A house is one of the biggest investments most Canadians ever make, so it's important to plan ahead, to think about what you need in a home and what you can afford.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a great way to budget for a home and signal that you're a serious buyer. However, keep in mind that the amount for which you are approved is the maximum amount the lender feels you can afford based on your income and projected property expenses. That figure doesn't account for other expenses you may face, such as renovations or emergency home repair, as well as regular household costs.

"You know best ... what your costs are, so my advice would be look at what your paycheque is net, line up all those costs, including what you're being told on the calculator is affordable for you, and see what is left at the end of the month," Ms. Kiskuna says. "The last thing you want to do is hang yourself out to dry with [mortgage]payments that are simply too high to carry."

Here are some other mistakes first-time buyers make, and how to avoid them:

Not knowing your credit score

A credit rating is a record of your credit history and current financial situation. A good credit rating can improve your ability to get loans, so if your score is low, you may want to work on improving it before you apply for a mortgage.

Not budgeting for the costs of home ownership

Being a homeowner brings new expenses, including property taxes, higher insurance costs, regular upkeep and an emergency fund for repairs. Don't forget to factor in the cost of any renovations your new home may need.


Not researching down payment choices

Lenders typically require CMHC mortgage loan insurance if you make a down payment of less than 20 per cent, and premiums for that insurance can be as high as 3.25 per cent of the value of the loan. Under the Home Buyers' Plan, first-time buyers can use up to $25,000 in RRSP savings ($50,000 for a couple) for a down payment. A higher down payment will save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your mortgage.

Focusing too much on interest rates

First-time home buyers rush in to the market when interest rates are low. While rates are important, other things have a greater bearing on the overall cost of home ownership, including the cost of the house, the type of mortgage, the amortization period and payment options.

Not choosing your own payment schedule

Paying off your mortgage sooner saves you interest costs, while a longer amortization period reduces your regular payment and frees up cash flow. You can save thousands of dollars in interest by choosing a shorter amortization period, paying fortnightly instead of monthly, or increasing the amount of payments by even a small amount. Use an online mortgage calculator to run the numbers.

Forgetting about closing costs

When calculating closing costs, assume you will need an additional 1.5 to 2.5 per cent of the purchase price to cover such things as the home inspection, legal fees, land transfer tax, property tax, property insurance, utility hook-ups and moving costs.


Tony Marchigiano1-155 Water Street
Mortgage BrokerVancouver, BC
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While coach houses are well-known in Vancouver, a new project in Coquitlam is the first of its kind in that community. At Morningstar's Somerton 34-home development, 21 of the houses come with a one-bedroom coach house above the garage.

Apparently, it's a popular idea. More than half of the houses with coach homes have sold out, said Deborah Calahan, vice-president of sales and marketing for Morningstar Homes. The 13 homes without a coach house are built to accommodate a legal basement suite; sales of those homes have just begun.

The UDI/FortisBC Housing Affordability Index for B.C. shows that less than 40.9 per cent of working households in inner Metro - which includes Coquitlam, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond/ Delta, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam - earn the $94,002 or more necessary to qualify for the $2,507-a-month mortgage payment required for the average new single-family home in the area, with a median price of about $850,000. Those figures are for re-sale homes; there is not enough data to calculate an accurate median price for new single-family homes.

Despite being new homes, prices at Somerton are lower than the median price for resale homes; they range from $649,900 to $809,900. The houses are just over 3,000 square feet each, including the basement, which can be purchased finished or unfinished, while the coach houses are about 500 square feet.

As a single-family home development, Somerton has not attracted many first-time buyers. Instead, it's people looking to either move up, or move laterally into a new home that are choosing to buy at Somerton, Calahan said.

"Usually, in order to buy a single-family home in the Lower Mainland, you need to have already been a homeowner, unless your parents are helping you out," Cala-han said. "Generally, we don't see that first-time homebuyer."

Somerton is on Roxton Avenue in Coquitlam, in a residential area near Leigh elementary school and Coast Meridian Road. The community is expecting SkyTrain's Evergreen Line to be ready for commuters in 2016.

"There has been amazing growth here over the past five years," Calahan said.

Calahan said buyers have come from all over Metro, including the Tri-Cities area, Burnaby and North Vancouver. She said the Somerton project has not seen a lot of offshore buyers. Many of the buyers are not planning to rent out the coach house - instead they intend to have their aging parent or university-age child live in the separate accommodation, Cala-han said. It also makes a good nanny suite or in-home office, she said.

If a buyer did choose to rent out the coach house, Calahan conservatively estimated they could get about $800 to $1,000 a month to help out with their mortgage. She said two-bedroom suites nearby are renting for between $1,000 and $1,200, while the coach houses are new and feel like a home unto themselves.

"These coach houses are like none other. They've got vaulted ceilings, picture windows and even a window seat in the bedroom," Calahan said. "It's like a mini-home and it's amazing."

The coach houses have private patios, a parking space and in-suite laundry.

An extra $1,000 per month in income could mean the ability to borrow and repay as much as $200,000 more on a mortgage. To buy a home in Somerton for $725,000, with $1,000 a month rent from the coach house, a family would need a down payment of about $145,000 and an additional annual income of about $86,680 before the additional rent to qualify and repay a mortgage of $580,000.

"If you run the numbers of a price of owning a home with renting out (a coach house), it becomes quite practical for a lot of people," Calahan said.

She said the city of Coquitlam approved this project as a bit of a test to see how coach houses could work in the community, but that it is possible there could be more in the future.

As the coach houses are built above the garages, the size of the yard does not change, Calahan said.

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Myself, Mike and Will will be holding an Advice Seminar called "Why NOW is a good time to buy a home!" We will be discussing the current housing market in Vancouver, current interest rates and the forecasts for them. Will talk about purchasing power and how yours could decrease over time as rates start to go up. We will also be discussing the long term benefits of owning a property or properties in Canada.


Come in for this free Advice Seminar which is next Thursday, Oct. 18th at 6pm. It will be held at the RBC Denman Branch located at 945 Denman St. (corner of Denman & Barclay) NOTE: there is some free parking underneath the branch. Pull into the west facing alley in between Nelson and Barclay streets.


Look forward to seeing you there!





Tony Marchigiano | Mortgage Specialist - Mortgage Sales BC Region, RBC Royal Bank | Royal Bank of Canada | T. 604-505-7109 | F. 778-737-0054


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First-time Buyers may be eligible for up to $10,000 in tax credits when purchasing newly built homes...

All of these changes add up to very good news for 1st time home buyers who were planning on purchasing a newly built home and may change the mind of some who were thinking of purchasing an existing home now that their are these new incentives.

On February 21st the BC Government announced a temporary New Home Buyers Bonus on eligible purchases. For complete details please click on the attached link to the BC Government posting.

Higher HST Rebates for consumers and HST to PST transition rules...

On February 17th, the BC Minister of Finance, Kevin Falcon released HST transition rules and tax relief measures for the home building industry and its customers. Tax relief measures include:

Effective April 1, 2012, the HST rebate threshold on new homes increases to $850,000 from $525,000. The maximum rebate rises to $42,500 from $26,250.

Measures are also in place for the secondary/recreational home industry outside of the Greater Vancouver and Capital Regional Districts, where the HST rebate threshold rises to $850,000 from $0, also effective April 1, 2012.

For more information about the new rebates, go to and click on "New Housing Rules".

The following is a link to our Home, Mortgage and Lending Advice Centre.


If you have any family, friends or co-workers who are thinking about buying a home, please feel free to share my contact information and introduce them to me. I am delighted to help walk them through these new changes that could save them thousands of dollars.


Tony Marchigiano
Mobile Mortgage Specialist
RBC Royal Bank of Canada

(604) 505-7109


Tony Marchigiano | Mortgage Specialist - Mortgage Sales BC Region, RBC Royal Bank | Royal Bank of Canada | T. 604-505-7109 | F. 778-737-0054

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A potential buyer may be quite happy with the physical condition and the location of a residential property, but they may avoid purchasing the property because of concerns regarding an event or circumstance occurring in or near the property. Examples include a property next door to a residence occupied by a convicted pedophile, or a reputed gang member. The property could be known as a haunted house. Other examples include a murder or suicide in the home, or the home was subject to a drive-by shooting or used as part of an illegal operation such as a brothel.

Even though the “stigmatizing event” does not directly affect the appearance or use of the property, it has such a negative psychological effect on the potential buyer that they decide not to purchase the property. The property becomes known as a "stigmatized property" or a "psychologically impacted property", potentially making it much more difficult to sell and ultimately adversely affecting its market value. 

Clearly, the significance of the stigmatizing event will vary with a Buyer’s values, perceptions, beliefs, age, religion, ethnic background, gender and other concerns personal to that Buyer. Some events are so heinous that everyone will know through the media and be so horrified that they would never dream of buying the affected home. In other cases, such as a reputed haunted house, you may find some people may really be shaking in their boots while others (especially in olde England) may see reported ghost sightings as part of the property’s distinct charm, simply shrug their shoulders and hope the notoriety increases the home’s value. As it can be so subjective, it is impossible to determine all the possible events or circumstances that can cause a property to be stigmatized. This makes it very hard to set rules on what possible stigma should be disclosed. One can also ask why should a seller disclose possible stigmatizing events and risk devaluing their main asset when it may not have any effect whatsoever on the buyer’s decision to purchase or not. Therefore, in common law jurisdictions like BC and Ontario, there are no legislation that defines or deals with stigmatized properties.

As a sidebar, in close to half of the American states there is law requiring some form of disclosure of property stigma, as there is in Quebec. California was the pioneer, as often seems to be the case. California was the first state to pass a law defining the disclosure responsibility of an owner and a real estate agent when selling stigmatized property. For example, the law requires an agent to disclose the fact of a murder on the property for a period of three years after the event.


What can buyers do to protect themselves in BC with respect to stigmatized properties?

In British Columbia, people who are selling their home (“Sellers”), and the agents who represent them, must disclose all known material latent defects. A latent defect is essentially a material defect that is not generally visible during a reasonable inspection but renders the property unfit for habitation or is dangerous or potentially dangerous to the occupants. It is generally associated with a hidden physical defect with the property such as a big crack in the foundation that has been covered up with flooring, faulty wiring covered by drywall or poorly insulated plumbing that leads to pipes freezing and bursting in winter. It has also been held that a latent defect can cover environmental issues such as leaking corroded underground oil tanks and radioactive materials being stored near the property. 

Although Sellers are required to disclose all known material latent defects (on the Property Disclosure Statement), they are not required to disclose the existence of all possible stigmas that might be a concern with potential buyers. The doctrine of caveat emptor (buyer beware) still very much applies in BC. This means that buyers in BC have to make their own inquiries for possible stigmas. Of course, they can ask their agent to directly inquire with the seller’s agent. Usually though a seller will either not know or will not want to incur any potential liability and will decline to answer the question directly and advise the buyer to undertake their own investigations. Sometimes, a seller may choose to answer the question and in that case the seller, and the seller’s agent, must exercise reasonable care to ensure the accuracy of their answer. Otherwise, if the seller does not disclose anything, it will be up to the buyer to check other available sources. For example, if a buyer has a concern in respect of criminal activities or convicted felons in or near the property, a buyer should inquire at the local police service, research local newspaper websites, and talk with the neighbors around the property. If there is a suspicion that the properly is reputedly haunted, there may be certain websites which have a list of local homes that are apparently haunted.

Agents should note though that, in a limited dual agent situation, if a buyer has notified the brokerage through the agent representing the buyer of their concern about a certain stigma and the brokerage, through the agent representing the seller, is aware of the existence of such a stigma, the brokerage must disclose that information to the buyer.


Can a stigma become a material latent defect that must be disclosed to the buyer by the seller? 

In a BC case in 2003, the buyers refused to complete on a purchase of a lake front property in Kelowna after finding out from a neighbor that the adjoining property that was next to a public park was being used in the summer as a nude beach. The sellers sued the buyers for the down payment of $100,000. The trial judge ruled in favour of the sellers and said that the sellers’ nondisclosure of the use of the nearby beach did not amount to a latent defect and did not entitle the buyers to escape their obligations under the contract. The trial judge said, "The presence of nude bodies next door or parading in front of one’s house may or may not be a defect. This requires a subjective test. To allow defects to be determined by individual preferences would open the floodgates of litigation by remorseful purchasers and create an impossible standard of disclosure for vendors. In this case, the alleged defect was occurring outside the boundaries of the property purchased. The presence of a nude beach next door to the subject property is not a defect, latent or patent. There is no duty on the vendor to disclose the existence of the nude beach." The buyers were ordered to pay the $100,000 down payment to the sellers. The BC Court of Appeal dismissed the Buyer’s appeal and upheld the trial judge’s decision. As the trial judge alludes to in his judgment, to allow the presence of a nude beach to become a latent defect would start a slippery slope that is very hard to stop and could force sellers to disclose anything and everything to avoid claims of misrepresentation. Presumably the term slippery slope had nothing to do with suntan lotion from the nude beach enthusiasts. 

A far more damaging psychological event is unfolding at the time of writing this article. In a recent Ontario case a lawyer is arguing that the stigma of having a neighbor who has been convicted of possessing child pornography amounts to a latent defect. In this case, a couple, with two young children, bought a home in June 2010 but found out only after completion that a man convicted of possessing child pornography was living across the street. The couple believes that it was not safe to move in. The couple is suing the sellers and the sellers’ realtors arguing that they should have disclosed this information which the couple learned was common knowledge in the neighborhood. The lawyer states that the presence of this neighbor is a latent defect in that it was not apparent upon a reasonable inspection, but one the seller knew about, and renders the home uninhabitable. This latent defect argument in relation to a convicted criminal in the neighborhood enters uncharted territory. The defence to such a claim is that, although socially and morally it is a good idea to disclose, the current law does not require disclosure and that it is really stretching the law to include this event as a latent defect. Of course nobody wants to live near a sex offender but the court must answer the question of whether the effect of having a neighbor with a child pornography conviction is too subjective to be considered a latent defect of your property. The case is still ongoing and a settlement may be reached before a court decision is made. Some have argued that if there was an accessible public sex offender list in Canada, buyers could check themselves without having to go through the stress of a court case and arguing what should have disclosed by sellers. However, as it would be very hard to keep such a list up to date with people moving and changing addresses, would buyers really be able to completely rely on such a list?

In another Ontario case, a couple with three children bought a home next door to a father and son who had both been convicted of possessing child pornography. The couple subsequently decided to sell the home, disclosed the presence of the father and son next door and state that as a result it took nearly a year to sell and they sold it at $30,000 less than what they paid. The couple sued the vendors, who were real estate agents selling their own property. As a result, the lawyer for the couple is relying on the disclosure requirements under the Ontario Real Estate and Business Brokers Act rather than the latent defect argument although that argument would probably have been advanced if the vendors were not realtors. That Act is similar to the legislation in BC under the Real Estate Services Act and Real Estate Council Rules in that it requires all realtors divesting themselves of an interest in real estate to advise all parties involved in writing that they are realtors who have an interest in the transaction and to provide full disclosure of all facts within their knowledge which affect or will affect the value of the property they are selling. The case is still to be decided. 

In the future, even if the argument that certain stigmas can amount to latent defects fails, it may be suggested that more questions should be listed in the General Section of the Property Disclosure Statement to go along with the marijuana grow operation and the material latent defects questions. These questions could directly address serious particular stigmas such as "Has there ever been a murder on the property?" Again though, a seller may not know the full history of the property or may just refuse to complete the Property Disclosure Statement. In any event, it would not absolve the buyer from making their own inquiries.



In British Columbia there is currently no legal requirement for sellers, or the agents representing them, to disclose possible stigmas in respect of a property such as if a murder, suicide, gang shooting or ghost sighting may have occurred in or near the property. Sellers should be very careful with their replies if they decide to directly answer questions from buyers in respect of possible stigmatizing events or circumstances concerning their property and obtain independent legal advice if unsure. Buyers, if they have suspicions about a possible event or circumstance that may have occurred in or near the property, should be very diligent in their inquiries, checking with the seller through their agent, the police, neighbors, newspapers, and websites and leaving no stone unturned. Realtors should be very careful when acting for their clients and make sure that they observe their own professional disclosure requirements set by the Real Estate Council, especially in a limited dual agent situation and when selling property they own themselves.

Copyright © 2012 by Spagnuolo & Company Real Estate Lawyers. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.

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What is "Title?"

"Title" is a word lawyers use to describe the right of ownership to land. When you purchase a home, title is transferred to you, the new home owner. 

What is Title Insurance

Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects you, the home owner, against challenges to the ownership of your home or from problems related to the title to your home. The policy provides coverage against losses due to title defects, even if the defects existed before you purchased your home. A title defect is a problem with the title which prevents free and clear ownership. There are many types of defects such as rights of way, encroachments (from neighbouring properties), unpaid liens, etc. 

Title insurance policies protect you for as long as you own the property. It protects against a number of risks that a solicitor's opinion on title may not cover. These risks include:

•Fraud and forgery, including someone taking your title through fraud or forgery

•Encroachments that would be disclosed by a new survey (for example, a neighbour's deck being partly on your land)

•Easements (the right acquired for access to or over another person's property for a specific purpose, such as for a driveway or public utilities. This is referred to as "servitude" in the Province of Quebec) over the property that would be disclosed by a new survey

•Zoning non-compliance (i.e. where the property use does not meet the local municipal by-laws)

•Someone other than the home owner having interest (i.e. a previous owner of the property not being discharged from title)


Title insurance is generally purchased when you buy your home or when you refinance it, although it can be purchased any time after you buy your home. You will only make one premium payment when you first buy the insurance. A title insurer can tell you how to purchase the policy.


How Do I Know if I Need Title Insurance?

If you are purchasing or refinancing your home, you should discuss title insurance with your lawyer/notary to see if a title insurance policy is right for you. Your lawyer/notary can arrange the purchase of a home owner's policy.


Benefits of Title Insurance

Comprehensive coverage

The policy can provide broader coverage than a solicitor/notary's opinion on title as well as post purchase fraud coverage.

Peace of mind

As the policy covers the items outlined above, you can rest easy knowing if there are defects affecting the title of your home that are covered by the title insurance policy, your title insurer will take steps to rectify the problem. 

One time cost

The premium is usually due at the time of closing for purchases or refinances. Some insurers permit you to purchase title insurance at any time.


RBC recognizes a title insurance policy issued by one of the following:

FCT Insurance Company Ltd. (carrying on business under the name First Canadian Title):

Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company (TitlePlus):


Sincerely, Tony


Tony Marchigiano
| Mortgage Specialist - Mortgage Sales BC Region, RBC Royal Bank | Royal Bank of Canada | T. 604-505-7109 | F. 778-737-0054


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You’ve been saving for awhile, weighing your options, looking around casually. Now you’ve finally decided to do it—you’re ready to buy a house in Vancouver. The process of buying a new home can be incredibly exciting, yet stressful, all at once. Where do you start?

It is essential you do your homework before you begin. Learn from the experiences of others, do some research. Of course, with so many details involved, slip-ups are inevitable. But be careful: learning from your mistakes may prove costly. Use the following list of pitfalls as a guide to help you avoid the most common mistakes.

Searching for houses without getting pre-approved by a lender:

Do not mistake pre-approval by a lender with pre-qualification. Pre-qualification, the first step toward being pre-approved, will point you in the right direction, giving you an idea of the price range of houses you can comfortably afford. Pre-approval, however, means you become a cash buyer, making negotiations with the seller much easier.

Allowing “first impressions” to overly influence your decision:

The first impression of a home has been cited as the single most influential factor guiding many purchasers’ choice to buy. Make a conscious decision beforehand to examine a home as objectively as you can. Don’t let the current owners’ style or lifestyle sway your judgment. Beneath the bad décor or messy rooms, these homes may actually suit your needs and offer you a structurally sound base with which to work. Likewise, don’t jump at a home simply because the walls are painted your favourite colour! Make sure you thoroughly the investigate the structure beneath the paint before you come to any serious decisions.

Failing to have the home inspected before you buy:

Buying a home is a major financial decision that is often made after having spent very little time on the property itself. A home inspection performed by a competent company will help you enter the negotiation process with eyes wide open, offering you added reassurance that the choice you’re making is a sound one, or alerting you to underlying problems that could cost you significant money in both the short and long-run. Your North Vancouver Realtor can suggest reputable home inspection companies for you to consider and will ensure the appropriate clause is entered into your contract.


Not knowing and understanding your rights and obligations as listed in the Offer to Purchase:

Make it a priority to know your rights and obligations inside and out. A lack of understanding about your obligations may, at the very least, cause friction between yourself and the people with whom you are about to enter the contract. Wrong assumptions, poorly written/ incomprehensible/ missing clauses, or a lack of awareness of how the clauses apply to the purchase, could also contribute to increased costs. These problems may even lead to a void contract. So, take the time to go through the contract with a fine-tooth comb, making use of the resources and knowledge offered by your Realtor and lawyer. With their assistance, ensure you thoroughly understand every component of the contract, and are able to fulfill your contractual obligations.


Making an offer based on the asking price, not the market value:

Ask your North Vancouver Realtor for a current Comparative Market Analysis. This will provide you with the information necessary to gauge the market value of a home, and will help you avoid over-paying. What have other similar homes sold for in the area and how long were they on the market? What is the difference between their asking and selling prices? Is the home you’re looking at under-priced, over-priced, or fair value? The seller receives a Comparative Market Analysis before deciding upon an asking price, so make sure you have all the same information at your fingertips.


Failing to familiarize yourself with the neighbourhood before buying:

Check out the neighbourhood you’re considering, and ask around. What amenities does the area have to offer? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children. How will you be affected by a new commute to work? Are there infrastructure projects in development? All of these factors will influence the way you experience your new home, so ensure you’re well-acquainted with the surrounding area before purchasing.


Not looking for home insurance until you are about to move:

If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be rushed to find an insurance policy that’s the ideal fit for you. Make sure you give yourself enough time to shop around in order to get the best deal.


Not recognizing different styles and strategies of negotiation: 

Many buyers think that the way to negotiate their way to a fair price is by offering low. However, in reality this strategy may actually result in the seller becoming more inflexible, polarizing negotiations. Employ the knowledge and skills of an experienced realtor. S/he will know what strategies of negotiation will prove most effective for your particular situation.

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1. Thinking you won't qualify for a mortgage

2. Not knowing all the down payment choices

3. Focusing to much on the interest rate, rather than the overall solution

4. Being unrealistic about how much you can afford to pay for your home

5. Not considering a mortgage pre approval

6. Not choosing your own mortgage payments schedule

7. Forgetting about closing costs

8. Not knowing your credit rating

Knowing the details of how to avoid these common mistakes may be one of the best investments of your life. Well other than the home you're about to purchase!


For more mortgage information and advice please contact:

Tony Marchigiano | Mortgage Specialist - Mortgage Sales BC Region, RBC Royal Bank | Royal Bank of Canada | T. 604-505-7109 | F. 778-737-0054


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