ASK DAVID: Incentives for buyers with disabilities, Freehold condos, Calculating property tax
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DEAR DAVID: Are there incentives available for people who are disabled and want to buy a home? Any renovation grants? - Looking for Options
Dear Options: While the federal government does not have a program specifically for individuals with disabilities, the first-time Home Buyer's Plan (HBP) extends eligibility for those living with a disability (or a relative acting on their behalf) to buy or build a home, whether or not it is their first. The HBP allows the withdrawal of up to $25,000 in a calendar year from your RRSPs, provided that the home will be your primary residence and is better suited to your disability than your current home. The specific conditions and tax implications of the HBP are worth discussing with your financial planner, especially since your RRSP withdrawal is not taxable if it repaid within a 15-year period. These programs tend to change frequently, but if you are close to affording a home already, the HBP may help to close the gap. For those who qualify, Ontario's Home & Vehicle Modification Program (HVMP) also offers a lifetime maximum of up to $15,000 to help make homes more accessible.
DEAR DAVID: What is a "freehold condo"? - Urban Buyer
Dear Urban: In the case of a freehold condominium, you own your unit (usually a house or townhouse) and sometimes the plot of land on which it sits. You will likely be responsible for the maintenance of the entire house, including exterior walls, roof, landscaping, garage and driveway. Your monthly condo fees will support the “common” property elements, such as recreational facilities or visitor parking. With a regular condo, your unit generally consists of the interior of the house, sometimes termed “from the paint on in”. Exterior features are considered part of the common elements, which means that maintenance of exterior walls, windows, landscaping and driveways tend to be handled by the condo corporation. When considering any condo, ask you Realtor what is included in the condo fees and what is not.
DEAR DAVID: I am considering a real estate purchase, how do I know what the property taxes will be? - Budget Conscious
Dear Budget Conscious: To calculate property taxes, multiply the home's current assessed value by your city's current mill rate. In Waterloo and Cambridge, tax calculators on both city websites will do this for you. In Kitchener, you can call the city's revenue division for details. Your Realtor can also provide this information.
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