Property Taxes Are Coming

Property Taxes Are Coming

TaxmanIts tax time again. Your property tax notices for 2008 will be coming this month. Payments and completed Home Owner Grant applications, if applicable, must be received by the City of Abbotsford by 5:00 PM on July 2. If you fail to pay your property tax before July 2, 2008 you will have to pay a 5% penalty. Another 5% penalty will be applied to taxes if you pay after September 15.

You can pay your property tax at your bank or credit union, mail or drop off a cheque or pay at the cash counter in the city hall with your bank card or cash.

Don’t forget to complete and return the Home Owner Grant application (if your are eligible) by the due date. Failure to do so on time could result in penalties being applied to that portion of the property taxes. you can complete and submit the Home Owner Grant application form on the front of the tax notice or do it online at city of Abbotsford website. If you make your property tax payments to your bank (monthly with your mortgage payments) its still a good idea to double check with the city and apply for the grant if you are eligible.

For more information you can contact the City of Abbotsford Property Tax Division at 604.864.5522.

May 29, 2008

Should You Test the Air in Your Home for Mold?

Molds are microscopic fungi That grow and reproduce rapidly. Mold can be harmful. It can damage and even ruin materials, such as paper, cardboard and fabrics. More importantly, mold can affect your health and your family’s health. Molds can cause allergic reactions and illnesses, depending on the type of mold, the amount and degree of exposure and the health condition of a home’s occupants. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and people with a respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, are at risk when exposed to mold.

The first thing that comes to people’s minds when they suspect mold is to have the air of the house tested. This involves collecting an air sample and sending the sample to a laboratory for analysis.

The recommended first step is having a professional investigator check your house for mold. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association do not recommend testing the air for molds in single-family dwellings and similar buildings as a first step.

An air sample test does not pinpoint sources of moisture, tell you why you have a mold problem or suggest ways to fix it. A trained investigator determines causes and suggests ways to remediate and repair problems. The inspector can determine the extent of the mold. The larger the affected areas, the higher the concentration of mold in the indoor air. In the majority of cases, the homeowner has everything needed to proceed to remediate the problem.

In a few cases, mold is strongly suspected but is not seen and you are not prepared to start taking walls down. The moldy odour may also be occasional and you are unsure whether mold is a problem. Testing the air may be justified.

Discounted Mortgage Loan Insurance for Energy-Efficient Homes

Discounted Mortgage Loan Insurance for Energy-Efficient Homes

Energy Efficient Homes Mortgage InsuranceFor most people, the hardest part of buying a home — especially the first home — is saving the necessary down payment. Mortgage Loan Insurance helps you buy a house with little or no down payment. CMHC or Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is one of the big three mortgage loan insurance providers in Canada.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation now offers a 10% mortgage loan insurance premium refund and extended amortization periods of up to 40 years without surcharge when you use CMHC insured financing to purchase an energy-efficient home or make energy-saving renovations.

You mortgage broker can provide more information about this program. Ask about this discount especially when purchasing a new home as new homes are more likely to qualify as energy efficient homes.

Improve your beacon score

Improve your beacon score

Whether you have poor credit, excellent credit or something in between, there is always room for improvement on your beacon score.

For starters, and most obvious, make your payments on time.  Whether it’s a credit card, mortgage or personal loan from your bank, it is fundamentally important to keep your payments from becoming overdue.  About 35% of your score is based on this category.

How much do you owe?  It is important to ensure that you are not maxed out on your credit cards.  Keeping your balance at or below 75% of your limit will bode well for a good beacon score.  Some people feel that they can go up to their limit and pay down the whole amount every month.  The problem with this is that you never know exactly when the creditor is making their report to the credit bureau.  They may report a day before you bring your balance to zero.  Then even if you pay off your balance, the damage is already done.  About 30% of your score is based on amounts owed.

Above two items make up 65% of your beacon score.  Let’s discuss the other 35%.
How long is your credit history?  Don’t cancel your oldest card just because the rate is a percentage point higher than a ‘new card on the block’.  Credit grantors like to see established credit.  Flipping from one card to another when a special is offered will not benefit your beacon score.  About 15% of your score is based on how established you are in the wonderful world of credit.

Credit Enquiries makes up 10% of your score.  Numerous credit applications in the last 12 months is not a good thing!  This is another reason why it’s a good idea to use a mortgage broker.  One credit bureau pull by a broker takes care of all lenders.

Types of Credit rounds out the final 10% of your score.  Having a variety of types of credit is looked upon favourably by lenders.  Types of credit include credit cards, personal loans and Lines of Credit.  However, it’s not recommended to take out a personal loan, for example, simply because you don’t have one already.

Buying A home With Underground Oil Tank?

Buying A home With Underground Oil Tank?

Do you know if the house you are buying has an underground heating oil storage tank? If there is an underground oil tank and it leaks into the ground, you as the buyer could be liable for the cost of removal of that tank and cleanup of contaminated soil (You could be liable even after selling a contaminated property in BC). The cost could be thousand of dollars. Take the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Determine if there is an evidence of an underground tank.
  • Hire a professional home inspector to inspect the home before you make the final decision on a purchase.
  • Hire a professional to test the tank if there is a tank underground.
  • Research EPA and local municipal requirements concerning oil tanks.
  • When working with a contractor, get everything on paper.
  • Make sure the fill pipe is capped or removed after removing the tank.

What signs indicate that oil was previously used to heat the house?

  1. A vent pipe located outside the house, usually few inches from the foundation.
  2. A fill pipe, usually level with the sidewalk or lawn.
  3. Oil lines in the basement
  4. A wall switch that say “Emergency Oil Shut-off”
  5. A circuit breaker, labeled “furnace”
  6. Houses nearby have used oil or are still using oil for heating.

You should pay close attention to the potential liability of an underground oil tank. The tank may become an important negotiating strategy when purchasing a home. Your Realtor can provide valuable advice concerning underground oil tanks.

Tips for searching real estate online

Tips for searching real estate online

Searching for real estate online? You are not alone, over 80% home-buyers start their search on the internet. Searching for homes on the internet can save your valuable time but it can also prove difficult if you are new to the internet. Here are some tips that can help make your search a bit easier.

There are 3 major search engines, Google, Yahoo and MSN. Google is the best search engine in the internet world. It displays most relevant search results, So use Google.

  • Use Google Canada (www.google.ca) instead of Google.com because it focuses on Canadian websites and you are more likely to find relevant real estate web sites.
  • To filter out the irrelevant, out of area websites, select the “Pages from Canada” option before clicking on the search button.
  • If searching for a particular Realtor by name, add area and the word “Realtor” to the name. IE search for “Raj Dhaliwal Abbotsford Realtor” instead of just “Raj Dhaliwal
  • Use ” ” to narrow down your search results. Try “Abbotsford real estate for sale” instead of Abbotsford real estate for sale .
  • “Abbotsford real estate” is a broad search term. Your results will contain all types of real estate websites from condos to commercial. Try other “narrow” search terms to get better results. IE, Abbotsford condos for sale or market value of my home in Abbotsford.
  • Or simply ask Google a question, like, What is my Abbotsford home worth? Don’t ask “what is my home worth?” If Google doesn’t know your location, it can’t give you the relevant results.
  • Try local search in Google.
  • In search results focus on the organic (natural) results. The results in the sidebar (right side of screen) are paid links. These may not be relevant to your query. Sometimes these paid links are also displayed on the top of the natural results. usually they are highlighted (light yellow background). Paid results are always marked by Google as “sponsored links”  These  paid links can be websites of local Realtors but most of the times these links are irrelevant websites trying to capture your information.
  • Use your “common sense” when clicking on the links in the results. Read the title and the URL. The very top link may not be the best website for your needs.
  • When using real estate websites, stick with the ones that provide Free, instant information. Avoid those just trying to capture your information without providing any useful information.
  • Realtors are required to collect your info to provide certain information about properties. If a Realtor is identified and contact information (Phone number, physical address, e-mail etc.) is provided on the main page of the website and your common sense tells you that the website belongs to a local Realtor, your information is more likely to be in safe hands.
  • Once you find a great Realtor’s website, bookmark it, contact the Realtor or create an account on the website.

Visit MyAbbotsford.Com for Abbotsford real estate information.