First, have a good understanding of where you stand financially today.
That means finding out whether there’s enough money for a down payment — a minimum of five per cent of the home’s purchase price. It’s also important to look at what other debts you owe and how stable your employment is.
And the down payment is just one cost to consider. Potential home buyers should set aside another 1.5 to three per cent of the purchase price to take care of closing costs.
Once the papers have been signed and the property is yours, it’s not just the mortgage payments that you have to worry about after that.
Can you afford property taxes, condo fees, heat, electricity and repairs?
When you own a home, you can’t call the landlord. Guess what? You’re the landlord.
You have to create a cushion in your monthly budget to provide for these additional costs.
At the end of the day, if you continue renting, you’re building someone else’s future.
Sometimes it does make sense to rent if you’re moving around frequently for work or if the money simply isn’t there.
I would say, yes definitely it would make sense to rent, but always with the plan to build toward home ownership.
Long term renting to me does not make any sense if you can build towards owning something. So build up your down payment and buy a property that suits you best. When you are ready or if you have any questions, call me at 604-551-4129.
Minimum Standards of Coverage Required: 2-5-10
Home warranty insurance on new homes includes
- a minimum of 2 years on labour and materials (some limits apply),
- 5 years on the building envelope, including water penetration, and
The 2-year labour and materials coverage is broken
down as follows:
Any defect in materials and labour:
• 12 months on detached homes and on non common
property in strata units (includes feesimple homes)
• 15 months on common property of strata
Defects in materials and labour related to the
delivery and distribution systems (electrical,
plumbing, heating ventilation, air conditioning, etc.):
• 24 months for all buildings.
You are about to negotiate a contract for the purchase or sale of real estate in British Columbia. The effect of conditions on the contract allowed either party having the condition to perform more careful examination of the property and to have others answer questions if necessary, prior to completion. Once conditions are removed, the contract is firm and the parties must complete. All contracts for the purchase and sale of real estate must be in writing otherwise they are merely discussions and are not enforceable.
ONCE YOU SIGN THE CONTRACT, YOU CANNOT CHANGE YOUR MIND & DECIDE NOT TO GO AHEAD.
Ask your realtors about subjects and conditions you would like to include in the contract.
MANY BUYERS BELIEVE THAT BY WRITING A CONTRACT WITHOUT CONDITIONS, THEY HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF GETTING THEIR OFFER ACCEPTED. HOWEVER, BUYERS MUST BE AWARE THAT THERE IS RISK IN THIS STRATEGY AND BUYERS AND SELLERS ARE ALWAYS CAUTIONED TO ENSURE THAT THE CONTRACT THEY SIGN TRULY REPRESENTS THEIR INTENTION.
Buying a home is one of the biggest emotional and financial decisions you'll ever make. In order to make the process of home buying smooth, take followings into consideration.
First, ask yourself; How stable am I financially? Do I have necessary financial management skills? Am I ready to take the responsibility of all the costs of owning a home such as mortgage payments and maintenance or strata fees?
Second, try to buy a home that meets most of your needs for the next 5 to 10 years. Here are some factors to consider:
a) Size; think about how many bedrooms/bathrooms you need and whether you need space for a home office.
b) Location; this is a critical factor. A home with everything you need but in the wrong location, is probably not the right home for you. Ask yourself; How easy will it be to get to where I work? How much will the commuting cost? Where will my children go to school? How will they get there? Do I need a safe walking area or recreational facility, such as a park, nearby? How close would I like to be to family and friends?
c) Lifestyles and stages; disregard of what type of home you choose, try to have a clear idea of your needs today as well as your possible future needs. Here are some questions you might ask: Do I need a home office? Do I plan to have children? Do I have teenagers who will be moving away soon? Am I close to retirement? Will I need a home that can accommodate different stages of life? Do I have an older relative who might come to live with me?
When you're ready to find a new home in Vancouver, get in touch. It will be my pleasure to help you find the one that's "just right" for you. Just give me a call at 604-551-4129 or drop me an email at email@example.com.
The purchase or sale of a home here in Vancouver is a major financial transaction. And yet, sometimes trivial considerations take prominence.
I've seen people walk away from homes they wanted over such things as a refrigerator, a porch swing, or a lawn mower. Once it was a bathroom medicine cabinet. The seller's Grandfather had made it for her so she wanted to take it with her – and the buyers refused to buy the house without it.
The fact is, these little disputes can become emotional struggles, with neither side willing to give in.
To avoid such situations, sellers should clearly list what does or does not sell with the house. If there's something that has sentimental value – such as that medicine cabinet or Grandma's antique chandelier – they should remove it and replace it before the first buyer comes in.
Sellers should also realize that buyers may actually need them to leave essentials, such as the kitchen appliances. If funds are tight for the down payment and closing costs, they might not be able to replace them after closing. If you're a seller, consider that possibility before saying no.
Buyers, on the other hand, need to be mindful of what is or isn't included in the sale. If they want a lawn mower or a piece of furniture that's clearly not included, they can ask, but should stay focused on the fact that it's the house they want.
It's sad to see a buyer walk away from a home that they would love and enjoy just because the seller isn't willing to include something that wasn't for sale in the first place - and they let their emotions get the best of them.
So if you want to buy or sell a home here in Vancouver, stay focused on your goals. Don't let trivial matters get in the way.
Do you wonder why in Vancouver real estate agents recommend that sellers be absent when their home is shown?
There are two good reasons:
- The first is that buyers will naturally feel more at ease, and will look more thoroughly when the seller isn't hovering nearby. When the seller is there, they'll hesitate to open closet doors, turn on the faucets, or linger long enough to sit down and absorb how the house "feels."
- The second is that sellers can inadvertently give away their negotiating power.
Buyers' agents want to avoid conversations between buyer and seller (or buyer and seller's agent) for the same reason.
A seemingly innocent question, such as "Why are you moving?" can lead to answers that reveal your motivation for coming to agreement and getting to closing in a hurry. Which means you'll be more apt to pay more or accept less, and the other side knows it.
So when you're buying or selling a home, talk to your own agent – and avoid talking to anyone else about your plans. (That includes Facebook friends!)
When you work with me, I treat ALL of your personal information as confidential - because you never know when a chance remark could damage your negotiating power.
Once we've listed your home you need to begin preparing for moving day.
Now is the time to pull things out of closets, cupboards and other storage spaces, deciding which things will go with you to your new home and which will not.
You may have friends and family who want some of those items, and of course they should have first chance to take them home. What to do with the rest depends upon your personality and the time you have available.
Many homeowners opt for a yard sale – or, if the home is already in escrow, a moving sale.
This does take some organization and some time – after all, each item does need to be priced! You can either take the time to do it yourself, or ask us for a recommendation. We know service providers who will take charge of your sale for a percentage of the receipts.
If you simply don't want to deal with it, choose a charity and donate those items. This is an easy route to take, since you can drop off a box or two at a time. And – should you decide that some furniture isn't going with you, many charities have trucks and will pick up those large / heavy items.
Disposing of those no-longer-needed items will simplify moving day and make life easier as you move into your next home – so get started as soon as your home goes on the market.
Once you've listed your with me ... get ready to move.
Several things should happen before you look at any homes for sale.
First, you should meet with a lender and become pre-approved. Then you'll know how much you can spend based on your qualifications.
Next, you should sit down with your own budget and decide if you WANT to spend that much. Remember, the lender doesn't know about your hobbies and lifestyle preferences. You want to own your new home. You don't want to become a slave to it.
And then… you think about where you work and where you like to play. If you have medical issues, think about where your doctor and hospital are located. Based on those facts, decide where in Vancouver you want to live.
Driving too far to get to any of the places you go regularly is a huge drain on both your time and your finances. So choose the location, and refuse to even look at homes that are more than a few miles from that location.
Are you ready? Call me!
I'll be pleased to help you find a home that fits your budget – and your preferred location.
How Many Square feet are in that house? Are you SURE? And does it really matter?
Home buyers usually have some idea of the approximate number of square feet they're looking for in a new home. It might be a number similar to the home they currently occupy, or it might be a larger number – based on feeling too cramped in their current home.
And of course, some might want a smaller home because they want less to clean, maintain, heat, and cool.
You might argue that the buyer doesn't really need to know the square footage. He or she can see and feel the space upon touring the home. And that's true. But not absolutely true.
If a home has been staged well and all "extra" furniture and clutter removed, it will look and feel bigger. Buyers might move in with their own furniture and find that it doesn't all fit.
And, sadly, when the square footage is misstated on a property brochure, an on-line listing, etc., it can lead to lawsuits. That's called false or deceptive advertising.
So why take a chance? When you list your home here in Vancouver, don't rely on public records. They just might be mistaken. Assist your agent in taking a true measurement. And to make things even easier for your potential buyers, measure and note the various room sizes.
Then your buyer will know whether their king size bed AND their dresser will fit in the bedroom. They'll know whether their oversized couch or their baby grand piano will find a place in their new home. They'll know whether the dining room will accommodate both the dining table that seats 12 and the chairs that go with it.
Having that information available just might be the detail that sells your home.
And when you're the buyer, take your own measurements. If you have the kind of oversized furniture I just mentioned, keep those measurements with you, so you can decide instantly whether or not they'll fit into a home you like.
Whether you're buying or selling here, take the extra few minutes to verify square footage.
The majority of Vancouver home buyers today order and pay for a home inspection. They do it for peace of mind and an assurance that they're purchasing a sound home.
Unfortunately, major defects listed on that report often go unnoticed. Why? Because the buyer didn't read the report carefully, or because the buyer expected his or her agent to read it and sound the alarm if a real problem existed. The buyer may even expect the home inspector to advise them – but that's not his or her job.
Also unfortunately, some agents are so anxious to close on a home that they gloss over the importance of a notation on the inspection.
If there's anything you're not sure about, or if you feel uncomfortable with your agent's assurance that it's "no big deal," call the inspector and ask.
When you and I work together, I'll not only read your report, I'll go over it with you item by item. If there's a concern, we'll discuss it. If it's major, I'll recommend that you get bids for repair.
The seller may or may not be willing to pay for the repairs or reduce the price, but at least you'll know exactly what you're facing.
Sellers who order a pre-listing inspection should follow the same advice.
Never assume that there's no major problem just because no one points it out to you. Read your report, ask questions, and if there's a problem, get bids. Then you'll know exactly what you're facing.
When you want to buy or sell a home in Vancouver, give me a call. I'm always willing to go over your reports and to give you a list of reputable contractors should you need one.
When you're hunting for a new home in Vancouver and using the Internet to search, it's tempting to click through and ask for information or a showing from the agent who has listed the property - and talk with a different agent with each click.
But that's really not in your best interests.
First, you do need your own agent. The listing agent is bound by law to get the best price and terms for the seller – not for you. If you want advice, the listing agent cannot provide it.
When you sign a buyer's representation agreement with an agent, that agent becomes bound by law to do his or her best for you – and to keep your confidential information confidential. (No, you don't want the seller or the seller's agent to know that you can spend more than you've offered, or that you absolutely must find a home by a specific date.)
Next, when you get acquainted with one agent and share your "needs and wants" that agent can sort through the available listings and help you focus on those homes that will suit you.
And if your agent knows you're working exclusively with him or her, you can be sure to be alerted any time a new listing that fits your needs comes on the market.
You'll save time and energy by not viewing homes that clearly don't meet your needs. And, in a seller's market, immediate notification about new listings can mean the difference between finding your new home and getting there "too late."
The bottom line: Sticking with one real estate agent means you'll get service. When you try to work with a dozen agents, you won't.
Call me - I'll help you find exactly the home you want...
When you receive multiple offers on your home you're faced with a choice. You can, of course, reject all of them, but let's assume that you really do want to sell the house, so you're going to accept one of them.
Some might say "Well, take the highest offer, of course." But as you'll see, the highest offer isn't always the best offer. It isn't even always the offer that puts the most money in your pocket at closing.
Often that offered price is reduced by a request for you to pay part of the buyer's closing costs, give an allowance for new carpeting, or to make some kind of repairs.
As your agent I'll do the math so you can see the net proceeds from each offer.
Then there are contingencies. Standard contingencies include a response date, the buyer receiving appropriate financing, and the seller being able to provide clear title.
Most offers are also contingent upon approval of a home inspection, but some are contingent upon factors outside the purchase.
- Some are contingent upon closing the sale on the buyer's present home.
- Some are contingent upon the buyer receiving the proceeds of a settlement.
- Some are contingent upon approval from a 3rd party.
You never know what kind of an "escape clause" a buyer might include in an offer.
As your agent I'll help you evaluate all the contingencies. When necessary, I'll look into the status of a pending sale or settlement prior to you making a decision.
Unfortunately, some of these events that buyers anticipate never happen - so they do need to be considered carefully.
Finally, there's the closing date. You may want more time to move, or you may want a fast closing so you don't have to make more payments.
The bottom line: The highest offer on your home may not be the best offer.
I'll help you evaluate all the terms so you can choose the best to either accept or counter.
Some home sellers are led to believe that because their home is beautifully decorated, it doesn't need to be staged. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Staging does involve the kind of de-cluttering and possibly even some fix-up or painting that a beautifully decorated home probably doesn’t need. Thus, people sometimes believe that only "tired," un-decorated, or vacant homes benefit from staging. But staging isn't about decorating.
While stagers do make an interior space look beautiful, this is not their only function.
Stagers are trained to present a home to give it appeal to a wide variety of buyers. Thus, the decorating is "neutral," rather than a reflection of the occupant's personal taste and style. The furnishings are chosen and placed to produce a "feeling" without drawing attention to themselves.
Part of this process is the removal of personal items that take the focus away from the house. You as a seller really don't want your potential buyers examining your photos, trophies, awards, or collections when they should be noticing how the house exactly suits their wants and needs.
Buyers who are distracted in this manner can pass up a house they'd love, simply because they didn't "see" all the features and benefits.
In addition, stagers know how to emphasize a home's most appealing or useful features and benefits, while showing potential buyers the possible uses for each space.
The bottom line: Just because your home has been professionally decorated doesn't mean it won't benefit from a stager's touch.
If you're thinking of selling and would like your home to appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers, get in touch. I'll be glad to share my list of professional stagers who have helped my clients sell their homes faster and for more money.
And of course, I'll be glad to let you know what's going on in the Vancouver housing market today.
The First Rule in Choosing a real estate agent
You have many things to consider when choosing an agent to help you purchase or sell a home, but the very first one is this: Choose an agent who is familiar with the area where you plan to buy or sell.
It's easy to be lured by fancy advertising, and it's easy to give in to pressure from friends or family who want you to use someone they know or love. But if that agent isn't familiar with the homes in the area in question, you won't get the representation you deserve.
First – the listing. Your agent needs to interpret sales data to determine the proper price for your home. And while it's true that the numbers are there in MLS, if the agent has never seen any of the homes in question, he or she won't know if they are comparable to yours.
In addition, that agent may mistakenly use sales statistics from a nearby neighborhood that isn't at all comparable to the neighborhood in which you want to buy or sell.
Buyers also need an agent who is familiar with the territory. Part of the reason is for pricing. If he or she doesn't know if a price is in keeping with neighborhood values, you could pay far too much for your new home.
But there's more to it than that. An agent who knows the territory will be able to tell you if new developments are planned that could affect future values. He or she can also answer lifestyle questions such as "How far to the nearest gym?" and "Is there a dog boarding facility near here?"
Because I know Vancouver, I can answer those questions. But Cousin Joe who lives in a nearby town probably cannot. Don't choose him just because he "needs" your business or because it would make a friend or relative happy.
Real estate is far too serious and your investment far too large to entrust to someone who is not familiar with city and who might not know the things you need to know in order to make a wise decision.
We wish we had a crystal ball and could answer that question. As of right now, we only know that it's a good time to buy a home because interest rates are unbelievably low.
A home mortgage for $200,000 would have carried a principal and interest payment of $1,264 when rates were at 6.5% just a few short years ago. Now, with rates hovering around 4%, that payment would be only about $955. And some borrowers are finding even lower rates.
Those who stay in their homes for the long term will be smiling broadly a few years from now, when their incomes have risen and their house payments are still low.
Will prices drop again? Will they go up? No one knows. But in our opinion, if you're in a home and plan to stay, fluctuations in the market are unimportant.
What is important is that you love the home and the monthly payment fits comfortably within your budget.
We think of long term home ownership like we think of Grandma's antique silver service. It doesn't really matter what it is worth in the marketplace from one month to the next, because it is not for sale.
Whether you're buying or selling – or have already done so – I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013.
Call me any time you need my help – and any time you just want to talk real estate. Feel free to ask a question about your neighborhood values, the market here in Vancouver, or anything else related to real estate. In fact, call if you'd just like to say "Hi."
All the best in 2013,
It's Nearly Christmas. Is this a good time to buy or sell a home?
Yes, of course it is.
Now is the time when non-serious buyers and sellers are off doing other things. The sellers who have their homes on the market and the buyers who are touring homes right now are the ones who are serious about moving.
Negotiations should be easier, because you both have the same goal in mind: transfer of the property. Buyers in general aren't just looking around to see if they can find a good deal. Sellers aren't just "testing the market" to see if they can get a good price.
Inspections and appraisals should be easier to schedule, because fewer people are buying and selling right now. Thus, provided that the buyer began their search with a lender's pre-approval, closings should go faster.
Sellers should consider listing in December because their homes will have less competition.
Buyers should consider finding a home in December because they'll have less competition as well.
All in all, if you're serious about buying or selling a home, don't hesitate. While others are attending Christmas and Hanukkah parties, you could be making your real estate goals come true.
Call me, and let's get started!
How many bedrooms, baths, extra rooms, and square feet do you actually need in your new home?
With today's low interest rates you may be able to buy a much larger or much more extravagant home than you'd been considering. But should you?
First think about how you'll use the home.
Do you have enough furniture to fill 2 or 3 extra rooms – or to fill extra-large sized rooms? And what about those extra rooms? Do you really need a wine cellar? Will you actually use the office or the exercise room? If you'll use them, you should go for it. But if they'll sit empty, they'll become "junk repositories" and a drain on your resources.
So before you choose, consider your lifestyle and what you'll actually use and enjoy.
Then think about the amount of time and money you'll need for upkeep on that home. The larger the home, the more there is to clean and to maintain.
Start with cleaning. If you're a do-it-yourself house cleaner, how much time do you want to devote to vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing? How much time do you have to devote to those tasks? Will it be a family responsibility, or will one family member start feeling put-upon?
If you don't have the time to keep up with a large home, can you afford to hire someone to come in every few days? Do you even want someone working in your home? I know many people who say "It would be so nice to have a cleaning lady, but… I don't want some outsider going through my closets and drawers when I'm not home."
And then there's maintenance. Every home needs it from time to time – and the more house you have, the more maintenance will be required. Unless you're a skilled "do-it-yourselfer" you'll need to pay someone to do those routine tasks.
So think about it. How many bedrooms, baths, extra rooms, and square feet do you actually need in your new home?
Whatever your answer, I'll be pleased to help you find it. Call me!
If you just came from your lender and learned that you can spend more for your new home than you thought, it could mean one of two things:
Interest rates are lower, so you can "buy more house" for the same money.
If this is the reason – it's time to celebrate.
Your lender didn't consider the other priorities in your life.
If this is the reason – stop and think before you take his or her advice.
Some of us simply need more money left over after the monthly bills are paid. Stop and think about how you're spending that "extra" money right now, and whether you're willing to change your habits.
If you cherish a weekly night out, love to attend concerts, or need that week on the beach or a ski mountain every few months, you'll grow to resent the mortgage payment that takes those things away from you.
Maybe you want to send your children to private schools, or would like to go back to school yourself. If your mortgage payment prevents those activities, the love for your new home will wane.
Before you take a lender's word for how much you can spend on your mortgage, look at your budget.
Consider what you're spending for housing right now and whether you're comfortable with that amount. Next think about what you're doing with the rest of your money. If you've been saving for a down payment, you might not mind spending that extra on your house payment.
But… maybe there's something else you'd like to save for now. Or maybe it would feel good to know that you don't actually need all the money you earn in a month.
Just remember this: You know better than anyone else what you can and can't afford. Don't let anyone push you into a payment that is above what you know you want to spend.
Whatever your price range, I'll be pleased to help you find your dream home, and I'll never try to push you into over spending. Just give me a call and let's get started...
Questions to ask before choosing a real estate agent: What are your working hours?
When you list a house for sale or set out on a journey to find a new home, your best success will come when you're able to work closely with your agent. That means your agent needs to be available during the same hours that you are available.
Some real estate agents today only work from 9 to 5 – and some don't work on week-ends. So if you work 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, connecting with such an agent will be difficult at best.
And what if an agent's time is limited in other ways?
Today, some agents are working at other full-time or part-time jobs themselves, so if you try to reach them during normal business hours, you'll find them unavailable.
Some also have religious beliefs that prevent them from working on Saturday or Sunday.
Do ask the question. And then choose an agent whose working hours correspond with the hours you have available to meet with them.
Just so you know... my regular hours are from 10 in the morning to 7 in the evening daily. I can also meet with you at other times by appointment.
So call - and let's set a time to meet.
Your Agent's Reputation: Yes, it matters
Everyone has a reputation – and your agent's reputation with other agents here in Vancouver really does have a bearing on your success in buying or selling a home.
If you're selling a home your agent's good reputation for dealing fairly with buyers' agents means your home will be shown. On the other hand, if your agent makes it difficult to arrange showing appointments or if he or she has a reputation for failing to present offers immediately, your home will go to the bottom of the list.
If you're a home buyer, your agent's good reputation is also an asset. And what makes a good reputation in a buyer's agent?
Offers that are always filled out properly and completely.
Honest representation of a buyer's ability to purchase.
Willingness to get in and work when there's a glitch between agreement and closing.
When buyers' agents have a poor reputation, listing agents encourage their sellers to consider other offers first.
And for both listing agents and selling agents, a reputation for returning phone calls or emails promptly is a plus. So is a pleasant manner. No one wants to deal with someone who is hard to reach, or who is confrontational when they are reached.
I'm pleased to enjoy a good reputation with other agents here in Vancouver. In fact, due to transactions we've done together, many of them have become friends. As a result, buyer's agents show my listings, and listing agents welcome offers from my clients.
So when you want to buy or sell a home in Vancouver, get in touch! I'll help you reach your goals.