As Real Estate Lawyers, we often help clients who are surprised at how stressful buying a home can be, even if it was not their first home purchase. It is important to do your research to ensure you are an informed purchaser. Here are some tips on how to inform yourself during a house purchase, and how we can help you along the way.
How Much Can You Afford?
Too many clients come to see me and are surprised to find they don’t have enough money to close their purchase. They have relied on incomplete information. Clients reported to me they were told that they qualified for a mortgage and so they bought a house of equivalent value. But what they didn’t know about were the other costs they would face at closing such as: Land Transfer Tax, Legal fees, home insurance (which may have to be paid in full up front), connection fees or Tarion Warranty fees in new home purchases, hidden costs in your mortgage, and moving fees. Similarly, there are many ongoing costs such as condo fees or association fees, property tax, maintenance, utility payments and more.
Don’t just think about the purchase price of your home when crunching numbers. Inform yourself about all of the costs that are involved in the purchase and maintenance of your dream home.
Where Do You Want to Live?
Drive the route from your potential new house to work, to ensure your commute would be manageable. Research the schools in the area. Talk to the neighbours if possible to find out the information you can only get from locals.
Have a Close Look Inside the House.
Open and close all the doors (even the interior ones). In older homes, doors can stick, or door knobs may not work. Do the same thing for each window to make sure they work properly. Check the seals on the windows also. Run all the faucets (at once if possible) to see if any water drips under the sinks and also to see how the water pressure is. Flush all the toilets. Have a look at the electrical panel and thermostat. Smell the basement and attic / crawl space to see if you sense any moisture in the air. See if there are any signs of dampness such as buckets collecting water or dehumidifiers. Another sign is if there are moist cardboard boxes.
See if there are any noticeable cracks. Look at the roof. How do the shingles look? Does your agent or the homeowner know the age of the roof? Is there a visible slant in the home?
Look at the house at different times of day.
There may be issues apparent which you could not notice because you viewed it at night. You should also do the same for the neighborhood. It is not ideal to be the owner of the nicest house on a shabby street.
Make an appointment with a real estate lawyer.
Once you have decided on a house, it is prudent to make an appointment with a real estate lawyer. We will review your options with you and work together with your real estate agent to ensure that your Offer to purchase the home meets your needs and protects you.
Think About WHEN you Want to Close the Deal.
Will you plan to buy and sell your current house on the same day? You may want to investigate bridge funding. It is sometimes the case, especially during the busy season, that your sale may be delayed for various reasons, thereby making it impossible to sell your current home and buy your new one in the same day. While this possibility is remote, it happens more often than you think. Bridging your two deals can prevent this possibility and reduce stress for you. Generally, the fees to do so are minimal and are worthwhile considering the alternative.
Consider the time of year of your closing. You do not have to purchase your home on a Friday and you certainly do not have to purchase it on the Friday ending the month, in the busiest season of the year – summer! All this will achieve is extra stress and cost. Clients have reported to us that the cost of movers, inspectors and contractors may go up in the summer. Consider a closing outside of the busy summer months. We can close a real estate deal for you on any business day of the year!
Get A Home Inspection
Every home offer is different. All of the points we mentioned above are among the things you should consider addressing with your home inspector. As lawyers, we are not home inspectors and probably neither are you. So it is important to have a knowledgeable home inspector who can make you aware of problems not apparent to the naked eye. If the home inspection brings problems to light, speak to your lawyer about possible remedies or options to ensure you are getting what you bargained for.
Don’t forget to change the locks when you move in!
It is always best when purchasing a home to be well prepared and thorough. Our real estate lawyers have helped clients purchase homes all over Ontario. For more information, please contact our office in Barrie.