December 27, 2013
If you are considering looking for a new house, and are a current home-owner, then chances are you’re wondering what your strategy should be: do you wait to find the perfect new home before you put your current home on the market, or do you sell first and then look around? You have a few options. Use the following as a guide to explore what might be the best move for you.
There are several benefits to selling your current house before searching for your next home. First of all, once you have sold your house, you will know precisely how much money you have to work with. With a concrete price range, you’ll be able to narrow the pool of houses before you begin looking, and negotiate accordingly. This will allow you to immediately make firm offers on houses that you are serious about purchasing. You can be first in line with an unconditional offer you know you can afford, and this will grant even further negotiating leverage as Sellers tend to take unconditional offers more seriously. When they counter or turn down an offer that’s conditional on the sale of a home, they usually think the Buyer will come back with a better and more firm offer once they have sold their current home. However, if you make an unconditional offer, the Seller will usually give you more consideration, as they realize you’re probably looking at other properties and will move on if your offer is rejected. Likewise, if you have already sold you house, you probably do have a wider opportunity to look around, negotiate, and find the best deal and fit for you and your family.
The flip side of this scenario, however, is that if you don’t find the right property before the closing date of the house you’ve already sold, you may have to look for temporary housing until you do find what you’re looking for.
So, before you opt to sell first, you should determine whether you have alternate, temporary options, in case you have to move from your house before you’ve found a new one. How would you and your family deal with living in a transition home for an undetermined period of time?
Buying a new house without having sold your current home may occur if you are interested in a specific property and will only sell your current home if this property comes on the market. It may be a matter of timing—grabbing hold of the home before it’s too late. The same might be said of a property you haven’t had you eye on previously, but that catches your attention due to its uniqueness or unbelievable price. If buying first means you don’t miss out on the real estate opportunity of a lifetime, it may be the best move.
However, be careful. If you buy another property and aren’t able to sell your current home quickly enough, you could end up having to finance both homes and shoulder the extra debt until you sell. You can get a financial appraisal or market evaluation of a home prior to selling, but this doesn’t guarantee the price you’ll ultimately receive for the home after the negotiation process has run its course. Since your selling price will be an unknown, jumping into a purchase could be a gamble, particularly if your budget is tight.
Make sure you’re familiar with all aspects of the financial reality this scenario would create before you purchase another home. You may be faced with owning two homes at once. What type of financial stress would this bring to your life and how would you deal with it? Consider the fact that if your current house doesn’t sell quickly enough, you may be forced to sell it off at a reduced price in order align the closing dates of your two properties. What effect would this have on your financial situation?
An additional option involves making your offer to purchase conditional upon the sale of your current property within a specified period. Conditional offers usually include a clause that allows for the Sellers to keep their property on the market and remain open to other offers while you try to sell your home. If the Sellers receive another attractive offer before you’ve sold your home, they may accept and ask you to either remove your condition and firm up your offer, or to back down from the offer. A conditional offer forms a kind of middle ground, an area of compromise, for those who are afraid to sell or buy first—but doesn’t hold the advantages of the other two options.
One of the drawbacks of the conditional offer is that Sellers tend to take them less seriously. They definitely give stronger consideration to firm offers. This leaves you with less negotiating power. In fact, some Sellers will simply turn down or counter a conditional offer. Other Sellers will believe the Buyer will come back with a more serious offer when their home has sold. So, you may end up having to increase your offer in order to have your conditional offer accepted and keep your foot in the door of your desired house.
Even if your conditional offer is accepted, there is no guarantee another Buyer won’t step in and overthrow your offer before you have sold your current home, which would put you back at the starting line. Also, consider the fact that you cannot withdraw your conditional offer until the end of the period specified in the contract—which means that if a better deal comes along, you will have to wait to jump at it.
December 19, 2013
Buying an investment property is a popular option for Canadians looking at different ways to invest their money. However, unlike the mortgage you took out on your principal residence, financing an investment property is a little more complex. The number of units in the building and whether or not you'll be occupying one of the units are the two major components that control what your financing will look like. Let’s take a look at how investment property mortgages work in Canada.
Investment Property Mortgages
When you start shopping around for an investment property, the first thing you need to consider is the number of units your building will have. Most buildings with 1-4 units are zoned residential, so the qualification criteria and financing options from lenders are only slightly more difficult than that of a mortgage similar to what you have on your principal residence. However, buildings with 5 or more units are zoned commercial, so a lender would require that you take out a commercial mortgage on it. With a commercial mortgage, the qualification criteria is even tougher to meet and interest rates are often much higher.
If it's a multi-unit property, the second thing to consider is if you, the owner, will be living in one of the units or not. If you will be occupying one of the units, the property would be considered owner-occupied. If all of the units will be rented out, your property would be considered non-owner occupied. The major difference between the two is how much of a down payment you need to make.
Since April 19th, 2010, Canadians have been required to make at least a 20% down payment on non-owner occupied investment properties. Use the following chart to see the minimum down payment both owner and non-owner occupied investment properties require.
As you can see, non-owner occupied investment properties require at least a 20% down payment. However, if you plan on living in one of the units, you can put down as little as 5-10%, depending on the total number of units in your property.
Maximum Amortization Period
If you put down anything less than 20% on an investment property, your maximum amortization period will be 25 years. However, if you put down 20% or more, you may qualify for a 30 or 35-year amortization period. This is one aspect of an investment property mortgage where it does not matter if the property will be owner-occupied or not.
Investment properties with 1-4 units are eligible for very competitive mortgage rates, as the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has mortgage default insurance to minimize the risk to lenders.
Owner-Occupied Investment Property CMHC Insurance Rates
If your investment property will be owner-occupied, your CMHC insurance premium rates will be as follows:
Non-Owner Occupied Investment Property CMHC Insurance Rates
If your investment property will not be owner-occupied, your CMHC insurance premium rates will be as follows:
*If you put down 20% or more, you may qualify for up to a 35-year amortization period. However, for every 5 years of amortization you add to 25 years, you must pay an additional 0.20% premium.
**Note that you may not need to purchase CMHC insurance, if you put down 20% or more. However, if you barely meet the qualification criteria, a bank will require that you pay these premiums to access their best mortgage rates and terms.
December 10, 2013
Steady trends continue in the Greater Vancouver housing market
Consistent home sale and listing activity has allowed balanced market conditions to prevail in the Greater Vancouver housing market for most of 2013.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,321 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in November 2013. This represents a 37.7 per cent increase compared to the 1,686 sales recorded in November 2012, and a 12.8 per cent decline compared to the 2,661 sales in October 2013.
Last month’s sales were 1.2 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month, while new listings were 1.5 per cent above the 10-year November average.
“We’ve seen steady and consistent trends the Greater Vancouver housing market for much of this year,” Sandra Wyant, REBGV president said. “This year’s activity has resulted in gradual and modest increases in home prices of approximately one per cent over the last 12 months in the region.”
New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 3,245 in November. This represents a 17.7 per cent increase compared to the 2,758 new listings reported in November 2012 and a 24.8 per cent decline compared to the 4,315 new listings in October of this year.
The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver is 13,986, a 10.9 per cent decrease compared to November 2012 and an 8.3 per cent decline compared to October 2013.
The sales-to-active-listings ratio currently sits at 16.6 per cent in Greater Vancouver.
The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver is currently $603,000. This represents a 1 per cent increase compared to November 2012.
Sales of detached properties reached 926 in November 2013, an increase of 47.2 per cent from the 629 detached sales recorded in November 2012, and a 1.1 per cent increase from the 916 units sold in November 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 1.1 per cent from November 2012 to $924,800.
Sales of apartment properties reached 969 in November 2013, an increase of 29.2 per cent compared to the 750 sales in November 2012, and a decline of 3.1 per cent compared to the 1,000 sales in November 2011. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 0.8 per cent from November 2012 to $367,800.
Attached property sales in November 2013 totalled 426, an increase of 38.8 per cent compared to the 307 sales in November 2012, and a 4.1 per cent decline compared to the 444 attached properties sold in November 2011. The benchmark price of an attached unit is currently $458,000, which is a 0.8 per cent increase from November 2012.
December 9, 2013
Remember the last time you visited an upscale furniture showroom? The furniture and fixtures on display probably looked great. The colours and textures jumped out at you. It was a feast for the eyes!
There is a good reason for this: lighting.
Of course, the quality of the products has a lot to do with how appealing they look when on display. But smart retailers know that proper lighting is key to making those products look their best. In fact, some retailers even
hire lighting consultants!
What does this have to do with selling your home quickly, and for the best price?
Obviously, when showing your property to potential buyers, you want your home to look its very best. Proper lighting can be a big help.
When preparing your home for sale, review the lighting in each room and make sure the space is sufficiently well lit. You want the lighting to be strong enough to prevent dark or shadowy areas, yet not so strong that it's
uncomfortable for the eyes.
As a rule of thumb, the total wattage of lights in a room should equal the room's square footage times 1.5. So, if a room is 120 square feet and has three light sources (ceiling light and two lamps) then the bulbs in each
should be 60 watts.
Pay particular attention to traditionally dark areas, such as the garage, basement, and closets. Make sure those areas are well lit.
If you have a viewing scheduled during the day, take advantage of natural light through windows. Open the curtains!
Finally, one of the most important areas is the foyer. Always make sure the entrance has sufficient lighting. You don't want buyers to think they've entered the home of classic TV's The Adam's Family!
Want more ideas for preparing your home for sale? Call today.