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My husband and I are finally ready to begin the process of Condo shopping in Toronto.

After many years of borderline frugal living we have saved enough to pay for a condo down payment and other fees.

I want the process of shopping for a condo in Toronto to be as Stress Free as possible.

What are some of the things you can do to help us have a stress free condo shopping experience?

What are some of the things we should be taking into consideration?

Thank you.



By Swift Sells Toronto
Hi RHamilton,
Thanks for your question about stress free condo shopping in Toronto!

It sounds like you are a first time purchaser and you sound excited about the process. I am going to give you a five step stress free plan towards making your first purchase and talk about some of the fees you will encounter in addition to securing financing for your purchase.




Toronto Condo Shopping Step # 1 - Get Your Investment House in Order

stress free condo shopping toronto


It sounds like you have done this, but for others I will elaborate. It is important to get your investment house in order.  This mean consulting with a financial planner who can help assess your goals - home purchase, retirement, educational savings plan, RRSP’s, etc.  This is the first step to getting your financial house in order. 


This person will look at all your assets and liabilities and help shape a plan for today, tomorrow and the future through various means of investments, savings and retirement planning. Many people are either afraid of this step or put it off for another day. There is no day like the present.


I can offer at least 2 professionals in this area of expertise, that my clients and I have worked with in the past.



Toronto Condo Shopping Step # 2 - Meet with the Mortgage Broker 


Stress free condo shopping toronto


Meet with a mortgage broker to determine the most you can afford and what kind of debt you are comfortable with carrying as a mortgage. I recommend a mortgage broker for several reasons. The mortgage brokers that I recommend work with over 40 financial institutions to shape a mortgage plan that fits your needs. Mortgage brokers cost you nothing. The financial institution pays the broker to bring them business and often offer the broker discounts on your mortgage interest that are not available if you just walk in to a bank and ask for a mortgage.


One main reason I refer to a mortgage broker is that they pull your credit score just one time and then shop your loan around to many institutions. If you were to step into 5 different banks, for example, and ask for a mortgage, each one would pull your credit score. This will decrease your credit worthiness, decrease your score and increase your risk from an institutional perspective. The more credit you are seeking the riskier you appear.


The mortgage broker will give you the maximum amount that you qualify for in a mortgage. This number is often scary to a first time homebuyer and even to me, a seasoned pro. This is simply giving you a ceiling from which to pick a number that you feel comfortable with. It also sets the highest price of property for which to search in step 3.


The other thing the mortgage broker will cover with you are land transfer taxes. In Toronto proper, we have two of these taxes: the Provincial land transfer tax and the City of Toronto land transfer tax. This can amount to thousands of extra dollars required at closing. On a $400,000 purchase the tax is $8200 before any discounts (first time home buyers discount). One million dollars of value has a land transfer tax - in the City of Toronto of $32,200, two million is $72,000. So there can be substantial funds needed at time of closing.


As well, understanding that with a 20% down payment, no CMHC (mortgage insurance), is required by the government for insufficient down payment. Without the required downpayment, insurance must be paid by the buyer.


Down payment rules recently changed so that on the first 500K of purchase price the minimum downpayment is 5%, from 501K to 999K and additional 10% is required. On a purchase of 999K the minimum downpayment would be $75,000.  These are numbers that your mortgage broker will go over with you during your meetings and conversations.




Toronto Condo Shopping Step # 3 - Meet with a Real Estate Professional 

stress free toronto condo shopping

Meet with a real estate professional to discuss working with them.  As a first time home buyer this can feel like a daunting task - who to pick.  Every real estate professional wants to sell you a home and take a commission cheque.  Few want to take the time to get to know you, your wants, needs and develop a working relationship with you.  You want to feel comfortable with your choice - someone is going to help you spend a great deal of money on your home.


Many first time buyers will ask friends and family for recommendations. Some will feel obligated to use a family member or relative.  This is often not the best choice for you.  If something goes wrong or it just doesn't feel like a good fit - you’ll have to fire that family member. This can damage family relationships. There are many family horror stories out there.


Others will check out open houses in the area and talk to different agents to get a feel for who they might want to work with. I encourage this option. I have met many buyers who became clients from this activity. Feeling comfortable with the sales representatives knowledge and expertise is important.


It is also important to ask about their sales activity.  Do they work full-time?


You want someone who is in the business of selling real estate full time. They know what is going on daily. They have a greater wealth of information and often have encountered situations that they have solved that can become road blocks for one without the experience. 85% of agents in the greater Toronto area list or sell less then 3 properties per year. That mean 37,500 licensed agents are part-time agents. Think about that. Would you go to your dentist for a filling if they did only 3 per year?  Not me.


Real estate professionals can search and preview properties for you which saves you time and reduces the stress of seeing things that aren’t a good fit for you or your family. They can send you listing to preview as well to give you an idea of what is out there, in your price range and meeting your must-haves list. Your time is valuable. Hiring a full-time professional can make it a less stressful period.


Your full-time professional is also aware and educated about the latest requirements for creating an offer presentation and can guide you through the often daunting paperwork required. They can coach you and are the expert negotiator on your side.  Have a full-time experienced negotiator, who knows what Rule One is in negotiations, is a big bonus.


From my prospective, being a professional educator in regards to the game of real estate is the most important aspect. I have years of negotiation and therapeutic education and experience on my side, that I willingly share with you. Give me a call, Google me, find me on Facebook.  Let’s begin the conversation.

stress free toronto condo shopping


Toronto Condo Shopping Step # 4 - Talk to a real estate attorney. 


Talking to a real estate attorney is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. The real estate attorney drafts, reviews and acts as your deal closing agent - here in Ontario. You want them on board before your offer is firm. I work with two great firms who understand their role in the process and are available to educate and inform buyers of their rights and obligations. Most times this process is uncomplicated, but things can pop up.


Your attorney takes care of a title search which is required before closing a deal. Titles to properties are transferred with every purchase and sale. They make sure there are no liens on the property and that there is a clear and clean transfer of title history of the property. It is important for the home buyer to know if there are any easements or allowances that you the buyer, may not unaware of. Property lien disputes, acreage, utility easements, and parking allowances are things that can and do come into play during this process.


The attorney also take care of determining final closing costs, which include things like utility adjustments, tax and maintenance adjustments, land transfer taxes and final payments prior to taking on the mortgage.  These numbers are often in flux right up to the day of signing your paperwork. In Ontario, the attorney try to have singing 3-5 days before closing to make sure there is enough time to transfer funds prior to registering the changes in title, mortgage and ownership on the day of closing.



Toronto Condo Shopping Step # 5 - Getting Mortgage Insurance


stress free toronto condo shopping



Insurance is something that is very confusing to many consumers today.  There are many types of insurance: car, home, life, disability, long term care, etc.  In this case, we are talking about mortgage insurance.  Financial institutions will always, I reiterate, ALWAYS try to sell you mortgage life insurance. Don’t be fooled into signing this. This benefits the bank not you.


This is why you need to have a conversation with an insurance broker who knows about all the levels of insurance and how to get a policy that benefits you. What this means is that you can obtain mortgage insurance from a broker where you (or your family or whomever you choose) are the recipient of the policy. If you were to die, the policy pays out to your designates. This person can then decide what to do with the money.


When a bank writes the policy, they are the beneficiary and you see nothing. Policies can be in different forms that you can determine with your broker.This also allows you to transfer this policy from home to home when you sell, upgrade or move.  With the banks policy, there is no transfer and your premiums amount to zero coverage for your next home.


An insurance professional is your best bet to explain the details and show examples of the benefits to owning your own policy verses having your bank own the policy. Send me a note and I give you a couple of great professionals that I work with and trust.

I hope all this information regarding stress free condo shopping in Toronto has been helpful to you!
Please feel free to contact me at any time should you need any further questions or assistance
stress free condo shopping toronto
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