10 Tips for Buying a Luxury Home in Ontario

Top Expert Tips For Buying a Luxury Home in Ontario

If you're shopping around in the luxury home market, it's key that you do your homework to invest in the ideal property for your unique needs. Whether you're looking for a historic mansion in Ottawa's historic Glebe community, a charming Oakville home in Kerr Village along Lake Ontario, or want a show-stopping penthouse in Toronto's financial district, finding the right luxury home takes patience, the right team, and a focused vision.

At Morison Insurance, we're no stranger to working with luxury homeowners and providing high-value home insurance. That's why our team put together this comprehensive list of tips to help you find the home of your dreams.

1. Hire the Right Real Estate Agent

When you're looking to invest in a luxury home, you need to work with a real estate agent that you’re confident will have the experience and skills needed to find the house of your dreams. The luxury real estate market differs from the regular market in many ways, and you should look for a real estate agent who has the following qualities:

The Proper Experience

You should never hire a real estate agent to find you the right luxury home in Ontario if they don't have adequate experience in the luxury property market. Not only should the agent have worked in luxury real estate for a respectable amount of time—thus, he or she will have the right connections—but the agent should also have a good track record when it comes to selling luxury homes. The high-end market is in a league of its own, so just because an agent has had success in the mid-range or low-end housing markets doesn't necessarily mean they'll find the same success in the luxury real estate industry.

Familiarity With the Area

Most likely, you're looking in a particular area for your new home. If you're in Toronto, you may be considering moving to a penthouse along Yorkville Road, or one of Bridal Path's noteworthy mansions—where you'll be hobnobbing with the likes of Drake and Gordon Lightfoot. A realtor familiar with these communities is essential before making such an important purchasing decision. The agent will be able to give you options and let you know what other similar looking properties can be found in the area. Not to mention, he or she will know important details like how many days they've been on the market, price adjustments, and more.

The Right Connections

Not only should the right agent have his or her own luxury website, which clearly outlines their area of specialization, but they should also have a wide network of peers and luxury home sellers. Make sure you hire an accredited luxury home specialist. Your agent should know about more than what's advertised on online listings and be able to find you a house with all the amenities you're looking for. He or she will be able to seamlessly navigate the luxury home market, so you can invest in your dream home.

2. Know What You Want Ahead of Time

While it sounds obvious to say that your new house needs to be a good fit for you and your family, it can be very easy to get sidetracked by all the options out there and not take a moment to ensure the house checks off all your boxes. Beginning the house-hunt with a clear list of "must haves" will help narrow your focus and ensure everyone living in your home will be happy with the final result.

Ask Yourself:

  • Which property will be best for me and my family?
  • Which house affords the quality of life I am looking for?
  • Which property suits my tastes and those of my family?
  • Which house is closer to the right schools, grocery stores and amenities I am looking for?
  • What amenities within the property can I not do without? (For example, a gym, tennis court, pool, movie theatre, wellness spaces etc.)

3. Take Your Time

No homeowner wants to be stuck feeling buyer's remorse, and this is especially true in the luxury home market. Such a high-investment means you should really take your time to ensure you're choosing the best property possible. Like any real estate market, there are periods of time when luxury homes are more in demand than others. Should you be looking to buy a luxury home during a peak period, try not to give into pressure too much. It’s still integral that you take your time and do your homework before investing in the property. Perhaps consider staying at a hotel in the same area. This will give you a hands-on feel for the lifestyle. It's also important that you ask the following questions:

  • What are the development plans for the area?
  • Will a property be built in front of mine and spoil the view?
  • Who designed the home?
  • Who built the home?
  • What is the real estate market outlook for luxury properties in this area?

4. Don't Just Rely on Online Listings

This tip relates to hiring a real estate agent who is familiar with both the neighbourhood you're interested in, and the luxury real estate market in your community. Many times, high-end homeowners like to keep the sale of their homes private. Thus, you need an agent who will be aware of "pocket listings," or properties that are for sale, but are not publicly advertised. Additionally, an expert luxury realtor will have their hand on the pulse of the market, and may be able to help you see homes before they're listed publicly—giving you the edge you need to find your perfect luxury home.

5. Don't Only Count on the Photos

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if possible it's best to ensure you do a couple walk-throughs of the property before making a purchasing decision. If possible, visit the house at different times of the day. This will help you get a sense of how well lit different rooms are, how busy or quiet the community is, and what the view is like at different hours.

Even if you're buying from overseas, it's well worth taking the time to visit the property before making a purchasing decision. You should be 100% satisfied with the house before investing in it. It's important to remember that photos and even a video walk-through are tailored to sell the home. Photos are staged and edited in such a manner that's designed to be appealing. Besides, you can't really get a feel for a property unless you go there yourself.

6. Get to Know the Neighbourhood

The value of your investment is intrinsically linked to its location, so it's imperative that you get as much information as you can about the area. Your real estate agent should be able to help you complete a market analysis of similarly priced homes in the same community that offer comparable features to the home you're interested in. Again, this is an opportunity to look into the future of the neighbourhood as well.

For example, you should make sure there are no new developments or high-rises slated for the area. Confirm what the building restrictions are in the neighbourhood since many areas have a limit on how high walls can be or how many storeys a house can have. It's worth mentioning again because losing your view to a new home can be heartbreaking—while seriously depreciating the property's value.

The more certain you are of the property you're planning to invest in, the greater satisfaction you will have in your home year after year.

7. Remember the Home Inspection

The home inspection is a key part of any property purchase. But when it comes to luxury houses, you need an inspector who is qualified to look at top-of-the-range features, such as high-end appliances, the newest heating and cooling technologies, and advanced security systems. Your average inspector will not have the experience to thoroughly check-over a luxury property. Rather, you should hire an inspector who will be able to reveal recommended maintenance and upgrades, while uncovering potential defects.

Test for Radon

Radon is an odourless and colourless gas from granite deposits in the earth that contain uranium. It can move into your home and possibly cause serious health effects, including lung cancer. Radon is prevalent throughout Canada, including in Ontario. While the property you're looking at may already have a system installed to mitigate this problem, this may not be the case if you're looking at a historic mansion or heritage building. Just like how it's important to check for signs of mold and wood rot in older properties, it's also important to test for radon.

8. Consider Resale Value

First and foremost, when buying your new luxury home you should opt for a property that is exactly what you're looking for. Your unique tastes, style, and lifestyle are what will primarily dictate the purchase. Yet, it's worth keeping in mind the resale value of the property—particularly if you intend on keeping the property in your family from generation to generation. At one point or another, the property will be sold, and you should ensure as much of the appreciated value as possible is maintained. Your realtor should be able to provide you with an up-to-date market report for communities and subdivisions you are interested in, these should include historic sales and trends, so you can get a better picture of what the property's value will be down the road.

In particular, you'll want to understand the absorption rate for the luxury home market in the area you're looking at. Absorption is the rate at which homes are sold in a particular market segment over a certain period of time. This is a key factor in determining whether it's a buyer's market or a seller's market. It's possible for homes that are under $2 million to be experiencing a seller's market, whereas homes in the $3 million-plus range are experiencing a buyer’s market.

9. To Finance or Not to Finance?

Most affluent homeowners looking to purchase a luxury property pay in cash. However, depending on the interest rates for the market at the time, you might choose to leverage your investment and finance. While as an affluent buyer you likely already have existing relationships with loan professionals, should you need advice finding a trustworthy local lender, your real estate agent should be able to point you in the right direction.

Should you decide to finance, it's important to speak with your lender early on in the process—even before you start seriously looking for a new house. Acquiring a pre-approval letter will strengthen your offer immensely. Contrarily, if you do opt to pay cash, you should be prepared for the event that the seller asks to see proof of your financial standing. Once again, this is where you have a trusted realtor who has experience in the luxury market. They'll protect your privacy as much as possible while ensuring the sale is processed smoothly.

10. Trust the Right High-Value Home Insurance Brokers

Once the purchase of your beautiful home is complete, it's time for the next step in the process: ensuring you have the best luxury home insurance possible. High-value home insurance protects your home up to its replacement cost, which is the amount of money an insurance company would have to pay to replace it in the event of a disaster. It differs from a typical home insurance policy because a standard policy might not offer enough coverage for a luxury home. Alternatively, high-value home insurance offers more comprehensive coverage and higher limits. Your policy can be tailored to your unique needs. That way, you can have peace of mind knowing your high-end appliances and luxury contents are properly protected.

At Morison Insurance, we work hard to find our clients the best insurance coverage possible. Your dedicated broker will work with you to learn your unique needs, address any concerns you have, and build a policy that is right for you and your luxury home. As a family-owned and operated business, we truly have your best interests at heart. Get started today by contacting our friendly team at 1-800-463-8074, or fill out our contact form to get a quote now.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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