Frequently Asked Questions

Is 20% down needed ?

Generally, for a purchase price of $500,000 or less, the minimum down payment is 5%. When the purchase price is above $500,000, the minimum down payment is 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% for the remaining portion., though banks will require you to get insurance if you default (i.e., don’t pay your mortgage). Your total monthly housing costs, including Principal, Interest, property Taxes, Heating (P.I.T.H.), the annual site lease in the case of leasehold tenure and 50% of applicable condominium fees, shouldn’t represent more than 32% of your gross household income (Gross Debt Service (GDS) ratio).  In the current competitive market Sellers rarely look at offers with less than 10% as show of good faith.  If you have less than a 20% down payment, your lender will require you to get insurance through a company such as Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


Is it a good time to Buy or Sell a house ?

Well, that depends on your goals. Is this an investment or do you live in it? There are important lifestyle differences between owning a condo and owning a house, the condo and house markets in the lower mainland  behave very differently. If you’re looking to lock in the price appreciation of your house and spend less overall money on housing, than selling your house and buying a condo is a relatively safe alternative. If your number one priority is increasing the value of your real estate investment, then it’s important to remember that historically, houses have appreciated higher and faster than condos. Best to talk to a REALTOR to discuss your own situation.


How much are legal fees ?

Legal fees vary by lawyer, but a house under $600,000 will generally cost about $2,000 in legal fees.


What is required to buy a house?

Generally, you’ll need at least a 5% downpayment to buy a house. If you have less than 20% downpayment, you’ll be required to purchase Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) insurance (which provides protection for the lender). Lenders will also look at your income and ability to pay a mortgage, the amount of debt you owe and your credit history. If you aren’t a resident of Canada, you’ll be required to have a larger downpayment.


How can I buy a house if I have no money or bad credit?

More importantly, why do you want to buy a house if you have no down payment and bad credit? This is how our friends in America got into problems. If you want to buy a house, take the time to save a down payment and fix your credit rating. Owning a home isn’t a right. Prove to yourself that you can be responsible enough to own a home by taking control of your financial health.


Who pays the property transfer tax?

Property transfer taxes are always paid by the Buyer.


How can first –time Buyers overcome their fears?

Do your research and work with a REALTOR, who understands the needs of first-time Buyers. Spend some time defining your real goals, take time in making the decision to purchase a condo or house and don’t spend all the money the bank is willing to give you.


How much is a bank appraisal?

Many lenders require an appraisal (meaning they send in an independent appraiser to justify how much you paid for a specific property before they give you the mortgage). Fees for appraisals are in the $300-$500 range, but many banks will pay the appraisal fee for you.


Should I wait to buy a house?

That depends on what you’re waiting for. If you’re busily saving for a downpayment or waiting to get a salary increase to be able to afford the house or condo you want, then waiting is a good idea. If you’re waiting because you want prices to come down, recognize that’s a risky proposition unless you have the ability to predict the future. We’ve had Buyers who have been waiting for prices to come down for years and can now no longer afford to buy a house.


How much does it cost to buy property?

House prices vary depending on location, size and features/finishes. If you’re looking to buy in Burnaby or Coquitlam, you’ll generally need at least $1,200,000; to buy a condo, you’ll need at least $500,000. The further you move from Vancouver’s downtown core, the less expensive prices will be.


What happens if I waive the financial condition and then don’t get financing?

Bad, bad things will happen. You NEED to confirm your financing during the conditional period, otherwise you risk losing your down payment and getting sued. There’s no point in having a financing condition if you don’t take the opportunity to make sure a lender will give you a mortgage during that period of time.


If I buy a New condo or Townhouse, do I have to pay property transfer tax?

Property tax can be refunded or exempted from the purchase of new developments with meeting certain criteria’s for details refer to the link below.


I need to sell the house I bought last year. Will I lose money?

That depends. What sorts of improvements or renovations have you done? How have prices changed in your neighbourhood in the last year? Is there demand for your type of property? Historically, it has taken home buyers 3 years to break even, after the various costs involved in buying and selling.


Do I Have to have a sale sign on my lawn?

Some Sellers prefer not to have a ‘For Sale’ sign on their lawn. While it’s completely within your rights to request ‘no sign’, keep in mind that exposure to Buyers is critical to getting top dollar for your home. Your neighbours already love your neighbourhood – why not let them know your home is for sale so they can tell their friends and family?


How much does it cost to sell a house?

When budgeting for the cost of selling your home, you’ll need to take into consideration the costs of staging & prepping, real estate commission, legal fees and potentially, a mortgage penalty.


Should I get  a Pre-listing Home inspection?

Generally, we believe in getting pre-listing home inspections for houses. Knowing the potential issues with your house before it goes up for sale will give you time to remedy them, or alternatively, price them into your asking price. It will also encourage multiple offers in a hot market and will also boost consumer confidence which helps you get top dollar for your property.


Do Open Houses work?

Statistically, open houses account for 4% of home sales. As a Seller, you want to make it easy for Buyers to see your home, and open houses are one of the least intimidating ways for Buyers to do that. Of course, you’ll have a few nosy neighbours come by your house, but a good real estate agent will be able to concentrate their sales efforts on the real potential Buyers.

In almost every circumstance, we’ll recommend a well-advertised public open house on the first weekend of the sale. Note that open houses for condos are somewhat less popular due to the similarities between condo units. It’s also important to note that many condos do not allow open houses for security reasons.


When should I sell my house?

If only there was one answer to this question! Historically, April, May, June and September have been the months with the highest sold price to asking price ratio; those months are notorious for some of the fiercest bidding wars. December and January are historically the slowest months, but depending on the type of property you own, having fewer competing properties in slow months might be a huge benefit to you. It’s best to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of timing the listing of your home with an experienced real estate agent.


Can I fire my Real Estate agent?

When you list your home with a real estate agent, you’ll be asked to sign a Listing Agreement. This legal document will outline the price, commission and length of the contract. Typically in Vancouver, Listing Agreements are for 90 days. If you agent isn’t performing to your expectations, begin by having an honest conversation with him/her. If that doesn’t resolve your concerns, contact your agent’s Broker on Record – technically your listing agreement is signed with the brokerage and not the agent, and the broker will have the ability to remedy the situation.


Should I sell before buying?

The answer to this depends on your personal goals and what’s happening in the real estate market. If you’re buying an in-demand property and selling a less desirable one, you’ll likely want to sell before buying.


How should I go about hiring a real estate agent to sell my house?

We always suggest you interview multiple people – skills, experience and a personality fit are critical to having a good selling experience.


Why isn’t my home selling?

That’s a tough question. Generally, a home doesn’t sell for one of 3 reasons: 1) it isn’t priced right; 2) it hasn’t been well marketed, or 3) it doesn’t ‘show’ well to potential Buyers (and might need a good cleaning or staging). Talk to your agent and ask to see: 1) what’s been happening in the market in your neighbourhood since you’ve been listed, 2) the marketing that’s been completed and 3) the feedback from agents/Buyers who’ve seen your home.


I have 3 kids and a dog and a cat, my house is a disaster! How can I sell my house?

Selling a home with young children or pets does present some unique challenges. It’s always important to be flexible with Buyers, allowing them to see your home when it’s convenient for them, so that might mean you and your in-bed-at-7- toddler should consider a temporary move out during the sales process.


Ambrose Kan