Advice for Buyers
The comments contained on this page are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal or real estate advice. If you would like to speak to a legal or real estate professional please fill out the Ottawa Real Estate Sales Contact Form.
1. Know what we are looking for
What is it that you are looking for and how does it differ from what you have now?
One technique that agents sometimes use to gather information about what type of home that it is you are looking for is to understand what it is about your current home that provoked you to move into it and what aspects of it that you are moving away from.
Is your current home too small? If so why is it too small? Do we require an additional bedroom for a new child, a home office for a growing business, maybe a larger living space for a family that always feels like they are stepping over each other?
Is your current home too large? Has a family member left the home and now there are areas of the home that are no longer used? Is it too costly to heat, or the property taxes too high, or the annual maintenance too laborious? Maybe the property value has risen or the mortgage been paid down and what you are really looking for is an equity extraction to ensure that you have a nest-egg for the future?
What parts of your current home do you still love? Is the location still desirable? Do you have a large backyard that you are accustomed to having family gatherings in or a tv room that allows you to enjoy some relaxation or is the kitchen just the right size with all of the appliance that you couldn?t live without?
2. Now that we know what we want, what can we afford?
Will you require a mortgage?
If you will require a mortgage have you approached a mortgage professional? I am in constant communication with my counterparts in the world of mortgages and I would be happy to introduce you to someone working for a bank or a mortgage brokerage. It is important that we understand how much you can afford to spend on a home and still maintain a comfortable lifestyle.
Online mortgage tools are a beneficial starting point but an approval in hand is much more powerful. A mortgage per-approval not only informs us of which homes we should be looking at but also can provide us with some major negotiating power when the time comes.
If you do not require a mortgage
I still recommend that you take the time to meet with a financial professional. A financial planner can help you take the right financial steps to ensure that you are doing the most with your money. They can help you plan for a windfall if you are taking equity out of your home and prepare you for any tax implications that you may incur.
3. Find a Realtor® - You are in the right place!
As an Ottawa Real Estate Agent I bring the tools and experience that you will need to guide you through your house hunting and home buying experience. I can help answer all of your questions and work with you through the searching, home comparisons, negotiations, and legal contracts that are all part of a real estate transaction. However, in order to help you through all of those pieces, you need to trust me.
As real estate agents we don?t just ask for your trust blindly, we are trained, registered and monitored by a professional association. In addition we offer to sign a legally binding contact with you to always be working in your best interest. Once we have a finished signing the contracts you can always be 100% certain that I will be working in your best interests and I am fully committed to finding you a great home at the best possible price.
4. Finding a Home
When we are looking for homes honest opinions get the best results. It is beneficial to look at homes online and viewing homes without the owners present, you can let your blunt and honest opinions can flow freely without insulting anyone. If you see a home you love tell me, if you see a home you like but it just does not feel like home tell me why, if you see a home you hate point out all of the problems so that we can find the right home with as much of the features you love and as few of the features you hate as physically possible.
When it comes to house hunting the internet is a powerful tool. MLS can be hard tool to operate as a buyer. From the moment that you begin to work with me I hope that you never have to use it. (Unless for some reason you enjoy it)
There are 3 tools that I have at my fingertips to ensure that I save you as much time as possible when looking at homes.
The first tool in my arsenal is to have all homes in your desired locations that match the descriptions sent to your email inbox immediately when they go on the market. (up to three days before they reach the MLS) To avoid cluttering your mailbox if you have only a general description I can adjust the emails to come daily or weekly to best fit your needs.
My second tool is to create a free private and secure website where all of the listing's that match what you are looking for are uploaded 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.
In Person Meetings
In addition to these two I still value having clients meet with me in my office so that we can search the MLX. (The real estate agents MLS) There is so much value in being able to discuss the features you like and dislike about each home, the conversation can help me to better understand what it is that you are looking for and what it is that you are trying to avoid.
5. Viewing Homes
Okay, now is the fun part. I make a point to let all of my clients know that I sincerely do enjoy viewing homes. I also understand that you are buying a home, the process is going to take time and there is a lot riding on the final decision you make. I assume that right off the start clients are going to want to see 10 homes just to get a feel for the price ranges and neighbourhoods. In fact, even if you find the perfect home on our first house viewing I will probably still encourage you to view 4 or 5 more just to ensure that you are making a knowledgeable decision.
When we view homes be respectful to the seller?s space and personal style, remove your shoes and be mindful of their personal effects. That being said, make sure to actually look at the home, open doors, closets, windows, look at foundations and plumbing and get a feel for if you could actually live in the home.
Finally, make notes. On a typical home viewing trip we may visit 3, 4, or 5 homes and that is if you have the luxury of time while we are looking. We cannot take pictures of the home, although we can use the pictures posted on MLS, so we rely on our memories and notes. After a full afternoon of viewings your personal notes will make it easier to recall which home had the kitchen we really like or maybe which had the washroom that needed to be renovated.
6. Making an Offer
Deposit - your deposit is a critical element in an offer however it plays little role in negotiation in an average deal. Typically your deposit will be between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the amount of the offer. The amount of deposit may be increased to show sincerity of the offer and goodwill.
Deposit checks are typically due either at the time of making the offer or on acceptance of the offer. The checks are cashed and the proceeds are held in the selling brokerages trust account. If the deal goes forward the deposit is counted towards the down-payment and purchase price of your home.
(Please ask your real estate agent or legal counsel about what happens to your deposit if the deal does not move forward. Typically there is a condition within your offer that will entitle you to a full refund, but that condition is not always used or able to protect you.)
Terms & Conditions - Terms and conditions are the unique content of your offer, here you stipulate any final inspections that you wish to have completed on the home (home inspection, survey, septic inspection, water tests, ect), a length of time for you to ensure financing or a status certificate, or any repairs that you will require the current owners to complete. When it comes to writing conditions every situation is unique, timelines can be different for every deal and unique clauses may be necessary to account for unique situations.
Inclusions/Exclusions - Which, if any, appliances and furniture are included as part of the deal and included in the purchase price. On the listing sheet sellers disclose which if any appliances and furniture they intend to include in the deal. This shouldn?t stop you from being able to include other furniture and appliances however a buyer and their agent need to be mindful not to lose sight of the big picture. Having a used oven included is typically not worth missing out on the home over.
Closing Date - This is the day that the sellers no longer own the property and the buyers get the keys to their new home. As agents, we try to not close transactions on Fridays, the first of the month or the day before long weekends as there is a higher than usual backlog on those days and if the deal does not close on time it may have to wait for the next business day and there can be extra expenses incurred or even legal implications.
7. Accepted Offers
Once your offer is accepted you must now ensure that all of your conditions are met within the predetermined time period and in the way that they are stipulated. Once the conditions are met your agent will communicate that acceptance to the other agent using wavers or notice of fulfillments depending on the situation. Once acceptance of all conditions is sent to both agents the offer becomes binding on both sides. If you later refuse to honour the agreement, you may lose your deposit or might be sued for damages.
From here the agreement is finished by the mortgage brokers and the lawyers however your real estate agent still ensures that everything is moving along smoothly. Lawyers and lenders will require proof that you?ve insured your new house. Lenders will require final signatures on your official loan documents. Lawyers will arrange to transfer that title of the property from the seller to you. The funds from your mortgage will need to be transferred to your lawyer's trust account, and then to the seller. Finally, the lawyers will calculate and agree on additional expenses such as prepaid property tax, heating oil and condo fees, as appropriate and add them to land transfer taxes and other outstanding fees for a final bill.
Finally on closing day the keys will be ready to be picked up and there's nothing left to do but start enjoying your new home.
This article was written to assist with your understanding of the Ottawa home buying process however it is not an exhaustive list of the steps to buying a home. It is important to meet with a real estate or legal professional to confirm that the information provided will apply to your specific real estate situation. Please follow the Ottawa Home Buying Contact Form to meet with an Ottawa real estate professional or to be referred to a real estate lawyer.