5 Easy Tips for Moving in the Winter

Winter weather is still here in the Lower Mainland as we woke up  to some more fresh snow this morning! These conditions do come with some complications and difficulties though, such as commuting…and even moving! Yes, if you find yourself stuck in some snowy situations during your moving period, here are 5 easy tips from YouMoveMe to follow when you’re moving in the winter.

1. Hire Movers

Hire the experts to pack, load and transport your belongings to your new home. Driving in winter weather can be dangerous, especially driving an unfamiliar truck in snow and ice conditions. Those professional movers will take care of you!

2. Shovel and Salt the Driveway

If there is snow conditions, best to shovel and salt your driveway/pathways to make it easier for the movers…and to avoid any slips while they load your belongings!

3. Make Sure Your Utilities are Set Up in the New House

Moving in the winter can be cold! Be sure that your electricity, heat and/or hot water is set up for your first night in your new home. Keep warm!

4. Protect the Floors

Walking from outdoors conditions to indoor can call for a bit of mess! Tape some heavy cardboard or plastic sheeting on the floor in high traffic areas to help avoid any mess that can end up on your floors and carpets.

5. Don’t Forget that Hot Chocolate!

Stay cozy and warm while moving in the winter with your favourite winter beverage! It does the trick.


Now you’re all set for moving in the winter. Need some help with Tip #1? Check out YouMoveMe – Moving Mission.

Source: YouMoveMe – Best Practices for Moving During the Winter

Tax Burden Reduced for First-Time Buyers

Are you a first-time home buyer?

You are receiving great news today! The provincial government has reduced the tax burden for first-time buyers. This is effective as of February 19, 2014, under the Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First-Time Home Buyer’s Exemption program, qualified first time home buyers can now purchase a home worth up to $475,000. The previous threshold was $425,000.

The partial exemption of this program continues and will apply to homes valued between $475,000 and $500,000.

Government Estimates:

  • 1,700 additional first-time buyers will annually be eligible to save up to $7,500 in PTT when they buy a home
  • This measure will cost $8 million in lost tax revenue each year

The Real Estate Board of Great Vancouver (REBGV) and the BC Real Estate Association have actively lobbied to make home ownership for affordable for first-time buyers.

  • 2008, government increased threshold to $425,000 from $375,000
  • 2005, government increased threshold to $325,000 from $275,000

PTT is calculated at a rate of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remaining value of the purchase price.

For the entire news article from REBGV on the government reducing the tax burden, click here.

This is big news for you as a first-time buyer! If you have any questions regarding the above, please give us a call at 604-588-4466 or email us at info@brokersmart.ca


How Can Mortgage Prepayments Save You Thousands?

Yes, mortgage prepayments could save your thousands over the years! Just be sure to check with your lender to make sure they will allow them.

What is a prepayment?

A prepayment is any amount you pay in addition to your regular payments. This includes increasing the amount of your regular payments or making a lump sum payment to reduce or pay off your balance.

The sooner you can make your payments, the less interest you will pay over the long term.


Sarah has a $150,000 25-year mortgage with an interest rate of 5.45%. She wants to save money by using her prepayment privilege. How much can she save?

Assuming the interest remains the same over the life of Sarah’s mortgage, her monthly payments would be about $911. If Sarah increased her payments by $50 per month, she would pay off her mortgage 2 years sooner AND save $14,000 on interest!

If Sarah made a lump-sum payment of $15,000 in the second year of that same mortgage, she would pay off the mortgage more than four years earlier AND save over $33,000 in interest.
Please be sure to check your mortgage agreement first as not all  have prepayment privileges. For example, a closed mortgage may require to pay a penalty or fee for any prepayment.

Federally regulated financial institutions, such as banks, must show your prepayment options in an information box at the beginning of your mortgage agreement. It will include the terms and conditions of your prepayment privileges. Be sure to read your mortgage agreement carefully before signing and ask the lender to explain anything you do not understand.

Here are a few questions to keep in mind when looking for a mortgage:

  •  How much can I prepay without penalty or fee?
  •  Is there a minimum amount for a prepayment?
  •  When can I make prepayments?
  •  Are there any conditions or limitations?
  •  If there are fees or penalties, how much are they, and how are they calculated?


For more information on this topic please visit:  itpaystoknow.gc.ca.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please give us a call at 604-588-4466 or email us at info@brokersmart.ca. We would be happy to help you save thousands!

Down Payment Using RRSP

Ever think you could use your RRSP for contribute to your down payment? As a first time home buyer, it can be a challenge to provide a down payment for your dream home. The Metro Vancouver New Home Guide published this article about how you can use your RRSP for a down payment on your first home.

A down payment is a lump sum you are required to contribute to the home’s purchase price. It’s common to contribute a 20% down payment. This is classified as conventional. A high-ratio is a down payment of less than 20%, requiring default insurance.

Need a larger down payment? One way is by using your RRSP savings, under the federal’s Home Buyer’s Plan. As a first-time home-buyer, you may be eligible to make a tax-free withdrawal of up to $25,000. If your spouse is eligible as well, that will be a combined total of up to $50,000.

You are required to repay your Home Buyer’s Plan withdrawal into your RRSP within a period of no more than 15 years. The first minimum annual repayment deadline is 2 years and 60 months after the date of the withdrawal. Although, you are able to pay earlier than that first repayment deadline. The minimum annual repayment amount is 1/15 of your original Home Buyer’s Plan balance. If you repay at least the minimum each year, there will be no tax payable.

Laura Parsons, mortgage expert, BMO Bank of Montreal says, “If you are able to provide a bigger down payment, it’s a significant way of helping you pay less interest over the life of your mortgage. Also, with a down payment of at least 20 per cent, you avoid paying mortgage default insurance.”

“Parsons adds that Canadians should be considering the benefits of choosing a shorter amortization as a way to decrease total interest costs and to begin building home equity sooner.”


If you have any questions regarding the above, please give us a call at 604-588-4466 or email us at info@brokersmart.ca – we will be happy to help you!

FVREB January Statistics

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) have released their January Statistics Report. The Fraser Valley housing market is seeing a record high activity of an increase of sales and new listings for the start of 2014.

FVREB January Statsitics

Source: Getty Images

Key Stats:

  • Total Sales: 772, an increase of 25% compared to January 2013
  • Total Listings: 2,676, an increase of 1% compared to January 2013
  • New listings in January 2014 were 7% higher than the 10-year average for January
  • Detached Home Benchmark Price: %552,500, an increase of 2.2% compared to January 2013
  • Townhouses Benchmark Price: $297,600, an increase of 1.3% from January 2013
  • Apartment Benchmark Price: $192,300, a decrease of 4% from January 2013

The President of FVREB says, “Starting early in the year, we typically see a ‘restocking of our shelves’ in advance of the spring market, which is a positive trend for buyers in that it creates new opportunities for them. With higher inventory they have greater freedom to comparison shop.”

“Generally, values of ground-oriented homes in Fraser Valley have been stable or increasing while condo values have been flat or decreasing. This is why it’s important to talk to your local REALTOR® because we’re seeing different market trends dependent on property type and location.”

*All statistics are from the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®)

To see the full FVREB January Statistics Report, click here.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please give us a call at 604-588-4466 or email us at info@brokersmart.ca


REBGV January Statistics

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) have released the January statistics for the housing market. Currently the market is seeing steady trends as it starts the new year.

Key Stats from the Report:

  • Total Residential Property Sales: 1,760, a 9.9% decrease from December 2013 
  • Total New Listings: 5,345 for detached, attached and apartment properties, a 4.2% increase from January 2013
  • Benchmark Price: $606,800, a 3.2% increase compared to January 2013
  • Detached Properties: sales reached 728, a 34.3% increase from January 2013, benchmark price is $929,700, a 3,2% increase from January 2013
  • Apartment Properties: sales reached 753, an increase of 30.7% compared to January 2013, benchmark price is $371,500, an increase of 3.7% compared to January 2013
  • Attached Properties: sales reached 279, an increase of 19.7% from January 2013, benchmark price is $457,500, an increase of 1.7% from January 2013

The President of the REBGV, Sandra Wyatt says, “The Greater Vancouver housing market has been in a balanced market for nearly a year. This has meant steady home sale and listing activity accompanied by stable home prices. If you’re looking to sell your home in a balanced market, it’s critical that your list price is reflective of current market conditions.”

*All statistics are from the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®)

To view the full REBGV January Statistics report, click here.

If you have any questions regarding the above, please give us a call at 604-588-4466 or email us at info@brokersmart.ca

Helping Your Kids Handle the Move

You Move Me Co. is a full service local moving company out here in the Lower Mainland. They have a list of 6 tips to helping your kids handle the move. Even though it is an exciting time, it can be a stressful time and change can be difficult.

  1. Visit your new home and your new neighbourhood – make sure to visit those kid-friendly spots too (playgrounds, parks, etc.). This will help get the kids excited to live in a new area.
  2. Explain to the kids that their stuff is just being stored until you get to your new home – it’s not getting thrown out!
  3. Keep some old furniture, for example, your children’s bed furniture to keep something familiar in your new home. This will definitely help to ease the transition.
  4. Keep the kids occupied on moving day by having a friend or relative look after them.
  5. Ensure your kids get a chance to say goodbye to their treasured places and favourite people in the old neighbourhood.
  6. Let your kids be the tour guides when guest come to visit your new home.


To see the full post about helping your kids handle the move, click here.