Buyers Dos And Don’ts
DO use the services of an experienced REALTOR®. Many times Buyers avoid using the services of a REALTOR® under the mistaken belief that it costs them money – or that they will be able to negotiate a better deal directly with the Seller or Seller’s real estate salesperson/broker. This can be an expensive mistake! If you are negotiating directly with the Seller or Seller’s real estate salesperson/broker, you may not be taking advantage of the best deal available in the marketplace today! You can have your own REALTOR®, who is committed to using the experience gained through hundreds of successful negotiations for your benefit – at no charge to you! Your REALTOR® can be paid from the same commission that the Seller’s sales representative is paid from – by the Seller.
DO make sure you know who the real estate salesperson/broker is really working for. It is important for Buyers to know and understand for whom the real estate salesperson/broker, helping with the house hunting, is actually working. The real estate salesperson/broker may be representing the Seller’s best interests during negotiations – or as your REALTOR®, representing your best interests. If you are unsure who your real estate salesperson/broker is working for – demand clarification. Your REALTOR® must fully explain agency. When negotiations commence, wouldn’t you want to know whether the information you divulge will be used for the Seller’s benefit – or yours?
DO take the steps to be financially pre-qualified, and, having an interest rate guarantee before looking at homes. Knowing how much you can comfortably afford will ensure you are looking in the right price range and prevent you from buying a home that will strain you financially and emotionally. Having an interest rate guarantee will protect you in times of fluctuating rates and ensure that your initial projected payments do not suddenly escalate, resulting in extra interest charges. When you are pre-approved, you are effectively a cash Buyer. This makes it much easier to negotiate with the Seller. Do not mistake pre-approval with pre-qualification; pre-qualification is only the first step in gaining pre-approval. Ask your Banker or REALTOR® for details.
DO make sure your REALTOR® provides you with a Comparative Market Analysis, prepared before offering. Before you enter into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale to offer on that special home, you must have a good idea what the market value is, to ensure you do not overpay. This is the same information the Seller receives when deciding on an asking price. Wouldn’t you like to have access to the same information? Do your homework. What have similar properties sold for in the immediate area? How long were they on the market? How does this one compare? Is it over-priced, under-priced, or fair value? Ask your REALTOR® for an up-to-date market summary.
DO consider different negotiating styles and strategies. Many Buyers think that the way to achieve a fair purchase price is by offering low. This is the strategy of the Buyer who is not in possession of all the facts essential to negotiating the best possible deal. Many times that type of strategy will polarize negotiations and lead to inflexibility on part of the Seller – or worse yet – failed negotiations!
DO be sure to know and understand your rights and obligations set out in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. It is important to completely understand the terms of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Wrong assumptions, poorly written or missing clauses, and misunderstanding how the clauses affect the purchase, can lead to increased costs or a void contract. If you do not know your rights, then you can be taken advantage of. If you do not know your obligations, you may inadvertently cause friction between yourself and those with whom you are about to enter into a contract. Both your REALTOR® and Lawyer are great sources of information concerning this – make use of their expertise and resources.
DO have the home inspected by a competent home inspection company. Buying a home is a major purchase, usually made after spending just half an hour looking at the home. Isn’t it worth ensuring you will not be surprised later with deficiencies costing thousands?
DO check out the neighbourhood thoroughly before buying. How do traffic patterns change depending on the day, or even the time of day? Are there any future developments in the works? Is that nice green space down the road actually zoned for high-rise development? Ask around – check it out first.
DO shop for home insurance before finalizing an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. If you wait until the last minute, you may be rushing to find insurance. Allow time to shop around and get the best deal.
DON’T let “first impressions” affect your decision too much. There are entire books written on how the first impression of a home is the single most decisive factor affecting many Buyer’s decision to buy. Don’t let bad décor or messy housekeeping scare you away from a structurally solid home that meets all your needs. Remember, you are buying the house, not the furnishings.
DON’T let emotion blind reason. Buying a home is an exciting time and is usually an emotional decision. It is important that those emotions be validated by facts and reason. An experienced REALTOR® will help to remove the emotion from the negotiating process and provide you with the information you need to make the right decisions.
DON’T ever sign documents without reading them. Do not wait until the last minute before reading the documents; there probably will not be time. Try to get copies of all documents early on in your home search so that you can peruse them at your leisure. It is also important that you understand what you are signing- make sure your REALTOR® explains the fine points of the Agreement!
DON’T make verbal agreements. Not only are they harder to enforce, but any written contract you sign will override a verbal agreement. Contract law says that verbal agreements are not enforceable when they deal with Real Property. Always get it in writing!
DON’T assume that the Bank’s quoted mortgage rates are written in stone. Like many industries, banks are experiencing increased competition and are often willing to negotiate mortgage rates. Depending on the market and profit spreads, it is sometimes possible to negotiate substantial savings. Ask your Banker or REALTOR® for details.