Working with real estate professionals who have skills, experience and certifications to handle the task at hand – will pave the way to a successful home buying experience. Here are the pros who can help you get the job done right.
Your real estate agent
The value of a good real estate agent is priceless. A good real estate agent will:
- Research available properties that match your wish list and budget
- Arrange visits to properties you want to see in person
- Sometimes have an inside track on properties that haven’t hit the market yet
- Negotiate with the seller and/or their agent on your behalf
And because buying a home through an agent doesn’t cost you a thing (the seller pays their commission), the upside of working with a professional real estate agent can be considerable.
You’ll want to find an agent who knows the area you’re focused on and with experience looking for houses in your price range.
- Finding an agent you work well with is important too. “There are a lot of great agents, but not necessarily great agents for every individual buyer,” says Melissa Nimijohn, a Real Estate Representative with Com/Choice Realty. “It’s important to find someone that fits your needs and interests. For example, some realtors will be well-versed in rural properties versus city condos, and some may be very savvy with technology, which might be of interest to some buyers. Finding the right fit is an important consideration for a realtor-buyer relationship.”
Your real estate lawyer or notary public
Before you sign any documents relating to your home purchase, get in touch with a real estate lawyer (or notary in Quebec and British Columbia).
Purchase, sale and builders’ documents are typically legally binding (and come with a lot of fine print and legal jargon). You’re never expected to sign these documents as soon as you receive them, so get your legal professional to look through them first. Your real estate agent could even include a clause in the contract that makes the purchase contingent upon legal review.
Your real estate lawyer or notary will:
- Look out for your best interests
- Explain the warranty on your home (if you’re buying new)
- Ensure the contracts don’t include anything that will put you — or the deal — at risk
- Review the property survey and point out any encroachments or easements (for instance, if there is an addition on the home that extends onto a neighbour’s property, or if the city is allowed to go through your backyard to access an electrical box).
- Research any restrictions on the property title
- Arrange the title to be transferred to your name
- Manage and account for all fees that need to be paid (i.e., title, tax searches, registration fees, couriers, etc.)
- Arrange for title insurance, which protects your ownership of the home
A home inspector
A home is a big investment and you want to make sure you know the condition your home is in. Is the plumbing in good working order? Is the foundation sound? Are there any leaks? Is there any evidence of water in the basement? The answers to these types of questions may not be a deal-breaker but you’ll want to ensure that any potential issues are flagged before you finalize a home purchase.
When you hire a professional home inspector to come out to the property, they will look closely at the property’s systems and structure and perform the following during their visit:
- Do a comprehensive visual inspection
- Look at the home’s foundation and roof
- Examine all the main systems in the house, such as heating, plumbing, electrical and ventilation
- Check the condition of the windows and doors
- Point out areas that need replacement or repair
- Show you what areas have been repaired in the past
- Ensure any construction or renovation is up to national or provincial building codes
- Estimate the remaining life span of your furnace, A/C, roof, etc.
- Provide a written report of all the findings
Often, a home inspection is a condition a buyer will include in the offer to purchase. This step gives you time to bring the inspector to the home and identify any potential problems. However, when you’re buying in a hot market, many sellers prefer offers without any conditions at all. If you’re buying in a favourable seller’s market, ask if there is a pre-inspection report available, which can give you peace of mind before you buy.
Keep in mind, when sellers put their homes on the market in Canada, they fill out a disclosure form that’s supposed to list all the known defects of the property. If an inspection reveals something new, you could use that information as you negotiate.
Your mortgage specialist
Talking to an RBC mortgage specialist is one of the best ways for you to make sense of mortgage rates and your options throughout the life of your mortgage. But it doesn’t end there. An RBC mortgage specialist can offer advice on saving for your down payment, help you complete your mortgage pre-approval, explain your financing options and refer you to a realtor to help you find a home.
Because they look at your whole financial picture, they can help make sure you get the mortgage that’s right for you. And, because RBC mortgage specialists have access to the entire RBC network of resources to draw from, they can help you fulfill your overall financial goals.
More from the Home Buying 101 Series:
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.