My husband and I want to buy a certain home, but the seller won’t accept conditional offers. Should we insist upon having a home inspection performed, even if it means losing the deal?

In a previous column, I advised a would-be buyer to take their real estate salesperson’s advice of making their offer on an older property conditional upon it successfully passing a home inspection. I stand by that advice, but I realize real estate transactions can take place at lightning speed, sellers generally prefer unconditional offers over ones that have conditions attached, and bidding wars can hijack the process. Sometimes you must find the right balance between protecting your interests and getting the home you want.

Your real estate salesperson can help you find suitable properties, formulate the right questions to ask, and negotiate with the seller’s representative, but you still need to perform your own due diligence. In practice, that means being open and honest with your salesperson about your needs and your finances, asking questions of your salesperson, personally researching neighbourhoods and individual properties, and reading – and understanding – any relevant documents.

Buying or selling a home is an emotional roller-coaster, so it’s easy to make decisions with your heart, rather than your head. The best strategy to prepare yourself is to make a plan in advance and then stick to it. Determine a maximum budget – the most money you can reasonably afford to pay (taking into account municipal taxes, land transfer tax, legal fees, moving costs, to name a few necessary expenses) and stay firm. Should you find yourself in a bidding war for a property, you’ll feel much better about walking away if the price is pushed beyond your comfort zone.

And when you make that plan, think carefully about your tolerance for risk. If you don’t want to make your offer conditional upon the property passing a home inspection, ask yourself: do you have either the personal expertise or the money to fix a major problem? Similarly, if you make a firm offer and your lender denies your application for a mortgage, are you ok with potentially losing your deposit and likely much more if the seller is not able to sell the property to another buyer for the price you had agreed upon?

Always remember that real estate transactions involve large sums of money and legally-binding contracts, and they usually don’t go according to plan. You could find yourself in an unfortunate predicament that might have been avoided if you had assessed your risk tolerance and stuck to your original plan.

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

 

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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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