Chris Killam

Buyer’s Guide

Initial Consultation

The initial consultation is about understanding your needs, priorities, and your time frame, which will help your REALTOR® set the pace for your search. Do you need to close asap, or do you have lots of time for browsing and decision making? During this consultation, they will identify your price range, the type of property you’re looking for, what are your “must haves” or “deal breakers”, and which areas/neighborhoods meet your needs. If you are looking for help with a mortgage pre-approval, they can give you a list of preferred lenders at this time.

Set Up Collab & Begin Online Search

Collab is a real estate listing search for Ontario. Your agent will set you up with an account and a pre-determined search or you can build your own searches. Collab will email you new listings as they become available and allows you to save favorites into likes or loves, add comments, and remove properties that you don’t like. If it’s a collaborative (see what I did there?) search with your partner, it’s a great way for you to communicate with each other and your agent about properties. At this time you can look at as many areas or neighborhoods as you like and then remove areas as you narrow your search down. It’s also like to set up the property criteria broadly (price, beds/bath, square footage, parking) and then add more criteria as you define your “must haves” in a home.


Viewings

It’s usually best to set up a 2-4 hour time to view 3 to 6 properties on your first outing. Since you’ve just begun your search, there is a great deal of inventory that you’ve not yet viewed, so you’ll be able to look at quite a few houses to get a sense of what’s out there. As you look at homes, you will quickly like some properties and dislike others. Your Realtor will help figure out what it is you like & dislike about properties so that it’s easier to determine what properties are a good fit in the future. During showings, they should point out potential resale issues that can’t be fixed (backing to a busy road, awkward floorplans, etc.) It is always important to look at a property from the perspective of what can be changed and what can’t. You can renovate a dated kitchen or bathroom, you can’t move a house off a busy street. Your Realtor can also identify what can be improved and what these renovations might cost.


Making an Offer

When it’s time to make an offer, your Realtor will run a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to determine the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the property. They will contact the listing agent to see if they are expecting other offers on the property and then put together an offer, which has every term of the contract outlined in detail. Things included in an offer would be price, deposit amount, closing date, conditions such as financing, insurance, lawyer’s review and in the case of condos, strata certificate review. Sometimes the seller will accept your initial offer, but in the competitive Toronto market there will typically be multiple competing offers. Many properties are brought to market early in the week and take offers in the evening a week later. This allows buyers to get in and take a look and possibly have an inspection completed before offering. Some sellers have an inspection completed before going to market and will make this available to potential buyers for review. Offers are registered with the listing office and your agent will be updated as offers come in so you will be informed as to how many there are. There are sometimes 1-2 rounds of negotiations with the sellers giving buyers an opportunity to increase their offer if need be. It should be noted that in this very hot Toronto market with 74% of all sales resulting in a multiple offer situation, having all conditions removed is fairly standard in order to have a competitive “clean” offer.


Sold Conditionally to Firm Deal

After you have gotten an agreement together, you will need to deposit a certified check to the listing office, this amount is usually 5% or greater. You will then have 5-7 days to satisfy your conditions, have the property inspected (if not pre-inspected.) Once all conditions are met you will complete a notice of fulfillment to confirm the agreement.


From Firm to Close

Closings are typically 30-90 days from the agreement date (though some sellers like faster closings), as agreed in the offer or counter offer. Once you have a firm deal it’s time to get organized to move. You will want to book movers, inform your power, internet and cable providers of your new address and when you will need them connected at the new address. If you are moving to or from a condo, you will need to book an elevator well in advance. Your lawyer will have instructions for you as to what you will need to have ready for closing. You will need funds to cover your down payment as well as the land transfer tax for the province and the municipality and your legal fees and disbursements. Ideally you will meet with your lawyer in advance of closing to sign paperwork.


Closing Day is Not Moving Day

Your Realtor will book a closing walk through of the property in advance of closing. The closing walk through is to see that the seller has fully moved out, ideally they had the property cleaned, you will also be looking for any damage that might have occurred that might be a problem for closing. If everything looks good, you then call your lawyer and they will release the funds to the seller’s lawyer. Unfortunately, you don’t get your keys until the lender has funded the loan, which takes several hours after the last party has signed. As soon as the property has funded, you can pick up the keys from your lawyer. This process can take most of the day and you may not get your keys until late in the day or early the next. Closing Day is not Moving Day.


After Closing

It’s natural for you to have questions about the home & homeownership after closing. A good Realtor is always available to answer questions and to provide you with referrals to painters, contractors or other professionals you might need. I typically stay in touch with my clients for years after closing and I’m always happy to help in any way I can.