The Real Costs of Buying A Home – What Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Expect

For many of us buying a home is the biggest investment we will ever make.  When you are in a position to buy a home, there are 2 financial aspects you should be aware of:

1. The ongoing costs of homeownership

  • Regular mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Utility costs
  • Maintenance and upgrades
  • Home insurance
  • Condo fees/neighbourhood association fees (if applicable)

Mortgage lenders prefer that clients spend no more than 32% of their gross monthly income on housing.

What you need to figure out is if you can afford that even if the bank/lender approves you for a large mortgage.

You have to consider your debt, your savings and your lifestyle – you don’t want to take up too much and become “house poor”.

2. The upfront and one-time costs of buying a home

An important consideration is your down payment. The larger the down payment you can contribute to the purchase price, the smaller your mortgage payments and the less interest you will pay on the loan.

If you can make a down payment of at least 20% of the home’s value, you will not have to buy mortgage insurance as required by law, which will add to your monthly burden.

If you qualify as a first time homeowner, you and your spouse can borrow up to $50,000 using your RRSP funds for your down payment.

Other upfront costs:

  • Deposit
  • Home appraisal cost
  • Home inspection
  • Lawyer fees
  • Transfer taxes – Provincial/Municipal
  • Moving costs

Set up or administration fees for the various utility providers

If you plan carefully, save for a down payment, have a good understanding of how mortgages work and the costs associated with home ownership, your dream of owning a home can become a reality.


If you are a first-time buyer looking for that ideal home that fits your budget, talk to one of our experienced real estate advisors. We have been advising clients on real estate in Vancouver for over 27 years. Please call on 604 913 1000 or email us.

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When Is The Best Time To Buy A Security System For Your Home?

There is no “best time” to buy a security system, however, if you pay attention to security company websites, flyers etc. you may be able to get a good deal through out the year.

But if you want to compare the best time to buy with intruder statistics, the peak time for break-ins usually coincide with:

  • Days after holidays such as Christmas, Easter etc.
  • Beginning of the school year.
  • Thanksgiving weekend.

If you are worried about buying because you want to get the best possible deal, go online and do your research. Companies are offering special deals throughout the year.

Many security companies send flyers through the mail – so keep a keen eye on the junk mail you receive. If you prefer a certain company over another that is offering a deal, take the deal to your preferred company and show them the offer. In many cases, they will match the price.

Keep a close eye on what is happening around your neighborhood. If you read about a spike in break-ins in your area, it may be a good time to get a security system if you don’t have one.

Sometimes it is better to be protected even if you don’t get a discounted deal on a security system.

Remember, there is no real perfect time to buy a security system. The perfect time is anytime before you get a break-in. As long as the system is in place before the danger arises, you have good timing!


If you have any buying/selling related issues, contact our experienced real estate advisors, or call 604 913 1000.

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Planning on Buying or Selling a Home? How The Changes to Canada’s New Housing Rules Will Affect You

On Monday October 3rd 2016, the Government announced some new housing measures, aimed at cooling the hot real estate markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

Of the major changes announced, the following will have a considerable impact on the real estate market:

A. New reporting rules for the primary residence capital gains exemption.

If you sell a home and claim it as your principle residence, the gain on sale is tax exempt as stipulated by the principle residence tax exemption.

In a new move to prevent tax leakage, new rules will make it mandatory for anyone who claims an exemption on capital gains tax when selling a home, to report the sale on their tax returns.

The change is aimed at preventing foreign buyers who buy and sell homes from claiming a primary residence tax exemption for which they are not entitled.

B. All insured mortgages must undergo a “stress test”.

Interest rates have remained at near-historic lows. These rates will eventually begin to go up and borrowers need to stay within their ability to manage mortgages at higher rates.

The stress test is aimed at assuring the lender that the home buyer could still afford the mortgage if interest rates were to rise.

This measure affects home buyers who have at least 20 per cent for a down payment but are seeking a mortgage that may stretch them too thin if interest rates were to rise.

It will make it harder for buyers to qualify for a loan, especially in high-priced regions such as Vancouver and Toronto.

C. The federal government to spread the mortgage risk.

Currently, the federal government is on the hook to cover the cost of 100 per cent of an insured mortgage in the event of a default. It now wants to share the risk burden with other mortgage lenders such as banks.

This eventually could lead to higher mortgage rates, as lending institutions will have to pay to hedge their risks.

Lenders will be forced to adopt more prudent lending practices.

The new measures which will take effect on October 17, should help cool demand in metro Vancouver’s expensive housing market that has already slowed significantly in the wake of a new provincial tax on foreign buyers in the region.


To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss a property purchase or sale, contact us at, visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.

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Real Estate Update For Detached Homes – North & West Vancouver August 2016

North Vancouver

Listed homes inventory has decreased by 10 homes when compared to July 2016, and by 42 homes when compared to August 2015.

Sales for August 2016 were down by 33 units when compared to August 2015.

North Vancouver recorded 62 sales in August. It was effectively a seller’s market as the sales to new listings ratio was 51%.

The sales to total active listings percentage in August was 30%, which represented a decrease of 57% when compared to August 2015.

The average price year-to-date is up 31% compared to August 2015 and down by $6,514 when compared to July 2016.

There was also a median price decrease from $1,660,000 to $1,550,000 ($110,000) from July 2016 – August 2016.


West Vancouver

Listed homes inventory has decreased by 34 homes when compared to July 2016, and by 58 homes when compared to August 2015.

Sales for August 2016 were down by 52 units when compared to August 2015.

West Vancouver recorded 31 sales in August. The sales to new listings ratio was 32%, which effectively represented a buyer’s market.

The average price year-to-date is up 31% compared to August 2015 and down by $32,769 when compared to July 2016.

The median price decreased by $300,000 from July 2016 to August 2016 ($3,050,000 to $2,750,000).


If you are interested in buying or selling a home on the North Shore, we have been selling real estate in this part of Vancouver for over 27 years. Please call us on 604 913 1000 or contact us by email and one of our real estate advisors will get in touch.

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Fall Winterizing Tips – Don’t Forget About Your Lawn

During the fall months, homeowners tend to neglect their lawns. This makes it harder to get your lawn back into its former glory. There are a number of important lawn care chores and related tasks for a homeowner to complete, in order to winterize the yard in fall and ready the landscape for the next growing season. 

Here are are some easy to do, important tips to winterize your lawn before the really cold stuff sets in: 

  • Remove the broadleaf weeds such as clover, thereby removing some competition for available nutrients and water.
  • Do a soil test to check the pH value of your soil. If the soil is too acidic, spread some lime and if it is too alkaline, add some sulphur.
  • Rake the leaves off the lawn. This improves the health of your lawn by removing thatch – the layer of dead grass on the lawn – which can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots. The easiest way to do this is to run the lawn mower (with the grass catcher attached) for one last time. This is comparable to vacuuming the leaves off the lawn.
  • If you have adequate levels of potassium in your soil, you don’t need a “winterizer” – a fall fertilizer that is rich in potassium to strengthen your lawn under stress – your earlier fertilizers were rich in nitrogen to make your grass green and thick.
  • Aerate the lawn to allow air, water and nutrients to reach down to the roots.

The earlier you start your fall maintenance, the more manageable your lawn will be come springtime.  What you do now to winterize and protect your lawn from the frost and chill to come will determine how it rebounds. 

Why not let us find you the property or investment that you are looking for? Our experience and know how, makes us one of the most trusted realtors on the Lower Mainland. Contact us or call us at 604 913 1000.

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How Your Home Can Help You During Your Retirement

Over the last 12 years, house prices in Canada have increased dramatically. If you are one of the fortunate long time homeowners nearing retirement, you are sitting on a gold mine, and the equity in your home may far surpass your retirement nest egg.

Whether you’re planning on selling or staying in your current home, here are a few ways you can tap into your home equity to help the cash keep flowing in, during your retirement:

Sell your home and rent an apartment.

You can sell your home and invest the proceeds into instruments such as annuities, giving you a boost on your monthly income. This will enable you to enjoy a retirement lifestyle that you would otherwise be unaffordable.

You would be required to rent a home instead of own a home, and this may not bode well with some people. However, renting does offer flexibility, especially if you decide to spend time away from home.

Downsize your existing home.

If you are not comfortable with renting, then you have the option of selling your home and buying a smaller condo or apartment. This will simplify your lifestyle, as owning such a property requires much less effort and expense.

Besides, you can use the residual to invest in financial instruments that will supplement your retirement portfolio.

Rent out your home.

Renting out your home is a viable option that will allow you to travel for extended periods of time.  You can use the proceeds of the rent to give you the extra income to pay for your accommodation, daily living and travel expenses.  There is a large market for short-term rentals, which command a high premium, especially if you provide furniture, linen, utensils etc.

Convert your home and become a landlord.

If you own a larger home, why not convert your basement or part of your home into a suite and rent it out? This will enable you to generate some additional income every month. It would require you to spend money on renovation and educate yourself on how to be a landlord.

Get a reverse mortgage

Another option is using your home equity to get cash through a reverse mortgage. You don’t have to pay back this loan until you sell your home. In most cases, you can borrow between 10% and 40% of your home’s value.

A reverse mortgage depends on what your home is worth, your age and interest rates. You must pay off any other loans on your home, including any unpaid mortgage.

There are pros and cons to do this so make sure you get the right advice before you proceed.

Your retirement is your reward for living a fulfilling life. If you are fortunate enough to own your home when you retire, you have many options open to you to help you retire comfortably.


If you need the right kind of assistance and advice in making such an important decision, you can discuss your options with our real estate advisors. Call us on 604 913 1000 or email us.


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How To Ensure Your Home Inspector Does Not Miss These Important Problems That Will Impact Your Home Purchase

For a majority of home-buyers, buying a new home without a reputable home inspector’s report is something that would never happen.

That extra set of eyes gives potential homeowners the peace of mind that their new home won’t have a leaky roof or cracked foundation. Or something even worse. But what you might not realize, is that there are problems that may go unnoticed during a home inspection simply because the inspector doesn’t look for them.

Here is a list of things you must make sure your home inspector does not miss:

Faulty appliances.

In many cases, your new home may have appliances that are much better than your current ones. The thrill of just owning these appliances may make you think that there is nothing wrong with them.  But you must make sure that they are problem free, by instructing the inspector to check them for functionality and leaks.

Leaky plumbing.

To ensure that the home’s plumbing is functioning properly, all the faucets should be turned on; toilets flushed multiple times and drain pipes checked while the water is running. Shower pans should be filled and the drains should be tested for leaks.

Problem decks and balconies.

Decks and balconies without proper drainage can have safety issues as any dampness associated, can impact the structure and be at risk of collapsing. A proper inspection of the drainage, any cracks and rust will reveal potential problems. This will save thousands of dollars of future repairs.

Cracked sewage and drainage pipes.

Insist on a camera inspection of underground or buried pipes. This may cost extra, as most home inspections are limited to what is visible and accessible. But the extra expense is worth the money.

Corroded central air conditioning.

Many homes now come with central air conditioning as a standard feature. Because this feature cannot be tested when the temperature outside is below 13 degrees Celsius, a faulty air conditioning unit can go untested in the winter months. In this case, the inspector should go over all the connections and look for signs of damage.

If the outside temperature is over the prescribed rate, run the unit for a few hours to test the functioning of the unit’s condenser coil.

Home renovations not done properly.

A seller could have done some home improvements without proper permits, or some plumbing or electrical work that may not be up to code. Ensure that a search has been made at the local municipal council for construction permits.

If the work has not been done properly, you could face a costly renovation repair a few years down the line.

Finally, make sure you are working with a reputable and thorough home inspector. Verify an inspector’s references and ask to review the checklist of items covered during an inspection.


Any questions? Please feel free to call or emaiTHE VIRANI TEAM at 604.695.1000 if you have any real estate questions at all. We simply see our mission as striving to be as helpful as we possibly can to area homeowners.



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Mark Brand – Thinking Outside the Box With The Save On Meats Token Program

Mark Brand is no stranger to the spotlight. Being responsible for some of the most notable restaurants in East Vancouver, he bought the Save On Meats store in 2011, which had been an icon in East Vancouver from 1957 – 2009.

The store features fully licensed diner, a butcher shop and retail store, and a community commissary kitchen.

What makes the business stand out is its charitable and non-profit partnerships. It prides itself on being a strong community partner and a business that meets the needs of the Downtown Eastside residents and keeps all its prices affordable for the community.

In 2012, Save-on Meats launched its “Token Program” – where a meal token can be bought and given to a needy resident, who takes it to the store in exchange for a breakfast sandwich.

Supporters of the token program can choose to distribute them directly or have Save On Meats give them to one of its dozens of community partners to share amongst their organization.

This innovative and highly successful program has enabled Brand to be featured in a Vancity Credit Union advertisement in 2012, and star in 2 reality TV shows: “The Big Decision and “Gastown Gamble”.

Very soon, another token program will be introduced to address another big need – warm clothing. Each bought token will be good for a pound of clothing, be it a pair of pants or a jacket or sweater and gloves, etc.

Mark Brand has effectively created programs that act as a bridge between people who want to give and those who need the support.

We are proud to announce that we recently donated 2,400 tokens to help feed Vancouver.


Please feel free to call THE VIRANI SALES TEAM at 604.695.1000 or email if you would like further explanation on any of our blog topics, or if you have any real estate questions at all.



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Is Vancouver’s Real Estate Market “A World Class Freak Show?”

Ian Young, a blogger with the South China Morning Post, has termed the Vancouver real estate market a “World class freak show”, where average – looking, basic homes in a middle class neighborhood sell for over $3 million! Outsiders looking in find this very hard to believe and understand. Yet this is the new normal.

According to a Demographia study of 378 cities around the world, Vancouver’s real estate is now among the least affordable in the world.

The study shows Vancouver’s unaffordability up 100% since 2005. Other comparable cities:

Sydney + 11%

San Francisco + 16%

New York -11%

Auckland +39%

The study showed that as of 2014, 4 of the 5 least affordable metropolitan markets in Canada were in BC, with Vancouver topping the list.

Here’s another interesting point: the 75,000 owners of single family homes in Vancouver, made more money by sitting on their assets than everyone in the entire city did by going to work.

These 75,000 homeowners earned a whopping $25 billion in property appreciation compared to the estimated $19 billion in citywide employment earnings. This  was revealed in a study done by a mathematician, Dr. Jens Von Bergmann, who posted his work entitled “Work vs. Twiddling Thumbs”, on the Mountain Math blog site.

In his article he did a number of lengthy calculations showing how much Vancouver homeowner households earned last year by “twiddling their thumbs while sitting on their property”.

Get the full article here.

In the last 12 months, the never-seen-this-before Vancouver property market has become front-page news, and politicians are busy scrambling for a solution to appease their highly charged electorates, especially with an election looming in the horizon.

The Demographia report has predicted that Vancouver’s house prices could rise much more. So the next few years, the real estate scene in Vancouver will be very fascinating to say the least!

If you are looking to sell you home in this seller’s market, you need a real estate professional that can get you the best possible price. We have a large inventory of prospective buyers both local and overseas. Contact us or call us on 604 913 1000 and let us get you the best price for your home. 


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Is the 15% Vancouver Foreign Buyer’s Tax Cooling Our Hot Real Estate market?

On August 2 2016, the BC government introduced a 15% transfer tax specifically targeting foreign nationals looking to buy real estate in the GVRD. 

In early June, the BC government started collecting nationality data on residential real estate transactions. Recently released data shows that offshore buyers make up about roughly 10% of property sales in Metro Vancouver.

With the average Vancouver area residence costing around $660,000, buyers from outside Canada face a transfer tax of $99,000.

While it may be too soon to feel the real impact of the tax on foreign housing purchases in the city, sales figures are now trickling in and there are indications of a slowdown.

The MLS has released figures to realtors showing that the high priced areas with the highest percentage of foreign buyers  – according to government statistics and real estate agents  – are now suffering the steepest declines:



No. of Homes Sold Aug 1-Aug 15 2015

No. of Homes Sold Aug 1-Aug 15 2016




West Vancouver



Vancouver West Side




There is a general consensus amongst realtors that the second half of August will be even slower, as foreign buyers rushed into the market in late July and the first day of August to beat the tax.

It is important to note that the Vancouver region housing market has been showing signs of slowing down for months, as the year-over-year home sales (change in the actual number of homes sold compared with the same period last year) have been dropping steadily.

Even with the slowdown, the BC Real Estate Association forecasts the Province to post a record 113,000 sales this year, up 10% from 2015, led by the Lower Mainland.

So the tax may accelerate the moderating trend that is already in place in the market, but it is still early to judge the direct impact of the tax on house prices and sales in the Vancouver region.


To learn more about Virani Real Estate Advisors or to discuss a property, contact us at , visit one of our offices, or call 604-913-1000.



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