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Buying Your House or Condo In Today’s Market
Choosing the Right Representation
When it comes to searching for a place for you or your family to live, lots of things come to mind. It’s common to have questions like, “what neighbourhood should I move to?” “What should I look out for?” “Should I buy a house or a condo?” “What price point can I afford?” “When is the best time to buy?” There isn’t just one answer. Many factors come into play and you need an experienced agent to guide you through every step.
An experienced sales representative can help answer most of your questions and make the home-buying process smooth and exciting for everyone involved. The first thing a realtor will do is sit down with you and listen to your needs, wants and requirements, so they can prioritize their efforts based on what is most important to you. Do you want to be closer to your child’s school? Need a shorter commute to work? Looking for a place in the city’s next hotspot?
Whatever your motivation may be, at GTA-Homes we’re here to guide you-step-by-step.
The first thing we tell most home-buyers is to start your research as early as possible. Start by visiting houses in areas you’re interested in, research online and scan through listings to get a general idea of what is going on with the market. Make notes, specifically on the homes that might be of interest to you. Compare prices, scope out the spaces themselves and see if you can picture yourself living there.
How Much Can You Afford?
Lenders and real estate agents always recommend that before going out to see homes with your realtor, you should have a good understanding of your budget and what you can afford. This way you will know exactly what homes and price range you should be looking at. You should be able to do this by calculating your income, expenses, debt payments and savings. A great tool that can help you with this is our Affordability Calculator.
Get Pre-Approved For A Mortgage
This is by far the most time-saving step in the mortgage process. It involves getting a pre-approval from your financial institution for a certain mortgage amount before you even start house-hunting. To get pre-qualified, all you need to provide is some information such as Government-issued identification and your Social Insurance Number, which allows the lender to obtain a credit report, your yearly earnings, employment verification, savings and investments like RRSP.
Generally there are two affordability rules that determine how much you can spend on housing without risking your financial freedom. Your monthly living expenses should be well under 32% of your gross monthly income and your monthly debt load, which includes your mortgage payments, should be well under 40% of your gross monthly income. You can explore a lot more with our Affordability Calculator.
Finding The Right Real Estate Agent
That’s us: the GTA-Homes team! The representation you use when purchasing a home is a vital factor to your success. Your team can provide you with helpful information that's not easily accessible to the public, access to properties for sale before they’re listed, knowledge about the buying process and financing options. A skilled negotiator will assist you in negotiating an offer and act as mediator to avoid potential conflicts between you and the seller.
Familiarity with the area you want to look at can be extremely valuable in the buying process. You can expect the highest professional standards from our agents, as they not only follow strict adherence to provincial laws but also adhere to a Code of Ethics. Best of all it, using a real estate agent doesn’t cost a cent to you as a buyer, as agents are compensated from the seller of the property. So go ahead, get the guidance you require from the right real estate agent.
Happy House Hunting & Making An Offer
Enjoy the process and have fun! Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the process. Start looking at homes, take notes and use our helpful checklist for all the properties you can see yourself living in. It’s important to take note of what qualities you like and dislike in a living space, as this helps you narrow down your search and allows you to spend more time viewing homes that meet your unique needs. During this process your agent will be by your side to answer any questions you might have.
A few tips to choose the right home:
Test the plumbing by running the shower
Flush the toilets to make sure they’re all in good working order
Turn the lights on and off to make sure the electrical system for each room is in good working order
Test the windows to make sure they open and close properly
Make sure to take notes on the following:
Take note of the neighbourhood. Visit the home at night, during the day and on weekends to see if it’s an area you or your family can picture calling home.Are the surrounding homes well-maintained?
Do the neighbours seem friendly?
Does the level of traffic seem reasonable?
Is there ample parking for your family and guests?
Is it close enough to amenities you may need, such as schools, parks, shops, services and restaurants?
Is it well-served by public transit?
Time To Inspect
After a long - or short! - process of negotiating for your dream home, it’s time to hire an inspector and see what’s behind those walls. Usually your agent will provide you with several inspectors he or she has worked with and recommends. This is usually done within five days of putting in the offer and negotiating. This gives you peace of mind and allows you to know exactly what you’re buying.
If the inspection turns up any concerns and you still want to proceed, you can go back to the drawing board and re-negotiate for these potential costs by lowering the price with the seller, or asking to have them fixed beforehand. It gives you some leverage when negotiating a lower price, but more importantly, ensures there are no surprises waiting for you behind those walls. Before you take ownership you will have two more chances to inspect the home again to make sure everything is either still in working order, or to confirm any repairs have been completed.
Work With Your Mortgage Broker
Time to revisit your mortgage advisor and provide them with a copy of your purchase agreement, the property’s MLS Listing and some additional financial information. At this time, you and your mortgage specialist will discuss all your financial details and a strategy that best suits you when choosing a mortgage. You will discuss all options such as a fixed vs variable rate, interest rates and terms, payment options, amortization, down payment, employment income and liabilities. Your mortgage advisor will help you prepare all the documentation needed in order to have a successful closing.
Lenders usually require the home to be appraised before closing and this normally happens when they’re getting the paperwork completed, which is in the same week of the closing date.The appraisal company is a third party company that compares your home to other similar properties in the neighbourhood and makes sure that the price you paid is fair.
Get The Paperwork in Order
As you likely already guessed, there is a lot of paperwork involved when purchasing a home and many different professionals who help make the process a successful one. Realtors, mortgage agents, inspectors, appraisers and lawyers all work collaboratively to assist you with this paperwork.
Let’s get ready to move! We’re almost there, are you excited? Either on, or a few days before closing, your lawyer will arrange a meeting so you can sign all the documents. They will go through each document with you, collect any money that’s outstanding and explain legal details about the closing procedure. Closing costs are a list of charges your lawyer presents to you and usually equal around 2% of the purchase price in addition to the down payment (have around 2.5% to be on the safe side). The costs vary among provinces and cities.
Below you will find a brief explanation of these costs. Please note these are some of the closing costs you may encounter depending on your specific situation. Use this as a guideline then talk with your lawyer who can provide a more realistic estimate for your situation. Some of your closing costs might include:
Down payment: If you purchased a home below $500,000 then the minimum down payment required is only 5%. If you purchased a home between $500,000 to $999,999 then the minimum down payment is 5% on the first $500,000 and 10% on the remaining purchase price. If you’re buying a home above $1 million than a 20% down payment is required. But we always recommend a down payment of more than 20% to avoid CMHC Fees.
Appraisal Fee: An appraisal of your home is usually required by your Mortgage Lender and it costs between $300 to $500. This is to evaluate and estimate the market value of your home.
Home Inspection: A professional inspection of the home, top to bottom, is for the benefit of the buyer. A home inspection can cost anywhere from $300 - $500 and is well worth the investment. When hiring a home inspector make sure the inspector has liability insurance just in case they overlook something.
Fire Insurance: Mortgage lenders require a certificate of fire insurance to be in place from the time you take possession of the home. The amount required is generally the amount of the mortgage or the replacement cost of the home. This cost can vary on the property size, amount of coverage, the insurance company and the municipality. The cost can vary anywhere from $400 - $800 annually for most properties.
Mortgage Loan Insurance Fee: This is required from your Mortgage Lender when you apply for a mortgage and is also mandatory in Canada, it is required when your down payment is less than 20%. The premium insurance protects Mortgage Lenders, in the event a borrower ever stopped making payments and defaulted on their mortgage loan.The premium is calculated as a percentage of the loan and is based on the size of your down payment, the less down payment you pay, the higher percentage you will pay in insurance premiums. The insurance premium charge can be added to your mortgage and be paid off over the life of your mortgage.
Tax on Mortgage Insurance (CMHC or Genworth Financial) if your mortgage is insured: If your mortgage is insured, (CMHC or Genworth Financial), you will be required to pay the applicable taxes on the insurance premium on closing. While the insurance premium can be added to the mortgage amount, the tax must be paid at closing.
Survey Fee: A recent survey of the property is usually required by lenders. If one is not available the cost can range between $800 - $1200 for a new survey.
Title Insurance: In lieu of the survey most lenders today will accept “Title Insurance” which can cost considerably less, usually around $350.
Legal Costs and Disbursements: Lawyers and notaries charge fees for their services involved in drafting the title deed, preparing the mortgage, and conducting the various searches.
Disbursements are out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the process such as registrations, searches, and supplies. Can cost anywhere from $800 to $1600.
Land Transfer Tax: Most provinces charge a land transfer tax payable by the purchaser. The amount varies depending on the province. Land transfer tax is based on the purchase price. First time home buyers purchasing a new or re-sale home may be entitled to a refund of all or part of the land transfer tax.
New Home Warranty (If New): In most provinces new homes are covered by a new home warranty program. The cost to the purchaser for this warranty is approximately $1200 and should the builder default or fail to build to an agreed-upon standard the fund will finish or repair the deficiencies to a maximum amount.
HST (If New): HST is payable on the purchase of a newly constructed homes only. If you are purchasing a new home make sure you know who pays this, you or the builder. On the offer the purchase price will say "Plus HST" or "HST Included" and who gets any HST rebates. Many builders have included this cost into the purchase price so the buyer does not have to come up with it at closing.
Closing Adjustments: An estimate should be made for closing adjustments for bills the seller has prepaid such as property taxes, utility bills, and other charges. Any bills after the closing date are the responsibility of the purchaser. A lawyer will let you know what they are once the various searches have been completed.
Finally the day is here: you’re a homeowner! This is the day the property becomes legally listed under your name. Your lawyer will process the paperwork, transfer title, transfer the payment and you will receive the deed and keys. Congratulations on your new home! Now you’re ready to move in and make it yours.
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Selling Your House or Condo In Today’s Market
Choosing the Right Representation
Selling your home in today’s real estate market requires a full service realtor who utilizes a balanced multimedia marketing plan to expose it to the broadest market of prospective buyers.
In fact, consumer reports say their number one piece of advice is to pick the right representation; someone who will have your best interests in mind and market your property accordingly.
An agent who is experienced, knowledgeable and sells in your neighbourhood. Look for local brokers who are listing, marketing and selling in your community. Ask several sales reps to make a listing presentation to discuss your property’s value, track record and explain how they would market your property. It is not enough just knowing the value of your condo, or that they will only be uploading it to www.realtor.ca. Marketing is a complicated piece of the puzzle, just as pricing is.
Hire a sales representative who presents a multimedia marketing platform to sell your home, which includes both online and offline marketing, local and international exposure.
What to Expect
Your agent will help you understand the selling process. He or she will provide you with a full explanation of what to expect so you are not faced with any surprises along the way.
Getting to know you
One of the first things your sales agent will ask is: “Why are you selling?” Or, “what is your motivation for making the move?” He or she will also explore any time constraints you may have. Is it the right time to sell now? Is it better to sell in the spring as opposed to the winter? Is it a seller's market or a buyer’s market? What things can you do to your residence to sell it efficiently and for maximum value? They will also ask you about your financial situation and any future plans. It's all part of getting to know you so the sale will be handled to your complete satisfaction.
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Our Online Multimedia Marketing Platform:
Popular industry websites that attract over 300-million visitors each month. Virtual tours, using state-of-the-art videography. Magazine ads, newspaper ads, Facebook ads, Google ads. Email-blasts and even more online ads, so your home gets maximum exposure. This is all part of our comprehensive multimedia marketing strategy, which is why we’re Names You Can Trust, With The Ultimate Service.
Our Offline Multimedia Marketing Platform:
Feature home presentations. Staging. Open Houses. Newspaper ads, magazine ads and branded racks found at TTC stops, subway stations and GO train stations. Door-hanging program, targeted direct mail, postcards and flyers.
Your house may be your greatest investment. Protect your equity by choosing the right representative for the job. Insist on international exposure for your home! Or better yet, choose the GTA-Homes Team to sell your home! We already understand the importance of advertising worldwide!
Setting the Price
Arriving at an accurate estimate of value for your home is one of your agent’s primary tasks, but it’s still only one part of the equation. Pricing your home so it receives maximum value involves analyzing the property and comparing it to similar properties in the area that are for sale or have recently sold. It may also include a broader market survey, using sales statistics available only to qualified realtors.
In the end, you will be sure the price you set reflects the true value of your home under current market conditions. A knowledgeable and experienced agent, will be able to determine this right away. When you trust your agent, you will be able to collaboratively agree on a listing price. Hire a team whose Names You Can Trust, With The Ultimate Service.
When a potential buyer wants to view your home, the listing brokerage’s office will contact you in advance to confirm the requested date or time. You can confirm or reschedule, but it’s always best to be as flexible as possible. When the showing time rolls around, it’s usually best for you to leave your house and let the buyers view your home at their own pace. There is nothing more distracting and uncomfortable for a buyer viewing a home when the seller is hovering. Go treat yourself to a coffee! Who knows, a purchase offer may be awaiting you when you return.
When your home is up for sale, it’s important to clean and tidy thoroughly on a daily basis. Sometimes sellers say they feel like they’re not living in their home anymore during this period, because they have to be prepared for daily viewings, sometimes on short notice. We promise you, it’s worth it. It's not enough just to clean the house on a weekly basis though, you need to keep it tidy and sparkling every day. Have your dishes done, make your bed. Wash those floors and open all the blinds for optimal lighting. Make it a magazine-worthy and welcoming space for those potential home buyers.
Get Your Home Ready
Now that you have the right representation, you’ve set a price and signed a Listing Agreement OREA Form 200, it's time to showcase your home. Your agent will carefully tour your home one last time, pointing out where some simple changes might help showcase the space better.
They may even suggest a professional stager to help your place look its upscale best. Once your home is primed, they’ll schedule showing times. We have a checklist detailing what we do when we list your home:
For Sale Signs
Email Marketing/Social Media
Now it’s time to let the magic happen! Your agent will do everything they can to market the property online and offline to get qualified buyers into your home. Your ideal buyer is out there!
Take a deep breath. Sometimes the offer process can be complicated. The good news is that your realtor will be right beside you guiding you through the whole thing. Several things can happen when you have an interested buyer. For example, you could get a single offer and spend an evening negotiating back and forth. You could get an offer and spend an entire week negotiating. If you’re lucky, you might get more than one offers in one night, sparking a bidding war.
In all cases you can choose to accept, negotiate or walk away. The kind of offers you will get largely depends on the market. A hot market might get you multiple offers, while a buyer’s market might mean you get a single offer and have to decide whether to work with it or not. During this time it is very important that you have an understanding of the market so you can make an informed decision and ultimately get the best value for your home. Your agent will help you navigate this process and offer valuable knowledge and expertise on the current market and past trends.
Closing day is here! It’s time to get all the paperwork ready and make this a successful sale. You will need to meet with your lawyer and provide them with all the necessary documentation. Your lawyer will advise you on what this entails, but typically it will include Government-issued ID, your Social Insurance Number, property tax bill and mortgage documents. Don’t forget to inform the utility companies, municipal offices and your insurance company about your move. After a successful closing day, your lawyer will have a cheque for you. Congratulations on selling your home!