If you're in the market for a house, first of all, congrats! Buying a home is one of the most rewarding — albeit at times exasperating — things you'll do in your life. By the time you're ready to buy, you likely have a sufficient grasp on the basic necessities: a solid foundation, a roof that doesn't leak, wiring that won't cause your new home to spontaneously combust, and so on. But what about the other stuff you should be mindful of? You know, the considerations not covered during your home inspection?
These more personal assessments may not be as "dear-god-get-me-out-of-here" detrimental as a crumbling foundation, but they could likewise affect your quality of life for the foreseeable future. So here are a few things to watch for, as well as the ones you shouldn't sweat.
3 Things to Pay Attention To:
1. The amount of natural light
Unless you're particularly partial to living like a cave-dweller, you want your home to have ample natural light. Besides making everything inside look better, it just makes you feel better. Yet this is often glossed over by some buyers during the house hunt. If you have your sights set on a house, schedule viewings at different times of the day to get an accurate picture of the natural light situation.
If you need secondary motivation outside of how beautiful natural light is, consider this: The amount of natural light in your home could indicate bigger (read: more costly) issues. Too little and you may have to add or modify existing windows, which could run upwards of $15,000.
2. The driveway and parking situation
You may be thinking, "Really? The driveway?" To which the answer is, "Yes. Really, really." The dimensions of your driveway could very well determine how quickly your new-home infatuation fades. It may seem silly in the grand scheme of things, but consider your parking spot like an extended part of your entryway. If the drive is too narrow, you'll spend countless hours playing musical cars to squeeze vehicles in. Alternately, if it's too long and you live in an area prone to snowdrifts, you may never want to leave home during the winter months. Street parking may seem like a viable option, but some cities have strict regulations regarding visitors and even overnight parking. Be sure to ask!
3. The neighbourhood
This is the epicenter of the house hunt for many people for one readily apparent reason: You want to like the area where you live. But there are a few less obvious things to consider before you hit the local coffee shop in preparation for your first early Saturday open house. Are there ample sidewalks in case you want to take a leisurely stroll or go for a bike ride? Is it in close proximity to public transportation? If you have kids, there's little doubt you looked into the local school district. Even if you don't, though, keep in mind a better school district equals a better resale value. And, finally, read any HOA documents before you sign on the dotted line. It will be tedious beyond belief, but doing so will alert you to restrictions, bylaws, and other issues that could be unwelcome surprises down the road.
3 Things to Ignore
1. The seller's style
Don't let that Day-Glo paint in the kitchen be a deal breaker. For that matter, don't let any paint color put you off of a home you like. You can always repaint and, let's be honest, what first time home-buyer doesn't want to hand-pick their own hues anyway? Similarly, if the seller's fuzzy toilet seat cover stresses you out, don't worry — they'll take it with them when they go. It can be hard to envision your stuff in a home that currently clashes with your personal style, but try to remember decor is easily changed and offers you the opportunity to tailor things to your own tastes.
Hey, life is busy, you know? Sometimes a seller just can't find the time to pack up the plethora of tchotchkes littering their living room before a showing. Cut 'em some slack (selling is just as stressful as buying) and think outside the box. Just bring a tape measure to make sure there actually is enough room for your belongings and focus on the condition of the house as opposed to its clutter.
3. Unsolicited opinions
You'll soon find that everyone and their brother has an opinion about your potential new home, from the color of its exterior to the quality of the finishes inside. If you feel as though a particular piece of unsolicited advice may be helpful, by all means cull that wisdom. Fortunately, though, you can simply ignore anything else. You're the one who'll be living there and paying the mortgage. Ultimately, the only person you need to please when you pick your house is you.
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Latest numbers from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) revealed that B.C.’s southwestern region has experienced significant home price growth in February, indicating a possible companion to the red-hot Vancouver market in the near future. Last week, the Board revealed that the benchmark price for a single-family property in the Valley increased by 20.4 per cent year-over-year and 0.4 per cent compared to January, hitting $859,300.
“This is the kind of February we like to see. Last year at this time, the incredible demand created a market that was difficult for consumers,”
according to FVREB president Gopal Sahota, as quoted by CBC News.
“Now, we have sales moving upward from the winter months at a typical, healthy pace and a growing inventory to support it,” Sahota stated, adding that the numbers are so far showing a “return to normal historical sales numbers.” Apartment prices also rose sharply by 26 per cent compared to February 2016 and 1.8 per cent month-over-month, up to $267,000. Meanwhile, average townhome costs grew by 25 per cent year-over-year and 0.5 per cent since January, reaching $422,400. Recently, Finance Minister Bill Morneau assured that the federal government is still closely monitoring the Canadian housing market, amid seemingly inexorable price growth in Vancouver and Toronto.
“We continue to be very focused on thinking about how we can manage what is peoples’ most significant investment. And we do watch the level of indebtedness, in particular around housing,” Morneau stated, adding that “strong underlying markets” continue to drive the two cities’ outsized performance. “So in Toronto and Vancouver, unemployment is lower in those two places than it is in some other places. Incomes are higher. The economy is doing better. So there are underlying reasons for the housing markets to do better and we’ll continue to monitor, to work with provinces and municipalities who have an important role to play here to manage what we see [as] a challenge, but not one that isn’t manageable.”
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., has updated its free guide to the process of buying a home, with an emphasis on encouraging Canadians to think long term about what kind of home they should buy — or whether they would be better off renting.
The national housing agency first released the guide, called Homebuying Step by Step, in 1998, but has updated it over the years. The latest version streamlines the document, splitting off workbook content and making it available online as a series of interactive printable checklists and questionnaires.
The previous iteration of the guide received almost eight million unique page views in 2016 alone, according to CMHC.
The guide is meant for any prospective homebuyer, but first-time buyers could particularly benefit from reading it, said Ina Wielinga, a consultant at CMHC who updated the guide. She said the new version puts a greater focus on calculating the true cost of owning a home over time, emphasizing costs like taxes, utilities and repairs.
"This used to be peppered through the document, but we're bringing it up front because people often get focused on acquisition," said Wielinga.
The new guide also encourages readers to reflect on what kind of home suits their lifestyle, and whether or not homeownership is a better financial choice than renting.
"It's not just buying that house that's brick and mortar," said Wielinga. "There's a lifestyle that goes with it also."
By asking would-be homeowners to consider how a home will fit into their lives over the long term, Wielinga said, the guide could help users feel more confident about their purchase.
Key concepts to consider
The most confusing concept in the guide is also one of the most important ideas to understand before buying a home, according to Wielinga: calculating your gross debt service ratio (also known as the gross debt-to-income ratio) and total debt service ratio (also known as the total debt-to-income ratio).
Click on image below for your copy:
The CMHC guide for homebuyers is available for free online. (CMHC)
The gross debt service ratio includes total monthly housing costs, which CMHC says should be no more than 32 per cent of average gross monthly income. The total debt service ratio covers all monthly debt payments, including housing costs. CMHC recommends that ratio not exceed 40 per cent of average gross monthly income.
"You have to understand that, even if you're the best person in the world and you know you can afford it, you have to follow that kind of guideline," said Wielinga.
Financial axioms like these are often left unexplained to potential homebuyers, said Wielinga.
"Honestly, it's not talked about enough," she said. "I think when we do explain it to people, then they do get it."
The rules for Canadian homebuyers have been changing quickly, especially as the government tries different policies to mitigate risk in the real estate market.
For that reason, the guide avoids getting into the details of certain aspects of homebuying, like calculating mortgage loan insurance. Instead, it refers readers to the CMHC website, where the details of mortgage rules can be quickly updated as the government changes them.
Lauren Haw, CEO of an online real estate brokerage, lauded CMHC for its interactive workbook for prospective homebuyers, although she's skeptical that many people will actually take the time to sit down and read the guide in full.
"People like to have it and hold it, but most first-time homebuyers don't seem to ingest the information in this format very well," said Haw. "Because even if you give them these documents, very few people are the personality type that will read it and really truly understand it."
Haw said real estate brokers often end up explaining these concepts to their clients as they go through the buying process.
"If everybody would sit down and read one of these things, I think we'd have much more informed buyers," she said.
It turns out homebuyers are really into barn doors.
When Zillow looked at design features that sell homes at the best price and with the shortest listing time, that feature topped the list.
Anything craftsman-style, like rectangular farmhouse sinks, also got homes off the market at a premium.
Zillow Digs screened over 2 million listings for homes sold between January 2014 and March 2016 and looked for the keywords that had the best effect on how much more than the expected price and how much faster they sold.
Here are the top 15 design features:
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 3.7%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 19
Tankless water heater
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 43
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Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 46
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.1%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.2%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 42
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.3%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 28
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 38
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 48
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 4.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 36
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 5.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 14
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.0%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 50
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 6.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 63
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 7.9%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 58
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 9.6%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 45
Percent of homes that sell for above expected values: 13.4%
How many days faster than expected the home sells: 57
Renting out property to get easier as CMHC changes rules
by Steve Randall28 Jul 2015
The rules around the income from rental units considered in home loan applications submitted to the CMHC are changing. The agency announced Monday that, from September 28, it will allow 100 per cent of the rental income from a unit to be considered for new loan applications submitted to it for mortgage insurance.
That means that a secondary rentals suite’s income, minus costs including property taxes, will boost the size of the loan that buyers can secure. Qualifying units must have sustainable income, proven by two years of rental rent payments. These payments will be averaged to assess the unit’s income. Applicants will also need a credit rating of at least 680. Properties with more than a single rental unit will have slightly different rules and this change is most positive for homeowners with one rental unit.
Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk Matt Lee
It appears the province has no plans to slow down the growth happening in some Surrey neighbourhoods.
It comes even after school trustees passed a unanimous motion on Thursday calling for a halt in development.
The motion tabled by Laurae McNally suggested provincial funding for new schools isn’t keeping up with the pace of population growth in the fastest growing city in the province.
That’s why they called on the city to halt the development happening in the Clayton, Grandview/South Surrey, and Newton areas.
But education minister Mike Bernier is singing a different tune.
In a statement to CKNW, Bernier says he understands the challenges facing the school district, but hints at major projects already being underway with more slated to come.
He says as the city moves forward, Surrey and other districts experiencing similar growth will be a priority for future capital investments.
I understand the challenges Surrey has and I’ve discussed them with the board when we met a few months ago. My Ministry is working closely with the Surrey district to find ways to deal with the intense pressures from growth. As we move forward, Surrey and other districts experiencing growth will be a priority for future capital investments. There are several major projects underway and more slated to come – the new Clayton North Secondary and additions to three elementary schools are under way – projects worth $64.6 million. These projects will create 1,870 spaces for Surrey. Since 2001, we’ve invested more than $337 million for 55 capital and seismic projects, and 12 site acquisitions in Surrey. Last year we completed Goldstone Park and Katzie elementary schools, and additions to Fraser Heights and Panorama Ridge Secondary. These projects, worth a total of $44.2 million, created 1,160 spaces for elementary and 500 secondary spaces in Surrey.
Earlier in the school year we had the opportunity to experience one of the Semiahmoo Music Society's various concerts.
While we had heard great things about the school music program, we were blown away by the quality of musicianship of the various levels of bands the school has. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to meet and talk with the Music Department Teachers, all so very enthusiastic and passionate about what they do.
We talked about the students, the funding and how financing the program has it's challenges. Mr. Lowe, the department head, mentioned how they are constantly looking at way to fund-raise for the purchase/upkeep of instruments as well as funding for festivals, workshops and trips, sometimes to far-off places in the world.
We realized we have an opportunity to do our part. We enjoy supporting the community through various fund-raising efforts for food-banks, hospital charities, neighbourhood events and sports participation, but we had no focus on the music. And without music... well, what is there to dance to?
As a Team, we would like donate $400 towards the Semiahmoo Music Society for every house marketed to completion or bought through us in the South Surrey/White Rock area. If you have experienced the joy of the Semi Music Society's talented students, please keep us in mind when the topic of Real Estate comes up in conversation.
With your assistance we can help the music in our neighbourhood play for years to come.
For more information please contact Andrew at 604-773-3940 or Info at HudsonHomeTeam.com
The Canadian Press Published Thursday, April 21, 2016 10:21AM EDT
TORONTO -- A new report suggests the red hot real estate markets in Vancouver and Toronto are discouraging some potential sellers from listing their homes because they're afraid of becoming buyers themselves.
The spring market trends report by real estate firm Re/Max on Thursday says while homeowners in those cities know their homes will sell quickly, many are reluctant to become buyers in the highly competitive market.
Re/Max says some are also reluctant to list their homes because they believe that prices could move even higher.
Vancouver and Toronto have been the hottest real estate markets in the country, raising questions about affordability, the role of speculators and the influence of foreign buyers.
The average residential sale price in Vancouver in the first quarter was $1,103,586, up 24 per cent from a year ago, according to Re/Max.
The average price in Toronto was $675,492, up 14 per cent.
The report suggested the strength of Toronto and Vancouver are helping drive prices in neighbouring regions as buyers move further out in search of an affordable home.
The report noted that Hamilton-Burlington and Barrie in Ontario as well as Victoria have seen prices rise 10 per cent or more compared with a year ago.
"The population growth in these regions, driven by housing demand, is growing local economies as restaurants, shops and services expand," the report said.