Market UpdatesSeasonal InterestSelling May 28, 2020

5 Reasons to Sell Your Home in Summer 2020

Earlier this year, with the statistics forecasting our best year yet, no one could have imagined the impact of COVID-19 on the Saskatoon real estate market. Self-isolation and social distancing were things we had never even dreamed of and they quickly became our reality without much warning. Soon after, the market slowed dramatically, leaving both buyers and sellers worried what the future would hold.

Luckily, though, the warmer weather brought with it a sunnier outlook, and as recoveries continue to rise, so do sales. This means, if you’ve been toying with the idea of selling your home in 2020, this summer is a fantastic time to do so—and here’s why:

#1 – Awesomely Low Interest Rates

With the current economic climate in the state that it is due to COVID-19, the current interest rates for mortgages are at a record low—some even reported to be as low as 1.99% on a 5-year fixed term! Because of these low interest rates, more home buyers are entering the market equipped with more buying power than they previously could have afforded. So, if you were to list your home today, there would be more potentially interested buyers to sell to—so you could kiss those worries of never-ending relists goodbye!

#2 – Fewer Listings, Less Competition

Saskatoon, as of today, is in what we’d call a seller’s market. While more and more buyers are flocking to the market with the low interest rates, the same is not being said for new listings. This lack of inventory in the Saskatoon market means those listings that do exist are getting more action than ever before, with quite a few of them pulling in competing offers. As a seller putting your home on the market today, you can expect to see more urgency from buyers and a shorter listing period. And why not turn your dreams of a new home into a reality much quicker!

#3 – You Have A Clearer Idea of Your Wants & Needs

After months of social distancing and staying home to stay safe, I can almost guarantee that you have gotten pretty familiar with your current home. More specifically, I’d say you’ve gotten pretty familiar with what it’s missing for you and your family. This means that you’ll have a clearer idea of what you’ll be looking for in your new property, helping to narrow down your choices to make finding your dream home simpler and less like digging through the clearance rack to find a gem!

#4 – No School Means Easier Moves

Summer is traditionally one of the best times for families to move, with kids out of school and summer vacation times more readily available. Not only will you have the extra free hands to help carry the boxes, but you also won’t have to worry about disrupting their learning process or moving them out of the school district before the year is through! Plus, a move earlier in the season gives them plenty of time to explore and fall in love with your new home just as much as you have!

#5 – Summer is the Best Time for Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the first impression that buyers get of a home. And in the winter, when everything is coated in a blanket of wet and white, it’s hard for them to get an accurate read of what the curb appeal actually is. The trees are bare, the garden is covered, and they have no idea if there’s any grass under there at all.

In the summer, though, nature is in bloom, the weather is warm, and your home can truly be seen in its best light (mostly because there is still light after buyers get off work). This helps to reinforce a buyer’s impression of the house, giving them another determining factor to help them make their decision, rather than leaving them in the mysteries of the unknown.

 

With plenty of buyers on the market, eager to get out and get moving while the water’s warm, summer 2020 is really shaping out to be a great time to be a seller. And if you’ve been questioning whether or not to get started, take this as your sign from the heavens—your time is now. And I can help! Contact me to get your free custom market evaluation today and let’s get started!

Buying April 2, 2020

5 Saskatoon Neighbourhoods You’ll Want to Call Home

Home to a fantastically diverse population, Saskatoon features many different neighborhoods to choose from. Whether you’d prefer mature and settled or new and bustling, you can find it here in the City of Bridges!

If you’re looking for the right neighbourhood to start your home search, there are many things to take into consideration, like lifestyle, access to amenities, and community life. Here are some of the most popular neighbourhoods in Saskatoon right now:

Nutana

The original settlement of Saskatoon, Nutana is situated right along the South Saskatchewan River and is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in the city. Not only does it offer easy access to the natural beauty of the river views and Rotary Park, but it’s also just a quick trip over the bridge to the downtown core. Plus, it features the bustling Broadway Avenue business district, allowing you to effortlessly find both culture and convenience right on your doorstep—with festivals and heritage buildings just around the corner.

With most of the houses in Nutana being built prior to 1980, it is the perfect place to start your search if you have your sights set on a character home. And if you’re still wanting to buy new, you can still find it here, with many infill properties cropping up, affording you the additional benefit of the mature landscape!

City Park

Located right at the heart of Saskatoon, City Park is home to some of the most stunning real estate to be found along the river valley. Originally known as Central Park, it boasts some of the greatest outdoor spaces in the city, including Meewasin Park, Wilson Park, Kinsmen Park, and Mendel Site Park. Not to mention, it is conveniently located alongside the downtown core for the easiest access to amenities that you can imagine.

One of City Park’s best features, though, is the City Park School, a unique multi-use school that caters to meet the needs of all students struggling to learn in traditional methods. Their specialized learning programs include an Ecoquest outdoor classroom, a FLEX Program for athletes and artists, and the Online Learning Centre!

As a mature neighborhood, much like Nutana, most homes in City Park are character homes. However, it is also an excellent neighbourhood to find many condos for sale, as well!

Silverwood Heights

One of the largest subdivisions in Saskatoon, Silverwood Heights is a fantastic family neighbourhood, home to 5 schools and over 75 acres of parkland! Priding itself as an active and beautiful community, residents of Silverwood Heights will love the all-season access to the Meewasin Trail in their backyard, as well as the close proximity to all the amenities that Lawson Heights has to offer! This includes the Lawson Height Mall and the ever-popular civic centre, featuring a wave pool, sauna, and fitness centre that the whole family will love!

As a family-oriented community, Silverwood Heights is a great place to start your search for single-family homes for sale, with many options available to suit your family’s needs.

Evergreen

Evergreen is one of Saskatoon’s newest neighbourhoods, with a focus on nature and outdoor living. Named after the 50-year old Scots pine trees that can be found on the south-east corner of the community, Evergreen prides itself on its outdoor spaces. Surrounded by parks and agricultural land, it is the perfect neighbourhood for nature-lovers and those who prefer living outside of the city without losing the easy access to amenities.

As a newer community, only having started construction in 2010, homes in Evergreen are newer properties and come in a wide array of options—from condos to townhouses to single family dwellings. And with 9 kilometres of looping trails throughout, it’s easy to get around by both foot and bike!

Kensington

If you’re looking for the convenience of modern living with the luxuries of traditional style, Kensington may just be the perfect neighbourhood for you. With a focus on quality of life first, this community was built to seamlessly blend accessibility and urban convenience. All the essentials you need can be easily found just minutes from every door in town, as well as a vast network of outdoor space, including greenways, pathways, ponds, and sports fields.

The community of Kensington also prides itself on its commitment to environmental sustainability, with over half of the single-family homes designed to take advantage of solar power. So if saving on the electricity bill and helping the environment sounds good to you—look no further!

 

No matter what your needs may be in for your future home, you can be sure there’s a Saskatoon neighbourhood perfectly suited to you! And if you’re not sure what your needs may be or would like more information on the neighbourhoods available to you, never hesitate to reach out and ask your REALTOR®!

BuyingFinancial March 5, 2020

The True Costs of Buying a House

For many first time home buyers especially, the common misconception is that the only costs of buying a house is the price of the home itself. However, unlike buying a new TV, where you simply pay the cost, grab the box, and walk out the doors, buying a house means quite a few financial steps to get to the finish line. Here are just a few of the most common costs associated with buying a house:

Down Payment

In order to obtain a mortgage from a lender, you’ll need to provide proof of financial stability and income in the form of a down payment. Usually this is anywhere between 5% and 20% of a home’s purchase price, but it can certainly be more than that, if you can afford it! Though, the minimum down payment required in Canada is 5%, and anything below 20% will require mortgage default insurance, which we will cover a bit later.

Your down payment is similar to any money you may have put down when financing a vehicle at the dealership. This money comes straight off the purchase price and only the remaining amount is factored into your mortgage loan. Which means the more you pay upfront with your down payment, the smaller a loan you will need, and therefore less interest you will need to pay.

Mortgage

Regardless of whether they are a first time home buyer or not, the one cost of buying a house that all buyers seem to be aware of is the mortgage payments. Similar to how a student loan helps you go to college now and pay later, a mortgage allows you to buy your home now and pay over time. Depending on the purchase price of the house, the cost will vary, and will be a monthly cost you can expect to pay over whatever term was agreed upon with your lender.

Home Inspection

One of the most important costs of buying a home is the home inspection fee, which is usually under $600. Since it is not technically required, some buyers will often consider skipping an inspection to save on closing costs. However, as an experienced REALTOR®, I always educate my buyers against this in order to protect their investment as much as possible. While it may seem slightly more costly upfront, the peace of mind and possible financial savings down the road are always worth it.

Inspections can reveal a wide variety of issues that may mean costly renovations or repairs in the future, which could mean thousands more dollars you weren’t expecting to have to pay. By catching them before the sale is closed, you can use these as negotiating tools with both the seller and your lender to help offset the possible costs or have repairs done before possession so you can move in worry-free.

Deposit

A deposit, while it may sound like a down payment, is actually a different cost involved in buying a house. Essentially, it is a lump sum of money that is put in trust for you as the buyer to show the seller that you will go through with the deal. Like the down payment, it is factored into the upfront payment toward the house and, therefore, not factored into your mortgage loan, so it will help to reduce your overall mortgage payments long term while also securing your purchase.

Property Appraisal

When calculating your financing, your mortgage lender may require a property appraisal to accurately assess the home’s actual value today, which typically costs around $300. This assessed value may be quite similar to the listing price, however, if it is lower than the listing price, be aware that your lender may only offer a mortgage on that value, not the price being paid in this instance. Financing is assessed on whichever value is lower: appraised value or purchase price.

Land Survey

Depending on when the last land survey was done on the home, your lender may ask for you to have one performed to accurately outline the boundaries of the property and avoid any discrepancies with neighbours later on. In the case that no large scale renovations have been done on your property or neighbouring properties within the last handful of years, the last land survey—which the seller should have—will usually be fine. However, if one is required, you can estimate an additional cost between $1,000-2,000.

Legal Fees

In order to buy a house, you will need the help of a real estate lawyer, which means that you can expect to see legal fees as a part of your closing costs. These can usually be anywhere between $500-1,000, depending on the work you need done. And while this may seem like a lot, trust me when I say you can rest assured that this is all money well-spent. Your real estate lawyer will be taking care of all the contracts and legal paperwork regarding your investment, helping to protect you against possible discrepancies that could arise in the future!

Title Transfer Fee

Where other provinces have a Land Transfer Tax, Saskatchewan simply has a Title Transfer Fee that is paid to the province for changing the registration on the property to your name. This fee will be 0.3% of the property price and will be charged at closing.

General & Provincial Sales Tax (GST/PST)

If you are purchasing a new home, General Sales Tax (GST) will apply to the purchase price of the home. Provincial Sales Tax (PST) is also applicable, but only on the value of labour and services incurred in construction. If you are purchasing a previously owned home, however, these taxes will not apply. And if you are buying a new house and do need to pay them, ask your REALTOR® about any possible new housing rebates you might qualify for! For example, Saskatchewan only recently announced a new rebate where you could receive a 42% rebate on the PST paid for possessions taking place between April 1st, 2020 and March 31st, 2023.

Mortgage Default Insurance

If you are making a down payment of less than 20%, your mortgage lender will require you to purchase mortgage default insurance, which can be anywhere between 1.75 – 2.95% of the mortgage value. This insurance helps to protect lenders in case you suddenly aren’t able to make your payments and is most often calculated into your monthly mortgage payment.

Home Insurance

Just as you would insure your car in case of an accident, home insurance is an essential part of becoming a homeowner. This insurance will help to cover damages that may happen to your property. Rates will vary depending on the home you are purchasing, and payments will need to be made monthly.

Utilities

To ensure your home has power, water, internet, and cable, you’ll need to contact your local services to set up accounts and installation times, if needed. Installation fees may be needed, and monthly charges will apply, depending on the services you want to have!

Property Tax

Property tax is payable to the local municipal government—in our case, the City of Saskatoon—and is usually calculated annually. To get a better understanding of what you can expect to pay in the future, I always recommend discussing the property taxes they have paid in the last few years. This will give you an average estimation, as well as an indication of whether they are trending up or down.

Moving Costs

If you plan on hiring a moving company, you will be responsible for paying whatever their rate may be for time and labour. However, you can also opt to handle the move yourself, but you may still need to rent a moving truck even in this case.

Some other costs you may expect to see in the process of buying a home may include the purchasing of new furniture or appliances, renovations or repairs, as well as condo fees, if they are applicable.

BuyingFarm & Agriculture February 20, 2020

7 Questions to Ask When Buying Farmland

With hundreds of acres of land spanning the province, Saskatchewan is a great place to be if farming is your passion! Whether it be crop production or livestock you’re planning for, here in the land of the living skies, there’s a plot for you if you know what it is you’re looking for. Regardless of whether you’re a new or experienced farmer, buying farmland can often be quite a confusing process. But all it takes is asking the right questions to feel more secure in your investment.

Here’s what to ask when buying farmland:

What Type of Farmland Are You Looking For?

For those less experienced in the agricultural industry, you may think that all it takes to start a farm is just a couple hundred acres of land. However, depending on the type of farming you’re hoping to do, the type of land you’re looking to buy can vary quite a bit from plot to plot.

If you are looking to farm livestock, you’ll be looking for pasture land. This land usually has lots of free space for cattle to roam and plenty of grass for them to feed on when they’re out grazing in the fields.

If you are looking for crop production land, you’ll need a plot that either has either already been farmed well to have healthy soil or one that has the potential to be improved upon, preferably without years of overhaul. Land that has already been cultivated and worked will usually be disclaimed in the listing.

You’ll also want to take into consideration whether you will need to add any buildings or structures to the land. For instance, if you are farming livestock, a barn will be a necessary addition if there isn’t already one on the property. If you are farming crops, you may need a silo.

What Are the Soil Conditions?

Depending on whether you are farming crops or livestock, the soil needs will be vastly different, and it’s important to know what you’ll be getting when purchasing farmland. Healthy soil is important for optimal crop production. With livestock, the ground just needs to be healthy enough to support grass growth.

To get a better understanding of the health of your soil, there are a couple of resources you can use here in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency (SAMA) offers production land assessments that can tell you what the expected or proven production value of the farmland might be. The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp (SCIC) can also provide some insight, as they provide an easy-to-understand letter grade after their assessments, where ‘P’ indicates poor productivity and ‘A’ indicates high productivity. Both will take into account various important indicators of the soil’s health, including the climate, soil profile, texture, organic matter content, salinity, and drainage, amongst other factors.

What Has the Current Owner’s Experience Been with the Land?

The easiest way to get an understanding of the land is to talk to the current farmer or owner about their history and experience with the property. Ask them about their production numbers and any issues they may have experienced when working the farmland. Most importantly, though, ask them why they are selling. If they are moving or retiring from farming, you likely don’t have anything to worry about. However, if there is low production value or exorbitant upkeep costs, you may want to be aware of that before purchasing the farmland for your very own.

Have There Been Any Previous Treatments to the Land?

It’s important to know about the treatment history of the farmland for sale to know about any ongoing maintenance that may be required. For instance, when was the last crop rotation? If it has been quite a while, you may have quite a large challenge to undertake right from the start. You’ll also want to know if it has been regularly treated with certain herbicides or pesticides. These treatments can require ongoing application and will limit you from obtaining an organic status, if that is important to you.

Can You Afford to Purchase Farmland?

While it may seem as easy as buying a home—down payment, mortgage, and good to go—purchasing farmland isn’t quite as financially simple as we might think. Firstly, when buying a house, you really only need a 5% down payment to obtain a mortgage. When it comes to buying farmland, however, lenders may ask for more upfront to secure their investment; sometimes as much as 25%.

Unlike homes, farms are expected to be a source of revenue. But, in order to be profitable, they require a lot more time, money, and resources to maintain. So, in order to ensure their loan will be returned, mortgage lenders create stricter requirements to try and selectively filter out less committed purchasers.

If you are unsure about your financial health for purchasing farmland, I highly recommend meeting with a mortgage specialist who is knowledgeable about agricultural lending before starting your search. They will be able to give you a better understanding of what you might be able to obtain and keep your continued search more realistic before you bite off more than you can chew.

Will You Need Extra Manpower to Work the Land?

Depending on the size of plot, you may not be able to realistically farm whatever land you purchase on your own. And if that is the case, can you financially support a team of farm hands underneath you? Or would you consider leasing out parcels of your land to other farmers? Be aware of the expectations you are placing on yourself, especially if you are just starting out. Farming is a lot of manual labour and there are only so many hours in a day that you can reasonably work with on your own.

Should You Get a Real Estate Agent to Purchase Farmland?

It is a common misconception that real estate agents only work for residential buying and selling. The truth is, though, no matter what type of real estate you are looking to purchase, there is an agent that can help you! However, not all REALTORS® are comfortable and experienced in buying and selling farmland. So, it’s important that you are choosing a Saskatchewan REALTOR® that is experienced with farm real estate who can better help you understand the process and find you the land you are looking for. As a buyer, they are absolutely free for you to use and they will help you to not only find your ideal farmland, but also get you the best deal possible to start your agricultural adventure off right.

 

Buying farmland doesn’t have to be a stressful experience, so long as you know what questions to ask throughout the process! They help to give you a better understanding of what it is you are looking for, so you can feel confident in your investment and start your new farm off on the right foot right from the start!

Selling February 6, 2020

Your Checklist for Staging Your Home to Sell

When selling your home, the goal is to make it look its best to make a fantastic first impression on potential buyers, similar to getting dressed up for a blind date. And, just like a blind date, that pressure to impress can easily have us feeling self-conscious about each and every detail, wondering exactly what we need to do to get everything in tip top shape.

If you’re selling your home and find yourself similarly self-conscious and stressed, here’s a handy checklist to keep you confident that you’ve done all you can before every showing.

#1 – Start Outside & Boost Your Curb Appeal

While it’s easy to become fixating on cleaning up all the clutter indoors, it’s important to remember that the very first impression being made on potential buyers is happening before they even cross the threshold. It happens the moment they pull up in front of a property and glance around, not just at the home itself, but the yard and surrounding area, too.

To give the best first impression, make sure to cut the grass and rake away any leaves or debris. If it’s winter, shovel and make sure to drop some salt to prevent any slippery situations. And don’t forget to pick up after your pets.

#2 – Declutter the Home & Mind

Whether you consciously notice it or not, clutter can cause us to feel stressed and that’s the last feeling you want to invoke on a potential buyer! To reduce that unconscious overwhelmed feeling, take a moment to tidy up.

  • Make sure shoes are all paired and upright

  • Hang up coats and loose clothes, and have all the hangers facing the same way

  • Tuck away mail and loose papers

  • Put toys in their place

  • Fold all the laundry

#3 – Clean the Kitchen, Sell the House

A number of studies have been done about the importance of various selling features on homes. Time and time again, kitchens have always ranked at the top, and should never be neglected when staging a house for sale. To make sure your top selling feature is looking good enough to eat in, clear off the counter and table tops and wipe them down thoroughly. And while you have that damp cloth out, don’t forget to scrub the cupboards and appliances, too!

#4 – Make the Bathroom Sparkle

The kitchen may be the number one selling feature in a home, but bathrooms are without a doubt the next on the “must-have” list when buying a house. Just as you did in the kitchen, make sure to wipe down the counters and don’t forget about the mirror and faucets. Give all the fixtures—tub, sink, and toilet—a good scrub, as well, and be sure to really get in the grooves where scum and mould can accumulate. And when everything is sparkling and shining, finish off the look with nice, clean towels folded neatly.

#5 – Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold; Make the Temperature Just Right

In the throes of a Saskatoon winter, we’re all looking to come in from the cold, and we’re more likely to linger a little longer when we’re toasty warm. And in the summer, a little cool oasis from the heat could be just the relief we need! To give potential buyers that sense of comfort that entices them to stay and look around, adjust the temperature about an hour or two before they are set to arrive!

#6 – Eliminate Odours

When we’ve been in our home for so long, we become immune to our own “scent”. In order to ensure we’re addressing every smell home buyers might not enjoy, have an unbiased third party take a whiff of your home. And if they come across any unpleasant fragrances, make sure to clean them properly, rather than just spraying some air fresheners around the room. A good wipe down of the walls and proper carpet cleaning should never be skipped!

Other Secrets to Staging Your Home to Sell

Organize Closets. While our typical houseguests might not snoop through the closets, you can expect that buyers will be taking a look to see how much storage space they will have.

Make the Beds. No, your king-sized pillow-top might not be included, but keeping it tidy and presentable will make it easier for buyers to envision themselves and their own bed in the room.

Depersonalize. Again, our goal is to get the buyer to envision themself in the space and that can be hard to do with family photos and finger paintings around that make them feel as though they are in someone else’s home.

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint. If you have time, a fresh coat of paint to cover up any scuffs or wear and tear can make a big difference. If you are changing the colour, though, keep it neutral.

Clear Off the Honey-Do List. If you’ve been putting off the simple weekend projects and repairs, now’s the time to get them done. No one wants to inherit a honey-do list from anyone but their honey.

Don’t Forget to Look Up. Without looking up, we often forget about our own ceilings. Be sure to dust them off and wipe down the tops of fans in case they turn any on.

Let in the Light. Buyers can’t fall in love with what they can’t see! Turn on the lights and open up the curtains before you leave.

 

Getting your home ready for a viewing is an essential step in setting the mood so potential buyers can fall in love. Give yourself the time to tidy up and set the stage and show them what they could have if they move on in, and make selling your home a cinch!

BuyingSelling January 23, 2020

Seller’s Market vs Buyer’s Market: What’s the Difference?

One of the most common questions I get when working with new clients, especially first time home buyers, is “what’s the difference between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market?” These terms are commonly discussed when talking about real estate and have been particularly sensationalized on television. But while you may know them and have a general understanding of what they mean, the details of what makes these markets actually are may be a little less clear. So, let’s clarify that, shall we?

What is a Seller’s Market?

A seller’s market is when there are more buyers in the market than there are homes for sale. This means the demand for housing is higher than the actual supply of homes available, so sellers are at an advantage. They know that the need is there, so they can be more liberal with their pricing. The reality is that their house is going to sell—usually very quickly—and that there’s a higher chance they will receive multiple offers, giving them more power when it comes to negotiation, so it’s an excellent time for putting your house on the market.

Usually, you can tell when we’re in a seller’s market by looking at the trend in home prices and days on the market. When prices are up and the days on the market are low, it’s a great time to be a seller.

So what causes a seller’s market? Well, the most common driver for an increase in buyer’s is usually the local economy. When there are more jobs available, that will often attract more new residents, causing a surge in home buyers. But other influences toward a seller’s market include: lower interest rates attracting buyers or sudden spikes in interest rates pushing on-the-fence buyers to buy before prices go up even more.

What is a Buyer’s Market?

A buyer’s market is when there are more homes for sale than there are buyers in the market. The more selection the limited buyers have means a higher chance properties won’t be chosen, so sellers are forced to drive their pricing down to a more attractive number that can compete with the other properties available. This also gives buyers more power in negotiation, as they can always continue their home search elsewhere, so they can really get the most bang for their buck.

Signs of a buyer’s market can also be found by looking at the market trends for home prices and days on the market. When prices are down and the days on the market are high, it’s a great time to be a buyer.

A buyer’s market can be brought on by many different influences, including interest rate trends. Higher interest rates will limit the amount that lenders will offer buyers, thereby reducing the number of people in the market. New builds can also cause property prices to drop, increasing the supply before the demand is there, as well as natural disasters.

Tips for Working in the Opposite Markets

As much as it can be helpful to know what to look for to determine the type of market that your local real estate might be in, sometimes you don’t always have the option of waiting it out for when the market shifts. Financial or time constraints can often have you working in the opposite market—it happens! But that doesn’t have to mean you’ll be entirely out of luck. Here’s how to maximize your investment, even when the market isn’t quite in your favour:

Buying in a Seller’s Market

If you find yourself in need of buying in a seller’s market, you’ll be going up against a lot of other hungry home-seekers. Here’s how to stand out in the crowd:

  • Get pre-approved. While you might be anxious to start shopping before you miss out, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get pre-approved for a mortgage first. This shows sellers that a bank has already guaranteed you the lending amount you’ll need, so they won’t have to wait as long to hand over the keys!

  • Start with a strong offer. When the pickings are slim, there’s a much higher chance that any offer you give will be going up against at least one other, so you want it to be competitive. This is where working with a buyer’s agent can be extremely helpful, as we’ll be able to guide you on which offers will be most effective against the others.

  • If you like it, don’t wait. Houses in a seller’s market don’t last long, so if you’ve fallen in love with a house for sale, move quickly and don’t be shy about it.

  • Be responsive. Always be available to answer questions from the seller or your REALTOR® so you never miss out on an opportunity.

  • Be flexible. If a seller needs more time before move-in or is asking for other conditions, be willing to work with them.

Selling in a Buyer’s Market

If you’re stuck selling in a buyer’s market, your home is going to be compared to a lot of others. Here’s how to make your home stand out:

  • Know your competition. Have a good idea of what’s selling and look for common trends that you could apply to your home to make it more attractive.
  • Make sure the price is right. Money talks and when buyers have the power, you want to be the one offering them the best deal. Get a reliable home evaluation done and keep in mind that your home is only worth what someone is willing to pay.
  • Be flexible. If a buyer wants a quick possession or other reasonable conditions, do your best to work with them.
  • Consider every offer. It’s important to remember that every offer might be the only one you’ll see for a while, so take each one seriously. This is where an expert real estate agent can be a huge help in assisting you with weighing the pros and cons to make the decision to reject or accept.

 

If you’re considering entering the market as either a buyer or a seller, it’s important to know which kind of market you’re working with. Know the signs for each and keep your eye out so you can jump in at just the right time. And if you’re worried you won’t be able to tell when the time is right, don’t be afraid to reach out! I’m always more than happy to watch the trends for you and help you make the best decision in buying or selling any time of year!

Buying January 9, 2020

6 Questions to Ask Before Becoming a First Time Home Buyer

You’ve heard it over and over again, “Why are you still renting? You’re just paying someone else’s mortgage!” And, while that’s technically true, making the move from tenant to owner is a huge step, and one that should never be taken lightly! If you think you’re ready to start wading into the water of being a first time home buyer in Saskatoon, here are a few questions to ask before getting started:

1. Am I Financially Ready to Become a First Time Home Buyer?

Just because you’re “paying someone else’s mortgage”, doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford to pay your own just yet! The benefit of tenancy is the option to call it quits after the conditions of your term are met; you can just wipe your hands and walk away. As a homeowner, however, you’re making a 25 year commitment not just to the purchase of the home, but the upkeep, as well!

Some of the costs you’ll need to be financially prepared for when becoming a first time home buyer include:

  • Upfront Costs: the down payment (5-20% of the purchase price), closing costs (1.5 – 4% of the purchase price), and moving costs.

  • Ongoing Costs: monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, home insurance, utilities, condo fees (if applicable), repairs, and ongoing maintenance.

If you’re not sure how to calculate all this on your own, a Mortgage Calculator can be a great tool in giving you an idea of where you stand financially!

2. Am I Going to Use a REALTOR®?

For first time home buyers there is often quite a bit of confusion around real estate agents, especially when it comes to how much they cost. Well, I’m here to clear it up for you once and for all: as a buyer, using a REALTOR® will cost you absolutely nothing at all! That’s right—whether you decide to purchase or not, a home buyer will never pay a cent to use the services of a real estate agent, which means you are getting quite the bang for your buck.

For the low, low price of FREE, here are just some of the things your REALTOR® will help you with when buying your first home:

  • Market insight and years of experience to educate you in buying a home in Saskatoon

  • Writing offers & counter offers

  • Negotiating terms on your behalf

  • Post-sale assistance, up to and beyond possession day!

 

3. Do I Need to Get Preapproved for a Mortgage?

While it’s not an essential step in the process of buying your first home, getting preapproved for a mortgage can help better define what it is you can afford and set you up with some very realistic expectations as a first time home buyer. That way, you can keep your budget in mind and prevent yourself from falling in love with that riverfront home in City Park you just can’t afford.

Similar to working with a REALTOR®, getting preapproved for a mortgage is absolutely free and relatively painless if done right with the help of a professional mortgage specialist. Not sure who to work with? Our preferred partners at RBC work right here in the office and work with home buyers and sellers of all sorts each and every day, so you can trust that they know what they are doing!

4. What Am I Looking for In My First Home?

With so many listings to choose from, it can often be entirely overwhelming to know where to even start with your home search. And while a REALTOR® can be a great help, only you will know what you need in your home. Take a moment before you start your search to narrow down the playing field a little and save yourself the hours of scrolling through listings in the future. Think about everything from space to accessibility to what’s important to you. Don’t focus on the face value—paint colours, fixtures, appliances—which can all easily be brought up to snuff on a long weekend. Instead, look at what can’t be renovated away, like the number of bedrooms and the neighbourhood.

Then, with your narrowed search criteria, your real estate agent can better define which homes to show you and which ones to steer clear of. They can even set you up to receive automatic updates on new listings that match your exact criteria, so you’ll never miss a potential perfect property!

5. Am I Buying with My Partner?

Whether you are married or not, if you are considering buying your first home with your partner, the very first thing you’ll want to do is talk. Talk about your financial histories and how you plan on managing the payments moving forward. Will you be making separate monthly mortgage payments or opening a joint bank account where payments will automatically be withdrawn? And especially if you’re not married, you’ll want to strongly consider drafting up a contract about the expectations for each of you moving forward. No one is expecting the partnership to fail, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared just in case.

6. What Financial Assistance Options Are Available to Me?

To help first time home buyers make their way into the world of real estate, the Government of Canada has actually set out quite a few fantastic options for getting your finances in order. This includes:

The First Time Home Buyer’s Incentive, which helps eligible first time home buyers with the necessary down payment to finance between 5-10% of their home purchase on a shared equity plan with the Government of Canada. This helps to lower your monthly mortgage payment, and you won’t need to worry about repaying it for 25 years or until you’re ready to sell!

The Home Buyer’s Amount is a $5000 non-refundable income tax credit for qualifying homes purchased during the calendar year. It provides up to $750 in federal tax relief, helping to alleviate the costs associated with purchasing a home.

The Home Buyer’s Plan allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 in one calendar year from your RRSPs if you are buying  a home for either yourself or a relative with a disability.

The GST/HST New Housing Rebate allows you to recover part of the GST/HST you had to pay in buying your new home, if you qualify.

Becoming a first time home buyer can be a tricky and confusing time for many Saskatoon residents, but it can also be a very exciting one, too! And by asking the right questions up front and consulting with real estate experts, you’ll be more than prepared to handle the big change in your life, as soon as you’re ready to make it happen.