The Hidden Costs of Buying Real Estate

The Hidden Costs of Buying Real Estate

The Reality Beyond the Sticker Price

When it comes to purchasing real estate, the price tag on the listing is just the beginning. There are numerous additional costs involved that are not always obvious from the start. Failing to account for these can put your home ownership at risk, leading to a frantic scramble for funds at closing. As a real estate professional, I’ve witnessed too many buyers caught off guard by these hidden fees. It’s my mission to educate and prepare you for these unexpected expenses, ensuring a smooth and surprise-free home buying experience.

Unpacking the Hidden Costs

Let’s break down these costs using a $1 million home as a benchmark. This figure simplifies calculations and can be adjusted based on your actual purchase price. Here are the key extra expenses you need to consider:

1. Property Transfer Tax (PTT)

A significant expense in British Columbia, the PTT is calculated on a sliding scale, with rates increasing with the value of the property. For a $1 million home, expect to shell out approximately $18,000. However, first-time homebuyers might qualify for exemptions, so it’s worth investigating potential savings.

2. Legal Fees and Disbursements

Enlisting a real estate lawyer or notary public is essential for navigating the legal intricacies of property purchase. Costs can range widely, but for our example, anticipate spending between $1,500 and $2,500. Tip: Compare rates across different firms, potentially saving hundreds.

3. Title Insurance

Often required by lenders, title insurance protects against various ownership issues. For a property of our example’s value, the cost can be around $1,000 to $2,000, a one-time payment that safeguards your investment.

4. Mortgage Insurance

If your down payment is less than 20%, mortgage insurance becomes mandatory, protecting the lender against default. The cost varies significantly based on several factors, making it crucial to consult with your mortgage broker for precise figures.

5. Property Insurance

This is another lender requirement, with costs fluctuating based on location, size, and property condition. For a million-dollar home, expect annual premiums of $1,500 to $2,000. Shopping around can lead to savings.

6. Appraisal Fees

Lenders often require a professional appraisal to confirm the property’s market value, costing around $300 to $500. This fee can sometimes be negotiated or waived, so it’s worth discussing with your mortgage broker.

7. Strata Fees

For condo or townhouse purchases, monthly strata fees cover maintenance and amenities. These fees can vary widely and tend to increase annually, so factor them into your long-term budgeting.

8. Property Taxes

You may need to reimburse the seller for prepaid property taxes, depending on the sale’s timing. Annual taxes on a million-dollar home could be around $3,500 to $4,000, with adjustments based on the possession date.

9. Home Inspection

Before finalizing your offer, a professional home inspection can uncover potential issues, costing $700 to $1,000. While not mandatory, it’s a wise investment that could save you significantly by identifying costly repairs early on, potentially even netting you a price reduction.

The Bottom Line

The additional expenses of buying a home can tally up to between $26,900 and $30,800 for a million-dollar property. Including these in your budget is essential for a realistic understanding of your financial commitment.

Knowing the potential hidden costs is just the beginning. The next step is deciding where to buy, considering the best neighborhoods and those to avoid. Should you have any questions or need advice, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s navigate the path to your new home with confidence and clarity.


Navigating the 2024 Home Buying Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Navigating the 2024 Home Buying Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you ready to take the plunge into the real estate market this year? Buying a home is a significant milestone, and it’s essential to navigate this journey without falling into common pitfalls. Here, I’ll walk you through a simple yet comprehensive 7-step process to buying a home in 2024, ensuring you make informed decisions and avoid common mistakes.

Step 1: Get a Pre-Approval

The home buying journey begins long before you pick out your dream home—it starts with financial readiness. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a crucial first step. Why start early? It gives you a clear picture of what you can afford and any credit or income issues you need to address. I recommend using a mortgage broker over a bank, as brokers often have your best interests at heart and can help you avoid pitfalls like high payout penalties from big banks. Ensure your pre-approval is fully underwritten, meaning it’s based on verified documents, which solidifies your budget and enhances your buying credibility.

Step 2: Hire a Real Estate Agent

Once you’re financially prepped, it’s time to find a real estate agent. Your agent is your advocate, guiding you through the buying process and safeguarding your interests. It’s tempting to search online or respond to for-sale signs yourself, but a professional agent will save you time and money. They’ll help you avoid common errors, such as buying a property next to a planned highway, which could be detrimental when you decide to sell.

Step 3: Begin Your Home Search

With an agent by your side, you’ll start the actual home search. Define your criteria and stick to homes that match closely to avoid confusion and wasted time. Viewing too many properties can blur your memory of specific features. Use a process of elimination to narrow down your options, allowing you to focus on homes that truly meet your needs and stand out in your search.

Step 4: Write an Offer

Here’s where a great agent proves their worth. Writing a strong offer and negotiating effectively can significantly impact the terms and final price you secure. Ask your agent if they’re willing to negotiate on their commission—not as a way to pay them less outright, but as a test of their negotiation skills. An agent who can’t defend their worth might not fare well in deal negotiations on your behalf.

Step 5: Address Necessary Conditions

When crafting your offer, include conditions like financing and inspection to protect yourself. These conditions allow you to back out if financing falls through or if major issues are discovered during the inspection. In competitive markets, it’s tempting to waive these conditions, but doing so can expose you to significant risks.

Step 6: Secure Your Mortgage

After your offer is accepted, it’s time to finalize your mortgage. If you were thorough during your pre-approval, this should be straightforward. Your mortgage broker will handle the transfer of information to the lender for final approval. Quick submission of any additional required documents can help speed up this step.

Step 7: Close the Deal

The final step involves legal professionals who prepare and review all the necessary documents to officially transfer the home into your name. This is when you finalize your mortgage and sign the contractual papers. Once everything is signed and sealed, you’ll coordinate with your realtor to pick up the keys to your new home.

Wrapping Up

By following these steps, you can approach the 2024 home buying process with confidence. Remember, the key to a successful home purchase lies in preparation and professional guidance. If you’re starting from scratch and need to find trusted professionals like a mortgage broker or real estate agent, feel free to reach out for recommendations.

Embarking on your home buying journey? Ensure each step is carefully planned and executed, and you’ll soon be holding the keys to your new home!


What are the steps to sell a home in the Fraser Valley?

Selling your home can be a significant undertaking, which is why it's essential to navigate the process with confidence and knowledge. In this guide, we'll walk you through the crucial steps to sell your home successfully, ensuring a smooth and profitable transaction.

Preparation and Research:
  • Understand the Local Real Estate Market: Your Realtor should provide research on the current real estate market trends in the Fraser Valley. This includes understanding property values, market demand, and recent sales in your neighbourhood.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Determine your selling goals, such as the desired sale price, timeline, and any specific conditions you may have.
Hire a Local Real Estate Agent:
  • Choose a Reputable Realtor: A knowledgeable local real estate agent can be invaluable in navigating the market and ensuring you sell for top dollar. Look for someone with experience in your specific area, your property type,  and a proven track record of successful transactions.
Home Staging and Repairs:
  • Enhance Curb Appeal: First impressions matter, so ensure your home looks appealing from the outside. Trim the lawn, clean the exterior, and consider adding some colourful plants.  Small paint touch ups go a long way!
  • Declutter and Depersonalize: Allow potential buyers to envision themselves in your home by decluttering and depersonalizing spaces. Consider professional home staging to showcase your property in the best light.
  • Address Repairs and Maintenance: Fix any noticeable issues, such as leaky faucets, peeling paint, or damaged fixtures. A well-maintained home can significantly increase its market value.
Pricing Your Property:
  • Set a Competitive Price: Work with your realtor to set a competitive and realistic asking price. Consider recent sales of similar properties in your neighbourhood to determine a fair market value.
Marketing Your Property:
  • Professional Photography: Your Realtor should offer high-quality photographs to showcase your home online. Many buyers start their search on the internet, so captivating visuals can make a significant difference.
  • Online and Offline Marketing: Utilize various marketing channels, including online platforms, traditional advertising, and open houses. Your Realtor should have a comprehensive  and clear marketing strategy.
Negotiating Offers:
  • Review and Respond to Offers: Once offers start coming in, you'll carefully review each one with your Realtor. Negotiate terms, such as price, closing date, and any conditions attached to the offer.
  • Counteroffers and Finalizing the Deal: Be prepared to negotiate counteroffers and work towards a final agreement. Your Realtor will guide you through this process.
Closing the Sale:
  • Legal and Financial Procedures: Work closely with your lawyer and financial institutions to ensure all legal and financial aspects of the sale are handled correctly.
  • Final Walkthrough and Possession: Before closing, you'll conduct a final walkthrough with your Realtor to ensure the property is in the agreed-upon condition. Once everything is in order, your Realtor will transfer keys to the new owners.

10 terms first-time B.C. homebuyers should know

Whats the difference between the deposits and down payments, completion dates and possession dates?

1. Deposits and down payments: The deposit is the up front money a buyer puts down to secure the home prior to completion, in the form of a bank draft. This amount is generally 5%, howoever your Realtor may be able to negotiate less if the rest of your downpayment is tied up in investments.  The down payment is the total amount that a buyer puts down to contribute toward the purchase. Where people get confused is that the deposit forms a part of your down payment. And the rest of the purchase is funded by the mortgage. There are cases where a buyer’s deposit equals their down payment if they’re only putting down five per cent. Whereas if you’re planning on putting 10% down then the five% deposit forms a part of your final down payment.

2. Subject removal: It’s the Buyers time to do their due diligence. In a balanced market, this is usually about 7 business days. Standard subjects are the conditions that need to be met before the buyer moves forward with the purchase — including arranging finances, inspection, reviewing the property disclosure, reviewing and approving title, ensrureing the home can be insured, and reading strata documents if applicable. Once you’ve checked those boxes, you’re ready to hand in the deposit, and become a homeowner.  If during the subject removal period you weren’t satisfied with something, like the inspection or strata documents, you would be able to back out of the contract due to issues discovered. Your Realtor will advise further on this topic. 

3. Subject-free (cash): A subject-free offer means that, rather than having a conditional period after the acceptance of the offer, the buyer only has the 3 day rescission period to back out of the offer. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t do your due diligence, it just means that you do it before you know if you’re going to get an accepted offer. It’s a lot more heavy lifting upfront but you may need to utilize this option if you are in a multiple offer situation. 

4. Completion date: This is the day that the title and funds transfer from buyer to seller. You should expect to sign paperwork with the lawyer, anywhere from 3 days prior to this date, up until the final date in some cases.

5. Possession date: Break out the Champagne; you are now ready to spill some on your new floor. This is the day you actually get your keys.  Typically this day is 1- 3 days after Completion, but could be longer.  

6. Property Disclosure Statement: Has there been any fire or water damage, have there been any special levies or proposed special levies, what’s the maintenance fee, what’s included in the maintenance fee? These questions and more are answered by the seller in this statement, and is available to the Buyer prior to writing the offer, in most cases.

7. Special levy/assessment: This is an amount needed for an upcoming project, such as roof repairs or window replacement, that a strata is planning. The strata will vote on whether funds will come from the contingency fund, or if a levy will be required to be paid by owners.  The amount owed, will be based on the square footage of your unit.

8. Contingency Reserve Fund: The CRF are the funds that a strata has saved away for any upcoming repairs and building maintenance.  Money for the fund comes from a monthly maintenance fee paid by each unit. The fee also pays for the caretaking of a building’s common areas.

9. Title search: This document includes details of the home itself, including the registered owner and any third party charges to the land, unit or building.  It’s a document you want to review prior to removing conditions, to ensure there are no liens or charges that will affect the use of the property in the future.  

10. Listing price vs. market value: This is a tricky distinction for a lot of first-time homebuyers.  The listing price is more strategy-based. A seller can list for more or less than market value. Just because someone lists for $400,000 doesn’t mean that they want $400,000 or that they’d sell for $400,000.  Part of your Realtors job is to provide a CMA (comparative market analysis) to provide an estimate of the value, in today's market.

We have experienced agents on our team that are First Time Buyer specialists, call us today 


  • Market Trends and Prices: Understand the current real estate market trends in British Columbia, including average property prices, inventory levels, and whether it's a buyer's or seller's market. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and negotiate effectively.
  • Property Transfer Tax (PTT): Be aware of the Property Transfer Tax, a provincial tax payable upon the purchase of real estate in British Columbia. The amount is based on the property's fair market value and varies depending on the purchase price and whether you're a first-time homebuyer. There may be exemptions or rebates available, so it's essential to research and understand the tax implications.
  • Strata Properties: If you're considering purchasing a strata property (condominium or townhouse), understand the regulations, fees, and bylaws associated with strata ownership. This includes monthly maintenance fees, special levies, restrictions on renovations, and rules governing common areas.
  • Home Inspections and Due Diligence: Before finalizing the purchase, conduct a thorough home inspection to identify any issues or defects with the property. Additionally, research the neighborhood, school districts, amenities, and potential future developments that may impact the property's value or your quality of life.
  • Financing and Affordability: Determine your budget and obtain pre-approval for a mortgage to understand how much you can afford to spend on a house. Consider factors such as your down payment, mortgage rates, closing costs, and ongoing expenses like property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. It's crucial to ensure that your purchase is financially sustainable in the long term.

Secondary Suite Incentive Program - are you eligible?

The B.C. government is offering homeowners up to $40,000 to build a secondary suite as part of a new program aimed at boosting the supply of affordable housing across the province.

The three-year incentive program, will accept applications beginning in spring 2024.  Approx 3,000 eligible homeowners will be offered forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to help pay for construction costs for basement suites, garden suites or laneway homes on their property.

Whats the catch ?

Homeowners must rent the suites at below-market rates for five years for eligibility

If you're still reading, then you probabaly want to know how you can be a part of this.  Details below ⬇️

Who is eligible? 

1. You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

2. The home must be your primary residence. Your household’s combined income should not exceed $209,420.

3. The property cannot be worth more than $2.125 million, and owners should have enough home equity that can be leveraged as security for the loan.

What type of suites are eligible? 

 A secondary suite is a self-contained unit that has its own kitchen, bathroom and sleeping facilities contained within the dwelling. Standalone suites such as laneway homes and garden suites on the same property and title are also eligible.

 1. The loan cannot be used toward renovations or improvements to existing rental units.

 2. The owners must have received municipal building permits for the suites on or after April 1, 2023.

 3.The cost to build the suite must be a minimum of $20,000.

Still here? I've included the link to the BC Housing website for full details ⬇️


Is it safe to live near powerlines?

Do power lines effect property values?

Do power lines cause cancer?

Are power lines bad for your health?

Is it safe to live near power lines?

How much do power lines effect home values?

What is the resale value of a home near power lines?

These are all valid concerns to address when buying a home and the answers may surprise you!

Power lines emit electric and magnetic fields, commonly referred to as EMFs. EMF represents a type of non-ionizing radiation that emanates from various electrical sources, including power lines, household wiring, everyday appliances, Wi-Fi devices, computers, and more. EMF exposure is a part of our daily lives, regardless of our proximity to power lines. The farther you are from the EMF source, the lower your radiation exposure tends to be. While burying power lines underground may enhance the visual appeal of a property, it doesn't reduce EMF exposure when compared to overhead power lines with the same voltage and current.

Now that we have an understanding of what EMF entails, let's delve into the potential health risks associated with power lines near your residence.

Is there a connection between EMFs and health concerns? There is a definite association between high-level EMF exposure and the stimulation of nerves and muscles. However, these exposure levels would need to significantly exceed 100 microteslas (uT), far beyond what one would typically encounter in any residential setting. Such extreme exposure levels are not a cause for worry or concern in residential areas of British Columbia.

Does living near power lines cause cancer?

Both Health Canada and the World Health Organization concur that routine exposure to EMFs at low frequencies does not pose a health risk. It is true that EMFs are classified as a potential carcinogen, but they fall into the lowest category of this classification. Other items in this category include aloe vera and pickled vegetables.

Proximity to power lines does play a role in the resale value of a home

There are many factors that effect the value of your home, including but not limited to: location, age, size, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, views etc.  Proximity to power lines is another. The stigma around perceived safety issues and decreased curb appeal are the two main reasons for the lower price tag. Homes near power lines will generally sell for a little less than comparable homes away from power lines. The good news is, if you want to buy a home near power lines you are likely to save some money compared to other similar homes in the neighbourhood.  Just remember that when it comes time for you to sell, potential buyers are going to want the same deal and considerations you had when purchasing the home. If you are considering purchasing a home near power lines, it is best to speak with your Realtor® over any concerns you may have. 


B.C. caps allowable rent increase in 2024 at 3.5 per cent

The government of British Columbia has decided that landlords can only increase the rent on their properties by a maximum of 3.5 percent next year. This rate is lower than the general increase in the cost of living.

This decision might sound good for renters who are struggling to afford their homes due to rising expenses, but it's also causing difficulties for landlords.

David Hutniak, who heads a group representing about 3,300 property owners in B.C., explained that landlords are facing rising costs too. Things like insurance, utilities, and taxes have become much more expensive. He acknowledges the challenges renters are going through but points out that landlords have had very small or no rent increases since 2020.

Hutniak worries that because of these restrictions, many landlords are finding it hard to make ends meet and keep their properties in good condition. This isn't good for their businesses in the long run.

The government says that the 3.5% rent increase limit for 2024 is lower than the average inflation rate, which is about 5.6 percent. This rule applies to rent increases starting from January 1, 2024. Landlords can only raise the rent once a year and must give tenants three months' notice before doing so.

Premier David Eby explained that this decision aims to strike a balance between the needs of renters, who face increasing rent costs, and landlords, who might struggle with higher interest rates and consider selling their properties instead of renting them out.

In short, the government is trying to find a fair solution, but it's a tough challenge to satisfy both renters and landlords.

What are your thoughts on this move?
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