Information for Buyers

Finding the right real estate broker

You want to find the right home, in the right location, at the right price - and you want to do it quickly, with minimum hassle. The best way to do that is to work with a professional realtor who understands your wants and needs, your time frame and your financial boundaries.

Why work with a real estate broker?

  • You’ll save time. A broker can pinpoint homes that fit your needs and dismiss those that don’t.
  • You benefit from an experienced negotiator. Your broker will manage your offers and counter-offers, ensuring that you get the best possible price for your home.
  • You’ll get the right information. Your broker knows the neighbourhood and can give you accurate information on local real estate values, taxes, utility costs, services and amenities.
  • You can always count on great advice. Because your broker is familiar with the entire home purchasing process, he or she can advise you of your legal and financial options, and recommend appraisal, home inspection and contracting services.

Choose a broker who understands your needs

Here are a few questions to ask to help you determine if an agent is right for you:
  • Will you be representing my interests?
  • Do you have access to MLS information?
  • Will you provide market evidence to support the price?
  • Will you look after closing and possession details?
  • Can you be contacted at any time?


 

Choosing a neighbourhood

You’re not just buying a home - you’re buying a location. And even the most perfect house won’t feel right if you’re in the wrong neighbourhood. Educate yourself about the area so you’ll choose wisely - and end up being happy with your decision.

  • Are you close to shopping and recreation? Being close to stores, parks, recreational facilities, a post office and dry cleaners will save you time.

  • Do people in the area take care of their homes? Explore the neighbourhood, keeping an eye out for signs of neglect (overgrown lawns, houses in need of paint, trash and junked appliances littering yards). A run-down neighbourhood can drive down your property value.

  • Are there schools nearby? If you have children, the proximity and quality of schools is key. Some schools will provide data (i.e. average test scores) that can determine quality. Talking to neighbours with children can be helpful, too.

  • Is there good access to transportation? Living near public transport and/or major highways can mean an easier commute to work.

  • Is it safe? Check with the local police department - they may be able to provide statistics about break-ins or other crimes.

  • Will the home increase in value over time? Homes in some neighbourhoods appreciate faster than others. Research the selling prices of homes in over the past decade or so to predict future trends. Your agent may be able to provide helpful data.

  • Is it quiet? Listen for traffic noise, barking dogs, airplanes and any other noises that might bother you. Return to the neighbourhood at different times of the day to get an accurate impression.


 

Protect yourself with a home inspection
That gorgeous house on the corner lot may look great, but it could be hiding all sorts of expensive, annoying problems, from a leaky roof to faulty wiring to a mouldy basement.

Make sure your home is solid and secure inside and out before you buy it. A home inspector will determine structural and mechanical soundness, identify problem areas, provide cost estimates for any work required, and generate a report. It’s a great way to avoid headaches and costly problems that can turn a dream home into a money pit.

If you decide to go ahead and buy a home with issues that have been flagged by your inspector, you can base your offer on how much potential repairs and upgrades may cost.

Home inspection costs range according to size, age and location of the home. Your real estate broker can recommend a reputable home inspection service or arrange for an inspector to visit your property.

 

Types of home ownership

What type of home is right for you?
There are three categories of home ownership: freehold, condominium and cooperative. Each has its benefits and drawbacks - speak to your real estate broker to figure out which type will work best for your needs and your lifestyle.

Freehold
Freehold homes offer two significant benefits: freedom of choice and privacy. Since you own the structure and grounds, you’re free to decorate and renovate whenever and whatever you want. However, all maintenance (indoors and out) is your responsibility - be prepared to spend time and money taking care of your home.

Condominiums
Condominiums are typically less expensive to own than a detached house. With a condo, you own (and are responsible for) the interior of your unit. Upkeep of the building and grounds is handled by the condominium association, which is funded by monthly fees collected from tenants. The down side? Condo residents enjoy less privacy than residents of detached homes, and often have to adhere to strict rules regarding noise, use of common areas, renovations, etc.

Cooperatives
Co-ops are like condominiums, except instead of owning your unit, you own a percentage of shares in the entire building. One drawback to living in a cooperative is that if you decide to sell your shares and move out, the co-op board has the right to reject your prospective buyer.