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The Easy Road to Home Buying

Where to begin, you ask?

There are so many questions when it comes to buying your first home.  So today, I'm going to share with you the various steps to help get you started. For simplicity's sake, I've broken it down into 3 simple steps:


1. Homework

2. Home Search

3. Home Owner


Let's dig in, shall we?



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Homework

HIRING A REALTOR


WHY:

A Buyer's Agent will represent you and your best interests as a buyer. When you attend open houses, or call the realtor of a listed property, that realtor is representing the seller and THEIR best interest. As a buyer, hiring a realtor has no cost to you, buyers agents are compensated by the seller when you purchase a home.


WHAT TO EXPECT:

Required as of January 2022 (Real Estate Services Act), your realtor will ask you to sign a service agreement. This service agreement outlines the real estate services your realtor has agreed to provide to you on behalf of their brokerage within a specified time frame. It also outlines how their brokerage will be compensated for the services provided. For any realtor in Manitoba to provide any real estate services, a service agreement must be signed.


NEEDS VS. WANTS

Understanding the difference between your needs and wants will allow you to prioritize essential features and amenities ensuring your new home aligns with your lifestyle. This will also help save time by filtering out homes that do not provide you with those critical elements that your new home must have. Consider the following:

  • Location: Research & drive around different neighborhoods that may interest you. The more areas you are open to, the more homes you will be able to choose from.
  • Size: How many bedrooms/bathrooms do you need? Home office? Garage?
  • Type of home: Condominium, townhouse, detached home, attached home.


PRE-APPROVAL

WHY:

A pre-approval provides you with a clear understanding of your budget and demonstrates your seriousness as a buyer. Put simply, being pre-approved means a lender has confirmed that you qualify to borrow a certain amount of money for the purchase of a home. A pre-approval also locks in your interest rate for a set amount of time which can help during a time of interest rate increases.


WHAT DO I NEED?

To obtain a pre-approval you can visit your bank or contact a mortgage specialist (your Realtor will be able to provide you with a trusted referral if needed). You will need to provide essential financial documents such as income statements, tax returns, bank statements, credit history, asset/liability information, personal identification, etc.


HOME SEARCH


VIEW PROPERTIES

It’s time to start viewing properties! Remember, every timeline is different, the perfect home could be the 1st or the 15th! If you find a property you have fallen in love with, it’s okay to ask for a second viewing. Buying a home is the largest transaction most people make, taking a second look is a good way to ensure it’s the one and be certain you have not missed anything with the excitement on the first viewing.


MAKE AN OFFER

You have found your dream home, now it’s time to make an offer! Properties can either have an offer date or offers anytime. An offer date means that all interested buyers submit their offers on a specified date, this can sometimes result in competitive bidding situations. Your realtor will guide you on the best strategy during bidding wars. On the other hand, properties with offers anytime permit you to make an offer immediately after viewing, or give you some time to consider. It is crucial to be mindful that other buyers may also be interested and making offers during this period.


THE OFFER TO PURCHASE

The offer to purchase includes:

  • Your legal name, the seller(s) name, the address of the property
  • Purchase price & deposit amount (a deposit is a sum of money that a buyer offers as a show of good faith and commitment when making an offer. The amount of the deposit will vary depending on the property but typically 2-3% of the purchase price is sufficient. You will need to have this amount readily available; after the offer is accepted this deposit will need to be dropped off at the listing agent’s brokerage within 24 hours. The deposit is held in trust by the brokerage while your conditions are being satisfied and will go towards your down payment.
  • Inclusions (appliances, window coverings, etc.)
  • Possession date
  • Conditions:
    • Financing condition (this is included to provide you with the necessary time to arrange financing)
    • Home Inspection: A home inspection is a thorough examination of the condition of a property. The purpose of an inspection is to assess the overall condition and identify any potential issues or defects with the property. A home inspection is around $500 (based on sqft) and is around 3-4 hours.
    • *These are two of the most common conditions, other conditions can be put in an offer based on your situation.
  • Time in which the offer will expire at
  • Any other terms (ex: all mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and appliances to be in working order on possession)


HOMEOWNER


Welcome to your Winnipeg HomeCLOSING COSTS

In addition to the purchase price of your home, there are other fees associated with purchasing a home, these are called closing costs. These fees are typically around 2% of the purchase price and may include the following:

  • appraisal fee
  • home inspection
  • land transfer tax
  • legal fees & disbursements
  • mortgage insurance
  • home insurance
  • title insurance
  • moving expenses
  • utility hook up, etc.



POSSESSION DAY

  • Your lawyer should be reaching out to you 7-10 days prior to possession and will release the keys to you on possession
  • You now get to walk into your new home! It is important to ensure all appliances and major home systems are functioning. In terms of cleanliness, while you should expect the property to be in a similar condition as when you bought it, there is nothing that requires a seller to clean the property to a certain standard.
  • Once you have taken possession, if you find the property is not in the condition it should have been left (something has been removed that was listed as included in the offer, etc.) call your lawyer and discuss with them. Your realtor should be checking in on possession to ensure a smooth turn over.


HOMEOWNER

Congratulations, you have now officially become a homeowner! Now what?

  • For security reasons consider changing exterior locks and door/garage codes
  • Update addresses:
    • Healthcare: Doctor, dentist, vet
    • Personal: Family, friends, employer, schools/universities/daycares
    • Service Providers: Phone, cable, internet, hydro, financial institution, insurance companies, lawyers, subscriptions
    • Government: Driver’s license, health card, vehicle registration, Canada post, CRA
  • Keep a binder with all paperwork from the purchase of your home and any information about appliances, home systems, etc. If you have it all in one place, it will be easy to find when needed.
  • Keep on top of home maintenance! Home maintenance is crucial to help preserve the value, safety, and functionality of your home.
  • Relax & enjoy your new home!


Have you found this helpful?  Or do you have further questions?  Please reach out!  I am happy to discuss your real estate goals and develop a plan that works for your situation.  Thanks for reading this far!


best realtor in winnipeg mb#AgentSheyla


Sheyla Duncan

Phone: (204) 871-3228
Email: Sheyla@JenniferQueen.com

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The First Time Home Savings Account (FHSA). Is it right for you?

As of April 1, 2023 financial institutions have had the ability to start offering a new program called the First Home Savings Account (FHSA).  This is a tax-free incentive.  But, is this program right for you, is the question?


Before we get into this too far, I want to remind you that I AM not qualified to advise on investments (beyond real estate, that is)!  Nor do I have the knowledge or education to do so.  I am simply here giving my opinion on the product and how I see uses for it.  But this is not investment advice and you should ALWAYS consult with your accountant, financial planner and lawyer before making any investment decisions.


Now that we have that out of the way, let's look a bit more closely at the program! This new program is aimed to encourage first-time home buyers to save up a downpayment by incentivizing them with tax savings. With this program, prospective first-time home buyers will be allowed to save up to $40,000 on a tax-free basis, similar to a Registered Retirement Savings plan (RRSP).  As in, the contributions you make to this account will be tax deductible. When Buyers make withdrawals from this account to purchase their first home, that withdrawal is non-taxable, similar to that of a TFSA.


It’s a great program, that offers both tax shelter for Buyers without truly any downfall when those funds are accessed.


The Limits:

  • There is an $8000 annual contribution limit
  • A $40,000 lifetime contribution limit.
  • Purchasing with a partner? Those limits are actually doubled!  So, $8,000 per person which doubles their lifetime contribution limit to $80,000.

You are allowed to still invest these funds in a variety of investment accounts such as mutual funds, publicly-traded securities, bonds, GICs, etc. and benefit from the returns.

 

Qualifications:

To open an FHSA, you must be:

  • A resident of Canada
  • Over 18 years old and under 71
  • Be a first-time home buyer (have not owned a home in the four years prior to the year the account is opened)
  • You must use the funds within 15 years of opening the account toward your home purchase.  If you don’t, it can be incorporated back into your taxable income.  However, there are options to transfer it into an RRSP or RRIF, if this is the case.

 


Another Key Consideration

You can combine the funds from your FHSA and the Home Buyers Plan (HBP) together.  Just as a refresher, The Home Buyers Plan is a Canadian Government initiative enabling homeowners to access a maximum of $35,000 from their RRSPs to assist in financing their first home purchase.  Keep in mind you DO have to pay these funds back within 15 years to not have a tax consequence – so if you take out the $35,000, your annual loan repayment would be $2,333 ($35,000/15).


So, in combining funds from the Home Buyers Plan (HBP) and FHSA together, this allows you to contribute up to $35,000 from your HBP and $40,000 from your FHSA.  This gives you a grand total of $75,000 toward purchasing your home as an individual, and $150,000 as a couple (both programs allow for this).



My thoughts

The FHSA program combined with the HBP program are two great ways to propel yourself toward home ownership while reducing your taxes. 


There is no tax on growth of the funds you’ve invested and there is no tax when cashed in to buy the house. My thoughts are if you can do it, DO IT! We are highly taxed in Canada and should take advantage of every possible program available to us.


I have personally not seen a lot of clients using this plan - yet.  It is still in its infancy, so that could be why.  But also, saving for a downpayment has been a bit more tough in the 2023 economy.


The program is ripe for those that are GOOD at saving

BUT paying rent while trying to save $8000 per year will be tough for many trying to break into the real estate market.  There was some early speculation that parents would fund these plans for their children, but keep in mind that the parent will not get the taxable benefit from doing so.


My goal is to train my children to be good savers, now.  To start putting funds aside to invest in many of these accounts when they do turn 18.  This way, they are ripe to open RRSP, TFSA, and FHSA accounts and take advantage of programs applicable to them, then. We’ve started at home with 20% of their allowance being set aside for these savings and hopefully, the lessons they learn now will be engrained in them when they become adults to continue those savings. 


Another though for my fellow parents as it is a story I have ALWAYS loved.  I had a client that was incredibly fiscally responsible.  Her parents forced her to save, similar to this.  When she turned 18, they allowed her to continue to live at home, but there was a catch: she had to start paying rent.  It wouldn’t have been market rent, a lesser amount (let’s say $300 per month), but they said it was to get her used to living in the real world and start paying her way.  She paid that rent to her parents, while saving up for her first home downpayment.  When the time came to buy her first home, it turns out her parents had started a savings account, with her name on it, and ALL of the funds she had paid in rent were gifted back to her to create an even larger downpayment.  She had no knowledge this had been their intent all along, but what a gift (not just financially)! To teach fiscal responsibility and financial independence, was likely the greatest gift of all.  I cried, a lot, with her when we found out this is what they had done. 



Real estate advice in winnipeg manitoba#AgentJen


Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945
Email: Jennifer@JenniferQueen.com

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