Information For Buyers

Useful Information And Tips For Real Estate Buyers

This article appeared on CBC.ca on April 26th, 2014.  CMHC to limit mortgage insurance product offerings Effective May 30, CMHC will stop offering mortgage insurance on second homes

CMHC Canadian Mortgage and Housing CorporationCanada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will no longer offer mortgage insurance on second homes, the crown corporation said on Friday.

It will also discontinue selling mortgage insurance to self-employed people without third-party income validation. The new limitations mean borrowers will also no longer be able to act as co-borrowers on other applications.

These changes, which will take effect on May 30, are part of the ongoing review of the mortgage loan insurance business. CMHC said self-employed Canadians can still qualify for insured financing with a validation of their income using traditional methods.

As well, the two products will still be available to those who submit requests prior to May 30, regardless of the closing date of the home purchase.

CMHC said these two products account for less than three per cent of its insured business volumes in units. “Given the limited use of these products, their discontinuation is not expected to have a material impact on the housing market,” CMHC said in its release.

The changes come as Canadian home buyers face an increase in mortgage insurance premiums.

In February, CMHC announced it would hike premiums for default insurance by an average of 15 per cent effective May 1. The increase would hit buyers who have a downpayment of less than 20 per cent.

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.

Kamloops has a number of 55+ seniors living complexes. Most Seniors living is comprised of apartment or condominium living although there are a couple of townhouse developments and mobile home parks dedicated to the 55+ age group. Here is a list of complexes that specialize in 55+ living in Kamloops.

Downtown/South Kamloops

Ashley Court Nicola Street South Kamloops Seniors 55+ Real EstateAshley Court: 338 Nicola Street: This sought after complex is centrally located. There is an admittance intercom, secure parking, an elevator, community room and is suitable for the disabled. There are no rentals or pets allowed in this complex. Units in this building consist of one bedroom, one bathroom to the larger two bedroom two bathroom.

 

Desert Gardens South Kamloops Real Estate Seniors CentreDesert Gardens: 554 Seymour Street: This very popular complex has a seniors’ community centre that holds daily activities and clubs. The complex also features secure parking, an elevator and is suitable for the disabled. Units range in size from a one bedroom with one bathroom, to a larger two bedroom and a den with two bathroom unit. Pets are allowed with restrictions.

Manor House Seniors Living South Kamloops Battle StreetManor House: 360 Battle Street: This 55+ Seniors orientated complex is in a great location, walking distance to numerous down town activities including the YMCA/YWCA. There is secure parking, admittance intercom and an elevator. There is also a community room for activities. The units in this complex range in size from a one bedroom, one bathroom to three bedroom two bathroom units. There are no pets or rentals are allowed in this complex.

Windsor Apartments South Kamloops Seniors 55+ Apartment Condo Real EstateWindsor Apartments: 411 Nicola Street: This seniors complex is close to all downtown amenities. There is secure parking, an elevator, a fitness facility, a sauna, a whirlpool and admittance intercom. Units range in size from one bedroom, one bathroom to two bedrooms and two bathrooms. There are no rentals or pets allowed in this complex.

To view all the homes for sale in this area click here.

Brocklehurst

Desmond Mannor Desmond Street Brocklehurst Seniors 55+ Real Estate KamloopsDesmond Manor: 840 Desmond Street: This seniors orientated townhouse development is located with in minutes of shopping and transportation. Each unit is self contained with a parking stall out front. Pets are allowed in this complex. Most units are two bedrooms and one bathroom with over 1,000 square feet of living space on one level. This is a smaller strata with only 7 units in total.


Orchard Court Brocklehurst Seniors 55+ Real Estate KamloopsOrchard Court: 860 Nicolani Drive: This seniors orientated complex is located in a nice area of Brocklehurst. It is close to transportation, shopping and McArthur Island. There is an admittance intercom, elevator, community room and secure parking. Included with each unit is a enclosed garage or carport. The strata fees include digital cable. There is a rental restriction and one cat or one dog is allowed.

North Kamloops

Golden Vista Suites North Kamloops Seniors 55+ Real EstateGolden Vista Suites: 375 Cherry Avenue: This is a brand new seniors development in North Kamloops close to shopping, medical clinics and transportation. This 46 unit strata consists of modern studio and one bedroom suites. There is a common community room and patio in this complex for the residents to enjoy as well as admittance intercom and elevator.

 

The Willows Seniors Complex North Kamloops 55+ Real EstateThe Willows: 120 Vernon Avenue: This complex is located very close to shopping, transportation and medical clinics. Units range in size from one bedroom to two bedrooms and include storage lockers. Pets are allowed with restrictions. This complex has an admittance intercom and an elevator.

 

Riverdale Mobile Home Park: North Kamloops: This is a popular 55+ park for seniors. Close to downtown, transportation, walking trails and shopping.

To view all the homes for sale in these areas click here.

Valleyview

Curlew Gardens Townhouse Valleyview Real Estate SeniorsCurlew Gardens: 1975 Curlew Road: This seniors 55+ townhouse development is centrally located in Valleyview. Each unit has an open design with two bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main floor with nearly 1,200 square feet of living space and a full basement. There is also an enclosed single garage. There are no pets and restricted rentals are allowed in this complex.  There is RV parking.

 

Valleyview Place Kamloops Seniors 55+ Flamingo Road Real EstateValleyview Place: 2169 Flamingo Drive: This centrally located Valleyview complex is within walking distance of shopping and transportation. There is an admittance intercom, elevator, extra storage and secure parking. The units range in size from one bedroom, one bathroom to a larger two bedroom two bathroom layout. There are rental and pet restrictions in this complex.

 

 

Westsyde

Oakdale Way Mobile Home Park Kamloops Seniors Real EstateOakdale Mobile Home Park: 2400 Oakdale Way: This park is split into two sections, the family section and seniors 55+ section. The Oakdale Park is very well maintained sought after park. It is situated close to the rivers trail and transportation. Homes in this park range in size from smaller single wide modular homes to larger double wide homes. Each home is on a small piece of property and usually has some private yard space.

To view all the homes for sale in the Kamloops area click here.

If you are looking for opportunities to purchase in other seniors facilities such as Riverbend, Berwick on the Park, Kamloops Seniors Village or Ponderosa Place contact the facility direct as these properties are not listed for sale on the MLS®.

Many consumers are unclear as to how the HST affects their home purchase or sale. Here is a short guide on how HST will affect you when purchasing or selling your Kamloops home.

The Home Seller:
• You will have to pay HST on any of the goods and services that you would have had to pay GST on before like legal fees and commissions.
•  For all resale homes, the buyer will not pay HST when purchasing your home. Buyers may find it more appealing to purchase previously owned homes to avoid paying the HST.

The Home Buyer:
• Like the home seller, you will have to pay HST on any goods and services like your legal fees, home inspections, etc.
• When purchasing a previously owned home, you will not pay HST on the sale price.
•If you are are purchasing a brand new home the HST will affect your sale price, with that said, you are eligible for rebates depending on the value of the home.

See the table below for the rebate rates (rebates are for homes that are intended for use as a primary residence):

HST Rebates for new homes kamloops real estate

For further information about HST click here.

To view the Ministry of Finance Tax Information Notice Click Here.

Marijuana Grow Operation BCGrow ops in BC continue to plague communities and Kamloops is not immune to this problem. Each grow operation presents many risks to the communities they exist in, such as drug traffic through the community and community safety related to this traffic. Marijuana production continues to be a multi-billion dollar industry in B.C. with thousands of charges laid against operators each year. There are endless stories of grow op busts of all sizes but the problem persists in B.C. and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

What is a Marijuana Grow Operation?

Marijuana Grow Ops appear in homes or outbuildings in residential, rural or commercial/industrial areas. These operations can occur in apartments, small bungalows, large multi-million dollar homes and commercial buildings. The buildings appear to be fairly well maintained and don’t look out of the ordinary however the internal structure may have received significant structural, electrical and heating system modifications that are not up to code or deemed safe.

Changes to these systems are done to replicate warm, humid climates in which hybrid plants flourish to produce high potency marijuana. Structures that were previously Marijuana Grow Ops are often unsafe for human occupancy. This is because of compromised structural and mechanical integrity, as well as hazards from mold (mould) and chemical residue.

Is there a grow op in your neighbourhood? How to identify a grow op.

(It is important to note that a positive response to some of these questions does not mean it is a grow op house and that the residents are involved in criminal activity. Please use this questionnaire as a basic guideline only.)
1. Occupants don’t appear to have regular job hours and drive expensive automobiles.
2. Dark window coverings on many windows
3. Illuminated rooms or outbuildings nearly 24 hours a day.
4. Heavy condensation on windows, lack of frost or snow on roofs of houses when others have frost and snow. Blowing curtains from fans.
5. Abnormal number of roof vents or unusual amount of steam in cold weather.
6. Extra security such as large fences or guard dogs.
7. Entry is always through the automatic garage doors and residents are always in their cars
8. Strange smell or odor coming from the home.
9. Electrical humming sounds, numerous fans and running water.
10. Unusual wiring to the exterior of the home and or the hydro meter spins at a faster than normal rate.
11. Commonly experienced localized power surges or browning. Lights often dim or appliances slow down with lack of power.
12. Avoid making any contact with neighbours.
13. Toys are often outside the home but no children are ever seen at the home.
14. Large quantities of growing equipment & supplies are seen taken into the home/outbuildings but there are no flowers or gardens at the home. Often purchased in winter months.
15. Numerous pots, soil, garden hoses and fertilizers around the property.
16. Appears to be vacant, yard poorly kept and newspapers build up at the front door.
17. Hoses run from doors and windows to the outside of the home.
18. Visitors often park down the street and walk to the home.
19. In condominiums owners move in at night, disappear for long periods of time or you never see them move in.
21. Garbage days there is no garbage ever or there is no noticeable activity in the home but a lot of garbage.
Grow ops can either be lived in or maintained by visiting gardeners. The RCMP see a lot of operations now where the whole house is used, on the other hand, sometimes only a small portion of a home is used.

How to detect a Marijuana grow operation when purchasing a home.

When purchasing a home it is important to do all the appropriate tests and inspections to safeguard your purchase. A thorough environmental assessment which includes an air quality and mold inspection should be conducted. A proper inspection for mould should be thorough and include numerous air samples (spore test) and visual inspection of the structure. These comprehensive tests will survey the air quality to identify and locate hidden pollution and mould levels indoors. These tests will identify any areas that had previous grow operations and contain abnormal levels of mould or chemical pollution. These agents alone can cause serious health problems leading to long term conditions.

A listing Realtor is required by the Canadian Real Estate Association to have a home owner fill out a Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This statement is filled out by the home owner and requires a home owner to disclose any “material latent defects” such as a grow operation that cannot be detected with reasonable investigation. Grow op owners can and have hidden obvious signs of a previous grow operation and not disclosed it in this form. A potential buyer unfortunately has to search deeper before assuming all facts are disclosed by the homeowner. Talking to neighbours and local authorities often can uncover information.

If you suspect a marijuana grow-op in your neighbourhood

If you suspect a property is being used to grow marijuana or that a property has a bypassed electric meter, contact your local Police. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477).

RCMP Grow Op Information
BC Hydro Grow Op Information

Real Estate Floor Plan Pre-sale HomeI found this article on the Vancouver Sun online. I thought it was important to post because there are a number of pre-sale units in Kamloops for sale, specifically in Sun Rivers and the Dunes Golf Course in Westsyde (Westlinks). Buyers have to know what they are signing when committing to these pre-sale contracts. It’s important to get legal advice or involve your Realtor to help negotiate the pre-sale contract. Just because a developer is asking ‘X’ amount for a pre-sale home, doesn’t mean that the price and terms are not negotiable. After all, real estate purchases are negotiable. Buyers have to get educated and informed when it comes to pre-sales. It is very easy to get caught up with the beautiful, colorful displays and convincing sales people. I have included the article below written by Derrick Penner.

When British Columbia’s real estate cycle was on the upswing, many condominium buyers reaped the rewards of buying so-called pre-sale condominiums which, in many cases, were worth more on closing than the agreed purchase price. Now the cycle is on the downside and a growing number of buyers are finding themselves compelled to honour contracts they signed to complete purchases of units that have fallen in value. They have few options to get out of deals even if they don’t qualify for a higher mortgage.

Pre-sales can be “a win-win transaction” for both buyers and sellers, in the words of an advice pamphlet produced and distributed by the Urban Development Institute and the B.C. Real Estate Association. They allow buyers to pick homes they want to live in, and give developers certainty about their ability to sell and finance projects they are taking the risk to build.

If buyers try to walk away after signing a deal, they can be sued by developers, and risk losing not only the deposits they paid to secure units, but the difference between the current, lower market price, and the price they agreed to pay the developer in their contracts. “What the biggest risk [in pre-sales] is,” said Kenneth Pazder, a Vancouver real estate lawyer, “[that] what you essentially are doing is, you’re playing a futures market in real estate.” Buyers put down a deposit, usually about 15 per cent, and trust that the price they agree to pay reflects the home’s value on completion of its construction when they have to take ownership. “How sophisticated is the average [buyer] to do that?” Pazder asked.

At least six different developers are suing some 74 different buyers for not completing the purchase of homes they’d signed contracts to buy. Pazder is in discussions with a number of buyers who want to counter-sue developers. Developers are required to file disclosure statements that outline their projects’ details and pass them on to prospective buyers. Pazder’s advice for buyers considering pre-sale purchases is to seek legal advice to understand the contracts they are signing and the disclosure statements they are agreeing to accept.

The B.C. Real Estate Development and Marketing Act (REDMA) allows developers to sell real estate before it is built, and sets out the conditions developers have to meet in doing so. One of the conditions is that buyers have a seven-day right-of-recision period — the ability to cancel the contract — if they change their minds. Pazder advises clients to use that period to get a legal opinion on the contract, and to bail out if that opinion is negative. It will cost a buyer $300 or $400 for the service, Pazder said, but he reckons it is worth the fee to understand the potential risks a buyer is assuming in signing the contract.

“Sometimes people feel that they know the price, [the purchase] is going to close in two years, and that’s good enough,” Pazder said. “Then the problem is when, like now, things go sideways.” Pazder said one of the most common questions he gets these days is how buyers can get out of their contracts.

Often, Pazder said, the buyers’ problem is that they can no longer secure a mortgage to complete the purchase at the price agreed to in the contract. Their bank or lender can lend them funds based only on their unit’s current, and lower, market price.

Pazder said contracts often contain language that allow a developer to seek damages greater than the deposit, if the amount the developer has to cut the price of a unit to sell it in the current market exceeds the value of that deposit when a buyer walks away from the contract. Pazder added that in the current market, pre-sale buyers will want to try to limit that clause: “You want [the clause] to say, ‘If I don’t complete the purchase, this deposit is forfeited as liquidated damages as the sole remedy of the developer.’ ”

He added that buyers will also want to look at firmer language around the completion dates for construction of the units and clauses allowing the developer to make changes in finishings or unit layouts that also give them an out. The Urban Development Institute and B.C. Real Estate Association pamphlet includes a checklist of items that are required to be in a disclosure statement.

This article is from the Vancouver Sun written by Fiona Anderson. Many Kamloops residents are getting great rates on their mortgages; both refinance and pre-approval rates. Now many first time buyers have a chance to own a home. Read below for the full article.

Have a fixed-rate mortgage at 4.5 per cent or higher? Then you should be refinancing, says Steve Moffitt, senior mortgage consultant with Equimac Mortgage Centre in Vancouver. “There’s never been a better opportunity historically, never, for doing a refinancing, ” he adds.

If only it were that simple. In fact, determining whether you should refinance or not depends largely on the penalty you will pay to get out of your current mortgage, and the amount of money you could save with a new one.

The first part of the equation — the penalty — is not easy to calculate. Most fixed-term mortgages charge the greater of three months’ interest or what’s called the “interest differential.” This latter amount is the difference between the interest you would have paid for the remainder of your mortgage term and the amount the bank can earn lending out the money now.So if you have a five-year mortgage at 5.25 per cent with three years left to go, and the bank’s current three-year rate is 4.5 per cent, you’ll have to pay the difference.

Often the amount of the penalty is about the same as the savings to the borrower, “so it’s a wash,” says Feisal Panjwani, a senior mortgage consultant with Invis. Moffitt’s magic number of 4.5 per cent uses the penalty of three months’ interest, which he says he sees often. But which penalty will apply really depends on the particular mortgage. So both Panjwani and Moffitt encourage people to ask their mortgage professional to crunch the numbers for them.

The current best five-year fixed-rate available is 4.19 per cent for most borrowers, Panjwani says. And he believes the rate could go as low as 3.99 per cent in the near future. The best variable rate is the prime lending rate set by the banks plus 0.8 percentage points, which today translates into 3.3 per cent. With rates that low, everyone who currently is paying 4.5 per cent or higher should probably do the math because there could be thousands of dollars in savings.

One way to save may be switching from a fixed- to a variable-rate mortgage, because with the variable rate so low, the savings are more likely to outpace the penalty costs, Panjwani says. But because the rate does change, “that’s risky,” he adds.

Some people are refinancing their mortgages not for the savings but rather to lock in today’s low rates for five years, Panjwani says. For example, if someone has three years left in their mortgage term, they may not save any money in the first three years of the new mortgage because of the penalty. But they have guaranteed today’s rate for two years after that. Keep in mind, however, that there are costs associated with refinancing that have to be added to the equation, Panjwani says.

One group of borrowers who need not worry about refinancing are those who were already in variable-rate mortgages. In the past, those rates were calculated as prime less a premium, and some outstanding mortgages chop off as much as 0.9 percentage points. With prime now at 2.5 per cent, those people are paying 1.6-per-cent interest. That number can’t be beat, especially considering prime could go down even further. “Anyone on a variable floating below prime, I would say those people should probably hang onto that mortgage,” Panjwani says.

The low mortgage rates also have buyers knocking on lenders’ doors. Last month, 40 per cent of Panjwani’s business came from purchasers rather than those looking to refinance. While the split is normally 50-50 between the two, in the last few months only about 20 per cent were purchases, he says.

Carolyn Heaney, an area manager with BMO Bank of Montreal’s business development group, says her bank has seen a lot more first-time homebuyers. The combination of low mortgage rates and lower prices means people who have wanted to live in a particular area but couldn’t afford it now can, she says.

At the current variable mortgage rate, a $200,000 mortgage with a 25-year amortization, would have payments of about $980 a month, she says. At a fixed rate of 4.39 per cent, the payments would be about $1,100. “So it’s very affordable for people to get into the market,” Heaney says.

For Kamloops and surrounding area real estate listings click here.

Kamloops has a large number of people relocating to and from the city annually. Moving to a new city can definitely be an adventure, but it can also be very stressful. I have outlined eight common mistakes people make when relocating to a new city.

1. Not Getting Informed
It is always a good idea to research your new community by contacting the chamber of commerce, tourism department, municipality or library. Ensure you compare the cost of living in your new community to what you are used to.

2. No knowledge about home price and not ready for showing
Completing repairs definitely helps with the sale of your home. Often small things like chipped paint, worn caulking and sticky doors distract potential buyers from appreciating the great things about your home. Have carpets cleaned, and go through your home and wipe down all the door frames and doors. Make sure you get a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) completed by one or two Realtors to ensure you list your home competitive, realistic price.

3. Not planning for a temporary home between destinations
You may need to set up temporary living arrangements until you move into your new home. The time period could be a couple days to a couple months. Depending on the time period, you have options from a hotel room to a short term rental agreement.

4. Not being pre-approved for a mortgage
Buyers who are pre-approved for a mortgage have more negotiating power. Sellers are eager and more willing to negotiate with pre-approved buyers.

5. Not completing a professional home inspection
This applies for both the home you are selling and the one you are buying. Ensure you are educated about the new home you have purchased and also upcoming issues that may arise with your current home when it sells.

6. Not enough time to address children’s concerns
During relocation a child could feel lost, sad, angry or confused. Sometimes, under the stress of completing so many details, the temptation is to get settled as quickly as possible so everyone feels at home. Talk to your children before, during and after the process. They will feel safe, cared for and comfortable. Become familiar with your new neighborhood. If possible, set up a meeting with new teachers and other children in their new school before moving. Try to avoid moving in the middle of a school year.

7. Not using local, licensed professionals
Every area is different. It is important to be aware about what all the local neighbourhoods and communities have to offer. Each neighbourhood has positive and negative aspects about them (i.e. proximity to schools, transit, etc). Ensure you are informed about each and every area you are thinking about living in. Your Realtor can find you a home that matches your needs. You will save time and energy by having a professional do the work for you. Besides, your Realtor should have information to give you on local schools, transit, local amenities and other important neighbourhood characteristics.

8. Not clarifying your employer’s relocation policies
It is very important to go through your employer’s relocation policies carefully especially for the amount of reimbursement. Keep all your receipts and records of your expenses related to the move, as moving expenses are deductible under certain conditions established by Revenue Canada.

Thinking about relocating to Kamloops? Click here for all Kamloops real estate listings to help you with your decision.

If you need relocation assistance, I have a number of resources that will help make the move easier for you and your family. Contact me anytime with your questions.

Buying a home or investment property in Kamloops is a big decision. There are many steps to take along the path to finding that perfect property. Many buyers have no idea how to buy a home and don’t know where to start. Here is a guide for buyers who are a little foggy about the home buying process from start to finish.

1. Get Yourself Representation: A Realtor is your best resource for information. A Realtor is a free resource for buyers (commission is paid by the selling party) and will represent your best interests for the entire transaction. This Realtor will organize and accompany you to all appointments, answer any questions you may have and provide you with detailed information on all the properties that interest you. If there are any questions that you have about a property and it requires further investigation your Realtor will help discover all the answers you need.

2. Writing An Offer To Purchase: Once you find a property you want to make an offer on. Your Realtor will write up all the necessary paperwork creating a legal contract for the purchase of the home (Contract of Purchase and Sale – CPS). The details in this document are the dollar amount of the offer, the deposit amount (held in trust at the buyers agent’s brokerage), the day you want to have the keys to the property, items that you want included in the sale (i.e. appliances, window coverings, etc), subjects in the offer (i.e. Home inspection, Financing, etc.) and any other details important to your purchase.

3. Explanation of Subjects: Many buyers are not informed about how the contract works. When you make an offer there are standard “subjects” in the offer. These subjects (depending on whether the property is a strata, freehold, mobile, bare land/lot, etc) are different for each offer. To keep this relatively short I will outline the standard residential and strata subjects which commonly are:

– Subject to Financing (obtaining approval for a mortgage).
– Subject to a home inspection.
– Subject to a property Title Search: Any right of ways, easements, etc. are detailed on title as well as all registered charges against the property such as mortgages and liens.
– Subject to a Building Information Report from the City of Kamloops or Thompson Nicola Regional District.
– Subject to fire/property insurance.
– Subject to the buyer being satisfied with the Property Condition Disclosure Statement (PDS) which is provided by the selling party.

For Strata properties there are further subjects such as the buyer will approve:

– Form ‘B’ which details strata fees/financial information regarding the strata.
– The strata plan, amendments and/or changes.
– Current Bylaws and Financial Statements of the Strata corporation.
– The minutes from the strata council meetings.

The subject removal period is commonly between five to ten business days after the contract is accepted. It can be shorter or longer and must be agreed to by both parties.

Once the subject removal period is near expiry, the buyer can do one of a few things: remove the  subjects, making the offer unconditional, extend the subject removal period or not remove the subjects and walk away from the offer due to the inability to fulfill one of the subjects. In a nutshell. If a buyer does not remove subjects the offer is finished.

4. Legal Conveyancing: Once subjects have been removed the CPS (Contract of Purchase and Sale) is unconditional and goes to the Lawyer or Notary for legal conveyancing. At this point the buyer and seller have committed to completing on the offer to purchase.

5. Final Steps: Between the time of “completion” (meaning the title is being transferred, mortgage is put in place, etc) and “possession” (you have the keys to get into your new home), your Realtor will do a walk through of the property to ensure that all the included items are in the home, it is left in the condition expected and that there are not any other issues with the property before possession. This short time (usually 24 hours) will give your Realtor time to ensure that any issues are dealt with before you move in. Ensure that you get a moving checklist from your Realtor which will help to ensure you get all the necessary things done before you get possession, simple things like arranging Hydro, changing your address, etc. These things can be easily overlooked during this busy and exciting time.

6. Welcome Home: Possession day, you get the keys. Your Realtor will meet you at the property, give you all the important items and information, and walk through the home. At this time you can address any questions about the property.

7. Follow Up: Your Realtor should follow up with you within a week after possession. He or she will want to ensure your move went well and that there are not any issues or further questions.

What usually happens, as interest rates decline, real estate buying power increases. Currently interest rates are at the lowest they have been in years. The lower interest rates coupled with the current buyer’s market makes buying a home more appealing. Buyers find that when the interest rates are very low, they qualify for more of a loan than when rates are high.

This shift in the market has created a great opportunity for first time home buyers, buyers and renters looking to get back into the Kamloops market. The savings on home buying are in both the purchase price of the home and interest charges. Buyers are able to negotiate more aggressively on a contract now than years in the past. I have found that lately more first time home buyers have begun their search for the first time. Buyers who are also looking to get back into the market or have been renting for a number of years are also beginning to see the value in the lower home prices and low interest rates. Homes in Kamloops are finally beginning to be priced in a range where buyers can justify purchasing a home. Plus, for first time home buyers, they receive further savings because first time home buyers don’t have to pay property transfer tax.

All these factors make buying your first home, getting back into the real estate market, moving up to a larger home or downsizing your home more of a reality!

As the Government of Canada’s national housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), plays a major role in Canada’s housing industry. The agency offers numerous housing services including research services, market evaluations, and access to affordable financing choices. Programs include aboriginal housing, residential rehabilitation assistance, home adaptation for seniors independence, public and private partnerships and numerous grants and awards.

For many people, especially first time home buyers, saving the necessary down payment is a challenge. Additionally, with less than 25% of the purchase price to put down, a lender requires mortgage insurance for protection against any payment defaults. CMHC makes it easier for Canadians to obtain a home, by providing mortgage loan insurance. By providing this insurance, CMHC limits the lenders’ risk, allowing the lender to finance up to 95% of the purchase price of a new home. You can purchase a property with as little as 5% down. If the cost is $150,000, you only need a down payment of $7,500.

You can become a homeowner, even if you don’t have a large down payment put aside. You just need to meet the following conditions and home ownership can be within your reach.

* The home must be located in Canada and considered your principal residence.
* You must have a down payment of at least 5% of the purchase price.
* Your home-related expenses must not exceed 32% of gross household income
* Your total monthly debt load must not exceed 40% of gross monthly household income
* You must be able to pay closing costs equal to at least 1.5% of the purchase price.

Link

Over the past couple days I have been through a whole variety of single family homes in Kamloops; upwards of 25 or so listings. I have found that in today’s market the pricing of these properties is all over the place. It appears that there is no consistency in the pricing of listed properties and I think this is because of either the home seller or agent confusion.

First, in my opinion, since the market has dropped some sellers are stuck at 2007 values, where homes were 10% or so higher than today’s market value. We were living in a real estate bubble where housing prices “would never go down” or “buy now or be priced out forever”. It is a fact that when we are in the midst of a housing bubble, people feel like it will never end, probably because of human nature. It is easy to get caught up in the euphoria of it all. I have to admit, that was the feeling I got from a lot of people around me, but I personally felt the change coming. We are now getting back to reality and working towards  a balanced market, but are still far from it. Sellers have to price their homes competitively to sell, there are far more homes rejected from the market because of price in comparison to the number of homes that sell. To get your home sold, price your home right from the beginning. If you as a seller want to reduce, approach your agent, they should welcome the idea.

Secondly, there is this belief out there that prices will return to previous levels in the spring. This is felt by some sellers and Realtors alike. I have a very hard time believing that this could be remotely true. With the incredible uncertainty in today’s economy from job losses to a lack of confidence in the markets, there are no indicators out there that show that the market will return to previous levels anytime soon. This is my opinion of course.

The encouraging news to sellers is that over the past couple weeks I have seen an increase in the number of buyers looking to purchase a home. There are always people that have to sell their home and buy another. The Kamloops Real Estate Board has been reporting more sales lately than we saw last month. The statistics will come out in early February and I will include them here.

If you are thinking about selling your home, my suggestion would be, get it on the market sooner rather than later. There are a number of sellers wanting to go on the market in the spring. Beat the rush and get your property on the market and advertised to the public before the spring rush and  increased competition.

real-estate-market

Numerous factors affect the real estate market. There may be more buyers than sellers. There could be more sellers than buyers. Interest rates, employment statistics and pricing. The supply of resale and new homes are also considerations when selling a home. Generally speaking, there are three types of markets that affect the sale of your home. Understanding each of these can make a difference to your bottom line.

Buyers’ Market
Description: There is an abundance of homes on the market. Supply exceeds demand.
Characteristics: Many homes available for sale. Fewer buyers than homes. Homes remain on the market longer. Stable prices. Prices may also drop.
Impact: Less panic in buying. Buyers shop longer for homes. Upon negotiation, they often have more leverage.

Sellers’ Market
Description: There are more buyers than homes available.
Characteristics: Few homes on the market. Many buyers. Homes are sold quickly. Prices often rise.
Impact: Home prices are higher. Homes prices often rise. Buyers purchase quickly, and tend not to shop as much. Multiple offers are common. Sellers may prefer offers with no-conditions.

Balanced Market
Description: There are roughly the same amount of buyers, sellers and number of homes on the market. Supply equals demand.
Characteristics: Demand equals supply. Sellers accept reasonable offers. Homes sell within a reasonable time period. Prices generally remain stable.
Implications: There is less tension among buyers and sellers. There is a reasonable number of homes to choose from.

We have seen exponential growth in the Kamloops real estate market over the past five plus years. Often buyers would have little time to place an offer to purchase a property because of the sense of urgency in the market. Multiple offers was commonplace at that time. This fortunately for buyers has changed recently with the economic downturn. Buyers have time on their side and an abundance of homes to chose from. Today in the Kamloops real estate market we are seeing a strong buyers market. It will not be a buyers market forever, but it is expected that it will be this way for a while. Eventually, the market will cycle into a balanced market, which we have not seen in quite a number of years.

HomeA federal program is in place to assist first time home buyers with the purchase of a home. Under the federal government’s Home Buyer’s Plan, you can use up to $20,000 in RRSP savings ($40,000 for a couple) to finance a down payment on a first home. You are then required to repay your RRSP over 15 years.

You have to ensure that the RRSP funds have been deposited for at least 90 days. You will also have to sign an agreement to buy a new or resale home. Buyers have to qualify the  home purchase.

Depending upon your situation, it might be to your advantage to access savings through the Home Buyers’ Plan. For example, if you had already saved $20,000 for a down payment – and assuming you still had enough “contribution room” in your RRSP for a contribution of that amount you could move your savings into a registered investment at least 90 days before your closing date. Then you could withdraw the money through the Home Buyers’ Plan.

Your $20,000 RRSP would then count as a deduction for the year. You could also use any tax refund you receive to repay RRSP or other home buying expenses.

Many home buyers looking to purchase a home in Kamloops are trying to find ways to ensure they have an adequate down payment. First time home buyers can definitely put this technique to use. Ensure, prior to making any major financial decisions, to check with your financial advisor, lawyer or tax specialist. These professionals can determine whether this strategy is practical for your financial situation.

For up to date Kamloops and surrounding area home listings click here.

You have established your budget. You have been pre-approved for a mortgage. You have contacted a REALTOR to assist you with the purchase of a home. Now the fun, and evaluation begins. You will probably be looking at a few homes before you decide on the perfect one for your family. Before you decide to purchase that home you have absolutely fallen in love with, be sure to be objective in your decision. On appearance alone, the fireplace, the new flooring, paint job and new carpeting create a warm and inviting feeling. Yet, is the home really that perfect? Take a deep breath. Take some time to think about the bigger picture of the home in terms of your needs. Carefully consider whether this home offers the features that will last beyond the first impression. Here are some essential factors to consider:

* Location is a significant factor in your choice of home. An established community, with a good reputation, a low crime rate and well-maintained homes, maintains home values. A garbage dump, industrious buildings disposing bad odours and major freeways surrounding your neighborhood are unattractive and disruptive to a peaceful lifestyle. Many communities within Kamloops have positive and negative aspects about each and every one of them. Ensure you are informed about every area that you are interested in.

* Also consider availability and cost of access to public transportation, major roads and highways. This is especially important when considering properties outside of Kamloops.

* Also consider the condition of public areas such as streets, sidewalks, parks and recreational facilities.

* Public services should also be established including street cleaning, snow removal, garbage collection, and emergency services.

* You will also want efficient access to medical services including hospitals, doctors and dentists.

* Be sure that schools and related school services are also within easy access.

* Recreational, shopping and entertainment needs should also be considered.

Buying a home is a big job and there are many things to consider. With the Kamloops real estate market being a lot slower, buyers have more time to make an informed decision on a purchase. Before making an offer on a home take the time to look over the home carefully and really consider the floor plan and how your furniture will fit. Ensure your Realtor shows you the comparable homes on the market in your chosen area. Remember, often homes look much better in person than they do in pictures on the MLS.

The Canadian Real Estate Association has made some improvements to realtor.ca (previously MLS.ca). I rarely search for real estate there unless I am curious about some area outside of the Kamloops region. As a result of two rounds of consumer testing, several enhancements have been made to REALTOR.ca.

* There is a new home page for residential real estate, designed to eliminate consumer confusion. The default is now set to a “Quick” search format, with an option to search by interactive map.

* The pop-up that had generated complaints has been eliminated.

* The results page has also been re-designed to make the photos larger and the interactive map space smaller. The address, if approved for display, has been added to the thumbnail. This has been a frequent request from consumers, although the address often is omitted.

* Zoom level restriction has been removed. There has been complaints that the site does not respond due to the number of properties in an area. Until this change was made, users would hit the restricted zoom level without displaying properties, creating the impression the map was zooming in and out, in effect, out of control.

Realtor.ca has received a lot of criticism since it debuted. I hope you like the changes and if not you can head over to my site and search there. I find that Realtor.ca is a very slow, time consuming website. Searches take a long time and often buyers are still left wanting more information in the end. Get ahead of Realtor.ca you can receive MLS listings days before they hit the web. To receive daily emails with personalized search results sign up here.

There is a lot of confusion about the state of the Kamloops, B.C. and National real estate market. Buyers and sellers are trying to figure out when the right time is to make a move. Below I have included my 2008/2009 real estate market report. Click the link for the pdf version and also for those who cannot open the pdf there are images of the document.

2008/2009 Annual Kamloops Real Estate Market Report

Kamloops Annual Real Estate Market Report Page 1

Kamloops Annual Real Estate Market Report Page 1

Kamloops Annual Real Estate Market Report Page 2

Kamloops Annual Real Estate Market Report Page 2

Kamloops Annual Real Estate Market Report Page 3

Kamloops Annual Real Estate Market Report Page 3

In Kamloops, I continually talk to clients regarding the local real estate market and the factors contributing to the recent downturn. There are many predictions and opinions about the market. Below I have compiled a series of analyst opinions on the BC and national real estate market which in turn directly apply to Kamloops real estate. Hopefully you will find this information useful to your search, whether you are a home buyer, seller or just looking for some clarification.

Scotiabank’s senior economist Adrienne Warren says Canadian real estate prices will drop 10-15% nationally, with B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan taking the brunt of the downturn. They predict that much of the runup in prices seen this decade will remain intact.

Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) report states that despite the traumatic American mortgage fall out, Canada has managed to steer clear of deflated markets. The Canadian system is supported by low and steady interest rates, better underwriting processes, different products and normal re-sale activity levels. “Canada is a financially conservative country where consumers are able to meet the terms of their mortgages and buying decisions are based on affordability,” said Dunning. “This contributes to a solid real estate market that will not experience the same drop off we see south of the border.”

Cameron Muir of BCREA believes BC could see an upswing in housing markets as early as spring 2009. This doesn’t necessarily mean that housing prices will increase. Consumer confidence in the market is predicted to stabilize and buyers will become more active in the market place.

CMHC see a further drop of up to 9% in 2009. Home prices in Kamloops and district have fallen so far anywhere from 10% and above to date.

Ozzie Jurock sees increased activity in Spring and sales lower in 2009 and calls for us to start thinking positively.

Other points of interest:

  • Across the country, downward movement of house prices are only 3% year-over-year in the third quarter (compared with a 5 to 15% decline in the U.S.)
  • International studies conducted by agencies such as the International Monetary Fund have found that Canada is still considered to be one of the countries where the housing market is least overvalued
  • Canada’s housing market is also much less vulnerable given the very limited sub-prime mortgage activity (5% of outstanding mortgages compared to approximately 14% in the U.S.)
  • The speculative sector is relatively small
  • Housing affordability – which had deteriorated over the past two years – will improve with the recent significant rate cuts by the Bank of Canada and softer house prices.

They all agree that consumer confidence is one of the real estate market’s biggest challenge. There is a lot of uncertainty locally in Kamloops and in the world as a whole. Predictions are never certainties. There are a number of factors that affect consumer confidence and unfortunately this confidence is not only a local and national feeling but also a world wide concern.

It’s a Buyers market! This is what we hear on the News, in newspapers and from professionals in our community. It is a great time to buy, prices are coming down, there are a lot of homes to choose from and sellers are getting more anxious to sell their homes. On the other hand there is the belief that it may not be a good time to buy because prices may fall further. How do you know when the best time is to buy? Below there are five things to consider if you are trying to decide if now is the right time to purchase a property.

  1. Timing the BOTTOM is very difficult for many reasons. The timing of the bottom of the market is different in every region. Just because the market has bottomed in one region of BC doesn’t mean that the same is happening here in Kamloops. There are many different factors that go into the state of every market. Waiting for the absolute bottom often causes buyers to miss it and get stuck in the upswing of the market, making purchasing a home more difficult. Buy a home because you need to or have found the right one for you, not because you are waiting for the bottom, often the bottom is seen in the rear view mirror.
  2. Often the best places sell FIRST. If you find a home that is perfectly suited to your needs and desires then buy it! When that perfect home comes along, and you chose to wait it can be scooped up from under you. Often if a home is desirable to you it is also very desirable to others looking. Buyers have to put some value on a home that meets or exceeds their needs that is not a monetary value. Desirable homes in desirable areas in a down market hold their value much better than less desirable homes in less desirable areas.
  3. Find a home you can GROW with. Think long-term when purchasing a home. Find a place that you can see yourself in for years to come. The Real Estate market is cyclical with ups and downs. If the market is on the decline now, there is no telling when that will change. We all wish that we could have a crystal ball to predict the future, but that just isn’t the case. Over the long term Real Estate has proven to be a good investment, so thinking long term will help with your decision.
  4. Use TECHNOLOGY in your search. Then internet has a wealth of information on home buying. Use the internet to your advantage! Educate yourself in order to prepare for that important purchase. The more you know the better off you will be. There are many free services you can find on the internet to make your search easier.
  5. BUYERS AGENTS are there to help you! Find yourself a good buyers agent who will help you search through all the listings in Kamloops. A buyers agent will find the best suited homes for you. There are other advantages of having your own buyers agent which are: they arrange appointments for you on your time, keep you up to date on current market conditions, prepare a comparative market analysis on any home you may be interested in purchasing and finally negotiate a contract. Most people are not well versed on contract negotiation and real estate purchasing, having an agent on your side is always beneficial. Don’t forget, the best part about having your own representation is it is FREE!

There are many factors that go into your decision to purchase a home. Buyers have their own personal reason for purchasing and you can’t time the market. Become an informed buyer, help yourself in this dynamic market. Remember, knowledge is power!