Friday, October 31st8.1°C

Keep your haunted home safe

Eerie sounds, spooky lights and Jack-o’-lanterns aglow—extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. However, to keep the fun going, it’s important to plan your home’s scary set-up with safety in mind.  Decorations for special events, most often involving candles (like those found in Jack-o’-lanterns), account for an average of 800 home fires in North America, causing nearly $4 million in direct property damage every year.

To keep your house from being haunted with potential insurance woes, Wayne Ross, an insurance and claims expert for Aviva Canada, offers some Halloween preparation tips for preventing fires and other insurance claims:

Practice fire safety:  When setting up spooky electrical decorations and lighting, ensure that electrical outlets are not overloaded. Consider battery or solar powered Jack-o’-lanterns.

Make sure your walkways are safe:  Although darkness may set the Halloween mood, keep walkways well lit and obstruction-free to reduce the risk of injury and allow many goblins to walk through simultaneously.

Check your insurance coverage:  While homeowner policies generally will cover you and your property on Halloween, it is a good idea to contact your insurance broker to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage —especially with hundreds of small visitors to your home.

“It is the responsibility of homeowners to make sure their property is safe for visitors during the Halloween festivities,” states Ross. “By taking some precautions, homeowners can join in the celebrations and enjoy a safe night of fun with their families.”

While you’re planning for your Halloween haunt, talk your insurance broker or insurer to determine what you can do to keep trick or treating safe. More detailed information is available from your insurance broker or at

If you have any questions regarding home insurance and would like a referral to a broker or have question about mortgages please call 250 862 1806 or email me at [email protected].

Big bank predicts rate hike

The end of record-low rates is nigh, according to one major bank, which has taken a stance and predicted when the Bank of Canada will raise its long-standing overnight rate.
“Firming price pressures and strengthening labour markets are consistent with a gradual path to normalizing interest rates,” TD Bank’s quarterly economic forecast, released Thursday, states. “We see the Bank of Canada beginning to raise its overnight rate in mid-2015.”
The overnight rate has been held at one per cent since September 8, 2010.
“The Bank remains neutral with respect to the next change to the policy rate: its timing and direction will depend on how new information influences the outlook and assessment of risks,” the Bank of Canada said in its most recent statement about the overnight rate, released in early September.
TD Bank, however, predicts the short term rate will hit 2 per cent by the end of 2016. The bank believes even a slight increase will put a limit on household spending, as debt-to income levels are still around 165 per cent.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an economic forecast if the bank didn’t mention the current state of the housing market, which it still holds a conservative stance on.
“In the near term, the housing market and household debt levels present an upside risk to the forecast,” the statement says. “Borrowing rates remain at record lows and housing momentum has stayed strong. Over the medium term, we still expect a cooling trend, consistent with a gradual increase in both trend inflation and interest rates.”
If you would like to set up a complimentary strategy to discuss your mortgage plan, please call 250-862-1806. or email [email protected].

Power-save your way to a down payment

Part 2 of 2  to read Part 1, click here.
5.  Dial down your vacations.
New York is out.  Maybe Buffalo.  For West coast, maybe Seattle instead of Hawaii.  Use sites like Airbnb ( to find cheap accommodations instead of staying in a pricey hotel.  Or stay home and use some of the money you saved on hotels to try some nice restaurants in your town.  This is a good practice for when you own a home and find that fancy vacations are unaffordable with out going into debt.
Summer vacation somewhere in the U.S.:                       $2500
Minus cost of a Staycation:                                              $  500
One-year savings:                                                            $2000
6.  Put a $100 price limit or less on birthday presents
Extravagant presents are fun to both give and receive.  But they're a luxury for people who are more financially settled than someone who is madly saving for a house down payment.
Yearly cost for a couple of buying presents for various occasions:        $1000
Minus using the $100 present limit:                                                        $  500
One-year savings:                                                                                   $ 500
7.  Cut your cable, TV and landline.
Almost like heat and electricity, an Internet connection is essential.  But a home phone is dispensable if you have a smartphone, and cable TV can be replaced with Netflix, watching shows online and using HDTV antenna.  Also, try buying up DVDs of movies and TV shows seasons at a garage sale, or find a store that sells used DVDs, CDs and videogames.
Yearly cost of cable and home phone:                                            $1200
Minus approximate cost of a Netflix subscription:                           $  110 
One-year savings:                                                                           $1090
8.  Halve your spending at Restaurants and Bars.
Studies of Generation Y spending habits show that going out to eat and drink is big.  Hey, everyone needs a hobby.  But this one is too expensive for people who are set on buying a house.  Aim to eat out less often, and rather that pay marked-up restaurant or bar tabs, grab some leftovers and a beer from the fridge.
Annual cost of spending $250 monthly:                                          $3000
Minus half the annual cost:                                                             $1500
One-year savings:                                                                          $1500
And one more thought: Ask for a raise at work!
The total savings per year from this week (6-8) is $5090 and last week (1-4) $13,750 for a total per year of over $18,840.  That is a 5% down payment on a $376,000 home!
If you have any questions about saving for your downpayment or anything else related to mortgages please call 250 862 1806 or email me at [email protected].


Power-save your way to a down payment

Part 1 of 2

1.  Move in with your parents or in-laws

Explain that you're thinking strategically in moving back home.  The quickest way to get into the housing market is to maximize savings, which is difficult to do when you're paying the cost of rent in a big city.  You'll pay your parents a token amount of rent, but most of your savings will go directly into your house down payment fund.  Tell your parents to think of the grandchildren you'll be raising in the house you're saving for!

Yearly rent at:                                          $9600 ($800/month)
Minus token rent payments to parents:   $2400
One year savings:                                   $7200

2.  Move down one level of rental
If you have a two-bedroom apartment, try going down to one bedroom.  Or, trying squeezing into a bachelor apartment.  You could also look at moving to a cheaper part of town, as long as it won't jack up your commuting costs.  Get rid of stuff that won't fit in your new, smaller place, or store it in your parent's basement.  Don't spend money on a storage unit.
Yearly rent at :                                       $9600 ($800/month)
Minus yearly rent at:                              $7800 ($650/month)
One year savings:                                 $1800
3.  Sell your car and take the bus
You'll be saving on fixed costs such as parking, insurance, gas, maintenance and possibly car payments, and you'll be protected against the risk of financially catastrophic four-figure repair bills.  Rent a car or use a car-sharing service for those times when the bus won't cut it.  A cheap bike will help you save on bus fare.

Estimated annual cost of gas, insurance, maintenance and parking:              $5000
Minus estimated annual cost of a bus pass and occasional car rental:           $1500
One year savings:                                                                                            $3500
4.  Stop buying lunch
A pain, but worth it.  You'll have to think ahead by either picking up the right groceries to make your own lunch, or by scooping up after-dinner leftovers.  Healthier than your food-court lunch, which you're probably sick of anyway.
Estimated cost of buying lunch at $8 or so per day:                                      $2000
Minus cost of spending about $15 per week for stuff to make your lunch:    $  750
make your lunch:
One year savings:                                                                                          $1250
With these four habits you will be saving $13,750 per year.  Stay tuned in two weeks for another 4 ways to save more.

Read more Home Finance articles

About the author...

Laurie Baird is a Mortgage Broker with Verico Complete Mortgage Services. She has been in the mortgage business for 17 years starting as a lender with Royal Trust. She later worked at the Royal Bank as a Mortgage Consultant and 11 years ago became a Mortgage Broker. As a Mortgage Broker she is able to match her clients' needs with a lender who will provide them with competitive rates and products. Laurie has a Bachelor of Education degree from UBC.

Contact her at 250-862-1806 or by fax 712-0209 or visit:

Visit Laurie's blog at:

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories

RSS this page.
(Click for RSS instructions.)