Common Buyer Questions

We know you must have questions - below you will find some answers!
If you have any other questions or would like more information about purchasing your next dream home or property please contact us.

As a "rule of thumb" you can afford to buy a home equal in price to twice your gross annual income. More precisely, the price you can afford to pay for a home will depend on six factors:

  • Your income
  • The amount of cash you have available for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves required by the lender.
  • Your outstanding debts
  • Your credit history
  • The type of mortgage you select
  • Current interest rates

First and foremost it is strongly recommended that you hire a professional person to inspect the home. Secondly some states require sellers to complete a disclosure form revealing everything known about their property. Home sellers are required to indicate any significant defects or malfunctions existing in the home's major systems. A checklist specifies interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation, windows, fences, driveway, sidewalks, floors, doors, foundation, as well as the electrical and plumbing systems.

The form also asks sellers to note the presence of environmental hazards, walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners, any encroachment of easements, room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes, zoning violations, citations against the property and lawsuits against the seller affecting the property.

Also look for settling, sliding or soil problems, flooding or drainage problems. People buying a condominium must be told about covenants, codes and restrictions or other deed restrictions, if the homeowners association has any authority over the subject property and ownership of common areas with others. Be sure to ask questions about anything that remains unclear or does not seem to be properly addressed by the forms provided to you.

There are always some sellers who for some reason must sell quickly, however in general, a very low offer in a normal market might be rejected immediately. In a strong buyer's market, the below-market offer will usually either be accepted or generate a counteroffer. If few offers are being made, an outright rejection of offers becomes unlikely. In a strong seller's market, offers are often higher than full price. While it is true that offers at or above full price are more likely to be accepted by the seller, there are other considerations involved:

  • Is the offer contingent upon anything, such as the sale of the buyer's current house? If so, such an offer, even at full price, may not be as attractive as an offer without that condition.
  • Is the offer made on the house "as is," or does the buyer want the seller to make some repairs before the close of escrow or make a price concession instead?
  • Is the offer all cash, meaning the buyer has waived the financing contingency? If so, then an offer at less than the asking price may be more attractive to the seller than a full-price offer with a financing contingency.
  • Are there any requests for seller concessions, such as asking the seller to contribute towards points and/or closing costs? If so, the offer is not really full price.

Different sellers price houses very differently. Some deliberately overprice, others ask for pretty close to what they hope to get and a few (maybe the cleverest) under price their houses in the hope that potential buyers will compete and overbid.

A seller's advertised price should be treated only as a rough estimate of what they would like to receive. If possible try to learn about the seller's motivation. For example, a lower price with a speedy escrow may be more acceptable to someone who must move quickly due to a job transfer. People going through a divorce or are eager to move into another home are frequently more receptive to lower offers.

Some buyers believe in making deliberate low-ball offers. While any offer can be presented to the seller, a low-ball offer often sours a prospective sale and discourages the seller from negotiating at all. And unless the house is extremely overpriced, the offer probably will be rejected anyway. Before making an offer, also investigate how much comparable homes have sold for in the area so that you can determine whether the home is priced right.

Title insurance is a form of insurance in favour of an owner, lessee, mortgage or other holder of an estate lien, or other interest in real property. It indemnifies against loss up to the face amount of the policy, suffered by reason of title being vested otherwise than as stated, or because of defects in the title, liens and encumbrances not set forth or otherwise specifically excluded in the policy, whether or not in the public land records, and other matters included within the policy form, such as lack of access to the property, loss due to unmarketability of title, etc. The title policy form sets forth the specific risks insured against. Additional coverage of related risks may also be added by endorsements to the policy or by the inclusion of additional affirmation insurance to modify or supersede the impact of certain exceptions, exclusions or printed policy "conditions." The policy also protects the insured for liability on various warranties of title. In addition, the policy provides protection in an unlimited amount against costs and expenses incurred in defending the insured estate or interest. Before it issues a title policy, the title insurance company performs, or has performed for it, an extensive search, examination and interpretation of the legal effect of all relevant public records to determine the existence of possible rights, claims, liens or encumbrance that affect the property.

However, even the most comprehensive title examination, made by the most highly skilled attorney or lay expert, cannot protect against all title defects and claims. These are commonly referred to as the "hidden risks." The most common examples of these hidden risks are fraud, forgery, alteration of documents, impersonation, secret marital status, incapacity of parties (whether they be individuals, corporations, trusts or any other type), and inadequate or lack of powers of REALTORS® or fiduciaries. Some other hidden risks include various laws and regulations that create or permit interests, claims and liens without requiring that they first be filed or recorded in some form so that the potential buyers and lenders can find them before parting with their money. Since the cost for home owner's title insurance is usually sharply reduced when taken simultaneously with the issuance of a purchase money mortgage, the risk is one that a well informed buyer should not take. In fact, several states have adopted statutory requirements which require a notice to home buyers as to the availability of title insurance similar to that being obtained by their purchase money mortgages.

It is strongly recommended that home buyers are prequalified or pre-approved for a loan as their first step in the process. By being prequalified, a buyer knows exactly how much house they can afford. They can make more informed decisions in the market place. This does not mean they will definitely get the loan because their credit reports, wages and bank statements still need to be verified before you can receive a commitment from the lender for the loan.

Almost all mortgage lenders prequalify people at no charge. Many of them will even do it on the internet. In order to be pre-approved, an application will be taken. For a fee, your credit report will be pulled, your employment and income will be verified, you're checking and savings accounts will also be verified. In other words, all the necessary documentation will be completed in order for you to obtain a loan. The only things remaining will be for you to find a home, obtain an appraisal on it to prove its value to the bank and perform whatever inspections you may want on the property. This process considerably shortens the time frame to closing.

Compare the mortgage charts published in most newspapers. Occasionally some lenders are willing to negotiate on both the loan rate and the number of points. This isn't typical among many of the established lenders who set their rates. Nevertheless, it never hurts to shop around, know the market and try to get the best deal. Always look at the combination of interest rate and points and get the best deal possible. This is reflected in what is called the APR or Actual Percentage Rate. The interest rate is much more open to negotiation on purchases that involve seller financing. Generally, these are based on market rates but some flexibility exists when negotiating such a deal.

There are three fundamental ways to finance your cottage purchase or renovation:

  1. Refinance your existing house, and remove enough equity to buy the cottage outright.
  2. Arrange for a mortgage on the cottage property itself.
  3. A combination of 1 and 2.

5% – 35% Down Payment Mortgages
For a property that is purchased with less than 20% down payment, mortgage default insurance (often known as a CMHC fee) would apply. If the property is purchased with 20% or more down payment, there is typically no mortgage default or CMHC insurance premium.

In practice, when a property is purchased with less than 35% down payment, it needs to reflect as a ‘Type A’ property as described below. The structure can be ‘cottage-like’, and it can run off well water or even specially treated lake water. But the property would likely need to be a four season property with road access all year around. The more the down payment is on the spectrum, typically the less stringent lenders become about the property details.

35% + Down Payment
At 35% down payment, Type B properties as described (below) can usually be approved for cottage mortgage financing. These kinds of properties include highly rural properties, island properties and other properties that do not feature year-round road access. The property should still be secured with a foundation of some sort.

So, lenders treat cottage properties in more of a case by case basis, and the cases run on a spectrum from one end of the ‘A Type’ to the far end of the ‘B-Type’ property.

Type A Cottage Properties: Essentially a second house.
  • Have a full foundation ( the structure is not movable).
  • Are fully winterized/ 4 season dwellings.
  • Are accessible by municipally plowed road/ year round access.
  • Is located in an area with demonstrated, reasonable resale demand.
  • The property is in good condition.
Type B Properties: The more ‘rustic’ ambiance.
  • Needs full foundation ( the structure is not movable).
  • Property does not have to be winterized.
  • Property does not need year round access.

~ by Altura Financing

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Buying a Home?

Buying a home often presents some rather unique challenges. We're experts on how to make finding your new home as stress-free as possible. Please feel free to contact us for specific concerns.

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Preparing to Move

Moving can be a stressful time for everyone, even pets! However, preparation is the key to success. Have a look through our tips below - and if you need any additional assistance – contact us – I know we can help.

Moving can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you choose to hire outside professionals or you choose to do it yourself, being prepared will ultimately make the move much smoother. Your REALTOR® can advise you and help make your move easier. Be sure to ask for their advice.

Not all moving companies are created equal. If you choose to hire professional movers here are a number of things to consider:

  1. Will they do the packing for you?
  2. If so, do they provide insurance for your valuables?
  3. Do they charge a flat rate or an hourly fee? What does that rate include?
  4. Are you protected against liability?

For those who prefer the do-it-yourself method, here are some considerations:

  1. Find a truck rental company and book early. They are always busy at the end of the month.
  2. What size truck do you need? One trip is always better than many.
  3. Does the rental company provide moving pads, packing boxes and dollies?
  4. Do you need insurance?
Spread the packing out over a number of weeks. Label each box with the room that it belongs to and take an inventory of its contents and the number of boxes per room. Use heavy packing tape and newspaper to keep fragile items safe. Be sure to label all fragile boxes and move them separately. Don't over-pack boxes so that you cannot lift them. Finally, pack a separate box (labelled 'survival kit') of items necessary for getting through the first few days in your new home.

  • Simplify. Use the move as an opportunity to de-clutter your life. A garage sale is a great way to raise money for moving costs. Getting rid of unused, broken and out-dated items can be a huge relief in itself, plus you won't have to pack, move, and unpack all of the extra weight. Donate anything left over to a local charity, or post items for sale on eBay and/or Craigslist.
  • Organize. Try to avoid packing in haste. This is how items get broken or damaged, plus it makes it much more difficult and time-consuming to unpack everything. Keep items of similarity together: décor, kitchen ware, linens, toys, consumables, etc. and be sure to clearly label all boxes.
  • Think Ahead. When packing things into the moving vehicle, think ahead for what you will want/need out first and remember to pack those things last so they will be the most accessible.
  • Special Care. Take special care with items of value and sentiment. We recommend moving items like this in your own vehicle for added peace of mind.
  • Get a Head Start. Don't wait until the last minute to begin the moving process. Pack whatever you can, as soon as it is convenient. The sooner you begin, the less work and the less stress you will have on moving day.

Moving your pets can add stress to any move. Moving companies are not permitted to handle living creatures, nor are buses or trains. You will either need to move your pets yourself, or hire a professional company (recommended when traveling long distances over an extended period of time) to handle the well being of your animals for the duration of your move. Regardless of the distance you will be traveling, you will want to consider your pet's comfort and safety throughout the relocation. Be sure to have a sturdy, comfortable carrier for your pet. Familiarize your pet with the carrier several days (or even weeks) in advance.

If you are moving to another state/province or with exotic animals, there are several things you need to take into advanced consideration:

  • Health Certificate. Many places require a health certificate less than 10 days old. The certificate must be issued by a licensed veterinarian, and current inoculation records must accompany it.
  • Permit. If you are entering the state/province with an exotic pet, you must apply for a permit to keep it. Your veterinarian can assist you in obtaining this documentation.
  • Identification. Identification is absolutely crucial when traveling. Your pet should be clearly identified using a collar and tags if at all possible. The tags should include your name, phone number and destination address. Some states/provinces also require a rabies tag. Check with your veterinarian for more information.

Moving yourself, versus hiring a professional company, has certain advantages and disadvantages. Of course, you will save a considerable amount of money, however you will likely end up trading that savings for additional time and effort. Actual savings and added effort really depend on the details of your move though. If you are moving from a small home and/or to a local destination, this can definitely be the most cost-effective, quick and simple solution. Call in some favours to your friends and have your moving plan ready to execute on moving day. Remember to try to pack as much as you can ahead of time, if at all possible. If you are moving from a large home and/or to a distant destination, moving yourself will definitely be a significant amount more effort and time, in turn, possibly costing you more money.

  • File a change of address request with the Postal Service.
  • Locate grocery, hardware and gas stations near your moving destination before you move.
  • Locate nearby hospitals and notify your medical insurance carrier which hospital you will need to go to in the case of an emergency.
  • If you have a recreational vehicle, boat or trailer that you will be storing on your new property, research city ordinances beforehand to avoid citations and fines.

  • Use only boxes with lids. This allows better packing of the moving truck and greatly reduces the possibility of damage.
  • If necessary, purchase boxes and packing materials from a moving company.
  • Label all boxes with a list of contents, and which room they will be moved to in your new residence.
  • Use linens and towels to cushion fragile items.
  • Use about four inches of crumpled paper in the bottom of every box loaded with fragile items.
  • Wrap each item individually and add paper cushioning around it.
  • Wrap plates, saucers and china individually.
  • Wrap cups and glasses individually and pack them rim down in the box.
  • Box stereo and computer equipment to prevent damage.
  • Pack pictures and mirrors in boxes.
  • Leave clothes in drawers.
  • Upright file cabinets with drawers can be left full. Lateral file cabinets, desks and credenzas need to be emptied.
  • Check to see that caps are secure on toiletries, medicines, cleaning products and laundry soap.
  • Do not pack any flammable materials or aerosol products, including hair spray, shaving cream, deodorant, insecticides, cleaning products, spray paint, nail polish remover, bleach, lighter fluid, and motor oil. The temperature inside a closed moving van can reach 150 degrees, and these combustible items can trigger an explosion.
  • As you pack small boxes, move them into a staging area such as the living room or the garage. This makes moving day progress faster.
  • Make sure a few hand tools are easily accessible.
  • If you are moving your belongings into a storage unit, get a unit larger than you require. This way boxes can be stacked against each wall to leave an aisle down the middle for easier access to stored items.
  • Make sure your belongings are insured for an adequate amount, and carry enough cash to cover emergency situations during your move.

Today moving companies offer a multitude of services above the basic loading, transporting, and unloading of your belongings. Extended services now include packing your belongings, the sale or hire of packing materials, unpacking, cleaning and the setup of your new home!

Choosing a company to trust with all of your possessions can be difficult though. Here are some tips to guide you in selecting a reputable company in your area:

  • Be sure to start shopping companies well in advance of your move. You should choose your moving company four to eight weeks before your moving day.
  • Use your friend's and family's recommendations as a starting point. If someone you know had a good experience with a company, you are likely to experience a similar level of satisfaction.
  • Get several quotes for like moving services. Prices can range drastically, so the more information you have up front, the better informed decision you can make on which company if right for you.
  • Be sure to ask how long the company has been in business and if they have any customer referrals. Also ask about their insurance coverage and claims protection.
  • Read the fine print of any contracts you sign, as that is where any additional fees will be hidden.

The largest moving companies are Premiere Vanlines, Allied, and North American Vanlines. They all offer long distance moves across the country and will quote your move at no cost to you. Each has a website where you can get general information on moving, and also estimate your move time and the cost to use their company. It is important to understand the moving industry. It is a tough business that always carries the potential risk for damage of cargo. Customers are rarely forgiving when it comes to their personal possessions, so you can imagine that most moving companies will have some complaints or negative reviews. Websites like Moving.com or Moving.ca can help you identify local companies with the best reputation and a minimal amount of negative feedback.

Moving costs can range drastically based on the distance of the move and the amount of furniture/belongings being transported. Other variables that affect moving costs include the time of year, how much lead time was provided to the moving company, and who will be doing the packing and unpacking. Getting multiple quotes can mean the difference between getting a reasonable price and becoming the victim of a moving scam. Be sure to discuss any and all circumstances that could add additional costs to your final bill with your moving company during the quoting process.

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Finding a Home Inspector

Many first-time home buyers don’t realize that it’s their responsibility to hire a home inspector. Make sure you make your offer conditional upon inspection or get one done before you make a bid.

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How Much Do I Qualify For?

When buying a home, it is helpful to determine the type of home you'll like and how much you can afford before beginning your search.

< 32%

Monthly
Housing Cost

< 40%

Total
Debt Service

Monthly housing costs shouldn't be more than 32% of your gross monthly income. Housing costs include your monthly mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes and heating expenses (PITH— Principal, Interest, Taxes and Heating). To get an idea of how much you can afford to pay each month for a home, multiply your gross monthly income by 32%.

When coupled with current outstanding loans, the total for your debt service should not exceed 40% of your gross monthly income. Some lenders may have slightly more liberal requirements or loan interest rates which may increase your purchasing power.

Mortgage interest, property taxes, loan fees or "points" are currently tax deductible (up to allowable limits). Points are generally deductible in the year paid. A point equals 1% of the mortgage amount. If you are in the 32% tax bracket, this is equivalent to receiving a 32% discount on your mortgage interest and property taxes. During the first years of the mortgage your tax savings are especially high because most of your monthly payment goes toward loan interest.

Island Property - Looking to Really Get Away?

We can help in that search... with weather permitting, water transportation will be available to view island properties around the Westport area. So don't hesitate - contact us today and let us help you find that perfect escape.

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Home Inspections

Naturally you will want to know as much as possible about the property you are interested in before you finalize the purchase at closing. It's important to hire a knowledgeable, independent home inspector for advice on the overall condition of the property.

It's important to hire a knowledgeable, independent home inspector for advice on the overall condition of the property. The purchase contract usually requires specific time periods for each inspection, and it's critical that these time frames be met. Usually the cost for any and all inspections and re-inspections are paid by the Buyer. Prices can range from $350 to $500 for whole-house inspections.

Some examples of common inspections are:

Many companies specialize in only one area of inspection, and others will group several together and offer a package price. Whichever route you go, assure yourself you're getting the inspections you need. Many can be found in the yellow pages.

Thinking of Buying or Selling?

+613.298.4943: Contact us today to find out how we can help! We endeavour to give you same day response – with no strings attached.