Real Estate 101: Your FAQs Answered

Buying or selling a property can be an exciting, yet complex process. It’s normal to have questions along the way. Here are some of your most frequently asked questions, answered. 

FAQ: How do I decide on a budget? 

One of the most important first steps is contacting a mortgage broker. Getting a pre-approval essentially decides the budget for you - the bank has the final say to how much money they are willing to lend you for the purchase. Once you have the pre-approval, you can decide if you want to use the maximum amount or go with something lower for more comfortable monthly payments. Having the pre-approval in place will also streamline the offer process and improves your ability to secure satisfactory financing. 

It’s also important to look at the big picture. You’ll also want to factor in your currently monthly payments like car payments, credit card payments, etc, as well as extra costs that you may not have had before like property taxes, strata fees, or utilities. It’s also important to prepare for closing costs which can cost between 2-4% of the purchase price for things like lawyer fees, property transfer tax, etc. If you want to talk costs and budgets, or if you need a recommendation for a trusted mortgage broker, let’s connect!

P.S. The golden rule of mortgage financing is - don’t make any big purchases between the pre-approval and getting the keys to your new home! 

FAQ: What should I look for in a real estate agent? 

A real estate agent plays an integral role in helping you buy or sell real estate, so it’s important to have someone you trust and who is working in your best interests. Check reviews and ask around; look for qualities like experience, market knowledge, communication skills, transparency, and reputation. 

Some examples of questions to ask are: How long have you been working as a real estate agent, and what is your experience in the local market? What services do you offer to buyers/sellers? How do you communicate with your clients? How do you handle negotiations? What is your marketing strategy for Sellers? What is your commission structure? 

FAQ: How can I make my property more attractive to potential Buyers? 

Making a good first impression to a potential Buyer is important. Enhance curb appeal by refreshing the exterior - this may include cutting the grass, cleaning the yard, washing the windows, or repainting the front door. Consider staging your home (you can stage it with your own furniture) - declutter, depersonalize, and rearrange furniture to create an open and inviting atmosphere. Make cost effective improvements - something as simple as repainting the home a neutral colour can make a huge difference to potential Buyers, other examples include minor touchups and repairs. Keep it clean and well-maintained, and create a warm and inviting atmosphere - make sure the home is show ready by keeping surfaces clear. Make sure lights are on and ensure there are no odours in the home. All of these things can help to make your property more attractive to potential Buyers. Contact me for a free copy of my Seller’s Guide, which includes a checklist for preparing your home. 

FAQ: What are the key steps to the home buying process? 

The key steps to Buying a home are getting pre-approved, finding a property you love, making an offer, completing due diligence before removing the conditions, then completing the sale and moving into your new home! It’s important to work with a realtor you can trust and guide you through the process while protecting your best interests. 

FAQ: What are the costs associated with buying or selling a property? 

For Buyers, the biggest costs associated with Buying a property are incurred during due diligence (home inspections, any other applicable inspections, appraisals, legal fees) and closing costs (property transfer tax, legal fees, and moving costs). Real estate fees are typically paid by the Seller, so this is not an additional cost to the Buyer.

For Sellers, the biggest costs are real estate fees and closing costs. Real estate fees (both for the Seller’s realtor and the Buyer’s realtor) are the Seller’s responsibility to pay. These fees vary so it’s important to ask your realtor what these are so you know what to expect. Closing costs can include legal fees, adjustments, and moving costs.

Typically, one can budget between 2-4% to either buy or sell a home. 

FAQ: What are the common conditions (also known as subjects) that are usually in offers? 

When making an offer, your realtor will recommend various conditions to include so you can complete due diligence on a home before committing to the purchase. The most common conditions are Financing and Home Inspections (for obvious reasons). Other conditions can include reviewing property document such a the property title, property disclosure statement, and property file. If the potential home is a condo, the offer would be conditional to reviewing the strata documents. The purpose of these conditions (or any other that may apply to your home purchase) is to ensure that you are making an informed decision. 

Buying or Selling a home is a complex process and there are many unique factors that go into each transaction. Getting preapproved is an important first step, but it’s equally as important to make sure you are working with a realtor you can trust! Your realtor will guide you through the process and make sure that your interests are protected and that you are making informed decisions. Contact me if you’re considering Buying or Selling!


7 Common Home Buying Mistakes You Must Avoid

Buying a home is an exciting purchase! It is also one of the largest and most important decisions you will make. It's important to make sure you avoid the following pitfalls: 

1. Not getting pre-approved. It's important to involve a lender early on and get pre-approved. This ensures that we are viewing homes that are within your budget. There's nothing worse than falling in love with a home, then finding out that the bank won't loan you the money for your purchase. It also helps to streamline the purchase process - your offer on a potential home will be much stronger if you are pre-approved. 

2. Not working with a real estate agent. From showings and communication, to making an offer, removing subjects, then closing on a home, an experienced agent will be able to guide you through the purchase process and make sure your interests are well protected. Read reviews and ask around when finding an agent, you'll want someone in your corner working for you!

P.S. as a Buyer, you typically won't be paying a commission - it's usual for the Seller to pay the commissions. 

3. Waiving the home inspection. It can seem like a large expense up front, and if the home looks good, what's the point? The point is that a home inspection is meant to help find issues that may not be obvious like mould (common in our area), structural issues, or leaks that could potentially cost you a lot of money. Think of the home inspection as an investment - if you proceed with the purchase, you're going in understanding the condition of the home and if you don't proceed with the purchase, you've saved yourself thousands of dollars in the long run. 

4. Not researching the area. Falling in love with a home is great, but it's also important to love the area. Make sure you consider factors such as school districts, potential future development, undesirable neighbourhoods, and proximity to amenities. If you're unsure about the area, do a couple drive bys (especially in the evening) and explore the neighbourhood - you'll get to see what goes on and get a good feel for the area. 

5. Not negotiating. You may not know that you can negotiate more than just the price of the home. You can also negotiate things like the closing date, terms and conditions in the contract, and repairs. An experienced realtor can guide you through negotiations and make sure you get the best value for the purchase price.  

6. Not thinking about the resale value. Unless you plan to stay in the home long term (even then, life happens and plans change), most people move within 6-10 years so it's important to consider resale. Factors such as condition, location, size, and features can impact the home's resale value. If you're handy, you may even consider a fixer-upper, which is a great way to increase the resale value. 

7. Not understanding the long-term costs. You bought the house, now what? In addition to your mortgage payment, you'll want to budget for property taxes, home insurance, utility payments, and maintenance, which can add up. Ask around to help prepare for these future costs. 

The purchase process can be overwhelming and stressful, but with preparation and the right agent on your side, the process is exciting and enjoyable!

Searching for your dream home? I'd love to help make your dream a reality! 


Spring Tips for Home Maintenance

As the weather starts to warm up, it's time to start thinking about Spring cleaning and home maintenance! Here are some tips to give your home a little TLC and to keep your home in tip top shape: 

  • Clean gutters and downspouts to prevent water damage from a build up of debris. This is an important task that shouldn't be overlooked. 

  • Check the roof for any damage that may have occurred over the winter and have it repaired. This will help maximize the expected life of your roof and prevent potential damage that could occur if left unattended. 

  • Check your HVAC system and have it serviced. After working hard all winter, it's a good idea to have a professional make sure the system is still running property. They can also change the filters and do any necessary cleaning for you. 
  • Inspect the plumbing under sinks, around toilets, and in the basement or crawlspace for any leaks or signs of moisture. Water damage can become costly if it's not repaired. 

  • Clean and seal your decks and patios to extend the lifespan (and for maximum enjoyment for the upcoming patio season!)

  • Clean the windows and doors, and powerwash the exterior of your home. You'll have your home looking fresh in no time. 

  • Do some spring gardening to get your yard in shape for the summer. Rake debris, plant new flowers, mow the lawn, and add new mulch. Your home will have great curb appeal. 

Spring maitenance helps to keep your home in good condition, looking amazing, and can add value in the future! Maintaining the systems in your home can also prevent costly repairs down the road.

Do you need recommendations for professionals to do the maintenance for you? I have some great connections that I'd be happy to share. Just reach out!

As a bonus tip, regularly check your attic for discolouration. Discolouration and mould are very common in the Comox Valley, but can be prevented and are easily treatable if caught early. It's worth the extra effort to avoid future issues!


7 Tips for a First Time Home Buyer

Congratulations on taking the first step towards homeownership! Buying your first home can be both exciting and overwhelming, but with the right guidance and preparation, you can find the perfect home for you and your family. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process:

     1. Budgeting and Financing: Before you start looking at homes, it's important to have a clear understanding of your budget and financing options. Get pre-approved for a mortgage so you know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a home. This will also make you a more attractive candidate to sellers when you're ready to make an offer.

     2. Location, Location, Location: Think about what's important to you in terms of location. Consider factors such as proximity to work, schools, public transportation, and amenities. Make a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves and use it as a guide when you start looking at homes.

     3. Features and Amenities: Consider what type of home you want and what features and amenities are important to you. Do you want a single-family home or a condo? Do you need a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms? A big backyard or a home office? Make a list of your priorities and use it as a guide when you're looking at homes.

     4. Work with a Real Estate Agent: An experienced real estate agent can be a valuable resource throughout the buying process. They can help you find homes that meet your criteria, negotiate on your behalf, and provide guidance and advice.

     5. Get a home inspection: After you make an offer on a home, it’s important to get a professional home inspection. This will ensure that the home is in good condition and that there are no major issues that need to be addressed.

     6. Understand closing costs: Closing costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to understand what they are and budget accordingly. Generally, these can range from 2-5% of the home’s purchase price.

     7. Shop around for insurance: Before you buy a home, it’s important to shop around for the best home insurance rates. This will help you save money and ensure that you’re properly covered.

Keep in mind that buying a home is a significant step, but with proper preparation, you can make it a positive experience. Don't let uncertainty hold you back from achieving your goal of homeownership. With the right guidance, budgeting, financing, location, features and amenities, and a good real estate agent, you can find the perfect home for you and your family. Don't hesitate to act quickly when you find the right opportunity, and make your dream of homeownership come true.

MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.