The most important factor when working with a real estate professional is trust. Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, so you need to feel comfortable with whom you choose to work with. Jamie Vieira & Associates understands that purchasing a home is likely one of your single biggest lifetime decisions, and we treat your transaction as if they were our own. Your wants and needs are the key so that every home you are shown fits the criteria desired. This includes things such as neighbourhoods, schools, proximity to work and transit, and overall lifestyle.
Step 1: Get a Pre-Approval
In a hot real estate market, pre-approved home buyers get preferential treatment when negotiating home purchases. Why? Because pre-approved buyers are financially qualified to purchase the home and are considered more serious than buyers who are not. Nothing feels worse than finding the ideal home in the perfect area, and then not being able to get the financing to close the deal. See the Mortgage section (page 8) of this guide for more info.
Step 2: Selecting a Realtor
This is one of the most important steps in the process. You will, for all intents and purposes, be in partnership with your REALTOR®. You will be confiding in them on a business level and often on a personal level. They will be the people dealing with any problems that pop up along the way. They are the key to you finding the right home in the right area you for the price you want. Hire someone you feel comfortable with and who has experience and knowledge in the area you are interested in. Once you select someone you feel good about working with, sign them up under buyer representation. It is very important that the person you’re working with is representing you exclusively.
Step 3: Meeting with Your Agent for a Home Buyer's Consultation
and your REALTOR® prepare each other for exactly what to expect along the way. The following points should be covered and fully understood during this meeting:
• Exactly what your needs are (number of bedrooms, baths, etc.), in which areas you’re looking, what price range you are comfortable with, and what your time line is. It takes generally takes 30 to 60 days from purchase to closing.
• How often you are available to look and what you expect from your REALTOR® in terms of availability and communication (e-mail, phone updates either daily or weekly).
•Your REALTOR® should explain buyer brokerage vs. seller’s representation, and you should sign a buyer broker
Step 4: Look at Homes
This is the fun part! It is important to limit the number of homes you’re looking at in a day. If you look at too many homes, they begin to run together, and you can’t remember one from another. It’s a good idea to use a checklist form to help you track the properties you have seen. It is also helpful to actually begin to narrow down the properties after each visit. For example, if house #3 was better than house #2, immediately eliminate house #2. Remember, communication with your REALTOR® is crucial. It’s important to let your REALTOR® know which houses you like and why, as well as which houses you don’t like and why. Sometimes it takes going out and looking one time before you and your REALTOR® really have a good grip on exactly what you’re looking for. If you should become interested in a for-sale-by-owner, ask your REALTOR® to contact the seller as they are working on your behalf.
Step 5: Select a Home
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to one or two homes that you really like, your REALTOR® will do whatever research necessary to help you make your decision, but the decision will ultimately be yours. And surprisingly enough, it’s going to be a pretty easy decision to make. Once you’ve selected one home to focus on, your REALTOR® will do a comparative market analysis on that property. This involves determining “fair market value” by looking at what other buyers were willing to pay for properties similar to yours in the same neighbourhood or area.
Step 6: Making an Offer & Negotiation
When making an offer on a property, it is important to decide ahead of time how much you are willing to pay at what terms for the house. You already know what fair market value is. Now you have to decide what price you will offer; how much deposit you will offer; what personal property you wish to have conveyed (everything is negotiable); when you plan to close; and what inspections you plan to have conducted.
When negotiating with any seller, it’s best to remember not to take anything personally. Also, try to put yourself in the seller’s shoes. Figure out what’s not negotiable to you, and be willing to give a little on the things that are negotiable. A good REALTOR® should be able to give you tons of advice about how to structure your offer. Once your offer has been presented, the seller will either accept your offer outright, reject your offer outright, or counter your offer. The counter process can go back and forth many times. It’s important for all parties to keep their cool and focus on the goal.
Step 7: Get Inspections & Remove Conditions
If, as part of your offer, you asked for time to be allowed to have inspections conducted on the property, you should have written what is called a conditional offer. Offers can be conditional upon financing, inspections, the receipt of acceptable condo Status certificates, the sale of property, and many other conditions. It is important that all deadlines be met and that all conditions are removed exactly the way the contract describes. Your REALTOR® is responsible for making sure this is done correctly.
Step 8: Select a Lawyer
If you do not have a lawyer already then we can help you find one that specializes in real estate transactions at a reasonable price.
Step 9: Walk-Through
Most sales agreements will give the buyer the right to one or two pre-closing inspections. This is your last chance to find any problems and have the seller correct them. Most contracts read that all electrical systems, plumbing, appliances, heating, and air conditioning need to be in working order at the time of closing. These are the items you checking for at walk-through.
You are also checking for any other items the seller previously agreed to fix or replace. If anything is found to be defective or missing, you have options: The seller can remedy the problem prior to closing or the seller can credit you the amount of money it would take to hire someone to remedy the problem.
Step 10: Closing on Your Home
This is the day you “sign your life away,” as most clients say. Not really. The lawyer conducting the closing should be able to explain every document to you in a satisfactory manner. Do not ever feel intimidated. If you don’t understand, don’t sign. Your lawyer will help your understand everything. If you like, you can request blank copies of the documents you will be signing in advance so that you can carefully review them. You will have to present whatever down payment and closing-cost funds you were expected to pay. This check must be certified; personal cheques usually are not accepted.
Step 11: Moving Day
This is the last and probably the hardest step in the home-buying process. A little bit of planning and forethought will make for a much smoother move. You will want to make arrangements with a moving company as soon as you can. Your REALTOR® will be able to provide you with some contacts.
Be sure to change your address with the post office, your banks, and any creditors at least 30 days in advance. To avoid late payments, it’s a good idea to actually call and verify receipt of the address change whenever possible. Call to order your utility hook-ups approximately 10 days prior to your move. Be aware that some utility companies will keep you on the phone for a long time.