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A home in Toronto's Rosedale neighbourhood is photographed in May.Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

It’s the topic you can’t avoid at social gatherings, especially if you live in one of Canada’s bigger cities: real estate. Either you’re wondering how to climb the property ladder or you’re daydreaming about cashing in.

The Globe and Mail can give you an edge in making smart real-estate decisions. Our insight can help you strike a great mortgage deal or spot a promising property in a promising place. Here is a sample of the kind of value The Globe provides.

Lower mortgage payments

For consumers trying to save for a house, a 30-year mortgage offers a glimmer of hope. The era of low interest rates is over, says The Globe’s personal finance columnist, Rob Carrick. As rates rise, the lower payments that come with an extended-period loan could give you breathing room to start a family, make your car payments and save for retirement. The hitch? A higher down payment.

A mortgage calculator for 'real life’

How much house can you afford? Banks often give you a sky-high figure that seems too good to be true – and that’s because they only care about whether you can technically repay the loan. Never mind juggling your other expenses like daycare or saving for retirement. The Globe’s “Real Life Ratio” calculator comes to the rescue. It tells how much house you can afford while still meeting other financial obligations.

Apps to the rescue?

Canada’s real-estate sales model has never looked more old fashioned. Now a couple of startups are aiming to shake things up. One entrepreneur learned from Israel’s methods: “In Israel, when you go buy a house, you have something like Kijiji. You go on the site, you pick a house you like, you just buy it directly.” Could Canada be next?

An alternative to the bank

Are you looking to refinance but the bank is being difficult? Canada’s tougher new mortgage qualification rules have driven more business to private lenders. These lenders can be particularly helpful for those who want extra cash to pay off debts, such as credit cards.

Will a foreign-buyer’s tax reduce prices?

When Vancouver leaders saw their city being hollowed out through foreign home ownership, they implemented a foreign-buyer’s tax. Has it stopped price increases in one of the world’s most expensive real estate locales? One researcher says he can prove that the tax has resulted in an immediate improvement in housing affordability.

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