I believe there has never been a better time to buy a home. I`ve been in the industry for 28 years as a lawyer and I haven`t seen so many positive signs for housing, whether you are thinking or buying or locking in a mortgage.
Mortgage rates at historic lows: They can`t get any lower. Four to five-year fixed mortgages at 3 per cent are unheard of. It is lower than the variable rate that most Canadians have been paying for years. Rates have nowhere to go but up, either later this year or next. If you are paying a variable interest rate, lock in now.
Which is greener, paper or plastic? You might be surprised
The shoppers at Toronto`s Blue Banana Market can choose from the wares of more than a dozen merchants, but when they make a purchase, it will be handed over to them in a paper bag.
`When we first started, we made a conscious effort to use 100-per-cent recycled paper bags,` said owner Michael Horwitz, who rents space to merchants in his gift and card shop in Kensington Market. `We wanted to help the environment in that way. We weren`t interested in using grocery store-style plastic bags.`
That's the way Anthony Campbell, the former head of the Intelligence Assessment Secretariat of the Privy Council Office, put it to me the other day. We were talking about Beijing's designs on Canada's energy resources, Beijing's adroit cunning in enfeebling Canadian foreign policy, and how Canadians have been rendered unable to cope with the drama as it unfolds.
The Chinese Year of the Dragon began inauspiciously with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Industry Minister Joe Oliver riffing on a clever talking-points stratagem dreamed up by neophyte Conservative war-room hangabouts. It featured American billionaire socialists infiltrating into Canada to ambuscade the construction of Canada's last-hope economic lifeline, to China.
Multiple offers are a seller's best friend, often allowing the seller to collect more than the listing price. In many markets across the country, it's common for sellers to receive numerous offers, underscoring the importance of being prepared for your options.
Over the past couple of years in Toronto for example, many sellers received multiple offers - especially between January and April - and that trend is expected to continue in 2012, reports Michael Steinman, a sales representative with Re/Max Crossroads in North York.
"At that time of year, agents usually will not accept offers until a week after the home has been listed," he says. "Then one night, (prospective buyers) will wait outside the house while their agents present their offers. The winner is usually the one that offers the highest price."
An aging population, more technically complex jobs and a static pool of qualified people are creating a demographic time bomb for Canada`s oil and gas industry.
The problem isn`t a new one, Ernst & Young notes in a winter report that looked at the oil patch`s human resource issues. But this time the labor crunch could be more severe than past cycles. `The nature of the problem we are seeing in the last one or two years is deeper and more systematic than anything the industry has grappled with before,` Ernst & Young notes in the report.
My daughter Ariel lives in Ottawa in a 25-year old row house. She had an inspection before purchasing the house, but a hairline crack in the foundation was not discovered until after a sudden freeze and thaw last winter, she found water was pouring into her basement.
Her insurance company told her that water damage was not covered under her policy because repairing a crack is considered routine maintenance.
To minimize further leakage, the insurance company suggested that all snow or water around the foundation be cleared away. For several days she and her friends took shifts on a bucket brigade and then bought a hand-operated pump for $60 from a hardware store. While she still had to pay to have the crack fixed, it cost much less than if a full basement renovation had been required.