Even in less competitive markets, finding the right home is tricky. Sure, somewhere out there is probably a beautifully well-maintained home that is exactly the right size and in a perfect location.
But is it available?
If it is available, can you afford it?
Most of the time, dream homes don’t come pre-made. You have to weigh your options and then build on what is within reach.
Real estate is all about size, condition, or location regardless of your budget. Home buyers are often in a process of compromising what they want in order to buy a home. It’s rare to find a home that fits all three perfectly.
Don’t let this get you down. Even in a balanced market, finding a home that satisfies two out of three (size, condition, location) is a great deal.
Savvy home buyers will even find unexpected benefits and solutions to the things that they considered less than ideal. With the right mindset, tenacity, and an experienced real estate agent, you can win in this competitive real estate market.
First Off: Budget and Creating a Strategy
It’s impossible to know what works best for you until you know your budget. Based on that budget, you have a strategic approach for a successful home buying experience.
Time to Talk Budget
You need to consider the maximum that you are comfortable spending (borrowing) to buy a house and be honest about the absolute maximum that you can spend if you find yourself in a multiple offer situation.
A good way to think about it is how much is a comfortable mortgage amount and how much do you need to have for home maintenance.
Monthly Home Costs
- Mortgage and Interest: $3,000
- Taxes: $300
- Utilities and Internet: $250
- Other: $200
- Total: $3,750
Once you know your budget and if you have additional money to do major updates and repairs, like a new roof or installing hardwood floors, then you can dive into the size, condition, and location debate.
Figuring Out Which Options Works Best For Your Budget
Simple. Make an appointment with me.
We’ll go through an easy, but highly effective homebuyer intake process. Together, we’ll develope a strategy for your budget.
More importantly, the intake process will help you figure out what you don’t want to compromise on; location, size, or condition.
Figuring out what your compromise is, we can better focus our efforts on what it is you’re lookin for in a home.
Schedule an appointment by calling or texting me 416-995-0987 (calendly link coming soon).
Size, Condition, and Location – What Two Are Right For You?
Developing a strategy in advance saves you a lot of time and stress, from the home search all the way to closing day.
The very first step should be a quick chat of your priorities, and minimum requirements of the size, location, and condition of your future home. So let’s break these things down a bit.
Size – Small (Condo), Medium (Townhouse or Semi-Detached), or Big (Detached)
Bigger does not equal better. The living space you actually need is what truly counts. In fact, more square footage than you need can actually be detrimental in some cases.
Empty space is an invitation to more cleaning, maintenance, and clutter as you try and compensate to fill empty rooms with, stuff.
Unnecessary square footage will cost you more up front, and also in the long run.
Sometimes, the house is right for structural adjustments and additions, and you might have a grand plan in mind to add more living space as needed.
With the right inspector, you can see if the “bones” (structure) will allow for such changes.
- What do you really need to be comfortable?
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- Do you really need a formal dining room?
- Do you need office space, or can you use one space for multiple purposes?
- Do you need a yard, and if so, will you be happy with a small garden or do you absolutely need a larger lot?
Remember: If you want to add living space with an addition, there are minimum lot-size requirements.
A majority of my homebuyer clients are not willing to compromise on the location. So condition is their compromise. “Fixer-uppers” get a bad rep. There are plenty of comedic plots out there based on homebuyers getting a “sweet deal” that turns into a nightmare. It does happen.
However, there is a massive difference in knowing about the work that needs to be done to fix-up a home and blindly assuming that it will all work out with a little elbow grease and money.
I’ve climbed the proverbial property ladder on being able to spot hidden gems that just need a little paint and polish, to homes that with the right wall knocked out turned it into a show-stopper. A lot of my clients have also bought great homes whose potential has been fully revealed with small projects over time.
I also know how to spot a potential disaster in advance by being through it it, and working with thorough, professional home inspectors.
- Can I realistically do the necessary work on my own?
- Do I even want to do the work myself?
- Does it have to be done immediately?
- When major work is being done, will I be able to live in the house?
- After the purchase of the home, what kind of capital will I have to invest in repairs and upgrades?
- Does the cost of a remodel make sense with the expected appreciation of the home?
Maintaining a home has its own costs, even before including major repairs. Do the math and determine whether you can really afford a house that needs lots of work.
It saves a lot of stress to really know what you are getting in terms of a home’s systems and structure (plumbing, roof, foundation, etc) with an agent that’s actually been through it as I have.
Location, Location, Location – That Old Real Estate Mantra
In terms of appreciation over time, the old mantra “location, location, location” holds true. But when we are talking about the overall quality of life you have in a home, location is just one factor.
It’s a big one—especially if you demand a walkable, centrally located neighbourhood, or one with good schools for the kids—but it isn’t the only one.
Land is highly valuable (and highly taxed) so expect to pay a premium within the city limits. That said, if you don’t mind commuting or living in a more suburban area with fewer walkable amenities, you can still find a great neighbourhood.
- How and how long do I want to commute?
- What kind of businesses and amenities do I consider essential for my lifestyle?
- Is my lifestyle fixed, or do I see myself making significant changes in the years to come?
- Do I want peace and quiet or a more lively atmosphere?
- Is having a property with a view worth the added expense upfront?
Remember: Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area are changing rapidly as a whole. Many neighbourhoods seemingly change overnight.
Do your research about the history and expected changes in locations that interest you, especially regarding transit.
In Summary: Get A Good Real Estate Agent
There is so much to consider when buying a home, the sheer amount of information involved can be overwhelming. And then you have to make decisions with that information, and hope that those decisions a) get you the home and b) the home is really the right one for you.
You also need trusted mortgage brokers, home inspectors, and lawyers to complete the purchase.
It’s an emotional and personal journey. It’s best to have a strong voice of reason, someone experienced, and subjective outside guidance.
Hire the right real estate agent for your needs.
It’s important to really know your own priorities regarding the location, condition and size of the home you want to buy from the start.
Still, in the course of searching, you may find those priorities shifting as you see what is available and discover more things to love in a home.
A good agent will support you in that, too. Many of my clients have found neighbourhoods they love and homes that just needed some TLC to have major curb appeal.
I hope these tips help you buy a home with better confidence and success.
Good luck, and if you want to chat, I’d love to, as well!