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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

The frequently asked questions (FAQ) are grouped by topics. Select a topic to view the FAQ.

Buyers

Why do I need a realtor when buying a home?


Buying a home is the single biggest purchase most people will make in their life. Finding the right home, in the right neighborhood, for the right price all comes down to working with the right REALTOR® you can trust for a stress-free transaction. With my professionalism, knowledge, and strategic approach to real estate, I can help you find your dream home and make it yours with satisfaction.




What is your approach to real estate when working with a buyer?


One of my top priorities is to protect my clients’ best interests, knowing that they have entrusted me as their REATLOR® for making a very significant investment decision. I approach my work with transparency and honesty. I share relevant information, both positive and negative, with my clients and guide them through the process for informed decisions. As a licensed REALTOR®, I work collaboratively with my clients as a team every step of the way, and hold myself accountable for the highest professional standards, work ethics, and integrity. I also have an extensive network of home inspectors, contractors, renovation professionals, mortgage brokers, photographers, videographers, social media strategists, marketers, lawyers, and other professionals. Check out my bio to find out more about me, and read my clients’ testimonials to find out how happy they are with my REALTOR® services.




What to expect at our first meeting if I want to buy a new home?


No one wants to move very often unless it is necessary. Your housing needs will change with time according to your life stage and family needs. For example, a newly married couple's housing needs is different from a couple with young children. In order for me to find you the right home, in the right neighborhood for the right price, and for you to decide if I am the right REALTOR for you, there will be a lot of talking and listening in the first meeting.

I will spend a lot of time listening to understand your family’s housing needs, your life stage, your neighborhood of choice, property features that are important to you, your budget, and your timeline. I will also tell you more about my realty service and experience, what to be expected during the buying process, and things you need to do when preparing to purchase a home, e.g. getting a mortgage pre-approval.




How much do I need to put for a down payment?


A down payment is the amount of money you put towards purchasing a home, and your mortgage loan will cover the remaining cost. The minimum amount for a down payment depends on the purchase price of the home, and here are the three main categories:

- for $500,000 or less, it is 5%;

- for $500,000 to $999,999, it is 5% of the first $500,000 and 10% for the remaining portion

- for $1 million or more, it is 20% of the purchase price.

If your down payment is less than 20% of your home's price, you must purchase mortgage loan insurance. If you’re self-employed or have a poor credit history, your lender may require a larger down payment.

Reference:

'How much you need for a down payment' by Government of Canada




Should I get a mortgage pre-approval before I start looking for a new home?


It is crucial to seek mortgage pre-approval if you need financing for a new home. Getting a pre-approval helps you find out your borrowing capacity based on your current financial profile so that you have a better idea of your total budget when looking for a home. It will also increase your competitiveness in multiple offer situations. As it takes time to secure a mortgage, you should start the pre-approval process at the beginning of your home-purchasing journey, and don’t wait until the moment you are ready to put in an offer.

Lenders have strict lending rules and institutional policies to follow when assessing how much a person can borrow and under what specific terms. As there could be variations among lenders, you should always talk to more than one lender to find out the best mortgage rates and terms for your financing need. If a lender rejects your mortgage application, there could be another lender willing to give you a mortgage loan.

Bear in mind that if you are self-employed or have a poor credit history, your lender may require a larger down payment and mortgage loan insurance. Check out the next FAQ to find out what is mortgage loan insurance.

Reference:

'How much you need for a down payment' by Government of Canada




What is mortgage loan insurance?


Mortgage loan insurance, also known as mortgage default insurance, protects the mortgage lender if you can’t make your mortgage payments, so it doesn’t protect you. If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase home price, you must buy mortgage loan insurance. Bear in mind that a mortgage loan isn’t available if home's purchase price is $1 million or more. Mortgage loan insurance premiums typically range from 0.6% to 4.5% of the amount of your mortgage. Talk to a lender to find out more about mortgage loan insurance. Checkout information from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (link is below).

References:

'Mortgage loan insurance and premiums' by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation




Is there any financial incentive for first-time home buyers?


The First Time Home Buyers' Program reduces or eliminates the amount of property transfer tax you pay when you purchase your first home. If you qualify for the program, you may be eligible for either a full or partial exemption from the tax.

Check out this government's webpage for more information: 'First-Time Home Buyer Program' by the Province of British Columbia




What are subject removals?


Subjects conditions are clauses that are listed on the offer for a particular property, and they must be met before closing a deal. Common subject conditions include home inspection, financing, approval of Property Disclosure Statement, Title search, and Strata documents, etc. These subject conditions are requested by buyer and accepted by seller during the negotiation of an offer, and are meant to protect buyers to ensure that they are able to close a deal (e.g. arrange financing), and have enough time to do their due diligence before making the final decision.

The subject removal period is typically within seven business days but could be longer. If subject conditions are not met, such as buyers are unable to secure financing or unsatisfied with a home inspection result, the deal will collapse to end the offer. If subject conditions are met, the buyer will remove subjects to make the offer a firm deal. The buyer will then make a deposit to the seller, usually within 24 hours upon subject removal, to solidify the deal. This deposit then becomes part of the sales proceeds.




Is it necessary to do a home inspection?


It is strongly recommended that buyers include a home inspection as a subject condition in an offer to ensure the property is in good condition before closing a deal. A standard inspection includes exterior and structural components of the home, insulation and ventilation throughout the home, condition of interior walls, floors and ceiling, status of the roof, plumbing and electrical, and heating and air conditioning systems, etc.




What are the fees to be expected when purchasing a home?


There are different fees associated with the home buying process in addition to the home purchasing price, including but not limited to property transfer tax, property inspection, tax for foreign buyers (if applicable), appraisal fee, legal fee, and loan application fee for financing.




How is the Property Transfer Tax calculated?


The general property transfer tax rate is: - 1% of the fair market value up to and including $200,000 - 2% of the fair market value greater than $200,000 and up to and including $2,000,000 - 3% of the fair market value greater than $2,000,000 If the property has residential property worth over $3,000,000, a further 2% tax will be applied to the residential property value greater than $3,000,000. If the property is a mixed class (such as residential and commercial), you pay the further 2% tax on only the property's residential portion. If the property includes land classed as farm only because it is used for an owner’s or farmer’s dwelling, up to 0.5 hectares will be treated as residential property. Checkout this government website to get an estimation of the Property Transfer Taxes.




What is the Foreign Buyer’s Tax? How is it calculated?


In addition to the property transfer tax, if you're a foreign national, foreign corporation or taxable trustee, you must pay the additional property transfer tax on your proportionate share of a residential property's fair market value if the property is within specified areas of B.C. Your proportionate share is the percentage of interest you're registering on title with the Land Title Office. For example, if you're a foreign entity (foreign national or foreign corporation) acquiring a 70% interest in a property, you pay the additional property transfer tax on 70% of the residential property's fair market value. If the property transfer is within the following areas, the tax rate is 20% on the fair market value of your proportionate share: - Capital Regional District - Fraser Valley Regional District - Metro Vancouver Regional District - Regional District of Central Okanagan - Regional District of Nanaimo Reference: 'Additional property transfer tax for foreign entitles & taxable trustees' by Government of Bristish Columbia




Thinking about moving? Should you sell your current home first before buying a new home, or vice versa?


The path up the property ladder is different for everyone, and whether to buy or sell first depends on your unique circumstances. However, the process becomes trickier when buying and selling at the same time. It involves extensive research and a clear understanding of all the steps involved, especially if you have a mortgage in place. Each situation is unique. Here are some things to consider before making a move: 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙄 𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙨𝙩? The upside of selling first is that you will know how much money you have to work with, and it’s also easier to get new financing when you need it. However, if there are delays or challenges finding the right new home for you, you may incur additional rent and storage costs in the interim. The ability to port or transfer your existing mortgage to the new property that you purchase comes with a limited time frame (usually 90 days). In other words, the closing date of the existing property must be within 90 days of the closing date of the new property. 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙄 𝙗𝙪𝙮 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙨𝙩? In this case, you will have time to plan your move and get your current home ready to sell. However, closing dates on both the purchase and sale may not line up, and if your home doesn’t sell for a while, you’ll be stuck with two mortgages, the burden of two mortgage payments, and unable to port the mortgage to the new property. Source: https://vancouversun.com/homes/westcoast-homes-and-design/moving-on-up-should-you-buy-or-sell-first





Sellers

Why do I need a realtor when selling a home?


Selling your home is a significant milestone that requires careful planning and execution, with many important decisions to be made along the process. Selling your home fast with a satisfactory price all comes down to working with the right REALTOR® you can trust for a stress-free transaction. My professional knowledge, expertise in home selling, extensive network, and innovative marketing strategies can help facilitate a quick and seamless home selling process with satisfactory results.




What is your approach to real estate when working with a seller?


One of my top priorities is to protect my clients’ best interests, knowing that they have entrusted me as their REATLOR® to sell one of their most significant lifetime assets. I approach my work with transparency and honesty, and will share any positive and negative information with my clients for informed decisions. As a licensed REALTOR®, I will work collaboratively with my clients as a team every step of the way, and hold myself accountable for the highest professional standards, work ethics, and integrity. I also have an extensive network of contractors, renovation professionals, photographers, videographers, home staging specialists, social media strategists, marketers, lawyers and professionals.

Check out my bio to find out more about me, and read my clients’ testimonials to find out how happy they are with my REALTOR® services.




What to expect at our first meeting if I want to sell my home?


Selling a home is a signficant life decision that requires careful considerations and plenty of patience to get the best return in sale value. There will be a lot of talking and listening in the first meeting in order for me to find out your expectations and understand why you want to sell your home, and for you to find out more about my realty service and experience to decide if I am the right REALTOR for you. I will then walk you through the home selling process and my role as a REALTOR in reaching your goal.




Can you give me a quick summary of the home selling process?


Generally speaking, there are seven steps you should expect during the home selling process: 1) preparing your home to sell, 2) pricing your home, 3) market your home, 4) showing your home, 5) negotiating offers, 6) accepting offers, and 7) closing a deal.




When is the best time for me to sell a home?


While the current housing market condition plays a significant role in determining if it is a good time to sell a home to maximize the investment return, the best time to sell a home is the time that matches your personal schedule, family plan and life goal, not just the market timing. So essentially, you are the one who decides if it is the right time for you to sell your home.




How do you promote your listings?


Once I obtain consent from you to act as your listing agent, your property will be posted on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which will be seen by many REALTORS and people searching for properties. I use both traditional (e.g. flyers, e-newsletters, and personal networks) and digital media to promote the properties. Social media is a good way to inform other REALTORS and potential buyers that your property is available in the market. I also use social media digital advertisements to promote your property to a larger targeted audience.




Why setting a correct price is essential when selling a home?


Setting a correct price would help to attract more serious and motivated buyers looking for property to purchase. The increased exposure of property on the housing market would increase the chance to sell it faster.

On the other hand, setting a price too high would discourage potential buyers from seeing the property when they think it is overpriced. Generally speaking, buyers usually bargain for a lower closing price for properties sitting on the market for a more extended period.

The estimated asking price is typically set based on the current market trend, latest market reports, and other recently sold and listed homes in the same area. Market conditions also vary by neighborhood and housing type; timing can influence the selling price too.




Why is it important to depersonalize a home before listing it for sale?


Depersonalizing a home is all about neutralizing the space and eliminating any personal tastes and items in a home. When potential buyers walk through a home, they can visualize themselves living in that space as their new home. Depersonalizing a home does not have to be complicated with labor-intensive work. It can be as simple as removing all family photos, collection items, framed certificates on the wall, and all other personal items that are associated with a certain type of identity or personal hobbies. These items can be replaced by abstract art pieces, decor, and paintings for home staging.




Thinking about moving? Should you sell your current home first before buying a new home, or vice versa?


The path up the property ladder is different for everyone, and whether to buy or sell first depends on your unique circumstances. However, the process becomes trickier when buying and selling at the same time. It involves extensive research and a clear understanding of all the steps involved, especially if you have a mortgage in place. Each situation is unique. Here are some things to consider before making a move: 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙄 𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙡 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙨𝙩? The upside of selling first is that you will know how much money you have to work with, and it’s also easier to get new financing when you need it. However, if there are delays or challenges finding the right new home for you, you may incur additional rent and storage costs in the interim. The ability to port or transfer your existing mortgage to the new property that you purchase comes with a limited time frame (usually 90 days). In other words, the closing date of the existing property must be within 90 days of the closing date of the new property. 𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙄 𝙗𝙪𝙮 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙨𝙩? In this case, you will have time to plan your move and get your current home ready to sell. However, closing dates on both the purchase and sale may not line up, and if your home doesn’t sell for a while, you’ll be stuck with two mortgages, the burden of two mortgage payments, and unable to port the mortgage to the new property. Source: https://vancouversun.com/homes/westcoast-homes-and-design/moving-on-up-should-you-buy-or-sell-first





General

Is open house allowed during the pandemic?


Real estate services are deemed to be essential during the pandemic. However, only private showings and open houses by appointments are allowed with the following safety measures to protect public health safety. Showings using virtual tools are strongly encouraged to minimize direct contacts. These common-sense guidelines are meant to keep everyone safe during the pandemic of COVID-19.

  1. Don’t enter the home — if you are at high risks of having COVID-19 (i.e. exhibiting cold symptoms, recent travel history, and in close contact with someone being diagnosed with COVID-19).
  2. Put on a face mask.
  3. Sanitize your hands.
  4. Keep a safe distance of 2 meters apart.
  5. Follow the path for a home tour.
  6. Look but don’t touch.
  7. Don’t use the washrooms in the home.
References: 'Real Estate Professionals Urged to Stop Open Houses: Regulators and Provincial Association Recommend Virtual Tools.' by British Columbian Real Estate Association




What is the housing market situation in Vancouver since the pandemic?


COVID-19 has forced many people to stay home for work, school, entertainment, recreation and home fitness. With the record-low mortgage rates and changing housing needs for families wanting larger home space, the Vancouver housing market continues to thrive with strong housing demand, pushing home prices up to a new high.




How do I find out my property's annual tax amount?


BC Assessment is responsible for assessing property values in the province of British Columbia so that municipalities can determine the share of the property tax burden each owner must pay each year. When determining the tax amount, the most important factor is not how much your assessed value has changed, but how it has changed relative to the average change for your property class in your municipality or taxing jurisdiction.

The property assessment notice shows your home's assessed value as of last July usually sends by mail in January. You can learn the value of your home without waiting for a mailed assessment by visiting BC Assessment online www.bcassessment.ca.




What is Vancouver Empty Homes Tax (EHT)?


Each year, Vancouver homeowners must declare if their property is subject to the Empty Homes Tax. This tax aims to boost the housing supply by charging property owners a penalty on carrying vacant homes. The idea is that you can live in it, you can rent it, but there are tax implications if it sits empty. Starting in 2021, Vancouver Empty Homes Tax increases from 1.25% to 3%. If you are currently carrying vacant homes, you need to think about the tax implications of your investment properties.




What to do before a family vacation?


When your family goes on vacation, leaving your home empty, it is a good idea to turn off some of the water supply valves (e.g. washing machine, toilet tanks). This can significantly reduce the risk of costly water leak.




Is my property's assessed value the same as its actual market value?


Your property's assessed value by the BC Assessment is not the same as its actual market value. Why? It's because the government's assessed value is measured by standardized metrics that do not take into consideration the unique features and quality of your home. Feel free to reach out to me to get a market evaluation of your home.




Why the housing market in B.C. is hot during the pandemic?


The housing market is hot because many people want to take advantage of the low interest rate. COVID-19 has forced many people to stay home for work, school, entertainment, recreation and home fitness. With the record-low mortgage rates and changing housing needs for families wanting larger home space, it is no surprise that the Vancouver housing market continues to thrive, pushing home prices up to a new high.





Terminology

What is the sales-to-active-listings ratio?


The sales-to-active-listings ratio refers to the percentage of available listings that have sold. It measures supply-and-demand by looking at the total supply of homes for sale compared to homes being sold during the same period. The percentage of ratio indicates the strength of buyer or seller demands, such as whether there is a lack of listings or buyers.

Reference:

'Keeping an eye on the market' by Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver




What are the sellers', buyers’, and balanced markets?


When the sales-to-active listings ratio is below 12% for a sustained period, it is a buyers’ market, meaning that there are more homes for sale than buyers.

When the sales-to-active listings ratio is over 20% for a sustained period, it is a sellers’ market, meaning that there are more buyers than homes for sale.

When the sales-to-active listings ratio is between 12% and 20%, it is a balanced market, meaning that there are similar numbers of potential buyers and homes for sale.

Reference:

'Keeping an Eye on the Market' by Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver





Market Trends

What is the trend of detached house benchmark price in Metro Vancouver?


The average price of detached houses in Metro Vancouver has increased significantly in recent years due to high demand and low supply. According to the home sales data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the benchmark prices in Metro Vanouver increaed from $1,453,400 in January 2019 to $1,576,800 in January 2021.




What is the trend of townhouse benchmark price in Metro Vancouver?


The average price of townhouse in Metro Vancouver has increased significantly in recent years due to high demand and low supply. According to the home sales data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the benchmark prices in Metro Vanouver increaed from $800,600 in January 2019 to $815,800 in January 2021.




What is the trend of condominium benchmark in Metro Vancouver?


The average price of townhouse in Metro Vancouver has slightly increased in recent years. According to the home sales data from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the benchmark prices in Metro Vanouver increaed from $658,600 in January 2019 to $680,800 in January 2021.




What is the trend of sales-to-active listing ratio in Metro Vancouver?


The sales-to-active listings ratio measures supply-and-demand by looking at the total supply of homes for sale compared to homes being sold during the same period. When the ratio is < 12%, it is a buyers’ market (i.e. more homes for sale than buyers). When it is >20%, it is a sellers’ market (i.e. more buyers than homes for sale). When the ratio is between 12% and 20%, it is a balanced market (i.e. similar numbers of potential buyers and homes for sale). In the last two years, the ratio of detached houses jumped fivefold from 6.8% to 35.2%, the ratio of townhouse jumped fourfold from 11.9% to 50.4%, and the ratio of apartment jumped 2.5 fold from 13.6% to 33.1%. Wow, it is a very strong upward trend by all means!




What is the trend of residential property sales in Metro Vancouver?


Vancouver's real estate market shows resilience in 2020 despite the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19, and ended 2020 with a new record high. Residential home sales in Metro Vancouver totalled 30,944 in 2020, a 22.1% increase from the 25,351 sales recorded in 2019, and a 25.7% increase from the 24,619 homes sold in 2018.




What is the overall trend of the housing market across Canada?


Canadian home sales prices hit new highs for January compared to last year. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), home sales activity in January 2021 were up 35.2% compared to a year earlier, and were up 2% compared to December 2020. The actual national average price of a home sold also soared to a record $621,525 in January, up 22.8% from the same month last year. Single family home prices rose 2.6% month-over-month and a robust 17.4% year-over-year, whereas apartment prices advanced by a smaller 0.2% month-over-month and decreased 3.3% year-over-year. CREA found the Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the country's most active and expensive markets, were heating up very quickly in January. Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/crea-january-home-sales-1.5915326




Which province has the highest average home price across Canada?


British Columbia has the highst average house price according to home sales data in March 2021 compiled by Canadian Real Estate Association.





Home Staging Tips

Why is it important to depersonalize a home before listing it for sale?


Depersonalizing a home is all about neutralizing the space and eliminating any personal tastes and items in a home. When potential buyers walk through a home, they can visualize themselves living in that space as their new home. Depersonalizing a home does not have to be complicated with labor-intensive work. It can be as simple as removing all family photos, collection items, framed certificates on the wall, and all other personal items that are associated with a certain type of identity or personal hobbies. These items can be replaced by abstract art pieces, decor, and paintings for home staging.




What are the tips to home sellers if they have pets in the house?


Having pet odors inside your home can turn off potential homebuyers and keep your home from selling. Here are some quick tips for selling a home with pets: - Remove all signs of pets - Ensure marketing materials are pet-free - Avoid marketing the home as pet-friendly - Repair pet damage to home - Deep clean the home before listing - Deodorize - Clean pet hair - Remove stains - Hide the litter box - Thoroughly wash the floors - Feed dry food instead of canned - Put away the dog and cat beds - Throw out old stuffie toys