Moving into a home the smart way
Whether you are a first-time homebuyer, a professional couple, a growing family or an empty-nester, if you are considering the purchase of a new or resale condominium suite or lowrise home with a condo component, it is best to be aware and prepared. The following are a few tips to get yourself organized so you come up with the best choice.
- Ask yourself, what are your personal and family needs? My advice is to make a list of priorities. Are you buying for the first time? Upsizing? Downsizing? Are you looking for more space, less space, or if you’re living in your parents’ basement, will any space at all do? Do you like the idea of having a backyard in a townhome, or does the idea of having beautiful condo amenities under your roof appeal? If children are involved, do you require proximity to a school? Realize that size is relative – you will find condo suites that are larger than some townhomes, and vice versa. Keep layout at the top of your interior priorities. Think about how you like to live and determine which plans accommodate those needs.
- Once you want to start looking around, hire a good realtor. The marketplace is packed with choices (including condominiums and lowrise homes with a condo component) in Toronto and the GTA. There are realtors who are familiar with the area you select, and they will guide your search. Remember that purchasing a condominium is different from freehold lowrise; it is wise to work with a realtor who can help you understand all of the nuances.
- Consider pre-construction for a variety of reasons. Resale is fine for some shoppers, but in many ways, it is like wildly looking in the dark. Buying early in the selling cycle of a new mid- or highrise condominium usually allows you a two-to-five year window until move-in, which means you can save more for your down payment, and you will likely earn equity before you even take possession. Many condo purchasers nowadays earn 20 to 40 per cent in equity prior to closing. This is huge for anyone, but especially young first-time buyers.
- Next, get your finances in order. Find out what you can afford, and buy as much as that allows for – as long as you’re comfortable with it. You know what debts you have to pay off and how much disposable income you need each month to keep up your current lifestyle. If you are downsizing from a large lowrise home, you have to decide how much money to take out of the home, how much to invest, and whether to use a condo as your main residence or a second property.
There are condominiums popping up in Regions of Peel, Halton, York and Durham, where prices are more attainable than Toronto. From Mississauga to Pickering and beyond, you will discover a plethora of choices with differing architecture, amenities, views, layouts, sizes and prices. The goal is to find the right one for you, and a realtor can help you along the way to your best decision.
Debbie Cosic, CEO and founder of In2ition Realty, has worked in all facets of the real estate industry for over 25 years. in2ition.ca
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Congratulations. You just bought a home from a builder off a plan. Before you close, you may want to take advantage of an opportunity most people fail to consider. If you have any future plans to finish what would otherwise be a standard roughed-in basement, it's time for you to draw up a plan of your own.
So, what does that plan look like? Think it through. How many kids do you presently have? How many more will you have? Will you need a nanny suite? Will the basement serve as a rental property or an office? How conducive is the home to building a walkout or grading for enlargement of windows? These are some good questions to ask yourself well before the house is built.
It's the perfect time to determine aspects such as the ceiling height, potential layout options, where your windows go, the placement of the furnace or plumbing rough-ins, type of floor, custom finishes and more. If you talk to a basement renovator to explore your design, scope and costs, you can have a basement build that uniquely reflects your needs.
Let's look at some advantages
It's cost effective. Build from scratch and save money by doing this at the plan stage, not when you're settled in the house. Add the cost to your mortgage. Some contractors also offer financing.
Enjoy your basement from day one. Why have a roughed-in space sit there unused when you can reap the lifestyle advantages of a custom-finished basement, not a cookie-cutter version? Your kids will thank you.
Avoid living through a renovation. Why suffer through the disruption of dust, noise and upheaval while you and your family are living in the home? Move in when it's perfect. Even if you have to delay your move by a few weeks (which your contractor can help you with) it's worth it.
Finally, another thing to consider is how much more house you can buy if you finish your basement to generate income as a rental property. Many basements in southern Ontario can rent for upwards of $1,500 a month to offset as much as $300,000 of your mortgage. That's attractive math.
It all starts with a reputable contractor
Find a contractor that specializes in basements and has an established process for new builds. Get a credible referral. There's never a need to go through the multiple quotes process as that only becomes about price. Quality, trust and track record are the true measures of whom you should consider. A contractor can even work off a sales brochure floorplan and possibly even visit the site before closing.
Once you have an idea of what you want and what you can afford, talk to your builder.
Get the basement you want, not the scaled-down, unfinished one you're given. It's smart from a financial and a lifestyle sense.
If you think about it, your new house isn't finished until your basement is.
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