Buying your first Real Estate purchase can feel both exciting and daunting at the same time. The entire process can seem overwhelming with all the legal details and paperwork that has to be dealt with, along with the most important step of actually choosing your new home and location.
While helping first-time Buyers with one of their most important decisions, I find that if they’re able to organize their priorities and understand the process from start to finish, it enables them to enjoy the journey of choosing their first house or condo.
I recently asked one of my new buyers if he would reflect on his experience and discuss his concerns and fears in respect to his purchase.
David, a young professional along with his dog Zeus were looking to settle into the west end of Toronto. Proximity to work, sports, friends and a dog friendly area were key in his deciding where to move. Like many first-time buyers he was looking at affordable options being both condos and townhouses. While getting extra space in the townhome, he found that he’d have to travel outside of his preferred area and go further west into Mississauga. An airy loft in west end Toronto, in a building super friendly with dogs ended up being the right fit for David and Zeus.
David’s main priority was finding an appropriate location that suited his lifestyle while still staying within his budget. Being a young man, he was nervous about getting too deep into debt and not being able to afford his lifestyle. Zeus also had to be considered with both the interior space available and the outdoor area for dog walking and playing, while also being in a building that allowed for larger breeds.
David found that having all of the information explained up front, simplified the process and enabled him to make his decision, feeling both comfortable and pressure-free. When you’re making such a large commitment, you don’t want surprises!
Most buyers start off doing their research online, open housing on weekends in their hoods of choice and quite often by asking friends or family for a referral of an agent they’ve enjoyed working with. The Toronto real estate market can be competitive and however you establish that relationship, the most effective way to find and purchase your property is by having your “own” Realtor who will act as your Buyer Representative and will legally represent your interests from start to finish.
I always meet with my Clients for an initial interview that allows us to discuss the entire process and what to expect.
I explain Agency Relationships and the benefits for a Consumer having Client representation with a Buyer’s Agency Agreement.
The necessity of having an official Pre-Approval done with a lending institution with all of the necessary steps taken from credit check to income verification, before you actually start looking at properties. You can lock in your interest rate and some lenders also have great packages that enable buyers to blend renovations in with their purchase at great rates and allowing them to expand their options for purchasing.
Rebates available for 1st time Buyers: Land Transfer Tax Rebate for new and re-sale properties that allows buyers that qualify to receive rebates of the Provincial and Toronto Land Transfer taxes.
Home Buyers’ Plan that allows 1st time Buyers that qualify to withdraw up to $25,000 as an individual or $50,000 as a couple from their RRSP’s to use as their down payment when purchasing their principal residence. They have 15 years to yearly re-pay the amount back.
Explaining FINTRAK that requires Realtors among other professionals covered by this legislation, to collect personal identification from Buyers and Sellers.
Reviewing an Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the fine print explained.
Explaining what is a survey and Title Insurance.
The benefits of a Home Inspection.
Home Insurance and possible difficulties with some properties.
Insurance questions they will ask about the dwelling.
Closing costs over and above your purchase price.
The offer negotiations and what happens when there is competing offers.
Explaining conditions in offers, waivers, notice of fulfillments, amendments and releases.
How to prepare for closing date with your lawyer and what happens.
Who to notify prior to closing for Utilities and change of address.
If a condo has been purchased, explaining what to arrange.
Next, defining the neighbourhood and type of property that fits the Buyer’s budget and lifestyle.
When looking to purchase in Toronto, most buyers will have an idea which part of city they’d like to settle in. Each and every neighbourhood has a distinct flavour and as your Realtor, I’ll be able to guide you if necessary to similar areas, if your price range can’t get you into your first hood of choice. Discovering new areas that are up and coming and great options are part of the fun of looking!
Many buyers have been surprised when they actually began the process and found that while they thought of themselves as hard core “modernists” those character older homes were calling their name. When you begin to look for what could potentially become your future home, it’s also a lesson in self-discovery and often an eye opening for couples in both communication and compromise.
Consider the property types that you could envision yourself living in and calling home. You can first start with the locations that you’d feel comfortable with. Are you more interested in being able to walk to the local fruit markets and cafes or is green space more important for pets and children? Does a busy street bother you or street parking? Living in Toronto can be full of “urban” compromises and quite often parking is at the top of the list. After choosing the areas you’d like, you’ll more than likely find that each and every hood has a distinct type of housing whether it is a house, condo, loft or townhouse. Finding the right fit for your budget and lifestyle will be a matter of exploring these choices and keeping your options open to possibly expanding your geographic area if you’re not finding enough available in your initial search.
Working with a professional and full-time Realtor will save your both time and money. You’ll be assisted with all the intricacies of the process from the beginning of looking, negotiating the contract to closing details.
Now it’s time to enjoy the process of finding your first “Toronto home!”
April Esteves is an “Accredited Buyer’s Sales Representative” designated by REBAC of the National Association of Realtors with Royal LePage R.E. Svcs. Ltd. at their Toronto Bloor West Village Branch.