Bob Sethi, B.Comm | 604.273.2828

 
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Top 25 grants and rebates for property buyers and owners

1. Home Buyers’ Plan

Qualifying home buyers can withdraw up to $25,000 (couples can withdraw up to $50,000) from their RRSPs for a down payment. Home buyers who have repaid their RRSP may be eligible to use the program a second time. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca. Enter ‘Home Buyers’ Plan’ in the search box | 1.800.959.8287

2. GST Rebate on New Homes

New home buyers can apply for a rebate of the federal portion of the HST (the 5% GST) if the purchase price is less than $350,000. The rebate is up to 36% of the GST to a maximum rebate of $6,300. There is a proportional GST rebate for new homes costing between $350,000 and $450,000. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca. Enter ‘RC4028’ in the search box | 1.800.959.8287

3. BC New Housing Rebate (HST)

Buyers of new or substantially renovated homes priced up to $525,000 are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion (7%) of the 12% HST paid to a maximum rebate of $26,250. Homes priced at $525,000+ are eligible for a flat rebate of $26,250. www.hstinbc.ca/making_your_choice/faqs/new_housing_rebate | 1.800.959.8287

4. BC New Rental Housing Rebate (HST)

Landlords buying new or substantially renovated homes are eligible for a rebate of 71.43% of the provincial portion of the HST, up to $26,250 per unit. http://www.hstinbc.ca/making_your_choice/faqs/new_housing_rebate | 1.800.959.8287

5. BC Property Transfer Tax (PTT) First Time Home Buyers’ Program

Qualifying first-time buyers may be exempt from paying the PTT of 1% on the first $200,000 and 2% on the remainder of the purchase price of a home priced up to $425,000. There is a proportional exemption for homes priced up to $450,000. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.rev.gov.bc.ca/rpt | 250.387.0604

6. First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC)

This federal non-refundable income tax credit is for qualifying buyers of detached, attached, apartment condominiums, mobile homes or shares in a cooperative housing corporation. The calculation: multiply the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2010) x $5,000. For the 2010 tax year, the maximum credit is $750. Canada Revenue Agency www.cra.gc.ca/hbtc | 1.800.959.8281

7. BC Home Owner Grant

Reduces school property taxes by up to $570 on properties with an assessed value up to $1,150,000. For 2011, the basic grant is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of value over $1,150,000, and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,264,000. An additional grant reduces property tax by a further $275 for a total of $845 for seniors, veterans and the disabled. This is reduced by $5 for each $1,000 of assessed value over $1,150,000 and eliminated on homes assessed at $1,319,000+. BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue www.rev.gov.bc.ca/hog or contact your municipal tax office.

8. BC Property Tax Deferment Programs

Property Tax Deferment Program for Seniors. Qualifying home owners aged 55+ may be eligible to defer property taxes.

Financial Hardship Property Tax Deferment Program. Qualifying low-income home owners may be eligible to defer property taxes.

Property Tax Deferment Program for Families with Children. Qualifying low income home owners who financially support children under age 18 may be eligible to defer property taxes.

BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenuewww.sbr.gov.bc.ca and enter ‘Property tax deferment’ in the search box or contact your municipal tax office.

9. Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) Grants

This federal program provides financial aid to qualifying low-income home owners to repair substandard housing. Eligible repairs include heating, structural, electrical, plumbing and fire safety. Grants are available for seniors, persons with disabilities, owners of rental properties and owners creating secondary and garden suites. www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/prfinas/prfinas_001.cfm | 1.800.668.2642 | 604.873.7408

10. CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance Premium Refund

Provides home buyers with CMHC mortgage insurance, a 10% premium refund and possible extended amortization without surcharge when buyers purchase an energy efficient mortgage or make energy saving renovations. www.cmhc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_008.cfm#reno | 604.731.5733

11. Energy Saving Mortgages

Financial institutions offer a range of mortgages to home buyers and owners who make their homes more energy efficient. For example, home owners who have a home energy audit within 90 days of receiving an RBC Energy Saver™ Mortgage, may qualify for a rebate of $300 to their RBC account. www.rbcroyalbank.com/products/mortgages/energy-saver-mortgage.html | 1.800.769.2511

12. Low Interest Renovation Loans

Financial institutions offer ‘green’ loans for home owners making energy efficient upgrades. Vancity’s Bright Ideas personal loan offers home owners up to $20,000 at prime + 1% for up to 10 years for ‘green’ renovations. RBC’s Energy Saver loan offers 1% off the interest rate for a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000 or a $100 renovation on a home energy audit on a fixed rate installment loan over $5,000. For information visit your financial institution. www.vancity.com/Loans/BrightIdeas and www.rbcroyalbank.com and in the search box enter ‘energy saver loan’.

13. LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program

Home owners improving the energy efficiency of their homes may qualify for cash incentives through this provincial program provided in partnership with Terasen Gas, BC Hydro, and FortisBC. Rebates are for energy efficient products which replace gas and oil furnaces, pumps, water heaters, wood stoves, insulation, windows, doors, skylights and more. The LiveSmart BC program also covers $150 of the cost of a home energy assessment, directly to the service provider.www.livesmartbc.ca/rebates | 1.866.430.8765

14. BC Residential Energy Credit

Home owners and residential landlords buying heating fuel receive a BC government point-of-sale rebate on utility bills equal to the provincial component of the HST. www.sbr.gov.bc.ca/documents_library/notices/HST_Notice_010.pdf or go to Google and in the search box type in ‘Residential Energy Credit rebate program.’ It is the first item. | 1.877.388.4440

15. BC Hydro Appliance Rebates

Mail-in rebates of $25 - $50 for purchasers of ENERGY STAR clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, or freezers until March 31, 2011, or when funding for the program is exhausted. www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/appliance_rebates.html | 1.800.224.9376

16. BC Hydro Fridge Buy-Back Program

This ongoing program rebates BC Hydro customers $30 to turn in spare fridges in working condition. www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/fridge_buy_back.html | 604.881.4357

17. BC Hydro Windows Rebate Program

Pay no HST when you buy ENERGY STAR high-performance windows and doors. This offer is available until March 31, 2011. www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/windows_offers/current_offers.html | 604.759.2759 for a free in-home estimate.

18. BC Hydro Mail-in Rebates/Savings Coupons

To save energy, BC Hydro offers rebates including 10 % off an ENERGY STAR cordless phone. Check for new offers and for deadlines.www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/coupons.html | 1.800.224.9376

19. Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) Rebate Program

A range of rebates for home owners include a $50 rebate for upgrading a water heater, $150 rebate on an Ener-Choice fireplace (both good until March 31, 2011) and a $1,000 rebate for switching to natural gas (from oil or propane) and installing an ENERGY STAR heating system (good until February 29, 2012). http://www.fortisbc.com/NaturalGas/Homes/Offers/Pages/Residential-Water-Heater-Program.aspx | 1.888.224.2710

20. Fortis BC (formerly Terasen Gas) Efficient Boiler Program

For commercial buildings, provides a cash rebate of up to 75% of the purchase price of an energy efficient boiler, for new construction or retrofits. http://www.fortisbc.com/NaturalGas/Business/Offers/Pages/default.aspx | 1.888.477.0777

21. City of Vancouver Solar Homes Pilot

This rebate of $3,000 (about 50% of the cost) is for a Vancouver home owner upgrading to a solar hot water system from a gas system. Offered by the City of Vancouver, SolarBC, Terasen Gas and Offsetters on a first come, first served basis until March 2011 or until the City reaches its target of 30 solar homes. www.vancouver.ca/sustainability/SolarHomes.htm | 604.873.7748

22. City of Vancouver Rain Barrel Subsidy Program

The City of Vancouver provides a subsidy of 50% of the cost of a rain barrel for Vancouver residents. With the subsidy, the rain barrel costs $75. Buy your rain barrel at the Transfer Station at 377 W. North Kent Ave., Vancouver, BC. Limit of two per resident. Bring proof of residency. www.vancouver.ca and in the search box enter ‘rain barrel program.’ 604.736.2250. Other municipalities have similar offers.

23. Vancity Green Building Grant

In partnership with the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Vancity provides grants up to $50,000 each to qualifying charities, not-for-profit organizations and co-operatives for projects which focus on building renovations/retrofits, regulatory changes that advance green building development, and education to increase the use of practical green building strategies.

www.vancity.com/MyCommunity/NotForProfit/Grants/ActingOnClimateChange GreenBuildingGrant | 604.877.7000

24. Local Government Water Conservation Incentives

Your municipality may provide grants and incentives to residents to help save water. For example, the City of Coquitlam offers residents a $100 rebate and the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, and District of West Vancouver offer a $50 rebate when residents install a low-flush toilet. Visit your municipality’s website and enter ‘toilet rebate’ to see if there is a program.

25. Local Government Water Meter Programs

Your municipality may provide a program for voluntary water metering, so that you pay only for the amount of water that you use. Delta, Richmond and Surrey have programs and other municipalities may soon follow. Visit your municipality’s website and enter ‘water meter’ to find out if there is a program.

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Why Realtors are great problem solvers

By Ari Lahdekorpi

Mar 1, 2011
If nothing else, Realtors are skilled problem solvers. The one trait that glues together all of the successful agents across Canada is the ability to work through the myriad of roadblocks that confront what seems like a simple task – that of bringing buyers and sellers together on a transaction within a given time frame.
 
Keeping a real estate deal together and navigating through the increasingly complex minefield of laws and restrictions that surround the industry is not a task that can be accomplished effectively without logical and creative problem solving skills, along with a strong emotional foundation.
 
I commented to one of our seasoned agents on how unflappable he seemed in the face of the activity that surrounds him. His response was a shrug of the shoulder and the comment, “If there is an obstacle, you just have to work around it, that’s all.” That sums up nicely one of the key skill sets to an effective long-term real estate career.
 
It is so very true that although you can’t control the circumstances around you, you can control their impact on you. There is nothing more valuable than clear-headed thinking in a time of crisis. The ability to not throw up your hands in surrender or run away when the bullets are flying around you can come only with experience, training and mental attitude. The storybook and film maker image of the steady handed protagonist who guides the frightened hoards through a crisis is not entirely fictitious. The hero of the real estate deal is a real-life agent who doesn’t allow emotional pressure to impact on his rational and logistical task of serving his client’s best interests through to the completion of the transaction.
 
Problem solving is a mental process. Considered the most complex of all intellectual functions, problem solving has been defined as a higher-order cognitive process. It is a process that has been studied by psychologists over the last hundred years, as well as by computer programmers trying to perfect the latest artificial intelligence algorithms. The key to Internet giant Google’s success is in the top secret A.I. code that they have perfected to solve the problem of searching the Internet for information that is not tainted by spammer tricks. Make no mistake; problem solving is an intelligence marker of the highest order.
 
Early experimental work centered on simple tasks so that researchers could analyze and capture real-world problems by understanding the cognitive processes involved. In clinical psychology, researchers have focused on the role of emotions in problem solving.  D’Zurilla, Goldfried and Nezu published findings in the early ’70s and ’80s demonstrating that poor emotional control can disrupt focus on a target task and impede problem solving.
 
Human problem solving consists of two related processes: problem orientation, (the motivational/attitudinal/affective approach to problematic situations) and problem-solving skills (the actual cognitive-behavioural steps, which, if successfully implemented, lead to effective problem resolution). Researchers in neuropsychology have found that frontal lobe injuries will cause deficiencies in emotional control and reasoning. Those findings have concluded that one’s emotional state can impact on the ability to solve problems.
 
Researchers have also learned that the problem-solving process differs across domains and levels of expertise and emotional wellness. There can be no universal answer to why one can resolve problems under a crisis management mode more efficiently than another. It is clear however, that experience in problem solving in a given discipline helps to calm the emotional impact of confronting problems.
 
Difficult problems have some typical characteristics, such as lack of clarity of the situation, multiple objectives, decisions hierarchy, communication breakdown and dynamic unpredictability. In all of these characteristics the resolution of difficult problems requires a direct attack on each that is encountered.
 
Even more than the emotional steadiness and expertise that a skilled problem solver must have is the creative mental process of creating a solution to a problem. Creative problem solving is a special form of problem solving in which the solution is independently created rather than learned with assistance.
 
Creative problem solving always involves using the creative side of the brain. To qualify as creative problem solving, the solution must either have value, clearly solve the stated problem or be appreciated by someone for whom the situation improves. These are all traits that apply readily to the real estate trade. The situation prior to the solution might not even be recognized as a problem. Alternate labels for hidden problems include words like a “challenge, an opportunity or room for improvement”.
 
A good Realtor knows from experience that one must be aware of the unintended consequences in any action or inaction. Sometimes a small detail can impact on many elements of a successful transaction with a ripple effect. This is pre-emptive problem solving that can only be done through experience or training.
 
The value of a real estate professional is much deeper than the average consumer sees on the surface of a problem-free transaction. It could be stated that a good agent is a problem cognoscente in the best sense of the word.
 

Ari Lahdekorpi is managing broker at Re/Max Select Properties in Vancouver.

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Bob Sethi, B.Comm
Office:604.273.2828
Fax:604.273.0685
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#110-6086 Russ Baker Way
Richmond, BC
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