August 5, 2022

Buying a Townhouse in Surrey: How to Streamline the Process

Townhouses are popular and desirable homes for plenty of people. Are you looking for an additional bedroom and more space than your current condo? Is it time to exit the rental market and buy your first piece of property that’s a bit less expensive than a detached home? Buying a townhouse still involves plenty of research and it can be a difficult process if you don’t have time. Below are some go-to tips for buying a townhouse and how to make it a streamlined process for you.

Townhouses are popular and desirable homes for plenty of people. Are you looking for an additional bedroom and more space than your current condo? Is it time to exit the rental market and buy your first piece of property that’s a bit less expensive than a detached home? Buying a townhouse still involves plenty of research and it can be a difficult process if you don’t have time. Below are some go-to tips for buying a townhouse and how to make it a streamlined process for you.

What is a Townhouse?

Townhouses are a hybrid between single-detached homes and condominiums. The structure of a townhouse varies, but most of them have multiple stories. They have at least one shared wall with a neighbour and offer more space and privacy than condos. 

They are less expensive than single-family homes that are a similar size. For developers, it’s less expensive to build attached townhouses. The construction savings are passed down to you, hence why they are becoming increasingly popular in the Surrey market.

Start Your Townhouse Mortgage Pre-approval Process 

Getting preapproved for a mortgage and finding out your budget by a mortgage professional will take out the pricing guesswork. Establishing a real price range that you can afford by a mortgage broker will give you your budget. There’s no sense searching for townhouses that are $999,000 if you’re budget is actually $600,000. There are handy tools like mortgage calculators that can give you a solid estimate of how much you can afford based on your current salary and estimated debt. However, this number is only an estimate and doesn’t replace the value of a mortgage broker. They will evaluate your income, assets, debts, cash and the downpayment amount to give you an idea of what you can afford. There are additional expenses to keep in mind when buying a townhouse, such as strata fees, which may apply. 

Determine What You Need & Want

Why are you considering a townhouse in the first place? Determining what you want versus what you need is essential after setting your budget. Remember, over time your needs can change. Consider writing or saving a list of up to 5 things you absolutely need in your next home. This needs list could include the following: The number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, your minimum square foot requirement, a safe and secure neighbourhood, transit accessibility, or an enclosed garage. Next, create a list of wants, or things that’d be nice to have such as clubhouse amenities on-site, state-of-the-art appliances, a downtown location, additional rooms, or even rapid EV charging stations. These lists will vary from person to person, but it’s important to understand and prioritize your own needs to discuss with your Real Estate Agent. 

Understand Townhouse Costs & Strata Documents

Most townhouses are run by a strata corporation and require fees for upkeep. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Stratas ensure that townhouse maintenance is unified and consistent, which helps retain the future value of your townhouse. Some property types are called “Bare Land”, in which you own and are responsible for the land itself. Usually, there’s no maintenance fee this way, but you’re more dependent on your neighbours, which may not have time to maintain their property as well.

Strata documents will outline the fees you pay monthly for your share of the upkeep. In the documents, pay attention to any upcoming special charges or assessments which you may be responsible for. When owning a townhouse, it’s a good idea to stay informed of any engineering reports that may detail repairs needed short and long-term. If something doesn’t sit well with you in the strata agreement, you can cancel without liability. Make sure you this discuss with your agent and see if they can find these documents. 

In the closing process, ensure you’re looking at all the costs added to the agreed-upon price. Costs can come up during the townhouse buying process. There may be appraisal fees, mortgage insurance fees, property taxes, notary fees, and transfer fees. Your agent can help you determine what the exact closing costs are. 

Find a Professional to Represent You

Searching for proper representation is essential for your homebuying process. Real estate agents can advocate for you when you’re purchasing a home. They can research average prices for you, inform you of market trends, fill out necessary forms and negotiate on your behalf.