Prepare ahead to get the most out of your HHT
Relocation is a fact of life when you join the CAF and can be an exciting part of your career. However, despite advances in digital technology, finding a new home in a different location can be stressful, particularly if you’re moving out-of-province or hours away from your current residence.
Unlike civilian home shoppers, your timeline to find a new home is limited to a few days, not weeks or months. If you do not prepare enough in advance of your House Hunting Tour (HHT), it could be a flop. My advice is simple, avoid disappointment by planning ahead as much as possible. To help, I developed some easy to follow steps which you can use as an action plan. Keep it handy as you work toward your final goal – finding a suitable location and home at the right price does not have to be complex. When your realtor has a solid understanding of your wants and needs, they will be able to act swiftly on your behalf.
Step one: Get pre-qualified for a mortgage
This is the most important steps in the entire process. Why? It means you can shop comfortably.
Knowing exactly what you can afford to buy well in advance of your home search will keep you on the right track and eliminate reviewing properties that you can’t afford. Since it will take a few days to get your pre-approval in place, be sure you check in with your mortgage broker or financial institution to see what is required as soon as possible. Yes, there’s some boring paperwork involved, but it’s well worth the effort to do this beforehand. Don’t run the risk finding the right home at the wrong price, or worse, underestimating what you can afford and buying something that doesn’t suit your needs. Your realtor will be able to start sending you realistic selections to review online as soon as this step is completed.
Step two: Identify a selection of preferred locations
Now it’s time to narrow the playing field – yes, it’s all about location, location, location. If you have preferences as to boundaries or streets, tell your realtor. Conducting your own neighbourhood research is always a good idea, as location is a personal choice. A knowledgeable realtor should know what neighbourhoods match your criteria best. But if you have very particular boundaries or areas you want to live in, write them down, prioritize your favourites and share them with your realtor. Considerations such as schools, shopping, transit etc., should be taken into account, and think about your future needs too. Everyone is different. Work with your realtor to decide which neighbourhoods you want to focus on and which ones are off limits before the search process begins. You’ll save a ton of time.
Step three: Know what you want
Finally! It’s time to get into the fun stuff.
Now that you and your realtor understand your price and location needs, you will need to think about what kind of home you’re looking for. Check out what kind of housing is available in and around the areas you want to live by checking out realtor.ca. There will often be photos, videos and descriptions of the homes for you to review. It’s a great way to take a peek inside before your visit. Now that you have a better idea of what’s available, decide what type of home you want, including all of your must-have options, not just one or two items.
Start with the basics such as:
• Housing type: detached, two-storey or bungalow, condo, townhome, semi-detached.
• General lot size and number of bedrooms and bathrooms
• Features: air conditioning, finished basement, ensuite bathrooms, parking needs, garage needs, backyard space etc. Prioritize these into a “must-have” list and a “nice to have” list.
• Decide if you are willing to renovate, and if your preference is a newer home or an older home. What are your design preferences? Are you looking for modern finishes, or are you more of a traditionalist? Again, your realtor will want to know all of these details well in advance so they can start emailing you more detailed listings, including exclusive listings not found online, as soon as possible.
Step four: Getting ready for your HHT
You’ve done your homework, now it’s time for the realtor to work their magic. They should be gathering and sending you as many properties as possible and asking for your feedback as to whether or not you’re interested. A good realtor will send you properties that don’t always fit your full criteria, but always match your essential list of most important needs, but it’s up to you to decide if they make your final list or not.
Step five: On the tour
Ideally, you’ll get to see all the homes you’ve been dreaming of, but I recommend viewing only five or six homes per day. Any more than that will be confusing and overwhelming.
In the case of a condo, if there are multiple units in one building to view, you can definitely pack in more tours. I also suggest you wear comfortable clothing and shoes that you can easily slide on and off. There will be lots of driving on tour day so pack a snack. Have your wish lists handy, and get ready for an intense but exciting day of house hunting and touring your new community.
Thanks for reading and best of luck with your housing hunting tour.
Jonathan Schwarz has been practicing real estate for 14 years. The broker of record for Revolution Realty in Toronto, Jonathan and his team assists in the relocation of CF personnel within the Greater Toronto Area. He can be reached at 416-738-2272 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revolution Realty’s Heroes program offers a 20% cash back incentive on the gross commissions received on the purchase of a property – it’s our way of giving back to those who give so much. We also donate five per cent of the gross commissions received to Wounded Warriors Canada. *Some conditions apply speak to a sales representative for more information.