Five tips for first-time buyers

No matter how much time you spend on researching and educating yourself about your home purchase, it’s hard to cover every detail. Here are a few tips for avoiding rookie mistakes with your first home purchase.


  1. Save as early as you can: Even if you think you’re years away from buying your first home, try to start saving for your down payment. It makes a huge difference in your monthly payments, and helps avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance.
  2. Be thorough with mortgage shopping: There are countless resources out there that can help you get the best terms for your mortgage. It may seem like a lot of work to shave less than a point off your mortgage rate, but it’ll save you thousands in the long run.
  3. Consult a skeptic: You’re likely to fall in love with a home, and that can make it difficult to take problems seriously. Bring along a skeptical friend or family member who can give you an honest opinion.
  4. Be patient with getting settled: You’ll be anxious to make your new home your own, but take some time to see how your budget truly shakes out. In other words, hold off on big furniture purchases and remodeling projects.
  5. Make sure you’re happy with the neighborhood: The house may be perfect, but don’t discount the surroundings. You don’t want to end up in the suburbs if you’re going to miss walking to your favorite coffee shop, and you don’t want to settle for the city if you’re looking forward to some peace and quiet.

Toronto’s condo inventory at a decade low as buyers priced out of ground-level housing eye high-rise units | Financial Post

Homeowners in Canada’s largest city facing rapidly rising prices for ground level housing are driving up demand in Toronto’s condominium market, as buyers are increasingly looking for larger units

Source: Toronto’s condo inventory at a decade low as buyers priced out of ground-level housing eye high-rise units | Financial Post

Meggie, Susan and Adrian’s Story

36bluejayswayWe were referred to Shawn by Rina DiRisio of Oakville via Elli Davis. Rina had assisted us previously in successfully buying and selling a number of properties in Oakville over a period of twenty years, while being an absolute top performer at Royal LePage.

Considering that she may be studying for eight or more years, our daughter wanted to buy a condo within a reasonable distance (20 min via public transport) from the University of Toronto, preferably with an emphasis on newer properties around Spadina and Front streets. Meggie needed a one bedroom apartment in the 650 – 800 square feet range in a relatively secure building and a price range from C$ 290k – $ 320K all in.

As time was of the essence and I needed to fly in from New York to assist our daughter, Shawn prepared several property searches with sufficient alternatives from which we selected 3 – 5 apartments for viewing on January 15 and 16, 2016. Upon viewing three properties it became clear that our daughter preferred a Soho Residences based unit and asked Shawn to prepare offers for seller’s consideration. As communication with both the seller’s agent and the seller was problematic on account of non availability and some confusion, Shawn had to spend an extraordinary effort to get things done.

The home our daughter purchased was for her the optimum unit in a safe and preferred location and thus met all of our criteria. In addition the price, although a tad over asking, was well within our budget, including the associated costs of the transaction.

Considering that we started the purchasing process on January 15, 2016 and completed it on February 18, 2016, Shawn did an incredible job in preparing and guiding us the process in this relatively short period of time. We commend him for his incredible efforts and energy and thank him for providing our daughter with his much appreciated mentoring.

Quentin and Valentine’s Story

17chapmanWe currently rent a home in the Upper Beaches near Woodbine & Danforth. It’s a nice family neighbourhood and our daughter goes to a home daycare near Donlands and & Danforth, so we basically drew a perimeter around this. The main criteria was that the house had to be no more than 15 minute drive from our daughter’s day care.
We were looking at any type of house in this area with at least 3 bedrooms plus a basement that we can use when we have family visiting us from overseas. Another must-have was a backyard or enough space to enjoy a BBQ during summer time🙂. I’m not a handy man and I travel a lot for business, so I don’t have time to renovate, so we were looking mostly at renovated houses. Being close to a subway station was also part of the criteria.

The housing market is so hot in Toronto that we had to make concessions, looking a little bit further east and north, but still within 15 minutes of the daycare.
The neighbourhood where we bought is not as charming as our previous upper beaches neighbourhood with nice old trees, but houses are newer and this is still a residential and safe family neighbourhood.

Also, it’s a five minute walk to a bus station, then a five minute bus ride to be at Man Station. Door to door, it’s a 35 or 40 minute trip for Valentine to get to work on Church Street, but I work from home.🙂. The house (semi-detached) has been completely renovated, so it is ready to move in, that was one of the main criteria.

At first we increased our budget, and made offers on houses really at our budget limit, but because people were making offers at 130% of asking, we failed to get the homes. After a few offers, we ended-up buying a house 100K below our budget limit. At the end of the day we are happy we made some concessions🙂

The VP for the company I work for recommended Elli Davis at Royal Lepage  and that’s how I got connected with Shawn.  I would recommend Shawn to anybody who is looking to buy a house in Toronto. We are from France, and obviously did not know the housing market in Toronto or the buying process.  Shawn took the time to go over the process with us and make sure everything was crystal clear. He always did a lot of research on houses we were interested in and provided very valuable inputs on districts and locations. He has been available for us 7 days a week, 24hours/day. We have been on the phone with Shawn at 11PM at night… In our situation (newcomers to Canada), it was very helpful to work with Shawn. Because he has many many years of experience finding homes for his clients, this gave us a lot of confidence, we felt that we were in good hands. We exchanged so much with Shawn via phone, text, email over the past two months we feel like Shawn is part of the family now🙂 Shawn also recommended a good Lawyer and Mortgage Broker. We have a strong  team who knows how to take care of us!

Alissa and Jesse’s Story

marchtestimonialJesse: First, it should be noted that my wife and I agree on pretty much nothing, and this is true of what we wanted in our new house. I wanted to live downtown; she wanted to live in the inner suburbs; I wanted a townhouse or condo; she wanted a house. It is a testament to Shawn’s patience and perseverance that he stuck with us long enough to find a home that we both loved.

Alissa: The original parameters of our search were that we were looking for a three bedroom house, with two and a half bathrooms with a backyard and parking in the midtown area or central areas of Toronto. We also needed to be close to a subway station and within a neighborhood with good schools.

Jesse: In terms of location, I originally wanted to limit our search to anything close to a subway station, but not north of Eglinton. In the end, we focused mainly on the Yonge corridor between Bloor and Eglinton, but ended up finding a house a little further west.

I would say that it’s the ideal compromise between what my wife and I were looking for. It is a short walk to the subway and close to the city, but feels like a neighbourhood. It has three bedrooms, but is not too large. It has a yard, but not a lot of grass (I hate raking leaves and mowing the lawn). And the basement can be used as an office/man cave, which is exactly what I was looking for. It was also move-in ready, which is something we both wanted.

Alissa: The house we purchased is exactly what we were looking for. The house meets all our must haves (rooms, space, backyard) and even has a garage which is a huge bonus in this city. We are close to the subway and are in a very family friendly neighborhood with great schools. We are thrilled with our house!

Jesse: We did have to increase our budget, though. Our original budget was $1 million. We increased it to $1.5 million to get a better sense of what was on the market. In the end, we paid $1.3 million. When we sell, I’m planning to buy a mansion in Saskatoon. Toronto prices are crazy.

Shawn was amazing. He stuck with us through thick and thin and was always available whenever we needed him (I don’t think he sleeps). He not only helped us navigate the market and the buying process, he also did an extensive amount research whenever we showed even a modicum of interest in a house. Our search took awhile, but Shawn helped us find our dream house — and at a time when he was closing a couple other deals. In the end, we came came to think of Shawn as our friend as well as our real estate agent.

Alissa: Shawn is fantastic to work with. This is actually my second time working with Shawn. He helped me find the perfect condominium and now he has helped me and my husband find the perfect house. I had a wonderful experience working with Shawn on both purchases.

Shawn took the time to listen and make sure he understood the type of house that we were looking for and tailored our house search appropriately. He is incredibly knowledgeable and ensured that we understood every aspect of the home buying process (from reading MLS listings, to things to look for in potential houses and the steps to making a successful offer). He is fun to work with and was always available when we needed him – whether to view a house or answer questions we might have. Shawn would also go above and beyond in researching every property to ensure that it met our criteria. He never tried to push us to make an offer and was very patient with us as we hemmed and hawed our way through looking for a house. When the time came to make the offer, Shawn was incredible and supported us through every step of the process. We were very lucky to work with Shawn.