MoneySense names top 5 Victoria neighbourhoods to buy real estate

No. 1 wins for scenic views and proximity to downtown.

moneysensevictoriaIn April 2017  selected their top Victoria neighbourhoods to buy real estate.

By the end of last year, the benchmark price had grown almost 24% for a single-family home in the Victoria area. According to Victoria’s Real Estate Board, this spike in sales price is due, in part, to dwindling listings. Listings were down 41%, when compared to 2015, even as the number of sales last year broke new records for this west coast city. As a result, buyers looking for a home in the Greater Victoria Area are beginning to look further afield.  Read the rest of the article here. 

We’ve rounded up homes for sale in each of these Where to Buy neighbourhoods to make it easy for you.

The top 5 Victoria neighbourhoods for buyers, according to MoneySense are:

  1. Sidney South-East, Sidney

  2. Saxe Point, Esquimalt

  3. Sidney North-East, Sidney

  4. Estevan, Oak Bay

  5. Uplands, Oak Bay

To view all active listings currently for sale in one of these areas simply click the neighbourhood links above or call our head office at 1-877-278-3888 to be matched to an expert real estate agent in your area.

Top 15 South Fraser River neighbourhoods to buy real estate from MoneySense’s Where to Buy report

Million-dollar communities have more to offer than just price appreciation.

moneysensefraserIn April produced their annual list of Where to Buy South of the Fraser River neighbourhoods.  We’ve rounded up homes for sale in each of these Where to Buy neighbourhoods to make it easy for you to find your next home.

The top 15 South Fraser neighbourhoods for Buyers, according to MoneySense are:

  1. Brookswood, Langley

  2. Walnut Grove, Langley

  3. Aldergrove, Langley

  4. Guildford, Surrey

  5. Fort Langley, Langley

  6. Langley City, Langley

  7. Willoughby Heights, Langley

  8. Cloverdale, Surrey

  9. Fleetwood Tynehead, Surrey

  10. West Newton, Surrey

  11. Murrayville, Langley

  12. North Surrey, Surrey

  13. East Newton, Surrey

  14. South Surrey White Rock, Surrey

To view all active listings currently for sale in one of these areas simply click the neighbourhood links above or call our head office at 1-877-278-3888 to be matched to an expert real estate agent in the area of your choosing.

Read the rest of the MoneySense article here. 

Real Estate Investment Story | Backyard Vineyards

Meet Michelle Yang, co-owner at Backyard Vineyards in Langley B.C.  Michelle shares her story as a new partner in the winery, learning the wine business, and how her REALTOR® was able to guide her through the process.

To meet a professional realtor in your area visit


About Backyard Vineyard:

With a name as true as its location, Backyard Vineyards evokes neighbourhood comforts and a welcoming environment. Top this off with their exceptional wines and well-crafted tasting room for a must-see the next time you take a jaunt through Langley. Backyard Vineyard’s effort of using 100% BC grapes allows them to take their name to heart of loving the landscape of the region and province. Focusing on quality helps their winemaker James Cambridge and the owners express the intricacies of the varietals they carry, as well as the ability to experiment to find their award-winning portfolio.

Visiting this vineyard is a treat, from their large inviting tasting room to their outdoor picnic area there is plenty of space to enjoy a taste and tour. With some grapes grown at this vineyard and others sourced from the Fraser Valley and Okanagan, there is something to please all palates.

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Backyard Vineyards – 3033 – 232nd Street, Langley, BC

What are the Top 25 Greater Vancouver neighbourhoods to buy real estate according to MoneySense?

Yes, good value real estate is possible in Vancouver.

moneysensevancouverIn April 2017, in their annual Where to Buy Now coverage selected their top Greater Vancouver neighbourhoods to buy real estate to see the best return on investment.

What’s a buyer to do? The best way is to buy based on solid fundamentals. In real estate this means finding good-value neighbourhoods that offer a good chance of continued momentum in the future. That’s not easy in a hot market, but this year’s Where to Buy Vancouver list shows it is possible.   Read the rest of the article here. 

We’ve rounded up homes for sale in each of these Where to Buy neighbourhoods to make it easy for you.

The top 25 Greater Vancouver neighbourhoods for Buyers, according to MoneySense are:

  1. Cedardale, West Vancouver

  2. Port Moody Centre, Port Moody

  3. Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver

  4. Pemberton NV, North Vancouver

  5. Glenmore, West Vancouver

  6. Glenayre, Port Moody

  7. River Springs, Coquitlam

  8. Cypress Park Estates, West Vancouver

  9. Edmonds BE, Burnaby

  10. Meadow Brook, Coquitlam

  11. Cape Horn, Coquitlam

  12. Hastings, Vancouver East

  13. Horseshoe Bay WV, West Vancouver

  14. Burke Mountain, Coquitlam

  15. Norgate, North Vancouver

  16. Eagle Harbour, West Vancouver

  17. Sapperton, New Westminster

  18. Ambleside, West Vancouver

  19. Mountain Meadows, Port Moody

  20. Steveston Village, Richmond

  21. Queensbury, North Vancouver

  22. Renfrew VE, Vancouver East

  23. Mount Pleasant VE, Vancouver East

  24. Windsor Park NV, North Vancouver

  25. Westwind, Richmond

To view all active listings currently for sale in one of these areas simply click the neighbourhood links above or call our head office at 1-877-278-3888 to be matched to an expert real estate agent in the area of your choosing.

New Exemptions to the 15% Property Transfer Tax


The original announcement that work permit holders would be exempt from the 15% additional property transfer tax was made on January 29, 2017.

On March 17, Premier Christy Clark finally introduced the details of the new exemption to the 15% property transfer tax applied to certain “foreign nationals” who purchase residential properties in the Greater Vancouver Regional District.  As we expected the devil is in the details.  There are a number of categories of work permit holders.  Just as we expected, it turns out that not all holders of work permits will be treated equally.  Most work permit holders will still have to pay the 15% tax.

The exemption from the tax will only apply to Provincial Nominees under the B.C. provincial nominee program (“PNP”).  They have to be “nominated” by B.C. so that other holders of work permits such as international students, executive transferees, or individuals nominated by other provinces will not qualify for the exemption.  Moreover:

  • The exemption only applies to provincial nominees who treat the property as a principal residence;
  • The exemption may be claimed only once. It the provincial nominee buys another GVRD property he must pay the 15% tax;
  • Evidence of provincial nominee status has to be provided at the time the documents are filed at the Land Title Office.


The new rules also provide that the following buyers who have already paid the tax will be entitled to refunds:

  • Foreign nationals who held B.C. PNP certificates or were confirmed as provincial nominees and purchased GVRD residential property between August 2, 2016, and March 17, 2017;
  • Individuals who became permanent residents or Canadian citizens within one year of the date the property transfer was registered in the Land Title Office

Refunds for permanent residents and citizens can only be claimed:

  • in respect of only one property;
  • where the property has been used as a principal residence;
  • where the owner moved into the residence within 92 days of property registration; and
  • continued to live in the property for one full year after the date the property transfer was registered.

Clearly most work permit holders are still subject to the 15% tax.  It seems that the exemptions are designed primarily to accommodate the PNP holders working in B.C.’s growing high technology industry, the fear being that the high cost of housing may be an impediment to economic growth in this critically important sector.

Meanwhile, work permit “status” issues can be somewhat complex.  Foreign national buyers holding work permits and their realtor advisors who are uncertain about whether an exemption would apply should consider consulting their immigration and conveyancing lawyers before entering into a binding agreement to purchase GVRD residential property.

Written by Peter Scarrow, former immigration lawyer, currently is the Director of Asian Business at Macdonald Real Estate Group.

Applying for the BC Home Partnership Program into 5 EASY STEPS!

BC Home Partnership

5 Steps to Your Application


  1. Get a pre-approval from your mortgage broker.
  2. Apply to the Program and receive confirmation of eligibility.

The BC Home Partnership applications takes about 15 minutes to complete and about 5 business days for confirmation. Supporting documentation is as follows.

Provide one of: Canadian Citizenship Card, Permanent Resident Card (must have PR for at least 5 years), or Canadian Birth Certificate.

Also one piece of Government ID, proof of income by way of Notice of Assessment and the pre-approval from your mortgage broker.

  1. Find your home – make an offer “Subject to Financing”.
  2. Apply back to the program and lender with your accepted offer. This should only take at the most 2-3 days.
  3. Upon funding, the lawyer/notary will register the loan as a second mortgage.



[Read more…]

First Time Home Buyers’ Program

On Monday the BC Government launched their First Time Home Buyers’ Program.  For assistance in determining if you qualify read their program information below (copied from their website) or speak to a Mortgage Adviser.  Click here to view a search of all lower mainland homes under $750,000 that qualify for this new program.

BC Home Partnership

[Read more…]

How my agent found the perfect home in a hot seller’s market

A real estate company vice president on his homebuying journey

Posted on Inman News  December 14, 2016

  • In North America, where everyone knows 10-plus agents, the ones who do it right set themselves apart.
  • Good agents don’t just wait for their clients to ask them questions: They are pro-active to ensure the client is getting the information they need.
  • When trying to buy a home in a hot market, it helps immensely to have an agent with a positive, steady attitude.

Selling my home was, of course, just the first of two chapters.

In part one of this series, I wrote about my experience listing my home and the many ways that our agent helped make the selling process easier and more successful.

When my wife and I woke up the next morning, we found ourselves buyers in the red-hot Vancouver housing market.

We wanted to stay, broadly, in the same Kitsilano area — close to my office, the kids’ grandparents and family-friendly community amenities.

We were searching for a three-bedroom condo, ground-oriented, hopefully with some outdoor space: essentially, the same thing every young family was eyeing in that neighborhood.

[Read more…]

MoneySense names top Vancouver neighbourhoods to buy real estate

While not cheap, these are great options in a crazy market…

Renfew detached home

Renfew detached home

In their April 2016 edition MoneySense magazine selected their top Vancouver neighbourhoods to buy real estate to see the best return on investment.

 After analyzing more than 200 neighbourhoods, we found several communities that offer a chance for future appreciation, all of which have average prices above $1 million. In ­­Ambleside in West Vancouver—our top neighbourhood—a single detached home sold for an average of $2.25 million last year. Even at these prices, homes are still about 14% cheaper, on average, compared to surrounding communities. Moreover, these top neighbourhoods boast a 68% average five-year return—compared to the city’s 51% return for the same time period. While not cheap, our top picks are great options in a crazy market. See the full rankings below.  Read the rest of the article here. 

The top 10 Metro Vancouver neighbourhoods to look for well-priced homes, according to MoneySense are:

Brentwood Park condo

Brentwood Park condo

  1. Ambleside, West Vancouver

  2. Brentwood Park, Burnaby

  3. Hastings, East Vancouver

  4. New Horizons, Coquitlam

  5. Renfrew, East Vancouver

  6. Vancouver Heights, Burnaby

  7. Victoria, East Vancouver

  8. Mount Pleasant, East Vancouver

  9. Ladner Elementary, Ladner

  10. Sapperton, New Westminster

To view all active listings in one of these areas simply click the neighbourhood links above.


New 15% Property Transfer Tax

The new 15% property purchase tax (the “PTT”) explained.


It is a property transfer tax of 15% payable by “foreign” buyers IN ADDITION TO the regular property transfer tax at the time a property transfer for residential property is registered in the land title office for properties located in “The Greater Vancouver Regional District” (the “GVRD”).  This includes places like Surrey, Richmond, Delta, West Vancouver, Coquitlam, etc. but not Squamish, Whistler, Abbotsford, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, etc.

So if a foreign buyer buys a $7 million residential property in West Vancouver the total property purchase tax would be:

Platform Dashboard


The tax has to be paid by “foreign entities”.  That means foreign citizens, foreign companies and taxable trustees.  Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents do not have to pay.  Foreign corporations include companies set up outside Canada and Canadian companies that are controlled by foreign persons or by foreign companies.


The tax is payable in respect of residential properties in the GVRD purchased by foreign buyers on or after August 2, 2016 at the time the transfer is registered in the land title office.  It is payable even when the contract was finalized before August 2, 2016 and the parties unaware there would be a new tax.


Not many.  Non-residential property is not subject to the extra tax nor are properties outside the GVRD.   Real estate investment trusts and mutual fund trusts are not subject to the extra tax.  Penalties of $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for corporations apply to anyone who participates in illegal tax avoidance.  Presumably this includes lawyers, accountants and realtors who assist in illegal tax avoidance.

Written by Peter Scarrow, former immigration lawyer, currently is the Director of Asian Business at Macdonald Real Estate Group.

Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market Statistics – January 2016

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Vancouver, North Shore, Tri-Cities and other Greater Vancouver listings and sales in January 2016.


In the Vancouver Westside, there were 135 sales of detached homes and 502 active listings at the end of January. The benchmark sale price was $2,928,800, with an average days on market of 42. The hottest market for sales was Shaughnessy with 16 sales.

In comparison, the condo market had 307 sales, 768 active listings and a benchmark sale price of $599,200 with 32 average days on market. The hottest market for sales was Downtown VW, 75 sales.

Townhome sales were 31, active listings were 80. The benchmark sale price was $892,600 with an average days on market of 48. University VW, 5 sales, was the hottest market for sales in January.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.




The Vancouver Eastside had 98 sales and 314 active listings for detached homes at the end of the month. The benchmark sales price was $1,234,100, and the average days on market were 35. The hottest sales market was Killarney VE with 15 sales.
The condo market featured 88 sales, 209 active listing, and a benchmark sales price was $373,800. The average days on market were 43 days, and the hottest market for sales was Mount Pleasant VE with 21 sales.
The townhome market, on the other hand, had 10 sales and 36 active listings. The benchmark sale price was $661,200 with 36 average days on market. Champlain Heights had the most sales in January at 4.

[Read more…]

Squamish, Whistler, and Sunshine Coast Real Estate Market Statistics – January 2016

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Squamish, Whistler and Sunshine Coast listings and sales in January 2016.


In January 2016, there were 17 sales of detached homes and 54 active listings in Squamish. The benchmark sale price was $651,400 with an average days on market of 48.
The Condo market had 7 sales and 32 active listings at the end of the month. The benchmark sale price was $312,600 with an average days on market of 37.
Townhome sales were 4, active listings were 17. The benchmark sale price was $482,900, and the average days on market were 9.


[Read more…]

Okanagan Real Estate Market Statistics – January 2016

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Kelowna and Okanagan listings and sales in January 2016.

South Okanagan: Osoyoos, Oliver, and Penticton

In January 2016, there were 48 sales of detached homes and 579 active listings in South Okanagan Area, including Osoyoos, Oliver, and Penticton. The average sale price was $433,040 with an average days on market of 105.
The Condo market had 21 sales and 214 active listings at the end of the month. The average sale price was $238,821 with an average days on market of 114.
Townhome sales were 10, active listings were 78. The average sale price was $278,305, and the average days on market were 87.
[Read more…]

Surrey, Langley and Fraser Valley Real Estate Market Statistics – January 2016

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Surrey, Langley and Fraser Valley listings and sales in January 2016.

White Rock/South Surrey

There were 140 sales, 299 active listings, and a $1,122,100 benchmark sale price for detached homes in the White Rock/South Surrey market.

The condo market featured 39 sales, 240 active listings and a benchmark sale price of $277,200 at the end of the month.

In comparison, townhome sales were 55, active listings were 131 and the benchmark sale price was $467,400.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.


[Read more…]

Victoria Real Estate Market Statistics – January 2016

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Vancouver Island and Greater Victoria listings and sales in January 2016.

Greater Victoria

In January 2015, there were 225 sales of single family homes and 607 active listings in Greater Victoria. The benchmark sale price was $524,000 with an average days on market of 53. The hottest market for sales was Saanich East with 49 sales followed by Langford with 35 sales. There were also 13 sales and 150 active listings at the end of the month for waterfront homes.

In comparison, the Condo market had 151 sales, 511 active listings at the end of the month. The benchmark sale price was $302,900 with an average days on market of 70. The hottest market for sales was Victoria, 56 sales.

Townhome sales were 58, active listings were 172 and the benchmark sale price was $425,100. The average days on market were 68, and the hottest market was Saanich East with 9 sales.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.


[Read more…]

Okanagan Real Estate Market Statistics – December 2015

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Kelowna and Okanagan listings and sales in December 2015.

South Okanagan: Osoyoos, Oliver, and Penticton

In December 2015, there were 64 sales of detached homes and 574 active listings in South Okanagan Area, including Osoyoos, Oliver, and Penticton. The average sale price was $422, 547 with an average days on market of 110.

The Condo market had 17 sales and 213 active listings at the end of the month. The average sale price was $211,324 with an average days on market of 95.

Townhome sales were 16, active listings were 79. The average sale price was $205,253, and the average days on market were 81.


[Read more…]

Greater Vancouver Real Estate Market Statistics – December 2015

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Vancouver, North Shore, Tri-Cities and other Greater Vancouver listings and sales in December 2015.


In the Vancouver Westside, there were 135 sales of detached homes and 376 active listings at the end of December. The benchmark sale price was $2,885,000, with an average days on market of 42. The hottest market for sales was Dunbar with 24 sales.

In comparison, the condo market had 336 sales, 593 active listings and a benchmark sale price of $590,400 with 41 average days on market. The hottest market for sales was Downtown VW, 72 sales.

Townhome sales were 39, active listings were 79. The benchmark sale price was $897,400 with an average days on market of 35. Kitsilano, 10 sales, was the hottest market for sales in December.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.


The Vancouver Eastside had 122 sales and 229 active listings for detached homes at the end of the month. The benchmark sales price was $1,222,900, and the average days on market were 28. The hottest sales market was South Vancouver with 18 sales.

The condo market featured 108 sales, 171 active listing, and a benchmark sales price was $364,500. The average days on market were 36 days, and the hottest market for sales was Mount Pleasant with 30 sales.

The townhome market, on the other hand, had 19 sales and 25 active listings. The benchmark sale price was $651,200 with 39 average days on market. Champlain Heights had the most sales in December at 7.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.


[Read more…]

Squamish and Whistler Real Estate Market Statistics – December 2015

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Squamish, Whistler and Sunshine Coast listings and sales in December 2015.


In the Whistler market, the benchmark sale price was $1,069,900 with an average days on market of 135 days for detached homes. At the end of December, there were 13 sales and 88 active listings.

In comparison, the condo market had 38 sales and 134 active listings. The benchmark sale price was $285,500, and the average days on market were 126.

Townhome featured 23 sales, 53 active listings and a $530,600 benchmark sale price with 83 average days on market.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.



[Read more…]

Surrey, Langley and Fraser Valley Real Estate Market Statistics – December 2015

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Surrey, Langley and Fraser Valley listings and sales in December 2015.

North Surrey

In December 2015, there were 99 sales of detached homes and 116 active listings in North Surrey. The benchmark sale price was $670,000, an increase of 19.0% compared to December 2014.

The condo market had 63 sales, 287 active listings at the end of the month.  The benchmark sale price was $200,000.

In comparison, townhome sales were 19, active listings were 51 and the benchmark sale price was $263,200.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.


[Read more…]

Victoria Real Estate Market Statistics – December 2015

Here are the latest real estate market statistics from Macdonald Realty on Vancouver Island and Greater Victoria listings and sales in December 2015.

Greater Victoria

In December 2015, there were 209 sales of detached homes and 578 active listings in Greater Victoria. The benchmark sale price was $521,100 with an average days on market of 58. The hottest market for sales was Langford with 46 sales. There were also 19 sales and 161 active listings at the end of the month for waterfront homes.

In comparison, the Condo market had 114 sales, 499 active listings at the end of the month. The benchmark sale price was $305,000 with an average days on market of 64. The hottest market for sales was Victoria, 49 sales.

Townhome sales were 46, 189 active listings and the benchmark sale price was $419,100. The average days on market were 85, and the hottest market was Victoria with 8 sales.

Listings are down. Sales are up. It’s a seller’s market.

[Read more…]

Keep the toaster, we’re crowdfunding our down payment

Websites help newlyweds raise money to put toward real estate goals

Newlyweds tend to receive many gifts that end up in the trash or never see the light of day.

Nowadays, many couples have been living together for years before they actually tie the knot, so they’ve probably got the silverware and salt-and-pepper shakers covered.

But what if newlyweds could channel the generosity of all their family and friends towards a big-ticket item of their choosing, like a down payment for a home?

That’s a strategy that people who are set to receive a wave of gifts for a special occasion may take more and more as crowdfunding continues to gain traction.

People have long been using Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other mainstream crowdfunding sites to raise cash for all manner of pursuits.

But more recently, niche crowdfunding sites have been popping up. A number of them focus on helping people raise cash for real estate-related pursuits, including cobbling together enough cash for a down payment.

Feather the Nest, for example, lets users create pages where they can use text, photos and video to describe what real estate aspirations they want contributors to help them fund. Users then share their campaigns through email and their social media accounts.

People can turn to Feather the Nest whenever they want to try to drum up cash for real estate goals, but the site was designed to help people capitalize on the outpouring of generosity that typically comes with special occasions.

The best example would be a wedding, said Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Lindsay Oparowski, CEO of Feather the Nest. The spread of honeymoon registries like and Traveler’s Joy show that many couples are keen on funneling the goodwill of friends and family towards a single purpose, rather than sitting back to accept a hodgepodge of smaller gifts.


Screen shot showing sample campaign.

Oparowski envisions soon-to-be-married couples sharing their campaigns for real estate projects with friends and loved ones  and posting them to their wedding websites. The campaigns could either complement the wedding gift menus that couples commonly offer up to family and friends, or they could replace them altogether.

That way, you end up with a house, not “mismatched placemats,” Oparowski said.

Feather the Nest isn’t the only company trying to help people crowdfund down payments. Gift registries Hatch My House and both target couples who would prefer down payment assistance over cutlery and candlesticks.

Launched by Wilmington-North Carolina-based real estate agent Teresa Krebs, acts as an agent referral service, offering couples a refund of the site’s registration fee and a gift card to a home improvement store in exchange for working with an agent handpicked by the site. Krebs said 20 couples a month sign up on average, with close to 800 having registered since the site launched in 2009.

“In this generation, so many people are wanting to buy a house and they already have furnishings and towels and pots and pans and things like that,” Krebs said. “Among my group of friends that’s what people really wanted for a wedding gift — cash for a down payment.” launched last year, but the website is still listed as being in beta testing.

Hatch My House has helped people raise about $1.7 million for down payments, $200,000 for remodeling and renovations and $100,000 for furnishings and decorations, according to Rieve MacEwen, who founded Hatch My House in 2009 with his wife Erin-Marie. More than 2,000 registeries have received funds on the site, he added.

According to Hatch My House, the average price of a wedding gift is $125, while the average number of gifts for a wedding is 70. That means, theoretically, the typical couple using the site would raise $9,000 to put towards a down payment if every wedding gift went towards their campaign.

PRIMARQ is taking a less romantic approach to the enterprise: The crowdfunder is attempting to enable buyers to obtain down payment assistance from investors in exchange for slices of their home equity.

Screen shot showing Feather the Nest’s campaign directory page.

Oparowski, who was previously a marketing director for two brokerages, said that agents could recommend Feather the Nest to people who are on the fence about buying, or use it as a “touchpoint” to maintain contact with past clients.

The site will generate revenue by taking a cut of the funds users raise through campaigns, but also plans to sell sponsorships to agents, where nest owners would receive some cash for permitting an agent’s advertising to appear next to their campaigns.

This article was originally posted on Inman News, June 30, 2014.  Written by Teke Wiggin.
View the original post at Inman News.

For more information contact Macdonald Realty at 1-877-278-3888

Getting the most from an open house







Have you ever attended an “Open House” advertised in your area or in a community you like? Most people have. Even if you’re not serious about moving, viewing a few properties in a neighbourhood you like is a great way to get a sense of the market. Who knows? You might stumble upon your next dream home! To get the most out of an open house, follow these guidelines:

  • Most open houses will have a handout available containing the list price and other property information. Be sure to keep a copy.
  • Don’t just view the rooms. Explore the entire property, including the backyard.
  • Don’t be shy about asking the listing agent (or whoever is hosting the open house) questions about the property.
  • Ask about the area. Are there schools nearby? Where is the nearest park or playground located?
  • Ask about potential required repairs and renovations. For example, if the furnace is more than 15 years old, it may need to be replaced soon.
  • Walk around the neighbourhood. Try to get a sense of what it’s like to live there. If possible, chat with a neighbour.
  • Finally, if you become interested in the home, be sure to advise the listing agent that your own REALTOR® will be following up. Otherwise, the listing agent might assume that he or she will be representing you. Looking for a good REALTOR® to have by your side? Call me today.



Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  originally posted April 4, 2014.

Take a Walk on the Boardwalk (or Sidewalk)


If you’ve played the game Monopoly then you’ve probably picked up the Chance card that reads, “”Take a walk on the Boardwalk. If you pass Go…””
That’s good advice when shopping for a new home. When you see a property you like and you’re thinking of making an offer, spend some time walking around the neighbourhood. This will give you a better sense of what it’s going to be like to live there.


After all, the last thing you want is to buy a dream home only to find out later that there are issues with the neighbourhood that make living there miserable.

If you have kids, see how far of a walk it is to local parks, playgrounds, schools and community centres.
If you commute, you might also check out the route from the neighbourhood to your place of work. Is there a left turn that is likely to get backed up in the mornings?

Also check out how well the neighbours take care of their properties. Homeowners tend to keep their homes looking good if they enjoy the neighbourhood.

As you walk, listen. Are there noises from nearby high schools, industrial areas, or highways that are going to be unpleasant for you? Find out if the neighbourhood is near an airport flight path, or if there is a railway in the area. (Your REALTOR® can find that out for you.)
If you get a chance, talk to some of the neighbours. Ask what they like most about living in the area. You’re likely to get some candid – and useful – answers.

Finally, spend some time visualizing living in the area. Can you see yourself enjoying what the neighbourhood has to offer?
If so, then buying a home in that area will likely be a good choice for you. A good REALTOR® can help. Call me today.


Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  

7 Tips for Real Estate Investing


Thinking of investing in Real Estate? Meet Don Campbell. The name needs no introduction for Canadian real estate investors. Less well-known, however, are the seven investment rules the Real Estate Investment Network founder shared for a recent feature profile. Got a pen and paper?

1. Manage Your Expectations. The road to sustainable wealth is not a straight one. There will be economic curves to navigate, tenant potholes to avoid and financing road-blocks to get around. Investors need to face the reality of the business they are entering and use a system that helps them navigate through the inevitable twists and turns while at the same time keeps them moving forward.

2. Never sign anything that’s inaccurate. A supposed shortcut that some people justify while trying to navigate the real estate investing highway is to not be honest 100% of the time. Sadly many are coached to sign documents that are truly inaccurate.

3. Numbers tell the real story. Never fall in love with a piece of real estate no matter how nice it looks or feels. It is easy to talk yourself into just about any property. A strategic investor only falls in love with the numbers and cash flow. Those who fall in love with a specific piece of real estate will always over pay for the property.

4. Gain Perspective “Don’t drink your own Kool-aid.” Never blindly believe everything you hear. Sophisticated investors never allow themselves to think they know everything about their market. Find ways to keep expanding your knowledge and expertise by speaking with investors from all different backgrounds.

5. Buy for cash flow first – value increases second. There is no more important risk mitigation factor than positive cash flow. It allows you to ride the inevitable ups and downs of the real estate market and can provide will become the basis for long term sustainable wealth.

6. Treat your real estate like a business. Unlike other investment options, the minute you buy an investment piece of real estate you become a business owner and must start thinking like one. One of the biggest mistakes investors make is considering investment real estate a passive income investment. It is far from passive and you must manage the property as you would an active business.

7. Choose your advice wisely. Only ask for real estate investment advice from somebody who has extensive history and has seen all market conditions. Find a way to get your advice and analysis from someone who doesn’t directly profit from you purchasing a piece of property. And never, ever buy based on a “Hot Tip.”


Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at 

How to Be a Savvy Home Viewer



















If you’re planning on finding your next dream home, then you’re probably going to view several homes on the market that meet your criteria.

You will want to make the right purchasing decision for you and your family. So, it’s wise to be savvy when viewing properties for sale. Here are some ideas on how to do that.

  • Bring a notepad. Take notes, not only of the home’s characteristics, but also of how you feel. For example, can you imagine yourself happily cooking up a storm in the kitchen? Do you see yourself entertaining family on the back deck?
  • Bring a measuring tape. Will the furniture you plan to bring fit? Your dining room suite? Your home fitness equipment?
  • Ask about maintenance. Is the property in a good state of repair? Will anything need to be replaced soon, such as the windows?
  • Bring a camera. Take lots of pictures of the home’s exterior features. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll remember how everything looked.
  • Check out the area. Do other homeowners take good care of their properties? This shows pride of ownership. How is the noise level? Is there a playground, or another area feature nearby?
  • Make a list of compromises. For example, are there only two bathrooms instead of three and, if so, can you live with that?
  • Make a list of bonuses. What features does the home have that, are not a necessity, but would be nice to have? For example, an entertainment bar in the basement recreation room.
  • Remember your budget. Is the price within your range? Can you afford to buy this home?

The savvier you are when viewing properties on the market, the more likely you will be to find your next dream home.


Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  

Thinking of becoming a landlord?

This blog is largely written as a result of the learning and struggles, both past and current, I am going through regarding having a tenant I have personally. I wrote this blog in the hopes that anyone will be better off when entering into a tenancy as a landlord and know exactly how to protect themselves should an issue ever arise.

Now, it is important to preamble this with I believe all people are good deep down inside and know that it is important to treat others as you would want to be treated. When someone needs some help, it is everyone’s responsibility to lend a helping hand. With that being said, when all is done to create a fair and equal resolution for someone, it is just as important to take a stand and not let people take advantage of you. As I sit in the lobby of the Residential Tenancy Board in Burnaby, I am considering all of the ways a tenancy should be approached to prevent issues before and after they arise.

Beginning a tenancy

When beginning a tenancy, you must start by screening your tenants properly. A brilliant way to do this is simple. Get references from their employer and past landlords, and possibly personal references if you are stuck. Asking questions about their work history and past tenancy is a great start to knowing who you are getting involved with. Have they been at their job a long time? Is it secure? Do they pay their rent on time? If the past landlord could do it again, would they rent the unit out to this person again?

You are also going to want to ask for a credit check. This is a very good indication if you can expect your rent in full and on time. A good way to accomplish this is to mention it is a requirement in your ad. When someone applies, BEFORE you get too involved with them, be sure to get a look at their credit check. If they don’t like to pay their bills on time, your rent money has a good chance of becoming one of those late bills.

When accepting someone to rent your home/unit, you must put EVERYTHING in writing. Who is responsible for the utilities, day to day maintenance, repairs, etc. what are the terms for pets, renting to students, or any other provisions? Once you have all of the information, it is time to decide on the length of the stay for the tenant, and the type of term, either a fixed or month to month. When it comes to a damage deposit, ALWAYS take the maximum amount. This means half of your monthly rental amount and if they have a pet, another half of the monthly rent. Many tenants could make an upset about this yet it is important to remember, this damage deposit is your ONLY security that your unit will be left the way it was found. This includes cleaned, no trash or furniture left behind, and no damage to the unit in general. Use the tenancy agreement provided by the RTO on their website and be sure to add any extra pages with other details if need be.

The day the tenant moves in is crucial as they should be paying you all of your damage deposit and first month’s rent. Be sure to always provide your tenant with a receipt for their rent as it is required. You also must do a condition walk through with the tenant and document it on the form provided on the RTO’s website. Failing to do this will ELIMINATE any chance of getting to keep the damage deposit in the future. Have both parties sign all documents and be sure to give copies to the tenant.

Welcome to being a landlord

During the tenancy, always remember to document everything. Rent paid and when, conversations, emails etc. this will come in useful should there ever be an issue. When dealing with a tenant, it is always best to be clear about expectations before a tenancy, yet it is just as important to give them their freedom and peace of mind. It is important to check the condition of the property regularly but always give the proper 24 hours’ notice and ask for their permission to visit. Fix issues with the home promptly, give your tenant the respect and courtesy that they deserve, and be the landlord that you would want if you we’re a renter.

A tenancy can be for a fixed period of time or a month to month time frame. You should talk with your tenant before hand to decide what works best for everyone. The day will come when your tenant is either ready to move out, you are going to end the tenancy for positive reasons (major renovations, moving in yourself, etc.), or for unfortunate reasons such as unpaid rent or utilities on the home.

Ending a tenancy

You can give a 30 day notice to a tenant to leave the property when you are in a month to month tenancy. It is important to note the tenant by law is deserving of a full calendar months’ worth of notice, meaning if notice was given on March 1, the earliest date the tenant must be out is April 30. This also works the same way if a tenant gives notice to move to you, they must also provide a full calendar 30 days, due before the rental payment of their final month. All notices to end a tenancy must be done in writing. When ending a tenancy, it is important to not include the damage deposit in the last month’s rent as this is your only security that the property will be in similar condition when you get it back as to when you rented it out. On the final day of tenancy as you are receiving the keys, you must do a final condition walk through with your tenant to review if any damages need to be monetarily accounted for. All parties must sign off on this condition report and if everything looks good, you can exchange the keys and release the damage deposit to your tenant, or forward it to their new address within 15 days.

If there is a problem with your tenant

If there is a problem, document everything. You can give a tenant 10 day notice to vacate a property for unpaid rent or utilities, and other reasons listed on the RTO’s website. The notice can only be issued on a day after rent is due. This can be done in person, posted on their door (3 day lull) or via registered mail (5 day lull) and either must be witnessed by a person or with a receipt. Your witness will need to fill out another critical form called the Proof of Service. From this point, the tenant has 5 calendar days to pay you the rent in full or it is deemed that they accept the eviction and must be out in the 10 calendar days. Evicting a tenant with a 10 day notice does not give you authority to keep their damage deposit. At the end of the 5 days the tenant has to pay you their rent, if the tenant has not paid you in full (only accept full payments), it is wise to apply to the RTO for an Order of Possession as it is illegal for you to remove them, their belongings or change the locks with them still in the property. The tenant may not move out the day they are supposed to and getting an Order of Possession expedites the process to get some help from the RTO if it goes that far.

Dispute Resolution

So what happens if the tenant buggers up your property, doesn’t pay you rent or refuses to move? You must go to the RTO and apply for a dispute resolution. A dispute resolution is a sort of a court hearing that can be done over the phone with all parties. This is your chance to speak your case, provide evidence (all the evidence you have been collecting over the tenancy, right!) and get your issue sorted out. The arbitrator who hears the story will make a decision that is binding on both parties deeming whose story is most believable and has the proof to back it up. From this point, the arbitrator can make decisions as to what happens with the damage deposit, whether the tenant must pay you more money, including any missed rent money via wage garnishing or other means, and a date that the tenant MUST vacate the property through a court order. Let’s all hope you never get this far. Once the arbitration is done, the tenant may STILL not move out. Unfortunately for the landlord, from here you need to apply for a Writ of Possession from the Supreme Court and hire a court bailiff to remove the tenant and all of their possessions from your home. The bailiff can also auction off the tenants seized items to help recover any additional money you may be owed.


When it comes to a tenancy, NEVER take it lightly. While it is important to treat people with courtesy and respect, you must do everything by the book in order to protect yourself in the future. Money is a funny thing and it can change even the most respectful relationship for the worst. If the rent is late, provide the tenant with one warning and let them know that future late payments will result in a notice to end the tenancy. Always take your full damage deposit at the beginning. Never settle for less than excellent care of your property. At the end of the tenancy, you will be glad you followed the rules and prepared yourself for the storm, if one should arise.

For a full set of rules, best practises and documents, check out

When entering a tenancy

•Take the entire damage deposit you can
•Take photos of the property
•Do a condition walk through at the start and end of the tenancy and fill it out on the required documents
•Put everything in writing
•Give your tenants receipts for their rent payments
•Put your tenancy agreement in writing
•Document everything including all conversations and emails
•Set the intention and bar at the beginning of the tenancy
•Remember: everyone must live up to their agreements
•Fix all issues with the home promptly and with as little disturbance to your tenant as possible

Do not
•Give anyone more than one chance at late rent
•Let a pet deposit go without collecting it
•Let a day pass before seeking an order of possession after ending a tenancy
•Let rent be continuously late, the RTO may deem it okay if you let it happen all the time
•Let people take advantage of you

Documents to start a tenancy
•Residential Tenancy Agreement
•Condition Inspection Report

Documents to end a tenancy
•10 day notice for unpaid rent or utilities
•1 month notice to end tenancy for cause
•2 month notice to end tenancy for landlord’s use of property
•Mutual agreement to end a tenancy
•Proof of service

Dispute resolution
•Dispute resolution application
•Order of possession application

All documents and full guides to beginning and ending a tenancy can be found at

I hope you never end up evicting a tenant as it is a long and aggravating process. Protecting yourself properly will help avoid problems before they arise.

Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  

Tips for Maintaining Good Credit

Are you planning on buying your first home? Or are you moving and will be refinancing your mortgage? We met with one of our mobile mortgage specialists recently and she gave us some tips on improving your chances of getting a good mortgage. We also checked online and found some advice, so here’s a compilation of top mistakes that hurt your credit score.  Here are our top 5 tips for maintaining good credit.

  1. Paying bills late. Even paying just one day late can hurt your score. Mark your calendar or set up an automatic payment plan with your bank.
  2. Not checking your credit reports. You really should try to do this once a year. Apparently there can be some mistakes on there or unfortunately, identity fraud, so it’s prudent to do this. Check out or for more info.
  3. Maxing out your credit cards. If you do that, it shows that you are using too much of your available credit. Try to give that credit card a break and use another one… but try to keep it at less than half of your available credit.
  4. Using cash over credit. If you use cash, you can’t show your lenders how well you handle debt. So then you don’t have much of a credit history.
  5. Applying for extra cards. Not a good idea as it may look like you are desperate for credit. Closing credit cards on the other hand is not a good sign either. You are ultimately shrinking your amount you are allowed to borrow. However, if you are concerned about identity theft, annual fees, etc., then by all means close the account.

If you find out that your credit score isn’t very good, some mortgage specialists will work with you to improve your score. It may take 6 months to a year, but that is well worth it to get your financing in order to ultimately get the home you want.

* Please note this is general information only and should not be taken as specialist advice. If you need more specific information, contact your mortgage specialist/broker.


Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at

Investing in New Construction

Investing in new construction can be rewarding and hurtful at the same time. Let’s examine some of the benefits and deterrents of buying that brand new home.


Everything is new
If you like shiny things and clean corners, new construction cannot be beat

Prices can be promotional
Getting into a new development with early bird or promotional pricing can help you gain financial ground in the real estate market

Developer incentives
The Developer may offer incentives for buying one of their products, such as memberships to certain clubs or business’, additional appliances or upgrades, etc.

New technology
Your building will be made of the latest and greatest advancements in construction and design

Support staff with development
Onsite development staff will be constantly at the development for the first few weeks. This is the time to let them know of any problems, while they are easy to track down

New home warranty
The new home warranty covers all new homes built in British Columbia. You get 2 years on labour and materials (some limits apply), 5 years on the building envelope and 10 years on structure. It’s the strongest construction defect insurance in Canada.


High rentals
Most new developments these days have a very high rental rate due to changes in our fluctuating real estate market. Renters are associated with taking poor care of the property and having a lower level of respect for the occupants. Most new developments would have no restrictions on the amount of rentals

Unestablished strata
The strata council can change and implement changes altering bylaws manipulating your resale audience

Cost can be speculative
Buying a new property at tomorrows prices have burned many people in the last 10 years, disabling them to sell at a profit or even break even

Prices are non negotiable
Developers tend to avoid price haggling at all costs. The price is usually the price

Contracts written by the developer, for the developer
Any contract you sign from a sales office was written by a very educated and determined legal team to protect all aspects of the developers behind. These contracts are heavily weighted for the developers benefit only.

Floating completion and possession dates
Your move in date can be pushed back typically, not fully ensuring an exact move in date

Got to love those taxes. Similar to buying a new car and driving it off the lot, 12% HST is difficult to recover short term

Immediate resale complications
Many developments do not want to compete to sell remaining properties if you choose to sell your unit in the early stages as well. If you have purchased and decided to move, there may be restrictions on how you are able to market your property, or you may even have to pay the developer a portion of your sales money as a penalty.

When purchasing a new home, it is critical to include the involvement of me, your REALTOR®. By reviewing the contract for unfair terms or conditions, providing you with a real time market value, proper pricing forecasting, and ensuring you do not overpay, you can avoid many of the deterrents listed above. Investing in a new development can be rewarding, if done correctly and well-researched.

Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  

I wish you wouldn’t listen to the market hype

All the hype, is just that. Hype.

It is tough today to get a firm grasp on what is taking part in our real estate market. If you have read any articles or watched the news lately, it is filled with a ton of gloom and doom, stating ‘our’ market is down 10% from this time last year. What a terrible time to own a home!

Let’s pull back on that thought a bit to exam some facts. When you hear about ‘our’ market, most of the time that means the Vancouver market, not the Fraser Valley. We are the little brother to the Vancouver market and tend to follow their trends, yet there are some reasons why we may not.

  1. We are affordable in the Fraser Valley, much more so than North of the river (Vancouver, Burnaby, ect.)
  2. At this time last year, a large Asian influx was purchasing up a ton of high end homes in Vancouver, Richmond and White Rock, squewing our numbers dramatically.

The facts are in our numbers. In our area, we have 3 types of markets:

  • A Buyer’s Market – over 7 months of inventory (where buyers are favoured with tons of inventory and choice)
  • A Seller’s Market – under 5 months of inventory (Where sellers are favoured with minimal inventory promoting competition among buyers)
  • A Balanced Market –between 5-7 months of inventory (where both buyers and sellers have equal opportunity and prices remain stagnant)

With the latest statistics, we can see there are huge differences in the areas based on what we hear on the news. Look below to find your area and product type to get an accurate idea of what is happening right now.

So what does all this mean? Not a whole lot unless you are planning to get out of the market today. When you are buying or selling, you are getting into the market and likely going to stay in there. Whether you buy high or buy low, sell high or sell low, everyone is riding the same wave of activity you are. At the end of the day, no one has a crystal ball to dictate what may happen tomorrow yet all things tend to come back around regardless of if we are on a high or a low. If you don’t believe me, type “hipster” into Wikipedia and you won’t believe people think that style is back. Believe me, it’s back.


Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  

Real Estate Renting vs Owning

Let’s duke it out for one last time – Renting vs Owning 

It is the debate as old as time and is as entangling as trying to do your own taxes: Is it better to be a renter or own your own home? There are so many sides to the story that everyone’s opinion seems to take over rather than the facts. Renting allows you freedom, freedom to relocate on a moments notice, come and go as you please, minimizes responsibility and can be cheaper. Owning a home is a rewarding experience, you fol-low no ones rules, are in charge of your domain, and have an asset that history has shown will grow in value.

Renting vs. owning has always been a hot topic for the followings reason, each displaying their own fair advice on why. Let’s explore.




I may have missed some here yet what a great start. I can see how the debate can be heated and both sides have a valued argument. Whenever I am approached by someone on the rental side of the fight, there is always one failed piece of information that is never considered. If owning a home is more expensive, more responsibility and more commitment, then why in the world do it? You want to own a home because after years and years of mortgage payments, the payments stop. Imagine 25 years of paying a touch more per month for a home you could easily rent for less… Now imagine year 26 when the payments STOP. What would you do with that money? What would you do with that money if you sold? Owning a home is a long term investment and a forced savings plan, renting is not. For the short period, renting is great yet in the end, you are still just making your payments while your landlord smiles and owns a home.

In the fight against renting versus owning, count this as the knock out punch for the victor, Owning wins again.

Do you know anyone that is currently renting? There are options out there for people with average jobs and income to make home ownership possible.

Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  

The Death of the Low Ball Offer

More often than not optimistic home buyers setting out for their first place are inclined to do as they have been instructed. From advice of parents, grandparents, or other friends or family they follow a rule that was popular years ago when times were much different.

Lowball those sellers. A lowball offer is a mediocre at best attempt to get the property at a price that often defies market trends, area statistics and is sufficiently lower than what a seller has offered their home for sale at. Well times have changed so why is the low ball dead? Here are a few reasons…

  1. We live in the Fraser Valley, a suburb of Metro Vancouver, one of the most attractive cities worldwide to live in. This means there is demand to live in our community. Prices will vary month over month yet unless we are in dire affairs with our real estate market, there is not much sense in a home selling for far under its fair market value because people will pay for fair value.
  2. Sellers are educated. There is an amazing amount of information you can pick up from a real estate professional and even online regarding neighbourhood trends and market prices relating to particular and individual home details.  Sellers tend to have a very good idea about what their home is actually worth.
  3. Some sellers can only go so far. With the decline of many property values after the crash of 2008 many sellers cannot afford to take a large loss on their property. If their equity is cleared out they lose their ability to move into a new home after they lose a chance at a down payment, selling fees or property transfer taxes.
  4. The homes that are desperate to sell are the ones in foreclosure. A suggestion that any family about to go into foreclosure on their property would align with the thought that a sharp asking price would attract a prompt sale.

When you as a buyer decide to lowball a seller, you do one thing. You seriously offend and upset that seller. By doing so you enter into a world of swimming against the current, provoking much emotion and pride to get wrapped up in the negotiations, which only hurts your chances of making a good deal. Now, this is not to say that a low ball will never work again because that is just not true. There are some cases that scream a low offer is a great move, yet the large majority do not. So what is the best way to get a great deal on a home? Put yourself in the seller’s shoes and ask yourself, “What is a fair market value for this home?” Once you figure that number out, try for slightly under that number. If you can save $2000-$5000 on the price of your home versus what the market tells us is under market value, you are winning. You may never hit a homerun in baseball as long as you try, but a good base hit will still help you win the game.



Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  

Legal Mistakes to Avoid When Buying or Selling a House

 The process of buying or selling a house seems to involve a million details.  It is important that you educate yourself on as many parts of this process as you can—this knowledge could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in the long-run.  The legal issues involved in the process are often particularly intricate, ranging from matters of common knowledge to subtle details that might escape the untrained eye.  Any of these issues, if not handled properly, could develop into larger problems.  With so many  legal issues to consider, your first step should be to seek out experienced professionals to help educate you and represent your best legal interests.  Begin with an experienced real estate agent, who can help guide you through the initial hoops.  S/he should also be able to point you in the direction of a reputable local real estate lawyer to assist you in all legal matters involved in the purchase or sale of your house.

While there are countless legal details involved in a real estate transaction, some seem to pose larger problems than others.  We’ve outlined two legal clauses that are commonly misunderstood and may cost you money if not worded correctly.  Handle these carefully and you will be on track to a successful sale or purchase!

Home Inspection Clause

Some real estate transactions have been sabotaged due to the wording of the home inspection clause.  This clause originally allowed that the buyer has the right to withdraw their offer if the home inspection yielded any undesirable results.  However, this allowance was known to backfire, as Buyers took advantage of it, using some non-issue stated in the inspection as an excuse for having changed their minds.  Of course, this was unfair to the Sellers, as they’d poured time and money into what they believed was a sure deal.  Not only might they have missed out on other offers in the interim, but their house might also now be unfairly considered a “problem home.”  Additionally, they’d now have to shoulder the costs of continuing to market the property.  All of this adds up.

In order to remedy this potential problem, the clause should indicate that the seller has the option of repairing any problems the home inspection might point to.  With this slight change in the clause, both buyer and seller are protected.

To ensure this clause is fair from one side of the bargain to the other, work closely with a lawyer experienced in these transactions and all the nuances that may affect the outcome for you.

Survey Clause

It is the right of a home buyer to add a survey clause to the real estate contract on the home they’d like to purchase.  If you are on the selling end of the contract, be aware.  If you have added an addition or a pool to your property since the last survey was produced, your survey will no longer be considered up-to-date and the Buyer may request that a new one be drawn up—the cost of which you will incur.  The price of this process will run anywhere from $700 to $1000.

Your real estate agent has the responsibility to provide you with the most recent survey of your home.  It is then the Buyer’s right to decide if it is acceptable.  An experienced agent should offer you reliable counsel if you encounter an issue with this clause, but it is advisable to talk to your lawyer if you’re unsure at all of the potential ramifications involved.  Remember, the wording of this clause could cost or save you thousands of dollars.


Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  




Investing in Vancouver Real Estate

Vancouver Real Estate is the easiest investment to diversify!

Residential Real Estate as an Investment Vehicle is the best investment option you have in Vancouver!  I’m about to give you the straight talk about investing in Vancouver real estate.

Real Estate is the most talked about topic in Vancouver conversation. It has been for years and will be for years to come. Whether it’s about the mainland Chinese family that out bid 20 local buyers just to bulldoze the house next door up in Dunbar. Or the penthouse listed at 18.2 million that only sold for 7.5 million Downtown. Everyone has an opinion and everyone talks about it, constantly. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The Real Estate run from 2001 to 2008 in Vancouver made a lot of people rich, and lot of people missed the boat. It grew a lot of expectations for some on future growth of the city, and further justified that the big crash is soon coming for others.

The Reason I became a (Re-Sale) Residential Real Estate Agent as opposed to a Commercial Real Estate Agent, or a Stock Broker (what I was thinking about before Real Estate) is because of the reasons I will be speaking about in this short story. These are the same reasons why I tell my friends, family & clients that Residential Real Estate is a much safer investment than the stock market, even with all of the different investment vehicles it offers. This is due to one word that in reality, really sums it all up. The opportunity of “diversification“!

This is a word that I very closely believe in, as in my opinion it is the only tangible safety net in the game of investing. I am more than happy to take on as much risk and usually more than the next guy. When it comes to investing time, energy & money with the goal of creating financial flexibility, and more importantly financial freedom you have to give what ever you are doing 110%. Ask anyone who has it, that didn’t inherit it and they will tell you the exact same thing. Risks need to be made at all levels to try and achieve this ever so popular goal in life. However at the same time we all want to mitigate as much of that risk as possible, and diversification is the only way to do so in my opinion.

The majority of people I talk to believe that there is just one road to the riches if you start with nothing. That road is:

1 – get a job

2 – work hard at it & get a promotion for the raise, or sell more/something bigger to get more commission

3 – save as much money as realistically possible

4 – get your down payment (minimum 5%) and use it to buy your first condo

5 – repeat steps 2 & 3 to save up another down payment

6 – buy your first investment condo & become a landlord

7 – repeat steps 5 & 6 until you die, hopefully giving the next generation of your family (your kids if you have any) a better start than you had.

There is nothing wrong with that plan if that is a road you are satisfied with. In my profession this is the road most commonly believed by my clients as the best way to built financial flexibility or financial freedom.

Cue word of the day, “diversification”.

When this is your chosen road, or anything that has the key features of this road in it (buying Real Estate), you will benefit from the diversification offered to you by investing in that Real Estate. Without further a due, I introduce to you the leverage offered to you with Real Estate diversification:

–       Live in it

–       Renovate it

–       Rent it

That’s it!

Those three little points can weather you through any Real Estate market storm.  Let’s go into a little further detail on the benefits of each:

Live in it – You have to live somewhere. You will either be living in your own home or paying your own mortgage.  You will be living in someone else’s home or investment property, paying their mortgage. An act commonly known as “Renting”.  Or living in your parent’s home taking advantage of what parents believe to be an “opportunity” to save up that down payment to buy your first place. We all know (other than those parents) that this “opportunity” seldom works to the advantage to the children’s down payment savings plan.

Renovate it – The purpose of renovating can be for one of 3 reasons. a) You want to live in a nicer home. b) You want to receive a higher monthly rent, so you renovate enticing potential tenants to pay more. c) You want to sell the property and want it to look nicer & more expensive than when you bought it, to justify the next buyer to spend more than you did, Giving you a capital gain.

Rent it – If you ever needed to lighten your monthly expenses you always have the option of renting our your primary residents. You would then rent a home that would cost you less than your current mortgage does (assuming your have enough money down on the primary residence that the market rental rates for your principal residents covers your monthly costs of ownership). This is key, so you are not subsidizing any costs from your owned property that is now a rental.

These 3 diversification options with Real Estate are the reasons I believe it can be so lucrative.  You have any of these three options at your disposal once you are a property owner.

Most people I talk to just believe that Buying/Selling Real Estate is a two-step process. You Buy it and either live in it or rent it out. They then watch the market and their neighbors sell to see how their “Market Value” fluctuates.  Forgetting one key factor, YOU ONLY MAKE OR LOSE MONEY WHEN YOU SELL! If you have a 5-year exit strategy for the piece of property, it does not matter what it is worth between today and the last day of the 4th year that you own the property. This is because you have not lost or made any money YET as you have not sold YET. Don’t stress along the way, the market will go up & down. This will happen over the years to a certain degree and even seasonally, monthly & daily. This leads me to my next point. There are two ways you can invest in Real Estate. These are more points of view and expectation levels for your investment than anything & are very basic explanations:

1) Investing for a Capital Gains return: This means that you buy something today, wait for capital growth (the market value to rise above the price you paid) then once you feel the property has realized a big enough financial gain (capital gain) you sell and pocket the difference (after expenses).

2) Invest for a Cash Flow return: This means that you buy the Real Estate today and rent it out. You finance the property in a way that your monthly return (rent) exceeds your outgoing monthly costs of ownership (mortgage payments / strata fees / property tax / maintenance etc) giving you positive cash flow monthly.


Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website  for more information. 



Home Buying Mistakes – Part 2

Part 2 of this MSN article on Home Buying Mistakes…


You do all the wrong renovations

It’s a known fact that for most cities in Canada, the addition of a swimming pool will make your property depreciate. They’re considered a major hassle to maintain, and if you have kids, they are a potential death trap.

“A lot of people make bad decisions in renovations. It’s such a basic thing. Get some advice,” says realtor Patricia Houlihan.

She recalls a couple that had a great house in a tony neighbourhood, but they tore out the basement suite, reducing the value of the house by $75,000. “In some areas, you can’t get buyers without a suite,” she says.

Most people shouldn’t trust their own judgement and should seek an outside opinion before taking a sledgehammer to the walls.

“Even if I did a renovation on my own house, I would always ask for a second opinion — and I know what sells and doesn’t sell.”

You sell and wait, and get shut out of the market

So, you hear the market is going to go down. You sell before it does, and decide to sit and wait and then you’ll buy back in. Sounds reasonable, right? But it’s a major gamble.

The mistake you’re making, says mortgage specialist Katherine Martin, is that you’re viewing your home as an investment.

“I look at my home as a place to live. I am raising my family there,” she says. “I don’t care if my house is worth a lot.”

She recalls a client who sold her condo two years ago to buy back in when the market was lower, and she is still renting. The market went higher.

“She has some mental block — she thinks prices are too high, but they aren’t coming down. She’s losing out.”

Your purchase was a rash decision

Artist Pablo Tee says his condo purchase was “the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” He purchased a small Vancouver condo without doing his due diligence because he was in a rush and thought, “What could go wrong?” He paid $124,000, which meant a $900-a-month mortgage, and strata fees of $70 (strata fees — or condo fees — are the monthly maintenance fees collected from each owner, usually calculated according to the Strata Property Act). But when he went away for a year, the fees went up to $290 because the roof needed replacing. “I couldn’t afford it anymore,” he says. Then everything started to fall apart, and he needed out. He sold for $115,000. “I’m probably the only person to lose money on real estate in Vancouver.”

You have a homebuying phobia

Bo Gembarsky had a good job and figured he should buy a condo, so he got approved for a $200,000 mortgage and went on a search. That was 10 years ago. Today, he’s still renting because he just doesn’t trust condo ownership.

“I do regret it because at least the banks and credit unions would take me more seriously, because I would have owned an asset at one point. But now I’m not as strong in terms of their view of me as a consumer, frankly.”

Realtor Patricia Houlihan says she had married doctors as clients who put off buying so long, their kids are now teenagers and they’re still living in a rental. “Get into the market,” she says. “Who cares if it goes down? It always goes up higher than where it was before over time. When you pay rent, you are putting money in the garbage every month.”

You follow your parents’ advice

Times have changed, which means your parents might be out of touch when it comes to the market. Mortgage specialist Katherine Martin sees it all the time — people whose parents advise them to save more than 20 per cent for a down payment. The thinking goes, if your down payment is less than 20 per cent, you’ll have to pay the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insurance premium, which is usually between one per cent and 2.9 per cent of the house price, says Martin. But that doesn’t make sense if the market is climbing so much that you’ll end up paying top dollar for the home just to save on a fee that is built into the mortgage anyway.

“In the time that it takes to save that money, the market is going up and it gets more expensive to buy, or maybe interest rates are going up. Who knows? Don’t wait. If you have money for a down payment, you should buy.”


To view this article click here.  By Kerry Gold, September 26, 2011, Source:

Home Buying Mistakes – Part 1

A real estate purchase is usually the biggest investment in a person’s life. But not every deal proves fruitful. In big cities like Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, where it seems like mere real estate ownership is money in the bank, it can still go seriously wrong.

One of the biggest mistakes is to try to forecast the market, which is what most people try to do, says REALTOR and lawyer Patricia Houlihan. When is the last time you heard someone say the market was going to go down? They say it every day, but truth is, nobody knows.

“My philosophy is never try to buy at the bottom or sell at the peak as you will miss it every time,” says Houlihan.

There are other real estate mistakes, and MSN has compiled a list here — with the help of experts and some of the homeowners who made those blunders.

You bought a lemon

Vancouver-based Debbie Walker thought her lovely Kitsilano condo in with its own private elevator entrance was her dream home. But not long after moving in, “things started to happen.” The patios flooded. Unbelievably, water was flooding from a neighbour’s fireplace into her unit. They discovered the walls of the eight-year-old building were rotted right through. The eight owners had to cough up around $400,000 in repairs. Walker sold her unit as quickly as she could, and ended up breaking even. That was more than a decade ago. “And the owner who lives there now is having the exact same problems.”

Today, we have licensed home inspectors to look for flaws — don’t hesitate to use one, say our panel of experts.

You sold at the wrong time

CBC radio host Bill Richardson says he’s never had a lot of luck in the real estate game, and he’s got a knack for selling at the wrong time. In 1999, he sold a house when the market was down, but he didn’t want to be there any longer and couldn’t wait for the market to bounce back up.

“I sold the house for emotional reasons … and I lost a lot of money,” says Richardson.

“I follow my heart rather than my head, and sometimes it’s not advantageous as far as the pocketbook goes. I’ve also bought houses that were in need of repair knowing full well that was so, but because I’m not handy all I can do is write the cheques. So it becomes a very expensive proposition and absorbing of time.”

More recently, Richardson sold a house he’d purchased 10 years ago for $176,000. Instead of holding out, he accepted the first offer. “I didn’t make nearly as much as somebody sensible would have made,” he says. “I spent as much repairing the house as I did to buy it. I broke even.”

Today, he lives in a rental apartment close to work and says his house-owning days are over.

You believe the bubble will burst

We’ve all heard the refrain — “I’d buy, but the bubble is about to burst.” Or how about that person who gets nervous and sells at the wrong time, believing there is a bubble about to burst? “But who cares about a bubble?” asks realtor Patricia Houlihan. The mistake is when you think it’s a speculative investment.

She cites a couple that thought about purchasing a decade ago, and never did because they bought into the loop thinking that the bubble would burst. If they’d purchased a house they’d had their eye on a decade ago, they would have paid $425,000. Today, that house is worth about $1.5 million, says Houlihan. “House prices more than doubled.” The couple had to move from Vancouver to New Brunswick to buy.


By Kerry Gold, September 26, 2011, Source:

Costs of Buying a Home in BC

Many of our clients, particularly first time buyers, ask us what are the costs associated with buying a home. We thought we’d compile a list of the major costs and share them with you.

1. Mortgage costs
There may be a mortgage application fee at some lending institutions.
If you put less than 20% down for the purchase of the mortgage, you will have to buy mortgage loan insurance from CMHC or a private company. There may not be an application fee charged but a onetime insurance cost added to your mortgage amount. Please refer to your mortgage specialist or broker for more info.

2. Legal/notary fees
Whether you hire a lawyer or a notary to help you with legal representation, costs are approximately $800-1000 to convey title and register a mortage plus taxes. Add another $500-600 if you are selling a property at the same time. The legal fees to only register a mortgage will be in the $400-600 range.

3. Property transfer tax
This tax is payable on the purchase of real estate in BC. The British Columbia Provincial Government imposes a property transfer tax, which must be paid before any home can be legally transferred to a new owner. The amount of tax is 1% of the first $200,000 and 2% on any amount of the purchase price above $200,000. Some buyers may be exempt from this tax, particularly First Time Buyers if:
a) they never owned a principal residence anywhere
b) they are a resident of BC for a minimum 12 months
c) the purchase price is not over $425,000
d) they borrow at least 70% of purchase price

4. HST
If you plan on buying a newly constructed home, you may be subject to HST on the purchase price. There may be some rebates available, contact Canada Revenue Agency for more info

5. Appraisal fee
If a client has 20% or more down into the purchase the lender may require an appraisal. This is done to ensure that a) the lending institution is not over lending on the property and b) to protect the borrower from overpaying. Typically an appraisal costs $200-250.

6. Home inspection
It is a wise investment to have a home inspection done on the property you plan to buy. This is not a requirement but we suggest that all our clients consider this. The inspection evaluates the structure, systems and components of a home and generally costs $300-500.

7. Deposit $
In all purchases a deposit is required on the subject removal date or within 24 hours of subject removal. The amount is generally 5% of the purchase price but negotiable at the time the contract is written. This is your money and is held in trust at your realtor’s office. This forms part of your downpayment.

8. Home insurance/insurance binder
This is a requirement by the bank to ensure that the borrower has arranged sufficient insurance to cover any losses that may be incurred on the purchase. Proof of coverage by way of an insurance binder supplied by the insurance agent is necessary and usually costs $35 (not applicable for a strata property). To be safe, make the insurance effective on the earlier of either the completion date or the date that you pay the balance of the funds in trust.

9. Survey certificate/title insurance
The lending institution may require that a survey certificate be presented to them. The purpose of the survey is to formally establish the boundaries of the property and to ensure that all buildings don’t encroach or cross over property lines. The seller may have a survey but if not, the purchaser will need to order a new survey. Cost is generally $200-300.  An alternative to obtaining a survey certificate is to obtain Title Insurance (approx $200-400).

10. Strata title and fees
If you are buying a strata property (condominium or townhouse), you don’t need a survey certificate but there are a few fees you may have to pay. Two documents that are required to complete a strata purchase are Form B and Form F and fees range from $50-100 each. Your lawyer will order a copy of the Strata Plan to ensure that you are in fact purchasing the strata unit you are intending to (approx $15).  An adjustment for your portion on the monthly strata fees for the month in which your purchase falls. There may be a move-in fee (approx $100-300).

11. Prepaid property taxes or utility bills
You will need to reimburse the sellers for any prepayments, which is typically done during the adjustments with the lawyer or notary at closing. Property taxes for the calendar year are paid at the beginning of July for the full calendar year. If you purchase a property before July 1st, the seller will be paying you for the days they owned a home from January 1st to completion day. You are then responsible for the entire amount to be paid to the municipality on July 1st. If you purchase a property after July 1, you will have to pay the seller for the days you own the property from completion day to December 31. Your lawyer or notary will make this adjustment.

12. Interest adjustment
This is the interest you will pay for receiving your mortgage money before the official start of your mortgage (eg. if your “completion” were on the 23rd of a 30 day month, your interest adjustment would be 8 days interest).

13. Moving fees
If you are budgeting for costs, don’t forget to include moving expenses!

14. Maintenance and utility costs of your new home

Whew! There’s a lot to consider but thought it would be useful to have these costs considered upfront rather than later when you are having difficulty getting the money out of a RRSP, savings account or locked term account. If you have any questions, comments about the buying process and costs or are considering buying a home, contact us.


Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at

The value of an expert and why you need one in real estate

An expert as defined by Wikipedia is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual’s opinion.

If your car is broken, do you send it to a mechanic or your hairdresser? If your refrigerator stops working, do you call in the technician or call you accountant? When you decide to purchase or make available your most valuable asset, your home, do you call a realtor or take advice from your neighbour? Buying and selling a home is best left to an expert.

Everyone seems to have an advanced knowledge of many things, and real estate is no different. Quite often you have someone who has bought and sold a home as many as 5 times in their lifetime, and feel that this warrants an advanced knowledge of the subject. I have baked cookies about 5 times in my life, and that does not make me an expert baker.

A self-proclaimed expert as defined by Urban dictionary is The annoying know-it-all in everyone’s social circle, or quasi-member thereof, who always insists on one-upping the person controlling a current conversation with useless factoids or name-dropping to make himself appear more knowledgeable or superior to the audience in question. Considers himself (herself) the perfect candidate for “Jeopardy.

Now this description is humorous yet also strikes to a point. John Nesbi made famous so many years ago by saying, “We are drowning in information but starving for Knowledge.” With the likes of Google making information readily available to the public within micro seconds, anyone can be a self-proclaimed expert on anything within minutes online. This does not make you an expert based on our Wikipedia understanding.

It is ever so important to have someone that you like and trust when deciding to acquire or dispose of your most valuable asset. The right real estate professional will guide you to the best practises, the ins and outs of the industry, the common pit falls, and most importantly, represent your best assets on your behalf. The right real estate professional will help you get what you want, on your terms, and ensure you are looked after. The process of buying/selling is full of major hazards, legalities, and costly ventures. Trust the professionals and experts to handle the ride as you sit back and enjoy the view. When it comes to taking advice from your neighbour, family, or co-workers, double check their day to day job descriptions and thank them for thinking of your best interest. Smile and kindly remind them, you will take their recommendations to heart, and relay their concerns and advice to the expert, your real estate professional.


Blog post provided by Darin Germyn Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit Darin’s blog at  



A Happy Home for You and Your Dog

Let’s face it…there’s a lot of excitement when buying a home. The idea of more space, summer BBQs in the backyard, new paint colours and new decorating thoughts fill one’s mind. You want a happy home for yourself…but if you have dogs, you also want a happy place for them too!  We’re proud dog owners…our beloved Amber is more than a pet…she’s part of our family. She’s practically a big sister to our little girl, who is almost two years old. We’re very happy where we live, and we made sure we considered our dog in our buying process.  Therefore, with so much going through your mind when buying a place, it would be wise to put yourself into Rover’s shoes, or should we say, paws to consider their feelings about a new home.

Does the home have hardwood floors. In our opinion, a hard-floored surface seems to be great with pet owners. We all know how dogs shed hair, and cleaning up a carpet can be a big hassle. Hardwood or laminate is easy to clean, but it’s important to know that a lot of hardwood surfaces are actually quite soft so susceptible to scratches, including dogs nails. Those nails can dig into the floor and leave some pretty big gashes in the floor, especially if you have an exciteable dog that runs around inside. If you have a dog that has long and/or sharp nails, a laminate floor might be a more suitable option. We’ve found laminate to be more resistant to scratches. If you prefer carpeting, consider the length of the carpet. If it’s a long and shaggy carpet, remember that it will be more difficult to get dog’s hair out, as opposed to a groomed carpet, or something easier to vacuum. If your dog is anything like ours…she loves lying on the soft carpet in front of our fireplace…oh how snuggly!

You should never assume that a house is fully fenced. It’s a good idea to walk around the property and check to make sure all panels of the fence are in place and not about to fall off. We can’t imagine a worse feeling that seeing Rover running down the street due to a missing fence panel. This also includes fencing behind shrubs. While shrubs add privacy to a yard, sometimes there is not fencing behind the trees, making an easy escape for dogs.

Around the neighbourhood:
Obviously, it would be important to know whether dog parks, or parks in general, are within walking distance. Places within walking distance usually mean you (and Rover) get out more. If it involves a car (even a short drive), it’s more easy to put off that trip to the park…poor Rover won’t get to see his friends as often. Also, what kinds of pet services are nearby… Where is the closest animal hospital? How far away is a reputable kennel for those times you travel? Where are you going to get their pet food? Since these may be aspects in our everyday lives, you probably should at least think of this when buying a place.

Pet-friendly complexes:
While it is true that many strata properties (condos or townhomes) have pet restrictions (often limiting the type and/or number of pets), some complexes are “pet-friendlier” than others. Be sure to look around when you’re looking at properties. Do you see large dogs? Are there “no pet” signs? Do you see a lot of people walking with the dogs on a leash? All these are pretty good indicators as to “how pet-friendly” a complex is.

Overall, there are a lot of factors that go into buying a home. While Rover probably doesn’t get the final say, it’s important to consider how your dog will adapt to their new home. As you know, they only want you to be happy, so why not make sure that they’ll be happy too.

Happy trails!



Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at

6 Signs it is time to buy a house – Part 2

Is it the right time for you to buy a house? Learn more about that in this article below in part 2 of this series by Janet Fowler,

4. Low interest rates

When interest rates are low, it’s a great time to look at buying a home. You will be able to get a reasonable interest rate on your mortgage loan, which can save you a lot of money in the long run. A home is generally the single largest purchase anyone makes, and the amount of interest tacked onto a mortgage really adds up over the years that you’re repaying the loan. Even a difference of a fraction of a percentage point can make a pretty big difference over the long term. Consider a mortgage of $220,000. The difference between a rate of 4.2 per cent and 4.5 per cent results in an extra $13,993 paid toward interest over the course of a 30-year mortgage. That’s a lot more than just pocket change.

5. Adequate funds for a down payment

Having a hefty down payment helps in the same way as finding a low interest rate. Ultimately, the less you owe, the less you’ll have to repay and the less you’ll have to tack on for interest. If you find yourself with a nice lump of cash, putting it toward a home purchase is definitely a solid financial investment. Just think, you’ll be building equity in your home which you’ll see again when you sell, and you’ll have somewhere to live in the meantime. Though it may be tempting to put the money toward a trip, a new car or a luxury shopping spree, the return on investment on these sorts of purchases — at least in the strict financial sense — can be rather disappointing.

6. Seasonal

During the springtime, more house listings tend to come on the market. With the poor winter weather over and the kids nearly done school for another year, this seems to be the time when most people are willing to take on a move. Having more homes on the market means a wider selection — and a greater ability to negotiate price. However, this is also the time of year when more buyers are in the market. Circumstances will depend on your particular market conditions, but the arrival of spring typically revives the real estate market after quieter winters. Alternatively, if you’re willing to move during the winter months, sometimes owners of homes that have been sitting on the market for a long time are more willing to negotiate.


To read the full article click here.


6 signs it is time to buy a house – Part 1

Are you ready to buy a home? Find out if it’s the right time for you to enter the real estate market.

If you’ve been considering buying a house but you’re still unsure, consider some of the personal and economic conditions that favour home purchases. If you find that a number of these signs ring true for you, it might be time to contact a real estate agent and start shopping.

1. You’re ready to commit

First and foremost, if you’re not ready to commit to owning a home, you should not buy a house. Home ownership comes with a plethora of responsibilities, including home maintenance, property taxes and the process of selling the property when it comes time to move.

Legal fees, moving expenses, and all of the incidental costs associated with buying a home can really add up. To make the most of these costs, it’s best to plan on living in your new home for a stretch of time. Consider whether you have a stable job that will provide a solid income for a mortgage, and if there’s any chance you’ll have to relocate in the near future. If you feel you can commit to sticking with a home for at least five years, then it might be just the right time for you to buy. If you’re typically a hardened commitment-phobe, remember that you can sell or rent your property if your situation changes dramatically.

2. Owning costs less than renting

If you’ve examined your budget and realized that your monthly payments associated with buying a home are less than you’re currently paying in rent, it’s time to consider a home purchase. Talk to your bank and look at what your mortgage payments would be for a variety of different properties and gauge what you can afford. Factor in any additional costs you may have to pay, such as condominium fees or extra utility bills, and compare your total costs to what you’re paying in rent. If it’s roughly the same or less, you could be saving money by purchasing a home — plus there’s the added benefit that you’ll be putting your monthly home expenditures toward your own home equity!

3. Buyer’s market

When demand for housing is low and there’s a wealth of properties on the market that aren’t moving too fast, that’s known as a buyer’s market. You’ll have a lot more bargaining power under these conditions than if you’re buying in a seller’s market, which is when demand for homes is high, resulting in few properties on the market that are selling fast. In a buyer’s market, chances are you’ll be able to negotiate a seller’s list price down — sometimes quite substantially — and save yourself a lot of money in the process.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series Signs it is time to buy a house by Janet Fowler,

Think green when shopping for a home

Purchasing a home involves making many decisions. How many bedrooms do you need? What neighbourhood do you want to live in? Should it be previously owned, brand new or custom-built?

Here’s one more thing to consider: is the home a “green” home? That is, does it have features that will save energy and water, reduce maintenance costs and waste, offer a healthy indoor environment and have a reduced impact on the earth?

With growing awareness around being green and making the right choices for the environment, it’s not surprising that more and more builders are constructing green homes.

In addition, homeowners are investing in upgrading their homes with green features to make them more energy efficient, comfortable as well as to increase the sales value.

All of this is good news for buyers who are looking for a home with a particular shade of green. Whether you’re looking at a home that is previously owned or one that is new, here are some things to consider:

Insulation: Next to a mortgage, energy costs can be one of the most significant household expenditures. An energy-efficient home conserves energy by reducing heat loss during the winter and heat gains during the summer.

One of the best ways to reduce heat loss and gain is to ensure ceilings, walls and foundations are well-insulated and draft-free. Energy Star windows and doors will also help keep your heating and cooling costs down while improving comfort.

Heating systems: A home with an older model heating system that operates at 65 to 75 per cent efficiency can realize significant cost savings by converting to a new energy efficient model that operates at 85 to 98 per cent efficiency.

Look for heating systems that use high efficiency motors as well to reduce electricity costs.

Water-efficiency: Water is a precious resource. Newer front loading clothes washers can use far less water than older top loaders.

They can save on water heating and clothes drying costs too. Also, ask if the home has low-or dual-flush toilets and low-flow shower and faucet fixtures.

Water use can be further reduced by limiting the amount of water required to maintain lawns and gardens through the use of hardy, indigenous plants, capturing rain water for irrigation and limiting lawn area.

Light fixtures: Energy-efficient lighting is an easy way to reduce your electrical consumption. Look for compact fluorescent lamps, which last up to 10 times longer than regular bulbs and use one-third of the energy.

Durable building materials: When a building material requires frequent repair or replacing, it becomes both an environmental and economic burden.

Durable materials don’t need to be replaced or repaired as frequently and this reduces repair costs as well as the amount of resources consumed to supply the materials and the amount of material taken to landfills.

Look for things like exterior siding that doesn’t need frequent painting, roofing materials built to last for 20 years or more, and moisture-resistant finishes in bathrooms and kitchens.

Indoor Air Quality: Choose materials and finishes that have low odour and low pollutant emissions. A ventilation system that provides fresh outdoor air and deals with moisture and odours can also help maintain a healthy indoor environment.

One way to check the nearby destinations in any neighbourhood you’re considering on your green home hunt, is to visit www.walkscore.comand enter the address of the house you’re looking at.

This tool calculates a walkability score for that address based on its proximity to transit, grocery stores, schools and other amenities.

This is one element of sustainability that can be compared to other neighbourhoods.


Click here to view this article.  By Trevor Gloyn, Postmedia News – The Vancouver Sun.

Buyer Beware: Marijuana Grow Ops

Marijuana grow operations are big money, with expert growers making millions of dollars a year. Setting up an operation in a basement or attic is worth the risk. Many communities target grow-ops by watching for a spike in a home’s energy usage. Grow-ops require enormous energy consumption to keep the greenhouse-type environment going round the clock.

Imagine what that kind of moisture and humidity can do to a home in terms of structural damage and mould growth. W Network’s “Property Brothers” co-host Drew Scott says if you can get the property for $100,000 lower than market price, for example, you might be getting good value. The lasting damage, though, is an image problem. “Even if the city says you’ve rectified the damage, and the house is safe, the stigma that comes with a grow-op is always there. That scares away the majority of buyers.” And if it was a crystal meth lab, forget it, says REALTOR® Kevin Neufeld. “The carcinogens from those chemicals get absorbed into the walls.


Source: by Kerry Gold, Home Buyers Guide

Steps To Buying A Home For The First Time

Buying a First Home can be a very stressful & scary time for most Canadians. This article will be outlining the step-by-step First Time Home Buying process I work through with my clients.

As a Real Estate Specialist my goal is to provide First Time Home Buyers with the most qualified information possible. I enable you to purchase with ease and have full understanding of the process you have to go through by shining a light on every aspect of the deal. I do this so you expect the next step of the process and are not surprised by it.

Through positive feedback I have found this step-by-step outline to be very beneficial to First Time Home Buyers. This is an outline that is looked at as the “Buyers (things to do) Checklist” from the beginning to the end of the process. I have outlined these tasks in this order so each mandatory step is completed before the next. It is a process of elimination with the goal of turning the First Time Home Buyer into a successful First Time Home Owner!

1) Getting Ready

  • Review Purchasing Costs
  • Property Transfer Tax (1% of the 1st $200K & 2% on the balance)
  • G.S.T / H.S.T (only on new property)
  • Legal Fees (Notary Public / Lawyer)
  • Home Inspection (if applicable)
  • High Ratio Mortgage Premium (only if borrowing over 80% of the purchase price)
  • Deposit (minimum 5% & forms part of the purchase price)
  • Review First Time Buyer Savings
  • R.R.S.P tax free withdraw (up to 25K per person)
  • Property Transfer Tax Rebate (No P.T.T under $425K)

2) Get Set

  • Define your Search Criteria
  • Needs Vs. Wants analysis
  • Neighborhood analysis (likes & dislikes)
  • Become an expert
  • Determine what your budget will get you in your neighborhood of choice
  • View property details from listings in your neighborhood of choice
  • Tour open houses of qualified homes
  • Through process of elimination determine what home(s) interest you the most

3) Go

  • Make an offer
  • Draft Contract of Purchase & Sale
  • Determine Price, Possession date & Completion Date
  • Determine Subjects (usual subjects: Inspection, Financing & Strata Paperwork)
  • Submit Offer (with Expiry time and date)
  • Sellers Options (Accept, Counter or let expire)
  • Once offer is accepted
  • Work through & remove all Subjects
  • Place deposit check into the Trust Account of your Realtors Brokerage (Bank Draft)

4) Congratulations

  • Select Notary Public / Lawyer
  • Prepare for the move

This First Time Home Buying outline will be altered slightly depending on the product being purchased (House or Condo). However the basic outline that you see above is the foundation of the home search needed to get you “the buyer” into the home that works best for your needs.


Blog post provided by Jay McInnes Personal Real Estate Corporation, a REALTOR® with Macdonald Realty in Downtown Vancouver.  Visit his website  for more information. 


All About Duplexes

I’ve had the recent experience of assisting clients buy a full duplex as a place to live in. They are two families who wish to share one mortgage, thus finding a large enough home that was equal for both parties limited our search to full duplexes. A full duplex is when both sides of the duplex share one title. Going through the process was different than buying a single detached house in so many ways, so it made sense to share our knowledge for anyone considering this option.

When shopping for a duplex, be prepared to be patient. Since duplexes are an old style of building, they are fewer of them available for re-sale. With the building boom of the last 15 years, many duplexes have been torn down because of the large land that they occupy. New style homes, such as the two-storey with basements have often replaced them, thus reducing the inventory of duplexes on the market. Furthermore, in an economy with much uncertainty, duplexes are fairly easy positive cash-flow generators, so once an owner has a duplex, they hold onto them.

Then, when a new duplex listing pops up on the MLS, getting into a duplex is not easy, either. Since duplexes are often converted (legally or not) into a fourplex, 24 hours notice to get access is usually necessary. In fact, it is not uncommon to have to give 48 hours notice to get access.  Listing agents, or the sellers, have to track down all tenants to give legal notice. Getting into all sides of a duplex is so important because of the quality differences from each unit. Sometimes owners will renovate one unit when a tenant moves out, but leave other units alone as long as there is a tenant. So while the layout might be the same from one side to another, the quality can be drastically different. Finally, don’t be surprised that when you go to see it, there will be other potential buyers there at the same time. Since getting access can be difficult, a listing agent will try and get as many buyers through at one time. So be aware, as this can also create an urgency in the buyer writing an offer (when they see other buyers).

Not only do you have to be patient when shopping for a duplex, you have to keep a careful eye on the quality of the duplex, too. It’s likely that the seller’s of a duplex are probably investors and don’t live in one of the units. Since they are investors, they often don’t treat the duplex with the same kind of care that they provide their own home. In many investors minds, as long as they get the rent cheque, that’s all they are concerned with. Now to be fair, many tenants simply don’t report problems with the place, either. But since most duplexes are older buildings, often built back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, they are showing their age. If owners have never lived there, it is easy to see how repairs can get overlooked. That’s why it’s even more important to have a thorough home inspection done on a duplex. Getting access to the attic, and the roof is of particular importance.

Many duplexes in the Fraser Valley seem to be located close to the city centres. So many also have redevelopment potential. But the word “potential” must be noted. Listing agents will tell you how prime the land is, but buyer’s agents must do their research to find out the long-term plan for the region.  Furthermore, with regards to zoning regulations, careful attention must be made to determine whether the duplex is conforming or non-conforming. A non-conforming duplex means that if the duplex was destroyed for any reason (ie-fire, or to rebuild), the city’s zoning laws would not allow it to be a duplex again. I think you’d agree that’s an important fact you’d want to discover before you buy it! Other zoning challenges when it comes to duplexes is to find out other restrictions of the land. Some duplexes are zoned as multi-family, and others are zoned as residential duplex…each with the own allowances for number of units, size of building square footage, etc. Do not buy a duplex without careful inspection of the city’s bylaws.

In the end, my experience with buyers of a duplex has been an exciting one. We’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. My clients exercised patience and kept a reasonable head to ensure they found the right fit for them. But be forewarned, it is a completely different ball game than buying a single detached house. So be prepared!


Blog post provided by Greg & Liz Holmes, a REALTOR® Team with Macdonald Realty in South Surrey / White Rock.   Visit The Holmes Team blog at