them.
Your skin’s elasticity starts from within. The better hydrated you are from the inside, the more your skin is hydrated on the outside. If you’re already not drinking the minimum recommended 8 glasses of a water a day, you should definitely get on it now if you want to prevent stretch marks. Sure, drinking lots of water while pregnant will keep you running to the washroom more often, but running equals cardio, right?!
Eating for two during pregnancy is a myth! If you do double your portions, you will only gain more weight than you need to. Slow, gradual weight gain is a sign of a healthy pregnancy. You are more likely to get stretch marks if your body expands rapidly (such as a major growth spurt over a summer). Although there is no right amount to gain during pregnancy, as it varies from woman to woman, based on their height, body type and the weight they were when they got pregnant, the recommended range as per experts is 19-35 lbs.
Using pregnancy as an excuse to eat for two is exactly that, an excuse and not necessary for the healthy development of your growing baby. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely indulged a bit more when I was pregnant (like weekly poutines). Normally, I’m always trying to lose those last pesky 5-10 lbs, but since I was pregnant, trying to lose weight was not a concern, so I wasn’t as rigid with my diet as I normally am. I gained about 20-25 lbs during my pregnancy, which was pretty much all baby weight. My logic here is that by limiting your weight gain, you are putting less strain on your skin’s ability to stretch, thus preventing stretch marks from happening.
Again, limiting your weight gain to recommended amounts during your pregnancy (see above) puts less stress on your skin’s elasticity threshold. Now, I understand that not all pregnancies are alike and some women retain way more water than others, making it difficult to control weight gain. However, I do recommend to try your best to stay active, whether it be going for walks or a full workout routine, with a goal to limit weight gain to baby weight only – which is a combination of baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, increased blood volume and bodily fluids and the extra weight of your uterus, breasts and fat and protein stores.
If you’re looking for a safe and effective pre natal workout routine, check out a previous post here.
Last but not least, it can’t hurt to try to keep the areas that are prone to stretch marks during pregnancy more moisturised than usual. I applied Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter all over my belly every morning. Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter is packed with rich Omegas to help elasticise, sooth and protect your skin. At night time, I was a bit more diligent by applying Mama Mio Tummy Rub Butter first and then topping it off with Bio Oil. In addition to my belly, I applied Bio Oil on my boobs, lower back, hips, inner thighs and even my buttocks for good measure (in the hopes to fade those tiger stripes) at night time only.
I was very committed to this process and almost never skipped a day my entire pregnancy. I’ve heard some women say that they skipped a few days in their third trimester and that’s when they appeared. For best results, be consistent.
If I had to pick between both products, after scouring the internet, based on popular opinion and studies, I found that Bio Oil is more effective and luckily, much more reasonably priced. I picked up a value pack of two from Costco – comes with a large and small bottle. In lieu of Mama Mio’s Tummy Rub Butter, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, I’d recommend a potent cocoa butter such as Palmer’s Cocoa Butter.
If you did happen to get stretch marks during pregnancy, I recommend that you continue to apply Bio Oil on the areas affected to help reduce the appearance of them. My boobs didn’t grow much during my pregnancy, so I stopped using Bio Oil after giving birth; completely under estimating the amount they would grow once my milk comes in. As a result, postpartum, I was only using Mama Mio Pregnancy Boob Tube, a bust protection cream rich in vital Omegas to promote elasticity and naturally firm and antioxidants to strengthen the skin; which in combination is supposed to prevent your boobs from sagging once you’re done nursing (hey, it’s cheaper than a boob job/lift, so worth a shot no?). It is recommended that you use it throughout your pregnancy and up to 6 months postpartum. It also contains cabbage extract which helps sooth swollen nursing boobs. In hind sight, I wish I was using both Mama Mio Boob Tube, topped off with Bio Oil, but now that I know that those red marks on my breasts are in fact stretch marks, I plan to immediately start applying Bio Oil.
Whether you’re reading this because you are pregnant or thinking about having children some day, good luck. Regardless of the outcome, trust me, it’s worth every minute!
Posted on Jan 29, 2017 Leave a Comment
While pregnancy is not the time to push yourself to the next level, there is no reason to stop working out while pregnant with the goal to maintain your muscle mass. In a previous post, we discussed 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Exercising While Pregnant. In this post we’ll be giving you sample workouts you can do while pregnant. Read More
Posted on Dec 22, 2016 4 Comments
Around 32 weeks, call me a bad mom to be, but I was over being pregnant. I had horrible heartburn where even water would trigger a fiery wrath all through my insides. I couldn’t eat any of my favourite foods – Indian, Hakka, Italian (pizza included). I had horrible rib pains where I couldn’t sit for longer than an hour without having sharp pains, so going out to nice dinners or for a movie were out the window. I was desperately hoping upon full term (37 weeks) she’d come out at any time. Read More
Posted on Nov 28, 2016 8 Comments
I’m 38 weeks and counting down the days until my baby girl arrives! Believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to labour pains to commence, just so it means that she can make her big debut. Hospital bags are packed, nursery is set up, now all we need is a baby. And so we wait, as patiently as possible, although, “How to induce labour naturally” is probably my top google search at the moment.
In the meantime, I’m delighted to share my nursery with you all. Read More