Buying a home is a big investment – likely the largest one you will ever make. The cost to buy a home should be carefully considered to avoid the risk of financial difficulty in the future.
Since this decision has a large impact on your wallet, we want to take some time to explore the many costs associated with buying a home. Doing your homework and knowing the average cost of these services in your neighbourhood will help you choose a home within a realistic price range.
Deposit: Depending on your location and the price of a home, you may need to put a deposit on a home as a security measure to ensure you don’t lose it to another interested buyer. If you are required to pay a deposit, it will become part of your down payment once you have purchased the home.
Down Payment: In Canada, the minimum amount you need to put down on a home is 5%. While this is realistic for most first time home buyers, having a down payment of 20% or more will help buyers avoid paying Mortgage Loan Insurance.
Land Transfer Tax: When you buy a home, you are required to pay a land transfer tax to the province upon closing. This tax is normally based on the amount paid for the land, as well as the remaining amount on any mortgage or debt assumed as part of the arrangement to buy the land. Cost will vary depending on your municipality, the size of the land and other factors. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and parts of Nova Scotia do not have Land Transfer Tax at all, while other provinces use a tiered system.
Appraisal Fee: An appraisal will normally cost between $200 and $300 but can vary depending on your location. This will help prevent you from borrowing more than you need to, and will prevent lenders from giving you too much.
Home Inspection: A home inspection is a necessary step in your home buying process and will normally cost an average of $350 depending on the size, age, and condition of the home. This helps ensure there are no unexpected maintenance or home improvement costs upon purchasing the home.
Property Insurance: While property insurance is likely already something you have factored into your budget, it’s important to do your research and find a reasonable quote that will ensure you are covered should anything unexpected happen.
Mortgage Insurance: There is mortgage life insurance, which is designed to protect the repayment of a mortgage if anything were to happen to you. There is also mortgage loan insurance if your down payment is less than 20% of the total house cost. Premiums for this type of insurance range from 0.5% to 3% and increase if you are self employed.
Lawyer Fees: The fee you will be charged by your lawyer will vary depending on the person representing you and must be paid upon closing. Ask your real estate agent for advice as they likely have a preferred trusted lawyer they can refer you to.
Title Insurance: Title insurance is a one-time-fee that provides protection from losses related to the properties title or ownership. Learn more about what it is in this blog post.
Property Taxes: The cost for property taxes is expressed as a dollar rate for every $1,000 estimated to be the market value of your property.
Maintenance and Energy Costs: Potentially your largest ongoing homeowner expense, these costs include lawn care/ yard work, professional services, additions/upgrades and the cost of keeping the house running year-round. You can use our monthly home budget planner to help map out all of these costs.
Moving Expenses: It’s easy to forget about the small things when moving, but it’s important to remember they can add up quickly! Consider the cost for phone, electricity, and other utility installations and don’t forget about movers, a moving truck and feeding your friends who are helping out!
Now that you have a better idea of the cost to buy a home, it’s time to hit the books to find out how much these services will cost in your area. Make a list, create a budget, and get started!
Moving up to your “forever home” is exciting. When you bought your first place, chances are you were young, strapped for cash and prepared – if not warned – to make some concessions. The move-up buyer typically has some savings and home equity to work with, making this next move feel less like a compromise and more a thoughtful selection.
But move-up buyers face their own set of challenges that call for a carefully considered strategy. Here are three options for the smart move-up buyer with a plan!
The “Sell First” strategy is ideal for the move-up buyer who can’t afford to pay two mortgages simultaneously. Selling your property first eliminates the risk of having to carry two mortgages if you don’t sell your existing home in time. It also reduces the chances of having to reduce your asking price in the interest of speeding up the sale. This is a good option for move-up buyers who are banking on the proceeds of their sale to fund their new (and likely more expensive) property. By selling first, you’ll know exactly how much money you have to purchase your next home.
If homes in your area of choice are selling faster than the ‘For Sale’ signs can hit the front lawn, the “buy first” strategy might be the way to go. By buying your new home before selling your old one, you won’t feel rushed into settling for a sub-par property, or having to seek alternative temporary housing options while you shop the market. This move-up buyer still lives in his or her existing home, allowing them time to shop around, and continue looking until they find that perfect place. This move-up buyer typically requires a bridge mortgage.
When all is said and done, this move-up buyer approach is the most ideal, but getting there is another story. Aligning your purchase and sale closing dates can be tricky. Remember that there are three dancers in this tango – you, the person you’re buying from, and the person you’re selling to. You’ll also have to move out and move in on the same day. In this scenario, time is your best friend and flexibility your saviour. This means you’ve planned ahead – you’re researched neighbourhoods, gotten pre-approved for a mortgage, and you’ve started the organizing and de-cluttering process before the big move.
The right move-up buyer strategy depends on a number of factors, such as your financial situation, current housing market conditions, your personal comfort level and your personality. Consider all these when making your decision. Plan ahead and work with a pro to ensure a smooth transaction on both sides of the bargaining table.
It’s a question that most Canadians will ask themselves at one point or another in their lifetime. Those who choose to rent often wonder if they’re wasting money. Those who buy may wonder whether or not their investment will be worth it in the long run.
Though it’s clear home ownership offers many benefits, the decision to buy or rent is a personal choice that should be based on several factors.
4 Factors to consider
1) Market Conditions – What is the price of real estate in your local market? It’s important to understand the market conditions and how they may affect prices before you decide to buy or rent.
2) Job Stability – Do you have a stable job and roots within your community? If your plan is to continue living in your community for the foreseeable future, home ownership may be the best option for you.
3) Time of life – What stage of life are you in? If you have a family, home ownership can provide a stable living situation without some of the uncertainties that are associated with renting.
4) Down payment – Do you have enough money saved up for an adequate down payment?
3 Benefits of home ownership
1) Financial investment – Your monthly mortgage payment creates equity for you, not your landlord.
2) Quality of life – Owning a home can provide a sense of stability and control that you don’t often get from renting. There is a great feeling about coming home to a place that you own.
3) Do what you want – When you own your own home, there’s no need to get approval before you paint a wall or hang a piece of art. You can choose what minor and major renovations you make to the place you live in.
How RE/MAX can help
RE/MAX Agents are experienced professionals who can help you out if you’ve decided that home ownership is the next step for you. Their expertise can help you find the house most suitable for your needs.
A recent survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents found that in 91 per cent of popular Canadian recreational property markets examined, retirees were the key factor driving activity. This includes established recreational regions such as Prince Edward County and Comox Valley. This is in stark contrast to last year’s findings, when retirees were a dominant driving force in only 55 per cent of markets examined.
The survey found that in British Columbia, Ontario and Atlantic Canada, more retirees and soon-to-be retirees are purchasing recreational properties outside of urban centres for use as retirement homes, increasingly blurring the line between recreational and residential properties.
- Retirees are fueling demand: 91 per cent of regions surveyed reported that retirees drive demand for recreational properties
- One in three survey respondents (33 per cent) say that they own or want to own a recreational property for investment purposes
- Buyers are increasingly renting in urban centres such as Toronto and Vancouver while purchasing recreational properties
- Other than affordable purchase price, waterfront rated as the most important feature to Canadians when considering spending time at a cottage or cabin, beating out reasonable maintenance costs
“Last year, we found that Baby Boomers and retirees were increasingly selling their homes in urban centres like Toronto and Vancouver,” says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “It’s clear that many put the equity they received from those sales into the purchase of a recreational property with the intention to retire in comfort and away from the city.”
Many of these individuals are engaging in more active forms of retirement, choosing to maintain physical fitness and emotional fulfillment by pursuing passion projects and leading lifestyles that involve farming, hiking and maintaining vineyards. This is particularly the case in regions such as South Okanagan, Wasaga Beach and Rideau Lakes.
Due to the strong US dollar, retirees in the Sylvan Lake and Lake Winnipeg regions are selling their snowbird properties south of the border and purchasing recreational homes for use as retirement properties as well.
In a separate survey conducted by Leger, six in 10 Canadians (58 per cent) enjoy recreational properties as places where they can relax and spend time with friends and family. However, the majority of Canadians (84 per cent) do not actually own recreational properties.
“Many Canadians want to live out the ‘Canadian Dream’ and spend time at the cottage or cabin but today, that doesn’t necessarily mean owning a recreational property outright,” says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX INTEGRA Ontario-Atlantic Canada Region. “Many are choosing to rent recreational properties, often by pooling resources with friends and family, which speaks to recreational properties still being in high demand.”
In fact, one in three Canadians (33 per cent) say that they own or would want to own a recreational property for investment purposes. In Toronto specifically, the survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents found that in regions such as North Bay-Sunridge, Bancroft and the Bruce Peninsula, many owners of recreational properties actually rent their principal residences in Toronto, where they live most of the year. Using their recreational properties every so often while renting them out for the rest of the year, these individuals are renting a principal residence where they live while buying where they play.
In Leger’s survey, more than half of Canadians (54 per cent) who own a recreational property, or are considering buying one, identify savings as their source of funding. Twenty per cent would use a loan, 20 per cent would rely on home equity and only 11 per cent would rely on inheritance.
The survey also found that other than affordable purchase price, Canadians who own or would consider owning a recreational property named waterfront access (55 per cent), reasonable maintenance costs (54 per cent) and proximity to town (43 per cent) as the most important factors when purchasing. The survey of RE/MAX brokers and agents, waterfront access was considered the most in-demand amenity in most regions, overall.
Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
SURREY, BC – The Fraser Valley housing market kicked-off summer with a further increase to overall inventory and a downturn in sales across all major residential property types.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,452 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in June, a decrease of 43.5 per cent compared to the 2,571 sales in June of last year, and a 17.4 per cent decrease compared to the 1,758 sales in May 2018.
Of the 1,452 sales processed last month 364 were townhouses and 392 were apartments, together representing 52 per cent of all transactions in June.
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 7,141 listings last month, increasing 6 per cent month-over-month and 30.1 per cent year-over-year.
“Demand is shifting back towards typical levels for our region, and market activity is reflecting that,” John Barbisan, President of the Board, said. “This has given our inventory a much-needed chance to recover and move the Valley towards a more balanced real estate landscape.”
The Board received 3,140 new listings in June, a 20.8 per cent decrease from May 2018’s 3,965 new listings, and a 15.3 per cent decrease compared to June 2017.
“One thing that isn’t changing quickly is pricing; prices are still increasing but we continue to see a gradual slowdown in upwards movement,” Barbisan continued. “If home prices are keeping you back from selling or starting to look for a new home, talk to a REALTOR® who can provide a comprehensive view of communities you’re interested in and what opportunities are available there.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in June was 21, and 19 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 26 days before selling.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
- Single Family Detached: At $1,018,900, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley decreased 0.2 per cent compared to May 2018, and increased 9 per cent compared to June 2017.
- Townhomes: At $558,000, the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 0.5 per cent compared to May 2018, and increased 19.5 per cent compared to June 2017.
- Apartments: At $453,500, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 0.1 per cent compared to May 2018, and increased 39.4 per cent compared to June 2017.
Find the June Statistics Package here.
Activity in Fraser Valley’s housing market was driven primarily by first-time homebuyers.
Condos have seen the most activity in the region due to low inventory levels, affordability and new developments in the area. The OSFI stress test rules and rising interest rates have had the most impact on sale price and activity in the region.
Source: Duxbury & Associates
QUESTION: I have a question about our new house, which is about 55 years old. We are just making an offer to purchase it. It is in the Vancouver Fairview Slopes area.
We were not made aware by the seller and did not notice at the time that the home has a definite slope in it. The main floor tilts to one side. After we realized this, we contacted the sellers and were told that their agent said everyone who looked at this house should have been made aware of it which, unfortunately, was not the case with us.
We really like the location and the layout, but have found the slope to be a source of frustration. We are just curious as to what, if anything, can be done about this. It would appear to us that anything to fix this could be extensive and expensive, but we really have no idea at all what the cause of this might be.
We don’t know how to proceed, or if we should just leave it and when the time comes that we sell it, just hope for the best. Any thoughts or insights into this would be appreciated.
ANSWER: I will certainly provide my thoughts on your issue, but I must warn, you may not like the response. As you have stated, it is unfortunate that you did not notice the sloped floors in the home before making your offer, as you are now forced to live with it. You are correct that repairs may be undertaken at considerable cost to lessen the slope, but there may also be some less-costly remediation you can do to minimize the problem.
It still never ceases to amaze me, with all the information available in countless forms, that some home buyers are unaware of the potential pitfalls of what is likely the largest purchase of their lives.
Once you sign on the dotted line of an offer to purchase a home, you are bound to the terms of that contract if accepted. If you have some specific conditions in that offer that have to be satisfied by either the seller or yourself, then there may be some wiggle room to change your mind if these conditions cannot be met.
One of these conditions should certainly be a home inspection completed to your satisfaction by an independent, professional property inspector. Without the condition to have the home checked out in great detail for visible defects by an experienced inspector, you are only relying on your own observations in the very brief time you could look at the home. Often, that time is less than 1 hour, where you are primarily looking at suitability of the home for your lifestyle and how clean it is. Your brief look will likely focus on the kitchen, bathrooms and other amenities, but not necessarily the structure or mechanical components.
The slope you have described would have been identified at the time of the home inspection and you could have decided then if it would have been enough of a deterrent to prevent you from completing the purchase. You may still have made the decision to buy the house, but at least you would have been aware of the sloping floor – as well as the other issues with the home. That would have allowed you to weigh the positive and negative features of the home and make an informed, rather than hurried, decision.
SOLUTION: Now that this “lecture” is over, we can address the sloping floor of this home. It is somewhat unusual to have a very noticeable slope in a home, but not uncommon due to shifting soil conditions. The earth moves continually, more or less like the surface of the water.
With many houses that have settled, if all in one direction, there may be little concern other than the noticeably sloping floors. As long as portions of the house have not moved at different rates, known as differential settlement, then the slope may only be an inconvenience. Yes, it may cause some doors to rub and furniture and appliances to sit awkwardly, but hundreds of older homes have these same issues.
It is very common in older areas to see homes that have settled several inches, often to the front street or to one side, that are otherwise in liveable condition.
The one thing you may be able to do, without major structural repairs to the home, is to adjust the posts/columns holding up the main beam(s) in the basement, by replacing with adjustable metal columns – teleposts. As homes settle, these metal columns can create significant “bumps” in the middle of the floors. This may be due not only to the settlement at the perimeter foundation, but also some heaving of the footings under these posts.
When this occurs, it can often make the sloping of the floors appear to be more dramatic – due to the unevenness caused by the upward forces of the posts and beams.
The solution is to call an experienced general contractor or foundation specialist to slowly and very carefully adjust the teleposts, as needed. This can be a relatively easy task if your home has a simple design with a single beam, or can be very difficult if you have a finished basement with multiple posts and beams. Ensure anyone you hire has many years of experience in this area and does proper measurements and calculations to determine which posts need to be adjusted and by how much. Also, commercial General Liability and Errors & Omissions insurance, plus a good reputation and a valid business license.
There are clues that can indicate structural problems in a house: floors out of level, windows and doors sticking, bouncy floors, or floors that sag in certain spots. And not all structural problems are such a big deal. But if all the floors in the house slope to the middle, that says something serious. This is not a quick fix and for a first-time homeowner with a limited budget and not much experience with houses, I’d stay away.
There are lots of reasons that might cause sloping floors in a home. There might be foundation issues or problems with sinking. The sill beam or floor joists might be rotted out or have been eaten by carpenter ants.
But one of the most common issue is people cutting through the structure to run plumbing or wiring or duct work. Or, someone has removed supporting structure underneath to create an open-concept design (or to accommodate a Grow-Op).
Professionals can cut joists to run piping or wiring, but it’s got to be done properly, without weakening them. I suspect someone might have removed critical support. But, without seeing it, I obviously can’t be sure. You need to bring in professionals who can assess the house’s structure.
Structural problems can be fixed. With houses, pretty much anything can be done; it’s just a matter of skill, experience, time and of course, money. Joists that have been cut and compromised can be replaced or repaired (sistered). You can jack up the whole house to replace a rotten sill beam. A crumbling foundation can be excavated and repaired. But these are big, expensive jobs. You’d better be sure the low price for your “fixer-upper” makes up for the cost of the fix.
CONCLUSION: For the most part, pointing out a floor slope in a home more than just a few years old is not the responsibility of a vendor or a realtor, unless you specifically request this information.
As long as nothing was deliberately done to cover up this condition, it is your job to inspect the property as thoroughly as you want before you make an offer to purchase. Without the assistance of your home inspector or professional structural engineer, you are relying on your own very limited expertise and time to make this evaluation.
As you have stated, you can now only “hope for the best” and perhaps make some necessary telepost adjustment to minimize the sloping of the floors in your home.
Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
SURREY, BC – The Fraser Valley stepped towards a more balanced market in May, with both sales and overall inventory reaching their highest points for the year.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,758 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in May, a decrease of 35.1 per cent compared to the 2,707 sales in May of last year, and a 2.9 per cent increase compared to the 1,708 sales in April 2018.
Of the 1,758 sales processed last month 417 were townhouses and 516 were apartments, together representing 53 per cent of all transactions in May.
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 6,736 listings last month, the highest level since September 2015, increasing 18.9 per cent month-over-month and 29.5 per cent when compared to May 2017.
“This is the most inventory we’ve had in over two years,” said John Barbisan, Board President. “Now that the pace of our market has begun to settle, we’re seeing more opportunities for buyers and less pressure to make fast decisions.”
The Board received 3,965 new listings in April, a 15.6 per cent increase from April 2018’s 3,429 new listings, and a 6.8 per cent increase compared to May 2017.
“Sales continue to be strong and there’s plenty of potential for sellers if they understand the market and price effectively. Consult your local REALTOR® for informed perspective on what’s happening in your community and what your best options are.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in May was 15, and 16 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 24 days before selling.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
- Single Family Detached: At $1,020,800, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley increased 1.1 per cent compared to April 2018, and increased 11.6 per cent compared to May 2017.
- Townhomes: At $555,500, the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 1 per cent compared to April 2018, and increased 20.6 per cent compared to May 2017.
- Apartments: At $452,900, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 1.2 per cent compared to April 2018, and increased 42.4 per cent compared to May 2017.
Find the May Statistics Package here.
Lenders, including banks and credit unions, regularly turn down mortgage applications from potential home buyers, even those with large down payments.
The reasons vary. The home buyer may be a self-employed entrepreneur and their earnings appear as a low income on a bank statement. The home buyer may be a new immigrant without a credit rating, or they may have a bad credit rating which they’re trying to improve.
The buyer may also have problems meeting the new stress test which requires federally regulated lenders to ensure borrowers can meet the greater of the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate or the contractual mortgage rate plus two per cent.
This is where alternative lenders can help with mortgage financing, according to Ajay Soni, president of the Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association, past president of the Mortgage Brokers Association of BC and a mortgage broker for 30 years.
In BC, mortgage financing generates between $40 and $50 billion in activity.
“Approximately $3 billion of this is in residential mortgages and another $2 billion in the development and construction side,” said Soni.
Canada-wide, alternative lenders account for 2.5 per cent of the lending market according to a report by CIBC, a rate that has doubled since 2012.
Loaning to riskier borrowers comes with a price tag.
Mortgage rates from an alternative lender are typically higher and vary depending on whether the borrower is getting a bridge mortgage, a second mortgage or third mortgage, or whether they’re refinancing to renovate a property or consolidate debt.
Benefits to borrowers include the opportunity to build or repair credit, or have greater flexibility in structuring loan and payment terms.
Potential home buyers looking for a mortgage should make sure they’re prescreened and prequalified.
As in all matters, buyers should beware.
Alternative lenders aren’t regulated by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, an independent federal government agency responsible for supervising Canada’s banks and federally incorporated trust, loan, and insurance companies.
Instead, in BC alternative lenders are regulated by the Financial Institutions Commission.
Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
SURREY, BC – Buyer activity in the Fraser Valley stayed coy throughout April despite a bump in inventory across all three major residential types.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,708 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April, a decrease of 23.4 per cent compared to the 2,230 sales in April of last year, and a 2.6 per cent increase compared to the 1,664 sales in March 2018.
Of the 1,708 sales processed last month 413 were townhouses and 498 were apartments, together representing 53 per cent of all transactions in April.
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 5,667 listings last month, increasing 18.2 per cent month-over-month, and 15.3 per cent when compared to April 2017.
“While it’s great to see the increase in inventory we were looking for, both buyers and sellers remain careful as pricing continues to climb,” said John Barbisan, Board President.
The Board received 3,429 new listings in April, a 19.7 per cent increase from March 2018’s 2,865 new listings, and a 16.2 per cent increase compared to April 2017.
“This isn’t the same spring market we saw each of the last two years, but listings that are selling are still going fast. If you’re considering buying or transitioning from a strata to a detached home, be prepared to move quickly, and talk to a REALTOR® who can support you through the whole process.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in April was 14, and 16 for townhomes. Single-family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 26 days before selling.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
- Single Family Detached: At $1,009,200, the Benchmark price for a single-family detached home in the Valley increased 0.8 per cent compared to March 2018, and increased 13.5 per cent compared to April 2017.
- Townhomes: At $549,900, the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 1.5 per cent compared to March 2018, and increased 23 per cent compared to April 2017.
- Apartments: At $447,500, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 1.6 per cent compared to March 2018, and increased 45.8 per cent compared to April 2017.
Find the April Statistics Package here.
A home is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make, so it’s only natural to feel a little intimidated by the negotiation process. This is particularly the case for first-time buyers. Here are some tips to help you approach the negotiation process that will help you minimize stress, stay within your budget and get the best price for your new home.
GET TO KNOW YOUR MARKET
Becoming familiar with the types of properties available in your price range is an important first step. With the help of a real estate professional, you’ll also want to begin exploring neighbourhoods you’re interested in, the types of properties available in those neighbourhoods and their prices. Make note of the difference between listing and sale prices and how factors such as size, location, amenities, proximity to schools, and the age and condition of the home affect price.
Familiarity with the market will help you understand the value of the properties on the market and put you in a stronger negotiating position. While online listings are a good place to start, most buyers should expect to look at 10 to 15 homes in person before they make the decision to put in an offer.
Buying your first—or even second or third—home comes with a lot of excitement and becoming emotionally attached can be easy. When looking at potential options, it often doesn’t take long to start imagining your new life there. However, it’s important that buyers do not act overly enthusiastic, particularly when the seller is home. This can put your REALTOR® at a disadvantage when negotiating for the best price. The best approach is to keep your demeanor neutral, take notes, and keep your thoughts and questions for a private conversation with your real estate agent.
FOCUS ON VALUE
When considering making an offer, many buyers assume that the asking price will be different from the selling price. In certain markets, buyers may expect the property to be listed higher than what it will sell for, while in hot markets, the opposite applies.
Rather than focusing on the listing price, focus on the value of the property. If the property is priced properly, the best strategy is to offer the listing price. If the property is not priced properly, make an offer that reflects the property’s true value. The best way to assess this is by getting to know the market and discussing your options with your REALTOR®.
A common mistake some buyers make is to put in a low offer, just to see if the seller is receptive to it. The result is often that the seller doesn’t take the offer seriously, either coming back with the original listing price or not responding at all.
Remember that just as your REALTOR® is advising you, there is also a real estate professional advising the seller on the home’s value.
THINK BEYOND PRICE
Don’t forget that price is not the only point of negotiation –terms are negotiable too. Everything from the move-in date, to home repairs, to which appliances are included in the sale, is up for negotiation.
STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
Firmly establish a budget and stick to it. In markets where demand is high and inventory low, it can be tempting to increase your budget, especially if you have put in several offers without being successful. However, it’s important to stay within a budget that you will be comfortable with for the next several years. Make your best offer and don’t budge. Home buying can be emotional, but try to keep a cool head by reassuring yourself that there will always be another house out there.
WHAT’S MY BUDGET?
When starting the search for a new home, it is important to establish a budget that you will be comfortable living within for several years. There are several handy tools to help you calculate your housing budget and plan your monthly expenses. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Household Budget Calculator allows you to compare your income with your expenses and debt payments and see what kind of mortgage you can comfortably afford, and the RE/MAX Monthly Home Budget Planner helps you gain a better understanding of all the costs associated with home ownership.
No one knows the negotiation process better than Rosemary.
Earth Day on April 22nd can be a pretty energetic day, with people celebrating environmental health at festivals and other events.
Let that enthusiasm motivate you to start the home projects that you’ve been putting off.
Whatever your goal, be it saving money or the earth or both, some simple energy efficiency upgrades and habit changes can save some money and create an healthier, more comfortable living space. Plus, by tapping incentives and rebates, you often can reduce your upfront costs.
1. Rebates and incentives. Each province provides an array of incentives to help you save money on your energy bills. Those in Newfoundland and Labrador, for example can find insulation rebates (http://bit.ly/2DClLhm), those in Alberta (http://bit.ly/2FHePoX) will find incentives for energy efficient lightbulbs, shower heads, and programmable thermostats. And a program in Manitoba (http://bit.ly/2piKeE1) offers loans to pay for things like new windows and doors, insulation, home sealing, and water heating equipment. Search for incentives specific to your province at Natural Resources Canada (http://bit.ly/2GBTkmP).
2. Smart technology. Smart home technology is evolving quickly and some of the tried-and-tested basics could save you money. Programmable thermostats like the Nest, for instance, learn your occupancy habits and automatically turn down the heat and air conditioning when you’re not home. Motion sensors and automatic timers can reduce your lighting costs with little effort on your part. Other smart technologies – locks, carbon monoxide detectors, and cameras – can improve safety and convenience. In addition, smart technology may help you better market your house when you sell. A January 2018 Coldwell Banker survey shows that potential homebuyers prefer to have smart technology already installed in a prospective home.
Smart products that interest them most include:
• Thermostat (77 percent)
• Fire detector (75 percent)
• Carbon monoxide detector (70 percent)
• Camera (66 percent)
• Lock (63 percent)
• Lighting system (63 percent)
3. Replacing aging equipment. Investigate the newest systems and appliances so that when your current unit is on its last leg, you’ve done all the upfront research and know what you want to buy. That way, you’re not making buying decisions under pressure and potentially losing out on the best products and deals. Look at options for new appliances, on-demand water heaters, and HVAC units. Also search for any rebates and incentives available for each system.
4. Reduce consumption. Small changes in your daily habits can reduce your monthly utility bills. Shut off lights, take shorter showers, and turn down the temperature on your water heater. Also insulate your pipes and get a blanket for your water heater.
5. Low-maintenance, fire-safe landscaping. Spring gardening season is nearly upon us. Consider a gardening strategy that relies on plants native to your region, which reduces the need for water and chemical inputs. Plus, if you remove your lawn and opt for native plants and grasses, you can drastically reduce the cost and time associated with yard maintenance. And if you live in an area prone to wildfires, consider creating an outdoor space that resists fires. That entails things like creating safe zones around your house, choosing high-moisture plants, opting for trees that are less flammable than others (maple, poplar and cherry, rather than pine and fir trees), and creating fire breaks with things like rocks and flower beds. Learn more: (http://bit.ly/2c1o7ct) and (http://bit.ly/2tTwX9s)
First-time Buyers’ Must-haves
If your market features lots of first-time buyers and you’ve been tweaking your home to appeal to that audience, you may be interested in a recent National Association of Homebuilders’ poll. It lists the top home features this group consider essential. They are:
- Living room
- Laundry room
- Dining room
- Garage storage
- Walk-in closet in master bedroom
- Both shower stall/tub in master bath
- Front porch
- Great room
- Two-car garage
- Kitchen double sink
Are you thinking of selling your home? Before your REALTOR® begins showing your home, you will want to make sure it’s in tip-top condition. An attractive, well-kept home generally has a better chance of selling a little faster.
Minor exterior and interior improvements
Updates can add value to your home without requiring a large renovation bill. Think back to what first attracted you to your home; now determine how best to highlight and improve your home’s best features.
Here are a few ideas to help you perk up your home’s appearance. 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
- Keep lawns and gardens well maintained
- Ensure garage and porch areas are free of clutter and refuse
- Repair loose siding or pavement
- Replace any damaged roof shingles, eaves troughs or cracked windows
- Wash windows, gutters, mailbox and doors
- Secure loose shutters or awnings
The inside story
You can do a lot to improve the inside of your home without spending a great deal of money. Two primary areas to keep in mind are the kitchen and bathroom.
- Ensure kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling clean;
- Repair dripping facets and showerheads;
- Steam clean or replace carpets if necessary;
- Thoroughly clean every room in the house, removing all clutter;
- Repaint dingy walls or kitchen cabinets with a neutral colour;
- Replace worn or outdated countertops and cracked light-switch plates; and
- Remove any items (like chandeliers) that won't be included in the sale of the home.
Remember, the more effort put into the initial clean up, the easier it will be to keep your home looking its best for visits from your REALTOR® with 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.
- As a courtesy to buyers, leave the house while the Realtor is conducting a showing
- Keep pets out of the way – preferably out of your house during the showing
- Ensure that every room is tidy, well aired and adequately lit
- Don't keep money, jewellery and small valuables in plain sight during a showing
- Open drapes to maximize natural light
- Keep all stairways and hallways clear
- Use finishing touches like fresh flowers and candles
By following these relatively simple tips, you'll feel proud of your home and potential purchasers are sure to appreciate its beauty.
There are many things to consider when looking for the right home; one of those considerations should be sustainability. A sustainable home is not only better for the environment, but it can also save you a significant amount of money in the long run.
We asked our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates throughout Canada—what sustainable features are the most important to look for when buying a sustainable home. They responded with features that will help you conserve resources and save costs on heat, water, and electricity.
“Buyers need to determine what space heating system is in place, this is the highest monthly cost and best ROI for a homeowner. Depending on the climate, heat pumps are the best but high efficiency gas furnaces are likely the best choice,” says Rob Grey, RE/MAX of Nanaimo (founder of Real Estate Energy Efficiency Program (REEP).
“They also need to see what level of insulation is installed as this compliments space heating and is one of the least expensive improvements in single family energy efficiency.”
Grey adds it’s very important to check if the home has had an energy assessment (EnerGuide rating), which is an extensive examination by a certified energy advisor who calculates the energy performance of a home, and is LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas, such as: water savings, energy efficiency, material selection, and indoor environmental quality.
More than half of our influencers mentioned the importance of windows when it comes to energy efficiency. The quality of windows installed in a house greatly impact heat conservation. New double or triple pane, argon-filled windows provide extra insulation and better noise reduction for your home.
Properly insulated windows are a must for keeping heat from escaping during the cold winter months. However, the orientation of the windows to the sun should also be considered, as south-facing windows allow radiant heat from sunlight to enter the home each day.
Tied for second place along with water-saving features, a home’s heat source and heat conservation are also very important. A high-efficiency furnace, automated climate control, high value insulation, and heat recovery ventilation are must-haves among others.
South-facing windows, geothermal systems, and active solar energy systems are great sustainable features for heating a home. A geothermal system utilizes the stable ground temperature to regulate a home’s temperature, whereas an active solar energy system gathers heat from the sun.
It is very important to conserve our freshwater supply. Sustainable homes utilize features that minimize water usage. Features like low-flow toilets, sinks, and showerheads, automated sprinklers, rain collectors, and xeriscaping go a long way in water conservation.
One-third of our Influencers spoke about the importance of utilizing the sun’s rays when considering sustainability. Solar panels, solar water heating, and orientation to the sun for natural heating are all ways we can effectively utilize solar energy.
It can be difficult at times to keep up with advancements in technology. Our influencers suggest looking for LED lighting and programmable energy-efficient appliances in a sustainable home. If the home is equipped with a solar panel array, ask for a comparison of the home’s electric generation and consumption. Is there a charging outlet in the garage for a potential future electric car?
Are you searching for the home that is in a great location and is the perfect style for you? Rosemary can help you with your search.
Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
SURREY, BC – While sales reached slightly above the ten-year average for the month, a lack of sufficient inventory in the Fraser Valley continued to put pressure on homebuyers in March.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,664 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in March, a decrease of 24.8 per cent compared to the 2,213 sales in March of last year, and a 20.1 per cent increase compared to the 1,385 sales in February 2018. The ten-year average for sales in the Fraser Valley in March is 1,658 transactions.
Of the 1,664 sales processed last month, 410 were townhouses and 460 were apartments, together representing 52 per cent of all transactions in March.
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 4,796 listings last month, increasing 10.5 per cent month-over-month, and decreasing 0.2 per cent when compared to March 2017.
“We continue to see demand capped-off due to an inadequate amount of supply,” said John Barbisan, Board President. “March is typically when we see our market kick into gear, but we need to see higher levels of new listings coming in and greater overall inventory if we want more homebuyers to find success in the Valley.”
The Board received 2,865 new listings in March, a 24.9 per cent increase from February 2018’s 2,293 new listings and a 6.7 per cent decrease compared to March 2017.
“On the plus side, despite a tighter market pricing has remained relatively stable for our region. Talk to your REALTOR® who can help show you the best options at the price level you’re looking for.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in March was 13, and 16 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 30 days before selling.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
- Single Family Detached: At $1,001,400, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley increased 0.9 per cent compared to February 2018, and increased 15.2 per cent compared to March 2017.
- Townhomes: At $541,800, the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 2 per cent compared to February 2018, and increased 24.9 per cent compared to March 2017.
- Apartments: At $440,400, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 4.3 per cent compared to February 2018, and increased 48 per cent compared to March 2017.
Find the March Statistics Package here.
If you are a homeowner and you decide to enter the market, you’re faced with a difficult question: Especially if you’ve never sold your home before.
Do you buy your next home before selling? Or do you sell your current home before buying?
We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates from throughout Canada—to find out their opinion on whether homeowners who are re-entering the market should buy first or sell first.
It all depends
The majority of our RE/MAX Influencers agreed that each situation is unique, and several factors need to be looked at to determine the answer of that question. For example: What are the current market conditions? And are you financially capable of carrying two properties with ease?
“It absolutely depends on the market situation,” says Justus Smith, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate (East). “If the client is selling in a hot seller’s market, then they would likely want to find their next home first and buy it. However, if they are selling in a buyer’s market, it’s better to get their property sold before venturing out to purchase another home.”
Pros of buying first
By buying first, homeowners are less rushed to find the right home, so they can spend time making sure the new house fits as many of their needs as possible.
“The ideal situation is to purchase a home and then sell your current property,” says Sarah Leib, RE/MAX River City.
“Buying without having to sell first allows buyers to find the right home at their own pace,” adds Shauna Bailey, RE/MAX Crown Real Estate North.
Although buying first has some advantages, this situation isn’t financially feasible for everyone. There may be a possibility to add in a sale of home condition to the offer; however, competing offers without that condition will likely be more desirable.
“Buyers should consult with their lender to discuss the possibility to arrange interim financing; therefore, enabling them to make an offer without this condition—provided they qualify—with the intention of ultimately selling their current home once they confirm the new purchase,” says Glen Darough, RE/MAX RHC Realty.
Pros of selling first
Many aren’t able to afford the cost of carrying two properties, and trying to do so may cause significant stress.
“The risk of having to discount your home to create a quick sale just isn’t a pleasant experience,” says Eric Steinbach, RE/MAX Kelowna. “(Clients) can negotiate a better purchase price being strong on finance.”
“It really depends how comfortable my clients are to have the possibility to have to bridge finance or carry two mortgages. I always suggest to sell first, but there are a lot of buyers out there who are scared they won’t find what they are looking for,” says Elio Parente, RE/MAX City Realty.
Rosemary can guide you through your unique situation and help determine whether buying first or selling first is the right decision for you.
We’ve been told not to judge a book by its cover, but first impressions usually impact our decision-making, whether we care to admit it or not.
Therefore, a well-staged home typically has a better chance of selling at a higher price than one that hasn’t been staged.
We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates from throughout Canada—to discover why sellers shouldn’t have “stage fright” when it comes to selling their home.
Faster sale, higher price
Our Influencers agreed that effective staging will help sellers get the deal done quicker, for a higher price.
“I guarantee sellers that, while I don’t know the exact amount they will receive as a result of staging, I know they will get more than their money back and they will sell their home in a shorter period of time than they would without staging,” said one RE/MAX Influencer.
A buyer can tap into his/her imagination when a home is shown in its best light. When potential buyers can see themselves living in your home, they will be motivated to make a reasonable offer.
The ‘Wow’ factor
Simply put: Homes look their best when they are staged.
Staged homes are also depersonalized, which is important because buyers don’t want to feel like they’re purchasing somebody else’s home. They want it to feel as though it’s theirs.
Stagers understand how to professionally present homes to appeal to the emotions of the broader spectrum of prospective purchasers. Photographs of a staged home are also more likely to garner increased interest online.
When potential buyers walk into a home, they’re thinking beyond what their eyes are showing them. They’re visualizing themselves living in the space. Is the home an ideal place for their children to grow up? Does the house have what they need to enjoy retirement?
Personal clutter can often hinder these visions, which is not ideal for the seller. A professional stager will take an objective look at the property and make sure prospective purchasers will be able to see themselves in the space.
A positive first impression
First impressions are incredibly important. On many occasions, buyers will form their opinions by the time they’ve taken a few steps into your home. A bad smell, a crooked frame or a bit of dirt on the floor can be the difference between whether or not you get an offer.
Great books deserve stunning covers; great homes deserve to be staged.
Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
SURREY, BC – Despite slight increases in both active and new inventory in the Valley, overall supply in February remained well below the ten-year average for the month historically.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,385 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in February, a decrease of 0.8 per cent compared to the 1,396 sales in February of last year, and a 14.5 per cent increase compared to the 1,210 sales in January 2018.
Of the 1,385 sales processed last month, 336 were townhouses and 379 were apartments, together representing 52 per cent of all transactions in February.
“Attached apartment inventory, in particular, has struggled to keep up with the shift in demand we saw prominently throughout last year,” said John Barbisan, Board President. “Without sufficient supply, it has become increasingly challenging for buyers looking to enter the market at that level.”
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 4,340 listings last month, increasing 9.5 per cent month-over-month, and decreasing 6.6 per cent when compared to February 2017. The 10-year average for February active inventory is 7,487 units.
The Board received 2,293 new listings in February, a 9.6 per cent increase from January 2018’s 2,092 new listings, and a 5.6 per cent increase compared to February 2017.
“With the sales-to-actives ratio for townhomes and apartments at 67 per cent and 75 per cent respectively, sellers can expect interest if they price their homes effectively. Talk to your REALTOR® who can evaluate your local market and find the right price point for success.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in February was 13, and 16 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 38 days before selling.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
- Single Family Detached: At $992,100, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley increased 1 per cent compared to January 2018, and increased 15.7 per cent compared to February 2017.
- Townhomes: At $531,000 the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 2.2 per cent compared to January 2018, and increased 25.4 per cent compared to February 2017.
- Apartments: At $422,300, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 4.5 per cent compared to January 2018, and increased 46.7 per cent compared to February 2017.
Find the February Statistics Package here.
Source: Fraser Valley Real Estate Board
SURREY, BC – Fraser Valley housing market activity in January continued on the momentum seen throughout 2017 with year-over-year increases seen for both sales and pricing.
The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,210 sales of all property types on its Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January, an increase of 24 per cent compared to the 976 sales in January of last year, and a 10 per cent decrease compared to the 1,344 sales in December 2017. This was the third highest sales total for a January in the Board’s history, behind only 2016 (1,338) and 1992 (1,270).
Of the 1,210 sales processed last month, 281 were townhouses and 338 were apartments, together representing 51 per cent of all transactions in January.
“This will be the third consecutive year of heightened market activity for our region, and we’re starting 2018 exactly where we left off – gradually rising prices, tight inventory, and the dominance of attached home sales,” said Gopal Sahota, Board President.
Active inventory for the Fraser Valley finished at 3,962 listings last month, increasing 3.8 per cent month-over-month, and decreasing 10 per cent when compared to January 2017. January’s sales-to-active listing ratio was 31 per cent.
The Board received 2,092 new listings in January, a 63.8 per cent increase from December 2017’s 1,277 new listings, and a 3.9 per cent decrease compared to January 2017.
“Generally, pricing continues to be heavily impacted by ongoing demand and a lack of incoming inventory,” continued Sahota. “While conditions may differ depending on property type and area, it remains a complex real estate environment overall where a thorough understanding of the market and knowing what you’re looking for can make all the difference.”
For the Fraser Valley region the average number of days to sell an apartment in January was 19, and 24 for townhomes. Single family detached homes remained on the market for an average of 46 days before selling.
HPI® Benchmark Price Activity
- Single Family Detached: At $982,700, the Benchmark price for a single family detached home in the Valley increased 0.6 per cent compared to December 2017, and increased 15.1 per cent compared to January 2017.
- Townhomes: At $519,400 the Benchmark price for a townhome in the Fraser Valley increased 1.2 per cent compared to December 2017, and increased 23.4 per cent compared to January 2017.
- Apartments: At $404,100, the Benchmark price for apartments/condos in the Fraser Valley increased 4 per cent compared to December 2017, and increased 44.1 per cent compared to January 2017.
Find the January Statistics Package here.
Source: RE/MAX Canada
Low inventory in Fraser Valley was the driving force behind price appreciation in the region in 2017 as demand continued to outpace supply. There are currently two months of inventory on the market and this is expected to remain consistent in 2018, as there is limited new inventory expected to enter the market. This is partially due to Agriculture Land Reserves, focused on farmland and fisheries, which limit residential real estate development opportunities in the surrounding region. The luxury segment of the market remains stable, with the typical upper-end property selling for between $2 million and $4 million.
Read the full Fraser Valley Report here
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