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How Your Credit Score Affects How Much House You'll Be Able To Buy...


 

credit score

 

Your credit score is now the most important factor in determining how much house you can buy, so if you are in the market for a new home, you need to understand how it affects you.

To make it easy for mortgage companies to determine the risk of lending to you, they are using a system called credit scoring (also called "FICO" scores).

When lenders look at your credit report, they can instantly see how much debt you have, how reliable you are with bill payments, and if you've had any credit problems within the last several years.

With your credit report, lenders get a "credit score" which takes all of this information and boils it down to a number. The higher the number, the less of a credit risk you are seen to be, and this is how lenders decide which types of loans you will be eligible for.

To be eligible for some types of loans, you require a minimum credit score without any exceptions. And credit scores fluctuate over time. In fact, the mere act of applying for credit can lower your credit score.

To maximize your credit score, you should avoid applying for any new credit cards or consumer loans.

Don't go to a big box retailer and take them up on the "No interest, no payments for one year" offer.

Avoid financing a new or used automobile. If possible pay down or pay off existing automobile loans and lines of credit prior to applying for a mortgage loan

That's why it's best to wait until after you've bought your home and moved in to go shopping for furniture and appliances. Buying things on credit prior to home purchase has the potential to hurt your credit score.

By understanding how lending institutions work, you can get the best credit score possible, which improves the odds that you can get the home of your dreams.



Property Taxes 101


 

property taxes

 

Home owners received their annual property tax notice in June. Property taxes are due the first or second business day in July, depending on the municipality.

 

No tax notice?

Property owners who didn’t receive a tax notice should contact their municipal finance department to get a duplicate notice. It’s the property owner’s responsibility to ensure a municipality has the correct mailing address.

New property owners who didn’t receive a tax notice, or received a tax notice with the previous owners’ name(s) on it, should:

  • contact the BC Land Title and Survey Authority at 604-630-9630 for a Certificate of Title to prove ownership; and 
  • complete the Home Owner Grant application.

Property taxes must be paid and the Home Owner Grant claimed by the due date to avoid late penalties.

 

Reduce your taxes with the Home Owner Grant

The BC Home Owner Grant Program helps reduce residential property taxes for Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who are permanent residents and whose home is their principal residence.

Seven types of grants

1.  Basic Home Owner Grant – up to $570 for qualifying home owners. For 2017, the grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed or partitioned value over $1.6 million. It’s eliminated on homes assessed at $1.714 million in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Capital regional districts, and $1.754 million in a northern or rural area.

2.  Home Owner Grant for Seniors – an additional grant up to $275 for qualifying home owners age 65+. The total basic and additional grant amounts add up to $845 (or $1,045 in northern and rural areas). The grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1.6 million and eliminated on properties assessed at over $1.769 million ($1.809 million in northern and rural areas).

If any additional grant amount has been reduced or eliminated due to the $1.6 million threshold, property owners may be eligible for the low income grant supplement. Apply for the home owner grant and the low income grant supplement separately.

3.  Home Owner Grant for Veterans – most veterans can apply for the home owner grant as a person under 65, a senior or a person with a disability. Veterans with an adjusted net income of $32,000 or less may qualify for the low income grant supplement. A surviving spouse of a veteran may qualify for a low-income grant supplement.

4.  Home Owner Grant for People with Disabilities – home owners who are disabled or have a disabled spouse or relative living with them in a principal residence may qualify for this grant.

5.  Grant for deceased home owner – a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, brother, sister of the estate of a property owner whose death occurred in the current year and who would have qualified for the home owner grant, can apply to receive the home owner grant for a property that is still registered in the name of a deceased owner or in the name of the executor or administrator of their estate, if you meet the qualification requirements.

6.  Multiple Home Owner Grant – multiple Home Owner Grants can be claimed by the owner on eligible buildings or land. Eligible buildings must be one of the following:

    • a housing co-operative building;
    • a housing corporation building;
    • a housing society building; or
    • a provincially designated apartment building.

Eligible land must be a land co-operative or a multi-dwelling leased parcel. The owner of an eligible building, land co-operative, or multi-dwelling leased parcel must pass on the benefit of the grant to each eligible occupant.

7.  Retroactive Home Owner Grant – For qualifying home owners, a retroactive grant may be approved for the previous year only. Home owners must:

  • apply in writing for an extension on or after January 1 and before December 31 in the year following the year the owner didn’t apply for the grant; and
  • complete an application form with documentation supporting residency and providing reasons for missing the deadline.

The municipal tax collector, or in rural areas the Surveyor of Taxes, will forward the application to the Home Owner Grant Administration Office. If approved the Home Owner Grant  Administration Office will pay the grant.

Claim the Home Owner Grant

Property owners eligible for the Home Owner Grant must:

  • complete the application on the bottom of the property tax notice or online through the municipality’s Electronic Home Owner Grant (eHOG) service (where available).
  • sign it; and
  • return it to the local municipality by the close of business on the tax payment deadline day.

If a property owner doesn’t claim the Home Owner Grant or incorrectly completes the application or fails to claim the grant, the owner will pay a penalty, typically 5%, on the outstanding property tax balance. If there’s still a balance owing on January 1 of 2018, daily interest may also be charged.

 

How to pay property taxes

Check the due date on your tax notice, complete the Home Owner Grant application, and then pay by:

  • mail (must be received by the due date);
  • at a financial institution;
  • at city hall in person or use the city hall drop box;
  • through a mortgage (check with your lender)
  • by installments through the municipality;
  • online at www.epost.ca (for municipalities subscribing to this service); or
  • by using the municipality’s own online payment system, if one is available.

Each municipality may have several ways to pay. Check with the property tax department to determine which is the most convenient for you. Make sure to understand the terms and conditions for each method.

No credit card payments

Municipalities don’t take credit card payments for property tax and utility payments due to significant service charges from credit card companies.

 

Deferring taxes

Property owners may be eligible to defer taxes under the BC Property Tax Deferment Program, a low-interest loan program that lets qualifying property owners defer part, or all, of their property taxes on their principal residence.

There are two programs:

1.  Regular deferment for property owners age 55 and older, surviving spouses, or persons with a disability.

2.  Families with children deferment program.

A home owner with a mortgage can defer property taxes but must maintain a minimum of 25% equity in the property. All charges registered against the property (outstanding mortgage, credit lines) plus the deferred property tax can't amount to more than 75% of the assessed value.

The property owner must have current fire insurance on the home and all other buildings, otherwise equity will be based on the assessed value of the land only.

The Province will not accept deferment applications for properties on leased land. Visit the BC Ministry of Finance website for details.



Buying a Strata Property


 

buying a strata property

When buying either a Condo or Townhouse take the time to understand the basics and the rules governing the many aspects of strata properties. Here are a few things to consider.

Be sure to review the Strata Property Disclosure Statement, the maintenance program, the contingency fund, the warranty program, and any other important documents relating to the purchase.

Review strata council minutes

Look at minutes for the past 24 months along with by-laws, financial statements, Annual General Meeting minutes, and engineering reports that may have been completed. Look for past problems, previous repairs, special assessments, and upcoming expenditures.

Depreciation reports

Strata corporations are required to obtain strata depreciation reports every three years unless they hold an annual 3/4 (three quarter) vote to exempt, or there are four, or fewer, strata lots.

A depreciation report helps strata corporations plan for the repair, maintenance and replacement of common property, limited common property and common assets.

The report must contain: 
 •   A physical inventory of the common property and assets. 
 •   Anticipated maintenance, repair and replacement costs for common expenses projected over 30 years. 
 •   A financial forecasting section with at least three cash flow funding models.

Depreciation reports helps strata corporations, including bare-land stratas, plan for the repair, maintenance and replacement of common property, limited common property and common assets over a 30-year period.
 
Depreciation reports provide useful information to strata lot owners, prospective purchasers, mortgage providers and insurance companies.

Ensure a maintenance program

Does the Strata you are considering have a solid preventative maintenance program in place?

Check the contingency fund

Since a portion of strata owners’ monthly maintenance fees must go into a 'contingency fund' to pay for extraordinary repairs, such as a new roof or exterior painting, it pays to know if the contingency fund is large enough to cover any upcoming expenses.

Review the Strata Property Condition Disclosure Statement

Completed by the Sellers this a checklist about the property's condition. You should carefully review it for any defects or potential problems. The statement can be legally incorporated into the Contract for Purchase and Sale.

Investigate the warranty program and builder’s background

Regardless of whether the condo is new or resale find out what type of warranty the building carries, noting the limits and duration of coverage.

Hire a professional home inspector

Make sure the home inspector has proper accreditation and carries errors and omissions insurance. Have them inspect the condition of the suite, common areas, and the overall building structure.

We specialize in Condo and Townhouse sales, give us a call.            

 



Suggestions for a smooth moving process


 

moving boxes a

 

6-8 Weeks Before “Move-Out Day”

  • Create a “move information” file; store important information checklist, and receipts for moving-related expenses.
  • Contact your insurance agent to transfer property, fire, and auto insurance.
  • Organize dental & medical records; be sure to include prescriptions, eyeglass specifications & vaccination records.
  • Wills, stock certificates & other one-of-a-kind items (jewelry, photos, home videos) are difficult or impossible to replace. Plan to carry them with you instead of packing them.
  • Research childcare options in your new location. Arrange for transfer of school records for yourself or children.

4-6 Weeks Before “Move-Out Day”

  • Take an objective look at what you own, and decide what must go and what can be sold, donated to charity, or otherwise disposed of it before your move.
  • Get your mail moving. Canada Post has change-of-address cards to help you with this task. Don’t forget to give forwarding address to your employer, lawyer, accountant, etc.
  • Since you will want to have your utilities (electric, gas, phone, etc.) still connected on moving day, arrange to have them disconnected from your present home on completion day.

3 Weeks Before “Move-Out Day”

  • Start packing, remembering to label your boxes. Set aside items you’ll need immediately after you move (medicines, change of clothes, toiletries, etc.)
  • While you are sorting through your belongings, remember to return library books and anything else you have borrowed. Also remember to collect all items that are being cleaned, stored or repaired.

2 Weeks Before “Move-Out Day”

  • Clean and clear your home including closets, basements and attics.
  • Properly dispose of flammables and dangerous household items such as cleaning fluids and garden weed killers.
  • Drain all the oil and gasoline from your lawn mower and power tools to ensure safe transportation.
  • Plan meals that will use up the food in your freezer.
  • Call your bank to find out how to update the address for your bank accounts. Don’t forget to clear out your safety deposit boxes if your moving out of area.

1 Week Before “Move-Out Day”

  • Start cleaning your current premises. Empty, defrost, and clean your refrigerator and freezer, and clean your stove, all at least 24 hours before moving.
  • Back up your computer files before dissembling and packing your system.
  • Prepare a “Trip Kit” for moving day, containing the things you’ll need while your belongings are in transit.

“Move-Out Day”

  • Stay in your home until the last item is packed.
  • Do a final walk-through of your old residence, check closets, drawers, lights, lock all doors & windows.
  • Clean premises one final time.
  • Return keys to your landlord or your Realtor.


Preparing Your Home For Sale


 

selling your home b

 

Are you thinking of selling your home? If you’re one of the many homeowners who choose this time of year to move — whether you’re trading up or down, or relocating — you’re probably starting to prepare your home for the sale.

Before you become overwhelmed by the task, it’s a good idea to sit down and look at your home objectively. An attractive, well-kept home generally has a better chance of selling a little faster. When selling your home, the saying “first impressions are lasting ones” is very true.

Curb Appeal

An inviting exterior ensures that potential buyers will have a great first impression so it’s important to keep your lawn and hedges trimmed and edged, the flower beds cultivated, and your yard free and clear of clutter. 

Missing shingles or damaged eavestroughs should be replaced. If you have aluminum or vinyl siding or trim that’s quite dirty, hire someone to clean it with a power washer.

If you have a garage, make sure the door is clean and in good working order. Make sure the inside of your garage doesn’t look too cluttered or unorganized. Keep patios, walkways and decks clear.

Insider Tips

You can do a lot on the inside of your home as well without spending a great deal of money. Two primary areas to keep in mind are the kitchen and bathroom. These two rooms of your home are generally of prime interest to potential buyers. Make sure they are tidy and clean. Scrub sinks, toilets and bathtubs. This applies to kitchen appliances as well, clean them until they shine.

If you have laminate or hardwood flooring ensure that it shines and is dust free. Make sure tile entrance floors look clean and bright. If you have carpet in your home you may want to rent a steam cleaner, or hire a professional carpet cleaner. If you are a pet owner keep in mind that pet odours become trapped in carpeting and furniture and this can deter prospective buyers.

Give your home a thorough cleaning, get to those easy-to-miss spots that need a good cleaning. Wash down the walls, windows and woodwork. Clean out the cupboards and under the sink, dust the tops of baseboards and wash or dust all window coverings.

Show Your Homes Potential

Keep in mind that rooms that have too much furniture will give the impression that they’re much smaller than their true size. Create a feeling of spaciousness by removing bulky or unused furniture and making the best use of your space.

When you go through spare rooms and cupboards and find items you haven’t used that items in a while, and if you’re not likely to in the next few weeks, pack them away. 

Take clothes that are not in season out of your closets and make sure that potential Buyers can see that there is lots of room for them to put their own clothing. 

You can get a head start on moving by cleaning off bookshelves, mantles and flat surfaces of items that make a room seem busy. A few more things you could consider to clear away are toys, extra bedding and unused sports equipment. 

Pack up what you no longer need and donate it to charity or give it to friends or family members who may have a use for it. Why move those items to your new home? 

Consider renting a storage locker or using a family members basement to store your extra items while your home is up for sale.

Some Final Thoughts

If you haven’t made substantial improvement or changes over the years, it’s not a good idea to take on major renovation projects simply to sell your home. This can be an expensive and lengthy procedure and there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to recover all of your costs. Instead, try to determine what types of minor cosmetic improvements can be made, like general cleaning and painting. These projects generally don’t require a lot of capital and your home can be greatly improved by them.


Give us a call and we will give you a no obligation consultation to see what types of improvements make the most sense to assist you in getting the best price for your home. We can be reached at 604-240-8302

 



House-hunting Suggestions


house hunting suggestions a

If you’re thinking of purchasing a home, you’ve probably already started looking. You may have seen quite a few homes and the details are starting to become somewhat hazy and jumbled.

Do you remember which one had the ensuite bath and which one had an unfinished basement? How much storage space did the first choice on your list have? And what about property taxes and maintenance costs associated with each home? Can you remember how close the home was to local amenities like stores, schools, parks and the transit? Which one had the landscaping you liked best?

Compiling a house-hunting checklist, as you go through the homes is an excellent way of keeping track of features and drawbacks of each home. Every home buyer has different needs and your checklist should reflect the things in a home that are important to you.

Here are a few considerations when looking for your ideal home.

What is your impression of the exterior of the home, the lot size and shape, position of the house on the lot (facing north or south, east or west). Does it have, a detached garage and does it accommodate one or two cars? What condition is the landscaping? What type of siding does the home have and what kind of shape is it in? Have a good look at the roof and note its general condition and age. Does the home have a basement? Is there a mortgage helper? Is the suite legal? Have there been any renovations to the home? Were the renovations done with a permit?

How do you feel about the layout and room sizes. Is it adequate for your needs? How about window sizes. Does it have enough windows to give lots of natural light while maintaining your privacy? What type of flooring does it have and what is the condition of it. What is the condition of the paint and the window coverings?

The kitchen is an essential part of any home, so note its general size and whether it has adequate cabinet space. Is there a pantry or food preparation island? What condition are the countertops and sink in? What condition are the fridge, stove and dishwasher? Is the stove gas or electric and is the oven self-cleaning?

What size is the living room and how would your furniture fit? Is a fireplace important to you? Does it have a separate dining room? Is there a family room? Make note of the number and size of bathrooms and the condition of the fixtures. What about the master bedroom. Will your furniture fit? Is there an ensuite? Is there enough closet space? Are the other bedrooms in the home large enough?

Finding the right home is more than price and location. It is where you will be living, spending time with family and friends and becoming a part of your community. Making the right choice for yourself is important. We are experience Realtors and can help you find that ideal home based on your personal needs. Give us a call and we will help you find the right home.

 

 

 



Can I afford to buy?


can i afford to buy

Many people would like to start building equity in their own home, but are held back by concerns about cost. Media reports of housing prices can give a misleading impression about the cost of home-ownership. The media typically reports median or average prices without explaining the distribution of home prices behind those figures.

A median price is the price at which half the homes sold for more while half sold for less. That means that there are just as many homes that sold at a price lower than the median than those that sold at prices higher than the median price. The median price doesn’t give any indication of the spread of these prices. Many properties are sold at much lower – and higher, of course – prices than the median price.

An average price is the total dollar volume of homes sold for a particular period, divided by the number of units sold. Average prices are typically reported for the sales activity in a given area for a given month, quarter or year, and provide a snapshot of past activity. Average prices of properties sold in the past give only a limited indication of what housing inventory for sale is priced at today. An understanding of the housing in a particular community is needed to put average prices into perspective. For example, sales of a new sub-division or townhouse project of larger, upscale homes at higher prices will bring the overall average price up, giving the impression that all housing prices have risen, when in reality, prices for the other housing units in the community have not changed, or they may have even dropped.

A housing price index (HPI) tracks the price of a typical, or benchmark property. HPI statistics can often provide a new depth of interpretation to average and median statistics.

Low mortgage rates combined with affordability, location and selection have made Burnaby increasingly popular for buyers. We are experienced Burnaby Realtors® and know the community. If you are interested in buying can provide a knowledgeable market analysis and show you what is available within your budget.