Driving around aimlessly following “open” arrows and looking at “open” houses on Saturday or Sunday is almost always a waste of time for a buyer. Most buyers arrive at these “opens” and realize that either they can’t afford the home or the property just isn’t suitable.
Hire a good realtor! He/she will save you a considerable amount of time and effort and will screen out most of the homes that wouldn’t be on your wish list. The realtor’s fee is normally paid by the seller. Realtors should be comfortable to work with, honest, helpful and earnest in their desire to find you the right home. They should be knowledgeable in all real estate matters, “on top” of the market and quick to show their buyers the appropriate new listings.
Some realtors deal with more buyers than they do sellers, so it is quite common not to see a realtor’s name in the newspapers. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there in the market place selling homes though. Once you have chosen your salesperson, be loyal to him/her. A good realtor will invest many hours of their time searching for the “perfect” home for you. They have “agent’s opens” where they tour and preview prescheduled homes with your interests in mind.
Lenders & Loans Officers
Most lenders will “pre-approve” a buyer for a mortgage and some will even do it over the phone. It costs nothing to arrange for a mortgage before finding the home you wish to purchase and there is no obligation.
Shop around. All banks, trust companies, credit unions, etc. offer varying terms and options. Find the best deal for you. Credit Unions handle only members but it only costs a nominal fee to join one and sometimes they can offer greater flexibility than banks. You will find that mortgage lending can vary among branches of the same lending institution. Ask your realtor to recommend a few to you.
Mortgage brokers are independent and represent a variety of banks, trust companies and private lenders. Brokers deal with discount only divisions of the big banks and can sometimes offer 1 to 1.5 points below what the banks have posted.
Every mortgage broker in Canada is online with all of the major lenders and can get you pre-approved or completely approved within 24 to 48 hours of taking the application. Brokers usually don’t charge a fee for this service as they most often receive a “finder’s fee” directly from the lender.
Using a a broker instead of shopping for a loan by applying at different banks yourself, can help your credit rating. Each time a lender pulls a credit report, your FICO score lessens and your ability to obtain credit decreases. A broker can shop among multiple lenders while making only one inquiry to the credit bureau. You may not know it, but the same situation happens when you shop for a car, apply for credit cards, etc. The more inquiries on your credit report, the harder it is to get financed.
Property (Home) Inspectors
Always have a home inspected. For a nominal fee paid by the buyer, an inspector can provide some assurance about the condition of the residence about to be purchased and an approximation of how much it will cost to do repairs. A detailed written report will be supplied.
Make sure that the builder you hire to erect your dream home or renovate your existing one has sound credentials. Ask for references and if possible, visit previous sites he has worked at. Speak to his clients to ensure that they were satisfied with the price, length of time in which the project was completed and overall, how the project was handled.
If you are buying directly from a developer make sure that he is licensed. A registry of licensed residential builders exists on the Homeowner Protection Office (B.C.)
website at www.hpo.bc.ca
. All contracts with a builder should be very specific about all construction details right down to when the job will be completed – in writing of course.
It is imperative that a buyer understands whether or not he/she is protected with warranties and to what extent. Don’t neglect to receive advice with repect to appropriate holdback or deficiency provisions. Remember, GST is payable on new homes. Make sure that this tax is addressed in writing as to who is responsible for it and who is entitled to the rebate.
Get estimates from several contractors and ask them to explain in detail their quotes, keeping in mind that the lowest price is not always the best. Some contractors may have budgeted for higher quality materials whereas some may originally have bid low to get the job and then plan to submit additional project costs once the job is underway. Always note in writing the specific finishes and brand names of the products to be installed.
The lending institution will, in most cases, want their appraiser to evaluate the home and property you have chosen to purchase. Lenders want to be assured that the value of the security is worth the risk before they advance you a mortgage. Normally, an appraiser does an analysis of recent sales of comparable homes in the area by comparing lot, home size, age, condition, etc.
The buyer will be charged a small fee by the lender for this service. Sometimes, if a buyer has a large down payment, the lender may waive the appraisal requirement.
Sellers will sometimes have an independent appraisal done on their home before they place it “for sale” on the real estate market. Buyers have this option as well. However, the cost of procuring an independent appraisal is far more than what lender’s charge and you may be wiser in the long run to ask your realtor to do a C.M.A. (current market analysis) on the home you have chosen to buy.
Shop and compare. A lawyer’s fee to do a conveyance can sharply differ from his/her competitors. The “disbursements” which include such items as title registration, photocopying, messenger service, etc. are usually approximately the same among lawyers as these are basically already “set” costs.
A notary public is not always cheaper than a lawyer and is not formally trained, qualified or allowed by law to provide a legal opinion on any subject matter. Lenders in days gone by wanted their own lawyers to draw up the mortgage documents. Not anymore. Buyers are free to choose almost any lawyer/notary to do their conveyance, which includes the mortgage document and Certificate of title (deed).
There are many excellent lawyers/notaries who specialize in real estate law. If you are feeling insecure about your purchase, you can always have your lawyer approve the form of the documentation. The buyer normally pays for all documentation regarding the new mortgage, transfer of title and disbursements and the seller pays for clearing title of all existing financial encumbrances on title, i.e. a mortgage.
Comparison shop before you buy a home. Brokers offer a wide range of policies and coverage and premiums do differ. Banks are usually more expensive than independents. Property insurance is a must because it covers damage or destruction to an insured property caused by perils such as fire and flood. Your lender will want evidence of your coverage before they advance any mortgage monies, as they want to be assured their loan is secured in this regard. It is important to obtain replacement cost coverage.
Condominiums and townhouses need only to have liability and “contents” insured. The monthly maintenance fees cover the property insurance for the structure itself. Mortgage life insurance guarantees that if you die your mortgage will be paid in full. If you can afford it, it provides security for your children and spouse.