Joe’s top tips at ten

Whether it’s buying, selling, or renting, a real estate transaction is a big undertaking. If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll know that I share my advice every week to help consumers make more-informed decisions before they take the real estate plunge.

As the saying goes, time sure does fly. I cannot believe that this month marks 10 years since I penned my first “Ask Joe” column!

Since that time, the market has seen significant shifts. Over the last several years, many parts of the province have seen a sellers’ market, complete with multiple and “bully” offers, and record-high prices. Of course, there was (and is) the pandemic, which did not have the expected cooling effect on the market. And now, in late 2022, we are seeing the repercussions of increasing inflation and a buyers’ market.

No matter what kind of market we are in, however, my essential tips remain the same. So, to commemorate the occasion, I’ve decided to recap some of my top tips from the past decade.

Do your research. A good place to start is the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO)’s website. Here you can find a variety of helpful resources, including information about real estate agents and guides. RECO’s real estate professional search tool lets you check if agents and brokerages are actively registered to trade in real estate in Ontario.

Understand the market. You’ve seen it in the news. Much of Ontario’s real estate market has cooled down recently, so now may be a more favourable time for buyers than sellers. However, it’s equally important to bear in mind that property values tend to fluctuate over time.

Assess your finances and priorities.

    • How much can you afford for a down payment and mortgage?
    • How is your credit score?
    • How much responsibility are you comfortable with?
    • Do you care more about equity or having the freedom to move?

Set a clear budget. Make sure to account for the extra costs that come with buying a home, such as legal fees, land transfer tax, and utilities.

Consult these experts to get strategic guidance and information.

    • Real estate agent: They can offer many service options, including sharing knowledge about specific neighbourhoods, monitoring market trends, providing comparative market analyses of similar properties, arranging showings, and negotiating terms.
    • Real estate lawyer: They can provide counsel, review documents, investigate titles and take the necessary steps to complete a transaction successfully.
    • Mortgage lender: If you need a mortgage, finding one with loan terms and a rate you are comfortable with is key. Talk with an institutional mortgage advisor or broker.
    • Home inspector: An experienced inspector will examine property features, such as electrical, roofing, plumbing, foundation and septic systems.

Don’t skip the fine print. All the paperwork can be overwhelming, yes. But it is vital to remember that these real estate agreements are legally binding. So, review it closely and seek clarification where needed.

Include conditions to protect yourself. While removing conditions, such as financing or a home inspection, can make your offer more appealing to a seller, remember that it can also be risky for you.

Don’t assume that everything you see in a showing is included in the sale of a property. Confirm everything that comes with the home and ask your agent to detail all items in writing.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

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, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at

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