How to Work with a Real Estate Agent

Buying your first home is a momentous event, especially if you’re a millennial. Unlike older, more seasoned homebuyers who have seen and done it all, acquiring your first piece of real estate is often both exhilarating and stressful. One one hand, you can’t wait to move into a place you can call your own. On the other hand, you have so many things to consider, questions to answer and items to prepare, it can get a bit nerve-wracking. 

The good thing is that if you plan carefully, you’ll increase your potential of having the home you want and being ready to buy when the time is right. This is important, because unlike living in an apartment where you can uproot and go elsewhere after your annual lease expires, it’s pretty likely that your starter home will be your residence for several years. This is why you want the place that’s right for you. 

So let’s say you’re saving for your down payment and have a healthy bank account. It won’t be long before you’re ready to plunk down your check and sign on the dotted line. Have you thought about the type of home you want, the location and other factors? For most people, buying a home takes a lot of time. It’s not unusual for first-time buyers to look at any number of potential dwellings before deciding on which to buy. There are so many factors to consider, which is why you need a real estate agent with whom you can work.

When you first meet with your agent, it’s important that you be completely transparent regarding your wants and your needs. The more information we have, the more effectively we can serve your needs and get you into your home sooner than later.

One mistake some first-time buyers often make is evaluating potential homes from the inside rather than the outside. Of course, you’ll be attracted to certain specific room sizes, amenities, number of floors, and other factors. But what you really want to do is first consider the home from the outside. For example, is it in a location that suits your needs? Is it close to the stores at which you shop, the night spots or entertainment/lifestyle venues you frequent, the school your children attend, and the bus stop, if that’s your mode of transportation? Remember, you’re going to be living here for a while, so location is very important.

Another thing to consider, location-wise, is the character of the neighborhood itself. Do you prefer a quiet location or an area that has a bit of hustle and bustle? Would you want to live in an area with lots of younger adults or do you want something more laid-back. Do you enjoy the concrete, glass and steel of the city or are you more of a leafy cul-de-sac person. Every neighborhood has its unique characteristics, and it’s good to consider those things up front.

Next, you’ll want to consider the size of the house. Most starter homes are on the smaller size, meaning that they aren’t built to accommodate the Brady Bunch or the Partridge Family. If you’re single or part of a couple, smaller might be a good choice since you don’t really need a ton of space. On the other hand, a small-ish family with, say, a couple, a child or two and one or more family pets would need something a little larger. Larger generally costs more (depending on location, of course), so factor that in.

Finally, consider the state of the building itself. Do you want a house that’s been well-maintained and has all or mostly new fixtures, including a trouble-free furnace and plumbing or would you actually prefer to do-it-yourself and correct things that are not working well and repair items that are broken.

So much to consider, but you do want to think all these items through. From my standpoint as a real estate professional, the more I know about what you’re looking for, the more efficiently I can help you zero in on your first home.

Some Worthwhile Options for First-Time Toronto Homebuyers

The local real estate market here in Toronto is booming, as it has been for some time. Home prices continue to rise, and much has been written about how difficult it is for first-time homebuyers, especially millennials, to afford a home in the region.

While there’s some truth in that statement, it’s very doable to buy here. In fact, every day I work with first-time buyers to help them identify, then acquire, wonderful starter homes. This is what realtors do. Our job is to put you in a dwelling that you’ll be proud to call home. It can take a bit of time, research, saving, and exploring your options, but fear not, you can get the keys to your new property sooner than you might expect.

Looking for your first place, but aren’t sure exactly what you want yet? Here are some ideas.

Start small. How much space do you really need in your first house? If a smaller structure — a condo, for example — can provide you with the amenities you need and you’re willing to forego some luxuries or even features and furnishings you’d like but aren’t absolutely necessary, that might be one way to go. A smaller house or condo might be perfect for you, especially if you’re single. There are all sorts of furnishings that are made expressly for smaller spaces, so you can use your area in a way that doesn’t crowd you. Smaller spaces tend to have a high coziness factor, and we might be able to find one that meets your needs.

How about a fixer-upper? How many times have you watched home repair shows on cable TV or PBS and thought it might be interesting to try some of the techniques they use? If you’re handy, buying a house that needs some work might be both an enjoyable and affordable investment. Many single people and couples alike love the challenge of taking an existing structure and upgrading it on the weekends. For some, it’s a welcome respite from the weekday work grind. If you have the skills and some tools, you could buy such a property and fix it up to your liking.

Consider a cottage. Some young first-timers are buying cottages. If your objective is to live in the city, this might not exactly be the most attractive option, but if you could envision yourself living in a more suburban environment, think about the advantages to a home like this. Especially if you buy one that’s close to all your favorite places. You can always commute into the city.

They key to all of these options, once you get past finding and connecting with a property that’s right for you, is to make sure you have a good down payment, can qualify for a mortgage and can afford your monthly payments. There are other things to consider as well, and I can help you with them. Contact me, and let’s find the right starter home for you.

Toronto Real Estate Demand Outstrips Supply; Is There an End in Sight?

Toronto’s strong job market, cultural diversity and internationally recognized quality of life is attracting more newcomers to the area every year.  The GTA’s housing supply, however, cannot keep up with the increase in population, which has forced many new homebuyers back to the drawing board.

Adding insult to injury, even the majority of new rentals under construction are luxury units, while many of the homes for sale are large and unaffordable. What most first time homebuyers want are affordable options such as townhomes, smaller stand-alones and non-luxury apartments.

It comes as no surprise that there is not enough affordable housing being built in Toronto.  For the younger population looking to purchase their first piece of real estate, this has become a major issue.  If you are a millennial searching for a place to call home in Toronto, your best chances in these current conditions are to wait it out – or – look to the baby boomers to downsize or age out of their housing.  

Research for the Toronto Region Board of Trade shows 51% of people  aged 18 to 39 want to own a detached house in Toronto, where detached resale homes cost $1.6 million on average.

If you are willing to look outside of city limits, however, you can find new units in rural Ontario in the York Region or Halton, where according to, 761,000 homes are planned to be constructed by 2031.   

Together with the fact that Toronto is the fastest growing city in North America and land is becoming hard to come by, it doesn’t look like demand for housing will be slowing down any time soon.

There is a silver lining.  According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, “Across Ontario, prospective buyers should expect more choice by 2020 while owners and investors should dampen their price and return expectations.”

This is good news, as many of the GTA’s in-demand jobs are located in the city.  With more tech companies moving downtown, recruiters will want to attract the best talent and also hope to entice them with affordable housing options.  In short, businesses must be able to retain young professionals for our economy to succeed.  

We need to take a closer look at what we’re building in order to diversify our supply, afterall, all Torontonians deserves a place to call home.

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