Before buying my house earlier this year, I was feeling painfully overwhelmed by the process to a point where I considered renting forever to avoid it. Between the lawyers, the home inspections, offers and contracts, the whole thing seemed to be incredibly scary and figuring out what came next was truly overwhelming. I know I’m not the only one who feels/felt this way and truthfully maybe if we had spent even a day learning about this in High School, instead of a full month on the quadratic equation, then more of us would be inclined to buy homes.
I went through two other Realtors (and a brief stint where we tried to DIY real estate) before finding, Realtor extraordinaire, Nathan Chen. Our first Realtor didn’t seem to have our best interest in mind and he even got mad at us for adding the criteria that our new home can’t be beside any former grow-ops (ask me and I’ll tell you the full story). Our second Realtor was nice but didn’t quite understand our stage of life of being in a relationship but not married and not buying a home in the suburbs just to build a family. Nathan was different because he understood right away what we were looking for and didn’t fuss when we added criteria or asked not to hear specifics about the ‘great school around the corner’.
I invited him to the blog to share in his experience as a Realtor and hopefully demystify some of the weird process-y stuff that confuses all of us.
Why do I even need a realtor? I know how to use Realtor.ca, can’t I just do it myself?
As a Realtor we live, work and breathe the local real estate market. When you’re deciding on one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your life, having a Realtor by your side working for you exclusively is priceless. Realtors have in-depth knowledge of the local real estate market, they’re able to review active and sold data, providing you with accurate information of the current market to help you make an informed decision. Most of us are also sales and negotiation guru’s in addition to our data-analytic roles, we will negotiate on your behalf during the negotiation process to ensure you get the best possible price. For many first-time home buyers, the home buying process is not something commonly spoken about, this is where your Realtor will be able to guide you through the daunting process. Many Realtors like myself are also available to our clients 24/7 to ensure the process is as smooth as possible, making the home buying experience a positive and fun one.
How can I know that my realtor is working in my best interest? Is there anything to watch for that shows that they aren’t?
When you decide to work with a Realtor, like any relationship it should be based on trust and honesty. Your Realtor should always be up front, honest, and disclose all information to you that will help you make the most informed decision. A sign that your Realtor may not be working with your best interests in mind would be lack of communication. Are they always available to you? Do they give you all the information for you to make an informed decision? Ultimately it comes down to trust and always trust your gut feeling! If you don’t feel that they’re the right agent for you, they probably aren’t.
Okay, so let’s say I find a bunch of homes I want to check out. What happens on my first day of “home viewing”?
Your Realtor would have likely sent you a list of homes that meet your needs and wants based on your discussions beforehand.
On the day of your showings you can meet your Realtor at the first home of the day, or they could pick you up and be your chauffer, whatever works best for you. You’ll go through each home scheduled for your private showing where you and your Realtor will discuss the pros and cons of each home. When representing buyers, I recommend they write down a list of their must-haves, as well as wants prior to viewing any homes in person. This way we have a guideline of what meets their requirements as we go through each home. This process also helps your Realtor narrow down your interests and what will be best suited for your lifestyle.
Sam edit: Tony and I wrote down the pros and cons of each house after every showing. Even if we absolutely hated the home, we would still write down what we didn’t like and try to find things that we did. After seeing more than 50 homes, it was really helpful to remind ourselves that we always hate homes without kitchen islands and seeing a home with one wasn’t worth our time.
I found a home I love! How often can I see a house again before I put an offer in?
Your Realtor will need to schedule the showings on your behalf with the selling Realtor, but you are welcome to see a house as many times as you like if the seller agrees.
How does the offer process work?
This is the fun part! Once you have decided on a home you like and you’re ready to make an offer, your Realtor will sit down with you and go over the Purchase Contract required. This contract will outline price, possession date, conditions, condition dates, and any other applicable terms and conditions. Once your initial offer is written, your Realtor will present this to the selling Realtor, and the negotiation begins! When an agreement is made between yourself and the seller, the offer will be signed by both parties and the home becomes Conditionally Sold to you!
Sam edit: While it can be fun it can also be super stressful! Your Realtor can put a deadline of their choosing on the offer to speed up the process. I’ve heard of situations where the offer is open until the next day which leaves it open for the Seller to wait until the last minute to respond to your offer. Nathan put a fairly quick timeline on the offer which ensured that our deal was closed the same day we put the offer in and prevented too much stress late into the night.
What if I change my mind about the offer after I have already submitted it?
A few different scenarios could happen in this situation, if it is an initial offer, the offer may not be accepted anyway and we can end the negotiations right away if you feel the home does not meet your requirements.
If the offer has already been accepted by the sellers, you may be able to get out of it using the conditions that your Realtor would have written in conditions to protect your best interests, conditions would likely include a Financing Condition and Home Inspection Condition. There are ways to use these conditions to get out of your agreement, but this this would need to be discussed with your Realtor and the situation can vary.
What if the sellers change their mind after we’ve signed the deal?
Once the offer is negotiated and officially signed by the sellers, the sellers cannot pull out of the deal unless both parties agreed to a seller’s condition that may allow them to back out of the deal. Similar to how buyers can place conditions in a contract, sellers can negotiate seller’s conditions as well. The offer to purchase is a legally binding contract, should anything come up out of the ordinary your Realtor and Lawyer will guide you through the proper procedures and processes.
What happens if my home inspection turns up a lot of issues?
When writing an offer, we always place a home inspection condition to protect the buyer’s interests. If the home inspection shows the home requires more than just regular maintenance, or items that are out of your comfort zone as a home buyer, you can sign a non-waiver for the home inspection condition that allows you to back out of the transaction. The home will then go back on the market for sale again.
What does a lawyer do and when do I need to engage them?
A real estate lawyer is required for all real estate transactions, their role includes preparation of the Land Title transfer between the sellers and buyers, checking and ensuring there are no restrictions, caveats, encumbrances, etc. that will affect your home ownership. They prepare and execute closing documents for the transaction including receiving and transfer of funds for the purchase. I recommend my clients to start considering who they’d like to hire as their legal representative once an offer has been accepted. As we move through the condition period, it is important to select a lawyer soon depending on when possession is as lawyers typically require a few days to prepare all documents for signing.
What happens on possession day?
This is the most exciting day as a buyer. Usually on possession day the lawyers will complete the conveyancing including the transfer of funds from the Buyers Lawyer to Sellers Lawyer. Once the lawyers have completed their requirements, your Realtor will get authorization to officially release the keys to you, this is usually done before noon. All you need to do is show up and open the door to your new home.
What if I find something in the house after I move in that I didn’t expect?
If after you get the keys and you find something unexpected in the home, such as the previous owners personal belongings. Contact your Realtor right away, they will be able to contact the selling Realtor to have the Sellers retrieve their belongings if it was forgotten during the move. In other cases, it may be goods left behind in good faith, if they do not suit your needs your welcome to throw them out.
If you find something in the house that you didn’t expect in terms of quality or potential damage, it would be something you need to speak with your Realtor about right away. In most cases, you should have identified any cosmetic issues or major maintenance requirements during the home inspection, or during the 24 hour walk through prior to possession which is a term I always add in for my buyers.
More questions? Phone a friend (Realtor).