Finding Real Estate in Whistler, and negotiating the best possible price for that home is a process that requires the guidance of an expert in the market. Along with my team a The Thornhill Real Estate Group, it will be my pleasure to assist you in this process. Let’s meet in person to determine your priorities, and then I’ll work with you to ensure your home buying experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible at every step of the way! Although there's a whole lot of info here, this page is designed to inform you of the factors that will eaffect the process of buying your dream Whistler property.
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Overview: The Home Buying Process
My mission is to ensure that the purchase of your Whistler home is as stress-free and financially satisfying as possible. My job is to guide you through each step of the process, from commencing your initial search through to receiving the keys for your new home. It’s important to note that as a buyer, you will not pay for my services – my remuneration is provided via a share of the listing commission on the property sold.
Below is a brief summary of the buying process, and the commonly used terms and expressions in Whistler real estate transactions.
1. Commence your listings search
I have access to all available property listings in Whistler and will work with you to match properties to your criteria and together we’ll create a short list.
Click here to see my current featured properties: Featured Whsitler Properties.
2. View properties together in person
We'll organize a tour of the properties on your short list at a time that is convenient to you. This will take place over one or more days to enable you to narrow down your search to your preferred property.
3. Offer (Contract of Purchase and Sale)
Once you have identified your preferred property, we will prepare an offer to be presented to the Seller’s Agent. Some of the key components included in our offer will be:
Price: The price you (the home Buyer) are prepared to pay for the property.
Inclusions and Exclusions: A specific list of fixtures and fittings that are included or excluded from the sale.
Proposed Deposit: Once the deal is ‘firm’ (ie: All subjects have been removed), a deposit is usually paid by the home Buyer into the trust account of the Buyer’s Real Estate brokerage. The deposit is typically 5-10% of the offer price.
Subject Conditions: These are further specific terms to which the offer is conditional. Typical subject conditions include financing, building inspections, review of strata documentation, etc. Each of these 'subjects' will have a date by which the buyer must complete them. This allows you, the buyer, time to conduct further inspection of the property and arrange financing, while having the security of an agreed contract before incurring the cost and time involved.
Completion Date: The date on which the outstanding balance is paid across to the Seller and title is transferred to the Buyer, and the contract thereby completes. Building insurance must be in place as of this date.
Possession Date: The date on which the Buyer takes formal possession of the property.
4. Counter offer
The Seller may return the contract amended with their own preferable terms and conditions. Examples may include a different price or date for completion. At this point, you as the buyer have the choice to either accept these amended terms, or re-counter with your own set of new terms -- A different price, for example. This negotiation process will continue back and forth until both parties have agreed to all terms.
When both the Buyer and Seller agree to all the terms and conditions in the contract, the deal is said to be “accepted”. Upon acceptance, the buyer will commence their due diligence on the property in order to satisfy their subject conditions like completing a building inspection, reviewing strata documentation, arranging financing, etc. The Buyer typically has a period of roughly 2 weeks from acceptance in which to remove subjects.
6. Deal is ‘Firm’ (subject removal)
Once subjects have been removed, a firm and binding contract exists. The deposit is paid across into the trust account at our brokerage within 48 hours of the contract becoming firm. I will assist with arranging a lawyer to convey the purchase for you, and put you in contact with the appropriate organizations you need for your new home like accountants, phone companies, hydro/electricity, etc.
Completion usually takes place 2-6 weeks after the contract is 'firm'. The balance of the purchase price is paid across to the Seller and the title is transferred to the Buyer. You are now the proud owner of your new Whistler home - congratulations!
Home Buying Costs
In addition to the actual purchase price of your property, there are some additional costs you will need to budget for. They are summarized as follows:
Property Transfer Tax (PTT): PTT is an unavoidable provincial tax on the transfer of all real estate in British Columbia. The tax is calculated as follows: 1% of the first $200,000, and 2% of the remainder of the purchase price. This tax is payable at completion and is usually included on the Buyer's statement of adjustments by the Buyer's lawyer or notary.
First time buyers may be eligible for a PTT exemption on the purchase of property in Whistler pending the satisfaction of various criteria – I’ll be happy to explain this process in greater detail at your request.
Legal Fees: Legal fees will vary depending on the complexity of the transaction and are usually $1,000-$1,500 plus disbursements plus HST. Your legal representative will review your contracts, search the title, draft mortgage documents and facilitate the transfer and registration of title. Costs will vary depending on your requirements. I have a shortlist of highly capable lawyers and would be happy to refer you to one who best suits your needs.
Home inspection: If you choose to conduct an inspection [which I highly recommend in almost all transactions], costs are typically $250-$1,000, depending on the size of the property and complexity of the inspection. I would be pleased to advise you on the value of having a home inspection performed on your chosen property and can recommend reputable local home inspectors.
Goods and Services Tax (GST): GST is 5% on new construction and substantially renovated properties, and also on Phase 1 properties that have previously been used for commercial purposes (i.e. for short term rentals where the seller is a GST-registrant). A buyer of an GST-applicable Phase 1 property can, like the previous owner, defer the payment of GST by becoming a GST registrant and continuing to make the property available for short term rental. However, a change of use of a Phase 1 property to fulltime residential by a new owner may trigger the requirement to pay GST on the purchase price.
If you are interested in Phase 1 property I recommend that you seek independent advice from your accountant regarding GST and how it might affect you.
Realtor's Commissions: As a buyer, you won't pay realtor's commissions on your purchase. The Seller pays all commissions.
Appraisal: Your lender may require a property appraisal at your expense. Costs vary but are typically $200-$500.
Site survey: Your lender may require an up-to-date survey. If the Seller does not have one, you may have to absorb the costs to have one done, or alternatively you may be able to pay for title insurance.
Insurance: You are, of course, advised to insure your property, and if you have mortgage financing it is mandatory. This insurance should run from 12.01a.m. on the day of completion. In the case of townhouses and condos, the strata will insure the building itself but you must purchase insurance for your contents and liability.
Property Tax: Property tax is levied annually and paid to the Municipality of Whistler. It is determined by applying the value of the property as assessed by the provincial assessment authority to the current tax rates as stated by the local tax authority. The amount can differ each year but generally Property Tax falls between 0.5-1.0% of the home's market value.
Strata Fees: These are monthly fees that typically cover the costs of building insurance, building maintenance, snow removal, garbage removal, and recreation facilities in condo buildings only. Fees vary depending on the level of services provided by the strata and are usually available on the listing data sheet.
Tourism Whistler Fees: This is a quarterly fee levied on Phase 1 and Phase 2 property, based on the number of beds in a property. The sum payable is significantly reduced if the property is not rented commercially. The funds raised from this levy go towards the marketing of Whistler both nationally and internationally, to the benefit of all Whistler income property owners.
Standard Forms For Buying Real Estate
When you choose to engage a licensed agent to help you navigate the process of buying your home, there are several forms for us to fill out together as we move through the process.
These forms include:
1. Working with a Realtor Pamphlet
This is an informational pamphlet that provides information about the legal Agency relationship between a Realtor and their clients (Buyers and Sellers alike), as well as information concerning the Privacy Act as it relates to your personal information. This form is not a contract; it is simply a "sign as having read" document.
2. Disclosure of Remuneration Form
Prior to you making an offer, we are required to disclose to you, as a Buyer, the total commissions and any other remuneration we expect to receive as a result of your buying real estate in Whistler.
3. Limited Dual Agency Agreement Form
In the event that I may be acting for both Buyer and Seller in a transaction, both parties will be required to sign a Limited Dual Agency Agreement, acknowledging that as a realtor, I have disclosed that relationship. When acting in a limited dual agency capacity, my fiduciary duties to both parties are slightly modified, making me unable to reveal reasons for the sale/purchase, any personal information about the Buyer or Seller, or the financial limits of either party.
4. Contract of Purchase and Sale
This is the most significant document you will see during the Buying process. It's very straightforward and I’ll help you understand it and complete it correctly.
5. Subject Removal Form
If you have any subjects in your offer (Contract of Purchase and Sale), in order to make your offer firm and binding, you'll have to "remove" these subjects. This is accomplished by simply inserting the words, "To remove the following subjects" at the top of an addendum to your contract and reprinting the subjects you wish to remove below.
6. FINTRAC Form
This is a mandatory form, required for the purchase or sale of all Real Estate in Canada. It has been instituted in an attempt to reduce money laundering and organized crime activity related to Real Estate. It requires Buyers and Sellers to produce qualifying ID to their agent. Your purchase cannot proceed without this form being submitted complete.
7. Legal: Conveyance and Mortgage Documents
Your legal representative [either lawyer or notary] will handle these documents for you and explain what is needed to complete your purchase.
The purchase of Real Estate in Whistler, Canada by non-residents is a well-trodden path, and you’ll be joining the myriad of international owners who already enjoy their Whistler lifestyle investment.
My team and I are highly experienced in assisting international buyers and will be delighted to assist you in your search for the perfect Whistler home. Please watch this video to help you gain a better understanding of the aspects of buying and selling Real Estate in Whistler, Canada:
Mortgage financing in Canada
As a non-resident, mortgage financing is generally available at up to 65%. That means you'll need 35% of your total purchase price as a down payment in order to process a transaction. Some lenders may require 40% or more depending on your circumstances and the property. Qualifying for mortgage financing in Canada is similar to other countries and can usually be accomplished via fax and e-mail. The mortgage approval may take a few days and a mortgage broker will advise you what information they need. As a borrower, you’ll require the services of a Canadian lawyer or notary public to prepare the mortgage documents and registration at the Land Titles office. Documents can be couriered outside Canada for signing - this can be arranged with the lawyer and lender well in advance of the completion date. We can put you in touch with mortgage brokers (their services are generally paid for by the mortgage provider).
Costs to purchase real estate in Whistler are the more or less the same for residents and non-residents.
In the Whistler Real Estate market, the Seller pays realtor commissions, so as a Buyer you do not pay any commissions. The Seller typically pays one commission, which is then split between the Buyer's and Seller's realtors.
Given the potential complexity of offshore real estate transactions we recommend that as a non-resident purchaser you retain a lawyer to facilitate your transaction. We are able to recommend lawyers familiar with acting for international buyers with respect to real estate transactions in Whistler.