B.C. Government loan program to first-time homebuyers

Here is more information to help you understand how the program works.

Since this BC first-time homebuyers loan program is very new and only effective on Jan 16, 2017, a lot of terms and conditions are still pending to be fine-tuned. Here are the highlights of the program:

To be eligible for the program, the property must be a legal, self-contained, mortgageable residence located in B.C. and be used as the homebuyer’s principal residence for the first 5 years, with a purchase price that does not exceed $750,000 (Rental properties and seasonal/recreational properties are not eligible). Furthermore, the buyer(s) has/have to;

  • Be a first-time homebuyer
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least five years
  • Have resided in B.C. for at least one year
  • Have a combined gross income of $150,000 or less
  • Have saved at least half of the minimum down payment they will require
  • Applicants must be pre-approved for a 1st mortgage before applying (Note: 1st mortgage must be high-ratio for more than 80% of the purchase price and CMHC, Genworth and Canada Guaranty are participating in the program)

Additional loan details:

  • The loan can be up to a 25 year term, and is registered as a second mortgage
  • Monthly principal and interest payments begin in year six, amortized over remaining 20 years
  • Interest rate for years 6 to10 set near first mortgage rate at time mortgage is registered (The rate is being set at the RBC prime rates plus 50 bps)
  • Interest rate reset to near first mortgage rate at years 10, 15 and 20 (This provides great security if rates increase over time)
  • Homeowner may repay in full or in part at any time without penalty

The loan will be due and payable in full upon:                    

  • The home ceasing to be the principal residence in the first five years
  • Default on the first mortgage
  • Sale of home or change of ownership (E.g., adding anyone to title)
  • Any other default on the loan (second mortgage)

Starting January 16, 2017, eligible applicants will be able to apply online via the BC Housing website.

The program will run for three years with loans advanced from February 15, 2017 to March 31, 2020.

6 Things Luxury Home Buyers in Vancouver will be Looking for in 2017

There’s no denying the allure of touring a luxury home, even when it’s way over your budget. So, here’s what the wealthy will be adding to their property wish lists in 2017.


5 Reasons You Should Buy a Cabin or Cottage this the Fall in Vancouver

Sure, property hunting in Vancouver in the fall foliage with a pumpkin-spiced latte in hand sounds heavenly, but there are some hard-and-fast facts to support this strategy, too.


Offseason Options

titleimageIf you wait until fall to start looking for your dream cabin or cottage, you’re more likely to find it. Families who have been thinking about selling for a while have enjoyed “one last summer” at the cottage before putting it on the market, so chances are there are more options for a buyer at the end of the season. When it comes to cottage hunting in Vancouver, sometimes the early birds do not catch the worm.


Cost Cutters

costcutterEnd-of-season sellers in Vancouver are likely to be more motivated to unload a summer cabin so they don’t have to carry the costs (i.e. second mortgage payments, maintenance, repairs and security costs) right through winter. Yes, this means you’ll have to take care of those yourself, but it will be for a property you actually want, not just what was available at the time.


Fall Colours

fall-coloursWith the leaves on the trees changing color and falling, autumn is the optimal time to take a peek at how exposed a potential property is when the foliage isn’t there to protect it anymore. Look at it from the lake, look at it from the driveway, and look at it from the neighbors’ point of view to see how much privacy you’re really going to get throughout the year. Are someone else’s trees protecting you from prying eyes? Will you need to put in a privacy fence or plant a hedge? It’s good to have an idea of this type of investment before putting in that offer.


Water Talk

watertalkThe summer was long and hot and has taken its toll on evaporated lake levels. If you wait until fall to see the shoreline of a property you’ve had your eye on, you’ll get a better idea of what the beach looks like when the water is at its lowest. Also, many cottages rely on lake reservoirs for their drinking water, so knowing whether getting potable water at the end of the summer will be an issue that is important—especially if you want it to be a rental income property. Having running water, reliable electricity and a decent driveway are three musts.


Seasons Turn

seasonsturnIf you’re looking for a cabin in Vancouver that’s going to be a four-season property, you need to see it in a non-summer season. That warm mid-July sunshine can make anything look good, but how does your potential dream cottage hold when faced with dark clouds and relentless drizzle? Does the driveway turn to mud? Can you feel the damp coming through the windows? Does the wind off the lake cut right through the walls? Spending some time in the house and walking the property perimetre in bad weather shows you what you’ll need to deal with.

So, will you be hunting for your ideal cottage or cabin in Vancouver now that the weather has begun to change?

Courtesy of HGTV.ca.

4 Tips for Buying a Fixer-Upper in Vancouver

What if your dream home just happens to have ancient wiring and a cracked foundation?

So you’ve set your sights on a home that, to put it mildly, needs a little repair work. The stairs are creaky, and you’ve noticed a leak (or three).

Still, your mind is made up. What’s a love-struck home buyer to do?

If your heart is set on a fixer-upper, this advice from real estate experts can help you make that “needs-work” house a home in Vancouver.

Check the zoning

“Any municipality has zoning districts, and you need to know what uses are permitted,” says George Vanderploeg, a luxury real estate broker with Douglas Elliman in New York. Knowing the zone is important because it will tell you what you can and cannot do to the home.

For instance, when interiors photographer Josh Gibson decided to renovate his 19th-century cottage in Beaufort, SC, he had to contend with the historic district landmarks commission, which required hours of research and visits downtown. Among the many requirements he had to adhere to were installing single-pane windows and maintaining the home’s unique brick-pier structure.

To research your prospective home’s zoning requirements, you can visit its municipality’s website, or arrange to meet with a staff member, who can walk you through the legalities.

Bring in a home inspector

Once you’ve made a verbal agreement to buy the house and are waiting for the contract to be drawn up, you’ll want to hire a home inspector.

A home inspector will look for structural issues and advise you on things that may or may not need to be replaced, such as plumbing, electricity, and roofing.

Your broker can refer you to an inspector, but it’s important that this person not be biased, as you’ll need an objective opinion. With this in mind, Vanderploeg advises finding someone who will work for you — not for the broker or seller.

Be sure to set aside about an hour or two to walk through the building with the inspector and ask questions. “This allows the buyer to get to know the house really well before they buy it,” Vanderploeg says.

Home buyers tend to ask questions about asbestos and termites, but Hal Einhorn, the principal inspection consultant for Old House Inspection in New York, says it’s equally important to ask about the “general age of certain systems,” as those will indicate when they’re nearing replacement. A 26-year-old boiler, for instance, is likely to go kaput soon, whereas a newly-installed air conditioning unit probably won’t be a problem for the next 20 years.

Depending on the home’s location, you may also want to ask about issues specific to its region, Einhorn says. In New York City, for instance, where the water mains tend to be dated, you’ll want to clarify that the one in your coveted home isn’t made out of lead.

And with today’s families using more electricity than ever, you’ll need to find out if the amount of power coming to the house is suitable, or needs an upgrade. Doing a little research online can be helpful.

Another important topic to bring up is any work you’re preparing to do, like upgrading the bathroom or turning a one-bedroom home into a two-bedroom, Einhorn says.

Find out the agency requirements, and if the home is in a landmarked district, make sure you know the ramifications. Will your project require filing documents, and if so, what is the process?

Hire an architect and/or contractor

Hiring an architect is important because you’ll want their take on what you can do from a design perspective, says Vanderploeg.

The architect will also be able to point out the home’s load-bearing walls, which will determine whether they can be moved around or not, says Scott Oyler, a broker with Coldwell Banker in Cincinnati.

When hiring a contractor, be sure to do your homework so you find someone you can trust. “I’ve heard of horror stories where contractors left in the middle of the job and never came back,” Oyler says — so make sure your crew has good references.

Also be sure to recruit more than one, he adds, as you can never have too many opinions.

Research tax incentives

Depending on where you live, you may eligible for a tax abatement, a tax credit for homeowners who improve their property’s value, Oyler says.

Philadelphia offers one; Cincinnati does, too. Check to see what’s available in your area.

If you decide to buy and improve a fixer-upper in Vancouver, have patience. Once the sawdust clears, you may just find the home of your dreams.

Brought to you by zillow.com

5 Things Millenial Home Buyers Look For in Vancouver


As the oldest millennials enter their 30s, more and more are entering the housing market. In fact, according to a 2015 report, peak levels of millennials will be making housing decisions in the next five years, including the decision to buy. Although some of their ‘must haves’ are the same as those of generations past—such as ample storage and updated bathrooms—they also have a few new items on their list. If you’re thinking of selling your home in Vancouver in the next few years, here are five things that today’s homebuyers are looking for.

Open Kitchen

Kitchen Open On Dining RoomAs part of an overall trend away from rigidly compartmentalized floor plans, there has been a move in recent years toward the open kitchen. Many homebuyers are now opting for kitchens that flow seamlessly into other spaces, as opposed to formal dining rooms, so that they can cook, socialize and watch television all at the same time. While a modern kitchen has always been on many homebuyers’ wish lists, it now has to have an open concept as well.

Office Space

Home Office InteriorAs working from home becomes increasingly common, working from the kitchen table no longer cuts it. Many homebuyers are now seeking a designated office space that allows them to conduct business as usual, away from household distractions. Although an extra room is often sought out by growing families, it is becoming increasingly popular among professional couples that are looking to make a living from home.

Low Maintenance

Interior, beautiful apartment, luxurious living roomPeople are busier than ever nowadays, meaning they have less time to spend keeping up with their homes. As a result, more and more buyers are looking for turnkey homes that require little or no maintenance. That’s why low maintenance materials, such as hardwood floors and granite countertops, are an increasingly popular choice. Not only do they look modern, they are easy to wipe up and mop down, which is especially convenient for families with young children.

Outdoor Living

Home Garden With Patio Area And FireplacePerhaps a side effect of social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, more and more homebuyers are seeking functional outdoor living spaces. Long gone are the days of a simple patio set and umbrella—today’s homebuyers want outdoor fireplaces, comfy lounge chairs and a hammock where they can take a Sunday afternoon nap. This is as true for those with mild weather year-round as it is for those who just want to make the most of those few precious summer months.

Energy Efficiency

energy concept outlet in green wallAn increasing focus on environmental sustainability, as well as rising energy costs, has many modern home buyers gravitating toward green homes. Although it is not the most important factor when selecting a home, energy efficient features are certainly a welcome bonus for this environmentally conscious generation. These features don’t have to be elaborate either—they can be as simple as energy efficient appliances or double-paned windows.

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the foreseeable future in Vancouver, it is important to keep in mind what the new generation of homebuyers is looking for. Whether you plan to do some renovations or simply stage your home to fit more modern tastes, keeping these 5 things in mind can help you fetch a higher price when your home finally sells!

From remax.ca 

Top 4 Home Selling Tips for Pet Owners in Vancouver

Pets are often considered members of the family. But when selling a home, our four-legged family members can cause additional challenges.

We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates from throughout Canada—to find out the top things pet owners should keep in mind when attempting to sell their home in Vancouver.

Limit the impact

Pets tend to leave a mark; however, by limiting their impact, you can make your space appealing to any buyer. Dogs should be removed from the home, or kenneled, during showings. Cats should also be removed, if possible. Bird and reptile cages should be covered. The idea is to effectively reduce the impact that a pet would have on people who are not receptive to pets.

Those who have rare or exotic pets—such as snakes, spiders or rodents—may also want to consider removing them during showings, as these pets may, literally, scare off potential buyers.

Clean up the mess

Scoop the poop! The last thing you want an interested buyer taking away from your showing is a bad smell on his/her shoe. Regularly clean up after your pet to make sure there aren’t unpleasant surprises hiding under your grass.

Have a plan to stash away pet toys, scratching posts and food dishes during showings. By having these items around, potential buyers may be more sensitive to pet-related odours, as well as wear-and-tear that would perhaps otherwise be overlooked.

Wipe down the walls and vacuum up any sort of pet hair. You may be used to a shedding pet, but those attending the showing might not be as receptive. Be sure to also clean any cages, aquariums or litterboxes!

Freshen up the smell

Don’t forget that the smell is part of the experience of viewing a home in Vancouver. People who aren’t used to pets will likely detect the smell of a pet much quicker than someone who is used to the scent. It may be a good idea to have a friend come by and ask them to objectively explain their experience to you.

One of the most harmful smells is often a cat litterbox. During the time your home is on the market, the litter should be changed frequently to avoid this form impacting the sale. Scented candles and plug-ins may not be enough to completely mask the smell.

“Smell is a major factor that can help or hinder a sale. Fresh baked bread can make the home feel like home; animal scents can cause a buyer to feel like it may take a lot of money to get the smell out of a home,” said a RE/MAX Influencer.

“All buyers use their noses when shopping for a home.”

Create a plan

Creating a plan for showings will ensure that your home is always at its best when potential buyers have a look. Create a checklist of items you need to put away, or things you need to clean prior to the showing.

If you have a pet that you can’t remove for showings, be creative about how you acknowledge its presence.

“A client had a cat that wanted out, so I put a sign on the entrance for showings to warn buyers. The sign said: ‘Jewels will be your furry showing assistant today. She’s very friendly. Please don’t let her out. Her Mom would be very upset as she’s so cute. She won’t be included in the sale of the home.’”

Down Payment Savings Tips for Renters

These clever ideas put homeownership within reach.

Ah, the perks of being a renter. No mortgage payments, no property taxes, no pesky maintenance work or repairs (leave that to your landlord to take care of!). Sounds like a good life, right?

Oh, wait, we almost forgot the big drawback: You’re not actually gaining equity in a home.

So what’s stopping you from buying a home? If you’re like most renters, it’s the lack of cash for a down payment.

Indeed, one in five Americans doesn’t even have a savings account — and one-third of those who do have a zero balance on their account, according to a recent survey by personal finance website GOBankingRates.com. Yikes!

The good news is, there are some simple ways to start saving money for a home purchase. Make these moves to build your down payment fund.

Set a target goal

Figuring out exactly how much house you can afford is key, because it allows you to determine how much you’ll need for a down payment.

Then put together a detailed savings plan, advises Andrea Blackwelder, Denver financial planner and founder of Wisdom Wealth Strategies.

Research shows people who set specific savings goals do a better job at putting money away than those who don’t.

“Just saving for a down payment isn’t enough,” Blackwelder says. “You need a hard dollar amount that you can work toward.”

Assess your spending habits

Look at your bank and credit card statements from the last three months to see where your money is going, then identify areas where you can cut back, says Brandy Wright, a certified financial planner at Cambridge Wealth Counsel in Atlanta.

Shrink your TV package

The average cable TV bill hit a record $99.10 last year, up 39 percent from 2010. Unless you’ve already cut the cord, downsizing your cable plan — and streaming shows instead — can help you save money.

Not willing to give up channels? Call you cable provider anyway, and try to negotiate a lower rate. If there’s another cable provider in your area, you’ve got leverage.

Drop the gym membership

It’s summer — get your exercise outdoors. “Jogging, hiking, and climbing outside is free,” Blackwelder points out.

Already locked into an annual gym membership? Your club might be willing to drop your rate if you get a friend to join.

Downsize to a smaller, cheaper apartment

Depending on where you live, going from a one-bedroom apartment to a studio can help you save thousands of dollars each year in rent.

“You need to live modestly if you’re serious about saving for a down payment,” says Wright.

Reducing your living space can also lower your heating and air-conditioning bills.

Get a side gig

It’s age-old advice, but it’s now easier than ever to pick up a side job, thanks to work opportunities such as Uber, Lyft, and Postmates, a food delivery service.

“Nowadays all you need to make some extra money is a car,” says Blackwelder.

You can also pick up freelance work through services like TaskRabbit.com and AgentAnything.com.

Open a high-yield savings account

Instead of keeping your cash in a checking account where it’s not earning interest, move the money to a high-yield savings account.

“You get complete access to the money and daily accrual of interest,” says Blackwelder.

Get a cash rewards credit card

Set aside your no-frills credit card and get a card with great cash-back rewards. Beverly Harzog, an independent credit card expert and consumer advocate, recommends the Blue Cash Preferred American Express Card, the Chase Freedom Credit Card, or the Citi Double Cash Card.

Caveat: Rewards credit cards typically have higher interest rates, so make sure you pay off your balance in full — and on time — each month.

Save your tax refund

While it’s tempting to spend what Uncle Sam gives you back each year, exert some willpower and put the money toward your down payment instead.

Unload your “stuff” locally…

Summer is peak season for throwing a good old-fashioned yard sale. Get the word out by promoting it on Craigslist, and posting signs in the neighborhood several days in advance.

Just be sure to consider the weather report before deciding what day you’re going to hold it. (Clear skies and comfortable temperatures lead to better turnout.)

… And online

Think there’s a niche market for some of your items? You’re probably better off selling them on eBay. Large pieces of furniture, meanwhile, tend to sell well on Craigslist.

Brought to you by zillow.com

The Difference Between a Buyer’s and Seller’s Market


When you begin the home buying or selling journey in Vancouver, there may be several terms used that you’re unfamiliar with. Buyer’s market? Seller’s market? Balanced market? To help get you started, we’ve broken down the difference between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market below.

Buyer’s Market: There are more homes on the market than there are buyers.

In this type of market, buyers will spend more time looking for homes. There are more homes on the market, giving the small number of potential buyers more to choose from. The prices of homes can be stable or perhaps dropping. Sellers will find that buyers have stronger leverage when negotiating.

Seller’s Market: There are more buyers than there are homes for sale.

With fewer homes on the market and more buyers, homes sell quickly in a seller’s market. Prices of homes are likely to increase, and there are more likely to be multiple offers on a home. Multiple offers give the seller negotiating power, and conditional offers may be rejected.

Balanced Market: There are the same amount of homes for sale and buyers.

When there is equal competition between buyers and sellers, this means that there are reasonable offers given by buyers and homes sell within a reasonable time. With less tension between buyers and sellers, the prices of homes remain stable.

Before buying or selling a home, it is important to find out what type of market you are entering into. Your listing price, negotiations and expectations will all be affected depending on whether it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market.

Talk to a real estate agent: Denise Mai, one of our RE/MAX agent is always willing to help with all of your real estate questions. She not only know the local market inside and out, but she have experience pricing and selling homes in your area.

Should you rent, or should you buy in Vancouver?


It’s a question that most Canadians will ask themselves at one point or another in their lifetime, What’s Better? Buying vs. Renting in Vancouver? Those who choose to rent often wonder if they’re wasting money. Those who buy may wonder whether or not their investment will be worth it in the long run.

Though it’s clear home ownership offers many benefits, the decision to buy or rent is a personal choice that should be based on several factors.

4 Factors to consider

1) Market Conditions – What is the price of real estate in your local market? It’s important to understand the market conditions and how they may affect prices before you decide to buy or rent.

2) Job Stability – Do you have a stable job and roots within your community? If your plan is to continue living in your community for the foreseeable future, home ownership may be the best option for you.

3) Time of life – What stage of life are you in? If you have a family, home ownership can provide a stable living situation without some of the uncertainties that are associated with renting.

4) Down payment – Do you have enough money saved up for an adequate down payment?

3 Benefits of home ownership

1) Financial investment – Your monthly mortgage payment creates equity for you, not your landlord.

2) Quality of life – Owning a home can provide a sense of stability and control that you don’t often get from renting. There is a great feeling about coming home to a place that you own.

3) Do what you want – When you own your own home, there’s no need to get approval before you paint a wall or hang a piece of art. You can choose what minor and major renovations you make to the place you live in.

How ‘Denise Mai’ can help

Denise Mai is an experienced professional who can help you out if you’ve decided that home ownership is the next step for you in Vancouver. Her expertise can help you find the house most suitable for your needs. We’ve also created a guide to help explain all of the costs that are encountered during home ownership.