You may want to read the previous chapter on specific home categories here.
In this chapter, we list some of the basic questions to help you look for your Toronto home. Despite the fact that you will (based on the zooming in approach) probably look for a neighbourhood first, we start with the list of questions about the house for your browsing convenience.
Photo by James Tworow
Important Questions about the House
- How much do the utilities amount to every month?
- Does the house create any of its energy itself? Is it properly insulated for the Canadian winter?
- What type of energy is used for heating – gas or electricity?
- In what state are the major systems of the house?
- Which appliances and chattels are included with the house?
- What were the major repairs on the house and how long ago did they take place? Were the upgrades done to improve the home, or were they needed because of a recurring environmental/construction problem?
- Has water ever damaged the basement or the house’s foundation? Have the previous owners had any problems with insects or other pests?
- Are there signs of damage, wear, or poor construction inside built-in cabinets and closets? What about the baseboards, window casings, door frames and walls – are there any cracks or uneven seams to suggest the house has moved since it was built?
- What is the seller’s motivation for selling the house? How long have they lived in it before they decided to sell? Find out answers to these questions, if possible, so that you are sure you are not getting a lemon of a property.
- Might special assessments or other unexpected fees arise during the purchasing process?
Important Questions about the Neighbourhood
There are plenty of neighbourhoods in Toronto. What do you need to know about your target neighbourhood to make an informed moving decision?
- What schools do children in this neighbourhood attend?
- If you like variety in your home entertainment, what is the availability of cable, Internet, and telephone providers at that address?
- What is the crime rate in the neighbourhood and how far is the closest fire station, hospital and police station?
- What is the property tax in the area? (Calculate also your land transfer tax if applicable.)
- What is the political representation like in this particular area? Is the local councillor effective in advocating for the neighbourhood?
How close do you like to have your neighbours? This is an important question, since the answer to it may automatically filter the available options. Condos, duplex or multi-unit homes, townhouses and housing co-operatives automatically bring you closer to your neighbours and are sometimes unavoidable in urban centres. In many cases, you will have to share more than just hallways and the roof deck; condos and co-ops usually have their own Board, shared ownership of amenities, and community meetings. On the other hand, the Board should be able to take care of most issues and maintenance on their own, so you might not have to get directly involved with the little things.
If you indeed decide to go with a condo, you are strongly encouraged to peek into past meeting minutes to find out about the governance culture and decision history at the condo of your choice. If you find out that a handful of malcontents have been stalling innovation or renovation, or that the maintenance of common areas has been fiercely discussed in every single meeting for the past year, this should warn you that the community may not be the right one for you after all. If nothing else, the meeting minutes will give you an overview of any big steps the community is planning and of the history (and steepness) of any fee increases.
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Now that you know which questions to ask yourself, your agent, and the seller before deciding for a home, learn some tips for touring houses in Toronto.
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