Quick Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tread slowly but surely when buying a home. There are quite a few pitfalls that could get you ending up in the gutter of a bad deal, or with an overpriced loan, or a secretly horrible house. You need to look beyond the surface when you’re looking into securing a mortgage or searching for the house itself. Here are some tips that should prove useful:

Attend seminars

Ask if there are organizations in your neighborhood that conduct seminars or forums for first-time home buyers. These are often offered by the local city housing department, some real estate organizations, and certain non-profit companies. Attending one should help you learn the ropes of the process. You might even get some much needed help.

Focus on your needs

You might be enticed to buy a house for the elegant kitchen or the stunning deck and pool, but you should never lose track of what you need. Your priority should be making sure that the house will fit your family and that it is a practical choice considering neighborhood safety and accessibility. Luxury can come later.

Weigh mortgage options

When choosing a mortgage plan, think about your long-term goals. If you’re thinking of living in that house for a very long time, then you might benefit from a 30-year fixed mortgage. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of eventually refurbishing and selling, there should be a 15-year plan available.

Choosing the Perfect Condominium

Not everyone who wants a house wants the responsibilities associated with living in the suburbs. People who don’t want to spend their weekends mowing the lawn or repainting their fence often choose to live in condominiums instead. In condos, occupants pay a fee that covers property maintenance so they can spend their long-awaited weekends enjoying the various amenities that condos offer.

In a metropolis like Vancouver, however, there are countless condos to choose from and the options can be overwhelming for first-time buyers. Don’t despair though; below are a few tips to help you land the condo of your dreams:

Get a trusted realtor
No one knows the Vancouver real estate market better than realtors, so hire a local one that has extensive experience in finding suitable condos for clients. Just tell them what type of condo you need and they’ll prepare a shortlist of properties that you can view.

Location is everything
Location, location, location—no word is more important when it comes to real estate. The best condos are situated near business districts, schools, shopping centers, and hospitals. Be warned, though: they can be pricey.

Check the floor plan
You won’t have quite the same freedom when it comes to renovating your condo unit like you would with single-detached homes. Therefore, choose one with a layout that fits your needs since major structural changes have to be approved by the condo board first.

A Guide to Vancouver’s Luxury Estates: Star Homes

Friday, December 27, 2013

When Hollywood’s greatest stars come to Vancouver, they’re always on the lookout for properties that complement their high-profile status. Here's a short list of the abodes and neighborhoods the celebrities prefer. Let it serve as your quick overview and buying guide to the best luxury homes in the city —or simply as a way to indulge your fantasies of staying in some of its most exclusive properties.
  • Matt Damon – This young man with an old soul prefers the solitude offered behind the iron gates and old-growth cedars of the palatial homes of North Shore. Channing Tatum and his family have also been temporary residents of this very exclusive part of town.
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes – TomKat rented out the entire penthouse of the Shangri-La Hotel while they were in Vancouver for the filming of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
  • Jennifer Aniston – This famous Friends actress was reported to have booked the Metropolitan Hotel’s top floor in 2008.
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – The actor and wrestling superstar rented out a penthouse on Beach Avenue during the filming of The Tooth Fairy for $20,000. The property featured views of the English Bay as well as the city and its mountainside backdrop. The same penthouse was also rented out by Jeff Bridges while he was filming Tron: Legacy.

Sell Your Home Quickly with These Tips

Whether you’re upgrading to a bigger home or downsizing to a modest condominium, you’ll have to sell your current house before you can move. However, with Vancouver’s competitive real estate market, the time it will take between hanging the “For Sale” and “Sold” signs might take interminably long. If you need to sell your house quickly, here are a few tips to help you along:

Get an experienced real estate agent
Yes, hiring an agent is an additional cost but there is no faster way to sell your house than to tap professional services. An agent can post your property on multiple listing services to help it gain wider exposure, as well as arrange viewings for interested parties. Once your house is bought, an agent can also handle all the paperwork and legal requirements so you can focus on preparing for the move.

Set a reasonable price
Everyone wants to get top dollar for their house, but be realistic when it comes to pricing yours. Research comparable home prices in your area and set your asking price around those figures. You might even want to price it a bit lower—the relatively cheaper price attracts a lot of attention and encourages competing bids from buyers.

Improve curb appeal

Looks aren’t everything, but buyers are more likely to purchase an aesthetically pleasing home than a displeasing one. Clear up the clutter, mow your lawn, change your doors and windows, and repaint your house to give it a quick make over.

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