Whether it be your first or fifth, buying a home is not an easy thing to do. However, help is available in the form of your friendly REALTOR®. I will be blogging excerpts from the very helpful website howrealtorshelp.ca. I trust that these may help make the decision much less daunting for you.
Home buying can be a daunting and complex process. But with a REALTOR® at your side, it doesn't have to be. Remember, a REALTOR® works for you and is there to look after your best interests. So take a few minutes and learn how a REALTOR® can help you find what you're looking for.
1. Make sure you're ready to buy
If you're thinking of buying a home, you've come to the right place. This web site can turn you into a house-hunting master. But before we jump right in, you have to make sure three things are ready: you, your bank account, and the real estate market.
Are you ready? Be sure
Few joys can match the pride of owning the roof over your head, but you will have to make some sacrifices. There's the obvious financial responsibility, but your home will also require constant care. That's what real pride of ownership is all about.
Is your bank account ready? Check it twice
Your first home will be the biggest financial obligation you’ve ever faced. You should ideally have saved up some money for a down payment and are managing any debts like student loans or credit cards. In a couple steps you can determine how much you can afford.
Is right now a good time to buy?
Markets go up, markets go down and even the smartest experts can't accurately predict when a market will peak or bottom out. If you're buying a home as a long-term investment (and for long-term enjoyment), you should be protected from short-term changes in the market. Pick a home that meets the needs of you and your family. Then you'll enjoy living in your investment as it grows in value.
2. Decide what you want to buy
Nowadays, there are many different types of homes to choose from. And there are pros and cons to each. Take a minute to reflect on your lifestyle and based on that, decide what best fits you. To help, we've broken down the most popular housing options here.
First, decide where you want to live
Ahh, the big city. Sure the prices are generally higher, but you can walk to a restaurant, maybe even to work. You'll also have the widest range of housing options.
Newer schools, newer shopping centres, bigger yards, bigger homes, no wonder so many people love the suburbs.
Smaller Cities and Towns
Canada is dotted with thousands of wonderful self-contained communities, and compared to the big city, you can save a bundle.
If you like the idea of owning land, how about a few acres all to yourself? Seclusion is not for everybody, but for some, it's heaven.
Next, decide what type of home you want
By now, you probably have a good idea of what type of home is right for you. To familiarize yourself with the terminology, here's a quick overview:
As the name implies, the home is not attached to the home next door. Styles range from a single-story suburban bungalow, to a three-story Victorian.
Semi-detached or linked:
Two houses that share a common wall. Usually less money than a fully detached home.
A building zoned for two families.
Also known as terrace or row housing. Several homes with a common style and joined in a row. They usually share walls on both sides.
The condo alternative
How Condos are owned
You'll own 100% of your unit, and a share of the common areas. Common areas include the necessary plumbing, electrical systems, hallways and elevators. They may also include lots of fun stuff like a private gym or party room.
Condo fees. Membership has privileges — and costs
On top of your mortgage and property taxes, condo owners also pay a monthly fee to operate and maintain the common areas. Be sure to look into condo fees, and how well they're managed, before signing anything.
New or resale?
Resale. Previously loved
Nothing can match the charm and character of an older home. As a bonus, the previous owner may have made improvements and upgrades and you get them with the house, usually for less than the cost of putting them in yourself. However, some may have a little too much 'character', like a leaky roof. Know what you're getting into.
Ahh... that new house smell
If you're having a new home built from the bottom up, carefully examine the property, the blueprints and visit other homes built by the same company. Have your REALTOR® and/or lawyer review everything before you sign. While your home is being built, stay on top of the process. And remember, you have a legal right to make a full inspection of the house before you accept it as complete.
You know what you want, but let's talk needs
Are you getting out of a two-bedroom apartment because it's too small? Then your new home should have at least three bedrooms, and probably a second bathroom. REALTORS® call these must-have features "needs". Features you'd like to have are called "wants". Your strategy should be to find a home within your price range that fulfills all or most of your 'needs', and as many of your 'wants' as possible.
3. Sell your current home
Not very many people can hold onto two homes at the same time, so you'll probably need to sell the one you have now. Be sure to check our incredibly helpful Selling section. In the meantime, here's a quick overview.
When should you sell?
Buyer's and seller's markets explained
When there are lots of people looking for homes but not many for sale, it's called a 'seller's market'. When there are lots of homes for sale and not many people buying them, it's called a 'buyer's market'.
Wait for the market to improve?
If you're selling one home and buying another, you don't really have to worry about playing the market. If you sell your existing home for a 'low' price, you're probably also buying at a low price.
Seasonality. Do home sales get frostbite?
It's true. Winter sales tend to be slower, and spring sales are more brisk.
If you need to sell fast
Ask a REALTOR® for help establishing a price and for making your home look attractive, without making you look desperate.
Buy first or sell first? The eternal question
Many people are able to time their sale and purchase so they happen on the same "closing date". As a buyer, you can make your offer "conditional" on the sale of your existing home, so you're not paying for the upkeep of two homes. Or when selling, you can try to extend the "closing period" to give yourself more time to find your next home.
Sell with a REALTOR®, or go it alone?
In the same way that many people decide not to fix their own cars or do their own dental work, it's wise to enlist a professional when selling your most valuable asset. Real estate transactions are complex, time consuming and involve a lot of legal documentation. Your REALTOR® is knowledgeable and highly motivated to help you get the most for your home. Before flying solo, truly know what a REALTOR® can offer.
Until tomorrow, have a wonderful day.
Robert Vergura, REALTOR®