STEP ONE- GET EDUCATED
It is very important to get educated on the real estate process and industry before you start anything. We are talking about one of the biggest investments of most people’s lives; a little time to empower yourself will go a very long way. There are several resources you can turn to for information.
THE INTERNET | The internet is truly the information super highway. If it isn’t on the internet, it probably doesn’t exist... yet!
BOOKSTORES & LIBRARIES | There are thousands of books written on real estate. If you are still hungry for more knowledge, stop by your local library or favourite bookstore. Try to stick to something that is pertaining to the country or area you reside in, as the laws and procedures can be dramatically different in various provinces and countries.
BOOK A MEETING WITH YOUR REALTOR® | It is important that you understand how the current real estate market will effect your particular situation and circumstances.
STEP TWO- INITIAL CONSULTATION MEETING
After selecting your agent, you will want to schedule a sit down meeting. At this time, you can officially meet (if you haven’t already).
You do not want to skip this step. It will be virtually impossible to
properly represent you without sitting down to discuss things as they fit your unique situation. The real estate market is constantly changing and you must be aware of where you stand. Once you have assessed your situation, this is where you will express your goals and determine an appropriate action plan so you can confidently move forward with your home purchase.
STEP THREE- DETERMINE HOW YOU WILL PAY
There is nothing but options when it comes to financing, but you should have a good idea of how you will purchase your next home before you get too committed to looking. There are three main sources of financing:
TRADITIONAL BANKS | If you already have a great rapport with your current bank, this is a good option. Usually you will be able to get good terms on your mortgage.
MORTGAGE BROKERS | They have the most options. They can use most of the major banks, plus many other lenders. They will be your best bet to truly finding the best option for your particular situation.
CREATIVE FINANCING | The options here are endless and are great for investing, or if you cannot access a mortgage through the bank or a mortgage broker.
STEP FOUR- START YOUR SEARCH
Now this is when most of the excitement really starts to happen. You already know the type of home you’re looking for and the price you can afford. A property search will have to be set up by your real estate agent that will notify you (usually via email) when a new property enters the market that matches your criteria. Once you have identified some potential properties, it’s time to hit the pavement and start scheduling showings with your agent.
This is where you will really want to keep the goal you set during step two at the top of your mind- it will make this process a whole lot easier, not to mention less stressful. During your showings, if you visit a property that isn’t in line with your goal, it is easy just to erase it from your mind. However, if it is in line, you can easily add it to your short-list or even write an offer on it. Quickly identifying a property which is in-line with your goals will save you the headache of viewing hundreds of homes and getting discouraged
STEP FIVE- WRITE AN OFFER!
Once you have found a home that suits your needs, the next step is to prepare and present an offer. There are several steps that have to be taken when you write your offer:
PROPERTY RESEARCH | This is where you investigate the selling history of the home and also where the price is relative to the market. To do this, an assessment of the current homes on the market and properties that have recently sold will have to be done. This is where you will get the most of your fire power for determining your offer price.
TERMS | Terms are the clauses that make up the contract. These
are the items that are agreed to and will be upheld, otherwise there is a breach of the contract. In addition to the standard terms that will be reviewed with you when preparing the offer, you can add in whatever else you need to, however, these are open for negotiation. Common terms are a 48-hour walk-through of the property prior to possession date, repairs or additional visits to the home prior to possession.
CONDITIONS | Conditions, on the other hand, are clauses in the contract that must be fulfilled for the home inspection, or for the buyer to be approved for financing. The buyer or seller is then given a few days to fulfill the conditions (typically 7-10). This is what is meant by a property status that is listed as Pending (P) or Conditionally Sold (CS). If something happens where either the buyer or seller are not interested with the results of the conditions, then they may walk away from the contract at no cost and with no further obligation (the deposit cheques are returned to the buyer). Conditions are most commonly for the buyer, but you may have a seller’s condition as well.
DEPOSITS | In order to write an offer, you will need some available money for a deposit. This is initially a show of good faith in a transaction and is fully refundable if the conditions on the purchase are not removed. After the conditions are satisfied and removed in writing, the deposit becomes the seller’s security that you will complete the purchase (non-refundable).
PRICE | There are only two things that are negotiable in a real estate transaction: price and terms. Once you know what terms and conditions you would like on the contract, and have completed your property research, you can now effectively determine the appropriate offer.
The offer price will be determined based on all the variables affecting this specific property. What terms do we need? How many offers are there? How long has the property been on the market? And many, many, more. We will not be discussing negotiating strategy here, but remember this: what unique way can we meet the seller’s needs and still achieve our goals? This isn’t always strictly involving price.
THE OFFER PRESENTATION, NEGOTIATING AND ACCEPTANCE PROCEDURE | After the offer is written and signed, it is the real estate professionals job to present the offer to the seller’s agent. This will typically happen one of two ways:
1. If the seller is available, the offer is presented in-person directly to the owner of the home. The listing agent will be there to represent their client, however, this is a good opportunity to meet the seller and present your case in person (much more intimate and effective).
2. Fax or emailing the offer. This means that you will need to be accessible by phone for negotiations to occur. Once a counter offer is received, or the offer is accepted, all parties will now need to sign the documents within the time frame stipulated on the contract.
STEP SIX- SATISFY CONDITIONS
Once the offer is accepted, it is time to proceed with satisfying your conditions. This process usually involves arranging and performing a home inspection, getting all your personal information and the property information to your mortgage broker or bank, or simply doing research to gather other information that is required. As REALTORS®, we play a huge role in gathering information and making the necessary arrangements to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
After the necessary information is verified, a decision to proceed (or not) is made, and the appropriate written notice is provided to the seller and their agent. Once the conditions are removed, or “waived”, the sale is considered firm and the property will be marked “Sold” for advertising purposes (changed from C/S or Pending to Sold on the MLS).
STEP SEVEN- POSSESSION DAY
Typical possession days are 30-60 days, however, they may be much quicker than that. Get the following items completed as fast as possible, as this will alleviate a large amount of stress.
LAWYERS | You may have already chosen your lawyer at this point, however, if you haven’t it is now the time to notify your agent of who will be handling the transaction. Once you have a lawyer chosen, they will need all the required documents and paperwork prior to you meeting with them. This is usually handled by your REALTOR® to ensure they get everything they need. You will be meeting your lawyer about a week prior to possession and will need to provide your insurance information, the balance of your down payment, payment of fees, payment of any adjustments or taxes, sign documents, and finalize anything else that is required prior to officially owning your home!
MOVERS | If you are using professional movers, book early! Possession dates commonly fall on the 1st, 30th or 15th of the month so movers fill up their schedules fast. Call ahead and make the arrangements early to avoid stress.
INSURANCE | When you actually meet with your lawyer, they will ask to see a copy of insurance, as it is a requirement of the mortgage. No insurance, no money. This step usually involves a simple phone call and/or a lengthly survey. Have a copy of the listing available with all the specifications of the home on it. Be prepared to answer questions regarding the age of the home, furnace, electrical systems and roof, as well as general questions regarding square footage and the features.
UTILITIES | When you take possession of your new home, it is very important to change your utilities over to your new address in advance. This includes your phone, cable, internet, power, water and gas services. Also, don’t forget to cancel the utilities at your previous residence.
MAILING ADDRESS | This is the least favourite of all the steps, but it is a necessary evil. Gather all of your bills, statements, tax information, healthcare information, anything you make automatic payments on, any subscriptions, any clubs or organizations in which you are a member, etc. Sit down and make a list of all these things early, because you will forget at
least three if you leave it to the last minute. Then pick up the phone and begin giving out your new mailing address and the date you will be taking possession or moving in. You might also want to have your mail forwarded, through the post office, for anything you may have missed.
STEP EIGHT- POSSESSION DAY!
Congratulations, you are now a home owner! Typically, possession happens at 12:00 pm on the agreed upon day. The seller’s lawyer will contact your REALTOR® to notify them when the keys are released to you and to provide you with permission to access the property. From time to time, your REALTOR® can negotiate (at the offer stage) to have a walk-through of the property completed a few hours before, on the day of possession or 48 hours before. If you and your REALTOR® discover any problems during the possession, these are to be communicated to the lawyer and they will then advise on the next best course of action. It is good practice to not schedule your entire move at 12:00 pm on the possession day, as small delays are not uncommon. It is best to have possession of your new home a few days or weeks before you actually move- to ensure plenty of time and less stress.
This day can be very exciting and very stressful, so proper planning of your move well in advance is critical.
Congratulations, you are officially the owner of your new home!