Archive for October, 2012

BCREA October Housing Market Update

REBGV September Stats Videocast

Choices. Fixed or variable? Which is best for you..

Vancouver Metro, September 13, 2012
By Ylva Van Buuren

Differences. Your decision will be based on cash flow, financial personality, and long-term goals.

Which type of mortgage should you go with: A fixed or variable rate mortgage?

With a fixed mortgage, explains the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, the interest rate you pay to borrow the money (and the mortgage payments you pay regularly) are set for the entire term. On the other hand, a variable mortgage has an interest rate that fluctuates with prime and can change during the term.

A fixed rate mortgage traditionally has a higher interest rate, says David Smith, a mortgage broker and partner at Oriana Financial, Toronto. However, interest rates are so low right now that the spread between the variable and the fixed is not very great.

But there are other differences that can help you decide:

Your Need to Know

Do you want to know exactly what you owe on your house at the end of the term? A fixed mortgage shows you the interest and principal payments from start to finish.

Keep in mind that most financial institutions offer a fixed rate variable mortgage, too – which means you have a variable interest rate but your payments do not change for the term. What does change, explains Brenda Hiscock, a member of Advocis, the Financial Advisors Association of Canada and a certified financial planner with Guilfoyle Financial Planning Inc., is how much of each payment is interest and how much is used to pay down the principal – as the interest fluctuates with prime. “The mystery lies in what the balance will be at the end of the term.”

Your Financial Personality

A fixed rate mortgage is predictable and safe from any interest rate uncertainty while a variable rate mortgage requires a certain ongoing vigilance, says Smith. “Will the prime go up? Should you lock in or not?” You have to be prepared to stay on top of interest rates with a variable rate mortgage.

Cash Flow

A variable mortgage can make sense for people who have good cash flow. You can lock in at any time for three years or more, says Hiscock, and you have the cash flow to accommodate future increases and payments if that is the case.

Long-germ Goals

How committed to the property you are can determine whether you want to lock into a long-term fixed rate or not. With interest rates at record lows, it is likely they will go up in the future. These days, says Smith, we can do a 10-year fixed mortgage for less than four percent … locking in for that period might be an option for you.

White Kitchens a ‘little black dress’ for the home

Extracted from 24H Vancouver September 13, 2012 edition
By Linda White

Over the years, the white kitchen has been called many things: classic, contemporary, clean and sparse. It’s also never really gone out of style, though it has been cleverly reinvented.

“There are a number of ways that white continues to make an appearance, in hues ranging from snow white to varying shades of creamy, muted, milky tones,” the National Kitchen and Bath Association reveals in its list of top trends from this year’s annual design competition. “This combination of colours and textures is a strong representation of the reinvented and renewed white kitchen – strong, sleek and superb.”

What is the white kitchen’s enduring appeal? “It works in so many different contexts – from traditional to modern and everything in between … and always feels fresh, clean, bright and airy,” says Beverley Leigh Binns of Binns Kitchen and Bath design in Toronto.

She compares it to the little black dress: “It’s a classic framework and can be reinvented over and over again. You can infuse your personality and dress it up or down through elements such as wall colours, accessories and polished metals.”

The white kitchen can fit any type of furniture of flooring, says Martha Beckermann of Kitchen Concepts by Martha Beckermann of Kitchen Concepts by Kitchener, Ont. One of her designs was used by National Kitchen and Bath Association to illustrate the white kitchen trend.

“My favourite design approach is working with the warmth of a beautiful wood, offset it with the coolness of a metal – like stainless in the appliances – and then add a splash of colour to pop whole design,” she says.

Beckermann describes the modern white kitchen as “minimalist. Less is more. Clean, linear lines or simple design elements will give it a sophisticated sleek look.”

Features include mostly wide doors of the same size, drawers hidden behind doors and 24-inch rather than 18-inch backsplash tiles. “It looks sleeker and the designer can keep all the doors in one flowing line instead of raising cabinets over the cook-top or sink. Often linear lift-up doors are used for upper cabinetry in order to simplify the look,” she says.

Today’s white kitchen isn’t necessarily pure white but a variation, Leigh Binns says. It’s often a clean, neutral backdrop for other materials and textures – a marble backsplash perhaps – and can create interesting “tension.” When used as a background, it allows polished metals to truly shine and lets dark finishes stand out.

“Everything looks richer and warmer when paired or contrasted with white,” she says.

For a contemporary look, pair white countertops and cabinetry with a bold wall colour. For a softer look, mix a variety of vanillas and muslins to create textural statement. Layers of white with undertones of grey or darker values of white can create a traditional fell. “An infusion of contemporary into a traditional design can be done as well,” says Leigh Binns.

When opting for a white kitchen, consider whether you want it to be the focal point or backdrop. Also think about how a white kitchen will fit into the ‘story’ of your home. “If your home is filled with heavier textures and dark colours, a white kitchen can be jarring,” she says. “What is the right white – not only for your kitchen but the rest of your home?”

Consider the undertone of the white you select: Is it blue, green or even red or yellow? “On its own it may look like a strong colour but how it’s perceived against other colours is also an important consideration,” Leigh Binns says.