As you may know, it’s common to include a home inspection as a condition of an offer you make. It protects you from issues that you might not otherwise see during a viewing.
What do you do if the home inspector finds something wrong? The inspector might find a leak in the foundation, or windows that are old, drafty and need replacing.
Must you pass on a property that you otherwise like?
Not necessarily. Just because the home inspector discovered a deficiency doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t purchase the home. You should, however, bring the issue up with the seller.
Your REALTOR® will do that on your behalf, and look after your interests.
In many circumstances, your REALTOR® will be able to negotiate an agreement that is satisfactory to everyone involved. This will usually be in the form of a reduction in the sale price to cover some or all of the costs of the repair, or a requirement to have the seller get the repairs done before you move in.
So don’t worry if the inspector finds something wrong. Chances are you can still get the home and have any issues dealt with to your satisfaction.
What kind of stool is most likely to keep you from toppling over when you sit on it? Of course, two-legged stools won’t even stand on their own. Three-legged stools are okay, but still unstable. Four-legged stools are rock solid.
What does that have to do with shopping for a new home?
Well, if you want to find the right home quickly and for the best price, you need to have four things in place – the four legs of the stool. They will help ensure the experience goes smoothly.
The first leg is your wish list. You need to have a clear picture of the type of home you want. A bungalow or two stories? How many bedrooms? A large deck? Don’t forget about the neighbourhood. Need to be close to major highways for ease of commuting? Need good schools and playgrounds within walking distance?
The second leg is a pre-approved mortgage. Getting the financing handled upfront takes the guesswork out of what you can afford. Sellers and their REALTORS® are more likely to take any offers you make more seriously too.
The third leg is realistic expectations. Of homes that sell, 99% sell at or near their current market values. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a good deal. It does mean you’re unlikely to find a “steal”. Fortunately, there are likely several wonderful properties available within your price range.
The final leg of the stool is a great REALTOR®. Choosing the right real estate professional is crucial to making your home shopping experience less stressful and more productive.
So when you’re hunting for a new home, make sure you start with a stable “four-legged stool”. It will dramatically increase your chances of finding a home that fits your needs and budget.
When shopping for a new home, create a wish list of the features and characteristics you want. After all, there’s no sense looking at properties with kitchenettes when you won’t settle for anything less than a full-sized kitchen that Julia Child would envy.
But there are probably some features that are nice-to-haves but not must-haves. For example, you might like a large wrap-around deck in your backyard, but would settle for a home that doesn’t have one. (After all, you can always install one later.)
That’s why it’s a good idea to create two wish lists. One list would include all the features you absolutely would not do without in your new home, and the other would list all those things you’d like to have, but are not necessities.
With two lists, you’ll make better decisions. Your shopping will be easier because you won’t be wasting time viewing homes that don’t meet the criteria on your “must have” list. The second list will come in handy when you’re comparing properties and deciding which one to buy.
Two lists also help to ensure you get most, if not all, of what you really want in your new home. And that makes all the difference.
You turn on the television and watch a news story about housing prices going down. Then you receive a flyer in the mail about a property around the corner that sold for a decent price. Next you read a newspaper article about the housing market on the upswing again.
It’s a little like being on a roller-coaster ride!
Unfortunately the ride isn’t much fun if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home. In fact, it can be very confusing and frustrating. You just don’t know if “now” is the right time to make a move.
In reality, the housing market has been fluctuating for decades. Yet, people sell their homes every day for good prices, and just as many people get into their next dream homes affordably.
When you hear news of market fluctuations, there are two important things to consider.
First of all, a lot of media information about the housing market is national, or at least regional. If the housing market is trending up or down nationally, remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean that your LOCAL market is doing the same.
In fact, it’s entirely possible for housing prices to be rising in your neighbourhood while they are falling nationally, and vice versa.
Secondly, if you’re selling a current property while buying another home, then the net effect of market fluctuations may cancel out.
Say, for example, that the local market is on the upswing. You’ll probably be able to sell your current home for a good price. However, the home you purchase will likely also be priced to reflect the upswing.
The same holds true when the market is down.
All that being said, there are some circumstances in which you need to consider market fluctuations when deciding whether or not to make a move. A good REALTOR® will help.
After purchasing a new home, buyers are often focused on securing a good mortgage, hiring a reputable moving company, and preparing for moving day.
Those are all important. Just don’t forget about home insurance! It’s an easy detail to miss. If you wait until the last minute to make those arrangements, you may not have time to shop around and get the best policy and rate.
When is the ideal time to shop for home insurance? When your offer is accepted. Don’t leave it until the last minute.
Before shopping for a new home, people often create a “wish list” of the features they desire most. That's a good way to ensure you choose a home that best fits your needs and desires. For example, you might want an extra bedroom for guests, ample space for a home office, a local playground for the kids, and so forth.
However, many buyers don’t make their lists complete enough. You might find a home with the extra bedroom and nearby playground you want, only to realize, too late, that your commute to work becomes twice as long. You missed the importance of the commute because it wasn’t on your list. Ouch!
When you make your wish list, don’t be afraid to dream big. You might not be able to find a home that includes everything you desire, but you may be surprised by just how close you can get.
Here are some wish list items to consider:
- Distances to places you visit regularly – work, schools, running trails, recreation centres, restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping centres.
- Specific home features – a backyard tree, large closets, a fireplace, a two-car garage, a beautiful view.
- Neighbourhood characteristics –safety, sidewalks, nearby public transit, playgrounds, the neighbours.
A complete list helps you make a better decision about which homes to consider. It helps you balance the positives — “I love the large kitchen with the marble countertops” — with the negatives — “The bathroom off the master bedroom is small” — to ultimately make the best buying decision.
Also remember to take your list with you when shopping for a new home. Use it as a checklist or as a way to organize notes. Ultimately it will make it easier to shortlist homes, compare them, and determine when you’re ready to submit an offer.
Want to find out which homes on the market fit your wish list?
Let’s face it. When you visit a home during a scheduled viewing or open house, you’re usually seeing it at its best. The rooms are tidy. The sinks are clean. The closets are organized and uncluttered. Even the lighting is set to its brightest.
That’s just good old-fashioned marketing.
However, not every house you see will actually look this way. For any number of reasons, a house on the market may be less than tidy, poorly decorated, and even in need of minor repairs. You may open the front door in anticipation, only to be immediately turned off by stains on the carpets, faded paint on the walls, cluttered hallways, and more.
First impressions form quickly. It’s easy to make quick judgments and move on. But, you may be passing on what could be a dream home.
Don’t make that mistake. Make your purchase decision based on a carefully considered second impression, not just your first.
When viewing a house, imagine how it will look with a fresh coat of paint, some redecorating, the minor repairs completed, and your furniture adorning the rooms. You might just find that a home that doesn’t show well is really a diamond in the rough.
(One caveat: Be careful of houses that don’t look like they’ve been well maintained. There could be issues lurking that require expensive repairs or renovations. Always make a professional home inspection a condition of your offer.)
There are advantages to buying a home that doesn’t show well. They attract less interest and, therefore, less competition from other potential buyers. The listing price may be lower too.
You shop for a home. You find one you like. You make an offer — conditional on a satisfactory home inspection.
Okay so far.
Then the inspector discovers a problem with the home that may require an expensive repair or renovation. Perhaps the frame in the front door is cracked; or there's a leak in the roof; or the furnace is due to be replaced.
What do you do?
You don't want to pass up an opportunity to purchase what could be your dream home. On the other hand, you don't want to have to deal with potentially costly repairs.
First, keep in mind that you did the right thing.
It's always a good idea to get a home inspected by a professional before the offer is finalized. A qualified home inspector will go over the property with a fine tooth comb, top to bottom, inside and out, inspecting the structure, electrical systems, HVAC systems and more.
It's their job to find any deficiencies in the home and alert you to them.
If a deficiency is found, your next best step is to discuss the issue with your REALTOR®, and go over your options. Those options may include amending the offer price to cover some or all of the costs of the repair, or requiring the seller to get the repair done before you move in.
Don't worry. This is a normal part of the negotiation process. Chances are, an agreement can be reached that is satisfactory to both parties — and gets you the house you want!
And, because you had a home inspection done, you'll know the true condition of your home when you buy it. That's peace of mind.
When most people shop for a new home, they think about the kind of house they want: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, trees in the backyard.
But it also makes sense to shop for the right neighbourhood.
Think about it. In what type of area would you most like to live? What neighbourhood features do you want most? For example, you may want your next neighbourhood to have a good high school, a nearby recreation centre, and close access to public transit.
Make a list of what you want and then go “shopping” by visiting neighbourhoods that meet your criteria.
Your next home is more than just a property; it’s a dream home in a desirable location.
Do you sometimes review the real estate ads in your local paper? Do you drive by an open house sign and feel the urge to stop and check it out? Those are common indications that, at least on some level, you’re thinking about the possibility of making a move.
But how do you decide if you should actually move?
The first step is to consider whether there are any practical reasons to consider buying a new home. What’s pushing you in that direction?
- Is your current home too small for your needs?
- Is the commute to work, for you or your spouse, too long? (Perhaps longer than you expected when you purchased the home?)
- Are there property features you would now like to have, such as a larger backyard or a more spacious kitchen?
- Has the neighbourhood changed in an undesirable way?
- Do you have personal reasons for wanting to move, such as a desire to be closer to relatives in another area?
Carefully consider those things that can’t change unless you move. For example, if a major highway was recently built near you, the ongoing sound of traffic isn’t going to go away. It’s now part of the neighbourhood.
If there are no practical reasons for moving, there may still be other reasons for wanting a new home. You may want to move your family to a better neighbourhood, with better schools or you may simply want a bigger home, with a larger backyard, more rooms, and a wider driveway.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply wanting a better place than the one you have now. In fact, that is a common reason why many people make a move.
The point is, if you’ve been thinking about a new home for a while, perhaps now is the time to take the next step. A good REALTOR® can help you understand your options.