Toronto's Real Estate Team
Home Buyer University
Secrets To Successfully Buying A Toronto Condo


HOME BUYING PROCESS TIMELINE - WHAT SHOULD YOU DO FIRST?

 
After many years of helping Toronto house and condo buyers, we’ve found that, with the exception of occasional sudden events, most house and condo buyers begin their home buying search about six to twelve months from the date they ultimately pick up their keys from their lawyer and move in to their new home.
 
Those sudden events might include a job change, a marriage, a new addition to the family, a divorce or receiving an inheritance.
 
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15 Steps To Mastering The Home Buying Process

 
The home buying process can take as little as a few weeks or stretch out to several months or longer.  When buying brand new construction, it can even take up to three or four years to go thru all the steps.
 
I’ll give you a brief description of each step when buying a resale house or condominium so you can get a feel for how it all comes together.
 
Step 1
Of critical importance, once you’ve seriously started your home search, is to get a Full Mortgage Pre-Approval so you know exactly how large a mortgage you qualify for.

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Why Meet With An Agent Before Starting Your Home Search?

 

One of the things that most agents do when you first contact them is to ask you a few questions over the telephone such as what are you looking for, how many bedrooms and bathrooms and what neighbourhoods were you thinking of?
 
Then they will just throw you in their car, take you around and tour you through a bunch of homes.  More often than not many of those homes don’t fit your needs.

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WHAT FEATURES Should You CONSIDER WHEN BUYING?

 
(Layout, light, view, balcony, parking/locker, any upgrades necessary, % of tenants vs owners, bldg security, bldg amenities)
 
Buying a condo suite in a low- or high-rise building has some similarities and some differences to buying a house.  You’re not concerned directly with some of the physical attributes of the building such as the age of the roof and furnace or is there water leaking though the foundation into the basement.

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How Can A Buyer Agent Protect You?

 
Prior to 1995 the rules were different as they pertain to who is representing whom in the real estate transaction.  At that time, both the listing agent, and the agent showing homes to buyers (called a sub-agent), were both working for the seller. 
 
There was no confidentiality whatsoever.  For example if the seller asked the sub-agent ‘Will your buyer pay more?’ that agent was supposed to reveal anything that the buyer had told them.  For many of us however that didn’t happen. 

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Should You Buy A Parking Space? 


According to a new article in the Toronto Star, condo buyers in Toronto are shifting towards a trend that sees them saying “no thanks” to parking spots more often, instead preferring to make do with public transit or appreciate many Toronto neighbourhoods’ ease of walkability.

In one case, a developer interviewed by the star saw that his pre-construction buyers in a west Toronto condo, which is located next to a GO station, weren’t as interested in the four levels of parking he’d intended to build and is going to apply to the city to reduce the required parking amount.

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HOW MUCH CAN I AFFORD?

 
One of the most important things any buyer must do before getting excited about house or condo shopping is to find out how large a mortgage they could be approved for.  If you don’t  you might find out you're interested in homes that are out of your price range OR the opposite - you could actually afford a larger property or buy in a different neighbourhood.
 
There are two calculations that every lender takes into consideration… the Gross Debt Service ratio (GDS) and the Total Debt Service ratio (TDS). These permissible numbers will vary depending on your credit score.

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Cautionary Tips If You Have A Pet 

 
Many Ontario residents know that in a rental building, they can have pets even if their lease has a no pets clause. Provided their pet is not a nuisance and doesn’t cause other tenants’ harm, human rights laws in Ontario override these “no pets” clauses.
 
However, a common misconception is that this is the case in any situation, such as in a condo. Unfortunately, if you are renting or own a suite in a condo, “no pets” rules can be enforced. But as is the case with many Toronto condos, some buildings have restrictions around pets.

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Why Checking Your Credit Report Is Important 

 
A credit report for each buyer going on title is one of the three most important items a bank or mortgage broker checks to see if you are credit worthy and if they’re willing to give you a mortgage.
 
If you’ve never had credit, have no debt and have always paid cash for purchases, this is not a good thing in this instance.  Lenders want to look at your credit history to see how you’ve handled credit in the past.

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Important Tips When Buying A Tenanted Condo

 
With the condominium rental market so strong in Toronto, there’s a high probability that the condo you look at and fall in love with will be tenanted.
 
There are some advantages for you to look at tenanted suites IF you have a bit of imagination. 
 
Why is this important?  Well, one reason is that a good proportion of tenanted suites will not show as well as an owner-occupied condo unit. 

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MORTGAGE TERMINOLOGY EXPLAINED

 
Sometimes when you’re reading about mortgage financing or talking to a banker or mortgage broker, it seems like they’re talking in a different language.  They may be using terminology that you’re unfamiliar with.
 
Here’s a short list of the most common words or phrases you might come across.
 
Mortgage term and amortization often get mixed up.  Amortization is the number of years that it would take to pay your mortgage off to zero if the payment and interest rate were the same all the way through.

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HOW MUCH ARE THE ‘HIDDEN COSTS’ ASSOCIATED WITH BUYING A CONDO?

 
OK, you’ve got a down payment saved BUT did you know that there are significant costs associated with purchasing a house or condo?  So you not only need to have funds set aside for your down payment - a minimum of 5% of the purchase price for homes below $500,000 and approximately 7% when buying above $500K - you’ll also need extra money to pay your closing costs.
 
You’ll need extra cash on hand to pay for the following

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WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOU… PRICE, LOCATION OR CONDITION?

 
There are only three prime determinations for real estate value - price, location and condition. 
 
When you’re beginning to consider buying a home, one of the first things to find out is how much you can afford to pay.  For most people this involves going to a bank or mortgage broker to get pre-qualified for a mortgage.  Sometimes you might be approved for a larger mortgage than you feel comfortable taking on.  That’s OK.  At least you know clearly what your upper limit is.

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Should you get a condo inspected?

 
Historically for house purchases, there have been two primary conditions that most offers have included.  They are conditions on
 

If you’re buying a condominium townhouse, you’d certainly want to have an inspection which would include the exterior features of the premises such as the roof and windows, and all the interior systems such as heating, cooling, central vac, plumbing and wiring.

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GET A CREDIT CARD FOR YOUR MORTGAGE

 
At a time in our market cycle when multiple offers are common and sellers are in control of the offer process, it’s more important than ever to secure your financing commitment before you start going out to look at homes.
 
But there’s a misconception about what that secure commitment entails.
 
What many banks do when qualifying a buyer for a mortgage is to just ask a few questions such as, “What is your annual income?”, and, “What are your debts?”. 

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Did You Know Condo Maintenance Fees Can Increase?

 
According to a new study by TD Canada Trust, the majority of condo owners don’t realize that there’s a possibility their monthly condo maintenance fees could change at any time.  And they rarely, if ever, go down!

The survey polled condominium buyers in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, and 68 per cent of the respondents said they didn’t know that condo fees could increase any time over the course of their condo ownership.

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What Conditions Your Condo Offer Should Have

 
Historically for house purchases, there have been two primary conditions that most offers have included.  They are conditions on
 

However with purchasing a condominium, a third condition is almost always included which is a condition upon a satisfactory review of the condominium Status Certificate.

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Do Condo Owners Need Insurance?

 
There are two kinds of insurance when it comes to a condominium.
 
The first is insurance for the entire condominium building including the suites and the common elements.  It includes coverage for interior suite features, such as granite counters, kitchen cabinets, hardwood floors etc IF they were installed originally by the builder. The building insurance covers the replacement or repair of any of these elements due to fire, flood or any other kinds of damage.

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How Does Title Insurance Protect You?

 
The word “title” is a legal term that means you have legal ownership of property. You obtain title to property when the owner signs the deed (transfer document) over to you. Title is then registered in the government’s land registration system.
 
Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects residential or commercial property owners and their lenders against losses related to the property’s title or ownership.

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5 Steps To Avoiding Home Buyer’s Remorse

 
Have you ever bought something but then, later on, found yourself regretting that purchase decision?  Well, it’s no big deal when you can easily return or exchange something like a pair of pants or even a leather purse.
 
A house, on the other hand, is much more permanent.  It’s not only the largest investment you’ll ever make, but it’s also the place you’ll come home to every day, and where you’ll spend years making life memories as your family grows.

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What Happens Between Offer Acceptance And Closing?

 
Once your offer has been accepted by the seller there’s often a rush (and a timeline) to complete a series of tasks.  Let’s review what needs to be done.
 
Deliver Your Deposit Money To The Listing Broker’s Office
Once your offer has been accepted, we need to deliver that bank draft deposit immediately to the listing agent’s office to secure your purchase.  If we don’t do that immediately it may put your offer in jeopardy.

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You Absolutely, Positively Need To Know What These Mean


As you get into learning the best ways to buy a home in today’s busy market, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the terms of the business so that you will be speaking the same “language” as the real estate and mortgage financing professionals in the field!

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Choosing The Right Professional Agent Isn’t Easy

 
The Toronto Real Estate Board now has well over 50,000 licensed Realtors registered to work in the GTA area.
 
Of those, 80+% sell less than 5 homes per year and almost 50% don’t even sell 3 homes annually.  Many of those agents are working at a full-time job for their income and try to do their real estate business on the side, part-time.

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Thomas Cook
Thomas@LivingInToronto.com
647-962-1650

 

 

Here are 5 proven ways to move safely and smartly towards your real estate buying goal...

  1. Download a free copy of my Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide book
Find out everything you need to know about buying a Toronto house or condominium. Instead of randomly searching all over the internet, jump start your home buying experience and get a wealth of expertise and experience in one place.

Download your Guide here
 
  1. Get a custom listings search set up for you and receive targeted listings daily
If this list is not specific enough for you, we can put together a custom list of homes.  Maybe you want only 2-bedroom condos in specific neighbourhoods, or only semi-detached houses, or even a certain school zone. 
 
We can set up your HOMEWatch search for any area you choose (not just downtown Toronto), and you'll get immediate access to homes within minutes of them being listed.  Just leave some search criteria here
 
  1. Set up a step-by-step plan with the best ways to get to your home buying goal
At the beginning of the home buying journey, often the picture of what the end result might look like is a little ‘fuzzy’.
 
Our first-time and move-up buyers have told us that being able to meet with us on a casual basis as early in the process as possible, even if their purchase date was 6-12 months away, really worked the best for them.

To arrange your no-obligation Starbucks Strategy Session, click here.
 
  1. Join us for a Market Experience Tour - pick your favourite neighbourhoods and price range
Start getting educated about what your condo likes and dislikes are. 
 
The Market Experience Tour is a great way for you to figure out which neighbourhoods and condo buildings are right for you, and you’ll also get a good sense of what’s available in your price range.
 
Pick the date and time you like to go on your Tour.
 
  1. Don’t start your home buying experience on the wrong foot - Meet for a Buyer Consultation first!!
Home buyers have come to us after trying to work with another agent saying “I don’t think he even knows exactly what I’m looking for and I’ve got questions he doesn’t have the answers to”.
 
Don’t make the same mistake.  Let’s set a time to meet and go over how the complete home buying process works, find out what your likes and dislikes are and what pitfalls you’ll want to avoid, before you seriously start looking for a house or condominium.
 
This is the best 90 minutes of time you’ll ever spend - set up your private Buyer Consultation.