Getting the Most from your Homebuying Team
For most of us, a home or condo will be the most significant asset we purchase. It makes sense, then, to employ the services of top-notch professionals when you set out to buy a home. For example, most of us will need a mortgage, so a lender — typically a financial institution — will be an important member of your team.
Referrals from friends, family, or other housing professionals are always a good place to start. To find out who to assemble for your team, and the role they will play, click through the links below:
The job of the real estate agent is to help you find the home you want, with as little fuss as possible.
Make sure you discuss with the agent what exactly you're looking for and what you are willing to pay. Armed with that knowledge, a licensed real estate professional will:
- Inform you about the state of the housing or condo market and evaluate potential neighbourhoods.
- Pre-screen homes or condos to ensure that you see only what fits your wants and your budget.
- Provide you with sound, practical advice to get the best deal possible.
- Tell you when to involve other professionals, such as a lawyer and a home inspector.
- Help you prepare and submit your offer to purchase.
- See the transaction through to a successful conclusion.
Choosing an agent
Interview potential real estate agents as you would a potential employee or an investment advisor. You are purchasing a home, after all, and you want to be comfortable with those working for you. They should know the neighourhood you are interested in, and preferably have an office there. They should also demonstrate knowledge of the general housing/condo market.
The decision to take on a mortgage with a particular institution involves many factors.....
The decision to take on a mortgage with a particular institution involves many factors, including affordability, types of mortgage, flexibility, and incentives. Many of us taking on a mortgage for the first time desire security and predictability. Others may want to shop around for the best available rates. When you talk to a potential lender, be upfront about what you want.
Once you've determined how much home you can afford, getting pre-approval is a smart step. Having a pre-approved mortgage tells potential sellers that you are serious about entering the housing market.
A pre-approved mortgage qualifies you for mortgage financing at an interest rate that is typically guaranteed for 120 days from the time that pre-approval is granted
The work of the lawyer usually begins when you submit your offer to purchase.
Your lawyer will:
- Review the offer to purchase (if necessary).
- Do a title search on the property.
- Ensure there are no outstanding disputes regarding property lines.
- Ensure there are no liens, mortgages, or taxes owing on the property.
- Search the Personal Property Registry to ensure there is nothing owed on freestanding items, such as appliances, included in the offer to purchase.
- Arrange the transfer of title, and payment of land transfer fees and taxes.
- Take care of all closing arrangements, including the transfer of keys from the vendor's lawyer.
Referrals from friends, family members, or associates are a good way to find a lawyer. Or you can call the law society to find one who specializes in real estate law. Although fees vary, the costs for all the legal duties will set you back between $500 and $1,500.
Tips for Condo Buyers
Choose a lawyer who has experience with condos. Because of the nature of condos — the buyer buys the unit outright, along with a share in the common property — unique "surprises" may arise.
Is the reserve fund of the condo corporation well funded? Are there any planned major repairs that may affect your monthly maintenance fees? Is the condo corporation party to any legal proceedings? Are there any unique by-laws that might affect your decision to purchase?
Choose a lawyer who has experience with condos. Because of the nature of condos — the buyer buys the unit outright, along with a share in the common property — unique "surprises" may arise. Is the reserve fund of the condo corporation well funded? Are there any planned major repairs that may affect your monthly maintenance fees? Is the condo corporation party to any legal proceedings? Are there any unique by-laws that might affect your decision to purchase?
A professional home inspector is a valuable addition to your team.
He or she will examine your home or condo, assessing its structure, plumbing, insulation, roofing, and so on. The home inspector will identify areas that need repair, and provide estimates of what it would cost to fix any problems.
Take care when choosing an inspector, as most anyone can claim to be one. Most provinces have associations that require inspectors to meet professional standards, such as the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors.
Tips for Condo Buyers
Just as with your lawyer, you should hire a home inspector who has experience with condos. Your home inspector should look at the structural integrity of the unit and the building.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's Website provides valuable information on all aspects of home buying. ,Check it out here.
You'll want to protect your home and its contents, so you'll need property insurance when you purchase.
You'll also want to ensure that your family's mortgage payment will be taken care of should something happen to you, so you'll need mortgage life insurance.
If you currently have contents insurance for the things in your apartment, you'll need to have this transferred. It's a good idea to ensure that policies overlap, rather than lapse, to protect against any eventuality.
Your insurance broker can help you decide on the type of coverage you need, and will find the best available rates. It also pays to shop around, so if you already have contents insurance, for example, ask your agent what they can do for your new home.
Tips for Condo Buyers
You may require two separate policies when it comes to property insurance, as you share some responsibility for common property of the condo.
If your condo corporation has an insurance policy that includes common property, take the time to find out what exactly is covered, and consider supplementing this coverage if needed.