I’m looking to enter the real estate market for the first time in 30 years. What are some common mistakes that I should avoid? Part 2

Last week I introduced two mistakes made by buyers and sellers upon entering the real estate process. I have two more for you this week, if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home:

Mistake: Forgetting about what’s within the walls

Granite countertops, hardwood floors and stained glass windows are, without question, appealing features, but the condition of the electrical, plumbing and other major systems are also important – perhaps even more so. How can you find out what’s behind the walls of your potential new home? One way is to ask your real estate salesperson or broker. They’re a great resource. Ask them about the age of the home’s systems, and about whether there have been any upgrades or renovations. If extensive renovations have been done, they can help determine if the appropriate permits were issued.

Another way to learn more about what’s within the walls is to have a home inspection. A home inspector can examine the condition of the property inside and out. To avoid surprises later on, you may want to consider making your offer conditional on a satisfactory home inspection.

Mistake: Forgetting about what’s outside the walls

I once heard from a consumer who was upset to discover that there was too much noise coming from the park behind his new home. This was an issue because his job required him to work overnight and sleep during the day, and the noise from the park interrupted his sleep schedule.

The moral of the story? When you buy a home, you’re also buying a place in a community. It’s a good idea to visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day to see if the surroundings fit your lifestyle. Ask yourself questions like, is it too noisy? Is it vibrant enough? What is the traffic like? Also make sure to tell your salesperson about these types of things so they can do some research too.

The only way to find out more about your potential new neighbourhood is by spending some time exploring the area. You can also talk to neighbours and research the location of amenities like grocery stores and banks.

As with any decision related to buying or selling a house, it’s wise to take your time, ensuring you are ultimately comfortable with the avenue you’ve chosen. Tune in next week for more common mistakes to avoid.

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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