Buying a New Home? Do your homework!

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My New Year’s resolution is to buy my first home. What are the biggest trends you saw this past year that I should be aware of as I prepare for my purchase?

MP9004304871-300x300The final days of the year are a good time to reflect about the past and make goals and plans for the year ahead. Your goal to buy your first home is an exciting one.

With recent reports predicting that the real-estate market will continue to be busy in 2015, being an informed buyer is an even better resolution.

There are three key points to keep in mind as you prepare for your purchase:

1. Understand what you’re signing. The paperwork involved with buying a home may seem onerous, but each form represents an important decision and creates a legally binding contract. From your Buyer Representation Agreement with the brokerage to the Agreement of Purchase and Sale with the seller, it’s essential for you to understand each clause in these contracts before you sign on the dotted line.

Keep in mind that the blanks in the contracts can be discussed between you and the brokerage. If you’re unsure about something, ask your representative to explain it to you or consider seeking legal advice.

2. Learn the basics. Working with a registered real estate professional will provide you with valuable guidance and expertise, but it’s also important for you to understand the basics of the buying process. In fact, RECO’s survey research found that in hindsight, 26 per cent of buyers wish they had a better grasp of the buying process. Wondering what that means?

  • Interview several real estate professionals before selecting one, and ask for their references.
  • Understand what services will be provided by your real estate brokerage, the terms of the buyer representation or listing agreement, and the price for the services offered.
  • Know your budget and stick to it. And remember the additional expenses, such as legal, home inspection, closing and moving costs, to name a few.
  • Recognize that conditions are there to protect you during the buying process. Skipping a home inspection or assuming that financing is guaranteed can lead to problems.
  • Understand your wants and needs. Be upfront about your expectations.

3. Don’t let emotions drive your decisions. This past spring, RECO found that 51 per cent of home owners admit they were influenced by emotion when they bought their home. That number jumped to 64 per cent for home buyers under age 35. The challenge for any home buyer is to not let those emotions get in the way of making a smart decision. For instance, deciding to forego a home inspection to win a bidding war may result in your discovering that the home needs significant repairs you hadn’t budgeted for.

These three points really come down to one main idea: being a well-informed consumer will help you make the best decision by knowing the right questions to ask, understanding your rights and responsibilities, and taking advantage of the protections provided by working with a registered real estate salesperson or broker.

Have a safe, happy and prosperous New Year. I look forward to answering your home-buying and selling questions in 2015.

Joseph Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He oversees and enforces all rules governing real estate professionals in Ontario. Email questions to [email protected] . Find more tips at, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at .

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