- Some sound advice … don’t buy an unusual house.
- Even if the quality of the school district doesn’t matter to you now, remember it might someday to another buyer.
- Brand new homes purchased from a developer may be lower in maintenance costs, but can be higher in out of pocket expenses. GST applies to brand new homes.
- 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.
- Location, location, location – some things don’t change.
- Supply and demand is a critical issue. Be ready to move quickly when you find what you want.
- Get pre-approved for your mortgage prior to making an offer (if applicable).
- Pay attention to floor plans. Changing layouts after buying can be costly.
- Be an educated buyer. Learn as much as you can about the market before you buy.
- Always make your offer to the seller contingent on having a home inspection – it’s money well spent.
- Discuss all aspects of your mortgage with a qualified professional. Compare mortgages – an artificially low interest rate could have enormous hidden costs.
- When interest rates are low – it might be best to go for a fixed rate mortgage.
- Redoing kitchens and baths can be very expensive – check these out carefully.
- Imagine the home vacant. Do not be swayed by decorating – the furnishings will leave with the seller.
- Vacant homes appear larger than they are. It may be a good idea to measure to make sure your furnishings are going to fit.
- Landscaping is there not just to make the home look good – it can save thousands of dollars over the years in utility bills.
- Buy the best home you can afford in the best neighborhood you can find. You are almost always better off with the least expensive home in the area rather than the most expensive.
- Pay attention to the original listing date of the properties you look at; sellers tend to be more flexible the longer the home is on the market.
- Be honest and open with your Buyer’s Agent; he or she works for you and can best help you if they have a good understanding of your needs.
- You’ll know the right home for you when you see it and it will have very little to do with logic – don’t ask us how that works – it just does!
What to look for when viewing a home
Remaining objective can be a difficult task when viewing an open house or a home with your Real Estate Professional. It is easy to fall in love with a home’s appearance, and be blind to problems that may make it unsuitable.
While aesthetics can be an important consideration, it is necessary to look beyond window-dressing. A qualified home inspector should be hired before purchasing a home, but there are areas that consumers can examine on their own. This will shorten your list of potential homes and reduce the likelihood that a home inspector will reject it as unsafe or unsuitable.
Here are some considerations and common problem areas to look for when touring a home.
- General upkeep: Much can be surmised from the general state of the home. Is the home clean? Are lawns left uncut? Are the walls chipped and in need of paint? If smaller chores have been ignored it may be an indication of a broader disregard for home maintenance.
- Water leaks: Check ceilings and drywall for stains, bulges and other signs of water damage. Water that works its way inside via a leaky roof or a cracked foundation can rot wood, create mildew and mold, destroy possessions and can be expensive to repair.
- Does it work?: Test lights, faucets, the heater, air conditioning, major appliances (that are to be included with the home) – even flush the toilets to ensure everything is working as it should.
- Floors: As you walk across the floors be aware of ‘spongy’ (soft or springy) sections. Excessive squeaking and uneven, bumpy floors may also be indicative of expensive forthcoming repairs.
- Doors and windows: Check that doors and windows fit snugly in their jambs and operate smoothly. Look for flaked paint and loose caulking. If the wood around windows and doors is not protected from moisture, it can rot away. Feel for drafts in these areas too.
- Poor drainage: On a wet day walk around the yard and look for areas where water collects. This can be an especially bad sign if there are soggy areas near the home’s foundation.
- Grout and caulking: If the grout and caulking around bathroom and kitchen tiles is loose and crumbly, there is a good chance that water is finding its way into the wall or under the floor.
- Structural: Although this is definitely an area where you want the services of a qualified home inspector, you can get an idea about possible structural problems if you see deep cracks in the foundations or loose mortar and bricks.
- Miscellaneous concerns: Naturally, one the most important factors will be determining if the house suits your family’s needs. If you do not want to replace all of your furniture, make sure it will fit into the rooms of the new house. This is difficult to do by eye, so be sure to bring a measuring tape.
- Also, take note of storage space. If you are moving from a home with large closets and a shed, make sure your new house is able to store an equivalent amount of belongings.
What type of Home Ownership is right for you?
There are three broad categories of home ownership: freehold, condominium and cooperative.
Freehold homes offer the most privacy and freedom of choice of any other type of home. As owner of the entire structure and grounds, homeowners are free to decorate and renovate as they please. But with that freedom comes a lot of responsibility. All of the maintenance (indoors and out) is the sole responsibility of the owner, which can be costly in terms of both money and time. Freehold ownership is the most common type of home ownership.
Condominiums are typically a less costly alternative to owning a detached house. With a condominium, you own, and are responsible for, the interior area of your unit (everything from the plaster in). Upkeep of the building and grounds is handled by the condominium association, which is funded by monthly fees collected from tenants. Condominiums often have strict rules regarding noise, use of common areas, renovations etc. Condo residents often enjoy less privacy than residents of detached homes.
Cooperatives (or co-ops) are comparable to condominiums, except instead of owning your unit, you own a percentage of shares in the entire building (or complex). As with condominium ownership, maintenance and repairs are paid for through the collection of monthly fees and you are subject to the rules and regulations of the co-op board. One drawback to living in a cooperative is that if you decide to sell your shares and move out, the co-op board has the right to reject your prospective buyer.
The real estate market is always changing. It helps to understand how market conditions can affect your position as a buyer.
Your Milestone Real Estate Professional can provide you with current real estate market conditions and explain their impact.
Understanding Market Conditions
|Buyer’s Market: The supply of homes on the market exceeds demand.||High inventory of homes. Few buyers compared to availability. Homes on the market longer. Prices tend to drop.||More time to look for a home. More negotiating leverage.|
|Seller’s Market: The number of buyers wanting homes exceeds the supply or number of homes on the market.||Smaller inventory of homes. Many buyers. Homes sell quickly. Prices usually increase.||May have to pay more. Make decisions quickly. Conditional offers may be rejected.|
|Balanced Market: The number of homes on the market is equal to the demand or number of buyers.||Demand equals supply. Sellers accept reasonable offers. Homes sell within an acceptable time period. Prices generally stable.||More relaxed atmosphere. Reasonable number of homes to choose from.|