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02/07 - Buying

10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Toronto Home (Beyond the Obvious!)

Aspects to Your Home Acquisition You May Not Have Thought About:

Okay, okay, you’ve been hunting for a new house for weeks. Maybe months. You have seen some luxurious homes, some dumpy ones and everything in between.

Almost every home has some pros and some cons (or at least some long-term potential).

You’ve considered various locations, commute times, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the basement’s ceiling heights, and the fenced-in backyard.

And, after some serious searching which included some high points and likely some low points, you’re feeling ready to offer on “the one.”

In fact, this is the first house that you’re feeling good about – it checks the right amount of boxes, it has the potential to add value, and it aligns with your budget. Winning!

And knowing the Toronto real estate market runs at lightning speed, you’ve gotta’ scramble to get your offer to purchase pulled together ASAP.

Sometimes this can be stressful and chaotic to juggle between your work commitments, your parents’ ongoing check-ins, and your real-estate brokers’ never-ending phone calls. But, that’s okay – you’ve got this.

However, outside of the obvious decisions to make, like your offer price, the deposit amount, and workable closing date, you should consider other aspects of your home acquisition before putting the pedal to the metal.

If you want to ensure you’ve crossed your “T’s”s and dotted your “I’s” before spending your entire life savings on your down payment (yup, I have a flair for the dramatic), you may want to read our Top 10 checklist below!

Between you and I, your Real Estate professional should be doing this research on your behalf. It’s their fiduciary duty to look after your best interests. This actionable lineup should be on top of their minds. If not? I would consider alternative representation from someone who knows how to go over and above!

Are you ready for me to hit you up with 10 Things to Consider Before Buying a Toronto Home (Beyond the Obvious)?

1/ Cross-Checking Against Public-Record

Your real-estate representative should be cross-checking the information on the MLS Listing against the public record on GeoWarehouse. GeoWarehouse is a web-based, centralized property information resource that real estate agents can access to provide research tools and professional reports. It grants an overview of the home’s history, property details from Land Registry & MPAC, demographics data and much more. If there are discrepancies between MLS and Geowarehouse, it’s essential to clarify this in advance of offering. Wouldn’t you agree?

2/ Front Yard Parking

Important to double-check that your front pad parking space is a legal one! As of 2007, new or unlicensed front yard parking pads have been banned in most downtown Toronto. In light of this, it’s essential to ensure your front pad parking space is licensed, registered with the city and legal. At present, owners of legal parking pads pay the city about $270 per year and are often identified by a small, white, city-issued plaque displayed on the owner’s porch or house front.

A quick call to the City’s Office of Permits and Enforcement can help an agent or buyer (or even a seller, if there is any confusion) to find out the status of a license and what steps need to be taken to transfer that license to the new owner:

Permits & Enforcement – Off-Street Parking
Office Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Telephone: 416-392-7768

Note that the license does not follow the property; a new property owner will need to apply to transfer the license agreement. If you’re interested in learning more about the ins & outs of Front Yard Parking Pads, we have a great article about it here.

3/ Street Parking Permits

If there is no parking with the home and you’re curious about street permit availability, the fastest way to double-check is to email with the property’s address. In our personal experience, we receive a prompt confirming if permits are still available for the street, how much they cost and if there is a waiting list. Please be sure to verify availability before you offer, as street permits are not always available depending on your neck of the woods!

4/ Termite Inspection

Not every Pre-list Home Inspection Report addresses this topic – so it’s essential to take a deeper dive. Termites are subterranean insects that cause property damage by eating away homes from the inside out. Yup, it’s a thing. They feed off wood and find many ways to get into your property. Termites live in colonies 30 feet underground and dig upwards and into homes searching for food. Since these little pests live inside walls, identifying termites isn’t easy.

However, suppose you’re considering offering a property that may be in an active termite neighbourhood? In that case, it’s worth going the extra mile to find out if your new potential home (or surrounding homes) have been formerly treated for termites.

We have had a great experience with Aetna Pest Control, which keeps excellent records of affected areas and can guide you in the right direction if there are any red flags!

5/ Developmental Applications

Honestly? It scares me to think how few real estate agents and their buyers research development applications before offering on a property. I mean, if your new home is close to a parking lot, commercial buildings or old warehouses, it’s worth looking into, no? Or perhaps the little bungalow beside you is going to be torn down for a new custom build?

Don’t get me wrong; we love densification around here. It can be a great thing. From our experience, it’s just always better to have your eyes wide open should there be potential projects in the pipeline. You can research what’s happening in the local area by hopping onto Development Projects on the website. It’s easy to see what projects are in the Community Planning Phase, what applications are with the Committee of Adjustments and what sites are being reviewed by the Local Appeal Body. Project details will include the number of storeys and suites, park planning, commercial zoning, public art, and so much more. Future development may affect your view, impede natural light, negate value or create construction chaos for the years to come. An essential cross-check, wouldn’t you agree?

6/ Transit Applications

Now, we all know the Toronto transit plan changes month over month. But it would be helpful to know if a new LRT line could be running through your backyard in a few years, wouldn’t you say? Much like development, transit is a great thing. It’s a necessity! Additionally, transit infrastructure can increase your property value significantly. However, it would be best if you were mindful of its location, vibration, frequency, sound, and the subsequent construction pandemonium. We all know what it’s like when we get stuck driving on Eglinton West at the Allen (big mistake every time). To get a better sense of the planning in the works, be sure to explore the Metro Linx Page as a starting point!.

If you’re hoping to acquire a home near existing transit, I would also recommend looking up the schedule for the trains, buses, or streetcars to know if there is any potential for sound pollution or traffic issues.

7/ School Zoning

Just because the MLS Listing says your new potential home is in a great school district doesn’t mean it’s true! Seriously.

You can easily locate the neighbourhood schools by clicking the “School Locator” using the Toronto District School Board website. Punch in the postal code, and you’re good to go! Once you’ve identified your local school options, you can cross-check them against the Fraser Institutes’ school ranking system HERE. In our experience, the ranking system is a little behind, and some excellent schools don’t rank well using this method. If that’s the case, take the time to pick up the phone and talk to the school principal or parents with children attending the area schools to find out more. The quality of your neighbourhood schools can drastically influence property values – so, if you’re in a family planning stage, do not overlook this advanced research.

8/ Neighbours

Yes, you want to know who your neighbours are! And, you’re not a bad person for trying to find out! If you have to share a wall or a fence with someone for the next 5-10 years, you may want to do some digging. Of course, neighbours come and go, but the bad ones seem to stick it out for some reason.

Things to watch out for:
-How well maintained is your neighbour’s home?
-Do they have junk everywhere?
-Are their lawn and car well maintained?
-Can you smell cigarette smoke or weed?
-Are their dogs barking?
-Is there soundproofing or double masonry between the shared wall?
-Is it a single-family living there, or is it a tenanted multi-family property?
-Can the listing agent provide additional information?

Honestly, “spidey senses” pay off down the road! You can thank me later!

9/ Rental Contracts & Buy-Outs

It’s common for homeowners to rent their Hot Water Tank via their provider (Enbridge, Enercare etc.). However, you’ll learn that a homeowner has a rent-to-own contract for their furnace, air conditioner or heat pump from time to time. If this is the case, it is an absolute must to score the monthly rental fees, a copy of the contracts and the buy-out information. You may be shocked to find out what fees are involved. It’s not uncommon to see buy-out costs at $15,000 for an A/C and furnace unit – something you want to know about in advance.

In some cases (not all), you may be able to negotiate that the Seller buys out the equipment on or before closing using the proceeds from the sale. This is something to keep in mind when reviewing your options regarding rental contracts.

10/ Review of Property Survey

Reviewing a land survey is like reading Latin! They are often hard to read and even more challenging to interrupt. However, it’s essential to understand where your fence line runs, your garage is situated, the width of your mutual drive, potential right of ways and possible easements and encroachments. No one is expecting you to be able to navigate a survey solo. But, your agent should be able to help take a closer look. And, if they need assistance with the more delicate print, a real estate lawyer can likely help put your mind at ease. Additionally, surveys are not available for every property, and some lose validity if they are not recent – so don’t worry! Things like Title Search & Title Insurance protect you against a lot of these known unknowns – so you’re not hanging out there to dry!

So, what do you think? Is this a solid over & above checklist or what? If I missed something and you want to add a few ideas into the mix, just say the word – I am all ears over here!

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or someone in between, our customized buying process ensures all your specific needs are met.

Everyone handles the buying process differently. And, we understand that. We pride ourselves on our flexibility in remaining an objective third party. Fox Marin uses their hands-on experience to provide sound advice before, during, and after your purchase.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned flipper, or somewhere in between, you can trust our team to guide you through the experience of buying a home in Toronto while delivering unparalleled professionalism, integrity, service, and the right amount of personal TLC with every interaction.

Of course, if you have additional questions, feedback or comments about this list or anything Toronto Real Estate, feel free to reach out. Contact Us (We’re Nice)!

This article was written by Kori Marin, Managing partner here at Fox Marin Associates. For high-energy real estate aficionado Kori Marin, a well-lived life is achieved by maintaining an “all-in” attitude that realizes every last ounce of one’s full potential. This mindset has driven successful results in every aspect of her life – from her corporate sales and account management experience to her international travels, to her years of fitness training and leadership – and is the hallmark of the exceptional work that she does on behalf of her clients in the residential real estate sector in downtown Toronto.