Top Items to Look For In A Home

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As a newcomer to Canada, it can be a daunting task to purchase a home, whether it is a condominium, semi, townhouse or detached house. Buying a property for personal use, income property or as an investment, is a perfect way to begin your life in Canada. In either case, resale value is of utmost importance with your first home purchase in Canada. The increase in value of a property over time is key to building equity and making money through real estate investment. The following factors should be considered when buying a property:

1. Location, Location, Location

When you go house hunting, look for a house that is:

  • Minutes to major highways such as Highway 407, Highway 401, Highway 400, Highway 404/Don Valley Parkway
  • Walking distance to public transportation such as bus stops (TTC or local transit), bus terminals, GO Train stations or subway stations
  • Walking distance to main roads and arteries
  • Far enough away from freight train tracks and power lines as they lower the value of the property

2. Neighbourhood

Once you determine the municipality (city) in which you would like to live, narrow down the neighbourhood by looking at the following factors:

  • Ratings of the schools that your particular address is “zoned” in. This can be found on the board websites in the School Locator section
  • Distance to schools, major shopping malls, grocery stores, shopping plazas, drug marts and doctor’s offices for convenience when running errands
  • Demographics of the particular streets that you are interested in; this includes:
    • Share of Families with Children
    • Average Household Income
    • Ethnic Origin and Religious Affiliation
  • The overall look and feel of the neighbourhood, for instance: How do neighbours keep their property? Are the properties well-maintained from the outside? This can tell you a lot about the pride of ownership of homeowners in the neighbourhood.

3. Size and Floor Plan

Once you determine the neighbourhood and particular streets that have houses for sale you will begin to see houses that your real estate agent selects based on your budget and wish list. When viewing these houses keep in mind the following factors:

  • The functionality of the layout of the house to suit your needs
  • Are there enough bathrooms to comfortably accommodate everyone’s morning and night schedule?
  • Are there enough bedrooms if you decide to have more children? Do you need a spare room for visiting family members?
  • Do you need a home office?
  • Do you want to rent out the basement? If so, the basement will need to have a separate entrance at minimum and ideally will be finished. You will also need to make sure that the basement complies with local by-laws and fire code requirements.

4. Aesthetics

Once you have found some homes that meet your criteria for the layout and number of rooms, you must determine if the property requires any renovations to bring the aesthetics of the house up to par:

  • You will need to price out the cost of renovations and add together to determine the total cost of renovations
  • If you add the list price of the house and price of renovations together, are you over budget?
      • If so, your real estate agent must find out if the sellers are flexible in terms of price
        If they are, great! Subtract the cost of renovations and make an offer.
      • If not, decide. Are these renovations necessary? Can you live in the house in its current condition for now and renovate later?

NOW THAT YOU KNOW YOUR WISH LIST

You will need to take the following steps to prepare for your search:

1. Secure a real estate agent

  • Interview and hire a fully registered real estate agent who you can trust and will be available for you
  • They will help you find the right property in the right area within your budget
  • They should have your best interests in mind

2. Secure a mortgage pre-approval before you start looking

  • Meet with a registered mortgage agent who will ask you for certain documentation in order to qualify you for a mortgage
  • OR Meet with a mortgage agent at your respective bank to see what they can qualify you for
  • Provide this information to your Realtor so that they know your price range

3. Know your budget

  • Look at major costs when purchasing a property, including:
    • Property Cost
    • Moving Cost
    • Lawyer Fees (Closing Costs)
    • Land Transfer Tax
    • Cost of any renovations needed (if any)
  • Look at ongoing monthly payments, including:
    • Living Costs (personal – i.e. food, clothing, personal care items, school, etc.)
    • Mortgage (if any)
    • Property Taxes
    • Property Insurance
    • Utilities (gas, water, hydro, phone, cable, internet)

I hope this article has helped you in understanding the key items to look for in a property and the steps that must be taken in order to acquire your dream home or investment property. If you have any questions, or you are in need of a real estate agent, I would be very happy to help you.

Brittney Rossi
As a fully-licensed Real Estate Sales Representative with Sutton Group Admiral Realty Inc. located in Thornhill, Ontario, it would be my pleasure to help you with your real estate needs whether buying, selling or purchasing an investment property. I hold two degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels which have solidified my ability to listen to my clients’ needs, research the best options and deliver during negotiations. Through top-notch communication and commitment, I provide unmatched professional and trustworthy service.  I will work in your best interest to ensure that you are fully satisfied with the results. Call me today to learn more about the current market and discuss your options.

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