Buying a House FAQ

As a buyer, you have to make sure to know how the market works before you step in, or you risk missing out on the property of your dreams when you find it. Here are the core questions most buyers have. Visit our Home Buying Guide for more answers or feel free to leave us your own question in the comments!

  1. If I'm interested in a property, how can I determine if the list price is fair?

    We will look at the property's sales history and comparable recent sales to help assess true market value.

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  2. How do I know what price to offer for a property?

    Based on comparable recent sales and our extensive experience, as well as any other relevant factors such as competing offers, we will recommend an offer price that will protect your best interests and give you your best chance to get your dream property.

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  3. Do you do short or long term rentals?

    The MLS system was primarily designed for sale properties as opposed to properties for lease - please contact us for a referral to an agent working specifically with rental properties, and for other great renters' resources!

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  4. Do I need to have a home inspection done on every home I'm interested in?

    In some cases, the sellers might already have commissioned a recent home inspection by a reputable home inspector to save you the trouble! It is also possible to purchase a property conditional on a subsequent home inspection. We will help you determine on a case by case basis whether an inspection is recommended.

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  5. What happens to my deposit while I await closing?

    Your deposit is held in the listing brokerage's trust account until closing when it is applied towards the purchase price of the property and related costs. If an interest-bearing clause was part of your original offer, you may be entitled to the interest accrued on the deposit once the property has closed.

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  6. How do I go about finding open houses?

    If you are a client of The Julie Kinnear Team, we will send you a comprehensive list of all the open houses happening in Toronto's desirable neighbourhoods every single weekend! If you're just browsing, feel free to contact us for open house information on specific properties - or you can check out for their list.

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  7. Can I get a lockbox code from you and just visit a house myself?

    For the protection of all parties to a trade in real estate, you must be accompanied by your Buyer Representative when visiting a property (unless the seller is holding a public open house).

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  8. What is your referral policy?

    The majority of our business comes from friends, family members and happy clients who introduce us to their friends and work with us again and again. But of course, we also meet new clients who've found us on this site!

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  9. Should I buy first or sell first?

    Each strategy has its advantages and disadvantages depending on your unique situation. Contact us and we will be happy to help you craft a strategic plan that works best for you.

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  10. Can you tell me more about bidding wars?

    Bidding wars, known in our industry as multiple offers, occur when there is more than one offer on a property. We can often advise you in advance whether a property is likely to have multiple offers. If you're interested in putting in an offer, we will let you know of any competing offers so that we can adjust our offer strategy.

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  11. Should I buy new or re-sale?

    While we work primarily with residential re-sale properties we do occasionally assist our clients with purchasing newly constructed properties. We can discuss whether your needs are best served by re-sale or brand new properties!

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  12. When should I make my offer conditional?

    A condition inserted into the offer means that the contract will not be firm and binding until certain things are fulfilled or waived (i.e. you getting financing from the bank, or your lawyer reviewing status certificate documents in the case of a condo.) Conditional offers are considered weaker than firm offers, and may harm your chances of getting your dream property - we will discuss your best options with you.

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  13. Do you know any mortgage brokers or financing specialists?

    Yes! As referrals are the backbone of our business, we would be happy to refer you to several trusted colleagues in mortgage financing. Please contact us for this information.

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  14. How long should a closing take - how soon before I can move in?

    Most closings are from 30-60 days from the date of acceptance of the offer, however, this can vary based on buyer and seller needs and other practical concerns. Our systems help ensure a smooth closing for you whether it's a leisurely wait to move in or a quick closing!

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  15. I saw a great house on but when I drove by, it was already sold? imports its information from the Toronto Real Estate Board, and there can be a time lag of up to 3 days. In addition, it often takes a brokerage a couple of days to report a property as sold, depending on administration. For the inside scoop on whether a property is really still on the market, please contact us.

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  16. If I just want to get in to see some houses, why do I need a Buyer Representative?

    A Buyer Representative does a lot more for you than just open up a house! In our consultative role, we listen carefully to your deepest needs and values so we will know how best to help you find the best property. We negotiate with your best interests in mind, acting as an intermediary between you and the seller and insulating you from costly mistakes. Finally, we handle the (literally hundreds!) of transactional details so that you don't have to.

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  17. Is a Buyer Representative's service free to me?

    Yes! The Buyer Representative is typically compensated by the listing agent for the property once a purchase has been made, so we act on contingency when working for you.

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  18. Do I need a real estate lawyer if the offer documents are pretty standard?

    Yes. Though the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and related documents may be standard, and of course we will explain all of their ramifications, your lawyer will need to search title for the property to ensure it is free from encumbrances. They also provide many more important services. If you do not have a real estate lawyer please contact us so we can recommend one to you.

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  19. How much do I have to put down on a property when making an offer?

    Offer deposits are generally 5% of the offer price, rounded up. Getting a certified cheque or bank draft for this amount can make a great difference to sellers, especially in a multiple offer situation - you will be seen to be prepared, confident and serious about buying the property.

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  20. What are homes selling for on a certain street?

    We'd be happy to send you information on recent sales on a particular street - to satisfy your curiosity, show you how your investment is doing, or as part of your buying or selling research! Just let us know the street and we will send you the most current data.

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  21. What happens if I buy a house and the sellers don't deliver on their promises?

    Occasionally this happens and it's unfortunate. Our course of action depends on what they have failed to deliver on - for instance, if the house is not in broom swept condition we will contact the sellers' agent to ask them to rectify this. More serious issues often will involve your lawyer. We will advocate on your behalf to help ensure you are compensated!

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  22. Do I get a better deal if I buy a house being sold by the bank?

    Sometimes homes are listed as 'Power of sale', which means the mortgage holder has obtained the right to sell the home and retain the proceeds when a mortgage is in default. These homes are listed at fair market value, though there may be room to negotiate.

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  23. What's a CVA?

    A Current Value Assessment is what the City has valued a property at for the purpose of calculating property tax. It may or may not be close to the actual market value of the property.

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  24. What is an SPIS?

    A Seller Property Information Statement is an optional form that sellers can fill out when listing their homes. The seller warrants as to certain information pertaining to their home, such as their knowledge of any structural problems, details on mechanical systems and upgrades etc. If you are interested in a specific property we can let you know if there is an SPIS available and send you a copy of it.

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Didn't find what you were looking for? Visit our Home Buying Guide or contact us right away with your questions!

20 comments on “Buying a House FAQ

  1. My question is. I already offer on one house and the seller accepted it jest before one day.. Today I saw another house and I liked it very much.. Can I gave offer on second house?

    1. Hi Jas, No you can not offer on the second house. You must let your real estate agent know what you want to do very urgently!
      The Julie Kinnear Team

  2. You cover all the questions of buying and selling property related and you can often advise you in advance whether a property is likely to have multiple offers.

  3. Great stuff presented by you. All the questionnaires with answers have made my all doubts clear. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hi There,

    I have a question re house rennovations. At what point does it not make sense to keep updating an original home in a neighbourhood where the majority of sales are subsequently double-deckered? We live in a bungalow in the St Clair/O’Connor area and are considering a complete first floor renno. I’m not sure this is a prudent use of resources, given that we intend on selling within 5 years, as there is a strong possibility the house would be double-deckered after it is sold. In short, we would not really recoup the renno costs. Any advice?


  5. Hi,

    I’m looking to buy a house and I was wondering, if I were to make a conditional offer, how long typically would the seller give me to get a mortgage from the bank?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ellen, The offer would be conditional on financing in which you would from that point go to your bank and or mortgage lender for financing and that can take 3-5 days. It varies depending on your lender. It is very good to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start and or at the beginning of the process that way you will know what exactly you will have to spend and it can protect against interest increases.
      Hope this helps you, The Julie Kinnear Team

  6. i saw house listing in the comunity flyers without an agent i called the seller agent he showed me the house then he act as a seller and buyer agent then finaly i put a conditional offer after home inspection i waved the condation a month passed that i find the house is smaller by 300 to 400 sq feet as he told me and advertized it now my closing date is 40 days left my deposit is 10000 dollers can i get my deposit back or get out of the deal.thank you sooooo… much

  7. Hi,

    I hope that you can assist me. I have done a lot of research on this and still cannot find an answer. I will be a first-time homebuyer. We plan on getting an agent or broker but I have no clue what I would need to pay them to show us houses and help us in the search, if anything at all. I read that my agent would get paid through the seller, but it seems odd to me that I would not have to pay anything. On a house between $150,000 and $260,000 should I expect to pay the broker/agent $5, $100, 10,000…? I have no clue how to determine the base amount or the commission amount if I need to give it at all…. Thanks!

    1. Generally speaking the buyer’s agent is compensated through the proceeds of the sale when you buy (which is the commission that the seller agrees to pay and is written in their listing contract). On occasion a seller is not willing to pay a commission to the buyer broker and at that time, you will need to pay your agent directly instead. It is all very clear in the buyer agency agreement (BRA), and it states just that above – so when you meet with your agent go through it with them.
      good luck!

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