If you ask Greater Toronto Area Realtor Sherif Nathoo about the biggest issues surrounding buying and selling a home today, he breaks it down to 5 popular misconceptions that both buyers and sellers have that lead them to make poor housing decisions. While most people understand the concept of “location location location” when buying a home, there are of course other factors that weigh heavily when choosing where to live.
Nathoo acknowledges “a home is where you want to create lasting memories. Our sense of identity and success is very much tied to our home.” This intangible sense of achievement and stability derived from owning your home often develops over time and is not always considered when deciding on a particular home. Most people focus on the tangible aspects of home ownership.
Many people believe they cannot afford a home because they carry too much debt. While this may be true for some, Nathoo maintains that “it’s not just about how much debt you have, it’s about income and credit quality, and whether you can cover your debt expense. It’s important for people to sit down and assess their monthly and day to day expenses. This step is critical before going any further.”
Another misconception is regarding down payments. Many people believe there’s a set down-payment required, such as 20% of the purchase price. While this may be true in some instances, that amount can vary from 5% to 35% depending on purchase price, income, and credit. All factors need to be considered, after which a pre-approval can be sought so you know you have the necessary funding arrangement in place before you make an offer on a home.
Another very common misconception homebuyers face is that they believe they should buy as much home or the biggest home they can possibly afford. While this sounds appealing on the surface, it is often the cause of undue financial stress and unnecessary compromises down the road. Nathoo advocates that “people should assess what they can afford to spend, and then perhaps purchase slightly below their budget. This allows a cushion for unexpected expenses and greater piece of mind and security. You can always upgrade as time goes by and your situation changes.” This is a refreshing and welcome twist at a time when many realtors push prospects into homes they can barely afford, just to make that sale. In the course of buying a home, many professionals can be involved in various stages, and a knowledgeable and trusted realtor can bring in the right people at the right time to work for you and to ensure that all goes smoothly. This includes, mortgage brokers, lawyers, home inspectors, and others.
On the other hand, what if you are selling your home, should you do it yourself to save on the commission payment? This is a question almost every homeowner has contemplated at one point or another. Consider that as an industry expert, a realtor’s job is to ensure that clients’ interests are represented, all standards are met, that you are not misled by under and over-valuations of your home, or difficult to understand contracts, incomplete home inspections, and other liabilities that inexperienced people often miss. In fact Nathoo recalls a recent account where a home-seller thought he made a quick and easy sale, only to discover that he under-valued his home by more than $30,000.
As a final thought, although you may find a home where you fall into “love at first sight”, Nathoo advises that homebuyers be very clear about their “must-haves” and their “nice-to-haves” when deciding on a home purchase. Many times a “diamond-in-the-rough” can be located, and with just a few modifications, can be turned into a dream home.
Sherif Nathoo is a 15 year veteran real estate professional living in Toronto, and specializing in Toronto, Markham, and Ajax, Ontario. He can be reached at Century 21 Leading Edge Realty, Inc., 416-274-1513.