The Key to Buying a Home This Year: Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent
If you are thinking of purchasing a home this year, you are not alone. In today’s competitive market, when it comes to buying a house in the GTA, you must have an “in it to win it” mentality. You need the right people on your team and the right leader in charge of your game. Without a doubt, having the right real estate agent is the key to successfully landing the home of your dreams.
One of the best things about employing a real estate agent is that you can get a straight answer about anything you need to know regarding purchasing a home. Here are a few examples of common questions that many people ask their real estate agents.
What’s the First Step to Buying a Home?
Before you get too excited and start hunting around for a home on the Internet, the first steps you should take before buying a home are threefold.
It should begin with you checking your credit score, to give you an idea of what type of home loan you might qualify for. Next, you need to take an honest look at your finances and calculate how much house you can afford. Getting pre-approved for a home loan will also put you one step ahead of the crowd.
After you have a solid figure in mind, allow the real estate agent that you have chosen to help guide you through a list of possible homes within your price range. Be sure to select a real estate agent that you trust and communicate well with. Be clear on your expectations about what you want your realtor to do for you. Together write down your expectations, frequency of communication, mode of communication (do you prefer quick texts vs long emails, or is a telephone call or in-person meeting preferred?), how often do you want to receive new listings, when do you want to view properties and any other DETAILS that ensures you and your realtor are working on the same page.
Discuss with him or her what aspects of your ideal home are most important to you. Describe your DEAL BREAKERS and develop a want versus need checklist. Perhaps you desire a specific neighbourhood or school district. Or, you might wish for particular aesthetic characteristics. Whatever the case may be, real estate agents, specialize in locating what you desire, and making magic happen for you.
Can You Recommend a Good Lender, Inspector, or Appraiser?
When purchasing your first home, you will need to utilize various professionals during the process. Real estate agents often have an extensive network of connections.
If you haven’t already gotten a pre-approval loan, getting a recommendation on a lender from your real estate agent may really help bring you up to speed. When you find a home you are interested in, it will be very helpful to have both an inspector and an appraiser ready to go - especially in this hot market! Be prepared...Be in it to win it!
What Are the Closing Costs on a House?
Some people don’t realize that a down payment isn’t the only thing they need to bring to the table when purchasing a home. Closing costs are also part of the equation. They are essentially processing fees that you are required to pay to your lender. Closing costs may comprise as much as 3% to 6% of the cost of your home. This money owed is separate from your down payment.
Common types of closing costs include appraisal fees, lawyer’s fees, and inspection fees.
How Do I Compete to Win in a Bidding War?
Many buyers wonder what to do when they have found their ideal home but find themselves in a bidding war over it.
To begin with, if possible, offer the seller cash over financing. If this isn’t a possibility for you, make sure you can show proof that you are pre-approved to buy the home. There is a difference between a Pre-Approval and an Approval. Go in with proof you can close the purchase and separate yourself from the competition.
Another thing you should do is assess any contingencies that you have included in your offer. Contingencies are essentially clauses in your contract that allow you to back out after signing. One common contingency is that the house must pass an inspection. While some contingencies are needed to protect yourself as the buyer, there are some that we may be able to do without. Your real estate agent will be able to advise on the best path forward here.
Another smart move to win a bidding war is to offer earnest money. Earnest money is a deposit that you give the seller. Typically this is 5% in our market. A higher deposit reflects your sincerity to the seller and offers increased comfort that you are likely not going to walk away from the purchase and potentially lose the deposit (earnest monies). Giving the seller earnest money shows that you are committed to purchasing the home.
What Are the Next Steps After an Offer Is Accepted?
Logically, after your offer was accepted, you may be ready to jump for joy! Before you do, let’s get real about what could happen next.
First of all, don’t be surprised if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned. You need to prepare yourself for the possibility that the house could have issues, you can’t obtain the type of financing you want, or your house was not appraised high enough to justify its price. Being prepared for possible outcomes will help you overcome any challenges that may happen throughout the process.
With that being said, here is what the schedule is like after your offer is accepted. To begin, your initial deposit is held in trust at the seller's brokerage. Next, all inspections (if one is provided for in your offer) on the home will be completed. After reviewing the inspection report and satisfying yourself that the home is acceptable you will sign a Waiver or Fulfillment form indicating you are satisfied. Your lender will then choose a certified appraiser to assess the property.
Your loan approval deadline will then approach. You will do the final walkthrough of the home, followed by signing all of the documents and transferring the rest of the down payment. In the final step, the property deed is transfered and the house legally becomes yours.
Now it's time to celebrate!
Buying a home this year can be quite a complicated and arduous task. Trying to navigate the waters of home buying on your own is not something that anyone should attempt. Having a real estate agent on your side to guide you and negotiate for you is an absolute necessity.
Looking for a realtor who will listen, NOT pressure you, communicate, be honest, and most importantly protect your financial interests?