As a first time home buyer, it can be hard and complicated trying to understand the process and housing market. It can also be difficult to get the ‘real’ or reality of it all. This is why I asked some key questions to a trusted real estate agent with the expertise, Christopher Toste of Royal LePage Supreme Realty.
1. When someone is looking to buy a home, what should be their first steps?
First things first, ask yourself are you ready to buy? Most people would say the first step should be to speak to a mortgage professional about how much home you can afford and get pre-approved, but I believe you need to really think through what your priorities are in the home and why you are making this investment.
During this process you will be working to keep your credit clean, saving for a down payment, learning how to manage debt and deciding on your needs in a home and what neighbourhood best suits you. Remember buying a home is an exciting time but also one of the biggest financial decisions you will ever make. Surround yourself with the right professionals, don’t be afraid to ask questions and I guarantee it will make the process become a lot easier and more enjoyable.
2. How does the real estate market look right now? And the forecast for this year?
We ended the year very strong with a record year in sales. In terms of pricing, the average selling price was up 9.8% in 2015, according to TREB. As for a forecast, you can expect a steady increase for 2016 based on multiple factors; lack of supply drives up demand (population keeps growing and housing is needed), lending rates are expected to stay relatively low, and according to the experts there is no recession on the horizon for the GTA economy in 2016. For more market information feel free to sign up for a monthly update to help best prepare you for your purchase.
3. When is the busiest time in real estate?
The market is most active between the months of April-June. During this time, we have the most inventory and the buyer pool is significant. Some buyers have seen significant savings by buying during the months of January and February due to bad weather and sales cycle. Since 2010, homes in the Greater Toronto Area sold for an average of $43,000 less than the calendar year average.
4. How does the home search process work?
By this point you already know your affordability and are prepared to start the buying process. Congratulations – this is the exciting part! Your Realtor will be able to guide you through the process which includes: home search ->offer ->home inspection and/or financing ->closing. For more in depth information about navigating the world of buying a home in the Great Toronto Area visit my website.
5. When looking for a home, what type of questions should the buyer be asking?
When you first meet with your real estate professional be sure to express what your current and future housing needs are and what characteristics are important to you in a home. Here are some of the most common questions that I receive from buyers;
- How much are closing costs? What is land transfer tax? How much?
- Do I get a first time home rebate? How much? Is it instant or do I have to apply?
- How much are the average monthly costs for utilities? What other costs should I expect?
- How old are the major costs (roof, windows, furnace and A/C?
- Is the water heater a rental? Are there any other rentals such as the furnace and A/C (This is becoming a problem in today’s market)?
6. How important is a home inspection and why?
A home inspection is an inexpensive way to discover the overall condition of the home. It is important to conduct a home inspection to avoid purchasing a property in need of major repairs which would be a costly mistake. In todays aggressive market I often see sellers and buyers skipping the home inspection to make their offer more appealing. Other options would be to conduct the inspection prior to the “offer date” or keep the clause for home inspection but lower it from 5 business days to 1-3 days.
7. Many people now want to buy and/or sell homes on their own. What are the disadvantages of this?
Just like any other service, you intrust the professional to do their job to the best of their ability. You would not try to fix your car if you were not mechanically inclined.
A Realtor will try to sell your home for the highest price, least amount of time and with minimum frustrations. In most cases, according the National Association of Realtors, private home sellers end up selling for 25% less and by the end 85% end up using a real estate professional to sell their home. Here are just some disadvantages that I find with private home sales;
- Biggest disadvantage is the possibility of a law suit. Keep in mind realtors are insured and abide by ethics set out by CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association).
- Lack of property exposure and limited knowledge of market and pricing. Most are undervalued.
- Inability to market the property to the target audience. Unsure of who the potential “buyer” might be.
- Must pay for fees upfront, where a Realtor only gets paid once they complete the sale.
- Not your full-time job, are you able to; accommodate appointments, negotiate a sale, screen buyers, market property and much more.
- Do you understand the “Agreement’? If not, you will pay high lawyer fees to view all documents.
8. What are the advantages of having a real estate agent help with the home search?
There are many advantages to using a real estate professional that you trust and that has a proven track record of success. A Realtor has access to exclusive listings, pricing history, MLS (we receive listings prior to Realtor.ca) and more importantly has experience negotiating the price of a home in a high pressure situation. Keep in mind this is our full time job and our goal is to provide our clients with incomparable customer service and help you find the home of your dreams. Check out my website to start your journey for the most exclusive up-to-date listings.
9. What advice would you give to someone who is looking to buy?
The best advice I can give to someone looking to buy is:
- Understand how much it will cost to carry a home not just a mortgage. Monthly costs you should expect but not limited too; utilities, property tax, rental items (hot water tank), and home insurance.
- Never go into the process with a timeline or urgency. Though the market is very aggressive I always tell my clients “cooler heads will prevail.” You may run into a situation during a negotiation or “bidding war” where emotions run high, but be willing to walk away. I am a strong believer that it may take a year, it may take a day but what is meant to be will always find a way.
10. Anything else you would like to add?
There are many topics we can talk about as Real Estate is such a fascinating subject and such an important aspect of our lives. Some topics that are relevant with today’s buyers/sellers are how to handle a multiple offer situation? How do the new down payment mortgage rules affect buyers? The list continues. Finally, before you begin any process find yourself a real estate professional that is knowledgeable of the market, that you trust and most importantly has a passion for buying and selling real estate. I hope the readers find this helpful and if anyone has any questions or need clarification they can contact me directly and I would be more than happy to help.
We hope this piece has helped you have a better understanding of real estate and like Christopher mentioned there is so much more to learn.
I want to take this time to thank Christopher for his time and professionalism on this piece as it is truly appreciated. In addition, I highly recommend him for your home buying and selling needs as he is a passionate professional who works hard, and goes beyond to find you and your family the perfect home.
– Momma Braga