How can real estate agents support homebuyers with cultural or religious needs?


 
As a fellow Ontarian, I’m proud to be living in a growing, vibrant and diverse province that consists of residents from all walks of life and just about every corner of the world. The rich mosaic of cultures is reflected more and more every single day in the variety of languages spoken, foods eaten, and traditions and holidays celebrated.

While our journey towards being a more inclusive and equitable society continues, Ontario’s diversity can be seen reflected in homebuyers and the real estate agents who support their transactions.

In fact, many agents are accustomed to accommodating some degree of cultural or religious needs for prospective buyers or have a particular interest in supporting a specific segment.

When it comes to “must-haves” for a home search, it is typical for people to look for things like distance to public transit, highways, schools and hospitals. However, depending on their cultural roots, beliefs and values, it is becoming increasingly common for them to also be looking for things like proximity to the closest mosque, church, temple or other places of worship, as well as cultural and community centres or religious schools for their children.

Buyers may also be interested in specific property features, such as whether the home has a certain feng shui or an address that includes lucky numbers or at least excludes certain numbers believed to be unlucky or ominous. And many people from diverse cultures choose to live with their grandparents and adult children, which may influence the types of home layouts they are looking for.

Also, some Muslims in Ontario opt to finance their homes through a halal mortgage. This is essentially an alternate form of financing that complies with both Canadian law and Islamic sharia rules. If you or someone you know is interested, an agent can direct you to financial institutions familiar with this type of financing.

If you are in the market to buy a home with requirements based on your cultural and religious beliefs, I think finding the right real estate agent will make all the difference. My suggestion is to interview a few agents before hiring one. I would encourage you to ask them questions about their experience with finding homes for other clients with similar requirements, as well as their service options, communication style and references.

As I have mentioned many times before, good communication between the client and agent is crucial. Even if cultural differences exist between you and your agent, work together to overcome them to your advantage. You may need to help them understand your approach, which could be driven by your culture. Discussing it might help you understand their approach as well, all with the objective of a successful professional relationship.

To find an agent, you can ask for referrals from friends and extended family members who may have bought properties similar to what you are looking for. I would also recommend that you use RECO’s search tool to verify that agents are registered and in good standing.

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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