“How will I ever afford to buy a home in Vancouver?!!”

Taking that first leap into home ownership can be a daunting prospect in a market of near record highs. Tempered only by historically low interest rates, likely nowhere is the conversion of renter to homeowner more challenging than right here on the West Coast.


But thanks to new legislation recently passed in Victoria, the horizon is looking a little brighter for first time new homebuyers in B.C.


The B.C. First Time New Home Buyers’ Bonus is a one-time bonus payment of up to $10,000 for 1st time buyers of new homes in the province. Here are some of the qualifications needed to convert yourself from renter to owner!:

  • You cannot have owned a primary residence anywhere in the world.
  • You must file a 2011 Income Tax return (if moved here anytime during 2012, then a 2012 BC resident personal income tax return).
  • You must intend to live in the home as their primary residence.
  • The construction must be complete or the home occupied by April 1st of next year.

The bonus ends March 31, 2013, when harmonized sales tax is replaced by the GST.


$10,000 may not seem like much in Canada’s priciest back yard. But consider this: A condo purchase at $400,000 with ten percent ($40,000) down. That $10,000, then, actually represents 25% of the down payment, a significant amount. Combined with our historically low interest rates, mortgage payments and strata fees would come in at around $2,000/month. It begs the question, “How much rent are you paying now?”


More information:

BC First-Time New Home Buyers’ Bonus


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How to Make Your House a Show Stopper

Showing a house is a lot like going on a first date: you try to look well groomed even if that’s not how you normally look! The old adage about first impressions being the most important is just as true for your home as it is for you. A clean house gives prospective buyers the impression that the whole house is well maintained including the out of sight items such as plumbing or heating.

 

Most sellers know that a tidy home can help their home sell faster but ‘clean’ is a relative term. What one person finds acceptable could send another running for the door. Real estate agents and brokers have seen it all: ring around the bathtub, clothes on the floor, pantyhose hanging off the shower curtain, sinks full of dirty dishes, living rooms littered with toys, dust bunnies behind the sofa the size of prairie tumbleweeds…

 

There are three main incentives to keeping your house in perfect showing condition: your home may sell faster, you may get more money for it and by removing the clutter you will allow people to focus on any improvements you’ve made to your home. (It’s hard to see the new tile floor in the bathroom when it’s covered in wet towels!)

 

Long before the first open house, take stock of your home. Do you have piles of magazines you’ve never finished beside your couch? Are your closets and drawers overflowing with clothes you’re hoping will come back in style? Do you trip over a pile of shoes when you walk in the door? Be brave and pack up anything you don’t use on a regular basis and give away whatever you haven’t used or worn in the last five years-bell-bottoms couldn’t possibly make another comeback! A good guideline to aim for is the uncluttered, unobtrusive look of a hotel room.

 

While you may feel that achieving such a high level of cleanliness is seemingly impossible for amateurs your efforts will pay off! Begin by washing the walls, windows and doors and shampooing carpets. If you have hardwood you may want to get them professionally cleaned and varnished. Put a drop of oil in squeaky joints. Polish brass hinges and doorknobs.

 

Pets should be kept outdoors or in cages during showings for everyone’s safety. If you have a cat, ensure that the litter is changed or cleaned daily. Cat odour can be a great hindrance to the sale of your home since people may worry that the odour will be permanent. Open windows shortly before a showing if possible.

 

For the exterior of your home, a fresh paint job can do wonders. If painting your entire home is prohibitively expensive consider making small updates such as painting the window frames in a contrasting colour (ex. white against a deep blue) or just touching up rough spots. The garden is another outdoor area many homeowners overlook despite the fact that it is the first thing prospective buyers will see. Keep the lawn and bushes trimmed. If you were never much of a gardener you can still have fresh flowers by cheating a bit – make a quick trip to the garden store. Most small annual flowers are available for less then $2 per plant. Choose flowers in only two or three colours to create a sense of uniformity in your garden. Attractive flowerpots on the window ledge can be a nice touch depending on your style of house.

 

Don’t be surprised if people also want to see the garage. Some buyers feel the garage reflects the general maintenance of the entire property. Unfortunately, if you are like most people you enter your garage half expecting to be attacked by your belongings. If you have no where else to store the items you don’t want to give away, at least try to put them in boxes piled neatly along one wall. Designate one area for bikes and other sporting equipment.

 

Once you’ve completed these tasks, it’s important to maintain the neatness of your home (inside and out) on a daily basis while you have it up for sale. Open houses often take place on short notice. If you start with a clean house, it’s easy to wipe off a counter or run the vacuum over the carpet to get it into good condition and ultimately complete the sale.


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Tips on Buying a New Home

Home buying is an important personal decision and a big financial investment. You want to find the home that’s right for you and the builder who provides the best value and service. Here are some tips to help make the buying process enjoyable and successful.

 

Do Your Research
Know what you want, what’s available and how the buying process works before you start thinking seriously about signing a contract. Browse through newspapers and magazines. Consult with family, friends and co-workers. Attend a seminar for first-time home buyers. Check the Internet. Visit model homes and talk with builders and their sales agents.

 

Pre-arrange your mortgage
If you are like most of us, you will borrow funds to finance your home purchase. Talk to your lender about mortgages early in the process. Knowing in advance how much you can spend comfortably and getting pre-approval for a mortgage means you can proceed from “just looking” to a signed contract with confidence.

 

Check the builder’s qualifications
There are many reputable builders who provide exceptional service and build great homes – both lowrise and highrise. As you talk with builders or their salespeople, ask questions: How long has the company been in business? Is it a member of the local home builders association? Will the builder give you references of previous new home projects? What after-sales service is offered? Does the builder offer an independent third-party warranty and, if so, what does it cover? “Personal fit” is also important: Does the builder or salesperson listen to you, understand your needs, and offer useful advice?

 

Check the home carefully
Whether a builder has a model home, a sales office or sells directly from plans, you’ll have an opportunity to look closely at the quality of the home and what’s included. The builder’s specifications list will detail the construction materials and finishing products. Ask to see a description and samples of the standard features included in the base price of the house, along with the description and cost of options the builder offers. When viewing a model home, don’t hesitate to try out windows, open drawers, look into every nook and cranny, and inspect the home’s mechanical system.

 

Understand the total cost of buying
Get detailed prices and estimates on everything involved in buying a home. Your builder and lender can advise you on the costs of securing a mortgage, taxes and so on. Ask your lawyer to give you a detailed breakdown of closing costs. Call movers for estimates. Determine if you need to buy new appliance, window coverings or furnishings.

 

Consult with a lawyer
Before you hire a lawyer, it’s a good idea to ask for a detailed estimate of fees for service.

 

Be realistic
Quality, solidity, good products, service – these are the things that add up to real value for the long term. Your objective is to find the home that provides the best overall value within your budget. A professional builder will work with you to find the right balance of features that will work well for you.

For more information on new homes or renovations visit the Canadian Home Builders Association website at http://chba.ca/


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