Seller’s Market

If the last few months in Renfrew County are any indication, 2021 will continue to be a seller’s market. This is great news if you already own a home and are considering selling it. On the other hand, those who have their sights set on buying their first home this year will face some challenges. How do you buy a home in a seller’s market you ask? Keep reading!

What is a seller’s market, anyway?

In a seller’s market, there are more buyers than there are homes for sale. With fewer listings to choose from and more competition, homes typically sell quickly, often seeing multiple offers or even bidding wars, and selling over asking price. In a seller’s market, the seller has the upper hand.

In a buyer’s market, there are more homes for sale than there are buyers. Since there is less competition, buyers can take their time shopping the market and have more negotiating power. The price of homes listed for sale can be stable or falling.

In a balanced market, there is an equal number of buyers and sellers, resulting in reasonable offers and average days on market. Less tension between buyers and sellers results in stable home prices.

How do you buy a home in a seller’s market?

BE INFORMED. Having a handle on market conditions is a key first step in a successful transaction. This is the case regardless of market conditions, but especially if you’re trying to buy a home in a seller’s market. Remember, real estate is very local, so what is happening in one neighbourhood may not be the case in another. Here’s where it helps to tap into a professional, experienced real estate agent.

KNOW YOUR BUDGET. How much can you afford to spend on a home? This is different from a mortgage pre-approval. Take into consideration your lifestyle, and what sacrifices you’re willing to make. If you’re planning to buy more home, you might have to curb your spending elsewhere. If you won’t be making any lifestyle changes in interest of home ownership, you may have to lower your home-buying budget or make some other concessions, such as the size of the home or the neighbourhood.

TIP: Get pre-approved for a mortgage. This gives you an idea of how much a lender is willing to finance, and how much you can spend. A pre-approval also locks in the current interest rate for up to 120 days, so you can shop with the peace of mind that you’re insulated from rate hikes in the near future. If the rate drops, your lender should honour the new lower mortgage rate when you’re ready to make your purchase.

BE PREPARED TO ACT FAST. If you’re hoping to buy a home in a seller’s market, you’ll need to take quick and decisive action when you find a property that interest you. This is where all your prep work (see above!) will pay off.

MAKE A STRONG OFFER. In a seller’s market, you may only get one chance – and it’s not always about the money. A real estate transaction can be complicated with a lot of moving parts. With all other things being equal between your offer and someone else’s, one that’s tailored to the seller’s needs (such as a short or long closing) can tip the scales in your favour. Aside from conceding to the seller’s wishes, an offer in a seller’s market should have as few conditions as possible.

A conditional offer means that certain terms must be met in order for the offer to be valid. Some common conditions include:

  • Conditional on financing: This is a common condition for first-time homebuyers, which requires the mortgage lender to sign-off before the deal can go through. The buyer has a few days to get this, and the process may include a home appraisal. If the lender does not agree to finance the property, the buyer will notify the seller and the offer becomes null and void.
  • Conditional on home inspection: A home is the biggest purchase most people make in their lifetime, so a satisfactory home inspection is generally recommended. This ensures the house is in good condition before the deal can go through. If it isn’t up to par, the buyer to return to the seller and request repairs, a reduction in the price, or can rescind the offer entirely.
  • Conditional on the sale of a home: If a prospective homebuyer already owns a home, he or she may want to ensure that it is sold before agreeing to purchase a new property.

Offer conditions aren’t ideal for the seller, as each one has a potential domino effect. But buyer beware! You may be tempted to remove the “conditional on financing” or home inspection condition in an effort to beat the competition. Before this decision is made, we will sit down and weigh the pros and cons of this decision.  

BE PREPARED TO PIVOT. You’re likely already accustomed to this as a key 2020 survival strategy. And if you’re hoping to buy a home in a seller’s market, you’ll need to keep it up. As we all know, market conditions can change on a dime. Have a back-up plan in place, in case you need to delay the purchase – or need to jump on an opportunity sooner than expected!

WORK WITH A PRO. Homebuyers always have the option to handle their transaction on their own, or to work with a professional real estate agent. Working with an experienced agent can ease much of the stress associated with finding and buying a home in seller’s market. Some advantages include:

  • better access to homes in and out of the local market.
  • knowledge of neighbourhoods and market conditions.
  • negotiating skills (not usually a factor in a seller’s market, but good to have in your back pocket!)
  • they handle the paperwork – enough said.
  • guidance and support in the biggest buying decision of your life.

HAVE THICK SKIN. Last but not least, don’t take rejection personally. Instead, learn from the experience and keep trying. Homebuyers who have been living in persistent seller’s markets know the pain of rejected offers and being “beat” by another buyer. Working with the right real estate agent helps buyers see new listings as soon as they hit the market, so you can jump on “the one” when you find it.

Source: remax.ca

Winter Curb Appeal

Every homeowner’s dream is to conceal the grey and lifeless winter landscape and transform their property into a scene out of a Hallmark Christmas card; a warm and inviting abode that combines chic with cozy charm! Well, take it from the experts: it is a lot simpler than you think! Homeowners who want to give their front yard a facelift or prepare their home to sell during the winter season should be aware that it does not require too much of an investment. From a fresh coat of paint to a modest bird feeder, it is the little things that count and can add the most charm to the outside of your home. We have compiled a list of tips from real estate experts on how you can enhance your curb appeal this winter.

Give Your Numbers an Update

How old are the numbers on your house? Better yet, can delivery drivers even see them as they try to drop off your pizza (or the signature brown boxes holding the evidence of your 2020 online shopping addiction)? Whatever state the numbers on your front porch may be, consider investing in some new numbers for an easy, affordable and striking outdoor refresh.

Investing in a new mailbox can also instantly upgrade your exterior aesthetic. So, scrap that rusty eyesore and trade it for a sleek, metal letter box that can usually be affixed to the wall with a couple of screws.

These simple updates can do wonders for your curb appeal during the winter months.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint to Your Door

Oftentimes, the best way to spruce up any part of your humble abode is with a fresh coat of paint.

Your door is usually the first thing that appeals to somebody’s eye. Many homeowners might choose to fully replace their old door with a new one that has a lovely glass insert. But if you are on a tight budget, all you need is some paint and a colour that suits your home.

As an added tip, bold primary colours can look extremely striking set upon a white winter backdrop. But take note, you may want to proactively paint before the cold winter weather hits or during a window of unseasonably warm temperatures, as most paints need at least three days of 12-degree weather to properly cure.

Install a Bird Feeder

What better way to liven up your front yard than by hanging a well-placed and colourful bird feeder to attract some feathered friends? Winter provides us with plenty of gray days, so placing a bird feeder can show some colourful signs of life like blue jays and cardinals.

Add Functional Lighting

Exterior lighting offers a myriad of benefits. The first thing homeowners will point out is the safety aspect of light installations, providing added visibility during the shorter and darker days of winter. Opt for downward soffit lighting to create a warm glow that makes your property look inviting and cozy.

Clear the Snow and Clutter

The snow certainly looks nice after a fresh snowfall, but the longer winter continues without proper up-keep, the more unkempt your home will appear.

While it is perfectly alright to let the snow accumulate on your lawn, aim to shovel the front walkway and the driveway to keep paths clear and safe.

Remember, if you are hosting an open house, you want your home to be accessible and safe for prospective buyers.

Plant Some Seasonal Greens

Like a colourful bird feeder, cold-weather plants can liven up your front entrance. Unsure what to plant? Here are a few recommendations from our wintery green thumbs:

  • Evergreen trees and shrubs for all year long.
  • Winter berries, which will attract hungry birds.
  • Winter-flowering shrubs, such as jasmine and daphne.
  • Early spring bulbs that will flower in late winter or early spring.

Source: remax.ca

 

How to Prepare Yourself to Buy Your First Home

Are you in the market to purchase a home in Canada? This will be the biggest buying decision you will make in your lifetime, and not something to be cavalier about. Make sure to equip yourself with the knowledge, resources and experts who can guide and support you along the way. While buying a home can be a taxing experience, it is also a highly rewarding one! Unsure where to begin? We have compiled a list of the six most important things you need to know to buy a home in Canada.

#1 Have More Than A Down Payment

Do you have a down payment for the home of your dreams? Congratulations. You are one step closer to achieving home ownership.

But if you are still working toward accumulating a minimum down payment in the Canadian real estate market, you should know some of the specifics. Federal regulation now dictates designated percentages in relation to the purchase price.

In other words, the federal government wants you to have some skin in the game.

That said, here is what you need to know about how large a down payment you’ll need (at minimum):

  • $500,000 or less: Five per cent
  • $$500,000 to $999,999: Five per cent for first $500,000 and 10 per cent of any amount exceeding $500,000
  • $1,000,000 or more: 20 per cent

#2 Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Trying to buy a home without a mortgage approval is kind of like trying to hit a target in the dark. You do not know how much you can spend when shopping the market. Furthermore, who knows how long the current record-low interest rate will be in place – although the Bank of Canada (BoC) said it will not be raising rates in the near future.

Our advice on the matter of mortgage pre-approvals is don’t delay! One benefit of getting a mortgage pre-approval is that your lender will lock in the current interest rate for up to 120 days. If rates increase, your lender should honour the current rate. If they fall, so too should your guaranteed rate.

#3 Shop Around the Best Rates

Interest rates have never been lower. The BoC has brought it’s benchmark rate to .25 per cent in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the central bank lowered the five-year mortgage rate to below five per cent.

Why does this matter? It will determine how much you will pay on your mortgage every month, in principal and in interest.

#4 Check Out First-Time Homebuyer Incentives

The Canadian government offers the First Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI), which is a loan to encourage them to achieve the home-ownership dream. First-time homebuyers can borrow:

  • Five per cent of the price of a resale home,
  • Five or 10 per cent of the price of a newly constructed home, and
  • The loan is interest-free and repaid at any time within 25 years or when the home is sold.

Do you qualify? Well, you must be a first-time homebuyer, have a household income of less than $120,000, and the mortgage is capped at four times the maximum household income of $120,000.

Let’s be honest: in today’s ultra-competitive and expensive real estate market, many Canadians are struggling to finance their purchase of a home, particularly for those living in the major urban centres. This program could help lessen some of that financial strain, making housing a little more accessible to those with no current equity.

In addition, there’s the federal first-time Home Buyer’s Plan which let’s each first-timer borrow up to $35,000 from their RRSP, interest free, to boost their down payment or to put toward other purchase-related costs. Provincially, some regions also offer a Land Transfer Tax rebate

#5 Work with a Real Estate Agent

Homebuyers do have the option of going solo in their search for a property, whether detached, semi-detached, townhome, condominium or otherwise. But without the benefit of experience and expertise on your side, the process can be complex and you risk missing some potential red flags. Working with an experienced real estate agent can significantly ease the stress associated with buying a home in Canada’s competitive markets, and could potentially even save you money!

So, what are the advantages of working with a licensed real estate agent?

  • You have better access to homes in and out of the local market.
  • Realtors know the neighbourhood and the market conditions.
  • An experienced real estate agent has advanced negotiating skills.
  • Real estate agents understand the incredible amount of paperwork that is associated with buying a home.
  • Realtors offer the guidance and support you need for the biggest buying decision you will ever make in your life.

#6 Do a Home Inspection

Unfortunately, due to bidding wars and strengthening demand, many homebuyers are ditching home inspections out of fear of losing out on the property. This may have various consequences that could hit your pocketbook. From moisture and mold in the basement to foundation issues, you could be on the hook for costly repairs and renovations once you receive the deed to the house.

No matter what the situation may be, we always recommend getting a home inspection before you acquire any property. This could save you money in the long run, and provide you some assurance that you made the right decision.

Home ownership is a dream for most people. It provides a place to plant roots and raise a family, but it is also an investment that could fund your children’s college tuition or your future retirement. The Canadian real estate market is booming, but that does not mean you’re too late to enter the market! Ensure you’re equipped with everything you need to know to buy a home in Canada, by working with an experienced real estate professional like myself.

Source: remax.ca