Step one is to ask questions. This means talking openly with your real estate representative about anything and everything you are not sure about. Remember that there are no stupid questions especially when it your hard earned money on the line. It is better to be educated before you commit to your new home then after. If something does not make sense then ask.
Everyone has heard the phrase “Location..Location…Location” but it is so important that it bears repeating. You want to make sure that you buy in the best neighbourhood you can afford. The idea is to protect your investment and make sure that when the time comes to sell your home you will have no trouble doing so.
When you do find a home that is perfect for you and your family you need to watch out for the price. You definitely do not want to over pay for something because unless you are paying cash your mortgage payments could end up being higher that you planned for. This is especially true when you are in a multiple offer situation in which it can be very easy to get caught up in a bidding war and lose sight of the overall picture. Relying on the expertise of your real estate agent for pricing is critical.
As you tour any home pay close attention to anything that might indicate that there are problems with the property. Look for things like water stains on the the ceilings or floors that might indicate that there was a leak or flood. Also check for cosmetic things like peeling paint, broken windows or small cracks in the walls. All of these minor issues can be used to negotiate a lower price and are generally quite easy to repair.
Although you have done a visual inspection of the home it is important to bring in a professional home inspector to do a more thorough job. They will be checking for more serious concerns such as foundation cracks, mold, electrical problems and anything else that could be a major issue. It is well worth the few hundred dollars it costs and again, any issues that are found are potential bargaining points you can leverage.
When it comes time to negotiate your offer with the seller do not be afraid to bring up any of the issues you or the home inspector uncovered. If you find that the seller is not happy about lowering their price in light of these issues you have another option. Ask that the home owner to fix the problems before the closing date of the offer. This can often help to get your offer accepted.
Once you have put together a proper plan for buying a home you will find that things will run a lot smoother. You will not have to settle for a home that is not right for you and you will be able to deal with any issues that might arise.
Stefan Hyross is a writer for the housing sector and follows the Whitby real estate market along with other neighbouring areas in Ontario.