Thursday, March 18, 2010

CMHC Rules effective April 19, 2010

There has been a lot of misunderstanding about the new CMHC rules and how they will affect buyers. I have attached a copy of the rules for my Prince George clients.

Jim Flaherty announced changes to mortgage rules in Canada on February 16th, 2010 which are to take effect on April 19th, 2010. Here is a list of the changes:

Borrowers will be tested on their ability to make payments on a five year fixed-rate mortgage, even though they may choose different terms (e.g. a three year variable mortgage). Currently borrowers are tested against a three year fixed rate mortgage. This means people will qualify for lower maximum mortgage amounts. This will protect people from taking out larger mortgages than they can really afford. What some people are doing is opting for variable mortgages (with lower payments) and this exposes them to the risk that gradually increasing interest rates over time (because interest rates can really only go up from here) will make their mortgages unaffordable later on because they bit off more than they could chew up front.

The maximum a mortgage can be refinanced has been lowered from 95% to 90% of the value of the home. This reduces how much a borrower can tap into the equity of their house. Again this will curb the ability of people to stretch themselves too thin.
Mortgages for homes in which the borrower will not occupy will now require a 20% down payment. It was 5% previously. This reduces speculation in residential real estate since borrowers now have to put up serious money in order to buy.
It should also be noted that these rules apply to those seeking CMHC insured mortgages (or an equivalent private sector mortgage insurer). So if you can find someone willing to offer you an uninsured mortgage you don’t have to worry about these rules.

As you can see, this will not really affect first-time buyers. There was speculation of upping the down payment from 5 to 6% but this change was not implemented. Please call me if you have any questions....Dora 250-565-5297

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Spring Decorating- Designer Tips to Freshen Up Your Home for Spring

A new spring season invites changes to your home with fresh spring decorating. Spring calls for delicate colors and soft fabrics. Read what well-known designers recommend to freshen up your home for Spring.

When asked about inexpensive changes to freshen up a bedroom or living room for Spring, we got lots of great suggestions. Which ones will work for your home?

  • Mary Baltz says to use color and paint on walls, furniture, or trim. She likes a neutral ground but introduces aqua blues and spring greens. With outdoor colors coming inside, how about bring in a piece of outdoor furniture, too? It will bring in a new interesting texture.
  • Lyn Peterson loves color and pattern. Take a clue from fashion catalogues and use the colors and patterns in your home. Avoid "pasty pales or deep dark drenched colors" and choose a mid tone. Use organic color to cheer up an uninteresting neutral space. Think of "Mother Nature" and go to the colors you see outside.

    Use colorful patterned pillows on a "neutral chenille or canvas couch." Get rid of the fussy beads and fringe. "Let color and pattern do the talking... a crazy hot pink, magenta, marigold and cobalt madras plaid.... a chartreuse, plum and teal floral. These bold ingredients distract the eye." Revive a boring old sofa.

  • Charlotte Moss likes paint, too, because it's cheap, you can do the job yourself, and it creates a major change. She suggests that you "try a color you've never tried before -- kiwi green or a pale violet -- something you've always wanted to try. A couple of gallons of paint is a very inexpensive experiment."

  • Yvette Piaggio says it in 2 words, "Lighten up!" That means colors, fabrics, and flow. Everything should be clean and refreshing, light and tranquil. Choose sheer fabrics, linens, and open weave textiles. Move from ceramic to crystal and glass, either contemporary or traditional.

    And, "nothing says Spring more than fresh flowers. Make sure to be consistent with creating arrangements. Choose a color scheme, like all white, instead of mixing bouquets, use the same type flower in one glass container with a beautiful white satin or grosgrain ribbon wrapped around it."

  • Tricia Foley attacks clutter which is "so distracting and high maintenance!" Simplify. Use sheets, flowers, and rearranging to create a new look with what you have.

Without spending much money, you can give a fresh spring look to your home. What a lovely thought!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cozy Rooms

Do you ever find yourself saying: "Why don't we spend more time in this room?" In just one weekend you can add enough warm touches to create a space you'll never want to leave.


Regardless of your decorating style, there are some surefire elements that will instantly make your room more welcoming.

Decorative pillows. Add big, sink-in throw pillows to your sofas and chairs. Use a fabric color or pattern that stands out against the seating. If you use solid fabrics, consider touchable chenille, velvet, or silk.

Slipcovers. Loose-fitting slipcovers make any room look more casual. If you don't have the time or money to have one made, use a one-size-fits-all version.

Ottoman. Nix your hard-edged coffee table in favor of a kick-your-feet-up ottoman. It's more relaxing, and gives you the opportunity to introduce more cozy fabric into the room.

Fabric window coverings. Blinds and shades are efficient, but not very friendly looking. This room uses fabric panels instead, secured inside the window with tension rods. If you keep your blinds, warm up the window with a valance, a swag, or stationary panels on the sides.

Cushions. A single chair or bench is a good candidate for plumping up. Add a seat cushion using a fun fabric that doesn't appear anywhere else in the room.

Throws. A nubby wool throw blanket for winter (or lightweight cotton for summer) is perfectly welcome thrown over the arm or back of a sofa.

Screen. Floor screens help to visually enclose a space and bring a room into scale. Just sitting near one makes you feel a little more protected. This screen is the ultimate in comfort because it's upholstered, adding padding and a touch of pattern to the room.

Rug. Area rugs help define conversation and sitting areas, and they add texture and pattern to a room.

Plants and flowers. Don't forget natural elements in your design scheme. If plants thrive in your room, so will you.

Family photos. Nothing personalizes a room like family photos. To keep from cluttering tabletops, choose several favorites and create a wall display with uniform mats and frames.

Low lighting. Harsh overhead lights suck all the charm out of a room. Instead, use adjustable ceiling-mounted lights and/or lots of lamps. It's much cozier to use several lamps, each with a low-watt bulb, than one lamp with a 100-watt bulb.

Conversational grouping. Take notice of how your major seating pieces are arranged. People should be able to conduct a comfortable conversation with their neighbor. To do so, pull furniture away from the wall, closer to each other, with chairs and sofas facing each other. Make sure each seat has a table within reach for setting down drinks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handy Home Projects

It's time for a home tune-up

Before the holidays kick into high gear, get yourself revved up for a home tune-up.

Whether you are tackling a small project or a large one, here are a few ideas on how to get your home in tip-top shape for all the fun of the holidays.

  • Don't have the time to renovate the entire kitchen? Give your kitchen a quick makeover by adding new appliances (Energy Star-rated, of course!), resurfacing the cabinets, updating the hardware or recovering the floor. Any one of these will give your kitchen a new look without the high cost of a new kitchen.
  • Make your living space comfortable for family and guests by installing a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats cut energy costs by automatically adjusting temperature settings while you are asleep or away from home.
  • Get your furnace serviced by a qualified technician before the cold weather hits. Make sure you check the filters monthly throughout the winter and change them as needed. A furnace that is burning cleanly, whether gas or oil, will save you money on your winter heating bill.
  • If you have older windows and doors, go through the house and feel any drafts coming from them. A simple way is to hold a candle or a lighter near doors and windows and see if the flame flickers. Pick up caulking or weather-stripping to fix the problem. Outside, seal leaks with weather-resistant caulk. For brick areas, use masonry sealer, which will stand up better to freezing and thawing. Also check your electrical outlets for air leaks. Foam insulation made for outlet and switch placement is inexpensive, quick to install, and effective.
  • This is the perfect time of year to check the operation of your home's smoke detectors. Change the batteries and push the "test" button. With all the holiday lights aglow and seasonal candles flickering, it is important that smoke alarms are in top working condition. Consider buying new detectors if the ones you have are more than 10 years old.

And while you are sprucing up your home for the holidays, it's a perfect time to do a review of your insurance coverage. Whether you are making little improvements or have done a complete reno in the past year, it is important to make sure your coverage reflects those changes. So talk to your insurance broker to go over the details while your home is on your mind. You will relax and enjoy the season more, knowing your investment is covered.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Home Interior Decorating for the Four Seasons: Winter

Interior design schools teach students how to use small accents to make a huge difference, and winter is the perfect time to make a few small touches go a long way. While many think about home interior decorating for the holidays, remember that there are usually two months of winter after the holidays are over.

Keys to Winter Home Interior Decorating

Winter interior design is all about creating an environment that reflects the beauty and intensity of the winter season, while leaving the cold outside. Good winter home interior decorating should create a warm, comforting, attractive environment, and the best ways to do this are through warm colors, rich textures, and winter-themed accessories.

Deep Interior Design Colors

Deeper, darker colors make a room feel warmer. Replace summer's light lampshades with ones that are mulberry- or copper-colored, and replace sheer or bright curtains with deeper, richer versions of the same colors. If you must have a touch of "snow", consider adding white flowers as mantel decorations or a table centerpiece.

Rich Textures

Carpet can bring warmth and color to a room. If your carpet is not the right color, bring out rugs in deep winter colors, such as pine-green. Regardless of their size, these can add a sense of warmth to a room with light-colored carpet, bare wood, or cold tile.

The Right Accessories

Candles are some of the best home accessories for winter interior decorating. Their intense glow not only looks warm, but adds heat to any room where they're shining. Group them in collections of various heights and thicknesses.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Accents for the Home

As the hot, humid summer fades into the cooler more pleasant days of fall you may be wondering how you can add some fall accents to your home. Fortunately, there are all kinds of ways you can bring a warm, fall feeling into your home and they don't require a lot of money or work. Here's some ideas on how you can add easily add some fall accents to your home.

It starts with the colors

■Fall is full of bright colors like reds, golds, yellows, Burgundys and oranges so you the simplest way to add a fall feel by introducing fall colors.
■Consider some of the small ways you can add fall colors without making major changes. For example, you could simply change your throw pillows for pillows in a bright fall color, add colorful, decorative candles, books or picture frames to add little touches of fall to your home.
■Painting a room in a bright fall color will enhance the room, but you don't need to do an entire room, you could simply do an accent wall in a yellow, gold or orange color.
■If painting is more work than you want to take on, consider changing your window treatments. Get rid of your light airy summer curtains and replace them with heavier fabrics in a fall color. Not only will you give your home a more 'fall like' appearance, you'll enjoy the practical benefit of saving on your fall (and winter) heating costs.

Fall is harvest time

■You can easily add visual appeal simply using a center piece of fall flowers to bring in some natural beauty while adding a pleasant aroma of the season.
■Or, consider showcasing the beauty of the fall harvest with a center piece of colorful gourds and Indian corn and fruits like apples and grapes. Enhance the appearance by including colorful non traditional fruits such as mangos pomegranate or even tomatoes. The only limitation is your imagination.
■Nothing says fall more than pumpkins and colorful leaves. At this time of year pumpkins are inexpensive and available at grocery stores, farmers markets and often at road side stands. Take a walk on a sunny fall day, enjoy the weather and gather some fallen leaves to spread around the base of a bright orange pumpkin.

Fall has it's scents as well

■Consider adding some candles with the scents of fall such as the cinnamon scent of a fresh baked apple pie or some sweet vanilla.

It's easy to add fall accents to your home and it can be a source of fun for the whole family. Use your imagination and you'll figure out lots of things that will give you a chance to enjoy fall even inside your home.

By Murray Anderson

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall Decorating Ideas

Most of us don't want to admit that summer is over...pushing the thought to the back of our minds as we enjoy what nice weather we have left. But autumn brings its own excitement...for one, decorating! Here are a few seasonal decorating tips I thought were interesting.


As the sunny summer fades out and we enter autumn, it's time to give your home a look that captures the spirit of the season, adding spice and warmth to your home in a simple, natural way. Whether you're spreading pumpkins and gourds around your kitchen or porch, or adorning your sofa with soft, warm blankets, you'll find that it's small touches that go a long way when decorating for the fall.

This year look to the outdoor autumn world for inspiration when you decorate. Why go out and buy plastic decorations when you can find almost everything you need right in nature? Let's face it, some Halloween decorations can be downright gaudy. Not only will do-it-yourself decorating save you money, but the look you achieve will be more natural, refined, and last in your home long after Halloween has passed. Plus, you can tap into your creativity with hands-on decorating, a fun way to get you into the fall spirit. Get outside and take this opportunity to enjoy the outdoors before the cold of winter moves in.

It's no mystery where the classic earthy colors of the season come from; just look out the window at the natural world around you. Leaves are changing color to intense reds and pinks, vivid oranges and yellows, and more subdued browns and coppers as they fall. The produce of the season crops up in all kinds of rich tones; the deep orange of the pumpkin, lively apple reds and greens, gourds and squash in all sorts of shades and patterns of deep greens and buttery neutrals. At any farmer's market you'll find decorative Indian corn with its pale yellow and dark red, brown, and black kernels, as well as rows of mums with their petals in rainbows of bright earth tones. Simply adding a variety of these items to the interior or exterior of your home will immediately give it a splash of fall colors. From here it's up to you to decide how to arrange displays and create your own crafts with these colorful gifts of nature. Read on for ideas to get you started.

There is perhaps no other fruit as emblematic of the fall season as the pumpkin. With its striking orange color, it will brighten up any space it is placed in. You'll find pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns outside just about any house you pass in October. Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween. If left intact, you can get plenty of use out of them decoratively for most of the fall season, and then use them for some wonderful fall recipes, including that Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin pie.

If you're planning on cooking with fresh pumpkin, keep in mind that you'll need to select the right kind. The pulp of the larger jack-o-lantern pumpkins we commonly think of is too stringy and watery to cook with; however, the seeds inside can be saved and baked for a delicious crunchy treat. For cooking more complex recipes you'll need the sugar pumpkin, a smaller, sweeter variety. Go to farm stands and markets and make sure you purchase pumpkins of both varieties. Pumpkins can be used in all kinds of unique recipes, from soups and breads to treats like pancakes and cookies.

If you buy a large quantity of pumpkins and gourds, you can get creative in your placement of them. You can make original arrangements to put on display in or outside your home. If you buy a bunch of small to medium-sized pumpkins, you can place them in all kinds of places and arrangements, making a bolder statement. Look around you to find unusual spots for your pumpkins to stand out. Cascade them in a line down your front stairs, or place them in a row atop fenceposts to really spread out the color. You can place a pumpkin or gourd or two over your front door, or line them up on each side of the walkway to your house.

For the indoors, mini pumpkins lined up on the mantle of your fireplace is a nice seasonal touch, especially when you place some leaves in between each one. When walking outside, collect some colorful leaves, pinecones and acorns, then gather together a bunch of small pumpkins, gourds, apples and Indian corn. Add a basket, a glass vase or bowl, and you have the ingredients for a fall display you can use as a dining room table centerpiece, or place on a kitchen island or any free surface. Experiment with plenty of variations. You can place all gourds, pumpkins, or apples in separate containers, sprinkling the leaves and acorns about as desired, or you may prefer to mix them all together. An autumn-toned piece of cloth will look nice under a basket, as well as allow you to spread whatever extras you may want around the base of the basket or bowl. Furthermore, it keeps the surface clean from residue. Place candles around the sides or in the center of your display. No matter what your setup looks like, it is certainly rearrangeable.

Get imaginative and make candle holders out of small gourds and mini pumpkins yourself; cut off the top of the gourd and scoop out the desired amount of its insides to make room for a small candle or tea light. You can raise these one-of-a-kind holders further to attention by elevating them on stands. Note that once you have cut into the gourds they will only last for few days before they must be replaced. It's not a long-lasting decoration, but a clever idea for adding some ambience to your home if you're having company for dinner. You can also use a similar trick, hollowing out the inside of a larger gourd or small squash, to make a "bowl" in which you can serve soup to your guests. In each of these cases, make sure to use a uniformly-shaped gourd or squash with a flat bottom.

Make ornamental lanyards by stringing together dried leaves and pinecones which you can hang almost anywhere in your house: from the windows, over the mantle of your fireplace, or up the handle of your staircase. You can turn a pumpkin into an innovative flower vase if you cut out the core. The possibilities are endless, and you can keep looking around you for inspiration for adding to your do-it-yourself decorations as the season goes by. As it cools down outdoors, you can make your home warmer inside, keeping in the spirit of the season. You can create visual warmth as well as bring scents of the season to you home with autumn-scented candles. Opt for scents like pumpkin spice, cranberry, pine, and vanilla. You can also purchase or dry out your own potpourri to place around your home. But nothing will fill your home with the rich, warm aroma of autumn like home-cooking some seasonal recipes.

Putting slipcovers on the couches and chairs around your house is an easy way to dramatically change the look and tone of a room for the season, as well as bring warmth to it with heavier fabrics. Consider earth tones of all kinds, and different kinds of fabrics like cotton flannel, faux leather, warm chenille, and luxurious velvet. For even more warmth you might want to place around a few objects with a furry texture or trim, such as pillows and blankets. Go for plain solids or patterns that fit with fall themes, like floral or leaf patterns. Just changing the covers on your furniture can make a drastic difference to a living room, and you can follow in this vein throughout the house; change your curtains, bed linens, and towels to heavier materials that are similarly autumn-toned. Bring out fall-colored or patterned table cloths and small rugs. You can rearrange your furniture so that you move it away from drafty areas and closer to the fireplace. Changing the fabrics and covers in your home is one of the most simple and affordable ways to give it a fresh look, and one that is easily changed season to season.

Don't just think about staying indoors for the fall. Sure it's getting colder out there, but fall weather is some of the most pleasant of the year, with low humidity and gentle cool breezes that should last for at least a couple months. Autumn is the last time of the year to truly enjoy your porch. You can warm up your porch similarly to how you might warm up the inside of your house; bring out a few warm throw blankets you can bundle up with as you sit outside and have a cup of hot apple cider, and place durable fall-patterned table cloths on any small tables. Of course you can place pumpkins and gourds around too. Line up pumpkins in a row on the ledge of your porch and bring cheer to both you and the neighborhood. With such a fall-spirited porch you'll want to bring out some candles and enjoy an autumn dinner in the setting sun.

To give your home a fall makeover, you don't need to look much further than the natural autumn world around you, the linens and blankets stored away in your closet or attic, and your own creative license. Simple, natural touches can create a look that fits your own home, instantly giving the interior and exterior a look that will last you all season.