February 1, 2019

While reflecting on 2018, one thing that really struck me is that the process of moving to Canada is not an easy one. That sounds stupid, I know. But even the most capable, resourceful people that have recently moved here find it extremely challenging to navigate the processes, laws, taxes and resources of just finding a home.

Of course, there are lots of resources online. The Canadian government offers assistance on the process, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers assistance, all the major banks offer assistance, your new employer offers assistance but there are gaps in information that can cause issues. Especially if you don’t have that trusted advisor to help you navigate the process.

I sat down recently with a client & friend that took me through their experience. First their employer “helped” them find a place to rent. They put them in touch with a company to rent a property and were told they really needed to be downtown. The place they rented was a 2 bedroom furnished condo in Moss Park. While they did have cleaning services included, the price tag of $4500 per month was insane. They did enjoy the area but did not enjoy paying that much monthly. She was lucky to find a new construction house to lease in Etobicoke for $2600 after six months and they have been there ever since. The feeling of being in limbo and paying down another’s mortgage started to bother them.

The wife saw one of my listings and asked for a showing. Once I understood the current situation, I was excited to help them find their first Canadian home. Although I had discussed the market and viewed properties with the wife, the husband had yet to view a property with me and still had his doubts of who to trust. Once he realized that I check furnaces, electrical, roof condition, foundation, plumbing and all the rest of the non-aesthetic stuff AS WELL as the functional/aesthetic stuff, he knew he could trust me. I put them in touch with a mortgage lender so they knew their budget and I felt like we were ready to seriously look at areas of interest and properties.

While I felt we were making headway, there seemed to be something off in the way they were interacting with me and properties of interest. They kept insisting they didn’t want to bother me. Bother me? That’s my job. After a little digging, they admitted that they didn’t fully understand the Canadian process of buyer agent and seller agent. Back home, there was a listing agent and they represented the seller but no one represents the buyers. They have to do their own work and all properties are listed at per square metre pricing so it is easy to see if it makes sense or not. Plus the completion dates are typically months away. This really opened my eyes to how the real estate transaction varies in other countries. They were so used to doing all of the research and legwork that they were very hesitant to ask questions or clarify anything. This can definitely be a roadblock.

My newcomer lease clients also had me reflecting on the process to get a lease in Toronto. I was happy to get a referral to a newcomer that had accepted a management position at a large company. The company recruits from around the world and so I have helped many new employees find a property in Toronto over the past year.

The GTA has a very competitive lease market and it can be especially tough for new immigrants. You need a credit report, employment letter and references that can be verified. Despite their initial disbelief that you need all of this information, I have been successful in getting my client’s good properties without overpaying because I come prepared for all offers. This does take a strong level of trust to hand over such personal information. I am asking them to trust me before they even get to really know me.

As I strive to always be improving, my take away from this reflection was that I need to ensure the process of buying, selling or leasing real estate in the GTA is crystal clear and to never take anything for granted. I also need to work on assuring new prospects that I truly am working in their best interests. I need to hit the ground running and build that trust quickly. My resting face is usually a scowl though 😕 so I will need to work on that 😃

Do you know a newcomer that can benefit from my expertise? Please call or text 416-705-2360. I am always available for referrals.