Home buying in the Glebe

Home buying 101

Glebe home affordability


Home buying 101

By Derek Hooper

home buying header Whether you’re planning on buying a home this year or making longer term plans for the purchase of your dream home, it’s critical to understand the buying process – from initial search to signing an offer to purchase. In a competitive market like the Glebe, having a good understanding of the buying process and engaging a realtor who understands the local market will allow you to move quickly when you find the right home.

I’ve put together this brief primer to help you understand how the buying process works, including some tips on making it work better for you.

Choose a realtor

A realtor can help you navigate what can be a complex business transaction. Your realtor acts on your behalf throughout the buying process – from helping you search through negotiating the final purchase. And to ensure both you and your realtor agree on how you will work together you should always sign a Buyer Representation Agreement, a legal document that establishes the duty of the brokerage to represent your interests.

Set your price

Every buyer should have a price in mind. Do your research to better understand the market. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website is a great place to find the latest statistical information and analysis of housing trends. A realtor who understands the local real estate market will help you determine a realistic price range given the features you want, neighbourhood preferences and other factors.

Search

If you’re like 92 per cent of buyers, you will use the Internet in your home search. Although the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) at ottawarealestate.org is a good place to start, there are a number of independent online sources of valuable information about buying a home. These include realtor.ca, oreb.ca, and cmhc.ca.

Offline, you can check local newspapers or ask around – word of mouth can be a great way to find a new home. Your realtor will also keep you informed of new listings as they come on the market. And of course, visit open houses, even when a home doesn’t quite fit your criteria. These visits will help you better understand the market.

Tips to improve your search success
Keep records: as you visit homes, record things like the home’s energy rating, utility costs, property taxes and major repairs that may be needed. These will affect your monthly housing expenses. CMHC offers a Home Hunting Comparison Worksheet on their website to help you record the information you need to compare homes.

Take a second look: you may think you have found the perfect home. But after falling in love with a home you should return with a more critical eye, and try to look beyond the features that attracted you at first. Chat with the neighbours to find out about things like schools, community life and amenities.

Know your neighbourhoods: knowing a city’s neighbourhoods and their characteristics will help focus your search. Finding a seasoned realtor who has worked in that market is critical. Clients tell us that this in-depth knowledge helps them focus on neighbourhoods that truly offer what they need and want.

Get pre-approved

I recommend getting a mortgage pre-approval to anyone who is serious about purchasing a home. This ensures that you know how much you can afford and that you have secured the best financing rate. But it’s important to understand that this is not a full approval. While mortgage advisers can “pre-qualify” you, the lender must next approve the agreement by looking at the details and value of the home you are purchasing. The final approval is typically received within a week of making a conditional offer to purchase.

Make an offer

You’ve found your dream home! But it doesn’t end there. Your realtor has the expertise to help you develop an offer that suits you, which starts with a market evaluation on the property and developing an offer strategy tailored to your needs.

Close the deal

After the seller accepts your offer, your lawyer commences the title search and other closing procedures. Your realtor stays with you right through to the closing and can continue to be your partner in real estate, helping with ongoing market information, contractor referrals and advice.

Derek Hooper is a real estate broker at The Hooper Home Team. He can be reached at 613-788-2514 or Derek.Hooper@kwottawa.ca. The Hooper Home Team has a full neighbourhood guide on its website at Hooperhometeam.com/neighbourhoods

*Source: 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

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Glebe home affordability

By Dan Moloughney

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Although many homeowners from across the Ottawa area may argue that the “affordability” of Glebe homes is non-existent, there are those of us who are willing (and able) to pay the price to live in our green and central neighbourhood. According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, the average sale price of a residential (non-condo) home in Ottawa in January 2015 was $370,442. For the same month and property type in the Glebe, the average sale price was $617,000. The average for the Glebe for all of 2014 was just over $721,000 (January 2015 was an “off” month with a small sample size).For most first-time buyers or people moving within the city, Glebe home prices may seem incredibly high, but for families moving from some of Canada’s larger cities, these numbers actually seem quite reasonable. For homebuyers from international locations the Glebe is almost inexpensive.

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What about some real statistics, you may ask. You have to be careful with these statistics, as there are certain months where the sample size (number of properties sold) is low, so the statistics can be deceptive (also note these are for MLS sales). These statistics are Glebe-specific, for residential homes (non-condo, non-multifamily).

How would you interpret these graphs? Certainly there are trends that are season dependent. The sold-to-ask ratio is interesting as well. Remember, though, that this ratio applies only to homes that sold, and that the original asking price may have been reduced prior to final sale.

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So where is the value proposition that makes the Glebe “affordable” to some? Why are you and I willing to spend possibly twice as much as the average Ottawa homeowner to buy a home that probably needs more renovations, costs more to heat, has a smaller yard and property taxes that would pay for the monthly lease of a nice car? The fact is that some people make more money than others – not a surprise. Another financial factor is that not every Glebe homeowner paid the prices we’ve seen in the last 15 years. It wasn’t that long ago there was less of a discrepancy between pricing of homes in the core of Ottawa and those further out. Those having bought in the 1990s or earlier have done well. Find a neighbour that bought in the 1960s or 1970s and ask them what they paid!

What about the current value proposition? We all know the saying “time is money.” How do you perceive the worth of your time? Is that why you pay more to be in the Glebe? Are you walking to work, walking the kids to school and walking to get your groceries? Is it the healthier choice that keeps you here? The environmental impact? Less time driving and less gas burned? How about that neighbourhood feel? Does every single block have a street party? It sure feels like it. We had at least two on our block last year.

I find value in all these aspects of living in the Glebe and have been happy to pay the higher price for over 13 years now. That being said, each March and June, as I pay my ever-increasing property taxes, I take a minute to reconsider that value proposition. I think about the traffic on Bank (which seems worse of late), the 100-year-old sewers under my street (not looking forward to the summer they rebuild them), the occasional smog day in the summer, the urban noise factor, as well as the other unsavoury aspects of an urban lifestyle.

I then think about walking my kids through the park, past the inlet, to a great school where I see lots of other parents and friends taking an active role in their children’s lives. I consider the Glebe Community Centre and all its offerings. Walking to my office and seeing business owners along the way, I consider how many pleasant social interactions I have with neighbours, dog walkers and people living in the rental units on our block each day. Maybe we could measure a neighbourhood’s Pleasant Social Interaction (PSI) factor per day. I don’t have statistics for the Glebe’s PSI (since I just made it up), but for my money, it’s one of the highest around. What about PSI per dollar of total home ownership cost? Again, my money is still on the Glebe being one of the most “affordable” neighbourhoods.

Dan Moloughney is Broker of Record, Ottawa Urban Realty Inc., Brokerage (Bank at Second Avenue), and a long-time Glebe resident.

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