Kawartha Lakes Home Buyers – First-time Home Buyer Tips

Kawartha Lakes Home Buyers

Kawartha Lakes Home Buyer: First-time Home Buyer Tips

Kawartha Lakes Home BuyersIf you are in the market for a new home there are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  1. How much home can you afford?

Prepare a simple budget to see where most of your money is going on a monthly basis.  There are many up-front costs when it comes to buying a home.  It is suggested to save 1.5% of the purchase price for the cost of legal fees, appraisal fees, home inspection fees, land transfer tax, title insurance, survey costs, moving costs and other expenses.  Also, keep in mind of paying monthly utility bills, property taxes and home insurance.  As a general rule, your mortgage payment, property taxes and heating cost should not be more than 32% of your gross household monthly income and then your other monthly commitments such as any loans, lines of credit, credit card payments or other debts should not exceed 40% of your monthly income.

The mortgage amount you can afford will also depend on your down payment.  If you are putting less than 20% down you will have a premium fee added to your mortgage by a mortgage insurance company (CMHC, Genworth or Canada Guaranty).  This will allow you to put a minimum of 5% down.  My website,  has an online calculator to help you figure out the maximum home price you can afford, how large a mortgage you can borrow, and what your monthly payments will be when considering your down payment percentage. There are different options when it comes to your down payment.  First-time Homebuyers are allowed to cash out up to $25,000 from a RRSP investment without the tax holdback.  It will be gradually paid back through filing your income tax each year as a payment over 15 years.  You are able to use a gifted down payment as long as there is no requirement to paying it back to the person who gifted it to you and some lenders may even let you borrow the down payment (as long as it works into the 40% of your monthly responsibilities).    There is also a down payment assistance program through the City of Kawartha Lakes that you may qualify for if you are thinking about purchasing your first home The first page of this application will outline what is required to qualify.

  1. Which mortgage is right for you?

You will have a wide selection when deciding which mortgage is right for you that will include amortization period (the length of time to pay off your mortgage), the term (the amount of time and interest rate you negotiated), payment schedule (monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, etc.), open or closed mortgage and whether you want a fixed or variable interest rate (always take into account an increase in interest rates that could impact your ability to make your monthly payment).

  1. Your credit score and how you can improve it.

Your credit score is an indicator of how well you pay your bills and other debts and one of the factors that lenders consider when qualifying you for a mortgage.  Always pay your bills on time and in full; pay off your debts as quickly as possible; never go over the limit on your credit cards; and try to limit the number of credit cards or loan applications you make.  If you do have any derogatory credit, collections outstanding, consumer proposals or bankruptcies showing, it will affect your ability to obtain a mortgage from a financial institution such as a bank or mortgage lender but there are other options (B lenders or private lenders) each with different requirements needing to be meet to purchase a home.  To find out your credit score, you can order an online copy from either Equifax Canada or TransUnion Canada.   If you find any errors on your report, notify the credit-reporting agency and the organization responsible for the inaccurate information immediately. 

  1. Obtain a mortgage pre-approval

Having a mortgage pre-approval gives you a great advance when looking for a home.  It enables you to negotiate the best price and conditions knowing that your financing is in place.  It will allow you to know for certain what you can afford based on lender and insurer criteria and what your payments on a specific mortgage will be.  An interest rate can be locked in for you from 60 – 120 days so that you are guaranteed to get a mortgage for at least that rate or better.  Before looking and calling a real estate agent, like Brad Nelson or Kelli Lovell Real Estate Brokers with Coldwell Banker RMR Real Estate, call me to explain to you the benefits of a short or long term mortgage, the latest programs available to best suit your needs and review all costs involving when purchasing a home.  I would be happy to help you get into the home you always wanted.  I can be reached anytime at 705-328-4985 or by email

Merlynn the Mortgage Magician










January 23, 2017 |

Living in Port 32 – Retirement in the Kawarthas

Sturgeon Lake - Little bob channel

Living in Port 32 – Retirement in the Kawarthas

Living in Port 32 Bobcaygeon

Port 32 on Pigeon Lake in Bobcaygeon, Ontario

Have you ever wondered what people do that live in an adult or a retirement community?  The answer is very simple.  Whatever you want.  The options are up to you.  You can enjoy simplicity, tranquility, leisure and solitary pursuits.  More social and active individuals and couples can easily find activities that include sports, outings, interest groups, etc.   

Some of us worry that after retirement, we might get bored or fall into a funk.  There are lots of ways to prevent both.  Start with a choice of location that has events and activities in the area that interest you.  Get a reliable, knowledgeable real estate agent to guide you to the properties that best suit your needs and budget. 

Once you make a choice and purchase, settle in and are ready, start planning your new life, or just take it one day at a time.  Whatever works for you. 

I’m a rather reclusive sort, while my husband is the outgoing, social butterfly in the family.  We found something that gives us both what we need, in a setting of incomparable, natural beauty.  It’s the Port 32 development in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. The community had an enormous potential for a satisfying life of quiet reflection or for vibrant, daily activity.  It has the benefit of everything the town itself has in place as well as a clubhouse dedicated to the use of Port 32 residents with memberships.  One day, you can stroll over to the private Water Garden and watch the ducks, listen to waves lap against the dock, and doze or read.  The next day, you could be busy from daybreak till dark, fishing, on a boating, playing tennis, swimming in the saltwater pool and dining at one of the town’s charming restaurants. 

Bobcaygeon - Pigeon Lake

Evening on Pigeon Lake

I’ll give you some personalised examples of daily life in Port 32.  Once a week, my husband plays a game of bocci and a game of horseshoes at the clubhouse, which is called, The Shore Spa.  One sport runs first thing in the morning, the other is in the early evening.  You could do different sports almost any day.  After your morning game, relax at the pool, play a choice of many card games or if you’re really stoked, go work out downstairs in the gym.  Then, choose a book in the lending library and come back home, strolling through the natural trails. Then, we often pop into town to have lunch at Eggsmart or at The Water’s Edge

kawartha-dairyAfternoons, a shopping trip in town is in order.  Fantastic shops abound.  Pick up interesting pieces at Douglas and Son, especially their locally themed shirts and decor items.  The famous Bigley Shoes & Clothing is a must see with everything from household goods to casual and fine garments to probably the largest selection of footwear you might ever see under one roof.  If you crave some fish and chips, you need to know that our local Just For the Halibut draws people from all over the area.  I won’t even mention their homemade pies.  Oops!  Then, a drive across the lock bridge will get to The Kawartha Dairy.  They have an onsite store and ice cream servery.  Just warning you now, it’s incredible and the portions are enormous!Bigley Shoes and Clothing

Now that you’ve followed me around this far, you may as well go grocery shopping with me, too.  We have Bobcaygeon Foodland and Strang’s ValuMart and both are very well stocked and managed.  We can pick up some things to cook for the week, then head over to Grant’s Butcher Shop for the highest quality meat offerings.

About the Author – Barbie grew up in small-town Ontario. Her husband was born and raised in Montreal. They are now permanent, year-round residents of Port 32, in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, in The Kawartha Lakes. This article is the third in a series detailing their move from the GTA and making their home in the Kawarthas.

Sturgeon Lake - Little bob channel

Sunset over Little Bob Channel – Sturgeon Lake

July 15, 2016 |

Escaping the Rat Race


Escaping the Rat Race?

Second, in a short series of why, when and how two city-slickers found peace and productivity in Bobcaygeon, Ontario.

Looking back six years ago, on the cusp of retirement, I wish I had known what I do now.  My husband and I spent several years in limbo, in a big home we didn’t need, in a city we no longer wanted to or needed to stay in.  We explored all over Ontario.  First, we checked out smaller communities on the GTA, and then, in the hinterland.  Lots of options, but still, too urban for our hearts’ beckoning.  

We began to think outside of the box.  A friend’s move to The Kawartha Lakes region upon her retirement put some fresh ideas in our confused minds.  However, a few drives through the countryside solidified the idea that this was an area we could consider seriously and that could offer us everything we were hoping for.  It turned out to be not only gorgeous and green, but still affordable, especially on a retirement budget. 

Researching this move was truly pleasurable.  Checking out the towns, villages, lakes and rivers, we knew would find what we needed.  Childhood memories of vacations on Pigeon Lake, and a close friend living in Bobcaygeon focused our attention on this historic, scenic and welcoming community.  Our local real estate agent connected us with some properties available here and from there, we discovered the team of Brad Nelson and Kelli Lovell, representing some very attractive properties.  A whirlwind day of viewing a total of eleven homes, plus a fabulous lunch at The Kawartha Coffee Company, proved interesting, informative, and ultimately very successful.  We chose a lovely resale home in Bobcaygeon, in the Port 32 development.  It was perfect for us!

Port 32 Bobcaygeon Real Estate

The Shore Spa at Port 32

Well-maintained properties, a clubhouse with private marina and water garden and friendly residents made this choice very easy.  Driving through the enclave of homes, you see unique and creative designs in architecture, some 26 years old, now, some brand new and everything in between.  Each one features natural limestone outcroppings, mature trees, proximity to Pigeon Lake and the main town and within Port 32, winding trails behind the homes that connect the area for leisurely strolls unencumbered by fencing.  It’s like living in your own private park, on or by the lake.  

Structures range from bungalows, raised bungalow and splits, to a few two-story homes.  All have been constructed with deference to the land forms and with quality workmanship and materials.  

If you prefer being right in town, homes are available, all just a short walk to shopping and services.  Even if you choose a home outside of Bobcaygeon, properties on Pigeon and Sturgeon Lakes are just minutes into town.  It’s the convenience of living where everything is within easy reach.  Most shopping needs can be met right in town by the large variety of merchants, including supermarkets, hardware, lumber, clothing, sporting goods, household products and gift-ware.  Of course, we have several gas stations, dentists, legion and other organisations, and a walk-in clinic.  

Lakeview%20Arts%20BarnAny thoughts of small towns being inactive or boring will disappear as soon as you familiarize yourself, here.  As well as the obvious fishing, swimming and boating available, there is local live theatre at The Lakeview Arts Barn / Globus Theatre, just minutes away on Pigeon Lake Road.  You can find yoga, curling, pickleball, hockey, tai chi and a very modern community centre with gym and pool.  

If you need medical services such a massage, or chiropractic, we are well set.  Labs, hospitals and extended needs can be found in close proximity in Lindsay, Minden and Peterborough.  

And, of course, if you get hungry and don’t feel like cooking, we have a plethora of restaurants from casual to fine dining, and most certainly, a Tim Hortons!  

We’ve been here almost two years now, and honestly, not missing anything, especially the traffic, crowds or smog in the city.  Life here is nothing short of sweet!  As soon as the extension to Highway 407 is complete in ’17, any city cravings you may have will ever met very rapidly.  Take a leisurely drive and see for yourself.  😊

June 15, 2016 |

How to buy a second Home or cottage


How to buy a second Home or cottage

Merlynn%20MullenIf you have been toying with the idea of buying a second home or cottage, now may be the time to take the leap with interest rates still historically low.  The key to financing a second home is your ability to afford it.  Here are some helpful tips for helping you find that

  1. Scouting the market – One way to start off the search is finding a real estate agent who is familiar with your desired location.  Brad Nelson and Kelli Lovell are two exceptional real estate agents in the #bobcaygeon area.  #Port32 is one of the most sought after markets in The Kawarthas.  They can help you evaluate the location and amenities of a property and provide information of comparable sales.
  2. Get a mortgage pre-approval – A mortgage pre-approval will give you the confidence of knowing that financing is available, and it can put you in a very positive negotiation position against other home-buyers who are not pre-approved.  #merlynnthemortgagemagician can help you out with any financing options for your second home or cottage dream.
  3. Check out insurance – Having a separate policy specifically for second homes is usually a smart move.  Your vacation home or second home will likely have some insurance hazards that your main home does not.  By creating a separate policy, you can tailor coverage options that make sense for your circumstances.
  4. Save.  Then save some more. – How much money can you put aside for your second home mortgage and down payment?  If you are selling your first home to finance the second home – sitting aside a minimum of six months payments for both properties is recommended.   Remember: the bigger the down payment, the less interest you will have to pay overall.

If you would like to learn more about buying a second home and how to easily secure financing, please feel free to contact Merlynn Mullen at 705-328-4985 or

June 7, 2016 |

Port 32 Bobcaygeon – A Transitioned Life

Port 32 Bobcaygeon


Port 32 Bobcaygeon

The Shore Spa and Marina – Port 32 Bobcaygeon

A Transitioned Life – Moving to Port 32 Bobcaygeon

Volume 1

Introductions, first.  My name is Barbie and I grew up in small-town Ontario.  My husband was born and raised in Montreal.  We are now permanent, year-round residents of Port 32, in Bobcaygeon, Ontario, in The Kawartha Lakes.  We spent the majority of adult life in Toronto.  We raised our family, practised our professional days in the busy, crowded, and the ever-sprawling bedlam of one of the largest cities in North America.  Retire and move to the country?  Yes!  A dream can come true!


Today, we live the dream, as everyday life.Rarely, anything good happens easily or quickly, but this move was painless and swift. The stages of life, exploring our options and following them up with research online and in person,  planted seeds that grew into dreams.  Today, we live the dream, as everyday life.


Ironically, this journey began unknowingly, back in the 1960’s, when I was a child.  My parents took annual summer holidays that took in Prince Edward County, The Thousand Islands, and eventually, to their favourite locale, Bobcaygeon.  I hadn’t given the area much thought for decades.  As adults, my husband and I didn’t own a summer home or watercraft.  We were always drawn to the water and life in a smaller, less chaotic environment.  But, the epiphany came about five years ago.  A dear friend retired, sold her home in The Beaches area of Toronto and bought herself a lovely bungalow, just steps from a lake in The Kawarthas.  We visited her often, for growing stretches of time.  We were enchanted!  We would come to dread going back to the city.  At that point, we both knew that when the time was right, we would make the same move that she had.


Five years ago, my husband retired from his practise.   I had already stopped working for some time.  Our lives in the city were becoming ever increasingly aggravated by the terrible traffic, noise of sirens day and night and crowds, everywhere.  An accident and two subsequent surgeries with following immobility for five months clinched the deal…..  We decided to sell the too large home for two people, with too many stairs.


As you probably are well aware, selling a house in Toronto is almost instantaneous!  Two days later, we were looking forward to a closing in four weeks.


A girlfriend who has spent decades living in Bobcaygeon, recommended we have a look at Victoria Place and Port 32.  One trip and eleven property tours later, we owned a home in Port 32!   Efficient work by our local agent in the city and Brad Nelson and Kelli Lovell, here in Bobcaygeon, made the dream of living in the most perfect location into reality.  We have been here going on two years in November of 2016.  Not for one moment of one day have we ever regretted the decision we made.  Life in The Kawarthas has exceeded every expectation.


In my next volume, I will go into some detail of living in this idyllic, well-planned community and give you some insight into life here, in the four seasons.  The bungalows are spacious, elegant and landscaped with no detail spared.  The neighbourhood is friendly, and gorgeous.  Water is a few steps from every home.  We have a club house with numerous year-round activities and close proximity to shopping, recreation, and services.  All we are missing is the aggravation, LOL!  😊

Port 32 Bobcaygeon Real Estate - (6 of 6)

May 13, 2016 |
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