What Can A Professional Real Estate Agent Do For You?
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you can make in life.
Should I buy a house or condo? Can I afford it? Is it in a good neighbourhood? Is it close to transit? How are the schools? What fees should I be aware of?
With so many questions, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
That’s where I come in.
As a professional realtor, my job is to answer your questions, ease your fears, and guide you on your home-buying journey.
Besides multiple awards and 15+ years of experience, I bring an unrivalled knowledge of the Toronto real estate market.
In fact, that knowledge landed me on the list of the Best Real Estate Agents In Toronto.
To quote TheBestToronto.com:
Wins Lai is the perfect real estate agent for you if you’re more comfortable transacting in Cantonese and Mandarin. Of course, the majority of her clients are English speakers, but we appreciate the extra proficiency.
Because I’m fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese, I can better help immigrants, expats, returning Canadians, international students and temporary foreign workers find a home in Toronto.
Plus my “grasp of the Toronto real estate market” means I know what house or condo is right for you and your budget.
Above all, it means I know how to get you the best deal.
Whether you’re buying your first home or third, when you work with me, I make sure the entire process is easy and anxiety-free.
Here’s what sets me apart….
Skill Set of an Award-Winning Real Estate Broker
- Unmatched Expertise: I analyze the market every day and keep up with the latest in Toronto real estate news. I track listings, rule changes, interest rate hikes, and any tax credits that will save you money. Most importantly, I know how much a property is worth.
- Local Knowledge: looking for the best bars and coolest clubs? Then you’ll love King West. Hate long commutes? The Financial District is the place for you. Want to send your kids to the best public schools in Toronto? Check out Bathurst Manor. My knowledge of local housing markets means I can find you the perfect home in your ideal neighbourhood.
- Negotiation Skills: I’m a tough negotiator who always makes sure you get the most value for your money. By comparing listing histories and similar homes in a neighbourhood, I identify the property’s true market value so you never overpay.
- Powerful Network: I have a vast network of lawyers, home inspectors, contractors and financial experts to ensure that your home is in excellent shape and assist with any legal or financial matters.
- Jack-Of-All-Trades: I also bring an array of other skills, including marketing, tech, legal and financial. I use the internet and social media to gather info and generate leads, put together an offer, and explain any technical jargon in simple terms.
- Amazing Communication: communication isn’t just answering calls or emails; it’s about responsiveness. I explain every detail and answer every question ASAP so you’re never in suspense. I also speak Mandarin and Cantonese, making me better equipped to help buyers from Hong Kong and China.
- Client-First Mentality: I put my clients above all else. Because you’re busy, I work around your schedule. I’m also proactive, finding opportunities rather than waiting for them. From our first meeting to the closing sale, I show the utmost professionalism and use my award-winning experience to serve you better.
My Process: What Can You Expect?
When you hire me, I take all the work, stress and responsibility from off your shoulders and put them on mine.
First, I ask questions to better understand the type of home you want to buy.
- Do you prefer houses or condos?
- Where do you want to live: downtown, midtown or the suburbs?
- What do you look for in a location: great schools, fine dining, amazing nightlife, or a mix of these things?
- What are your must-haves and what can you live without?
- What’s your budget? And have you been pre-approved for a loan?
Then based on your answers, I offer advice that best meets your specific needs.
After which I lead you through the actual buying process, explaining everything so you never feel scared or unprepared.
Next, I search for your ideal home and neighbourhood, following every lead, communicating regularly, and serving as a liaison between you and the seller.
When you finally find a home you love, I negotiate aggressively on your behalf with the listing agent.
Price, terms, conditions, extras and closing dates—I make sure you get the best deal for your money.
Know Your Rights With TRESA
TRESA, or the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, has one goal: to protect home buyers and sellers.
It achieves that goal by laying out a clear set of rules and regulations which real estate agents and brokerages must follow, along with fines and penalties for misconduct.
TRESA protects buyers through:
- An updated Code of Ethics for agents and brokerages
- A stronger Discipline Committee to deal with rule breakers
- A new, easy-to-understand consumer information guide
- Ensuring agents disclose all details about a property
- Updating the Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA)
- Creating transparency with an optional open bidding process
For more information about how TRESA can protect you, check out this guide.
Understand & Sign the Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA)
A Buyer Representation Agreement (BRA) is a contract between a buyer and an agent which
- Makes their relationship official
- Outlines their obligations towards each other
- Specifies the agent’s services and commission
- Lists expenses and who will pay for them
- Sets a timeline for how long they’ll work together
Signing a BRA turns the buyer into a client, which means the agent is legally obligated to work in their best interests.
Other perks of signing a BRA include exclusivity, privacy, and access to seller information.
For more information about the BRA, check out this guide.
Things To Do Before Buying: Get Your Mortgage Pre-Approved
That’s why I recommend talking to your bank’s mortgage specialist or visiting a mortgage broker.
Many banks offer a special First Time Home Buyer’s Mortgage and help you figure out your budget, which serves to narrow down your search.
Most importantly, banks can help you get pre-approved for a home loan.
Remember, it’s better to be pre-approved than pre-qualified.
Being pre-approved means having official documentation from your lender that shows your credit standing and defines the amount, rates, and terms of your loan approval.
On the other hand, being pre-qualified doesn’t involve any official verification of your income, assets and debt.
As a result, there’s no guarantee you’ll actually get a loan.
My network of mortgage brokers can help you identify your lending power in days.
Lending power is determined by your gross debt service (GDS) ratio, which is your income minus debt (e.g. student loans).
We work with both new and experienced buyers, assisting them with equity take-outs, refinancing, high-ratio mortgages and obtaining home loans.
Immigrants, expats, returning Canadians, international students and temporary foreign workers who make bigger down payments can also be pre-approved.
In addition to banks, we work with private lenders to offer loans on high-risk mortgages.
My brokerage and I can also help you find the best interest rates, as well as calculate your payment schedules and amortization periods.
To calculate your mortgage (as well as other costs), download this free app.
Things To Do Before Buying: Get Home Insurance
The good news is that if you have car or life insurance, you may qualify for a multi-product discount by covering your home as well.
To know the precise cost and level of coverage, talk to your insurance company.
Condo buyers can also consult their lawyer about their building’s insurance coverage, or find such information in the Condominium Disclosure Statement and Status Certificate.
These comparison websites provide quotes from multiple sources, so you can pick and choose the one that best fits your needs.
Things To Do Before Buying: Perform A Home Inspection
A home inspector can check for the following:
- Interior issues, including bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, attic & basement
- Exterior issues, including cracked walls, siding, garage & door frames
- HVAC issues, including plumbing, heating, smoke alarms & electrical
- Landscaping issues, such as overhanging trees & drainage
- Roof integrity, including possible leaks & missing or damaged shingles
The home inspector will then provide a written report of their findings and a list of necessary repairs.
While such inspections take 1-3 hours and cost $500-$2,000, they’re important because they can save you thousands down the road.
Knowing the condition of your home also helps during price negotiations.
For example, you can ask the seller to make certain repairs or accept a lower offer.
Never hired a home inspector and don’t know where to start?
No problem. I can recommend several.
Things To Do Before Buying: Hire a Lawyer
The lawyer’s job is to look for liens, encroachments and easements.
Basically, does your future home violate any laws (eg. a fence on your neighbour’s property line)?
If everything is in order, the lawyer will register the property under your name, transferring the title and full legal ownership to you.
Before hiring a lawyer, be sure to inquire about their fees.
If you need help finding one, I can recommend several qualified professionals.
Prepare To Pay Taxes
The first is the Vacant Home Tax (VHT), which requires Toronto homeowners to pay an annual tax on unoccupied properties.
A property is deemed vacant if a) the owner doesn’t use it as their primary residence or b) it’s unoccupied for 6 months or more in the previous calendar year.
Homeowners must declare their occupancy status every year (even if they live in the property).
Next is the Luxury Home Tax, or the Luxury Land Transfer Tax.
The tax applies to properties over $3 million and is only paid by homebuyers in Toronto, not other parts of Ontario.
Here’s a breakdown of the tax by property price:
- 3.5% on properties between $3-4 million
- 4.5% on properties between $4-5 million
- 5.5% on properties between $5-10 million
- 6.5% on properties between $10-20 million
- 7.5% on properties over $20 million
So for a $5 million home, the buyer would have to pay a 4.5% tax or $225,000.
For more information about the Luxury Land Transfer Tax, contact me here.
Thanks to the Foreign Buyer Ban (which was recently extended), anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Canada is barred from purchasing property.
However, there are exemptions to the ban.
For more information, check out my International Buyers Guide.
Interested In Buying A Home?
Simply fill out the contact form below.
Real Estate Broker
Living Realty Inc., Brokerage
m: 416.903.7032 p: 416.975.9889
a: 7 Hayden Street Toronto, M4Y 2P2
w: www.winslai.com e: [email protected]
*Top Producer (Yonge and Bloor Branch) — 2017-2022