Spruce up Your Interiors with a Houseplant

A houseplant is a hardworking piece of your décor. Not only does it enhance the appearance of your home, but it also improves your indoor air quality. Here are a few houseplants to boost the look and health of your living spaces.

 

Boston Fern:

Known for its sword-shaped fronds, the Boston Fern is one of the most popular houseplants due to its hardiness.

Potted Orchid:

Although orchids require more care than the average houseplant, their graceful flowers make them the center of attention in any room.

 

Snake plant:

Known by many names, including mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plants are sturdy plants that can tolerate low light and little watering.

How to Prepare for a Bidding War

In many areas around Canada, low inventory is creating a bidding war between buyers. According to a recent study, more than one-third of Canadians are willing to enter a bidding battle for the home they want, up 21% from 2013.*

How can you outbid other buyers and get the house you love? Follow these simple tips:

  • Do your research. If you have your heart set on living in a certain neighbourhood, find out how long a typical home in that location sits on the market before selling and how much homes are selling for. This will give you a realistic estimate of what you can expect to spend.
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval, in addition to getting the rest of your finances in order, will help you figure out how much you can spend so that you don’t overextend yourself financially.
  • Maintain perspective. If your bid is rejected, it’s natural to become more aggressive when you bid on the next home. However, this may cause you to pay more than you had originally intended. While no one likes rejection, don’t take the bidding war too personally.
  • Have the cash to cover the difference between the negotiated price and the appraised value of the home. Mortgages often do not cover more than the home’s appraised value. Because appraisals are partially based on comparable sales in the area, it’s possible for the appraised value to be lower than the negotiated price due to foreclosed and distressed properties in the area. In this case, it’s helpful to have enough money saved to make up the difference.

*Source: Bank of Montreal, BMO Home Buying Report 2014

How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

A mortgage is often the largest debt that one undertakes and as a result, many homeowners look to pay it off as soon as they can. In addition to reducing overall debt, paying off your mortgage early enables you to purchase a second home or investment property. Try one of these strategies to reduce your mortgage principal.

  1. Make bi-weekly mortgage payments: Bi-weekly payments involve 26 half-payments each year instead of the standard 12 full payments. By making 13 full payments each year, you’ll pay down the principal sooner and reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over the long run.
  2. Increase your mortgage payment: You can also increase the amount you pay towards the principal of the payment each month. Most people have higher incomes a few years into their mortgage than they did when they first took it out. Keeping your payment on par with your increases in income will help reduce your mortgage amount significantly and may also reduce the amount of your monthly payment over time.
  3. Make additional payments: If bi-weekly payments or increasing your monthly mortgage payment are not feasible, try to make extra payments when you can. If you have extra money at the end of the year, put it toward your principal.

The majority of consumers who have a mortgage feel it’s important to pay it off as soon as possible, especially if nearing retirement.

*Sources: Scotiabank, US News and World Report

If you’re considering paying off your mortgage early, consider the following:

  • Do you have the cash available to pay down the debt? If you’ve accumulated six months in emergency reserves and have paid off other loans and credit cards, your mortgage should be the next debt you target.
  • Will you have enough cash to save for retirement and other financial goals?
  • How long do you plan to stay in the home? It may make more sense to keep your money liquid and not tied up in a home you might sell in a few years.