Buying Guides

I’ve prepared the following guides that detail some of the subtleties and issues relating to buying in the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Mission real estate market.


6 Mistakes to Avoid When Trading Up to a Larger Home

 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Trading Up to a Larger Home

Unlike the experience of buying a first home, when you’re looking to move-up, and already own a home, there are certain factors that can complicate the situation. It’s very important for you to consider these issues before you list your home for sale.

Not only is there the issue of financing to consider, but you also have to sell your present home at exactly the right time in order to avoid either the financial burden of owning two homes or, just as bad, the dilemma of having no place to live during the gap between closings.

Six Mistakes

In this report, we outline the six most common mistakes homeowners make when moving to a larger home. Knowledge of these six mistakes, and the strategies to overcome them, will help you make informed choices before you put your existing home on the market.

Mistake 1: Rose-colored glasses

Most of us dream of improving our lifestyle and moving to a larger home. The problem is that there’s sometimes a discrepancy between our hearts and our bank accounts. You drive by a home that you fall in love with only to find that it’s already sold or that it’s more than what you are willing to pay. Most homeowners get caught in this hit or miss strategy of house hunting when there’s a much easier way of going about the process. For example, find out if your agent offers a Buyer Profile System or House-hunting Service, which takes the guesswork away and helps to put you in the home of your dreams. This type of program will cross-match your criteria with ALL avail-able homes on the market and sup-ply you with printed information on an on-going basis. A program like this helps homeowners take off their rose-coloured glasses and, affordably, move into the home of their dreams.

Mistake 2: Failing to make necessary improvements

If you want to get the best price for the home you’re selling, there will certainly be things you can do to enhance it in a prospective buyer’s eyes. These fix-ups don’t necessarily have to be expensive. But even if you do have to make a minor investment, it will often come back to you ten-fold in the price you are able to get when you sell. It’s very important that these improvements be made before you put your home on the market. If cash is tight, investigate an equity loan that you can repay on closing.

Mistake 3: Not selling first

You should plan to sell before you buy. This way you will not find yourself at a disadvantage at the negotiating table, feeling pressured to accept an offer that is below-market value because you have to meet a purchase deadline. If you’ve already sold your home, you can buy your next one with no strings attached. If you do get a tempting offer on your home but haven’t made significant headway on finding your next home, you might want to put in a contingency clause in the sale con-tract which gives you a reasonable time to find a home to buy. If the market is slow and you find your home is not selling as quickly as you anticipated, another option could be renting your home and putting it up on the market later – particularly if you are selling a smaller, starter home. You’ll have to investigate the tax rules if you choose this latter option. Better still, find a way to eliminate this situation altogether by getting your agent to guarantee the sale of your present home (see point number 5 below).

Mistake 4: Failing to get a pre-approved mortgage

Pre-approval is a very simple process that many homeowners fail to take advantage of. While it doesn’t cost or obligate you to anything, pre-approval gives you a significant advantage when you put an offer on the home you want to purchase because you know exactly how much house you can afford, and you already have the green light from your lending institution. With a pre-approved mortgage, your offer will be viewed far more favourably by a seller – some-times even if it’s a little lower than another offer that’s contingent on financing. Don’t fail to take this important step.

Mistake 5: Getting caught in the Real Estate Catch 22

Your biggest dilemma when buying and selling is deciding which to do first. Point number 3 above advises you to sell first. However there are ways to eliminate this dilemma altogether. Some agents offer a Guaranteed Sale Trade-Up Program that actually takes the problem away from you entirely by guaranteeing the sale of your present home before you take possession of your next one. If you find a home you wish to purchase and have not sold your current home yet, they will buy your home from you themselves so you can make your move free of stress and worry.

Mistake 6: Failing to coordinate closings

With two major transactions to coordinate together with all the people involved such as mortgage experts, appraisers, lawyers, loan officers, title company representatives, home inspectors or pest inspectors the chances of mix-ups and miscommunication go up dramatically. To avoid a logistical nightmare ensure you work closely with your agent.

6 Must-Know Mortgage Facts

6 Things You Must Know About Mortgages before you Buy

Mortgage regulations have changed significantly over the last few years, making your options wider than ever. Subtle changes in the way you approach mortgage shopping, and even small differences in the way you structure your mortgage, can cost or save you literally thousands of dollars and years of expense.

Get the Right Information

Whether you are about to buy your first home, or are planning to make a move to your next home, it is critical that you inform yourself about the factors involved.

Industry research has revealed that there are 6 common mistakes that most homebuyers make in mortgage shopping that can have a significant impact on the outcome of this critical negotiation. If handled correctly, these issues could result in a mortgage that will cost you less over a shorter period of time.

Before you commit your hard earned dollars to monthly mortgage payments, consider these 6 issues. Effective consideration of these important areas can make your payments work much harder for you.

You can, and should, get pre-approved for a mortgage before you go looking for a home

Pre-approval is easy, and can give you complete peace of mind when shopping for your home. Your local lending institution can provide you with written pre-approval for you at no cost and no obligation, and it can all be done quite easily over the phone. More than just a verbal approval from your lending institution, a written pre-approval is as good as money in the bank. It entails a completed credit application, and a certificate that guarantees you a mortgage to the specified level when you find the home you’re looking for.

Know what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to

When you discuss mortgage pre-approval with your lending institution, find out what level you qualify for, but also pre-assess for yourself what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to. Your situation may give you a pre-approval amount that is higher (or lower) than the amount of money you would want to pay out each month. By working back and forth with your lending institution to determine what this monthly amount is, and what value of home this translates into at today’s rates, you won’t waste time looking at homes that are not in your price range.

You should be thinking about your long-term goals, and expected situation, to determine the type of mortgage that will best suit your needs

There are a number of questions you should be asking yourself before you commit to a certain type of mortgage. How long do you think you will own this home? What direction are interest rates going in, and how quickly? Is your income expected to change (up or down) in the near term, impacting how much money you can afford to pay to your mortgage? The answers to these and other questions will help you determine the most appropriate mortgage you should be seeking.

Make sure you understand what prepayment privileges and payment frequency options are available to you

More frequent payments (for example weekly or biweekly) can literally shave years off your mortgage. Simply by structuring your payments so that they come out more frequently, will significantly lessen the amount of interest that you will be charged over the term.

For the same reason, authorized prepayment of a certain percentage of your mortgage, or an increase in the amount you pay monthly, will have a major impact on the number of years you will have to pay and could shorten your payment term considerably.

These two payment options can cut years off your mortgage, and save you thousands of dollars in interest. However, not every mortgage has these prepayment privileges built in, so make sure you ask the proper questions.

Ask if your mortgage is both portable and/or assumable

A portable mortgage, where available, is one that you can carry with you when you buy your next home and avoid paying any discharge penalties. This means that you will not have to go through the entire mortgage process again unless you are making a move up to a much more expensive home.

An assumable mortgage is one that the buyer for your home can take over when you move to your next home. This can be a very powerful tool at the negotiating table making it much easier and more desirable for a buyer to buy your home, and again saves you any discharge penalties.

You should seriously consider dealing with a Mortgage Expert

Consider dealing only with a professional who specializes in mortgages. Enlisting their services can make a significant difference in the cost and effectiveness of the mortgage you obtain. For example they can make the process faster thereby avoiding costly delays. Typically there is no cost or obligation to inquire.

8 Simple Secrets to Avoid Costly Mistakes Buying Your Dream Home

8 Simple Secrets to Avoid Costly Mistakes Buying Your Dream Home

So you’ve finally decided to buy your next home. Problem is while you were making up your mind, other fence sitters jumped into the home market too. Now you may be facing some competition for the best properties. What to do? Just because there are other buyers in the market doesn’t mean you can’t come away with your dream house. But to be a successful buyer in today’s real estate market you’re going to need help.

Your first best move is to know a few inside tricks. As experienced real estate professionals we have many more than eight ways to increase your chances of landing a prize property despite heavy competition. The following tested tips will increase your market savvy and sharpen your competitive position. Then you’ll be ready to act quickly the minute you see that perfect house.

Step 1: Get Pre-Approved

To be pre-approved for a mortgage loan is your first step. You will go through what amounts to a mini-application process (paperwork, credit check, etc.) prior to shopping for a house. Pre-approval is more effective than pre-qualification, which only gives you a rough idea of the amount a lender will lend you—assuming no hang-ups in the credit and income checking process. When you are pre-approved, it’s like carrying around a suitcase full of money. In the eyes of the seller, pre-approval makes you a very desirable “cash” buyer. That’s a real advantage over another buyer whose financing is uncertain.

Beat the Competition to the Newest Listings

Once you know your specific price range, your real estate agent can regularly do a computerized market sweep for new listings. You should receive a hot list of attractive properties as they come on the market. This will give you a head start on other buyers because you will get the listings before they are advertised. Timing can be a vital part of your home buying experience.

Do Your Research

Make yourself a “value expert” by investigating local properties to get an idea of price points, listing-to-sale-price ratios, hottest areas, and best places for a bargain. Once you know what your money will buy, your real estate agent can add up-to-the-minute knowledge of what comparable properties sell for in specific neighbourhoods and what impact specific features have on price. Working with a good agent will guarantee you the best price and terms.

Have your Agent Present the Offer in Person

Nobody wants their offer lingering on a fax machine in the listing agent’s office while other buyers are putting offers on the seller’s kitchen table. When the situation calls for that personal touch, you’ll gain an advantage by having your agent present your offer in person. He or she may pick up critical intelligence on any competing offers by being on the scene.

Prove you Mean Business

An excellent way of showing the seller you are serious about buying the house is to include a good faith deposit along with the offer you make. This deposit could be as much as 5% of the bid price and surely will attract the seller’s attention.

Stay Cool

When deciding on your dream home you do not have to over pay to get it. Sure, you may have to offer something other than the asking price, such as paying some or all points, inspections, closing costs, or offering a settlement date that fits the seller’s timetable. If you over pay now and have to sell your house in the future it will be harder for you to get back equal value.

Keep It Simple And Clean

You want to make sure that your contract isn’t sloppy or cluttered with contingencies such as repairs. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Even better, offer to be helpful, take care of repairs, order an inspection in 48 hours, or be willing to take care of any required local certificates such as smoke detectors and water safety. Be open and flexible to try to help accommodate the needs of the seller.

Don’t be a Lone Wolf

What you need most in today’s market is experienced professional guidance. As your neighbourhood real estate specialists we can help you get pre-approved, find a prize property, and negotiate the best deal on your next home no matter how heated the competition. Call us today. We’ll help you be a cool customer.

9 Buyer Traps to Avoid

9 Buyer Traps and How to Avoid Them

No matter which way you look at it buying a home is a major investment. For many homebuyers however, it can be an even more expensive process than it needs to be because many fall prey to at least a few of the many common and costly mistakes which trap them into either:

  • paying too much for the home they want, or
  • losing their dream home to another buyer, or
  • (worse) buying the wrong home for their needs.

A systemized approach to the home buying process can help you steer clear of these common traps, allowing you to not only cut costs, but also secure the home that’s best for you.

This important report discusses the nine most common and costly of these homebuyer traps, how to identify them, and what you can do to avoid them.

Bidding Blind

What price should you offer when you bid on a home? Is the seller’s asking price too high, or does it represent a great deal. If you fail to research the market in order to understand what comparable homes are selling for, making your offer would be like bidding blind. Without this knowledge of market value, you could easily bid too much, or fail to make a competitive offer at all on an excellent value.

Buying the Wrong Home

What are you looking for in a home? A simple enough question, but the answer can be quite complex. More than one buyer has been swept up in the emotion and excitement of the buying process only to find themselves the owner of a home that is either too big or too small. Maybe they’re stuck with a longer than desired commute to work, or a dozen more fix-ups than they really want to deal with now that the excitement has died down. Take the time up front to clearly define your wants and needs. Put it in writing and then use it as a yardstick with which to measure every home you look at.

Unclear Title

Make sure very early on in the negotiation that you will own your new home free and clear by having a title search completed. The last thing you want to discover when you’re in the back stretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or the like.

Inaccurate Survey

As part of your offer to purchase, make sure you request an accurate property survey that clearly marks your boundaries. If the survey is not current, you may find that there are structural changes that are not shown (e.g. additions to the house, a new swimming pool, a neighbour’s new fence that is extending a boundary line, etc.) Be very clear on these issues.

Undisclosed Fix-ups

Don’t expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that will need to be attended to. Both you and the seller are out to maximize your investment. Ensure that you conduct a thorough inspection of the home early in the process. Consider hiring an independent inspector to objectively view the home inside and out, and make the final contract contingent upon this inspector’s report. This inspector should be able to give you a report of any item that needs to be fixed with associated, approximate cost.

Not Getting Mortgage Pre-approval

Pre-approval is fast, easy and free. When you have a pre-approved mortgage, you can shop for your home with a greater sense of freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when you find the home of your dreams.

Contract Misses

If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract by neglecting to attend to some repair issues, or changing the spirit of the agreement in some way, this could delay the final closing and settlement. Prepare a list of agreed issues, walk through them, and check them off one by one.

Hidden Costs

Make sure you identify and uncover all costs – large and small – far enough ahead of time. When a transaction closes, you will sometimes find fees for this or that sneaking through after the “sub total” – fees such as loan disbursement charges, underwriting fees etc. Understand these in advance by having your lender project total charges for you in writing.

Rushing the Closing

Take your time during this critical part of the process, and insist on seeing all paperwork the day before you sign. Make sure this documentation perfectly reflects your understanding of the transaction, and that nothing has been added or subtracted. Is the interest rate right? Is everything covered? If you rush this process on the day of closing, you may run into a last minute snag that you can’t fix without compromising the terms of the deal, the financing, or even the sale itself.

How Much are Closing Costs?

How Much Should I Expect to Pay on Closing Costs?

Whether you’re looking to buy your first home, or trading up to a larger one, there are many costs – on top of the purchase price – that you must figure into your calculation of affordability. These extra fees, such as taxes and other additional costs, could surprise you with an unwanted financial nightmare on closing day if you’re not informed and prepared.

Some of these costs are one-time fixed payments, while others represent an ongoing monthly or yearly commitment. Not all of these costs will apply in every situation, however it’s better to know about them ahead of time so you can budget properly.

Remember that buying a home is a major milestone. Whether it’s your first, second or tenth home, there are many important details to address during the process. The last thing you need is unbudgeted financial obligations cropping up hours before you take possession of your new home.

Read through the following checklist to make sure you’re budgeting properly for your next move.

Appraisal Fee

Your lending institution may request an appraisal of the property, which would be your responsibility to pay for. Appraisals can vary in price from approximately $175 -$300.

Property Taxes

Depending on your down payment, your lending institution may decide to include your property taxes in your monthly mortgage payments. If your property taxes are not added to your monthly payments, your lending institution may require annual proof that your taxes have been paid.

Survey Fee

When the home you purchase is a resale (vs. a new home), your lending institution may ask for an updated property survey. The cost for this survey can vary between $300- $1,000.

Property Insurance

Home insurance covers the replacement value of your home (structure and contents). Your lending institution will request proof that you are insured as it protects their investment on the loan.

Service Charges

Any new utility that services your hook up, such as telephone or cable, may require an installation fee.

Legal Fees

Even the simplest of home purchases should have a lawyer involved to review all paperwork. Shop around, as rates vary greatly depending on the complexity of the issues and the experience of the lawyer.

Mortgage Loan Insurance Fee

Depending upon the equity in your home, some mortgages require mortgage loan insurance. This type of insurance will cost you between 0.5% -3.5% of the total amount of the mortgage. Usually payments are made monthly in addition to your mortgage and tax payment.

Mortgage Brokers Fee

A mortgage broker is entitled to charge you a fee in order to source a lender and organize the financing. However, it pays to shop around because many mortgage brokers will provide their services free to you by having the lending institution absorb the cost.

Moving Costs

The cost for a professional mover can cost you in the range of:

  • $50-$100/hour for a van and 3 movers, and
  • 10-20% higher during peak demand seasons.

Maintenance Fees

Condos charge monthly fees for common area maintenance such as grounds keeping and carpet cleaning in hallways. Costs will vary depending on the building.

Water Quality and Quality Certification

If the home you purchased is serviced by a well, you should consider having your water checked by your local experts. Depending upon where you live, determines whether or not a fee is charged, to certify the quantity and quality of the water.

Local Improvements

If the town you live in has made local improvements (such as the addition of sewers or sidewalks), this could impact a property’s taxes by thousands of dollars.

Land Transfer Tax

This tax is applied whenever property changes hands and the amount that is applied can vary.

How to Stop Paying Rent

Stop Paying Rent – A guide to becoming a homeowner rather than a home-renter

From basement suites to full houses, renting is a huge business in this country. If you currently rent, you know that paying out those hundreds of dollars every month to line the pockets of your landlord is not a pleasant task. However, like most renters you probably feel stuck in a home that isn’t even yours simply because you can’t save up that down payment for your own home.

This report contains details on how you can stop paying rent and start contributing to your own financial future, rather than that of your landlord. By knowing some valuable information about the real estate industry, as well as some tips and tricks about property ownership, you’ll be able to start on the road from renting to owning. This report will tell you how you can:

  • Save for a down payment for your property
  • Make best use of your financial institution, and other loan sources
  • Consider reversing the rental roles

7 Little-known Facts That Can Help You Purchase Your First Home

Purchasing your first home can be challenging. Your monthly cash flow may easily cover the proposed mortgage costs, but perhaps accumulating the down payment is what you find difficult. Or maybe you have financial reserves, but cash flow is what’s holding you back. Whatever the reasons, purchasing a new property can still be accomplished, regardless of your financial standing. Consider the following facts:

The down payment on your property doesn’t have to be as large as you think

Several programs exist to help first-time buyers enter the property market. These programs require that you have never purchased a home before, and that you meet basic qualification standards. It is important that you consult a professional real estate agent who is familiar with these programs, so that you may make best use of them.

In some areas it is also possible to assume a mortgage. If this is an option in your area, your real estate agent will be able to perform search on listings requiring small to no down payments.

Your lender may help you with your down payment and closing costs

Depending on your financial standing, you may have assets worth equal to or more than your needed down payment. If this is the case, your financial institution may be willing to lend you the extra cash needed for your down payment, while securing it against your assets.

The seller may assist you in purchasing your home

Some sellers may be willing to lend you money to purchase the home. This is known as a ‘seller take-back’ and is essentially a loan from the seller to the buyer. Instead of your monthly mortgage payments going to a financial institution, they would go directly to the seller. This loan works in exactly the same way as any other, and is subject to the rules and regulations outlined upon instantiation.

You may be able to borrow without going into debt

Options exist for you to borrow for certain investments to a specified level, and using those investments to leverage a significant tax return. This process can be further coupled with a first-time homebuyer’s plan, and turned into significant equity.

You can also borrow against savings in an RRSP, and if repaid in a certain time period, avoid any interest payments.

While purchasing, consider becoming a landlord yourself

If you’re interested in subsidizing your mortgage payments with some supplemental income, why not consider becoming a landlord yourself? Houses and condos with extra bedrooms and living facilities are often not much more expensive than those without. If you have been pre-approved for a mortgage that allows you to purchase a larger property, why not consider renting out the extra space and having a tenant pay your mortgage?

You may be able to secure a loan even with a lower credit rating

Oftentimes it is possible to secure a loan, even with a poor credit rating. If you have enough equity to borrow against, your financial institution may consider lending you money to purchase a home.
It is also possible to use a ‘seller take-back’ loan for the purchase, using the seller as the lender.

Secure a mortgage before you begin your searching

Before you begin looking for a property, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. It is important to make sure that you know your budget, as well as your monthly payments to make sure that they are within your means. Enlisting the help of a professional mortgage specialist is a good idea when it comes to locating a loan that meets your needs. Oftentimes a professional will be able to locate more competitive mortgage rates than those offered by a single financial institution. There is usually no obligation, and the benefits of knowing your buying power while shopping for your home reduce stress and wasted time.

Where to go from here?

This report is designed to illustrate that you have options other than paying large monthly payments to your landlord. It is clear that with a little creativity and help from a real estate professional, you can make the break from renting to owning.

Make sure to consider your options – this report is not designed to make you feel obligated to purchase a home. If you’re interested in more information, please contact your real estate agent.

Save Thousands When Buying

Saving Money – A guide to saving thousands of dollars when buying a home

Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make, and by following some simple guidelines you can stand to save thousands of dollars. If you’re like most people shopping for a home you’re probably trying to match a home that fits your needs perfectly, with the lowest possible price.

When looking for a home yourself, it’s important to know how previous successful homebuyers have purchased their homes for thousands of dollars below a seller’s asking price. Skills like negotiation are handy, but the fundamentals are often overlooked. This report will cover the following:

  • Steps for saving thousands when you buy a home
  • How sellers price their homes

Some simple steps that will save your thousands when you purchase a home

Going into the home-buying process with some basic knowledge in the area can make all the difference. The following are some simple, but often overlooked, points that every homebuyer should take into account.

Be sure about what you want

This seems like a simple point, but many people make the mistake of confusing what they need with what they desire. Obviously the goal of shopping around is to find a property that fulfills both, but it’s important to know that in the real world this situation doesn’t always occur.

When the purchase price of an item exceeds $10,000, people commonly let emotion and desire play a big role in their decision-making processes. When you’re looking at home you’ll find that you’re drawn to certain properties for completely different reasons; some based on needs, and other based on desires. Is it better to buy the house with the basement suite for rental possibilities, or the one with more bedrooms to better accommodate a growing family? Many people make the wrong decision at this step and end up regretting their purchase for years.

It’s vital that you satisfy your needs first, and your desires second. Oftentimes writing down both can aid in the home-buying process.

Shopping with powerful help

You should make sure that your agent offers a buyer profile system to get you all MLS® System listings that meet your exact requirements. Using one of these systems can greatly increase your chances of finding that perfect home as you will be made aware of all existing and new listings that meet your requirements.

Understand how sellers set their asking price

Sellers price their homes in several different categories and it’s important to consult your agent about the price of a property. Keep in mind that roughly 75% of all homes on the market are priced 5-10% above fair market value.


Contact Kris Mugridge for more information on buying a home.

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