HOME BUYER’S GUIDE AND TOOLS
How we help our buyers…
We are professional, full time REALTORS, but we are also: your guides to learning about the community, your counselors in making the right decision for you and your family, your negotiators in making a strong offer, your educators in the transaction process and your neighbours after you close and move in!
What we do:
- Provide you with extensive knowledge of your neighbourhoods, schools, activities, amenities, and more.
- Research homes that meet your criteria
- Schedule property showings and provide tours of existing local communities.
- Counsel you on making your strongest offer, as well as represent and negotiate on your behalf.
- Educate and communicate with you throughout the transaction process.
- Help you with all the closing details and final decisions.
CHOOSING AN AGENT
Buying a home is personal and emotional. So the relationship with your real estate agent has to be built on expertise, trust and mutual respect. After all, we will be acting as your eyes, ears and voice throughout the process. We have a legal duty to act in your best interests, to be completely transparent and accountable to you.
- Educate you about the current market condition
- Discuss and analyze your wants and needs against your budget
- Guide you to homes that fit your criteria
- Coordinate the work of other professionals you’ll need during the process
- Negotiate with the seller on your behalf
- Make sure all the required paperwork is fully completed, accurate and that deadlines are met
- Down payment – this is usually the percentage of the total cost of a home that you’ll need to pay. The more money you put down, the more money you’ll save on monthly payments and, in the long run, interest paid
- Knowing what you can afford – how much house you can afford comes down to 3 factors: your monthly mortgage payment, your down payment and the amortization period or length of time it will take to pay off the loan
- Getting pre-approved – this will really help you figure out what you can spend on a home because you’ll know before you start shopping. And you’ll be protected against rising interest rates as well
FINDING YOUR HOME
So now it’s time to get out there and find your dream home. Most people start off by having a neighbourhood in mind but a great agent may suggest options that you may not have thought of. Here are some considerations as you set out to house hunt:
- Choosing the right neighbourhood – Do you need to be close to schools, public transit, highways or where you work? Those can be huge factors when choosing an area to live. And let’s not forget proximity to other amenities like parks, grocery stores, doctors and recreational centres. Drive around and check out the appearance of other homes in the area. Are they well taken care of? Of course, your agent will be able to inform you of property values in the area and how they’ve changed over the years.
- House hunting – the hunt can be a lot of work but it can also be a lot of fun. So when you visit homes, go with a partner – spouse, parent, friend – because two sets of eyes are better than one. Don’t be shy about asking some tough questions regarding the home. Take some pictures or video on your smartphone so you can reference it later. And remember that checklist you made? It will come in handy now
- View open houses with open eyes – curb appeal is one thing but try not to focus on the bells and whistles. Keep a lookout for things like doors and windows (are they new/old?), water leaks, squeaky floors, soggy areas around the yard that indicate poor drainage and could lead to a wet basement, missing shingles, lighting, etc. You’ll be getting a home inspection later, but it doesn’t hurt to start with your own observations
MAKING AN OFFER
- Not all offers are the same – the main factors on most offers will include price, deposit, terms (which includes financing details), conditions, specific items that are included or not with the home and the closing date. From there, you can decide to make a “firm” offer which means that you’re willing to buy the home exactly as it is. Or, you could make the offer “conditional” on things like a home inspection, approval of financing or the sale of your existing home
- Negotiating may come into play – the seller will either accept your offer, reject it or make a counter offer based on things like price, closing date or other conditions. While receiving a counter offer may be unsettling, know that your real estate agent has plenty of experience to help you. Some good tips for negotiating are: making sure what you’re asking for is fair and equitable; be polite and collaborative; hold fast to your “needs” and be flexible on your “wants”; and know when to walk away no matter how hard that may be
DO YOUR HOME WORK
- A home inspector – an absolute must in saving you from some unpleasant surprises later on. A home inspector will check your property for any structural damage; perform a thorough examination of the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and more; then prepare a complete written report detailing all their findings
- A legal professional – when it comes to complex legal documents, it takes a lawyer experienced in Canadian real estate law to help make sure that you and your investment are protected. A real estate lawyer will review the agreement of purchase and sale, do a property title search, check that your home complies with current building and zoning codes, ensure utilities and property taxes are paid up, review the mortgage agreement, and get all the paperwork ready for closing
THE BIG MOVE
The day has arrived. And there will be as much excitement as there will be sore backs. But you can take the pain out of moving day by planning ahead. Here are some tips for a smooth move:
- Make a moving checklist that details a plan for things that need to be done weeks before you move all the way up to moving day itself
- Plan for packing by clearly labelling boxes with the rooms they are to go to. You might even want to provide a small floorplan for the movers so they know exactly where to take them
- Make sure you get competitive quotes from reliable moving companies. Or, to save money, find out how much it would cost to hire a moving van yourself (And bribe your friends to help you)
- If you own your current home, cancel your cable and utilities and transfer any rented appliances (like a water heater or furnace) to the new home owners. While you’re at it, make sure to have the gas, electricity, cable and phone hooked up at your new home
- Inform your key contacts – work, Canada Post, doctors, friends, pharmacy, etc… – of your change of address
- If you have children, make sure you talk to them and explain why you’re moving and reassure them that the friends they’ve made can continue to be their friends. Ask for their opinion too on things like what colour to paint their rooms. Try and make it exciting for them
- On moving day, plan an easy meal like picking up some take-out. Moving is stressful enough without having to cook