How Do I Get a Mortgage?

If you’ve never owned a home before, you may not be too familiar with mortgages and what you need to do to get one. The first step is to understand what a mortgage is. So let’s start there.

The basics: what a mortgage is…

The common definition states that “a mortgage is a loan secured by real property.” You will be borrowing money to buy a home and a Charge (a legal document that outlines the terms of the loan) is registered on the title of the property to secure the loan. A lender will require this security in case the borrower defaults on their loan.

That might sound a little technical and scary, but it isn’t. In most cases, a homebuyer will take out a mortgage on a portion of the home’s price. If you have saved $40,000, and intend to use it to purchase a property, subtract that amount from the home’s price and that will be the amount of your mortgage, often called the mortgage principal.

A typical first-time buyer will take a 25-year mortgage (the amortization period – how many years it will take you to pay it off) with a 5-year term. A term is the amount of time before the mortgage contract must be prepaid or renegotiated. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay back the full amount in five years, when the term expires, a lender will typically offer a new 5-year contract with the same or new interest rate, depending on the lending environment at the time.

As you might expect, a lending institution wants to make a profit from providing you with a mortgage, and they accomplish that by charging you interest. The interest rate is a fee paid to the lender for borrowing money. An interest rate can be fixed, meaning it doesn’t change for the entire term, or variable, which means the interest rate charged varies as market interest rates change. If you choose a variable rate, your payments will vary as well. Many first-time buyers choose a fixed rate as they know what their payment will be throughout their mortgage term, which helps them budget accordingly.

If you’re putting down less than 20% of the purchase price, you’ll also need mortgage insurance of about 2.8% to 4% of the purchase price. Most lenders will simply add that fee to your mortgage payment and make it easy for you.

Now that you know the mortgage basics, it is fun to play around with the numbers to get a sense of how much you can afford based on your expected monthly payment. TD has a great mortgage calculator on their website (here), where you can plug in your expected principal, interest rate and term, amortization period, and how often you want to pay per month. Paying weekly will save you interest, but you may prefer paying monthly.

Getting “pre-approved” (and how to do it…)

However, before you go out and buy a home, it is advisable to get pre-approval from a bank or other mortgage lender. You want to know exactly how much you can borrow so you know what you can afford and to ensure you don’t overspend. You should be aware that recent changes to the mortgage rules in Ontario require a borrower to qualify for a mortgage at a rate approximately 2% higher than your contracted rate, keep that in mind when you’re punching numbers into the mortgage calculator before you start the approval process.

There is a couple of different options:

  • You can go directly to your existing bank. Be sure you bring details on any accounts that you don’t have at that bank (and your significant other if you’re buying with them). You’ll want to have a letter of employment with your salary, plus any other details on your income, assets, and debts (i.e. student loans or car payments).
  • Another option is to work with a mortgage broker, a practicing professional who assesses a borrower’s financial goals, and acts as an intermediary with several lenders to try to land you the best deal. If you are self-employed or new to Canada, working with a mortgage broker can help you connect with lenders that specialize in these types of buyers. Mortgage brokers are experts when it comes to comparing interest rates, mortgage terms, default insurance, and title insurance.
  • When buying a new home, you also have a third option, many banks offer special deals to builders and developers given their access to a multitude of interested buyers. At Altona Towns, TD Bank will offer qualified buyers a special interest rate, which is capped until the homes are completed and occupied.

It wouldn’t hurt to explore all three mortgage options to ensure you fully understand what you can afford, how much a lender will allow you to borrow, how much you have to pay on a monthly basis, and the various options you have to choose from given those constraints. Getting a pre-approval doesn’t bind you to that lender, if you come across a better deal before you close on a home, you can take it!

Turning your pre-Approval into a mortgage

Once you’ve made your decision on your new home, take your Agreement of Purchase and Sale to your preferred lender and they’ll prepare everything for you, and ensure you have the mortgage funds you need when you move into your dream home.

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What Tesla and Marshall Homes have in common

Building better, more efficient homes has been part of our mission for decades. But with energy costs double what they were a decade ago, it’s never been more important.

When it comes to energy efficiency and green building practices, we’re no Johnny-Come-Lately’s. Building better, more efficient homes has been part of our mission for decades. But with energy costs double what they were a decade ago, it’s never been more important.

That’s why we brought our latest cutting-edge initiative to The Atlona Towns.

In this 27-townhome community, we are bringing together our earth-conscious building philosophy with new technology from Tesla. A cursory look around the community reveals clues there is something different about this place. Solar panels on the roofs and an on-site Tesla battery capable of powering the entire community are obvious giveaways.

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By now, it’s no secret Ontarians pay the highest electricity rates in the country, and costs are still on the rise. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news: We are determined to disrupt the status quo. We are continuing our role as a major player in the the energy efficiency scene by infusing Altona Towns with the latest in clean energy home technology.

At the core of the movement is the microgrid.

Don’t let the jargony, techno-term throw you off. A microgrid is simply a small-scale electric grid with its own generation source. While each of the residences in Altona Towns will be traditionally powered and solar powered, the microgrid is the real game-changer. It relies on an enormous battery—created by technology powerhouse Tesla—to store electricity. Being tied to an on-site microgrid will allow the community to disconnect from the main grid and operate autonomously when necessary.

Here are just a few of the perks of independent electric energy storage The Altona Town residents can expect:

1. Reduced energy costs*

Did you hear that collective sigh of relief? Ontarians weary of skyrocketing energy bills catch a break in Altona Towns. As a direct result of the community’s solar-plus-storage solution, homeowners will save roughly ten percent on their hydro bills. So, while the rest of Ontarians bills are going up, up, up; Altona Towns residents will welcome reduced rates. (Exact savings will vary based on a number of to-be-determined factors.)

2. Positive environmental impact

Thanks to solar power and energy storage being integrated into the community’s operation, Altona Towns will effectively produce fewer carbon emissions and lessen the strain on the main grid—great news for the environment and green-energy conscious consumers who want to take tangible steps towards meaningful conservation.

3. Increased reliability

If an impending winter storm has ever sent you into a frenzy of preparation (and on a hunt for a battery-operated radio and flashlights), listen up. Temporary, widespread service interruptions (which could happen when events like stormy or windy weather disrupt the distribution grid) will be a thing of the past at The Altona Towns. When the main electric grid experiences a hiccup, the microgrid kicks in to keep the juice flowing.

(Bonus: Beyond these three benefits and others, future buyers will earn bragging rights: as a demonstration project built in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Energy’s Smart Grid Fund, The Altona Towns is the first Canadian community of its kind.)

While The Altona Towns is clearly on a fast track to the future, there are still some things about the revolutionary community that echoes the past—namely, Marshall Home’s history of quality, well-built homes. Buyers can expect to find open concept, modern interiors within the three-bedroom townhomes, along with plenty of modern amenities and on-site green space.

But what may be the best part about Marshall Homes’ newest development is the peace of mind that comes with an investment in The Altona Towns. When people take a step into the future by purchasing one of the town homes, they can leave behind fears over skyrocketing hydro costs and arbitrary power outages and rest assured they’re doing their part to make a positive move towards building a greener, more sustainable world.

It’s one more reason to be excited about our latest community. Are you on the list? Register and we’ll keep you in the loop with all the details.


* Pending government approval

407 ETR: Another reason to bet on the Kawarthas

Kawartha Region offers beauty, accessibility and strong investment potential thanks to rising property values.

The prettiest patches of fresh water you’ll ever see. The soothing call of the loon. Nothing but relaxation for miles around. Summer vacations in cottage country are the best. But, actually getting to a lakeside retreat can be a different story.

If you’ve ever hit the road on a Friday afternoon during cottage season, you know the misery that is Highway 400. For years, cottage owners craving the luxury lifestyle and social scene of the Muskokas have paid the price of crawling through a bumper-to-bumper procession for hours on end. (For Americans not familiar with the area, Muskoka is the Canadian equivalent of the Hamptons or Cape Cod.)

For many prospective owners looking to purchase a recreational property outside the GTA, the traffic snarls into the Muskokas have become a deal breaker—and one of the reasons why the Kawarthas are now the lakeside destination of choice whether you’re building your cottage dream house or settling into one of the new, luxury retirement homes in the area.

It’s no secret that the relative ease of heading into the Kawarthas has long made the area a better bet. But, now, an expanded road network is set to make the jaunt from the city to the cottage of your dreams — or the drive into the city from your retirement paradise in the Kawarthas — even better. That’s right, mind-numbing standstills are nearly a thing of the past. (Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.)

You’ll be going from desk to dock in record time

The Highway 407 project is responsible for the area’s improved accessibility. From downtown Toronto or the west end, soon you’ll be able to hop on the 407 and forget about traffic jams. Even with only the Highway 412 extension linking Highways 401 and 407 currently open, the escape from desk to dock (or back into the city) is already much improved. It’s a painless two-hour jaunt to or from the GTA. The impending connection of Highway 407 to Highway 115/35 (a four-lane highway) that is set to debut in the fall of 2019 will be another boon to the local commute.

(Note: While you can expect tolls on the new network of roads, if you’re located in Pickering and East-of-Toronto, you’ll benefit from lower tolls on the the provincially-owned 412 (and portions of the 407), as compared to the privately-owned 407 Express Toll Route.)

Not surprisingly, there is a clear correlation between the Kawarthas’ improved accessibility and rising property values. During the economic downturn of the last decade, it wasn’t unusual for properties to sit through a season or two. Today, the market is thriving, and the ease of access is just one factor behind the rising interest. Young families and retirees alike are being drawn in from Toronto and surrounding areas by the promise of lower costs of living combined with excellent services and a relaxed lifestyle. Likewise, Americans coming in to take advantage of the strong U.S. dollar and purchase recreational properties are also driving up demand.

And, it’s no wonder why the area is seeing a spike in popularity. Gorgeous scenery, a friendly vibe and an abundance of activities are the ideal trifecta for those searching for a vacation destination or year-round living. While the Kawartha region still maintains the simple feel of small-town life, it has just enough of a big city edge to stay interesting. In growing hotspots like Bobcaygeon, you’ll find shops and restaurants embracing the artisanal movement, along with entertaining options like festivals, fairs and concerts. Of course, opportunity for rural pursuits, like farmers’ markets, boating, fishing and snowmobiling area are always in abundance.

The Kawarthas’ intrinsic allure and improving accessibility make now the time to move—literally and figuratively.

If you’re looking at the Kawarthas as a place to build your next home or cottage, there are two opportunities you should know about:

Encore at Port 32

Thinking about retiring to the Kawarthas? Set on the shores of Pigeon Lake amidst one the Kawartha’s favourite towns — Bobcaygeon, we will be building 33 well appointed and impeccably finished homes in a park-like setting and an established community of happy, welcoming people that make for fast friends. We expect these homes to sell quickly so we advise signing up to get updates.


Find out more about Encore


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The Millennial Housing Dilemma, Buy for Fun or Buy for the Future?

You’ve made up your mind, it’s time to buy your first home, but where do you start? Purchasing your first property can be a daunting task. The first step should be a visit to your bank to see what you can realistically afford. You’ve likely been dreaming of your first home for several years, but be realistic, you won’t get everything you want the first time around, don’t be this guy:

Setting your budget will help you narrow your search, but the next big consideration is location. Do you want a skyline view or a backyard?

Let’s take a closer look at Option A: The Downtown Condo

Downtown Toronto may sound appealing, with its array of bars, nightclubs, and trendy shops, but a new condominium in the Entertainment District will run you $500,000 for just 500 square feet. Add in a parking spot at $75,000, a locker at $7,000, two land transfer taxes, and a hefty monthly maintenance fee. You’ll be paying a lot for the “fun” of downtown living and that high-rise view, assuming you can afford the additional $1,000 per floor premium and clear the neighbouring towers. When deciding where and what to buy, you should not only think about your current needs, but your future needs as well.

It won’t be long before you find that tiny condo is a little too crowded, that elevator ride is a little too long, and that spiral underground parking ramp extremely annoying. You’ll find yourself looking for a bigger, hassle-free home. You might think that moving isn’t expensive because you’ll just buy your uncle a case a beer to hall all of your stuff for you, but there are a lot more costs. A Realtor’s commission can cost you over $10,000, you will need a lawyer to review your sales contract, and you may have to pay to break your existing mortgage.

You might not be thinking about starting a family now, but things can change quickly. If you think housing is expensive, take a look at downtown daycare costs. If you survive those years, you might not be able find you’re a school for junior anywhere near your high-rise.

Option B: The Financial Benefits of Being Flexible

A key consideration that will save you a lot of money when buying your first home is flexibility. Perhaps a larger townhouse with a short commute is a better choice. You may not get the gimmicky condo amenities like a golf simulator, a bowling alley, a zen spa, or super high-end appliances, but you don’t really need the first three, and you can always upgrade your countertop, backsplash and refrigerator a couple years down the road. If you have a second child, need to park another car, a townhouse provides you with that level of flexibility.

As we’ve witnessed in 2017, market conditions can change quickly, and right when you want to move-up from your downtown condominium, prices might be down and the market slow. Skip a step, and make an affordable move-up now.

Marshall Homes has launched a brand new community in west Pickering, a collection of family-friendly townhouses from 1,617 square feet to 1,927 square feet. The Altona Towns may cost you more than a tiny condominium in downtown Toronto, but you’ll get two parking spaces, a backyard, three bedrooms and up to four times the space. There is only one land transfer tax in Pickering (you’ll save $8,000 to $10,000 dollars — think of what you can do with that) and you won’t have to shell out for that constantly-rising condo fee.

And importantly, you won’t need to move again next year meaning another round of legal, real estate and moving expenses to add to the tally.

Add it all up and a smart purchase today could end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars.

It’s possible to get more for your money and we can help you with that.

A home at The Altona Towns will not only give you peace of mind by offering a new home warranty, you’ll have the flexibility to grow into it, and you might just have have more fun in Pickering anyway.

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Building a Custom Cottage: 4 Reasons Why New Beats Old

Life is better at the cottage. No one knows this better than folks lucky enough to escape to the Kawartha Lakes. Whether you’re gathering with family and friends for a weekend of fun or escaping for a quiet respite where relaxation is the only thing on your agenda, this idyllic region, with its abundance of lakes and natural beauty, is the ideal getaway.If renting or borrowing a cottage is your usual go-to getaway plan when you head to the Kawarthas, there is one thing guaranteed to make your vacations even better: having a home away from home of your very own. But buying an existing cottage can come with a slew of issues, because, let’s be honest, old cottages come with old problems. That’s the bad news. The good news? You can create your own, new cottage with all of the benefits of a custom build and none of the hassle, stress and expense that typically comes with designing a home from scratch. Really.For more proof that building a new Marshall Homes cottage beats buying a pre-existing cottage every time, check out these the four realities of old vs. new cottages:

1. Older cottages need updating.

It’s true that an aging cottage can possess a certain charm, but even if the architecture appeals to you, old plumbing, electrical and heating systems probably don’t. In addition to the costly job of bringing these older systems up to date, replacing other worn out building features (think: insulation, roofing, and windows) can result in high, out-of-pocket expenses.

Besides the cost, let’s be real, you want to spend time enjoying your cottage, not fixing it. The last thing you want to be worrying about during a weekend getaway is replacing leaky pipes or old wiring. When you build new, you’re guaranteed quality, up-to-date materials; the only thing you’ll have to think about is whether to put up your feet and relax or seek out some family fun.

Besides the cost, let’s be real, you want to spend time enjoying your cottage, not fixing it. The last thing you want to be worrying about during a weekend getaway is replacing leaky pipes or old wiring. When you build new, you’re guaranteed quality, up-to-date materials; the only thing you’ll have to think about is whether to put up your feet and relax or seek out some family fun.

2. Newer cottages are more comfortable.

Because older cottages weren’t constructed with modern, energy efficient building techniques, they (and their inhabitants) are at the mercy of our challenging local climate where temperatures swing drastically from sweltering to freezing. The result? An uncomfortable living environment and sky-high energy bills. Relying on the latest in building innovations, Marshall Homes creates quality-built homes that respond efficiently to local climate challenges, thereby keeping you (and your wallet) comfortable, no matter the temperature.

3. Older cottages can’t be customized the way a new one can.

When you choose a pre-built cottage, it is what it is, unless you’re willing to take on expensive and time-consuming renovations. But when you build with Marshall Homes, you are in control. You’ll have the opportunity to add your own custom touches to one of our modern, livable floor plans up front. Love to cook and have a custom kitchen with specific features and finishes on your wish list? Need a basement to ensure plenty of space for family and friends? Want plenty of windows to usher in natural light and gorgeous views? Check, check and check. At Marshall Homes, we will work with you to create a custom cottage suited to fit your family, lifestyle, and budget without the hassle, stress, and cost of designing from the ground up.

4. Newer cottages can be built at your perfect location.

Whether your happy place is a stone’s throw from the lake’s edge or perched high on a hill overlooking a forest of pines, Marshall Homes can place your custom home there. No more need to compromise between the ideal property and a cottage that fits your family’s needs. When you build a new cottage, you can have your perfect property and your perfect cottage, too.Ready to start building memories? Let us help you create a cottage or home that you’ll be proud to own and share with friends and family for years to come.


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Finding the perfect Kawartha Lakes cottage property

Searching for the perfect piece of land for your new getaway? Check out these tips to help you on the hunt through cottage country.

If you’re planning to build a Marshall Homes cottage in the Kawarthas, selecting the right cottage property is a vital step in ensuring the successful outcome of your project. For most, the dream of owning a cottage is as much about your surroundings as the cottage itself. A spot that makes you feel inspired, relaxed and at home is ideal.

But, the land you choose for your custom cottage must also meet a number of practicalities, such as location and site elements. Striking the right balance between convenience, beauty and cost, isn’t a simple task, but you can help narrow the field by keeping a few simple criteria in mind.

Read on for our best suggestions for finding a piece of land that you’ll love (nearly) as much as your new, Marshall Homes cottage and get our list of preferred Kawartha realtors to help jump start your search.


Imagine your ideal escape and create your checklist

Before beginning (or continuing) your hunt for a property, take time to build a springboard of search criteria.

Location, location, location

That’s real estate’s number one rule, right? So let’s start here.

One of the reasons we’re so bullish about the Kawarthas is access. While none of us is spared the snarl of traffic, the Kawarthas offers more routes and less traffic to beloved cottage towns and lakes than heading up on Hwy 400 to Muskoka.

And in the next couple of years, we’ll be zipping all the way to Hwy 115 on the newly extended 407 (a four lane highway) in no time. And guess what? That’s going to make your cottage property a whole lot more desirable in the coming years.

So where in the Kawarthas should you focus on?

When selecting the right spot for your future Marshall Homes cottage in the Kawarthas, it’s essential to balance your dream of a remote getaway with the practicalities of everyday life.

You’ll want to think of favourite cottage villages and towns that offer the kind of amenities and fun you envision. Also consider how far you want to drive. Weigh the pros and cons of a more remote property with any time restrictions you may have. Remote may work if you plan to spend weeks at a time at the cottage. Something closer may be more practical if you’ll be a weekend warrior.

Do you want to be right in your favourite cottage town? Or out-of-town?

You’ll want to consider access to public utilities, as well as drive-time to shopping and emergency facilities, such as hospitals and fire stations.

Likewise, factor in how much privacy you crave. Do you want a property with acreage or would you prefer a close, community feel? Determine your preference, then evaluate each site accordingly.

Look to your interests. Take a moment to envision your ideal cottage vacation. Do you spend your time boating, swimming, hunting or hiking? Consider how conducive each site is to your desired activities. If you prefer boating, a property with a dock or access to a local marina may fit the bill. If you love swimming or have children, a beachy spot along the shore might be a better fit. If a watery locale isn’t imperative, an off-water site can result in significant savings.

What kind of landscape do you envision?

To help narrow down a location in the Kawarthas, decide on the physical landscape you want to be surrounded by during your cottage escapes. Do you want an agricultural feel, forested, or is it the wild, rocky terrain of the Canadian Shield that you crave?

After you’ve settled on a landscape, create a checklist of site essentials. Is water access a must? Do killer views top your wish list? Are you looking for a sloped property to accommodate a walkout basement?

And, lastly, to keep each property’s pros and cons clear in your mind, take physical notes on the plusses and minuses while walking the property. After your visit, compare the notes against your checklist.

Here’s where a good Realtor can help

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When you’re narrowing down the perfect property, a good local Realtor can be your best ally.

They may be able to show you properties with old cottages ready for tear-down.

They’ll know about properties going on the market … before they’re on the market. And they’ll be able to answer questions about technical practicalities such as …

Road Access.

While undeveloped land has a raw beauty that may make it appealing, it may also come with its own set of extenuating factors. A remote location can be a challenge during construction, making it tough (and costly) to deliver materials. It can also make accessing your cottage problematic in the winter months. If you plan on using the property during the winter, find out if the roads are maintained year-round.

Asking your Realtor the following questions will help you avoid having to dole out some serious cash for unexpected bills:

  • Is access to public utilities readily available?
  • Where will your water come from? If it’s a well, is it reliable and potable (drinkable)?
  • Are there any easements or right-of-way considerations that could limit the amount of property you can build on or keep you from accessing it at certain times of the year?
  • What is the topography of the land where you hope to place the cottage? Look carefully into whether you’ll need to take any erosion-control measures. Or, if your site is particularly rocky factor in the cost of excavating and preparing the ground for the foundation.

Bonus round: Here’s where we come in

Once you’ve purchased your property, our team will come in and assess your property including everything from zoning to septic tanks (if needed) and building permits. Need local approval? We’ll handle that as part of our custom package and fixed price commitment. It’s all part of our pledge to make custom easier for you.

So go with your gut. After considering the pros and cons of each site (refer to your notes, as mentioned in Tip #1), go beyond your checklist and reflect on the distinct character of each property. Like every person, each piece of land has a unique look and feel. Close your eyes and revisit each property in your mind. Which one stands out—makes you feel at ease and at home? Ultimately, building on a property that speaks to your heart, not just checks the spaces on your criteria list, will help make your Marshall custom cottage an even more perfect place to get away.

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