Buyer’s Guide


Older homes tend to be celebrated for character and (depending on age) quality of workmanship. However, if layout or features aren’t exactly to your liking, renovations are a consideration. You have limitations as many walls are fixed and it’s very costly to reconfigure but with a new home you build it the way you want it.
The great thing about a new build is you can customize everything — from cabinets to floors to paint and window coverings. When you take possession your home will be in move-in condition. On the downside, says Moffatt, “You’re not supposed to wallpaper for a year or finish your basement for the first five years.”


With resale homes you go in expecting to negotiate price, but there is little wiggle room with most new builds. And, the starting price is just that — a starting price. “I’ve never seen anybody go in and pay $475,000 for what’s advertised as a $475,000 house.” Standard materials tend to be on the cheaper side, so if you want to make your new build truly your own, you’ll want upgrades for which you’ll pay a premium.

New isn’t perfect

Just because a home is new doesn’t mean there won’t be any issues. As your house settles things pop up — you just hope it happens before your warranty expires. Mitigate risk by hiring a home inspector and ensuring you have a comprehensive warranty.

Know the builder

Some of the builders go out of their way to please clients because they know what goes around comes around; some use cheap materials and cut corners. Research your builder and ask what they’ll do for you and what they won’t.


New homes are often more energy efficient due to construction technology, as well as updated heating and cooling systems. In addition, layouts, such as laundry facilities on the second floor or walk-in closets, tend to better suit today’s lifestyles.


Older homes offer mature landscaping. The fence is already built and the home will likely come with other upgrades, such as a garage door opener, outdoor lighting, walkways, window coverings, and perhaps a pool or air conditioning. The previous owners may well have put tens of thousands into home improvements so you won’t have to. With new homes, yards and green spaces will initially be quite sparse. Greening the exterior may require substantial investment and it could take several years to look the way you want.

Lot size

Typically, homes in new subdivisions have smaller lots than those built several decades ago. “When you buy from a plan you don’t get a sense of how close neighbours will be,” said one buyer who was drawn to his builder’s promise of wide lots, but didn’t realize out back he’d be looking into his neighbour’s kitchen. In addition, his yard was graded on a slant so he could not install a pool.


Usually with an established home you’re buying into a neighbourhood with a distinct personality and reputation. You know what you’re getting in terms of demographics, schools, shops and amenities. “With a new neighbourhood you don’t know the dynamics — it takes a while and you may not like how things shape up,” said another buyer. “People come first so there are not a lot of amenities in the beginning.” New subdivisions are usually pre-zoned for schools, recreation centres, shopping centres and parks. Check the fine print to get an idea of how yours will develop.


Moving into a resale home usually involves a set 30 to 90 day wait, while a new build can drag on. This is something to consider when securing a mortgage, says a mortgage planner. “If new construction closes beyond 120 days there is no mortgage interest rate guarantee, so there’s a bit of a risk and buyers may end up with a higher rate.” Some builders have on-site banking reps who offer guaranteed rate caps, however these tend to be a little higher than what you’d secure through a mortgage broker.


When buying a new house, look into the number of phases planned and when they are to be completed. If you’re among the first to buy, expect to be living in a construction zone with dust, dirt and noise. If possible, buy later in the development once builders have ironed out any issues.
The decision to buy a new build or resale home often comes down to personality and what you’re willing to give up for what you want. While some people argue there is no better feeling than being able to customize their space, others couldn’t live in a neighbourhood-in-waiting. Either way, it comes down to finding a house you can call home.

Should I buy a Condo

As single family home prices have risen, many consumers have been looking to condominiums as an alternative. First time buyers like the lower prices, which makes entry into the real estate ownership market easier. Seniors like the low maintenance aspect and the ability to be in a community catering to their lifestyle. Others like the security advantages that the building provides, especially for those who travel frequently.

Condo Concept

When you purchase a condominium, you purchase and have title to your individual unit in a multi-unit property, and share in the ownership of the land and other common property with all the other unit owners. The type of common property varies depending on the type of condominium – high rise or townhouse for example – and would include hallways, elevators, heating system, parking structures, landscaped areas, recreation areas etc.
A condominium is a specific form of ownership and does not describe a type of building.
One of the great advantages to owning a condominium is that in most cases, it is owner-occupied and owner run. Owners ensure their investment is maintained and regard improvements as an investment which increases the value of their individual unit.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Condo Owndership

If a winter holiday is part of your lifestyle, you can leave with your mind at ease, without the worry of a driveway to clear. In the summer the grass will be cut, you won’t have any exterior painting projects or fence repairs to look after.
Condo projects are now part of most communities which means being able to stay in the same location where you were a homeowner. Some condo projects are more successful than others in terms of capital appreciation and length of time to sell. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of condo ownership:


  • protection from rent increases
  • monthly cost of owning is often less than renting
  • wide range of property types, prices, locations, sizes and amenities available
  • availability of amenities such as swimming pool, tennis courts, hot tubs, saunas, exercise facilities, sun decks, community rooms (the cost of which may otherwise not be affordable)
  • you are investing in your own home and build equity -appreciation of capital value
  • pride of ownership
  • freedom to make interior changes and enhancements to your unit
  • enhanced security availability and peace of mind when leaving unit unattended
  • maintenance and upkeep is kept down or eliminated
  • security of tenure and permanent occupancy
  • cost is often less than single family home due to efficient use of land and economies of scale
  • wide range of prices depending on features, luxury and location
  • sense of community due to permanence of residents and resulting social activity
  • developments available geared to a specific lifestyle (restrictions on age, pets, children etc.)
  • participation of owners in operation of development including budgeting, decision making, determination of rules and by-laws.


  • some loss of freedom may be experienced due to rules and by-laws e.g. type of pets allowed, right to rent unit etc.
  • due to a larger concentration of people you may experience problems with the “5 p’s”, pets, parties, parking, personality and people.
  • money is tied up in equity
  • you may be paying for some amenities you never use
  • boards of directors vary in terms of skill and effectiveness

Five Mistakes Home Buyers Make

Mistake #1. Not Getting Pre-Qualified for a Mortgage

Before looking for your next home take the time to get pre-qualified by the bank or mortgage broker you choose. This can save you hours of searching for homes in the wrong price range or worse, purchasing a home and then finding out you don’t qualify for financing. Pre-qualifying gives you peace of mind, helps narrow your search criteria and most importantly, gives your Royal LePage agent a negotiating edge by being able to alleviate the sellers concern over financing. The latter is especially important should a competing offer surface. – See more at:

Mistake #2. Not Shopping For Mortgage Terms

Rates are negotiable! Banks will sharpen their pencils to get your business especially if you have a good credit rating and bring other business to them e.g. RRSP’s, general account, savings etc. Posted rates should viewed as a starting point. You need to know what the best rate is and this is usually done by get competitive quotes. Also, ask whether the bank will cover appraisal fees, and about buy-out fees, penalties, payment options, portability etc. The time spent can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.

Mistake #3. Not Getting Professional Inspections

Nobody wants to purchase a home only to find out later there are defects, latent or otherwise. Ensure you obtain inspections where needed e.g. home inspection, structural engineer, insect, radon etc. If the inspection identifies deficiencies you may be able to negotiate the purchase price to cover required repairs or make your satisfaction of the inspection subject to the homeowner remedying the problem. Your RE/MAX agent can advise you on inspections you should consider.

Mistake #4. Not Using A Professional Real Estate Agent

Your Royal LePage agent can help you make a purchase with the least amount of problems. He or she can ensure the price you pay is market value. They can offer expert advice on what to look for, conditions to include, negotiation strategy etc. After all, they work for you.

Mistake #5. Not Knowing The Full Cost Of Home Buying

Know all the costs associated with your purchase. Consider the following costs: legal fees, transfer tax, property taxes, new home landscaping, fencing, appliances, window coverings.

CMHC For Buyers

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial and lifestyle decisions you will make and this guide by Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is an excellent resource when one is purchasing a house especially for the first time. It is well documented and written and it will help you make an informed decision.