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View online at MORTGAGES & HOME BUYING SPECIAL SECTION A S U P P L E M E N T T O T H E W I N N I P E G F R E E P R E S S 1 DAVID POWELL, PRESIDENT OF THE MANITOBA REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION, ANSWERS SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING A HOME. Q: What are some tips for someone looking to buy a home/condo? A: The most important step would be to connect with a Realtor. You need a professional when you're dealing with your largest investment. There are various Realtors who have experience in certain local areas, so it's a good idea to interview several of them. They'll get you organized and take you through the entire process from start to finish. Q: What other professionals should be involved in the process? A: You're going to need a lawyer, a banker/ lender (if a mortgage is required) and a Realtor. In some cases, you'll have a home inspector or an industry tradesperson who is an expert in a certain area, for example, furnace technicians and electricians. That's your typical team with your Realtor leading the way through the process. Q: Should I get a pre-approved mortgage? A: Yes, one of the first things that a buyer needs to do is get a pre-approved mortgage. Most Realtors have preferred lenders that sometimes can get preferred interest rates for buyers. There are different mortgage products out there that fit different buyers' profiles. Mortgages are not just about the interest rate. Q: How much will I need to pay for closing costs? A: Above and beyond the cost of the home, there are closing fees, like legal fees, land transfer tax, mortgage registration and default lending insurance, to name a few. These are the closing costs that the buyers will face, which is roughly 1.75 per cent of the purchase price. Q: What are some other types of costs associated with home ownership? A: It depends on the type of home or property that you buy. If you buy a condominium, the maintenance and repair costs will be lower than if you buy a home. If you buy an older home, there could be larger maintenance and repair items on your list over time. If you buy a brand new home, there's going to be zero to little maintenance and repairs, and usually there is a builder's warranty with new homes and condominiums. There are also other ongoing costs like annual property taxes and utility costs. You might want a checklist of other costs, such as moving companies, home insurance, rekeying locks and changing addresses on all your government- issued documents. Q: Should I get a home inspection before buying a home? A: The condition of a home inspection is a part of the statutory offer to purchase that a Realtor uses. The buyer and Realtor will have a discussion about home inspections. Home inspectors in Manitoba right now are not regulated. You are getting an opinion without any guarantees or warranties. Home inspections are a good tool for first-time homebuyers who've never owned a property before and for people who are not familiar with the electrical, mechanical, plumbing or structural parts of the home. It is an option for the buyer to use, and it's something that should be considered and discussed before buying a home. Realtors will often suggest using a Property Disclosure Statement where a number of questions are answered by the homeowner's knowledge of the home. However, even the Property Disclosure Statement does not relieve buyers from performing their own due diligence when buying a home. Q: What are some tips for someone looking to sell a home? A: Your Realtor will look at the property and give you suggestions on renovation improvements, staging the home and the ideal timing of entering the real estate market. Usually kitchens and bathrooms are some of the focal points, and your Realtor will be able to offer the opinion if the cost of renovations will create a positive return when you sell the home. Some areas that can add value are improvements on low depreciable items like roof shingles, windows or furnaces. Once improved, these items will perform very well for a long time before needing to by renovated again. Improving carpet, paint and other cosmetics will definitely have an immediate positive impact when showing a home. Q: Is there anything else you would like to highlight about buying or selling a home? A: One of the key points for buyers and sellers is patience. Your Realtor is experienced in the marketplace and can discuss market conditions, expectation of sale time or buy time, and expected cost from start to finish. These are all important parts of the home-buying and home- selling equation. ASK A REAL ESTATE EXPERT Photo by Lotus Photography THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2019 THE CONDO LIFESTYLE IS PROVING TO BE A SOUGHT- AFTER CHOICE FOR BUYERS IN ALL AGES AND STAGES OF LIFE. W ith a focus on flexibil- ity, condominiums take many forms — including apartment-style, high-rise, detached, semi-detached and townhomes. Similarly, condo owners represent a diverse range of demographics. "The demographics are changing," said Maureen Hancharyk, president of the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Con- dominium Institute. "There were more retired seniors and empty-nesters in the past, but condos are now attracting young families, first-time homebuyers and young professionals." Two main appeals are the overall condo lifestyle and the reduced personal respon- sibility for maintenance and upkeep. When it comes to lifestyle, many condos have exercise rooms, pools and units that can be rented by owners to accommodate out-of-town guests. Other amenities might include common rooms or lounges that can be rented to host social gatherings, as well as garages or heated underground parking. As for maintenance, most condos hire companies for landscaping and snow re- moval. Contracted tradespeople might also take care of roofing, eavestroughs and fire inspection, as well as the cleaning of win- dows, dryer vents and parkades. "Many condos employ full-time or part-time onsite managers. Others may have doormen and valet parking. Some condos are pet-friendly; others are not," Hancharyk said. "Every condominium is different, so if people are considering purchasing a condo, just as in purchasing a house, they should research, make a list of what their needs are and also talk to people that live in condos." Community living in a condo can be a little different than in an apartment or sin- gle-family dwelling, she added. "Wherever you live, it's important to be a good neighbour," Hancharyk said. "Although there is no one-size-fits-all, owners own their individual units but also share ownership in the common elements — like parkades, hallways, stairwells, com- mon rooms, furniture in lobbies, outdoor pools, grounds, roadways, lighting, roofing, exterior doors. The list goes on and on and can be unique in each condo corporation." The condo corporation is made up of the unit owners. It is created when a con- dominium plan, declaration and bylaws are registered in the Land Titles Office, and cer- tificates of title are issued for the condomin- ium units. Currently, there are more than 1,000 condo corporations in Manitoba. "Board of directors run condo corpora- tions on behalf of owners. They represent owners and are responsible for making all major decisions regarding the maintenance of buildings and grounds. They are also re- sponsible for the finances, and must uphold and enforce the Condo Act, the declaration, bylaws and rules," Hancharyk said. "Condo owners must abide by the Act, the declaration and the bylaws. The Act is common for all condo corporations and condo owners; however, the declaration and bylaws are unique to every corporation and must not contravene the Act." Condo owners should attend meetings, particularly the annual general meeting of their corporation. If any issues arise, they should talk to their property manager or board of directors if they are self-managed. "The board of directors is responsible for performing the duties and exercising the powers of the condo corporation. They must act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the corporation and do this in a reasonable and prudent manner. This includes setting the budget, the common element fees, contributions to the reserve fund and managing the fi- nances," Hancharyk said. "Contributions to the reserve fund as well as common element fees are not always equal for each unit owner. They are often based on square footage and the percentage of ownership of the common elements." At times, boards might authorize a spe- cial assessment for additional contributions to cover common expenses, usually for un- expected repairs or maintenance. "Condos are required to have a reserve fund study done every five years, which helps to determine what contributions are necessary to maintain a healthy reserve fund," Hancharyk said. "This should reduce the necessity for spe- cial assessments." The Canadian Condominium Institute Manitoba Chapter can serve as a useful re- source for all topics related to condo owner- ship, she added. "We lead the condominium industry in Manitoba," Hancharyk said, "by providing education, information, awareness and ac- cess to expertise by and for our members." CONSIDER THE CONDO LIFESTYLE By Jennifer McFee When it comes to lifestyle, many condos have exercise rooms, pools and units that can be rented by owners to accommodate out-of-town guests. 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