The ‘First 5‘ buyer tips I posted previously are just to get a buyer started. There’s lots more to it. Here are five more topics to consider.
6) Hire a home inspector. Please, hire a home inspector. They don’t have X-ray vision, and they are not clairvoyant, but they will poke around a house and look for problems – and potential problems. Even the best house will have a few bumps and bruises. Knowing what they are will help you prepare to deal with them. Also, most inspectors are fountains of knowledge about home systems (furnace, A/C, plumbing, roofs, etc.), so they’ll give you a tutorial about your prospective new house.
7) Know the neighbourhood. If it’s new to you, spend some time there (walking, shopping, or just hanging out) and get to know it. Review comparable sales so that you can compare each house you see to recent activity. Stalk it (but not in a creepy way). Walk up and down the street; talk to local residents. Tell them that you are thinking of buying that house for sale and ask what they love about the neighbourhood. Ask if there are any concerns. You’ll have to beware goofy gossip, but the fact is that you can get great info just by chatting with the locals.
8) Map the route to work (or school, or wherever). Take note of transit options from the house of interest to where you need to go and, if you drive, your routes (and escape routes) both to work and out of town.
9) Get focused. It’s normal to start out with a few target neighbourhoods. But, over time, as you see more houses and spend more time on your search, do your best to narrow your search to (ideally) the one area where you are sure you want to be. Of course, you may pick one area, look there for a while, then feel the need to move on – for example if prices move out of your budget. If that happens just take a step back, re-evaluate and refocus on another neighbourhood.
10) Stick to your budget. This is obviously important, but especially so these days. There seems to be another wave of ‘light’ appraisals sweeping the city. It’s not that buyers are ‘over-paying’; that’s an exceedingly rare thing in Toronto. The issue is skittish (and sometimes out-of-area) appraisers… no offense to any appraisers out there. They have a job to do, and that’s to help the lenders manage their risk. I think that the market sometimes just moves faster than their comfort level. As a buyer, you don’t want to find out at the last minute that your lender thinks that house is actually worth $25,000 less than you agreed to pay. In that case, you’ll have to somehow come up with that $25,000, and that’s easier said than done. So, be careful. 🙂
There’s always more, but these ‘next five’ basic principles will help you with your new home search. Keep reading my blog for market info and more tips. Also, check out my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter – and please do call me if you want more help!