Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is Recreation Property Right For You?

More and more people - especially "baby boomers" - are looking at recreation property ownership as the perfect way of finding peace and tranquility.

Studies show that boomers are the fastest-growing group of recreation property owners. The need to find that special spot away from it all - plus low mortgage rates - have fueled demand. Is this the right time to buy that hideaway you have been dreaming of, and is it the right buy for you?

Owning your primary residence does not completely prepare you for owning vacation property. In many ways buying recreational property is like buying any other form of real estate but some of the details are quite unique. Like owning a home, there are benefits and challenges to owning recreation property and a REALTOR® who specializes in the particular area of "cottage country" you are interested in will be of tremendous help in making your purchase a success.

Things to consider
Whether in a city or small town, most homes are located in a subdivision or similar development that stipulates a building scheme, supplies water, sewers and other utilities and provides an established layout of roads and sidewalks.

Cottage development, on the other hand, rarely follows any established pattern. Most cottages that border a waterfront have been developed over the course of many years. Often municipal or regional planning involvement has been limited and most day-to-day concerns are handled by local associations.

Legal issues
Waterfront properties are often subject to the rules of regulatory bodies that control what can be done with the beach and shoreline. These regulations may prevent cottage owners from making additions or installing new structures. They may also prevent an owner from altering the slope of the land.
Generally docks, boat houses, retaining walls and other structures require permission from the appropriate government authorities. Before purchasing a cottage property, you should check on the legality of the current structures and ensure that any intended changes can be undertaken in the future.

Road access
Most cottages are not located along public highways. The access road is not always a public road but may involve a private right-of-way. A buyers needs to investigate who is responsible for the upkeep of the road and whether it is open year round.

Some cottages are located on islands, which means you will require water transport as well as parking on the mainland.

Water and sewer
Seldom are cottage properties served by municipal sewer and water systems. Domestic water usually comes from wells or lakes and rivers, or both. A septic system is often used for waste disposal. These are government regulated and cottagers must comply with the requirements.

Water from the well may or may not be safe for drinking; cottagers may have to provide their own bottled drinking water.

Finding a REALTOR®
The REALTOR® you select should be someone who knows the area you are searching and who understands what you are looking for. He or she should be able to provide you with sound, effective advice and have a record of successful recreational real estate transactions.

Begin by asking colleagues, friends and relatives who have cottages in the area in which you are interested to get names of REALTORS® they can recommend. Drive through the area and drop in on real estate offices; ask how many vacation properties they have sold in the last six months and what the sale prices were.

Buying a recreation property is a major business transaction. Maintaining it is a major responsibility. Take your time, drive around different areas - rent a number of cottages in areas where you think you would enjoy owning one. A vacation getaway can bring a great deal of joy to you and your family but it's not an investment you should rush into.

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Defining and Finding Your Dream Home?

When you think of your dream home, what do you see? Each of us has a vision of what it will be but getting as close to that vision as possible is a practical, step-by-step process that begins with finding a REALTOR®.

A home is the single largest purchase most of us make, and it often carries with it a great deal of emotional energy. it is hard to be practical. We want a home to capture all of our ideals for the best possible price. The "real" houses we see often don't stack up to our ideal.

A REALTOR® is your best ally throughout the home-buying process. He or she can provide expert advice and help you determine how much you can afford, what kind of home you can buy in that price range and where it may be located.

You have no doubt heard the phrase "location, location, location". It really is the most important factor in making any real estate purchase. To find the right location, you must think of where you want to live both in broad terms and in detail. Let's begin with the broad terms.

Where do you want to live?
Urban:  Urban communities offer the broadest range of housing types but, generally, at higher prices than similar-sized homes in non-urban locations.

Suburb:  The suburbs are typically made up of newer neighbourhoods, schools and shopping centres. Prices may or may not be lower than those of the central city but you often get more square footage, larger rooms and bigger lots in a suburban area.

Smaller towns and cities:  A lower-paced lifestyle and lower taxes and housing prices are often big draws to British Columbia's smaller communities. There are generally fewer types of homes available and the number for sale could be limited.

Rural: A stream flowing over a few acres sounds appealing and your housing budget will often buy you more in a rural setting than other location.

Once you have considered the broader locations, it's time to think about features you need and want in a home.Begin by making a "buying blueprint" of the home you are looking for, based only on your needs, your price limit and your wants. If you have three children, for instance, you may need three or four bedrooms and two bathrooms. You may also want a pool and a large garden, but do you really need these?

Prepare a shopping list: how many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? One car garage or two? Large backyard or small?

Now for the more detailed location considerations.

Comparing homes and locations
Now you want to match the type of home you would like with a more specific location. Start reading the real estate ads in local newspapers and REALTOR®-produced publications. These ads will give you an idea of the communities that best match your criteria for homes and locations. Drive through the communities that are likely candidates.

Check out the types of homes available, how well the neighbourhoods are maintained, availability of schools and shopping, recreational and religious facilities. Be aware of drawbacks: highway noise, train tracks, airports, large industrial or manufacturing centres. Drive through the neighbourhoods at different times of the day.

Attend open houses in the areas you are exploring. Look at different home types. You will begin to understand which best suit your needs and which are in your price range. Open houses also provide an excellent chance to meet the REALTORS® hosting the events. In fact, it's possible you may select your REALTOR® subsequent to a meeting at an Open House since REALTORS® are familiar with the areas in which they work and can answer many of the questions you have developed during your search.

A REALTOR® will be familiar with the different communities in an area and be able to advise you accordingly. If you don't know what kind of community you want to live in, begin by defining where you don't want to live. Also establish a commuting circle that's acceptable to you.

To define a commuting circle, pinpoint your place of work on a map. Determine the maximum time you are prepared to travel to get to work and use this distance to draw a circle around your workplace with a compass. Within the circle, eliminate any areas known for traffic jams and bottlenecks. Drive through the neighbourhoods and delete any that don't appeal to you.

Armed with your blueprint and a REALTOR®, you will be more than ready to find the home you've been dreaming of.

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Buying a Home - Old versus New

Are you in the market for a home? If so, how do you envision your ideal abode? Do you see yourself in a cozy, old, Victorian treasure complete with gingerbread trim and ornate fireplaces? Or does the image of a brand new home built with today's state-of-the-art technology beckon to you?

Either way, you will find that the rewards of purchasing your own home are immeasurable. The security, comfort and peace of mind you get from home ownership - regardless of your preference for old or new - are well worth the investment.

Keep in mind that the time is right for purchasing. With lower interest rates, government incentive programs and more variety in housing opportunities than ever before, the market is very encouraging.

Look and compare
As you search for a home, you may want to look at and compare those that are both old and new before zeroing in on your particular preference. It is important to keep an open mind.

For instance, you may find a perfect 100-year old gem that needs a lot of renovation and tender loving care - but this may not necessarily fit into your budget plans, or your hectic schedule, if you plan to do a lot of the work yourself.

On the other hand, you may find a new home attractive but would have to spend extra money on landscaping and installing some of the amenities which may be part of the package in an older home.

In many cases, brand new homes aren't always as close to the amenities you may crave - like corner stores, libraries, shopping and recreation areas - simply because the neighbourhood hasn't yet been fully developed.

Advantages of an older home
Advocates of older homes will tell you that it is difficult to duplicate the charm of an older house in a newer one. In addition, with an older home you often get the added advantage of improvements made by previous owners.

Here are some of the advantages of an older home:
  • You can see exactly what you are getting and don't have to try to picture the completed house from a set of blueprints;
  • The house has been "shaken down", i.e. structural faults are clearly seen and can be or have been corrected;
  • The neighbourhood is fully built up and its character has been established;
  • There are existing recreation areas and a variety of local services;
  • Landscaping already exists;
  • There are generally fewer immediate move-in costs because basic features like drapery tracks (and sometimes even window coverings) are already installed. And chattels, such as special lighting fixtures and appliances, are often included with the sale of an older home.
Advantages of a new home
On the other side of the coin, new home advocates will point out that buying a brand new house is like getting a fresh start. You can make a choice between a custom-built home designed exactly to suit your needs and a home built from plans you have seen built into a model home.

Here are some other advantages of buying a new home:
  • You have much more flexibility with a new home in customizing your decor and landscaping to suit your tastes. You get fresh, unblemished walls and you can usually choose the type of flooring, carpeting and cupboards that you want;
  • With most new homes, you generally get more storage space (such as closets) and larger rooms;
  • Today's minimum standards for plumbing, electrical, insulation and heating systems are higher than ever before;
  • Traditionally, land values tend to increase during the first few years as neighbourhood services develop and the subdivision nears completion.

Consider location
Regardless of what type of home you choose - old, new or in between - be sure you examine all your options first so that you and your family are happy with the final choice. And don't forget to consider location; experienced Buyers know that it is the number one factor.

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR® Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All About Downpayments

How to Save for a Downpayment

The dream of owning a home of your own will more easily turn into reality if you take some practical steps towards saving for a down payment.

It makes good financial sense to put as much money as you can into your down payment. The bigger the down payment, the less you will have to borrow for a mortgage. This means smaller monthly mortgage payments and it also lowers the total cost of interest over the mortgage term.

Saving for a down payment can be a challenge and it often means sacrifice but there are programs designed specifically to help first-time buyers meet the challenge.

If you have been putting money into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), the RRSP Home Buyer's Plan allows you to withdraw up to $20,000 from the plan to buy or build a house. Your spouse can also withdraw up to $20,000 from his or her RRSP, to make a total of $40,000 available for a downpayment.

There will be no income tax deducted from this money provided it is repaid to an RRSP within 15 years, according to a government repayment schedule. The money you take out must also have been deposited at least 90 days before withdrawal.

You can take part in this plan if you, or your spouse, have not owned a home and lived in it as your principal residence for five years before you take the money out of your RRSP.

You have to enter into an agreement to buy or build a home in Canada that will be your principal residence within a year. You can buy a new or resale detached or semi-detached home, a townhouse, condo, mobile home or an apartment in a duplex, triplex, fourplex or apartment building. Shares in a co-operative housing corporation also qualify.

Once you have entered into the agreement, Revenue Canada's Form T1306 must be completed and handed over to the financial institution that issued your RRSP. This form gives you permission to withdraw money without taxes being withheld. You can take money from more than one RRSP as long as you don't exceed the $20,000 limit.

If you don't think a conventional mortgage - which calls for 25 per cent of the purchase price as a down payment - is within your reach, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a first-time buyer's program that offers financing of up to 95 per cent of a home's purchase price. To qualify, you must be planning to buy a home in Canada that will be your principal residence and you can't have owned a home in the previous five years.

Often the biggest obstacle to saving a down payment is simply the inconvenience of making regular deposits to your savings plan or account. However, even minimal contributions add up over time and before you know it you have enough saved for a downpayment.

Many financial institutions now offer automatic deductions to put some of your money into a savings account every week, every two weeks or once a month. Your ability to save money regularly will also stand you in good stead when it comes time to shop around for a mortgage.

REALTORS® are specially trained to help you find the home that's best for you. They are familiar with the way these programs work and their advice can help you start working towards making your dream of home ownership a reality.

I am the GUY that will make a difference!

I specialize in selling homes in the in the Okanagan Valley including Westbank, West Kelowna, Peachland with a focus on Rose Valley, Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna Estates and Shannon Lake.

Karen Guy, REALTOR® Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty
C 250.878.3605 O 250.768.8001

Kelowna Real Estate Agent West Kelowna Karen Guy Realtor