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Posts in Mortgage pre-approval

‘First 5’ Buyer tips

January 7th, 2014 Posted by Budget, First-time buyers, Mortgage pre-approval No Comment yet

The Toronto real estate market is in a sustained ‘sellers’ market state. Buyers have to be prepared to take action when they find a house they want. For you first-time buyers (and those of you who haven’t done this in a while), there’s lots that you need to know – not just about the market, but about the process. We’re not talking rocket science here, but almost every purchase or sale has something unique about it. Knowing the basics will help you to prepare yourself for your experience.

The following is by no means a comprehensive list; rather, it’s sort of a “Top 5” – or better yet, a “First 5” things you should know:

1) Be an educated Buyer. Learn as much as you can about the market before you buy. (I help all of my clients with this stage – and by reading this you are off to a great start!) The Toronto real estate market is extremely competitive, and you don’t want to be caught napping….

2) Be honest and open with your Realtor®. I work for you and can best help you if I have a good understanding of your needs. Once I know your needs, my job is to be your objective guide in the process, and to ensure your needs and interests are met and protected. The more info I have from (and about) you, the better I can do my job.

3) Get pre-approved for your mortgage as soon as possible. This helps you to determine your budget, and locks in today’s best rate for you. I’ll refer you to a few mortgage professionals, if you want. You speak to them all and pick the one you think is the best fit for you.

4) Buy the best home you can afford in the best neighborhood you can afford. You are almost always better off with the least expensive home in the area rather than the most expensive. That said, I strongly recommend that you be conservative with your budget.

5) There are no perfect homes. Be ready to make compromises and concessions. Know what’s most important to you and ‘give’ on those things that aren’t.

There you have it: five basic principles to get you started on your new home search. Be sure to visit my blog again for more tips, check out my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter – and please do call me if you want more help!

Condos vs. houses

October 10th, 2012 Posted by Buying opportunity, Condos, First-time buyers, Housing, In the media, Market Commentary, Mortgage pre-approval No Comment yet

As I have noted recently – and as has been widely reported in the media – there are two very different markets in Toronto real estate these days: condos and houses. Houses continue to increase in value, due in large part to relatively low supply, but I believe also because they appeal to a broader demographic. Condos, on the other hand, are in great supply (with many new projects situated downtown), often appeal to a different demographic (e.g. folks who can get by in 2 bedrooms or less and don’t want a yard), and have become the ‘whipping boy’ for a whole host of critics (banks, politicians, the media, etc.). It short, it ain’t a great time to be a condo in Toronto!

For those reasons, it’s understandable that buyers have become wary of condos. However, if a condo suits your lifestyle, and if you see the investment value (building equity, capital appreciation, potential income holding down the road) you shouldn’t allow yourself to be scared away. You know (at least, you *should* know…) your financial and life situation better than anybody else, so you can make your own call. Look at this period as an opportunity.

The market is somewhat ‘sideways’ these days – not going up, but not likely to go down much, either. Perhaps at some point we’ll hear about a construction project being cancelled, all the talking heads will say “I told ya so”, and the supply will adjust – and thus shall balance return! 😉

In the meantime, buyers can shop for value. Be extremely careful about your financing, as lenders are apparently getting skittish about condos. Some are afraid of a significant correction, and that’s their prerogative, ’cause it’s mostly their money. Be sure that your lender knows you are shopping for a condo, and ask if that affects the down payment they require as a term of your pre-approval. Whatever your max mortgage load is, be sure to spend a comfortable bit below that. Look for value in the market, and try to negotiate a better price.

These opportunities don’t happen very often in Toronto – the last one was in late 2008-early 2009 – and this one is limited to condos. We figure it will last 3-6 months, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was shorter.

What if you are a seller? People sell for a million different reasons, many of them forced (e.g. job or relationship change). If you really have to sell it’s important to price properly. It really doesn’t matter what a comparable unit sold for 6 months ago. What sold last week – last month at the most? Price to the current market.

Of course, if you don’t really have to sell now is not the time to ‘test the market’. By doing so you are wasting your own time (inconveniencing yourself, or perhaps a tenant) and contributing to the current supply situation. Perhaps you could try again next year….

Whatever happens in the next few months, I am certain of this: the condo sky is not falling. I don’t know why so many people freak out whenever there’s a market correction. Every market (from condos to oil to pork bellies) goes through periodic corrections. As long as we stay within our means (which most of us do), and plan for contingencies, we’ll all be fine. After all, this isn’t exactly the Zombie Apocalypse, ya know!

Home Buyer Tips – Fall 2012

September 18th, 2012 Posted by First-time buyers, Market Commentary, Mortgage pre-approval No Comment yet

I have written before about home buyer tips, but felt the need to update for the current market. Conditions in the Toronto real estate market change from month to month, season to season, and year to year. We are just getting started with the fall market for 2012, and it’s important to be tuned in!

There has been some debate here at RE/MAX Hallmark about whether conditions merit doing a ‘hold-back’ on our listings – i.e. setting an offer date that’s a week after hitting the MLS. With the usual negative commentary in the media and ever-tightening mortgage rules, the question is whether or not there is enough demand to justify that approach. Based on what we have seen this week (numerous multiple offer sales), I think there is. Supply is still tight and there are plenty of buyers out there (many looking to re-locate within the city). Prices are up over last year, so there’s no reason for sellers to worry; with some luck, we’ll get the supply we need to bring some liquidity back to the market.

This early in the season I won’t say that it’s a seller’s market, per se, but it does appear to be a stable-to-strong market. Buyers have to be prepared to take action when they find a house they want. For you first-time buyers (and those of you who haven’t done this in a while), there’s lots that you need to know – not just about the market, but about the process. We’re not talking rocket science here, but almost every purchase or sale has something unique about it. Knowing the basics will help you to prepare yourself for your experience.

The following is by no means a comprehensive list; rather, it’s sort of a “Top 5” – or better yet, a “First 5” things you should know:

1) Be an educated Buyer. Learn as much as you can about the market before you buy. (I help all of my clients with this stage – and by reading this you are off to a great start!)

2) Be honest and open with your Realtor®. I work for you and can best help you if I have a good understanding of your needs. Once I know your needs, my job is to be your objective guide in the process, and to ensure your needs and interests are met and protected.

3) Get pre-approved for your mortgage as soon as possible. This helps you to determine your budget, and locks in today’s best rate for you. I’ll refer you to a few mortgage professionals, if you want. You speak to them all and pick the one you think is the best fit for you.

4) Buy the best home you can afford in the best neighborhood you can afford. You are almost always better off with the least expensive home in the area rather than the most expensive. That said, I strongly recommend that you be conservative with your budget.

5) There are no perfect homes. Be ready to make compromises and concessions. Know what’s most important to you and ‘give’ on those things that aren’t.

There you have it: five basic principles to get you started on your new home search. Be sure to visit my blog again for more tips, check out my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter – and please do call me if you want more help!