First of all I want to say congratulations to you for taking the first step in making one of the best and biggest investments in your life. It can truly be a rewarding experience to now be putting your hard earned money intobuilding equity instead of paying off someone else's mortgage.
Here's some of the most common questions we Realtors generally get dealing with potential clients.
WHY DO I NEED A REAL ESTATE AGENT FOR BUYING A HOME? CAN'T I JUST CALL THE NAME ON THE SIGN?
Yes you can totally call the agent on the sign and they would love nothing more than to sell the home to you, as they will make more money. Please keep in mind though, they've been hired to work in the seller's best interests. As a buyer agent, I can do extensive research about any property you have an interest in purchasing by checking past sales reports, area stats, house history and other data. This totally benefits you as I will try to get you the home at the lowest price I can, while the listing agent is in a conflict of interest as he's trying to get the highest price for his clients, while trying to get you the lowest price? Figure that one out!!
What to ask your potential Realtor?
HOW DO I GET STARTED? WHEN DO I CALL AN AGENT AND WHAT ARE THE STEPS I NEED TO TAKE?
To me the first step is to call an agent who will want to know everything about you. What are you looking for exactly? Where do you want to relocate? Do you have a property to sell first? Do you rent and if so, when is your lease up and do you need to give your notice? What are your wants and needs? (amenities close by, schools, transit, churches etc..) What can you afford to spend or what are you willing to spend? Have you been to a bank or mortgage lender and have gotten pre-approved?
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is one of the key things you must do first. It is a pivotal element to know what market you able to shop in? I don't see the point of taking you to see $700,000 homes if you are only approved for $500,000. It's a waste of both our time. Check out the video below where my partner Gloria Valvasori and I better explain why it's key to get pre-approved and the many ways it will benefit you in the long run.
SO YOU HAVE DECIDED TO WORK WITH ME, WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?
First off we probably would have had a few conversations by now and maybe have even met up. I love to get to know who I'm going to be working with. Usually I will set you up on a "drip campaign" where I get all new listings with your requirements to get emailed to you every morning and you can take a look as to what is now out there. This is a benefit as well because I get the listings a bit earlier than what the public sites like Realtor.ca does so we have a bit of an edge to see the newly listed property first before the general public. I do require you to get pre-approved as well as it shows me you're serious about this and I'm not just taking you site seeing to see many homes for no reason.
Now for the chance that we have only talked via the telephone and we're meeting for the first time it is very important that everyone that is involved in the transaction of purchasing the home is here so we can all meet and make sure we like each other and are comfortable working together. I like to make this experience as seemless as possible. Now if things go well and we're all good with each other then I like to get a couple balls rolling for us.
Now I expect a call from you regarding the drip campaign and if there are any homes you wish for me to book appointments for to see with you. This is where the process starts to get fun as you get to see the many styles and kinds of homes that you may be purchasing together and this is where it starts to get real. Now there are a few pieces of paper that I like to get you to sign just before we head out to look. These papers are standard papers that will need to be filled out at some point before you purchase a property and it protects you and myself from any future issues. It's called a Buyers Representation Agreement (B.R.A.) and it guarantees me the right to commission on any homes you may purchase that I have shown you.
These papers are required to protect us realtors from those that use us to go out and see properties and then go use their cousin who is a realtor to actually purchase the house but they didn't want to bug him with the other stuff. The great part is you can sign it for one property, one day, one weekend or whatever time frame you decide, so there's no big contract that you are stuck with so don't worry about that. No scams, no nothing but the B.R.A. but it is that elephant in the room that everyone wants to address, kind of like talking about an agents commission.
DO YOU RECOMMEND TO GO TO ANYONE FOR FINANCIAL PRE-APPROVAL OR SHOULD I JUST GO TO MY BANK?
Benefits of Getting Financial Pre-Approval
I have a few phenominal mortgage agents on my "team" who do nothing but exceptional work, they usually get you the best rates, show you your many options and once pre-approved you are locked in at that rate from 90-120 days. This is great for you because in case the rates go up you are safe for this time period and if the rates go down you get that one instead, it's a win-win.
I find mortage agents are more personable, get great rates and you can do all this usually form the comfort of your living room. By the way I l ike to point out that I get no kick backs for recommending them to you, I just think they are some of the best out there and I want my clients happy and saving their hard earned money as the whole process of purchasing a home can get expensive, so every dollar counts!
WHEN ARE YOU AVAILABLE TO SEE PROPERTIES?
For my clients I'm available at all times, though it does depend as I am usually working with a few people at a time, either listing someone's home or with other buyers so I'm not always available at the drop of a hat. I work all the time and we just need to schedule times through the week where we can get together to see properties. I will shift things around if something does come up that you really want to see, as we shouldn't wait until the weekend because it might not be there by then. I'd hate for you to miss out on a property by waiting too long. I'm always here to help but communication is key as this is a business relationship but I want you satisfied as well as long as it's within reason.
HOW LONG DOES THIS WHOLE PROCESS TAKE?
That is a great question to which I have no real answer as it's different with every person. I have had it where I have shown a couple about five properties and the sixth was the one. They wanted it soooo bad I just had to do my best to get it for them. Luckily I did, in record time and they still call me once a week to thank me and see how I'm doing. That's what makes this all so worthwhile, a happy client!! I have also had others where I'm on the fiftieth property and they just can't decide or there is something wrong with every house. This is where I have to sit down with my clients and explain that there is very little chance you're going to find a home that has all the paint colours you wanted, the style you wanted, the backsplash you desire....etc. Home buying requires a bit of work and you have to look past the little things and see the home for what it is, an investment.
I want clients to focus more on the neighbourhoods they are looking into that will make them more on the return over which home has quartz counters and updated bathrooms.
I am looking for new homes daily for you and I'd like to end the home search process quickly as well but only if that means I have found the best suited home for you and for the best price we can get it for. If that is not in the cards then I will work tirelessly until it is done.
MY TWO CENTS...
Home buying is a tough business as it's very hard to wrap your head around spending that kind of money on something, but it truly is the best investment you will ever make and it's also tough because this is something people really buy with emotion. I generally like to tell someone to sleep on it and see how they feel about it in the morning but with the way the market is right now, if you sleep on it that could be the closest you'll ever get to owning that home because it could have sold to someone else overnight. I like to going on the showings to grade your reactions to each home as it gives me a better idea into what you are really gravitating towards and after each house you can openly tell what you did and didn't like so I know for when I'm looking for other compatible properties.
Lastly a couple things I always like to add a bit of advice and that is to not always be thinking of right now and think a little down the road. Sometimes buying in one area is great because it's happening and fun, while there is another perfectly good area close by and it's up and coming or in a rebuilding process that if you purchased a home there you could get more return in a few years for your money.
Keep your eyes on the neighbourhood and not just the house you are looking at. I always love to say that if you see a Starbucks "coming soon" generally means that the area is on its way up and a Popeye's chicken means its on its way down. More often than not I'm right, but it's fun to keep a watchful eye on your the districts and see if that rings true.
WHAT IF WE BID ON THE PERFECT HOME AND LOSE OUT TO SOMEONE ELSE?
Then I always say it wasn't meant to be. There is never just one perfect house out there for each of us, we get too emotionally attached to this process as sometimes you see something you just have to have. I always say another one will come along and it always does.
WHAT DO WE DO? WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
Well I'm a firm believer in not rushing into anything, as I mentioned you buy with emotion and I like those to sleep on it and sometimes you wake up and you've lost that "loving feeling". Sadly the reality of this seller's market that we are in right now is that right now it's more of a you snooze you lose situation and we have to act fast.
Well to back track a bit, some of the paperwork I had you do earlier along with the B.R.A. is a form for "FINTRAC" which is a standard form that covers large money transactions (such as your deposit) and it's used as protection against money laundering as well as the "Working with a Realtor" form that better explains what is expected of me as your agent and what scenarios that can come up such as multiple representation and such. Great part is if those are already filled out then we just have the agreement of purchase and sale to fill out and we're already saving time.
I generally like to have a few hours to quickly make sure the offer price we are coming up with is accurate for the area, style of home and to compare the other latest transactions that have taken place around the area as well. Once I have done that I will sit down with you and show you what I have come up with and see if you're in agreement. Again it's all coming down to what you want to offer, I can only show you what has transpired recently. In a competitive market I always ask my clients what price are you willing to pay to not lose this house? Again there are those that are paying an insane amount of money over the list price and I don't like my clients doing that, but again if that is what you want to do I can't stop you either.
So here is where we decide on a closing date (when you take over the property), an offer amount, deposit amount, chattels and fixtures included and excluded as well as the conditions we want to include on the purchasing of said property. Once that is all finished and signed, I call the brokerage and register and offer. Generally I like you to be available when I present the offer so that if it gets signed back (usually regarding money or conditions) then you are there to make any changes you are willing to make and initial right away so I can go back in and try to close the deal before any other offer may come in.
WE'RE IN......OFFER ACCEPTED!!!
NOW WHAT DO WE DO?
Now we have a timeline to work with to get our conditions either waived or fulfilled. We have 24 hours to get the deposit cheque for the property in the other brokerages hands. Then we have usually 3-5 days depending on what we wrote in the offer to get our home inspection done ($300-$500), our financing approved and attain a status certificate (if you're purchasing a condo only) along wiht any other condition that will firm up the deal.
I generally like to help as much as I can with all of these steps. I understand you have to probably get to work the next day so I can always meet you and get the cheque to the brokerage, I can be there for the home inspection on your behalf but I usually recommend one, if not both of you are there to see any issues in person as opposed to seeing the picture. Here is where I have make sure to organize that all the paperwork is getting put together from the broker or bank, home inspector, lawyers and the listing agent as well. If you choose to use someone other than who I recommend for inspection or lawyer then please be sure to provide with their contact info and time is a factor for these 3-5 days.
WHAT IS A HOME INSPECTION AND WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM IT?
An inspector will come to the home you are trying to purchase for about 3 hours and he'll go over the property with a fine tooth comb. He's looking for any major structural issues as well as anything that could be hazardous or poses a problem in time. There is no such thing as a perfect home inspection, every home have something wrong with it and most of the time it is a laundry list of things but most are just little things but be prepared for a list. Most concerns are with the roof structure or foundation and grading of the property. They also look into moisture issues, molds, conditions of windows, furnace and central air. A good inspector will be done and walk you through his list and explain his concerns to you. Some finish up and just email you their report later in the evening.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS SOMETHING MAJOR WRONG WITH THE HOME?
It has only happened twice to me where I lost a deal on an inspection but that was because the house had a lot of asbestos inside it and it cost too much to remove it all and my buyer didn't want it in his house. If this happens we generally make a price abatement or adjustment in hopes that the seller will co-operate and accept the reduction of price. I often recommend taking this road instead of letting the seller try to fix the issue instead of reducing the price as they may do it cheaply or not the way you would have done it. I think it's in your best interest (as long as you're comfortable with it) to take care of it when you move in. The great part too is that you could time it out to be done the day after you move in while you're still all boxed up.
WHAT ARE SUPPOSED TO DO UNTIL CLOSING DAY?
Generally I suggest to not procrastinate and get packing with a month to go. I always write a condition in your offer that you get access to the home 2-3 more times (roughly 45 min - an hour) to see the house, take measurements, pick colours for paint...etc. Just do things to think ahead, maybe call heat, hydro, gas, water and insurance to get everything tee'd up for the day you move in, and don;t forget to get your mail addressed changed as well.
MOVE IN DAY
CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are the proud owner of a property! You have a lot of work ahead of you but it is the most rewarding kind of work you can imagine. Now before you get to unpacking, eating pizza and drinking beer there is one last thing I need you to do and it's incredibly important. You MUST go through the house as soon as you get the keys and turn on everything, check the appliances, water, gas fireplaces, toilets, open windows....everything! Make sure everything is in working order as we have until the end of the day to find out what isn't working and I will look into getting it looked after. If you choose not to do this and the next day you go to cook and your stove doesn't work, then it is up to you to get it fixed. So let's make sure we cover everything. Here's to many happy years ahead of you and thanks for making me a part of this incredible journey!