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HomeBuyersFrequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions




How much can I afford to pay for a home?

To find out how much you will be able to pay for your new home, you need to analyze your taxable income along with the amount of debt that you have to pay off through monthly payments. If it is your main residence that you're going to purchase, calculate approximately 32% of your income to make the mortgage payment, property taxes and heating costs.

Next, you need to calculate 40% of your taxable income and from that, deduct all of your other monthly payments such as car loans, credit card bills and other such debts. The lesser of these two calculations will be used to determine how much of your income may be used towards housing related payments, including your mortgage.

Apart from what the ratios tell you, you should make calculations of your own to determine how much you can afford. If the payment amount you're comfortable with is less than 32% of your income you may want to settle for the lower amount rather than stretch yourself financially. Make sure you take all other expenses into consideration too so that you can easily afford the basic luxuries.

What is a Home Inspection? Should I have it done?

A home inspection is a visual examination of a house by a qualified professional to determine the overall condition and value of the home. When conducting a proper inspection, an authorized home inspector should check all the major components of the house such as the roof, ceilings, walls, and floors along with other systems such as the electrical connections, heating, plumbing and drainage and weather proofing. The inspector usually gives the results of the inspection in writing to the home owner within 24 hours of the inspection.
It is always advisable to get a home inspection done before making a purchase decision. A thorough inspection is likely to clear a majority of the doubts that you might have when purchasing a home. The inspection gives an idea about the quality of the construction and indicates whether any major repair work will be required. This allows you to calculate all the add-on costs before making the final decision. An inspection will definitely give you a more secure feeling about your purchase decision by removing most of your doubts.

What is the minimum down payment that you need to make when purchasing a home on a mortgage?

In most cases, you will need to pay a minimum of 5% of the house value as a down payment. In addition to the down payment, you must also be able to show that you have the capacity to cover other closing costs such as the legal fees and disbursements, appraisal fees and a survey certificate.
As a rule, at least 5% of the down payment must be from your own cash resources or a gift from a family member. This cannot be a borrowed amount. Several programs are available in the market that allow some alternate sources of down payment. The CMHC is one organization offering such programs. Certain lenders also accept gift money from a family member or friend as a down payment. However, such a sum needs a signed letter from the donor stating that it is a gift and not a loan.
For any down payment that is less than 25% of the total value, a loan insurance from either the CMHC or GE is required.

What is Mortgage Loan Insurance?

Mortgage Loan Insurance is an insurance cover provided to a lender against default on mortgage installments, when the down payment amount is less than 25%. Like any other insurance, mortgage loan insurance too requires premium payments. The premium amount can vary between 0.5% to 3.75%, depending on the insurance provider and how much of the purchase price is financed by the mortgage; greater the down payment, lesser will be the premium. Mortgage loan insurance is distinct from Mortgage Life Insurance as the latter guarantees that your remaining mortgage at the time of your death will not be a burden to your estate.

What is a Conventional Mortgage?

A conventional mortgage is one in which the down payment amount is equal to more than 25% of the purchase price (or where the loan value is less than 75%). Such a mortgage normally does not require mortgage loan insurance.

What is a High-Rate Mortgage?

A mortgage which is greater than 75% of the purchase price or appraisal, whichever is less, is known as a High-Ratio mortgage. A High-Ratio Mortgage requires mortgage loan insurance. Premiums for a mortgage loan insurance can range from 0.5% to 3.75%, depending on the value of the mortgage.

What is a pre-approved mortgage? What is the benefit of getting pre-approved?

A pre-approved mortgage is one that provides an interest rate guarantee from a lender for a specified period of time (usually 60 to 90 days) and for a set amount of money. The pre-approval is calculated on the basis of information provided by the borrower and is subject to certain conditions being fulfilled before the mortgage if finalized. These conditions usually include factors such as a written confirmation of employment and income among other things. Many brokers prefer it when their clients have a pre-approved mortgage as this gives a clear idea of the affordable Price when hunting for a new home.
The benefits of getting a pre-approved mortgage are many. First of all, pre-approval gives you an idea of what you can afford, making your search for a new home much simpler. It also does away with the tension of trying to find out what your monthly installments are going to be. Probably the greatest advantage of getting a pre-approved loan is that it allows you to lock in a rate. As the lender guarantees a fixed rate when pre-approving the mortgage, the borrower can secure that same rate even when the market prices climb up. In case a situation arises where the interest rates fall below those that were pre-approved, the lenders usually offer the lower rate.

Can I qualify for a mortgage if I have been declared bankrupt?

Some lenders may consider you eligible for a mortgage even though you have faced bankruptcy. However, this decision may vary from lender to lender and will greatly depend on the circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy. Certain measures can be taken by the prospective borrowers to improve their credit rating. Approach your mortgage broker for details.

What is the documentation required to obtain a mortgage?

To make your mortgage application process as simple and lucid as possible, it is advisable that you collect the following documents beforehand in order to avoid any interruptions later:
  • Personal information and identification such as your drivers license or passport.
  • Job details, including confirmation and proof of income.
  • Your sources of income.
  • Proof of financial assets.
  • Information and details of all your bank accounts, loans and other debts.
  • Source and amount of down payment.
  • Proof of source of funds for the closing costs (usually about 2.5% of purchase price)

How will child support and alimony affect my mortgage qualification?

If you're paying child support and alimony to another person, generally the amount paid out is deducted from your total income before determining the mortgage amount that you would qualify for.
If you're receiving child support and alimony from another person, the amount paid to you will be added to your total income before determining the mortgage that you will qualify for. However, you will be required to produce a regular receipt for the same for a set time period as specified by the lender.

What is the difference between a fixed rate mortgage and a variable rate mortgage?

In a fixed rate mortgage, the interest rate is pre-determined at the beginning of the loan term, which can range from 6 months to 25 years. The advantage of this type of mortgage is that it offers a security of knowing your monthly payments beforehand and allows you to plan accordingly.

In a variable or floating rate mortgage, the payments are fixed for a period of one or two years but the interest rates can fluctuate every month depending on the market conditions. If the interest rates drop, more of the payment goes towards reducing the principal; if the rates go up, a larger portion of the monthly payment goes towards covering the interest. The interest rate is based on a predetermined formula which is in-turn based on the prime-lending rate.

Will this contract force me to buy this home?

A contract is a legally enforceable promise. Therefore, you're obliged to carry out its terms if the contract is firm and binding. However, a contract can be "subject to" the performance of other terms (for example, obtaining a mortgage). Most REALTORS® draft "subject to" conditions to allow Buyers time to find out more about the home they are buying and to ensure they are able to obtain financing to purchase it.

What happens if I can't get financing or I am not happy with my home inspection?

Usually a REALTOR® has written in these items as "subject conditions", if so, you will instruct your REALTOR® that you're "unable to waive or fulfill" you contract. If you're unable to waive or fulfill a subject condition, your obligation to purchase the home will cease.

Why do I have to give a deposit to the REALTOR®? Will I get it back if I back out of the deal?

A deposit is "earnest money" meaning that it signifies to the Seller how serious you're to proceed with the transaction. Your Deposit is not a "down payment", as your cash in the deal (in addition to your mortgage) will be paid on the Closing Date. Whether a Deposit is returned depends on the factual situation which caused a deal to collapse (see below), however your REALTOR® cannot simply return your deposit without first complying with the provisions of the Real Estate Act.

If I can't complete on the Completion Date will that be a problem?

The contract provides that "time is of the essence" this means that the strict timelines in the contract are enforceable by the Court. In the event that you fail to complete "on time" you may be liable for damages (money damages) or specific performance (where the court orders you the complete the deal). If you find out that the original dates will simply not work for you, please let your REALTOR® and Lawyer know so that they can attempt to obtain an extension for you.

If I back out the deal after removing my subject conditions, will I just lose my deposit?

Assuming that the Seller has not misrepresented and is able to complete, generally a Buyer cannot simply "walk away" from their deposit. Should a Buyer fail to complete a firm and binding contract, the Buyer may be liable to the Seller for all of the Seller's damages including: a) loss of profit, b) interest costs, c) marketing costs, and d) legal fees. In many cases, the amount of the Seller's damages may exceed the deposit. If you're considering this, please call your lawyer immediately.

I really like the bedroom light, how do I know this is included with the house?

Generally, all fixtures are included with the sale of the house. Fixtures are those items that are affixed (ie; attached to) the structure and foundation (eg; chandeliers). Sometime, exactly what "is" and "is not" a fixture has to do with the "degree of attachment" and this can be confusing for both buyers and sellers. Given this confusion, sometimes Sellers remove items (ie; wall shelving) when they move out, so if there is something of importance which you want included with the purchase of you home please let your REALTOR® know.

The property has an "in-law suite", can I rent it out to other people?

A secondary suite can only be rented in the City of Kelowna or the District of West Kelowna where the property has been zoned "S". If you require that the suite to be rented to afford to live in the property, we strongly recommend that you inquire with the applicable municipality.

If I own the property can I do whatever I want with it?

Although an owner can do many things with a property that a tenant cannot do, your ownership may be subject to restrictions that are found in local statutory building schemes, homeowner's associations, strata councils, and municipal bylaws. If your purchase of the property is dependant on a change in structure (ie; major renovation) or use (ie; home based business) please discuss this with your REALTOR®.

If my spouse goes on title alone and we separate, will I have no claim to my house?

The Family Relations Act creates an interest in land upon the breakup of a marriage, even if there is no interest noted on the land title (subject to a prenuptial agreement or the Act). The Act allows for filing of an interest in land, upon marriage breakup, in the land title office.

A clause on my contract (i.e.; title search or tax advice) is "subject to review by the Buyer's lawyer [or accountant]" what should I do?

Prior to subject removal, you should take the contract to your lawyer or accountant and discuss your proposed purchase with them. Your REALTOR® has placed this clause into your contract to ensure that you obtain personalized professional advice in a specialized area (such as tax or a title search).

What are my closing costs?

Closing cost vary with each transaction. These include Property Transfer Tax, Municipal Property Tax, Strata Documentation and Adjustment Fees (if applicable), Land Title Office Filing Fees, and Legal Fees. We provide all clients with a quote on Legal Fees and an estimate of the other costs you can expect after we receive your contract, to ensure there are no surprises on closing.

          Erik was a great listener, and always very thorough with my requests. He also gave me some really sound advice which ended up saving me money in the long run. - Shannon Nolting
Macdonald Realty, 100-2429 152 Street, Surrey, BC V4P 1N4 Copyright © 2016 Erik Hopkins. Reproduction Strictly Prohibited.