Serving On A Condo Board Takes Time And Commitment

In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a group of conscientious condo owners to keep the building and property in good working order and the ensure rules are followed and enforced, for the benefit of all of the residents.

A condo board must have at least three elected members to serve as directors for up to three years. Any condo owner in the building can stand for election, as long as they are at least 18 years of age and not in a state of bankruptcy.

The board is primarily tasked with taking care of immediate and future repairs, ensuring there are enough funds to cover those costs now and into the future.
The condo’s board of directors also must:

Appoint an auditor who makes sure the finances are soundly managed.
Organize an annual meeting of the condominium unit owners to present the work overseen by the board over the past year, showing how their fees have been spent, saved, and managed. They must also present the plans for the year(s) ahead, as well as any other issues the condo owners bring to the table.
Conduct condo owner meetings throughout the year as needed to address complaints, concerns and suggestions.
Approve bylaws dealing with the responsibilities and powers of the board, and abide by the Condominium Act.
Approve rules to promote the safety, security and welfare of the owners.

The directors of the board may vote to hire a property manager (or a property management business) to oversee the day-to-day operations such as:

Responding to owner complaints
Maintaining common elements
Hiring and monitoring service companies.
Keep operating records

Becoming a condo board director is a big responsibility and a huge commitment, so be sure you have the time and expertise to serve your fellow condo neighbours.

Ask your Kirby Chan to help you understand your condo bylaws and to help you decide if joining the board is right for you.

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Getting Out Of Debt Takes Planning And Discipline

Whether we’re financing monster homes, shiny new cars or exotic vacations, the statistics say Canadian households are up to their eyeballs in debt. So what’s a super spendthrift to do?

According to Gail Vaz-Oxlade, borrowers need to consider more than the lowest interest rate. Consider your personal discipline level. For the highly regimented, that means a line of credit as rates are low and there’s flexibility in paying it back. For those impulse buyers, fixed personal loans are best because paybacks can’t be dithered with.

When it comes to managing your debt, take the football approach. You need to tackle it. Go after high-interest loans such as credit cards first and be diligent about mowing those down.

Figure out who you owe money to and how much. Believe it or not, some people prefer to keep their head in the sand when it comes to paying the piper. Or perhaps they owe so many different credit cards and banks that they can’t keep track. Try using a calendar on your computer or mobile device. Set an alert a few days ahead to notify you that a payment is due.

Try not to miss payments. That affects your credit rating and makes catching up on debt repayment all the more difficult.

Work on building an emergency fund. Everyone needs one for those for, well, emergencies. If you don’t have one to dip into, you will likely go further into debt.

Finally, set up a monthly budget. This lets you see if you have enough money to cover your debts and to live. It gives you the heads up that you may need to take action if you don’t have enough money to back down your debt. If there’s money left over, earmark for debt repayment.

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A Big Down Payment Means Big Savings Over The Life Of Your Mortgage

Big Down payment Saves You Money

Did you know that conventional mortgages require a 20 per cent down payment? With the national average home price pushing $400,000 that would mean a down payment of $80,000. Here’s why acquiring some patience and saving up for that home purchase might help:

The more down payment you put down, the less your mortgage payments will be. This makes your day-to-day living and budgeting that much easier. Think of all the interest you will save.

Chances are that you may not pay as much in interest as your neighbour. A lower loan-to-value ratio means the lender views you as a more favourable risk. This, of course, saves you money over the span of your mortgage.

If your down payment is substantial, you won’t be required to obtain mortgage insurance, which is an added expense over and above the cost of your mortgage. Mortgage default insurance protects the lender should you not be able to pay your mortgage. It is expensive, though, and gets pricier the lower the down payment.

Let’s compare a five per cent down payment with a 20 per cent one on a $365,000 home: Based on a four per cent mortgage rate and a 25-year amortization, you will pay $37,000 more in interest payments by putting down five per cent instead of 20. Your bi-weekly payments will be $156 more adding up to over $4,000 more each year.

Dreams of living mortgage free will come sooner if you eat away at your mortgage thanks to the different payment options available these days at banks and credits unions. Take advantage of bumping up the amount of your mortgage payments (usually in the range of 10 to 20 per cent) , making lump-sum payments against your principal annually without being charged, or switch to an accelerated weekly or bi-weekly payment schedule. All of these options will help you achieve financial freedom and have you living mortgage-free a little sooner.

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Pets and Condos: Better Check Your Condo Rules and Regulations

Condo Pet Rules and Restrictions

If you are a pet owner and are planning to move into a condo, it’s best to check whether Fido is allowed to move in with you, too.

The condominium corporation’s bylaws or declaration or rules will stipulate whether pets are permitted and, if so, what kind (whether goldfishes, dogs, birds, cats, etc.), how many, and other restrictions. While your realtor may have some insight into the pet restrictions in your new condo, inquire yourself or have your lawyer check into it, just to be completely sure.

Just as in life, exceptions can be made to the rules. If the owners of 80 per cent of the units consent in writing to amend the bylaw and the condo board supports the change, then you may be able to have Fido move in after all.

According to the Condominium Act 1998, condo boards may pass rules that condo owners must follow, as long as they are reasonable and abide by the Ontario Human Rights Code. In the past, courts have determined that issuing a blanket ‘No Pets’ rule is unreasonable and unenforceable because it’s too vague. Service dogs, such as those trained to help people with physical or mental disabilities, are exempt from pet bans. Residents must be sure to have the proper medical documentation to support this claim.

Those condominium corporations that enforce their no-pets rules to the letter, with no history of making exceptions to other unit owners, typically win court cases. Those condo boards that are lax or haphazard in enforcing their no-pets rules may find themselves on shakier territory.

Either way, at this point the final decision will rest with a judge. So if you are a pet owner or are considering getting a pet once you become a homeowner, just make sure the condo you intend to buy allows for pets, present and future.

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Tips For The Self-Employed To Get Approved For A Mortgage

Self Employed getting a mortgage or loan

Lenders and the self-employed go together a bit like oil and vinegar. It’s not that entrepreneurs, small business owners and freelance professionals can’t qualify for a mortgage. It’s just that they are deemed more risky and scrutinized more rigorously thanks to their lack of a regular pay cheque.

When the federal government tightened up mortgage rules last year, that made it even tougher for the self -employed, the numbers of which have been growing in Canada due to a shaky economy. According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 there were more than 2.6 million Canadians or about 15 per cent of the workforce working for themselves.

Lenders commonly look at average incomes for the field the self-employed applicant is in, comparing it to their earnings and income history. Banks also study tax documents and take a close look at tax write-offs in an attempt to reconcile true income from reported income.

Typically, financial institutions will want the last two or three years of your Notices of Assessment. These spell out your reported income, what you’ve written off and how much you owe in taxes.

Make sure your credit is up to snuff. Check your credit status to find out if you have any negative marks against you that you can correct or improve upon before applying for a mortgage. Pay outstanding income and property taxes and try to pay your bills on time so your credit history stays strong.

Try to have a sizable down payment for your new house. It will likely improve your odds of getting approved and it could help you get a better interest rate. Because your income usually fluctuates from one month to the next, try to build an emergency fund that will also help you qualify for a mortgage.

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Tips For Singles When Buying A Home Alone

Singles buying a home alone

With singles representing one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in Canada, buying a home alone may just be the next coming trend.

According to a recent study, about 20 per cent of Canadian home buyers are single and of that number about 45 per cent 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 per cent of all homes. That’s three times as many since 1961.rend.

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 a 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 home ownership.

Since 35-year amortizations have been eliminated, qualifying for a mortgage as a single person makes it that much harder. You might want to consider asking a parent or a close friend to co-sign your loan.

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?

Choosing location should be as equally important a decision as a couple buying a home, 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. You should also walk the neighbourhood to see how safe you feel.

Flying solo on your home purchase may seem daunting but with the right preparation and research, buying a home should be a breeze.

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