23 Apr

10 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes

General

Posted by: Nicole Crichton

10 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes.
As a first-time buyer, there are some homebuyer mistakes you should avoid to ensure a smooth and successful experience:

THINKING YOU DON’T NEED A REAL ESTATE AGENT
You might be able to find a house on your own, but there are still many aspects of buying real estate that can confuse a first-time buyer. Rely on your agent to negotiate offers, inspections, financing and other details. The money you would have saved on commission can be quickly gobbled up by a botched offer or overlooked repairs.

GETTING YOUR HEART SET ON A HOME BEFORE YOU DO YOUR HOMEWORK
The house that’s love at first sight may not always be what it seems, so keep an open mind. Plus, if you jump in too fast you may be too quick to go over budget or you might overlook a potential pitfall.

CHOOSING A FIXER-UPPER BECAUSE THE LISTING PRICE IS CHEAPER
That old character home may have loads of potential, but be extra diligent during the inspection period. What will it really cost to get your home to where it needs to be? Negotiating a long due-diligence period will give you time to get estimates from contractors in case you need to back out.

COMMITTING TO MORE THAN YOU CAN AFFORD
Don’t sacrifice retirement savings or an emergency fund for mortgage payments. You need to stay nimble to life’s changes and overextending yourself could put your investments—including your house—on the line.

GOING WITH THE FIRST AGENT WHO FINDS YOU
Don’t get halfway into house hunting before you realize your real estate agent isn’t right for you. The best source: a referral from friends. Ask around and take the time to speak with your potential choices before you commit to a realtor.

DIVING INTO RENOVATIONS AS SOON AS YOU BUY
Renovations may increase the value of your home, but don’t rush. Overextending your credit to get upgrades done fast doesn’t always pay off. Take time to make a solid plan and the best financial decisions. Living in your home for a while before renovating will also help you plan the best functional changes to the layout.

CHOOSING A HOUSE WITHOUT RESEARCHING THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
It may be the house of your dreams, but annoying neighbours or a nearby industrial zone can be a rude awakening. Spend some time in the area before you make an offer and talk to local business owners and residents to determine the pros and cons of living there.

RESEARCHING YOUR BROKER AND AGENT, BUT NOT YOUR LAWYER
New buyers often put all their energy into learning about mortgage rates and offers. But don’t forget that the final word in any deal comes from your lawyer. Like finding a real estate agent, your best referral sources for a lawyer will be friends and business associates.

FIXATING ON THE LOWEST INTEREST RATE
A reasonable interest rate is important, but not at the expense of heavy restrictions and penalties. Make a solid long-term plan to pay off your mortgage and then find one that’s flexible enough to accommodate life changes, both planned and unexpected. Be sure to talk your Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional to learn more.

OPTING OUT OF MORTGAGE INSURANCE
Your home is your largest investment, so be sure to protect it. Mortgage insurance not only buys you peace of mind, it also allows for more flexible financing options. Plus, it allows you to take advantage of available equity to pay down debts or make financial investments.

If you are ready to search for your first home, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional today for expert advice you can count on.

The DLC Marketing Team

9 Apr

Relocate or Renovate

General

Posted by: Nicole Crichton

Relocate or Renovate.
Like Lighting in a Bottle. That’s how Todd Talbot describes the chemistry between him and Jillian Harris, his co-host of the reality TV series Love It or List It Vancouver. There’s an undeniable electricity that flows between the pair who have battled against each other through 104 hour-long episodes of the home-design series. Sparks fly, but ultimately, both have the same goal: to find a solution for homeowners whose spaces simply don’t suit their needs.

In the “love it” corner is Harris, an interior designer (she wore her heart on her sleeve on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette) whose strategy is to help homeowners kiss and make up with their space, thanks to her design-savvy renovation. Talbot, a realtor (he’s been acting on stage and screen since he was a kid), is firmly in the “list it” corner, coaching quarrelsome couples to sell and start fresh.

The sparring is real, but there’s no bad blood between Harris and Talbot. “Jill and I really agree with each other 99 per cent of the time,” says Talbot. “We’re like brother and sister with each other, on camera and off.”

EMBRACING CHANGE
Buy or renovate? Talbot says the answer isn’t absolute. “Generally speaking [buying a house]; it’s a really fun journey. And it can be really fun on the reno side,” he says. “Life is lived in the grey areas, the nuances in between.” Those shades of grey involve negotiation and prioritization, among other practical and philosophical considerations that happen behind the scenes.

Off set, Talbot is a dedicated DIYer. “My happy place is building and renovating. I manage all my rental properties and do almost all the maintenance,” he says. He even renovated the house he shares with his wife and two children, located in Lions Bay, a sleepy seaside town in B.C. But that doesn’t mean they’ll live there forever. Like the homeowners featured on the show, Talbot and his wife wrestle with opposing forces. “Are we going to sell? Stay? Move?” Relocation to a condo in the city is a real consideration.

That struggle is what makes the show’s appeal universal. Our lives are constantly shifting. Babies are born and kids move out. Jobs change and communities evolve. Still, many homeowners are reluctant to step outside of their comfort zones, says Talbot, noting that the people who come on the show are fixated on location. “I’m the opposite: I’m a change guy. I love the idea of a different home in a different area. Nothing excites me more.”

As the TV series closes in on its fifth year of filming in June, Harris, a new mom, reflects on how her design sensibilities have shifted. “Now that I’m a parent, especially, I’m leaning towards more colour, less clutter and softer finishes, whereas before I was all about everything being white,” she says.

No two families are alike, but all are in desperate need of change, says Harris. She eases the transition, giving growing families more functional space within the existing square footage or cozying up a family home that feels empty after the kids have moved out. Each has their own wants, needs and personal style, which Harris tries to tease out of the homeowners so she can design workable spaces they love. “It’s our job to show them their best options and help guide them towards the right choice for them,” says Harris.

The obstacles families face, however, go beyond bad design and unpredictable real estate markets. A recent episode of Love It or List It Vancouver, where the homeowner uses a wheelchair, presented a new type of design challenge for Harris. “I wanted to think about every part of her home she would experience, from the front entrance to the kitchen cabinetry to being in the living room with her family. Even though they ultimately chose to list [the house], that episode really stuck with me and reminds me not to take things for granted.”

FINANCING FIRST
Whether overhauling an aging home with a sinking foundation, or buying bigger in a hot real estate market, those decisions are guided by budget. “People don’t want to talk about money. It’s not sexy,” says Talbot. His true passion for real estate is connected with the financial side. “What I really love doing is empowering people and coaching them to be able to make the decision to fulfil their vision.”

Talbot believes that gathering information and building knowledge is essential, rather than solely relying on an expert’s perspective. When you start making decisions based on instinct, it takes lots of the worry out of homeownership. He also believes everyone should view real estate as an investment and determine the end game of the property before they buy it: when they’re going to sell it and who they’re going to sell it to.

“At the end of the day, for anyone making decisions about renos or buying and selling, that’s a very personal choice and a choice that ultimately the homeowner takes responsibility for,” says Talbot.

Harris also advises thinking long-term. “It’s so important to look at both your five and 10-year plan as a family. If your house does not have any additional square footage to work with, then maybe a lipstick reno and a quick sell is your best option,” she says. “If your home does have extra space [and] it’s just not being utilized well, but you love the neighbourhood, then I would suggest renovating it to support your family for years to come.”

HOMEOWNERSHIP FOR ALL
For his part, Talbot is rethinking the entire ethos of homeownership. “In today’s day and age, we don’t live the same way as our grandparents did, [who] lived in their houses for 50 years. [Now] houses are more designed to facilitate lifestyle than be the lifestyle themselves,” he says.

“I’m really interested in the idea of redefining the Canadian dream of what makes a great house.” I think we’ve gotten off target as a society: 5,000 square feet is indulgent!” Instead, Talbot says it’s about those shades of grey and finding the sweet spot where financial responsibility, sustainability and quality of life intersect.

That’s a tough sell for some. Especially when our social media feeds are awash with idyllic images of families frolicking in sprawling backyards and cooking in couture kitchens. Dream home envy indeed. Harris sees beyond the soft filters and careful cropping and suggests homeowners look inward.

“I think the best thing is to identify what’s important to you and then build a plan around how to achieve that,” she says. “Or, be on Love It or List It Vancouver and have Todd and I figure it all out for you!”

TODD’S FIRST MORTGAGE
“Real estate kind of snuck up on me. I didn’t get into it for the money,” says Talbot who was working as successful actor when he started renovating.

“I’ve always struggled with this: being an artist and this financial fixation.” Talbot describes his first foray into the real estate market. “I bought a two-bedroom, two bathroom condo in [the Kitsilano neighbourhood in Vancouver], which happened to be the display suite. I had no furniture so I tried to negotiate in all the staging furniture.

They didn’t go for it. The only way I could swing buying my first place was to convince my buddy to rent the other room from me and that ended up subsidizing half my monthly costs. I drew up what I would later learn was a rental contract, literally on the back of a napkin. We lived together for three years before that property turned into a rental property. I refinanced it many times and funded multiple other properties with it.

I learned huge lessons owning that first property, which I sold a few years ago.”

JILLIAN’S DESIGN SECRETS
Harris is expanding her airy aesthetic of white-on-white and introducing saturated splashes of colour. Here, she shares five tips on finding your own style. Mix it up “I like to mix vintage with all sorts of eclectic styles. I like a tad of whimsy in a space and I love to see a person’s personality and life experiences shine through in the décor.” Harris also likes blending textures: “I love mixing muslins with thick rugs and knits and sequins and sparkles.”

Build Layers: Start with a blank canvas and build layers within the room. Anchor a room with an area rug, then add larger investment pieces such as sofas and loveseats. Then add in smaller pieces such as side chairs, ottomans and table lamps.

Get Colorful: “I have had a lot of fun over the years experimenting with coloured kitchens, using finishes like olive green and royal blue.”

Add Artwork: Harris suggests finding something inexpensive yet valuable in a sentimental way to inject polish and personality into your home. Or making a piece from meaningful items. “Frame flies from your great grandpa’s fly-fishing collection.”

Accessorize: Achieve a luxe look for less with a high-low mix of accessories, such as “steals” from stores such as Home- Sense and Target and “splurges” from boutiques, which act as “the icing” on the cake. “It gives your house that look of timelessness and richness.”

DLC Marketing Team
Published April 6th, 2021

11 Feb

Subject Free Offers – Are They a Good Idea?

General

Posted by: Nicole Crichton

Subject Free Offers – Are They a Good Idea?

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot lately as the market heats up, multiple offers are common, homes go over asking price, and buyers become discouraged.

The short answer: don’t do it!

The long answer : You can be pre-approved – be an A+ client with excellent qualifications, great credit, established career and solid downpayment, BUT the property itself may be the issue. You cannot give 100% assurance of financing without the specific property details.

Issues that may come up in an appraisal that would provide challenges to financing:
Asbestos
Former Grow-Ops, even remediated ones
Remediated Drug Labs
Leased land
Zoning – for example – commercial/residential, resort
House size too small
Land value is significantly more than the dwelling value
Lead plumbing

If you are purchasing a Strata property, the strata docs themselves may have red flags for lenders that may provide challenges to financing:
Contingency fund too small
Mandatory rental pools
Deprecation report
Self-managed strata
Upcoming Special Assessments/Levies

Another problem we see arise is the ability to obtain fire/home insurance. This is a mandatory condition for all mortgages and there can be instances that make this tricky, such as:
Fire season, often if there is an active fire within 25 km of your home, you cannot obtain insurance
Flooding/natural disasters which can also impede the ability to obtain home insurance in your area
60-amp electrical service, you may be required to upgrade before you can get home insurance
Oil tank buried on the property, it may be causing environmental problems and need to be removed

These are just a few issues that may arise, the short answer is write in subject to financing, and work with an experienced realtor who can help present the offer in the most favourable light.

Nicole Crichton

11 Nov

5 Things to Know Before Buying a Rural Property

General

Posted by: Nicole Crichton

As cities continuing to grow bigger and busier, a rural home beyond those limits can seem like a dream come true! However, before you dive into country living, there are a few things you should know! Especially, how different it can be to qualify for a mortgage.

Buying a Rural Property

1. CHECK THE ZONING

When it comes to buying rural property, it is important to check how the property is zoned. This is vital! Zoning will determine how you are able to use the land, as well as the types of buildings that are allowed and where they can be located. Is the property zoned as “residential,” “agricultural” or perhaps “country residential”?

Zoning could affect the lenders available to you and what you qualify for, as well as what you can do with that property. Differences in lending and foreclosure processes, has caused some lenders to be hesitant with financing mortgages in agricultural/country residential zones.

2. PROPERTY BOUNDARIES

Once you have determined how a property is zoned, it is important to look at the land. Requisitioning a survey early in the process will help mark the exact boundaries of your property to avoid future disputes. This is also a good time to get an appraisal done on the land and its value.

3. CONSIDERING THE LAND AND YOUR MORTGAGE

What many borrowers don’t realize is that land has a drastic effect on mortgage qualification and what you can borrow. In fact, most lenders will mortgage: (1) house, (1) outbuilding and up to (10) acres of land. If you have a second building or extra land that is being purchased, you will need to consider additional funding on top of your typical 5% down payment.

4. WATER AND SEWAGE

When it comes to rural living, many people draw water from private wells and utilize septic tanks for sewage. To ensure everything is safe and in working order, it is a good idea to have an inspection done on the septic tank and water quality as a condition on the purchase offer. Due to the nature of these properties, be advised that inspections may cost more than it would in the city. However, it is important as lenders may request potability and flow tests!

5. COVERAGE MATTERS!

Coverage matters, especially when you are living away from the city. When it comes to rural properties, there are two types of insurance that you should consider:

  1. Home Insurance: When it comes to rural living, this can be more expensive than city homes due to the size and location of the land and distance from fire stations and hydrants.
  2. Title Insurance: This is vital for rural purchases and will protect you from unforeseen incidents with the deed or transfer. It will also alert you to any improper previous use of the property (such as dumping for waste).

If you are thinking about purchasing a home in a rural area, be sure to speak to a Dominion Lending Centres mortgage professional before you do anything. They can often recommend a realtor who specializes in rural properties and knows the area best. A DLC Mortgage professional can also help ensure you understand any differences in the mortgage process and qualifying that come with rural purchases.

 

Author:  DLC Marketing


9 Oct

5 Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Should Avoid

General

Posted by: Nicole Crichton

5 Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Should Avoid

Buying a home might just be the biggest purchase of your life—it’s important to do your homework before jumping in! We have outlined the 5 mistakes first time home buyers commonly make, and how you can avoid them and look like a Home Buying Champ.

1. Shopping Outside Your Budget
It’s always an excellent idea to get pre-approved prior to starting your house hunting. This can give you a clear idea of exactly what your finances are and what you can comfortably afford. Your Mortgage Broker will give you the maximum amount that you can spend on a house but that does not mean that you should spend that full amount. There are additional costs that you need to consider (Property Transfer Tax, Strata Fees, Legal Fees, Moving Costs) and leave room for in your budget. Stretching yourself too thin can lead to you being “House Rich and Cash Poor” something you will want to avoid. Instead, buying a home within your home-buying limit will allow you to be ready for any potential curve balls and to keep your savings on track.

2. Forgetting to Budget for Closing Costs
Most first-time buyers know about the down payment but fail to realize that there are a number of costs associated with closing on a home. These can be substantial and should not be overlooked. They include:
• Legal and Notary Fees
• Property Transfer Tax (though, as a First Time Home Buyer, you might be exempt from this cost).
• Home Inspection fees
There can also be other costs included depending on the type of mortgage and lender you work with (ex. Insurance premiums, broker/lender fees). Check with your broker and get an estimate of what the cost will be once you have your pre-approval completed.

3. Buying a Home on Looks Alone
It can be easy to fall in love with a home the minute you walk into it. Updated kitchen + bathrooms, beautifully redone flooring, new appliances…what’s not to like? But before putting in an offer on the home, be sure to look past the cosmetic upgrades. Ask questions such as:
• When was the roof last done?
• How old is the furnace?
• How old is the water heater?
• How old is the house itself? And what upgrades have been done to electrical, plumbing, etc.
• When were the windows last updated?

All of these things are necessary pieces to a home and are quite expensive to finance, especially as a first- time buyer. Look for a home that has solid, good bones. Cosmetic upgrades can be made later and are far less of a headache than these bigger upgrades.

4. Skipping the Home Inspection
In a red-hot housing market, a new trend is for home buyers to skip the home inspection. This is one thing we recommend you do not skip! A home inspection can turn up so many unforeseen problems such as water damage, foundation cracks and other potential problems that would be expensive to have to repair down the road. The inspection report will provide you a handy checklist of all the things you should do to make sure your home is in great shape.

5. Not Using a Broker
We compare prices for everything: Cars, TV’s, Clothing…even groceries. So, it makes sense to shop around for your mortgage too! If you are relying solely on your bank to provide you with the best rate, you may be missing out on great opportunities that a mortgage broker can offer you. They can work with you to and multiple lenders to find the sharpest rate and the best product for your lifestyle.

Remember, when you are buying a home, you are not alone! The minute you decide to work with a Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Broker you are bringing on a team of individuals who are there to help you through the process from start to finish.

Geoff Lee
Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional