If I’d Only Known…

Buying a home can seem complex and often confusing business. These are four aspects of the process buyers wish they had better understood before hey purchased their homes.

  • Home-Financing Options: Unfortunately for many buyers, it’s not until after they’ve purchased that they realize how little they knew about financing, from conventional fixed – and adjustable-rate mortgages, to government programs, to alternatives like seller financing, there are more options than you might think. Before you commit to anything, work with your mortgage representative to discuss the options that fit best with your financial situation and long-term plans.
  • Apply for a Mortgage Loan: A lack of knowledge about the difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification, what information and documentation they needed to satisfy, and what they shouldn’t have done when applying for a loan has unnecessarily slowed down the home-buying process for many an inadequately informed buyer.
  • Closing Costs: There’s a lot to pay for in addition to a property’s purchase price, including legal fees, property taxes, title insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Buyers often find themselves caught by surprise at the last minute, scrambling to come up with the required funds or even unable to complete the transaction.
  • How Long it can Take: A lot of buyers believed it would take them less time to navigate their way through the home-buying process than it actually did. Finding just the right home takes time; once the hunt is over, buyers still need to be patient as they go from having their offer accepted to sealing the deal by signing those closing documents.

File Under “To Buy”

Make homebuying less stressful – get organized! Create a homebuyer’s file in which you can gather together all the paperwork and information you’ll need throughout the homebuying process, including (but not limited to):

  • Contact information for those people and services you’ll need throughout the process, like your real estate agent, mortgage representative, insurance broker, home inspector and moving company
  • Your credit report, as well as any correspondence you made or received in an effort to expunge omissions or errors (which are not uncommon) from your report.
  • Documents needed to process your mortgage loan, such as a letter of employment confirmation, pay stubs, bank statements, proof of additional income sources (e.g. rental properties, child support), tax returns, statements of assets (e.g. vehicles, real estate) and liabilities (e.g. student and credit-card loans).
  • The pre-approval letter you received from your mortgage lender, which tells you the specific amount of money you may qualify to borrow.
  • If you sign one with a real estate representative, a copy of the buyer’s agreement, which spells out the terms of agreement, compensation and the respective parties’ duties.
  • Copies of your needs and wants checklist, so you can take one to each property you view.
  • Any photographs you took or notes you made about properties you visited.
  • Information about prospective neighborhoods, such as details on schools, crime rates, recreational facilities, places of worship and transportation.
  • Property surveys, if you’re buying a house.
  • Copies of the rules and regulations for any homeowners association or condominium you’re seriously considering moving to.
  • Copies of inspection reports and appraisal reports.

Balancing Act

Buy before selling or sell before buying? That’s the dilemma every homeowner must eventually face. The former choice is often the more problematic one for the following reasons:

  • First and most obviously, you’ll be saddled with two mortgages to pay. Few people can afford to carry that burden for even a short period of time. Even fewer can handle it indefinitely, which leads us to the next problem….
  • The market could cool down. If there’s a downturn after you buy your next home, and you still have a property to sell, you could be on the hook for two mortgages for weeks, or even months longer than you’d bargained for.
  • Prices could drop. If they do, the property you still need to unload could sell for significantly less money than you’d anticipated or were counting on – an especially precarious position to be in when you’ve already purchased your next home.
  • Buying before selling can weaken your position as a buyer. Given a choice, sellers typically would rather not deal with a buyer whose money is tied up in another property or whose offer is conditional upon first selling their home.
  • Buying before selling can weaken your position as a seller. Unless you can afford to carry those two mortgages, you’ll nee dot sell fast; under pressure of deadline, you may need to accept an offer you otherwise wouldn’t consider,

Dealing with a home sale and a home purchase can be a difficult juggling act. For help keeping all the balls in the air, talk to us and your mortgage adviser – We’re here to discuss your options and figure out which makes the most sense for you.


11 Fattest Lies About the Real Estate Industry

  1. pants-on-fireA referral is the best way to choose a REALTOR®
    Simply trusting that a REALTOR® has your best interests at heart can lead to disappointment. Your needs are unique. Qualify all REALTOR®s to ensure they are competent and motivated to properly represent you.
  2. Pay off your mortgage quickly
    If you reduce your payment, or simply pay interest-only (secure line of credit financing) you invest the savings into a compounding interest account, your savings will be much higher than the value of your original mortgage.
  3. You don’t qualify for a mortgage
    Regardless of your credit or income, anyone can purchase a house. Creative options such as joint ventures, vendor financing, second mortgages, and many more, provide endless opportunities.
  4. When to buy real estate
    If the papers say that a city is booming, everyone wants to buy. Therefore, this is the perfect time to sell. When everybody is selling because of a recession, then you buy, while prices are at rock bottom.
  5. It’s all about price
    Negotiating mainly on the price of a property will limit your opportunity. If you can offer more favorable terms to the other party, then the price will become secondary.
  6. “#1 Agent”… Someone is lying
    Every agent seems to advertise that they are #1. You may not be getting the whole story (ex. 5 agents working under one name). Be careful of what you believe, as the criteria of measurement may lack relevance, or be severely outdated.
  7. More experience is better
    If a REALTOR® has not kept up to date with the changing technology, regulations, market conditions, or modern service style, then all of their past experience won’t help you be properly represented.
  8. Super Agents
    If an agent works alone, be careful. It is impossible for someone to be accessible at all times. Your business may be handled by a REALTOR® you have never met until your REALTOR® is unavailable.
  9. Every agent in a brokerage is the same
    REALTOR®s choose their own methods of customer service and business practices within their brokerage. Only very basic standards are in place, therefore, don’t assume one agent is the same as the next.
  10. Calling off signs is the best way to find a property
    A REALTOR® selling a property cannot represent their seller’s best interest and yours at the same time. This is a conflict of interest. Save yourself, potentially thousands of dollars, and find your own REALTOR®.
  11. Banks are the best financing source
    Banks have different mortgage options, but can only ever provide you with their interest rates and handful of options to choose from. A mortgage broker works with most major banks, has way more options and tons of different lenders’ interest rates to choose from. Plus, they can work to fit your schedule.

The Art of Timing


When should I sell? How can I make sure that I will get the most for my home? I can’t afford to own two homes, so how can I be sure I don’t get stuck with my house?

Timing is a critical factor in determining the amount of money you can expect to get for your home. It is important to note that we are discussing a free, “no labor required” way of adding thousands to the price of your home. Before figuring out when we should sell, we need to understand the two primary factors that will determine how effectively you can maximize your return in regards to timing; Supply & Demand and Motivation

Supply & Demand:

There are certain laws in life that are always right and never wrong. The principle of supply & demand is one of them.

When there are more properties for sale than there are buyers (too much supply and not enough demand) the prices will decrease until the demand equals the supply and the market levels out. Conversely, if there are more buyers than homes (limited supply and high demand) then prices will rise until the demand begins to fall and level off. This law governs the entire real estate industry.


This concept is very simple to understand. When your motivation to sell is high, you will be willing to accept a lower price in order to close a transaction quickly. However, when your motivation is low, people will have to pay a premium to buy because you “don’t have to sell”. For example: If you are about to be foreclosed on by a bank, then you will likely take less for your home, just to get yourself out of the situation and relieve that debt.

Now that we understand these two factors, let’s discuss exactly when you should sell your home.


A buyer that does their homework will look at all the similar homes in a neighborhood and choose the home that best fits their needs and also provides the msot value for their dollar. If you have two similar homes, one is $360,000 and one is $370,000… which one would you buy (all else being the same)? The competition in your neighboirhood will dictate how much you can reasonably ask for your home. If there are lots of homes siilar to yours (1,700 sq ft – 2-storey), then you will have to price your home competitively to ensure that it sells in a reasonable amount of time.

Money Making Tip – If possible, wait until your home is one of the only ones like it on the market. If a buyer doesn’t have any options, they will have to pay your price to own your home.

Changing Seasons:

Who wants to move or be in transition during Christmas? Would you like hualing furniture when it is 40 degrees below zero? Well, not many people like moving or buying during fall and winter. Conversely, when spring arrives, everyone thinks it is time to make a change in their living arrangements. Also, people with kids need to be settled before September 1 for the start of school. So what does this all mean? There are a lot more buyers in the market in the spring and early summer. You want to sell when people are buying and buy when people are selling.

If you want to sell quickly, the spring and early summer are by far the best times to have your home on the market (lots of buyers). However, if you shoot for the moon on your price, you will find your home among the thousands of over-priced  listings that go stale in the fall, as the buyers disappear.

Money Making Tip – Sell your home in the spring and ask for a very long possession date into the late summer or fall. Then take advantage of the increased motivation of sellers when the buying activity decreases to get a lower price (when you buy).

Sell First or Buy First:

There is a standard rule, common throughout the real estate industry that says you should sell first and for good reasn. Here’s a scenario: You find a home you would like to purchase, and you write the contract subject to the sale of your current home in the next 30 days. The seller doesn’t like accepting this special clause in the offer, but agrees to it if you pay $5,000 more. For the peace of mind of not being stuck with two homes, you agree. Now you are selling, however you are two weeks into the listing and starting to get nervous. Finally, a low ball offer comes in and you negotiate the price, but settle for less than you wanted because you really want the other house, and have to sell your current home to pay for it (you are very motivated). On both sides of the transaction, you may have lost a total of $15,000 because of your motivation *$5,000 on the buying end and $10,000 on the selling end).

If you sell your home first, you will always be in a power position, as you don’t “have to” sell (less motivated). This way you can wait as long as you need for an offer to come in that is acceptable to you. In addition, when you decide to buy, you can write an offer with fewer conditions and have the ability to match possession dates for your convenience.

Money Making Tip – In normal market places, selling first will give you the negotiating edge to save thousands.

If you are looking for an uncommon home or if the market is very low on listings, you may want to consider buying first. Give yourself enough time on the possession date to sell your home without too much pressure. In addition, speak with your bank about bridge-financing, in case you need to temporarily carry two mortgages.

Informed Shoppers are the Best Shoppers

By: Lesley Scorgie
For Metro

Maybe you have been dreaming up blueprints for years or simply stumbled upon a community where you would like to build your new home. Whatever the case, put on your savvy shopper hat and get informed.

There are many communities, designs, and builders to choose from, so read advertisements, browse builder websites, visit home shows and model show homes to get a feel for what your dream home is. Make a list of your need-to-have and want-to-have requirements.

Similar to re-sale homes, location and amenities are key when buying new. Investigate future development plans for roads, schools, shopping centres, green space and more prior to selecting your community.

When buying new, you are purchasing a package of services, not just the physical home structure, so you will need to carefully select a builder who is aligned with your goals.

Every builder will have a different philosophy on quality, speed to complete the home, flexibility with the design and the inclusion of certain finishings; some are standard like carpet floor, whereas others, like hardwood, cost extra and need to be included in your budget. Some builders require milestone payments throughout the construction process, in which case you will need your lender to design a mortgage structure that accommodates these, All of these items are negotiable.

Warranty and after-sale services are also very important so you aren’t left high and dry with a lopsided door or faulty furnace. Before your home is completed, you will join the builder in a walk-through of the home to verify that the work has been done according to plan. If you are satisfied, you will sign a certificate of completion, noting any outstanding work and when it will be completed. This triggers the warranty coverage on your home.

*Carefully select a builder who is aligned with your goal.*

Originally found in Metro, page 28 – Thursday October 3rd, 2013

Negotiations are Part of the Process

By: Lesley Scorgie
For the Calgary Sun

**A reputable REALTOR® can walk you through the negotiation process and help you stick to your walk-away point.**


In many cases, your initial offer to purchase is simply a starting point for negotiating. Often, the seller will counter-offer, which means they will ask for aspects of your initial offer to be amended, such as the price, deposit or conditions. Buyers and sellers continue to swap offers and counteroffers until they have reached an agreement or choose to walk away from the deal.

When making an offer, protect yourself and your finances by leaving emotions out of the equation and knowing your limits in terms of affordability and conditions. Clearly defining a “walk-away” point will also help guide the process.

When the negotiations begin, ask for what you want, but be realistic. Don’t offer $100,000 for a property worth $1 million. Base your offer on facts by reviewing and presenting information on comparable properties from www.realtor.ca.

If it’s a buyers market, disclose that you are interested in other properties. If it’s a sellers market (which it currently is here in Calgary), put a human face to the process and write a personal letter to the seller.

Throughout the process, you will learn the sellers needs and can negotiate based on those.

A reputable REALTOR® can walk you through the negotiation process and help you stick to your walk-away point.

The interest rate and terms of your mortgage are also up for negotiation. Follow these steps:

  • Research current rates and terms by reviewing multiple websites of financial institutions. Also check out ratehub.ca for the best rates across Canada.
  • Speak to a mortgage representative (talk to Robyn Moser & Associates if you need recommendations on where to go!), and ask for a better rate. Keep what you researched in mind during your discussion. Most credit grantors will try to work with you to earn or keep your business, especially if you are a good client.
  • To strengthen your position, present a competitive offer that your lender could match.
  • If the lender doesn’t want to play ball, take your business elsewhere.

Originally found in The Calgary Sun – Thursday October 3rd, 2013 – Page 30.

Fixed Rate VS Variable Rate Mortgages

When searching for a home, there’s a lot to consider, from square footage and location, to amenities and property taxes.

Linda White
Special to QMI Agency

Mortgage House Calculator

Mortgage House Calculator

With a wide range of features and options to choose from, there’s also a lot to consider when choosing a mortgage. For first-time homebuyers, it’s important to put the numbers in perspective.

“Many first-time homebuyers think they’re stretched to the limit but they’re also at a stage in their lives where their income improves and payments become more palatable,” says David Stafford, managing director of real estate secured lending at Scotiabank. “You think you’re never going to be mortgage free, but eventually you are.”

One of the first decisions homebuyers face is whether to select a fixed rate mortgage. Though fixed rate mortgage are the most popular, it all comes down to personal choice. Mortgage shoppers should consider their budget, their affinity for risk and their future goals when making the decision.

Mortgage Market: According to the Canadian Association of Mortgage Professionals spring survey Change in the Canadian Mortgage Market, 69% of Canadian mortgage holders have fixed rate mortgages and 85% of mortgages taken out in the last year were fixed rate.

Characteristics of a FIXED RATE MORTGAGE:
Description: A fixed rate mortgage is a mortgage with a fixed interest rate for a specific term. This type of mortgage can be open (may be paid off at any time without breakage costs) or closed (breakage costs apply if paid off prior to maturity).
Pros: With this type of mortgage, you’ll know the amount of your regular mortgage payments, the portion of your payment that goes towards principal and interest and the amortization (the length of time it will take to pay off your mortgage).
Cons: “Generally speaking, there’s a cost premium to locking in your rate because you’re basically transferring all the interest rate risk to the lender,” Stafford says.
Words of Wisdom: “If you’re cash tight – if your debt-service ratio is high as a result of this house purchase or if you’ve stretched to get as much as you can get at the outset – locking in can be a great idea,” he says. “We are maybe at the tail end of a window with the lowest rates in history. If there was ever a time to lock in long, this might be it.”

Characteristics of a VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGE:
Description: With a variable rate mortgage, mortgage payments are set for the term, even though interest rates may fluctuate during that time. Variable rate mortgages may be open or closed.
Pros: This type of mortgage generally offers the lowest interest rate available and if rates drop more of the payment is applied to reduce the principal. Still not sure?  Ask if you’re able to concert to a fixed rate mortgage if you change your mind.
Cons: If rates go up, more of the payment is applied to payment of interest.
Words of Wisdom: “If you can stand the roller coaster ride, generally in any five-year window in history you’ll do better on a variable rate mortgage than on a fixed rate mortgage,” Stafford Says. “You have to be comfortable that you might get a letter saying the Bank of Canada is changing rates and your next payment is higher than the last one.”

Originally from The Calgary Sun: 03/10/2013