I’m a first-time buyer. With mortgage rates at an all-time low and prices at an all-time high, I’m not sure how to move forward. What’s the best strategy? – CATCH 22
DEAR CATCH 22: People have been trying to time the market for years, hoping that the housing bubble will burst. Here in the Waterloo region, we have one of the most stable real estate markets in the country. In the last fifty years of sales data, there have been only a few months here and there in which average sale prices have declined, and they’ve always recovered quickly.
In 2017, the average sale price of a home in Kitchener was a little over $400,000. That same house would bring well over $600,000 today. Given this enormous jump, I don’t expect market values to drop anytime soon.
I recommend that first-time buyers get a foothold in the market as soon as they can. The first step is to arrange financing. If local home prices feel out of reach, check out what your money can buy within a commutable distance. People travel back and forth to the GTA every day, because the homes in K-W represent a better value. The same is true for small town Ontario in relation to the tri-cities. Head north, south or west, and you’re likely to find options that are relatively more affordable, with a commute that’s far less congested than it would be heading into Toronto.
PRO TIP: Consider the quality of your commute. A 45-minute trip, to Norwich for example, is much more relaxing than spending that same amount of time white-knuckling into Etobicoke. Spending a few minutes stuck behind a tractor and wagon will always be easier than facing a backlog on Highway 401.
My spouse and I are divorcing. We are struggling to decide which agent to use, what should we do? – SEPARATE WAYS
DEAR SEPARATE: Unfortunately, this is a problem I see often. Currently, divorcing couples make up about one third of my practise. The dissolution of a marriage can be complicated, often adding emotion and uncertainty to the sale of a matrimonial home.
Even though you are currently at odds, it’s important to remember that you and your spouse share a common goal, and each want the same end result.
To ensure the process runs smoothly, choose an experienced Realtor that both of you know and trust. If you don’t already have an established professional relationship, ask someone you both know for a recommendation. It’s of vital importance that your agent remain neutral. I’ve had great success in these situations by operating like Switzerland, using simple tools like group chat to ensure seamless and transparent communication between all parties.
PRO TIP: If you are unable to agree on a single Realtor, an alternative may be to each choose your own agent and have them co-list the property. If you go this route, be sure to get experienced representation. The sale of a major asset is not something to be at odds about. #AskDavid #Advice