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Believe it or not, spring is officially upon us and, with its arrival, the real estate market is in full swing. The unbelievably low interest rates are keeping our local market in a very balanced and predictable place … unlike other cyclical markets that are in a state of flux.
To those who are unaware, we are giving away $5,000 worth of prizes to thank our past, present and future 2015 clients. In celebration of having finished in the Top 1% of Royal LePage Realtors® nationwide for the last 10 years, each month until the end of the year one lucky recipient will receive a gift valued at $500. Your chances of winning are better than 1 in 100! Our first winner was a previous client now living in Moose Jaw, SK. For more information about the prize selections and how to enter, check out our Thank You page! Finally, on behalf of the entire Team, your referrals to family and friends over the last 10 years are very much appreciated and we look forward to many more years of great relationships!
On to some numbers! Note that these figures account for all sales in the Quinte area and are not specific to residential sales.
As always, check out our Blog and follow us on Facebook for updates on the national and local real estate markets. Be sure to ‘Like’ us and you’ll automatically be entered in our annual iPad draw that will take place at the end of the year. Congratulations to Mindy who was the winner of our 2014 draw!
TAX DEDUCTIONS & CREDITS FOR HOMEOWNERS
Many taxpayers overpay their taxes simply because they fail to claim some of the common deductions and credits to which they are entitled. The following are the most frequently over-looked tax breaks available to typical working Canadians.
First-time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit
You, your spouse, or your common-law partner can claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $750. The credit is based on a percentage of $5,000.
GST/HST Tax Rebate (New Housing Rebate)
If you buy a new home as your principal residence, and if it’s less than $450,000, you may be able to claim the GST/HST new housing rebate too. Ontario and B.C. residents may also claim the provincial portion of the HST if they buy, build or do a major renovation on their principal residence.
Home Buyer’s Plan
The Home Buyer’s Plan allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to help with the purchase or construction of a home. Certain conditions apply. Submit a request by completing the T1036 tax form that is available.
Medical Expenses Tax Credit
Persons with mobility impairments can claim renovation expenses to make their home more accessible under medical expenses deductions in Canada. The government provides an extensive list of eligible medical expenses as well as medical expenses that you cannot claim.
If you move within Canada, your moving expenses might be an allowable tax deductible. You must be employed, and your new location must be at least 40 kilometres closer to your place of work. Starting a business would qualify, as would moving away from home to take your first job. Expenses might include hiring movers or renting a van to move yourself, breaking a lease, furniture storage, meals and lodging for you and your family while traveling and legal fees and real estate commissions if you have to sell your home.
Work from Home Expenses
If you are using your house as part of your business — a home office for example — you can claim a deduction for that part of the home that is used to conduct business activities. If you are a homeowner you can claim a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes and capital cost allowance. If you are a renter you can claim a portion of your monthly rent. You can include in your deduction a share of the utilities, insurance or home maintenance allotted to the area of the house set aside for business use. For each of these expenses you can claim a percentage equal to the percentage of your home that is reserved for business.
If you rent a property you own or that you have use of, use the T776 tax form to report rental income and claim allowable expenses such as advertising, insurance and interest on money you borrow to buy or improve the property.
For more information, please consult the CRA website.
GETTING YOUR HVAC READY FOR SPRING
Check the Air Filters
Your HVAC air filter is integral to the indoor air quality of your home. Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer and harder, increasing energy usage. A clean filter can also help to protect you from breathing in allergens and other harmful particulates. Simply take the filter out of the filter box and hold it up to a light source. If you can’t readily see through it, it needs to be changed.
Flip the Humidifier Switch
While a humidifier is important in the winter months to add moisture to the air and improve overall indoor air quality, spring and summer are the seasons to flip the switch and let a cool breeze in through your doors and windows.
Make Home Improvements
Making a couple of inexpensive home improvements can make it easier for your AC unit to keep your home cool, potentially saving you money without conceding any comfort. A ceiling fan, for example, could make your room feel five degrees cooler and costs just pennies an hour to operate.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Setting your thermostat to keep your home cool 24 hours a day can send your energy bills through the roof. Scheduling the device to raise the temperature setting while you’re asleep or away from home can potentially cut your energy bill significantly.
5 COMMON ELECTRICAL PROBLEMS
Faults in home electricity can lead to house fires. Understanding which problems should be looked at by an electrician can not only save you money on your insurance and deductible, it can also save your life.
1. Exceeding Recommended Wattage: Using a stronger light bulb than recommended can cause your fixture to overheat resulting in bare wires due to melting. When the wires make contact, you may notice sparks or flickering lights.
2. Tripping Breakers: If you have a breaker that trips when you try to use an appliance, be sure the amperage is high enough for the appliance. Tripping breakers can also be caused by overload, or having too many items plugged into one circuit. Try spreading things out a bit. If this does not solve the problem, call an electrician!
3. Shocks When Touching Appliances: Static electricity from carpets, especially during the winter, will increase shocks. If you’re getting shocks only when touching a certain appliance, your ground fault may be shorting out.
4. A Burning Plastic Odour or Sparks from Outlets and Switches: You should turn the power off at the main breaker panel and call an electrician. A burning odor suggests the beginnings of an electrical fire.
5. Plugs Falling out of an Electrical Socket: This problem usually occurs when contacts in the receptacle are worn and can no longer grip the plug. This can be a high risk due to arcing.
THE OUTDOOR SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST
It’s almost impossible to avoid the inevitable cleaning that needs to be done after the winter ends. Here are a few tips that will save you some time and produce great results.
Pick up any leaves that may have blown into your yard. You will quickly see results and that can be very motivating. It also sets the stage for a lot of the other yard work that will need to be done.
• Clean up after the dogs. Not a fun task but one that needs to be done. There are a lot of tools on the market to help you. Work through the yard section by section to make sure you cover it all. Remember to wear old shoes that you can leave outside.
• Spray down the driveway to remove excess sand and salt, helping to keep them out of your house and off your pet’s paws. Try and direct all washing water towards the street as salt can damage your lawn.
• Sharpen your lawnmower blade. This is often overlooked but it makes a big difference when it’s time to cut the grass.
• Turn your soil and get your garden ready. Getting your garden started at the right time of year is tremendously important because you want to reduce the density of the soil (make sure the soil isn’t too wet when you do this). This gives your plants the chance to grow a much more structured root system, which will reduce the risk of wilting in the really hot summer weather because they won’t dry out as easily.
• Remove your A/C cover. Forgetting to remove the cover can wreak havoc on your system so best to attend to this as soon as the winter is over.
• Overseed the lawn. Although the lawn starts to fill in with bright green grass and looks beautiful, this is the time to give your lawn all the nutrients it will need to get through the hot dry weather that will arrive in the next months.
• Wash your car thoroughly. It has been estimated that vehicles driven on salted winter roads will only last about one-half to one-third of the time as those that are restricted to warm weather and a salt-free environment.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The word Easter comes from Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and fertility. Easter was a pagan springtime celebration before it became a Christian holiday.
- The Easter Rabbit was first introduced to North America following the Civil War. Presbyterians found the story of the resurrection a source of renewed hope following the death and destruction of the war.
- The date of Passover is variable as it is dependent of the phases of the moon, and thus Easter is a moveable feast.
- In Australia, rabbits are viewed as pests so the bilby, an animal native to the country, is used as the symbol of Easter.