Real Estate

First Time Home Buyer Questions?

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  • Feb 2nd, 2018 3:26 pm
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Nov 30, 2014
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First Time Home Buyer Questions?

Hi all,

I will be looking to purchase a home hopefully sometime this year (anywhere between Burlington to Brampton) and have a few questions. Hopefully you guys can provide some insight.

1. How do I choose a realtor? I called a realtor last weekend and he took me around to 6 different places that same day in Milton. He was great and answered a lot of my questions. Do I just stick with him as my realtor now or should I look around for others? Are commissions the same for all realtors?

2. Does it matter who I get a pre-approval from? The realtor sent me contact info on someone he recommends. Should I just go with that?

3. So far I have just done an online mortgage calculator on how much I can afford. Are these accurate?

4. What are some important questions to ask and things to look at when viewing a home? When I was viewing homes last weekend, I felt like I had no idea on what to look for or ask. I was just looking at the place to see the size, layout, number of rooms, etc.

If anyone has information on a good step-by-step process for someone like me, please let me know.

Thank you.
15 replies
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
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1) Commissions are determined by the seller. However, you MAY be able to find a realtor who will offer you "cash back" on a portion of their commission.
2) You could try some of the brokers in here. Check out the Mortgage Rate thread. That would be the way I'd go, personally. But the broker your realtor recommends would be probably be fine too.
3) Not really. You might get a ball-park, but there's lots of other factors that those things don't include.
4) Have you considered dragging a friend who's experienced along with you? Even a parent or uncle/aunt who's been through the process a number of times? At least for the first few viewings.

Edit to Add... Other than that, if you want more specific help, provide more specific info. Are you looking for a house, a condo, or what? Ball-park price? What's important to you? Etc...

C
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CNeufeld wrote: 1) Commissions are determined by the seller. However, you MAY be able to find a realtor who will offer you "cash back" on a portion of their commission.
2) You could try some of the brokers in here. Check out the Mortgage Rate thread. That would be the way I'd go, personally. But the broker your realtor recommends would be probably be fine too.
3) Not really. You might get a ball-park, but there's lots of other factors that those things don't include.
4) Have you considered dragging a friend who's experienced along with you? Even a parent or uncle/aunt who's been through the process a number of times? At least for the first few viewings.

Edit to Add... Other than that, if you want more specific help, provide more specific info. Are you looking for a house, a condo, or what? Ball-park price? What's important to you? Etc...

C
Thank you for this. I am looking for a house. Around the 650k range. Will most likely be a townhouse for this range. Freehold with open concept kitchen/living room area. Not stacked or 3-story. Recently married so looking for a family area. I am open to Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Milton, and Brampton.
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Feb 2, 2014
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12andy12 wrote: Hi all,

I will be looking to purchase a home hopefully sometime this year (anywhere between Burlington to Brampton) and have a few questions. Hopefully you guys can provide some insight.

1. How do I choose a realtor? I called a realtor last weekend and he took me around to 6 different places that same day in Milton. He was great and answered a lot of my questions. Do I just stick with him as my realtor now or should I look around for others? Are commissions the same for all realtors?

2. Does it matter who I get a pre-approval from? The realtor sent me contact info on someone he recommends. Should I just go with that?

3. So far I have just done an online mortgage calculator on how much I can afford. Are these accurate?

4. What are some important questions to ask and things to look at when viewing a home? When I was viewing homes last weekend, I felt like I had no idea on what to look for or ask. I was just looking at the place to see the size, layout, number of rooms, etc.

If anyone has information on a good step-by-step process for someone like me, please let me know.

Thank you.
1-Commission are paid by the seller.
2-Sure, for the most part one pre-approval is suffice,
3-No.
4-If you're a newb with houses, make sure you have a good realtor to walk you through the process and point things out. Just communicate your needs to them.
Kevin Somnauth, CFA
Principal Broker - First Toronto Mortgage - MA (Ontario #13176, BC #X301007)
Real Estate Salesperson - Century 21 Innovative
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1. A Realtor is someone whom you will be very comfortable with. Has great communication skills. Is willing to listen and can help focus you in determining your wants and needs. Should have lots of experience selling and buying. Don't just ask how many years - ask how many homes that they have bought and sold. Some work with 2 homes a year - some 200. There is a difference in term of depth and breadth of experience.

2. No, you should not work with the Realtor's referral. Many of these Realtors are receiving a commission from the Mortgage Broker for the referral. Because of this, the mortgage brokers are very hesitant to provide any advice and guidance that could jeopardize the deal. This many not be in your best interest. Find your own Mortgage Broker.

3. No, most online calculators are not reliable. A Mortgage Broker is the best source.

4. Age of the home, recent renovations, were required permits obtained? Let your eyes and nose be your greatest tools. Make sure to visit the home and neighbourhood several times of the day - during the morning and especially after dark as you will need to live there after dark. Go back after the showing to see what it is like then.
Deal Guru
Feb 22, 2011
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You should really try to get a referral for a realtor with a good reputation. Bad advice can cost you tens of thousands. Also you should find your own mortgage broker and see what you qualify for before you invest too much time and effort looking.
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rjg4235 wrote: You should really try to get a referral for a realtor with a good reputation. Bad advice can cost you tens of thousands. Also you should find your own mortgage broker and see what you qualify for before you invest too much time and effort looking.
It's funny how many newbs simply looking for realtors who give cash back.

I've seen properties sell for WAY more than they should have. I have to assume the realtor did a horrible job at valuing the property and the buyer drastically overpaid. Whatever cash back you received just went out the window.

Truth is the OREA exams are WAY too easy. I got over 100% on the exams if I recall and I did the courses in a few months. There are a ton of horrible realtors out there.

I have a CFA designation and the exams were brutally hard. If somebody has a CFA designation, I automatically give them credit because of those exams. If somebody is a sales representative, it doesn't mean anything to me.
Kevin Somnauth, CFA
Principal Broker - First Toronto Mortgage - MA (Ontario #13176, BC #X301007)
Real Estate Salesperson - Century 21 Innovative
Sr. Member
Feb 28, 2014
776 posts
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12andy12 wrote: Hi all,

I will be looking to purchase a home hopefully sometime this year (anywhere between Burlington to Brampton) and have a few questions. Hopefully you guys can provide some insight.

1. How do I choose a realtor? I called a realtor last weekend and he took me around to 6 different places that same day in Milton. He was great and answered a lot of my questions. Do I just stick with him as my realtor now or should I look around for others? Are commissions the same for all realtors?

2. Does it matter who I get a pre-approval from? The realtor sent me contact info on someone he recommends. Should I just go with that?

3. So far I have just done an online mortgage calculator on how much I can afford. Are these accurate?

4. What are some important questions to ask and things to look at when viewing a home? When I was viewing homes last weekend, I felt like I had no idea on what to look for or ask. I was just looking at the place to see the size, layout, number of rooms, etc.

If anyone has information on a good step-by-step process for someone like me, please let me know.

Thank you.

Congratulations on being recently married. Here's some advice from someone who was in the same boat as you in 2016.
  1. Realtors are best through referral, there are many realtors across the GTA (some argue way too many). Do look for references just like for everything else. See what their experiences are (especially for the areas you really want to look at), don't just look at what the "cash back" you get. It's just a dangling carrot some realtors use try to snatch clients. Many really good realtors don't need to use these gimmicks to draw business. That being said, because a large group of realtors have been doing it, some good realtors have been forced into this game, so don't automatically discredit a realtor just because they offer "cash back" on their part of the commission. Just remember, the commission is paid by the seller as a percentage. You can shop around for realtors but if you signed any retainers, you no longer can shop around.
  2. No, even if you have spoke with that broker, speak with at least several of them (at least 2), do speak with banks & credit unions as well as they can each compete for business, brokers don't always have the best rate (they normally do, but not always). This is even more so if your credit is good, you have more power to shop around. When comparing mortgages, don't fixate only on the interest rate, look at the conditions like portability, being able to pay down your mortgage faster or a "mortgage payment vacation", these things can be powerful & gives you flexibility. Some really low rate mortgages don't give you these privileges, do keep it in mind.
  3. No, they're not accurate at all. They're only for reference only to give you an educated guess & gives you an idea of how much you can afford.
  4. When viewing a house, look around the house, don't only look at how fancy the house looks. Be sure to look at nooks & crannies to detect potential issues that you might have if you bought the house. Also note the smells as well, don't let the selling agent try to distract you. A good realtor would also look over these things for you as well but you as the buyer have to always remember, real estate has a factor of buyer beware as you're buying a second hand item. If you really like the house & there's minor outstanding issues, when submitting an offer you can negotiate to have them fixed or have the price lowered. Also, good thing the market has cooled quite a bit, be sure to have a home inspection done as part of the condition.
Be sure to also check the house by yourself (and your partner) without anyone distracting you when going through the house. Your own real estate agent might draw your attention away, even if unintentional that you might not realize unless you're going through the house yourself. Of course, you don't have to do this if the house doesn't suit your needs or tastes but make sure to do another visit if you really like it.

I hope this helps.

Cheers!
Member
Aug 16, 2011
249 posts
125 upvotes
Oakville, ON
Congrats on taking the plunge into the housing market. To add to some of the previous answers:

1. Word of mouth is huge for finding a real estate agent, if you have any friends that have recently purchased or sold in the areas you are looking for and can provide a referral for an agent it can definitely take the stress out of buying. It never hurts to ask about Cash back, especially with the competitiveness in the market but as CDNRealEstateGuy has said, a good realtor you can trust is worth more than the percentage of cash back.

2. As everyone else has said, ask around. Talk to your bank, a credit union, a trusted mortgage broker, with the new mortgage rules you will want to make sure you are getting not only a great rate, but a mortgage you can actually afford. Personally I do everything I can to not show homes to my buyer clients until they have been pre-approved. Nothing is worse than thinking you can afford x, fall in love with homes in that price range just to put an offer in and be declined for a mortgage.

3. See the answer for 2.

4. Don't be afraid to ask your agent what to look for in each home you view, especially if you trust them. If you are looking at townhomes, is it a freehold or common element condo? Are their monthly fees, what do they include? Are there any obvious issues with the home? Are the big ticket items new (windows, doors, roof) or do they look like they would need to be replaced soon? What is the general state of the home? Has it been well cared for or are their little things that need to be fixed throughout the home. Stand outside both front and back for a while, is it too noisy or too quite for what you like? What type of land uses are nearby? Is it the type of neighborhood you want to live in. Do not be afraid to look in closets, basements, behind curtains, turn on taps, AC/Heating. Before and after viewing a home I recommend taking a look at the listing and making a list of the features that are drawing your attention to the listing and the things that you are unsure about. Maybe the master bedroom you think you love is actually overlooking a parking lot, or the closet you thought was too small is actually a lot bigger in person. You can also take pictures and notes during your walk through to look at later. When you start narrowing down your search and focusing on a specific home type or area a lot of the homes can start to blend together so I find photos and notes taken during the showings can help. And lastly try and relax and have some fun. Homebuying can be stressful but it is not something you do every day, try and enjoy the experience.
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[OP]
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Nov 30, 2014
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Great advice from everyone. Thank you all.
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Plan for your future. Children. Look in areas where schools are ranked higher.

It means the price is higher, but also means you can sell it for more later.

Last thing you want is years later to find that all the schools you are allowed to attend are ranked near the bottom. Then you gotta move and realize properties have risen in price sooo much. Imagine prices 10 yrs ago? And those have to move now to get kids into a decent school?
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So I got a pre-approval done through TD.

Here is the information:

"525K mortgage

This is approved using the new qualifying rules…
My current rates are:
2y 3.04%
3y 3.24%
4y 3.34%
5y 3.44%
5y variable 2.95% (TD Prime – 0.65%)
If we go with a 25 year amortization , I can go 0.10 cheaper on all of the rates."

It says they will hold my rates until May 30th.

I spoke with a broker and they said there is no reason to get another pre-approval done. Should I get another pre-approval done or should I only contact brokers to shop around after I have found a home and am ready to buy to
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Apr 29, 2017
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How many homes does the average realtor show to one client before buying? My realtor has shown us about 10 homes on 3 seperate days and have only put one offer in. How long before a realtor starts to get ticked off and feel you are a waste of time?
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Feb 9, 2009
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Speaking from experience cause I live here, Milton may be a good area for you. Very family-orientated area, good schools, very low crime. You could get a townhouse for $650k.

Burlingon is good too... for kids I would pick those two. Oakville is really nice too but going to stretch your budget.
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Mitts87 wrote: How many homes does the average realtor show to one client before buying? My realtor has shown us about 10 homes on 3 seperate days and have only put one offer in. How long before a realtor starts to get ticked off and feel you are a waste of time?
lol, don't worry, he won't be ticked off...take your time.

Kudos for thinking of your agent's time though.
Kevin Somnauth, CFA
Principal Broker - First Toronto Mortgage - MA (Ontario #13176, BC #X301007)
Real Estate Salesperson - Century 21 Innovative
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12andy12 wrote: So I got a pre-approval done through TD.

Here is the information:

"525K mortgage

This is approved using the new qualifying rules…
My current rates are:
2y 3.04%
3y 3.24%
4y 3.34%
5y 3.44%
5y variable 2.95% (TD Prime – 0.65%)
If we go with a 25 year amortization , I can go 0.10 cheaper on all of the rates."

It says they will hold my rates until May 30th.

I spoke with a broker and they said there is no reason to get another pre-approval done. Should I get another pre-approval done or should I only contact brokers to shop around after I have found a home and am ready to buy to
Those are pretty good rates.

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