10 Things Toronto’s First Time Home Buyers Need to Know

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Buying your first home is a huge milestone, and it can be a pretty daunting task, after all it’s likely to be one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. This is one of the reasons why seeking expert advice is so important to the buying process. A trusted professional, with your best interest at heart, can be the difference between ‘Home Sweet Home’ and regret. Finding and purchasing your first home can also be a lot of fun, and quite rewarding with the right know-how and attitude.

First-time and prospective buyers often have a laundry list of questions and concerns keeping them up at night, sometimes even before they set foot in their first open house. Holly Chandler and Tyler Delaney of The Julie Kinnear Team have valuable insight to help debunk first-time home buyer misconceptions and myths.

The information offered in the first-time buyer guide will help you gain the confidence you need to make the right decision!

1. Begin the process online

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With the advent of the internet people can begin some easy low risk investigation on their prospective purchases. This is the case for anything from reading reviews on Rotten Tomatoes before heading to the cinema all the way to beginning their journey to home ownership.

Tyler Delaney, Sales Representative, Buyer Specialist approves of this approach.

Most first-time buyers begin their searches online, using Google searches, REALTOR.ca or other sites. We find that buyers like to do their own research and gain a base level understanding of the market and the process before they contact a Realtor for guidance.

This is a great starting off point for future purchasers to learn more, collect information, and gather their questions for when they meet with potential Realtors.

2. Bidding wars happen, a lot

Toronto has been experiencing bidding wars even in the condo segment in the last few months and there is no sign of any changes on that front soon. In a competitive market as this one, there are so many things that need to be taken into consideration when creating a budget.This can be confusing and intimidating for novice buyers, but this is where the expertise of an agent can help. Tyler Delaney says young buyers now are worried:

"In today's market, prices are rising fast. First-time buyers are often uncertain of what their budget can afford them in terms of the neighbourhood, size and quality of a home. We repeatedly hear them say that they don't want to overpay for a house or ‘get involved in a bidding war’."

A good agent can help clients strategically create offers, avoid impulsive bids, and get the most bang for their buck.

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3. Patience is an important virtue in prospective buyers

We live in a world with instant gratification. If you want to listen to a song; you can look it up on Spotify. Feel like eating Indian food tonight? You can order it online and it will be at your door within the hour. Instant gratification isn’t on the table in terms of buying real estate in Toronto’s market. There isn’t a lot of inventory, which means a higher demand for great homes when they hit the market. According to Tyler Delaney the biggest challenge is not giving up:

Sometimes a buyer needs to offer on several homes before they are successful in purchasing. Often the biggest challenge for a first-time buyer is remaining persistent in their efforts to achieve their goal of home ownership.

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Holly Chandler, Sales Representative, Buyer Specialist, says that in her experience clients sometimes face a difficult decision when they see a home that checks all of their ‘must-haves’ in the first home(s) they see.

"Prices seem to go up each week so it’s important they have the knowledge they need in order to be comfortably decisive early in the game," she says.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help

For some reason we all want to be experts and we’re afraid to ask for help. For first-time buyers making the right connections early can help them focus their search within their budget, and help them avoid disappointment. Knowing where you stand financially, emotionally, and beyond in terms of your home search can help you make the next steps more easily and with considerably less stress. Tyler Delaney offers anyone even considering entering the market the following advice,

Speak to good Realtors. Speak to Mortgage Advisors. Sit down with professionals to learn what it's going to take to achieve your goals. You may learn that you're closer than you think to being ready to make a home purchase. It's never too early to contact us for a consultation. In fact, those who reach out to us early are the ones who end up achieving their goal of home ownership the quickest.

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5. Smart decisions often come from the help of experts

We’ve all heard about the real estate bubble. The media constantly talks about the bubble bursting, and how home values are inflated. The market will always vary, and it’s not easy to predict the intricacies of the market. This is why Tyler assures clients that they will decide if this the right time for them to buy together.

"Through working closely with trusted mortgage advisors, we confirm that our clients make smart decisions with their budget to ensure they are protected during market downturns and mortgage rate increases," says Tyler. "We also consult with our clients and ask them thought provoking questions about their needs and their short and long term goals, to ensure that they make the right decisions for their family.

6. A home requires more "work" and upkeep than other investments

Real estate is a popular investment for a number of reasons because it can become an income source, it can rise in value over time, and remains an important part of many people’s strategies to begin building personal wealth. Just the same a lot of people forget that they will also need to spend a fair amount of money over the years on home and property maintenance. However, according to Holly Chandler, real estate is still a stabile investment:

Historically, property ownership has been the greatest way to build wealth and financial security. Over many decades, the prices of houses, besides a few blips here and there has risen steadily. Wouldn’t it have been nice to buy that 1.5 million dollar house back in 2005 when it was 500K?

Holly adds that it’s important for people to ensure they are not going to be living beyond their means, but encourages them to get into the market as soon as they can. 

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7. Don't try to be an expert, let the expert guide you

Because digital information is so readily available, a number of first-time buyers believe they need to learn absolutely everything there is to know about housing, mortgages, CMHC insurance, trends, and their area of choice long before they even contact a professional. Some will even contact a Realtor for the first-time only when they are ready to make an offer. These ‘Do-It-Yourself’ buyers are missing out on a lot of expertise and experience by going this route.

"Our biggest value to our clients has to be the education that we offer, which begins during the initial consultation before we ever step foot in a house," says Tyler. "That education continues when we start looking at homes, where we share our knowledge and experience on home construction and maintenance, neighbourhood amenities, schools, and other important factors impacting the value of a home."

8. The "What-ifs" can block even the best decisions

A case of the "What-ifs" can have buyers, even those who have done all of the right research, all of the pre-approvals, get doubts when it comes to making an offer on the right home. In this market these what-ifs can quickly become a missed opportunity that a buyer will later come to regret. Tyler Delaney talks about a first-time buyer client he had who began to panic after placing an offer on a beautifully renovated home in an up and coming area that met all of her criteria.

We handed over the deposit cheque and the deal was firmed up. Almost immediately she began to have buyer's remorse: She wondered if she paid too much, if the house was too big for her, if the schools would be good enough for her child, or if they would like living in the neighbourhood.

Tyler took the time to remind this client about all of the factors she had considered before the purchase, and how he believed this was the right choice for her. It is completely normal to have doubts and hesitation over a big change, like the purchase of a home. A few weeks after her move Tyler’s client was sure she’d made the right choice, and is thankful for the honest, expert opinion she’d received at such a critical time.

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9. Inaction can be your own worst enemy

Some clients avoid making a decision by waiting. Waiting for the market to change, waiting to save more for a down payment; but by waiting they’re actually making a decision to not get into the market right now, which could also be a costly mistake. Holly Chandler says of her 14 years of experience that she’s had two "almost" clients who chose to sit on the sidelines.

They kept waiting for the ‘bubble to burst’ and prices to go down. Of course, prices have increased and nearly doubled since they first started looking. They regret not buying, and now they’re still renting.

10. Real life experience of realtors has additional value for buyers

In addition to years of experience, education, and connections, a Realtor can help you in many other ways. This is because they have been through the anxiety, pressure, and ups and downs of house hunting with many other clients, and can even bring their own personal experiences to the table.

"We have a lot of empathy since all of us on the team have been first-time buyers at some point. It’s a feeling you never forget," says Holly.

While some clients need to rely on their Realtor to help educate, and manage expectations, others benefit from a friendly, caring and knowledgeable sounding board. Realtors have contacts, checklists, and years of expertise to help first time buyers navigate the ins and outs of paperwork associated with their purchase. This alone will save buyers hours of time and stress, since they know their paperwork will be filled out and submitted correctly.

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