Of course before you begin your search, it is crucial to examine your own personal and financial circumstances to determine whether now is the right time for you. Here are some key points to consider:
- What monthly payments (mortgage, taxes, utilities, etc.) can I afford?
- How much can I afford for my down payment?
- Do I have funds set aside for closing costs?
- Is my job stable?
- Are my needs (job change, starting a family, etc.) likely to change in the next 12-24 months?
- Do I have time and energy for this process? (looking for homes, notice given to landlord, baby on the way etc.)
- Do I have a home that I want to sell first?
Ideally, find out about your mortgage options before you start looking. There is nothing more frustrating than falling in love with a home, only to find out you cannot afford it. Pre-qualifying for a mortgage is the best way to discover how much you can afford. Your banker or financial planner will look at your income, expenses and debt to determine how much a lender will lend.
Before we look at homes in person, we will sit down for a full consultation so I can get a better picture of what your ideal scenario is. During this consultation we will discuss your homeownership goals and desires including your preferred neighbourhoods, the price range you are comfortable with, offers, closings and what to expect during the entire buying process in plain English. Of course, I am also there to answer all of your questions! Here are some important questions to ask yourself when compiling your list of needs vs. wants:
- Where do I want to live? (community/general area)
- Are schools a factor?
- Do I want an older home or a new one? What style of home do I prefer? (detached, town home, condominium, multi-family, bungalow, other)
- How much renovation and remodeling am I willing to do?
- Is being close to public transportation important?
- Do I have special physical requirements, such as wheel chair access?
- Do I have pets to consider?
- What sort of lot would I like? (small yard, large yard, fenced, garage, patio/deck, other buildings)
- How many bedrooms do I need? How many would I like to have?
- How many bathrooms do I need? How many would I like to have?
- How big a house do I want? How many rooms? How many square feet?
- What features are important? (air conditioning, carpeting, ceramic tile floors, hardwood floors, eat-in kitchen, separate dining room, formal living room, family room, den, library, finished basement, separate laundry room, fireplace, workshop, other)
Another key factor we will consider is whether you already have a property to sell. The question of whether to buy first or sell first has a different answer for everyone and depends on the individual. It is always a risk to buy before you sell, but it is also a big inconvenience not to find a home and have to move into a rental for a couple of months while still looking for a house to buy! I have helped many Buyers choose which option is best for them while negotiating closing dates and conditions that work best for the planned move(s). If you have a home to sell, I can help you improve its salability so you will receive the highest market value for it, and find yourself in a win-win situation. Throughout your home search, I am here to help you navigate the ups and downs. You can count on me to:
- Provide you with important information on real estate values, taxes, utility costs, services, and amenities
- Pre-screen the online properties you see, keeping your ultimate goals in mind so you are not wasting your time filtering through hundreds of property listings that match only some of your search criteria
- Recommend the best homes for personal viewing based on my area expertise
- Make you fully aware of what your dollar will buy by finding opportunities, such as great homes nearby your main search areas, that you may not be aware of
- Guide you through the viewing process, showing you features you may not have noticed and problems you may not have spotted
- Advise you about your legal and financial options
- Recommend expert help when needed, such as home inspection and contracting serviceTop of Form
My goal is for you to have all the information you need to make well educated, stress free choices when the time comes to buy your home.
One of the hardest things to do when looking for a home is to remain objective. It is easy to fall in love with a home’s appearance, but it is also important to look beyond the outer layer, because appearances can be deceiving. Here are some things to look for when viewing a home:
- General upkeep – is the home dirty or cluttered? Are the lawns uncut? If the owner has not bothered to keep the house looking clean and attractive, what problems could be lurking below the surface?
- Water leaks – water rots wood, undermines foundations, and leads to mould and mildew. Re-shingling a house or repairing a cracked foundation to stop water leaks can be very expensive. Stains, bulges and other signs of damage on ceilings or walls, and loose crumbling grout around bathroom & kitchen tiles could mean leaking water. It takes an expert eye to find many water leaks, so please feel free to bring a professional with you on our showing, or I can also arrange to commission a home inspection if the Seller has not already provided one from a reputable company.
- Does it work? – where possible, test the lights, faucets, toilets, furnace, air conditioning, and all major appliances that will be included with the home. Make sure everything is working as it should.
- Floors – should be smooth, even and solid, otherwise, repairs may be needed.
- Doors and windows – should fit snugly and operate smoothly. Look for flaked paint and loose caulking. Check for drafts.
- Outside – walk around the yard looking for areas where water might collect. Soggy areas near the foundation indicate poor drainage.
- Look for deep cracks in the foundations or loose mortar and bricks.
- Be sure to bring a measuring tape if you own large items such as a piano or a sectional that you want to keep.
Though I have personally toured and inspected thousands of homes during my career, and even though Sellers are contractually obligated to disclose all problems in their homes that they know about, nothing can replace the expert opinion of a qualified home inspector. A qualified home inspector can give the home a thorough examination, checking the heating and cooling systems, plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement, basically all visible structures of the home. They will point out the need for major repairs, identify areas that may need attention in the near future, and explain what level of maintenance will be needed to keep the house in good shape. Most inspectors are more than happy to tell you about the home’s good qualities as well, so you can decide if it is a good fit. A home inspection can help you determine whether or not to make an offer on a house, and if you decide to go ahead, just how much that offer is going to be.
When I draft the legal purchase documents, there are five main elements to keep in mind:
- Price – this does not have to be the same as the Seller’s asking price but it usually helps, unless there is more than one offer, in which case it is advisable to bid higher than the asking price!
- Deposit – shows your good faith and will be applied against the purchase of the home when the sale closes. Should be at least 5% of the home’s purchase price.
- Conditions – standard conditions can include: subject to home inspection, subject to you obtaining financing, or subject to you selling your existing property. However, a condition can specify almost anything. Sellers obviously do not like to have their homes effectively ‘off the market’ while they wait for conditions to firm up, so the shorter the conditional period (i.e. 3-5 business days) the better chance the Seller will accept your conditional offer.
- Inclusions/Exclusions – your offer may be contingent on including certain items in the sale, such as appliances, fixtures and decorative items.
- Closing Date – the Seller will often specify the date or date range they would like to close on the property and your offer should closely match this. The closing date is the day the title of the property is legally transferred to you and the funds go to the Seller.
Here are some of the things you may want to consider when choosing where your next home should be:
- Explore the neighbourhood in person, keeping an eye out for signs of neglect such as run-down houses and litter in yards and alleys.
- If you have children, education is probably paramount. Are there schools within walking distance or will your children have to take the bus? How do the local schools compare? If your children need them, are there religious, private or special training (i.e. French Immersion, Montessori etc.) facilities nearby?
- Convenient public transport and major highways nearby can mean the difference between a pleasurable and not-so-pleasurable commute to work.
- Take a look at the local shopping district: does it provide all the shops, grocery stores, dry cleaners, restaurants, medical and dental offices, parks and recreation that you want? Do you want to be able to walk to all these amenities?
- Listen for traffic noise, barking dogs, low-flying airplanes, and any other noises that could be a problem for you.
Congratulations! The Seller has accepted your Offer, and your dream home will soon be yours. Now what?
To guide you safely and comfortably through the closing period, which usually ranges from 30 to 90 days (but can longer or shorter depending on what was agreed upon when you bought the house), my team will assist me:
- Arrange Buyer Access visits to your new home for you, as outlined in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, so you can see your new home and take measurements, plan interior decorating, renovations etc.
- Advise you on any inspections that might be needed, such as home inspections or mortgage appraisals.
- Recommend trusted tradespeople to you so you can start receiving quotes for any renovations you may wish to carry out once the home is legally yours.
- Provide you with valuable contacts to trusted professionals such as expert real estate lawyers, mortgage brokers and careful movers.
- Explain costs and fees to you, such as helping you calculate your Land Transfer Tax.
- Recommend moving tips and remind you of important things to do, such as switching your utilities over to the new home in time. Remember, there may be a pre-payment cost on taxes, hydro, gas, fuel, etc.
- Help you answer questions about your new property for your insurance company that you might not know the answers to.
- Check in with you on a regular basis to make sure everything is going well and you are prepared for the big move!
Whether you are moving to your dream home up the street, or relocating due to a job transfer it can be really hard to uproot your life.
There are simple things you can do to make your move less stressful and less expensive. A good way to start is with a simple calendar beginning one or two months before the big day.
Here is a sample timeline to help keep you on track:
One to Two Months Before Moving
- Walk through your current home and decide what you want to take, what you want to throw out, and what you want to donate to charity or sell.
- Arrange for important school, medical, financial, and legal records to be transferred.
- Book the movers: it is a good idea to obtain estimates from more than one company, not only to get the best price, but because likely not all of them will be available on the day you want to move. The estimates you get will depend on whether the movers pack everything for you, or whether you want to do the packing yourself.
- If you rent, give your landlord written notice and make arrangements for the return of any deposits.
- Inform gardening, newspapers, magazines, diaper and any other home services of your move. Now would be a good time to arrange for service at your new address.
- If you are moving far from your current home, you might want to consider transferring gym memberships and prescription records to a more local service.
- Change the address on your driver’s license effective the day of the move.
Three Weeks Before Moving
- Arrange to have your pets transported or boarded.
- Start preparing your plants for the move or, if it will be a long trip, consider giving them to friends, hospitals, libraries, or selling them. If you decide to move them, it is a good idea to prune plants and re-pot them into unbreakable plastic containers before putting them in cardboard moving boxes with holes punched in the sides for air.
- Get back any items you have lent (and give back any items you have borrowed). Pick up any items that are being repaired.
- Collect all items out for cleaning or repair, or in storage.
- Dispose of flammable items such as paint, aerosol cans and cleaning fluids.
- Send change of address information to the post office, bank, credit card companies and any other services where you get a monthly statement or newsletter. A good way to do this is to contact each company/service as your mail arrives to your current address. Canada Post allows you to change your address online and will forward your mail for four months for about $50.
- Start using up frozen food and staples. Do not buy any more than you absolutely have to before moving. Two Weeks Before Moving
- Schedule a date for a service firm to disconnect and prepare the appliances you are moving.
- Start packing nonessential items.
- Arrange for a babysitter for moving day if needed.
- Start planning to disconnect utilities including phone and cable.
- Based on your return visits to your new home (your Buyer Access visits), draw up a floor plan for your new home and start planning your furniture arrangement.
- Have your oil tank read and filled and, if required, give the receipt to your legal professional.
One Week Before Moving
- Finish packing suitcases and basic essentials. Make sure valuable documents, currency, and jewelry are in a safe and easily accessible place.
- Drain garden hoses, lawn mowers and other machinery.
- Clean and dry the fridge and freezer.
- Take down items such as curtain rods, shelves, light fixtures and mirrors that you are taking with you.
- Dismantle large power tools, such as lathes and grinders.
- Leave a clear workspace for the packers.
- Identify fragile and valuable items, items you are taking with you, and items being left for the new owners.
Moving Out Day
- Do a final check for overlooked items. Make sure windows and doors are locked, lights are turned off, utilities are discontinued or turned off, and the keys have been left behind for whoever will be moving into your home.
Moving In Day
- Make sure the utilities are connected.
- Take another look to see if where you want your furniture to go is correct.
- When the mover arrives, check items unloaded against the inventory.
- Make arrangements for installation of appliances. Confirm unpacking requirements.