Tips For Buyers

The Four Step Method To Buying A Home

Step 1: Get your mortgage Pre-Approved.

Contact your lending institution to find out how much you can be pre-approved for before spending time hunting for your new home. Remember to ask the lending institution for a commitment letter with the details of your pre-approval. Also, remember that the closing date of your purchase needs to be within the period for which you are pre-approved.

During the pre-approval process you will fill out an application stating your assets and liabilities, income, and other personal information. You will also be required to provide income confirmation (usually with a letter from your employer and a pay stub with year-to-date figures). Finally, you will be required to provide written confirmation of your down payment. This may be satisfied by a bank statement showing the source of down payment funds or statements of investments (stocks, bonds, etc.).

Step 2: Find a suitable property.

Choose the location where you would like to live and then let Tina Mak do the work of finding available listings. In order to help you with your search, Tina will pay you a visit and show you listings on her laptop computer that meet your requirements. Using the Listings page, you can browse for detailed information on properties currently listed on Fill out the Get Help Buying questionnaire to help clarify your requirements for a new home. By filling out the questionnaire, you allow Tina to search for suitable properties for you. Tina will email you the listings that best match your needs, allowing you to view homes at the click of your mouse.

Go out and have some fun! Finding a new home should be an exciting time in your life. Whether you are looking for your first home or a cozy spot to retire, shopping for a new home should be an exhilarating experience. Having the right information can make home shopping so much easier. Let Tina provide this for you by filling out the Get Help Buying questionnaire.

Take advantage of Tina Mak’s free special report: Home Buyers: How To Avoid Paying Too Much. This report provides valuable information to assist you while buying a home. Even if you are not planning to buy currently, you should know what is in this report. It will guide you when you eventually do decide to buy.

Step 3: Make an offer.

After searching a bit and finding a home that meets your needs, you will want to make an offer. Hopefully, you have seen a few comparable homes and are able to determine if the asking price is reasonable. Tina will assist you with this, negotiating the price on your behalf.

Once you have decided on a price, Tina will write it up an offer and present it to the seller. The offer will be in the form of a purchase contract that includes subject clauses allowing you cancel the offer in the event you decide not to purchase the property. In the offer, you will stipulate a time frame that the seller has to accept or to counter your offer. If the seller counters, you may accept the new price or reject it and counter again. Eventually you will settle on a price that is accepted by both parties. At this stage, a five percent deposit must then be given to Tina to confirm your commitment to the purchase contract.

Once the offer is accepted, Tina will send a copy to your lending institution. The lender will review the offer to ensure that the amount corresponds with your pre-approval. The lender will also perform an appraisal of the property to ensure that its market value is fair relative to the purchase price. (Note, it is also advisable to have a building inspection done. This will provide you a thorough study of the property in terms of structural and other necessary repairs. Tina can help you arrange this.) Once the appraisal has been done, you will get a written confirmation of the approval of your mortgage. At this time you will remove your subject clauses from the offer and the offer becomes a contract that is firm and binding.

When all documentation has been met on your mortgage approval, the lender will send mortgage documents to your lawyer. Your lawyer will then do the appropriate title searches and prepare documents to register the mortgage and to transfer title of the property to you. Approximately one week prior to your closing date, you will be asked to go to your lawyer’s office with your down payment and any associated closing fees (less any deposits made). This is paid through a certified cheque. You will sign all mortgage documentation at this time and your lawyer will then transfer title of the property to you on the closing date.

Step 4: Congratulate yourself!

You made it! You are now the owner of a new home! Start making plans to move in. If you need help selling your current property, you can list it with Tina by filling out the Get Help Selling questionnaire coming soon.


Detached property: fire insurance must be purchased prior to completion of the sale, but only applies if the buyer is getting a mortgage. Content and other various types of insurance may be acquired at the buyer’s discretion.

Strata property (condominiums, apartments, town homes, etc.): fire insurance is included in the monthly maintenance fees. Buyers need only obtain content insurance or various additional insurance at their own discretion.

Court Ordered Sales

Court ordered sales usually come about as the result of bank foreclosure or divorce. When property is ordered for sale by a court, this may provide an opportunity to purchase at a discounted price.

If the seller is a bank or another type of mortgage lender, they may know nothing about the condition of the property. Thus, generally you are buying the property in “as is” condition. Be aware that the seller may not offer any kind of warranty and that the possession date may be postponed if the property is occupied.

When you are buying a property that has been ordered for sale by a court, the most important thing to remember is to be realistic. It is important to keep in mind that the property may not be as good a deal as it initially seems. Additional, the court proceedings may dictate that the property is sold to a buyer who makes an offer higher than yours, even if your offer has been accepted by the seller.

The procedure is as follows:

The buyer makes an offer that may include subject clauses and conditions negotiated with the seller.

Once the offer becomes firm and binding, the seller presents the offer to their lawyer in order to set a court date for the court to approve the sale.

While waiting for court approval, other buyers may continue to submit unconditional offers. These offers can be made directly to the judge and are made without going through the listing agent. The process is similar to a silent auction.

On the day of approval by the court, the original offer is posted at the court for the public to view. All other offers must be higher than the original offer.

During the proceedings, the buyer should be prepared for competing offers. Upon discovering that there are higher offers, the original buyer may present additional offers to the judge.

The court approves the bidder with the highest offer and this party becomes the new owner of the property.

The process sounds somewhat daunting and it can be. However, it can also be very exciting. Tina’s experience in court ordered sales can help you navigate the process as efficiently as possible. Additionally, Tina’s expertise can provide you with information you may not know how to get on your own.


Federal Government Incentives

95% Ratio Program

All buyers automatically qualify for 95% financing whether they are repeat or first time buyers. (Note, there are exceptions to this program. The home must be owner occupied and the purchase price cannot exceed $425,000 in the Vancouver Lower Mainland. The ceiling price may vary in outlying areas.)

First Time Buyer’s RRSP Withdrawal

First time home buyers are permitted to withdraw as much as $25,000 per person from their RRSPs towards the down payment of a home (bypassing the usual tax implications of redeeming RRSPs). The amount withdrawn must be paid back into the respective RRSPs over the next fifteen years in an amount not less than 1/15th per year. For more details on this program, please refer to Revenue Canada’s Home Buyers Plan booklet (available from any Revenue Canada office).

Provincial Government Incentives

Property Transfer Tax and the First Time Home Buyers’ Program

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit – Non refundable tax credit based on an amount of $5,000 and worth up to $750 for 2009.

CMHC Purchase Plus Improvement

Home Renovation Tax Credit — The credit applies to eligible expenditures of more than $1,000 but not moer than $10,000 resulting in a maximum credit of $1,350

Live Smart BC — Efficiency Incentive Program — The Federal and Provincial governments are both offering real incentives to make homes more energy efficient.

Undivided Interest

Straight facts for B.C.’s Consumers

Buying An Undivided Interest

For more information on this subject please refer to the Undivided Interest segment in the Legally Speaking section.

New Licensing For Leaky Condo Repairs

For more information on this subject please refer to the Leaky Condo Repairs segment in the Legally Speaking section.

Strata Questions

For more information on this subject please refer to the Strata Questions segment in the Legally Speaking section.

If a person is acting on behalf of another as a power of attorney, whenever they sign title transfer documents they must sign in the exact name(s) as registered in the existing title search documents. If they do not, the Vancouver Land Title Office will reject the transfer and the sale cannot be completed. This will delay you taking possession of the property and can cause additional expenses and penalties. Always consult your lawyer when dealing with persons acting through a power of attorney.


Mortgage Guide

Pre-Approved Mortgages
With a little information on mortgage types you will be ready to shop around for the best interest rate and mortgage that fits your individual needs. The most common types of mortgages are the Conventional Mortgage (which requires a 20% or higher down payment) and the High Ratio Mortgage (which could be 0% down payment). Obtaining pre-approval from your lending institution guarantees you a period (usually sixty to ninety days) over which you are guaranteed a loan of a pre-approved amount and interest rate. Pre-approval allows you to concentrate on finding your new home rather than on mortgage financing issues and gives you more freedom to shop.

Overseas Buyer
In most cases, an overseas buyer needs 30% of the property value for the down payment. A 20% down payment may also be made possible with full disclosure of their assets in their own country.

Closed Mortgage
A mortgage which cannot be fully paid out before expiry of its term without penalty. The interest rate is locked in for the entire term of the mortgage. Closed mortgages are usually for longer terms from six months to thirty-five years. With a closed mortgage, you usually get a lower interest rate than you would with a fixed-rate, open mortgage.

Open Mortgage
A mortgage which may be fully paid out before expiry of its term without penalty. The interest rate may be variable or it may be locked in for the entire term of the mortgage. Open mortgages are usually for short terms from six months to two years. With an open mortgage, you usually pay a higher interest rate than you would with a closed mortgage.

Conventional Mortgage High Ratio Mortgage
Ideal for
  • Residential purchases up to 80% of appraised value.
  • Long term borrowing needs.
  • Purchases with high dollar values that require repayment over a longer term.
  • Home renovations.
  • Residential purchases over 80% of appraised value.
  • Consolidation of registered debts against a property.
  • Renovations to a property.
Lending value
  • Up to 80% of the lesser of the appraised value or the purchase price on residential real estate.
  • Up to 95% of the lesser of the appraised value or purchase price on residential real estate.
  • Insured by Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) or GE Capital Mortgage Insurance Canada (GE) as required by the Bank Act.
Interest rate
options and terms
  • Open (6 months to 1 year)
  • Fixed (1year to 10 years)
  • Convertible on 6 months
  • Variable rate
  • Open (6 months to 1 year)
  • Fixed (1 year to 10 years)
  • Convertible on 6 months
  • CMHC minimum 6 month term for 95% financing
Amortization period
  • Up to 35 years, but increasing your payments from monthly to bi-weekly or from bi-weekly to weekly will shorten your actual amortization period and decrease the total interest you pay.
  • Up to 35 years, but increasing your payments from monthly to bi-weekly or from bi-weekly to weekly will shorten your actual amortization period and decrease the total interest you pay.

Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation
Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a crown corporation and the administrator of the National Housing Act for the Canadian federal government. CMHC designs programs to help Canadians in need to get adequate housing. Under Canadian law, certain lending institutions cannot provide first mortgage financing in excess of 80% of the purchase price or lending value of a home unless the mortgage is insured. An insurer of mortgage loans, such as CMHC, reduces risk to lenders that are loaning money to home buyers who are purchasing with less than 20% down payment. The application fee is $75 and, if accepted, a one-time premium must be paid (based on the loan to value ratio or amount of down payment). Below is a table of CMHC premiums. The CMHC premium can be paid as a lump sum or can be added to your mortgage loan.

Premium on Total Loan

Premium on Increase to Loan Amount for Portability and Refinance

Standard Premium Self-Employed without 3rd Party Income Validation Standard Premium Self-Employed without 3rd Party Income Validation**
Up to and including 65%





Up to and including 75%





Up to and including 80%





Up to and including 85%





Up to and including 90%





Up to and including 95%





90.01% to 95% —
Non-Traditional Down Payment***





To qualify for CMHC mortgage loan insurance, your down payment must come from your own resources (either saved or a gift). Additionally, you must be buying or building a home in Canada that will become your principle residence.

What is Bridge Financing?

If your new home closes before the one you are selling, you’ll probably need bridge financing. Here’s how it works.

Bridge financing is used as temporary funds to cover the cost of your new home if the sale of your current home isn’t complete by the time your new home’s purchase is complete.

Lenders can utilize the equity in the current home without having to refinance it to get the equity for the mortgage on the new home.

How this can help?

If a seller has a firm offer but the closing date isn’t for example for 3 months, and they have purchased a new home which that seller wants to close in one month. This is a perfect situation to use bridge financing.

What the lenders can do is set up a new mortgage, using the equity from their existing home as a guarantee and close on the new property up to 90 days earlier than when they sell their property.

Penalty calculators now available!

Want to know how much penalty you need to pay to cancel your mortgage? The follow are the links to some of lenders who have started this new Federal requirement: