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.
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Outdated real property report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.
For $300 - $500 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?
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
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
Strata corporations may want to consider including the following items when
preparing a depreciation report:
- electrical system
- heating system
- plumbing system
- exterior walls
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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.