Every so often, I’ll hear those words uttered - the old ”when my kind of property comes on the market, then I’ll do something about it” refrain.
Do you or someone you know think this way? It can be hard for many of us to think of real estate beyond the property. If this is you, then today's blog post is devoted to informing you, ever so gently, that you may want to reconsider how you’re doing things if you ever plan to make a move. I’m here to tell you that there's much more to buying a property than finding one that appeals to you.
Let's assume for a moment, that you do intend to make a move at some point. Perhaps you’ve realized your current home isn’t worth that expensive renovation since it still won’t make it right. Perhaps you're renting for the time being and realize the market is appreciating faster than you’ll ever be able to save. Then there it is, that special one you’ve always dreamed of is on the market. Perfect timing, you think! But probably not, I’m sorry to say. It will more likely go to the buyer whose already done their homework rather than you. And here is why:
1. They’re crystal clear on what they can afford. If money is no object, then skip straight to step 2. But if you're like most in Toronto, there is a clear cap to what you can commit to financially. If you don't yet know, you can gain a ballpark sense thanks to helpful apps like Canadian Mortgage App. To gain a more specific understanding however, you'll want to speak with someone - your bank advisor if you trust them, or ideally a mortgage broker. You’ll also want to factor in what your current home is worth.
2. They know what neighbourhoods work for them. Your neighbourhood has the culture, housing stock, streetscape, amenities and proximity to work/family/friends that appeal to you. But more, since location outstrips all else when it comes to market value, the next step in affordability is to find out where you can consider living within it. The pull of your ideal location and push of how much it costs to live there is a visceral tug of war when buying, no matter what snack bracket you’re in. The sooner you're aware of this, the better.
3. They've accepted what they can compromise on, be it price, location or property. Will you have to pay more than you planned, live further out than you had originally wanted, or need to spruce up rather than move right in? Rest assured, it will be one of them. There is no such thing as the perfect property in the perfect location at the perfect price, no matter how perfect your life may have been up to now. If that is what you’re waiting for, the you may as well get very comfortable where you are because you probably won’t be leaving.
4. They're aware that ask price is irrelevant + what comparables have sold for. In the Toronto market, where properties are selling for 10 - 20% more than ask, you cannot rely on the ask price as something that is relevant to what you will end up paying, let alone what the seller expects. Some properties are priced low to entice multiple offers, others are game free at fair market, while a group of them are overpriced based on a seller’s ambitious expectations. It is easy enough to do the homework to figure out which one of these categories your property falls into. But the point is that you have to find this out in order to discern what a fair bid actually is. Looking at the ask number and basing your property valuation on it is a fool’s game.
5. They're beyond want - they need. This one is actually step 1 right through to 100. Let’s say you’re there on bid night with an offer in hand, you’ve come far in a short amount of time.You want the property and you can afford it. You can do this! Then the bidder next to you doesn't just want it, they need it - with every ounce of their being. They don't just want to get into the market, they need to because they know full well that if they wait another six months at this rate, they’ll be priced out. They need to leave the current house they share with their ex-spouse yesterday and won’t lose the neighbourhood they love to do it. They need their kids in this school district because it is the best education they can acquire without private school tuition. Who do you think is going to win the bid? When you don’t just want but need, then you’re beyond 5 steps ahead. You’ve actually just radically changed your game.
It doesn’t necessarily take a long time to get up to speed. What it does take is your commitment to making the steps you’ll need to make. You can begin by simply emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org to say you’d like to begin at the beginning.