Is investing in a home right for me?
Go to www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca for excellent, unbiased information about home ownership, including a list of pros and cons to consider in deciding whether to rent or buy a home.

How do I find out about basement apartments?
Renting out a basement apartment is a good way to make a house purchase more affordable. Carson Dunlop has an excellent report on its website that details how to make a basement apartment "legal" (important to consider, because failure to comply can result in a $25,000 fine and one-year jail term!).

Visit www.carsondunlop.com for more information.

Do I need a mortgage broker?
Like a real estate salesperson, a mortgage broker saves you time, money, and stress. You only have to go through the application process once, and the broker does the legwork finding you the best deal with the various financial institutions offering mortgages. The mortgage broker works for you, in your best interest, gives unbiased advice and information. You don't pay for this personal service. The lending institution chosen pays the mortgage broker a commission.

According to a study done by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, over 50 percent of homebuyers accept the mortgage rate posted by their bank, and that means they don't know that they can negotiate a better deal. Another benefit of a broker is that he or she will help the client decide whether monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly payments are best. We recommend our clients talk to a mortgage broker to help them determine if a move is the right step for them now or in the future, depending on their circumstances.

Our in-house mortgage brokers David Smith (dsmith@orianafinancial.com) and Darlene Hanley (dhanley@orianafinancial.com)

Do I need a home inspection?
Absolutely! Buying a home is usually the biggest investment you'll ever make. It makes sense to have your potential new home carefully inspected by a licensed home inspector to protect you and your investment.

For the buyer, the home inspector examines the property to determine whether the house is sound. It covers roof, structure, electrical, heating, cooling, insulation, and plumbing. The home inspection is an important part of assessing the price of the home as it allows buyers to consider the additional costs of work needed.

For your own protection, a home inspection is also recommended if you're selling your home. For the seller, inspections are recommended so that the buyer is aware before the deal closes of any defects in the property and anticipated costs of repair, or so that the seller has time before listing the property to do the necessary work to correct problems identified in the inspection. The last thing a seller needs is a hidden problem to be discovered before the deal closes, which could jeopardize the deal or dictate a price reduction.

I routinely work with home inspectors and can suggest a couple of names.

What real estate fees are charged?
In general, a five percent commission is paid by the seller, split between the agent who represents the seller and the agent representing the buyer.

Do I need a lawyer?
Definitely. Both the buyer and the seller need real estate lawyers to prepare the transaction documents, perform other required legal tasks, and officially close the deal.

We routinely work with lawyers on both sides of the transaction and can suggest a couple of names.

What is a Status Certificate?
A Status Certificate is a report on the current status of a condominium corporation. The Status Certificate package usually includes; Declaration, by-laws and rules; Budget and financial statement; Declaration, by-laws and rules; Insurance certificate; Summary of reserve fund study and proposed plan for future funding, etc. Usually an offer is condition on receiving a status certificate which should be newly ordered and reviewed by your lawyer before moving forward with the deal.   

What happens to my deposit while I await closing?
Your deposit is held in the listing brokerage's trust account until closing. You may be entitled to interest on your deposit and that would be outlined in your agreement of purchase and sale documents.

How long should a closing take?
The most common timeline is between 30-90 days from the date of acceptance of the offer, but this can vary. We have closed deals in a week, and we have also had longer closings of 5 months.

How does Realtor.ca work? Is it the same as the information you have?
Realtor.ca imports its information from the Toronto Real Estate Board where we find our information. There could be a time lag of up to 2-3 days. Agents receive the information much faster. In our fast-paced market, time is critical, so it is important to have an agent searching for your next home so that you do not miss anything.

How much do I have to put down on a property when making an offer?
Offer deposits are generally 5% - 10% of the offer price. I recommend having a certified cheque or bank draft accompany your offer. This will show your seriousness about buying the property and therefore make your offer stronger.