1. There is a saying that goes, “The three most important factors to consider are: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION.” What is the neighbourhood (and your neighbours) like? Are there certain features in the area that would affect the value of this property in the future? Be careful about purchasing adjacent to or opposite from vacant land as it may be re-zoned in future. Remember these two tips: You can always change the decorating, but you cannot change the location, and, try to buy the least expensive home in the best neighbourhood as the values of the area will always enhance and support your home’s value.
2. What are the realty taxes on the home? Often the information on the listing form is either inaccurate or fails to include special assessments and/or levies. Make sure your agent verifies the information with the municipality.
3.What are the utility costs? One way to find out is by calling the utility supplier and ask them what the monthly equal billing costs would be if you were to purchase the home.
4. What home repairs have been made in the past two years? Are there any warranties that can be transferred to you?
5. How far will you have to travel for schools, public transit and shopping? What school boundaries apply? In the case of rural properties, where does the school bus pick up?
6. It is strongly recommended that buyers have a complete HOME INSPECTION done by a qualified and experienced Home Inspector. It will reveal any major repairs required both immediately and within the foreseeable future. (Marg has a sample of common reporting formats that she’d be happy to share with you!)
7.What is the traffic flow in front of or near the property? Any main roads, bus or truck routes, railway tracks?
8. Are there any government bodies that regulate development in the area such as: The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC), the local Conservation Authority, and the Ministry of Natural Resources? These are big considerations particularly if you are looking at buying rural property. Marg has maps available showing such information as well as proposed or closed dumpsites, proposed highway changes and other information that could be very relevant to your buying decision!
9. Is there a fairly recent real property survey that shows all the property lines, buildings and additions on the property? Many lenders WILL require an up-to-date property survey or, that you purchase title insurance.
10. Are there any utility easements or encroachments over the property? Many are not visible to the eye and can only be determined through a survey and/or title search of the property.
11. Has the Seller completed and signed a “Property Information” form? Have you seen it? This form asks the Seller many questions about possible material defects, renovations, environmental concerns, tenancies, etc.
12. Make sure your agent is representing YOU! Unless you have signed a Buyer Agency Agreement with him/her, the Agent is representing the Seller. Be sure you know your rights, obligations and opportunities! (Written disclosure of who the agent is representing became mandatory on January 1, 1995 for all members of the Canadian Real Estate Association.) Some other food for thought…..if you are planning to buy a home offered privately for sale, who will represent your interests? Can you get all of this information?
13. How much are the closing costs…and is there a better time in the month to close to minimize them? How do lawyers quote fees? Will you need a survey? Mortgage Insurance?
14. Who has the best rates and service in the mortgage field? What are the options you should know about?
15. What are other comparable homes selling for? You don’t want to overpay or get carried away by snazzy finishing touches in a home that may be priced higher than others in the neighbourhood. You should ask for and be provided with a comparative market analysis of the property before you decide how much to offer.
16. How flexible are the sellers with their asking price…and at what price do you start when you put in an offer? This depends on several factors such as: how well the property is priced to begin with and how much demand there is for the property. Is there a negotiating strategy in each case? If your agent is working for you, the Buyer, they may be able to offer helpful advice in this regard.
17. How is financing approval determined? Is there any beneficial existing financing offered on the property?
18.What does the yard look like when it isn’t covered with snow? Are there any pictures the seller could show? Are there any problems with drainage or run-off after a heavy rain or in the spring?
19. What is included in the sale? What is excluded from the sale?
20. The best advice available is to ask several people whose opinion you value, whom they would recommend as a real estate salesperson. Interview those suggested and then decide to work with the one who can provide you with the best and most comprehensive service that you deserve. Just as you choose a lawyer, doctor or dentist, you should make a carefully thought out decision when selecting your agent. You will then have peace of mind knowing that you can trust your representative to give you the best of themselves and commit to being of service to you before, during and AFTER purchasing your home.