Real Estate Help Articles

If you’re looking at buying or selling your home, you may want to check out the articles listed below.  We are always available to offer further information and answer any questions that you may have.

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ARTICLES FOR HOME SELLERS:

[toggle title="20 Tips For Selling Your Home"]

20 Tips For Selling Your Home

As a homeowner, you can play an important part in the timely sale of your property. When you take the following steps, you’ll help me to sell your home faster, at the best possible price.

The easiest and most reliable way to improve the appeal of your home is to enlist a quality home service professional. The right professional can help you get everything in order – from repainting the kitchen to providing a thorough cleaning – so you can stay focused on more important things.

Make the Most of that First Impression

A well-manicured lawn, neatly trimmed shrubs and a clutter-free porch welcome prospects. So does a freshly painted – or at least freshly scrubbed – front door. If it’s autumn, rake the leaves. If it’s winter, shovel the walkways. The fewer obstacles between prospects and the true appeal of your home, the better.

Invest a Few Hours for Future Dividends

Here’s your chance to clean up in real estate. Clean up the living room, the bathroom, the kitchen. If your woodwork is scuffed or the paint is fading, consider some minor redecoration. Fresh wallpaper adds charm and value to your property. If you’re worried about time, hire professional cleaners or painters to get your house ready. Remember, prospects would rather see how great your home really looks than hear how great it could look “with a little work.”

Check Faucets and Bulbs

Dripping water rattles the nerves, discolors sinks, and suggests faulty or worn-out plumbing. Burned out bulbs or faulty wiring leave prospects in the dark. Don’t let little problems detract from what’s right with your home.

Don’t Shut Out a Sale

If cabinets or closet doors stick in your home, you can be sure they will also stick in a prospect’s mind. Don’t try to explain away sticky situations when you can easily plane them away. A little effort on your part can smooth the way toward a closing.

Think Safety

Homeowners learn to live with all kinds of self-set booby traps: roller skates on the stairs, festooned extension cords, slippery throw rugs and low hanging overhead lights. Make your residence as non-perilous as possible for uninitiated visitors.

Make Room for Space

Remember, potential buyers are looking for more than just comfortable living space. They’re looking for storage space, too. Make sure your attic and basement are clean and free of unnecessary items.

Consider Your Closets

The better organized a closet, the larger it appears. Now’s the time to box up those unwanted clothes and donate them to charity.

Make Your Bathroom Sparkle

Bathrooms sell homes, so let them shine. Check and repair damaged or unsightly caulking in the tubs and showers. For added allure, display your best towels, mats, and shower curtains.

Create Dream Bedrooms

Wake up prospects to the cozy comforts of your bedrooms. For a spacious look, get rid of excess furniture. Colorful bedspreads and fresh curtains are a must.

Open up in the Daytime

Let the sun shine in! Pull back your curtains and drapes so prospects can see how bright and cheery your home is.

Lighten up at Night

Turn on the excitement by turning on all your lights – both inside and outside – when showing your home in the evening. Lights add color and warmth, and make prospects feel welcome.

Avoid Crowd Scenes

Potential buyers often feel like intruders when they enter a home filled with people. Rather than giving your house the attention it deserves, they’re likely to hurry through. Keep the company present to a minimum.

Watch Your Pets

Dogs and cats are great companions, but not when you’re showing your home. Pets have a talent for getting underfoot. So do everybody a favor: Keep Kitty and Spot outside, or at least out of the way.

Think Volume

Rock-and-roll will never die. But it might kill a real estate transaction. When it’s time to show your home, it’s time to turn down the stereo or TV.

Relax

Be friendly, but don’t try to force conversation. Prospects want to view your home with a minimum of distraction.

Don’t Apologize

No matter how humble your abode, never apologize for its shortcomings. If a prospect volunteers a derogatory comment about your home’s appearance, let me handle the situation.

Keep a Low Profile

Nobody knows your home as well as you do. But I know your buyers – what they need and what they want. I will have an easier time articulating the virtues of your home if you stay in the background.

Don’t Turn Your Home into a Second-Hand Store

When prospects come to view your home, don’t distract them with offers to sell those furnishings you no longer need. You may lose the biggest sale of all.

Defer to Experience

When prospects want to talk price, terms, or other real estate matters, direct them my way, I’m always available for those questions.

Help Your Agent

I will have an easier time selling your home if showings are scheduled in advance through my office. You’ll appreciate the results!

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[toggle title="Chattles & Fixtures"]

Chattels And Fixtures: Put It In Writing Before You Sell

If you are thinking of selling your home, have you given much thought to what you plan to leave with the home and what you would like to take with you, such as the washer and dryer, the fridge and stove, or even that heirloom chandelier in the dining room?

While these may not seem like important concerns right now, your failure to address them in your listing and the contract of purchase and sale could lead to a major misunderstanding with a potential buyer. The last thing you would want is the loss of a sale of your home due to a dispute or misunderstanding over a relatively minor item.

A REALTOR will guide you through the listing process and will ask you what you want to include in the sale. It is a good idea, however, to make up a list before meeting with your REALTOR to ensure you do not forget something.

Chattels are normally removed

When chattels are included in the agreement, they must be listed in the contract of purchase and sale. It is fairly common practice for sellers to include items, which would normally be considered as chattels, such as appliances and window coverings, in the selling price.

Fixtures normally stay

A REALTOR will explain that fixtures are permanent improvements to a property which normally stay with the property as part of the sale. For example, if you have upgraded your wiring or heating system, these are considered to be permanent fixtures. Keep in mind, however, that the law is not always crystal clear about what constitutes a fixture. There are circumstances where you may plan to remove something that might ordinarily be considered a fixture – like your chandelier.

Other items to consider are lawn ornaments, smoke alarms, and built-in vacuum cleaners. These types of items are generally left with the home, but some people still like to take things with them. If you tend to be one of these people, clearly state in writing what WILL NOT be included in the sale. Most buyers would assume that these types of fixtures will be included in the sale unless you specify the contrary in the listing. It is absolutely necessary that you set out these stipulations in the contract of purchase and sale.

If in doubt?

If there is any doubt about a particular item, your REALTOR will include it in the list of items to be included or excluded from the purchase price. That way, if there is any question, the situation has already been addressed. If you have any concerns, talk to your REALTOR. As a trained professional, he or she will be able to guide you smoothly through the selling process and answer any questions you may have.

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[toggle title="Creating CURB APPEAL"]

Creating Curb Appeal What’s curb appeal? It’s that certain something about your home that catches the eye of the passer-by and makes them want to take a closer look. If you’re selling your home, curb appeal can quickly draw prospective buyers in for the first time. Without it, buyers may pass up on the chance to see inside and will miss what might have been the perfect home for them. Your REALTOR can give you numerous tips and suggestions to help you make that first impression really count.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Keep your lawns neatly trimmed and edged. Trim trees and shrubbery to get rid of overhanging branches that might obscure a potentially good view of your home, or pathway leading to the front door. Turn over the soil in your flowerbeds. If there’s little color in your front garden, make a splash with a display of inexpensive annuals, flower boxes and wooden tubs. Clay and plastic posts can also be filled with flowers and small shrubs and displayed in the yard or by the front entrance to give the feel of a warm welcome.
  • Birdhouses and feeders, dried flower wreaths and hanging baskets on the front porch can give your home countryside curb appeal. Keep your porch, driveway and front yard clutter free. Remove garbage bins as soon as possible after pick-up, and avoid any build-up of junk mail.
  • Repair or replace broken steps or walkways. You might be used to the uneven paving or rickety stairs outside your home, but they could be hazardous to visitors, as well as unsightly. Your home’s roof, chimney and exterior should look sound and well-cared for. Freshly painted woodwork is often well worth the time and money invested in it.

A good spruce-up can make a big difference

If painting is unnecessary, your home will still benefit from a good spruce-up. Wash down window frames and clean your windows to make them sparkle. Scrub the front door and polish the house numbers, letterbox, doorknob and knocker. Open blinds, curtains or shutters to give your home an inviting, welcoming look.

These are just a sample of some of the ways you can create curb appeal. Your REALTOR can give you many other, customized tips to make the most of your home’s unique charm. In addition, your REALTOR can offer an objective view of any repairs and improvements that might be necessary to enhance the likelihood of selling your home.

Creating curb appeal may just be the feature that sets your home apart from the rest.

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[toggle title="Documents You Will See When Selling Your Home"]

WORKING WITH A REAL ESTATE AGENT

Buyers and sellers are presented with this brochure at the earliest contact with a real estate agent. Industry regulations have now made it mandatory for a real estate licensee to disclose the capacity in which the agent will be working with you: i.e. as a buyer’s agent, a seller’s agent or as a dual agent, before assisting or representing you in a real estate transaction. The agent will then ask you to sign a statement acknowledging that this disclosure of agency representation has taken place. He or she will then tear off and keep the signed statement and give you the brochure for future reference.

Signing the disclosure statement in the Working with a Real Estate Agent brochure does not bind you to any obligation to that real estate agent. It merely confirms that you have discussed your agency representation options with the agent.

MLS® LISTING CONTRACT

The Multiple Listing Service® Listing Contract outlines the terms of the listing contract, including the length of time for the listing, the price, the commission to be paid, all the parties to the listing, the address and the legal description of the property to be sold, how the seller is to be paid, the preferred possession date, the financial obligations and other information regarding the property.

The listing agreement is the seller’s agreement with the listing agency, not the salesperson individually. If the salesperson leaves that company, it is up to the seller and the listing company to decide whether or not the listing will go with the salesperson, or whether it will stay with the original company and be assigned to another salesperson.

As with other services, there is GST payable on commission, so when you are calculating your proceeds, take that into consideration.

CHANGE ORDER FORM

A Change Order form is used whenever a change is made to the original MLS® Listing Contract. This may involve extending the date, changing the price, altering wording on the printout, correcting measurements or tax or financial information, etc. It must be signed by the manager of the listing agency. At times, it is necessary to stop the marketing of a property for awhile because of illness or other personal circumstances of the seller. By definition, when your home is listed on MLS®, all REALTORS have an opportunity to find a buyer for your property. The Change Order form can communicate your wishes to all REALTORS who have access to MLS® that you wish to delay the sale of your home.

PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT (PCDS)

This form is filled out by the seller prior to the listing being placed on the MLS® system. The seller indicates his or her knowledge of various aspects of the property, defects of which he or she is aware, and any upcoming expenses (as in special assessments in strata-titled properties). Should the seller refuse, or be unable for any reason to complete the form, then notification to this effect is included in the listing information. The REALTOR is not permitted to fill out the form but will keep a copy on file.

The form does not cover every aspect of the property. A buyer is still advised to consult an independent inspector if there are questions or concerns that are not adequately answered.

LIMITED DUAL AGENCY AGREEMENT

This form is used when the agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a single transaction. It is used when the situation involves either one salesperson who represents both the buyer and the seller, or when two salespersons from the same company are involved.

This agreement modifies the prior Listing Contract and the Buyer’s Agency Contract (or verbal buyer’s agency agreement) and gives the agent the authorization to represent both parties in a limited capacity. It authorizes the agent to maintain both parties’ confidences regarding motivation, negotiating positions and personal information (unless either party gives the agent written permission to disclose such information).

CONTRACT OF PURCHASE AND SALE

The Contract of Purchase and Sale standard form is the basic contract signed by the parties (the sellers and the buyers). It outlines every aspect of the transaction, including the price, the terms and conditions, the dates, the inclusions and exclusions, the handling of existing tenancies, the deposit and increase (where applicable) and other legal matters as described in the preprinted contract and added as clauses.

ADDENDUM (WITH PRINTED CLAUSES)

The basic contract will be accompanied by a special addendum form with preprinted clauses where there is either financing to be cleared from the title before the seller can provide clear title, or where there is financing to be put into place after the title is registered in the buyer’s name. The addendum also includes clauses covering the treatment as originals of reproductions of signatures that are sent via telecommunications, issues relating to deposit monies and acceptance by the buyers regarding the size of the property.

ADDENDUM (WITHOUT PRINTED CLAUSES)

The basic blank addendum form is used to write additional clauses on the contract when there is not adequate space to do so on the contract itself. When that has been done, the buyer signs this form indicating that this clause is being removed.

AMENDMENT TO CONTRACT OF PURCHASE AND SALE

This form is used to remove conditions (subject removal) when they have been satisfied, as in the situation where a buyer has to find financing by a certain date.

OTHER DOCUMENTS

Leases

Usually leases are used more in commercial transactions than in residential ones, but you may be a landlord or a tenant who prefers to use a lease for a specified time period for any number of reasons, including stability of tenure. A commercial lease is very involved and should be drawn up by a specialist in the commercial field and reviewed by a lawyer for each party. A residential lease is less complex and normally involves little more than a standard rental agreement with an outline of the rules and regulations of the building or complex, or expectations of the owner and tenant above and beyond what the Residential Tenancy Act sets out. If you have any doubts about how to draw a lease or how to interpret specific clauses, consult a lawyer or a REALTOR.

Mortgages

Mortgages come in a wide variety of formats, depending on the lending institution. Now, many institutions use a simplified form and make reference to the larger form where any deviations from clauses in their standard form may occur. The buyer should check that the document matches the commitment letter they have signed outlining the terms, including the interest rate, the term, the amortization period, the prepayment privilege (‘penalty’), the options (if any) for increasing the number of payments or making lump sum payments, whether the mortgage can be assumed if the property is sold, and the portability of the mortgage if the seller wishes to use it on another property.

If you are a seller who is carrying financing for a buyer of your property, make sure that your lawyer reviews the documents before you sign them. If you are a buyer who is asking a seller to carry financing, make sure your own lawyer reviews the documents as well. Many serious issues may arise where the parties are unfamiliar with the law concerning mortgage financing.

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[toggle title="LOW COST Exterior Improvements"]

Exterior Improvements – Minimal or No Cost

  1. Rake leaves, mow lawn and keep edges neat. Lawns and flowers should be weeded regularly. Trees and shrubs should be pruned and trimmed.
  2. Remove old lawn mowers, tractors, disabled autos, broken lawn ornaments, topless tables, armless lawn furniture and seatless chairs. They are reasons for a buyer to make a u-turn.
  3. Hoses should be coiled and place inconspicuously when not being used, other garden equipment should be stored in some type of shelter when not in use.
  4. A yard should be free form unnecessary clutter, a place should be free from children’s toys and equipment. All animal litter should be removed daily.
  5. Fix the garage door so it opens and closes. House and garage doors should be free from finger marks. Wood surfaces should be kept painted, oiled and stained.
  6. Porches, steps, verandas, balconies, patios and other extensions of the home must be uncluttered, clean and repaired.
  7. Shades and awnings in good repair with colours unfaded will improve exterior house appearance.
  8. Keep garbage cans deodorized and out of sight, or placed inconspicuously.
  9. Walks and entrances should be well maintained and free from excess water, ice and snow. Put some crushed stone on walkways and driveways that turn muddy in the rain and fill any potholes.
  10. Keep gates, fences, walls and out buildings repaired and painted.
  11. Outdoor furniture should be kept clean. Firewood should be stacked neatly. Barbecue grill should be cleaned.
  12. Metal accessories (door knobs, door knockers, lamps, etc.) should be cleaned and polished.
  13. Attach downspouts to the gutters and paint, if needed. Any loose roof shingles, tiles, etc. should be secured and repaired.
  14. Paint the front, back and side entrance doors. Nothing looks worse than a peeling door.
  15. The fence is falling, and so is the sale. Get rid of it or replace it.
  16. Buy a new mailbox without the graffiti on it.
  17. Remove the half dozen, slightly tilted, multicoloured ‘For Sale’ signs.
  18. Air coolers should be stored neatly if not in use.
  19. If you are neither prepared to, nor want to, spend hundreds of dollars for exterior painting, be ready to make an immediate price adjustment, or listen to everyone who views the home to say, “It will cost a fortune to have the house painted!” If you can afford it, the money spent tidying up will be well worth the investment.
  20. Paint all chimneys and replace broken brick and stone.
  21. If the roof leaks, fix it! Remove any evidence of leakage by whatever means possible.

You may have chuckled or frowned after reading the above list. Trivial as they may seem, these ‘little things that mean a lot’ might be the difference between turning on and turning off the buyer you have been waiting for.

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[toggle title="Making Your Home Attractive to Buyers"]

Are you thinking of selling your home? If you’re one of the many homeowners who choose this time of year to move – whether you’re trading up or down, or simply relocating -you’re probably starting to prepare your home for the sale.

Before you become overwhelmed by the task, it’s a good idea to sit down and look at your home objectively. An attractive, well-kept home generally has a better chance of selling a little faster. Also, the old adage “first impressions are lasting ones” is very true.

If you haven’t made substantial improvement or changes over the years, it’s not a good idea to take on major renovation projects simply to sell your home. This can be an expensive and lengthy procedure and there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to recover all of your costs.

Instead, try to determine what types of minor cosmetic improvements can be made, like general cleaning, painting floor refinishing, and so on. These projects generally don’t require a lot of capital and your home can be greatly improved by them. Consult with your REALTOR to see what types of improvements make the most sense.

START WITH THE OUTSIDE

An inviting exterior ensures that potential buyers will inspect the interior, so it’s important to keep your lawn and hedges trimmed and edged, the flower beds cultivated, and your yard free and clear of clutter and refuse. If you have any loose siding or pavement, it’s a good idea to get these items repaired. And if you have any cracked or broken windows, get them fixed as well.

Missing shingles or eaves troughs should also be replaced and loose shutters or awnings secured. You may also want to consider painting the exterior of your home to spruce it up a little. And if you have aluminum or vinyl siding or trim that’s quite dirty, hire someone to clean it with a power washer if you can’t or don’t want to wash it yourself. If you have a garage, make sure the door is clean, attractive and in good working order. Also make sure the inside of your garage doesn’t look too cluttered or unorganized.

Keep patios, walkways and decks free of debris and clutter.

THE INSIDE STORY

You can do a lot on the inside of your home as well without spending a great deal of money. Two primary areas to keep in mind are the kitchen and bathroom. These two rooms of your home are generally of prime interest to potential buyers. Make sure they’re clutter-free, bright and spotless. This applies to kitchen appliances as well, especially if you’re including them with the sale of the home. Scrub sinks, toilets, bathtubs and kitchen appliances until they shine.

If the carpeting in your home looks dirty or dingy, you may want to rent a steam cleaner, or hire a professional carpet cleaner. Pet odours can become trapped in rugs and this can repel prospective buyers. Give your home a thorough cleaning and if you’ve been cooking, ensure you air the home prior to its showing. Make sure any wood and tile floors look clean and bright, not dull and dingy. Get to those easy-to-miss spots that need a good cleaning. Wash down the walls, windows and woodwork. Clean out the cupboards under the sink, dust the tops of baseboards and wash all window coverings. The more extensive the initial clean up, the easier it will be to keep the house looking its best for visits from your REALTOR and prospective buyers.

As well, keep in mind that rooms that are too cluttered will give the impression that they’re much smaller than their true size. Try to create a feeling of spaciousness when conducting your spruce-up. Pack away bulky or unused furniture and make the best use of your space. Be ruthless when you go through closets, spare rooms and cupboards. If you haven’t used that bread-making machine in a while, and if you’re not likely to need that extra set of china in the next few weeks, pack it away. Those knick-knacks on the mantlepiece may have sentimental value to you, but they’ll just look like knick-knacks to the people who come through your home. Take a deep breath and move them out of sight.

You can get a head start on packing by cleaning off bookshelves, and clearing away out-of-season clothes, toys, bedding, sports equipment and garden tools.

Now is the time to fix the cracked light-switch plates, broken door handles, leaky faucets and squeaky doors you’ve learned to live with for years.

Shabby corners and grubby entranceways will benefit from a fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour – this is not the time to start experimenting with dramatic paint schemes. Similarly, heavily patterned wallpaper or brightly coloured accent walls may tend to distract buyers from other features, or make it hard for them to imagine how their belongings will look in the room. If you can, repaint or paper the walls in a subtle colour.

PRE-SHOWING CHECKLIST

  • Whenever possible, try to be out of the house while the REALTOR is conducting a showing. (Potential purchasers often feel like intruders when homeowners are present).
  • Keep pets well out of the way – preferably out of your house during the showing. (Even small barking dogs can create a negative emotion and those potential purchasers who are afraid of or allergic to pets will not wish to viewyour home.)
  • Make sure your home is tidy and well aired.
  • Keep all stairways free of clutter.
  • Remove any items (like chandeliers) which won’t be included in the sale of the home.
  • Don’t keep money, jewelry and small valuables in plain sight during a showing.
  • Ensure that every room is adequately lit.

Ask your REALTOR for his or her checklist to better prepare you for a showing or open house. By following these relatively simple tips, you’ll feel proud of your home and potential purchasers are sure to appreciate its beauty.

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[toggle title="Preparing Your Home For Sale"]

When your home is for sale, it’s often more than just the purchase price and location that will make or break a deal. Making your home look its very best and presenting it as a desirable place to live are also very important.

Work with your REALTOR

Your REALTOR can give you an objective opinion of what you need to do. REALTORS have the experience and knowledge that can help identify problem areas or suggest improvements. In most cases, REALTORS will not suggest major renovations. A few minor repairs here and there and a thorough cleaning are usually all that are required.

Cleaning up the homestead

Virtually all buyers are on the lookout for one thing – a clean home. Many will simply walk away if a home looks uncared for and, at the very least, an untidy home will fetch a lower selling price. Ensure your home is spotless and free of clutter.

The two most important rooms in a buyer’s mind are the kitchen and the bathroom. Pay particular attention to these areas – they should sparkle and shine.

Making repairs

There are certain items that must be repaired if there are problems. A leaky roof, for example, must be fixed. Any electrical problems will have to be addressed. Furnaces, water heaters and plumbing also fall into this category.

Other areas may not need major repairs but will need attention. These can include leaky faucets, holes in window screens and any broken glass, etc. If some of your walls are too dirty to come clean, you may wish to consider a paint job. Carpets and rugs should also be clean and in good repair.

Outside and in

Take a close look at the state of your yard. If you are showing your home in the summer, trees and shrubs should be pruned and your lawn kept neat. In the fall, rake leaves regularly and in the winter ensure the walks and driveway are kept clear of any snow or ice.

To renovate or not to renovate

Usually, most renovations do not translate into an increase in selling price of more than the cost of the renovations themselves. Painting, wallpapering and modest landscape improvements usually recover their costs, but major projects such as new patios, decks or additions rarely do.

Moving up or down

If you are selling your home because you need more space with a growing family, or if you plan on downsizing now that the kids have left home or you want less work, your REALTOR can help. With access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) your REALTOR can provide you with list of homes for sale that meet your needs and your budget. If you have access to the Internet you can view all of the properties listed for sale on the Board’s MLS® system by logging on to www.mls.ca.

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[toggle title="Reviewing an Offer to Purchase"]

If you have ever sold a home before, you know there is a lot more to an offer to purchase than merely the price the buyer is willing to pay. Other important factors that must be weighed carefully include a suitable closing date, financing, conditions and items which are to be included in the sale. It is a good idea to discuss all of these points with your REALTOR.

Closing Date

The closing date is one of the most important things to consider. Is it going to involve extra cost to you to have to move on a particular date? Are you going to have to store your furniture because of a short closing or face the prospect of carrying two properties for a couple of extra months because of an unusually long closing?

Financing

Financing also has a great impact on the offer. For example, if you have to discharge existing debts and mortgages against the property, be sure to verify whether you will have to pay early discharge fees.

In the offer, the buyer may also request that you take back a mortgage. If you are retired and you are trading down to something smaller, you may want to take back a mortgage and enjoy the resulting income. On the other hand, if you are trading up, you may not be interested in this option because you may need the funds for a bigger down payment.

Conditions

Conditions on financing are generally quite short and, as a seller, you will want to know if the buyers will be able to get the necessary financing before you accept their offer. You may be better off with an offer that is slightly less in price but has fewer restrictive conditions.

Items included in the sale

Buyers may wish to include certain chattels in the sale of your home – like the antique crystal chandelier in the dining room, or the custom-made bookcase that fits perfectly between the living room windows.

You may, however, have formed an emotional attachment to these items and be somewhat reluctant to include them in the transaction. If there are items you do not want included in the sale, it might be a good idea to remove them from sight before you put your home on the market.

How a REALTOR helps

Your REALTOR has used his or her knowledge, training and expertise along with access to the Multiple Listing Service® to help find a possible buyer for your home. He or she will review all offers with you and help you to assess them objectively – so be prepared to allot an adequate amount of time for this task. It will be up to you to decide whether you want to accept an offer, decline it altogether or make a counter-offer.

Your REALTOR will gladly offer helpful advice if you have any particular concerns or questions.

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[toggle title="Selling Your Own Home"]

Your home has been cleaned, freshly painted and you are ready to put it on the market. Could you sell it by yourself? No doubt you could, but when you consider all aspects of the selling process, chances are you will choose to use the services of a REALTOR – a licensed, trained professional who has the knowledge and skills to ensure you get the best possible price and that the selling process goes as smoothly as possible.

Frequently, people who attempt to sell their home without the help of a REALTOR do so in hopes of saving the commission or fee. There is a good chance, however, that such an approach will not pay off as potential buyers will often submit lower offers in such cases. In addition, without the help of a REALTOR and access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) it will likely take significantly longer to sell your home. The MLS® is best described as a co-operative marketing system to ensure maximum exposure of properties for sale. Fundamentally, it is a central registry of properties used by REALTORS to match buyers with properties for sale.

Before attempting to sell your own home, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you have sufficient knowledge to determine the price range for your home? Are you aware of changing market conditions and of recent sales of similar homes in your area?
  2. Do you have the skills and resources to advertise and market your home effectively?
  3. Do you know what types of financing are available? Are you informed about various financing methods?
  4. Do you have a network of contacts to produce potential buyers and are you able to screen out unqualified prospects – people who are just curious? Are you comfortable inviting strangers into your home at 9 p.m. because they saw your sign?
  5. Are you available seven days a week to show your home? (Buyers will expect you to be available at their convenience, not yours.)
  6. Do you have good negotiating skills? Are you comfortable haggling face-to-face over the price?
  7. Will you be ready to reveal known defects of your home and are you familiar with your legal obligations in this regard?
  8. Can you write a legally binding contract? Do you have offer forms readily available? Do you have a lawyer to advise you on essential terms that must be in the contract?
  9. Can you close a sale? Are you familiar with the many steps required after an offer has been accepted?

If you can confidently answer “yes” to all these questions, you probably could sell your own home. However, most homeowners recognize the wisdom in working with a REALTOR who has the knowledge and expertise to handle the many complex details of a home sale.

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[toggle title="Subtle Ailments Can Turn Away Prospective Buyers"]

Things like unkempt yards and ugly wallpaper are obvious turnoffs, but there are other things that can jinx a sale.
Before hammering a For Sale sign into the front lawn, most sellers rectify major deterrents including faded paint, broken windows and messy yards.

Unfortunately, real estate agents say many miss a handful of less obvious ailments which can have buyers turn on their heels long before they have finished touring a home.

It is the small things that make the difference. The home should have a feeling that is well maintained and allowing buyers no excuses to walk away. Many small problems can be repaired with a screwdriver or a hammer, or by spending a few hours on the end of a broom or paintbrush. The cost is often less than $500.

Here are ten problems sellers often ignore when their properties go on the market:

  1. Grout around ceramic tiles in kitchens and bathrooms is loose, missing or discoloured. No one likes a skuzzy bath or kitchen area, so invest a few bucks in caulking and use a toothbrush and cleaners n dirty grout.
  2. Mailboxes and address numbers are crooked, dirty or pitted. Poor numbers make a home hard to find and a loose mailbox shows lack of maintenance that home shoppers may feel extends throughout your home. A new mailbox and letters will cost less than $75, a good investment since they’re among the first things a potential buyer sees.
  3. Rooms are dark. Vampires like dark rooms, but most homeowners don’t. Replace old lightbulbs, wash windows and throw open drapes, blinds and awnings.
  4. Wallpaper and paint are outdated, dirty or too dramatic. Sounds boring, but go neutral when you freshen up your paint and paper because there’s less chance you’ll turn off a buyer who, more likely than not, finds your taste in wall covering revolting.
  5. Closets and storage areas are cluttered, giving the appearance of lack of space. Storage is crucial, especially among younger buyers who have large wardrobes, so pitch everything you don’t need and tidy up what’s left.
  6. Loose or broken door knobs and locks. Few purchasers will buy a home that doesn’t feel secure. Fix broken door sets or invest in new ones.
  7. Pet or other odours. Don’t cook a meal heavy in garlic the day of an open house and clean up garbage and kitty litter before showing your home.
  8. Peeling paint on basement floors. Scrape away old paint and apply a new coat in basement laundry and furnace rooms. While you’re at it, install a fluorescent light to turn a dungeon-like basement into a a bright and useful space.
  9. Chipped paint on baseboards, trim and doors. A bush and a $25 can of paint will have your trim sparkling, again showing that your home has been cared for lovingly over the years.
  10. Water stains and cracked drywall on ceilings and walls. You may have had a leak fixed five years ago but if the stain and cracks are visible, a buyer visualizes water pouring in. Drywall compound and paint are the solution.
    Find these and other problems by taking a walk through your home and putting yourself in buyers shoes. And when your real estate agent suggests repairs, pay heed.

When it comes time to sell, it is not really your home anymore, it is an investment. It’s like selling investments in your stock portfolio. You want to get the most out of it, so you and your agent must work together so buyers are left with the best possible impression.

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[toggle title="Why Using a Realtor Just Makes Sense"]

If you have been thinking about selling your home, perhaps you have been toying with the idea of trying to sell it yourself to save paying a commission to a REALTOR. However, when you consider the amount of time needed to market your home along with the costs of advertising and other incidentals, you may be surprised to discover that not only are you unlikely to save much, it will also likely take much longer to sell your home privately. There is also the chance that you may not get as
much for your home.

Consider also all the documentation, negotiation, and legalities involved in selling a home. It is a tremendous responsibility to single-handedly manage a transaction involving what is probably the largest purchase you have ever made.

Is your time valuable? You will have to consider how much your time is worth and whether you are prepared to sacrifice much of it to show your home to potential buyers. Keep in mind that without the help of a trained REALTOR you will not necessarily be able to distinguish the serious buyers from people who are merely browsing.

Greater Exposure

You want to ensure that the maximum number of potential buyers learn about your home. That’s why it makes sense to work with a REALTOR. REALTORS have access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) system. MLS® and REALTOR service offer you a tremendous marketing combination. When a REALTOR lists your home on MLS® it gives your home maximum exposure to all other REALTORS in the area. As most buyers also work with a REALTOR, this ensures exposure to a broad range of interested people.

Objectivity

For most people, selling a home is an emotional experience and you will not necessarily be as objective as a REALTOR would be about the value of your home when negotiating a deal. Because of this you may not get the best possible price for your home. REALTORS are highly trained individuals who use their special skills to evaluate your home and suggest a suitable price range, giving you peace of mind and realistic expectations.

Setting a Price

Undoubtedly, setting a price for your home is an important but difficult process. Again, this is where the services of a REALTOR prove invaluable. REALTORS have the experience to help you understand how the market works and decide upon a realistic price that meets your goals. REALTORS also pre-screen potential buyers to make sure only those who are serious and financially qualified view your home.

REALTORS will also develop a marketing plan to help your property receive maximum exposure. This will likely include placing your home on the MLS® system and placing a ‘For Sale’ sign on the front lawn. The plan may also include arranging open houses for other REALTORS and potential buyers, and developing advertisements and feature sheets/mailers to market your home. A REALTOR will also arrange all showings of your property.

Once you have accepted an offer to buy your home, your REALTOR will help ensure that all the proper paperwork is completed. He or she will also make sure that both parties meet the necessary conditions outlined in the agreement.

As you can see, it pays to work with a professional. When you work with a REALTOR you will likely get a better price for your home than if you try to sell it yourself. But quite apart from the financial benefits, there is an extra measure of comfort and security that comes from having a REALTOR on your side. Remember that REALTORS are governed by a strict code of ethics and standards of business practice. They have also been trained and licensed under the provincial Real Estate Act to assist in transactions involving real property. When it comes to buying or selling property, using a REALTOR just makes sense.

And There is More

A REALTOR will make appointments to show your home to potential purchasers and act as a mediator to head off potential conflicts between you and your buyer. A REALTOR will also draw up a legally binding contract to assist you with all the details required to complete the transaction successfully – including presentation of offers.

So if you are thinking of selling your home on your own, think again and carefully consider the numerous advantages of working with a highly trained professional – a REALTOR.

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[toggle title="What a Listing Entails"]

Are you thinking of selling your home? If so, you will need professional help to ensure your home gets maximum exposure and is properly marketed. You will want to enlist the services of a REALTOR to make sure you achieve your goal.

The listing is the beginning of a selling process that includes a well-thought-out and detailed marketing plan, accessibility to a wide range of potential buyers and commitment to professional service.

Technically speaking, a listing is an authority granted by you to a real estate agent to act as your REALTOR in offering your property for sale, according to the terms and conditions set out in the listing contract. When you list your home with a real estate agency, you are entering into a binding agreement with that firm, so it is important to choose a company and a REALTOR with whom you will be satisfied. To find the right firm and individual, ask friends and relatives for recommendations and try interviewing three REALTORS and ask them about the services that they will offer when they list your home.

What You Can Expect

Your REALTOR will conduct a thorough inspection of your property and do a comparative market analysis to see what similar homes in the area are selling for. This, along with your individual circumstances, will help you determine a suitable price range for your home. You will also decide how long the listing will be.

Placing your home on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) gives it maximum exposure in today’s marketplace because it ensures details about your home are shared with all other REALTORS in the area.

Your REALTOR will ask you for information on taxes, surveys, title deed and the mortgage, if any – all of which is important to potential buyers – and will tell you about preparing your home for sale, arranging showings and open houses and what’s involved in offer presentations.

Scouting for Buyers

Once the listing is complete, your REALTOR will check his or her contact lists and begin to try and pinpoint and pre-qualify potential buyers for your home. This way, you avoid an endless parade of people coming through your home who are not serious about buying.

If an offer to purchase is made while the listing is in force and you accept it, you will then owe the real estate agency a commission for having used its services. Be aware that that there is usually a holdover clause in listing agreements. This means that a commission is owed to the agent even after the listing expires if one of the buyers who was introduced to the property through the marketing activities of the agent buys it within a specified time period.

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ARTICLES FOR HOME BUYERS:

[toggle title="Arranging a Mortgage"]

Now is a great time to consider buying a home. Interest rates are very attractive and there is a wide choice of homes available to suit just about any budget. Still, it’s most likely you will have to deal with financing and this will mean taking on a mortgage.

Sorting through the numerous mortgage options available to today’s homebuyers can be intimidating, but professional help is readily available. Your REALTOR can offer you invaluable information along with your financial institution’s mortgage specialist and other advisors.

First, it’s necessary to know which kinds of institutions will lend you money. Banks and trust companies lead the pack, but credit unions and private lenders also offer funds. There is also the option of consulting a mortgage broker.

You may also find yourself in a situation where you can assume an existing mortgage held by the seller. Advantages of assuming a mortgage are that you can speed the buying process due to reduced paperwork and save money in lower legal fees and closing costs. A disadvantage is that the current lending rate may be less than that of the assumed mortgage.

Different mortgages

A number of different mortgage options are available. Under a conventional mortgage, lenders will loan you up to 75 per cent of the appraised value or purchase price of the property (whichever is lower) to a maximum set by government regulation and you must come up with the remaining 25 per cent yourself.

If you don’t have the 25 per cent down payment, a high-ratio mortgage may be available which will provide you with up to 95 per cent of the appraised value or purchase price of the property (whichever is lower) to a maximum set by government regulation. The proviso is that high-ratio mortgages must be insured and the cost falls to you.

Variable-rate mortgages are usually offered for both conventional and high-ratio mortgages. If interest rates climb, you will be paying more per month in interest; if rates drop, you will be paying more off your principal. Fixed-rate mortgages, on the other hand, maintain the same rate of interest over the entire negotiated term.

Other terms

There are some other concepts to bear in mind.

Amortization refers to the time period in which the mortgage is assumed to be paid. A common amortization period is 25 years. This means interest and principal are set as if you were paying the amount borrowed over a 25 year payment schedule. Obviously, the shorter the amortization period, the less interest you will pay.

Prepayment privileges are very important for borrowers to consider. These allow you to pay money against the principal, reducing the total amount of interest you will ultimately pay.

Buying or selling a home need not be a daunting task. Your REALTOR can provide you with invaluable information on finances and all other aspects of the buying and selling process.

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[toggle title="Checklist for House Hunting"]

If you are thinking of buying a home in the near future, a REALTOR can provide invaluable help in finding the right home in the right price range in the area you want to live. Through access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) a REALTOR can give you a customized list of homes for sale that match your needs and wants and budget.

A house hunting checklist will help you keep track of the advantages and drawbacks of each home. Ensure the checklist includes the basic information regarding location, asking price, annual property taxes, mortgage terms and any applicable zoning restrictions.

Exterior

Jot down your impressions of the exterior of the home, noting the lot size and shape, position of the home on the lot (facing north, south, east or west). Note the condition of the landscaping and whether the yard is fenced. Check the condition of the siding and note whether the home has an attached or detached garage. Be sure to take a good look at the roof and note its general condition and age. It’s also important to examine the foundation of the home for any visible cracks or holes.

Interior

Note whether the home has a separate front hallway. Check the windows to ensure they open and close easily and note the general condition of the doors. The kitchen is an important room in any home, so pay attention to its size, the condition of the appliances, sink, cupboard space, counter tops, flooring, lighting and electrical outlets. Be sure to ask whether any or all of the appliances are included in the sale.

It may be that a separate dining room, a family room and fireplace is important to you. Note also the size of the bedrooms and closet space and whether there are any window coverings or adjoining bathrooms. Also make note of the flooring and room colours.

Make notes on the number and size of bathrooms and the conditions of the fixtures. Check all faucets and flush toilets to make sure they are in good working order and to see if there is adequate water pressure.

Basement

Check whether the basement is full or partial, finished or unfinished and whether there is adequate room for walking about. Note whether there is a utility area and whether the washer and dryer are being sold with the house. It is also very important to ask about the type of heating, water service, plumbing (copper or other), electrical amperage and insulation. Your REALTOR will be able to help you with questions you are unsure of. It is also a good idea to have a professional building inspector examine any home in which you are seriously interested.

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[toggle title="CLOSING COSTS:  10 Items to Consider"]

  1. Property Transfer Tax: This tax is payable on the purchase of all real property in BC. The calculation is based on 1% of the purchase price up to $200,000 and 2% of any amount above $200,000. Most first time buyers are exempt from this if they meet certain criteria. The main criteria are; a) borrower has never owned a principal residence anywhere; b) maximum purchase price of $275,000 in most areas; c) borrow at least 70% of purchase price; d) be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and residing in BC for a minimum of 12 months.
  2. Legal Fees: Legal representation will cost you approximately $750 for a purchase and a mortgage, add another $450 if you are selling a property at the same time. The legal fees to only register a mortgage will be in the $350 range. Your Mortgage Source Consultant can often find a discounted package for you.
  3. Interest Adjustment: This is the interest you will pay for receiving your mortgage money before the official start of your mortgage (ie: if your “completion” were on the 23rd of a 30 day month, your interest adjustment would be 8 days interest).
  4. Property Tax Adjustment: Generally, property taxes for the calendar year are paid at the beginning of July for the full calendar year. If you purchase a property before July 1st, the seller will be paying you for the days they owned a home from January 1st to completion day. You then are responsible for the entire amount to be paid to the municipality on July 1st. If you purchase a property after July 1st you will pay the seller for the days you own the property from completion day to December 31st, as they will already have paid the entire amount to the municipality on July 1st. To calculate this amount: one days’ taxes on owner occupied properties is the annual taxes, less $470 homeowner grant, divided by 365.
  5. Strata Cost Adjustments & Form A Certificate: For those purchasing a strata property, the adjustment works similar to the property tax adjustment explained in item 4. The difference is that strata fees are paid monthly not annually, so the adjustment will be based on the number of days in your completion month that you have ownership. A Form A Certificate is required only on strata purchases and is issued by the strata corporation in order to confirm that the seller does not owe the strata corporation any money. This certificate will range in price up to approximately $50.
  6. CMHC Application Fee: This is a $75 underwriting fee paid to CMHC for processing a high ratio mortgage application and initiating the mortgage loan insurance. This fee is usually deducted from the mortgage proceeds.
  7. Property Appraisal: The property is evaluated by a professional appraiser to determine the market value of the property. This is done to ensure that; a) the lending institution is not over lending on the property and; b) to protect the borrower from over-paying. Generally, a standard residential appraisal will cost approximately $200.
  8. Property Inspection: An inspection is a thorough evaluation of the structure, systems and components of a home. The inspection report is usually multi-paged, and comments on the condition of, but not limited to: foundations, electrical, plumbing, heating, water heaters, appliances, fireplaces, drainage, roof, walls, floors, attic, crawl spaces, patios… The inspection is usually performed a day or two before the market value is determined by the property appraisal.
  9. Survey Certificate: A bank will require a survey to confirm that the house and/or any outbuildings do not encroach or cross over the property lines. The seller will often already have a survey, especially if the seller also had a mortgage on the property. Otherwise, a new survey will cost approximately $270. CMHC requires a survey on all properties insured by a high ratio mortgage. Keep in mind, however, that surveys can be replaced by title insurance and that new surveys are not required on strata properties.
  10. Insurance Binder: This is a requirement by the bank to ensure that the borrower has arranged sufficient insurance to cover any losses that may be incurred on the purchase. Proof of coverage by way of an insurance binder supplied by the insurance agent is necessary and usually costs $35 (this is not applicable for a strata property).

This lists only the major items. A more complete list applicable to your particular situation can be obtained by contacting a mortgage source consultant.

This information is being provided to assist in the planning of a home purchase. It is not intended to be legal advice and the information set out may not be applicable in all cases. In some situations, a purchaser may be required to pay for other additional expenses such as a second mortgage, an assignment of rents, power of attorney, or independent legal advice.

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[toggle title="Your Needs and Wants"]

The current combination of attractive mortgage rates, home buying incentive programs and a wide selection of homes from which to choose means now is a great time to consider buying that first home or moving to something that better serves your needs.

Location, Location, Location

Location is one of the most important factors in making any real estate purchase. For example, if you work downtown and you are comfortable with the idea of commuting, you might want to consider buying a home in one of the outlying communities where lots may be more picturesque and peaceful. On the other hand, living closer to the city centre often means a short commute to work and easy access to shops and entertainment facilities.

When focusing on location, you will likely want to consider other important factors like the proximity of schools, access to public transit and shopping facilities, etc.

Identify features you need and want

Once you have decided on the location you prefer, it is time to identify your needs so that you can zero in on the home of your choice. For instance, if your family is outgrowing its present apartment or home, you know you are going to require something bigger and more comfortable – possibly with more bedrooms and a second bath.

In addition to your needs, you should also consider your wants – things you would like to have if you can afford them and if they are available. Remember, the time you take to think about these things now will prove invaluable later during your discussions with a REALTOR.

Matching needs and wants with available properties
With access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), a co-operative listing system that offers maximum exposure of homes listed for sale, your REALTOR can draw up a customized list of homes that as closely as possible match your needs, wants and budget in the locations of your choice.

Take your lifestyle into account and the things that could enhance or detract from your daily enjoyment. Then add these preferences to your needs or wants shopping list. Your REALTOR will be pleased to arrange for you to see the homes for sale that appeal to you the most and will offer invaluable guidance throughout the home-buying process.

Remember also that all of the properties listed for sale on MLS® can be viewed on the Internet at www.mls.ca .

If you are serious about buying your dream home, contact a REALTOR – they are in the business of helping make the dream of home ownership a reality.

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[toggle title="Buying NEW vs. USED"]

Are you in the market for a home? If so, do you see yourself in a cozy character home with ornate fireplaces, or does the image of a brand new home with today’s state-of-the-art technology appeal? Either way, you will find that the rewards of buying your own home are many. The security, comfort and peace of mind you get from home ownership, regardless of your preference for old or new, are well worth the investment.

This is an excellent time to consider buying. Attractive mortgage rates, government incentive programs and a wide selection of housing options available through the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) make this a good time to buy.

Look and compare

As you start your search for a home, it is a good idea to enlist the services of a REALTOR. REALTORS have access to the MLS® system and can help narrow the search by providing you with a list of available properties in the price range and location that suits you.

Your selection, to a large extent, will be determined by your lifestyle and in most cases becomes a matter of compromise. For instance, you may find an older home that needs some renovation work, but this may not necessarily fit into your budget plans or your hectic schedule if you plan to do a lot of the work yourself. On the other hand, you may find a new home attractive but would have to spend extra money on landscaping and installing some of the amenities that may be a part of the package in an older home.

Advantages of an older home

Older homes have a number of advantages. You can see exactly what you are getting – structural faults are generally easier to see and can be or have been corrected. The character of the neighbourhood is established and a variety of local services is usually available. In addition, the landscaping around the home has already been completed. There are generally fewer move-in costs because basic features like drapery tracks (and sometimes window coverings) are already installed. Chattels, such as special lighting fixtures, are often included in the sale of an older home.

Advantages of a new home

A brand new home also has advantages. You have much more flexibility with a new home in customizing your decor and landscaping to suit your tastes. You get fresh, unblemished walls and you can usually choose the type of flooring, carpeting and cupboards that you want. You usually get much more storage space (such as closets) and larger rooms. In addition, today’s minimum standards for plumbing, electrical, insulation and heating systems are higher than ever before. Traditionally, land values tend to increase during the first few years as neighbourhood services develop and the subdivision nears completion.

Regardless of what type of home you choose, be sure to discuss your preferences with your REALTOR. With an in-depth knowledge of the local housing market, your REALTOR can help you find the home that best suits you and your family. Your REALTOR can also offer invaluable guidance and advice throughout the home buying process.

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[toggle title="Buying a Home is a Sound Investment in Your Future"]

Why use your hard-earned cash to pay the landlord’s mortgage when you could be using the rent money to buy a home of your own? That’s a question many people ask themselves when they start thinking about moving out of the rental market to home ownership.

It’s a big step. For most people, taking out a mortgage is the biggest financial commitment they will ever make. But buying your own home has always made sound financial sense. Here are some facts to think over when considering home ownership as opposed to renting.

  • If you are 35 now and just buying your first home, you will likely be mortgage-free when you are 60 and sitting comfortably on a considerable asset.
  • It’s highly likely your investment will appreciate considerably in 25 years. It’s important, however, not to buy with the intention of making a quick fortune. Think of home buying as a sound, long-term investment.
  • Buying a home is a very effective way of saving regularly over many years. Even if you never buy into another retirement or investment plan, you are effectively putting money away for the future.
  • Owning a home of your own means you and your family can set down roots, get to know your community and involve yourselves in it.
  • Discover the pride of home ownership. You can fix the place to suit your particular needs. You can also have pets in your home.
  • As your family grows and moves on to homes of their own, you will have the option of earning extra income by renting out spare rooms or floors, if local bylaws allow.
  • If you are planning to borrow money from a bank or other financial institution, owning your own home is a definite plus when it comes time to negotiate.
  • You may not need as much money as you think to get into the home market. Qualified buyers can buy a house with as little as five per cent down through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) mortgage insurance scheme. You may also be able to use RRSP funds as part of your down payment.
  • With many kinds of investments, you have to pay a capital gains tax on profit you make. If your home is your principal residence, this tax does not apply.

After you have carefully considered all of the aspects of home ownership and are ready to begin your search, it’s time to contact your REALTOR. He or she has access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), a co-operative marketing system through which properties are bought and sold. Using the MLS®, your REALTOR can prepare a customized list of properties for sale that best meet your needs, wants and budget. Your REALTOR will also provide valuable assistance and guidance to you throughout the buying process.

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[toggle title="Title Insurance"]

We recommend that you purchase title insurance. Title insurance covers some risks inherant in real estate transactions, such as:

  • Liens, encumbrances, or defects in the title to a property
  • Tax arrears
  • Defects that would have been revealed by an accurate, up-to-date survey
  • Forced removal of an existing structure, other than a boundary wall or fence
  • Work orders, zoning or set back non-compliance/deficiencey
  • Another party claiming an interest in the property
  • Fraud, forgery, duress, incometence, incapacity or impersonation
  • Unmarketability, which allows another person to refuse to perform a contract to purchase, lease or make a mortgage

Title insurance can be purchased for a one-time fee, payable when the property is purchased. Depending on the premium you pay, it protects your lender only, or both you and your lender. A title insurance company issues the policy, and the policy remains in effect for as long as you own the property. Note that a new policy may be required if you change mortgage lenders. For more information go to www.firstcanadiantitle.com. If you would like to order title insurance, please call to obtain a quote.

This information is being provided to assist in the planning of a home purchase. It is not intended to be legal advice and the information set out may not be applicable in all cases. In some situations, a purchaser may be required to pay for other additional expenses such as a second mortgage, an assignment of rents, power of attorney, or independent legal advice.

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[toggle title="First Time Home Buyers"]

Are you among the thousands of people in the Fraser Valley who pay rent each month, knowing full well that you will never see that money again? For many, this need not be the case. Instead, why not take that money and build it into an investment that can last a lifetime? Right now there are excellent opportunities for first-time buyers. Mortgage rates are attractive and there are plenty of reasonably priced homes on the market.

What kind of home do you need and want?

Buying a home is a balance of many requirements such as family size, location, income and lifestyle. REALTORS are excellent sources of advice and help in these matters. Not only do they have the experience and knowledge to make sure the choice you make will be the right one, but with access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), they can seek out suitable properties for you and provide you with a customized list of homes that meet your needs, wants and budget.

Ask yourself exactly what you need in a home. How many bedrooms?

How close to schools or shopping centres? Do you plan to have more children? Do you need a garage or a finished basement? New homes offer extensive warranties and pristine conditions but may not have mature trees or landscaping. Older homes often include improvements such as finished basements or rec rooms, decks and patios. Be sure to have any resale home inspected for needed repairs or upgrading.

decide on a preferred location

Living in the city means you will be close to amenities such as theatres and shopping. If you prefer a more rural lifestyle, make sure the extra time spent driving each day won’t detract from your enjoyment of the property.

Townhomes and condominiums are obviously suited to particular lifestyles or budgets. Townhome or condominium living offers convenience and often means sharing common areas such as parking, hallways and landscaping.

What can you afford?

Once you have determined what it is you want and need, you’ll have to find out what you can afford. The first tip is to set a maximum price range instead of just an upper price. It’s not always wise to buy the most expensive home you can afford but better to aim lower in anticipation of extra costs or fluctuations in your income.

A REALTOR or your financial institution can help you determine the amount of the mortgage you can carry by calculating your debt-service ratio. The rule of thumb is that the sum of all your current loan payments (car, personal, credit card, etc.) plus your mortgage should not exceed 40 per cent of your gross income. In addition, mortgage payments and property taxes should not be more than 30 per cent of gross income.

Buying your first home may seem intimidating in the beginning, but with careful planning, a clear idea of what you want and the help of a REALTOR, home ownership can be become a joyful reality for you and your family.

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[toggle title="Moving Up in the Housing Market"]

Has the prospect of moving into a bigger and better home been in your plans from the day you first bought your ‘starter’ home? Well, now may be just the right time to make it happen.

You may be surprised to learn that the cost of moving up is within your means. The equity you have already built up in your current home can often be sufficient for the down payment for your next home. And, with today’s attractive mortgage rates, carrying charges need not be much larger than what you are paying now. A REALTOR can help you calculate the carrying costs on a ‘move up’ home.

Changing needs

The desire to move to a larger home is often the result of changing needs for you and your family. A new child is on the way and you need a nursery; the children are growing and need their own rooms and more space to play; you’re tired of scrambling for a place to park on the street and want your own driveway; you need more space to build a home office now that you are self-employed; or maybe you just need a change of scenery.

There are as many reasons as there are different lifestyles. Whatever your reasons, moving up to a new home can intensify the joys of home ownership.

There are both practical and emotional results of moving up to a better home. On the practical side, the equity in your home will continue to grow and the value of a bigger and better home will be ultimately greater over time. On the emotional side, the pride of ownership in a bigger house will probably be even greater than when you bought your first home.

Ask a REALTOR for help

As will every major decision, the key component is thoughtful planning. Your options can be confusing at times but a REALTOR can help you make the right choices.

Location, of course, will be one of the first choices you will need to make. There are almost as many individual choices on location as there are homes. If you want to move closer to the urban core you can be sure that there is somebody out there who is just as eager to move to the suburbs. If you want a house on a bigger lot to enjoy gardening, there’s someone looking for a smaller lot which requires less maintenance. With access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS® ), a REALTOR can not only help you sell your present home for the best price possible, but also provide you with a customized list of homes for sale that meet your needs, wants and budget. He or she can then arrange for you to view the homes that appeal to you the most.

If you are thinking of moving up to meet changes in circumstances and lifestyle, contact a REALTOR today for expert advice.

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[toggle title="No Time Like the Present"]

If you are tired of renting and have always wanted a home of your own, now is an excellent time to take the home ownership plunge.

Attractive mortgage interest rates, government incentive programs and an excellent supply of homes for sale are making the dream of home ownership possible for more would-be buyers.

Consider Using Your RRSPs

You may want to take advantage of the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan. The program allows you to use your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions (up to $20,000 per person, $40,000 per couple) to buy or build a home. You must be a first-time buyer or at least not have owned a principal residence for four consecutive years in order to qualify under the plan. Remember, no income tax is deducted from these funds as long as they are repaid to an RRSP according to the government’s repayment schedule.

Lower Down Payment Requirements

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Home Loan Insurance Plan is designed to give buyers lacking a larger down payment the opportunity to get into the market sooner. Under the program the minimum down payment requirement for federally insured mortgages for buyers is just five per cent. The home can be new or resale.

Examine Your Needs

It is never too early to start considering where you would like to live and the type of house that best suits your needs. This is where a REALTOR’s services prove invaluable. REALTORS have access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) which is a co-operative listing system that offers maximum exposure of homes listed for sale. A REALTOR can help you zero in on the type of home you want with a quick search on the computer. Once you have defined a few key parameters like price, location and number of bathrooms, a REALTOR can provide you with a customized list to assist you in your search.

Defining your focus is important because there are plenty of housing options available in the Fraser Valley area. You will have to choose the property that is right for you from among new houses, resale homes, townhouses and condominiums. A REALTOR is a highly trained professional who can help you choose the one that best suits your current and projected
lifestyle.

A REALTOR will accompany you as you view homes and provide you with all the pertinent information to make an informed decision.

So, if you are ready for home ownership, now is a good time. Many Canadians would agree that owning a home is one of the best investments you can make and helps provide financial security for retirement.

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Finding the right home, getting a fair price, calculating mortgage rates, figuring out closing costs – all of these factors make buying a home an often complicated and overwhelming process. However, a REALTOR can guide you through the home buying process and transform this confusing experience into one of the most exciting times of your life.

Think of a REALTOR as a professional who brings buyers and sellers together for the sale of a property. REALTORS are licensed real estate professionals who are members of the  Real Estate Board. REALTORS have access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) which is Canada’s most powerful real estate marketing system. This service provides REALTORS with listing information on a wide variety of properties for sale which in all likelihood includes your ‘dream home.’

Selecting a REALTOR

One of the best ways is to ask your friends, relatives and neighbours if they can recommend a REALTOR with whom they have worked in the past.

As a buyer, it is particularly important that you clearly understand the nature of your relationship with the REALTOR – whether the REALTOR will be acting in your best interests or on behalf of the seller, or, in some circumstances, for both the buyer and seller. The REALTOR will fully explain the different relationships before you start working together.

It’s a good idea to talk with two or three REALTORS to find out which one has the best combination of experience and knowledge in the type of home and area in which you are interested. Once you have selected a REALTOR, remain loyal to him or her. Keep in mind that he or she will be spending a lot of time and effort to help you find the right home.

Finding your new home

A REALTOR will help you zero in on specific locations for your new home and will help you differentiate between your needs, wants and what you can actually afford. A REALTOR can show you what is available on the market and will then accompany you as you view homes and help you assess whether or not the property is right for you. When you have found your ‘dream home’, a REALTOR can help you select the most appropriate mortgage and financing options. It’s often a good idea to get a mortgage pre-approved so that you know exactly what you can afford.

Signing the contract

A REALTOR understands the laws and regulations that govern real estate transactions and has been trained to ensure you have a legally binding, enforceable contract. That’s reassuring when you are relying on your REALTOR to help you with one of the biggest transactions you will make.

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We’d love to hear from you regarding your buying or selling needs.  Please use the form below, and we’ll get back to you right away!

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