Tito Singh may not be able to see in the traditional way, but he’s very good at spotting things most buyers overlook.

Tito SinghThe Royal LePage Infinity realtor was born with a rare progressive eye condition called Achromatopsia, which makes it very difficult to see. But despite the various challenges that come with it, including not being able to drive, read a restaurant menu or see outside without darkly shaded sunglasses, his open-door policy and ability to treat his clients like gold allow him to have honest conversations with buyers that may be difficult to hear at first, but always pay off for them in the long run.

His previous experience working for TD Bank makes him sensitive to one particular issue that many buyers don’t see until it’s too late — one he revealed in his answer to this week’s question.

What’s One Thing Buyers Tend To Overlook Before They Purchase?

It has to be financial affordability. What happens with a lot of buyers is they want to go out and look at property, but they are unsure about how much they can afford. They really need to sit down with a realtor and get an accurate assessment of what they can actually afford right now, as opposed to just going out and looking at a property. They need to find that common denominator — that number for the purchase price.

What I do with a lot of buyers is I first get an understanding of what their financial backing is and how much down payment they have. [This gives me] an understanding of what they can purchase before we go out and buy. But a lot of buyers have this online shopping mentality where they only look at the photos of the house. They forget about the price and they just want to see a property.

READ: 40 Per Cent Of First-Time Buyers Would Sacrifice Finances To Own A Home

My responsibility is first to figure out whether they’re a first-time buyer or they’re selling their home and need to downsize or upgrade. Do they have children? I have to know my demographic and understand my customer. Once I figure that out, I keep them on track by getting a good understanding of their finances by asking them a lot of questions. How much do you have for a down payment? Where is the down payment sitting? Have you gotten a pre-approval for a mortgage? How big of a home do you want? Do you want your home to be close to schools, highways or shopping malls? How long do you want your commute to be?

A lot of buyers overlook these factors, so there are a lot of questions that I ask right from the get-go, not to burst their bubble, but because, as a real estate agent, I need to have an understanding of what they’re really looking for right from day one. I can not only help them make the best buy, but I can also mentally set them up for success.

READ: Everything You Need To Know About The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive

It can be difficult to reconcile what a buyer wants with what they can afford. Let’s say a buyer is only able to afford something that’s $500,000. In Toronto, it’s very difficult to find a three bedroom, three bathroom property for that amount of money, so that’s when the conversation gets deeper with the buyers and I ask, “How long are you willing to travel? Are you willing to go to Ajax, Pickering, Oshawa or Mississauga?”

It’s thanks to these conversations that I’m able to keep affordability top of mind for my clients when so many just don’t think about it. For example, I met with someone today and they really want to purchase something at a certain price, but they were concerned about their monthly payment and how they were going to afford it. We had a conversation about purchasing something at $600,000 versus $800,000 and they were more excited by the prospect of $600,000 because the monthly payment worked well for them. 

READ: Ask An Agent: Should You Devote All Your Savings To Your Down Payment?

You don’t want to live in a cycle where it’s just, “I make money and I pay a mortgage.” You want to be able to live in a cycle where you make money, you pay a mortgage, you put away some savings, and you enjoy your home.

Realtors who know what they’re doing should bring up this conversation of affordability with their clients because we’re not in this business for one transaction. We’re in this business for life, so we know eventually that buyer is going to want to buy again, invest, upsize or downsize. Personally, I want to have an honest, transparent relationship with them, but I also want them to win, which means they see equity grow in their property over time.

READ: Real Estate Terms All First-Time Homebuyers Should Know

Before they even meet with a realtor, buyers should know how much savings they have. They also need to get an understanding of where they want to live and the type of home they want. They need strong financial backing — making sure their credit is in good standing — and they must have a strong job and understanding of their own financial situation before they buy.

Ask An Agent