Greater Toronto is one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in North America. A spike in immigration has driven a sharp increase in home prices, and a growing number of city dwellers are relocating to the Kitchener-Waterloo area to enjoy the lower costs of living. But as the K/W housing market has gained steam, the demand for housing has started to outpace available supply, and prices have skyrocketed.
What can buyers do to increase their odds of success in such a hot market? We interviewed Kitchener-Waterloo real estate agent Jamie Kubassek on why hiring the right realtor can make all the difference in your home search. Mr. Kubassek has been a real estate agent with Re/Max Twin City Waterloo since 1996, and he ranks among the top agents in the area.
EM: What are the current trends in the K/W housing market?
Jamie Kubassek: The Kitchener-Waterloo real estate market has been in its current uptrend since 1996. Up until 2017, the average home price increased by about 8% per year, but since 2017 it’s probably been closer to 20% per year.
Some of the increased demand is an ever-increasing number of buyers coming from the greater Toronto area, where they have been priced completely out of the market. With upcoming all-day, two-way rail transit, home buyers will soon be able to live in K/W and still have a reasonable commute to the GTA without having to drive.
EM: What should buyers in this market know before purchasing a house?
Jamie Kubassek: Buyers really need to know how much they are qualified to spend prior to going out and looking at homes. If they are moving here from out of town, they need to find a local agent who knows the market they are buying in, as well as one they can trust and feel comfortable working with. Out-of-town agents are not much better informed than the home buying public.
Additionally, buyers need to be patient. Sometimes you can get lucky with finding a home on the first time out and the buying process can sometimes be a quick event, but other times the search can take weeks or even months.
EM: It seems like it could be more affordable to buy a house without a real estate agent, especially when homes are so expensive. Why should home buyers in the K-W area use a realtor’s services?
Jamie Kubassek: Buying real estate without an agent in your corner to determine fair market value is like playing Russian Roulette — frankly, it’s not a wise decision. Comparing the purchase to the asking price has no relevance whatsoever, and unless you have access to previous sales prices and neighbourhood trends, you’re really in the dark for the most part.
Agents commissions are also paid by the seller, so the help you’re getting is being paid for by someone else.
EM: What are the most important qualities buyers should look for in a real estate agent?
Jamie Kubassek: Try to find an agent with experience in the local market place. No agent can know all markets. If you know someone in the area you are moving to, ask for a referral or recommendation from a friend or family member.
Ultimately, you really want to feel that your agent is someone who will have your best interests at heart and isn’t just looking for another deal. If you’re not sure, interview one or two agents before you get started. That will give you an opportunity to meet the person behind the position and see if they are someone you want to spend time with finding a home.
This article is opinion and not a substitute for professional advice. Disclaimer