Do you have a number of questions and don’t know where to start? Start here with our real estate FAQs for all your buying and selling inquiries!

Real Estate’s Frequently Asked Questions 

What does a real estate agent do?

A professional real estate agent ensures your best interests are cared for by going above and beyond just their fiduciary duties. Leads, guides, manages and leads their clients to the best possible outcome - whether that be any or all of these aspects: saving you money, making you more money, lessening stress and hassle, and time. This agent is well aware and up-to-date with what is happening in the market — best practices in negotiation, marketing, strategy and communication. The best is continually looking on and off the market for houses and condos that suit their clients. They are prepared to have conversations that are necessary for their client's success.

How to choose a real estate agent?

The best way to choose a real estate agent is to ask every question that comes to mind. You must feel 100% confident that this person not only knows their stuff but also that they can communicate effectively with you. If they can't, imagine how difficult it is for them to get your deal done with another realtor - trust us on this one, they will struggle if they do not communicate well - this will cost you money and stress. Does this real estate agent know the area? Demographic? How much experience? What do they see happening on a micro and macro level in the market? Why are they in the business? What makes them unique and worthy of your business? How do they differentiate themselves from the tens of thousands of other Toronto real estate agents?

What are the benefits of using a real estate agent?

There are many benefits to using a great real estate agent (read: not every agent is great!): 1) They will save you money; 2) Time; 3) Stress and hassle; 4) They will educate you on what you need to know today and for tomorrow; 5) They look out for pitfalls that will cost you money as well as keep you aware of cautionary tales to avoid; 6) They will make the process of buying and/or selling enjoyable (it can be stressful in some cases - so a bit of fun and excitement goes a long ways!)

What is the best time of year to sell a house?

The best time to sell a house depends on a few things: 1) What is your motive?; 2) What are you doing with the proceeds of the sale and what is that time horizon? Once we get these two questions answered, we move on to: What is happening in the market today? Does today's timing serve your best interest to sell now or postpone? We then move along to whether the Spring or Fall market best suits your needs. The Spring market in Toronto typically has the most transactions and highest spike in value. The Fall market is the second-best time of year. But keep in mind, without a detailed conversation, the best answer is 'it depends.'

What is the residential tenancy agreement in Ontario?

The residential tenancy agreement is set forth by the Ontario government to protect tenants and landlords alike. Certain rules are put into place to be followed in order to govern disputes. Also, the government put into a place a very strict contract that is to be agreed upon. Any content above and beyond this government pre-set contract does not have to be accepted by either party.

What is home staging?

Home staging is when a designer creates a space with furniture, paint and other household items to best show off the best aspects of the home or condo. In some cases, all owner content is removed in order to have a blank canvas to create from. If done well (with the correct buyer demographic in mind), the results can be absolutely astounding in terms of maximizing your ROI (Return On Investment) when selling - many sellers make far more money than expected.

How does first time home buyers work in Ontario?

First time home buyers have an option to receive a one-time rebate on the Ontario Land Transfer Tax. For those first time buyers purchasing in Toronto, there is also a one-time rebate on the municipal LTT. If the first time buyer has an RRSP, they can borrow from that with a permittable repayment schedule without having to pay income tax. With any buyers, but particularly first time buyers, it is essential to work with an outstanding professional real estate agent who will guide you through the unknown.

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is a service provided by a licenced home inspector. This home inspector reviews the structure, exterior envelope, wiring, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, signs of interior damage, etc. They are looking for latent and non-latent issues. A good home inspector is essential for buyers; their job helps to educate the buyer about what problems may arise in the short and long term. Note that home inspectors do not have x-ray vision; they are not permitted to cut open drywall and damage the property in any other way in order to find issues that may be lurking.

What is a condo investment?

Condo investment is a relatively new concept - this was not something that city dwellers in Canada were particularly aware of 20 years ago. Condo investors may purchase pre-construction or resale condos. Note that pre-construction condo investors may sell the legal paperwork before completion, during occupancy or upon registration. Other condo investors rent out there condo units to to gain long term capital appreciation. Now that populations have increased there is a need for more condos, there have been many successful condo investors who have made a great deal of money from these investments over time.

How do conditional home offers work?

A conditional offer on a home is when an agreement of purchase and sale has a condition of one or more aspects that are to be reviewed and clarified by the buyer before they waive or fulfill the condition, which then means that the agreement is 'firm and binding.' During the conditional period, the buyer or seller may have the option to get out of the deal without consequence.

How much are taxes when selling a home?

A seller may or may not have to pay HST on the sale price - this depends on a few things: 1) Was the home brand new?; 2) Was the home extensively renovated to the point at which the CRA deems it new?; 3) Does the seller renovate homes and flip for business profit? The last point that is relevant for all sales is that HST is paid on top of the real estate commission for all homes (not on the value of the house).

What questions do I ask when buying a home?

A great question to ask your realtor when buying a home is, 'what do I need to know about this house and the process?' Listen to the response then ask yourself what additional questions arise - ask every question you have. Do not get too caught up in the rush of the process. Perhaps these questions will arise: 1) What is an irrevocable time; 2) Can I back-out of the deal?; 3) Is this offer conditional? 4) How much of a downpayment do I need; 5) How much of a deposit do I require; 6) After the deal is agreed upon, now what?

Should I buy or rent a home?

Should I rent or buy is the eternal question. There are many subjective factors that go into an answer. We can assure you that most people have developed their wealth through real estate. Those who buy and hold long-term have made a great deal of money. Here are some questions to have you think through what the best answer is for you: 1) What kind of lifestyle do I want?; 2) Do I have enough money for a downpayment?; 3) Do I want the responsibility of repairs?;

What do I look for when buying a condo?

The most important three aspects to look for when buying a condo are 1) Location; 2) Quality of construction; 3) Layout more so than square footage. Curious why the layout trumps square footage? You purchase a condo on a cost per square foot - wasted square feet is useless, perhaps it's too much hallway that you are paying for without a large enough living area or the second bedroom is more like a den. The net effect is a poor ROI on your square footage, you would be paying for a builder's poor use of space.