I was 24 years old when I bought my first place. I had been living in this old apartment on Queen West in Toronto. I had a roommate, our rent was cheap and although it lacked the amenities of a modern condo, it worked for us. But then came the mice...
It started with one sighting, which our landlord dismissed, and very quickly turned into what I can only describe as an infestation. Although we couldn’t see them, they were everywhere. I would hear my rodent roommates at night, moving around the apartment, and I would find traces of them during the day (yes, I’m referring to mouse poop).
I knew I had to leave, but after living with roommates for several years, I was ready to have a place of my own. With rent prices being similar to a mortgage, I decided it was the perfect time to buy; the only problem was I had no idea where to start. Here is a bit more about my home buying journey…
Fortunately I was soon referred to a professional REALTOR®. His name was Richie. We met in a coffee shop where I told him about my impending search for a home and then proceeded to grill him on his experience: How many years had he practiced? What areas of Toronto did he specialize in? What could he offer me that another agent could not?
He took it all in stride and soon became my agent.
With Richie on my case it felt like a weight had been lifted. He knew the housing market and he knew Toronto. It was only once we started the home buying process that I realized what a small bubble I had been living in. At that point, I had probably ventured east of Yonge a handful of times. Sad, I know.
Richie was able to educate me on different neighbourhoods and what they had to offer. He also had access to listings in advance through MLS® and could compare listings against others that had sold in the area. As no one wants to overpay, this is an important feature to have access to.
We began the viewing process, which, if you’ve ever tried to plan yourself, can be a logistical nightmare. Richie not only set up these viewings, but would accommodate my limited daytime schedule by picking me up from work on my lunch breaks to see properties.
The viewing process is a lot like dating. You have to see what’s out there to know what you want – and what you definitely don’t. After seeing lofts in Kensington, I realized having outdoor space was a non-negotiable. I also decided, after looking at some older townhouses in Liberty Village, that carpet was gross. Finally, and most importantly, I decided that I wanted to buy in an area where prices were going up – this was my life savings, after all!
Richie introduced me to an up-and-coming neighbourhood called Regent Park. The area was just starting a revitalization plan backed by the city with government and developer partnerships. It was perfect. Within weeks Richie was able to find me a condo that checked all my must-haves. He handled the negotiations and paperwork, taking all the stress and pressure off me.
Having a professional made all the difference in my home buying experience. It was like having a personal shopper and definitely minimized my stress. I think everyone needs a “Richie”, but if you’re determined to go it alone, you might want to check out this new line of teas developed by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). They’re designed to help soothe the stresses that go along with not using a REALTOR®, you can get them here: www.real-tea.ca