If you’ve owned your current home for many years, you may find that a lot has changed in the real estate world. Here are a few of the key ways the real estate marketplace has changed, and how these changes may impact you as you buy or sell a home.
Buyers and sellers have more access to info
Real estate advice and trends are easily available online at any time. Today, many buyers turn to the online Multiple Listing Service® at REALTOR.ca to see what homes are available for sale. The accessible, up-to-date system is a big upgrade from paper-based listings. Besides learning about the sales and listings in your area, you’ll also want to take the time to learn about your rights and the protections available to you during the real estate process. The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is a good place to start.
Real estate professionals are more accessible
Cell phones and mobile technologies have made brokers and salespersons easier to reach, so when you need guidance or advice, you’re more likely to get a quick response.
Commerce is conducted electronically
Transactions often take place electronically as well. Contracts can be signed with electronic signatures, offers can be submitted via email, and money can be transferred electronically too. This can make the buying and selling process more efficient, if you choose to take this approach.
Real estate professionals can offer specialized service
Different age groups may look at real estate differently and have unique needs when it comes to buying or selling. The real estate profession has responded to this reality, and there are now brokers and salespersons who specialize in serving the boomer market. You can find one near you by visiting www.seniorsrealestate.com or www.thesenioragent.com.
RECO is looking out for consumers
The Ontario government created RECO in 1997 to protect home buyers and sellers. That means enforcing rules and a Code of Ethics for real estate professionals, and providing helpful advice to home buyers and sellers. RECO also provides insurance that protects your deposit payment when it is held by a registered brokerage.
One thing hasn’t changed: the knowledge and experience of a real estate professional can be very valuable when you’re buying or selling your home.
A broker or salesperson can help you navigate the process and provide key advice. Before you choose a representative, ask friends or family if they’ve worked with anyone they would recommend.
Be sure to interview a few candidates to ask them about their approach to the buying and selling process, their experience, the services they will offer, and the fees and commission they will charge. It’s also a good idea to ask for references and actually contact them.
A lot has changed in the real estate world, but the changes have provided a lot of benefits for home buyers and sellers. As always, taking the time to make an informed decision will go a long way in having a positive downsizing experience.
5 tips for keeping a cool head in a hot market
Knowing the right questions to ask and steps to take before starting the house hunt is one way to help keep emotions in check. And, many common home buying missteps can be avoided by following these five tips.
1. Read and understand everything before you sign
When you hire a real estate representative to help you buy or sell a home, you will be asked to sign an agreement that defines your relationship with the representative’s brokerage. It is a legal contract that contains rights and responsibilities for both parties. Similarly, if you purchase or sell a home, you will be asked to sign a legal contract to complete the transaction. These are just two examples of real estate agreements that are legally binding, meaning you typically can’t back out of the agreement once you’ve signed on the dotted line. That’s why it is important that you understand everything in the agreement before you sign. If you don’t understand something, ask your real estate representative to explain it to you. If you are still not satisfied, you can seek advice from a real estate lawyer. And, if you’re not comfortable with the contents of the agreement, have a conversation about it with your representative before signing.
2. Be sure you and your representative are on the same page
When working with a real estate representative, it is important that both of you have a mutual understanding of what services he or she will be providing to help you buy or sell a home. Have a thorough conversation about the details and then make sure they are contained in the agreement you sign. It’s also a good idea to do some advance research on your own about the buying and selling process. Take the time to learn about the forms and contracts you will be expected to sign and what the conditions are like for buyers and sellers in your area. A good starting point for your research is www.reco.on.ca. An educated consumer is an empowered consumer. By doing your research and making sure you and your representative are on the same page, chances are you will avoid surprises down the road.
3. Leave your emotions at the door
Buying or selling a home can be an emotional rollercoaster. The best way to prepare yourself is to make a plan in advance and stick with it through the process so that you will make informed decisions you won’t later regret. If you are a buyer, decide where you want to live and which features in a home are important to you. Determine your maximum budget and then stay firm, even if a bidding war arises. If you are a seller, decide in advance what price you need to get for your home and how you want offers to be presented to you. By making a plan and sticking with it, you will have an easier time walking away from a deal if it’s outside your comfort zone.
4. Know your tolerance for risk
In a hot market, you may be tempted to submit an offer to buy a property without any conditions attached so that you get a leg up on the competition. However, before deciding to skip the home inspection, status certificate review or the financing clause, you need to consider whether you’re comfortable taking on that level of risk. Can you afford to fix a major issue with the home that an inspection may have detected? Or potentially lose your deposit if your lender denies your financing? If not, then waiving conditions may not be the way to go to win a bidding war for a home. If you do end up waiving conditions, be sure you have a contingency plan in place to manage any financial risks should they arise.
5. Be flexible and have a back-up plan in place
Real estate transactions can happen at lightning speed, which means even the best-laid plans might have to be adjusted. The best way to prepare for something unexpected is to do some advance research on how the process works. Before getting into the market, learn about the pros and cons of selling first versus buying first. Assess your tolerance for risk and determine how you can lessen those risks – possibly by attaching conditions to your offer. You should also build a contingency plan that will help you manage a situation where you find yourself owning two homes, or no home, for some period of time. By preparing ahead of time, you will be well-positioned to respond to quick developments in your real estate transaction.
There’s no shortage of information available about buying and selling real estate, though much of it focuses on market trends and how to get the best price. But you also need information about your rights and responsibilities as a buyer or seller. How do you ensure you are protected?
Fortunately, the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) is here to help. We work to protect people just like you and enforce the rules that real estate professionals in Ontario must follow. That means we can offer buyers and sellers impartial advice
on how to protect themselves and ask the right questions before making one of
the most important financial commitments of your life.
Three pillars of protection.
All brokers and salespersons in Ontario are registered with, and regulated by, RECO. That’s why working with a real estate professional provides buyers and sellers with three pillars of protection: Knowledge, Professional Standards and Insurance.
Real estate professionals must complete courses before they can enter the real estate sector. And once they are in the profession, they complete additional courses every two years to keep their knowledge up-to-date and their skills sharp.
Brokers and salespersons are required to uphold professional standards that emphasize treating anyone involved in a transaction with fairness, honesty and integrity, and following rules and regulations that are there to protect consumers. In the rare instance that something goes wrong and you want to complain about your representative or the brokerage, RECO will investigate the complaint and take steps to hold the real estate professional accountable for their actions.
Deposit insurance provides you with peace of mind knowing that your hard-earned deposit will be held in trust and insured against loss, insolvency or misappropriation by a brokerage.