10 Steps to Buying a House in BC

You have found your dream home and are wanting to put in an offer. Watch this video from 2016 and review the updated list of 10 due diligence steps you should take to ensure you can move forward with confidence in 2021.

1. Find Out How Much you Can Afford

A mortgage broker or a mortgage specialist at your bank can take you through the steps to get pre-approved for a mortgage. A good mortgage pre-approval accurately measures your financial qualifications and how much house you can afford. Furthermore, the financial institution will provide a 90 or 120-day guarantee of its mortgage rate in case those rates jump while you are shopping. For more information on mortgage pre-approvals, visit the Government of Canada website.

It is important to note that a pre-approval isn’t a firm approval. When you’re ready to make a purchase, the lender will likely want to appraise the property to ensure that you’re paying market value and the property has an adequate lifespan. If the purchase price is well above market value or the home is deemed to have a short life expectancy, you may require a higher down payment. In some cases, the bank may not give you a mortgage at all.

When setting your budget, do not forget to factor in costs like closing fees and maintenance or repairs. Another cost to consider is condo strata fees.

2. Go to City Hall

Another due diligence step is to request any information City Hall may have on record about the property such as its zoning, lot dimensions, permits that have been issued or any future plans for the surrounding area. Checking the zoning is especially important if you’re planning to operate a business out of your residence, renovate or redevelop, or rent a suite in the home. Review all extensive renovations for proper permits.

3. Request a Property Disclosure Statement

While property disclosure statements are not required under BC law, realtors will often ask for one from the property’s current owner so they can give buyers as much detailed information about a property as possible. The property disclosure statement is a three-page document that itemizes potential problems like renovations done without a permit, unauthorized rental suites, asbestos insulation, unregistered easements or whether the seller is aware of any issues like the presence of an underground oil tank, moisture problems, if the property was ever used as a grow op, or if it has ever been designated as a heritage site. The statement can be legally incorporated into the contract for purchase and sale.

4. Do a Title Search on the Property

A title search will confirm whether the person selling you their property is actually the rightful owner. It will also determine whether there are any easements, right-of-ways, or covenants against the property that could affect its future development. It will show if there are liens or outstanding mortgages on the property. Click here for more information.

5. Ask for a Site Survey

A site survey will tell you what you are buying. It shows the property lines, how the property is aligned with neighbouring properties, and features like roads or sidewalks. It will also show where the house is positioned on the property. A lender will often require a survey certificate as part of their mortgage requirements. In some cases, the lender will request a title insurance policy instead of a survey certificate, and sometimes they will ask for both. Title insurance protects the lender against potential issues with a property such as encroachment or past fraud.
For more information about site surveys, visit the BC Land Title & Survey website.

6. Find out the Home’s Utility Expenses

Another due diligence step is finding out the home’s utility expenses. Utilities include gas, electrical, annual solid waste, water and sewer levies, and property taxes. Your realtor can request utility bills from the property’s current owner. Water/sewage rates as well as the taxes for a particular property can usually be found on a municipality’s website.

7. Hire a Home Inspector

A qualified home inspector will walk through and around the property to assess any major defects, safety concerns, or potential threats to the integrity of the home. Keep in mind that there are limitations to these inspections as they cannot see behind walls.

In a hot market it can be difficult, even impossible, to purchase a home with a “subject to inspection” clause. When this is the case, hire an inspector before presenting an offer. When you’re considering the qualifications of a home inspector, assess their knowledge, experience, training, certification, licensing and their level of participation in the industry. For more information, listen to our podcast episode on the benefits of working with an experienced home inspector.

8. Consult a Home Insurance Provider and Purchase a Home Warranty

Most lenders are going to require you to have insurance in place in order to get a mortgage. Home insurance helps pay for structural damage and loss of personal property from emergencies like theft or fire. If you’re buying an older home that has a wood-burning fireplace or knob-and-tube wiring, you may encounter some issues getting insurance or have to pay higher premiums. Insurance companies can deny coverage if the property has been poorly maintained or vacant for an extended period of time. Renovations could also affect your ability to get an insurance policy. Remember that events like sewer backups and earthquakes are not typically included in basic policies.

A home warranty covers the repairs and replacements of your home’s major systems and appliances when they fail from old age. Carry out thorough research to compare different companies to find the best plan that meets your family’s future needs.

9. Check for a Buried Oil Tank

If you are purchasing an older home, your due diligence should include confirming there is no oil tank buried on the property. Many homes used an oil-burning furnace that was fueled from a tank buried somewhere on the property before the widespread adoption of natural gas or hydro for heating.

Some municipalities keep records of properties known to have oil tanks, or those that have had old tanks decommissioned. This is a great place to start.
New Westminster: call the fire prevention office to see if they have anything on file for your property
Burnaby: send an email to fire@burnaby.ca
Vancouver: call the city’s information line at 3-1-1 to check if there are any records for oil tank removals or abandonments
Coquitlam: call Coquitlam Fire & Rescue at 604-927-6400 to have them check their records

If those searches come up empty, you’ll have to check with the current owner to see if they have had the property scanned for an oil tank, or else hire a company that can do the scan. A basic scan will cost you between $80 – $150. It includes a technician scanning the property with a metal detector and probing device. For a more accurate and detailed scan, consider a company that uses Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). Low clearance decks and metal debris may affect the ability to get a conclusive scan.

The decommissioning and removal of old oil tanks is labourious and expensive, especially if it’s leaking oil into the soil. Be aware that if a tank is discovered after you’ve acquired the property, you will be responsible for its removal as well as any remediation for the surrounding soil. Visit the British Columbia website for more information about residential heating oil storage tanks.

10. Confirm all the Items Included in the Sale

Unless specifically written into the contract, appliances like the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher or microwave may not included in the purchase. Garage remotes, window coverings, curtains, keys, sheds, appliances and corresponding warranty manuals, potted plants, shelving units that aren’t attached to walls are all items that should be specifically written into a contract. The inclusion of fixtures like TV mounts, blinds, security systems, hood fans and central vacuum systems should also be clarified.

It is also a great idea to research the neighbourhood and find out more information about where you will be living. Mapping out your daily commute to work, finding the best shopping centers and stores, and getting a better feel for your neighbours is a great start.

Once your due diligence checks out and you are confident in your purchase decision, you can remove subjects, submit your deposit, and wait for the day when you get the keys to your new home!

TO BUY FIRST OR SELL FIRST? THAT IS THE QUESTION…

TO BUY FIRST OR SELL FIRST? THAT IS THE QUESTION…

Many of our clients find themselves in the dilemma of buying first or selling first, and there is no universal answer. We hope this article will give you some clarity on the questions to ask yourself when the time comes for your next purchase or sale.
Let’s assume the seller will not consider a ‘subject to sale’ offer… because if they will, go this route and don’t read any further. The negatives of a ‘subject to sale’ offer is that you could get bumped by another buyer, and in many cases a ‘subject to sale’ offer reduces your negotiating power as you’re not a ready to go ‘cash buyer’. Note that not all ‘subject to sale’ clauses written the same. The wording is crucial, and there are rare situations where you get bumped from a purchase (by another buyer) and end up selling your place anyway… call us to avoid this!
To Buy or Sell first? The main items to consider are your personal risk tolerance, finances, the subject properties involved, and the market.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1) What is your risk tolerance? Will you sleep at night if you buy a property before having sold your own? If you buy first (and need to sell), you have to take whatever the market will bring. Plan conservatively. Make sure the purchase is feasible with a lower than expect sale price of your current property (maybe 5-10% below market).
2) How are your finances? Are you stretching yourself to make this purchase? or can you afford to carry two properties? If you’re stretching yourself on the purchase and you require top dollar for the sale of your personal property, it may make sense to sell first so you know exactly how much you can afford. We don’t want you to lose your deposit by committing to a purchase that the banks won’t finance (more likely for up-sizers or first time ‘House’ buyers). However, if you’re downsizing and are financial able to support the carrying costs of owning two properties, than buy when the perfect property is available.
3) What are you buying? Is it rare? If you find yourself looking for a property that’s on a certain block, or maybe a penthouse condo, or waterfront property that rarely comes available, you may not have a choice but to buy first or lose the property. If the property type you’re looking for is readily available (or maybe you’re just not picky) and it’s just a matter of time before the next one comes up… it may be best to sell first and put yourself in a strong negotiating position.
4) What are you selling? Is it very desirable, or is difficult to sell? If you have a very desirable property that would sell quick, it may make sense to purchase first. Alternatively, if you have a fixer upper, luxury home or busy street home (anything with a negative or very limited buyer pool), it may make sense to sell first.
5) How is the market? Is it hot or cold? In the hot market we experienced in 2016 everything sold fast, and as a result our clients were often buying first. In a hot market, sales are more predictable and risks of buying first is much lower. If the market is cold, like we’re experiencing now (2019), it’s typically best to sell first unless you’re prepared to own two properties.
Buying First: PROS
– You know where you’re going and when your Completion date is.
– Less likely to move twice. The challenge is to sell your place and match up the dates.
Buying First: CONS
– More financial risk, and potential loss of deposit (if you’re unable to sell current property).
Selling First: PROS
– Less financial risk.
– You know exactly how much you’re getting for your property, and will have a clear budget for your purchase.
Selling First: CONS
– You may not find a suitable place to buy right away. Be prepared to find temporary accommodation and move twice.
At the end of the day, every situation is different and needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. This is where we can help.’
Watch the video below and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more VLOGS!

New Westminster Housing Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY NEW WESTMINSTER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for another New Westminster housing market update.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year, it started off with a lot of snow, followed by a lot of rain, which delayed everything and affected the number of sales that have taken place. In fact, numbers are down considerably. The number of sales of detached homes in New Westminster to date is 62. At this time last year, that number was 186–that’s essentially a third of the number of sales compared to last year and about half the number of sales compared to 2015. Not surprising considering the weather and considering everything that’s happened lately, and, openly, there just hasn’t been a lot of product and a lot of overpriced listings have been sitting on the market.

The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. The sales ratio for detached homes in New Westminster is 30% across the board. That means, that of ten listings, 3 of them sell in a given month. Anything north of 21% is considered a seller’s market, so the market still is strong. Isolating the ratio to focus mainly on a lower price point, say detached homes under $1.2 million, the sales ratio goes from 30% to 70%. That means the out of 10 listings, 7 of them are selling in a given month, and that is a very strong seller’s market. So there’s clear demand for the more affordable price points.

The average detached home sold this year is going for $1.125 million and the average high sales of the year is $2.3 million; but there were two sales north of $2.2 million, both in ‘Queens Park‘.

The REBGV has shown that prices for detached homes in New Westminster have gone up 8% from this time last year; but we’re finding that, for nice family layouts, in a good location, in good shape, in the more affordable price bracket, they’re up about 10%. The busy street homes, the ones that have the land value, are struggling a bit; they’re at par with April of last year or maybe even a little bit below.

Moving forward, I expect the market activity to increase quite a bit; I think sales are just starting to ramp up and that the summer is going to be a busy one. Talk about things such as coach homes for lots over 6000sqft has held back a lot of the inventory as owners wait to see what happens. But, the weather is getting better and the supply is low and the demand is high, so if you are a homeowner and you’re thinking of selling, now is the time to do so.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Greater Vancouver Realtor

New Westminster Condo Market Update for May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY NEW WESTMINSTER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a condo market update for New Westminster.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year; we’ve had some insane weather and condos have been smoking hot. That’s your update—they’re hot!

Overall, the sales for the year are down a little bit from last year, but not significantly. We’ve had 357 sales to date, compared to the same period last year which was 418, and in 330 in 2015.

So even though there’ s been a little bit of a decrease, we’re up from 2015. The sales ratio for these condos, however, is up considerably. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. Across the board, the New Westminster condo sales ratio is 76%–a smoking hot seller’s market. That means that out of 10 active listings, 7.6 of them will sell in a given month.

If we isolate the sales ratio to the hottest product right now–entry level one bedroom condos built after 2000–the sales ratio is 183%! Which is ridiculous. It basically means that is you have a newer one bedroom condo to sell, it will sell immediately. And we’ve been experiencing that. Keep in mind that that’s 183% sales ratio when a seller’s market is considered anything north of 21%.

What are prices doing? Well, prices are up. The REBGV says that prices are up 20% compared to this time last year. We’ve had cases where the prices have been up 30%+. We recently listed four New Westminster condos that received 20 offers combined averaging $43,000 above their list prices. So, if you’re a condo owner and you’re looking to sell, it’s a great time to do so; but figure out where you’re going, because if you’re buying another condo, it may be frustrating.

Essentially, everything in the strata seems to be quite active right now in New Westminster. The market is as good and as strong as we’ve ever seen.

On the buy side, expect frustration, expect competing offers and expect to pay more than the last sale. Things may slow down in the fall, but there’s nothing telling us that right now. At the moment, it is a seller’s market and New Westminster condos are hot.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Local New Westminster Realtor

Greater Vancouver Housing Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY GREATER VANCOUVER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Greater Vancouver housing market update.

It’s been a bit of a crazy year, and between the snow and the rain, the weather has been awful and it’s held back the sales a little bit; the number of sales are down considerably compared to 2016. As of April 26, 2017, in Vancouver the number of sales of detached home is 701. Now compared to the same period of time last year, it was 1473–just under half the number of sales.

In Burnaby, we see the biggest effect: 267 compared to 1400 last year. In the Tri-Cities, 469 compared to 1098 sales. Overall, the trend is that the number of sales is down considerably and, in most cases, less than half of what they were last year. Mind you, last year was insane and this year we’ve seen some legitimately awful weather.

In terms of prices, let’s look at the sales ratio. To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher.

In the last 60 days, the sales ratio for detached homes in Vancouver is 15%; that means that of 10 active listings, 1.5 of them are selling in a given month. That’s a low figure, but when you isolate listings at $1.5 million or less, that figure goes from 15% to 38%–a strong seller’s market. When you isolate that figure from $3 million plus it goes from 15% to 9%. So the high end is really what’s dragging down the sales ratio.

And similar stats are in Burnaby, where the sales ratio is 21%, but under $1.5 million, it’s 53%, and at $2 million, it’s 9%. So the high end market is what’s struggling right now, but the entry points are quite active—they’re hot.

Some fun sales of the year:

The highest sale to date was on Point Grey Road and it sold for $17.6 million, this is from the REBGV stats. In the Tri-Cities, the highest sale was $3.4 and it was ‘Anmore‘, which is, in my opinion, one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets.

In conclusion, the weather has held the market back. I expect these sales numbers to improve in the coming months, more so in the seller’s favour. The weather’s going to get better, a lot of homes will be coming on the market and I think it’s going to be a very active time. However, a lot of people are overpricing their homes–$2.5 million homes are being priced at $3 million, or $2 million dollar homes at $2.5 million, and that is proving not to work right now. You could get away with it last year, because the market would climb until it reached that point, but this year, it’s not. We’re seeing price points similar to last year in most areas and we’re seeing prices 20% above last year’s prices. So, there’s a big gap between list price and sale price and that’s holding back the sales ratios in a lot of these places.

If you’d like my opinion, if you’re selling a higher end product:

1. Don’t list it if you’re not serious about selling.

2. Price it properly.

On the buy side, I think it’s a great time to buy higher end product, but I just don’t think the seller’s are willing to come down to your price points yet. On the sell side, now is the sweet spot to sell detached homes. May, June, July, are active months, so take advantage.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Greater Vancouver Realtor

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 GREATER VANCOUVER CONDO MARKET UPDATE

Greater Vancouver Condo Market Update May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY GREATER VANCOUVER REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Greater Vancouver condo market update. It’s been a bit of a crazy year, and, between the snow and the rain, the weather has been awful and it’s held back the sales a little bit, or at least that’s part of the reason for it.

As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of sales are down from this time last year in the same period. If I were to put an approximate figure on it, I would say it’s down 30% in terms of number of sales. However, number of sales is just part of the equation for the market–prices are up considerably. Condos and townhouses are hot! They’re more affordable than detached homes, and, as a result, have a lot more buyers.

To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. That usually means that prices don’t back track. In Vancouver right now, we’re seeing a sales ratio of 60% over the last 60 days. In Burnaby, it’s 66%, in New Westminster it’s 76%, and in the Tri-Cities it’s 98%. These are strong seller’s markets.

If we isolate Vancouver condos north of $1.5 million, the sales ratio goes from 60% down to 22%, which is on the fringe of a seller’s market. At that figure, it’s definitely not a climbing market, but it’s definitely not back tracking either. So, sales volume may be down, but the prices are up. According to the latest stats from the REBGV, condo prices are up 16% across all of Greater Vancouver; however, in Burnaby, New Westminster and the Tri-Cities, we’re seeing a figure that seems to be more in line with 25%. And, particularly newer condos built after 2000 that are entry price points in the market, they’re smoking hot. The demand for affordable condos is high; the higher the price points, the lower the demand.

Let’s look at those percentages in a more practical way. Let’s look at a ‘Yaletown‘ 1 bedroom that’s 550 sf mid-level, say 10 years old as well. Those are selling for $1100 a foot this year; in 2016 for $950sf, and the year before it would be $775. Back to back years of 20+% appreciation–that is a hot market. It’s not sustainable, but it is smoking hot at the moment and I don’t expect it to slow down any time soon. 

Some interesting stats for Greater Vancouver:

The highest sale as of April 26 2017 is $8.7 million. That was for a 3600sf condo in ‘Coal Harbour‘. That’s bigger than my house. In the Tri-Cities, a condo in Newport Village sold for $1.4 million for 1800sf overlooking the water.

Moving forward, I expect more of those to come; a lot of people that are downsizing are moving into these high end condos. So if you own a high end condo, now is a great time to consider listing. Basically, if you own any condo in Greater Vancouver, now is a great time to sell! The problem is, what are you going to buy? If you’re buying another condo, you may have some challenges.

Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017

If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!

Contact Us Today

James Garbutt
Burnaby Realtor

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 GREATER VANCOUVER HOUSING MARKET UPDATE

Burnaby House Market Update for May 2017

MARKET UPDATE BY BURNABY REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here–and it’s time for a Burnaby detached house market update. It’s been a bit of a crazy year that started off with a lot of snow followed by record amounts of rain and we feel that this held back the number of sales compared to previous years.
As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of detached houses sold in Burnaby was 276 units*, compared to 1400 units in 2016 and 558 units in 2015. That’s basically 1/5th of the sales volume in terms of units sold compared to this time last year. Not surprising, however, because the weather has been awful, and Burnaby houses have become very expensive! The average list price of a detached home in Burnaby at the moment is $2,212,700 (as of April 26, 2017), and the average sale price over the past 60 days has been $1,696,600.
To get a good indication of how the market is doing, we look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio, or the number of sales that take place in a given month, divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. Currently, Burnaby homes are on the fringe of a seller’s market. When looking at the last 60 days of activity, the sales ratio is 21% for all houses in Burnaby. However, if we isolate homes priced under $1,500,000, the sales ration climbs to 53%. If we isolate the $2 million plus price range in Burnaby, the sales ratio decreases to 9%. Basically meaning that 1 of out 10 listings in this price range are selling in a given month. As a Burnaby Realtor, what we’re seeing is that there are a lot of overpriced homes; there are a lot of higher end homes priced 10-20% above where they should be.
Moving forward, we expect to see the sales ratio increase in the seller’s favour. The market is starting to heat up and the weather is getting better. The high end market may still struggle, but we expect houses priced under $2 million in Burnaby to be in high demand over the coming months.

Some interesting stats for Burnaby:
There has been just 1 detached home sold in 2017 for under $1 million and it went for $998,800. It was a small older home on a very busy street (10th Ave). It’s official, the new entry price point to buy a detached house in Burnaby is $1 million. The high sale for 2017 is $3,180,000 and it was a newer home sold in ‘Upper Deer Lake‘.
*Note that this information was taken on April 26, 2017. They are likely firm sales that have not registered on the MLS. Actual 2017 figures may be slightly higher than noted above.
Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017
If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!
 
Contact Us Today
 
James Garbutt
Burnaby Realtor
 

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 BURNABY CONDO MARKET UPDATE

Burnaby Condo Market Update for May 2017

BURNABY CONDO MARKET UPDATE BY REALTOR JAMES GARBUTT

May is here and it’s time for a Burnaby condo market update! It’s been a bit of a crazy year, we had a lot of snow at the beginning followed by record amounts of rain and we feel that this held back the number of sales compared to previous years.
As of April 26, 2017, the year-to-date number of condos sold in Burnaby is 636 units*, compared to 1022 units in 2016 and 708 units in 2015. Sales volumes may be down, but prices are up, and condos are hot. The REBGV just released the latest market stats and it shows Burnaby condos are up 25% compared to 1 year ago.
To get a good indication of how the market doing, we like to look at the sales ratio. The sales ratio is the sales-to-active listings ratio or the number of sales that take place in a given month divided by the number of active listings. A seller’s market is considered to have a sales ratio of 21% or higher. Currently, Burnaby condos are experiencing a strong seller’s market. When looking at the last 60 days of activity, the sales ratio is 65% for 2 bedroom condos and 85% for 1 bedrooms. This tells us that condos are in demand, and even more so for lower price points.

Let’s look at Brentwood Park for a moment as it is a popular neighbourhood for many condo buyers due to it’s central location and ample supply of newer condos.
The price per square foot for a typical 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, mid level unit that is 850-880 sqft in a 10ish year old building at OMA (2345 & 2355 Madison Ave, and 4250 Dawson St) or Tandem (4118, 4178 & 4182 Dawson St) is currently selling for about $775/ sqft or $675,000 (as of April 2017). In April 2016, they were selling for $635/ sqft or $540,000, and in April 2015 they were selling for $520/ sqft or $450,000. It is a climbing market and Burnaby has seen back-to-back years of 20% plus appreciation.
The highest price per square foot recorded this year was $980/ft in Brentwood Park, and if that is the start of the new trend, expect Burnaby to get even more expensive!
*Note that this information was taken on April 26, 2017. They are likely firm sales that have not registered on the MLS. Actual 2017 figures may be slightly higher than noted above.
Full Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver Stat Package for April 2017
If you’re thinking of buying, selling or just curious about the value of a property, contact us today!
 
Contact Us Today
 
James Garbutt
Burnaby Realtor
 

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR MAY 2017 BURNABY HOUSE MARKET UPDATE

10 Great Questions to Ask a Realtor When Selling Your Home

A great Realtor can make the difference between a good or bad experience when you’re selling your home. But before you sign a listing contract, here are 10 great questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home.

1. How many properties have you sold? How many did you sell last year?
Most people instantly focus on years in the business, but your Realtor’s sales volume is just as important; one agent can sell as many homes in two years than others do in 10. A Realtor with a healthy volume of sales in the local market in the past year is likely more in tune with that market.
But don’t just focus on the numbers; you should also feel comfortable with your Realtor.
2. What types of properties have you sold lately?
This will help you determine your Realtor’s focus and performance, whether they’ve had success selling similar types of products, and in your area. Ask for proven results, such as the average number of days their listings are on the market, the ratio of their list prices to actual sale prices. What about listings that aren’t selling; a Realtor who openly discusses their failures demonstrates honesty.
3. Who is the buyer and where are they coming from?
Your Realtor’s knowledge and experience with the local market will help them market your home to potential buyers and highlight the features that will be important to them. It’s important for your Realtor to know their target market for your home, whether it’s young families, downsizers, locals or buyers from out of town.
4. What is your marketing strategy for my home?
This is where the rubber hits the road, and your Realtor will earn their commission. Your home is likely your largest investment; it needs to be marketed well from the beginning if you’re going to realize a good return on that investment. It’s important your home presents well and buyers are aware of it.

Top 10 questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home
Your Realtor should know how to present your home at its best, including professional photos.

 
In a hot market, just putting up a lawn sign might sell your home, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right strategy to get you the right price. Nice photos, a posting on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and Open Houses are a minimal expectation; but what else can your Realtor offer? Creative campaigns that include online marketing, an active presence on social media, print advertising and staging can gain extra exposure for your home.
5. What separates you from your competitors?
Here’s where you’re really asking “why should I hire you?” There’s no shortage of Realtors out there to sell your home, but what is your Realtor offering to separate them from that pack. Their marketing ability is important, but so are honesty and trust.
6. What is your recommended listing price for my home, and why?
You want an understanding of how your Realtor evaluates properties. It should be by more than guesswork, or intuition.
Their evaluation of your property should be supported by recent comparable sales in the area. A more detailed evaluation could include listings that didn’t sell, and current active listings that you’re competing against.
If your home is difficult to evaluate because there’s been no recent comparable sales against which to measure it, a creative Realtor will look at similar properties outside the neighbourhood, or in similar neighbourhoods. Or they could use a “replacement cost” approach where they calculate the land value plus the cost of rebuilding the actual home.
Your Realtor’s pricing strategy for your home should align with your needs. If the market is hot and you have to sell quickly or you have specific requirements for the offer, such as a specific closing date, we typically recommend a lower price as it will generate more interest, more offers and cleaner offers that meet your terms. If the market is slow, or you have a unique property that could limit the pool of potential buyers, it may be best to price your home higher with room to negotiate; trying to set a price to spark a bidding war could be risky is these circumstances.
7. How do you, or your team, operate?

You want to know your Realtor is going to be there for you when you need them. It’s important to understand how communication will be handled, and who will be your primary contact. You want to know who will be showing your property and who is going to be handling the negotiations with buyers; you don’t want any surprises.
8. How much do you charge?
Commission fees are determined by your Realtor and they are negotiable. If a Realtor is hungry for a listing, they may reduce their fee. But top-performing Realtors typically don’t.
There are many different types of fee structures out there, from flat fee listing services to discount brokerages to full service brokerages. Whichever you choose, you should establish how much they charge, and how much of that goes to the buyer’s agent. Make sure the commission for the buyer’s agent is in line with the rates prevalent in your area.
9. What if I’m not happy with your service?
This question will help you determine a Realtor’s level of commitment to you and how strongly they believe in their ability to get you a good result.
If, for some reason, you’re unhappy with their service, you need to know if they’ll release you from the listing contract and how. There are two ways to terminate a listing: Cancellation vs. Unconditional Release. The former has restrictions that could affect your ability to move on; the latter releases you freely with no further obligation. Most listing contracts run for 3-4 months, but contracts for luxury properties can run up to 12 months.
10. What else do I need to know?
One of the questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home should be open-ended. That gives them a chance to highlight a unique service they might offer, like staging, or to speak to areas you might have overlooked. That extra little tidbit of information could be the tipping point to your decision.
Bonus…
Requesting references is one of the questions to ask a Realtor when selling your home that is sometimes overlooked. But keep in mind, if you are given references they’ll likely all be good. To get a more complete picture of your Realtor, do a little online research prior to your first meeting. See what properties they have recently sold, then ask for references from those clients specifically. If they have online and social media presence, see what people are saying about them, check their reviews and how they engage with others. See what they are doing to stay in front of buyers on a daily basis.
There’s no general rule for forging a great relationship with your Realtor. It’s all about personal preference and trust.
Your Realtor should be responsive to your needs; they should be patient when you need to take a little time, and proactive when you’re anxious. They should be a good listener who will offer advice and help find solutions.
More helpful blogs for sellers
10 Reasons to Hire a Realtor
Best Time of Year to Sell a Home
Get Buyers to Fall in Love With Your Home
7 Tips to Help Your Home Look Great in Photos
 

Top 8 Questions to Ask When Buying In Older Condo Buildings

Some older condo buildings age better than others, depending on the quality of the original construction as well as the care and attention paid by the strata to maintenance and repairs.
So if you’re considering buying into older condo buildings, here are eight questions you should ask to avoid any expensive surprises once you’ve settled into your new home.
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1. Has the plumbing been redone?
Galvanized steel plumbing was widely used before the 1970s; but it’s heavy and not very durable. Once the zinc coating inside starts to break down, the pipes are prone to rust. That can cause blockages or even breaks.
Copper plumbing is also popular in older condo buildings. It can last 50 years or more. But the lead-based solder that used to be used to join pipes and fixtures could eventually leach into your water.
Older condo buildings constructed from the late 1970s to the mid 90s could use polybutylene pipes. The plastic is cheap, light and easy to work with, but its lifespan is only 20 years.
It’s possible plumbing systems in older condo buildings have all three types of pipes, as repairs and replacements have been done over the years. If you see references to pin hole leaks in the minutes of strata council meetings, it’s a good sign the plumbing is nearing the end of its life and may be due for replacement.
2. How old is the roof?
Tar and gravel roofs last 15-20 years. An asphalt roof should last 20-25 years. If the answer to your question is close to those numbers, you may have to put room in your budget for your share of the cost of replacing that roof.
3. How old is the boiler?
A commercial gas-fired hot water boiler should last 10-15 years, but it could last longer if it’s been well-maintained.
4. Have the balconies been redone?
This likely isn’t a concern in older condo buildings constructed of concrete. But if the balcony is constructed of wood or vinyl, it could begin deteriorating after 15 years.

Older condo buildings can be a great buy because you usually get more space for your money.
The condition of balconies in older condo buildings shouldn’t be a worry if they’re concrete.

 
5. Are there any issues with the parkade membrane?
Water leaking into parkades can be a common problem in older condo buildings. It happens when cracks form in the structure because of settling, poor construction or maintenance, or just wear and tear.
Fixing a leaky parkade can be expensive.
6. Has the elevator been upgraded?
We’ve learned to take elevators for granted; we push the button, they take us to the floor where we want to go. But elevators wear out; all that up-and-down, opening and closing of the doors, pushing call buttons, takes a toll.
An elevator should last 20-25 years but could endure longer if they’ve been regularly maintained.
7. Has the building’s exterior been upgraded?
This question is often dependant on how older condo buildings were designed and built.
If the building is constructed of concrete, with large roof overhangs that prevent rainwater from hitting the exterior, the risk of a leaky building is minimal.
But if the building’s exterior is made of stucco or wood, and it’s exposed to the elements without protection from roof overhangs, you need to check if it has been rainscreened.
What Is Rainscreen?
8. Does the building have a depreciation report?
In 2013, the BC government mandated depreciation reports for every strata with more than four lots. The report is prepared by qualified architects or engineers who are able to assess and determine the short and long term health of the building and its upkeep schedule as well as anticipated costs. The report must be updated every three years.
Strata Documents You Should Read Before You Buy
Reading a depreciation report for older condo buildings can be intimidating; the maintenance schedules are usually pretty proactive and the dollar figures are high. But it’s how the building’s strata council reacts to that report that really matters; is it putting money aside early to deal with upcoming major expenses, does it address minor issues in a timely manner so they don’t snowball into bigger issues?

Older condo buildings can be a great value

Older condo buildings can offer tremendous value. You’re not paying for the flashy marketing campaigns of new developments. A lot of potential problems will have already been worked out. The strata has experience. And units were bigger in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, so you’ll likely get more space for your dollar.

More useful blogs if you’re shopping for a condo

Understanding Strata Fees
Strata Documents You Should Read Before You Buy
10 Tips For The First Time Home Buyer
What is Rainscreen?