It takes a team to help home buyers
Over the past few years, potential buyers of houses and condos have been conditioned to go to their banks and get pre-approved. While pre-approval is a very important step, I personally recommend that it is NOT the FIRST step in your home buying process.
By the time a buyer takes possession of their new home, a number of professionals will have been involved: a real estate agent, lawyer, mortgage lender, home inspector, home insurer, moving company and others. Since a real estate agent will have close contact with all of these professionals, my suggestion is that a home buyer START his/her search by selecting their real estate buyers agent. An experienced agent will have learned, sometimes thru trial and error, which business professionals can provide the best service for their clients. Let's take a look at the whole home-buying team:
Real Estate Buyers Agent
Think of a good real estate buyers agent as the quarterback of your home buying team. He or she will help the buyer find and look at all the houses or condos that suit the buyers needs and budget. The agent will help structure an Offer to Purchase which walks the fine line between protecting the buyer and at the same time appear attractive enough for the seller to accept it. A GREAT agent will be able to make referrals to the following people:
A Mortgage Professional
Whether the buyer prefers to deal with a bank, a credit union or a mortgage broker, the real estate agent should have trusted professionals in each of these services. When a mortgage lender pre-approves the buyer, the real estate agent needs to be able to trust this approval. This ‘trust' is important to the buyer as well, so ask your real estate agent for a referral to a great mortgage lender.
A Real Estate Lawyer
Real Estate Law is different than Criminal Law, Family Law or Civil Law….. so use a qualified, experienced real estate lawyer. Again, your REALTOR® should be able to make a referral to a good lawyer. Although the price between different lawyers might vary a little (a couple of hundred dollars) getting a lawyer who is responsive to any problems that might pop up (and they DO) is important. Cheap does not usually equate with good.
Your bank or credit union will demand that you get home insurance in order to protect your (and their) investment. Home Insurance is NOT optional….. you will need to get it. An insurance broker should be able to offer several options, with different coverage and costs. As your real estate agent for a referral here as well. (Note: Home insurance is NOT the same as ‘mortgage insurance')
Mortgage Insurance/Life Insurance
The buyer has just made a significant investment, with perhaps as much as 95% of it still owed to the mortgage company. While, unlike Home Insurance, mortgage/life insurance is optional, it is still highly recommended. Protect your family and your investment in case of your untimely demise. There are significant differences between mortgage insurance and life insurance: speak to a professional about these differences. Most real estate agents might not know the difference, but would know an expert in this field.
If you're lucky enough NOT to have to compete against other buyers, you may be able to demand a home inspection. (Actually, you can always demand one….. but speak to your agent about the reality of being able to get your offer accepted in such a case). A qualified home inspector may be able to detect problems, and prevent you from buying a ‘money pit'. Home Inspectors are, unfortunately, a somewhat unregulated industry. Nearly anyone with a ladder and a flashlight can call themselves a home inspector…. Don't rely on kijiji or google to find a good one. Ask your real estate agent for 2 names and pick one.
There are a lot of ‘Guys with a Truck' type of companies out there. Like a lot of things, you ‘get what you pay for'. Get a quote in writing, and make sure it's not too open-ended. (Example: $150 per hour, 5 hours or until the move it completed….??) If in doubt, check the BBB listings, and ask for recommendations. Or better yet, as your real estate agent for a referral….. chances are, he/she have used and recommended a good moving company in the past.
Bonus Home Buying Help: Electrician, Renovators, Painters etc
Although not technically part of the buying process, you might end up needing an electrician to fix knob and tube wiring, or a renovator to put in a proper bedroom into the basement, for example. A good real estate agent should have a list of these types of professionals that a buyer can benefit from.
Home buying (or Condo buying) should be fun….. but always ‘play safe'. Surround yourself with knowledgable professionals, and minimize your exposure to danger. It is perhaps the largest purchase you will ever make.
Home Buying, Home Buying Advice, Home Buying Steps, Home Buying Process Explained
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