The most fun part of the home buying experience is definitely the house hunt! The process of hunting for your dream house or condo in Saskatoon can be divided into four steps.
Refining your wishlist
Assembling your support system
Searching in person
Check out each of the steps below in our complete guide to house hunting in Saskatoon:
Have you taken the time to think about what you want in your ideal home? Taking the time to identify what your needs and wants are is a critical step in the house hunting process. Distinguishing between what is must-have, and what is a nice-to-have will help you narrow down your search and help you to determine which is the right house to put an offer on.
We suggest that you take the time to consider the list of questions below:
What is the budget you are able to work within for your new home? (If you haven’t yet been pre-approved for financing, we suggest that you read our Ultimate Guide to Home Financing before starting your house hunt)
What neighbourhoods are you interested in searching within?
Does the age of the home matter to you? For example, are you looking for a brand new build that no one else has lived in, or do you prefer an older home with lots of character?
Are you looking for a move-in ready home, or are you willing and able to do some upgrading?
What style of home are you looking for (Example: bi-level/ bungalow/ 2 storey)?
What size of home would you ideally want (Square Footage)?
How many bedrooms do you need? Do they all need to be on the same floor, or can they be spread out on different levels?
How many bathrooms do you need?
Are you looking for any other types of rooms (gym, home office, bonus room, theatre, sun room)?
Do you have a preference on flooring (carpet, hardwoods, tiles, laminate etc..)
Are there any special features in your kitchen you are looking for? (appliances, countertops, cabinets etc.)
What are you looking for in an outdoor space? Do you prefer low maintenance, or room to create your perfect garden oasis?
Do you have a preference on the orientation of the home (direction home faces)?
Have you thought about your heating and cooling preferences? (Central heating, air conditioning, fireplaces, in-floor heat)
Do you need a garage? Would you prefer it to be an attached or detached garage?
Do you need other storage for large recreational items (boat or RV storage)?
Do you need additional space in a basement? Do you need the basement to be developed or have a basement suite to be able to generate additional income?
Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that you will find a home that has every single feature you are looking for that also fits within your budget. Being able to compromise is a big part of the house hunting process. Typically, you will end up having to choose between price, size, location, and finishes. Knowing what’s most important to you in a home will help you make your final decision.
Purchasing a house or condo is one of the biggest decisions of your life. You want to have a team of qualified people supporting you throughout the whole process. You’ll want to start by picking an experienced and qualified Real Estate Agent in Saskatoon who works exclusively for you.
When you work with Tait Real Estate to find your home, you will not need to pay any fees for our services on the purchase. Real Estate Agents are paid by commission. The home seller pays the full commission for the services of both their own listing agent and the buyer's agent.
You’ll also need to choose a mortgage lender to take you through your financing options, and a lawyer to help with the legal aspects of the purchase. There are hundreds of choices out there (of varying quality), so do your research and don’t be afraid to interview multiple people. Take a look at our list of preferred partners - https://taitrealestate.ca/our-partners.html
Once you have determined your wishlist for your ideal home search, your Realtor will set you up with an auto-email. This is a customized search of the entire MLS database for listings that match your criteria. Once the system finds a listing that matches your criteria, you will receive an email with a link to your own personal portal to view the listing data. This will ensure that you are notified immediately when a matching property comes on the market so that you won’t risk missing out on the perfect home.
At Tait Real Estate, Jamie and Ross have developed relationships over the years with an extensive network of seller's agents in Saskatoon. They are always keeping an eye out for homes that might work for you, even if they haven’t yet hit the market.
You can also search for listings yourself online as well. Here are best resources for online house hunting:
Tait Real Estate home search tool – Of course we’re a bit biased, but our MLS listing search tool is super easy to use and includes a lot more information than what you’ll find on realtor.ca. Click here to check it out.
Realtor.ca - is a website owned and managed by the Canadian Real Estate Association. All licensed Realtors have access to the MLS (multiple listing services) which is where selling agents will post their listings. The website allows you to search for available properties for sale directly from the MLS. It is good to note that the realtor.ca website is usually a day or two behind what’s happening in the market, so you are better off getting listings sent to you directly from your agent, but it can still be a good tool to explore what’s available in the market.
Here are some tips we’ve gathered over the years for your online house hunt:
Expect the unexpected. Be sure to keep an open mind and expect to be surprised. Photos can be misleading as to what the house looks like in real life. Remember that a photo can’t capture things like strong odors, or loud noises. Also, photographers know how to capture a home in its best light, and can minimize the look of wear and tear and negative features.
Read between the lines. Sometimes descriptions can be written with a flair for the dramatic, so you need to be able to read between the lines. ‘Ready to put your decorator touch on it’ means it's probably fairly run down and needs a lot of upgrading.
List price isn’t always market price. Remember that the asking price can be very different from the sale price. Just because they are asking that price for the home, doesn't mean it reflects the true market value. It's always best to have your agent give you an analysis of a home, in order to determine what the market price should be, or how hot the market is. Depending on the state of the market the home might sell for more than asking price.
Be condo savvy. If you’re in the market for a condo, you will want to take note of the condo fees. What’s included in the condo fees varies from building to building, so it isn’t always easy to compare condos. A property with a lower condo fee might still mean more monthly costs if it doesn’t include things like heat and electricity. You should also ask about the reserve fund with the condo board that you should review with your lawyer, to hopefully protect against surprise costs in the future.
Know your terminology. The real estate industry is used to using lots of acronyms. Take some time to learn how to read an MLS listing, and when in doubt contact Jamie or Ross for help.
A property can look perfect on paper, and you can be lured in by the glossy photos, but you won’t really know if it's the right home for you until you check it out in person.
Once you’ve identified some listings online that you think match your wishlist, your Realtor will set up appointments to view the homes. This is your opportunity to get a feel for the neighbourhood, the location, and ask any questions you might have about the property. Sometimes what you thought you wanted on your wishlist, isn’t exactly what you end up choosing once you see a home in person. Most often, people will walk into a home and just have a good feeling about it.
To view a listing in person, you have to be accompanied by your real estate agent, or you can attend a public open house. Keep in mind that not all properties will have open houses, or they will only have one or two when the property is first listed, so it's best to work with your real estate agent to set up private viewings.
Here are some tips we’ve gathered over the years for checking out homes in person:
Check out the neighbourhood. Take some time to explore the neighbourhood. Drive around. Take a walk or bike ride. Locate the closest schools, parks, restaurants and grocery stores. Check out the homes around the one you are looking at and maybe even check out the neighbours. Make a point of going to a store, cafe, or park in the area and ask the locals some questions about the neighbourhood.
Experience the negative features. Every home and neighbourhood has a few negative features. You should make sure to plan to experience them in person. Is the home of your dreams near the railroad tracks? It’s probably a good idea to check out the house when the trains are running. Thinking of buying near an event centre, or public park? Make a plan to check it out when there is an event going on and see how it affects parking, safety, etc..
Check it out at different times. A home is always going to look better when the sun is shining through the windows, but it’s important to get a feel for the home and the neighbourhood during the day AND at night.
Wear the right shoes. I know this seems trivial, but seriously, you’ll be taking your shoes on and off multiple times, so save yourself the hassle of lace-up shoes. We would also suggest wearing socks in case the floors are cold, or less than perfectly clean.
Take notes and photos. If you are planning to view multiple properties, it's a good idea to take notes of the features of each one that you visit. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget the specific features of a home once you’ve seen a few.
Look past the yuck. We are occasionally surprised to see the state of cleanliness and organization in some of the homes we view. You need to keep in mind that you will be able to put your own touch on the property, and a little elbow grease or a qualified cleaning professional can go a long way. You shouldn’t let someone else's crazy decorating, outdated tastes and lack of housekeeping get in the way of finding your perfect home in Saskatoon.
You aren’t buying their stuff. We see this all the time. Buyers can get turned off, or swayed into purchasing a property simply by the interior furnishings. You need to remember that the home likely doesn’t come furnished, and you will be moving in your own stuff. So if you love or hate the home because it's been beautifully staged, or you hate their furniture, take a minute and try to imagine the space with your furniture and style.
Knowledge & Experience
Jamie and Ross have over 35 years in combined real estate and residential construction experience. In addition to being a REALTOR, Jamie Tait is a certified Red Seal Journeyman Carpenter. He graduated from SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) and started his career in residential and commercial construction before getting his Real Estate license.
Ross Tait has over 25 years of experience in general contracting and home renovations and has a keen eye for detail. They are both able to confidently guide you through your house hunt and identify properties with the greatest opportunity for ROI (Return on Investment).
An Extensive Network
At Tait Real Estate, Jamie and Ross have developed relationships over the years with an extensive network of seller's agents in Saskatoon. They are always keeping an eye out for any homes that might work for you, even if they haven’t yet hit the market.
A Supportive Partner in the Journey
We are happy to be your house-hunting partner and will work around YOUR schedule. We will help you to determine your wishlist, assist you in your home search, and get you access to private viewings of homes that are on the market, or even some that aren’t. We are happy to answer any questions along the way, and advise you on the whole house hunting process. Remember, buyers don’t pay any Realtor fees.
So you’re ready to buy a new home? Whether you’re a first time home buyer or you’re looking to upgrade or downsize, the first step in the home buying process is financing. In Canada home buyers need to have a minimum of a 5% down payment but there’s a lot more to know when it comes to financing your home. In this guide, we will cover the main three steps in the home financing process:
There are a lot of options out there when you are choosing a mortgage lender. We recommend that you talk to a couple of different mortgage lenders to see what they offer and to make sure that their communication style works for you. There are three main categories of mortgage lenders.
We compiled the pro’s and con’s of each type below:
The major banks in Canada are nicknamed ‘The Big Five’. This includes the following banks: Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and Bank of Montreal (BMO).
Pros of lending from a Bank:
It’s familiar - If you normally deal with a bank, you will likely be familiar with your lending representative and depending on your length of time at the bank, and your assets in your account, they may offer you special rates and options.
You trust the brand - The big banks offer the security of a major organization and brand recognition. Major banks are seen as being more “safe” in the long term.
Keep it simple - You might find it more convenient to have all your financial products including savings, chequing, investments, and mortgages with the same financial institution.
Cons of lending from a Bank
Higher Rates - Rates at the banks are sometimes higher than the lowest rate available from a different provider. If you are unable to negotiate a discount with your regular bank, you may end up paying more over the term of your mortgage.
No shopping around - A bank representative will offer their in-house lending products when offering you a mortgage. By going with a bank, you won't be able to compare rates across different lenders.
They won't negotiate for you - Sometimes your bank representative won’t immediately offer you the best interest rate because they want to make the highest commission on the sale. You may have to negotiate with them for the best deal.
Harder to get approved - Your bank may have more strict rules in place for approving mortgages. If you don't have an extensive credit history, your credit score is poor or you are working with a low income, you may get approved easier with a credit union or a broker.
Credit unions are similar to banks in many ways. They are both financial institutions, but the main difference is that credit unions are owned by their members instead of shareholders. This means that their primary goal is not to seek a profit, it is to serve the best interest of their members.
Pros of lending from a Credit Union
Easier to get Approved - A credit union may be more willing to lend to people with poor credit scores, low incomes and less cash for down payments.
Customer Service - Credit unions’ top priority is to serve their members. Because of this, you may find the lending process to be more catered to your needs, and be more comfortable overall.
Lower Rates & Fees - Credit unions generally take any profits they earn and invest it back into their products and services, This is why they can sometimes offer lower interest rates for loans, and charge less fees.
Cons of lending from a Credit Union
Membership Required - You must become a member of a credit union to access their products and services. Each credit union has different fees & requirements to join.
Fewer locations - In general, Credit unions typically have fewer branch locations than the banks. Although, some of the larger credit unions have merged over the years and have branch locations across the province.
Dated Technology - Credit unions have the reputation for being a bit behind when it comes to technology. Although, recently we have seen that they are catching up to banks with mobile apps and other digital services, so this might not be a con depending on the credit union.
At Tait Real Estate, we have had many happy clients use Hilary Maugham from Affinity Credit Union.
Name: Hilary Maugham
Company: Affinity credit union
Phone Number: +1 (306) 260-3931
Pros of lending from a mortgage broker
Save Time and Effort - Brokers have access to a variety of different lenders including banks, private lenders, and other financial institutions. They will do the hard work for you and shop around for the most competitive rates.
More options for getting approved - Mortgage brokers generally have lots of knowledge, tools and options at their disposal to help you find the right mortgage. They often can find a mortgage solution even if you have poor credit, or a low income.
Service - You should expect them to assist you with completing your application, provide helpful advice and keep in touch throughout the entire process.
Cons of lending with a mortgage broker
Less standard terms and conditions - Mortgages also come with terms and conditions including prepayment terms, porting rules, payment deferral options, penalty clauses, etc. The lowest rate a broker can find may not come with the best terms and conditions which could end up costing you more down the road. Make sure you ask lots of questions and understand exactly what you are getting yourself into.
Commission conflict of interest - Sometimes mortgage brokers deal with a potential conflict of interest based on commissions. For example, if a specific lender pays the broker more commision based on the number of sales they make, that broker may push their clients towards that lender more often.
Access to non-broker lenders - Some banks do not pay mortgage brokers a commission. A mortgage broker would therefore not have any incentive to check for the best rates with this lender. If this lender happens to have the best rate, you could potentially be missing out.
At Tait Real Estate we really enjoy working with Deb Murdoch from TMG, The Mortgage Group.
Name: Deb Murdoch
Company: TMG, The Mortgage Group
Phone Number: 306-222-7900
Once you’ve determined which lender you want to use, the next step to buying your home in Saskatoon is to find out how much budget you have to work with. Whichever lender you choose will look at your income, your debts and the cash you have available for a down payment. You will have to provide documentation to prove your income and credit history. Your lender will provide you with a mortgage pre-approval in writing (generally valid for 90 or 120 days) and will generally include an interest rate guarantee.
We highly recommend getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you even start your house hunt, to ensure that you don’t fall in love with a house that is over your budget. This will help you determine your price range of homes you should be targeting in your search.
Buying a home is a big step, and getting a mortgage can seem intimidating. There are quite a few decisions you will have to make when you are applying for financing: Mortgage term, amortization, interest rate, type of mortgage and terms and conditions. We’ve outlined each of these terms below to help you make the best mortgage decisions.
The mortgage term is the length of time that your mortgage agreement is in effect at your agreed upon interest rate. This is typically between 6 months to 5 years. When the initial mortgage term is up, you are responsible for renewing your financing, or paying for the remaining balance in full.
There are a few things to consider when you are choosing a mortgage term. For example, If you were to choose a short term, like 6 months to a year, and interest rates increase drastically in that time frame, would you still be able to afford your mortgage payments when you finance for a new term at a higher rate?
Or conversely, if you were to choose a longer term, like 4 or 5 years, and interest rates decrease significantly in that time frame, will you regret having locked in your rate and paying more overall?
The amortization period is the length of time it will take to pay off your entire mortgage loan amount. Most people cannot afford to pay off the entire principal of a large mortgage in a single mortgage term. To reduce monthly payments, lenders amortize the mortgage payments over a much longer time, often as long as 25 years. Most people will renew their mortgage several times during the amortization period. Down the road, if you decide you want to pay off your mortgage sooner or later than you originally thought, you have the option to alter the amortization depending on the market and your financial situation. The longer the amortization period, the lower your mortgage payments will be. But you also need to remember that the longer the amortization, the more you’ll pay in interest overall.
Each time you make a mortgage payment you are paying a portion of the principal and a portion of the interest owed on the mortgage. At the beginning of your mortgage term, you will likely pay more towards interest than principal each month. Over time, you will pay more towards the principal balance and less towards interest. The faster you can pay down the remaining principal balance, the less total interest you’ll pay.
You should also note that If you make a down payment of less than 20%, you will be required to take out mortgage insurance, which increases your monthly payment.
There are several ways you can pay down your mortgage faster:
Change your payment schedule - For example consider paying biweekly instead of twice a month or monthly.
Make pre-payments - If your mortgage terms allow for lump sum pre-payments, consider making them whenever you have a bit of extra cash laying round.
Interest is the cost of borrowing money. It is one of the biggest factors in determining how much you will pay per month and over the lifetime of your mortgage. Interest rates fluctuate with the economy. There are two types of interest rates used in mortgages: fixed-rate and variable-rate:
Fixed-rate mortgage – A fixed mortgage rate is one that stays the same throughout the duration of your mortgage term. This means your interest rate will not change for the term of your mortgage. With this option, you lock in how much of your monthly payment goes to the principal vs. going to interest. Fixed-rate mortgages are good to consider when interest rates are likely to go up, as you eliminate the risk of paying higher interest rates.
Variable-rate mortgage – There are two types of variable-rate mortgages. The first one is attached to the banks Prime interest rate, which means your interest rate and your payment will fluctuate if the Prime rate goes up or down. The second one has a consistent payment – BUT the amount that goes towards repaying the principal (vs the interest) part of your mortgage floats in relationship to the bank’s prime interest rate.
Conventional mortgage – A conventional mortgage is a loan for no more than 80% of the purchase price (or appraised value) of the property. You generally need to come up with the other 20% as a down payment.
We know summer may not officially be here until June 20th, however in Saskatchewan, summer unofficially begins when the last of the ice leaves the numerous lakes across the province. We are definitely enjoying taking advantage of the warmer weather, and getting to be outside after a few months of being cooped up.
One of the most common questions we've been asked over the past few months is “how’s the real estate market been during COVID-19”. Well the answer we would have given in March and early April is very different from the answer we would give you now. In the first month after the shutdown was announced, our phones were basically silent and the emails were trickling in. However since mid April, interest from buyers looking for homes has picked up dramatically. Conversely, the number of listings are down by about 20% over last year. Last year at this time there were more than 1,900 homes on the market and this year we’re at just over 1,500 homes. It would seem that the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 shutdown has influenced homeowners' decisions to have their home on the market. This smaller supply of homes has changed the supply and demand equation that normally drives the marketplace. Low interest rates, and the reduction in the qualifying rate has encouraged buyers to enter the market. We are seeing in some cases multiple offers and some homes selling for over asking price. In our opinion, it could be a great time to consider listing your home in the market based on the low inventory. And if you're looking to buy a home, low interest rates make it an appealing time to consider starting your house hunt.
In early May, we started implementing some safety procedures that helped us to meet with clients, and show homes more safely. Some of these procedures include: practicing safe distancing, restricting the number of people viewing the home at one time, asking clients not to touch any surfaces, and using hand sanitizer.
We’ve continued filming Thirsty Thursday every week using Zoom. Check out one of our latest episodes filmed via social distancing below. We hope everyone is enjoying the start to summer and is staying healthy.