Buying a home is one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences most of us will ever have; it is probably the single largest purchase you will ever make. If you’re buying for the first time, the process may even seem overwhelming. And even if you’ve done it before, each move is different and presents new challenges.
Why use a real estate agent?
One clear advantage of using a real estate agent is that you are not alone in the process. A good agent has the training, the know-how and the experience to help you through each step of the process of finding, buying and moving into your new home as smooth and easy for you as possible. Another advantage of using an agent is that an agent represents a valuable source of information about market trends, communities and homes for sale throughout the area.
Remember that not every home seller runs an ad in the paper or puts a sign up on the front lawn. Homes that are well priced, in fact, often sell before there is ever a need to advertise them. An agent offers you market expertise and has quick access to update information about every home listed by other agents who use the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) System.
What does an agent do for me?
How do I find one?Many people ask how they can find the right agent. We firmly believe that the right agent is one who understands your needs and wants and who is a professional whose judgment you respect and trust. The first thing your agent will probably do is to ask you to focus on what you’re looking for in a home. You can start by establishing priorities in these areas:
- Location: What do you need to be close to in terms of employment, schools and transportation?
- Personal tastes: How large a home do you want? What type of home do you like what sized lot would you like? Would you prefer an older or newer home?
- Budget: How much can you afford to spend? What is your down payment? How much home is it wise for you to own?
How do I decide what my price range is?
If you are not sure what your budget is, your agent can again be an invaluable resource for you. A good agent is committed to honestly and responsibly working with you to determine your affordable price range. There are many financing options available today, and your agent can help you find an option that fits your budget. Most agents have access to finance options that are usually financially better for you than if you were to simply go into your bank for a mortgage loan. You may be surprised at just how much home you can afford!
How do I decide where to look?
When deciding which community in which you want to live, it is important to think about your lifestyle, such as where you work, whether you drive or take public transit, and the type of home you like. Also important are good city services, nice parks and playground facilities, depending on your lifestyle.
Also important are a track record for sound development and good development. As for individual neighborhoods, there is no better source of information than your real estate agent. Agents know the people and the communities they serve and chances are they can help you find a neighborhood that really fits your needs.
What about schools for my children?
Again, a real estate agent is an invaluable resource when finding out about schools for your family. They know where local schools are and can provide you with information about new areas and schools, as well as existing areas and schools. There is also a package available from both the public and private school boards which agents have access to that lists the schools in each area and what type of school system (i.e. year round system).
How can I find out what homes are selling for in a specific area?
An easy way to find this out is to ask your real estate agent. He/She will have access to all homes sold via the MLS system and will be able to provide you with a list of comparables, which are homes in a particular area with roughly the same size and age as the home you’re considering. When you use an agent to purchase a home, they usually provide you with this information automatically before you offer on a piece of property, to ensure you don’t pay over fair market value. Although there may be some differences (number of bedrooms or baths or the year built, etc.), your real estate agent will help you evaluate the seller’s asking price.
What if I want to know the property taxes on the property before I buy?
Usually, the amount of the previous year’s property taxes is included on the listing information sheet for the home. If it is not, your real estate agent has access to the City of Toronto or Mississauga’s tax database for the previous year and can readily locate the information for you.
It is important to remember that since taxes generally rise steadily from year to year, this figure should be a guideline for you only, and not taken as an exact figure of what you will pay.
Is an older home as good a value as a new home?
This is really a matter of personal preference. Both new and older homes offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, depending on your lifestyle and preferences. New homes generally offer more space in the rooms where today’s families do their living, like a large family room or play room. However, many homes built years ago offer more total space for the money, as well as larger yards. Taxes may be quite different between older and newer homes as well.
Should I tell my real estate agent what I really think of the homes we see?
Absolutely. Tell the agent everything you liked AND didn’t like about each home you see. Don’t be shy about talking about the shortcomings of a house. If the home was too large or too small for you, or even if the home was perfect except for the carpeting, it is important to let the agent know. Remember that your agent is working with you and so the more he/she knows about your likes and dislikes, the better they can work for you and your family’s needs.
How many homes should I look at before I buy?
There is no set number of homes to look at before you buy. This is why providing your agent with as many details at your initial consultation, as well as when you begin viewing properties, is so important. You may find the perfect home on your first set of showings, which many people do, or you may have to look at more homes to feel comfortable with a certain community. Eventually, you will know what you like immediately and if you relay this to your agent, he or she can easily narrow down your showings to homes you will be certain to like, thus saving your time.
Do I need to use a lawyer to buy a home?
Yes,Because the legal contracts and other paperwork involved in purchasing a home can be very complex, it is recommended you work with an attorney. Your lawyer will review all the contracts and make sure you are aware of any potential problems with the property. This will help the transaction go as smoothly as possible, so that you know your best interests have been represented throughout the entire home buying process. If you don’t know a good Real Estate Lawyer, ask your Agent. Agents work with many lawyers throughout the course of their career and they may be able to recommend a few to you to help you decide which to use.