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Professional and free of charge service to the buyers

As the buyer's agent I get paid by the sellers so my service to the buyers from consultation to searching ,showing and negotiation is free of charge.


Steps you should take before start looking for a property:

1.Get a preapproval from your bank or a mortgage broker

2.set your price limit and mortgage payment that you are comfortable with and put aside enough money to cover the appraisal fee, lawyers fee, surveyors(is not applied to the condominiums), Property Purchase Tax and the HST(new homes).

3.find your desired neighborhood

4.Hire a realtor




Avoiding home buying errors

Shopping for a new home can be an emotional experience. It’s also time-consuming and comes with a myriad of details. Some buyers, however, caught up in the excitement of buying a new home can overlook some items. Their home purchase turns into an expensive process. These errors generally fall into two areas:

  • Paying too much
  • Buying the wrong home

When you have a Realtor you trust and systematic plan before you shop, you’ll be sure to avoid these costly errors. Here are some tips on making the most of your home purchase:

Bidding without sufficient information
What price do you offer a seller? Is the seller’s asking price too high? Is it a deal? Without research on the market and comparable homes, you could spend thousands more than other homes that have sold in the same area. Before an offer is presented to the seller, your Realtor should offer to do a comparative market analysis on the value of the home based on market conditions, condition of the home, and the neighborhood and its amenities. Without knowledge of the market, your offer could be too high.

Buying a miss-matched home
What do you need and want in a home? Sounds simple. Yet, clearly identifying your needs and bringing an objective view to home shopping, leaves you in a better position. Sometimes, home buyers buy a home that is too large or too small. Perhaps they didn’t consider the drive to work, the distance to school, or the many repair jobs waiting for completion. Plan ahead. Use your needs list as a guideline for every home you view.

Unclear title
Before you sign any document, be sure the property you are considering is free of all encumbrances. As part of their services, a realtor can supply you with a copy of the title to ensure there are no liens, debts, undisclosed owners, leases, or easements and restrictive covenants which would affect building a garage or other upgrading plans you have for the property.

Outdated real property report
Before the purchase is completed, an updated survey is essential. This report will indicate boundaries and structural changes (additions to the house, a new swimming pool, neighbor’s new fence which is extending a boundary line, etc.). A survey is the home seller's obligation to provide.

Unexpected repairs
For $ 400 - $ 1500 a professional inspector will conduct a thorough inspection of the home. This way, you’ll have an idea of the cost of future repairs. Your Realtor will make the final contract subject to a favorable report and always avoid Grow Ops.

Shopping without pre-approval
It only takes a few hours to a few days to get financing pre-approval. When you are shopping for a home, this gives you more power. A seller is more likely to consider an offer from a serious buyer.

Remember additional closing costs
Besides the funds for the purchase of a home, you’ll need funds for items such as loan fees, home insurance, legal fees, inspections, title insurance, etc.

Rushing the closing
Before you sign, ensure that all documentation clearly reflects your understanding and conditions of the transaction. Has anything been forgotten? Don’t rush. You could lose money, financing, or even the sale.



Ten questions to ask a strata corporation

1 What bylaws and restrictions govern the property? Are there grandfathered clauses?

2 What is the date of the last depreciation report? Is a copy available?

3 Have engineering reports been done on the strata and are reports available?

4 How much is in the contingency reserve fund? How are funds invested?

5 How much are the monthly strata fees and what do they cover, for example, common area maintenance, recreational       facilities, garbage collection, hot water, heat, cable?

6 What repairs have been made in the last decade, for example, major plumbing, roof, windows?

7 Have there been special assessments in the past five years? What did they cover and what was the cost per unit?

8 What percentage of units are owner occupied? What percentage are rental units?

9 Is there pending litigation, for example, for leaky condominium repairs?

10 What is the deductable on an individual unit?







 First Time Home Buyers  please go to :  www.mikeshafie.com/firsttimehomebuyers


More information about the HST: www.mikeshafie.com/hst


If you buying a condo:

Contingency Reserve Funds and Special Levies

1. What is the Contingency Reserve Fund?

Strata corporations must have a contingency reserve fund (“CRF”) to pay for
common expenses that

  • usually occur less often than once a year; or
  • do not usually occur.

The contributions from strata owners to the CRF should be included in every
budget approved at an annual general meeting.

Usually, CRF contributions will appear as a single line item in the budget, and the
budget will not detail any specific use of the CRF.

Separate sections within a strata corporation have a duty to establish their own
operating fund and CRF for common expenses that relate exclusively to the
section. However, common expenses shared by different sections cannot be
included in separate section budgets, and must be included in the strata
corporation budget as a common strata corporation expense.

Strata lots that are differentiated as different types of strata lots in a bylaw do not
have the power to establish their own operating fund and CRF.

2. Contributions to the CRF

Usually, CRF contributions are based on the unit entitlement of each strata lot in
the strata corporation. Contributions to the CRF are approved in the annual budget
and collected through strata fees.

If the strata corporation has separate section budgets, CRF contributions for that
section are usually based on the unit entitlement of each strata lot in the section.

Contributions to the separate section CRF are approved in the separate section
annual budget and collected through separate section strata fees.
[Note: strata corporations with separate sections will usually have both separate
section budgets for section expenses and a strata corporation budget for expenses
common to strata lots in all sections.]

The following may also be added to the CRF:

  • surplus funds from the previous year’s operating fund; and
  • surplus funds from a special levy, as long as the surplus funds owing to each
    strata lot is $100 or less.

3. Minimum/Maximum Contributions

The amount that a strata corporation must contribute to the CRF is based on the
total annual budgeted contributions to the operating fund for the fiscal year that
just ended.

If the amount in the CRF is:

  • less than 25% of the total annual budgeted contribution to the operating fund
    for the fiscal year that just ended, the minimum contribution to the CRF must
    be at least 10% of the total contribution to the operating fund for the current
  • 25% or greater but is less than 100% of the total annual budgeted contribution
    to the operating fund for the fiscal year just ended, the contribution to the CRF
    may be of any amount; or
  • equal or greater than 100% of the total annual budgeted contribution to the
    operating fund for the fiscal year just ended, any contribution to the CRF must
    be approved by a resolution passed by a ¾ vote at an annual or special general

4. Depreciation Reports

A depreciation report may be used to assist a strata corporation in determining the
amount that it should be contributing to the CRF. However, a depreciation report
is only a guide for the strata corporation. CRF contributions ear marked for a
certain purpose in a depreciation report can actually be spent for any purpose for
which the fund may be used.

A depreciation report may never be used to lower the CRF contribution below the
minimum contribution required by the Act.

The depreciation report should estimate the repair or replacement cost and the
expected life of each major item of the common property (e.g. the roof) or the
common assets (e.g. playground equipment).

At this time there is no standard prescribed form which must be used for a
depreciation report.

Strata corporations may want to consider including the following items when
preparing a depreciation report:

  • electrical system
  • heating system
  • plumbing system
  • elevators
  • exterior walls
  • roof
  • carpeting and furnishings
  • interior and exterior painting
  • parking facilities and roadways
  • recreational facilities

This list is not exhaustive and a strata corporation may prepare a depreciation
report for any common property or assets belonging to the strata corporation.

5. Expenditures from the CRF

Expenditures from the CRF must be:

  • approved by a ¾ vote at an annual or special general meeting; and
  • consistent with the purpose of the CRF.

6. Unapproved Expenditures from the CRF

An unapproved expenditure will only be permitted:

  • if the expenditure is necessary to ensure safety or prevent significant loss or
    damage; and
  • if the expenditure does not exceed what is required to ensure safety or prevent
    loss or damage; or
  • if the expenditure is for the purpose of paying an insurance deductible
    required to repair or replace damaged property.

If an unapproved expenditure occurs a strata council must inform owners as soon
as possible about the expenditure unless the expenditure was to pay for an
insurance deductible.

7. Investing and Managing the CRF

The CRF can be invested or held:

  • in an insured account at a savings institution in British Columbia; or
  • in an investment permitted by section 15 of the Trustee Act (see attached
    Appendix “A”).

The CRF:
must be accounted for separately from other monies held by the strata
corporation or separate section;

  • must include any interest or income earned on the CRF;
  • can be used to secure a strata corporation loan by approval of a ¾ vote; and
  • can be lent to the operating fund to cover temporary shortages resulting from
    expenses becoming payable before the budgeted monthly contributions to the
    operating fund to cover these expenses have been collected.
    • a loan made to cover a short term temporary shortage in the operating fund
      must be repaid by the end of that fiscal year; and
    • if a loan is made, the strata council must inform owners as soon as feasible
      of the amount and purpose of the loan

8. Claim to Monies in the CRF

When the sale of a strata lot occurs, the seller is not entitled to a return of
contributions to the CRF.

9. What is a Special Levy?

A special levy is monies collected for a specific purpose:

  • where the expenditure has not been included in the annual budget because it
    was either not contemplated or because of the infrequency of the expense;
  • where there are insufficient funds in the CRF; or
  • where a decision is made not to use monies from the CRF.

10. Preparing a Resolution for a Special Levy

A resolution approving a special levy must:

  • set out the purpose of the levy;
  • state the total amount of the levy;
  • state the method for determining each strata lot’s share of the levy;
  • state the amount each strata lot must pay; and
  • state the date(s) by which the levy must be paid.

11. Approving and Contributing to a Special Levy

A strata lot owner will contribute to a special levy:

  • in the same way that strata fees are paid, which is usually by unit entitlement,
    but may be by some other method, if the strata corporation has approved by
    unanimous resolution, an alternative method of apportioning strata fees; or
  • by a fair division of expenses.

A special levy must be approved at a general meeting. The vote necessary to
approve a special levy will be:

  • a ¾ vote if contributions to the levy are apportioned in the same way as strata
    fees are apportioned; or
  • a unanimous vote if contributions to the levy are apportioned by a fair division
    of the expense rather than the way that strata fees are apportioned.
    When a strata lot is sold, if a special levy is approved before the strata lot is
    conveyed to the purchaser:
  • the seller will owe the strata corporation the portion of the levy that is payable
    before the date the strata lot is conveyed to the purchaser; and
  • the purchaser will owe the strata corporation the portion of the levy that is
    payable on or after the date the strata lot is conveyed.

12. Expenditures and Uses of a Special Levy

Monies collected for a special levy must only be spent for the purpose of the
special levy.

The strata council must inform owners on how monies raised from a special levy
have been spent.

The special levy can be used to secure a strata corporation loan by approval of a
¾ vote.

13. Excess Special Levy Funds

The strata corporation must return excess funds from a special levy to the owners
in the same proportion that the levy was collected, if there is at least one owner
entitled to more than $100.

If no owner is entitled to more than $100, the strata corporation may deposit the
excess funds in the CRF.



Why do Mortgage Rates Change? What Factors Affect Fixed and Variable Canadian Mortgage Rates?

There are many factors that influence the health of the economy; unemployment, inflation, consumer confidence and the housing market, just to name a few. Let’s take a look at the factors that influence fixed and variable mortgage rates.

Factors that Affect: Fixed Mortgage Rates

The main factor affecting fixed mortgage rates is Government of Canada bond yields. Fixed mortgage rates typically move in alignment with government bond yields of the same term.

Fixed Mortgage Rate: a fixed rate enables you to “lock in” a predetermined rate for a set period of time, or the term, with the most popular fixed term being 5 years.

Bond Prices and Bond Yields (Negative Relationship)

The price of bonds have a negative relationship with bond yields. In other words when bond prices increase, bond yields decrease, and when bond prices decrease, bond yields increase. Bonds are typically considered safer investments than stocks, especially Government bonds and as such bond prices typically decrease when the market is booming, and increase when the market is dipping.

Bond Yield: the return an investor will receive by holding a bond to maturity.

Bond Yields and Fixed Rates (Positive Relationship)

Generally fixed rates have a positive relationship with bond yields and increase and decrease along with bond yields. In other words, when bond yields increase, fixed rates increase, and when bond yields decrease, fixed rates decrease.

Stock Market is Booming – Bond Prices Decrease, Bond Yields Increase, Fixed Rates Increase

When the stock market is booming, investors are more likely to make a higher return on investing in equities (i.e. the stock market) than investing in bonds. Thus the demand for bonds decreases, meaning that the price of bonds decreases, and the bond yield increases. As such, fixed rates will likely increase.

Stock Market is Dipping – Bond Prices Increase, Bond Yields Decrease, Fixed Rates Decrease

On the other hand, when the Canadian economy becomes less stable and stocks do not look as enticing, investors are more likely to invest in safer investments such as bonds. Thus the demand for bonds increases, meaning that the price of bonds increases, and the bond yield decreases. As such, fixed rates will likely decrease.

Example – 5 Year Bond Yield vs. 5 Year Fixed Rate

For example, if the Government of Canada’s 5-year bond yield increases, the 5-year fixed mortgage rate would normally increase as well. There are some periods where they may not move directly in sync with each other, but this is the general trend.

Factors that Affect: Variable Mortgage Rates

The Bank of Canada is responsible for changes to variable mortgage rates because they determine the target overnight lending rate.

Variable Mortgage Rate: fluctuate monthly and is based on the mortgage lender’s prime rate.

Variable Rates and the Overnight Rate

The overnight rate changes the cost of lending/borrowing short-term funds and therefore influences the Prime Rate. Since variable mortgage rates are linked to prime rates, when prime rate goes up, so will your variable mortgage rate and monthly payments.

Overnight Rate: the interest rate which large banks borrow and lend one-day funds amongst themselves. It is also known as the key interest rate, or the key policy rate.

Prime +/-

Variable mortgage rates are advertised as Prime plus or minus X%, for example Prime –0.60%, which means that the interest rate you pay is directly related to the Prime Rate, and will fluctuate whenever this changes. Link to Prime Rates page for all of the banks.


Let’s say the current overnight rate is 0.5% and the major banks prime rate is 2.50%, and at that time the variable mortgage rate is – 0.50% (thus 2.00%).
If the Bank of Canada increases the overnight rate from 0.5% to 0.75% (an increase of 0.25%), the banks will likely follow suit and increase their prime rate by the same 0.25% to 2.75%. Your variable mortgage rate will thus also change due to this increase in the prime rate, making your new variable mortgage rate 2.75% – 0.50% = 2.25%






Top Grants and Rebates



1 Home Buyers’ Plan

Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Home buyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time.

Canada Revenue Agency

www.cra.gc.ca Enter ‘Home Buyers’ Plan’ in the search box.


2 GST Rebate on New Homes

New home buyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is $350,000 or less. The rebate is equal to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000. At $450,000 and above the rebate is nil.

Canada Revenue Agency

www.cra.gc.ca Enter ‘RC4028’ in the search box.


3 BC Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First-Time Home Buyers’ Program

Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced up to $450,000. At $450,000 and above the rebate is nil.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.sbr.gov. bc.ca/business/Property_Taxes/ Property_Transfer_Tax/ptt.htm


home owners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/ individuals/Property_Taxes/ Property_Tax_Deferment/ptd.htm

7 Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) Grants. This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low-income home owners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and owners creating secondary and garden suites.

www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/ prfinas/prfinas_001.cfm

1.800.668.2642 | 604.873.7408

8 Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI)

A program jointly sponsored by the provincial and federal governments provides up to $20,000 to help eligible low-income seniors and disabled home owners and landlords to finance modifications to their homes to make them accessible and safer.

BC Housing www.bchousing.org/ Options/Home_Renovations

604.646.7055 or toll-free 1.800.407.7757 extension 7055

9 CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund

Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance, a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient home or make energy saving renovations.

www.cmhc.ca/en/co/moloin/ moloin_008.cfm


10 Energy Saving Mortgages

Financial institutions offer a range of mortgages to home buyers and owners who make their homes more energy efficient. For example, home owners who have a home energy audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy Saver™ Mortgage, may qualify for a rebate of $300 to their RBC account.

www.rbcroyalbank.com/products/ mortgages/energy-saver-mortgage. html


11 Low Interest Renovation Loans

Financial institutions offer ‘green’ loans for home owners making energy efficient upgrades. Vancity’s Bright Ideas personal loan offers home owners up to $20,000 at prime + 1% for up to 10 years for ‘green’ renovations. RBC’s Energy Saver loan offers 1% off the interest rate for a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000 or a $100 rebate on a home energy audit on a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000.

For information visit your financial institution.

www.vancity.com/Loans/ TypesOfLoans/BrightIdeas and www.rbcroyalbank.com/products/ personalloans/energy-saver-loan. html

12 BC Hydro Appliance Rebates

Mail-in rebates for purchasers of ENERGY STAR clothes washers, refrigerators,

dishwashers or freezers.

www.bchydro.com/rebates_ savings/appliance_rebates.html


13 BC Hydro Fridge Buy-Back Program

This ongoing program rebates BC Hydro customers $30 to turn in spare fridges in working condition.

www.bchydro.com/rebates_ savings/fridge_buy_back.html


14 FortisBC Rebate Program

A range of rebates for home owners include a $75 rebate for upgrading to an ENERGY STAR clothes washer, $300 rebate on an Ener-Choice fireplace and a $1,000 rebate for switching to natural gas (from oil or propane) and installing an ENERGY STAR heating system.

www.fortisbc.com/NaturalGas/ Homes/Offers/Pages/default.aspx


15 FortisBC Rebate Program for Businesses

For commercial buildings, provides a rebate of up to $60,000 for the purchase of an energy efficient boiler, up to $15,000 for the purchase of a high-efficiency water heater and recieve funding towards a new construction energy study.

www.fortisbc.com/NaturalGas/ Business/Offers/Pages/default. aspx


16 LiveSmartBC Small Business Program

Business Energy Advisors (BEAs) delivers free energy assessments. Help business owners tap into available product incentives and cash rebates for lighting, hot water, heating and ventilation improvements. Help business owners coordinate product installation. NOTE: this program expires March 31, 2014.

www.livesmartbc.ca/incentives/ small-business/index.html


17 City of Vancouver Rain Barrel Subsidy Program

The City of Vancouver provides a subsidy of 50% of the cost of a rain barrel for Vancouver residents. With the subsidy, the rain barrel costs $75. Buy your rain barrel at the Transfer Station at 377 W. North Kent Ave., Vancouver, BC. Limit of two per resident. Bring proof of residency. There is a also a limited time offer for short rain barrels for small yards. Cost $50.

http://vancouver.ca/engsvcs/ watersewers/water/conservation/ programs/rainbarrel.htm


Other municipalities have similar offers.

18 Local Government Water Conservation Incentives

Your municipality may provide grants and incentives to residents to help save water. For example, the City of Coquitlam offers residents a $100 rebate and the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, and District of West Vancouver offer a $50 rebate when residents install a low-flush toilet. Visit your municipality’s website and enter ‘toilet rebate’ to see if there is a program.

19 Local Government Water Meter Programs

Your municipality may provide a program for voluntary water metering, so that you pay only for the amount of water that you use. Delta, Richmond and Surrey have programs and other municipalities may soon follow. Visit your municipality’s website and enter ‘water meter’ to find out if there is




 Secondary Suites 

Know the rules when insuring secondary suites


Secondary suites continue to be an affordable housing option for Metro Vancouver area residents, benefitting home owners as mortgage helpers and tenants as a less expensive roof over their heads.  

Secondary suites are so prevalent that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates there are now about 101,808 accessory suites in the Metro Vancouver region.

“With so many suites in our area, it’s important to remind home owners to let their insurer know about a suite and to buy insurance to cover the suite,” says REBGV member David Chambers, a licensed REALTOR® and a licensed insurance agent, and vice-president of Chambers Olson Insurance in Vancouver.

Legal or illegal

“Whether the suite is legal or illegal, having insurance coverage is vital,” says Chambers who notes there is a misconception among home owners that their existing policy will cover a suite. “It doesn’t,” says Chambers.

A home owner who doesn’t tell their insurer about a suite and that there are two households living in the home, opens themselves up to significant risk.

An unreported and uninsured suite could potentially void the existing insurance contract on the primary residence if there is a flood or a fire,” explains Chambers.

Some home owners may not properly insure their property because of fear that their insurer will report the suite to the local municipality. “This isn’t true,” says Chambers. “However, we always advise our clients to comply with local bylaws and report and register the suite with the local municipality.”


How much will insurance cost? “About 10 per cent of the cost of your total home insurance. So if you’re paying $1,200, it will cost you an additional $120,” says Chambers.

Home owners who rent their secondary suite can also buy separate comprehensive rental insurance. Depending on the insurer and on the policy, this can cover vandalism and damage by tenants, typically up to a payout maximum limit of $5,000. This insurance doesn’t cover the tenant’s belongings. The tenant has to buy their own insurance for their possessions.

Home owners with laneway homes, coach homes above garages and other authorized or unauthorized accommodation on their property should also let their insurer know and should buy appropriate coverage.   

Did you know?

Based on the official community plans for Metro Vancouver municipalities, there is room for an additional 215,000 suites in the region.  Source: Metro Vancouver


Click here to find the secondary suite bylaws for the Real Estate of Greater Vancouver Board area.


 Municipalities bylaws :  www.mikeshafie.com/secondarysuites





Guarantors and Co-signers are Different


In today's housing market, some parents and other relatives are asked to act as a guarantor or co-signer on a mortgage for young buyers who may not have the employment history or credit scores to qualify for a mortgage.

A co-signer is basically a co-owner, i.e., registered on the title and equally accountable for payments (although it's often a given that the co-signer will not make the payments).

guarantor, on the other hand, personally guarantees payments will be made if the original applicant defaults, but is not on title and therefore has no claim to the property.

Lenders require co-signers and guarantors for different reasons, explains Helen Hancey, a mortgage specialist with The Mortgage Centre.

"A co-signer is used when you need to support income," she says. If the original applicant's qualifying ratio doesn't meet the lender's standards, a co-signer is required to bridge the income gap.

A co-signer must sign all of the mortgage documents and can expect to remain on title until the applicant qualifies for the mortgage on his own. Or, in the case of two spouses, the co-signer might remain on title indefinitely. Keep in mind that removing someone from the title involves legal fees.

One exit option for a guarantor is for the home owner to refinance usually at a slightly higher rate with a second-tier mortgage lender that is more flexible when it comes to debt-to-income ratios or credit transgressions.

Talk to your lender and lawyer before becoming a guarantor or a co-signer on a mortgage.













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