So you are ready to buy a house!! Whether it is your very first purchase, or your 20th, there are always important things to consider. Here are my tips for you!
#1 Remember, everything is negotiable!
Factors like closing dates, appliances, equipment, and maintenance or repairs to be completed before closing day are all up for negotiation!
#2 Factor closing costs into your budget
→ Land transfer tax (which varies from city to city and province to province and can even fluctuates based on your purchase price cost)
→ Mortgage set-up costs (which can include a mortgage-related appraisal, as well as mortgage default insurance premiums if you’re putting down less than 20% on the home)
→ Home insurance premiums (you typically can’t get a mortgage without home insurance)
→ Adjusted utility and property tax costs
→ Legal fees/costs
→ Title insurance
#3 Get pre-qualified and if possible, pre-approved
Have as much of your REALISTIC financial budget sorted out beforehand. This will save you a lot of stress and time with your offer. Remember that Banks and other Lenders have really clamped down on rules for qualifying for a Mortgage
#4 Look into the small and large details
Though some small details may not be deal breakers, they are better to know beforehand and may be discussed prior to and/or addressed in your offer.
#5 Avoid falling in love with home staging nor underestimate a vacant home
One of our main fiduciary duties as a listing Realtor is to market and sell a home for its’ top realistic market value. When listing my properties, I always include a professional home stager to assess the property and give ideas to maximize the home’s potential to buyers. I also invest in drone video and professional cleaners to maximize quality exposure for my clients.
As the buyer, try not to fall in love that perfect décor, patio set, or that funky espresso machine in the kitchen. It is important to put the blindfolds on and imagine your own furniture and lifestyle in that home. (If you do, however fall in love with both the house and furnishings it is always an option to ask your Realtor if it is possible to include any of the furnishings along with your offer, you never know until you ask!)
A vacant home however, is always tough to imagine lived in. Remember rooms often appear smaller without furniture and are difficult to imagine as lived in. However, there is the advantage of seeing your new potential home fully exposed.
#6 One kid-free showing
As we all know life is busy. By the time you finally have time to book a showing, the kids are done school or daycare. That being said, every parent who has booked a showing or gone to an open house with the frolicking kids knows this often adds chaos to the mix and often not as much time is spent.
To avoid this, consider working with an agent who will double up the viewings. Even better find a babysitter or family member for at least one of the viewings so you have the time to concentrate on all of the details on the most important purchase. Absolutely bring them at least to one of the showings however, it is, after-all about to be the kiddies home too!!
#7 Investigate the neighbourhood
Commute time to your work, closest schools, grocery stores, playground, coffee shops, gas station, hospital are all important factors to imagine in your new potential neighbourhood choice.
Though I couldn’t imagine not providing comparable properties to my clients, ensure you see a list of all of the current active and recently sold properties comparable properties in that area.
#8 Get and home inspection
Ensure you find a reliable, experienced and knowledgeable home inspector. Ask your Realtor if he or she can recommend one that comes highly recommended. (Feel free to contact me anytime for local recommendations)
A home inspector will typically examine and report any potential issues with the:
In a competitive seller’s market like we just went through, where you may expect bidding wars, ask to do a long showing if possible (2-hour minimum and pre-inspect). Also, if you think the seller is vying for a bidding war, ask your realtor to request a pre-sale home inspection. Sometimes competitive sellers will pay to have this inspection so that would-be buyers can come in with clean offers with all conditions removed.
Stay tuned for detailed blogs on each of these topics to come.
As always, I am here for any of your Real Estate inquiries or if you simply want to chat about the market over a coffee or glass of vino. Happy home hunting!
Attention buyers it is time to dust of your favorite home hunting shoes, we are finally seeing a good amount of inventory in the Niagara Region, leading to a relatively balanced market. Homeowners, if you are looking to relocate, downsize, upsize now is also an ideal time to sell with sale prices overall still on the up.
The average time it takes to sell a home in St Catharines (Days on market; DOM) is currently 22 days compared to our wild spring when we experienced the average DOM was between 8 and 9 between March and May, bidding wars flooding the scene. We are now heading back to a sense of normality with most homes (depending on the strategy of the asking price) have at least one or two open houses and multiple showings spread over a week or two before the lucky new home owner finds their next dream home.
St Catharines, along with the rest of Niagara, is still thick in the growth phase with $381,564 being the average Sales Price up from $287,963 in August 2015.
Here, for you, to make the process of buying and selling as simple as possible (or simply with any information you would like) call text or email me anytime!
Sheryl Preston, your friendly neighbourhood Realtor®
Allow me to introduce myself! I am a Realtor® in the Niagara Region who, one year ago, moved from Vancouver BC, where I began my career as a Realtor®. Using my observations practicing Real Estate in these two regions, I thought this was a perfect opportunity to begin a dialogue.
Vancouver and Niagara though are both individually spectacular their demographics and geography are like apples and oranges and, certainly, are polar opposites on the financial spectrum. In Niagara, you can likely find a beautiful family home with a well-sized yard for ~$400,000. To the contrary, in Vancouver (though one spectacular city) $400,000 buys you a small studio apartment, if that. Regardless of the fact that these two regions vastly differ they are both currently sharing an influx of people wanting to purchase a home, putting a solid dent on available housing inventory.
The average price of a home in my current city, St Catharines, ON, is now currently ~$375,000. This is a municipality in Niagara that offers a desirable lifestyle for young families, retirees, and students, with access to Lake Ontario, a short drive to Lake Erie, or Lake Ontario, rolling countryside, world class wineries, tourist sites, short vicinity to the US, and easy access to Toronto city. To boot, our close neighbours, Thorold, were just voted as one of the best climates in the country!
As I work with my clients on a daily basis, and based on our Niagara statistics, it is crystal clear that our market here in Niagara is in the process of making historical records, while still maintaining one of the most affordable family markets in the country.
That being said, observing that their house prices have soared nearly 30% over the past year, Niagara home owners are simply in awe that their home has gained so much value over such a short span of time. They also question how this can happen?
Simply put, the housing market is somewhat synonymous to apple pie. For many years Niagara had plenty of delicious, and relatively cheap, apple pie. Though the apple pie was delicious it was Niagara's little secret. Surrounding areas started running low on their pie ingredients, and the prices of the remaining pies started escalating. Word then got out that our apple pie was just as scrumptious! We now have people coming from all over the country if not world for our apple pie. As a result, we have not only used up a lot of our ingredients, thus our apple pie is has also increased in price, but still much more affordable than most.
As home prices in Toronto continue to soar, matched by the publication that the GO train line will exist from Niagara to Toronto in the future, and concluded by the simple fact that the Niagara Region has a ton to offer a home owner at a relatively affordable cost, I am clearly not alone in seeing HUGE VALUE in owning a home in Niagara.
Join me for my next blog regarding the repercussions of the Foreign Investor Tax implemented in Vancouver one year ago; the same tax recently implemented here in the Greater Golden Horseshoe surrounding Toronto, in Ontario.
As always please share with friends, family and collogues. I am always here for you to help with any real estate inquiries whatsoever. Sheryl@McGarrRealty.com
Realtor®, running fanatic, Coach (Performance Rowing Coach; NCCP level 3,) Canadian National Team rower and World Medallist, YTT200 Yoga Instructor, who loves living and laughing, and enjoying every moment.