Archive for buying a home in Kitchener – Page 2

Affordable Homes In Kitchener-Waterloo for Home Buyers? Absolutely!

cheap houses in Kitchener

Does Kitchener-Waterloo Have Reasonably-Priced Houses?

In recent months you have probably seen the headlines (because they’re everywhere) – parts of Canada are facing a housing affordability crisis like never before. In cities across the country, housing has become so expensive that middle income individuals just can’t afford to become home buyers. While that may be absolutely true in other cities across the nation, it’s not always the case in Kitchener-Waterloo. Instead, this area remains more affordable than many nearby cities.

A Bigger Problem

The rapid increase in housing prices is a big cause for concern due to two main problems. First, job growth remains fairly stagnant. Private sector growth is hitting numbers like 10%. Public sector growth is a bit higher, but there’s one other problem to go with those job growth numbers – median incomes. For most families, the median income has remained the same, even in the face of the housing costs increasing across the country. Fortunately, Kitchener-Waterloo seems to have an edge. Our job growth numbers look amazing with a recently released Ontario Chamber of Commerce report suggesting that economic growth in the area will continue to gain momentum thanks to exports and investment spending in manufacturing and the tech sector. This helps to shield our area from stagnation of job growth.

What Defines “Affordable?”

The Canadian Real Estate Association regularly ranks cities and townships as affordable by comparing the average prices of residential dwellings in and around the area. The lower the numbers, the more affordable the general area. In these studies, Kitchener-Waterloo almost always ranks as one of the more affordable places to live. In May of 2015, the average price of a home in this area was just about $350,000. In greater Toronto, it was hitting $650,000. Moving to the West Coast certainly isn’t going to save you any cash either. Vancouver was recently ranked as the most expensive city with average home prices coming in at $748,651.

What Keeps Housing Prices Lower in Kitchener-Waterloo?

Wondering why this area remains so affordable? There are a few reasons. One of the most likely reasons is the fact that there’s a consistent level of housing inventory in the area. In May of 2015 alone, there were 1,200 new listings. Sellers have to stay competitive in this environment to keep in line with market conditions.

There are also a number of incentives to buy a home in the area at the moment. Waterloo launched their Affordable Home Ownership Program, offering individuals and families a loan to help cover the down payment of a home. Buyers can receive up to five percent of the purchase price as long as: the home is located in the Waterloo Region; has a purchase price of $243,300 or less; and is approved by the region itself. There are guidelines for eligibility, but it’s certainly a helping hand for many buyers.

The other likely reason for the lower prices in this area is the fact that historically low interest rates mean there’s a stronger pool of potential buyers. As the interest rates go up, the chances are good that the number of buyers will go back down, as may the total number of sellers.

Home Prices Aren’t the Only Reason to Consider Kitchener-Waterloo

Besides the fantastic deal you could get on a house here, there are a number of other reasons to consider this area. Kitchener has a long list of things to see and do. It’s close enough to metropolitan areas like Toronto, and there is easy access to Highway 401. Once you’re here, though, you probably won’t want to leave! There’s a highly diversified economy attracting people from a wide range of cultures who have made this area nothing short of amazing. The diversity here, along with great schools, an invested infrastructure that just keeps getting better, and robust arts and culture environment make this the best place to live if you’re considering the Waterloo Region.


BEFORE YOU BUY: The Importance of a High Quality Home Inspection


closing the sale of my house

How to find an experienced home inspector you can trust

A home inspection is one of those things you should never go without when you are purchasing a home. It is good sense to know what you’re buying before you sign the final Offer to Purchase document with your Realtor. Any home can be hiding catastrophic issues. Even if you intend to renovate all the way from the studs out, you still don’t want to pay to purchase problems. Your home inspection is one of the most important steps in your home purchase, which makes your home inspector an important person too.

Most mortgage lenders will require an inspection before they approve financing (that alone should give you an idea of how critical an inspection is!). However, the lender won’t likely specify who does your inspection. That’s largely up to you and this isn’t a “one size fits all” event. We suggest not hiring the first result you get from doing a Google search. Go a step further and do a little homework.

Questions usually lead to knowledge so don’t be afraid to ask a few of your potential home inspector. An inspection will cost between $300 and $600 for a modest-sized home and could go up significantly for a more luxurious home. However, the cost of an unreported issue can be far greater. This is a big job and you have every right to choose the best person for the task. Here are a few questions to get you started when you speak with a potential home inspector.

What accreditations do you carry?

An accreditation will show what kind of training and experience an inspector has under his/her belt. It’s a good idea to know what their background is before your hire him or her. Most accredited home inspectors are willing to show you their licenses to verify this.

Are you a member of any applicable professional organizations?

Most reputable home inspectors will carry membership in at least one professional organization. Each one has its own licensing and certification procedures and most have a code of ethics that members are required to follow. It’s good to know that your inspector is willing to adhere to the high standards that most of these organizations require.

What is your professional background?

Hiring locally isn’t just good for the local economy; it’s good for you too. An inspector with experience in your geographical area will know the ins and outs of the local building codes as well as the eccentricities of the local architecture. He or she will know which builders made great homes and which ones are known for having certain issues. They will understand what the weather is like where you are buying and how it affects the homes in that area.

Your inspector’s background also covers his professional work. If his experience isn’t in the type of property you’re purchasing, you need to find another inspector. Even if a candidate is a top-notch commercial inspector, he might not be a good pick for a residential transaction. Make sure his background is a match for you needs.

How much experience do you have?

How much experience your inspector has is just as important as what kind of experience it is. If this is his first house, he might not be what you need. Everyone has to start somewhere but experience is a very good teacher and you want a good student working on your home.

What kind of report do you provide? May I see a copy?

Chances are, a home inspection is a requirement of your mortgage approval. Your lender will want a copy of the report and you want to feel confident that the report will be acceptable to them and meet their lending requirements.

How long will the inspection take?

Expect at least 2 to 3 hours for an average-sized, relatively young home. Reports should be provided to you in approximately 24 hours on any average weekday.

What will you inspect? Should I attend?

Your inspector will be able to reel off the major points of an inspection quite easily. It’s what he does every day after all. And if he or she won’t let you come to see what you’re potential new home is made of, that’s a red flag. You are the one buying the home; you should be able to see what he sees, both right and wrong, so that you can make a wise decision. In Kitchener-Waterloo attendance at a home inspection by the purchaser is a requirement by the Real Estate Board. I insist that all of my clients attend the inspection of the home they are about to buy. Not only will you get a real education on the home you’re buying, a good home inspector will also provide you with great tips on home maintenance.

Can you provide references?

If he can’t provide at least 2 or 3 previous customers or real estate agents that will speak well of him, that’s another red flag. An inspector with experience should be able to point to at least a few satisfied customers willing to speak on his or her behalf.

Our stellar home inspector recommendation

For the past 15 years, Chad Hussey from Pillar to Post has been our #1 home inspector of choice. Chad is the franchisor for the Pillar To Post territory encompassing the Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas. Any time I buy a property for myself, Chad is the home inspector I rely on. I consistently and continually recommend him because of his expertise and knowledge and the high quality home inspection reports/certificates he provides on the same day of your home inspection. You can’t beat that kind of service in any industry! If you have home inspection questions,  you can contact Chad here.

Buying a Smaller Home: Smaller Spaces with BIG Style


How to Downsize Your Kitchener-Waterloo Home

How to Downsize From Your Kitchener-Waterloo Home

Bigger spaces can be problematic for many homeowners, and these days it seems, many homeowners or potential homeowners are taking the “smaller is better” option. From those participating in the tiny home fad to those who give up that big family home for something much smaller, buying a smaller home is a very personal choice. This is a time for some of you to simplify your lives and reduce your footprint. Not to worry though – giving up some square footage doesn’t necessarily mean giving up comfort or style! If you want to reduce the size of your home without reducing its level of comfort, you just need creative style and a savvy real estate agent to help find you that perfect smaller home.

A Closer Look At Why People Downsize

There are a lot of good reasons to downsize, no matter what the motivation.

  • Purchase cost. A home is typically priced largely by the size. A smaller home will likely have a lower asking price than a larger one in the same neighborhood making it an affordable option to many more families like you.
  • Cost of ownership. The associated costs of operating a smaller home are lower, too. It won’t cost as much to heat and cool, and landscaping less land means more money in your pocket. (yay!)
  • Stress reduction. Paying for and keeping up a large house can be very stressful. Have you heard of the term “being house poor?” This is when a family dedicates such a large portion of their income to paying for and maintaining their home, that they have very little money left to enjoy life. A heavy stress-load can lead to health problems and contribute to the breakdown of a significant relationship. Downsizing to a smaller home can alleviate some of this stress. You shed a lot of the “stuff” (physical and emotional) that causes worry.
  • Changing needs. Once children fly the coup to go off to college, university, or simply to pursue independence (maybe even start their own family), you’re left with empty rooms you have no use for. Perhaps you convert one bedroom to a hobby room or that home library you’ve always wanted, just to find that you still have several large rooms unused. It can leave you feeling wasteful and dreaming about what you could do with the extra money IF you downsized J
  • Eco-friendliness. Since you’re using less energy to heat and cool, your impact on the planet decreases. It also requires fewer resources to build. Choosing to downsizing is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while at the same time benefitting your bank account. 

Making the Move Forward

Exerting creativity is key when downsizing. You can get big style in a small home with a dash of creativity and good space planning. The “tiny home” movement is evidence of that (just search for “tiny home” on the internet and see how some folks are taking downsizing to the extreme!). You can take a few cues from this kind of thinking to help furnish your downsized home. Here are a few tips that may help.

Edit and Reduce

Chances are, you won’t be able to fit the furnishings of a 4 bedroom home into a 2-bedroom condo. You will have to make some decisions about what items mean the most to you. Divest yourself of large pieces. You can start giving them to children, grandchildren or other loved ones to start their own homes.

Think Multifunctional

In a smaller space, you can’t afford to allot space to specialized furnishings. You can only fit so many items; think “multipurpose.” Give some thought to how particular items can serve in more than one capacity. Here’s an example. You might only need a dining table several times a year but a slim console table behind the couch is useful all year long. What if that console was actually a drop leaf table with two “wings” that lift when you need the extra room but stay out of the way when you don’t? Or what about a good, old-fashioned Murphy bed that can turn your office into an instant guest room?

Get Organized

A professional organizer is a wonder of the world! You’ll be amazed at how much can fit into a small space when everything is organized. Consider hiring a pro to create an organized home. Kitchens, baths and closets can hold so much more and operate much more efficiently when they’re properly organized.

Decorate Differently

In a large house, big patterns and bold colors seem right at home. In some (but not all) cases, these can overwhelm a smaller space, depending on the size of the print. A cohesive color palette in soothing shades makes a smaller room look spacious. Focus on textures and subtle details to make the décor interesting and layered. Again, hiring a professional can make a big difference. We recommend booking a consultation with KW’s Award-Winning Rooms in Bloom Home Staging.

Make the most of your downsized home by subtracting the clutter and adding some multifunctional style. You’ll soon see that downsizing is often the best decision you can make.

How Your Real Estate Agent Can Help

Choosing to downsize can be an emotional journey. You’ll need a good agent to help guide you through the process. An experienced real estate agent can help you find the features you really need and help you figure out what you can really do without. If you won’t be having nightly dinners with several people, do you really need a large dining room and an eat-in kitchen and a bar with extra seating? Can you get by with one guest room and some creative furnishings? Your agent can help you see how you could live in a home. If you are looking to downsize and are looking for that perfect smaller space, give us a call at 519.885.0200 or email us here.