If you're thinking ahead to your next dream home, the road you need to take to get there may seem confusing. Do you search for listings online? Drop by Open Houses on the weekends? Call the number on For Sale signs? Let's break it all down!
Here are the specific steps you need to take to ensure you find a home that fits your wants, needs and budget.
1. Find out how much your current property will likely sell for on today’s market.
2. Arrange for financing, so you know what you can afford.
3. Select neighbourhoods you'd love to live in. (That may involve some fun exploring!)
4. Decide on the type of home you want to buy. (For example: detached, three-bedroom, etc.)
5. Prioritize the property features you want most, so you can be flexible if a feature is missing from a home listed on the market that is otherwise ideal.
6. View properties on the market that closely fit your criteria, particularly new listings that may not yet be posted online. (Tip: Arrange to be immediately notified of new listings that are a good fit for you.)
7. When you find a home you want, make an offer designed to get the property — without overpaying.
8. Negotiate until you secure the deal. This may involve counter-offers.
9. If the negotiation is skillfully done and all goes well, the home is yours.
As you can see, there isn't a lot of mystery in finding your next dream home. You just need to take the steps and get the professional help you need along the way.
Looking for a real estate agent that can get you to the finish line? Call today!
Imagine you've found the perfect home. You love it. You've made an offer that's been accepted. So far so good! The only catch? You've wisely made the offer conditional on passing a professional home inspection.
What happens if that home inspection reveals a major issue?
First, you should know that, depending on the age of the property, a home inspection will typically turn up at least a few areas of concern. The inspector might find loose insulation in the attic that is thinning out or roofing shingles that will need replacing in two or three years.
Issues like those are not usually deal-breakers.
However, if the home inspector finds a major issue — such as old wiring that's worn and presents a safety concern — then you're facing a potentially high cost of repair should the deal go through.
In a situation like that, as your real estate agent, I will address the issue with the seller, usually through the seller's agent. Since neither of you will want to lose the deal, the seller often agrees to get the repair done at his own expense or, have some or all of the estimated repair cost deducted from the sale price.
Will the deal be in jeopardy? Usually not. In most cases, if you have a real estate agent like me working in your best interests, it all works out.
Wouldn't it be nice if you had all the time in the world to find your next dream home? You could leisurely browse the current listings, select homes you'd like to see, schedule visits on dates that are most convenient for you, and make an offer on a property only after you've had plenty of time to consider all the alternatives.
Sure, that sometimes happens, but it's not typical. Often, people shopping for a home are on a timeline. Sometimes a very tight timeline.
So how do you find your next dream home when you don't have all the time in the world?
First, you need to develop a clear picture of the home you're looking to buy. How many bedrooms? What size of property? What type of structure (two story, back split, etc.)? Then, you need to list your preferences. These might include "large kitchen" or "main floor office".
Once you've completed that exercise, you'll have a more detailed profile of the type of property you want. That will make it easier to decide which of the listings on the market you want to see.
You should also narrow down the area in which you'd like to live. If you have three or four targeted areas, and only consider listings in those areas, your home search will be much faster.
What if you don't know the neighbourhoods well? Visit a few. Drive around. Explore. Get as much neighbourhood data as possible, such as demographics, recreational activities, parks, shopping, schools, etc. Then choose the neighbourhoods that fit your lifestyle.
Finally, the best way to find a new home on a tight schedule is to work with the right real estate agent — someone who, like me, is experienced in the local market.
Call me anytime.
Is there an area you'd love to get into that's "hot"? In other words, an area where, as soon as a new home comes up for sale, buyers are clamouring to see it?
It can be intimidating to try to buy into a neighbourhood like that. On one hand, it's the type of area you'd love to call home. After all, there are good reasons why it's so popular! On the other hand, you might be discouraged by the competitiveness and prices.
If you want to live in that neighbourhood, there are a couple of things you can do that will increase your chances of success.
The first is to create a strategy. Most buyers rush to see a listing in a desirable area only when it shows up on MLS — or sometimes only when it's advertised. You'll have a better chance of getting into the neighbourhood if you are alerted the moment a property comes up for sale and you have pre-arranged financing. You’ll get to the head of the line and be ready to make a credible offer.
The second option is to consider targeting other neighbourhoods with similar characteristics. You may have long-dreamed of living in Prestigious Area A, yet there might be a Hidden Gem Area B that is just as good. Maybe it’s even better!
Ultimately, your goal is to find the home you want in a neighbourhood you like. The right strategy will get you there.
Contact me for more information.
Imagine this scenario...
You're shopping for a new home. You drive to visit a recent listing. As you walk through the front doors, you're impressed. Every room looks fantastic.
You see yourself relaxing on the spacious patio, cooking in the modern kitchen, and enjoying evenings with the family in the cozy living room. Your emotions are on overdrive. This is your dream home!
Should you make an offer? Probably. In fact, you should make that decision quickly in case there are other interested buyers.
However, your decision shouldn't be guided purely by emotion. You want to make sure you take practical matters into consideration too.
For example, you'll want to consider:
- Is the property within your price range?
- Does it have everything you need?
- Do you like the neighbourhood?
- How old is the property? Are there items, such as the furnace, that may need to be replaced soon?
- Will it need any major repairs or upgrades?
- What are the average monthly costs of carrying the home? (Property taxes, utilities, etc.)
Once you've considered the purchase of the home from a practical standpoint, you'll have a lot more confidence in your decision when you make an offer.
Need help? Call me.
Buying a new pair of shoes is relatively easy. Once you find the style you like, all you need to do is try them on and see if they fit. If they do, you go to the cash register and pay.
When it comes to size, buying a new home can be trickier! Whether your intention is to upsize or downsize, figuring out the right size can be especially challenging.
Say for example, you’re downsizing from a large two-story home to a smaller bungalow. You don’t want to underestimate the space you need and end up in a place that feels tight. If you’re going the other way and upsizing, you don’t want to end up sinking extra money into a property that’s larger than you really need.
So how do you avoid these scenarios?
One of the best ways is to start by considering your current home. Do you use all the rooms in your home regularly? Is there a bedroom that’s rarely occupied? Has the recreation room become simply a storage area? If you’re downsizing, subtracting rooms you scarcely use can give you a better idea of what you need in a new home.
Upsizing is a bit more challenging because you have to anticipate what you will need in the future. For example, if you have young children, and your place is feeling cramped, then a home with a recreation room or separate family and living rooms may be a good idea. You may also need a bigger kitchen with a spacious eating area (in addition to a separate dining room.) Think about the extra room you’ll need and how you’ll use that space.
When I work with a client, I typically sit down with them and discuss the type of home they want in detail — and, based on needs and circumstance, I make expert recommendations. Bottom line, I help clients find the perfect fit in a new home. Contact me if you’d like to learn more.
An Open House is an event. And, like many events, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and energy. In fact, when you visit an Open House, you might even end up rubbing elbows with other buyers who are there at the same time. It can feel like a party!
In an environment like that, it’s not unusual to forget to ask important questions about the property. Here are some of the most common:
• How old is the roof?
• How old is the furnace, air conditioner and other HVAC equipment?
• How does the price compare to similar properties in the neighbourhood? (You don’t want to make an offer that’s too high.)
• What are the characteristics of the neighbourhood? (Amenities, safety, traffic, access to public transit, property turnover, etc.)
• What doesn’t come with the home? (Ask specifically about kitchen appliances, gas-connected BBQs, chandeliers, window coverings.)
• Are there any potential impediments to the sale? (Tenants, outstanding liens, etc.)
• Are there any outstanding maintenance issues, or repairs that need to be done? (For example, cracked ceramics on the foyer floor.)
• Are there any issues that impact the full use of the property? (Ask specifically about shared driveways or walkways, public “right of way” through the property, water drainage rights from neighbouring homes, etc.)
Yes, an Open House can feel like a frenzy, and if it’s a home you love, you might feel pressured to make an offer. But, it’s important to take the time to ask the right questions and consider your decision carefully. You don’t want to find out, too late, that there were questions you should have asked.
Want more tips on finding the home of your dreams? Call today.
Imagine this scenario...
You purchase a new home and move in. A few weeks later, you hear a strange rumbling sound. It’s the furnace. It’s only a year old, yet it’s sputtering like it’s twenty. You realize you’ll have to call in an HVAC contractor to get it fixed.
You’re thinking, “Ouch! This is going to be expensive.”
Well, maybe not. You see, since that furnace is relatively new, it might be covered by its original warranty — even for you, the new owner.
But a warranty is useless if you don’t know it exists.
Recent studies suggest that upwards of 50% of people pay to get items fixed that were actually covered by a warranty. So, when purchasing a new home, be sure to ask this simple question: “What warranties do you have for items, materials or workmanship in this house?”
Warranties are common on new stoves, fridges, washers, dryers and other big ticket appliances. Some such warranties are transferrable, which means they are still in force when the items pass from one owner to another.
Even less expensive items, such as electronic thermostats and automatic garage door openers, may be covered by a transferrable manufacturer’s warranty.
If the home you’re purchasing is relatively new (say, less than 10 years old), the builder’s warranty may also still be in force. That can be handy if a structural problem arises.
Even recent renovations, may have come with a labour and/or installation warranty of some kind.
As you can see, warranties are everywhere! The more you’re aware of them, the more you’ll save when something needs repair or replacement.
Imagine there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday, but, every time you drive through, you rarely, if ever, see a For Sale sign. It’s as if homes get gobbled up by buyers the moment they get listed.
It’s true, properties do tend to sell quickly in desirable, in-demand neighbourhoods. Does that mean you’re destined to either hope for a lucky break or miss out on ever living there?
Fortunately, no. There are practical things you can do to increase your chances of getting into that neighbourhood.
Your first step is to find out the kind of new home you can afford. You want to get your financial ducks in a row so when a listing does come up in the area, you’re able to respond quickly. Find out the average price range of homes in the neighbourhood. Then, if necessary, talk to your lender or mortgage broker.
The second step is to get your current property ready for sale. You don’t necessary need to list it now, but you want to be in a position to do so quickly, if necessary. You may need to clean up and declutter, get repairs done, and spruce up your home in other ways.
The third step is to talk to me. You see, listings in popular neighbourhoods often move fast. By the time you see them advertised on the internet, they may be gone. I can closely monitor listings in that area for you, so the moment one comes up that meets your criteria, you can be alerted. This greatly increases your chances of getting that home.
So if there is a dream neighbourhood you’d love to get into, give me a call.
Imagine buying a product from a store, taking it home, and then discovering there’s a problem with it. Disappointing, yes, but not a catastrophe. You can simply take it back for repair or exchange. But, what if it’s moving day, and you discover there’s a problem with your new home? Whoa. A house isn’t so easily returned!
What are the most common problems encountered on moving day?
• A delay in getting the keys.
• The seller not having completely moved out.
• An item expected to be included with the property is missing.
(For example, the window blinds.)
• Something needs repair that was not disclosed by the seller, nor did it come up during inspection.
(For example, the dishwasher not working.)
• Damage to the property caused by the seller.
(For example, a heavy item dropped during the move and cracking a floor tile.)
Fortunately, these are rare events. In most cases, you can expect no serious issues when you move into your new home.
But, if something is wrong, you have options. So, call me immediately. In all likelihood, I will be able to quickly resolve the issue.
If it’s a serious matter, such as missing items, I may get your real estate lawyer involved to arrange for the return of the item(s) or compensation.
So don’t worry. Let the professionals handle it. You can just enjoy your new home!
Imagine finding the perfect home, only to discover there is serious interest from at least a dozen other buyers. It’s like scrambling for the last piece of cake at a buffet!
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help get the home you want, even in a highly competitive market. Here are just a few ideas:
• Only view a few ideal properties at a time. If you see too many, and thus spread yourself too thin, you risk homes slipping through your fingers.
• Be realistic about price. Focus on finding a great home that you can afford, rather than trying to find a bargain.
• Consider homes that need some work. They get less interest than perfectly staged properties, yet can turn out to be a dream home.
• Be prepared to make an offer with as few conditions as possible. An offer conditional on passing inspection is usually fine, but in a competitive situation, offers with other conditions will likely be turned down.
• Make your decisions quickly. If there are likely to be other interested buyers, you want to get your offer in early.
• Make the right offer. To win the deal, you want your offer to be as enticing as possible to the seller — especially when it comes to price.
Yes, it can be tough finding an ideal home in a hot market, but I can help. Give me a call and I’ll show you how.
Imagine finding a home you love, making an offer, and then finding out there are other competing offers on the table. Ouch.
If you’re looking for a property in a competitive market, it is likely that there will be multiple offers. Even just one can create the risk that you’ll lose the home. So how do you make sure your offer is enticing enough to win over the buyer? Here are some ideas:
• Don’t make a low-ball offer. If you do, it might be dismissed and you
probably won’t get another chance to bid — especially if the other
competing offers are near the listing price.
• Have a pre-arranged mortgage and include that with your offer. This
reassures the buyer there won’t be any money issues. (Most lenders
will provide you with a pre-arranged mortgage certificate for this
• Go in with a price high enough that the buyer will be interested, but
not so high as to be leaving money on the table. This is tricky and
requires a savvy knowledge of the current market.
• Have a REALTOR® present the offer on your behalf. A REALTOR®
will know how to do so professionally, and in a manner that gives you
the best chance of getting the home.
In a competitive situation, working with a REALTOR® who is an expert on the local market — and a skilled negotiator — is crucial.
As a prospective home buyer you have responsibility during the viewing of homes. You need to be sensitive and respectful when touring properties with your agent. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow during your home hunting days:
Aim to look innocuous and don't let your clothes give anything away. You don’t want to look scruffy, but equally, if you look too smart the vendor might assume you've got loads of money and won’t negotiate.
Leave young children and babies at home
It is advisable not to take kids on a first viewing as they can be too distracting. If the vendor has children, then it is typically okay to bring them on a second viewing. However, if the vendor is childless, they may find it a bit of an imposition.
Arrive on time for the viewing
You should always make the effort to arrive on time. Also if you are coming with others, make sure you arrive together. Showings are usually set for a certain time and it is not only an inconvenience to your agent if you are late but the seller may be on a schedule. Often owners will leave just in time for a showing and may be waiting to return after its completion.
Take off your shoes
Even if you are not accustomed to taking off your shoes before entering someone else's home, it is best to do so when viewing a home so that you do not track mud and dirt into the home. People from various cultures and religions who do not wear shoes in home may be offended if you enter their house with your shoes on, so it is best to leave your shoes at the front door.
Respect the seller's personal property
While it is expected to open kitchen cabinets, pantries and closets, try to keep the investigation down to a minimum. Avoid opening dresser drawers, looking at personal items and using the master bathroom.
Don’t criticize things you don’t like in front of the homeowner if they are present in the home
If the owners happen to be at home, keep conversation with them to a minimum. Most sellers try to be out when a showing takes place but sometimes it is just not possible. It is best not to "grill" them about why they are selling or where they are going. These questions are better filtered through your agent. The very worst thing you can do is say things like 'well we'd have to knock that wall down' and 'if we filled the pond in the garden it would look much better'. The vendor is probably very proud of their property the way it is. Although, some aspects of the house may not suit you and while you may not wish to purchase the home, it is best to have those discussions with your spouse out of earshot.
When leaving the home, it is nice to say things like, "Thank you for showing me around, it's kind of you to take the time" or "You have a lovely home". Vendors usually remember nice and polite people and favour them in any competition for the house.
Most people have enough common sense to be courteous and careful when entering a stranger's home for viewing. When in doubt about protocol, just ask your agent. One of the standing rules about viewing a home is - leave it exactly the way you found it.
Happy House Hunting!
DFH Buyer Service Promise
- Dedicate myself to making the process of buying your next home as easy and as successful as possible.
- Respect you, your needs and be honest and forthright.
- Hold your best interests in the highest regard throughout the process.
- Value and respect your time, being as efficient and effective as possible.
- Understand your needs and respond quickly.
- Consult with you to determine your particular real estate wants and needs.
- Use my base of experience, knowledge, tools and the most up-to-date training to best serve you.
- Explain each step of the process and act as a guide to help you make the most informed decisions.
- Disclose material facts known about the property and respond to questions concerning the property.
- Help determine your purchasing power, while explaining alternative methods of purchasing and/or financing.
- Provide an action plan for locating the right property, at the right price and terms, in an acceptable time frame.
- To the best of my ability, show you new properties that fit your needs.
- Provide a Customized Home Search Plan using our MLS® prospecting services, for locating the right property for you, only showing you properties that will best meet your needs and in accordance with FairHousing regulations and ethical real estate practices.
- Use the most comprehensive database of listings in the area, to help you find the home that best meets your needs, whether that be the Multiple Listing Service and/or other methods.
- Provide the resources of our Company to offer hundreds of listings, allowing you to easily review homes that are right for you, access in-depth information on neighborhoods, and additional information.
- Use my knowledge and expertise to promote the most valuable purchase on your behalf. I will assist you in evaluating the market value of properties that are of interest to you and help you obtain the most advantageous price and terms.
- Provide access to financing that meets your needs, at the lowest possible rates available to you.
- Advise and assist you in completing your purchase agreement, and present your offer with integrity in a light most favorable to your needs.
- Upon acceptance of an offer by you, pre-settlement activities throughout the closing process will be monitored as permitted by law or local practice.
- Offer to provide you with information regarding other professionals (e.g. lawyers/notaries, accountants, inspectors, contractors) that may assist you during and after your move.
Figuring out how much time you should spend viewing properties for sale isa little like asking, “How long should I spend trying on shoes?”
The answer seems obvious: As long as it takes to make a decision!
Buying a home is significantly more complex than purchasing shoes – and the stakes are higher too! You need to make sure you have all the information necessary to confidently make the best decision.
There are basically three stages to viewing a property:
When you view a home on a macro basis, you’re looking at it from an overall perspective. For example, you may do a general walk-through to get a first impression and determine if the property has the basic features you need, such as the number of bedrooms and the size of the backyard.
Macro viewing is often the fastest stage in the viewing process and can sometimes take just a few minutes. If you like what you see, then it’s onto the micro stage. At this stage you take a closer look at the details of the property. You might, for example, spend extra time in the master bedroom imagining how your furniture would look and fit.
The micro stage takes longer simply because the home is now on your shortlist. You’re interested and are considering making an offer.
Finally, the professional stage involves getting a qualified home inspector to go over the property with a fine tooth comb. That typically occurs after you’ve made an offer.
As your REALTOR®, I will guide you through a viewing so you’ll know what to look for and can make a smart, informed decision. Call today.
Imagine if you dreamed of owning a special limited edition vehicle. What would you do to ensure that your dream vehicle would someday be parked in your driveway — with your name on the ownership papers?
You would probably start by doing some research. You’d find out how much that vehicle would cost, what features are available, and so forth. You would likely visit a local dealership and take a test drive if a model is available on site. You would keep an eye on the market for any that come up and let the dealer know you’re looking for just that car.
If you did, then, some day, you’d probably be the proud owner of the limited
edition car of your dreams.
What does this have to do with real estate?
Well, you can take the same approach when there’s a neighbourhood you’d love to live in someday. You can target it, learn what homes typically cost in that area, and keep your eye on that market in case a property becomes available that meets your criteria.
By focusing on a specific neighbourhood, you increase your chances of someday living there, simply because you’re focusing on it.
Of course, neighbourhood targeting isn’t as simple as aiming to own a specific car someday. That’s why you need a great REALTOR® who can keep an eye on that neighbourhood on your behalf and alert you to opportunities that become available.
Then, when there is a listing that’s a good fit, you can decide whether or not to make a move.
Is there a dream neighbourhood you’d like to live in some day? Call me today to make it happen.
A house-hunting checklist will help you keep track of the advantages and drawbacks of each home. Ensure the checklist includes the basic information regarding location, asking price, annual property taxes, mortgage terms and any applicable zoning restrictions.
Jot down your impressions of the exterior of the home, note the lot size and shape as well as the position of the home on the lot (facing north, south, east or west). Note the condition of the landscaping and whether or not the yard is fenced.
Check the condition of the siding and note if the home has an attached or detached garage. Take a good look at the roof and note its general condition and age. It's also important to examine the foundation of the home for any visible cracks or holes.
Note if the home has a separate front hallway. Check windows to ensure they open and close easily and note the general condition of the doors. The kitchen is an important room in any home, so pay attention to its size, the condition of its appliances, sink, cupboard space, counter tops, flooring, lighting and electrical outlets. Be sure to ask if any or all of the appliances are included in the sale.
It may be that a separate dining room, a family room or a fireplace is important to you. Note also the size of the bedrooms and closet space and whether or not there are any window coverings or adjoining bathrooms. Also make note of the flooring and room colours.
Make notes on the number and sizes of bathrooms and the conditions of the fixtures. Check all faucets and flush toilets to make sure they are in good working order and to see if there is adequate water pressure.
Check to see if the basement is full or partial, finished or unfinished, and if there is adequate room for walking about. Check the utility area and find out if the washer and dryer are included in the sale. It is also important to ask about the type of heating, water service, plumbing (copper or other), electrical amperage and insulation.
Your REALTOR® will be able to help you with questions you are unsure of. It is also a good idea to have a professional building inspector examine any home that you are considering buying.
It’s been a busy 2015 and our markets have been characterized by an increased demand from Buyers with a decreased amount of properties available on the open markets. This has created an imbalance with the markets which are generally favouring Sellers currently. The trickledown effect of these conditions is that property values are increasing. In fact, overall, the Victoria market values are up by nearly 10% over this time last year.
For Sellers this means that it’s a great time to get your property listed. For Buyers this means that there are a larger quantity of other Buyers out there that are potentially competing with you for the fewer amount of properties that are available. Due to this, we are seeing multiple offer scenarios coming back into our markets.
Many of the specific conditions will be dictated by the geographic area you are working in, the type of housing (single family, townhouse, duplex, condo), and the price point you are working within.
If you are thinking about making a purchase this spring, I recommend you consider these following suggestions before beginning your house hunt. These points will help you to avoid disappointment while setting you up for success.
Get a jump on the new listings: Good properties sell quickly in these market conditions. If you are getting ready to buy something soon, ask your Realtor to change your MLS settings to notify you immediately when a new property that fits your criteria is listed. If you like the looks of it, get in touch with your Realtor quickly and view it as soon as possible.
Be prepared: Have your financing in order so if you see the “one” you will be in a position to move on it. Make sure you are qualified at the price point you are shopping in.
Talk to your Realtor about the possibility of finding yourself in a multiple offer situation: Discuss how you can position yourself strategically. The fewer conditions on the offer, the better. Don’t ask for chattels (furniture, personal possessions of the Seller) or for favours from the Sellers. If possible, try to offer the Seller the closing dates they are looking for and remove your conditions as quickly as possible. Remember you only get one chance to impress the Seller in a multiple offer situation. We recommend that you put your best offer forward, you may not have a chance to negotiate. A short note to the Seller about your family and what you like about the home can also sometimes sway a Seller in your favour.
Price: Think about your upper limit to price. Often in multiple offers, the minimum offer is the list price and sometimes Buyers must go above the list price to secure the property. In a multiple offer scenario the highest price is usually the offer that is considered. Make sure you are comfortable at this elevated price and that you are qualified for it.
Consider a larger deposit: Typically we see deposits in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. If you are in a position to offer a higher deposit at the time of condition removal, your offer will appear stronger. The deposit money forms part of the purchase price upon closing.
If you would like more information or assistance with negotiating the current market conditions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time. Ask me for further details on your market area and I will be happy to update you on your own personal situation.
When you make an offer on a home, it’s a smart idea to have a professional home inspector check it out from top to bottom. This inspection will ensure that the property doesn’t have any unexpected “issues”. After all, you don’t want to buy a home only to discover that the roof needs to be replaced, immediately, for thousands of dollars. That being said, you might question whether you really need to invest the few hundred dollars it costs for a professional home inspection. “The home we want to buy looks like it’s in very good shape,” you might be thinking. “I can’t see anything wrong with it.”
However, a professional home inspector can see things you can’t. When you view a property that’s on the market, you might be able to notice obvious issues, like a crack in the foundation or a dripping faucet. If you’re experienced with home maintenance, you might even notice roofing tiles that look like they’re overdue for replacement. But you won’t pick up all the issues a home inspector can.
A home inspector will, for example, use a special device to check for moisture build-up in the washrooms – which can be an indication of mould. He or she will also inspect wiring to make sure everything is safe and compliant with the building code.
That’s not all.
Like a determined detective, a home inspector will investigate the property’s structure, electrical and plumbing systems, insulation, and other components — and then report the findings to you.
In the end, a professional home inspection gives you peace-of-mind and protects your investment. So getting one is highly recommended — even for recently built homes.
A good REALTOR® can recommend a trusted home inspector for you.
Looking for more ideas on making smart decisions when buying a home? Call today.
Finding the perfect home doesn't happen in one day. It takes careful planning and lots of work. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to simplify the process.
1. Things to Consider Before Starting Your Search
What Features Do You Need?
Do you need an extra bathroom, a garage, a fenced backyard, or lower utility bills? Do you want a fireplace, a short drive to work, or maybe minimal yard work? Once your list is complete, decide what’s most important to you.
What’s the Ideal Location?
Where you live obviously affects your life
style; it’s also one of the most significant influences on the value of your home. Your choice of location may be somewhat limited by the price you can afford. Even so, make sure to consider such things as distance to work, schools, shopping and entertainment.
What Kind of Home?
What type of property do you want? A single-family detached home is attractive to many people because it typically provides more living space and land. On the other hand, a condominium may be a more appropriate choice for you, with an emphasis on maintenance-free living. Determine what type of home best suits your desired lifestyle and budget.
What’s Your Budget?
How much do you want to spend? Just as importantly, how much do you have to spend? Note there are numerous additional expenses (detailed below) that you’ll pay to complete the purchase of a home.
2. Choosing a REALTOR®
A REALTOR® can help you answer all of these questions and help you navigate through what can be a complicated business transaction. Start by finding REALTORS® in your city by using CREA’s handy search tool. Then, talk to some of them and compare their services. It’s important that you’re comfortable and confident with the agent you choose.
3. Searching For a Home
A REALTOR® will use various tools to try and find properties that meet your specifications. The most important is a local Board’s MLS® (Multiple Listing Service®) System. Your REALTOR® can quickly search through numerous properties available for sale in specific areas to find suitable listings; that is, houses that best match your needs, choice of neighbourhoods and price range. You can also view listings in Board MLS® Systems that are advertised on the national REALTOR.ca web site.
4. Seeing Houses
When you select a property and decide to visit a house, there are many things to consider. Does it have all the features you want? Is the neighbourhood what you expected? Try to picture your favorite furnishings in a room. Remember all of the technical considerations, including:
- What type of wiring does the house have?
- What about power outlets? Different appliances use different types.
- What type of heating system does it use? Heating costs can vary drastically by type.
- Have the roof and foundation been well maintained?
- What condition are the windows in?
- What about the plumbing?
There are numerous other things to consider as well. If you don't have time or don't feel comfortable doing it, home inspection services are available for a reasonable fee. Having a qualified home inspector look at the house is always a good idea. The older the home, the greater the need for professional inspection.
5. Making an Offer
Once you find a house you want to make your home, your REALTOR® can help you develop an offer. In the offer, you should specify how much you're willing to pay. State when the offer expires and suggest a closing date for the transaction. You can also propose some condi
tions on the offer. Some common types of conditions are:
- Getting a suitable mortgage (include the amount, interest rates and any other figures you feel important);
- Selling your current home (the seller may continue to look for a buyer, but will give you the right of first refusal);
- The seller providing a current survey, or a "real property report," showing that there are no encroachments on the property;
- The seller having title to the property (your lawyer will check this out when she conducts a title search to see if there are any liens on the property, easements, rights of way or height restrictions);
- If there’s a septic system, the seller having a health inspection certificate, stating that the system meets local standards;
- An inspection by a qualified engineer, should you have any doubts about the home's safety and construction; and
- Any inclusions of appliances and other items - basically, what stays and what goes.
You will need to present a deposit along with your offer. An appropriate deposit will show your good faith to the seller. Note that the seller's agent, if they are represented by one, is bound by law to bring all offers to the seller's attention.
6. If Your Offer is Accepted
After your offer is accepted and all conditions met, the offer becomes binding on both sides. If you later refuse to honour the agreement, you may lose your deposit or might be sued for damages. Before signing, make sure you understand and agree with all terms of the offer.
Before the property can formally change hands, there are still a few things to do. Be prepared to furnish proof to your lender that you’ve insured your new house. On or before closing day, both side’s lawyers will arrange to transfer title of the property from the seller to you. The mortgage money will be transferred to your lawyer's trust account, and then to the seller, and your lawyer will bill you all additional expenses such as land transfer taxes or outstanding legal fees.
At this time, be sure to check with your lawyer that everything is as stated in the offer-to-purchase.
Once you're satisfied and the keys to the front door are in your hands, there's nothing else to say, except welcome home!
No matter what type of home or property you're buying, plan on some extra expenses.
- A land transfer tax (a sales tax on property) in certain provinces
- A mortgage broker's fee
- An appraisal fee
- Surveying costs (if the seller couldn't come up with a current survey)
- A high-ratio mortgage insurance premium
- An interest adjustment. (Mortgages are normally calculated from the first of each month. If your closing date is the same as the beginning of your mortgage, there will be no adjustment. However, if your closing date is July and you move in on June 15, those last 15 days are the interest adjustment period. Your lender will expect you to cover the cost of the interest during that time.)
- Reimbursement to seller for the unused portion of any prepaid property taxes or utility bills
- Legal fees, and, if applicable, REALTOR® fees
(The comments contained on this page are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.)