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It all adds up!

Open House + Free Home Buying Seminar = November 12, 2014
Join our home buying seminar with industry experts. # 1 Athletes Way, Second Floor To pre-register:



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New and Improved: First time home buyers-- learn about new trends, forecasting, ROI and more in this newly REVAMPED and RECHARGED home buying seminar. Published Author and Realtor along with industry experts Alma Pasic, Glenn Duxbury and Patricia Wright. Pre-register as space is limited.

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Price of Style- Market Watch by Geraldine Santiago



I subscribe to a fantastic magazine called Canadian House and Home. I tend to keep the editions that I like the MOST. This special anniversary edition was published December 2006 to commemorate 20 Years of the Best- the houses, the people, the stories with Lynda Reeves editor.


They noted on house prices in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver in 1986 and twenty years later----2006.  House prices, landscaping cost, a gallon of interior wall paint, 200-thread-count cotton sheets, etc. have all gone up in price.  There are a few items that have decreased such  as 20" box TV, and track lighting are a few things that in 2006 are cheaper.


Now fast forward all the way to 2014 and house prices have just sky rocketed! Why has the Canadian real estate market and especialy Vancouver been so expensive?  


Plain and simple- it's such an attractive city to live, work, study and play!  On a recent family trip to Seattle,by car, we somehow got lost.  I wanted to ask the other car driver for directions and my husband warned me that I could get shot by doing so, just because Americans are allowed to carry guns.  There you have it, my friends!  That's why Canada is an attractive place to live.  


I've been lucky enough to travel all around the world ever since I was young.  I've visited many countries and when it comes down to it, nothing truly beats our Canadian lifestyle. That's why when it comes to real estate, many others new to our country find it attractive to live here!





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January 21, 2008

This letter is in reference to Geraldine Santiago and her relationship with the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. Geraldine has been facilitating workshops and seminars on Real Estate and Buying Your First Home for our community centre over the past six years. I have no doubt that the programs she runs have benefited her participants as well as our community centre.

Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kathryn Sweetapple, Recreation Programer II
Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre

For more information on our next home buying/ selling seminar, please visit my website at

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May 4, 2007


Dear Geraldine,


I'd like to thank you very much for arranging and presenting the program on First Time Home Buying at the New Westminster Public Library on Tuesday, April 10, 2007.


What a great program you have developed!  There is so much to know about buying a home; it can be quite daunting for a first time homebuyer.  It was an excellent idea to invite people with different expertise to speak to their field (mortgage, realty, inspection and legal).  Everyone had excellent information to give in their area and the audience of 63 seemed to really appreciate the presentation.  It was also very generous of you to provide a free copy of your book to everyone that wanted it.


Thanks again for taking the time to come to the library.  I hope we can have your team come again.


Yours truly,


Debra Nelson

Community Services Librarian 

New Westminster Public Library

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What Experts Think About Vancouver's Affordability- October 4, 2013


Taken from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's "The Open House"


Is Vancouver's affordability a problem?  And if it is, are there solutions?  The UBC Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate decided to find out by hosting a panel of four experts on the subject.


Panel members agreed that Vancouver now ranks as the second most unaffordable city on earth, just aftter Hong Kong and well ahead of London (seventh place), and New York (12th place), according to the 2013 Demographis International Housing Survey.


Given the wide-ranging concerns this topic generates, it's no surprise that September 17, 2013 session was standing-room only.


HIghlights of what the experts had to say:


Tsur Somerville, Real Estate Foundation of BC Professor in Real Estate Finance, and Director, UBC Centre of Urban Economics and Real Estate, Sauder School of Business


"The idea that affordability has suddenly worsented is not new. Its been around since the 1980's" said Sommerville.


"But rather than it being a housing issue, it's more of an income issue," explained Somerville, noting that median incomes are lower in Vancouver than in Regina or Saskatoon--which are far more affordable cities.


Why is Vancouver so popular despite high housing price?" Vancouver is a high-amenity city," explained Somerville. It's attractive to college graduates and higher-income earners who are prepared to pay for amenities because they get significant value in return.  "This process, known as income sorting, drives up rents and housing costs," says Sommerville.




Robert Helsley, Dean, UBC Sauder School of Business


"In Vancouver, the ratio of a median house price to income is now eight," explained Helsely.  "This means the median price of a home is more than eight times the median household income."


Is that too high?--" Housing prices are deteremined by a process of idding. Housings costs are higher in Vancouer because people want to live here for the high qualify of life and are prepared to pay for it," said Helsely.


Helselsy noted that some of the most affordable housing is located in Detroit, but with few amenities, not many people want to lie there any more.


"  We have nothing to fear from density. It doesn't destroy surrounding neighbourhoods. It helps preserve them."  Michael Goldberg, Professor and Dean Emiritus, UBC Sauder School of Business


Michael Goldberg, Professor and Dean Emeritus , UBC School of Business


Is housing affordable?  "Yes and no," said Goldberg.  "Remember that half of all sales are below the median price."


What can we do? Slow demand? Stop migration? Raise taxes? Stop mortgage lending?


Plan B, according to Goldberg, would include cutting approval times, rezoning land in advance, and fixing costs such as development cost charges.


Stanley Hamilton, Emeritus Professor, UBC Sauder School of Business


When Hamilton moved to Vancouver in the 1960s, his professor's salary didn't qualify him for a mortgage because his annual housing costs would have been more than 32% of his total household income.


"The bank wasn't going to change their rules for me, so we sold our car and our couch to increase our down payment."  


Hamilton thinks its time to reconsider the 32% rule.


Foreign ownership


What role do foreign investors play in driving high housing prices?


"Is Vancouver becoming a vacation city like Aspen, where homes sit vacant for much of the year? asked Hamilton. "In Dunbar, many of my retiree neighbours head to Palm Springs for in the winter. Is this any different?


"Foreign ownership is not a problem, it's a solution, " explained Dr. Goldberg.  "We are a diverse city and we welcome immigration.


The solution?


Goldberg sees a key solution as higher density and height along major streets and transit corridors and in commercial zones.


"Density stabilizes neighbourhoods by letting residents such as empty-nesters, stay in their homes or neighbourhoods as they age and their housing needs change."


At the same time density helps preserve the character of the interior of the neighbourhoods.  "Looka at Kerrisdale and the Arbutus and West 12th Avenue neighbourhoods, which have benefitted from density. Also look at the Coal Harbour and Yaletown neighbourhoods."


To read the Demographia study, go to:



Another solution, in my humble opion....


I believe that RRSP used for a down payment of a first home should not have to be repaid if you are buying your primary residence.


At the moment, you can borrow from your own  RRSP funds but it is repayable up to fifteen years.  According to a February 2014 Sun Life report, 24% of Canadians, when they retire will be using their primary home as a source of income.  If this is the case, their RRSP funds to help purchase their first home would come to fruition here. In addition, the threshold sould be as much as possible.  




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Arm yourself with information.  First Time Home Buyer's Tote Bag:  My tote bag for First time home buyers includes: "the Complete Home Buyer's Guide for Canadians" ,Self-Counsel Press Ltd. by Geraldine Santiago, Real Estate Author and Realtor, "The Condominium Manual" by Mike Mangan-- A Comprehensive Guide to Strata Law in BC and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's, "Condominium Buyer's Guide". Get your copies today- give me a call to set up an appointment at (604) 76-HOUSE.
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There are four basic steps you need to get to buy your home.  Join our 13th Annual home buying seminar this Fall, November 13, 2014, from 7-9pm.  Pre-register through 

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To Read the Entire Article, with Interview by Geraldine Santiago, Realtor, Click Image

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Are you interested in buying or selling real estate in Vancouver?  We'll show you the importance of your property's lot and zoning in relation to future values.  Join our seminar, April 12, 2014 from 1-3pm. Pre-register as space is limited.  To register, go to

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To Read this article, please click this link:

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Announcing the “Love Thy Neighbor Real Estate Seminar” – Presenting New Strategies for Optimizing Land Values in Vancouver, BC

Learn essential insights into how to jointly market properties to Developers and Builders


Vancouver, BC – Feb 26, 2014 – How can real estate sellers take advantage of the densification trend in Vancouver, BC? By looking to their neighbors’ properties when listing their own for sale. This Spring might be the best time to jointly list your property with your neighbor’s to obtain the optimal sales price. The upcoming “Love Thy Neighbor” seminar will provide critical steps to enable attendees to take advantage of this new listing trend.


As the demand for mid-rise housing continues throughout Vancouver, developers and builders find themselves continually challenged in finding large enough lots to build on within city limits for low-rise, mid-rise and small to medium multi-house dwellings. If a neighboring property is being listed at the same time as your property, there are techniques for bundling these two listings to achieve increased real estate values for the two properties.


“The lack of land and the desire for people to live in Vancouver has made densification the only choice for builders in Metro Vancouver,” says Geraldine Santiago, REMAX Realtor and published author.”If you have a property, especially along a transit corridor, and your neighbor is considering selling at the same time, you are in a unique position to bundle your properties to attain the highest property value. My team of experts have the tips, techniques and suggestions for leveraging this opportunity.”


Capacity within Metro Vancouver will continue to grow with the present population of the area estimated at 2.3 million and it is expected to increase by almost 50 percent to 3.4 million by 2041.  Without densification and the building of more laneway homes, in-fill, coach houses, duplex and triplexes, builders and developers will not be able to meet demand.


Do you know how to approach your neighbor about co-listing your properties? Are you aware of your area’s zoning options? Do you know how to partner with your listing agent to maximize your property’s value? Questions like these will be answered at this innovative seminar.




“My team and I ave been listing West side real estate in Vancouver for over 11 years,” says Ms. Santiago, “and now is one of the best times to co-list and bundle properties for sale. Learn the best practices for successfully taking advantage of this new trend at our upcoming seminar.”




To register for the event:


About the Organizer


Ms. Santiago is a licensed RE/MAX Realtor and published author of "The Complete Home-Buyer's Guide for Canadians", "Selling Your Home in Canada" and "Buy and Sell Recreational Property in Canada", Self Counsel Press Ltd. She is also an International Real Estate Specialist (I.R.E.S.) specializing in marketing local properties globally. She is a respected lecturer delivering seminars for over ten years on buying and selling Vancouver real estate. Contact Geraldine at or, cell 604-764-6873 and RE/MAX Crest Realty (Westside) Independently Owned and Operated. Member of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.


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Announcing the Subdivide and Conquer Seminar – New Trends in Selling Real Estate in Vancouver, BC

For sellers in Vancouver looking to dramatically increase the value of their property and sell quickly


Vancouver, BC – Feb 28 2014 – Sellers of real estate in the Vancouver market can seize on an emerging trend that not only increases the value of their property but makes it sell more quickly. As the demand for mid-rise housing continues throughout Vancouver, it is not only where your property is located that is important, it is the associated lot size and zoning that needs to considered. The “Subdivide and Conquer” seminar being held on April 12, 2014 will capitalize on this new trend by providing proven insights from experts in the field.


“Vancouver residents want more affordable units for families,” says Geraldine Santiago, REMAX Realtor and published author, “a lot of the downtown construction features small layouts that appeal to couples or empty nesters. But, what happens when genY and Xers in these buildings decide to have children? Capacity is needed and developers and builders are seeking options.”


Lot size and zoning are now key components of your sales strategy when pricing and marketing real estate in Vancouver. Builders and developers are continuing to buy up properties to meet the continued demand for family housing within city limits. 


Do you know your property’s zoning options? Zoning not only refers to the division of land into two parcels, but it can include consolidation of two or more parcels into a single site, the adjustment of an existing property line or dedication of land for road or lane purposes. 


If you are looking to sell your Vancouver property, seize upon the opportunity to learn about how best leverage subdividing to optimize your property’s value by attending the “Subdivide and Conquer” seminar on April 12, 2014. Topics will include: laneway homes; in-fill and coach houses; duplex; triplex; and architects, builders/developers.


“Vancouver’s real estate market has an appetite for transactions but it’s difficult to find deals,” states Santiago, “learn how to best position your property with new trends in zoning.”



To register for the event:    Or, email: or call (604) 764-6873


About the Organizer


Ms. Santiago is a licensed RE/MAX Realtor and published author of "The Complete Home-Buyer's Guide for Canadians", "Selling Your Home in Canada" and "Buy and Sell Recreational Property in Canada", Self Counsel Press Ltd. She is also an International Real Estate Specialist (I.R.E.S.) specializing in marketing local properties globally. She is a respected lecturer delivering seminars for over ten years on buying and selling Vancouver real estate. Contact Geraldine at or, cell 604-764-6873 and RE/MAX Crest Realty (Westside) Independently Owned and Operated. Member of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.


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In real estate,  they say that one of the most important aspects of your property is its location--, "Location, location, location". Location is very important, it's true.  There's a difference between North side and South side, West side and East side.  Values of homes in Shaughnessy are different than that of  Dunbar, or Kitsilano or Kerrisdale.  But when it comes to real estate in the Greater Vancouver area,  it's all about your LOT!  Lot size and zoning are equally important when selling your home. 

Your property's location and zoning will determine the type and size of home you can build, and in today's market, when laneway homes, in-fill housing,  and secondary basement suites are allowed to be built in addition to the main house, zoning is extremely important! Is your property zoned for a duplex, triplex?  What about selling to builders? Have you and your neighbours ever thought about selling your homes and that of your neighbours on the same block, to builders?



If you are thinking of selling your house, look at its zoning and do your own research as to what is allowed by the city. Take a good, close look around your neighbourhood to see what newer homes look like, and look at the allowable square footage of the new home. 

The face of Vancouver real estate is changing rapidly.  Are you aware of your property's full potential?  Are you in the 'know' of what your neighbours have been doing to get top dollar when they sell to builders, for their property?



Perhaps you are thinking of consulting an architect to draw up some plans to show potential builders or buyers what your home could look like.  This extra time and effort on your part could be well worth it when selling your home.

But before you do anything, why not join our two hour FREE seminar? We'll show you how you could maximize your home to builders and sell it for top dollar.  You could just be sitting on Camelot!  Space is limited. Pre-registration required. 

To register, click on the link below. 







Geraldine Santiago, Published Author and Realtor


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13th Annual RE/MAX First Time Home Buyer Seminar


Want to know about buying your very first home, but don't know where to start?

First-time home buyer? Young buyer? Move-up buyer? New immigrant? Come and join our seminar! It is a  two hour seminar chocked-full of information that will educate you. 

Our Mission: To empower, enlighten, and educate first time home buyers. We'll teach you how to buy smart in this market, or any market. Get educated so that you will be confident in the choice you will make. 

Industry experts will discuss the entire process, from pre-approval all the way to possession day!

Geraldine Santiago, published author of the "Complete Home Buyer's Guide for Canadians" and licensed Realtor, along with industry experts-- Alma Pasic, Glenn Duxbury and Marcia Jean-Baptiste from CMHC present a 25 minute presentation.  

Topics to be discussed: the importance of each professional and what their roles are, contingency funds and special assessments, building envelopes, how to avoid leaky condo's, legal documents. binding contracts, costs and more! 

PLUS:  Find out about what the market is doing. We'll show you how to read market statistics and learn how to use this information to get the best possible price.  What are sub-areas doing? The market is different from North Vancouver, to Richmond, to Burnaby--knowing how much prices are being discounted (and not) in these areas will give you a heads up on your negotiation process. The market is constantly changing in all areas-- is it hot or cold?  If so, which ones are?--A FREE market evaluation are given to all who attend.  Don't miss it!


CAN'T ATTEND that day but are still interested in our seminar?  Don't worry!  Simply fill out the form and request of our webinar to be sent to your email.  You'll be able to watch our seminar at your own leisure.



"Geraldine Santiago has done many workshops for the Renfrew Park Community Centre. Home buying seminars at the Renfrew Park Community Centre were well attended. She prepared for her seminars and never hesitates to stay to answer any of the participant's questions. "

Cheryl Palidda Recreational Programmer
Renfrew Park Community Centre
Photo: " Geraldine Santiago has done several workshops for the Renfrew Park Community Centre.  Home buying seminars at the Renfrew Park Community Centre were well attended. She prepared for her seminars and never hesitates to stay to answer any of the participant's questions. "

Cheryl Palidda Recreational Programmer
Renfrew Park Community Centre





Partially Sponsored by CMHC and Real Estate Weekly Newspaper

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Success-- Thank you for attending our home buying seminar!





Thank you to all who attended our 12th Annual Home Buying Seminar at the Creekside Communinty Centre last week.  We had a great turn out and a lot of first time home buyers wanting to get empowered!  It was great!  

We also understand how difficult it is for some people to actually attend our seminar, so we are giving everyone the chance to get a copy of each presenter's powerpoint presentation.  For those who haven't received theirs yet, please send us a quick email and we will be happy to send it to you in pdf form by email!

We're already planning for next year's seminar- so stay tuned and we will announce the date!


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Free Home Buying Seminar at the Richmond Public Library, Ironwood Branch, October 8th, 2013

We're here to help!





Glenn Duxbury, Geraldine Santiago and Alma Pasic at the Ironwood Public Library, Richmond Branch



Alma Pasic, Verico Wizard Financial on the Advantages of a Pre-Approval 


Geraldine Santiago, RE/MAX Agent ahd Real Estate Publshed Author on Realtors and their Role 




Glenn Duxbury, Certified Home Inspector on the Importance of a Home Inspector


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Parents or grandparents giving you gift monies for a down payment for your first home? Find out new mortgage rules by attending our first time home buyer seminar November 13, 2013! Register on-line through Eventbrite at or go to our website at 
Can't make it on that day to our seminar? Don't worry! Simply register on Eventbrite and we'll send you a free copy of our webinar by email so you can watch our presentation any time!

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Free Monthly Statistics Available in Your Area



Thinking of buying your first home and wonder what the statistics are all about? Attend our first time home buying seminar November 13, 2013 at #1 Athlete's Way, from 7-9pm.  We'll provide you with lots of information, resources and meet experts in the industry!

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New book arms first-time home buyers with information.--  Wednesday, November 12, 2003 Real Estate Weekly.

This book is still providing first time home buyers with the information they need today--  10 years later!



The old adage that buying a home is the most important investment you'll make during your lifetime still rings true today.  And for many Canadians, the time to buy a home has never been better.


The Complete Home Buyer's Guide for Canadians, published by Self-Counsel Press and written by Vancouver based realtor Geraldine Santiago, will make it easier for home buyers-especially first-time home house hunters to make this critical investment.


Recent media headlines have made many pronounsements about the booming housing market and its attractiveness for first-time home buyers: "Housing Most Affordable since 2001 with Cheap Mortgages," "Investment In HOmes Looking Better," "Low Interest Rates Propel House Construction," "Gen-Y- Next Big Wave of Home Buyers."  Not surprisingly more and more Canadians are ready to buy their first home, or purchase their next house or condominium.  


Author Santiago says, "This is a great time for people to buy their first home. Relatively low interest rates have kept the costs of home ownership at near historic lows."


But for the first-time home buyer, the process can be intimidating and worrisome.


The Complete Home buyer's Guide for Canadians is written by an experienced real estate agent who specializines in working with first-time home buyers. The book is written in a step=by-step manner, guiding the home buyer from obtaining financing to the final paperwork.  It includes information on:


The buying process

Arranging for financing

Homeowner grants

Tax exemptions

The inspection

The final paperwork


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If you are ever in a hot housing market, when everyone seems to be in a buying frenzy, expect to be in a multiple offer situation.  Of course, if you are a first time home buyer, and new to the home buying process, this process can undoubtedly be even more frustrating, worrisome and nerve-racking . To compete or not to compete?  How will I survive? Will I survive?  What should I do?


As a first time home buyer, making an offer to purchase a property is nerve wracking enough without being in a multiple bid situation. But, if you are seriously thinking about placing an offer, here are a few tips that could help you.

1. it is good to know just how many people are going to place an offer on the property.  In some cases, there might be buyers who, for whatever reason, back out of the deal entirely even when they say they will write an offer. Though there might be discussion of multiple bids and offers, one doesn't really know for sure just how many people will be competing against your offer because all offers must be in writing. It could be the case for buyers, facing the same challenges, might want to opt out of writing a contract, for fear of loosing or competing with another buyer altogether.

2. Give your real estate agent the letter of commitment you have received from your financial institution. Adding this along with th contract of purchase and sale shows the seller that you are a serious buyer.

3. Be flexible on the seller's dates.  Find out what dates the sellers prefer and be as accommodating as possible to their dates instead of your own.


Good luck, I hope this helps!


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By Geraldine Santiago, Author and Realtor


If you are thinking about buying a unit in an older building (as many first -time home buyers do), you will need to look at the entire scope of your purchase.  The unit itself might be newly renovated and well-designed with granite countertops and hardwood floors throughout, but you need to think of the over-all health of the building as well. 

Here are some things you need to find out, and check for yourself:

 * Go over the Minutes in detail, highlighting any issues there may be regarding the building's health.  Look for issues from owners or tenants complaining about 'water ingress', 'leaks from balconies, windows or any other exterior areas', etc.

*When going over the minute (typically 2 years worth of minutes), see if the strata council is pro-active in maintaining, addressing and following up on concers of the owners.


Look to see if they are meeting monthly,or yearly?  If they are meeting yearly, is there a reason?  How many units are there in the building?

*Look to see if there are any assessments forthcoming, and if so for what?  And how much?  What are the strata council's plans?

*Look to see if there were any assessments in the past, and if so, for what?  How much?  What are the details? 

* Look at the contingency or reserve fund. Find out from the management company as to whether or not they are going to increase the maintenance funds for any repairs.  Find out how much the contingency fund is at present by looking at the Form "B".

*Look at the date of the Form "B" to make sure that it is current. (No more than 2 months as things could change.)

*Go over the financial statements and look to see if the operating budget is adequate or are they running a deficit year after year? Is it managed properly?

*Find out if the building has been rainscreened.  If so, who did the rainscreen, what type of warranties may be in place.

*Ask for a copy of the warranty provider, and any other details pertaining to the rainscreen/building envelope/assessment/engineer's report/engineer follow-up/maintenance programs/certification, etc.

*Look at the systems of the building, such as roof, plumbing, boiler system, electrical, parkade, elevator, and other common areas.

*How many are owner-occupied  vs. tenant occupied properties?

*Look for a certified home inspector with an errors and ommissions insurance who is familiar with the area.  Home inspectors can be found through their associations.  Unless they have the credentials to report on building envelopes or exteriors, he or she will not be a good candidate to report on those areas.  choose your home inspector wisely.

After going through the above checklist, you should also be realistic about your purchase.  Look at the age of the building, general condition of the building, and look at what you can afford in the area.  Look at the value of the property you are purchasing. 

You may have to live with small deficiencies such as older appliances, carpets that need to be changed or cleaned and so on.  But you need to outweigh the purchase price of a newer property versus the one that you are purchasing. There may be small assessments in the future that you need to deal with, but older buildings need to be properly maintained as this will add value when you sell your unit later down the road. 

Oftentimes, you may have to compromise some aspects of your purchase or make trade-offs.  Remember, your first home purchase will not be the final home purchase.  You are building equity and taking small, 'baby steps' in this real estate journey!  Good luck!  I hope this helps!

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Buyers Beware--Oil Tanks Abound Underground! by Geraldine Santiago

Realtor and Author


Many underground oil storage tanks in Canada have reached the end of their useful lives and are beginning to corrode, rust, and leak.  Leaking fuel oil tanks may create several hazards.  Oil and its varpours can--


  • generate a potentiall explosive mixture
  • enter surface water
  • enter drinking water
  • contaminate surrounding (your neighbour’s) soil and property


For a first time home buyer, who would think of searching for an underground oil tank?  It is difficult to know whether or not a property has an oil tank in the back, especially if the oil tank is buried underground! There are some signs such as a long pipe found in the exterior of a home, or there may be a small pipe sticking out from the ground. Oil tanks can be burried in the back of the house, or the front of the house, there coul be one, two or even three of them on a property. They have been known to leak and contaminate neighbouring properties or even the property you are purchasing!


Most provinces and territories currently have safety standards for oil tanks.  If you suspect the home you are purchasing may have an oil tank, check with your REALTOR, and make sure you hire a home inspector who inspects the entire property.  Make your concerns known to the home inspector to watch out for oil tanks as there may even be more than one oil tank located on the property.  Look at the age of the house, and find out as much as you can from the previous owners.  Check the property condition disclosure statement (PCDS) as well as this is now included in some disclosure statements in Canada.


If the property you are purchasing has an oil tank, make sure that the sellers are responsible for the removal, clean up and disposal of the oil tank as this is a cost you don’t want to incur. As a buyer, make sure you receive documentation such as a certificate from the oil tank removal company and pictures of the removal and disposal so that when it is your turn to sell your property, all the documentation will be in order for a clean sale.


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Open House Etiquette by Geraldine Santiago

When shopping around for property, whether it is your first home or investment property, buyers need to acknowledge the fact that the property is someone's home and someone else's property.   Most showings for open houses are pre-scheduled so owners and tenants have time to get ready for the showings.  However, at times, open houses can be intrusive.  Showings can be intrusive for all- families with young or elderly children, pets, during holiays and special days, or when someone is sick at home. 


Be aware that there is absolutely no smoking inside the property while you are at an open house. There really should be no drinking, or eating either.  Please remove your shoes before entering the property unless the agent or owner advises you not to remove your shoes.  There could be renovations underway, and it might be safer for you to keep your shoes on. 

If you have young children, it might also be wise to allow them to view properties once you have already placed an offer.  Having to monitor your child's behavior at an open house, keeping them from wandering away from you, or keeping them from touching things might be a difficult task while you are trying to look at a property.

For showings, as a buyer, try your best to request after meals and during convenient times for the owner or tenant.  For viewings, most buyers do take photos of properties they are extremely interested in purchasing.  However, before taking out your camera, please ask your agent first for permission.

These are just some of the things you need to know as a buyer when looking at a property.  I hope this helps! 

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Foreclosures, Not for the Faint of Heart and Not for First time Home Buyers 


by Geraldine Santiago





When people think of foreclosures, they think it is synonymous  with ‘bargain’ or ‘cheap’.  But when you are buying real estate in Vancouver BC, this isn’t necessarily so. The foreclosure process is not for the faint of heart, nor for first time home buyers.


For one thing, unlike a regular sale, chattels (appliances such as dishwashers, stoves, washers and dryers, etc. as well as window coverings) are included in the purchase price.  In a foreclosure, chattels are not included at all.  Previous owners can take away their appliances if they wanted to, and the new buyers will have to replace them.


For another, there is no property condition disclosure statement (PCDS) attached to the sale of the property.  In a regular sale, buyers can be assured that there is some type of recourse if there was any misrepresentation or warranties that were not honoured.

However, in a foreclosure, the buyer is accepting the premises on an ‘as is, where is’ basis on completion of the sale. This means that the buyers acknowledge that there are no warranties or representations expressed or implied regarding the property.


And lastly, a first time home buyer may avail of ‘no down payment programs’ when purchasing a home.  This is not the case with a foreclosed property.  A buyer of a foreclosed property should have 5% at the very least as a down payment.


In a regular sale of a property, the offer and acceptance with the buyer and seller can take place relatively quickly.  However, foreclosures in Vancouver BC oftentimes experience competing bids which are sealed and subject to court approval.  This can be a long process where buyers are not only waiting for the paperwork and process to take its course, but also a process that might be more costly than buyers think.


The process of a foreclosed property is one that is not for the faint of heart, nor for first time home buyers, especially when purchasing in Vancouver BC.




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Real Estate Agents Aren't Just Sales People by Geraldine Santiago



According to Wikipedia, the word trustworthy is a moral value and considered to be a virtue.  It states that, ‘a trustworthy person is someone in whom you can place your trust.  A person can prove their trustworthiness by fulfilling an assigned responsibility--and as an extension of that, not to let down expectations’. In addition it states that, ‘a trustworthy person is someone that you can tell your worries and secrets to and know they won’t repeat them without your permission.’


When it comes to real estate, you would want your agent or REALTOR to be trustworthy.  Many people may not know this, but this quality is the very essence of your local REALTOR.  He or she is  someone you can trust, it is so written in the Real Estate Services Act. 


Just like any other professional, a lawyer, notary, doctor, dentist, teacher, REALTORS are bound by a strict code of ethics, covering confidentiality, privacy, competence and truth in advertising.  If you find that your REALTOR acted inappropriately or was unethical, you may want to take this up with the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC).  It is a regulatory agency established by the provincial government in 1958.  Its mandate is to protect the public interest by enforcing the licensing and licensee conduct requirements of the Real Estate Services Act.


The public sees us real estate agents merely as "sales people", it's true, in essense, we are sales people. But, we are also more than that. We wear many hats as agents. We are a chauffer-- we drive our clients around town from house to house. We are a concierge-  we are friendly, helpful, polite, engaging and know the local area. We are a receptionist-- we take calls, make appointments and arrange tours and open houses.  We are trained to write contracts and protect the interests of our client at all times. We have all taken many real estate courses on legal updates, ethics, real estate law, real estate contract writing. Some agents have a university or college degree, are involved in the community, or church, school. Some are published writers, can speak more than one language, are tech savvy and have developed a real estate app.  Some of us area all of these and more!  



If you are looking for an agent in your area, emai me and I can refer you to someone in my RE/MAX family!


Geraldine Santiago




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In real estate, the one thing everyone says is, "Location, location, location".  Location is very important, it's true.  There's a difference between North side and South side, West side and East side, Shaughnessy homes and values are different versus Dunbar properties and that of Kitsilano or Kerrisdale.  But these days, especially when we talk about real estate in the Greater Vancouver area, I believe that lot size and zoning are equally important when buying and selling your home.

Your property's location and zoning will determine the type and size of home you can build, and in today's market, when laneway homes, in-fill housing,  and secondary basement suites are allowed to be built in addition to the main house, zoning is extremely important!

If you are selling your house, look at its zoning and do your own research as to what is allowed by the city. Take a good, close look around your neighbourhood to see what newer homes look like, and look at the allowable square footage of the new home.

If you have the resources, you may also want to contact an architect to draw up some plans, to show potential buyers what your home could like like, once these plans are approved.  This will save potential buyers and possibly even developers, the trouble of having to do this themselves.  This extra time and effort on your part could be well worth it when you are selling your home.

If you are buying a single detached home,  look at the ZONING!!!  If you can see a home's potential, you could just be sitting on CameLOT!

I've seen properties in the Vancouver real estate market sell for more because the sellers took the time to do this extra work.  So though location is important, yes-- it's true, I believe that lot size and zoning is also equally important!


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Zoning, what is it good for? (Part One)   by Geraldine Santiago

Published Author, Licensed Realtor

When purchasing a property for the first time, prospective home buyers need to look at the zoning of the area.  If you are buying a property, this information is located on the MLS feature sheet prepared by the listing or selling agent.  You can do more research on-line by going to your municipality or city’s website to find out more about the zoning and by-laws for development. This will allow and restrict you if you were to build or intend to run a business from your home.  If you have already purchased your property, this information may be found on your title search as well as from the MLS listing and your BC assessment.  

Zoning protects and preserves the right of an owner to use his or her property through regulation. Zoning is carried out by the local government and specifies what types of buildings can be built. It specifies height restrictions of a building, types of businesses that can be carried out, and so on.  As a home owner or future home owner, it is always important to find out what your zoning is on your property.  

In strata titled properties for multi-dwelling residential buildings such as condominium, apartments, townhouses, and so on, there exist by-laws which set out specific uses and guidelines for the use of the property by its residents.  In single detached homes, there exist zoning by-laws and regulations which specifically addresses use and development for the area in question. Unless zoning allows it, one cannot just open a barber shop, or a convenience store from a your home or property.  That's exactly what zoning is for.

It is important to obtain a map of your city to know where the boundaries of zoning exist as they may also affect you.  A neighbouring factory, golf course, park, school can affect you in a positive and negative way. In addition, it should be noted that there may also be future changes in zoning, which could also affect your property as well. 

Recently in Vancouver, BC, there have been changes to certain zoning namely for RS, RT and RM zones which were adopted by City Council in July 2009. The City of Vancouver’s Land Use and Development had certain guidelines regarding a laneway house allowing laneway housing to be built on the property of the above mentioned zones. For a homeowner with this new zoning changes, what does it mean?  Find out in my next article  Zoning, what is it good for?  Part Two by Geraldine Santiago


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Zoning, what is it good for?  (part two)  by Geraldine Santiago

Licensed Realtor, Published Author


Go to to read part one 


The first part of this article addressed the importance of zoning and why it is important for home owners to find out what their zoning district is on their property and its adjacent areas.  I explained where you could find this information yourself, and to do your own due diligence when it comes to knowing your property.  Zoning could be an important part of a sale of property (both buying and selling) , so it is important to know what exactly this is. 

Recently in Vancouver, BC, there have been changes to certain zoning namely for RS-1 and RS-5 single-family dwelling which were adapted by City Council in July 2009. The City of Vancouver’s Land Use and Development had certain guidelines regarding a laneway house allowing laneway housing to be built on the property of the above mentioned zoning districts. You can go on-line to see where these zoning district areas exist and if your property is affected by this change.

The laneway housing project is similar to infill housing (you probably also hear the word coach house) in that new housing stock is created within an already established neighbourhood.  By doing so it utilizes existing municipal services as opposed to the creation of new housing stock in new outlying subdivision development.  

How does this affect you as a homeowner? The face of today’s homeowner is changing in Vancouver, BC. because of many factors.  The main factor is the fact that the price of homes in Greater Vancouver far surpasses the average household income, making it very difficult for first time home buyers to enter the housing market and  purchase a home on their own.  (Please read my article posted on my site posted on May 22nd, 2010  Where Have All the First Time Home Buyers Gone?)  

Because of the decrease in first time home buyers entering into the market, we are seeing multi-generation families all living under one roof. This can either be an adult child living in the basement of their parents’ home or seniors moving back in to live with their children for various socio-economic reasons. 

The advent of laneway housing somehow addresses the problem of affordable housing, sustainability which includes ecodensity and use of eco-friendly building materials.  The cost of a new single detached laneway residential home in Vancouver albeit a small home, under the laneway program, makes it affordable because the cost of land is not part of the equation. 

For many, this is a great way to own a home in the city, without the huge burden of a mortgage, and many lenders are seeing this as a great opportunity for homeowners to reinvest in their own backyard.

Opportunity?  Vancity thinks so.  In fact, Vancity has made it easy to look at your backyard as a great opportunity by providing laneway housing mortgage bundle.

Your laneway house can be a mortgage helper, income helper, more housing space, a caregiver suite, in-law suite, cottage for your out of town guests, home office.  All of which add value to your existing home.

The zoning by-laws, do have restrictions on allowable square footage, height, set backs, etc.  This information can be found on-line at  

Zoning is about planning, and it encompasses many aspects such as standards regarding frontage, lot size, set back from street, building heights, parking requirements, alteration of buildings, maximum density of population, the display of signs, sound and noise emitted from a building, and so on.  There are classifications and sub-classifications to zoning, such as residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, open space such as parks and recreation and environmentally sensitive/flood plain as well.  

The provincial ministry/department is responsible for planning and has the ultimate authority to zone any property within a province.   That's zoning--- and that is what it is good for!

For more information on laneway housing in Vancouver, BC, go to: or


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“Noise Pollution”,  the Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Geraldine Santiago


When purchasing a home, it is always good to listen to the noise or various sounds in the area. Yes, you heard me, I said, “noise”. This is easier said than done, as no doubt you are probably more focused on finding out more about the over-all health of the building (for first time home buyers purchasing a unit in a condo) and not that interested in the noise level in the unit and its surrounding areas.

What can you hear from the property you are considering purchasing? Dogs barking? Birds chirping? Music from a next door neighbour? Car or House alarm ringing? Renovations being done nearby? Noise, unfortunately, can detrimentally affect people’s health (sleep disturbance and increased stress). And this, my friend, is an important consideration when purchasing a property you are intending to live in for a long time!

If you work from home this is equally important as noise can ruin your concentration and your right to quiet and your right to enjoy your property.

In Vancouver, BC,  a “Noise Control Manual” focuses on noise control. As Vancouver is becoming more and more a densely populated city, with multiple family dwellings living closer and closer to each other, the noise that they make and the noise that we make can mutually bother and affect each other.   New residential buildings are often built and located within mixed use areas, where activities associated with commercial land uses. (Look at West Broadway and Vine) which can interfere with the enjoyment of those living nearby.

The reality is that noise is all around us.  We can somewhat prevent noise from disturbing and disrupting our lives but it will still be there. When buying a condo, look at the location of the unit if it faces a busy street, a park, parking-- all of which are signs of potential noise.  If the unit has double paned windows, that might be enough from hearing the traffic outside.  

In condos, you might want to see if there have been others bringing up noise problems and if any other owner has made arrangements in their unit to either insulate their floors, ceilings or walls.  What about being allowed to install some type of fan in the unit? I find that this mutes out the noise coming from the street.

Some people are more tolerant than others when it comes to noise. If noise is something that is important to you, for your “peace” of mind and quiet enjoyment, you might want to do some research on what your city is doing about noise pollution. In the City of Vancouver, the City works to manage noise through land-use planning, bylaws, traffic management and policing.  Look at the noise bylaw in your area.  The City’s Noise Bylaw regulates construction, vehicle, and household noise within Vancouver. For more details, go to

In addition, in Vancouver, an “Urban Noise Task Force” was created because of growing concerns about noise and its affects on everyday life.  The citizens’ group, with the assistance of City staff and Councillors, made a series of recommendations to the City for improving Vancouver’s soundscape, many of which are being implemented today.

Local citizens groups have worked towards having traffic noise levels in their neighbourhoods reduced, while others have encouraged ‘traffic calming’ measures. In East Vancouver’s Mt. Pleasant, you will see East 6th as a bicycle route, or traffic calming route thereby reducing the exposure to noise in this particular neighbourhood.  (I have a listing in Mt. Pleasant's on East 6th which is a traffic calming route, very quiet and a bicycle route. Please go to my website for more information on this one bedroom condo in Mt. Pleasant.)

In my next article, "Noise Pollution; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Part Two), I will address some of the ways you can actively remove noise pollution from your life!


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RE/MAX 10th Annual

First Time Home Buyer Seminar Fall 2013

 October 20th, 2013 

Mount Pleasant Community Centre




Have you thought about buying your first home but don't know where to begin?  This is one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime and our mission is to provide home buyers with the necessary information they need before home buyers start on their real estate journey to home ownership.


Join our informative and educational two hour seminar with guest speakers who are experts in their field.  Alma Pasic, Verico Mortgage Specialist, Geraldine Santiago, licensed Realtor with RE/MAX and published real estate author, Richard Bell of Bell Alliance Lawyers and Notaries Public and Glenn Duxbury, certified home inspector will all speak on buying your first home and how to take advantage of the market whether it is a buyer's market, a balanced market and a seller's market. 

You will not be disappointed!  We'll show you on how you can save money with a few simple tips!  Go home feeling empowered and informed!  This seminar is free-- register on-line as space is limited!



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Fast Forward to 2010 & First Time Home Buyers (In Canada)

by Geraldine Santiago, Author and Realtor

First time Home Buyer Expert, and



Fast forward to 2010, and first time home buyers have it GREAT.  Buyers today are actually better informed and equipped with knowledge thanks to the internet, ebooks, consumer’s advocacy groups than yesteryear when I purchased my very first home.


Back then, there were no zero per cent down so it was difficult for first time home buyers to get pre-approved for a mortgage as easily as today.  In addition, mortgage application forms are made easy today for the consumers.  One can get a pre-approval  on-line, with a computer and mouse! I remember when my husband and I went to the banks and it felt like they were pulling teeth--it was difficult for the banks to give us a home loan as we were new to the work force, and fresh out of University.  Actually, we were still in University. 


In addition, today there are buyer’s agents who represent the buyers and listing agents who represent the sellers.  At that time when we purchased, there was no clear definition or designation.  Now, I understand that in a year’s time, they will no longer have dual agency but DESIGNATED agency so that each party is best represented by their own agent.  That means for REALTORS and agents, there will be no double ending the deal.


Today, the MLS listings are posted on-line, through the Real Estate Board.  Before, we had to go through an agent and they were the ones who carried around this huge listings books as thick as the yellow pages and they would not lend it to buyers as it was too costly.  


REALTORS today encourage that consumers hire the services of a certified home inspector so that consumers can determine for themselves the health of the home.  Back then, it was not common to do so, and oftentimes, if one had a relative who was a plumber or electrician, they would “inspect’ the property with their limited capacity as a plumber or electrician.


So many things have changed from way back when I purchased my home, (as well as the price). Consumers can feel comfortable that they have the tools to get empowered.  This is why I wrote my book, the “Complete Home Buyer’s Guide for Canadians” because it has everything you need to know about purchasing today and why you should take the time to borrow it from your local library, your bookstore or friend!


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Where have all the first time home buyers gone?  According to a study by Ipsos Reid in Vancouver, first time home buyers are being pushed out of the housing market and statistics tell us that the numbers are dwindling. 


The price of housing in Vancouver has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years and far surpasses the average income.  First time home buyers, who are fresh out of University or college, have just entered the job market (and who may have student loans owing) have a difficult enough time saving for a down payment for the purchase of their first home.


Though first time home buyers are encouraged to use their registered retirement savings plan, RRSP for the down payment of their first home under the HBP or Home Buyer’s Plan, there are pitfalls to this.  For one, the maximum allowable withdrawal under the HBP is only $25,000 and in addition, this has to be repaid over 15 years.  


A single income buyer who, five years ago, could afford a one-bedroom in the Westside of Vancouver, is not able to do so anymore.  Instead, I am seeing first-hand that couples with dual incomes have to share the burden of making do with a modest one-bedroom apartment.



The solution is not as simple as one thinks because building more homes for the consumer has a huge price tag with land prices, labour and materials increasing year after year.  In addition, with HST looming, it will even be more unattractive for the first time home buyer to purchase with the cost of buying and borrowing adding to the expense. Vancouver itself has its own limitations being a port city.  In addition, mountains to the north are not yet developed for housing opportunities.  Lastly, there exist crown lands, endowment lands, and agricultural lands for the use of crops and agriculture which cannot be used for housing.


There should be greater incentives being given to the first time home buyer, such as not having to pay back the RRSP and having a higher limit in keeping with present market conditions.   


If no incentives are to be made to encourage the first time home buyer, there will not be a need in the future for new developments or housing.  The first time home buyer will not decrease but will be extinct with multi-generations living under one roof as first time home buyers will not be able to afford to purchase on their own.


Many first time home buyers would like to take advantage of low interest rates.  However, mortgage rates are only one factor in the decision to purchase a first home.  Buyers who were reluctant to buy a few years ago believed that the market would level off or cool down. When it would do so, these buyers hoped they could be able to buy under those market conditions.However, the housing market only cooled off for a brief period, and the advent of the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 only made it worse with both global and local investors speculating and entering the housing market in Vancouver.  



Though I have seen some first time home buyers and young couples purchase homes, they were able to do so with their parent’s gift monies.  However, for those who cannot seek the help of their parent’s financial aid, what is to be done? What is the solution?


Fast forward to 2025 when my children are at the age of home buying.  Will my children have to rent for the rest of their lives?  Home ownership has huge rewards such as forced savings from its equity, a roof over one’s head and stability. 



Is this a local problem or an global one?  Real Estate property prices are similar in Europe, and in particular Spain and the UK where price houses have soared in the past few years making it also equally unaffordable for locals. To the South of us,  in the United States, mortgage rates are also at a historic low, AND market prices have dropped, but still there are no buyers there either.  


What are your thoughts?   I'd love to hear from you!


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