Information For Buyers

Useful Information And Tips For Real Estate Buyers

There are ways that property owners and home buyers can save money. On February 25th, 2011 the Vancouver Sun created a list of the Top 25 Grants and Rebates which I have adapted to only include those available in the Kamloops area.

1. HOME BUYERS’ PLAN

Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Home buyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time. For more information click here. Enter ‘Home Buyers’ Plan’ in the search box.

2. GST REBATE ON NEW HOMES

New home buyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is less than $350,000. The rebate is up to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000. For more information click here.  Enter ‘RC4028′ in the search box.

3. BC NEW HOUSING REBATE (HST)

Buyers of new or substantially renovated homes priced up to $525,000 are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion (7%) of the 12% HST paid to a maximum rebate of $26,250. Homes priced at $525,000+ are eligible for a flat rebate of $26,250. For more information click here.

4. BC NEW RENTAL HOUSING REBATE (HST)

Landlords buying new or substantially renovated homes are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion of the HST, up to $26,250 per unit. Click here for more info.

5. BC PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX (PTT) FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS’ PROGRAM

Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced up to $450,000. For more information click here.

6. FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS’ TAX CREDIT (HBTC)

This federal non-refundable income tax credit is for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a cooperative housing corporation. The calculation: multiply the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2010) x $5,000. For the 2010 tax year, the maximum credit is $750. For more information click here.

7. BC HOME OWNER GRANT

Reduces school property taxes by up to $570 on properties with an assessed value up to $1,150,000. For 2011, the basic grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of value over $1,150,000, and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,264,000. An additional grant reduces property tax by a further $275 for a total of $845 for seniors, veterans and the disabled. This is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,150,000 and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,319,000+. For more information click here.

8. BC PROPERTY TAX DEFERMENT PROGRAMS

Property Tax Deferment Program for Seniors. Qualifying home owners aged 55+ may be eligible to defer property taxes. Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program. Qualifying low-income home owners may be eligible to defer property taxes. Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children. Qualifying low income home owners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes. For more information click here and enter ‘Property tax deferment’ in the search box or contact your municipal tax office.

9. CANADA MORTGAGE AND HOUSING (CMHC) RESIDENTIAL REHABILITATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (RRAP) GRANTS.

This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low-income home owners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and owners creating secondary and garden suites. For more information click here.

10. CMHC MORTGAGE LOAN INSURANCE PREMIUM REFUND

Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance, a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient mortgage or make energy saving renovations. For more information click here.

11. ENERGY SAVING MORTGAGES

Financial institutions offer a range of mortgages to home buyers and owners who make their homes more energy efficient. For example, home owners who have a home energy audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy SaverT Mortgage, may qualify for a rebate of $300 to their RBC account. For more information click here.

12. LOW INTEREST RENOVATION LOANS

Financial institutions offer ‘green’ loans for home owners making energy efficient upgrades. Vancity’s Bright Ideas personal loan offers home owners up to $20,000 at prime + 1% for up to 10 years for ‘green’ renovations. RBC’s Energy Saver loan offers 1% off the interest rate for a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000 or a $100 renovation on a home energy audit on a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000. For information visit your financial institution.

13. LIVESMART BC: EFFICIENCY INCENTIVE PROGRAM

Home owners improving the energy efficiency of their homes may qualify for cash incentives through this provincial program provided in partnership with Terasen Gas, BC Hydro, and FortisBC. Rebates are for energy efficient products which replace gas and oil furnaces, pumps, water heaters, wood stoves, insulation, windows, doors, skylights and more. The LiveSmart BC program also covers $150 of the cost of a home energy assessment, directly to the service provider. For more information click here.

14. BC RESIDENTIAL ENERGY CREDIT

Home owners and residential landlords buying heating fuel receive a BC government point-of-sale rebate on utility bills equal to the provincial component of the HST.

15. BC HYDRO APPLIANCE REBATES

Mail-in rebates of $25 – $50 for purchasers of ENERGY STAR clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, or freezers until March 31, 2011, or when funding for the program is exhausted. For more information click here.

16. BC HYDRO FRIDGE BUY-BACK PROGRAM

This ongoing program rebates BC Hydro customers $30 to turn in spare fridges in working condition. For more information click here.

17. BC HYDRO WINDOWS REBATE PROGRAM

Pay no HST when you buy ENERGY STAR high-performance windows and doors. This offer is available until March 31, 2011.

18. BC HYDRO MAIL-IN REBATES/ SAVINGS COUPONS

To save energy, BC Hydro offers rebates including 10% off an ENERGY STAR cordless phone. Check for new offers and for deadlines. For more information click here.

19. TERASEN GAS REBATE PROGRAM

A range of rebates for home owners include a $50 rebate for upgrading a water heater, $150 rebate on an Ener-Choice fireplace (both good to March 31, 2011) and a $1,000 rebate for switching to natural gas (from oil or propane) and installing an ENERGY STAR heating system (good to Feb. 29, 2012). For more information click here and in the search box enter ‘rebates’.

20. TERASEN GAS EFFICIENT BOILER PROGRAM

For commercial buildings, provides a cash rebate of up to 75% of the purchase price of an energy efficient boiler, for new construction or retrofits. For more information click here and in the search box enter ‘gas efficient boiler program.

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Kamloops Realtor Kirsten MasonIn a highly competitive real estate market it can be difficult to determine who the best Real Estate Professional would be for your needs. Currently the Kamloops and District Real Estate Association reports that there are just under 300 member Realtors. I have included some pointers below to help you figure out how to find the right professional for you.

1. Interview 2 to 3 Realtors: Analyze their differences and pick the one that you feel most comfortable working with and whom you feel will best represent your interests or needs based on their skill level and experience.

  • For Buyers, you want to ensure that the Realtor will take the time to show you properties when it is convenient for you and will make your search a priority. Go to open houses to informally meet Realtors and strike up a conversation, you will know who you feel comfortable working with after meeting a few professionals.
  • For Sellers, you want a Realtor that has a comprehensive, dynamic and aggressive marketing plan to get your home sold. Communication is paramount and it is important that your listing Realtor maintain open and continual feedback. The most common criticism is “the Realtor posted a sign and I didn’t hear from him/her for 3 months”.

2. Choose a Full Time Realtor: Some Realtors only work part time.  Your largest financial and emotional decision may only be a second career for that part time Realtor. Choose a professional who’s business it is to sell real estate. You wouldn’t choose a part time surgeon to operate on you. A full time Realtor means better market knowledge, better service, better marketing and better negotiating skills which means a better price for you, whether buying or selling.  Ask your potential Realtor:  How often will you hear from them?  Do they have support staff or a team to help them and help you? Are there any days or times during the week that they don’t work? Do they have a part time or other job?

3. Chose a knowledgeable Realtor:  The Realtor you choose should be able to explain the market as it relates to your sale or purchase. Questions you should ask are: Have they sold or listed homes in your area? Are they knowledgeable about the statistics and the direction the market is moving in (buyers or sellers market)?  They should take the time to educate you as to the present market conditions and show you the best way to sell or buy given those conditions and the competition.  They should back up their explanations with current market data and be honest with you in interpreting that data.

4. When listing, Do Not choose a Realtor based on price: When Realtors are competing for a listing, some will give an inflated price just to try to get the listing, only to ask you for a price reduction a few weeks later. Realtors don’t determine the price for your home, the market does that! Often, Realtor’s that don’t have much to offer in terms of experience tend to compete on price.  In other words, what you may gain on perceived higher valuation on your home, you will likely lose in overall sale price due to poor marketing and weak negotiating.  Part of a Realtor’s job is to interpret hundreds of sales as well as active listings. Therefore your prospective Realtor should be able to explain to you what your specific market range is for buying or selling. A good real estate professional knows that every house has a price range which is determined by the seller’s motivation to sell and the buyer’s need to buy. Did you know that 70% of whether or not a property will sell is decided when the price is established. The other 30% is based on the Realtor’s level of competence and negotiating skill.

5. Choose a Realtor based on their success rate:  All Real estate companies have good and bad Realtors. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential Realtor what their sales record was for the past year or two. The Realtor you hire should know how to successfully sell homes and the numbers never lie. You can ask: How many homes did they help their clients to buy and sell? How many days did the average home that they have listed spend on the market? Do they sell in your area or all over? What special awards or recognition have they earned? Do they have any testimonial statements from past clients? Each Realtor’s willingness to share this information with you will help with your overall decision.

6. When Listing, Choose a Realtor based on their marketing strategy:  How much time, how much money and what kind of marketing is your Realtor suggesting for your property?  Every property is different and needs a tailored marketing program to sell it and attract the best buyer willing to pay the highest price.  People don’t buy bricks and mortar, they buy a lifestyle, an environment where they can raise their kids or a location where they can retire in style, with amenities they can use and enjoy. Ensure your Realtor has a comprehensive marketing strategy that targets different medias such as internet, print, local advertising etc.

7. Choose a Realtor that has been recommended by family or friends: Family or friends who’ve had a good experience with a Realtor are your best referral source. A good Realtor will keep in contact with their past clients and ask them for referrals. This is a great place to start when choosing a Real Estate Professional.

8. For Buyers, Pick one Realtor to work with: It is in your best interest to choose one professional to work with. You will develop a relationship with your Realtor and that person will really understand what you want in a property.   You can’t expect a Realtor to give you 100% if you are not willing to commit to them. Realtors only get paid if you buy or sell a property with them, so if you are working with other Realtors all at one time you can’t expect outstanding service based on your lack of loyalty. Find someone that is honest and trustworthy, this will eliminate the need to want to work with other Realtors at one time.

Click here for a free, no obligation home evaluation.

To view all homes for sale in Kamloops click here.

Once you know what kind of mortgage you want and the price of the house you can afford in Kamloops, you should add up all of the other costs involved in buying a home so that you know the true cost of buying your home.

When you buy a house, it isn’t only the cost of the house that you need to save for. Don’t forget these other costs:

Appraisal Fee
An appraisal is an estimate of the value of the home. Your bank or credit union may require that the property be appraised at your expense. This can range between $250 and $350.

Deposit
A deposit is required to ensure that the buyer is serious about purchasing the home. It can form part of your down payment, but it must be paid when you make the Offer to Purchase.

Down Payment
You will need a down payment (money paid up front) to obtain a mortgage. With a down payment of 20 per cent or more of the home’s price, you can obtain a conventional mortgage. Your down payment must be at least five per cent of a home’s price for you to benefit from a competitive interest rate.

Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium
If you have less than a 20 per cent down payment, your bank or credit union may require that you buy mortgage loan insurance. You can add the mortgage insurance premium to your mortgage or pay the full amount when you close the sale on the house.

Home Inspection Fee
A home inspection, which costs typically around $400 to $500 in Kamloops, is a report on the condition of your home. You may want to make your inspection a condition of your Offer to Purchase, to make sure you are aware of the condition of the house before you agree to buy.

Estoppel Certificate Fee
This fee costs up to $100, but applies only if you are buying a condominium in a strata unit or condominium and costs up to $100.

Property Transfer Tax
You pay Property Transfer Tax when you purchase or acquire an interest in a property. The tax must be paid when you register changes to a certificate of title with the Land Title Office. The amount of tax due depends on the fair market value of the property that is transferred:

  • If the fair market value is $200,000 or less, the tax is 1% of the fair market value.
  • If the fair market value is greater than $200,000, the tax is 1% of the fair market value up to $200,000, plus 2% on the portion of the fair market value that is greater than $200,000.

First time home buyers are often exempt from this tax.

Prepaid Property Taxes and/or Utility Bills
These charges are meant to reimburse the person who is selling the house for amounts already paid for, such as property taxes, filling the oil tank, etc.

Property Insurance
The insurance covers the cost of replacing the structure of your home and its contents. Property insurance must be in place on the day you close the sale.

Survey or Certificate of Location Cost
The bank or credit union may ask for an up-to-date survey or certificate of location prior to finalizing the mortgage loan. This can range in price from $1,000 to $2,000.

Legal Fees
These fees must be paid when the sale is completed and costs a minimum of $500.

Title Insurance
Your bank or credit union, or lawyer/notary, may suggest insurance to cover any loss caused by problems in the ownership of the property.

Water Tests
If the home has a well, you will want to test the quality and quantity of the water to ensure supply is adequate and the water is drinkable.

Septic Tank
If the house has a septic tank, you will want to have it inspected to make sure it is in good working order.

Other Costs to Consider:

  • Appliances
  • Gardening expenses
  • Snow-clearing equipment
  • Window coverings
  • Decorating materials
  • Moving expenses
  • Renovations or repairs
  • Service hook-up fees
  • Condominium fee

Click here for a printable guide. This information was provided by CMHC and the Government of British Columbia websites.

contract to purchase buyer mistakes kamloops real estate home saleShopping for a new Kamloops home is an exciting experience. It also can be emotional, time consuming, expensive and comes with a myriad of details. Some buyers get caught up in the excitement of buying a new home tend to overlook some items. Their home purchase turns into an expensive process. These errors generally fall into three areas:

* Paying too much
* Losing a dream home to another buyer
* Buying the wrong home

When you have a systematic plan before you shop, you will be sure to avoid these costly errors. Here are some tips on making the most of your home purchase:

Making an offer on a home without being pre-qualified
Pre-qualification will make your life easier—so take the time to speak with a bank or mortgage broker. Their specific questions in regard to income, debt, etc., will help you determine the price range you can afford. It is an important step on the path to home ownership.

Not having a home inspection
Trying to save money today can end up costing you tomorrow. A qualified home inspector will detect issues that many buyers can overlook. You will have an idea about future repairs that will need to be made to the home and often you will be provided with a general idea of cost for those repairs.

Limiting your search to open houses, internet and newspaper ads
Many homes listed in magazines or newspapers have already been sold by the time the issue comes out in print. Open houses are a good way to start but once you are serious about finding a home a Realtor can provide you with up to date information on new listings that is not readily available to the general public. The public MLS website is 2-4 days behind the system Realtors have access to.

Choosing a Realtor who is not committed to forming a strong business relationship
Making a connection with the right Realtor is crucial. Choose a professional who is dedicated to serving your needs before, during and after the sale. There are a number of part time Realtors that sell Real Estate, would you want a part time surgeon operating on you?

Thinking there is only one perfect house out there

Buying a home is a process of elimination, not selection. New properties arrive on the market daily, so be open to all possibilities. Ask your Realtor for a comparative market analysis. This compares similar homes that have recently sold or are still for sale. This will give you a broader view of the market.

Not considering long-term needs

It is important to think ahead. Will the home suit your needs three to five years from now?

Not examining insurance issues
Purchase adequate home owner insurance. Advice from an insurance agent can provide you with answers to any concerns you may have.

Making an offer with too few subjects
It is important to have subjects in your contract to purchase a home. Typically buyers only think of subject to financing (or first mortgage) and subject to a home inspection. There are also a couple other important terms such as:

  • Searching title to ensure it is free of any encumbrances.
  • Reviewing and approving a Property Disclosure Statement provided by the selling party.
  • Obtaining home insurance or fire insurance.
  • Reviewing and approving a Building Information Request which will show any outstanding permits on a property.
  • If a strata title property reviewing and approving all the strata minutes, bylaws, etc.

Ensure your best interests are protected.

Not knowing all the costs involved
Early in the buying process ask your Realtor and Mortgage broker for an estimate of closing costs. Title insurance and lawyer fees should be considered and many pre-pay responsibilities like property taxes, municipal fees and fuel adjustments must also be taken into account.

Not following through on due diligence
Buyers should make a list of any concerns they have relating to issues such as; crime rates, schools, power lines, neighbours, environmental conditions, etc. Ask the important questions BEFORE you make an offer on a home. Be diligent so that you can have confidence in your purchase.

There are many important steps when purchasing real estate. Click here to review the purchase process.

Click here for a printable Buyer’s guide.

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