Sometimes readers send in questions we think will be of interest to many people. Here are a couple from the AskRoss mailbag:

Dear Ross, with prices so high in the Greater Toronto Area, which  nearby markets do you think have the best balance of affordability and value? 

I try to stay away from areas which are highly dependent on one industry to feed the local economy. So for that reason, I would normally be a bit leary of Oshawa or Hamilton. However, when you view Oshawa, Brighton, Courtice etc. as bedroom communities to Toronto, then they make more sense. And if you don’t mind the two hour drive into Toronto, there is lots of value in Belleville, Quinte etc.

Barrie, Keswick and Innisfil have been very hot  the past year or so, and will probably still be fine. But what about Midhurst or Midland further north?

Saint Catherines has come on recently and Welland seems to be coming into its own too. And if you head west along the 401, Kitchener Waterloo and Cambridge are solid, while London has some real steals. And for overall value and opportunity, some people feel Guelph is the answer. See this article from MoneySense magazine last month.

Related Article: Income properties maybe a good investment

Dear Ross, I cannot decide if I should declare personal bankruptcy or just file a consumer proposal.  Which one will have the bigger impact on my personal credit history?

Let’s face it, neither are going to help your credit history in the short run. Even if you have a perfect repayment history till now, your credit score will probably end up in the 425 to 550 range. (The overall range for consumers is 300 to 900) In Ontario, a bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for six years following the date of discharge, and a consumer proposal will stay there three years after you complete the proposal.

Bankruptcies typically run nine or twenty one months, and proposals can run up to five years. So not much to choose from there, unless you can find a way to pay off the proposal faster (highly recommended)

In truth, a consumer proposal is looked upon slightly more favorably in the future when potential creditors look at your circumstances. In fact, we recently heard of a debtor, in the last year of his consumer proposal, who qualified for best leasing rates at a VolksWagon dealership. This is rare indeed, but almost certainly could not have happened had he been personally bankrupt at the time.

And we often arrange respectable mortgages for clients within one year of completing their consumer proposal.

You should look at more than just the impact on your credit score when making this decision. If you are confused, reach out to professionals such as a trustee in bankruptcy.

Related Article: Why you should pay off a consumer proposal early

Tip of the Day

If the bank doesn’t want to speak with you… if alternate lenders are not interested… if all seems hopeless but selling your home isn’t an option… a private mortgage may be your only hope

— Money Matter № 168