1] Prepare a financial information package that you can send to the lender where you intend to apply for a mortgage. This information should include but not be limited to the following;

  • Proof of income (T-4 for the past two years, a recent pay stub and a letter of employment)
  • CRA Notice of Assessment for the last two years

If you are self employed be sure your income tax returns have been filed and you can show there are no monies owed by you to CRA.

2] Contact your lender / financial institution or mortgage broker to get pre-approved.

  • A lender will review your credit score, income, assets, liabilities, down payment (equity in your present home if applicable) and determine how much you can afford to pay for a new home.
  • You will have options presented to you by the lender, such as mortgage term, monthly or bi-weekly payments, and the amortization length.
  • Remember, a pre-approval is based your Credit, Income and Down Payment. In addition to one other very important factor, “The price of the property you wish to purchase”.

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The “Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver” recently published listing and sales statistics for the month of May, 2019 and after a sluggish start to the year sales have picked up dramatically and once again, pre-construction condo and townhouse sales are hot.
If you have given some thought to purchasing a pre-construction condo or townhouse for investment or personal use purposes, this article will be of interest to you. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to doing this.

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The key objective when staging your home is to declutter and to a certain extent depersonalize It. You want potential buyers to envision your home in ‘their mind’s eye’ with their personal décor and furnishings.

A professional stager can set the right emotional mood for potential buyers while focusing primarily on the kitchen, dining, family and living rooms in addition to the master bedroom. The stager starts the process by meeting with the Sellers at their home, introducing their services and explaining how and why they do what they do. Once the Sellers give the stager the green light to proceed, they will tour the house and the stager will make suggestions, recommendations and tips which will be followed by a hard copy report.

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One of the greatest contributing factors to having a mortgage application approved is your credit score. A high credit score will not only strengthen a mortgage application, it will also work in your favour when negotiating an interest rate. Conversely, a low credit score may wind up costing you a higher interest rate and possibly having your mortgage application not being approved.

1] Find out what your credit score is:
This is a good starting point. Knowing what your credit score is before contacting potential mortgage lenders is important. You can contact Equifax and other web sites who have apps which are compatible with most smart phones, to find information about your credit history and credit score.

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In some cases, making a low-ball offer can be a wise strategy, particularly when there is a buyer’s market, a low sell through rate (monthly sales to active listings ratio) or when a property has been on the market for an extended time period.

Writing a low-ball offer is not rocket science but to get the seller’s attention you should first speak with your real estate professional for their opinion and advice as to how to proceed with your offer. It is important to engage the seller in order to improve your chances for success.


1]  Know the market.

If you are in a buyer’s market, this means there are a lot less active buyers (competition) and the market conditions more than the home’s listed price will determine how much your offer will be.  Ask your real estate professional to provide you with a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) that will clearly show what properties have sold for over the last year in the neighbourhoods you are looking to buy. These ‘sold’ prices will most likely be well below list prices, providing you with a good measuring stick as to what a given property’s present market value is.


Conversely if you are in a seller’s market, low-ball offers are very likely not going to be accepted and may not even be countered by the seller.


2]  Days On Market ( DOM )

How long has the home been listed?  As days turn into months the sellers usually will reduce the price of their property and adjust their price / sale expectations. Typically if a home has been on the market for more than ninety days, the chances are really good that the seller will be open to offers. The longer the ‘Days on Market’ the greater likelihood of having a lower offer being accepted.

When viewing properties that have been on the market for extended periods, ask your real estate agent to conduct research into possible reasons why the property has not been sold. If latent defects exist or potential ‘big ticket’ repairs or renovations are required, you are then negotiating from a position of strength.


3]  Make your offer clean, with few subjects and keep it fair

If your intention is to write a low-ball offer, make it as subject free and clean as possible. The pain of a seller considering a low-ball offer can sometimes be offset by a quick sale with few subjects. Particularly if there is not a ‘Subject to financing” or “Subject to the sale of your property” clause in your offer. Don’t risk offending the seller or seller’s agent by writing an unreasonable offer or you may find the seller simply will not respond.

4]  Create a strategy to appeal to the Seller, and ideally their reasons for selling

When viewing properties for sale with your real estate buyer’s agent, its always a good idea to know the reasons why a given seller has listed their home for sale. Have they bought another home? Are they selling because of a new job in another city? Perhaps they are downsizing? Or maybe there are some significant repair and maintenance issues. Sometimes it is a health issue and the seller just wants it sold. Either way, knowing the motivation of the seller is always a good thing as you determine what price you are prepared to offer.


Having your low-ball offer accepted will be dependant on a few different factors, starting with your strategy, the seller’s urgency, subjects and conditions contained in your offer, market conditions and whether or not your offer is reasonable.

Ultimately your success will be greatly enhanced if you work with your real estate professional to create a thorough strategic plan.


1] House shopping without knowing what you can afford.

Once first-time home buyers have made the decision to buy, the irresistible urge to start viewing properties kicks in and can often lead to disappointment and sometimes discouragement, particularly when your lender tells you after the fact that you cannot afford the house you have fallen in love with. Before you start checking out properties, meet with your bank / lender or mortgage broker and get a pre-approval. The pre-approval will have a three or four month expiration date so you can confidently go house shopping knowing that you are in a position to write an offer when the ‘right’ opportunity comes your way.

2] Taking on new debt or changing jobs during the time frame between pre-approval and purchase, which might negatively impact your mortgage application.

Your financial situation / credit score can be negatively affected if you were to change your employment, take on new debt / loans or purchase big ticket items on credit. So once you have your pre-approved mortgage in place it is a good idea to stay the course regarding the above mentioned actions until your property purchase is finalized and the funds have been advanced to you.

3] Not saving enough for a down payment.

The minimum down payment for a residential property purchase is 5% but it is a good idea to put down 20% of the purchase price, which means you won’t be faced with having to take out a high ratio mortgage and avoid mortgage default insurance premiums. If you are concerned about the amount of deposit you can raise, speak with your bank or a trusted financial advisor for their professional advice.

4] Not realizing how many additional expenditures will need to be paid on or before closing.

These expenses will include; deposit, house inspection, property insurance, legal / conveyancing fees, applicable taxes and moving costs. Speak to your mortgage lender and real estate agent to ascertain exactly what costs you will need to account for.

5] Not having a wish list of needs and wants.

Not having a wish list with your needs and wants itemized is a bit like going on a long driving holiday without a road map. It really is important to have a clear understanding of what your first home needs to have, such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, yard area, one or two vehicle garage, proximity to schools, work, etc. And then the wants; such as a fireplace, a view, maybe a hot tub or pool. Having this check-list will prove invaluable as you will need to compromise on features unless of course money is no object.

6] Viewing too few or too many properties.

While there may be an urge to write an offer on the first or second house you walk through, it is always a good idea to see a few different properties before deciding to write an offer on one. It is not unusual to find several similarly priced homes offer radically different features, floor plans and upgrades that make them unique.

Conversely if you view too many properties the process can become confusing as it can become challenging to differentiate between houses and their features and most importantly you might miss out on a house you recently viewed and loved but chose to continue the search while in the meantime another buyer’s offer was accepted and that house is off the market.

It isn’t unusual to narrow down a search to more than one property, in which case secondary (although important) considerations will help the decision making process, such as; resale value, future development potential, proximity to parks and recreation facilities and shopping.

7. Becoming house rich and cash poor.

Optimism reigns supreme when first-time buyers are searching for their dream home and why shouldn’t it? This experience is going to be a lasting memory and the feeling of owning your home is an exhilarating one. Sometimes to the point where you might feel that a positive approach will see you through the process which potentially may cause you to over estimate your financial ability to handle the significant financial commitment you are about to make.

When deciding how much of a mortgage payment you can afford, it is really important to budget all of your fixed monthly expenses, living expenses, savings, vacation fund, education and rainy-day fund, because owning a home will result in repairs and maintenance at some point, usually when it is least expected. And, if you choose to buy a condo or townhouse, in addition to monthly strata fees you may at some point in time (as a strata complex ages) be required to contribute your share of the costs for repairs of such things as a roof, gutters, balconies / decks etc.


First time buyers living in the Metro Vancouver / Fraser Valley region face the challenge of finding affordable housing in one of Canada’s most expensive markets. Coupled with new mortgage rules introduced in 2018 (stress test) getting into the market may require a measure of compromise when it comes to your expectations.

Step One: SAVE $

A twenty percent deposit would be ideal however that is not always practical in our marketplace, so with good credit, taking out a loan with your financial institution is always a good option to consider.
If you have less than a 20% down payment you may be required to take out mortgage loan insurance. Another option, if you are able is sourcing private funds to help top up the deposit.

Step Two: Meet with a mortgage broker and / or your bank.

When you meet with a mortgage lender, a wide range of questions will be asked to determine what your “budget” will be. You will need a down payment for the home you wish to purchase, and you will need to set aside funds to pay for “up front” costs such as legal conveyancing, taxes etc.
Other factors such as your credit score and debt load will come into play when meeting with your lender.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation suggests that your monthly housing costs should be no more than 32% of your average gross monthly income. This percentage is known as your “gross debt to income ratio” or GDS (gross debt service ratio).
Once the interview and application process with your lender has taken place, they will tell you how much you can afford and you can proceed to negotiate a pre-approved mortgage.
Your lender will also be able to advise you of any government programs you might qualify for that would reduce taxes payable on the purchase of your new home or provide alternate funding initiatives.

Step Three: Create a wish list for the home you want to buy.

A good place to start what can be a daunting task, is to establish what your ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ are. Create a list that includes the city and neighbourhoods you prefer, proximity to schools, your workplace (s) and other personal preferences.
After meeting with your mortgage lender you should be pre-approved, so focus your search on properties you can afford. A typical wish list will include the type of home; single family home, townhouse, condominium, then square footage of the house and lot, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garage or carport, yard for children or pets and so on. When you have a wish list with this type of information, your property search will become much more focused.

Step Four: Time to hire a real estate professional

Hiring the right real estate agent will be crucial to making your first home buying experience an enjoyable one. Buyer’s agents invest a great deal of time, energy and resources to locate the perfect property, write and negotiate offers and walk through the entire buying process with you, their client. Working with an agent you feel comfortable with and trust will go a long way to realizing your expectations and moving into dream home.


1] When is the DEPOSIT due?

As a buyer your deposit is due within 24 hours of subject removal on the property you have written a Contract Of Purchase And Sale offer that has been accepted by the seller. Your real estate agent will discuss the timeline with you at the time an offer is being drafted. usually it is within 24 hours but it can be another number, such as 48 hours.

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