Protecting Against Identity Theft New to Canada? Making the Best
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Best Use of
Sell This House
New to Canada?
Saving for a
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2060 Winston Park Drive, Suite 300
Oakville, Ontario L6H 5R7
Trish Tervit, Environics
Hope Creative Incorporated
125 Davenport Road,
Toronto, Ontario M5R 1H8
A Better Way to Home Ownership is published semiannually by Genworth Mortgage Insurance Company
Canada (“Genworth Canada”). A Better Way to Home
Ownership is protected by copyright and nothing may
be reprinted wholly or in part without permission from
Genworth Canada. In compiling this publication,
Genworth Canada relies upon information supplied by
a number of external sources. The publication was
created on the belief of Genworth Canada that all
information in it was correct at the time of printing.
All ideas, opinions, and/or forecasts, expressed or
implied herein, are for informational purposes only and
should not be construed as the recommendation of
Genworth Canada. This publication has been prepared
without regard to any particular investment objectives,
financial situation, and needs. Genworth Canada and
related parties disclaim any and all liability and are not
responsible in any way for the actions taken or results
achieved by any person or organization in reliance on
the information, stories or contributions in this
publication. Accordingly, individuals should not act on
any information within this publication without
obtaining specific advice from their mortgage or
investment advisors or from other professional advisors.
Assembling your team
Achieving the dream of
for a down payment
Making the best use
of small spaces
Be aware of additional costs
New to Canada?
Sell this house: How
to make small updates
with big impact
Ready, Set, GO!
Preparing for the big day
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:55 AM Page 4
Welcome to the fall edition of
A Better Way to Homeownership!
As The Homeownership Company, Genworth Canada strives to
educate people about what is involved in buying a home. We believe
the more you know, the better decisions you’ll make.
Buying a home is an exciting time. It’s also a time when many
considerations need to be taken into account. This booklet is
developed to help guide you step by step through the process.
Are you new to home buying? If so, get off to a good start with our
articles explaining the importance of good credit and saving for a
Are you already actively house-hunting? Be sure to read our articles
on closing costs and preparing to move, for additional insights.
Already own a home? In this guide, you’ll learn how to make the
best use of small spaces and how to tackle home improvements.
We hope you find these articles helpful and invite you to share
your feedback or suggest new topics on our Facebook page at
Good luck on your homeownership journey!
Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing,
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:55 AM Page 5
versus bad credit
When preparing to buy a home, a strong
credit rating is an important factor in
obtaining financing. Lenders will look
at your credit record and credit score
to evaluate your willingness and ability
to pay your debts.
A good credit rating is achieved by paying
all your bills on time. This includes not
only your credit card statements, but also
all other regular expenses such as taxes,
hydro, gas, cable, telephone, etc. Late or
missed payments will be reflected on your
credit report and can lead to longer-term
problems that will affect your rating. Your
goal should be to demonstrate a track
record of paying all your bills in full and
Your credit score, along with your credit
profile, will be reviewed by individual
lenders to establish credit worthiness.
When applying for a mortgage or other
loan, this score is what helps lenders
evaluate your credibility as a borrower
and the likelihood of you defaulting on
It’s wise to review your own credit report
and score before applying for a loan. This
will allow you to uncover any errors or
signs of fraud. For a small fee, a credit
bureau (Equifax or TransUnion) will
provide an instantaneous online report
that details your current debts and
payment history. The report includes
information on what your score level
means, how you compare to others, and
how to improve your score. You may also
request your credit report by mail for free.
If your credit rating is scoring on the
lower end, don’t despair. By paying down
existing debts and ensuring your bills are
paid on time, you’ll be improving your
If necessary, postpone major purchases
until you can save the money required.
Don’t accumulate debt to pay for
vacations or clothes that you can’t afford.
In general, live within your means and
control your spending habits if you really
want to become a homeowner.
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:55 AM Page 6
To help you make the best decisions,
you’ll require assistance from experts
when buying a home. Housing industry
professionals can simplify and guide
you through the complex homebuying
process. To get the most value out of
these relationships, it’s important to
understand the role of each professional
and how to best work with them.
recommendations. Take the time to
meet in person to determine if they are
right for you. Ask about their experience
and their track record to assess their
knowledge base and determine their
reliability. It’s also a good idea to ask
how they are compensated for their job
so that you fully understand how they
are being paid and by whom.
A REALTOR® helps locate houses
in your price range, selecting the right
neighbourhood and presenting your
offer to the seller.
It’s important to note that a REALTOR®
may ask you to sign a buyer’s agency
agreement. This creates an exclusive
relationship between you and the
REALTOR®, meaning you have the right
to a set of services from them, and they
have the right to be your exclusive seller
agent for a specified period of time.
Before signing, ask if they’ll release you
from the contract should you become
dissatisfied. If they refuse, consider hiring
A mortgage professional, such as a
broker or lender mortgage specialist,
assists in negotiating the mortgage and
financing conditions on your behalf.
A lender has the ultimate decisionmaking authority on whether or not
to approve your mortgage application,
and on what conditions. Lenders include
banks, trust companies, credit unions,
and mortgage banks.
Before choosing a REALTOR®, mortgage
professional or lender, be sure to shop
around and ask friends and family for
Only do business with people whom you
have confidence and trust in. They are
guiding you through one of the most
important phases of your life, so you
want to make sure they’re a good fit.
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For most Canadians, buying a
home is the single largest
ﬁnancial investment of their
lifetime and because of that,
it can be a daunting process.
Taking the right steps to be
prepared – both ﬁnancially
and emotionally – is a good
way to lessen the stress.
Achieving the dream
saving for a down payment
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One of the first steps
to buying a home is determining how
much you can afford – and then
calculating how much down payment is
required. A mortgage professional can
help you assess your means and options,
and help build a plan to reach your goal.
Many people believe they have to save a
large down payment. Thanks to mortgage
default insurance, however, you can buy a
home with as little as a five per cent down
payment. Keep in mind, though, the
larger the down payment, the lower the
mortgage payments, so it’s wise to save
as much as possible.
Mortgage default insurance protects
the lender should you default on your
mortgage payments. That protection
gives lenders the freedom to offer you the
same low interest rates they would offer
to those homebuyers with more equity.
In Canada, mortgage default insurance
is required federally on mortgages with
a down payment of 20% or less. The
premium is based on the amount of your
mortgage and although it can be paid in
a lump sum upon closing, it is normally
added to your mortgage amount and
paid over the length of your mortgage.
It’s not to be confused with mortgage life
insurance, which protects you and your
family in the event of death or illness.
To calculate how much to save, consider
a 5 per cent down payment as a good
starting point. For example, to purchase
a $300,000 home, you’ll need to save
$15,000 plus an additional sum to cover
all fees and closing costs. If your goal is
to own a home within three years, this
translates to saving at least $416 per
month for the next 36 months.
The best way to build a
savings account is to
adopt a “pay yourself
The best way to build a savings account is
to adopt a “pay yourself first” philosophy.
Open a separate savings account and
deposit a set amount of money every
month through an automatic withdrawal
from your paycheque or other bank
account. Talk to a financial advisor for
advice on how to grow your savings most
First-time buyers can also benefit from
the Federal government’s Home Buyer’s
Plan. This program allows you to
withdraw up to $20,000 from a Registered
Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) to put
towards a down payment on a first home.
As long as the amount withdrawn for this
purpose is paid back within 15 years, the
money’s not taxed.
Saving for a home can be a challenging
but fulfilling task. In a recent survey
conducted by Genworth Canada, more
than 90 per cent of homeowners said
that “even though it was more work and
effort, they’d rather own a home than
rent.” So persist in your goal to save for a
down payment – it’s well worth the effort!
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Each year, thousands of Canadians
fall victim to Identity Theft—the
unauthorized collection and use
of your personal information, such as
name, date of birth, address, credit
card, or Social Insurance Number.
Here’s how you can avoid
becoming a victim:
1. Keep your personal information under wraps
Shred everything containing your personal
information before throwing out; do not carry
your social insurance number card in your
wallet; and, consider signing up for paperless
billing or eBills, whenever possible.
2. Be savvy with social media
Limit what you share online. Avoid specific
details such as date of birth and other
3. Practice safe banking
Change your bank card PIN number regularly
and always check the accuracy of your
monthly bank account and credit card
statements, notifying your financial institution
immediately to validate any suspicious activity.
At the ATM or when on your laptop, guard
against shoulder surfers – criminals who are
looking for your PIN or password information.
4. Know who is on the line
Be cautious of telemarketers asking for your
personal information and be leery about giving
your SIN or date of birth out over the phone.
If someone calls saying they’re from your bank
and want to confirm your banking details, take
down their name and number and look them
up to determine if the request is legitimate
before calling them back. Your bank will
never ask for your PIN number.
5. Password and protect
Use strong and secure computer passwords,
refraining from simple configurations like
“123456.” Instead, use a combination of lower
and upper case letters, numbers and symbols.
When making online purchases with your
credit card, make sure the website is secure
(encrypted). Finally, be wary of phishing email
messages and websites where cybercriminals
may install malicious software on your
computer and/or steal your personal
Check your credit bureau reports once a year
to ensure the information reporting is correct.
This will allow you to uncover any errors or
signs of identity theft or fraud.
For more tips on how to protect yourself
against fraud, visit Genworth Canada’s
Consumer Fraud Awareness video series
at www.homeownership.ca, under
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Making the best use
of small spaces
Whether you live in a mansion or
in a small condo, it seems there is
never enough space. Even the
largest homes tend to have at
least one fairly small room.
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Interior decorators know how to
make small spaces look larger and
oﬀer these tips to make the most
of your cramped quarters:
Remove all clutter and get as many items
off the floor as possible, reposition them on
shelves and furniture. Furniture with legs feels
less heavy than pieces that sit directly on the
7. Stick to solids
2. Less is more
Remove all unnecessary pieces of furniture.
In bedrooms for example, the bed should be
the most prominent piece.
Solid wall colours are recommended for small
rooms. Avoid dark colours and patterned
wallpaper as they can overpower small
8. Expand your space
Use organizers to maximize closet space;
include a shoe rack to keep shoes off the floor.
Use mirrors to create the illusion of more
space. A large wall mirror can reflect light or
a scenic view can act as a room expander.
A lighted mirror in a small room will add
warmth and depth.
If you have a smaller dining room, downsize
the table. A table with removable leaves will
really help the room feel spacious. Instead of
a large buffet, consider a small corner china
5. Light is right
In kitchens, consider light-coloured solid
surface countertops to make the room appear
larger. In bathrooms, pale, cool colours that
reflect light will make the room appear larger
than it is.
9. Build in storage
Floor to ceiling shelves can provide ample
display space and take up little floor room.
Built in bookcases with a cupboard
underneath for added storage are also
good space savers.
Look for pieces with multiple uses, for
example an ottoman with hidden storage.
6. Stripes give height
Use vertical stripes on walls, they give the
illusion of a higher ceiling.
Have a smart storage tip to share?
Post it on www.genworthsmartshopper.ca
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Be aware of additional costs
When budgeting for a new home, it’s
important to consider all the fees and
expenses you’ll incur upon closing, in
addition to the purchase price.
Here are some additional costs you
can expect to pay, although there may
be others specific to each situation:
Home inspection fee
For all resale homes, it’s prudent to have a
professional home inspector examine the
property so they can advise you of existing
or potential problems. The inspection will
cost approximately $500, and can save you
thousands of dollars if a major problem is
Legal closing costs
You’ll need a real estate lawyer to complete
the home purchase. A lawyer will do a title
search on the home, check to make sure there
are no liens against the property and prepare
and register all legal documents. The lawyer
may also arrange for title insurance to protect
you from losses due to title defects on the
home. And your lawyer will also identify any
prepaid bills you may have to reimburse to the
seller, such as property taxes, utility bills or
other charges. Budget at least $1,500 - $,2000
for this service.
Many lenders require an appraisal of the new
property as part of the mortgage process and
this can cost anywhere between $100 and
$250. Some lending institutions will cover
this cost, and it may be something you can
Lenders require a survey of the property you
are purchasing. Most resale homes have one,
but if not, this can add up to $1,000 to your
closing costs, depending on the size of your
lot. Ask the vendor early on in the process if
they already have a land survey.
Land transfer tax
All provinces and some municipalities impose
a land transfer tax on all property purchases.
Rates vary from 0.5 per cent to 2.0 per cent
of the purchase price. In Ontario, first-time
homebuyers who purchase a new home
get a refund up to $2,000 to offset this tax.
Home and fire insurance is mandatory
for a mortgage approval. The costs vary
depending on the location and size of the
New home warranty
When buying a newly built home, it’s wise to
get a new home warranty to protect against
the builder defaulting or failing to build to an
agreed-upon standard. The warranty covers
any unfinished or deficient repairs. Talk to your
builder to find out what coverage they offer.
On new homes sales taxes, such as GST,
HST, QST, is payable. Sometimes the buyer
is responsible for paying the tax, and in other
circumstances it’s the builder who covers
it. Check the offer to purchase, it will either
say “Plus GST” or “GST included.” People
purchasing a new home are entitled to a
GST home rebate of up to 36 per cent, but
some conditions apply.
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:55 AM Page 16
New to Canada?
What you need to know
about buying a home
Congratulations and welcome to
Canada. As a new resident, you may
be exploring the option of purchasing
a home. Owning your home comes with
a sense of pride and accomplishment.
According to a survey released by
Genworth Canada, half of all immigrants
to Canada (52 per cent) purchased a
home within three years of arrival. Buying
a home without a credit history in
Canada is difficult, so it’s important to
immediately begin building a personal
credit rating. Lenders recognize that it can
be difficult to establish Canadian credit
right off the bat, so they will consider
credit history from alternate sources.
Homeownership is certainly something
for new Canadians to aspire to, but there
are many things to think about before
taking the plunge. Genworth Canada
helps to break the process down with a
variety of tips and helpful facts, available
in seven languages on their website,
As a new Canadian, how do you know if
you qualify for a mortgage? Unless you
have been transferred to Canada as part
of a corporate relocation program, you
need to be employed for at least three
months before you become eligible.
Non-landed immigrants who are
employed for at least three months may
qualify for up to 95 per cent financing.
If you fall into this group, you are limited
to purchase transactions of primary
residences. Also note that the lender
may want to confirm that you have
applied for landed status.
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When talking about housing, it’s
important to be clear on terms. For
example, a condominium is a type
of ownership rather than a form of
housing. A condominium can refer to a
townhouse, highrise or lowrise building.
For this type of ownership, the owners
of each unit in the condominium join
together to elect a board of directors,
which will take care of major condo
decisions and management.
Knowing the language of real estate
will give you a thorough understanding
of the industry and help you on your
way to homeownership. Guides, such
as Genworth Canada’s Tips for New
Homebuyers, will also help you to
Once the financing is in order, it’s time
to explore the type of mortgage that best
suits your needs. Fixed rate mortgages
have a locked-in interest rate for the entire
mortgage term. If you want to know that
monthly payments will
be consistent, this is a
To fully understand the ins and outs of
mortgages, it makes good sense to meet
with a mortgage professional who can assess
your personal situation and go over the pros
and cons of each option.
navigate homeownership. Before creating
a checklist of what you’re looking for in a
home, it’s important to figure out what
you can afford. While it would be great to
have a pool in your backyard and a twocar garage, these things may be out of
your price range. To avoid any prepurchase disappointment, use an online
mortgage calculator to determine how
much you can pay for a home and what
your monthly payments should be. It’s
also important to keep in mind that you’ll
be paying closing costs, moving fees, and
Other people may
consider a variable rate
mortgage, which rates are
adjusted with the bank’s
prime lending rate. As a
result, they are subject to
increases through the term of the
To fully understand the ins and outs of
mortgages, it makes good sense to meet
with a mortgage professional who can
assess your personal situation and go
over the pros and cons of each option.
Buying a home can be one of the most
worthwhile and exciting purchases you’ll
make, and, being new to Canada makes it
all the sweeter. Happy hunting and best
of luck in finding your dream home!
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Sell this house: How to make
small updates with big impact
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:55 AM Page 19
Home improvements are a great
way to add value to your home and
to help attract potential buyers.
Depending on your timing and budget,
you may opt for large or smaller
renovations when preparing your home
to sell. Either way, any type of upgrade
will help your home look its best.
Dan Cooper, a top Canadian real estate
agent with more than 20 years’ experience
selling homes, offers these tips for simple
home improvements that will make a big
Lighting is one of the first things people see
when walking into your home. Changing
older light fixtures for newer modern ones
can refresh the look of your home and add
value to the property.
An entire kitchen renovation can be costly
and time-consuming, but doing something
as simple as updating your countertops can
increase the value of your home. Cooper
suggests granite countertops as they are
economical and extremely popular.
These days most buyers prefer homes with
hardwood flooring, says Cooper. Some
varieties of hardwood are available for as low
as $2.00 to $3.00 per square foot, which can
make this a good investment. If you want to
install hardwood floors yourself, look for
prefinished boards to save on time and effort.
Whether you’re selling or staying in your
home, there’s great value to installing good
quality windows. Aside from helping sell a
property, they can also help save on energy
costs. Consider purchasing energy-efficient,
low-emission, argon-filled glass to get the
most from your investment. Also, seek out
windows that include long-term warranties.
A new coat of paint can be the most affordable
way to improve the look of your home. It’s easy
to do yourself over a weekend or two, and it’s
time well spent – fresh paint can help make
your home feel modern and updated. Cooper
says taupes and earth tones are popular,
especially if you want to put your home on
For more tips from Dan and other housing
industry professionals, visit the Resources
section of Genworth Canada’s homebuyer
website at www.homeownership.ca
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:56 AM Page 20
R E A D y, S E T, G O !
Preparing for the big day
So you’ve bought a home. Don’t sit back
and relax just yet. The real work is about
Here are some practical tips to help
prepare for a stress-free moving day:
1. Create a checklist
Lists the things you have to do as moving day
approaches, in chronological order. Genworth
Canada has an online planner to help you
manage this process and stay organized.
5. Change of address
Notify personal contacts of your change of
address and of the effective date. Also file a
change of address notice with Canada Post.
Now is the time to go through each room and
discard/donate/sell or give away whatever
you don’t need.
About five weeks before moving day, collect
boxes and start packing items that are not
used often, such as photo albums, books and
2. File paperwork
Use an accordion folder to file all your records
and receipts in one place. Keep an online
folder on your computer for electronic records,
including email messages.
8. Meal planning
Two weeks before moving plan your meals
for the last week to help empty the refrigerator
and avoid using any appliances that have
already been packed.
3. Manage expenses
Create a budget and determine what services
you can afford: movers, moving van, storage
container, etc. Shop around for the best deal
and book well in advance.
Map out where your furniture will go in your
new home and label accordingly so it gets put
in the right rooms from the start. Also create
labels for all your moving boxes and pack
items by room. Keep a record of your list of
labels so you can track every item on moving
day and make sure nothing goes missing.
9. Final lap
With one week to go, finish packing essential
items. Drain all gas from your mowers and
other motors and dispose of appropriately.
Drain your garden hose. Empty, defrost and
clean your refrigerator. If necessary, make
childcare arrangements for moving day.
10. Moving day
Do a final check of all rooms and leave a note
with your new address for the future residents
so they can forward any stray mail.
With organization, moving day can be a
breeze. Good luck!
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:56 AM Page 21
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Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:56 AM Page 22
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Homebuyer Privileges™ is your exclusive
online program for savings and discounts
Genworth Canada has teamed up with major national suppliers to give
homebuyers access to valuable savings on home-related products and
services. Ask your lender how you can get your Homebuyer Privileges.
Visit genworth.ca to learn more.
© 2012 Genworth Financial, Inc.
Digest_FALL_2012__ENGLISH_FINAL_Layout 1 2012-09-20 8:56 AM Page 24
If only shopping for your first home was this easy…
With a little help from Genworth Canada, shopping for your
first home doesn’t have to be complicated. We understand the
importance of owning a home and having the information you need
to make smart homeownership choices. Our promise is to help you
with homebuying basics such as understanding your down payment
options, maintaining good credit and staying on budget.
Find us on Facebook! Visit www.GenworthSmartShopper.ca for tips
and resources to help you achieve your homeownership dreams.
© 2012 Genworth Financial, Inc.