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7 Things To Think About When Looking For a Home This Spring

Apr 16, 2024 | Buyers

As the snow leaves for another year and the weather gets warmer, the Toronto and west Greater Toronto Area housing market is also heating up. Are you thinking about a new home this year?

Here are seven things to think about when looking for a home this spring:

1) Consider the Long Term

Buying a home will always be one of the most exciting and magical moments of your life. However, it’s also a big commitment and you want to be sure you’re making the right decision for the long term. This requires a thorough understanding of your financial resources and your long term plans for your life. Without a well-thought-out plan in place, you might find yourself having to move again before you’re ready.

For example, we had a client who purchased a condo specifically to be closer to his workplace, only to find himself in a completely different area at a new job six months later. The economy is different than it was even a generation ago. Jobs—just like homes—are not always for life, especially in the beginning stages of your career.

Here are a few questions to think about when settling on an ideal location.

  • What are your goals for the short and long term? 
  • Where do you see yourself in terms of lifestyle, proximity to friends and family, your commute to work? 
  • Is living in the city important with ease of accessibility for public transportation or do you prefer to be in a suburban area with a larger property and more greenspace? 

Factor in what is most important to you with the wish list of your criteria, not only for the requirements pertaining to the home itself, but also for the community and lifestyle where you envision yourself being happy.

Another consideration is how much you plan to budget for your new home. Often, buyers can be taken aback by the costs of moving that go above and beyond the purchase price of the home. In addition, you can’t include all expenses in your mortgage and will have to take care of many out of pocket. 

Once you have an idea of the type of home you want, you can estimate how much you will need for your down payment, closing costs, and monthly mortgage by using our real estate calculator. 

If you’re looking for more guidance on the long-term benefits and implications of buying a house, the resources below will be invaluable:

2) Survey the Market

Spring is a busy time for the real estate market. More people typically list their homes now than at any other time of the year. The benefit is that this can mean more options to choose from, but you may also find yourself up against other buyers with the same idea. 

Most areas in Toronto and the west GTA are currently in a balanced or Buyer’s market which is favourable. However, even with the greater selection and less pressure of competition, there are still some considerations. For example, a home could attract more than one Buyer if it’s in an area that does not have a lot of turnover and has been renovated in a current style. This could result in a swifter sale than average as most home buyers want a turn key property with little to no renovation required.

A little background research to see how much homes similar to what you want are selling for will help you get the best value possible. However, you’ll want to dig deeper than that.

Competition, or the lack of it, can have an impact on the final selling price.

For example, a house that is listed for $1 million doesn’t necessarily sell for $1 million. High demand and interest from multiple buyers could drive the price even higher, especially for a freehold home in Toronto where the average detached price is higher than $1 million. Sometimes the list price is just a marketing strategy, therefore it’s really important to have a knowledgeable Realtor® to help you navigate the market. With their guidance, you will know the fair market value for each particular property of interest. Alternatively, a soft market where there are more listings available could mean the final listing price falls below what the Seller had initially hoped for. As the buyer, it’s critical that you don’t step into the market blindly.

Why keeping up-to-date matters

If you want to bring yourself up to speed with the latest statistics, you can find them on the websites of local real estate boards such as the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) or on our Blog here. We take a deep dive each month and break down the average selling price by home category, along with the difference in the year over year home values.  Keep in mind that these numbers are not in real-time, but are instead behind by approximately a month, and that home values will differ based on the dynamics within each unique neighbourhood.

Above all, remember that all the data in the world doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know how it affects you when buying a home in today’s market. With our boutique real estate services at the Tanya Crepulja Team, we’ll take a deep dive on a Buyer consultation to understand exactly what you’re looking for, as well as help you analyze and understand recent market trends. With this background and expertise at your side, you can proceed with the home buying process from a position of strength.

3) Scope Out Locations 

Spring is the ideal time to get a feel for a neighbourhood, especially in the GTA. During the colder months, many people spend more time indoors and it’s harder to get to know the type of people that live in an area, and how they care for their properties. Let’s face it – curb appeal and pride of ownership are important! Once the weather warms up and residents emerge from hibernation, you can really get a sense of how they live and interact. 

If you’re ever unsure about an area, we recommend that you take the time to go and explore an area that you’re not familiar with. Take a drive through in the afternoon, or on a weekend when there may be greater neighbourhood activity. Park the car and take a stroll to really get a feel for the neighbourhood. 

You’ll see what it looks like when kids get out of school, people start to arrive home from work, or they are out walking dogs and running errands. Make note of things like parks, distance to schools, proximity to grocery stores or other amenities, distance to public transit or the highway, along with any other features that are important for where you want to live. It’s a great way to get a sense of the community.

Are you still considering the best location for your new home? The related reading below will give you some food for thought:

4) Know Your Seller 

As a buyer, you want to find the best home you can at the lowest price. Understandably, the seller wants the opposite; they want to sell the house for top dollar. If you want to negotiate in a competitive situation, it helps to understand some of the strategies a seller may be using.

Now that we’re in more of a balanced market, for the most part properties are being listed at what we call a ‘buy it now price’ with some room to negotiate, while some others are deliberately listing their houses below market value to attract multiple offers and sell over the asking price.

When the property finally sells at “over the asking price,” it’s often just a reflection of the true market value. However, if you don’t understand what’s happening, you might be tempted to offer more than the home is worth, especially when your excitement levels are running high. This is another reason why it’s important to have a knowledgeable Realtor® by your side throughout the home buying journey.

5) Stay Logical and Grounded

The advice to buy with your head and not your heart is easier said than done. You’re making a huge change in your life, which always comes with a flurry of emotions. Any homeowner operating under the advice of an experienced listing agent will stage the property in a way that appeals to your senses and entices you to make an offer.

Sometimes, this means renovating and repairing the home to add real, tangible value. In this case, paying a little more might be worth it because you won’t have to worry about any of these upgrades after you move in. Other times, they’re just cosmetic improvements that have little impact on the actual fair market value but are instead designed to make you fall head over heels in love with the home. We have a trained eye for seeing past the aesthetics and in greater detail to identify potential issues or flaws, and will bring this to your attention so that you’re not surprised upon the property closing.

Keeping a cool head and basing your decisions on accurate facts at all times is essential. Leaving your emotions out of it not only helps you get the best price, but also to ensure you end up with the right house to begin with. 

6) Arm Yourself With a Plan of Your Own

There’s no question that your seller has a strategy to maximize their results from the transaction. If you want to compete in this fast-paced market, you’ll want to be sure you have a plan of your own. The following guidelines will help you stay grounded and give you the best chance of finding the right home at a great value:

  • Create a clear but flexible wish list of attributes you want in your new home. Know what your absolute must-haves and deal breakers are before you start searching. You’ll also want to know where you will be willing to compromise, especially if the market is tight.
  • Obtain a mortgage pre-approval from a reputable mortgage broker or lending institution – we can recommend one of the trusted professionals we work with on a daily basis. Having a mortgage approval in place and to know exactly what you’ll qualify for is absolutely essential before even beginning to view properties. 
  • Work out a budget range that is comfortable for you to allow for any repairs or unexpected costs. However, you should have an upper limit that you will not exceed under any circumstances. Setting your budget ahead of time will help you avoid getting caught up in potential bidding wars.
  • Learn to see beyond the cosmetic appearance of a home and focus on its structure and potential. Asking for a home inspection can help you determine whether it’s the right fit. In addition, some sellers will have already arranged for a pre-listing inspection. 

Buying a home for the best price at the right terms is a team effort. Learn more about choosing your Realtor® in the posts below:

7) Create Your Support Network

Keeping up with the latest real estate trends is a full time effort, not something you can do in your spare time on evenings and weekends. If you want to make the most of your buying experience, you’ll want to surround yourself with a support network of both friends and experts, beginning with an experienced and knowledgeable Realtors® like the Tanya Crepulja Team. 

Our boutique service is committed to helping you find the right house that you will love coming home to each day. In addition, we will put our Master Certified Negotiation Expertise to work to ensure you end up with the best possible value even in a competitive market. We are here to support you and provide sage guidance every step of the way, from the discovery stage to your house warming and beyond.

Whenever you have questions or need a sounding board, our team is here for you. Making your home purchase joyful and successful is our primary objective.

Do you want the benefit of expert guidance, superior client care and results when searching for your home in Toronto or the West GTA? Reach out to us at tanya@tcteam.ca or call 647-293-3785 for a complimentary Buyer consultation.