First Time Home Buyer
Buying your first home is a very exciting time. For some people, it may be a nervous time.
You will usually see us after all of the "subject to" terms, clauses and other conditions precedent in your contract of purchase and sale, have been removed, and you have a binding contract. This usually means that the home inspection, financing and all other matters have been completed.
At this stage, you will need to tell your real estate agent and your mortgage broker (or Bank, Credit Union, Financial Institution etcetera) which Notary Public or law office you will be using to handle the conveyance work your property purchase. Among other things, this means the office that will act on your behalf, to have the title of the property transferred into your name.
The real estate company and the financial institution would then send your office of choice with certain documents that are required to process your transaction (we often generally refer to these documents as "instructions"). Although we need instructions from both your mortgage lender as well as your realtor to complete the paperwork for your transaction, we can usually open your file and take some of your information after having received your contract.
It is a good idea to come into our office a few weeks before your completion date. We ask that all those going on to the title of the property and all those guaranteeing the mortgage come in their original identifications, including at least one valid, government issued photographic identification.
What information is useful to have?
We will ask you for the name (address and/or contact phone number) of the insurance broker or insurance company that you will be using to insure your home (property) that you will be purchasing. It is a good idea to insurance your home against fire, flooding and other possible losses. Mortgage lenders require proof of this insurance.
We will often ask for a recent survey certificate for the Property. Often, there is not a recent survey available, or, the survey available does not meet the lender's requirements. This is nothing to worry about. This can be overcome by ordering a new survey certificate or obtaining title insurance in lieu of a survey. This will usually depend on your lender's particular requirements. Some lenders provide the option of obtaining either a survey or title insurance. Other lenders require title insurance and a Survey in all situations.
We will ask for the names and occupations of the people will be on title (remember in the majority of the situations your lender has the final say on this).
If there will be more than one owner going onto the title of the property, we will ask how you wish to be co-registered on title (shares and/or co-ownership). Generally speaking you can be co-owners on your property as "Joint Tenants" or "Tenants in Common".
If you will be claiming a grant under the First Time Home Buyers' program, we will ask for your residential address for the last two years, and for your original social insurance number card. Some of the basic requirements of claiming a grant under the First Time Home Buyers' program include:
- that you are a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada;
- that you have lived in British Columbia for 12 consecutive months immediately before the date you register the property, or you have filed 2 income tax returns as a British Columbia resident during the 6 years before the date you register the property;
- that you have never owned an interest in a principal residence anywhere in the world at anytime;
- that you have never received a first time home buyers' exemption or refund;
- that the purchase price is below the maximum set price;
- that you will be using the property as your principal residence
- that the property's land size is below the maximum set size;
- that you move into the property within a certain time period after completion, and that you continue to live in the property as your principal residence for a minimum time period
It is a good idea to check all of the up-to-date requirements for this program, as program requirements do periodically change.
When can we sign?
It is a good idea to provide us with the contract and mortgage lender instructions as early as possible. For single family home purchases, three or more weeks in advance is appreciated. For strata home purchases, four or more weeks is appreciated. This will also help avoid rush fees or charges.
As we are working on your transaction we collect information about the property by conducting property title searches, tax searches and further searches that may be needed. We may contact your real estate agents, the strata management company (in the case of strata properties), your insurance broker or insurance company, your lender, the sellers Notary Public or Lawyer and other parties as needed.
Once we have all of the required information, we can prepare the documents and set an appointment to have you come in and sign. When we call you for the appointment, we will be able to provide you with a figure, usually subject to small change, that you will need to bring in with you by way of bank draft made payable to G.S. Minhas, Notary Public "in trust".
On the completion date, the title to the property is transferred into your name. On the possession date, which oftentimes is set at some date after the completion date, you will receive the keys to your new home, usually, from your real estate agent.
We had calculated a down payment of A but it worked out to B?
Often, people have miscalculated the amount of funds they were expecting to bring into their Notary or Lawyer. A few closing costs that you may need to keep in mind include:
- cost of a new survey certificate
- Harmonized Sales Tax / Goods and Services Tax
- Property Transfer Tax
- adjusting for municipal taxes and utilities
- adjusting for rent
- strata form / move-in / move-out fees
- title insurance
- cost of ordering an insurance binder
What about condominium or strata homes?
The process for condominium or strata homes is very similar as mentioned above, with additional considerations, such as dealing with the strata corporation or the strata management company.
When you purchase a strata home you are purchasing ownership of the home itself, as well as a proportionate ownership share in the entire property. This proportionate share in the property is held jointly with the owners of the other strata homes (and possibly with the owners of the commercial strata units in the case of mixed residential commercial strata complexes). As a joint, proportionate, owner of the entire property you are also proportionately responsible for sharing the expenses of the entire property. Part of this expense sharing is commonly covered by your monthly strata maintenance fee. Your strata maintenance fee is usually revised on a yearly, or possibly more than yearly, basis. A good way to think about ownership in a strata home is to think of ownership in a corporation (i.e. holder shares in a corporation as a shareholder).
As a strata home owner, you have certain rights and responsibilities. You must abide by the rules, regulations, bylaws etcetera set out in your strata complex. Familiarize yourself with the rules and bylaws that are applicable to your future home and strata property.
For strata homes make sure that you have received and reviewed adequate documentation from the strata corporation or the strata management company with respect to assessments, pending litigation, financial affairs, minutes, rules, bylaws, rental allowance, parking use and other such matters.
What are some other things to keep in mind when buying a home?
Two to three weeks before your completion date, it is a good idea to contact hydro, gas, water, oil, cable providers, internet providers, and other applicable service providers that apply to your property and have new accounts started in (or changed into) your name.
If you are buying a strata home, ensure that you inquire about the insurance coverage. The strata management company insurance policy covers the strata home only. This means that the insurance coverage will not cover contents (your personal belongs that are inside your strata home). You must ensure you get appropriate insurance coverage for all of your belongings that will be inside your home. Talk to your insurance broker, insurance company or lender about this.
The next part of this list is a bit more detailed and legalize, on what you may need to keep in mind.
Make sure that no work has been done to the property which may give rise to a builders' lien or trust claim, or if there have been repairs or alterations, that appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that no claim is outstanding.
Make sure that the property is appropriately zoned for any particular use you may wish to make of it and that the property is not the subject of anticipated expropriation or municipal or other work orders (this information may be obtained from the municipality).
Make sure that the water supply is potable and adequate and that the condition and capacity of any septic tank on the property is acceptable.
Make sure that there is legal access to your property.
Make sure that satisfactory arrangements have been made for delivery of actual possession of the property, particularly if there are presently any tenants in occupation. You should arrange with your realtor for the delivery of keys on the possession date.
Make sure that satisfactory insurance has been arranged to be in place no later than 12:01 a.m. on the completion date showing loss payable to your mortgage lender.
Make sure that you have made any required or necessary investigations and/or searches concerning the Heritage Conservation Act to determine if there have been any heritage and/or archaeological sites identified on the property.
Make sure that you have made all necessary or required inquiries as to the inhabitability or condition of any of the buildings located on the Property.
Make sure that you have obtained a survey certificate to ascertain the property's dimensions and to confirm that the buildings and/or fences, landscaping, etc. are entirely within its boundaries and not encroaching on easements or rights of way and that all buildings are in compliance with municipal bylaw.
Make sure that any required fire permit (for wood-burning stove) has been issued and received by you from the sellers.
For strata properties make sure that you have received and reviewed adequate documentation from the strata corporation with respect to assessments, pending litigation, financial affairs, minutes, rules, bylaws, and parking use and that you are not relying on us to review these matters on your behalf.
For strata properties make sure that have satisfied yourself as to your entitlement to the exclusive, or other use, of any parking stalls associated with the strata lot and the location of such parking stalls.
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