Since joining the Ratehub.ca team back in 2012, I’ve dedicated the last two weeks of December as a time for reflection on the blog. We work hard all year to try and bring you the content you want, on the topics you’re searching for more information on, with a little insight on our personal lives and interests sprinkled in.
This is one of the posts I love piecing together the most: a list of our favourites from throughout the year. In 2014, we published 100 blog posts (101, if you include this one). To choose just 5 of our favourites is no simple task, so posts have to meet some specific criteria: they should be informative and insightful, and it helps if they got a little media attention.
Without further ado, here’s what made the list.
Earlier this year, I became fascinated with the idea of living a more minimalist lifestyle. The fascination led to me removing 51% of my belongings and researching small home design concepts; that’s when I discovered the tiny house movement. Curious how people paid for their tiny homes, I called a couple of our mortgage brokers and asked if it was possible to get financing from a bank or not. The answer shouldn’t have surprised me, based on the reason why it is so… but it was still a fun topic to research, learn and write about!
As the 2013 RRSP contribution deadline approached, we dug a little deeper on things future first-time homebuyers should know about the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). You probably already knew you could withdraw $25,000 tax-free, and that it’s a loan to yourself that eventually needs to be repaid, but do you know how long the money needs to be in there before you take it out? Or that there’s a specific time period in which you must make the withdrawal? This informative post was picked up by The Globe and Mail, and had the second-most views of all our posts this year.
#3: Homebuyer Wins vs. Losses 2014 [Infographic]
We know how much you love infographics, so we like to take the time to do them right. This spring, after reading through the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals’ annual report, Looking for a “New Normal” in the Residential Mortgage Market, we pulled the stats that showed how Canadian homebuyers were coming out ahead, and where they were struggling. For example, it shouldn’t be a surprise that borrowers continued to get good mortgage rates. But then Canada’s largest cities became seller’s markets, which was bad news for buyers.
Earlier this year, Kerri-Lynn (KL) bought her first home in Toronto with her partner. We documented her entire home buying experience in a series of 5 blog posts, one of which outlined the bidding wars she entered on various condos and houses. KL also shared strategies that buyers should have with their real estate agents, before “going to war”. The response from agents: “this is the most accurate explanation of how bidding wars work”! It was also picked up by The Globe and Mail, and had the most pageviews of all our posts this year.
After months of finalizing the design and reskinning hundreds of pages, we finally launched the new look and feel of our site in October. This was, without a doubt, one of our biggest undertakings this year… actually, ever. But we are so happy with the final product! If you haven’t taken the time to explore the new site design, do so and you’ll find all the things you love about Ratehub.ca (our mortgage calculators, educational content, widgets, etc.) but with a modern, flat look. The new design is just the beginning of what’s to come in 2015… stay tuned!