• 4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Realtor in Toronto

    Are you ready to buy a house in Toronto?

    The main goal of a real estate agent is to make your dream of buying a house into a reality. However, not all real estate agents will provide the same exceptional service level that you’re expecting when you’re starting your home buying journey.

    Before you hire a realtor in Toronto, there are several questions that you should ask them to decide if this is the individual that you want to hire to be by your side during your home-buying process.

    That’s why today, we’ve created this quick guide to help you better understand what questions you should ask your realtor. Keep reading to learn more!

    1. How Long Have You Been a Real Estate Agent?

    The real estate agent that you’re working with should know the ins-and-outs of the real estate business. Some of the knowledge that a real estate agent acquires will only come from the knowledge and experience of being active in the industry.

    It would help if you looked to work with a real estate agent who has a few years in the business. However, if you do decide that you want to go with a rookie, you should make sure that this agent has guidance from another real estate broker in their company.

    2. What Neighbourhoods Do You Have Experience In?

    Your real estate agent should be well-versed in the areas that you’re interested in purchasing a home in. You should find a real estate agent that knows a lot of information about key information about the desired area shopping in. They should be knowledgeable about public transportation, schools, safety, home prices, and any amenities that come with that area.

    3. What Is Your Availability During the Day and the Week?

    The real estate agent that you’re working with should be available to show you houses within the time frame that you have available. While most open houses happen to be on weekends, if you’re only available to shop for houses during the week, your real estate agent should be available to you during this time frame.

    4. How Many Homes Did You Help Buyers Close in the Last Year?

    When you work with a real estate agent, you want to understand how many homes they were able to help buyers close within the past year. This is because this number will allow you to determine whether the real estate you’re working with has successfully helped people purchase a new home.

    Finding the Best Realtor in Toronto

    When you’re buying a home, you want the relationship that you have with your real estate agent to be smooth. The entire process of buying a house should be a comfortable experience for you, so it’s vital for you to ask these above-listed questions. By asking these questions, you’ll be able to identify if the real estate agent you’re planning on working with is the best realtor in Toronto for your home-buying situation.

    Are you interested in hiring an experienced real estate agent in Toronto that’ll help you find your dream home? Click here to contact us today to learn how we can help.

    Buying and Selling: Can I Close a Home Remotely?

    The past few months have been a whirlwind of emotions for many people. As we all wrap our minds around the current situation, there’s no doubt that coronavirus has dramatically affected the way we live and how our society operates. There is no clear answer on when things will be back to normal, but the real estate market persists.

    While real estate continues to be an essential service, homebuyers and sellers will be required to evolve the standard process to protect against spread of the virus. The short answer is, yes, you can use remote closing to complete your home sale. In fact, over the last decade digital home closing has been a trend, but in this environment more people will be leaning on it than ever before.

    Typical process to close a home

    Home closing consists of a lot of moving parts that will require a little bit of creativity to adjust to the current social distancing measures. The good news is that the government supports real estate activity and the sector boosts the economy. As a result, lenders, lawyers and real estate agents are still very much in business.

    So, don’t fret! As the closing date approaches for both buyers and sellers, there are ways that you can seamlessly close the sale of the home using the power of technology and other hybrid strategies.

    Homebuyers and Sellers

    1. Obtain a home inspection

    Normally a home inspection is necessary during the home closing process. The inspector, along with the buyers, would complete this together in-person. However, with social distancing measures you will need to determine other ways to get the home inspection checked off your list.

    If sellers agree to have an inspector visit their home, new protocols seem to be that inspectors arrive alone and wear protective equipment such as a hazmat suit and respirator when inside the home. After the inspection is complete, they share their findings with the buyer using digital technology such as video conferencing.

    READ: Open For Business: Canadian Real Estate and the “New Normal”

    Alternatively, homebuyers can choose to forgo the home inspection part of the closing if they don’t want to take these other steps. However, this can be risky, since inspections can turn up large repairs or other structural challenges in the home which buyers will likely want to know about prior to closing.

    1. Final walkthrough of the new home

    Having the final walkthrough of a new home is important to ensure everything is in order and in the same condition as when the homebuyer signed the offer. In the midst of coronavirus distancing measures, there are other ways for buyers to have a final walk-through of their new home.

    Buyers can ask sellers to leave the key to the property in a safe place (lockbox). If you’re a homebuyer, you can enter the home privately to complete the final walkthrough prior to taking possession. Wear a mask and gloves to reduce risk to both yourself and the sellers.

    Alternatively, if you would rather not attend the walk-through and your real estate agent is comfortable, they can do this independently and virtually walk you through the home. With the aid of 360-degree video technologies, you’ll be able to see exactly what the home looks like in real time.

    1. Title Review and Title Insurance

    Your lawyer will review the “title” (deed) to the home, which is the transfer of ownership between the seller and buyer. They will start the title search process to see if there are any obstacles that could stop the sale of the home. These can include zoning issues or outstanding mortgage payments by the former owners.

    It’s also your lawyer’s responsibility to set up your title insurance. This protects you from any ownership challenges, including if the initial title review missed something.

    Speak to your lender and lawyer to see if the title review and title insurance can be done to their compliance standards with digital signatures.

    1. Exchange of funds

    It’s critical that all parties receive the payments they’re owed during the closing process. Typically, real estate lawyers would have cheques couriered with the homebuyer’s mortgage funds and down payment. However, now they are leaning on transferring funds digitally, with their accounts set up to accommodate bill payment and e-transfers.

    This allows for a seamless exchange of funds between the two parties. The homebuyer can digitally transfer the funds to their lawyer and then their lawyer can digitally transfer funds to the seller on the closing date.

    1. Getting the keys

    One of the best parts of closing your home is finally getting the keys! Similarly, the hand-off of the keys can be challenging since people want to maintain physical distancing. As a result, sellers may use a lockbox to leave the keys for the buyer on the property. This ensures it is a secure exchange for both parties, while reducing unnecessary risk.

    Buying or selling a home in these conditions may involve taking a different approach. Yet, there are ways to close the sale of your home during this time. Discuss how you can make adjustments to typical processes with your real estate agent, lawyer, lender, and, home inspector.



    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    What is the Future of Canadian Real Estate?

    It seems difficult to forecast the future of the Canadian real estate market during this time. Many of us have questions about when social distancing measures will be loosened, and life will return to normal.

    Earlier this year the market was sizzling and in most major cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, it was a sellers’ market. Right up until early March it was projected to be a busy Spring homebuying season. Yet, things have cooled down significantly as a result of the covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

    Many people are not sure what the future of the Canadian housing market holds. This uncertainty has caused the market to dry up. Yet, many are predicting that this is a momentary sting to our economy and housing market.

    Here are a few indicators of what we may be able to expect in the coming months and years:

    Real Estate Market Activity in the Short-term

    The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is projecting that as social distancing measures loosen, real estate market activity will quickly ramp up again. This is expected to happen near the end of Summer and likely early Fall. The organization believes that the economy will recover, as business operations go back to normal and unemployment rates decrease.

    Homebuyers will have more financial power and will be more inclined to start their home search again. While, sellers will feel more comfortable allowing people to visit their homes for open houses.

    For now, some economists are predicting that property values will fall temporarily, and lower home prices will be on the table due to tight market conditions. Sellers will be forced to negotiate on price opening the door for buyers who have job security and financing to swoop in.

    Relief measures

    The Canadian government has stepped in during this time to bolster the economy and aid to Canadians across the country. They’ve created financial relief measures to help soften the impact of the coronavirus on our economy. These benefits have been put in place to reduce household debt as people navigate this challenging time.

    The Canadian government has also created specific measures for businesses. As a result of social distancing, many businesses have taken revenue hits or have had to close their doors for the unforeseeable future. Yet, financial benefits will allow more businesses to keep people employed and provide job security. This could encourage more Canadians to continue to engage with the real estate market

    However, it’s unclear how much these financial relief measures will entice Canadians to enter the market and to what degree they will.

    Interest rates

    The mortgage stress test along with high-interest rates have made it challenging for many homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage. This is especially the case for first-time homebuyers who typically don’t have as much money available for a down payment. The good news is that the stress caused by these obstacles may be eased by recent interest rate interventions.

    In the short-term the Bank of Canada has significantly lowered the benchmark interest rate to 0.25% to help boost the economy and keep inflation stable. This is the lowest the rate has ever been. For those who want to jump at the opportunity and take advantage of low interest rates, they can qualify for more affordable mortgage payments. This can also allow them to borrow a larger amount, which could help to finance a home with more square footage include features they desire.

    For first-time homebuyers who don’t have cash tied up in stocks or other investments and have enough money for a down payment this can be an ideal time to make a purchase. Other key considerations include having job security to ensure they’ll be able to make their mortgage payments even a few months from now.

    As the coronavirus situation unfolds, it is hard to say how much lowered interest rates will entice people to purchase homes.

    Real Estate Market Activity in the Long-term

    Data from Google trends  during the recession in 2008-2009 caused by the housing crisis, show that the search volume for homes for sale in the US and Canada continued to increase through these years into 2010/11. This trend provides evidence that following the economic downturn, the market recovered at a relatively fast rate.

    This can be promising data that can put people at ease that after the coronavirus pandemic, our economy is likely to rebound. Employment rates will increase since businesses will be able to operate fully again. As a result, household debt will decline because people will be able to afford to pay their bills.

    The demand for homes will grow and we will likely see a lot of pent up demand from the time of social distancing that will push people back into the market. This will especially be true in markets where there has already been a lot of interest, such as Vancouver and Toronto. Coupled with the low inventory we saw before this issue occurred; competition in the market will cause housing prices to be on the rise again.

    You may be concerned about the direction the Canadian real estate market may take in the future. However, with government intervention the impact of the coronavirus may not hurt the economy as bad as we think. It’s also important to note that previous recessions have shown us we’ve made strong recoveries. The real estate market has been hot the past few years. Once the coronavirus pandemic is under control, we will likely see the market heat up once again.



    Courtesy of REMAX.ca

    CMHC Reviews Underwriting Criteria

    The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all sectors of Canada’s economy, including housing. Job losses, business closures and a drop in immigration are adversely impacting Canada’s housing markets, and CMHC foresees a 9% to 18% decrease in house prices over the next 12 months. In order to protect future home buyers and reduce risk, CMHC is changing its underwriting policies for insured mortgages.

    Effective July 1, the following changes will apply for new applications for homeowner transactional and portfolio mortgage insurance:

      • Limiting the Gross/Total Debt Servicing (GDS/TDS) ratios to our standard requirements of 35/42;
      • Establish minimum credit score of 680 for at least one borrower; and
      • Non-traditional sources of down payment that increase indebtedness will no longer be treated as equity for insurance purposes.

    To further manage the risk to our insurance business, and ultimately taxpayers, during this uncertain time, we have also suspended refinancing for multi-unit mortgage insurance except when the funds are used for repairs or reinvestment in housing. Consultations have begun on the repositioning of our multi-unit mortgage insurance products.

    “COVID-19 has exposed long-standing vulnerabilities in our financial markets, and we must act now to protect the economic futures of Canadians,” said Evan Siddall, CMHC’s President and CEO. “These actions will protect home buyers, reduce government and taxpayer risk and support the stability of housing markets while curtailing excessive demand and unsustainable house price growth.”

    These decisions are within CMHC’s authorities under the National Housing Act and are in anticipation of potential house price adjustment. We will continue to monitor market conditions and work with our federal colleagues on potential macro-prudential policy options.

    CMHC supports the housing market and financial system stability by providing support for Canadians in housing need, and by offering housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry.

    For more information, follow us on Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

    For information on this release:

    Leonard Catling
    Media Relations
    Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation



    Courtesy of Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation – www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca

    Do Staged Homes Sell Faster?

    For most home sellers, the goal is to sell their home for the highest possible price and in the shortest amount of time. Two ways to achieve this is with the right asking price, and by staging the property. So, do staged homes really sell faster, and for a higher price? The short answer is yes, and here’s why.

    Do staged homes sell faster?

    According to the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes spend 73 per cent less time on the market than their un-staged counterparts. Truthfully speaking, even an un-staged home can sell under the right market conditions. A seller’s market, characterized by high demand and low inventory, generally means buyers are likely to scoop up what they can get. In a buyer’s market, there are more homes for sale than there are buyers, which means competition is greater among sellers and buyers have the upper hand. Under these circumstances, staging your property could tip the scales in your favour.

    Do staged homes fetch a higher price?

    The answer to this question isn’t as cut-and-dry, since the final selling price of a home depends on a number of factors. Is there buyer demand? Are there many other listings on the market competing against yours? And what about the home itself – is it well maintained, cared-for and clean? With all other things equal, a staged home is likely to leave buyers with a better impression than one that hasn’t been staged, with the potential to fetch a higher selling price.

    What is home staging?

    Home staging is the process of preparing a home for sale by increasing its appeal to a wide range of homebuyers. Home staging isn’t as involved as a renovation, and can involve decluttering, depersonalizing and deep-cleaning; painting the walls in a fresh, neutral hue; updating hardware and lighting; rearranging existing furniture or renting some new pieces to help show the home in the best possible light. When a buyer can see your home as their home, they are more likely to make a competitive offer.

    Since the majority of homebuyers start their home hunt online, it’s important to make a good impression through your digital listing photos. Buyers will weed out the homes that don’t meet their criteria, and then proceed to an in-person or virtual showing of the homes that they are seriously considering.

    Decluttering and depersonalizing the home of family photos and other personal items can help. Also consider that potential buyers need to think beyond what their eyes are showing them. Staging helps them to visualize themselves living in and using the space. Is the home an ideal place for a growing family, as a live-work space, for recreational pursuits or to enjoy retirement?

    Virtual Home Staging

    A new twist on home staging is “virtual” staging, which leverages technology to digitally enhance photos in order to demonstrate the possibilities. Virtual staging is ideal for vacant properties, which pose added challenges for sellers and the buyers who are trying to imagine it as their new home. Virtual home staging eliminates the need, effort and cost associated with renting or buying furniture and accessories.

    Staging a home doesn’t have to be complicated. Evaluate every room and be critical, because prospective buyers will be. Viewing your own home objectively can be difficult, especially for those who have lived in their home for a long time. A professional home stager and your real estate agent can give you an honest opinion as to what works in your home, what doesn’t, and what the seller might consider changing in order to appeal to homebuyers.



    Courtesy of REMAX.ca