Blog

For my opinions on the local real estate market and lots of helpful tips for home buyers and sellers, please visit my blog. I value your feedback and your input, so please feel free to comment on my blog posts.

Am I ready to be a homeowner? 4 questions to ask before buying a property


Whether you dream of the white picket fence stretching across a green lawn or a modern condo close to downtown, buying a property is one of the most exciting purchases you will make.
 
You can already picture yourself making coffee in your own kitchen every morning and laughing in the backyard with friends and family late into the night without worrying about landlords and renters. But how do you know if you’re ready to buy a house? The first question that likely comes to mind is, “Can I afford it?”
 
This is an important question to ask and a good starting point. But, before you can answer that question, you need to take a step back and look at homeownership and your finances as a whole.
 
Here are the questions to ask yourself to help you determine if you’re ready for homeownership.
 
1. What is my credit score?
Before getting approved for a mortgage, lenders will start by looking at your credit score. Contact your bank or order a credit check through Equifax to make sure your credit score has a clean bill of health. Many banks now provide a free service through on-line banking that allows you to check your score.
 
According to Equifax, credit scores ranging from:
 
660-724 are considered good
725 to 759 are very good
760 and above is excellent and indicates that you have shown responsible credit behaviour 

If your credit score is above 660, lenders generally view you as a lower-risk borrower. If your score is below 660, you may have a harder time qualifying for better loan terms. However, by routinely paying your bills on time and carrying a low credit balance, you can quickly see that number rise.
 
When you know your credit score, you may be able to negotiate a better interest rate with your lender.
 
2. What is my budget?
Look beyond just the down payment. Mortgage lenders and mortgage brokers will look at your income before taxes, any debt you already have, and the amortization period before determining what level of mortgage you can afford.
 
According to the Government of Canada, your total debt load should not exceed 44% of your gross income. This includes costs such as monthly housing expenses and any other debts you may have.
 
Let’s say your combined monthly income is $5,000. With your mortgage, car payments and credit card debt, cellphone contracts and hydro bill, your monthly costs should be less than $2,200 per month.
 
Also known as the total debt service (TDS) ratio, this number includes everything from credit card balances to car loans, student loans and child or spousal support.
 
3. Can I pass the stress test?
Interest rates fluctuate. Before you can get approved for a mortgage, federally regulated lenders and brokers will require you to pass a stress test. This qualifying interest rate is often higher than what you will actually pay. Currently, the bank uses either 5.25% or your interest rate plus 2%, whichever is higher.
 
Credit unions and other non-federally-regulated lenders often require home buyers to pass this same stress test.
 
4. Am I ready to settle down here?
Unless you plan on renting out your new home, make sure you’re ready to put roots down in the community before buying. While you can always sell your home and move to a new city, the process could take months and, with the costs associated with buying and selling a home in Kelowna, you want to be sure you’re ready to settle down first.
 
You’ve passed the stress test and are ready to start your journey to finding and buying a property, what now? I can help you find a home that not only fits your financial but your lifestyle goals as well. Reach out online to learn more or give me a call at 778-215-5671.

How to shop for mortgage rates in Kelowna

You’ve spent months touring virtual open houses, checking new online real estate listings in your target neighbourhood and have found the home where you can imagine yourself shifting into the next phases of life, whether that’s growing your family or settling for something smaller with an empty nest. But, before you take the leap, you need to take a look at mortgage rates in Kelowna to know what home you can afford.
 
Whether you’re looking for a fixed or a variable mortgage rate to take advantage of the current market, mortgage rates play a big role in your hunt for a new home.
 
Here’s how you can shop for mortgage rates in Kelowna and find the best deal on the market.
 
Look for the best mortgage rates in Kelowna online
Before the days of the internet, many homebuyers went straight to their bank to check the current mortgage rates in Kelowna, and many homebuyers still do.
 
However, a mortgage is one of the biggest financial commitments you can make, so it pays to shop around. Here are the steps to online mortgage shopping.
 
1. Check your credit. Credit makes all the difference when taking out a mortgage. You can get a copy of your credit score through Equifax or your bank. Many banks now offer a free credit report through on-line banking. The better your credit score, the better your chances of getting a good mortgage rate.
 
2. Use a mortgage qualifier tool. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada(FCAC) has a free online mortgage qualifier tool that helps you determine the mortgage you qualify for based on your income and expenses.
 
3. Run the numbers. The FCAC’s mortgage calculator can help you get a sense of the actual monthly costs involved in purchasing a home. To start, use the mortgage rates posted by your bank. Most Canadian financial institutions share posted mortgage rates and special offers on their websites, making it easy to shop for mortgage rates in Kelowna online.
 
While searching for lenders online empowers you to get an understanding of what’s possible for your mortgage and start the application process online, you miss out on the benefits of working directly with your bank or lender, who can often find opportunities you may not have thought of on your own.
 
How you get the best mortgage rates in Kelowna with a mortgage broker
Pressed for time or simply looking for the best rate possible with your finances and credit score? Hiring a dedicated professional helps ensure you find the right lender.
 
Mortgage brokers shop around for you, connecting you to a lender that can meet your financial and interest rate needs. Outsourcing this time-consuming work lets you focus on what matters most: finding the right home for you and your family.
 
When looking for a mortgage broker, we recommend that the professional you enlist is not affiliated with any specific bank or lending institution to ensure you’re getting the best possible deal.
 
Ready to find your dream home? Dan Brown Realty can help you make it a reality. Reach out online to learn more or give me a call at 778-215-5671.

5 home staging tips to help you sell your Okanagan home faster

Do you spend sleepless nights dreaming about selling so you can move into that new home on the lake or find a larger property to fit your growing family? Regardless of why you want to get into the hot seller’s market, there are clear steps you can take to sell your Okanagan home faster and for more money.

 

How? With proper home staging. 

 

When you think of home staging, images of professional interior designers and show homes come to mind. But, with only a few supplies, a free weekend and a bit of elbow grease, these five home staging tips empower you to draw attention to your home's best features before potential buyers drive up with their realtor. 

 

1. Make a good first impression

Before potential buyers even open the car door, they’re trying to picture themselves living in the space. Trimmed grass, clean siding and a fresh coat of paint on the door and window trim go a long way to increase your home's curb appeal. And, regardless of the season, it’s always a good idea to make your outdoor space more inviting with decorative planters.

 

2. Focus on the space that matters most

There’s an old saying that the kitchen is the heart of the home. However, that doesn’t mean you need to renovate your kitchen before selling your house. Instead, your home staging efforts should focus on decluttering. Clear the countertops and throw away the stale packet of potato chips in the back of the pantry. Update the hardware and consider replacing the front panel of your dishwasher and use contact paper to freshen up your cupboards. 

 

3. Create a work-from-home sanctuary

The office has moved from the workplace into the house for many Okanagan professionals. If you don’t have a dedicated office already, consider carving out a corner of a spare bedroom or creating a comfortable nook in the living room. Focus on limiting distractions and welcoming in as much natural light as possible. 

 

4. The better the smell, the faster the sell

Have you ever had a realtor ask you to bake cookies before a showing or turn up with a plate of their own fresh chocolate chip goodies? A welcoming smell evokes a positive response in visitors. These aromas also hide the scents—animals, musty basements and whatever the kids left under the bed—that you as a homeowner may no longer recognize. So, throw a batch of cookies in the oven, light a candle in the entrance and place flowers or potpourri in bathrooms and bedrooms.

 

5. Depersonalize your space

When a potential buyer walks into your home, they want to imagine their family living in the space. They want to see their own travel magnets on the fridge and family portraits on the walls. Help them picture the space as their own by removing family photos, toys and refrigerator art and opt for generic artwork as needed.