The second Royal Bank of Canada Annual Mortgage Seminar was held in the evening of May 1 at the bank’s premises on Don Mackay Boulevard.
“Property Buying Made Easy” was the scope of the seminar which included presentations by two of the bank’s employees, Tamara Roberts and Brent Deveaux, as well as several presentations from real estate agents, appraisers, attorneys, insurance brokers and contractors.
The session was opened by Joyce Riviere, Area Vice President, who welcomed the assembly.
Tamara Roberts, Officer in Charge, Treasure Cay Branch, then laid out the purpose of the seminar, assuring the audience that “the bank wanted to put them in the best possible position to get a mortgage.”
She also went through an overall itemization of qualification procedures and outlined the expenses associated with applying for a mortgage besides the down-payment required to buy the property. She stressed the importance of good financial planning.
Brent Deveaux, a Senior Account Manager and Certified International Project Manager with the bank went into a detailed itemization of the requirements necessary to qualify for a mortgage, starting with pre-qualification to determine how much a prospect could afford. He outlined all the expenses that the bank takes into consideration to determine how much the buyer could afford and pointed out the fees and expenses associated with securing a mortgage.
Dwayne Wallas, a real estate agent and appraiser for HG Christie, spoke about selecting the right property. People choose a location for different reasons, but whether it is because it is close to work, to a school or to the place where one grew up, the right location is one of the major deciding factors for the price of a property.
Speaking about appraisal, Mr. Wallas stated that an appraisal is a third party independent opinion of value. It does not set value, only estimates it.
He advise people to buy a single family home rather than a duplex and also not to over-improve as more often than once, the money spent on certain improvements is not recovered when the house is sold. Kitchens and bathrooms, he explained, are the major determinant of the value of a home. Build a home keeping in mind that you might want to sell it one day.
The legal aspects associated with buying a property or obtaining a mortgage were covered by Attorney-at-Law with Alexiou and Knowles – Carlene Farquharson.
Ms. Faquharson stressed the importance of establishing the legal status of the property one intends to purchase. Find out if the property is in probate, if it part of an inheritance; ask for copies of the deeds and get a survey plan. Is the property in an established subdivision (with water and electricity access) or in an undeveloped area?
Negotiate the price in consideration of completing costs.
She explained some of the costs associated in buying, such as attorney’s fees that are 2.5% of the value of the transaction and stamp duty costs are usually divided between seller and buyer and can be as high as 10% depending on the price of the property; title search fees usually amount to $250-300.
She discussed the possibility of stamp duty exemption in certain cases. There is a first time home owner exemption on a developed property but no exemption on vacant land. The bank has the opportunity to go to the Exemption Unit on behalf of a client.
She reminded people that it takes approximately 21 days to have a mortgage approved.
Mr. Trevor Wallace, an engineer and property developer gave recommendations on choosing the right contractor and offered some tips on building.
When choosing a contractor, he advised, do not go with the cheapest bid. It is usually asking for trouble down the line. Get at least two bids, preferably three. Ask for references from previous clients and employees and go inspect some of the previous work of the contractor you think of employing.
Identify the necessary things in the house: floor plan, fixtures, tiles, etc. Start a booklet that you will share with the architect. The more prepared and the more precise you are will save you money in the long run. Get all the appropriate drawings on plumbing, electrical, gas and spell out all the fixtures, type of wood, ceilings, roof, etc so as not to leave anything out which could give the chance to a not-so-honest contractor to go with the cheapest materials.
Do not let workers eat in a house: they tend to throw their food containers in the walls inviting insects and rodents. Make sure all the connections for utilities are in place.
The last presenter was Gentry Morris, an insurance broker with Nagico. Mr. Morris reminded the audience of a few facts concerning insuring their homes.
“Remember,” he said, “that the appraised value takes the lot into consideration.” An insurance company does not insure the lot, only the house.
“The insurance industry does not go with the market value but with the replacement cost of a building. Every policy is on a replacement cost basis. But also beware of under-insuring: you only get a portion of what you insure.”
A new catastrophe -sub limit policy can help create savings for people stressed with coming up with the insurance premium.
After explaining the process of going through a claim, he urged people to insure their home for the right amount. Take photos and record what you have in the house.
The vote-of-thanks was proffered by Sylvia Poitier, an employee of both the Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay branches.
Refreshments of fresh fruits and finger foods were served after the seminar which adjourned after 7:00 pm.