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Buyers Tips

Buying with Christine

Buying a home or property is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences most of us ever have; it's also one of the most challenging.

If you're buying for the first time, the process may seem overwhelming. Even if you've been through it several times, every move is different, and presents new challenges.

One clear advantage of enlisting the help of Christine Wolter, an experienced Kelowna real estate agent, is simply that you don't have to "go it alone."

Christine delivers the highest level of real estate service. Let Christine Wolter assist you with your search for your Kelowna or Okanagan property.

Christine will:

Every home and property purchase is a big step, no matter how often you move. It helps to be well informed so you're in a better position to make the right choices.

Making An Offer

When you are ready to make an offer—know as Offer to Purchase—for a property Christine will discuss conditions for the property with you and write up the offer.

Christine will communicate your offer to the seller, or the seller's representative, on your behalf. Sometimes there may be more than one offer on a property coming in at the same time—Multiple Offers. Christine can guide you through this process.

Offer to Purchase

A legal document which specifies the terms and conditions of your offer to purchase a home or property. The offer can be Firm or Conditional.

Acceptance of the Offer

Christine will present your Offer to Purchase as soon as possible. The seller may accept the offer, reject it, or submit a counter-offer.

The counter-offer may be in reference to the price, the closing date, or any number of variables.

The offers can go back and forth until both parties have agreed or one of you ends the negotiations.

Planning a Move

Book the movers. You can choose to have the movers pack everything, or just the breakables, or you can pack yourself.

If you rent your present home

Give necessary written notice to your landlord and make arrangements for the return of any monies you have on deposit.

At your "new" home:

Make arrangements for the gas and electric utilities, water softener, telephone and cable TV to be connected on the day the sale closes.


Get “Change of Address” cards from the post office and send out well before moving day. Have mail forwarded to your new address.

Cancel any contracted services and pre-authorized cheques.

Inform gardening, dry cleaning, garbage pick-up, newspapers, magazines, and other home services. Arrange for service at your new address.

Obtain a letter of introduction from your current bank branch to help establish new accounts. Transfer trust or bank accounts and securities.

Cancel or transfer social, athletic, civic, religious or business affiliations and memberships.

Arrange for transfer of medical, dental, prescription and optical records.

Change the address on your driver’s license(s) effective the day of the move.

Collect all items out for cleaning, repair or storage. e.g. fur coats, dry cleaning.

Make special arrangements for the moving of perishables, such as plants.

Make special arrangements for the moving of your pets.

Dispose safely of all flammable liquids as it is illegal for movers to carry them.

Moving Costs - Vendor's Costs

Legal Fees: range from 1/2% to 1% of the sale price of the property plus disbursements. A Real Estate lawyer will provide you with details.

Real Estate Commission plus 5% GST on commission.

Discharge of Mortgage: May be a penalty of three months' interest, the interest differential between an old and new mortgage or a combination of the above. Check with your lending institution.

Moving Costs - Purchaser's Costs

Legal Fees: Range from 1/2% to 1% of the sale price of the property plus disbursements. A Real Estate lawyer will provide you with details.

Disbursements: Include City Tax Certificate, City Zoning Reports, City Engineering Report, Sheriff's Certificate, Registry Office searches, deed registration, mortgage registration, copies, postage, long distance calls, etc.

Land Transfer Tax: 1% up to $200,000. and 2% on remaining purchase price.

Special taxes apply to non-residents.

Survey: If no recent survey is available, a new one will cost approximately $700 - $1000. Fees for different properties vary.

Arranging the Mortgage: appraisal fee of about $250 plus administration fee of about $200 - $300. An up-to-date survey may be necessary.

Adjustments: Money owed pre-payment of taxes, hydro, gas, fuel oil, etc.

Home Inspection: Will cost between approximately $250 to $400

Bi-weekly and weekly payments

Most mortgages have the option to allow payments to be made on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This option may be desirable for two reasons. The first is it can save you money as you can expect to pay off your mortgage about 4 years sooner. This can save you dramatically over the life of your mortgage.

The other reason why these options are so popular is that if your employer pays you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you can simplify your budgeting by making the payment line up with the way you paid.

Making Extra payments

Paying extra amounts on your mortgage can make a big interest saving over time. When we select a mortgage company, privilege payments options are something that we look for. A 20% privilege payment will allow you to pay off up to $20,000 per year on a $100,000 mortgage.

It is important that the privilege payment also be flexible to allow you to pay smaller payments on the mortgage and as often as you wish. An extra $1000 periodically paid on a mortgage can help you become mortgage free faster.

Reducing the CMHC fees on your purchase

When you require a mortgage for more than 75% of the purchase price of a property, that mortgage must be insured by Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) or GE Mortgage insurance.

The premium charged by these company`s decreases as the down payment increases. When you finance your property at 95%, a premium of 2.75% is added to the mortgage.

By increasing the down payment to 10% of the purchase price the premium can be reduced to 2.5%. If you can put down 25%, you can avoid any additional insurance fee. Depending on your situation there are ways that you can structure this financing to avoid the CMHC or GE insurance premium.

Advantages of Bigger Down Payments

As mentioned above, when you put a 25% down payment on your purchase you can avoid the CMHC premium. More importantly the larger the down payment, the lower the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your mortgage.

It is important to note that it may not be wise to stretch yourself to increase your down payment and end up borrowing on credit cards or a line of credit at a higher rate.

Short Term Rates vs. Long Term Rates

The options for mortgages available can be very confusing for most mortgage shoppers. Terms for mortgages vary between variable and fixed rate, 6-month terms to 10 year terms. Taking a variable or floating rate mortgage can have savings.

Typically the shorter the term or guarantee of the rate, the lower the rate will be. This does not always happen, depending on the market place and the economy, but history has shown that short-term rates tend to be lower than long-term rates.

The up side of variable rate is the strong potential for interest rate savings. The down side is the fact that you are accepting the interest rate risk without a guarantee.

If you are considering a variable rate mortgage you need to look at your own risk tolerance, and your cash flow available to deal with potential increased payment.

Considering projections of rates and where we see interest rates heading can also be important in this decision. Make sure you talk to an expert when you are making this decision.

Choosing a condo to live in

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Marketing your home

Choosing a condo to live in

Is a condominium right for you?

What's your idea of the good life? Do you relish the notion of jumping out of bed on a Saturday morning and grabbing the golf clubs with no thought of mowing the lawn? Or do you love nothing more than puttering about the yard, planting shrubs and planning where to erect the swing set you built with your own hands? If you are more like the former, then condominium living might be for you.

What is a condo?
A condominium is an apartment house or a unit in an apartment house in which the units are individually owned. Each owner receives a deed for their unit, enabling them to mortgage and sell it independently of the owners of the others.

When you buy a condominium unit, you take title to your unit and have all the privileges and burdens of ownership, including the payment of taxes. You will also be required to pay a monthly fee representing your proportionate share of the cost of servicing, maintaining and repairing those areas you share in common with others.

The word condominium comes from the two Latin words - con, meaning together and dominium, meaning property. Hence, in a condominium there is always property owned in common with others - recreation areas, lawns, basement, garage --as well as the individual units which are owned outright.

Condos make it possible to provide more living space on less land. Thus, as land prices rise and population increases, condos are becoming more and more popular.

Whether or not to buy a condominium are both financial and social decisions. Condo ownership is seen by some as a good intermediate housing choice -- a kind of graduation from apartment living, but not as heavy a financial and time commitment as a house would be. In a condo, you won't enjoy the same freedoms and privacy you would enjoy in a single-family dwelling. You will share a wall of your living space with a neighbour. You can modify or beautify the interior of your unit to your heart's content, but usually painting or planting outdoors by individuals is forbidden.

You can't just decide you need more space and tack on an addition. That would get you in big trouble with the condominium board of directors A condominium corporation is run by a board of directors elected by the owners. The board's function is to manage the corporation. Major decisions are voted on at owners' meetings. Condominium associations may set restrictions on such things as owning pets, or having an outdoor barbecue. Many condo owners consider participation in community decision-making a benefit of condominium living.

Condo owner's association
A condo owners' association is a fact of life when you choose condo living. A well-run association is an attractive convenience for residents. Association fees cover the maintenance of the exterior of your unit and your neighbours' as well as homeowners' insurance, trash pick-up and outdoor landscaping. Those fees might seem steep at first glance, but it's likely you would spend even more performing indoor and outdoor maintenance on a house.

Assuming that your condo owners' association is operating as it should, your property will be well maintained. That means that the value of your unit should remain high over time. And remember, if you buy a condo, your weekends can be spent on the green -- golfing, not mowing.

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Little things mean a lot. That is no truer than when you are trying to sell your home. It is often attention to small details that can make the difference between an eager buyer and one who walks away.

A well maintained home is important, but your first priority should be to create an atmosphere that will put shoppers in a buying mood.

First impressions are often lasting. Imagine you are a prospective buyer, and then take a hard, critical look at your home. What do people see when they drive up? Is the exterior of your home clean? If not, paint or wash it, and that includes window casings, shutters and doors.

An extra jolt of fertilizer will give your lawn that lush green look the potential homebuyer loves. Lawns and hedges cut and trimmed and a weeded garden will also put shoppers in a mood to see more.

'More' should not include Rover and Fluffy. Pets should be out of sight for home showings. Think phobias, allergies, offensive odours and distractions. Even assuming those viewing your home love animals, you do not want their attention diverted from the finer points of your home by the loving, or not so loving, attentions of your pets. Make certain that litter boxes are immaculate.

People unaccustomed to living with pets will be particularly sensitive to animal smells. The same goes for cigarette odours. Try to eliminate them before the showing. Air out your home. Put air fresheners in closets to eliminate musty smells.

Place fresh flowers in some of the rooms. Baking bread or placing potpourri around the house also makes for inviting aromas.

Make other plans when you're home is being shown
You want the attention of the potential buyers focused solely on the business at hand: the many charming and practical features of your home. Ideally, children and other adults, including you, should be out of the home when it is being shown.

Potential buyers feel inhibited and thus less disposed to speaking their minds when the owner is present. The owner may have an emotional attachment to his or her property that makes him or her blind to its shortcomings.

Get rid of clutter. Put away appliances you keep on your countertop. Clean out closets, garage, basement and attic. This will make your home look both cleaner and more spacious. A fresh coat of paint in a neutral colour is an inexpensive, but proven technique for increasing the appeal of any home. Clean and bright equals sales.

Make it clean
Scrub, clean, wash windows, walls, floors and tiles, shampoo dirty carpets. Clean under sinks, repair any leaks and clean up any damage, then paint. Use special cleaning agents to rid toilets, tubs and sinks of stains.

Replace worn or leaking kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Repair torn screens. Replace cracked or broken windowpanes.

Ask me for specific tips on what you can do to improve the look of your home. This article just gives a sampling of the many ways there are to market your home, to ensure the best price possible. That is no truer than when you are trying to sell your home. It is often attention to small details that can make the difference between an eager buyer and one who walks away.

Marketing your home

If you're thinking of selling your home, you need a marketing plan. Just like any other product people buy or sell, a home's value must be communicated to the proper audience to ensure the seller gets the best possible price.

Marketing your home means more than putting up a lawn sign and sticking an ad in your local newspaper.
You need to have a complete marketing plan that takes into account your home's unique qualities, your objectives and details the specific resources available to you.

Choose your realtor
Your planning should begin as soon as you choose a Realtor, and often even before that. Part of your marketing plan will involve pricing your property, deciding when to list it and what features need to be cleaned or repaired. At this stage it is essential that you are completely honest with your Realtor about the condition of your home, your financial needs and any time constraints.

Once you have the basic information established, you need to get to the "guts" of the marketing plan, or determine how best to let people know that your home is for sale and get them excited about it.

Target audiences
You need to keep in mind when you are planning that there are two key target audiences: home buyers and other real estate agents. You will need different marketing vehicles and slightly different information to effectively reach each audience.

There are a myriad marketing products and activities that can be utilized to help sell your home and your Realtor with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), newspaper advertising, brochures, Open Houses, neighbourhood mailings, etc.

Royal Lepage Advantage
In addition to the standard tools, Royal LePage Realtors have access to the industry's leading marketing tools and resources, including: www.royallepage.ca: Your home will be featured on Royal LePage's web site which receives an average of more than 450,000 unique user sessions each month:

Virtual Reality Tours and Slide Shows: available for many homes on the web site, giving prospective buyers a private tour of your home; Online Feature Sheets provide pictures and greater detail for your home when people want to know a little more than the basics.

Referral Network: Your property's information will be available to nearly 9,000 Royal LePage Realtors coast-to-coast and 700 of the top real estate companies in the world through an exclusive affiliation. Customized Just Listed cards distributed to potential buyers with details of your home on it,

As Your Realtor
Your realtor can help you determine which tools will be most beneficial in your particular situation and market.Whatever the plan you decide on, make certain that you are an active part of it. Reviewing the plan's success on a regular basis should be a built-in part of any successful marketing plan.

This article just gives a sampling of the many ways there are to market your home, to ensure the best price possible. To get more information on how Royal LePage and I can help you put one together, contact me directly.