Buying a Home in Muskoka

Searching for a Muskoka Home - Karen Acton“Home Buying” when you Google that phrase you will find about 100,000,000 results. What on earth can all that information say?  How much real information is there on the topic of “Home Buying” you may ask?

Clearly a lot of this information will be repetitive and largely irrelevant to you if you are looking to buy a home in Muskoka. It will be largely from the USA or another English speaking country and not useful to Ontario based Canadians where our real property laws are different and in some cases the way we transfer title to property may even be different.

So let’s refine the search to “Home Buying in Ontario Canada”? The result will be a much better and more manageable number ….about 5,000,000 results! It will not take more than a month or so to scan that for some nuggets of value!

Seriously though, there is a great deal of good information available on-line but the time it takes to mine that information, out of the vast river of nonsense, makes the task of researching something as important as home buying a daunting one.

As a Realtor working and living in Muskoka I believe I am well qualified to assist you. As part of the team at Royal LePage Lakes of Muskoka providing you with great information is a commitment we have made. It is my desire to save you from lost hours clicking through the internet seeking knowledge by providing it directly to you.

Here are my five most important things to think about before you buy.

MONEY

It seems like a no brainer but so often buyers jump the gun assuming that their finances are in place. They assume that they have enough down payment, good jobs, an inheritance, investments or just a mattress full of cash. But is that really all you need? NO you need a plan.

• You need to sit down and logically plan how you will finance your purchase. After all it is a large investment, for most, the largest investment they will make in many years perhaps even a life time.

• You need to determine if you need a mortgage and if so, speak with a bank or broker to see how much you qualify for and if there are any conditions your lender will place on you.

• If you do not need a mortgage perhaps you should still seek advice from a bank or investment advisor to determine if buying a property for cash is the best use of that money. You may find that it is better to invest the money in a different venue and still obtain a mortgage for the property purchase.

You need to make sure that you have all the funds you will need too. It is not just the down payment; there are legal fees, land transfer taxes and closing adjustments that will quickly add up.

LOCATION

Again this seems like a simple thing. You like this area and want to be there, what is the issue? But most property owners stay in one location for 10 years or more. What will you be doing in 10 years? It is impossible to predict accurately what our lives will hold for us, however we all have a vision of what we want and you should work with that.

• Will you have children? Will they go to school and is the school in the area a good one?

• Is being 10 miles out in the country for privacy, going to work when you have music lessons, soccer practice and karate 3 nights a week and only one family car?

• If your children are older will you want to be there when they are gone?

When trying to buy a waterfront property, people often spend months looking for a “child safe” lot, only to realize that in 3-4 years their children want a dock and deep water to jump into! Remember little children have to be watched at the water’s edge anyway, dock or beach makes no difference!

UTILITY

No not the utilities but the utility of the property you will need. The obvious things like number of bedrooms and bathrooms get taken care of easily but what about the less obvious?

• Do you work from home? Will good access to high speed internet be important? While internet access is not as big an issue as it used to be, there are still many rural locations where service is “slow” by today’s standards. Wireless and satellite options are often not available no matter what the supplier will tell you. In areas like Muskoka and Parry Sound the signals get deflected and there are some pockets that still have weak or intermittent service.

• Do you have family members with disabilities? Will they be able to visit and enjoy your home or cottage?

• Do you work shifts? What is the day time noise level like in the home for sleeping?

LIQUIDITY

Real estate is not always a liquid investment. This means that if something came up and you had to move, you cannot always sell your property quickly. Many factors will determine the time it will take to sell, some of which you cannot control. The current economic conditions will always be a factor you cannot control. You can however control a lot of things.

• Homes in desirable neighbourhoods will sell faster than those by train tracks or busy highways.

• Homes under power lines or close to landfills tend to take longer to sell although they may cost less to purchase. If you are not concerned by the proximity to the power lines you may be tempted to buy and get a great value. You do need to understand that you will likely take longer to sell when you decide that you want to move.

• Steep drive ways, lots of stairs to the lake, unusual floor plans all tend to make properties take longer to sell.

Again it is not possible to see the future but if you have a hectic life and feel that you may need to sell in a few years try not to put yourself in a property that is known to take longer to sell.

RESALE VALUE

Most people will want to increase their property value over the period they own their property. Time usually increases value and a home, which is simply well maintained, should still appreciate. However many of us plan on doing more. Finding a property that has the potential to be improved in a manner that will increase its resale value can be a great investment. When you are looking at properties keep in mind the potential it may have to be improved for eventual resale over time.

• If you are considering making a home larger be sure there is sufficient space on the lot to accommodate the improvements.

• Additional bedrooms, bathrooms and garage spaces will in most area increase value on a resale.

• Nice decks and patios are great but swimming pools can be a negative.

Remember to factor in the future development potential of your purchase. If you never do major improvements that is fine, but by knowing exactly what the potential is, you get to determine how much potential growth in value your property has.

Also, ongoing maintenance and upgrading of a home is imperative to keep up with the market. If you don’t spend, on average, approximately 2% of the value on your home per year, you’ll pay for it in a lower sale price when it comes time to sell.

Just to satisfy your curiosity if you Google “Home Buying in Muskoka Ontario” the number is reduced to a tiny 1.4 million.

Call me any time with your questions and I will not only be happy to help but will save you hours of “Google mining”.

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