Welcome to this month’s edition of Dear Urbaneer. Every month I field real estate questions from my clients and then open my vault of real estate experience to provide them with answers.
Having viewed several loft condominiums, I know I'm ready to buy but I'm trying to balance my head and my heart so I make the right purchase. With all the recent headlines about the condominium market being in flux due to the new Airbnb rules and the impact of COVID-19, I want to ensure I exercise prudence but also ensure I secure the right home. I know I’m in good hands, but based on what you know about me, how best should I process whether this loft I'm keen on viewing is the right place?
Looking for My Perfect Property Match
Here's my reply:
Dear Perfect Match:
As we've discussed through your search, a big part of my approach to buying real estate involves patience, prudence, and strategy; I think the fact that you are pressing pause and diving deeper into the process is extremely wise. It will help you to connect with a home that ticks your boxes today, and tomorrow.
There's no question any decisions around a real estate purchase is daunting at the best of times, but when you consider our current environment with the fallout from COVID-19 being felt very specifically in the condominium market, it’s even more unnerving. What we are experiencing is an increase of supply in the condominium market, along with constraints placed on demand as we continue to live with the evolving conditions of an unresolved pandemic. This is creating challenges for Toronto condominium sellers which are beginning to place downward pressure on prices.
This impact has been felt most squarely on the high-rise high-density condo tower neighbourhoods, that have been particularly popular with young upwardly mobile professional first-time buyers and those building their real estate investment portfolios, of which many were until recently operating as short-term furnished rentals. As I wrote in How Urbaneer’s Tailored Toronto Real Estate Marketing Sold This Condo During The Pandemic, smaller units are experiencing the greatest drop in demand. However, those buyers who don't want the maintenance and repair (and more likely significant renovations) of our older downtown freehold housing stock are seeking larger condominiums, which offer a more affordable opportunity to houses, by and large. That said, Buyers are increasingly coveting outdoor space - especially now, during the pandemic. It’s one of those features (like a second 4-piece washroom!) that is increasingly considered a 'necessity' and will garner a premium. Buyers will also pay big bucks for condominiums that have unique attributes such as a loft aesthetic, a protected view, an intelligent space plan, and quality finishes.
But, back to your question. I do have a process of steps to take to ensure that a home of any kind will be the appropriate purchase for you, personally. After all, finding a dwelling that can be your 'Home' is a complex journey; a real estate purchase has to make sense pragmatically and align with your budget and goals, as well as offer an undeniable emotional connection. This post is an excellent accompaniment to my more practical must-read post called How To Search For Your Next Property Purchase.
Here is my checklist that I recommend you follow when trying to decide if a home is the right one for you.
CREATING AND USING YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTY MATRIX
Number 1: Be Aware Of Your Intuitive Reaction And How The Property Makes You Feel
When you wake up the morning after viewing a property that has piqued your interest, ask yourself:
"Is this pile of bricks and mortar making me swoon?"
You deserve to fall in love with your home each and every day. If there are existing deficiencies or surprise ones that are problematic, either in the dwelling’s fundamental structure, location or otherwise unchangeable attributes, that unease will only continue as your homeownership experience continues.
Keep in mind that if you are not immediately in love with the décor, but that the possibility to change it is evident and easy, the property could still be a contender- as long as the love is there. Sometimes a property will check all the boxes but you still won't 'feel it'. Other times it may not meet everything you thought you wanted, but it has an insouciant charm that calls to you. It tells you this is 'home'.
So if the answer to this first question is 'No', we keep looking. If the answer is 'Yes', knowing you have the opportunity to opt-out, proceed to Number 2.
Number 2: Rank The Property Against Your Personal Housing Matrix
Next, go through the exercise of ranking the home in question’s 'physical environment' so you can determine how well it matches your 'vision of Home'.
To do this create your Personal Housing Matrix by listing all of your shelter wishes, wants, and needs under the following three categories:
The first category is 'Location'. List any specific factors important to you about where you envision your home to be. For example, how accessible the property is to work, and is it situated in a place with your preferred village amenities? Click here to read What Are The Real Financial, Emotional, And Health Costs Of Commuting?
Moreover, is it situated in a place with your preferred village amenities? Does it have a neighbourhood/community vibe that appeals to you? Don’t forget that your quality of life will have as much to do being surrounded with options around your home as it will with what you’ve got inside your own walls. Add any criteria which are of specific importance to you, such as what is the school district, is it in proximity to dog park/nature/bike paths, community/recreation centres, or your best friend. Location matters not only for the enrichment of your life but also as part of a strategy to grow your real estate investment. I write about this in my Dear Urbaneer: On Choosing A Winning Location
The second category is 'Property' where you should include the criteria of the property's site, building exterior, structure, building components, space plan, and style. For more check out my post on The Six Essential Layers Of Property to gauge how the dwelling fits according to your own personal needs and requirements. And then follow this with listing how well the property matches your personal desires such as whether it has sufficient storage, outdoor space, parking/locker, your preferred soaking tub or shower, a fireplace, gas cooking, a fireplace, or WFH office/guest room.
The third category should address your 'Personal Preferences & Your Six Senses'. How might this potential home environment serve and support your health and well-being physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?
For example, with respect to sight, does the home have a pretty view, is it near a canopy of trees, or does it face into another building? Does your olfactory system detect scent or stench? Is it near a noxious use with chemical and odor molecules in the air? What is the air quality and flow when the windows are closed? Does the HVAC system heat and cool evenly or are there issues (top floors can get notoriously hot with insufficient ductwork, for example). Can you hear birdsong, children playing, or traffic jams, a squealing streetcar or rumbling subway? Is it bathed in natural light, or have your preferred or least favourite north/south/east/west exposure?
While one can't taste a space, one might consider whether the kitchen appeals to how you prefer to prepare food. Are you a baker or are a lover of barbecuing? If you are an informed culinary creator, maybe list the five basic tastes - sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami - so you can see how the kitchen can accommodate your personal preparation needs, zones, and storage. In terms of touch, are the finishes comforting? Is the carpet wool and soft to walk on, or scratchy sisal that looks better than it feels? If you love to soak in the tub, is it deep enough to truly relax, and is the water tank efficient enough to fill it to the top with hot water? Does the property align with your vestibular and proprioception systems? If the building and/or unit has a lot of stairs, or narrow halls, or requires taking the elevator daily, is this ok for you? How our body moves in relation to gravity, movement, and balance, and how feel when we are positioned in a space and subconsciously plan and navigate our movements is unique to each of us.
Again - will the property complement you emotionally, mentally and spiritually?
You may want to take my crash course on The Psychology Of Real Estate, Housing & Home and be cognizant of How COVID-19 Will Likely Change How We Design Our Homes.
When you're ready - on a scale of 1 (Low) to 5 (High) - rank each of your criteria. If the three boxes for each category tally to a sum of 70% or more, I would say the dwelling is a contender as a potential purchase.
Number 3: Feedback Loop - What Are Your Deal-Breakers?
If your List identifies any ranking out of 5 with a 3 or less in either Location, Property, or Personal Preferences, meditate on whether those specific deficiencies are deal-breakers to acting on a purchase. For example, the property might score High as a Property but Low on Location, which could be a deal-breaker. Here's my post called Dear Urbaneer: Should I Sacrifice Location To Get More House?. Or maybe it needs maintenance, upgrading, or renovation; are you prepared to do so to achieve the Home you want? Here's How To Recognize Architectural Design Features That Increase Resale Value and Dear Urbaneer: We’ve Moved Into Our New Home. Now What?.
Number 4: How Much Is This Future Home Worth To You?
What is this home worth to you financially and emotionally? What are your financial goals? How long do you expect to stay in this home (i.e. is this a Forever Home, or will you plan to Climb The Property Ladder)? What have other similar properties in the area sold for? Does this amount seem feasible and sensible to you?
How much would you be willing to pay for this home, within your budget? Do you have a price range where you're comfortable with the purchase and then a top end? How much extra cost are you likely to incur in the coming months and/or years. It’s not uncommon in Toronto real estate to engage in bidding wars, but the question is are you willing to pay top dollar in competition because it's a pretty fantastic place? Even if you are experienced with bidding on lofts in the past, you need to decide what your strategy will be, reconciled with the checklist I've laid out to ensure that you've made a really sound decision.
Behold The Four Values Of Real Estate For Bidding Wars And Bully Offers In Any Market Climate (Plus Cats!), which will guide you to understanding how to determine what it's worth to you financially.
Engaging in the steps that I’ve listed here gives you a frame of reference to determine how much this home would be a worthwhile purchase. Decide ahead of time what this home would be worth to you financially and assign a dollar amount to your purchase plan. Nothing brings on buyer’s remorse more than overpaying for a property that you were tepid on or unsure about, simply because of getting caught up in the emotions of buying real estate. Click here to read 'Dear Urbaneer - Buyer’s Remorse'.
Emotionally, does it feel like “Home”? Can you envision yourself in the space? Do you see yourself having that same experience of gratitude, comfort, and pride every time you come home? If so, it has great emotional value and is a winner.
Navigating the Toronto real estate market can be daunting, but also incredibly rewarding when you land your dream property and give yourself the opportunity to live your best life at home. With decades of experience of playing matchmaker between people and their dream homes, and a tried and true system that works, we are here to help!
Do you have questions? Would you like to talk this through? I welcome being available for a consultation.
Here are some helpful blogs about buying real estate!
May my team and I be your realtors of choice?
With decades of experience navigating the ever-changing Toronto real estate market, a commitment to promote the sale of properties like yours with interesting and relevant information, and the ability to guide Buyers with credible insights and well-informed guidance, we are here to help without pressure or hassle.
Thanks for reading!
-The Urbaneer Team
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-800
- we're here to earn your trust, then your business -
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