Real estate can be complicated. First of all, we’re talking about a bundle of your hard-earned and harder-saved money. Second, there are many different factors that can affect the trajectory of the housing market, including economics, politics and others. It’s vital that homebuyers and sellers assemble a knowledgeable team of professionals to help answer all the questions that will inevitably arise. In the meantime, here are some common real estate myths – and truths!
Test your knowledge!
Can you spot fact versus fiction? Here are some common perceptions, and the real deal on real estate.
While spring signals the start of the busy real estate season, activity is far from finished by the time fall rolls around. In fact, many buyers who didn’t take the plunge in the spring or summer are very motivated to buy a home before the snow hits the ground, which could result in a quicker sale or a higher price!
To those who think there’s a right and wrong season to buy or sell a home, “There really isn’t,” says Eli Skaff of RE/MAX Core in Ottawa, Ont. According to Skaff, prices depend more on factors such as supply and demand, which vary between cities and neighbourhoods. Rather than season, look to days on market as the best indicator of your negotiating power.
Over-pricing your home means many potential buyers won’t ever see it. Nowadays, most homebuyers start their search for a home online, filtering by region, housing type and most importantly, price! In fact, in a recent RE/MAX survey revealed that price was most important factor when shopping for real estate. This highlights the importance of doing your research and getting comparables when setting your listing price.
Your credit score is a measure of your financial health. According to the Government of Canada, your rating indicates the risk you represent for lenders, compared with other consumers. Credit-reporting agencies like Equifax and TransUnion rate you on a scale from 300 to 900 to gauge your financial health. High scores are good news, and will typically secure a better mortgage rate, since you post a lower risk.
While the purchase price is main focus for the majority of homebuyers, closing costs can add anywhere from 1.5 to four per cent on top of the home’s price. Budget for legal and administrative fees, home inspection, mortgage default insurance when down payments are less than 20 per cent of the purchase price, Land Transfer Tax, property tax, appraisal fee, home insurance, moving costs and more. On a $500,000 home, closing costs can range from $7,500 to $20,000. Make sure you budget for this.
Buyer beware! While this is true, buying a home with no down payment is not advisable. There are private lenders offering mortgage loans with zero down, but the interest rate is usually higher, and the total cost to you over the life of your mortgage will be greater. The best advice is to save the minimum five-per-cent down payment, and if you are unable to save this minimum amount, consider decreasing your home-buying budget or delaying the purchase.
Contrary to popular belief, mortgage loan insurance protects the lender against defaults in payment, not the borrower. If your down payment is less than 20 per cent of the purchase price, you’ll need to purchase mortgage default insurance, which can be paid upfront in full, or added to your mortgage payments.