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Real Estate Resource Guide 2011–2012 – 1

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2 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014

View by appointment.

Getting the most out of your home Few homes are 'market-ready,' but plenty of simple ways to improve value


hether you've got a growing family and need to upgrade to a bigger house, or you're nearing retirement and are hoping to downsize to something more practical, selling your home can be a lot of hard work. Take a look around your house. If you were a prospective buyer, would you be interested? As you will learn from your Realtor, very few homes are ‘marketready’ because, let’s face it, we live in our homes, we don’t tip-toe around like we’re in a museum. Once you’ve made the decision to sell your home, one of the first important pieces of information your Realtor will provide you is a detailed comparative market analysis. This will compare your home to a collection of similar homes that have recently sold on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in your neighbourhood in order to calculate your home’s value within your market. However, the shape your home is in will also help determine its value in the eyes of prospective buyers. It’s sometimes difficult, but you must see your home through a buyer’s eyes and address its imperfections, or if need be minimize personal ‘quirks’ like a huge assortment of model cars, stuffed animals or figurines visible on every shelf and coffee table (yes, we all know someone with a favourite collection). Here are the main steps to preparing your home for sale: • Get rid of clutter • Clean everything • Repair as much as you can, within reason • Never underestimate the power of a paint job • Depersonalize your home • Consider hiring a stager – a professional who can bring in furniture, draperies, mirrors and knick-knacks to create a ‘wow’ factor – your Realtor will be able to recommend a few to choose from • Consider economical ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency • Don’t forget the outside of your

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Your home's appearance, outside and in, is just one factor that can affect its saleability, but taking certain steps to get your home ready can be a big help. home too... curb appeal is huge! The bottom line is, you need to weigh the cost of improvements versus the potential return. Before you embark on significant renovations, your Realtor will help you answer these two questions: Will this make my home more desirable to buyers? Will this increase the value of my home more than it costs me to do it? Some repairs are absolutely vital, like a leaky roof or basement and unsafe electrical problems. It’s against the law to knowingly sell your home with a material latent defect and not disclose it to the buyer. However, it’s not against the law to leave a visible defect unrepaired; it just may not be smart. But how do you know which home improvements will make your home’s value jump, and those that won’t? It’s well documented that the best return on remodelling dollar is in the kitchen, bathrooms and landscaping the front yard. Basements and bedrooms can be a waste of time and money. Work with your Realtor to determine what is essential to

complete and then set a homeimprovement budget. Lastly, there’s part of the bigger picture that you as an owner may not consider, but could have the potential of either increasing or decreasing the value of your home – the benefits and/or drawbacks of your immediate neighbourhood and community, including proposed zoning changes that may result in future developments (good or bad). For example, long-term owners may not perceive nearby hydro lines or train tracks as a detriment, but your potential buyers could. And the flip side is you may not be excited about the new community centre slated to begin construction a year from now, but it could seal the deal for a prospective buyer. A buyer’s Realtor will not only closely examine your house, but any neighbourhood feature that may detract from or add to the value of your home. Your Realtor will make sure that you see the big picture, too. It’s all part of the preparation involved in getting your home ready for listing. - Courtesy of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014 3

10 questions to ask your Realtor Home owners should interview a few potential Realtors before deciding on one to sell their home. Here are 10 smart questions to ask. But remember, this is just a starting point. Your Realtor should be willing to answer any questions you have. After all, that’s why you hire the pros. 1. How long have you been in the business? A freshly-licenced Realtor can do a wonderful job and will have up-to-date training; those in the business longer bring more practical experience to the table. 2. How will your marketing plan meet my needs? Specifically, how will you sell my home? Where and how often do you advertise? Will you show me a sample flier? How do you market online? 3. Will you provide references? Ask if any of the references are related to the Realtor. Ask if you can

call their references with additional questions. 4. What separates you from your competition? Key phrases to listen for: assertive, available by phone or e-mail, analytical, able to maintain a good sense of humour under trying circumstances. 5. Can you help me find other professionals? Your Realtor may be able to provide a list of service providers who can help with things such as home inspection, staging, and renovations, legal and financial advice. Get an explanation if you see the term “affiliated.” It could mean the Realtor is getting compensation from vendors. 6. How much do you charge? Real estate fees or commission are negotiable and may vary from broker to broker. 7. How will you keep me informed?

It’s very important to be up-to-date with the process of selling your home. How will your Realtor keep in touch with you? Will you have regular meetings, in-person or over the phone? 8. How do you qualify potential buyers? You’re looking for buyers who have the desire, means, and resources to purchase your home. It’s your Realtor's job to ensure that you’re not spending your time with deals that can’t be closed. 9. Do you have any questions for me? An effective Realtor should be prepared with specific, in-depth questions about your home and needs. 10. What haven’t I asked you that I need to know? Pay close attention to how the Realtor answers this question, because there is always something you need to know - always. - Courtesy of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

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Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014 5

Improve your odds with homestaging tips Anyone who has ever sold their home can agree that the process of selling can be a tricky one, filled with ups and downs, challenges and victories. Whether you're selling your house to downsize to a nice new condo or you're looking for more room for your evergrowing family, putting forth the extra effort to stage your home nicely can help speed up the process of selling. First and foremost is making sure your home is clean and tidy – not only for showings and open houses, but when the realtor takes photos to be posted online. A tidy, organized home is going to leave a good first impression on potential

buyers, whereas a messy, cluttered space is going to discourage them from wanting to look further. A staged home – with items removed from countertops and tables – may not be the most practical to live in, but will present viewers with a good idea of the space they would have to work with. Paying attention to the little details is also important – broken door knobs and drawer handles should be repaire and any burned-out light bulbs should be replaced. Family photos should also be kept to a minimum, as too many personalized photos on display might make it icontinued


Hugh & McKinnon has been providing clients with professional, personalized real estate service for decades. Based in South Surrey, we are a group of professional Realtors and Property Managers who utilize leading edge technology and traditional values to achieve results for our clients. We develop and deploy customized advertising strategies that give your property maximum exposure in the marketplace. Our sales group works to create a unique experience for home buyers and deliver unparalleled value to sellers. We provide Property Management Services for Residential and Commercial Real Estate, owned by local individuals, national and international property investors and corporations.

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6 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014

difficult for prospective buyers to imagine themselves and their family living in the home. When it comes to paint colour and other decor stylings throughout the house, keeping things fairly neutral is always the safest bet, as not everyone might like a bright purple or orange bathroom. If you do have areas of your home with bold colour schemes, it might be a good idea to paint them before your home is listed, sticking to something a little more plain and neutral, like white, beige or grey. Many experts would agree that the kitchen and bathroom are two of the most important areas of the home when it comes to catching the attention of prospective buyers. Any updates or minor renovations that you're able to undertake – new faucets or countertops, a

fresh coat of paint – will help boost your home's appeal. The entranceway of a home, however, might be equally as important as the kitchen and bathroom, as many people make their mind up whether or not they like a home within the first few minutes of visiting. Not to be forgotten is the home's exterior – no matter how well-staged a home is, if the yard is unsightly, chances are, nobody is going to want to live there. Be sure that your lawn is kept nicely cut, weeds in the garden are dealt with and the yard, driveway and garage are kept clutter-free. Once you feel your house is ready to be admired by the masses, having someone take a second look to make sure you haven't missed anything.

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Proud P ro to support oour ur local lo community! SPONSORSHIPS

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Businesses being encouraged to buy Low interest rates send local commercial real estate skyrocketing As the Semiahmoo Peninsula continues to grow and housing developments crop up in a variety of neighbourhoods, there's another facet of the industry that is experiencing a significant boom, according to local experts: commercial real estate. With interest rates at historic lows, many businesses are opting to own their office space as opposed to leasing it, said Gord MacPherson, senior vice-president of RE/MAX Commercial Advantage. "The banks are extremely friendly towards businesses owning their own real estate," MacPherson said. "With the low interest rates that we're currently seeing, the argument has never been

Melissa Smalley photo

The Grandview Business Centre in South Surrey. more compelling for a business to go from being a tenant leasing space to being an owner." Patricularly booming in recent months has been the Grandview area of South Surrey, where offices in the Croydon Business Centre and Grandview Business Centre have been

selling extremely well. The brand-new spaces range from 1,000 to 1,500 sq.-ft., offer plenty of natural light and are in the heart of the booming Grandview Corners/Morgan Crossing neighbourhood, with plenty of shopping, dining and banking close at hand.

The benefits of ownership for businesses are plentiful, MacPherson pointed out, noting that it allows companies to build equity, avoid rental hikes and high management fees and receive tax advantages. "Many professionals can also qualify for 100 per cent financing, believe it or not," MacPherson added. Additional commercial real estate developments are in the works for the area, expected to get underway in the next couple of years, pointing to the fact that the shift towards businesses owning their office space will continue to grow on the Semiahmoo Peninsula. "This is a trend that certainly seems to be sticking around."

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Choosing a builder Experience, professionalism essential Building a new home comes with a huge amount of decision making, and perhaps the most important in the whole process is choosing a builder. When you are thinking about buying a new home, it's a good idea to turn to a builder who is a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). The CHBA represents the professional homebuilding industry, with more than 8,000 members across the country. Membership in the CHBA is a strong indication that a new homebuilder is a professional, dedicated to the business of home building and in business for the long term. Membership is also

10 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014

voluntary. Members agree to the association’s Code of Ethics, which is based on principles of fairness, integrity and consumer satisfaction. Homebuilding is complex, demanding and constantly evolving. Through the CHBA, members can keep up to date on technological advances, regulations, new products, financing and so on – in short, knowledge that no professional new home builder can do without. Building a home is a team effort that takes the skills and expertise of many different trades and suppliers. Builders who belong to the CHBA have ready access to a icontinued

Y Having an experienced and trusted professional on board is an essential part of the homebuilding process.

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wide network of member companies to help them deliver a high level of quality and service to home buyers. Managing a successful homebuilding business means being part of the community. Through their local associations, CHBA members work with local decision-makers to contribute to the vitality and well-being of the community, and perhaps most importantly, to make a difference in the lives of the people who live there. A great tool all consumers


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Additional costs to buying a home When in the market to buy a home, the price of a house isn't the only cost you need to consider when determining if you're ready to buy. Other costs associated with purchasing real estate include: • Legal fees • Appraisal fee • Home inspection • Property-transfer tax or land-transfer tax • Water tests / septic tests (depending on location) • Survey certificates • Pre-paid expenses, including property tax (typically paid for the year by the seller, who will need to be reimbursed a portion of the year that the buyer will occupy) and pre-paid utility bills • Strata/condo-administration costs to produce: - Estoppel certificate - Insurance binder - Form A • GST (new construction only) Though not all of these costs will apply to each and every homebuyer, they are important factors, along with things like moving expenses and new furniture, to be considered when hunting for your new home.


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Strata review deadline approaching Depreciation reports required to be completed or waived by Dec. 13 For the thousands of homeowners across B.C. who live in a stratacontrolled property, important changes to the rules governing stratas have been taking place over the past few years. Since first becoming a trend in this province in the 1970s, strata-controlled properties have experienced a huge growth over the past four decades, and now account for about 25 per cent of all taxable properties in B.C. There are close to 30,000 strata corporations across the province consisting of more than 900,000 individual units, representing billions of dollars in property values. Every strata corporation is required by the Strata Property Act to create a budget, to cover things such as gutter and window cleaning, landscaping, etc., but is also required to include a contingency reserve fund to cover major expenses, such as new roofs, painting or a new boiler.

File photo

Strata corporations in B.C. must obtain depreciation reports before Dec. 13. However, according to Kevin Thom, president of Peninsula Strata Management, strata corporations aren't legally required to properly fund themselves for those big expenses, resulting in some major financial issues when stratas were suddenly faced with huge repair bills. "There's no specific requirement for strata corporations to properly fund themselves for major expenses," Thom explained, noting that some

strata corporations weren't keeping up with things like deck maintenance and repair and roof replacement. "There were big ticket items and people did not have proper budgets to do these things." In December 2011, the provincial government amended the Strata Property Act to require strata corporations to obtain depreciation reports every three years, in an effort to help plan for repair, maintenance and replacement of common property. The reports must include a breakdown of a strata corporation's major financial assets – roof, building envelope, central heating system, etc. – the anticipated maintenance, repair and replacement costs projected over 30 years, and a financial forecast with at least three cash-flow funding models. Strata corporations do have the right to waive the requirement, isee page 14

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Strata regulation changes i from page 19 Thom pointed out, also noting that the report is intended to be merely an informational guide. "There's no legal requirement for strata corporations to follow any of the funding requirements," he said. As the Dec. 13 deadline to obtain these depreciation reports looms, Thom said the response has been varied. "A small percentage of strata corporations have got their reports, and a larger percentage have their reports underway but not yet completed," he said. "A good percentage are waiving, not because they're not doing their own… but they've already been doing financial planning for 10 or 15 years, and they don't see any reason to spend

$5,000 to $7,000 to duplicate what they've already been doing." The impact of depreciation reports is expected to be felt by not only potential consumers – who will have a better look at a strata corporation's financial picture ahead of purchasing – but also mortgage providers and insurance companies. For those in the market to buy, Thom recommends you put a great deal of research into the strata corporation's history, reading minutes from the past few years to get an idea of what sort of maintenance has been taking place. "The financial statements are critical to review, and the contingency reserve account – you really want to take a look at this too."

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AMY HARPER 604.538.2125


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HWY: 5.2L/100 KM CITY: 7.1L/100 KMʈ















Inventory is limited. Dealer order may be required.


Limited model shown







%† +




HWY: 6.7L/100 KM CITY: 10.1L/100 KMʈ









STANDARD FEATURES INCLUDE: Inventory is limited. Dealer order may be required.


Limited model shown

3150 King George Blvd. Surrey


DL#31129 5-year/100,000 km Comprehensive Limited Warranty†† 5-year/100,000 km Powertrain Warranty 5-year/100,000 km Emission Warranty

TM The Hyundai names, logos, product names, feature names, images and slogans are trademarks owned by Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. †Finance offers available O.A.C. from Hyundai Financial Services based on a new 2013 Accent 5 Door L 6-Speed Manual/Elantra L 6-Speed Manual/Santa Fe Sport 2.4L FWD Auto/Elantra GT SE 6-Speed Auto with an annual finance rate of 0%/0%/0.99%/0% for 96/96/96/24 months. Bi-weekly payments are $73/$82/$139/$453. No down payment required. Cost of Borrowing is $0/$0/$1,126/$0. Finance offers include Delivery and Destination of $1,550/$1,550/$1,760/$1,550. Registration, insurance, PPSA, fees, levies, charges, license fees and all applicable taxes are excluded. Delivery and Destination charge includes freight, P.D.E., dealer admin fees and a full tank of gas. Financing example: 2013 Elantra L 6-Speed Manual for $16,999 (includes $500 in price adjustments) at 0% per annum equals $82 bi-weekly for 96 months for a total obligation of $16,999. Cash price is $16,999. Cost of Borrowing is $0. Example price includes Delivery and Destination of $1,550. Registration, insurance, PPSA, fees, levies, charges, license fees and all applicable taxes are excluded. Delivery and Destination charge includes freight, P.D.E., dealer admin fees and a full tank of gas. ʈFuel consumption for 2013 Accent 5 Door L 6-Speed Manual (HWY 5.3L/100KM; City 7.1L/100KM)/Elantra L 6-Speed Manual (HWY 5.2L/100KM; City 7.1L/100KM)/Santa Fe Sport 2.4L FWD Auto (HWY 6.7L/100KM, City 10.1L/100KM)/Elantra GT SE 6-Speed Auto (HWY 5.3L/100KM; City 7.6L/100KM) are based on Energuide. Actual fuel efficiency may vary based on driving conditions and the addition of certain vehicle accessories. Fuel economy figures are used for comparison purposes only. ʕPrice of models shown: 2013 Accent 5 Door GLS 6-Speed Manual/Elantra Limited/Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Limited AWD/Elantra GT SE Tech 6-Speed Auto are $19,249/$24,849/$40,259/$27,899. Prices include Delivery and Destination charges of $1,550/$1,550/$1,760/$1,550. Registration, insurance, PPSA, fees, levies, charges, license fees and all applicable taxes are excluded. Delivery and Destination charge includes freight, P.D.E., dealer admin fees and a full tank of gas. ΩPrice adjustments are calculated against the vehicle’s starting price. Price adjustments of up to $200/$500/$500/$2,350 available on 2013 Accent 5 Door L 6-Speed Manual/Elantra L 6-Speed Manual/Santa Fe Sport 2.4L FWD Auto/Elantra GT SE 6-Speed Auto. Price adjustments applied before taxes. Offer cannot be combined or used in conjunction with any other available offers. Offer is non-transferable and cannot be assigned. No vehicle trade-in required. †ΩʕOffers available for a limited time, and subject to change or cancellation without notice. See dealer for complete details. Dealer may sell for less. Inventory is limited, dealer order may be required. ††Hyundai’s Comprehensive Limited Warranty coverage covers most vehicle components against defects in workmanship under normal use and maintenance conditions.

18 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014

Plenty of ways to cash-in on rebates There’s no question that becoming a homeowner is an expensive endeavour. From taxes and legal fees, to upkeep and repairs, the list of bills is never ending. However, whether you are a first-time homebuyer, or have been in the game for years, there are a number of grants and rebates available that can help ease the burden on your bank account. Here are the top 15 grants and rebates for homebuyers and owners:

$450,000 and above. Canada Revenue Agency Enter ‘RC4028’ in the search box. 1-800-959-8287

3. BC Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First-Time Home Buyers’ Program Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced up to $450,000. The rebate does not apply to homes $450,000 and above. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue Taxes/Property_Transfer_Tax/ptt.htm 250-387-0604

1. Home Buyers’ Plan Qualifying homebuyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Homebuyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time. Canada Revenue Agency Search ‘Home Buyers’ Plan’ 1-800-959-8287

2. GST Rebate on New Homes New homebuyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is $350,000 or less. The rebate is equal to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000. The rebate does not apply to homes

4. First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit This federal non-refundable income tax credit is for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a isee page 20

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604-538-9622 VISIT US AT Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014 19

Grants for homeowners i from page 19

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co-operative housing corporation. For the 2012 tax year, the maximum credit is $750. Canada Revenue Agency Search ‘First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit.’ 1-800-959-8281

5. BC Home Owner Grant Reducing property taxes for homeowners with an assessed value of up to $1,295,000, this basic grant also gives home owners: • A maximum reduction of $570 in property taxes on principal residences in the Capital, Greater Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional districts; • An additional grant of $200 to rural homeowners elsewhere in the province; and • An additional grant of $275 to seniors aged 65-plus, those who are permanently disabled and war veterans of certain wars. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue or contact your municipal tax office.

6. BC Property Tax Deferment Programs • Property Tax Deferment Program for Seniors. Qualifying home owners aged 55-plus may be eligible to defer property taxes. • Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program. Qualifying low income home owners may be eligible to defer property taxes. • Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children. Qualifying low-income homeowners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue Tax_Deferment/ptd.htm

7. Canada Mortgage and Housing Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program Grants This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low income homeowners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and owners creating secondary and garden suites. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 1-800-668-2642, 604-873-7408

8. Home Adaptations for Independence A program jointly sponsored by the provincial and federal governments provides up to $20,000 to help eligible low-income seniors and disabled homeowners and landlords to finance modifications to their homes to make them accessible and safer. icontinued

20 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014

BC Housing 604-646-7055, 1-800-407-7757, extension 7055

9. CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund Home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance who purchase an energy efficient home or make energy saving renovations qualify for a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 604-731-5733

10. Energy Saving Mortgages Financial institutions offer a range of mortgages to home buyers and owners who make their homes more energy efficient. For example, home owners who have a home energy audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy Saver™ Mortgage may qualify for a rebate of $300 to their RBC account. 1-800-769-2511

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11. Low Interest Renovation Loans Financial institutions offer ‘green’ loans for home owners making energy efficient upgrades. Vancity’s Bright Ideas personal loan offers homeowners up to $20,000 at prime + 1% for up to 10 years. RBC’s Energy Saver loan offers a 1% interest rate discount or a $100 rebate on a home energy audit with a qualifying purchase through a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000. For information visit your financial institution.

12. BC Hydro Appliance Rebates Mail-in rebates for purchasers of ENERGY STAR washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers or freezers. 1-800-224-9376

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14. BC Hydro Windows Rebate Program


Receive rebates or tax savings when you buy ENERGY STAR high-performance windows. offers/current_offers.htm


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15. FortisBC Rebate Program A range of rebates for home owners include a $75 rebate for upgrading to an ENERGY STAR washing machines, a $300 fireplace rebate, $500 off waterheaters and $1,000 for switching to natural gas. aspx; 1-888-224-2710 -Courtesy of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

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Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014 21

10 steps to buying your home 1. Are you ready to buy? You should already have saved some of your down payment and should be good at managing debt like credit cards or loans. A mortgage is a financial responsibility that also requires constant upkeep. 2. Decide how much you can afford. Use this simple equation to consider what to expect after you’ve saved for your down payment. The cost of buying a home = one time costs (down payment, legal fees, inspection fees and taxes) + monthly costs (mortgage, utilities, maintenance, insurance and property taxes). 3. Decide what you want to buy. First, decide where you want to live (urban, suburban, rural) and then decide which neighbourhood suits you best and what type of home (detached, attached or apartment) you want. Whether or not the property is new or resale may also affect your costs. 4. Find the right Realtor.

There are many ways to find a real estate agent; drive through neighborhoods that interest you and jot down names, go to open houses, look at advertising, ask friends and family for referrals. Interview two or three and pick the one you like best. 5. See what’s out there. Realtors run an incredible search tool called the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) which contains information on property listings. Your agent can send you listings that fit your criteria and together you can draw up a short list and visit them. 6. Sell your current home. (see page 23)





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7. Add specialists to your team. Decide on a lender. A notary public or a lawyer will help you understand the many legal documents that come with buying your home. A home inspector can save you from unpleasant surprises when you move in. 8. Make an offer. Realtors are expertly trained and will prepare your offer for you and explain any terminology you don’t understand. 9. Arrange a mortgage. There are banks, credit unions and other lenders available for you. Talk to your financial institution and call around. 10. Close the deal and move in. Your offer has been accepted and your real estate agent and notary public or lawyer will do most of the closing work. Make sure you understand the conditions of the agreement that require immediate action on for part. -Courtesy of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

HomeLife Benchmark Realty Corporation White Rock


22 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014


10 steps to selling your home 1. Decide when to sell. In real estate, timing can influence your home’s selling price. Factors like how quickly you need to sell, whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market and seasonality all play a role in your home’s final selling price. 2. Find the right Realtor. The agent who helped you buy your home is a good place to start. They already know your home and they know you, so you’ll be saving time right from the start. Or look for names on For Sale signs in your neighbourhood or ask friends and family. Make sure to interview candidates and choose the one you like best. 3. Sign a listing agreement. This authorizes your agent and their brokerage to market and sell your home. It will define the legal relationship between you and the real estate brokerage and also set a time limit for your agent to sell your home. 4. Determine an asking price. The right asking price will attract buyers and pay you a maximum

return. Setting too low a price means you could miss out on thousands of dollars. Setting too high a price will scare away buyers. Your goal is to find fair market value. 5. Add specialists to your team. Similar to when you bought your home, it’s essential to have a notary public or lawyer handle all the documents that change hands and make sure your interests are protected. 6. Prepare your home for sale. Now is the time to see your home through a buyer’s eyes: get rid of clutter, clean and repair as much as you can, within reason. Remember, weigh the cost of all your home improvements versus the potential financial return. 7. Let your Realtor do what they do. Your agent will begin to market your home. A For Sale sign, open houses, newspaper ads, a listing on MLS, the Internet and of course through your agent’s relationship with other agents. 8. Prepare your finances. Will the buyer “assume” your

mortgage or are you “discharging” it? If you’re buying a new home, is your mortgage “portable?” What taxes are involved? These are important questions to ask your agent, your lender and your notary public or lawyer. 9. Receive an offer. Although Realtors will walk you through the process, be prepared for some stress. You will see every offer since it’s required that you see every offer submitted. You will have three options: accept, reject or counter offer. 10. Close the deal. You were successful and have drafted a legally binding agreement. Contact your lawyer or notary public, your lending institution and consult your Realtor. Immediately start satisfying any conditions of the agreement that require action on your part. On closing day, your lawyer or notary public will finalize all the details and give you a cheque for the net proceeds. -Courtesy of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

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Mortgage-rule changes explained Regulations tightened in 2012

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Last summer, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced changes to mortgage regulations across the country, aimed at reining in a hot housing market and ensuring Canadians aren’t taking on more debt than they can afford. The changes, which went into affect July 9, 2012, included reducing the maximum amortization period – the length of time it takes to pay off a mortgage – for a government-insured mortgage from 30 years to 25 years, and reducing the maximum amount for refinancing to 80% of the appraised value from 85%. To understanding what these changes mean for homeowners and prospective buyers on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, Jared Dreyer, past president of the Mortgage Broker Association of B.C., has provided some facts and figures highlighting last year’s rule changes.

Quick Facts: 1. Lines of Credit: You can Jared Dreyer now borrow to a maximum mortgage professional of 65% loan to value of your property. In the past it was 80%. There are, however, a few lenders that will still go up to 75%. 2. Self-Employed: Clients who are self-employed and want to use their “stated income” (gross incomes), can go to a maximum loan to value of 65% on conventional mortgages. 3. All Variable-Rate Mortgages must use the five-year Bank of Canada benchmark rate to qualify as well as any fixed or variable terms less then five years insured or conventional must qualify on the five-year fixed Bank of Canada benchmark rate. For example, if you secure a 2 year fixed rate at 2.79%, your mortgage application will be qualified based on the 5 year fixed benchmark with currently sits at 5.24% The following changes only affect purchasers who plan on putting less than 20% down payment, otherwise known as high ratio mortgages, insured through CMHC or Genworth. These changes speak to ensuring we have a strong first-time homebuyers, who are building equity in their properties, to soften debt exposure and limit the loan to value ratios on higher priced real estate.  It is important to understand again that these current changes will NOT affect consumers providing a down payment of 20% or more.

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24 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014


Changes in effect as of July 9, 2012: 1. Amortizations reduced to 25 years from 30 years. (on properties with less than 20% down payment) Example*: A mortgage of $250,000 with a 30-year amortization at 3.09% five-year fixed rate = $1094.89 monthly payment. A mortgage of $250,000 with the new 25-year amortization at 3.09% five-year fixed rate = $1227.54 monthly payment  (Difference of $132.65 per month) 2. Refinancing is REDUCED from 85% loan-to-value (LTV) to 80% - no change to purchases. (It is important to note that most consumers currently choose to do refinancing to a maximum of 80% LTV to avoid insurance fees so this specific change should have very little impact) 3. Properties purchased over $1 million no longer will be eligible for mortgage insurance (If the home purchase price is under $1 million dollars consumers can still purchase up to 95% LTV with insurance – anything over $1 million dollars, 20% down payment is required). 4. GDS and TDS set at 39% and 44% if credit score is over 680 - The reduction in amortization combined with the lowered GDS ratio could affect a number of people’s ability to qualify. If your credit score is below 680 you can qualify on a lesser GDS of 34% and TDS of 40.

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The Good News: A five per cent down payment rule still remains in effect for property values under $1 million dollars. Mortgage brokers have access to specialty lenders in addition to mainstream banks and trust companies to help you get approved even if you fall outside the guidelines. As the mortgage-qualification landscape becomes more complicated, it is critical consumers work with an independent mortgage professional that understands these changes and can help navigate the rules to ensure the best mortgage solution.  *Figures are for sample purposes only. Rates are subject to change. On approved credit.

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Thinkstock photo

Prospective homebuyers, especially those entering the market for the first time, could be affected by changes to mortgage rules put in place by the federal government.

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Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014 25

'Curb appeal' can make big impact Homeowners who have tried to sell their property are likely familiar with the phrase “curb appeal.” Curb appeal is all about dressing up your home to make a strong first impression on prospective buyers, many of whom will have an opinion about the property before they even get out of their cars to have a look around. A home with strong curb appeal can entice buyers who are likely to believe that a home with a well-maintained exterior is likely to have an equally impressive interior. Homeowners who want the process of selling their home to go smoothly can improve the property’s curb appeal in a number of ways, many of which don’t necessitate a substantial home improvement budget. • Clean up. The most effective way to improve curb appeal is to clean up the property. Many homeowners are savvy enough to remove toys and other items from the yard before showing a home, but cleaning up goes beyond removing clutter from

Thinkstock photo

A home's curb appeal – its appearance from the street – sets an important first impression for prospective buyers. the property. Make sure all hedges are trimmed and remove weeds, sticks and other debris from any flower beds. Lay mulch in the flower beds and garden, as mulch prevents weed growth while helping the soil retain moisture, resulting in more attractive gardens to catch a buyer’s eye. • Get an “edge” on other sellers. Edging is another easy and effective way to improve curb appeal. Edge driveways, sidewalks and other

Trusted advice. Informed decisions.

walkways around the property, removing or trimming anything that is hanging over the driveway or walkways. If the boundary between your driveway and lawn is not distinct, consider installing edging materials such as stone or bricks. The edging can be level with the driveway or elevated, but keep in mind that elevated driveway edging can protect the lawn, preventing kids from riding their bicycles onto the lawn or cars from driving onto it. Adding edging is not a very difficult do-it-yourself project. • Take to the trees. Many homeowners grow accustomed to overgrown trees around their property and may not notice that low-hanging, unsightly branches are hiding the home from view. Buyers want to see the house, so take to the trees and trim any branches that hang too low or obscure your home. • Clean the gutters. Leaves and sticks hanging from the gutters are a red flag to buyers, who tend to associate clogged gutters with roof icontinued



Barrister & Solicitor

Real Estate transactions can be complex to navigate. When purchasing or selling your property having sound legal assistance assures peace of mind by protecting your interests.

Joanne Beeson, J.D. 604-541-4888

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26 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014

damage. Clean the gutters thoroughly before putting your home up for sale and keep them clean throughout the selling process. If your property includes lots of trees, install guards to keep twigs and leaves out of the gutters. • Make the home accessible through the front door. Many homeowners enter their home through a side door or through their garage. If you fall into this category, keep in mind that prospective buyers will be entering through the front door, so make this area accessible. Clear any clutter, such as overgrown hedges, away from the front door, and consider upgrading the door handle to a more modern feature. In addition, make sure the lock on the front door doesn’t stick, forcing the realtor and buyers to immediately struggle before entering the home.

You want buyers and their real estate agents to get in and out of the home as smoothly as possible. • Make sure all plants, including flowers, are living. Dehydrated or dead plants and flowers are eyesores, and they will give buyers the impression that you didn’t pay much attention to your property. Make sure all plants are alive and thriving and replace those that aren’t. You can replant new flowers or plants or just use potted plants instead. When purchasing new plants, choose lowmaintenance varieties that appeal to buyers who want good vibrant plants but might not want to put in much work into the garden. With an improvement to your home's curb appeal, your chances of impressing prospective buyers increase, bringing you a step closer to completing the sale.

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Global disasters affect earthquake coverage locally Various factors lead to higher premiums If you’ve noticed an increase recently in the cost of the earthquake coverage on your home insurance policy, it’s important to know that rates do not just go up arbitrarily and without reason. There are various factors that have led to higher earthquake insurance premiums and deductibles, many of which have to do with the statistics surrounding the worldwide frequency of earthquakes and other catastrophes. Since 1900, there has been an average of one earthquake per year measuring a magnitude of 8.0 or higher. On average, there are 15 earthquakes each year between a magnitude of 7.0-7.9, and many of them take place around what is known as the Pacific Rim of Fire, which the Semiahmoo Peninsula is part of. The top three worldwide insurance payouts in history have all occurred in the past decade: in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy ($77 billion), in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina ($100 billion) and in 2011 after the New Zealand and Japan earthquakes ($122 billion). An additional factor that affects the cost of earthquake insurance in B.C. is the requirement of Canadian insurance companies to purchase re-insurance. Re-insurance occurs when multiple insurance companies from around the world share risk by purchasing insurance policies from other insurers to limit the total loss the original insurer would experience in the case of a disaster. Essentially, it is re-insurance that would provide the financial means to a Canadian insurance company to pay claims in the event of a catastrophic occurrence such as an earthquake in the Lower Mainland. The news is not all bad, however, and to add some context, earthquake premiums in B.C. have historically been on the lower end of the spectrum to begin with. Compared to California, where earthquakes are more common, B.C. earthquake insurance rates are low. A B.C. house insured for $300,000 would have an annual earthquake premium ranging from $225 to $485. A California house insured for the same mount would have an annual premium of $865. As a result of these factors, Canadian insurance companies have increased earthquake insurance premiums, deductibles and, in the case of one insurance company, implemented a limited withdrawal of earthquake coverage in highly exposed areas of B.C. Earthquake protection is a vital component of overall home security, and it is essential to work with an insurance company that partners with responsible and proactive companies worldwide to ensure any and all insurable claims that might occur for their clients. -Courtesy of Mardon Insurance

Semiahmoo Rotary welcomes new residents to our community

! e m o c Wel

You can make a difference in the community. Why not become a member of Semiahmoo Rotary? When you start with Rotary, good things happen. Join us for breakfast 7 am Thursdays at the Rotary Fieldhouse 2197 - 148th St., South Surrey Athletic Park

Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014 29

Realty Watch aims to help police, families

“Your Cloverdale Law Firm” Our goal is to provide you with top quality service in a comfortable, friendly environment.



5690 - 176A Street, Surrey


Many parents and family members of seniors may not know that if a loved one goes missing, police aren’t the only resource engaged in the search. Nearly 14,000 Realtors across the Lower Mainland make up Realty Watch, a community crimeprevention program that police can activate in the event of a child, senior or vulnerable person going missing. After police make the request, a Realty Watch fan-out alert is texted simultaneously to Realtors across the Lower Mainland. They receive a description, location last seen and, whenever possible, a photo. They are a perfect resource for police because unlike many professionals who are office-bound, Realtors

are mobile. Realty Watch is credited with finding three missing people, locating a fraudster and has been relied on by police for reports of suspicious activity in neighbourhoods since the program began 19 years ago. Realty Watch was inspired by tragic circumstances – in 1994, a White Rock teen was murdered and discovered less than four blocks from where she was last seen. Her father had asked for the help of local Realtors®, suggesting they would be a good resource to help search for missing people. For more information about Realty Watch, please visit www. -Courtesty of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board

To Explore your mortgage options please contact: Tammy Johnson Branch Manager Ocean Park Branch 12810 16 Avenue, Surrey, BC Tel: 604-541-3394

Teresa Johnstone Branch Manager Semiahmoo Branch 1626 Martin Drive, Surrey, B.C. Tel: 604-541-5646

30 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014

Your neighborhood realtors® 803,*/()"3%50 (*7&:063&46-54







LOUISE 604.531.4000 604.5

LESLIE 604.653.6086

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Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014 31

Purchasing or Selling a Home? CALL A TRUSTED PROFESSIONAL! $1 SO ,29 LD 5,0 0

RO WH C IT $1 K CO E 99 N ,0 0 DO 0

EA B S $7 EACT 19 H ,0 0 0


For more info visit

“Our experience with Joanne is worth sharing. She has been extremely reliable, attentive, punctual and knowledgeable in the course of the sale of our home and purchase of our new residence. Having had experience in real estate transactions for over 40 years we were pleased to ¿nd a responsible and trustworthy representative in our community. We would highly recommend Joanne to anyone looking for a dedicated and sincere salesperson to sell or purchase real estate.” – Bob and Jo-Ann

Joanne Taylor






* Real Trends Top 250 Report, May 2012


Extensive Marketing Plan • Exceptional Service • Local Expertise AWARDED ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2012/2013 SOUTH SURREY ROTARY CLUB

Listed at $1,350,000


Listed at $2,579,000

Listed at $3,288,000


“He also goes that extra mile. In our case, many extra miles. We considered ourselves very lucky to have found such a professional and dedicated realtor. Plus he’s a super person.”

Hamish gave us peace of mind during the entire process of selling our home. Not only that, he spent personal time giving us superb after-sale advice, direction and help. We were more than pleased with the sale price. Hamish is not only a hard-working and knowledgeable realtor, he has become a trusted friend.”

- Eric & Michele Partridge

- Martin Andersen

For more client reviews

Call Hamish Ross today… DIRECT

604-376-7687 OFFICE 604-538-8888


32 Peace Arch News • REAL ESTATE RESOURCE GUIDE • 2013-2014









Your downsizing specialist!

Listed at 2,100,000

September 24, 2013  

Section Y of the September 24, 2013 edition of the Peace Arch News