Thinking of buying a home in one of North America’s hottest real estate markets? Then you better get ready! How many times have we heard about the Toronto housing bubble, or Toronto is a seller’s market? So many! And it is all true. The Toronto real estate market just keeps getting hotter and hotter, and also more daunting. Don’t be intimidated, people are buying and selling in this city every day, some for the first time. With the right realtor, and a little bit of prep work, you can be well on your way to buying a home in The Centre of The Universe.
Where do you start?
There are a series of steps that we always recommend. Follow these steps and stay focused.
Multiple offers are something most buyers in Toronto will deal with. It is a fact of life in this market. Don’t let a multiple offer scenario intimidate you, it is very rare for someone to be the only person making on offer on offer night (though it does happen!) If you are prepared, and understand the process, this part will be a breeze, or maybe a bit of a gust, if we’re honest. But it is par for the course and if you’ve hired the right realtor, done your research and know what is happening, this will be one of the most exciting times of your life.
Preparation and an effective house hunting strategy is key! start the process early and get familiar with what is happening out there and hire the right realtor.
Here are the key steps you should take before diving in to the house hunt:
1) Fully organize your financing
Knowing what you can afford, for real, will really help narrow down your search and save you lots of time, and possibly heartache. It is important to know the differences in mortgage payments relative to various price points so you can keep your options open. The difference between $1,100,000 house and $1,400,000 house can be quite significant, however the actual monthly mortgage payments might still be affordable and within your price range.
With your financing organized, you will know exactly what you can comfortably spend so you can confidently remove your finance condition from your offer.
2) Readily available deposit
You will also need to have a minimum 5% deposit of the purchase price of a home, readily available at the drop of a hat which is required to submit with an offer. Having an available deposit signals to the seller that you are a qualified buyer, committed to closing. Being prepared like this is also a sign of good faith to the seller, and confirms the strength of your financing. This money is only deposited if your offer is successful.
★ Here are some resources for buyers in the early stages of the process:
3) Identify your wants and needs
How do you know where to start looking if you don’t know what you want? It’s important to identify what items are at the top of the list. Type of home, condo or house? Location, neighbourhood, parking, amenities, etc. It is important to be realistic when you’re drafting this list. Realistic about your budget, and your wants and needs.
Are you open to a different neighbourhood? A bungalow vs. a 2 storey? If you can’t afford the house of your dreams right now, waiting to save more money will potentially price you out completely! Homes in desirable neighbourhoods appreciate a minimum of 10% per year and sometimes significantly more. We saw prices jump upwards of 18% in 2020!
★ Check out our highly popular blog: Climbing The Toronto Property Ladder 101
4) Hire a realtor
Once you have your financing organized, it is time to hire a realtor. We always recommend you shop around and interview more than one potential agent. When going through this process, look for important qualities like: neighbourhood experience, availability, knowledge on various types of homes, knowledge in old Toronto homes, many homes in Toronto are over 100 years old and have specific qualities, as well as needs in terms of maintenance. An experienced realtor will be able to advise you on what type of renovations are possible, necessary or nice to have when dealing with an older home.
A good realtor needs to be a good communicator and negotiator. This will be an integral skill when it comes time for negotiation tactics and submitting offer.
Your realtor will help you navigate your hunt, offer suggestions and introduce you to new opportunities. However, they won’t be able to help you properly unless your financing and budget is organized and set.
You’ve got your financing in place, you’ve chosen your realtor now the hunt begins!
5) Narrow down the search and research
This comes back to point number 3, above. If you’ve chosen a specific neighbourhood you’d like to be in, do a deep dive with your realtor and look into the recent sold data for that area. If you can, try to view a few homes in person and track those listings to find out how the sales went. One you have a good idea of the sale price for the neighbourhood, you can start to re-evaluate your list of wants and needs. What makes sense based on your budget? This is a research phase that is crucial for building your buyer confidence. An experienced realtor can help you edit your list at this stage.
6) Understand the process, and it is a process!
In a seller’s market you are almost always competing with several other buyers for one house, this is called a multiple offer scenario. This also means that you are often paying well above the list price – anywhere from $50,000 for condos to $200-$400 thousand or more for homes in desirable locations. In a multiple offer situation, you need to be ok with the fact that you will pay more than the other buyers bidding on the same house. There has to be a winner. A big mistake buyers often make is focusing on how they are paying today versus how much equity they will make by getting into the market or how much more they will need to pay a few months down the road as prices increase.
Understand that the listing price is a strategy that has been adapted by sellers to entice multiple offers and get the absolute most money for their house. This is here to stay and wrapping your head around this incredibly important if you want to be successful at buying a house in Toronto.
Sounds a little scary, we know, but this is where the right realtor can really make a difference. Follow your agent’s lead, be available and try not to stress. Your agent has likely seen it all, and can reassure you as well as guide you through the entire process, so hopefully you don’t lose too much sleep over it.
★ Check out these additional resources that are a must-read anyone buying a house in Toronto:
- Top 3 Things Every Toronto Home Buyer Must Know in 2021!
- Why You Should Take Advantage Of Your Buyer Visits
7) Submit a competitive and clean offer
Ensure your agent has been communicating with the sellers agent on multiple occasions and building rapport. They need to be respectful and polite but ask strategic questions about sellers price expectations, offer instructions and general sense of interest in the offers on the table. Your agent needs to position you as the right buyer every time they speaks to the listing agent. It is important for them to be tactful and strategic during offer time.
In a multiple offer, you will need to submit a clean and competitive offer. What is a clean offer?
- No conditions. Your financing is organized and you have reviewed the pre-list home inspection and addressed all house questions well in advance.
- Always have a min 5% certified deposit cheque or bank draft submitted with offer, every single time you submit an offer.
- Give the seller their ideal closing date – this is one of the easiest negotiating tools.
Being competitive without overpaying is key. Your price needs to be in line with recent sales, that’s the seller’s expectations, always. Earlier in the process you analyzed recent home sales in this area, so you know you are offering a competitive price at this stage in the game.
If you truly have all your ducks in a row and your budget matches your wants make house hunting a priority. You should be able to buy a house in some of Toronto’s most desirable locations within a few months and no more than 2-4 offers.