How can I become an informed real estate buyer?


 
Buying a property is a massive financial undertaking and for most of us, the biggest one of our lives. The many steps involved in securing a place to call your home – from putting in offers and negotiating terms to signing all the paperwork, getting a mortgage, and closing the deal – can all feel quite daunting.

That is why the more informed you are as a consumer, the more beneficial it will be for you. Do your research thoroughly to understand the process. A great place to start is the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO)’s website.

Here, you can find plenty of helpful resources, including information about real estate agents, frequently asked questions, and guides. An example of a good resource is RECO’s real estate professional search tool where you can confirm that agents and brokerages are registered to trade in real estate in Ontario, and check for any past disciplinary action too.

I also encourage you to check out RECO’s consumer quiz about some of the rules that govern real estate in Ontario. It is a fun and engaging way to learn more about the buying and selling process, test your knowledge, and view additional resources.

Remember, that while RECO and other sources of information will be helpful, they do not replace the expert advice of an agent and their brokerage. They can provide valuable guidance that will help you make informed decisions and ultimately buy a home that you are satisfied with. When you enter into a buyer representation agreement (BRA) with a brokerage, it and all of its agents are legally and ethically obligated to protect your best interests every step of the way. Make sure that you discuss the terms of the BRA with your agent so that you fully understand what you and your agent are required to do.

Here are a few ways an agent can help you be a more informed consumer.

If you are interested in a specific type of property or neighbourhood, ask your agent for a comparative market analysis of the sales of similar houses so you can know the value of homes in the area.

It is key to remember that since agents manage real estate transactions day in and day out, they will be an invaluable source of additional information and neighbourhood insights that may not be otherwise readily available to you. This may include ratings of local schools, zoning permissions and flood plains, and whether certain areas are slated for property developments in the foreseeable future.

The information is important, but even more vital is their ability to help you understand what it means and how it might affect your buying decisions. Your agent can give strategic advice about the offer process and highlight what you are entitled to know. Having this information on hand and your agent by your side will help you put your best foot forward during a transaction.

Last but not least, given that real estate agreements are legally binding contracts, I think it is always wise to seek counsel from a lawyer who is insured to practice real estate law. Your lawyer can review the documents, investigate the title, flag any potential areas of concern, and complete the transaction.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.


This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

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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