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By many global measures we are a blessed bastion of privilege, peace, freedom—and big roomy houses
We are Canada. At 144 years we are neither young nor old, as nations go. And nations do come and do go, it bears remembering. You don’t have to be very old to appreciate that the world map that occupied a corner of your childhood classroom is a relic of another age; that borders once drawn in blood aren’t indelible at all, they are just lines to be moved, or bent or erased by popular will. Yet, here we are, still in this together, and doing rather well.
Like any worthy anniversary, it is deserving of celebration but also of the appreciation that future years together aren’t guaranteed, they must be earned, and mutually agreed upon. Back when Canada was a mere pup of 115 years, Ralph Klein, then the brash young mayor of a brash young Calgary, called Canada, “perhaps the only country in the world held together by curiosity.” He asked if such a confederation of interests and regions can endure. “[N]o one is quite prepared to give up on her yet,” he said, “as if we all have some lingering desire to see how this ongoing exercise in nation-building ends.”
And why not? No. 143 was not the easiest of years, but it was largely free of any soul-sucking existential debate on Canada’s future. There was a federal election, and no one died in the process. Economic uncertainty lingers, but we emerged stronger than the year before, and healthier in most every sense than a long list of wealthy, developed nations. And, yes, let’s not lose sight of that inarguable fact: we are rich.
Read on. Our Canada Day gift to you is a gentle reminder that by many global measures we are a blessed bastion of privilege, peace, freedom—and big roomy houses.
REAL ESTATE: We have the roomiest homes on earth
You’d never know it from watching MTV Cribs, a program where rapper 50 Cent once showed off his 50,000-sq.-foot Connecticut mansion (18 bedrooms, 25 bathrooms, an elevator, two billiard rooms), but the average Canadian family actually has their American counterparts beat when it comes to living large. A recent survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found the average Canadian home boasts 2.5 rooms per person, more than the 2.3 room average in the U.S., and the highest among the 34 OECD member countries, where the average was just 1.6 rooms.
Canada’s reigning status as a country of big, roomy houses is a direct result of our hot real estate market, which escaped the global economic downturn relatively unscathed. While the U.S. has yet to recover from the subprime mortgage crisis and the subsequent recession, Canadians have continued to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates to buy bigger and better properties, forcing prices ever higher. That includes first-time homebuyers who abandoned cramped rental suites for more spacious condos, and existing homeowners who jumped at the opportunity to sell into a hot market and move into their dream homes. More impressive is that Canadians have managed all this while working an average of just 1,699 hours a year. That’s well below what the average American works (1,768 hours) and the OECD average (1,739 hours).
The country’s infatuation with home ownership has been a boon for real estate agents, lawyers, house “fluffers” and contractors of all stripes. Meanwhile, retailers like Rona and Canadian Tire are riding a resulting wave of DIY home improvement efforts. (It’s no coincidence that when Ottawa sought to prop up the economy in 2009, it introduced a popular tax credit of up to $1,350 for Canadians who spent money on home renovations.) Canada has even managed to accomplish a rare feat in the world of television after HGTV Canada launched the program Property Virgins in 2006, only to have the series expanded to the U.S. market the following season (Canadian viewers were also treated to their own version of MTV Cribs around the same time).
But before we get too cocky, it’s worth recalling that we got here largely by borrowing a lot of money. Canadian household debt levels now sit at 146.9 per cent of income. That’s significantly higher than the 130 per cent reached in the U.S. prior to the crash (it has since fallen to 113 per cent). With Canadian homeowners increasingly stretched thin, some economists are worried about the country’s ability to withstand another economic shock. On the other hand, cash-strapped Canadians will always have the option of renting out an extra room to make ends meet.
Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information – 416−388−1960
Laurin & Natalie Jeffrey are Toronto Realtors with Century 21 Regal Realty.
They did not write these articles, they just reproduce them here for people
who are interested in Toronto real estate. They do not work for any builders.
Rob Ferguson – Yourhome.ca
When it comes to the 13% harmonized sales tax kicking in July 1, lots of home buyers and sellers appear to be in for a big surprise, says the Canadian Real Estate Association.
“I run into people who still don’t know its coming,” says association president Pauline Aunger. “There are people who don’t listen to the news or read the newspaper.”
The controversial tax doesn’t apply to resale homes, but it does hit new ones — with a 75% rebate on the first $400,000 of the price tag — as well as real estate commissions, legal fees, home appraisals and moving costs.
Aunger urges people buying or selling homes and condos to close their deals before Canada Day if possible, noting the average buyer of a re-sale home could save about $1,500 by beating the controversial new tax.
The HST is a marriage of the broadly based 5% federal Goods and Services Tax — already charged on the above items and most goods and services — and the 8% provincial sales tax in Ontario, which does not now apply to real estate commissions, new homes and the like.
That means an extra 8% in taxes, although the government notes it cut income taxes Jan. 1 to help offset the HST hit.
For example: the real estate association calculates the additional tax at $80 on typical legal costs, $1,209 on sales commissions, $32 on home inspections, $80 on moving and $24 on home appraisals.
“If you’re buying, go out and buy now,” advises Aunger.
The jury is still out on whether the fast pace of home sales and rising prices is due to the looming HST, because experts say low interest rates are also playing a role.
It’s generally too late to avoid the HST on purchases of new homes because the government has ruled that deals to buy houses after June 18 are subject to the tax, says president Stephen Dupuis of the Building Industry and Land Development Association.
“Since last June, most of what you buy is for closing after this July 1, because most new homes are pre-sold and then it takes time to build them,” he explains. “Whether people know they’re still paying the HST or not, they’re still buying like crazy. We honestly don’t expect a blip after July 1.”
On a new home costing $500,000, the extra provincial portion of the HST totals $40,000. The 75% tax break for the first $400,000 is gradually phased out as the price rises above $500,000.