Buying Your First Toronto Home or Condo

Way back in 2001 when my wife and I decided to start looking at buying a house, the internet was still in its infancy; there were no MLS or REALTOR.ca websites to browse through and google maps and online mortgage calculators were about as far-fetched possibilities as 3D-printers and electric cars. For those who could afford them, cell-phones were definitely not “Smart” and if you wanted to know what interest rates were being offered by the big banks you had to comb through the micro-print financial section of your local newspaper or call your local branch directly(!).

 

Fast forward to just over a decade later and you, the consumer, now have an arsenal of tools at your disposal to help you research, plan and execute your strategy of purchasing that first house or condo. When you see how far we’ve come since those dark days at the turn-of-the-century it’s pretty amazing to think that the technology at our fingertips allows us to do so many things, from virtual walkthroughs to mapping neighbourhood schools, parks and subway stations, and all just with a few clicks of the keyboard or swipes of the screen…

 

Yet despite having this wealth of information on hand, many first-time homebuyers find themselves overwhelmed by the vast choices, apparent complexities and uncertainties associated with entering the real estate market. And make no mistake, between annual neighbourhood rankings and walk-scores, bidding wars, bully offers and tightened mortgage lending rules, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of all of the options and dangers involved in making that life-changing purchase.

 

Over the next few posts, we here at Property Guide Toronto will assist you in establishing a game-plan for navigating the steps involved in achieving property ownership, and we’ll explain the benefits and reasons for following our program along the way. We’ll start by helping you narrow down and determine what kind of a home you want, focussing on both the importance of location as well as the physical attributes of the property itself, before then moving on to the financial side of the equation, calculating how much you can afford to both purchase and live in your home. Finally, we’ll finish up with a look at the help and advice that are available to you, from realtors to lawyers to home inspectors and mortgage consultants, and why you might ignore using them at your own risk and peril.

 

As always we invite all feedback, personal experiences and suggestions as it’s our ultimate goal to make this amazing yet somewhat daunting experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible.

7 Home Decorating Tips To Remember When You Redecorate

Your closing or possession day is approaching fast? Already booked movers? Stoked about getting into your new place?

Whether you’re moving into a bachelor unit or a 2 bedroom penthouse, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and lose focus when decorating your new home or condo. It’s a mixture of sheer excitement with a sense of being lost and not knowing where to begin.

As your time is precious, this article will give tips and clues on how to prioritize decorating you condo so that it is a fun, efficient and seamless experience. These tips are also transferable to a first/new house as well.

1. Set your budget

Before you even start thinking about which furniture stores you’re going to hit next Saturday, you must know exactly how much you can spend. It’s so easy to get carried away and go overboard when furniture shopping. You will always find things that you don’t need, but just look so good.

Very importantly, don’t go to stores that you can’t afford things from. I suggest visiting their website for inspiration. There is nothing worse than seeing, feeling, caressing and relaxing on a couch that you can’t take home. This is not time for temptation!

The worst time for planning is at the furniture store, trust me!

2. Measure, measure, measure.

Every wall in every room of your condo must be measured. Whether you do it during your pre-delivery inspection or a visit with your realtor, arm yourself with a measuring tape, a notepad (quad-ruled ones preferred), a pen and a phone/camera.

When mapping out your place, also note the following:

  • Location of all electrical outlet and light switches and their height.
  • Window opening dimensions and exposure (very important when selecting window treatment). The amount light you get in a south facing living room extremely different from a north facing living room.
  • Location of all light fixtures/junction boxes.
  • Location of all bulkheads, bump-outs and dead space.
  • Ceiling height in each room.

3. Colour scheme and paint

Yes, ideally, if you can select your colour scheme and paint all walls before moving in. Push for it and make it happen. Nothing feels better than moving into a freshly painted home. Now picking a colour scheme can be a daunting task. That’s when designers come in handy, and if you have any expensive or emotionally attached art pieces that you are bringing with you, use them as inspiration or point of departure.

If not able to pick colours, go with a neutral colour scheme throughout and eventually, down the road, pick what to do with your feature wall. It is much easier to move furniture into a room that is already than to paint around large furniture pieces.

Finally, wall colour is the one design element that it’s not so bad if you make a mistake. If you don’t like the colour you selected, you can always change it. It’s just paint.

4. Start with rooms/areas in order of most usage

Basically, pick the room or areas that you will be using the most right off the bat. Are you an entertainer and have friends over all the time? Start with the living room. Are you the next Master Chef? Make sure you kitchen is fully dressed. You work from home? Ensure your home office is all dolled up and fully equipped.

There is nothing worse than having a place where each and every room is half done. It will drive you insane and your motivation will soon dissipate. Stick to one room at a time and finish it before moving on.

5. Don’t leave your bedroom for last

With the previous point in mind, don’t fully neglect your bedroom. I am a firm believer that your bedroom should serve as your sanctuary. It’s your safe haven where you recharge your batteries and perhaps where magic happens ;-). That being said, I am not saying to do it fully before all other rooms, but make sure it receives some thought early on so that, even if not complete, (missing art, or wallpaper or a shelving unit), it is serene and peaceful. Your body and mind will thank you.

6. Before purchasing large size pieces, map them out

One of the most important design principles is scale and proportion. If you’re not working with a designer who provides you with a scaled floor plan, get yourself some masking tape and map out your future furniture pieces on the floor.

This is the simplest way to make sure all pieces are proportionate and fit in you condo before spending thousands of dollars. Also, think of traffic flow. You want to not only make sure everything fits, but that you can function and walk around comfortably.

7. Dedicate time and energy, don’t lose your focus, and persevere!

Think of the mood you want to create in each room and adjectives you want to use to describe them. Read magazines, blogs, watch tv shows, have an inspiration board. (or hire a professional to do it for/with you).
Use that as direction and make it happen. This a big deal and it will occupy a lot of your free time. Be aware of this and arrange other non-work related habits/routine accordingly.

Also, be patient! Even if you found the perfect sectional for your living room, chances are it will take up to 8 weeks for it to be delivered. Good things happen to those who wait.

Finally, if you feel stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find the perfect console table for your entrance, for example, it’s ok! The beauty of owning your own place is the satisfaction you get when you finally find that perfect piece. Like any project in life, it takes time.

Toronto Real Estate Market Update – November 2013

If you look at November’s numbers you will see that this past month we had more sales than same time last year but less new units listed for sale. That means that there was more competition this year than last because more was sold from a smaller pool of units. Why is that? Perhaps home owners aren’t interested in selling their property right before the holiday season and are waiting for the traditionally more active time – the spring. Or maybe, home owners are reluctant to go through showings and open houses in the cold. Maybe they just don’t want to sell, whatever the case may be, there is one silver lining in this story – buyers are still hunting for property and this indicates strong demand.

When there is high demand and low supply we notice a trend of rising prices and this has been very evident in all markets – detached homes, semi-detached homes, and condos. The demand for the detached home is so high, that many people are being priced out of what they initially wanted, and are forced to look at other, more affordable options such as townhomes and condos. This creates a more spread out dynamic – we see buyers exploring all types of housing options in various locations and this keeps our real estate market (more or less) balanced. Demand guarantees that there is movement in the economy and while it may seem that prices are getting out of control, in reality, they are rising in accordance with the demand and supply (or lack thereof) that is present in the market.

Should you be scared of rising prices? Yes, if they are shooting up without any explanation. However, in the case of our city, we see a gradual rise in prices for all sectors of the housing market and this is a trend that is accompanied by rising salaries that are in tune with inflation.

Happy Holidays and see you next year!