As I'm sure we all know, Ottawa's housing market has been red hot as of late. With an average price of $743,204 in the residential class and $427,145 in the Condominium class, the average price in the Ottawa Real Estate market as of April 2021 was $671,755. (Ottawa Real Estate Board). As a real estate agent I often get asked, what can I do to start the home buying process? When purchasing one of the largest investments in your life it goes without saying that lots of planning is necessary.
Evaluate your current situation and see if homeownership is right for you. Are you set up financially to be able to meet mortgage payments? Are you aware of the upfront and ongoing costs associated with purchasing a home? These are a few factors to consider because ultimately making the decision to purchase a home is a big responsibility and you do not want to be "House Poor" which can be defined as a large portion of your income going solely towards your house, and other facets of your life not being as suitable given so much of your income is tied to your home.
Let's talk mortgages. How much can you afford? It is of utmost importance to meet with a mortgage professional and provide the necessary documents to get pre-approved for a mortgage prior to beginning your home search. In doing this step, you are able to establish the maximum price that you are pre-approved for and can then work with your real estate agent to shop for homes within your price range. When working with a mortgage professional, you can get pre-approved through a mortgage specialist at a Financial Institution such as your bank or you can get pre approved through a mortgage broker. The main difference is mortgage specialists are employed by a financial institution and sell their particular product, whereas mortgage brokers have access to lenders across various institutions and can help buyers secure the most competitive rate.
Get in touch with a real estate agent who you trust and will represent you and your best interests from start to finish in the home buying process. Buying a home can definitely be a stressful and at times daunting task, however when working with a real estate agent, they are able to relieve the stress from the buyer and guide them through the steps necessary. Your real estate agent is your one-stop-shop for everything from setting up your home search criteria to if you need a contractor for some home repairs; they are working for YOU and to represent your best interests; the best part about it is it costs nothing as the commissions are paid out by the seller.
Identifying the home search criteria need/wants, non-negotiables, and factors such as price point, desired location, neighborhood influences, bedrooms/bathrooms are all integral in your home search. Without having a handle on these elements, it can hinder the home buying process as it is hard to purchase a home if the buyer does not even know what the ideal home is. Your real estate agent will walk you through the search criteria and be able to provide valuable insight into the price points in the desired areas outlined.
Whether you are planning a move in the near future or a few years out, it is important to have a plan in place and take the steps necessary to get the process started! If you have any questions on the process feel free to reach out or DM me for my Buyer’s Guide!
Your satisfaction and happiness is something that is very important to me. I understand how hectic it is to sell a house and it can be difficult if it’s not handled properly. To help you through the entire process, I’ve put together five simple steps:
Step 1: Decide to Sell
When you sell, you want to get as much value as you can for your home. So you might want to consider the timing of the sale because it definitely has an effect on the value. You don’t want to sell when it’s a “buyer’s market,” when too many homes are for sale and there are not enough buyers. Seasonality is something to consider as well because typically more homes are sold in the spring rather than the winter. You can also increase the value by enhancing the appeal of your house.
There are various ways to do this and it all depends on the amount of monetary resources available. You can renovate your house by remodelling an area or just freshen up the walls with a new coat of paint. Even just keeping your front lawn tidy can make a big difference. Buyers love seeing green grass and flowers outside because it feels more warm and inviting to them. Home inspections are also something that you can do to prove the value of your home. Buyers will usually ask for a home inspection, so if you do it ahead of time it will definitely impress them. It also gives you a chance to prevent unpleasant surprises and make any major repairs. Now you’re ready for the for sale sign!
Step 2: Choose the right agent
There are thousands of real estate agents, so how do you chose one that’s right for you? You have to pick carefully. They will be acting as your representative and you will need someone to look out for your best interests. You will need someone that you can trust and someone who understands what you want. There are a few ways to look for your perfect Realtor: Jot down some names and numbers that you find on “For Sale” signs Ask friends and family for a recommendation Visit one of the local offices in your area They have to be a trained professional who knows your area inside out. A great agent is someone who offers you quality services to help you accomplish your goal.
Step 3: List your Home
Now that you’ve found the perfect real estate agent, they will list your home. First they will value your house and set a price. A report on market data will be complied to properly value your home based on the prices in your area. Once they’ve done that the agent will market your home through various media outlets and listing sites to create strong buyer interest. They can post on Multiple Listing Service (MLS), social media, blogs, and websites. There will be open house appointments as well to showcase the potential of your home to various individuals. At this point, Realtors may also suggest to stage the home to help these individuals imagine themselves living in your house.
Step 4: Receive an Offer
Not all offers are equal and that’s where your real estate agent comes in. They will help you get to know the terms and conditions regarding the price that the buyer wants to pay, financing conditions, or other things like inclusions and exclusions that the buyer wants to make. Not only is it about the price of the home, but you have to carefully look at the other details included in the sale. Appliances, chandeliers, or even minor renovations can also be part of the deal. Shorter or longer closing dates can also be specified by the buyer. If there is something in the offer that doesn’t satisfy you, counter offers or negotiations can also be presented to help get you what you want.
Step 5: Close the Sale
There will be closing costs associated with the sale that need to be paid either by or on the closing date. It can include mortgage application fees, inspections, and legal fees. But once that’s taken care of, you can pass your old keys to the new owners. Congrats! You’ve officially sold your house!
When it comes time to sell your home, you will likely be put in a situation where home updates, repairs, and upgrades are recommended in order to boost the value of your home for maximum returns! Now before tearing down a wall or throwing your money at everything it's important to understand not all home renovations are equal. Below you will find a list of the top 5 home renovations that have significant impact on your selling potential:
1. Improve energy efficiency
This one is often a surprise to people - when you think of home improvements, they are generally the physical changes you see with your eyes. The secret is that potential buyers are taking energy efficiency very seriously when making considerations on what to buy.
Just to give an example, attic insulation projects return approximately 120% of their costs! Other energy-efficiency upgrades that are effective include updating HVAC, water heaters, and windows. If you do these changes early in the process (enough to get utility bills), your real estate agent can show potential buyers the difference between the monthly costs before and after the upgrades!
2. Spruce up your curb appeal
First impressions matter, and it starts the moment a potential buyer lays eyes on your home. These exterior improvements don't need to be radical either, there are many subtle touches that have huge impact. Some examples include power washing the home exterior, re-painting window frames and doors, and installing some potlights. If your property has abundant green space, you should consider landscaping services which beautify the lawn with mulch, shrubs, and planting seasonal colorful plants. If you have the means for it, adding new stone veneers, entry doors, and garage doors almost always recoup 100% of their cost.
3. Minor kitchen remodeling
The heart of the home; the kitchen. Buyers often report that the kitchen is their favourite room - and so it's easy to see how a gorgeous kitchen can entice even the most reserved buyers. In fact, if the kitchen is impressive enough, buyers may be more forgiving to other outdated spaces.
As the title suggests, I'm not recommending that you spend tens of thousands to improve the kitchen. I'm talking about the minor renovations that bring the most impact. Some examples include re-painting cabinets, installing new handles, installing stainless steel appliances, upgrading countertops, and putting up a new backsplash!
4. Bathroom remodeling
Next to the kitchen, buyers will zipline to bathrooms to develop their opinion of the home. Studies have shown that a minor bathroom remodel can provide a 102% return on investment - consider re-grouting tile and replacing the caulk around the shower, tub, and toilet. In some cases it may be best to replace the toilet - accomplshing both a modern look as well as energy efficiency (remember, energy-efficiency is a huge selling point).
5. A fresh coat of paint
A clean coat of paint is the facelift every seller can benefit from - we are talking 109% returns on investment here! New paint will lighten rooms and hide any defects. If your home has rooms with non-neutral paint colours, then painting over those spaces with neutral tones can have huge benefits! Ther buyer wants to enter the home and impose their personality within it, and areas with too much personality often work against your goal of selling effectively.
Obtaining a mortgage can be intimidating and confusing. Similar to the buyer and seller guides, I’ve outlined the mortgage process for you in 4 easy steps!
Step 1: Mortgage Application
Before an application gets filled out, it’s important to first asses yourself financially. Figure out how much money you have and how much you need to borrow. It’s always critical to sort out how much you can afford so that when you apply for a mortgage you will be able to financially sustain yourself. A mortgage associate will then take an application by phone, in person, or online. Once it has been received, the mortgage application process will begin by verifying the information you have provided.
Step 2: Choose the Right Mortgage Program
Like all homes, mortgages also come in all shapes and sizes. You have to pick which loan is more aligned with your financial situation and goals. There are four basic types ofhome financing loans.
A) Fixed Rate Mortgage
Fixed Rate mortgages usually have terms that can last from 1 year to 10 years. As the name suggests, the interest rate and monthly payments will remain the same for the specified term. This type of loan should appeal to you if you: Plan to live in the home for more than 5 years Like the stability of a fixed interest payment Think your income and spending will stay the same Don’t like the risk of having a higher monthly payment
B) Adjustable Rate Mortgage
An Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) lasts for 3-5 years. But during these terms, the interest rate on the loan can go up or down which means monthly payments can increase or decrease. This type of loan should appeal to you if you: Plan to say in your home for less than 5 years Don’t mind having your monthly payment increase or decrease Are comfortable with risk of possible payment increases in the future Think your income will probably increase in the future
C) Combination Rate Mortgage
A Combination Rate Mortgage combines fixed interest rates and adjustable interest rates. This type of loan would appeal to you if you: Want to manage interest rate risk Choose to take advantage of both long and short term rates Like the stability of a fixed interest payment Don’t mind having monthly payment increase or decrease
D) Lines of Credit
Utilizing a Line of Credit is becoming an innovative way to finance your home purchase. You can take the amount you need from the credit limit that you were granted. You only pay interest on what you use and this money can be put towards things like home renovations, a child’s education, and debt consolidation.
Step 3: Mortgage Submission and Approval
Once you select the appropriate mortgage program, you will submit this information to your mortgage associate along with any other required documentation. You will then wait for the mortgage approval from the mortgage associate either through email or fax. After the approval, the associate will also review your commitment to the mortgage. Any additional documents that are required by the lender should be sent to the associate no later than 10 days after the approval.
Step 4: Lawyer
The associate will send the mortgage instructions to your lawyer to review and sign the documents. First you will review all the terms and conditions prior to signing to make sure the interest rate and loan terms are what were promised. Double check to see that the names and address are correctly spelled on the documents. Signing takes place in front of a notary public or lawyer. There will be several fees with obtaining a mortgage and transferring property ownership which will be paid at closing. Bring a bank draft check for the down payment and closing costs if required. Personal cheques are not accepted. You will also need to show homeowners insurance policy and other requirements such as flood or fire insurance and proof of payment.