Home Inspection 101

If you are buying a resale home and don’t want to inherit the sellers headaches, a home inspection by a professional should be given serious consideration.  If a home inspection is ordered, your offer to purchase is usually conditional on you being satisfied with the inspection so that if the inspection is not satisfactory, there is no deal. Today, more and more purchasers are coming to understand the wisdom of a thorough home inspection prior to committing to its purchase.

There are several ways to find a professional home inspector in your area. For example, you can:

• Ask your real estate agent for names – this is probably the best way as your realtor will have a list of  tried and tested professionals that have been previously used. • Ask friends and family who have used a home inspector in the past . • Contact a home inspection association for a list of qualified inspectors in your area . • Go online to association Web sites  – a very popular way as you can read reviews, both good and bad. • Check the local phone directory. • Ask someone in the construction or housing industry • Contact your local real estate board for references

Once you have found a home inspector, you have to ask the following important questions:

• Ask if they belong to a professionally recognized organization. • Ask about their training-they should have taken courses related to this field. • Verify that they are full-time inspectors with significant experience (versus performing inspections to supplement other fields of business). • Ask for references with contact details. Make sure you call at least 3 references to see if they were satisfied. • Use only inspectors who will give you a written report of their findings. • Ask how much time the inspection will take and how much it will cost. A thorough inspection should last at least three hours, depending on the size of the property. • Ask about their limitation of liability agreement. This will let you know what they are and are not liable for if something was missed or an oversight occurred.

What is inspected?

Interior:

• Foundation walls, basement floor, posts and beams • Waterproofing, moisture penetration, wood rot, etc. • Electrical service and wiring • Plumbing supply, waste drainage and fixtures • Heating, air conditioning (summer only) and ventilation • Floors, walls, ceilings, doors and windows • Attic insulation and ventilation

Exterior:

• Slope, grading and drainage of the property • Foundation and exterior walls • Porches and decks • Windows, doors, headers and sills • Fascia, soffits and eaves troughs • Roof, flashings, vents and chimneys • Garage, carport and outbuildings

Remember that a professional home inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotations for repairs, noncompliance with building code requirements, and is not intended to provide guarantees or warranties. Knowing what to expect will help you make an informed decision about the value of your home as well as the costs of future upkeep.

If you are contemplating buying  or selling a home, why not get in touch with us for some useful advice?  Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  by email or follow us on Facebook.

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Buying a Home? Here’s How To Make An Offer That Can’t Be Refused.

So you have finally found the ideal house you would like to move into and you are pre-approved for a loan.

You need to make an offer – the first step in the negotiating process. This offer has to be carefully worded and well thought out to prevent any future problems and unnecessary anxiety.

There are 3 main elements to a good offer:

1) Offer a realistic price. Your price needs to be based on what similar houses have been sold for in the neighborhood over the last 6-8 months. If homes are selling quickly and are receiving multiple offers, you need to make sure your offer is competitive. If your offer is well below the average, don’t expect to get a favorable response from the seller.

2) Disclose your financing. If you have a mortgage pre-approval, make sure you mention this in the offer. This will let the seller know that you are serious. Many buyers make offers without any pre-approvals. Your offer will give you an edge over these buyers.

3) Include a property inspection clause. Make sure that you add clauses that enable you to reopen negotiations regarding any corrective work once the property inspection report is in.  For example what if the report mentions flaws in the electrical system – who will fix it?

4) Include any concessions that you would like the seller to make. If you feel that there is an issue that you would like to draw the attention of the seller to, write it down. For example if there is a huge stain on the carpet, ask to get it replaced, cleaned or get an allowance for it.

The offer is a very important document in the process of buying your home. Make sure you put everything down in writing. If the buyer offers to make any adjustments or changes in the home, if it is not in writing, it is not binding – a verbal agreement is hard to prove.

To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss a property sale or purchase, email us at admin@thevlist.com, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

 

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Buying a House – The Lawyer’s Role – Part B: The Buyer’s Lawyer

In any real estate transaction there are a number of legal issues that if not addressed properly, can become potentially serious for both sides. When it comes to the buyer of a property, legal representation is an important requirement.

Functions of the buyer’s lawyer.

Before the offer is signed: - Consults with buyers to review the offer, ensuring that the buyer understands the legal aspects of the offer.

After the seller accepts the agreement: - Details the exact closing costs, many of which have already been noted and estimated. - Does a search on the title, taxes, utilities, building and zoning. - Goes over the financing arrangements, the insurance policy documentation. - Calculates the land transfer tax. - Resolves any problems with the searches with the seller.

Before the closing: - Prepares the mortgage documentation. - Sorts out any Provincial tax issues. - Prepares the statement of adjustments. - Receives the closing funds from the buyer. - Prepares the documents for the Land Registry Office. - Goes over all the relevant documentation and get the buyer to sign.

On the closing: - Reviews the whole transaction and documents with the buyers and attends to the signing of all documents. - Completes the final searches. - Transfers the funds. - Registers the title deed and mortgage in buyer’s name. - Pays the land transfer tax. - Gets the keys for the property from the seller’s lawyer.

After completion - Sends buyer all related documentation including a letter certifying your title with the deed, and survey.

We have been in the real estate business for over 25 years. If you are planning to purchase a new home, or have any real estate related questions, why not get in touch with us for some useful advice? Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  or follow us on Facebook.

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Buying a House – The Lawyer’s Role – Part A : The Seller’s Lawyer

A successful real estate transaction is a complicated one as there are many parties involved – listing realtor, buying realtor, lender, appraiser, mortgage broker, insurance agent, buyer’s lawyer, seller’s lawyer, etc. When it comes to the legal aspect, in BC, the buyer’s lawyer does most of the work.

What does a buyer’s lawyer do?

•  Reviews the Instruction Letter and Contract.

•  Contacts the Buyers, confirms acting for the Buyers, confirms personal details, discusses any preliminary issues raised by the Contract, and opens the Buyers file.

•  Orders a copy of the Title and any Charges that will be remaining on Title.

•  Advises Buyers of any concerns re Charges that will remain on Title; generally the existing Charges on the Title are acceptable.

•  Reviews Mortgagee’s Instruction Letter.

•  Prepares the necessary conveyancing documents.

•  Forwards the Seller conveyancing documents to the Seller’s Lawyer for execution by the Seller and return to the Buyer’s Lawyer.

•  Advises Buyers of Mortgagee’s insurance requirements, the amount of the Cash Shortfall required and arranges an appointment to sign the necessary documents.

•  On Signing Day – reviews the whole transaction and documents with the Buyers and attends to the signing of all documents.

•  Ensures Property Insurance is obtained.

•  Registers over the Internet on the Closing Date or forwards the Form A – Transfer of Land, Property Transfer Tax form, cheque for the Property Transfer Tax and Form B – Mortgage by courier to the Buyer’s Lawyer’s Land Title Registry Agents a few days before the Closing Date for registration.

•  Requests mortgage funds from Mortgagee for Closing Date.

•  On Closing Day ensures that all the documents are registered.

•  Confirms the registration on the Closing Date and advises the Buyer, Seller’s Lawyer and Realtors that the deal has registered.  On the Closing Day, there will be a post-registration search done which will record the registration numbers of the Form A – Transfer and Mortgage (if applicable) on the bottom of the current title.  This is the first part of getting the title into the Buyer’s name.  Based on this search, payment is made to the Seller’s Lawyer and possession of the property is given to the Buyer.  The actual new title showing the Buyer as registered owner won’t be produced by the Land Title Office for at least a week. When the title is produced, the Seller’s Mortgage may still be registered on the title.  This is the second part of getting the title into the Buyer’s name.

If you are planning to purchase a new home, or have any real estate related questions, why not get in touch with us for some useful advice.  Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  or follow us on Facebook.

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What Are the Advantages of Home Ownership?

Real estate is a great investment. Canada has one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world, where two out of three Canadian families own a home. Property prices have gradually increased over the decades, and there are many individuals who have become millionaires because their property value has increased over time.

So what are some of the advantages of becoming a homeowner today?

1. Home ownership is the single largest source of savings for Canadian households.

2. Your payments build equity (as opposed to renting, where your money goes to the building owner).

3. Unlike other investments that can be volatile, when you buy a home the increase in its value is relatively steady. The average price of a house for sale on the Canadian real estate market has increased every year since 1998.

4. The return on investment for a house can be substantial. In Canada, there has not been a recorded 10-year period where average house prices have not increased.

5. Homeowners can use the equity in their homes as security for other loans.

6. Buying a home and building equity is the first step on the property ladder. It gets you into the housing market, keeps you in touch with increasing house prices, and puts you in a good position to trade up to bigger and better homes as your circumstances allow.

Remember that the professionals who helped you get into your home are always more than willing to help answer any questions you have, so don’t hesitate to contact them no matter how silly your question may seem.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, or have any real – estate related questions, email us at admin@thevlist.com, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

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Is Buying A Home A Good Investment?

For those wanting a steady return on their money, houses can be a sure bet. When the baby boomers started madly buying houses in the 1980s, suddenly real estate seemed like the path to instant wealth. The real estate markets fluctuate constantly. There have been times when house prices have gone down. However if you look at the overall price of homes in your area over the last 10 years, in most cases, (depending on your region) prices have risen.

Where is the housing market headed? Nobody can accurately predict. But even if house prices don’t rise phenomenally, a home has two strong things going for it as an investment. First, any capital gains on your principal residence are tax-free. If your house appreciates by 6 per cent, you get to keep every cent of your gains.

Now 6 per cent may not sound like much, but in terms of how much you end up with, you’d have to earn as much as 12 per cent on a fixed-income investment such as a GIC to match that return, after tax.

Second, you don’t have to come up with the full purchase price, meaning you’re able to harness leverage. The conventional mortgages require a down payment of 25 per cent of a house’s appraised value. Where as the High Ratio Mortgage, requires only 5% down payment.

For example, if you buy a $200,000 home, you need to come up with around $50,000 for a conventional mortgage. If the home’s value rises to $220,000, that’s an increase of 10 per cent. But what’s really happened is you’ve put up $50,000, and made $20,000. Your real gross return on your invested funds is around 40 per cent. But notice the word “gross”. Don’t forget that your real return will be less.

Buying a home and having a mortgage is also a tremendously powerful forced savings program.

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, or have any real –estate related questions, email us at admin@thevlist.com, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

 

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Use these Feng Shui Secrets in your Home to Attract Wealth.

Basically, feng shui decorating means applying the feng shui wisdom to create harmonious energy in any home, be it modern, classical or mid-century. Good feng shui decorating will never scream for attention or fight with the style of the home, but rather create an energy that is vibrant, happy and harmoniously complimenting the already present identity of the home (or office). 

Did you know that feng shui, when used properly in your home’s design, can affect your bank account? Here are some basic tips based on the ancient art of balancing energy:

Keep your kitchen clean. Your kitchen is directly related to your ability to attract money. To attract more money, keep the stove clean. Use every burner equally and make sure that they all work. Also remove all the clutter from the kitchen table.

Decorate in red, purple or green. Color has a powerful impact on mood, and red is considered auspicious and powerful. Purple and green are also key colors for attracting prosperity.

Make your front door inviting. If it is hard and confusing to find your front door, then it will be hard for opportunities to make their way into your life.

Lose clutter and add plants and water. To bring in more prosperity, you need to create a vibrant, healthy, inspiring and clutter-free home. Clutter jams up good energy and leads to procrastination. Plants and flowers bring in vibrant life forces. Fountains are important wealth adjustments as they stimulate prosperity and energy and symbolize wealth.

Display wealth symbols. Display feng shui symbols in your environment that speak to you of wealth and abundance. This can be either classical symbols, such as the wealth ship, for example, or your own representation of wealth energy.

Remember, good feng shui does not bring you wealth if you do not strive for it, but it gives you the necessary support to seek your wealth and fortune.

To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss a property sale or purchase, email us at admin@thevlist.com, visit one of our offices, or call 604-695-1000.

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How to Childproof your Home if You have Infants

Did you know that unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 years old and under, with more than a third of these injuries happening at home.

Household injuries are one of the top reasons kids under age 3 visit the ER, and nearly 70% of the children who die from unintentional injuries at home are 4 years old and under. Young kids have the highest risk of being injured at home because that’s where they spend most of their time.

Here are some simple ways to prevent injuries in your own home. Please note that although childproofing will make your job easier, it won’t eliminate the need for supervision.

Kitchen

  • Install safety latches on all cabinets and drawers to keep children from potentially poisonous household products.
  • Use the stove’s back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of      the stove to keep hot pots and pans out of the reach of children.
  • Keep kitchenware and appliances out of reach and away from the edge      of counters and tables.
  • Put visual reminders like the Mr. Yuk stickers from poison prevention centers on potential poisonous or hazardous items.

Bathroom

  • Install safety latches on cabinets  and drawers to keep children from potentially poisonous household products.
  • Install toilet locks to keep toilet lids closed. Children are more top-heavy than adults and can lean and fall into a toilet easily. They also can drown in just one inch of water.
  • Install anti-scalding devices on faucets and showerheads to prevent burns. Also set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. It takes just three seconds for a child to sustain a third-degree burn from water at 140 degrees.
  • Unplug hair dryers and electric rollers after use to prevent electrocution from contact with water in the bathroom. Also keep them away from curious children to prevent burns.
  • Make very sure your child cannot lock the bathroom door from the inside, or ensure that you can unlock it from the outside.
  • Place a non-skid mat in the bathtub.

Generally around the house

  • Cover unused electrical outlets with outlet protectors or safety caps. Make sure outlets in the bathroom and kitchen – or near any water source – are updated with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which turn off electricity if appliances fall into water. For outlets in use, especially those low to the ground, there are devices  available which make it difficult to pull out plugs.
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs and in the doorways of rooms with hazards. Gates with expanding pressure bars should not be used for blocking stairs.
  • Use doorknob covers to keep children away from rooms and other areas with hazards, such as swimming pools. Be careful, though, that these devices are easy for adults to use in case of emergency.
  • Put corner and edge bumpers on furniture and other items like a fireplace hearth to protect against injury.
  • Place furniture away from high windows so children won’t climb onto windowsills. Screens aren’t strong enough to keep children from falling through windows.
  • Make sure window blinds do not have looped cords - they can be strangulation hazards for children. Always lock blinds into position whether they are all the way up or not.
  • Remove free-falling lids from toy chests, which should have      lids that stay open or very light, removable ones.
  • Prevent furniture from tipping by securing bookcases, shelving,      and heavy furniture to walls with brackets and anchors. When storing      items, put heavier items on bottom shelves and in bottom drawers.
  •  Put a smoke alarm in any bedroom whose door will be shut at night or where children are sleeping in bunk beds, because smoke rises.

Remember that childproofing your home can never be 100% effective against injury. Supervise your children at all times.

If you are contemplating buying a home, why not get in touch with us for some useful advice?  Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  by email or follow us on Facebook.

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Here Are Some Great Ways to Save Money on Your Water Bill.

Summer is here and if we get a limited amount of rainfall, we will all have to do our bit and conserve. Conservation also helps the pocket book. The metered water charges on your utility bill are based on your actual consumption. To pay less, just use less!

Many residents on the North Shore have poorly set up or inefficient sprinkler systems that are one of the biggest water wasters. If you use this type of system, here are some ways that you can reduce the costs:

  1. Don’t overwater your lawn. Your lawn requires roughly 1 inch of water per week to stay green, which is approximately 1 hour of sprinkling. Any more is going to waste.
  2. Interval sprinkling. Set your system to water for a few short intervals over the course of 1 hour instead of 1 long session. This allows the water to soak into the soil and reduces run off.
  3. Water between 4-9am in the morning. Mid-day or afternoon watering loses water due to evaporation. Evening watering leaves plants wet overnight – an open invitation for fungus.
  4. If it rains, switch your system off. Adjust your system as the weather changes. Better still, install an inexpensive shutoff device that detects moisture.
  5. Repair all leaks. Always check your system periodically to ensure that everything is working properly. A clogged sprinkler head or torn line can become very expensive.
  6. Adjust your sprinklers. Make sure that you are watering plants and grass, and not paths and driveways.

Remember that regulations in West Vancouver (and probably in other municipalities) limit lawn watering to 3 mornings per week from June 1st to September 30th.

If you really want to save money, why not let your lawn go dormant in the summer, just as nature intended?

If you are contemplating buying a home, get in touch with us for some useful advice.  We can guide you within your budget and lifestyle. Call us on 604 913 1000, contact us  or follow us on Facebook.

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How to Deal with Bad Neighbours

Most people get on well with their neighbors – after all, we all want to be able to live happily at home. But sometimes this isn’t the case, and bad relationships with neighbors can become very stressful if you don’t take considered action to remedy the situation.

Problems between neighbours can take various forms, ranging from barking dogs, persistent loud music or rubbish burn offs, to more serious ones like harassment, threats or violence. It’s a good idea to manage disruption before it becomes a long-standing annoyance, which can escalate into more serious problems causing more stress.

Here are ways to be a good neighbor and deal with a bad one. 

1.     Get to know each other.

Being a good neighbor doesn’t mean taking family vacations together. Just knowing them well enough to say hi, or maybe borrowing a cup of sugar or loaning a gardening tool, can build trust and understanding. Issues are much more likely to escalate among strangers than even casual acquaintances.

2.     Communicate directly with your neighbor.

It is better to handle things this way than to resort to talking behind the person’s back, which would make the issue messier. Go to your neighbor’s house and speak with him in a calm manner. Be firm yet be considerate of his feelings as well. If you don’t feel safe enough because harmful threats have been exchanged, then invite a friend along and talk with your neighbor in a safe, public place.

3.     Head off problems before they’re problems.

If you are throwing a party at your place, go to all neighbors who might be affected and offer them two things: a verbal invitation to the party and a card with your phone number. If the noise escalates or there is another problem, your neighbor can call you instead of the police.

4.     Keep a diary record of your activities

Note the time, day and nature of the problem, who you contacted, what you said and their response. If you have to attend any mediation or hearing to resolve the matter that information may be used as evidence.

5.     Check with other neighbors.

See if anybody else on the block is having similar issues – they may be willing to help resolve it. If one of the neighbors is closer to the troublemaker, have them come with you when you talk it out.

6.     Get a mediator.

A neutral third party experienced in settling disputes may succeed where you can’t, although it can only work if your neighbor is willing to talk. It’s a lot cheaper than going to court, though – in some cases, it may even be free.

7.     Write and report.

If you suspect your neighbor is violating city ordinances, do a little research, write it up, and submit it to the proper authorities. If your neighborly dispute involves code violations, the city might solve your problem for you. But don’t try to anonymously report code violations on your neighbor. Not only does the neighbor usually figure out who “snitched” anyway, but they may resent you for being a passive-aggressive busybody, which can make future situations trickier. Remember you still have to live next to these people.

8.     Call the cops.

If you’ve acted in good faith with no success, involving the police is the next step. You can explain the situation and show how you’ve tried to work it out and kept notes, but realize they probably can’t do much unless a law or ordinance is being broken. This is for things like excessive noise and illegal activity, not a tree limb hanging into your yard. Nonetheless, a police presence might show your neighbor that you aren’t going to let the problem go.

9.     Take it to small claims court. This is much cheaper than a bigger lawsuit (which can cost $10,000 or more) because you can represent yourself. But you must do your homework – you need to lay out the problem, provide evidence, and come up with a reasonable damage estimate that you can justify when questioned. Damages are usually capped at a few thousand dollars, although the amount varies by state.

Bottom line? As with any relationship, being a good neighbor – or dealing with a bad one – is all about communication.

Do you have any property related issues? Please contact us. We can advise you on a property purchase, a valuation or even a renovation. Our experienced Real Estate professionals are keen to impart their knowledge and expertise.

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