It’s January, and it’s time to set your sights on the year ahead. Whether you’re hoping to buy a condo in 2019, sell your family home, move up in square-footage, or downsize to a turnkey lifestyle, here are six tips to help you reach your real estate goals in 2019.
Ask yourself why you’re buying or selling
We say it a lot, but working with a professional real estate agent is a smart decision. I beleive one of the greatest value adds of working with an agent, and it begins with asking the question why. Why are you buying or selling?
The goal is to find a real estate agent that wants to know the answer to that question, who wants to dig deep to find a true answer beyond the surface level reason of “I think I should” or “It seems like the right time.” Someone who can then say, “Well, actually, given the trends in your neighbourhood or building it’s smarter to keep this property and actually buy something else over here.”
Find a real estate agent who is thinking about your future beyond the point of buying a condo or selling your home. A real estate professional who is invested in your future, thinking 5-10 years down the road, will fully understand the needs of your current situation.
Find an agent that fully explains how they are going to make the buying or selling process easier for you. There’s a huge difference between a generalist agent versus an experienced neighbourhood specialist. A specialist will know a lot more about properties in the area because they’ve explored the buildings, learned the ins-and-outs, and gained the knowledge of small differences between buildings that may “look” similar but have very different maintenance fees or maybe they know which buildings offer units with better accessibility features because they’ve actually walked the wider hallways and stood in front of the lower sinks in the bathroom.
The true value of a real estate agent is hard to define because if you’ve experienced it you probably didn’t even notice. And that’s the key. The experience was seamless and as stress-free as possible that you went on living your life as usual until it was time to sign the paperwork.
Keep an eye on interest rates
While the Bank of Canada held the key interest rate at 1.75% in December, I will remind buyers to be aware of potential interest rate hikes in 2019. If buying a condo or a home in Toronto is your goal, you should act proactively and try to lock in a rate with your bank!
Keep an eye on the market
When it comes to setting your goals, I suggest you keep an eye on the market from now until the time you become active. Just because you see an MLS listing listed at one price, doesn’t mean it will sell for that price.
Keeping an eye on the market will allow you to have a much more realistic gauge on the market to see if what you are looking for and what you can afford actually go hand in hand. If you’re planning to wait for the spring market to start your search for home, it’s a good idea to know exactly what is realistic so that you don’t end up overwhelmed and lost within the frenzy of that particular real estate season.
Know how much you can realistically afford
Being realistic is key. For buyers,I highly recommends you get a mortgage pre-approval before you start shopping for a condo so you can know your affordability. Imagine going shopping with a Visa card, but you didn’t know its limit. It would be horrifying getting declined at the cashier desk. In real estate the stakes are much higher!
If you’re thinking of selling this year, think about the value of staging. Buyers need to be able to visualize themselves living in your home. Before putting your Toronto home on the market, you need to stage and accessorize to bring out it’s best features. If your furniture fits the bill and your home doesn’t need much staging it most likely needs neutralizing to optimize the space(s) for its best use. Staging is known to decrease the time your home sits on the market, and staged homes often sell for more than vacant or non-staged ones.
Sellers should try to beat the market
No doubt, this spring will once again see many sellers coming out, and I beleive you should try to beat the market. If you’re selling, try to get your property on the market before everyone else does. Don’t think you need to wait until the middle of spring to sell. The buyers are out there, and they will always buy the right unit. Limit your competition and put yourself in a strong position to sell.
A strong position means being realistic. Study the market and have an honest conversation with your real estate professional about your goals and work together to ensure they are accomplished. Communication every step of the way is key.
Buyers should try to know the market
By the same logic, I suggest buyers should enter the market in the “offbeat.” We know when seasonal slowdowns and spikes are. For buyers, there may be less to choose from in slower periods of the year, but the competition is likely less fierce which will save you money in the end.
Having a trusted advisor in your corner, someone with their finger on the pulse of the market who can tell you when the slowdown is starting or when things look like they are ramping up will boost your bottom line whether buying or selling.
In addition, I reccomend sellers to be proactive with any renovations. Consult your real estate agent early enough to make sure contractors will be willing to do condo work in the winter months remaining. Many contractors don’t want to deal with the hassle of home renovations and will charge large premiums if you need them to be done in the summer.
Bonus: Are you an aspiring real estate investor?
Finally, Here are 5 tips for first-time real estate investors. If you’re goal in 2019 is to launch a real estate investment portfolio with pre-construction purchase or in the resale market, My first tip is that you should get a mortgage pre-approval.
You want to find out how much you can responsibly borrow for your investment – speak with a professional broker to fully understand your financial situation to help you leverage existing assets to reach your target amount.
Good luck with your real estate goals in 2019!