Wait, There’s More Than Just the Down Payment?

Buying a home is the most expensive undertaking a first-time buyer will face. With listing prices, down payments and offers, purchasing a home will require an increased look at finances for those looking to make the plunge into home ownership.

However, while those costs would seem to be high, those are actually not the only costs you need to budget for.  This isn’t to scare you - in fact I only want to prepare you! Home ownership can be an extreme rewarding experience and a symbol of patience, hard-work and good planning.

Take a look at the list below for a few more things you need to consider when it’s time for you to close the deal.

The Various Taxes

Ok, while you’re obviously used to paying taxes on all of your purchases thanks to the HST, homes do come with a few extra on top.  Yes, sometimes the HST exists (when purchasing a new home) however real estate taxes vary by region and must be looked at when choosing a home. These taxes include:

  • Land Transfer Tax
  • Property Tax

Legal Fees

You will want a lawyer to review the terms of the offer. Also you’ll want the title searched, a new title created and even your mortgage reviewed by a lawyer.  Making sure you’re protected from a legal standpoint is an expense you can’t afford to ignore. 

Home Inspection

You could by a home by treating it like you’d by a new pair of shoes. ‘Yup, looks good and fits right, I’ll take it!’ If that’s your attitude, then you should most definitely learn about home inspectors.  I would not even consider buying a home without having a licenced professional perform a walk through and assess the property.  If you think that might be too expensive (this could cost anywhere from $250-$500), try buying a home that then needs work to the plumbing or electrical after doing so without an inspection.

Factoring in other costs like insurance, hook-up fees (utilities) and moving costs, your budget NEEDS to be more than just having the required percentage down payment for your offer/asking price. Having this information will help you make the right decision on your first home – and keep you from a horrible surprise when your deal is about to close.

Durham Real Estate, Say Its Sold

Testimonial from a Happy Client

I just love helping people find their next home. What I love even more is hearing that I've done so in a way that leaves them satisfied with the entire process. The following testimonial came from a valued client. Harjit Birdi had quite an experience dealing with other realtors before contacting me. When I met him I knew that I could help remove the negative stigma he had towards some of my “peers” in the industry. After successfully helping Harjit in his search, I was blown away when he sent me the testimonial he created.  I knew I just had to share it with all of you.

In Harjit’s words,

“I started my home search in July 2014. Initially, I focused on new construction homes and around September 2014 I moved my focus to include resale homes. I connected with Sonia Sinclair by chance in April 2015 as my disappointment with the previous realtors grew manifold.

Before connecting with Sonia, I had worked with more than 10 realtors. As we progressed in our quest for a resale home purchase, I came to know that she had won the Bungalow in Whitby I had lost using another realtor in a multiple bid scenario. You know you have to change a realtor when you receive the listing and the home is already sold by the time you view the home and you keep on missing bids on homes due to lack of proper strategy. Bidding wars can be agonizing and you are bidding against a group of competitors and are blind to what the other Realtors are willing to bring to the table.

Here is why I chose Sonia. If you know these reasons, you will be prepared for your next multiple bid situation.

Core Focus on Region

A great realtor will focus on a particular region (e.g. the Durham Region) and not all over the Greater Toronto Area. Focus is key to winning as many other realtors continue to indulge in making offers all over the GTA and see what sticks on the wall.

Needs and Wants

Sonia will narrow down your needs and wants early on by having a conversation with you. There is no point in viewing homes that do not suit your needs and wants. This alone will save you tonnes of money.

Comparative Market Analysis

For all you quantitative geeks (that includes me too), Sonia will provide you with the Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) Report without asking for it. This will give you a proper range for the home prices in the area for similar homes that have been sold in the past. And she will provide her valuable insight to the numbers on the paper. 

Values Your Hard Earned Money = No Emotional Bidding

This is where Sonia is extremely helpful. She values your hard earned money and prevents you from indulging in emotional bidding. She will work with you to define a walk away number. Her criterion for emotional bidding is:

1)If it is the home for you

2) has everything you should need and want

3)  you can afford to pay more.

I stress on the part "you can afford to pay more". By the way, you should never run after a bus, train or a home. If one goes, another will be on the way soon. 


In a market where you no longer purchase a home, but rather win homes after bidding, you need a strategy to win as opposed to merely throwing out offers to purchase. I would rather not disclose her winning strategy here and let you experience it yourself.

Get your Pre-Approval and know your budget in advance. Don’t lose hope if you do not win the home on your first try. And there is no dream home unless you build it yourself. Just focus on your needs, wants and let Sonia "The Superwoman" guide you along the way to this journey towards home ownership.”

Is Buying a Home in the Winter a Wise Decision?

Many people have a pre-conceived notion that shopping for real estate is a no-go during the winter months. Besides the weather being an unpleasant inconvenience while house hunting, that’s if it’s cold or has been snowing heavily, there really isn’t much of a difference to the process of searching and acquiring a new home for you and your family.

At the end of the day, there’s never a “best” time to go house hunting. The weather may play a factor should you be driving around to look at multiple homes or walking through, the chances of you finding the home of your dreams in the winter is just as likely in the winter as it is any other month.

Just because the spring and fall are the busiest times of the year on the real estate market, that doesn’t mean you’ll be left in the cold should you not find something you’re looking for during those months. Actually, you may find yourself beating the crowd while taking advantage of less people out there looking for themselves if your search begins in, or extends itself into the winter.

Yes, there are fewer homes on the market from December to March. However, that also means there are fewer people looking at the homes that are.  Being prepared in case your dream home pops up is something you don’t want to hold off or delay just because of the day on your calendar.

Just as you would scour your local grocery store websites looking for the best deals each week, you should be visiting local realtor websites (just like www.SoniaSinclair.com!) and checking out homes regularly as well if you’re in the market or curious about what your home may fetch if it was.

With winter’s end just around the corner, now may just be the perfect time to reach out to one of our team members. We can answer any and all of your questions all-year-round. After a brief visit, we’ll be glad to show you just how hot the Durham Region’s housing market can be in winter, spring, summer or fall!

Energy Efficiency is a Win-Win

Purchasing a home is one of the most important financial decisions people can make. While there are so many options out there, with the influx of new builds and subdivisions, many families look to those areas as a great way to get a fresh start as a family.

As you already know, there are many costs associated with the initial purchase; even with a new home.  While planning finances it’s easy to forget costs incurred once new home buyers move in. Costs associated after down payment, mortgages and taxes are always calculated in the planning. The cost of energy and how much it costs to keep you comfortable in your home is sometimes lost in the shuffle. And, since comfort in your home also includes your financial comfort, keeping an energy efficient home is a great way to reduce monthly costs and make carrying your mortgage a little less stressful.

Besides helping you do your part environmentally, energy efficient furnaces, light fixtures and air conditioners are great long-term investments that can actually reduce the cost of ownership throughout the duration of your time in your home. With each percentage point you save after they’re installed, your overall costs will actually be less than if you went with standard appliances and fixtures.

Should your time within your home be shorter than expected, or you’re looking to use your new home as a way to build equity and potentially move elsewhere, you’ll also increase the value of your home once it enters the market with energy saving measures in place. Besides the value of the major appliances and fixtures and the savings that come with them, the reduction of wear and tear (drafts, moisture damage, etc.) can make your home more attractive to buyers should your stay in the “new home,” is shorter than previously anticipated.


Family enjoying an energy-saving new home Sonia Sinclair



The Importance of a Realtor

Whether selling or buying a home, you want to be comfortable with the process on either side of the transaction.  It’s always a little stressful regardless of finances.  Now I might be a little biased but, regardless of where you are in the transaction, having a realtor is vital to ensuring that the process is carried through smoothly. A good realtor can and should be your home buying guru if you choose the right one. From negotiating to staging, by doing it yourself (or even worse, with someone who fails you as an expert), you’re leaving yourself open to mistakes that a veteran realtor just won’t make. 

Anyone can search through a website like www.mls.ca or look to the real estate section in their local newspaper to see homes they might like. A realtor can help you go through the steps to get pre-qualification or pre-approval before starting the search.  Is the home in an area you’d like to live in?  Knowing what kind of neighbourhood you’d like to move into, a realtor can help you zero in on a few options so that you aren’t running around spending your valuable time looking at places that are over budget or don’t meet your criteria; even if those homes are within your budget.

It all boils down to having an expert on your side that you can trust. Would you want just anyone preparing your meal at your favourite restaurant? Would you let just any friend or neighbour take a look at your car if there was an issue?  Realtors, at least any of them worth their licence, have seen it all and are knowledge experts in the communities they operate. I know in my time working with people here in Durham, I’m confident in my ability to assess my clients’ needs and wants, and fitting those desires into their budget to have them living in their dream home in a great community.

With the many buying and listing agents available, you want someone with a proven track record in the community you’re leaving or entering to help you extract maximum value and happiness from your transaction. You want to make the home buying process as easy as possible.  If you’re looking here in Durham, give our team a call and we’ll not only provide customer service with a group of people you’ll trust and enjoy working with.  We’ll help you succeed in all of the right ways and help you “say it’s sold!”

Say It's Sold - Sonia Sinclair