There's always lots to consider, particularly if you're a first-time home buyer. In addition to helping you find your dream home, your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the new stress test rules and requirements. 


Start by downloading a copy of the Homebuyers' Road Map—a guide covering virtually every aspect related to buying a home. Then, to get an idea of what you might be able to afford, our mortgage calculators includes interest rate risk in its parameters, assuring your estimates will pass the mortgage stress test.


Armed with a little know-how and backed by the support and expertise of your REALTOR®, you'll be on your way to holding the keys to your new home in no time!  

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Sure, you can afford your home now, but what if mortgage rates go up?


Low interest rates and mortgages have been a fact of life in Canada for some time now. At the time of publication, the 5-year average mortgage rate has hovered around 5% for nearly a decade. This is a far cry from late 1981 when mortgage rates were as much as 21%.

New mortgage rules

In 2017, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) took steps to help protect lenders and home buyers alike against future interest rate increases. Since January 1, 2018, new mortgages are subject to comparison with higher interest rates than the one issued at the time of the mortgage. Homeowners must be able to afford a mortgage at the Bank of Canada's current five-year average posted rate or at an interest rate that's 2% above what they're currently applying for, whichever rate is highest.

Why OFSI made the move

Perhaps motivated by the foreclosure crisis in the United States, the OSFI felt Canadian consumers needed protection from forces deemed outside of homeowners' control.

The effect of the stress test means you may not qualify for the home you desire. If you're targeting a home with a $700,000 mortgage, for example, you may only qualify for about $550,000 under the new stress test rules. This could make a big difference in your choice of neighbourhoods in certain markets. 


Working the stress test process

The new mortgage rules don't have to be a barrier, however. First, there are ways around the stress test standard, which only applies to federally–regulated lenders. Credit unions, which are regulated at the provincial level, are exempt from stress test provisions. The same is true for private lenders. Alternatively, adding a co-signer to your mortgage can increase your mortgage target, even with the stress test rule in place.

How REALTORS® help

There's always lots to consider, particularly if you're a first-time home buyer. In addition to helping you find your dream home, your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the new stress test rules and requirements.

Start by downloading a copy of the Homebuyers' Road Map—a guide covering virtually every aspect related to buying a home. Then, to get an idea of what you might be able to afford, our mortgage calculators includes interest rate risk in its parameters, assuring your estimates will pass the mortgage stress test.

Armed with a little know-how and backed by the support and expertise of your REALTOR®, you'll be on your way to holding the keys to your new home in no time!  


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  1. If your deposit was not enough to cover your entire down payment you will be expected to provide the rest of the down payment at move-in time.
  2. Real Estate commissions are paid by the seller, so you have no cost for this.
  3. New properties have a sales tax called GST; this should have been added to the price before the mortgage was obtained so that no funds are needed for this tax at the time of possession if you have a mortgage. When you arrange your mortgage loan, discuss having the GST included in the mortgage amount with your lender.
    For properties under $350,000 the net GST rate is 3.2% for homeowners. Investors who rent out their suite pay 5% GST when they purchase and in most cases get a 1.8% GST rebate when they find a tenant who makes the suite their primary residence.
  4. If you have less than 20% down you will have mortgage insurance (about 2-3% of your mortgage). This premium will be added on top of your mortgage once at the beginning, so you do not have to pay this premium in cash at possession time.
  5. In BC there is a sales tax called the Property Transfer Tax (PTT). This tax does not apply to NEW residences under $750,000 when the property is used as a primary residence by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. The tax does apply to properties over $750,000, all used properties, bare land and commercial/industrial properties. The rate of this tax is 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the balance. On a $400,000 used condo this tax would be $6,000, but because the Yorkson offering is new condos, the tax will not apply.
  6. Your bank may have an appraisal fee to be paid when you buy, but most lenders will waive this fee. If they don’t it is often about $300.
  7. Your lawyer will charge you legal fees to handle your share of legal work for the purchase, these fees are often about $900 and must be paid when you take possession. There may be property tax adjustment of a few hundred dollars when you move in, depending on the time of year that you take possession. [Sometimes your bank will pay part of these closing fees as a gift to you for using them for your mortgage].
  8. Sometimes utilities will charge you a fee of $50 to $70 to hook up power for the first time.
  9. The fire/water/flood/earthquake insurance your mortgage company requires is already provided by your strata corporation.  You do not need to purchase more insurance if you don’t want to.  The included insurance does not include your contents or personal liability. Some buyers purchase additional contents and personal liability insurance.
  10. Finally, there is often the added cost of a moving van to move your possessions in.
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A foreclosure property may present a great deal, but there are also a number of inherent risks. Richard Bell of law firm Bell Alliance offers advice and a five-step process

Purchasing a foreclosure property can sometimes be a great bargain. However, many potential buyers and real estate agents are unaware of the process and risks of buying such a property. This article outlines the five steps of purchasing a foreclosure property and describes the two biggest risks of purchasing these properties.

Five Steps of Purchasing a Foreclosure

Step 1: View the Property

Depending on the situation, it can sometimes be a challenge to view the property, particularly in circumstances where the owner refuses to cooperate with the viewing, listing and showing of the property. But it is essential that you see what you’re buying, so ensure that you do view it.

Step 2: Do Your Due Diligence

Make sure you are happy with the property since it is purchased “as is, where is”. Unlike a standard property purchase, with a foreclosed property at the time of completion or possession, the property may not be in the exact condition it was in when you had viewed it. Investigate the zoning and any applicable bylaws. Ensure you have financing in place, or are pre-approved for a mortgage.

Step 3: Submit an Offer

Make an offer to the listing real estate agent. All offers must be free of any buyer’s subjects, and only “subject to court approval”. It is very important to note once your offer is accepted by the lender you are contractually bound to purchase the property if the court approves your offer. Be sure to include your full legal name on the offer, as this is what will be listed on the court order if you are successful in purchasing the property. Additionally, if there are two people purchasing the property, such as spouses, you will want to clearly indicate whether the property is being purchased as joint tenants, or tenants in common. Once an offer has been accepted by the lender, the lender’s lawyer will schedule a court date to present the offer to the court for approval. Ensure the offer is the highest price you are comfortable with, because you may only have one chance for the court to review your offer.

Step 4: Competing Offers and Contesting the Sale

A few days prior to the court hearing, the offer price will become public, and other potential buyers will have the opportunity to outbid the original offer on the court date. Additionally, other creditors and even the current owner(s) may attempt to contest the sale price if they believe the property has a higher value.

Step 5: Court Date

All offers must be presented in a sealed envelope containing a bank draft for the deposit. The court will usually award the purchase of the property to the highest offer. The original buyer should be present in court to submit a higher sealed bid if there are other potential buyers in attendance presenting offers. Once the court accepts an offer and approves of the sale, a court order is granted in the name of the successful bidder. The completion and possession date for the purchase is usually set for 14 days following the date of the court order.

Risks of Purchasing a Foreclosure Property

The main risk of purchasing a foreclosure property, is that it is purchased on an “as is, where is” basis. Sometimes fixtures such as lights, faucets and cabinets may have been removed from the property or are damaged. The property is often left unclean with unwanted trash and items left behind.

An additional risk to consider when purchasing a foreclosed property is the former owner or occupants may not vacate the property in accordance with the court order. In this situation, the vendor is legally required to make an application to the court for a “writ of possession” and receive assistance from a court bailiff to evict and remove the occupants. This could lead to a delay in taking possession of the property.

Bearing all of this in mind, don’t shy away from considering foreclosed properties, because at the end of the day you can be purchasing a property you love at a discounted price. It is rare that an owner occupier will hinder the sale process since it is not in their best interest to do so. Understanding the process and potential risks of purchasing a foreclosed property will allow you to navigate purchase with greater knowledge and confidence.

 
 
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Are you a saver or a spender? How you answer that question could have a large bearing on whether or not you should apply for BC’s new interest-free, first-time home buyer loan. The Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership program begins accepting applications today.

It is meant to help homebuyers with their first down payment, with the provincial government matching funds up to $37,500 — or up to 5 per cent of the purchase price — with a 25-year loan that is interest-free and payment-free for the first five years.

“Even if it’s just for five years, I think people who are smart about spending and saving could actually use this loan to their benefit,” says Romana King, senior editor and real estate specialist for MoneySense. “Instead of using the money to buy a more expensive home, how about buying the same home as before but using that money to get a bit of a boost. You won’t pay as much in Canada Mortgage and Housing fees, you can budget so you can throw a lot more money at your mortgage for the first five years and then you can allow yourself to pay off that debt — which is locked in a prime-plus — when you have to start making payments.”

If possible, King advises first-time buyers to place the money in an account that will allow them to make more money than it costs to borrow. “For the first five years it costs you nothing. Take that money out after five years and immediately pay back the loan and you might end up ahead.”

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