It’s no secret that if you want to buy a home in Toronto or Vancouver, you better have a darn good salary or some kind of cash windfall at your disposal. With average housing prices at $843,115 and $990,600 respectively reported in September 2019, finding an affordable home might seem hopeless. However, savvy real estate agents can offer some effective tips that can help you find a sweet home at a better price. Here’s how you can find Toronto and Vancouver real estate deals, even in the current market.


Hook Up with An Agent


Yes, well, it’s in our best interest to say this, but that doesn’t make it any less true. The more competitive the market, the better off you are to have a trusty agent at your side. It’s one of those situations where you think you can go it alone only to find you keep missing out on the best listings.


Agents have their finger on the pulse of their communities. They can spare you a whole lot of hurt by helping you find the right budget and only show you homes they know you can get in that price range. You see, real estate is emotional. If you’re buying a home, you want a lot of things you might not be able to afford. An agent will keep you grounded and help you avoid disappointment. They’ll keep your search simple, and steer you away from potential disasters, even if they have a too-good-to-be-true price. You might even get wind of homes before they hit the market, which is a really awesome advantage.


Consider Condos


Condos are rising in price in Toronto but dipping a bit in Vancouver. Either way, condos always present a more affordable way to get your foot on that first rung of the real estate ladder. Condos are also often an easier way of life. You don’t have to worry about things like maintenance, shovelling snow or mowing the lawn. They also tend to be located in some of the best ‘hoods in these busy metropolises.


The one thing to remember about this form of property ownership is you face condo fees that will bring your monthly costs up.


The Short Sale


A short sale in real estate allows you to buy a home that is being sold below what is owed by the homeowner. This might make you feel a little icky at first, but it works out well for both you and the owner, not to mention the bank.


Banks prefer short sales over foreclosures and repossessing a home, as these other two options are expensive. Owners avoid foreclosure, which is also a plus. However, as the buyer, you’ll see the most benefits. The homes are sold below market value, which can be a super good deal for you. You might find a home in a desirable area that would normally be out of your reach.


Now, as with all too-good-to-be-true scenarios, there is a downside to short sales, such as:


  • They can be very long and drawn out compared to a traditional real estate transaction.
  • They are purchased “as-is” (but you can still get a home inspection).
  • Inspection issues don’t usually translate to negotiating an even lower price to cover repairs.
  • Negotiations are less flexible, since you’re dealing with the lender and not the owner.


All of these factors can get pretty stressful, but if you’re in no rush, it’s often worth it.


Foreclosed Real Estate


When a homeowner fails to pay their mortgage, the bank can choose to foreclose on their property. This means the homeowner forfeits the rights to their property. In Ontario, this can lead to Power of Sale, where the lender has the right to sell the property if the owner can’t catch up with their payments. The home is auctioned for a reduced price through a real estate agent.


In B.C., a Judicial Foreclosure is preferred, where the courts get involved. The end result is often still the same, with the ownership of the property transferred to the lender and ultimately the house being sold at a reduced price.


Basically, the money from the sale of the home just has to cover all the fees owed. This can often result in a drastically reduced price.


Price Comparisons


Today, price comparisons are easier than ever for consumers. It’s no different when shopping for a home. You can start your own search online and get a feel for the high and low prices in your preferred areas. This helps you zone in on areas that are more affordable within the Greater Vancouver or Toronto areas. But again, your best bet is to deal directly with an agent to save yourself the trouble.


New Builds/Pre-construction


A pre-construction home purchase can get you a quality home, although often a little further out than you might want to go. However, in the GTA some areas such as Mimico, as well as inner-city spots for condos in both cities make home ownership far more reachable for buyers. Some benefits of going this route include:


  • Warranty programs
  • Appreciation in value during construction
  • No bidding wars
  • Designer customized home
  • Lower condo fees
  • Flexible deposits and down payments


It’s just about whether you can find the home in the area you prefer.


Up and Coming Areas


Every city has its latest up and coming areas that offer opportunities for getting in while prices remain reasonable. You can research these areas or speak to your real estate agent to get the 4-1-1 on the best areas in your city.


Greater Toronto Area


In the GTA some of the current up and coming areas include:


·       Oakwood-Vaughan: $615,053


·       Rockcliffe-Smythe: $723,575


·       Humber Summit: $706,722


·       Glenfield-Jane Heights: $745,701


·       Kensington-Chinatown: $701,448


Greater Vancouver Area


In Vancouver, things aren’t quite as hopeful as the GTA, but you can still check out:


·       University VW: $1,094,000


·       Hastings: $1,355,000


·       Hastings East: $1,420,000


·       Renfrew VE: $1,441,900


·       Collingwood VE: $1,475,000


While buying real estate in either of these cities can be challenging, a real estate agent can help you find the most affordable areas in town. It never hurts to reach out to a local agent and get the lowdown on prices, availability and opportunity for home ownership.