Tatiana’s top 5 no brainers for buyers

Guess what people?!  It’s 2014 and contrary to all those “Chicken Little” predictions of last year, the market is still sizzling hot!!

Interest rates are still at an all-time low with banks practically giving away their money and posting rates as low as 2.9% fixed for 5 years.  Sales have gone up in most neighbourhoods and the prices of homes have gone up in many Montreal suburbs. Moreover, increase in supply of condos have softened that market and brought down prices, making it more affordable for buyers to get into the condo market.

In my professional opinion, there has been no better time to buy real estate and finally get on the property ladder.

This year will be the 11th year I’ve been practicing real estate and believe me, I’ve heard and seen it all. So I thought it was important to share some of the knowledge that I’ve learned over the years to give you a shortcut to success when buying real estate.

ATTENTION FIRST TIME BUYERS! The following are my top 5 no-brainers when buying your first property

First and foremost ask yourself, “Can I afford a home?” Owning a home is not just about being pre-approved at the bank and being able to afford a mortgage payment. Owning a home comes with many more additional costs and expenses and these expenses add up. There are municipal taxes, school taxes, miscellaneous repairs and maintenance, cost of heating (oil, gas, electricity), renovations, surprise expenses and who can forget the Québec “Welcome Tax”.  All these expenses in addition to your cable, Hydro, Internet and grocery bills can add up to several thousands of extra dollars that you might not have thought of. Think and budget carefully before making the leap to home ownership because nobody wants to be “house poor”. The purchase of your first property should be your first step closer to financial freedom not a step closer to the cleaners!

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My next tip should be the most obvious; hire the right realtor! A motivated realtor is always on call and knows the right answers to your questions.  A buyer’s broker should be on the ball and sending you not only the latest new listings on the market but be up to date with the latest changes in the market such as price reductions and sales.  A professional real estate agent should be answering their phone and be knowledgeable about all the latest real estate trends and issues.  Do not be afraid to ask your realtor questions. They should have all the answers and this is why you hired them. I always say that a broker should not be an overpaid tour guide but rather a professional with a well of knowledge who is there to walk you safely through one of the biggest purchases of your life. Buying a home should be an exciting, happy experience…not a nightmare. Choosing the proper realtor will make that difference. Remember,  it is the seller who pays the realtors commission so feel free to take your time choosing the broker you feel you can most trust.  It costs you nada!

My third no-brainer for new homebuyers is knowing what kind of property you really want because every property has its pros and its cons. Do you want a condo or do you want a single-family home? Do you want a detached cottage or a semi-detached house? Would you like a divided or undivided co-ownership? How about a split-level or a bungalow?…and the list can go on and on. Again, this is where your realtor plays a very important role because it is their job to educate you on the pros and cons of each type of ownership.  Knowing what you want is also knowing what neighborhood you want to purchase in. Do you want a big expensive house in a faraway suburb?  Or would you rather buy a smaller less expensive option closer to the city center?  It has been my experience that many buyers do not do enough research on the subject and can end up regretting their purchase. Do you want to be stuck dealing with traffic by buying the big detached house in the suburbs or would you rather move into your million dollar condo and hearing the noise of bustling downtown at midnight on a Wednesday when you have an early meeting the next morning? Doing research takes work but believe me it’s worth it. I have a friend who bought a condo and sat in the pool area all afternoon just to make sure that it got enough sun as he knew it was going to cost him thousands in condo fees. Don’t leave it all up to your realtor. It’s your investment so get involved. Remember…if a seller becomes too difficult when you are doing your research say “next!” and move on! Understand what and where you are buying and do not be afraid of ruffling the seller’s feathers.  You deserve to be happy where you live.

Tip number four for new buyers is don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. A little bit of work can go along way both in your pocket and for your personal satisfaction. The turnkey solution home is, in my opinion, never the best investment unless there is some sort of unusual circumstance attached to it (i.e. bank repo). Homes that need work usually go for less money on the market and with a little bit of patience and the help of a good contractor, you can pocket the extra money you would have paid for a turnkey house and renovate the home to your own taste and standards. The worst thing you can do is buy a house that is already priced high because of its renovations, and then renovate again to suit your own taste. Remember that just because you overpaid and put even more money into a property doesn’t mean you’re ever going to get that money back. This also applies when renovating a “fixer-upper”. Always keep stick to a strict budget. Sometimes new homeowners get over excited and spend too much money when renovating leading to the mistake of “over evaluating” a property. Just because you decided to put in an extra $100,000 in a fancy living room doesn’t mean a future of buyer will think it was worth it.

Last but not least, my fifth no-brainer is be realistic. Most of the time a property will not have everything you want on your wish list. Sometimes buyers spend years looking for the perfect home that simply does not exist. Worst of all is that the market keeps getting better and better and over picky buyers simply price themselves out of the market. I can’t tell you how many buyers I’ve worked with who thought a place was “not worth it” and were shocked to see the resale of that same property for hundreds of thousands of dollars more. Buyers, be realistic! Sometimes it’s better to build up towards your dream home by buying a house that might not have everything you want in it but suits your needs in the short to medium term.  Be realistic and don’t be afraid to get your feet wet.

Follow my 5 “no-brainer” rules and start building equity and value with your first property. Before you know it you will be living “la vida loca” off your profitable real estate portfolio.
  • Nikole
    Posted at 09:21h, 07 February Reply

    I stopped reading at “sizzling hot market” I wish real estate agents would be honest for a change instead of thinking of only themselves and how to make money with their pseudo j-o-bs

  • Tatiana Londono
    Posted at 10:00h, 07 February Reply

    I’m not sure what you’re going through but I hope you feel better. I have a fabulous career and you are right it’s not a job, it’s my life. I am fulfilled and I have helped in the fulfillment of others. The market is super hot. If this hasn’t been your experience you might have hired the wrong agent. If you need any sort of advice you can always give me a call.
    Cheer up!

  • Nikole
    Posted at 08:02h, 08 February Reply

    Thank you for you factless theatric reply. It was nice.
    Volume of all type of home dwelling sales in Montreal slipped in this last year. How you can or will try to possibly spin this as “sizzling hot” is astonishing to me. We read, we research, please don’t insult our intelligence.

  • Tatiana Londono
    Posted at 10:57h, 08 February Reply

    Boy, are you bitter…
    I feel sorry for the people you spend time with.
    Here, let me educate you a little….


    Yawn, I can go on and on copying and pasting articles for you but I don’t feel like it.
    Ps, I own an agency that buys and sells real estate for the masses. This is what I do. Statistically we are the most successful independant company in Quebec. So I kind of know what I’m talking about.

    Maybe you have problems reading. Again, I can help you with that.
    All depends on your outlook. I’m a greatful, positive, happy, person. It’s about time the market is stable, balanced and fair. That for me lady, is sizzling.

  • VinnyBeau
    Posted at 14:56h, 08 February Reply

    Good for you Tatiana for demonstrating integrity and professionalism in your responses to ‘Nickole’.

    I just read your profile in RSVP magazine and found it very inspiring, you clearly deserve the success you have made for yourself. Good luck in your endeavours.

  • Eros
    Posted at 16:49h, 08 February Reply

    Nikole, how sad to see a point of view being phrased so poorly, demeaningly and disrespectfully of those of us who take our careers so seriously and have our clients best interest at heart. Perhaps and I wish, one day you too will get to have a pleasant experience with someone who will attend to your needs in a way that will help you change your mind. Since you do not walk in the shoes of a successful broker, you could not understand the nature of our jobs and responsibilities, perhaps you should put your negativity aside and give the read a chance, then you can formulate an opinion, other than bashing brokers who are trying to help and educate.

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