Happy family with agent realtor near new house.

Do Not Buy a House Without Reading This

We recognize, due to Covid-19, these are very hard times for many people.  We are working hard to provide excellent service under unusual circumstances and are using all the recommended safety precautions.  We hope our world can get back on its feet as soon as possible.  We are all in this together.

What Makes a Perfect Buying Experience?

There are excellent Niagara homes waiting patiently on the market for new, eager owners. The thought of owning one is exciting, and if you are busy shopping the area, you probably cannot wait to get your hands on a key. As great as the future looks, when you picture yourself living life at your next property, the home buying process can be very intimidating, especially if this is your first real estate purchase.

There are a lot of missteps that can be made that can turn your positive attitude into discouragement in a moment. Like all potential home buyers, you want the best experience that you could possibly have. That requires learning a few tricks and knowing exactly what it means to have the perfect home buying experience. Here are some easy tips that will make your hunt for a great home much easier.

A Home that Meets Your Needs

Believe it or not, many property shoppers start looking for homes without knowing exactly what they are looking for. Sure, they might know that they want a nice condo or a single-family house with room for a growing family, but they do not consider important aspects, such as storage closets or energy efficient appliances. Before you set out to find your perfect home, make sure that you know what perfect will look like. Make a list of all of your wants and needs and match that list with a realistic budget plan. You will be armed with the knowledge to find the right property much quicker.

Knowing Your Limits

You have got to have a budget when shopping for a property (and a realistic one at that). While you might know that you are able to afford a specific amount towards a mortgage each month, the total amount that the bank is willing to loan you will be a huge factor in your budget plan. Be sure to get pre-approved for a loan with your local lender so that you will know your limits. Also, do not overlook other major expenses, such as your homeowner’s insurance and monthly utilities.

Having Your Dream Team

Many buyers eagerly begin their search for their perfect property on their own—and quickly decide that they need to hire a real estate agent. Start out with a good offense by building your home buying dream team and getting a local real estate agent. This agent will be armed with the knowledge of the market so that they can match you with potential properties that will meet your needs and wants. This will save you a lot of stress and time. Your agent will also be a huge asset during negotiations with the owners of the properties that you have selected to purchase. If you are a first-time home buyer, this help is invaluable.

Finding Your Perfect Home

The happy ending to the perfect home buying experience is finding your perfect home. Niagara homes are waiting for you to view. If you would like more information on properties that are currently available, visit our buyer’s resources page and contact Kevin Stokes today.

Goals For Home Buyers

If you have been thinking about buying a new home, then set your goals to help you achieve your dream.

Ready, Set, Save

Like any big purchase, it is essential to begin saving for a home.  These savings are your down payment and combined with your mortgage will be the total amount that will be used toward the purchase of your home.  The sooner you start saving, the better and the larger your down payment is, the more expensive of a home you can afford or the smaller the amount you will have to borrow.

Get Credit

Another important goal that will go a long way when it comes time to purchase your home is to develop a strong credit rating.  A strong credit rating is essential when you are looking to get a pre-approved mortgage and it also shows the lender that you are serious and can be trusted.  The stronger your credit rating chances are the lower the interest rate attached to your mortgage.  A strong credit rating is attained by doing the following:

  • Paying off all your monthly bills on time.
  • Paying off the total amount of credit borrowed each month.
  • Never maxing out your credit limit.

Set a Budget

With a strong credit rating and a down payment, the next step is to approach a wide range of lenders and get a pre-approved mortgage.  This amount will depend upon a wide range of variables, but it will give you a better indication of what type of property you can afford.  Try to go with the lender who will give you the lowest interest rate as you will have to pay back the entire amount.

Start Searching

Your down payment and your pre-approved mortgage amount will give you a good indication of the price range of homes that you should be looking at.  When you are viewing homes, be sure to consider your immediate needs as well as your future needs and try to find a home that fits both.  Be sure to find a real estate agent to help you with finding that perfect home as they will be able to show you properties that you may have never considered.

These simple yet effective goals will have you on the right homebuying track.  If you would like more information on any of these goals or are interested in viewing some of the new and exciting properties available in and around the NOTL area, please contact me today.  I would love to help you find your dream home this year.

Finding the Right Size Home for You?

During my career as a Niagara on the Lake agent, I’ve found that the most important thing in shopping for a new home is size. If your new home is too large or too small, it can seriously decrease your enjoyment and make you wish you’d taken a little more time during the home shopping process. Fortunately, with the right tips and advice from an expert realtor such as myself, you can easily pick a home that fits you like a glove, in size and in budget.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right size home for your needs and hints for finding exciting Niagara on the Lake real estate.

Think About the Future

A mistake that I’ve seen many homebuyers make when choosing their new home is buying for the present instead of the future. However, if you don’t think about what you want from your home ten, twenty or even thirty years from now, then it’s likely you’ll pick a home that doesn’t meet your size requirements in the long-term.

While you’re touring homes, try to think about your future plans. Are you thinking about having children? Is it likely that an elderly relative may one day need to live with you? The answers to these questions can dramatically alter the size of the home that you will need to be. Thinking about the future is one of the best ways to choose your right size home.

What’s Your Financial Situation

One of the biggest issues I tell my clients to consider when they’re choosing the size of their new home is what their financial situation looks like. Although many of us wish we could shop for a home with an unlimited budget, this is almost never the case. The state of your finances will be one of the biggest indicators of what size home you should be shopping for.

Expanding your desired square footage by the smallest of amounts can end up adding thousands of dollars to the final cost of your home. Understanding the size of your budget will help you to decide the size of your home.

Is Your Current Home Too Big or Too Small?

Possibly the best way to decide how large or how small your new home should be it to examine how you feel about your current home. If your current home feels a little cramped, then your new home should be slightly, if not a great deal larger. On the other hand, if the home you live in right now feels positively cavernous, then downsizing might be a better option.

Deciding what you like about your current home and what could be improved upon will help you make the right decision about the size of your next home.

Find the Right Size Niagara on the Lake Real Estate

Once you’ve decided what size home is right for you and your family, you need to start touring amazing Niagara on the Lake real estate with the help of an experienced real estate agent like me, Kevin Stokes. Working out of Niagara on the Lake Realty, I can connect you with the best homes in this beautiful area so that you and your family get the space and the features that you need and deserve.

Terms every Home Buyer Should KnowNiagara on the Lake Realty

Buying a home should be an exciting event, not a stressful and confusing time.  With so many different factors attached to the purchase process, many home buyers seem overwhelmed and even unsure.  As your premier agent specializing in NOTL real estate, I would like to share the following key real estate terms that will help you better understand all the facets of the home buying process and give you ownership from start to finish.

Key Real Estate Terms

Appraisal – An assessment of the value of a property that is based on a variety of factors, including similar home prices in the neighbourhood.

Closing – A final meeting where ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer.  Typically, the buyer, seller and both real estate agents attend the closing.

Closing Costs – A set of fees attached to the purchase of a property.  These are due before ownership is transferred.  Costs include all lawyers’ fees, title searches and home inspections. These fees are anywhere from 1% – 3% of the property’s original purchase price.

Days on Market – The number of days a specific property has been listed on the real estate market.

Escrow – A time period (30 days or more) after an offer has been accepted by the seller.  During the time in escrow, the property is inspected and appraised.

Foreclosure – A property that has been repossessed by the bank because the owner has defaulted on their mortgage payments.

Gentrification – Renewal and rehabilitation projects in an urban area that changes the demographics.  These areas typically see property values rise.

Home Inspection – An inspection of the various systems of a property (pipes, structure and electrical etc.).  This inspection takes place when the home is in escrow.

Homeowners’ Insurance – A policy that protects the owner’s contents, belongings and structure of the home.

Listing Price – The price of the property set by the seller.

Multiple Listing Service (MLS) – A database used by real estate agents that lists homes for sale.

Property Taxes – A tax that is based upon the value of the property. This tax is a municipal one that helps fund services such as sewer, water and garbage collection.

Walkthrough – The final inspection of a property done before the final closing date.

Key Purchasing Terms

Down Payment – A percentage of a homes’ purchase price that the buyer must pay.  A down payment is not part of the mortgage.

Equity – The percentage of the home’s overall value that the homeowner has paid off. The bank (lender) owns the rest.

Interest Rate – The cost attached to borrowing money (the mortgage).  The interest rate of a mortgage is set by the lender.

Mortgage – The type of loan that is used to secure payment of a home.  A mortgage is paid off over a specific period through set payments.

Mortgage Broker – A lender who works for the buyer to secure a loan (mortgage) either through a bank or another lending institution.

Pre-Approval – The total amount of money (mortgage) the buyer is approved for.  This amount is based upon the borrower’s credit score, their assets and the borrower’s income.

Principal – The outstanding balance of the loan (mortgage).  With each payment, the mortgage’s principal is reduced.

By understanding the language associated with purchasing a home, you will be able to be an active agent throughout the entire process. If you have any questions or would like clarification on any of these terms, please call or stop by.  I would love to help you find your perfect home and have a large inventory of exciting real estate options available in the NOTL region.

The Hidden Costs of Buying a Home?

Now that you have found your dream home in the perfect neighbourhood at a price that you can afford, what’s next?  There is so much more to buying your first home than just the down payment.  As the premier real estate agent for Niagara on the Lake, I would like to share some of the hidden costs that are associated with a first-time home purchase to better prepare you for the process.

Prepare for the Unexpected

The down payment is just one of the many costs that is part of the entire home buying process.  Other unexpected or hidden costs that you will incur include:

  • Closing costs – such as appraisals, lender fees and lawyer fees. These fees are sometimes included in the overall purchase price, but make sure that you have included them in your budget if they are not.
  • Home insurance – you will want to insure your new home against fire, theft and other disasters. You will also want to insure your personal belongings.  Get a quote from your local insurance provider.

Another unforeseen but necessary cost associated with any home is hiring a home inspector.  They will be able to tell you if the home is:

  • Structurally sound.
  • Has any rot in the wood or under the siding.
  • The condition of the roof.
  • Any faulty or poor wiring.

Here’s the Deal:

Many of the major faults that a home inspector may find are not covered under your house insurance.  It may be a good idea to either renegotiate the purchase price or to walk away from the home and start your search again.

Services and Hook-Ups

Even after taking possession of your home, there are hidden costs.  The connection fees for your cable, internet and electricity need to be accounted for and part of your purchase budget.  Now that you are a homeowner, you will also be responsible for paying the property tax on your home as well as the services such as water or recycling and garbage collection.


It will cost more to heat and cool your home, so prepare yourself for larger utility fees.  This may come as a shock if you were renting and utilities were included in your rent.

Plan Ahead

When you are looking at homes, make sure include in your purchasing budget any renovations, repairs or landscape work that needs to be done.  You do not want to be house poor without the necessary funds to make your home livable.

Finding the right real estate agent is also a key part in understanding the true cost of purchasing your first home.  Allow them to help you budget for all the hidden costs.

If you would like more information about any of the hidden costs of first-time homeownership or would like to see some of the new and exciting Niagara on the Lake real estate options, please contact me today.  I look forward to working with you soon.

Is Summer a Good Time to Buy a Home In NOTL?

Adirondack chairs at shore of Lake of Two Rivers, Ontario, Canada

Summer is not only the best season in NOTL, it is also a great time to buy your dream home.  With so much to see and do, it is hard to believe that you can fit house shopping into your summer schedule – however, buying a home in the summer does have many advantages.  As your premier agent specializing in NOTL real estate, I would like to share the following tips to help you buy that perfect home this summer.

More Choice

Summertime means choices.  One of the key advantages of buying a home in the summer is the increased inventory.  This increased selection of homes can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Nicer weather and longer days mean more potential buyers are looking at homes.
  • A more flexible schedule with less events means more free time to view homes.
  • A mutual interest by both sellers and buyers to move their belongings during the warm dry weather.

The summer months are the perfect time to buy your home.  With all the extra inventory you should be able to find the home that meets and even exceeds everything that you are looking for.

Are you Ready?

Added inventory and warmer weather means more competition on the NOTL real estate market.  Before beginning your house hunting activities, make sure that you have been pre-approved for your mortgage.  Once you find that perfect home, you will want to move fast and put in an offer.  By moving quickly and having a pre-approved mortgage, you should be able to beat the competition and avoid the dreaded bidding war.

Count the Days

When putting in an offer on a home, it is a wise idea to look at how many days that specific property has been on the market.  If the home has been on the market for over 60 days, chances are the seller is going to be willing to negotiate.  By paying attention to this number, you may be able to land your dream house at a deep discount.

Go with the Right Agent

The right real estate agent can make all the difference in the world.  When choosing an agent, be sure that they have years of experience and are knowledgeable of not only the area and its neighbourhoods but with any quirks in the local market.  The right real estate agent should not only be able to help you find your dream home this summer, they should also be able to help you get you a fair deal as well.

These tips should help you buy your NOTL dream home.  If you would like other tips on buying a home this summer or would like to see some of the new and exciting properties that are available in NOTL please contact me today. I would love to help you find your perfect home this summer.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.