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If you're tired of renting and have always wanted a home you could call your own, but thought the opportunity was just beyond your reach, don't postpone your home-buying plans any longer, because now is an excellent time to reconsider the home-ownership option. We are currently enjoying low mortgage interest rates, government incentive programs, affordable housing prices and large inventory of homes from which to choose. Surprising as it may sound, you may find that the costs of owning a home can be lower or comparable to those of renting. Imagine, if you start looking now, you and your family could be settled in your own home before you know it.


The softening of the real estate market experienced across Canada has led to a lowering of interest rates and housing prices which makes now an ideal time to buy. In 1995, with mortgage rates of 10 percent, one quarter of renters could afford to buy a home. In the early 1990', with mortgage rates of 13 percent, only one-fifth of renters could afford to buy. Today, mortgage rates are under 5 percent. Interest-rate watchers who are gambling that rates will go down should keep in mind that a price reduction on the property could equal or exceed the savings in interest rate. Ask your financial institution about rewriteable mortgages that will allow you to adjust your interest rate once during the term of your mortgage or about open mortgages that allow you to lock into a term once the rates go down.


Between 2000 and 2010, it was expected that the Lower Mainland population would grow from 1.7 million to almost three million people. There are very few, if any, places in North America that can claim this growth rate. These new residents will be buying real estate, and given the availability of land slated for development in the Lower Mainland, this demand will most certainly put upward pressure on real estate prices, regardless of whether or not inflation is a factor in the economy and regardless of real estate markets in Eastern Canada.


The federal RRSP Home Buyers' Plan has been extended indefinitely. This program allows you to use your registered retirement savings (RRSP) contributions up to $25,000 per person or $50,000 per couple to build or buy a home. No income tax is deducted from these funds as long as they are repaid to an RRSP within 15 years.


Exemption of the provincial property transfer tax (PTT) is available for first-time buyers. To be eligible, buyers must be Canadian citizens who have resided in BC for at least 12 months prior to purchasing the property, and must have never previously owned or co-owned property. To obtain full exemption, the purchase price must not exceed $425,000 for properties located in the Lower Mainland.  There is a partial exemption for homes between $425,000 and $450,000.


This program can put you in a home of your own with a down payment as low as five percent. It is now available to everyone, not just first time buyers.To be eligible, the insured home must be in Canada and must be your principal resident.


It's never too early to start considering where you would like to live and the type of house best suited to your needs. This is where a Realtor's services prove invaluable. Realtors have access to the up-to-date Multiple Listing Service (MLS) which is a cooperative listing system that offers maximum exposure of homes listed for sale. A Realtor can help you zero in on your home with a search on the computer. Once you've defined a few parameters like price, location and size of home, a Realtor can provide you with a list of potential winners. Defining your focus is important because there are plenty of housing options available in the many communities located in the Fraser Valley. You can choose the property that is right for you from among new houses, resale homes, condominium apartments and town houses, homes with acreage and manufactured homes. A Realtor can help you choose the one that best suits your current and projected lifestyle.

A real estate professional will compare your needs, wants and budget with what is available on the market and make recommendations on which options provide the best match. In addition, a Realtor will accompany you as you view homes and provide you with pertinent information to make an informed decision. Phone or email me to request your FREE Buyer Consultation to discuss your needs. The best time to start building equity is now. Many Canadians would agree that it's one of the smartest investments you are likely to make, and it provides financial security for retirement.



This article was prepared by the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board for the information and benefit of consumers.

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