Salt Spring Home Buyer's Guide

Are You Ready to Buy a Home?

First – do you have the financial resources? You should have at least five percent (and preferably ten percent)  of the purchase price of a home for the down payment, but ideally even more. Are there other priorities in your life e.g. starting a new business, which require your savings? If not, buying a home should be on your radar.

Second – do you expect to stay in your new home for some time? Moving can be expensive and you will want to build some equity before having to relocate. Your job and home life should be stable.

What Can You Afford?

If you haven't already gone through the mortgage pre-qualification process, you will need to meet with a lender or mortgage broker. They will establish how much of a mortgage you will qualify for. Mortgage rates vary considerably and it is paramount that you shop around for the best rate, terms and options.

Our Mortgage Calculator will help you determine what monthly mortgage payment and the maximum mortgage you can manage. Note: if you are buying a condo, the amount of your monthly assessment has a direct impact on how much you can afford to spend on your mortgage.

First time homebuyers may want to take advantage of the federal government’s Home Buyers’ Plan. Under this plan, you may use up to $25,000 of your RRSP towards the purchase of a home. The money is tax-free as long as you pay it back in the next 15 years. Ask your RE/MAX Sales Associate for details.

Questions To Ask When Assessing Home Features

  • Do you need several bedrooms, more than one bathroom, space for a home office, a two-car garage?
  • Do you want air conditioning, storage or hobby space, a fireplace, a swimming pool? Do you have family members with special needs?
  • Do you plan to have children? Downtown or suburbs? Proximity to recreation or work.
  • Do you need a substantial backyard? Pets?
  • Is there adequate storage space?
  • Will any remodeling be required to make the home move-in ready for you?
  • What service providers (cable, Internet, telephone, Satelite) are available in the area, and is the house completely wired for each? Can you hear me now – how good is the cell phone reception?
  • How much are the yearly property taxes?
  • How much do utilities run each month? Does the house use gas or electric for the furnace, water heater, and appliances?
  • How old are the major appliances, and which are included with the house?
  • Have there been any major repairs to the house, and if so, when were they completed? For example, how old is the roof? Has water ever damaged the basement or foundation?
  • What is the water source? if it is piped water, check the water district's website for fees and notices. If it is a well, examine the water test & well log and obtain professional advice. Is there future potential for installing a water catchment system?
  • What is known about the age and state of the septic field?
  • What is known about the status of building permits?
  • Have the wood burning appliances (fireplace,wood stove etc) been inspected recently for insurance purposes?
  • Ever had problems with insects, such as termites and spiders,carpenter ants, rodents or bats? 
  • Older homes need to be carefully examined - Windows may need caulking or new sashes, bathroom tiles may need grouting, home may need rewiring (planning on a hot tub or sauna?), a new hot water heater, or a new furnace.
  • Asbestos can also be a concern with older homes. If you are planning a renovation you will need to have a Hazardous House Inspection depending on the age of the residence.
  • When examining a specific property ask me for a Property Disclosure Statement, prepared by the seller as well as a copy of the title search and any underlying documents such as building schemes, easements and restrictive covenants.
  • Please understand that some of the answers to above questions may be available prior to making an offer and others may only be answered during "due diligence" when the purchase is subject to being satisfied with inspections. 

Location, Location, Location

  • How far will you be commuting and what is the traffic like? Factor in cost of fuel.
  • Where will your children attend school and how will they commute?
  • Are there recreational facilities and parks close by?
  • Are you close to family and friends?
  • Are you close to dog walking and off leash areas?
  • Are you comfortable in a remote location and do you have concerns about safety or do you savour peace, privacy and tranquility? 
  • Is the property close to an obstacle or negative influence? (i.e. shopping centre, school, radio tower, power lines, noisy main road, or commercial project.) 
  • Access to schools, work, recreation, shopping, public transportation, Artspring, community halls, library, marinas, parks, hiking areas, churches and hospital. 
  • Adjacent undeveloped land - what is proposed for this or other green space?
  • Is the property on a main road or backing on to it nearby-Is there a noise nuisance and hazard for children?
  • Distance from the property to amenities, parking, walkways, roads, public transit
  • Does the neighborhood reflect positively on the value of the house and your lifestyle choice?
  • Does this neighborhood, for any reason, have a poor reputation?
  • Is the future economic climate for the area good? Are businesses moving in? Is there government investment?
  • Are people moving in or out of the neighborhood? What is their age, income level, family size?
  • Are there plans for this neighborhood that you may be unaware of (i.e. a future roadway, an adjacent new housing development) that will provide competition on resale or noise during construction? 
  • Regarding townhouses, ask to see a copy of the rules and bylaws and financials to determine if the complex is in good financial shape with a reasonable contingency fund given anticipated future capital expenditures.
  • When focused upon a property, ask me for title and zoning details to make sure that what you want to do on the property is permitted.

Noise and Privacy

  • Proximity to main road, driveways, Rod & Gun club ferry or Ganges parking lots, playgrounds. Remember that sound travels up.
  • In townhouses consider proximity to heating and air conditioners and parking. Is there a private outdoor sitting area or balcony? 
  • How well is the building soundproofed.
  • Visit at different times/weekends to check noise levels and activity.

Jan Macpherson
Jan Macpherson
#104, 150 Fulford Ganges Road Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2T8