How can I become an informed real estate buyer?
Buying a property is a massive financial undertaking and for most of us, the biggest one of our lives. The many steps involved in securing a place to call your home — from putting in offers and negotiating terms, to signing all the paperwork, getting a mortgage and closing the deal — can all feel quite daunting.
That is why the more informed you are as a consumer, the more beneficial it will be for you. A great place to start is the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO)’s website, reco.on.ca.
Here, you can find plenty of helpful resources, including information about real estate agents, frequently asked questions, and guides. Among the resources is RECO’s real estate professional search tool where you can confirm that agents and brokerages are registered to trade in real estate in Ontario, and also check for any past disciplinary action.
I encourage you, as well, to check out RECO’s consumer quiz about some of the rules that govern real estate in Ontario. It is a fun and engaging way to learn more about the buying and selling process, and test your knowledge.
Remember, that while RECO and other sources of information will be helpful, they can’t replace the expert advice of an agent and their brokerage. A real estate representative can provide valuable guidance that will help you make informed decisions and ultimately buy a home that you are satisfied with.
When you enter into a buyer representation agreement (BRA) with a brokerage, that brokerage and all of its agents are legally and ethically obligated to protect your best interests every step of the way. Make sure that you discuss the terms of the BRA with your agent so that you fully understand what you and your agent are required to do.
Among the ways an agent can help you be a more informed consumer is by providing a comparative market analysis of the sales of similar houses if you are interested in a specific type of property or neighbourhood. A comparative market analysis can help you know the value of homes in the area.
Since agents manage real estate transactions day in and day out, they will be an invaluable source of additional information and neighbourhood insights that may not be otherwise readily available to you. This may include ratings of local schools, zoning permissions and flood plains, and whether certain areas are slated for property developments in the foreseeable future.
While providing you with this information is important, even more vital is an agent’s ability to help you understand what the information means and how it might affect your buying decisions. Your agent can give strategic advice about the offer process and highlight what you are entitled to know. Having this information on hand, and your agent by your side, will help you put your best foot forward during a transaction.
Last but not least, given that real estate agreements are legally binding contracts, it is always wise to seek counsel from a lawyer who is insured to practise real estate law. Your lawyer can review the documents, investigate the title, flag any potential areas of concern and complete the transaction.
If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email [email protected].