Buying a new pair of shoes is relatively easy. Once you find the style you like, all you need to do is try them on and see if they fit. If they do, you go to the cash register and pay.
When it comes to size, buying a new home can be trickier! Whether your intention is to upsize or downsize, figuring out the right size can be especially challenging.
Say for example, you’re downsizing from a large two-story home to a smaller bungalow. You don’t want to underestimate the space you need and end up in a place that feels tight. If you’re going the other way and upsizing, you don’t want to end up sinking extra money into a property that’s larger than you really need.
So how do you avoid these scenarios?
One of the best ways is to start by considering your current home. Do you use all the rooms in your home regularly? Is there a bedroom that’s rarely occupied? Has the recreation room become simply a storage area? If you’re downsizing, subtracting rooms you scarcely use can give you a better idea of what you need in a new home.
Upsizing is a bit more challenging because you have to anticipate what you will need in the future. For example, if you have young children, and your place is feeling cramped, then a home with a recreation room or separate family and living rooms may be a good idea. You may also need a bigger kitchen with a spacious eating area (in addition to a separate dining room.) Think about the extra room you’ll need and how you’ll use that space.
When I work with a client, I typically sit down with them and discuss the type of home they want in detail — and, based on needs and circumstance, I make expert recommendations. Bottom line, I help clients find the perfect fit in a new home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.
An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!
In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:
• How old is the roof?
• How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?
• How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)
• What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)
• What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)
• Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)
• Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.)
• Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)
Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked.
Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.
Imagine this scenario...
You purchase a new home and move in. A few weeks later, you hear a strange rumbling sound. It’s the furnace. It’s only a year old, yet it’s sputtering like it’s twenty. You realize you’ll have to call in an HVAC contractor to get it fixed.
You’re thinking, “Ouch! This is going to be expensive.”
Well, maybe not. You see, since that furnace is relatively new, it might be covered by its original warranty — even for you, the new owner.
But a warranty is useless if you don’t know it exists.
Recent studies suggest that upwards of 50% of people pay to get items fixed that were actually covered by a warranty. So, when purchasing a new home, be sure to ask this simple question: “What warranties do you have for items, materials or workmanship in this house?”
Warranties are common on new stoves, fridges, washers, dryers and other big ticket appliances. Some such warranties are transferrable, which means they are still in force when the items pass from one owner to another.
Even less expensive items, such as electronic thermostats and automatic garage door openers, may be covered by a transferrable manufacturer’s warranty.
If the home you’re purchasing is relatively new (say, less than 10 years old), the builder’s warranty may also still be in force. That can be handy if a structural problem arises.
Even recent renovations, may have come with a labour and/or installation warranty of some kind.
As you can see, warranties are everywhere! The more you’re aware of them, the more you’ll save when something needs repair or replacement.
Imagine there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday, but, every time you drive through, you rarely, if ever, see a For Sale sign. It’s as if homes get gobbled up by buyers the moment they get listed.
It’s true, properties do tend to sell quickly in desirable, in-demand neighbourhoods. Does that mean you’re destined to either hope for a lucky break or miss out on ever living there?
Fortunately, no. There are practical things you can do to increase your chances of getting into that neighbourhood.
Your first step is to find out the kind of new home you can afford. You want to get your financial ducks in a row so when a listing does come up in the area, you’re able to respond quickly. Find out the average price range of homes in the neighbourhood. Then, if necessary, talk to your lender or mortgage broker.
The second step is to get your current property ready for sale. You don’t necessary need to list it now, but you want to be in a position to do so quickly, if necessary. You may need to clean up and declutter, get repairs done, and spruce up your home in other ways.
The third step is to talk to me. You see, listings in popular neighbourhoods often move fast. By the time you see them advertised on the internet, they may be gone. I can closely monitor listings in that area for you, so the moment one comes up that meets your criteria, you can be alerted. This greatly increases your chances of getting that home.
So if there is a dream neighbourhood you’d love to get into, give me a call.
Imagine buying a product from a store, taking it home, and then discovering there’s a problem with it. Disappointing, yes, but not a catastrophe. You can simply take it back for repair or exchange. But, what if it’s moving day, and you discover there’s a problem with your new home? Whoa. A house isn’t so easily returned!
What are the most common problems encountered on moving day?
• A delay in getting the keys.
• The seller not having completely moved out.
• An item expected to be included with the property is missing.
(For example, the window blinds.)
• Something needs repair that was not disclosed by the seller, nor did it come up during inspection.
(For example, the dishwasher not working.)
• Damage to the property caused by the seller.
(For example, a heavy item dropped during the move and cracking a floor tile.)
Fortunately, these are rare events. In most cases, you can expect no serious issues when you move into your new home.
But, if something is wrong, you have options. So, call me immediately. In all likelihood, I will be able to quickly resolve the issue.
If it’s a serious matter, such as missing items, I may get your real estate lawyer involved to arrange for the return of the item(s) or compensation.
So don’t worry. Let the professionals handle it. You can just enjoy your new home!
Imagine finding the perfect home, only to discover there is serious interest from at least a dozen other buyers. It’s like scrambling for the last piece of cake at a buffet!
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help get the home you want, even in a highly competitive market. Here are just a few ideas:
• Only view a few ideal properties at a time. If you see too many, and thus spread yourself too thin, you risk homes slipping through your fingers.
• Be realistic about price. Focus on finding a great home that you can afford, rather than trying to find a bargain.
• Consider homes that need some work. They get less interest than perfectly staged properties, yet can turn out to be a dream home.
• Be prepared to make an offer with as few conditions as possible. An offer conditional on passing inspection is usually fine, but in a competitive situation, offers with other conditions will likely be turned down.
• Make your decisions quickly. If there are likely to be other interested buyers, you want to get your offer in early.
• Make the right offer. To win the deal, you want your offer to be as enticing as possible to the seller — especially when it comes to price.
Yes, it can be tough finding an ideal home in a hot market, but I can help. Give me a call and I’ll show you how.
Imagine finding a home you love, making an offer, and then finding out there are other competing offers on the table. Ouch.
If you’re looking for a property in a competitive market, it is likely that there will be multiple offers. Even just one can create the risk that you’ll lose the home. So how do you make sure your offer is enticing enough to win over the buyer? Here are some ideas:
• Don’t make a low-ball offer. If you do, it might be dismissed and you
probably won’t get another chance to bid — especially if the other
competing offers are near the listing price.
• Have a pre-arranged mortgage and include that with your offer. This
reassures the buyer there won’t be any money issues. (Most lenders
will provide you with a pre-arranged mortgage certificate for this
• Go in with a price high enough that the buyer will be interested, but
not so high as to be leaving money on the table. This is tricky and
requires a savvy knowledge of the current market.
• Have a REALTOR® present the offer on your behalf. A REALTOR®
will know how to do so professionally, and in a manner that gives you
the best chance of getting the home.
In a competitive situation, working with a REALTOR® who is an expert on the local market — and a skilled negotiator — is crucial.
As a prospective home buyer you have responsibility during the viewing of homes. You need to be sensitive and respectful when touring properties with your agent. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow during your home hunting days:
Aim to look innocuous and don't let your clothes give anything away. You don’t want to look scruffy, but equally, if you look too smart the vendor might assume you've got loads of money and won’t negotiate.
Leave young children and babies at home
It is advisable not to take kids on a first viewing as they can be too distracting. If the vendor has children, then it is typically okay to bring them on a second viewing. However, if the vendor is childless, they may find it a bit of an imposition.
Arrive on time for the viewing
You should always make the effort to arrive on time. Also if you are coming with others, make sure you arrive together. Showings are usually set for a certain time and it is not only an inconvenience to your agent if you are late but the seller may be on a schedule. Often owners will leave just in time for a showing and may be waiting to return after its completion.
Take off your shoes
Even if you are not accustomed to taking off your shoes before entering someone else's home, it is best to do so when viewing a home so that you do not track mud and dirt into the home. People from various cultures and religions who do not wear shoes in home may be offended if you enter their house with your shoes on, so it is best to leave your shoes at the front door.
Respect the seller's personal property
While it is expected to open kitchen cabinets, pantries and closets, try to keep the investigation down to a minimum. Avoid opening dresser drawers, looking at personal items and using the master bathroom.
Don’t criticize things you don’t like in front of the homeowner if they are present in the home
If the owners happen to be at home, keep conversation with them to a minimum. Most sellers try to be out when a showing takes place but sometimes it is just not possible. It is best not to "grill" them about why they are selling or where they are going. These questions are better filtered through your agent. The very worst thing you can do is say things like 'well we'd have to knock that wall down' and 'if we filled the pond in the garden it would look much better'. The vendor is probably very proud of their property the way it is. Although, some aspects of the house may not suit you and while you may not wish to purchase the home, it is best to have those discussions with your spouse out of earshot.
When leaving the home, it is nice to say things like, "Thank you for showing me around, it's kind of you to take the time" or "You have a lovely home". Vendors usually remember nice and polite people and favour them in any competition for the house.
Most people have enough common sense to be courteous and careful when entering a stranger's home for viewing. When in doubt about protocol, just ask your agent. One of the standing rules about viewing a home is - leave it exactly the way you found it.
Happy House Hunting!
DFH Buyer Service Promise
- Dedicate myself to making the process of buying your next home as easy and as successful as possible.
- Respect you, your needs and be honest and forthright.
- Hold your best interests in the highest regard throughout the process.
- Value and respect your time, being as efficient and effective as possible.
- Understand your needs and respond quickly.
- Consult with you to determine your particular real estate wants and needs.
- Use my base of experience, knowledge, tools and the most up-to-date training to best serve you.
- Explain each step of the process and act as a guide to help you make the most informed decisions.
- Disclose material facts known about the property and respond to questions concerning the property.
- Help determine your purchasing power, while explaining alternative methods of purchasing and/or financing.
- Provide an action plan for locating the right property, at the right price and terms, in an acceptable time frame.
- To the best of my ability, show you new properties that fit your needs.
- Provide a Customized Home Search Plan using our MLS® prospecting services, for locating the right property for you, only showing you properties that will best meet your needs and in accordance with FairHousing regulations and ethical real estate practices.
- Use the most comprehensive database of listings in the area, to help you find the home that best meets your needs, whether that be the Multiple Listing Service and/or other methods.
- Provide the resources of our Company to offer hundreds of listings, allowing you to easily review homes that are right for you, access in-depth information on neighborhoods, and additional information.
- Use my knowledge and expertise to promote the most valuable purchase on your behalf. I will assist you in evaluating the market value of properties that are of interest to you and help you obtain the most advantageous price and terms.
- Provide access to financing that meets your needs, at the lowest possible rates available to you.
- Advise and assist you in completing your purchase agreement, and present your offer with integrity in a light most favorable to your needs.
- Upon acceptance of an offer by you, pre-settlement activities throughout the closing process will be monitored as permitted by law or local practice.
- Offer to provide you with information regarding other professionals (e.g. lawyers/notaries, accountants, inspectors, contractors) that may assist you during and after your move.
Figuring out how much time you should spend viewing properties for sale isa little like asking, “How long should I spend trying on shoes?”
The answer seems obvious: As long as it takes to make a decision!
Buying a home is significantly more complex than purchasing shoes – and the stakes are higher too! You need to make sure you have all the information necessary to confidently make the best decision.
There are basically three stages to viewing a property:
When you view a home on a macro basis, you’re looking at it from an overall perspective. For example, you may do a general walk-through to get a first impression and determine if the property has the basic features you need, such as the number of bedrooms and the size of the backyard.
Macro viewing is often the fastest stage in the viewing process and can sometimes take just a few minutes. If you like what you see, then it’s onto the micro stage. At this stage you take a closer look at the details of the property. You might, for example, spend extra time in the master bedroom imagining how your furniture would look and fit.
The micro stage takes longer simply because the home is now on your shortlist. You’re interested and are considering making an offer.
Finally, the professional stage involves getting a qualified home inspector to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. That typically occurs after you’ve made an offer.
As your REALTOR®, I will guide you through a viewing so you’ll know what to look for and can make a smart, informed decision. Call today.
Imagine if you dreamed of owning a special limited edition vehicle. What would you do to ensure that your dream vehicle would someday be parked in your driveway — with your name on the ownership papers?
You would probably start by doing some research. You’d find out how much that vehicle would cost, what features are available, and so forth. You would likely visit a local dealership and take a test drive if a model is available on site. You would keep an eye on the market for any that come up and let the dealer know you’re looking for just that car.
If you did, then, some day, you’d probably be the proud owner of the limited
edition car of your dreams.
What does this have to do with real estate?
Well, you can take the same approach when there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday. You can target it, learn what homes typically cost in that area, and keep your eye on that market in case a property becomes available that meets your criteria.
By focusing on a specific neighbourhood, you increase your chances of someday living there, simply because you’re focusing on it.
Of course, neighbourhood targeting isn’t as simple as aiming to own a specific car someday. That’s why you need a great REALTOR® who can keep an eye on that neighbourhood on your behalf and alert you to opportunities that become available.
Then, when there is a listing that’s a good fit, you can decide whether or not to make a move.
Is there a dream neighbourhood you’d like to live in some day? Call me today to make it happen.
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.
Jot down your impressions of the exterior of the home, note the lot size and shape as well as the position of the home on the lot (facing north, south, east or west). Note the condition of the landscaping and whether or not the yard is fenced.
Check the condition of the siding and note if the home has an attached or detached garage. 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.
Note if the home has a separate front hallway. Check 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 its appliances, sink, cupboard space, counter tops, flooring, lighting and electrical outlets. Be sure to ask if any or all of the appliances are included in the sale.
It may be that a separate dining room, a family room or a fireplace is important to you. Note also the size of the bedrooms and closet space and whether or not there are any window coverings or adjoining bathrooms. Also make note of the flooring and room colours.
Make notes on the number and sizes 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.
Check to see if the basement is full or partial, finished or unfinished, and if there is adequate room for walking about. Check the utility area and find out if the washer and dryer are included in the sale. It is also 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 that you are considering buying.
It’s been a busy 2015 and our markets have been characterized by an increased demand from Buyers with a decreased amount of properties available on the open markets. This has created an imbalance with the markets which are generally favouring Sellers currently. The trickledown effect of these conditions is that property values are increasing. In fact, overall, the Victoria market values are up by nearly 10% over this time last year.
For Sellers this means that it’s a great time to get your property listed. For Buyers this means that there are a larger quantity of other Buyers out there that are potentially competing with you for the fewer amount of properties that are available. Due to this, we are seeing multiple offer scenarios coming back into our markets.
Many of the specific conditions will be dictated by the geographic area you are working in, the type of housing (single family, townhouse, duplex, condo), and the price point you are working within.
If you are thinking about making a purchase this spring, I recommend you consider these following suggestions before beginning your house hunt. These points will help you to avoid disappointment while setting you up for success.
Get a jump on the new listings: Good properties sell quickly in these market conditions. If you are getting ready to buy something soon, ask your Realtor to change your MLS settings to notify you immediately when a new property that fits your criteria is listed. If you like the looks of it, get in touch with your Realtor quickly and view it as soon as possible.
Be prepared: Have your financing in order so if you see the “one” you will be in a position to move on it. Make sure you are qualified at the price point you are shopping in.
Talk to your Realtor about the possibility of finding yourself in a multiple offer situation: Discuss how you can position yourself strategically. The fewer conditions on the offer, the better. Don’t ask for chattels (furniture, personal possessions of the Seller) or for favours from the Sellers. If possible, try to offer the Seller the closing dates they are looking for and remove your conditions as quickly as possible. Remember you only get one chance to impress the Seller in a multiple offer situation. We recommend that you put your best offer forward, you may not have a chance to negotiate. A short note to the Seller about your family and what you like about the home can also sometimes sway a Seller in your favour.
Price: Think about your upper limit to price. Often in multiple offers, the minimum offer is the list price and sometimes Buyers must go above the list price to secure the property. In a multiple offer scenario the highest price is usually the offer that is considered. Make sure you are comfortable at this elevated price and that you are qualified for it.
Consider a larger deposit: Typically we see deposits in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. If you are in a position to offer a higher deposit at the time of condition removal, your offer will appear stronger. The deposit money forms part of the purchase price upon closing.
If you would like more information or assistance with negotiating the current market conditions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time. Ask me for further details on your market area and I will be happy to update you on your own personal situation.
When you make an offer on a home, it’s a smart idea to have a professional home inspector check it out from top to bottom. This inspection will ensure that the property doesn’t have any unexpected “issues”. After all, you don’t want to buy a home only to discover that the roof needs to be replaced, immediately, for thousands of dollars. That being said, you might question whether you really need to invest the few hundred dollars it costs for a professional home inspection. “The home we want to buy looks like it’s in very good shape,” you might be thinking. “I can’t see anything wrong with it.”
However, a professional home inspector can see things you can’t. When you view a property that’s on the market, you might be able to notice obvious issues, like a crack in the foundation or a dripping faucet. If you’re experienced with home maintenance, you might even notice roofing tiles that look like they’re overdue for replacement. But you won’t pick up all the issues a home inspector can.
A home inspector will, for example, use a special device to check for moisture build-up in the washrooms – which can be an indication of mould. He or she will also inspect wiring to make sure everything is safe and compliant with the building code.
That’s not all.
Like a determined detective, a home inspector will investigate the property’s structure, electrical and plumbing systems, insulation, and other components — and then report the findings to you.
In the end, a professional home inspection gives you peace-of-mind and protects your investment. So getting one is highly recommended — even for recently built homes.
A good REALTOR® can recommend a trusted home inspector for you.
Looking for more ideas on making smart decisions when buying a home? Call today.
Finding the perfect home doesn't happen in one day. It takes careful planning and lots of work. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to simplify the process.
1. Things to Consider Before Starting Your Search
What Features Do You Need?
Do you need an extra bathroom, a garage, a fenced backyard, or lower utility bills? Do you want a fireplace, a short drive to work, or maybe minimal yard work? Once your list is complete, decide what’s most important to you.
What’s the Ideal Location?
Where you live obviously affects your life
style; it’s also one of the most significant influences on the value of your home. Your choice of location may be somewhat limited by the price you can afford. Even so, make sure to consider such things as distance to work, schools, shopping and entertainment.
What Kind of Home?
What type of property do you want? A single-family detached home is attractive to many people because it typically provides more living space and land. On the other hand, a condominium may be a more appropriate choice for you, with an emphasis on maintenance-free living. Determine what type of home best suits your desired lifestyle and budget.
What’s Your Budget?
How much do you want to spend? Just as importantly, how much do you have to spend? Note there are numerous additional expenses (detailed below) that you’ll pay to complete the purchase of a home.
2. Choosing a REALTOR®
A REALTOR® can help you answer all of these questions and help you navigate through what can be a complicated business transaction. Start by finding REALTORS® in your city by using CREA’s handy search tool. Then, talk to some of them and compare their services. It’s important that you’re comfortable and confident with the agent you choose.
3. Searching For a Home
A REALTOR® will use various tools to try and find properties that meet your specifications. The most important is a local Board’s MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®) System. Your REALTOR® can quickly search through numerous properties available for sale in specific areas to find suitable listings; that is, houses that best match your needs, choice of neighbourhoods and price range. You can also view listings in Board MLS® Systems that are advertised on the national REALTOR.ca web site.
4. Seeing Houses
When you select a property and decide to visit a house, there are many things to consider. Does it have all the features you want? Is the neighbourhood what you expected? Try to picture your favorite furnishings in a room. Remember all of the technical considerations, including:
- What type of wiring does the house have?
- What about power outlets? Different appliances use different types.
- What type of heating system does it use? Heating costs can vary drastically by type.
- Have the roof and foundation been well maintained?
- What condition are the windows in?
- What about the plumbing?
There are numerous other things to consider as well. If you don't have time or don't feel comfortable doing it, home inspection services are available for a reasonable fee. Having a qualified home inspector look at the house is always a good idea. The older the home, the greater the need for professional inspection.
5. Making an Offer
Once you find a house you want to make your home, your REALTOR® can help you develop an offer. In the offer, you should specify how much you're willing to pay. State when the offer expires and suggest a closing date for the transaction. You can also propose some condi
tions on the offer. Some common types of conditions are:
- Getting a suitable mortgage (include the amount, interest rates and any other figures you feel important);
- Selling your current home (the seller may continue to look for a buyer, but will give you the right of first refusal);
- The seller providing a current survey, or a "real property report," showing that there are no encroachments on the property;
- The seller having title to the property (your lawyer will check this out when she conducts a title search to see if there are any liens on the property, easements, rights of way or height restrictions);
- If there’s a septic system, the seller having a health inspection certificate, stating that the system meets local standards;
- An inspection by a qualified engineer, should you have any doubts about the home's safety and construction; and
- Any inclusions of appliances and other items - basically, what stays and what goes.
You will need to present a deposit along with your offer. An appropriate deposit will show your good faith to the seller. Note that the seller's agent, if they are represented by one, is bound by law to bring all offers to the seller's attention.
6. If Your Offer is Accepted
After your offer is accepted and all conditions met, the offer becomes binding on both sides. If you later refuse to honour the agreement, you may lose your deposit or might be sued for damages. Before signing, make sure you understand and agree with all terms of the offer.
Before the property can formally change hands, there are still a few things to do. Be prepared to furnish proof to your lender that you’ve insured your new house. On or before closing day, both side’s lawyers will arrange to transfer title of the property from the seller to you. The mortgage money will be transferred to your lawyer's trust account, and then to the seller, and your lawyer will bill you all additional expenses such as land transfer taxes or outstanding legal fees.
At this time, be sure to check with your lawyer that everything is as stated in the offer-to-purchase.
Once you're satisfied and the keys to the front door are in your hands, there's nothing else to say, except welcome home!
No matter what type of home or property you're buying, plan on some extra expenses.
- A land transfer tax (a sales tax on property) in certain provinces
- A mortgage broker's fee
- An appraisal fee
- Surveying costs (if the seller couldn't come up with a current survey)
- A high-ratio mortgage insurance premium
- An interest adjustment. (Mortgages are normally calculated from the first of each month. If your closing date is the same as the beginning of your mortgage, there will be no adjustment. However, if your closing date is July and you move in on June 15, those last 15 days are the interest adjustment period. Your lender will expect you to cover the cost of the interest during that time.)
- Reimbursement to seller for the unused portion of any prepaid property taxes or utility bills
- Legal fees, and, if applicable, REALTOR® fees
(The comments contained on this page are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.)
Say you’re viewing a home and are impressed with how it looks. The walls are freshly painted. Everything seems bright and new. You’re considering making an offer.
Then, while standing on a mat in the kitchen, you hear a squeak below your feet. You lift the mat and see that some tiles are broken. Obviously the mat was there to, literally, cover up that defect.
A few broken tiles are not a big deal. But now you’re thinking, “What else might be wrong with this house?”
There’s no reason to worry that every home will have maintenance issues hidden from view. However, it’s smart to do your due diligence to ensure the home you’re considering is truly as good as it looks.
One way is to have a professional home inspector check out the property as a condition of your purchase offer. He or she will inspect the home from top to bottom, inside and out, and point out any issues you should address.
It’s also smart to ask questions. Find out the age of certain features, such as the roof, furnace, and appliances. Ask about any recent renovations, and determine whether they were done by a professional or by the homeowner.
Most importantly, work with a good REALTOR® who can provide you with information on the property that you would have difficulty getting on your own. Your REALTOR® has a stake in making sure you buy a home with your eyes wide open — knowing all the potential maintenance issues you’re likely to encounter.
Are you thinking of buying or selling a property covered by the Strata Property Act? If so, it's important to be aware of the following so that you can make informed decisions.
Strata corporation records
- Minutes of annual and special meetings, including the results of any votes
- Strata Council bylaws and rules
- Budget and financial statements
- Correspondence directed to the Strata owners by the Strata Council
- Resolutions dealing with changes to common property
- A list of Strata Council members and owners
- Names of tenants and assignments of voting or other rights by landlords to tenants
- The registered strata plan and any strata plan amendments
Access to records
Under the Act, the Strata Corporation must make these and other records available upon request and provide copies to an owner, a tenant (who has been assigned a landlord's right to inspect and obtain copies of records and documents) or to a person authorized in writing by an owner, such as a REALTOR®. The Strata Corporation must comply with such a request within two weeks unless the request is for copies of the bylaws or rules, in which case the Corporation must comply within one week.
An Information Certificate must disclose the following information:
- Monthly strata fees
- Any special levies that have been approved
- Any amount by which the expenses of the Strata Corporation for the current fiscal year are expected to exceed the expenses budgeted for the year
- The amount in the contingency reserve fund
- Any amendments to bylaws
Location, location, location
Location is one of the most important factors in making any real estate purchase. For example, if you work in downtown Victoria and you are comfortable with the idea of commuting, you might want to consider buying a home in one of the outlying communities for a quieter, more peaceful environment. 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, shopping facilities, etc.
Identify features you need and want
Once you have decided on the location, it’s 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. These are important factors to consider during discussions with a REALTOR®.
Matching needs and wants with available properties
With access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), your REALTOR® can draw up a customized list of homes that 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 arrange for you to see the homes for sale that appeal to you and will offer guidance throughout the home-buying process.
Remember also that all of the properties listed for sale on MLS® can be viewed at mls.ca.
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 to you? Either way, you will find 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.
Look and compare
As you start searching for a home, it’s 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 schedule. 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
With an older home, 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 neighborhood 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 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.
If you’re thinking of shopping for a new home, one of the first considerations is price range. You want to know what you can reasonably afford. How do you figure that out?
First of all, you need to determine the initial out-of-pocket costs you will need to cover. There are often more costs associated with purchasing a home than it's actual price. You need to take into account such additional expenses as moving costs, legal fees, and a home inspection, not to mention the costs of prepping your current property for sale.
Experts say you should budget 5-10% above the purchase price for these items. So if you can afford to spend $470K on a new home, you should be shopping in the $425-445K range.
Another factor to consider are the potential proceeds from the sale of your current home. Your REALTOR® can help you determine how much your property will likely sell for in today’s market. Any existing mortgage will need to be subtracted from that amount to determine how much cash will be left.
Of course, you should speak to a mortgage broker or lender who can compute how much of a mortgage you qualify for. Remember, qualifying for a big mortgage doesn’t necessarily mean you should have one. You also need to consider your personal finances and desired lifestyle – and whether or not having a large mortgage is a good idea for you.
Once you have gathered all of your information, you can add any potential sale proceeds to the amount of mortgage you qualify for, add other sources of cash available for this purpose and subtract 5-10% for initial expenses, and you’ll have an idea of the price range you should be considering.
Finally, it’s important to take the time to decide what kind of home you want. Do you want a large backyard with trees? A quiet, family-oriented neighbourhood? Four bedrooms and a finished basement? Once you decide what you want most in a new home, it becomes much easier to find one that’s in your price range.