— We take our content seriously. This article was written by a real person at BREL.
One of the best parts about working with a REALTOR to buy a home is all the support and resources you can access after you’ve moved into your new home. While this isn’t a standard part of the REALTOR relationship, if you’ve chosen to work with a great agent – one who prioritizes your relationship over the transaction – you’ll have a great go-to resource for all things related to houses/condos/neighbourhood/real estate.
Here are just some of the questions we regularly get asked by our past clients (and are more than happy to answer):
- Can you recommend a good handyman/plumber/electrician/roofer/drywaller/pest control company/general contractor/floor installer/cleaner/painter/etc.? Your realtor is intimately involved in pre-sale renovations and can connect you with their top home service people.
- Should I renovate my bathroom/kitchen/basement? If you’re renovating for the sheer sake of enjoying it more yourself, go for it…but if you’re hoping your renovation will add value to your home too, check in with your REALTOR. They know your house, your neighbours’ houses and neighbourhood… [Related: How Do Renovations Affect Value? and 19 Pre-Sale Home Improvements To Avoid ]
- Should I build an addition/dig down the basement/ build a laneway house/install a pool? Big renovations are big decisions and impact the value of your home. If you’re considering a big renovation and wondering if it’s worth the $$, ask your REALTOR.
- Should I buy or rent a new furnace? While part of that decision will depend on your financial situation, rental contracts affect the eventual sale price of your home, so it’s probably worth a conversation with your agent.
- What should I do if my neighbour is always hosting loud parties/illegally Airbnb-ing their condo/otherwise being obnoxious? If you’re having neighbour problems, your agent can likely give you some options – we’ve seen a lot.
- What colour should I paint my living room/entrance/front door/etc? Your agent knows your home and knows the colours that help or hinder a future sale…and if you work with a team with in-house designers like us, you’ll be able to access their expertise too.
- My house got re-assessed for taxes – what do I do? If you’ve been re-assessed (this is common after big renovations), you have options – and your REALTOR will be able to provide resources and point you in the right direction.
- There’s a problem with XYZ….REALTORS know houses (and house issues!) and you’ll be surprised at the help they can provide, whether it’s helping you diagnose the issue or figure out what kind of home professional to call.
- Do you have a copy of my paperwork? Mine is in storage! Sometimes, you need to access your real estate paperwork after the sale has closed. Fear not, agents keep everything for a really long time.
- A parking spot/locker is up for sale in my condo. Should I buy it? It’s not uncommon to see condo owners selling off a parking spot or locker privately, but is it worth the $$? You’ll need a lawyer to help you navigate the closing of an owned parking spot or locker, but your agent can help you value it.
- I’m thinking of selling my home in 1-2 years. How should I prepare? This is literally one of our favourite questions! Sure, you can get your house or condo ready to sell in a week or two, but it’s way less stressful if you plan for it in advance.
- How much is my house worth? Yes, can you ask your REALTOR this question, even if you’re not thinking of selling. It’s always a good idea to stay on top of the value of what is likely your biggest investment.
- Where’s the best pizza/craft brewery/spot for a date night/cafe in my new neighbourhood? REALTORS live and breathe where they work and know the hidden neighbourhood gems (and there’s nothing we love more than sharing!)
- Are you interested in sponsoring the street festival/my kid’s school fundraiser? Agents are always looking for opportunities to be more involved with the community, so don’t be afraid to ask!
- A new condo tower was just approved next door. Is this good or bad news? Talk to your agent – a new condo could help or hinder the value of your condo, depending on where it’s going up, how it will affect your view and sunlight, the kind of project, who the builder is….
- My 3-year-old will be in school next year. What are my options? Your agent can be a resource about the schools in your neighbourhood, from public to private and everything in between.
- I’m having a fence dispute with my neighbour – where is my property line? While most Toronto homes don’t have existing surveys, your agent can confirm whether or not one already exists, and if it doesn’t, can refer you to surveyors.
- How much did the house down the street sell for? Sure, you can look sold prices up online if you’re willing to part with your personal info (and risk getting stalked and spammed), but your agent can do a lot more than just give you the price – they can help you understand why it sold for the price it sold for- and provide perspective on the demand in your neighbourhood and how that affects the value of your home. Note: you don’t need a reason to ask for the sold price…just being curious is ok too.
Real Estate-Related Questions
- Should I buy an investment property? The Toronto real estate market has created immense wealth for investors, so if you’re thinking of buying an income property, talk to your agent stat. They’ll be able to give you a sense of what’s happening in the investor market right now, help you understand how much it will cost (and the kind of returns to expect) and recommend specific neighbourhoods and types of properties that can be profitable.
- Should I upgrade to a new home? Contrary to popular belief, the answer is not always ‘yes’, even when you ask a REALTOR. Making a move is a huge decision, and if you trust your REALTOR, they’ll be able to add a different perspective to help you make a decision. [Related: Should I Sell My Investment Condo?]
- I’m moving in with my partner – should I sell my condo or rent it? Real estate moves are often triggered by life changes…moving-in together/breakinag-up, weddings, divorces, new babies, etc. We’ve seen it all and while there’s no right or wrong answer to this question, you may find it helpful to discuss with your REALTOR.
- Should I buy a second home or cottage? Experienced Toronto REALTORs will be able to discuss the pros/cons of buying a second property outside of the GTA and can likely connect you to local experts in the communities you’re considering. Pro Tip: Your city agent isn’t likely the best person to help you find the right rural property or cottage – hire a local REALTOR. [Related: Should I Buy a Second Home? ]
- My boyfriend/girlfriend/partner is moving into the house that I own…what do I need to know? While you’ll likely want to talk to your lawyer too, your agent should be able to provide some basic information to help get you through this transition.
- I’m getting divorced but I want to keep living in my home. It’s totally normal to call your agent for help, even if you aren’t planning on selling it. Your agent can give you a sense of how much it’s currently worth and put you in touch with appraisers, lawyers and mortgage brokers to help you make the transition.
- Should I renovate or move? Love it or list it? Your agent can help you understand your options and the potential costs.
- My teenager is going to university in another city next year..should I buy a home there? While it may be cheaper to buy than to rent, it’s a big decision with a lot of potential pitfalls. Talk to your trusted agent about the options and ask them to connect you with a local agent in your kid’s new city.
- My partner and I are breaking up and I need to find a new home, pronto! Most agents represent tenants too and may have access to short-term rentals.
- Can you help my parents/sibling/friend sell their home? If you have a great agent that you trust, don’t keep it to yourself! With over 65,000 agents in Toronto, finding a REALTOR can be overwhelming. If your agent isn’t the best fit for their needs, they’ll likely be able to recommend someone who is.
- I’m being relocated to Montreal for the next 12 months. How can you help? Your agent can recommend a trusted local REALTOR for you to work with in your new city and can provide options for your current home (including helping you find a tenant).
- How can I help my grown kid buy a home in Toronto? It’s not easy to get into Toronto’s real estate market and many parents have the means to help. Your agent can take you through your options (even if that purchase is years away).
- Should I get my real estate license? Some of our best recruits were past clients, and if you’re thinking of a real estate career, reach out to your REALTOR and get the inside scoop about what it’s really like.
- How’s the market? You don’t have to be buying or selling to ask your agent about the market. Understanding the headlines you see can help you plan your next move or help guide a friend or family member in theirs.
Financing and Money Questions
While your mortgage broker/lender is who you should direct your financing questions to, your REALTOR is a great person to ask general financing questions in between mortgage renewals.
- Should I lock in my variable-rate mortgage? If interest rates are low and expected to increase, you may want to consider the costs to lock in your rate.
- Should I refinance my home? If you’ve owned your home for a while and prices have increased, you may want to consider refinancing it to access the equity in your home to spend in other ways.
- Should I get a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)? Most mortgages allow you to secure a credit line against the equity in your home, up to 80% of the value of your home. HELOC’s are often used to access a downpayment for an investment property or vacation home or make major renovations.
- It’s time to renew my mortgage. Should I find a different lender? If you want to shop your mortgage renewal around for better rates, terms or service, ask your agent to recommend you to their top mortgage partners.
- How will my income taxes be impacted if I sell my home/my investment property/my second home? Sure, you’ll need to talk to your accountant – but your agent can give you the 101. [Related: Taxes and Real Estate]
- Should I rent out my basement? There are plenty of things to consider if you’re thinking of bringing in a tenant, so talk to your agent to help you understand the pros and cons, costs and benefits.
- Why is the value of my house on my MPAC tax notice so much lower than how much I paid? Your agent can help you understand how MPAC values your house and why.
- How much should I be saving now, for my next real estate upgrade? Let’s say you’re living in a one-bedroom condo right now and want your next move to be to a 3-bedroom house with a yard. What steps can you take now to help you make that dream come true?
- Why does my insurance company think my house is worth so much less than I paid? Insurance companies are concerned with how much it would cost to replace your house, so land value isn’t taken into consideration. Your agent can help you understand the value of your house vs. the value of the land it is built on.
- I’m planning on retiring in the next 3 years…what can I do to maximize the equity in my home? There are so many good answers to this question! Talk to your agent.
Your relationship with your REALTOR shouldn’t end when you move in – in fact, for BREL clients, closing time is just the beginning of a life-long relationship. Have a question? Ask your REALTOR.