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Have you made an appointment to see a property only to find out that it's been sold before you even have a chance to get there? Are you finding that your offers are getting beat out by unconditional offers? 


So, what exactly is an unconditional offer? Well, it's essentially purchasing a home 'as is' and agreeing to purchase it without approval from your lender, insurance provider, or having any inspections completed.


Is it risky? Absolutely! However, if you are extremely familiar with the real estate market and have a savings account that you can lean on if you find there are some problems or your lender backs out, then it might be the right move for you.


Here are a few of the risks you should weigh before entering an unconditional contract:

 

Property Inspection


Without having a property inspection completed, you may miss some serious problems that are unseen to the naked eye. By having a property inspection done, all problems will be found, noted, and give you the opportunity to negotiate the price with the seller or walk away from the deal. A  property inspection will catch asbestos, mold, foundation and structural issues, age and efficiency of HVAC systems, hot water tanks, and much more. 


Title Review


A title review is another extremely important aspect of purchasing a home. You need to be aware of all Rights of Way, Utility Agreements, covenants, etc. that are registered against your property. You also need to be assured that the seller's lawyer undertakes to payout and discharge any mortgages, loans, or liens that are registered against the property. 


Insurance


The chance that your insurance provider will agree to insure a property without a property inspection, is quite slim. It is, of course, a possibility, but it's likely going to cost you a pretty penny as the premiums will be extremely high. Insurance providers want to be guaranteed that what they are insuring isn't going to cost them money.  


Financing


If your lender is unable to fund the loan or can not fund on time, there's a risk that you will lose the home and your deposit. Many lenders will also want to review the property inspection and insurance documents prior to funding the loan, and if you've made an unconditional offer, you might have a hard time getting all these documents together to satisfy your lender. 


5. Under Valuation 


Having an appraisal completed on the property you are purchasing will give you the most reliable idea of what the home is actually worth. If the seller has under-valued the home, this could have negative impacts on you, as your lender will likely lower your approved loan amount, meaning you will need to come up with the difference.


Homes are selling fast and it's hard to keep up with the market these days, so being aware of the risks that come along with an unconditional offer to purchase is extremely important.

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Purchasing a home is an expensive process, there are many costs to factor in such as lawyer fees, insurance, inspections, and much more. 


The thought of skipping a home inspection may cross your mind, it's a few hundred dollars that you may not want to part with. However, having a home inspection completed, can save you a world of problems and money later. 


Below are a few reasons that having a home inspection completed will be worth every penny and possibly save you a lot more in the future!   


Safety 


A home inspection will find things that you can not see, such as radon, carbon monoxide, mold, and much more. You want your new home to be as safe as possible and without a thorough home inspection, these may not be found. 


Negotiating


If during your home inspection, some problems are found, this gives you an excellent opportunity to negotiate with the sellers. You can request a discounted price or ask that the seller fix/repair the problems prior to closing. 


Insurance


Many insurance companies will not insure a home without reviewing the home inspection first. They need to be assured that what they are insuring is in good condition. Always check with your insurer prior to declining any inspections. 


Mortgage funding 


If you are depending on your bank to lend you the funds to purchase your new home, then you need to ask them if they require a home inspection. Many lenders will require a review and approval of the inspection prior to releasing any funds to you. 


Future costs


A proper inspection will give you an idea of the age of your roof, hot water tank, HVAC systems, and much more. Each of these will then give you a better idea of how to budget for future repairs and replacements. If you don't have a large savings account but have plenty of upcoming costs that are needed, this may not be the right home for you. 


Deal breakers 


Your home inspection will give you an idea of anything that will be a deal-breaker for you. It may be that the foundation of the home is cracked, or that the roof needs replacement within the next year or two, whatever it may be, the inspection will give you a better understanding of the condition of the home and help you decide if you should move forward with this purchase or find something more suitable to you and your budget.  

 

We understand the market is quick and homes are often selling before you can even put in an offer, however, we want you to be aware of the risks that you could be taking should you skip a home inspection when purchasing your new home.

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You only have one chance to make a first impression!


Preparing your home for sale in advance will improve your home's marketability, ensure it shows well, and assist in getting you the best price for your home! 


The majority of buyers are looking for move-in-ready homes where they can simply bring their belongings and start enjoying life. They are not looking for fixer-uppers or work projects that need to be completed. 


By taking care of the 5 things mentioned below you will ensure your home is ready to sell, show, and is worth every dollar you're asking for...and more! 


1. Schedule a Deep Clean


You want to showcase your home at its best and scheduling a deep clean will guarantee it's ready for showing. Have the walls washed, drapes or window coverings cleaned, all those hard to reach places, behind and alongside the appliances, and those forgotten corners. Your home may be extremely clean already, but you want to make sure it's sparkling and there are no spaces forgotten.  


2. Refresh the floors


If you have carpeting in any rooms, have them professionally cleaned and stains removed. You should also wash and wax any other flooring until it's shining and looking near new. If you have stains or scuffs on the floor that can not be removed, be upfront with potential buyers about them, don't try to hide them. There's a high probability that they will be willing to work with you on a plan to fix or repair the stains or floors prior to closing. 


3. Fix the broken stuff


This sounds like a no-brainer, but most of us have something broken in our home that's been broken for so long that we've forgotten about it and it doesn't bother us anymore. Don't expect your potential buyers to feel the same way! Leaky faucets, closet doors that don't close properly, cracked electrical covers, and such, are quick, affordable, and easy fixes that can affect the sale and price of your home. 


4. Paint


You don't need to paint the entire house, but freshening up the walls in those high-use areas will make a huge difference. We also suggest putting a fresh coat on the front door and entryway as these are the first area's a buyer will see when viewing your home. If you've painted a specialty room or your child's room in a bright, funky colour, we suggest repainting it to a neutral colour for the sale of your home, as these fun colours may not appeal to all buyers. 


5. Mind the lighting 


Replace any burnt-out lightbulbs, inside and outside! If you have a room or two with poor lighting, buy a couple of lamps to brighten them up.

Also, ensure that each lightswitch is actually connected to a light and works. A buyer doesn't want to be fumbling around with numerous light switches just to get a good look at a room. 

 

 

Remember, you will only have one chance to impress potential buyers with your home so you want it looking its very best.


If buyers think there's a lot of work or repairs to do, they will likely move on and your chance of getting them back is extremely slim.


Preparing your home in advance is a huge benefit to you; it's less work at 'showtime', it will increase the value of your home, and it will improve your home's marketability. 

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As we all know, very few things in life are tax-free and, unfortunately, taxes are also part of selling your home. 


The Canada Revenue Agency has been extremely strict recently on home sellers who, the CRA feels, are inappropriately claiming the Principal Residence Exemptions (PRE). In particular, the CRA is focusing on owners who are flipping homes, ie: fixing them up and selling them at a large profit, in a short amount of time. 


If the CRA determines that you are continually buying and selling homes, you can be denied the PRE. In this case, you can be taxed on any profits as 100% taxable business income, rather than 50% taxable capital gains.  


Here is the story of what recently happened with an Ontario couple who bought and sold numerous homes over a 6-year time span. 


Home 1


In August 2006 a couple purchased a home and completed some upgrades such as painting and small renovations. Unfortunately, this home was located near an industrial site and they found the noise and vibrations from the large trucks passing by to be a disturbance and decided to sell. They sold the home just ten months later at a profit of just nearly $70,000.


Home 2


The couple then constructed and moved into their second home in September 2007, however, once again, the couple was unhappy with their neighbourhood and sold the home. The home sold in August 2008 for a profit of over $273,000


Home 3


The couple then moved into another home they had constructed in September 2008. They had no intentions of moving, however, the realtor who had sold them the home, approached them with an offer they couldn't refuse. They sold this home in September 2009 for over $400,000 profit. 


Home 4


They then purchased and moved into a beautiful new Townhouse. The neighbours quickly began to complain about their large work vehicles, parking issues, and social gathers. The couple opted to sell once again and moved in January 2011, this time at a profit of over $54,000. 


Home 5


Later finding what they thought was the perfect home, they moved into home #5. After completing some renovations and landscaping, they realized this was not their dream home and, again, decided to sell in July 2012. The profit from this sale was over $187,000. 


They are now in home 6 and have resided here since its purchase in 2012. 


CRA decision


When reviewing these types of cases, the courts traditionally consider the following factors:

  • The nature of the property sold and how the taxpayers used the property.
  • The length of ownership.
  • The frequency or number of similar transactions by the taxpayer.
  • The work expended on the property.
  • The circumstances giving rise to the sale of the property.
  • The taxpayer's motivation regarding the sale of the property at the time of purchase.

The couple argued that they purchased each home without the intent to sell. They stated that they would not have put so much time, money, and work into each home if their intentions were to sell it shortly thereafter. They also stated that legitimate reasons, beyond their control, had led to the sale of each home. 


The couple also argued that it was too late for the CRA to reassess the taxes on the homes sold in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and they should be considered "statute-barred". Unless it can be proven that a taxpayer made false statements attributable to the misrepresentation arising from carelessness, neglect, or wilful default, the CRA is generally prohibited from reassessing a taxpayer after more than 3 years. 


While the judge agreed that simply because a taxpayer has adopted a position that contradicts the CRA's position it does not mean in itself that the taxpayer has made a misrepresentation that would allow the CRA to reassess after the normal period, therefore, the sales of Homes 1, 2 and 3 were precluded from reassessment. 


The couple was not as lucky with Homes 4 and 5, as the judge was of the view that they had purchased these homes with the primary intention of selling them at a profit. The judge also stated that selling them at a profit may not have been their primary intention, it was certainly a secondary intention in motivating them to purchase both homes. 


The judge ruled that Primary Residence Exemption did not apply to the gains on the sales of homes Homes 4 and 5 and they were to be properly taxable as business income, costing the couple a large sum of money. 


While the rules regarding PRE are not written in stone, there are some guidelines that should be followed. 


Since 2016, sellers are now required to report all dispositions of a principal residence on Schedule 3 of your tax return, withing holding this information may be seen as neglect or wilful default. 

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As if the holidays weren't stressful enough, now we have to deal with a global pandemic too!


The holidays are just around the corner and, unfortunately, so is Covid. Cases on the island and across the country are growing at a rapid rate and we need to be just as careful now as we were during lockdown. 


I've put together a few ideas on how to stay safe while preparing for the holidays this year:  


Online shopping


You and your credit card may disagree on this one, but online shopping is your best friend right now! Online shopping is easy, fast, and can be delivered right to your door all while avoiding contact with another person. I highly suggest checking your local businesses before going to Amazon or eBay, you just might be surprised by some of the deals that you'll find! 


Order Grocery Delivery


Almost every grocery store has online shopping with delivery to your home. You can simply click through the items you'd like on their website and choose a time for delivery. Ordering your groceries online is an excellent way to avoid those impulse purchases too.


Many people are still quite hesitant about online shopping, but from personal experience, I can guarantee that your personal shopper is a pro at picking the best produce and meat products. Also, if the store has run out-of-stock of a certain item, the shopper will call, text, or email you to advise and offer replacement suggestions which you can accept or deny. 


Shopping Local


Supporting our small local businesses is more important now than ever! Even if your favourite local business is closed, try calling them, they may have set up a website for online shopping or be able to offer a gift certificate for future use. Also, remember that local doesn't just mean your immediate neighbourhood, maybe you like a shop that's located in the Cowichan Valley or North Island, these are small businesses too and could use your support!   


Ask people what the Need


You may want to buy your grandma those pink fuzzy slippers and a new tea mug, but she probably has half a dozen of each and doesn't want or need anymore. She may need some help paying the electric bill, or needs some firewood cut and stacked for the winter but is too shy to ask. Instead of the regular bottle of wine you buy for the neighbours, offer to babysit their kids for a night so they can have a night alone.


This year has been a hard one for all of us and many people struggle to ask for help, so this is the perfect time to have a conversation with your loved ones about what they need and helping them in ways that you haven't thought of before. 

 

We understand that holidays and pandemics don't go hand-in-hand and we need to find a way to navigate through these trying times, we hope these tips can help you! 

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As discussed in our previous post, there are many things that may turn a buyer off from your home and we want to help you make sure you're home is as marketable as possible. 


Below is a continuation of the top 26 things that a buyer may dislike about your home. 


Keep in mind, this is a general list and does not apply to all buyers. 


14. Vanity strip lighting

Unless your buyers are looking for a 1970's style home, then you may want to update the vanity strip lighting in the bathroom. This Hollywood-style strip of bare, round lights around your bathroom mirror will be a large turnoff for anyone wanting a modern, fresh look. 


15. Landscaping

Water your lawn, plant some fresh trees or shrubs, ensure your lawn is mowed, the weeds have been pulled, and the yard is looking its best. Yards are a significant selling feature these days, particularly amidst a pandemic, as buyers want to expand their living space and the yard is the first place to look. 


16. Wall-to-wall carpeting

Wall-to-wall carpeting can appear dated, hard to maintain, and difficult to keep clean. Buyers want to see hardwood flooring or flooring that is easy to clean, and preferably something stain-resistant. Think clean and simple when updating your floors. 


17. Brass fixtures

Brass items can be tricky, they are either loved or hated, it will depend on your buyer. One thing is for sure, if there's too much of it, it definitely needs to be toned down. Whether it be chandeliers, faucets, or other fixtures, when it comes to brass, less is more.  


18. Bathroom carpeting

Bathroom carpeting has got to go, no if's, and's, or buts about it! Not only is it unhygienic, but it's also bound to hold moisture and be full of bacteria. Replace it with some vinyl flooring or tiles that are easy to clean and look modern. 


19. Creepy critters

If there'a problem with ants or any other little critters in your home, now is the time to get rid of them. Call in an exterminator, set up traps, and do a thorough cleaning of both the interior and exterior of your home to ensure there's nothing for them to feed on. 


20. Faux crystal faucet handles

Nothing says early 90's like a faux crystal bathtub faucet. Updating your faucets is extremely affordable and often something you can do yourself. Small features such as faucets are something you may not notice, however, your buyer will and they will see it as an added job or expense they need to take care of. 


21. Bright/neon paint

You may see it as a feature wall but a buyer may see it as a wall that needs to be painted. This also goes with children's rooms that have been painted bright or neon colours. Painting is an affordable and easy fix, choose a neutral colour that will appeal to the masses. 


22. Wallpaper and wood panelling

Although funky wallpaper may be making a bit of a comeback, it's safer to leave your walls bare and let your buyers decide what they like. When it comes to wood panelling, it's definitely not making a comeback and should be removed immediately...yes, even in the basement! If the panelling can't be removed, throw a couple of coats of white paint on it, this will clean it up, brighten the room and modernize the room quickly. 


23. Mismatched appliances

Stainless steel appliances are the most popular, although, consistency with appliances always comes out on top. Whether it be white, black, grey, or stainless steel, be sure that all your appliances match. 


24. Popcorn ceiling

Not only does a popcorn ceiling look dated, but it also accumulates dirt, is hard to clean, and extremely difficult to paint. This is no small job, by any means, however, it will improve the look of your home tremendously. 


25. Dropped ceilings

Thankfully dropped ceilings are usually only found in the basement, so it won't be throughout your entire home. Removing dropped ceilings and exposing the pipes, joists and beams will give your basement a modern industrial look, they can also be painted to blend in and go somewhat unseen. 


26. Old HVAC systems

Today's buyers want clean and efficient energy! Updating your HVAC systems with energy-efficient models will appeal to all buyers. Also, this will cut down your electric bills while you're still in the home and help to improve our environment. 


We understand that the list is long and may be overwhelming, however, you don't need to do everything on this list to sell your home. These are simply for your information and to assist you in selling as quickly as possible. 


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Buyers can be picky and have extremely high expectations. We, we know this because, at one point, we were also buyers! We know what we want to see in a home and what we don't.


As a seller, it's hard not to take some of this feedback personally, however, it's important to remember that what you like and what works for your family, may not for another.


I've put together 2 part series covering the top 26 things that buyers may not like about your home. Keep in mind, this is a general list and does not apply to all buyers. 


1. Clutter and dirt

This one will apply to all buyers, clutter is distracting and dirt is...dirty. Buyers want to see a home that is clean, well-kept, and shows well. Removing clutter will also give your home the appearance of more space. 


2. Converted rooms

While turning your garage into a workshop or man cave or a spare bedroom into a playroom or crafting space may work for you, your buyers may simply be looking for somewhere to park their car or an extra bedroom. If you've converted any rooms in your to a specialty room, return them to their original use before putting your home on the market. 


3. Personal belongings

Buyers want to envision their belongings in your home. Removing your personal belonging such as family photos, figurines, sports memorabilia, etc. from your home will help buyers imagine themselves living there. 

 

4. Crowded countertops

Clean off your countertops. Put away the toaster, coffee maker, and anything that else that may be taking up space in your kitchen. Buyers want to see a spacious kitchen with plenty of counter space. A nice added touch is a bowl of fresh fruit or a vase of flowers, this also adds a sweet aroma to the air and makes the home feel lived in and warm. 


5. Houseplants

Take a few of your large houseplants out, maybe send them to a friend or neighbours while marketing your home. This will allow buyers to see how large the space is and allow them to envision their furniture in the space much easier. 


6. Holiday decorations

There are a couple of reasons to avoid decorating your home for the holidays; firstly, you don't know your buyer or their religious beliefs, they may not celebrate the same holidays as you. Secondly, holiday decorations can take up a lot of space and take over the general feel of the home. 


7. Custom window treatments

This is near the top of the list of things that buyers will not like about your home. Window treatments tend to limit the view and natural light, as well as collect dust. These can be quickly replaced with a simple window shade roller, an easy and affordable fix. 


8. Numerous area rugs

If your home looks like a game of hopscotch with all the various rugs throughout, then you should put a few of them away. Rugs can work against you in a couple of ways, they make space appear smaller and it can seem as though you're hiding something under them. Ensure that your buyers can easily see your floors and the condition they are in. 


9. Odors

Pets, smoking, food, and many other things cause odors in our home that we may not even be aware of. However, buyers will notice and they do not want a home with an unpleasant smell. Clean the carpets, freshen up the paint, air fresheners, and open windows can assist with removing odors. 


10. Hello Darkness...is NOT your friend

Bright, neutral colors in well-lit rooms will be attractive to buyers. Dark rooms are very unwelcoming and unappealing. Turn on the lights before your prospective buyers look at the home so as they are walking through they have a welcoming feel throughout all the hallways and rooms. 


11. Pets

Pets are a tricky one, you may feel this is their home and they shouldn't have to be removed or caged for a showing, although, be aware that a potential buyer may be frightened by certain pets or allergic to them. If you have a pet-loving buyer looking at a home, this could become a distraction for them and they may spend more time with your pet than appreciating your home. It's best to remove large animals from your home such as dogs and put your cat or other pets into a cage for the duration of the showing. Remember, it's only about 30 minutes, it won't be all day!  


12. Giving your potential buyers privacy

Giving your potential buyers and their realtor privacy to discuss your home, their options, and ideas is a great way to ensure they stick around longer, talk freely about your home, and increase your chances of receiving an offer. If you happen to be home when showings are scheduled, open the door, greet your potential buyers and kindly let them know that you'll leave them to look at your home in private and will return shortly so they can ask any questions they may have.


13. Messy Neighbours

It can be extremely awkward and difficult to deal with messy neighbours, but it's a conversation that you may need to have when planning to sell your home. Buyers want their new neighbourhood to look clean, well-kept, and safe, and if your neighbours yard looks like a garbage dump, you won't be getting top dollar for your home. If your neighbours are not cooperative in this aspect, another idea is to build a fence that will block the views of their yard, it can be a bit pricy but it will ensure privacy and separation from their property. 

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A great basement can be one of your top-selling features if it is updated, has a sense of purpose, and is appealing to buyers who are looking for some extra space. 


Unfortunately, basements are often forgotten about, they are the last on our list of places to update and usually become a storage place for our extra stuff. 


However, these days buyers want as much space as possible and basements offer countless opportunities to have extra bedrooms, a second living room, a gym, an office, and so much more.  


If your basement hasn't been updated since the 70's then it's definitely time to do it. Here are a few of the top updates that can be done to make your basement more appealing to buyers or yourself. 


Walls


If your basement still has wood paneling up on the walls, it's time to go! Replace it with drywall, PVS trim for the floor, and crown moldings. Be sure to paint in neutral colors and remember that people are looking for extra living space, so keeping it in line with your upstairs decor is a great idea. You can also add an accent wall or some coloured furnishings to brighten the space up and keep it fun. 


Carpeting


Carpeting can be an extremely large job to remove but imagine how much worse it would be if it was soaking wet? If your home floods, the last thing you or any potential buyers want to do is remove wet and musty carpets. Replace the carpeting with easy-to-keep flooring and placing some carpets in areas that are often used will give it an extra cozy feeling. 


Drop Ceilings


There's no reason to make the ceiling any lower than it already is. Keep beams and joists visible and plumbing pipes exposed, this will give a trendy industrial flair to your space and also offer more headroom. Remember pipes and beams can be painted if you don't like the raw look of them and want them to blend into the decor. 


Technology


Many people are going to want to turn that basement space into their TV room or home theatre and with that comes the need for technology.  Install some surround sound and use as many Bluetooth devices as possible. Bluetooth can be linked to your tv, lighting, thermostat, speakers, and much more! If needed, have an electrician come in to install some more outlets and ensure there is a strong wifi or internet signal in the basement. 


Old furniture


We're all guilty of dragging an old chair or sofa down to the basement and forgetting about it. Furniture is fairly affordable these days and you can likely find a large sectional sofa and some oversized bean bag chairs to decorate this space with a cozier and more modern feel. 


Lighting


Updating your lighting can make a huge improvement in this space. Avoid direct overhead lighting and gear towards track lighting or something that will give the room an all-around glow. You want the space to be as comfortable, welcoming, and fresh as possible. 


Updating your basement may not be on the top of your to-do list, however, if you're planning to sell your home and hoping to increase its value, these tips will definitely help you. And if you're not selling but aren't sure how to make that space usable again and extend your living space, we hope these tips will help you transform your basement into the space you've always wanted!  

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MLS® property information is provided under copyright© by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and Victoria Real Estate Board. The information is from sources deemed reliable, but should not be relied upon without independent verification.