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Buying a house sight unseen | REM

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Some people will only buy a house if they get to walk through it several times. But there are other purchasers who will buy a house sight unseen. It’s not unusual, and it’s not new.

Broker Jerry Hammond of Hammond International Properties in North York, Ont., says his experience with people who buy sight unseen started in the early 1990s with foreign buyers.




Jerry Hammond
Jerry Hammond

In some cases, not only are the houses unseen, so are the clients. A large percentage of Asian buyers buy this way, he says.

“Some buyers want to be discreet. They will have a family member or a representative visit the home and will buy it without seeing it for themselves.”

The purchase may be made by power of attorney, or someone else may buy on behalf of the buyer, sign the agreement and transfer the title later to an Ontario company, another person’s name or a holding company, says Hammond, who does about 10 sight unseen deals a year. However, they’re only sight unseen from the standpoint of a personal visit. Hammond says his clients receive quality visuals, including floor plans, movies, descriptions, professional photographs, booklets of features and information about amenities, from shopping to schools.

“Pictures speak a thousand words,” says real estate agent Sam McDadi of Sam McDadi Real Estate in Mississauga, Ont., who uses lifestyle videos.

Whether the property is $400,000 or $4 million, real estate agent Eileen Lasswell of Chestnut Park Real Estate in Toronto has quality materials ready to send out at a moment’s notice.

The agents also agree that it’s important to have a local trusted family member or representative view the property in person. It’s not unusual for these people to use video conferencing while they tour the property. That way the representative can translate, and if the potential buyer has questions, they can be answered on the spot, Hammond says.

Eileen Lasswell
Eileen Lasswell

Having a trusted friend or family member look at the house also helps because even though the potential buyer may like the way a house looks, they may not be familiar with the area and street. “It gave my client some comfort that a local friend he relied on and trusted looked at the property first,” McDadi says.

But it’s not just foreign buyers who buy without seeing a home in person, says Lasswell, adding that people who buy sight unseen make up about 10 per cent of her business.

Buyers may be away on vacation, one of the principal decision makers may be away on business or parents may decide to buy a condo instead of paying rent for the four to six years their child would attend school. “They’re not going to fly in to see a condo,” Lasswell says. “There are many reasons people buy sight unseen.”

That’s why it’s always paramount to have quality marketing materials at the ready.

Sam McDadi
Sam McDadi

Buying sight unseen happens in all price points. “On smaller investment properties of $500,000 to $700,000, it’s not as unusual for people to buy sight unseen as long as numbers align,” McDadi says. “Whether they’re local or buyers from abroad, they look for a certain return. When we give them the thumbs up on capital appreciation, whether houses or condos for investment purposes, they are more willing to buy sight unseen.”

But buyers also purchase multi-million-dollar properties. Whatever the price point, having a trusted agent is key. Buyers want to know how you do business, McDadi says. “Do you run a good ship? Do you have a good reputation?”

Being prepared goes without saying. Lasswell says she knew her client, who regularly travels around the world on business, likely wouldn’t be in town when something suitable came on the market. “I hired a driver, so I could spend quality time with the client. We saw 10 or 15 properties in one day. I summarized everything, pros and cons, in a Google document.”

She ranked each property out of 10 and asked the clients to do the same.  “That reveals what the client really wants,” she says. “It took effort on his part too. It’s a two-way street. He made an offer on a property he’s never seen only because we did the homework.”

For those faced with a sight unseen situation for the first time, here are some points to keep in mind:

  • You still have to ask the same questions. Ask the person communicating on behalf of the buyer about the budget, whether financing will be required or if they will need further connections, such as lawyers or financing options. With interest rates so low, most buyers take advantage of financing, Hammond says.
  • “Schools are a big driver for many purchasers,” Hammond says. Have information about schools, especially private institutions, on hand.
  • Don’t be afraid to turn clients away, Lasswell says, if you don’t have expertise in the area they want to buy in. “Refer them to someone who knows the area.”
  • Even if the offer is condition free, it’s important to get a sizable deposit, McDadi says. A 10-per-cent deposit means the buyer will have “good skin in the game.” With longer closing dates, get bigger deposits because more things can go wrong.
  • Go above and beyond. Be honest about the negatives. You don’t want the buyer to be surprised that the property is bigger or smaller than they thought. Lasswell also suggests taking aerial pictures to show what could be coming up in terms of development beside the condo they want to buy.
  • Make sure you put everything in writing, so the buyers can review everything later. When looking at a property, they may be emotional and only see the positives. Listing the pros and cons takes the emotion out of the situation, Lasswell says.
  • If you’re representing the seller, let them know that the buyer who has put in an offer hasn’t seen the property in person. Disclose everything on both sides, Lasswell says.
  • Be prepared for a time lag when arranging financing or transferring money into the country, Hammond says.
  • Don’t be reluctant. Buying sight unseen does happen. “We live in a city that’s thriving and that has lots of immigration. Embrace it. It’s another way to do business. And you never know what it will lead to down the road because you never know who the buyers are,” Hammond says.

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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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