Susan Sun works with Right At Home Realty Inc., helping everyone from renters and first-time home buyers to those selling or finally buying their dream home. In the red-hot real estate market, it’s important to learn and get insights from the experts.
Sun shared her advice on market trends, tips for buyers and sellers, and demystified misconceptions about real estate.
The real estate market continues to boom in many areas, including Toronto and the GTA. What advice do you have for those looking to break into the market and buy their first property?
The market continues to be insanely hot in Toronto and the areas around it. It’s really tough being a first-time home buyer, so it’s helpful to take advantage of every incentive that’s offered, such as using a portion of your RRSP tax-free towards your mortgage. Also, the government offers a land transfer tax rebate, which can help with costs.
By talking to a mortgage broker or realtor, you will be able to obtain more information on other [available incentives]. It’s very important to get pre-qualified and shop around for mortgages, just like buying a car. Mortgage rates (through big banks or other lenders) can vary no matter where you go, and even a difference of half a per cent can have a significant financial impact.
When buying their first home, many people want the “dream home.” But in this market, you have to be realistic and realize what you can afford financially and what’s feasible. Start small and build equity. That might mean buying a small condo a little bit further away versus buying your dream home immediately.
Knowing all of your costs is essential. Closing costs can add up. Land transfer tax, lawyer’s fees, insurance — all of these things should be taken into consideration. Lastly, do your homework. Enlisting the help of a realtor can help guide you through this process and offer essential insights.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions that customers have about investing in real estate?
People often think that a huge amount of capital is needed to invest in real estate. It’s true in a sense, but you can get creative — investing with a business partner, a friend, or family member means you can be a co-owner of a property.
There are also misconceptions [about needing] to be experienced to invest in real estate, but that’s not necessarily true. You can team up with someone who has experience to assist you, whether that be a realtor or someone else who’s done it in the past.
In addition, people think that having an investment property is passive income. The word passive, I think, is misused here, especially when it comes to rental properties; it’s definitely a hands-on project. A mistreated property can quickly become a huge headache and a money pit. It’s passive in the sense that, yes, your property is earning you income — but you still have to put work into it.
Sometimes, people think you need a primary residence before you buy an investment property. That’s actually not true. Many people purchase a property as an investment and they continue to rent. That’s how I started getting into the market, by purchasing a small, one-bedroom condo in downtown Toronto and holding on to it for a few years, allowing it to increase in value and build equity, which helped my husband and me purchase our forever home.
Stephanie Hawkins | Contributing Writer