Office: 165 Pretoria Avenue, Ottawa ON. K1S 1X1
There are a lot of homes out there. How do you figure out which one is right for you? Start by getting familiar with the market. Drive around the areas you’re interested in and get an idea of what’s available. Talk to friends, use the Internet, check out community newspapers and catalogs from local real estate companies – and don’t forget your REALTOR®. That’s why you have one.
Your Royal LePage REALTOR® will work with you to expand your choices, making you fully aware of what your home-buying dollar will buy in various communities. Then she or he will help you separate good options from those that are less-than-optimal, educating you on the features and benefits of specific homes and their neighbourhoods.
What should I look for when viewing a home?
You pull up to the curb and there it is – the home of your dreams. Calm down. Take a deep breath and start again. The hardest thing to do when looking for a home is to remain objective. It is easy to fall in love with a home’s appearance, but it’s very important to look beyond the window dressing.
Here are some things to consider when looking at a home:
General upkeep – First appearances do count. Is the home dirty and cluttered? Are the lawns uncut? Are the walls chipped and in need of paint? If the owner hasn’t bothered to keep the house looking clean and attractive, what problems are lurking below the surface?
Water leaks – Water can do a lot of damage to a home. It rots wood, undermines foundations, and leads to mould and mildew. Reshingling a house, or repairing a cracked foundation to stop water leaks, can be extremely expensive. It takes an expert eye to find most water leaks (which is why we recommend you have a house inspected before you buy). If you spot stains, bulges and other signs of water damage on ceilings or walls, make special note that there could be a problem.
Appliances and fixtures – Test the lights, faucets, toilets, furnace, air conditioning, and all major appliances that are to be included with the home. Make sure everything is working as it should.
Floors – Floors should be smooth, even, and solid. Soft springy sections, excessive squeaking, and unevenness are all indications that expensive repairs may be needed.
Doors and windows – Check that doors and windows fit snugly and operate smoothly. Look for flaked paint and loose caulking. Check for drafts.
Drainage – Walk around the yard looking for areas where water might collect. Soggy areas near the foundation indicate poor drainage.
Grout and caulking – If the grout and caulking around bathroom and kitchen tiles are loose and crumbling, there is a good chance water is finding its way into the wall or under the floor.
Structural – Look for deep cracks in the foundations or loose mortar and bricks.
Furnishings – If you are not planning to replace all of your furniture (and not many people are), make sure it will fit into the rooms of the new house. Be sure to bring a measuring tape. Rooms can be deceptive.
Storage space – Make sure your new house has enough storage space for all your belongings. And that means more than just your clothes. Think of all the things that need to find a home – tools, gardening equipment, old toys, sports equipment, and all those wedding presents that are still in their original boxes. Check the size of the closets, the attic, the basement, and the garage. Rule of thumb: there’s never enough storage space.
Inspection – You should take a long hard look at a house before you put in an offer to protect yourself from disappointment down the road. But, nothing can replace the expert opinion of a qualified home inspector. Inspectors can spot problems that the average person would never find and they can usually advise you on how much it will cost to make the repairs. A home inspection can help you determine whether or not you are going to make an offer on a house, and if you decide to go ahead, just how much that offer is going to be.
As Canadians, we’re fortunate to have livable cities, neat and attractive subdivisions, and neighbourhoods that are ideal places to live, work and play. When it comes to finding the right community for you, it’s not so much a matter of finding a good community as picking the best of many. Your REALTOR®, Robert Hof, has a wealth of knowledge about the communities in their cities and towns. He can help you choose the one that is best suited to you and your family.
Here are just some of the things you may want to consider:
Environment – Ask your REALTOR about any known environmental issues in the area. Check with neighbours and the local media about air, water, and soil quality. Environmental issues can be detrimental to your health and to property values.
Appearance – Explore the neighbourhood keeping an eye open for signs of neglect, such as overgrown lawns, tired and worn houses, and litter in yards and alleys. No matter how diligent you are at keeping your property in top shape, a run-down neighbourhood will drive your property value down.
Crime rate – Check with the local police department to find out if the home you are considering is in a safe neighbourhood. Police may be able to provide statistics regarding break-ins and other crimes.
Schools – If you have children, education is one of the most important considerations in finding a new home. Are there schools within walking distance or will your children have to take the bus? How do the local schools compare to other schools in the area? If your children need them, are there religious or special training educational facilities nearby? Talking to neighbours with school-aged children can be helpful. In some areas school boards can provide important information to help you determine the quality of schooling in a particular neighbourhood or community.
Transportation – Convenient public transportation, good access roads, and major highways nearby can mean the difference between a pleasurable and not-so-pleasurable commute to work.
Amenities – Take a look around for all the amenities that you will need: shops, grocery stores, dry cleaners, restaurants, medical and dental offices, parks, and recreational facilities. Having a vibrant community with all the modern conveniences can make life a lot easier.
Property values – Property values are a pretty good indicator of how well a community is perceived. Your REALTOR can tell you how property values have changed over the past few years and how they compare to equivalent communities in nearby areas.
Utilities and taxes – Avoid unpleasant surprises by finding out about municipal taxes and utility costs before you decide to purchase. Fees for water, electricity, cable TV, phone, and gas vary greatly by region.
Noise and nuisances – First impressions are not necessarily the most accurate impressions. It is a good idea to come back to the neighbourhood at different times of day and different days of the week. Listen for traffic noise, barking dogs, low-flying airplanes, and any other noises that could indicate problems
Pay attention to market conditions – they will have a definite impact on your position as a buyer. The table below lists the influences that different conditions may have on you. Impact and expenses may vary, depending on your area.
The supply of homes on the market exceeds the demand.
|High inventory of homes. Few buyers compared to availability. Homes are on the market longer. Prices tend to drop.||More time to look for a home. More negotiating leverage.|
There are more buyers looking to buy a home than there are homes on the market.
|Smaller inventory of homes. Many buyers. Homes sell quickly. Prices usually increase.||May have to pay more and make decisions quickly. Conditional offers may be rejected.|
The number of homes on the market is equal to the number of buyers.
|Sellers accept reasonable offers. Homes sell within an acceptable time period. Prices are generally stable.||More relaxed atmosphere. Reasonable|
What type of home ownership is right for me?
There are three broad categories of home ownership: