How do I know the information being provided in the listing is accurate?

Whether you’ve decided to start house hunting, or you’re just toying with the idea, most people like to keep an eye on the property listings in their desired neighbourhood. Square footage, recent renovations, proximity to schools – buyers rely on information in the listing or advertisement to help them determine which properties might match their needs. And buyers should feel confident that the information is correct, as real estate professionals have an obligation to be accurate in any advertising, including listings.

The selling brokerage and their representatives must take steps to confirm any and all claims being made about a property. And a buyer’s representative has a similar obligation on behalf of their buyer. Bottom line: if something cannot be verified, then it must be kept out of the listing or disclaimers must be made about it.

One of my colleagues spent many years working as a real estate professional before coming here to RECO, and we recently spent some time talking about his time in the field. He said that it’s a good idea for selling representatives to get a pre-listing home inspection. It’s a great way for them to gather and verify information about a property.

“A pre-listing inspection can reveal from the start if there are any defects that should be noted in the listing. It’s also an opportunity for the seller to consider addressing or resolving any issue before the listing is created,” he said.

While the accuracy of the listing information rests squarely on the shoulders of the selling brokerage and their representative, as a buyer, you and your representative should do your own due diligence to determine if the property is suitable for your needs. Do you have specific deal-breakers? Are there certain features that are especially important to you? What is your primary reason for purchasing a home? Will you move in, or do you have plans to tear it down or extensively renovate?

When buyers voice their questions or concerns, their representative needs to confirm with the seller’s representative and probe for information. You can also research the property before making an offer by doing an online search or speaking with neighbours. It’s also a smart idea to complete a home inspection of your own with a qualified home inspector or contractor to confirm the condition of the property. Relying on their expertise — before diving head first into one of the biggest purchases of your life — might save you some money or a lot of stress down the road.

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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