Needs vs. Wants
What features do I want in a home? What features do I need in a home?
Looking for a new home can seem overwhelming at first. There are so many things to think about, so many choices, and often not enough time.
A small investment of time and effort right at the start can pay tremendous dividends. Take the time to organize your thoughts and think seriously about what sort of home you want before you start looking. It will simplify the process, save you time, and help lead you to the right home for you.
Make sure that you talk to us before you start your search to help you get organized, answer your questions, and also to raise important questions to ask yourself, such as:
- Where do I want to live? (community/general area)
- How much should I expect to spend on purchasing a home?
- Are schools a factor?
- Do I want an older home or a new one?
- What style of home do I prefer? (ranch, colonial, split-level, multi-level, town home, condominium, multi-family, bungalow, other)
- How much renovation and remodeling am I willing to do?
- Is being close to public transportation important?
- Do I have special physical requirements, such as wheelchair access?
- Do I have pets to consider?
- What sort of lot would I like? (small yard, large yard, fenced, garage, patio/deck, other buildings)
- How many bedrooms do I need? How many would I like to have?
- How many bathrooms do I need? How many would I like to have?
- How big a house do I want? How many rooms? How many square feet?
- What features are important? (air conditioning, carpeting, ceramic tile floors, hardwood floors, eat-in kitchen, separate dining room, formal living room, family room, den, library, basement, separate laundry room, fireplace, workshop, other)
Brent and Associates Can Help
How can we help?
Good Realtors save you time and money. They know your community, they know what is important when buying and selling a home, and they know all the intricacies of the process, from finding a home, to negotiating a price, to closing a deal.
Brent and Associates will:
- Screen the available homes in your neighbourhood to make sure that the houses you look at fit your budget and your requirements
- Give you important information on local real estate values, taxes, utility costs, services, and amenities
- Guide you through the viewing process showing you features you may not have noticed and problems you may not have spotted
- Advise you about your legal and financial options
- Recommend expert help when needed, such as home appraisal, home inspection, and contracting services
- Manage your offers and counter-offers, and use his or her skills and experience as a negotiator to make sure you get the best deal possible.
Two out of three Canadian families own a home – that's one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world. And for good reason.
It is also a good investment. With the increase in house prices, it is all the more important for first-time buyers to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder.
- Homeownership is the single largest source of savings for Canadian households.
- Unlike other investments, which can be quite volatile, the increase in the value of homes is relatively steady. The average house price in Canada has increased every year since 1998.
- The return on your investment in your home can be substantial. In 2004, the average house price in Canada rose to a record $227,210 – a 9% increase in just one year and a 27% increase over four years.
- Homeowners can use the equity in their homes as security for other loans.
- Building equity in your first home is the first step on the property ladder. It gets you into the market, keeps you in touch with increasing house prices, and puts you in a good position to trade up to bigger and better houses as your circumstances allow.
When should I talk to someone about my mortgage options?
There is nothing more frustrating that falling in love with a home, only to find out you can’t afford it. What’s the best way to avoid disappointment? Figure out your finances before you start looking.
Pre-qualifying for a mortgage is the best way to find out how much you can afford. Your financial institution will look at your income, expenses and debt to determine how much they will lend you. Combine that amount with the money you have for a down payment, and that’s your budget.
Once you have pre-qualified, consider applying for a pre-approved loan. Then, when you find the home you want to buy, it will speed up the purchasing process.
Who should I talk to about my mortgage?
Your bank is only one option. Mortgages are available through a number of financial institutions; you should shop around for competitive rates and options.
How do market conditions affect my position as a buyer?
The real estate market is always changing:
The supply of homes on the market exceeds the demand.
|High inventory of homes. Few buyers compared to availability. Homes are on the market longer. Prices tend to drop.
||More time to look for a home. More negotiating leverage.
There are more buyers looking to buy a home than there are homes on the market.
|Smaller inventory of homes. Many buyers. Homes sell quickly. Prices usually increase.
||May have to pay more and make decisions quickly. Conditional offers may be rejected.
The number of homes on the market is equal to the number of buyers.
|Sellers accept reasonable offers. Homes sell within an acceptable time period. Prices are generally stable.
||More relaxed atmosphere. Reasonable number of homes to choose from.
Making an Offer
What are the main elements of an offer?
The price you offer reflects your opinion of the value of the house and is determined by the condition of the property and local market factors.
You can make any offer you like. It does not have to be the same as the seller's asking price.
The deposit shows your good faith and will be applied against the purchase of the home when the sale closes. Brent and Associates can advise you on an appropriate amount.
Include the total price offered and the financing details. You may arrange your own financing or ask to assume the seller's mortgage, especially if it has an attractive interest rate.
Conditions are items that must be completed or fulfilled prior to an offer being concluded. These can include subject to home inspection, subject to you obtaining financing, or subject to you selling your existing property.
Inclusions and exclusions
Your offer may be contingent on certain items being either included or excluded in the sale. These might include appliances, fixtures, and decorative items, such as window coverings or mirrors.
Closing or possession date
The closing date is generally the day the title of the property is legally transferred and the transaction of funds finalized, unless otherwise specified (except in Manitoba and Quebec). In British Columbia the possession date is legally one to three days after closing.
What happens to my offer to purchase after it is drafted?
Your offer to purchase will be presented to the seller as soon as possible after it is drafted. The seller can accept your offer, reject your offer, or make a counter offer.
An accepted offer means the seller has agreed to all the terms and conditions exactly as set forth in your offer to purchase.
A rejected offer means the seller did not agree with any of the terms and conditions set forth in your offer to purchase.
A counter offer means the seller agrees with some of the terms and conditions of your offer, but not all of them.
The seller then makes a counter offer. The counter offer may change the price, the closing date, or add or delete conditions.
Once you have received a counter offer you have two choices. You can accept the new terms and conditions or reject them. If you reject them, you can choose to start the whole process over again.
What happens on closing day?
Closing day is the day you become the official owner of your home.
Typically, you visit your lawyer's office to review and sign documents relating to the mortgage, the property you are buying, the ownership of the property, and the conditions of the purchase. Your lawyer will also ask you to bring a certified cheque to cover the closing costs and any other outstanding costs.
Once the mortgage and the deed for the property are officially recorded, you become the official owner of the property and your lawyer or realtor will call you to pick up the keys to your new home.
Congratulations! You've just bought a home!
What should I do to the interior of my property, before I list it for sale?
Every room should look as spacious, bright, and warm as possible.
- Wash walls, ceilings, and trim. Consider painting with light, neutral colours. Repair cracks.
- Tighten loose knobs, towel racks, switch plates, and outlet covers.
- Fix tight doors and windows, squeaky floorboards, and loose stair banisters.
- Clean and repair caulking around tubs and sinks. Fix leaky faucets; remove water stains.
- Clean and organize the basement and attic. (This is a good opportunity to throw out all the bits and pieces you don't want to move.)
- Organize closets. Get rid of the clutter. Limit the number of items stored overhead or on the floor.
- Clean out kitchen cabinets, and remove clutter from countertops.
- Clean drapes, blinds, and curtains. Shampoo carpets, and wax floors.
- Now's a good time to spray for bugs.
- Arrange furniture to make rooms appear as spacious as possible.
- Remove any items you're taking with you, such as chandeliers and mirrors.
What renovations will give me the greatest return when selling my property?
The top three renovations that get you the most money* are:
- Bathrooms (75 to 100% return)
- Kitchens (75 to 100% return)
- Interior and exterior painting (50 to 100% return)
*Appraisal Institute of Canada's 2004 Home Renovation Survey
Other renovations and their average rate of return (the value they add compared to what they cost) include:
- Replacing roof shingles (50 to 80%)
- Replacing the furnace and heating system (50 to 80%)
- Renovating the basement (50 to 75%)
- Adding a recreation room (50 to 75%)
- Installing a fireplace (50 to 75%)
- Up-grading floors (50 to 75%)
- Building a garage (50 to 75%)
- Replacing windows and doors (50 to 75%)
- Building a deck (50 to 75%)
- Installing central air conditioning (25 to 75%)
How important is the exterior look of my property?
First impressions really do count. If the impact of your curb appeal is strong, people will want to see what is inside.
- Cut the lawn.
- Cut and trim the shrubs.
- Remove dead tree limbs and other yard debris.
- Brighten up the garden with fresh shrubs and flowers.
- Get rid of the clutter. Put away toys and gardening equipment.
- Touch up peeling paint on doors, siding, and trim.
- Repair and paint the fence.
- Fix damaged roof shingles and flashing.
- Clean windows, replace broken panes, and fix torn screens.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Wash the driveway and sidewalk. Patch cracks or holes.
- Clean up the garage and shed.
- Have the gas grill ready for use.
- Make sure outside lights and doorbells work.
Marketing Your Home
How will you market my property for sale?
Brent and Associates will develop a detailed marketing plan that will give your property the maximum exposure and attention it deserves.
When you list with us you will:
- always know what actions are being taken to sell your home
- receive regular progress updates
- be kept informed of changing market conditions
- be kept up-to-date on sales of other homes in the area