Many Buyers purchase the first home they visit.  They let their heart rule their head.   Emotions come into play, especially when there are few homes listed or you just lost a home through a competitive bid.  Remember, this is a long term asset – something that will shape your lives for several years.  Preparation prevents buyers remorse.

Visit the Neighbourhood on Foot

Even in the smaller communities of Bruce County, neighbourhoods can vary a great deal.  Some have more families and younger children.  Some are closer to community trails and amenities.  And yes, some have that neighbour from hell.  It pays to visit the area at different times of the day.  Look at how many cars are parked on the street or in the yard after hours.  Look at the traffic volume.  Listen for noise and check out street lighting at night. Understand the school bus routes both for your own family and for bus traffic around the property.

Find The Right Realtor

Start by asking family and friends. Look for signs in the area that interest you, especially “Sold” signs.  Local Realtors should be aware of any neighbourhood problems, such as sewage backups, termites or vandalism; things that may not be widely known. Also check the website of any Realtors you are interested in.  Do they offer tips and explain what services they provide?  Ask about their success rate with bidding wars.  Visit Open Houses even if the property isn’t something you would like.  Use the opportunity to talk with the Realtor and get a feel for their approach to business.

How Much Can You Afford

This is a two part question.  The first is what you could qualify to borrow in a mortgage.  That is just math – comparing gross income to debt and mortgage payments.  The second is what is a mortgage plus property tax payment that is comfortable for your budget.  This can differ depending on where you are in life and what your house expectations are.  This is what we call the “reality cheque” – making sure payments fit in your budget and lifestyle.

At times when properties are selling above list price in competition, there can be a third element.  Buyers need to understand that lenders will often do an appraisal and if the lender believes you paid more than the house is worth, they will not give you the full amount of the loan that you expect. You will have to make up the difference between appraisal and price.  So, be very careful about stretching yourself to the limit when you make an offer on any home.

And you know that Jim Cook can help with this!

Choose a Home Inspector Carefully

A home inspection is a critical part of the buying process.  If you have selected your Realtor carefully and therefore trust their judgement, they will make a strong recommendation.  Make sure the company is registered before retaining them.  The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors is a self-regulating body that defines qualifications for home inspectors, and grants the designation RHI, or Registered Home Inspector, to qualified practitioners in Ontario.  You can also ask the company if they have ever been sued by a buyer.

Ask the Hard/Uncomfortable Questions Early

Has this house ever had basement flooding problems?  What about any mold or roof leaks, even if the leaks have been repaired. Watch how answers are given. If you don’t feel you are getting straight answers, then you can discuss this with your home inspector and your real estate agent and either adjust your purchase offer or walk away.

Don’t Delay Getting Home Insurance

Find an insurance agent right away and if possible, check what it will cost to obtain insurance as soon as possible and before you waive any conditions.  An insurance agent can often check the history of claims in the area and let you know about claims for sewage back-ups or vandalism. This is important information that any buyer should have before deciding to waive their conditions and complete the deal.

Buying a home can be fun.  You may raise your family there.  You will entertain friends and family there.  A little preparation can save you from headaches and heartache.