Buyer's Guide

So you have decided it is time to buy your first home or your next home... What next? The home buying process can be intimidating and often times overwhelming. I have put together this comprehensive buyer's guide to help you better understand the entire process and outline the steps that will lead you to your new home.
To get started the first step is the INITIAL BUYER CONSULTATION
I always like to have an initial buyer consultation with any perspective buyers that are interested in my services. Typically informal, at a cafe or diner, it is a great opportunity to get to know each other. At the same time I will run you through the entire Buyer's Guide and answer any questions you may have. Having a good grasp on the entire process will instill confidence in you moving forward and I have found this makes the buying experience more enjoyable with less stress!
One of the first items on the list is obtaining FINANCING PRE-APPROVAL
Before setting out on your house hunting adventure it is important to know where you stand financially and how much money you can afford to spend on a property. The best and easiest way to do this is to fill out a Mortgage application form. A broker will be able to assess your income and debts to determine the amount of money you will be able to borrow to put towards your next property. You can get a jump start on the pre-approval process with the online application here: or I can provide you with the contacts to have an application completed at the Initial Buyer Consultation

There are many benefits to obtaining a mortgage pre-approval.
  1. Most often a pre-approval comes with a "Rate Guarantee" that means the rate you have been pre-approved for will be honored for 90-120 days (or longer) even if rates go up.
  2. Having a pre-approval provides you with ammunition to get the lenders competing for your business.
  3. A pre-approval gives you the ability to shop with confidence knowing that if you find the property of your dreams within the pre-approval budget that you should have no problems obtaining a loan to close the sale.

*** It is important to be completely transparent when filling out your mortgage application. Disclose all debts and only declare base salary. Lenders will not give you credit for Bonus' or overtime pay. Also, if you have a loan that you don't include on your application (vehicle/student loan or credit card debt) the lender WILL find out when you work towards fulfilling your financing condition and failure to disclose debt may cause complications obtaining financing or could completely cause a transaction to fall apart.

One of the benefits of working with me as your Realtor (other than it doesn't cost you a thing) is that I have real time access to all of the MLS listings. Many buyers house hunting on their own often wait for Open House in able to view a property and also have trouble sorting through the THOUSANDS of listings on the MLS.

At the Initial Buyer Consultation I will ask you the right questions and facilitate discussion that will help narrow down your search criteria so that we can focus on the properties best suited for your needs.

Here are some thoughts to consider when considering a home purchase:
  1. What areas/community am I most interested in?
  2. How many bedrooms/bathrooms do I need?
  3. What type of parking do I need?
  4. Are you considering a single family vs condominium and what are the pros and cons?
  5. Are designated schools going to be an important consideration for me?
  6. Is public transportation readily available?
  7. What type of community amenities am I interested in: Shopping, Recreation, Lake Access ect...?

Further discussion can be had to focus the search criteria to your needs and can be adjusted as needed if we aren't finding quite the right property for you.

Once we have determined the best search criteria, I set you up with a REAL TIME search to provide you access to current listings that fit your needs and any new listings that come to market. As you compile a list of desirable properties you want to view there is no need to wait for an open house, just pick up the phone and I will set up a time for us to tour through your properties of interest!

After we have determined your search criteria you will receive all of the listings that fit your criteria. At this point you can compile a list of properties that you are most interested in and we set up a time to go view your new potential homes.

It is best to limit home tours to 5-7 properties at a time. Any more than that and it can become mentally taxing and the different property features become confused with others. Depending on the type and size of home it should take 20-30 minutes to view each home. Obviously there will be some homes that pique your interest and we may spend more time in those properties, on the other hand there will be properties that just aren't your cup of tea in which case we would spend less time in these homes.

We will be able to view all or as many listings that fit your criteria as possible, this may take 2-4 or more property tours. After viewing enough properties you will have determined your favorites that we put on your short list.

During the tour of your short list properties we will spend more time in each of the listings. At this time we can measure important spaces, assess the pros and cons and take note of any items that may require additional research or information.

We have just toured your short listed properties and have narrowed the search down to your 2 favorite listings.

It is at this point we qualify these properties in order to determine the very best fit for you.

There are many avenues we will pursue to qualify these listings:
  1. Pull the history and title of the property: Knowing how long the seller has been marketing the home, how long they have owned the property and additional information we can obtain from title such as registered mortgages and restrictions can be a valuable tool when it comes to negotiating the best terms for your transaction.
  2. Complete a Market Evaluation to determine Value: By looking at Sales of the most recent and comparable properties we can make adjustments for items we know affect value in order to determine what is the actual value of the properties you are considering purchasing.
  3. Have a Conversation with the Listing Agent: A discussion with the listing agent can often provide insight to the property/seller that may be useful when considering an offer.
  4. Confirm/Verify Items of Note: It is important to confirm transportation routes, schools, community amenities ect... prior to writing an offer.

After qualifying the properties it will be clear which property is best suited for your needs.

We have determined the property best suited for you and with the information we have collected up to this point we are prepared to draft an offer in writing to submit to the sellers.

We will go through the offer step by step in person but for now here are some items we will focus on. Price, Deposit, Closing Date, Inclusions, Terms and Conditions.

Price: In deciding what price to start the offer at we want to be aggressive without insulting the sellers. It is important that in the discussions we have with the seller they are thinking with their heads and not their hearts. I will negotiate hard for you to obtain the best price possible.

Deposit: When you submit an offer there is an expectation from the seller of a deposit. An acceptable deposit is typically determined by the purchase price of the property and amount of time between the offer and closing date. Your deposit is not at risk until you satisfy and remove all of your conditions. If your home inspection fails or financing falls through you get this money back.

Closing Date:This is the day you take possession of your new home. Often times this date can affect value for a buyer or seller and I can use this to leverage your position in negotiations.

Inclusions: The offer outlines a list of included items in the purchase. Anything that is "attached" to the property is considered part of the sale. To guarantee that items that aren't "attached" directly to the property we include them in the offer to ensure they are in the property when you take possession. Most often this list includes appliances, but can be anything agreed upon by the buyer and seller, a hot tub or shed would be a good example.

Terms: A term can be used as a function to have the buyer or seller complete a specific item or provide access to the property for specific reasons. An example of a term that I always use is " Seller agrees to allow buyer access to the property up to 24 hours prior to closing for the purpose of a walk-through". There are a number of other reasons we may include a term in the contract depending on certain circumstances. I will make you aware if we should have additional terms included in the contract if required.

Conditions: To protect you as a buyer we put the proper conditions in place as part of the agreement depending on the type of property you are pursuing. Below are examples of some common conditions we may implement.
  1. Financing Condition: To satisfy this condition the bank will perform an appraisal for the home to make sure the value is enough to justify lending a buyer mortgage funds. Also, at this time the lender will verify your income and debts to ensure you are a suitable candidate for a loan.
  2. Property Inspection Condition: I always suggest having a property inspection performed on any property. The cost is anywhere between $450-$1000 depending on the company and level of inspection you require. The property inspection is subject to your approval as a buyer and if there are any deficiencies that are determined by the inspection it is up to you as a buyer if you wish to continue the transaction.
  3. Condominium Document Review Condition: If the property you are considering is a condominium it is important to obtain all of the condo documents and have them professionally reviewed. The cost for this is $425 and could save you thousands. Meeting minutes, financial statements, insurance certificate, condo plan and reserve fund reports are just some of the documents that are available through the condo board to have reviewed.

I have a number of Preferred Service Providers that are valuable resources we can use to help satisfy your conditions.

It should take 7-10 business days to do the due diligence and satisfy all of the conditions. I will guide you through the different process' as we move through them.

With the offer written, the best terms negotiated and all conditions satisfied it is time to prepare for THE CLOSING
The Closing: Before you get the keys to your new home and move in there are just a few more important items that need your attention.

Property Insurance: In order to have the bank transfer your mortgage funds for your property you need to prove you have obtained property insurance for your new home. Often times you can save money by bundling your home insurance with other insurance services. If you have a relationship with an insurance provider you can contact them to complete this process or I can provide you with a contact.

Lawyer Meeting to Sign Purchase Documents: To complete your purchase you have to meet with a Real Estate Lawyer and sign all of the transfer and registration documents that will legally make you the owner of your new home. This meeting will occur within the 2 weeks prior to your closing date and could be as late as a day or two before you take possession. The cost for the lawyer often depends on the price but you should budget between $1200-$1500. Check out my Preferred Service Providers for a link to my lawyers of choice.

Pre-Possession Walk-Through: The day before your possession date we will do a pre-possession walk-through. We conduct this walk-through to ensure the home is in the same state of repair as it was when we originally made the agreement, that all items included in the contract are present and to make sure any other agreed to terms have been completed.

Move-In Day: Finally the day you have been waiting for, its move-in day! Once all of the funds have been transferred the property is officially yours. This typically happens between 11am and Noon on your closing date. We will co-ordinate plans to meet at the property at which time I will administer you the KEYS TO YOUR NEW HOME!

I hope this detailed buyers guide has been informative for you. Should you have any questions about any of the content or about the process please don't hesitate to contact me to discuss.