For the last several years, Ottawa has emerged as a hotspot for homebuyers leaving the GTA, in search of more space and lower prices. With townhouses selling over $600,000, rents over $2000.00 a month, and more people working from home, homebuyers are moving out of Ottawa, pushing the demand for properties in Leeds and Grenville. The reality of living life during a pandemic has only amplified the situation with an increased desire for outdoor living and a flexible work environment driving savvy house-hunters into the countryside. As a result, the real estate market is moving FAST and Buyers have to be prepared if they want to be successful.
Here are our time tested strategies for buying a house.
#1. Do Your Homework - Get Yourself Ready
Get ready, Get Set, Go... Be ready to buy today. Make sure you have your finances in order, Your Home Services team on speed dial
Make sure to have your mortgage pre-approval in place before you start househunting. It is never too early to talk to a mortgage broker or your bank for an accurate assessment of your budget. You can’t shop for a home unless you know what you can spend. Don’t have a mortgage broker yet? Feel free to reach out and we can connect you.
Make sure your deposit is readily available and liquid. If you make an offer on a home and it is accepted (yay!) you will have 24 hours to deliver the deposit to the listing brokerage.
While we’re talking about deposits…
Strong Deposits Win Bidding Wars
Bidding wars can absolutely be won (or lost!) on the strength of your deposit. Some Sellers will have their REALTOR® post on the MLS® the desired deposit. Treat this number as a minimum deposit and improve on it whenever possible. A strong deposit conveys to the Seller that you are confident in your ability to close this transaction – it demonstrates the liquidity of funds and the strength of your down payment. Whenever possible, get your certified deposit prior to presenting an offer and include an image with your submission. A strong, ready-to-go deposit can absolutely be the deciding factor when two offers offer similar prices and conditions.
Pro Tip: Be the offer that wins with the deposit, not the one that loses without it.
2. Focus on the Right Price Range
You’ve done your homework, your deposit is liquid and you are ready to buy a house in Ottawa. Well done! Now that you know your budget, you can start focusing on the right properties at the right list price. Bidding wars are no longer just a Toronto phenomenon – they are increasingly becoming the norm across Ontario.
In short, many listings (especially in highly competitive price ranges, and hot neighbourhoods) are listed at a lower price to attract multiple offers and ultimately sell above the list price. If you focus on homes at or near your max budget, you are likely to be disappointed when they finally sell at a price out of your reach. Focus your attention on homes listed 10% to 20% lower than your max budget and be prepared to pay above the list price to secure it.
Did someone say “bidding war”?
3. Get Ready for a Bidding War!
Here’s what you need to know to win a bidding war:
Sellers prefer a firm deal versus one with conditions, as it reduces their risk. Regardless, it may be in your interest to have a financing condition or home inspection condition, even if you are in competition. A conditional offer does not have to take you out of the running if all of the other factors of your offer are very desirable AND you can firm up quickly.
If you include a financing condition, loop in your mortgage broker or lender BEFORE you offer on the house so you can keep the timeline of your financing condition tight. Be very firm and direct with your intentions with your lender, Be sure they understand you're signing a binding contract.
If the seller has not included a reliable pre-listing home inspection, then consider paying for one yourself before the offer date (ASAP). The cost of a home inspection depends on the size of the home, they are typically around $500 for a full inspection, including a written report. We understand if you hesitate to spend the money without a certain outcome but you will regret not doing so when you lose the house to someone else who did. Think of it as insurance.
Related: Want more tips about winning a bidding war?
How Much Over Asking Should I Offer?
Bidding War Rules & Best Practices (for REALTORS)
4. Take a Walk on the Virtual Side
Looking for a home in a pandemic certainly has its challenges; it has forced us to be more creative and develop systems that balance your need to access properties with our responsibility toward public safety. Strategize with your REALTOR® to have a plan to “see” a house as soon as possible. Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp are all great options to get you to see a home as soon as you can (and potentially save yourself a long drive to just see something not quite right). Desirable homes move fast so you need to see the home you like quickly, even if it’s virtually.
Use Google maps, Virtual tours, multimedia links, take the time to drive by the property before you request a showing.
5. Work with an HBS REALTOR®
Buying a house is much more than just the house, it depends on location, location, location, and having a local REALTOR® representing you is important. Local REALTORS® have intimate knowledge about the community, the builders, they understand how (and why) prices differ throughout the neighbourhoods, and are familiar with the common issues related to local properties.
Local REALTORS® also have relationships (a network) with other local agents, with access to upcoming listings that aren’t on the MLS®, and understand how things are typically done. All this helps find you, your ideal home, it also helps you make successful offers.
Get in touch with Richard, who lives in Leeds, and Grenville. Raised in the Ottawa area, A local REALTOR®