Homes With Suites


                                        How Suite It Is

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Another Home Suite Home

So you’ve just got a raise and want to invest in your first home or want to upsize from your current home?   This is the time to consider buying a Home Suite Home.   A lot of Buyers say they “don’t want to have anyone else living with them.” But how is that any different than the apartment or condo they were living in?  What are they going to do with that unfinished basement?  Normally it ends up been a storage space.  Why not turn that space into a Suite and then you can always reclaim the basement once the children have grown up and you need the extra space.   A Home Suite Home can help with those extra bills.  It can also provide you with mortgage helper income should your wife go on maternity leave or should you lose your job unexpectedly.  And later in life the suite could work well for your in-laws or parents.

Suites are also becoming more popular for multi-generation housing when the parents have retired and want to sell their home and move into a suite to help with the mortgage for their sons and daughters.  Or an in-law is single now and wants to sell and again move into a suite.  In these situations of blended families it is always easier and more comfortable for some landlords to have their own family occupying the suite than perhaps a stranger.

Once you have determined that you want to have a Home Suite Home, you need to begin searching for a house preferably with a ground level separate entrance.  Make sure that you do your research about your City to ensure that homes with suites are permitted.  You also need to be concerned about legal suites versus illegal suites.  Some cities aggressively police this issue and others tend to “turn a blind eye” mainly because of the limited housing available. allows you to complete a Home Finder search where you can specify what type of suites interest you – for instance legal suites and/or illegal suites.  You can also specify  1 or 2 bedroom suites.  It is recommended you also specify “separate laundry” as that will make it easier to rent your suite when the laundry is provided and not shared.

As house prices increase in Vancouver, more Buyers are asking for homes with basement apartments or separate entrances.  Basement apartments or Basement Suites are very commonplace in the Vancouver housing market given the high price of homes.   The income that you bring from the suite could be anywhere between $750-$1200 per month ($9,000 to $14,400/year) which would go a long way to helping you pay your monthly bills.

It almost provides a second or third income to your household.  Once you meet with your Financial Advisor to discuss the additional tax write-offs that you can receive,  a Home Suite Home makes solid financial sense.  Imagine writing off one-third of your utilities or any other renovations you do to improve your basement suite?

Once you have committed to having a tenant make sure you do everything you can to ensure a good person moves in.

Here are some tips for finding & keeping a good tenant:

1.   Post an attractive write-up including pictures on Craigslist & Kijiji

2.   Pay the additional dollars to have front page placement on Kijiji

3.   When prospective tenants start to email you, Google them to make sure they are who they say they are

4.   Hold a rental open house for 90 minutes to allow prospective tenants to tour the space.  This will give you time to have a quick conversation to determine if they are the right fit for you.

5.   Give prospective tenants a rental application granting you permission to do a credit check on them.  You can use services like who will do the credit check for you for a small fee in the area of $25.00.  A small price to pay to get a qualified tenant.

6.   Make sure you call their current and previous landlord for references.  The reason you are calling the previous landlord is to make sure the current landlord isn’t just trying to get rid of the tenants by saying nice things about them.

7.   Make sure you call their employer.

8.   Ensure sure you can cash their first month’s rent cheque as well as their damage deposit. 

9.   When your tenant moves in, give them a welcome bottle of some bubbly and card.  You want to make sure your relationship is off to a good start.

10.   At Christmas time, make sure you buy a small gift.  Something from the LCBO or the Indigo gift section always works nicely.

Always keep in mind that the tenant is helping you to pay down your mortgage so if you treat them in a respectful way, they will hopefully do the same and treat your home well.  It is all about spreading good will & positive karma throughout the universe.  And if things aren’t working out and your tenant wants to leave before the lease is up, let them move out and move on to the next tenant.  Yes there are some people who like to spread horror stories about tenants but they are not all bad.  Having a tenant in your basement will help provide you with a financial cushion.


Buyers can make mistakes in buying a Home Suite Home - especially their first Home with a Suite Home.  And sometimes these mistakes cannot be fixed and a Buyer may suffer the consequences for a long time.  For instance the purchase of a Home may not complete due to one of the following mistakes and the Buyer may end up losing their deposit and be with no Home at all.

Tip # 1: Don't  Hesitate to Consult with your REALTOR®

Your Advisor could be a REALTOR®  or a Lawyer and sometimes Buyers hold back on information or discussing their concerns with these Advisors for reasons such as:

•    the feeling their issues will make them look ignorant

•    an ego that suggests they have all the answers and don't need help

•    a concern their issues may be unimportant unnecessary to address

•    insecurity that creates discomfort in talking with an advisor

An experienced and professional REALTOR®  has dealt with a variety of situations and and types of clients.  There is nothing you can talk about that they have not heard before.  Your REALTOR®  is responsible for working in your best interest and to make certain at all times that you understand and agree with any actions they are taking on your behalf.   They can't help you if they don't know what any and all of your concerns are.  So ask your questions.  It's their job to provide you with the answers.

Work closely with your Realtor

Tip # 2: Your Financial Situation changes prior to Closing

Some Buyers, especially first time Buyers, make the mistake of completing a loan application for their new Home Suite Home and then in their excitement they also decide to buy - also on credit - some of the following:

•    a new car

•    new appliances

•    yard and garden equipment like lawn mowers

•    new TV's and or computers

•    new furniture for their new Home Suite Home

Slight changes in credit ratios could cause a mortgage broker or banker to deny your mortgage.   If your preapproved mortgage has expired or been removed, you could forfeit your deposit in addition to losing the Home Suite Home you choose.

Tip # 3: You end up Buying the Wrong Home with a Suite

The first thing Buyers need to do is make a list of what type of Home Suite Home you want to buy and why.   Detail what Home with a Suite Home features are important and list those you can do without. Before you sign an offer on a Home, review this list.  Taking the time to ensure your new Home Suite Home has all the features you were looking for could help you avoid a mistake that could come back to haunt you later.


When you begin thinking about becoming involved in any Real Estate transaction for the first time there will be some terms that may be confusing – especially if you are looking for a home with a suite.  Here are some of the more generally used terms and their definitions that may be of assistance:

The Brokerage is the real estate company under which the individual REALTOR® is licensed such as Keller Williams Realty.Keller Williams Realty

The Licensee is the managing broker, associate broker and/or representative of a real estate company brokerage.

REALTOR® is often used interchangeably with licensee, real estate agent or representative and, in BC, is licensed under the Real Estate Services Act. A licensee can use the term REALTOR® if he/she belongs to a local real estate board or association that enforces a strict Code of Ethics.

The Boards are the real estate boards and associations in whose jurisdiction the property is located and/or of which the brokerage or REALTOR® is a member. These boards and associations assist REALTORS® to market, sell or lease real estate. The boards also provide ongoing training for their members, enforce ethical standards and help resolve disputes between members and the public.

The Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) is a computerized cooperative selling system of a real estate board for real estate listings and sales. MLS® System is operated by the boards in conjunction with other real estate boards and The Canadian Real Estate Association.

Personal information means any personal information about you, including your name, address, phone number, financial information and may include information about your property (such as listing and selling price, lease rate, listing term, etc.).

The Buyer/Tenant is often referred to as the Purchaser.

The Seller/Landlord is often referred to as the Vendor.

The Principal is someone who has engaged a Brokerage to act for and on his or her behalf either to buy, sell or lease real estate.

The Landlord is often referred to as the Lessor.

The Tenant is often referred to as the Lessee.

Mere Posting is a listing where the Brokerage has chosen or agreed not to provide services to the Seller/Landlord other than submitting the listing for posting on a Multiple Listing Service®.

A Suite usually refers to a separate section of a home or a separate building in addition to the main home with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom/s.  A suite may have its own laundry and entrance or it may have a shared laundry and/or an shared entrance.  A home with a suite with a separate entrance and laundry will tend to rent easier and for a higher rent.  There are a number of different types of suites including: secondary suites, basement suite, garden suite, coach house, in-law suite.  Suites can also be defined as legal suites, licensed suites, or unauthorized or illegal suites.


Benefits for a First Time Home Suite Home Buyer
Your friends and relations may be telling you to buy a home with a suite but is that right for you?  Before committing to this decision make a list of the benefits of becoming an owner of a home with a suite.  And when this process confirms this is the right decision for you then proceed in the next step to buying your first home with a suite.

Considerations for the First Time Buyer of a Home with a Suite
The first thing a first time buyer of a Home with a Suite needs to do is to talk with a Bank or Mortgage Broker to determine the value of the home you can afford.  And you need to find a lender that will give you some credit for the income generated by the suite.  Then approximately 90% of all home searches begin on the Internet using the price limit that has already been determined. The Internet allows you to search through thousands of listings quickly and easily in this manner.  Some of the specialized web sites, like HomeSuiteHomes allow you to narrow your search, to see any virtual tours, to view all property photos, to locate the property via sites such as Google Earth, to see the Walking Score of the home, to view the location of the property relative to schools, attractions, shopping, public transportation, to save your narrowed searches, to save your preferred property listings, and to email select home listings that you feel may interest other friends and relatives.  For select properties you can also use a Mortgage Calculator to make certain you can afford those homes that interest you - and don't forget to credit yourself with about 80% of the additional produced by the suite .  This quick and easy search capability should allow you to be very specific when you meet with a REALTOR® to begin the home purchase process.

How Long does it take to Buy Your First Home Suite Home?
Most Buyers will find their new home with a suite within a couple of weeks or less.  The key is how motivated are you?  If you are not committed to buying that first home then it may never happen.  Good REALTOR®s will determine if you are really committed to your first home purchase and if so what you are looking for in a home in addition to the suite and why.  Your REALTOR® will then only show you those homes that are still available (with no accepted offers) and that meet this criteria.  In some instances a REALTOR® may also preview those homes whose criteria is questionable in order that they and you do not waste time.

How many home showings should you expect to see?
The general average number of homes showen to a Buyer in one day is six. You will find that any more than that and you will find the features of the homes start to run together and it will be more difficult to determine which homes your prefer.  Most REALTOR®s will not be able to dedicate every day to finding, previewing if neccessary, scheduling, confirming, and then touring with you and so expect to maybe do showings every other day for the two weeks.  That means you may see up to 36 homes over this period.

How to assess the features of each home showing?

  • Take a close-up picture with your phone or camera of each house address as you home showing tour continues.
  • Note those features you like about each house and highlight those features that are "deal-breakers" for you.  Pay particular attention to whether the suite has its own laundry.
  • Check out the location of each home, it's neighbourhood, and what is next door.
  • Determine if there is a current occupant of the suite and take into account what rent is being charged, and whether or not you would want the tenant to continue renting.
  • Right after each home showing rate the home.
  • If there was no clear choice after seeing all the homes decide on which of your highly rated homes you would like to view a second time.
  • You will probably notice features of each home - good and bad - that you did not notice the first time.

When you have made your first selection of a home with a suite your REALTOR® will then complete a Current Market Analysis and recommend an offer or range of offers.  It is then your decision on what offer you wish to present.  Your REALTOR® can review the strategy of presenting your first offer relative to the end price you wish to pay and considering the market at the time.  In a Seller Market for instance you may not have much opportunity to negotiate price.  And in fact should there be multiple offers the accepted offer may ever be more than the asking price.

Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.