I’m going to put my home on the market and look for a new one in 2017. Any tips?

If you read this column every week, you’ll know there’s a lot to think about during the home buying and selling process. In the spirit of the season, here are four New Year’s resolutions for buyers and sellers.

Resolution 1: I will interview more than one salesperson before I hire one.

One motto I like to live by? Shop around and do your homework. This adage rings especially true when you’re setting out to hire a real estate professional or any professional for that matter. Before deciding on one, it’s good practice to meet with a few individuals, request references, and spend time chatting with them so you can learn about their approach, services, and experience. As an extra precaution, you can check the status of their registration by using the “Real Estate Professional Search” at the top right corner of RECO’s website. You will be surprised at how different one may be from the other if you meet with a few. Meeting others may just reinforce your good feeling about the first or may help you realize you need to meet several.

Resolution 2: I will understand forms and contracts before I sign them.

Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, it might be tempting to speed the process along by signing forms you haven’t fully read. Make no mistake, this is a bad idea. Be sure to take the time to read and understand what you’re being asked to sign, and ask questions if you would like some clarity. What’s more, ensure any blanks on the form are filled in before you sign it, make sure it covers any services agreed to, and always get a copy.

Resolution 3: I will take some time to prepare my home for an open house.

Holding an open house is a great way to attract potential buyers, and while you’ll want to ensure your home is tidy and free of clutter, it’s also equally important to consider the security of your belongings. Before your open house begins, move your valuables to a safe location, maybe even off-site. Other ways you can protect your belongings is by asking your registered real estate salesperson or broker to allow only a few visitors into your home at a time, and by asking each visitor to show identification and complete a registration form. You can also request that your representative escort visitors around your home, perhaps with the help of a colleague if the open house is especially busy. As they take visitors through the property, they can use this opportunity to highlight some of the unique features of the space.

Resolution 4: I will not allow emotions to overtake common sense.

Most people set a budget early on in the house hunting process, but that doesn’t mean they always stick to it. Understandably, it can be tempting to go over an established budget, particularly if you’re caught in the whirlwind of a bidding war. If this happens to you, it’s important to remain level headed. Buyer’s remorse is something you’ll want to try to avoid – especially when it comes to what could be the biggest purchase of your life.

Earlier this year, we hit the road with our Be Home Smart tour, which gave us an opportunity to connect with buyers and sellers face-to-face across Ontario. As we enter the New Year, we look forward to meeting more buyers and sellers at upcoming consumer shows and events to talk about what you need to know before you set out to buy or sell a home.

The decision to sell your home and purchase a new one will surely kick off 2017 with some excitement. Sticking to these resolutions and ensuring you remain well informed along the way will help you stay successful throughout the process.

Happy New Year!

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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