Get Ready for the Hunt
Real estate moves in a cycle that is very similar to the cycle of seasons in nature. Typically, the spring is the height of the market, where there are significantly more buyers and sellers prowling the market.
If house hunting is on your list of to-do-‘s this year (perhaps for the first time, or you are moving up the property ladder) there are things to do to get prepared to make a wise purchase now, even though there is snow on the ground.
Plan, plan, plan
As transactions go, buying a home ranks high on the list of emotional purchases- because, of course a home is not simply where you seek shelter. It’s where you spend time with your family and friends, while creating the memories that comprise your life.
Knowing that, and how easy it is to get swept away with spending when there is an emotional component, counter that with hard-core planning that includes some hard focus on dollars and cents.
Set out a Budget
Visit your local financial institution to get pre-approved for a mortgage- and realize that the maximum number that they give you is not the number you should use for your house hunting guide.
Remember that there are extra expenses involved in keeping a home running, like property taxes, utilities, and repairs. You don’t want to get into the situation of being house poor by pledging too much of your monthly income towards the mortgage.
Make your List
How many bedrooms do you want? How many bathrooms? Are you seeking a condo, townhouse, semi-detached or single family home- and most importantly- does your budget support this?
What sort of features do you need and what do you want? Think about things like finished basements, backyards or buildings with good security and amenities.
Have you thought about where you’d like to live? What is appealing about the area to you?
Scope out various neighbourhoods during different points of the day to get a feel for things like traffic, noise and community involvement.
Remember, real estate, in addition to being your home, should be treated as an investment asset. If you are looking to grow it over the long term, where the home is matters- as in if it is close to green space, public transport and amenities like shopping and entertainment, you should be able to preserve and grow your asset value over time.
Assemble Your Team
If you are choosing to use a realtor (many opt to go on their own) now is the time to interview them. Don’t choose the first person you meet- but rather interview a bunch. Go with someone who understands and respects your goals with whom you connect. They can also be helpful when preparing offers and guiding on how much you should spend, as it relates to the market and to your budget.
It’s always helpful if you can use someone that has been referred to you by friends or family.
Whether you are looking to sell your current home, or move from your rental property into your first home, take the time now to organize your home by decluttering and taking inventory.
Clearing up space now will help you get your home staged and to market quickly, if that is what you are after. If you are buying your first home, it will help with moving- as well as letting you know what your furniture and other needs might be in a potentially larger property.