This is how to buy a home in Toronto right now
The prospect of buying a home or condo in Toronto right now is daunting.
The market is volatile but there are people that can help. For those looking to take the plunge into home or condo ownership, there are several things you should consider starting your search.
Depending on what you want to buy — a condo or house — you will need savings and an annual income of about $130,000 to $200,000.
So the first step in buying a home is sorting out your financial picture and meeting with a mortgage broker, says TRREB (Toronto Regional Real Estate Board) president Kevin Crigger. A broker can also let you know about first-time buyer programs.
"I think really exploring the financial piece, looking at all of the potential tools available, especially as a first-time buyer, and making sure you make use of all of the relevant programs," Crigger tells blogTO.
After that, there are a few things new home buyers should consider when starting their search.
The best way to find a good realtor is through your social networks says Steven Fudge, a sales representative with Bosley Real Estate Ltd.
"People will tell you, the realtors that they found really helpful and went above and beyond or those they had a bad experience with and who to avoid," Fudge tells blogTO.
If you are looking to buy a home in a particular neighbourhood, you may want to post for recommendations in Facebook groups for that community.
After you get some recommendations, Crigger suggests meeting with a few agents to find the right person.
"Realtors are ultimately very similar to job applicants," Crigger says. "You know, not, not all realtors are created equal, not all realtors have comparable experience. And not all realtors have a service offering that will work for every buyer."
Getting an agent to work for you is the first logical step in buying a home, he adds. They have the market knowledge, can coordinate multiple showings, and provide advice and guidance throughout the process.
"Buying a home is not like buying a pair of shoes, it's a pretty involved process, and there are some big decisions that are life-changing that one is making," he says.
The first place most people look is Realtor.ca as it has the bulk of properties currently on the market aside from a few homes up for private sale.
"Realtor.ca is probably the most comprehensive set of properties out there," says Fudge.
There are other sites such as Properly, Zolo and Zoocasa, which may offer additional information about homes but they won't have all the properties on the market, he says. Realtors can choose not to allow these sites to post their property.
Those looking in the GTA, may want to search on the TRREB website, which has all the current listings in the area and also has market statistics, adds Crigger. It is not connected to a brokerage and there is no login or sign-up required.
Those who don't want to look through listings can simply let their realtor do the leg work.
"Let's face it, we all have full-time jobs," Crigger says. "So the full-time job of your realtor is basically your home search…(realtors have) a huge amount of experience and understand nuances of neighborhoods, they understand nuances of market data."
Before you make a big purchase, you will want more information about the neighbourhood. blogTO has comprehensive neighbourhood guides with information on restaurants, shops, fitness clubs and art galleries.
Fudge suggests people also look at the City of Toronto ward profiles, which provide demographic information on each area.
"It's a great way to find out how a neighborhood is changing with each census, culturally, socially, economically," he says.
Your realtor will also have a lot of information about a neighbourhood's access to transportation, location of schools, retail and entertainment. And then you will want to spend some time there — visit during the day and at night.
"I think experiencing the neighborhood is key. Walking around the neighborhood, grabbing a coffee at the local coffee shop, checking out local grocery store, looking at some of the retail nearby, going out for dinner, see what the neighborhood is like at night," says Crigger.
While Toronto has low property taxes, some new home buyers get a shock when handed the land transfer tax bill.
"It's always been shocked to find out how much the land transfer taxes are in Toronto, because we've got a provincial and the city one," says Fudge.
On top of that, there are costs for getting a home inspection (which is recommended) and lawyer's fees.
There may also be unexpected costs shortly after you buy a home.
"If you're buying a house that is 60 years or older, there will probably be a surprise that has not been uncovered by the inspector because it's a visual inspection," says Fudge.
Finally, before you put in that offer, make sure you really want to buy in the location. Is it noisy or sitting on a slope and may get flooded? Fudge suggests knocking on the neighbour's door and talking to people.
"Don't be afraid to pay attention to the immediate surroundings, as well as the community that you're buying into because we're so often focused on the property itself," he says. "And yet, so much of our real estate investment is based on the location."
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