Your Experienced Realtor Will Help
You’re looking to buy a house, and as you click through the Ottawa listings, you’ve noticed more than once that you see two houses in the same neighbourhood that are remarkably similar in space, bedrooms and finishes.
Why are the asking prices for the two properties tens of thousands of dollars apart?
Or you’re searching for a condo, and you question why a one-bedroom unit in a downtown building is listed at $50,000 more than what seems an identical unit for sale in the same building, with the exact same layout?
If you want to make an offer, and you are in competition with other buyers who are also making offers, how do you know how high to go without paying more than the current market value (the actual price other recent sellers have accepted for similar properties)?
That’s just one of many reasons you need an experienced Realtor helping you navigate the market, from the time you start searching for a home to the time you pick up the keys to the property of your dreams.
Because of low inventory and a lot of demand among buyers, Ottawa has been in a seller’s market for well over a year. Bidding competition has pushed prices higher, and the average sale price in Ottawa (the price that sellers accept for the property) in recent years has been increasing at rates far above usual for our region.
For many of my more than 30 years as a Realtor, when markets were more balanced, the traditional approach in setting an asking price was to look at what similar properties had sold for recently, and to list slightly above that. We would then negotiate with a buyer to get to as close to the asking price as possible.
With the more competitive market of recent years, however, we’ve seen a wide range of pricing strategies by sellers and their Realtors.
Some Realtors and sellers will decide to set a price well under what they know the house will sell for, to try to attract a lot of initial interest, multiple offers and a quick sale.
Others opt for the more traditional route of listing above or roughly at the hoped-for price. A seller who is hoping to take advantage of Ottawa’s hot market may set an unrealistically high above the expected sale price, and we’ve seen examples recently of properties sitting on the market.
This is why it’s so essential for buyers to work with an experienced Realtor who knows the Ottawa market well.
It’s expertise that comes at no cost to buyers. First-time buyers are often surprised that having a Realtor on their side is free of charge, because a buyer agent’s fees are paid by the Seller (through their lawyer) or the Seller’s Real Estate Brokerage for whichever property they decide to purchase.
But the assistance we offer can be invaluable in protecting your interests and helping you navigate those mysterious prices.
When you reach the point of preparing to make an offer, we show you the actual prices sellers have recently accepted for similar properties, to give you a clear idea of the price that a seller will be realistically expecting to receive, BEFORE you put in your offer.
This information is particularly important when you are competing in a multiple-offer situation, as it will help you avoid making an offer wildly over the current market value in order to get the property you want.
That kind of offer can cause complications and financial headaches if your lending institution decides your offer is more than this property would get in the current market.
When you have made an offer, your Bank or lender may ask for an independent appraisal before they approve the final amount they will lend you. An appraisal is not always requested, but it happens often with both insured or uninsured mortgages.
Many buyers who work with inexperienced Realtors do not realize that if they go far over the asking price, even if their lender has pre-approved them for a theoretical maximum price, the lender will not approve an amount if an independent appraiser tells them the price you are offering does not reflect market value.
For example, you offer $750,000 but an appraiser looks at comparable recent sales and decides the property has a true market value of $715,000. The lender will then only approve a mortgage for a percentage of the $715,000 appraised value amount, not the $750,000 you offered.
If that happens, and you want to continue with the purchase, you will be on the hook to make up the difference yourself. That means having to suddenly find an extra few thousand dollars or lowering the amount of your down payment, which could possibly then require you to add CMHC insurance for the mortgage.
This is not just a theoretical scenario. I’ve heard stories from some young buyers in Ottawa’s hot market who have found themselves in this situation, and either had to walk away from the offer or scramble to come up with the difference.
We look at the same comparable sales prices that an appraiser would use to determine market value after your offer. And it’s these numbers more than whatever a seller is asking, that help you to know if you’re offering the right price in Ottawa’s market.
If you’re interested in buying or selling property in Ottawa, I’d love to chat with you about the current market, conditions in your area of the city and the strategies that will protect your interests.
You can read more about me on my site, www.nancybenson.com Feel free to give me a call, at 613-747-4747.