Director, Region Development, RE/MAX Canada, LLC
In today’s competitive real estate market landscape, it can be intimidating for a first-time homebuyer (FTHB). Mediaplanet caught up with Simon Schneider, Director of Region Development at RE/MAX Canada to share his tips for FTHBs
What are your top tips for first-time buyers?
1) Get pre-approved for a mortgage and lock in your interest rates for as long as you can. I would suggest 120 days. Typically, that is the maximum duration a large banking or financial institution will allow you to hold your interest rate. Align your closing date within the “hold” period so that you can take advantage of lower interest rates than the then-current interest rates the financial institution is offering.
2) Define your budget and home criteria. This will let you weigh your options on footprint, price per square foot and location. Without defining what you want, you will run in circles and never make it to the finish line.
3) Work with an experienced and professional realtor. There are two types of realtors. Statistical and Negotiator. You want one who will do both for you. By sharing with you recent sold comparables, understanding the local community, and building repertoire with the listing agent, your realtor should present to you a “buying opportunity”. Low levels of inventory have made it competitive with multiple offers coming in on the same product. Understanding the product and being aggressive is critical in securing your home. A home is 99% of people’s largest financial asset. I can’t urge enough the importance of working with a professional.
What are some up-and-coming communities to live in Canada?
This is an interesting question because it seems like all types of residential real estate across almost every market in Canada are appreciating at a rapid rate. My suggestions being a local Torontonian would be anything along the Subway line with a big footprint in the GTA is a win (the automobile continues to be phased out with fewer and fewer millennials/Gen Zs choosing not to own one — additionally the ability to rent out your parking space can help towards a mortgage payment).
For further information, look at our “Housing Affordability in Canada: 2021 RE/MAX Canada” which leans into knowledge and expertise from our local RE/MAX Broker Owners across Canada. These Broker Owners are physically present in these local markets across Canada and are the true market experts for their respective areas.
Given your expertise in Canadian real estate, how has the market changed for first-time buyers?
Right now, we are in what is called a seller’s market. Where the amount of buyer’s demand, far exceeds the amount of available inventory. This seller’s market has been created as a result of low inventory, access to cheap capital (low-interest rates) and a demand to get back in urban city centres due to the pandemic restrictions lessening. This has proven challenging for both the first-time homebuyer as well as the real estate investor. Buyers are battling it out for the same product, often viewing many homes and submitting many offers before they secure what they deem as the “dream first home”.
How important is it to work with a licensed realtor when purchasing your first home?
Referencing back to the first question this is so important — see point 3 in question 1. Proper representation and working with a professional is critical to a first-time home buyer’s success. Ask yourself this question, would you prefer to get on a flight with a pilot who has low hours of flying, recently just got their pilot license and has only landed a plane a handful of times? Or would you rather fly with an experienced pilot with several hours of flying, numerous safe landings/take-offs and employed by a major commercial airline. I know what I’d want. Work with a professional realtor represented by a reputable brand and you’ll see the results firsthand. (I’d suggest RE/MAX).