Sally Dollar - Royal LePage Niagara Home Connection Newsletter December 2009

Real Estate Agent with Royal LePage Niagara Real Estate
Royal LePage Niagara Home Connection - Sally Dollar
Sally Dollar, Sales Rep Royal LePage Niagara Sally Dollar
Sales Representative

905-937-6000 (Office)
1-866-999-9497 (Office)

Royal LePage Niagara R.E. Centre, Brokerage

In this issue...
· Featured Listing
· MLS Home Sales Forecast Revised
· Home Insurance Rates Soar
· Year End Tax Planning
November gone with No Snow for Niagara!

Hello friends, family! Fall went by in a blurr and here comes Christmas! This is typically a quieter time for real estate sales as we get closer to Xmas parties, get-togethers, shopping and snowy weather. Now is a wonderful time to start researching your real estate plans for 2010. Do you want to know how much your home will be worth, are you thinking you may want to buy or sell or know someone who needs information? My website is updated regularly and contains valuable information and tips - take a look. refer a friend. Knowing can save you time and money.
Great Bi-level in Thorold $189,900.00
58 Swayze Drive, Thorold




MLSGood news! This information is fabulous for all you homeowners and potential buyers. Let me know if you would like specific stats for our Niagara area....

Monthly MLS home sales activity continues to run strong, with new monthly records set in July, September, and October. This has prompted The Canadian Real Estate Association to revise its MLS home sales forecast for 2009 and 2010. CREA now forecasts national activity will reach 460,200 units in 2009, up 6.6 per cent from last year. CREA's previous forecast issued in August had annual sales this year about even with 2008 levels. The new sales forecast for 2009 puts activity about on par with annual activity in 2004, but below levels reported for the years 2005 through 2007.
British Columbia and Ontario are still forecast to post annual increases in activity this year, but the forecast has been lifted as a result of recent record level activity in both provinces. In addition, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island are also now forecast to post an annual increase in activity in 2009.
National MLS home sales activity is forecast to rise seven per cent to 492,300 units in 2010. This is a slightly larger rise in activity than previously forecast. This would make 2010 the second highest year on record for sales, putting activity below the peak reached in 2007, and slightly above the 2005 and 2006 figures.
The forecast increase in activity for 2010 reflects significant weakness in activity recorded in the first quarter of 2009. Monthly activity in 2010 is expected to trend downward from recent heights, but the sharp drop inactivity recorded in the in the first quarter of 2009 is not expected to repeat in 2010.
New listings began declining in the third quarter of 2008, as many sellers took their home off the market pending an improvement in housing market conditions. CREA's previous forecast suggested that average price increases in the second half of 2009 would likely result in mild a rebound in listings. In the third quarter of 2009, the number of new listings did post the first quarterly increase in more than a year, which coincided with the return of strong average price increases. New residential listings are expected to continue trending upward.
The national MLS average home price is forecast to climb 4.2 per cent in 2009, reaching a record $317,900. This is an upward revision from the 1.5 per cent gain in CREA's previous forecast, and reflects the high degree to which the national average price was skewed downward last year by a significant decline in activity in Canada's priciest markets, and then upward by the rebound in activity.
Alberta remains the only province with a forecast decline in average price in 2009 (-3.0 per cent). Average prices are forecast to rise in all other provinces, with gains ranging from a low of 1.5 per cent in British Columbia to 13.1 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Average prices are forecast to climb a further 4.7 per cent in 2010. Much of the annual increase reflects weakness in the average price in first quarter of 2009, which is not expected to repeat in 2010. Average sale prices are forecast to rise in every province in 2010.
The price trend is similar but less dramatic for the weighted national MLS average price, which compensates for changes in provincial sales activity by taking into account provincial proportions of privately owned housing stock. The weighted national MLS average price is forecast to climb 2.9 per cent in 2009, with a further 4.0 per cent rise in 2010. CREA previously forecast that the weighted national average price for MLS homes sales would hold steady from 2009 to 2010.
"Pent-up demand built in late 2008 and early 2009, as many buyers moved to the sidelines pending an improved economic outlook," said CREA President Dale Ripplinger. "With the economic outlook having improved since then, the release of that pent-up demand will boost activity over the rest of the year and in 2010."
"Significant weakness in activity and average prices seen in late 2008 and earlier this year is not expected to repeat in 2010, so 2010 will look a lot better by comparison," said CREA Chief Economist Gregory Klump. "The raised outlook for MLS sales activity in 2010 still puts annual activity below the pre-recession peak recorded for 2007."


Homeowners InsuranceBlame it on city hall, the weather, the Mike Holmes effect and maybe our own lack of care.
Spurred by rising costs for water damage as pipes burst and sewers back up into elaborately renovated and equipped basements, homeowners' insurance premiums have soared this year - and the situation is only going to get worse, insurers warn.
The average cost of water damage claims in some parts of Ontario, such as Hamilton, Peterborough, Ottawa and parts of Toronto, has about quintupled in five years, according to one insurer.
Ontario residents were already encountering double-digit increases in auto insurance. But they have also seen the price of home insurance rise an average of 13.1 % during the year ended in September, according to Statistics Canada.
The increase was double the national average, yet masks a wide variance from one city and postal code to another.
This year, that rising trend in losses has combined with insurers' drives to bolster profits and the price of some homeowners' policies has gone through the roof.
Insurers are bracing for more stormy weather after tallying a near billion-dollar summer for storm losses, their worst season since the 1998 ice storm that hit Quebec and parts of Ontario.
Karen Ritchie, vice-president of Baird MacGregor Insurance Brokers LP in Toronto, says some clients in certain postal codes have seen increases of 40%.
The largest increases result from a combination of higher rates, penalties to consumers who have poor credit ratings and revisions to the estimated cost of repairing or replacing damaged homes in what is still a tight market for skilled construction trades.
"In 2009 almost 41 per cent of the claims reported are water-related and this represents 39% of the claims dollars that have been paid as of the end of September,"
The cost of the average water-related claim at Co-operators is now almost $12,000 - up 25% since 2007, said Bomben.
When consumers hit by the larger increases go shopping for cheaper rates, they face a world of complexity. Home policies differ significantly from company to company, and limits on coverage for sewer backup claims are becoming widespread, with limits as low as $5,000 at TD Meloche Monnex, said broker Jeff Powell, of Powell Insurance Brokers Ltd. in Oakville.
Martin Beaulieu, senior vice-president at the country's leading home insurer, Intact Financial Corp., says his company's home insurance premium rates were increased more than 10 per cent this year and last, and will rise as much again next year. Some homeowners will see a further 25 per cent increase.
"I can certainly understand this is not a desirable situation," says Beaulieu, whose company reported Tuesday it paid out $1.29 for every dollar of premium it raised from homeowners during its summer financial quarter.
That in itself would not result in a spike in premium rates, he adds. But the trend in water losses will make it important to find solutions as a society, by replacing old drainage systems and educating homeowners about preventive measures.
While rainfall has not increased on average, it seems to insurers the intensity and frequency has. Meanwhile, storm drains and sewer systems have been stretched to the limit by poorly planned urban sprawl.
Just as important, though, is the damage caused by clean city water when it is released from pipes, appliance hoses and water heaters that are past their useful lifespan, says Beaulieu.
The items being damaged have dramatically changed, as well.
"Ten or 20 years ago you would find hockey gear and a bike in the basement," he says. "Now there are quality finishes and expensive home entertainment systems."
Powell says homeowners are very much aware of the health risks of mould after water soaks drywall, carpets and insulation.
In addition to regulations regarding mould, there are warnings on television about the health effects. This helps raise expectations when insurers are paying for the cleanup.
Article by: James Daw BUSINESS COLUMNIST


End of Year Income Tax PreparationArticle By: Michel Chevalier
It's been said many times...many ways...a failure to plan is a plan for F-. Yes, another one of those nasty F words. A very small number of us do any kind of consistent financial planning and even fewer among us do any tax planning. Most of us, when asked what we do to minimize taxes respond with, "Oh, yeah! Tax planning. I have an RRSP."
There is quite a bit more you can do if you take the time to educate yourself and then actually carry through and implement some of what you learn. I have made additional information available on my website at
Consumer debt is growing; bankruptcies have soared 54.3 per cent over the past year with those in the know saying this would have happened with or without the recession; and, most disturbing, is the fact that debt is becoming a serious problem among young Canadians, with a growing number approaching Credit Canada with levels of student debt and credit card debt that are out of control.
I think we are a nation of financial illiterates and that we should long since have put in place some basic levels of financial education in our schools. The good news is that something is being done. The federal government has set up the Task Force on Financial the problem at least has received official recognition. Federal task forces, however, are notoriously ponderous and often don't amount to much.
Okay, let's turn to what tax planning you can do at the end of the year. If you are one of the many who wait until April 30th, I would liken this to you having ‘hit the wall.' In terms of tax ain't, and you are more than likely letting Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) get away with more of your money than is necessary. At the other end of the spectrum, most of us don't need to tax plan weekly or monthly. Quarterly is pretty good. There is still time to have a significant impact on your tax situation over the course of the last two months of the year. I have prepared a list, by no means exhaustive, of some of the things to keep in mind that might make sense for you. Personal tax planning - some things to consider:
* Capital gains - Depending on your situation, you should look to see if you should be doing some ‘tax-loss' selling.
* Carrying/interest charges - If you have borrowed to invest, then the carrying charges are deductible; borrowed funds must have been used to acquire income-generating assets.
* Medical expenses - Expenses paid in any 12-month period ending in the calendar year generate tax credits to the extent they exceed the lesser of three per cent of your net income, or $1,962.
* Donations and charitable gifts - Generally, you can claim up to a limit of 75 per cent of your net income. Donations must be made by December 31.
* Political donations - Federally, the maximum credit is $650, which is reached at $1,275 of contributions.
* Moving expenses - Are deductible from employment income earned at the new work location.
* Child care expenses - Are deductible by the spouse with the lower income regardless of who paid them.
* Tuition fees - Only post-secondary tuition fees are deductible and only by the student; if the student cannot use full amount, they can be carried forward or transferred to a spouse, parent or grandparent.
* Interest on student loans - Are deductible but only by the student.
* Tax-free savings account - If you haven't yet, you should give serious consideration to opening a TFSA account.
* RRSP contribution - The maximum contribution is $21,000 for 2009; deadline is March 1, 2010.

Here are some tax planning considerations for the self-employed and small business owners:
* Medical benefit plan premiums - Are deductible for self-employed people and owners of incorporated small businesses.
* Income splitting - You can deduct reasonable payments for services rendered by family members with an emphasis on reasonable. Investment income can be split but this can be complicated and calls for careful planning and guidance.

* Purchase of capital assets - If you need to purchase a capital asset such as a vehicle or a computer for your business, buy it before year-end to take advantage of the tax deduction.
Again, this is a basic list and some of the items mentioned have complexities, so get advice on how they best fit into your financial life.

Sally Dollar ChristmasBy the way, I am never too busy for your referrals! Don't forget Sally's local events on my website: to see a list of my favorite things to do in Niagara over the holidays. Coming up ..... Niagara on the Lake Santa Claus Parade....
All offices are independently owned and operated, except those offices marked as "Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd." Not intended to solicit currently listed properties. The above information is from sources believed reliable, however, no responsibility is assumed for the accuracy of this information.

©2009 Brookfield Real Estate Services Fund.


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Additional Information

Enjoying real estate and life in general in Niagara! Guiding Clients through Selling & Buying homes is my full-time career - I love it! Inform them and they will come. Member of The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers. Lifelong resident of St. Catharines and Niagara - I love to show Niagara off to new people! All referrals welcomed.