Buying A Home In Ottawa
So you have decided that it is time to buy a home, now what...
The first step is to evaluate yourself, your lifestyle, your finances, your family.
Family It is important to have an idea as to what it is that you are looking for. Will your family be able to live comfortably in a 2 bedroom condo? Maybe your dog requires a large backyard or a nearby park? Will you need a 2 car garage or do you require parking at all? Would a detached home or townhouse fit your family's needs?
Finances Understanding your financial situation is major step to buying a home. I would recommend speaking with a residential mortgage specialist as early in the process as possible. There are many things to consider when understanding your current financial situation such as: recognizing any current equity that you may have, understanding which type of financing options are available to you, researching government programs and financial assistance programs, and understanding any potential income-tax repercussions or advantages of moving.
Lifestyle Lifestyle is one of the most important aspects to consider when buying a new home, as it impacts your decision to move in ways such as what location you may want to move to, what percentage of your maximum mortgage ability you would be comfortable spending on your next home and the type of home that you would desire moving into.
Once you have evaluated your personal situation it is time to decide who you are going to have assisting you in your search.
A lot of times when people start their home search they begin with open houses. This makes sense because it is the simplest way to begin your search, however, it is almost always fruitless. The primary problem is that the agent in the open house is paid to work for the person selling the house. In most circumstances the agent hosting the open house doesn't have the ability to share information about other houses and is unable to give an opinion about what they think an appropriate purchase price as they work for the sellers.
So what can you do and how should you start? I recommend having a no obligation meeting with an agent from a real estate firm that represents the values that you expect of a real estate agent. I personally offer an in office meeting and an afternoon of house hunting with no continuing obligations.
No matter how you find you buyers agent I believe that it is important to find a real estate professional that can help you through the process. The advantages that agents bring such as: non bias advice, the ability to show any listed mls property, experience in the process and paperwork as well as the ability and knowledge to run a beneficial negotiation.
There are two ways to work with a real estate agent: as a customer, or as a client. The difference in a nutshell is that a client is obligated to work with one agent for a predetermined length of time and in exchange the agent is legally obligated to work in that client's best interest at all times during that contract.
A real estate customer is someone that works with a real estate agent with no obligation to remain working with them for any length of time. This may seem advantageous for buyers but the downside is that the Realtor, although they must act honestly, has no obligation to work in your best interest. For more information on working with a Realtor please read this article.
This downside is twofold: first, the agent works with you as they desire, meaning that if they decide that working with you is not to their advantage they can decide to stop at anytime and second, the agent has a tendency to work towards putting together a deal and not taking every step to ensure that the deal happens in a way that is in the best interest if their buyer.
No matter which way you decide to go, there is one point that remains, in a typical real estate deal the buyers real estate agent is paid for by the seller. This means that in most transactions, the buyers don't actually pay their agent a single dollar.
That being said, with the surging real estate market in the past couple years, there has been an uprising in the number of homes sold directly by the owner or with the assistance of a home marketing company or discount fee real estate company. These sellers commonly do not pay the buyers real estate commission, which saves the sellers money but can cost buyers a significant amount of money.
The second person that you want to involve at this point is your mortgage broker or bank representative. They will be able to have you preapproved for financing and therefore allow you the comfort and ability to negotiate from a position of strength.
Once you have determined your personal situation and selected the people that you are going to have on your side, it is time to get out and look at homes and begin understanding the current real estate market. At this stage you are going to want to start being introduced to homes, understanding what a home in your price range looks like, and most importantly start viewing homes.
There are a couple of ways that your agent can introduce you to prospective properties, every agent and client will have a different approach depending on their relationship. Below are some of the approaches that I use.
Your first choice is to have all homes in your desired locations that match the description of your dreams home sent to your email inbox immediately when they go on the market (up to three days before they reach the MLS)
Your second option is to have me create a free private and secure website where all of the listing's that match what you are looking for are placed as they are listed. This option keeps your inbox free, allows you to view only homes that match what you are looking for, and provides listings to you up to three days before they are available on MLS.
You third option is to meet with me in my office on a regular basis to lookup homes on the MLX system, a website that is exclusive to real estate agents. The MLX is updated before homes are available on MLS and has a more user friendly interface than the standard mls system.
One of the other advantages that I bring is searching for homes that are listed above your desired price range and finding sellers that may be willing to sell at within your price-range or that may be about to reduce their price. This allows me to ensure that you are in a position to take advantage of the situation.
The next thing that I will do to help ensure that you find your dream home is to regularly take you to see homes. Visiting homes is still the best way to learn about the type of home you are looking for and to learn about local real estate. Clients should not feel bad for viewing multiple homes, it is part of the process and showing homes is part of my job.