Looking ahead to the New Year, what advice do you have for people who are thinking about buying a home?

It’s an exciting proposition to consider buying a home in 2016, and having realistic expectations and a solid plan is vital.

As we head into the final week of this year, it’s a good time to look back at some of the most popular advice shared with home buyers:

1. Stay cool in the hot real estate market. We continue to hear about how active the market is across the GTA and in parts of Ontario. With that also comes a sense of urgency among buyers who are looking for a home to call their own. It’s easy to allow emotions to guide the buying process, but doing so can put you at risk of making decisions you’ll later regret.

While you may not have a lot of time as you contemplate your purchase, it’s important to remember the basics: stick to your budget, do your due diligence on the home, be aware that you may be able to negotiate conditions to protect yourself, and be prepared to walk away if need be.

2. Find the right experts to help you navigate the buying process. This topic has found its way into a number of columns over the past year. Before starting the hunt for a home, take some time to line up a team of experts who you can turn to during the buying process. This often includes a registered real estate professional with knowledge of the type of home you’re looking for and the area where you’re looking to buy. You’ll also want to think about other experts, such as a qualified home inspector or engineer to help you assess the condition of the home, a real estate lawyer to close the deal, and a contractor or other specialized tradespeople for any renovations you may want to have done before moving in. Having these individuals lined up in advance can be beneficial if you find a home that needs quick consideration.

3. Understand your own needs and plan accordingly. In November, I shared survey data that showed homebuyers’ concerns change during different life stages.

For first-time buyers, not feeling knowledgeable about the buying process is a top concern, along with worries about affordability.

For existing homeowners who are moving up, not knowing whether to buy first or sell first is a frequent concern. And, stress about how long their current home will sit on the market is very real. For downsizers, the fear of whether the real estate bubble will burst, and ensuring they get the most value from their current home are key considerations. Do you fit into one of these categories of buyers? Understanding your own needs and concerns, and articulating them to your real estate professional, can be a good first step in creating a plan and contingencies as you start the buying process.

These tips really boil down to one key theme: be informed before you begin the buying process. A bit of research and planning at the front end can help you avoid problems and potential regrets down the line.

Next week, I’ll be sharing some trends that I believe we’ll see in the 2016 real estate market.

Happy New Year!

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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