For Buyers

How Do Real Estate Agents Help?

What many buyers don’t realize is that they don’t know what they don’t know, you know? Here’s a non-real estate example that you might have experienced yourself.  I recently bought and installed a set of rims for my winter tires.  Having a dedicated set of rims for winter tires makes a lot of sense in the long run, especially if you are planning on keeping a vehicle for a while.  When selecting the rims the garage asked me if I wanted something basic, or something equivalent to my summer rims.  I figured that the basics were the way to go.  They were less expensive and more durable.  They’d be better suited to stand up to the punishment that a Canadian winter can dish out.  Makes sense right?  Mostly, but not quite.  I ran into an unexpected problem.  The new rims weren’t compatible with the tire pressure sensor on my vehicle.  Now I have an annoying alert light on my dash whenever my winter tires and rims get installed.  I wish the garage had talked to me about this.  I might have made a different decision, or at the very least I would have dealt with the consequences knowingly rather than annoyed. Now picture something like this in a real estate transaction where hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake.  Don’t set yourself up for this kind of surprise when it comes to the purchase of a new home.  A professional experienced agent is there to ensure you ask yourself all the right questions, even the ones that you don’t know you should ask, because you don’t know what you don’t know. Your realtor’s job is to protect you and help you make well-informed decisions.

How Do I Find A Real Estate Agent?

There are a few ways for you to connect with realtors and find one that you feel comfortable working with:

  • Attend open houses in neighbourhoods of interest to you. Realtors are there to help and this will give you a great opportunity to meet face to face. You can ask them questions, have them follow-up with you, or perhaps arrange to meet with them one on one at their office to discuss how they can help you.
  • Ask your friends or colleagues for a referral. If your friends, co-workers, family or anyone you know has worked with a realtor and have been satisfied get their contact info and get in touch.
  • Begin your search online and check out realtor and brokerage websites. Be wary of websites that refer you to a realtor. These are services that realtors are paying for to have leads (potential clients) sent to them. Do your homework and take your time.
This Is My First Time Buying...

Wendy is the pro. Schedule an appointment with either Wendy and you’ll be glad you did. She is pro at tailoring a home search to the needs of the first-time buyer, understanding the challenges and hesitations a new home buyer can face. You’ll realize fairly quickly that she’s not happy if you’re not happy and her approach is truly based on helping you!

Some Questions You Might Want To Ask Your Real Estate Agent

When selecting and hiring a realtor to help you with the purchase of your next home here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • How much experience do they have? What experience do they have that relates to your specific needs? Do they have any experience with remodeling or renovating? What about condominiums? Issues important to first time home buyers? Think about your individual situation and needs and how their experience will be of value to you.
  • How much time do they have to devote to you? The busiest realtors might not give you the individual attention that you require,
  • Can they offer client testimonials?
  • Do they conduct themselves professionally?
  • Will they explain all the paperwork to you?
  • How accessible are they? How easy are they to reach, how long do they take to get back to you, and how quickly can they react to your needs?
  • What do you think of them on a personal level? Seriously. A professional knowledgeable agent is valuable, but one that you also enjoy being with will make the entire process all the better. Realtors and their buyers often spend a lot of time together. Viewing homes and finding the find the right one, negotiating the offer, inspecting the home, and taking care of all the final details right up until the day of closing all take time. You’ll find the entire process that much better if you also like your realtor on a personal level.
What Services Are Offered?

Realtors will guide you every step of the way, and will help you in the following ways:

  • explain the home buying process to you so you know what to expect
  • educate you on the market and let you know what homes are selling for
  • explain the different types of housing options available
  • help you assess your needs and wants
  • help you choose a neighbourhood
  • arrange appointments and get you into the homes you want to see
  • keep you on top of new listings that have just come on the market
  • go through all the paperwork with you so you understand what you are signing
  • refer you to other professionals such as lenders, insurance brokers, building inspectors, real estate lawyers, etc
  • negotiate an agreement of purchase and sale and help you with making your offer
  • get you to ask yourself questions that you might not have considered, how will the decisions you make today affect you down the road?
Fees For My Service

Typically all fees are included in the sale price of the home so there is no “out of pocket” cost to the buyer for the services provided by a real estate professional. There are cases however where this is not true. A good realtor will go through the different scenarios with a buyer at the very beginning of their working relationship to ensure that the interests of both the buyer and the realtor are understood and protected.

Costs To Consider
Typically all fees are included in the sale price of the home so there is no “out of pocket” cost to the buyer for the services provided by a real estate professional. There are cases however where this is not true. A good realtor will go through the different scenarios with a buyer at the very beginning of their working relationship to ensure that the interests of both the buyer and the realtor are understood and protected.
Costs to consider

The costs of buying a home add up. Here are some guidelines to help you budget.

legal fees $1,000 – $2,500 and up
status certificate review $100 (see below)
home inspection $250 – $500
land transfer tax examples below
mortgage default insurance – due at closing 1% to 3.25% of your mortgage principal
bank appraisals as per your lender
deposit – due when an offer is accepted $1,000 to $10,000 and up
mortgage application as per your lender
home insurance $400 – $1,000
property tax and utility adjustments – due at closing see below
downpayment 5% of the purchase price or more

Notes and comments

Status certificate review – applies to condos and “Private” Streets only Home inspection – fee is due whenever a home inspection is conducted Deposit – a deposit is due at the time an offer is accepted. Deposits are essentially a portion of the downpayment so they are not in fact an additional cost. Your downpayment is due at closing but a deposit is due when an offer is accepted. Property tax and utility adjustments – these are costs that the seller has already pre-paid that the new buyer would incur after closing. For example, if the annual property taxes are $2,400 and the seller has paid this amount in full for the calendar year, the buyer must refund the seller for the property taxes the buyer would have been required to pay from the date of closing onward. In this example if the property closed on October 1st, the buyer would owe the seller property taxes for the last three months of the year, or $600. This amount would be due at closing. Mortgage default insurance – if your downpayment is less than 25% of the purchase price of your home you will be required to pay mortgage default insurance. Talk to your lender for specifics. Calculation of Land Transfer Tax Fees: see: Up to $55,000 X 0.5% of total property value From $55,000 to $250,000 X 1% of total property value From $250,000 to $400,000 X 1.5% of total property value From $400,000 up X 2% of total property value

Example 1 – Purchase Price $375,000
$0 to $55,000 $55,000 – 0 = $55,000 = $55,000 x 0.5% = $275
$55,000 to $250,000 $250,000 – $55,000 = $195,000 = $195,000 x 1.0% = $1,950
$250,000 to $400,000 $375,000 – $250,000 = $125,000 = $125,000 x 1.5% = $1,875
TOTAL = $4,475
Example 2 – Purchase Price = $500,000
$0 to $55,000 $55,000 – 0 = $55,000 = $55,000 x 0.5% = $275
$55,000 to $250,000 $250,000 – $55,000 = $195,000 = $195,000 x 1.0% = $1,950
$250,000 to $400,000 $400,000 – $250,000 = $150,000 = $150,000 x 1.5% = $2,250
$400,000 and up $500,000 – $400,000 = $100,000 = $100,000 x 2.0% = $2,000
TOTAL = $6,475
Example 3- Purchase Price $200,000
$0 to $55,000 $55,000 – 0 = $55,000 = $55,000 x 0.5% = $275
$55,000 to $250,000 $200,000 – $55,000 = $145,000 = $145,000 x 1.0% = $1,450
TOTAL = $1,725

For Sellers

Understanding Market Conditions

The real estate market is always changing. It helps to understand how market conditions can effect your position as a seller. When there are more homes for sale than potential buyers, house prices decrease. When there are fewer houses in the market than there are buyers, house prices increase. An equilibrium or balanced market is achieved when the number of homes available roughly equals the number of potential buyers. A buyer’s market exists when there are more homes than potential home buyers. House sellers have many other sales to compete with, leaving houses on the market for much longer. These are ideal conditions for the home buyer, who can take advantage of lower house prices and increased decision-making time. A seller’s market exists when there are less homes available than potential buyers. Under these conditions, competition occurs between buyers, driving up prices and often causing bidding wars. Buyers in this market need to be quick-acting and decisive in order to achieve the lowest possible housing prices.    

Pricing Your Property - Determining The Value Of Your Home

One of the most important decisions you will make with your real estate professional is determining the right asking price for your property. By doing a complete property profile of your house, including current condition, location, surroundings, special features like a view from the property or high ceilings; a comparative market analysis that will show you what houses in your area have sold for in recent months and a total market overview. As many factors as possible are taken into consideration to accurately assess the fair market value of your property so it sells fast while maximizing your profit.

Preparing To Show Your Home To Potential Buyers

The way your home looks to prospective buyers can make a striking impression. The goal is to get buyers to feel like they can already see themselves living in your home. There are a few tricks of the trade that can help you do this: Home staging – this literally means, getting your “set ready” for buyers. In other words, cleaning your home from top to bottom including carpets and drapes, kitchen and bathroom tiles, walls, ceilings and trim. Next, dispose and declutter which entail getting rid of those items in your home that make rooms feel smaller than they actually are. Then, organize. Tidy up cabinets, bookcases, closets and toys and put away personal items such as photographs, souvenirs and other memorabilia. If your home has empty rooms, stage it with the right furniture. You may be able to borrow some nice furniture from family or friends. There are even places to rent furniture for staging. Prepping for an Open House – a successful open house is key for generating quick interest in your home. Some last minute tips? Make your rooms bright and airy by opening blinds and windows and turning on lights in darker rooms. Help the buyers imagine themselves in your home by setting the dining table or putting out some fresh flowers. The feedback will help you make a few tweaks before the next one.

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