Guest column: Moving with Kids from

General Tim Hill, MBA 30 Jan

Moving with kids doesn’t have to be chaotic. A little bit of preparation is all that it takes.
By: Limor Friedman, Vancouver In The Box

Every day families with young children are moving from Vancouver to the North Shore. It is only a bridge to cross, but for young children the move can feel like crossing the universe. We also know that packing is the most time consuming part of every move, so we’ve gathered our best tips for parents to make the move a lot easier for the kids.

1. A “countdown calendar” : there is timeline for everything but particularly for the moving day. Mark this day on a calendar and add some “stepping stones” on the way. These stepping stones should include tasks for the kids, such as sorting toys, seasonal clothes to pack, sorting all the artwork, etc … 

2. Making room for new things: Sorting and getting rid of unwanted items is an important step of every move. Kids find it hard to get rid of stuff, so focus on positives: they will make room for new toys/books/games in the new house.

3. The donation pile: We suggest to donate unwanted items to a daycare, the family place, a neighbour, or give a gift to a friend. We all feel better to find new home for our old stuff.

4. Multiple items: Your kid has too many (crayons, dolls, balls, etc…); tell them they can keep 5 out of 15, and they have the important job – to choose which 5 they like the most.

5. Arts & crafts: Sometimes it’s hard to admit, but we cant keep every single piece of art our children bring home. Make a box for each child: choose your favourites, limiting the total volume to that which can fit in the box. If it doesn’t fit – take a digital picture and let it go.

6. “Survival kit backpack”: Close to the moving day, create personal backpack for each child. Inside he or she can can keep their favourite toy and stuffy, crayons, bedding, toiletries, changing clothes and towel, as well as medication (as required). Take this bag with you to the new house: don’t send it with the movers. While most of their stuff is still in boxes, your kids will have all they need to feel comfortable and to keep them busy.

Have a smooth move!

About: Limor Friedman is the owner of Vancouver In The Box, packing services.  The company provides 1 day packing for your move, and serve clients in Metro Vancouver area.

Purchase plus Improvements

General Tim Hill, MBA 13 Jan

Home prices in the Lower Mainland continue to be very high relative to both incomes and savings, making it difficult for buyers to find homes that suit their needs.  Many of the homes that are for sale are in need of substantial renovation work, including such things as new flooring, roofing, or landscaping.  Still more homes can be made more liveable by improving them with upgrades like the addition of a basement suite, or a new kitchen or bathroom.

Unfortunately, because prices are so high, many Borrowers struggle with down payment and cannot afford the additional immediate cost of renovations.  Thankfully, the mortgage market has created a product called “Purchase plus Improvements” to address this very issue.

Lenders will typically require a down payment of at least 5% of the Purchase Price, which is too often most (or all) of the Borrowers’ savings, leaving little left over for renovations or improvements. Under the Purchase plus Improvements program, lenders will allow the cost of Renovations to be added to the Purchase Price – the required down payment is only 5% of the total.

In order to qualify for Purchase plus Improvements, a firm quote from a qualified professional must be received and approved by the lender prior to subject removal. The steps involved are a little more complicated than with a standard mortgage, and vary a little between Lenders. If you are looking to purchase a home and renovate right away, contact your licensed mortgage broker to guide you through the process.

Should you refinance to pay off debt?

General Tim Hill, MBA 6 Jan

With the high cost of holiday gift-buying and entertaining now behind you, this may be the perfect time to get the New Year off to a fresh start by refinancing your mortgage and freeing up some money to pay off that high-interest credit card debt.
By talking to mortgage professional, you may find that taking equity out of your home to pay off high-interest debt associated with credit card balances can put more money in your bank account each month.
And since interest rates are still very low, switching to a lower rate may save you a lot of money – possibly thousands of dollars per year.
There are penalties for paying your mortgage loan out prior to renewal, but these could be offset by the extra money you could acquire through a refinance.
With access to more money, you will be better able to manage your debt. Refinancing your first mortgage and taking some existing equity out could also enable you to make investments, go on vacation, do some renovations or even invest in your children’s education.
Keep in mind, however, that by refinancing you may extend the time it will take to pay off your mortgage. That said, there are many ways to pay down your mortgage sooner to save you thousands of dollars. Most mortgage products, for instance, include prepayment privileges that enable you to pay up to 20% of the principal (the true value of your mortgage minus the interest payments) per calendar year. This will also help reduce your amortization period (the length of your mortgage), which, in turn, saves you money.
If homeowners fail to take the time to thoroughly research their options through a mortgage professional and, instead, simply sign renewal offers received from their bank, credit union or other lender, they could end up paying thousands of dollars more per year in interest. Simply by shopping your mortgage with a qualified mortgage professional, you can access the banks as well as other lenders that you may not have considered, but which can often offer interest rate specials or other attractive terms.
In the current credit-crunched lending environment, now more than ever it’s important to take the time to contact me to find out your options.
By refinancing now and paying off your debt, you can put yourself and your family in a better financial position. It’s very important to not rack up your credit cards after refinancing, however, so set your goals and budgets, and stick to them!