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Looking to move? Four tips before you start
Real estate transactions can move quickly. Avoid problems by following these four tips.
The steps involved in buying or selling a home can seem overwhelming, and that’s especially true when deals happen fast. A RECO survey found that the majority of Ontarians who bought or sold a home in the last five years weren’t in the market for very long.
Among the buyers surveyed, nearly 57 per cent said they purchased their property within three months of when they started actively looking.
For sellers, things happened even more quickly: 67 per cent said they sold their property in under three months. Overall, 54 per cent thought the process took less time than they had anticipated.
When you’re ready to make a move, take a deep breath, sketch out a plan and get informed before you enter the market. After all, you may begin by casually browsing listings only to stumble across a place you love, and suddenly find yourself in the throes of a major purchase. By being informed right from the start, you’ll have confidence in the decisions you are making, even if they do happen quickly.
Following these four tips is a great place to start.
1. Shop around before you shop around for a home
Real estate salespeople and brokerages vary widely in experience, expertise and services provided, so meet with several salespeople before you sign an agreement. When you have a shortlist of representatives, ask each of them some questions to determine which one is right for you:
    • Tell me about your real estate experience.
    • Describe your general approach to buying and selling, and how your approach will best suit my needs.
    • Tell me about the fees and commissions I’ll have to pay.
    • Which services does your brokerage provide, and are any of them included in our agreement?
    • How often will you provide me with progress updates, and how will we communicate?
    • Could you please provide me with some references?
2. Look them up
Before you meet with any salespeople or brokers, be sure to look them up using the search tool on the right-hand side of RECO’s website. It will tell you if they’re registered and in good standing, and if they have faced any disciplinary action.
3. Read and understand everything
When you hire a real estate representative to help you buy or sell a home, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement that defines your relationship with the representative’s brokerage. It’s a legal contract that spells out how long the agreement is for, the location it covers and what fees or commissions will need to be paid.
Also, when you buy or sell a home, you will need to sign a legal contract to complete the transaction. This agreement contains a lot of important information in addition to price and conditions, such as whether the appliances and light fixtures stay with the house.
These are just two examples of real estate agreements that are legally binding, meaning you typically can’t back out once you’ve signed on the dotted line.
Whenever you’re presented with a document that requires a signature, read it and understand it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or request that your representative walk you through it, line by line. If you’re still unsure about something, consider asking your lawyer for advice.
4. Be an active participant in the process
Your salesperson is a knowledgeable resource who can help you make informed decisions, but you should always remember that you’re the one in the driver’s seat.
Be an active participant in the process. That means being open and candid with your representative about what’s important to you in a home, and which services you expect from him or her. Your salesperson can best help you when you’re clear about what you want.
And it means you have a responsibility to perform your own due diligence: asking questions, understanding any required paperwork, conducting your own research (when necessary), and being an active participant through every step.
Remember, you own the process.
 
There’s no shortage of information available about buying and selling real estate, although much of it focuses on market trends and how to get the best price. But you also need information about your rights and responsibilities as a buyer or seller. How do you ensure you are protected?
RECO is here to help. We work to protect buyers and sellers, and we administer the rules that real estate professionals in Ontario must follow. That means we can offer buyers and sellers impartial advice on how to protect themselves and ask the right questions before making one of the most important financial commitments of your life.
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Three pillars of protection
All brokers and salespeople in Ontario are registered with, and regulated by, RECO. That’s why working with a real estate professional provides buyers and sellers with three pillars of protection: knowledge, professional standards and insurance.
Real estate professionals must complete courses before they can enter the real estate sector. And once they are in the profession, they complete additional courses regularly to keep their knowledge up to date and their skills sharp.
Brokers and salespeople are required to uphold professional standards that emphasize treating anyone involved in a transaction with fairness, honesty and integrity, and following rules and regulations that are there to protect consumers. In the rare instance that something goes wrong and you have done everything you can to resolve the situation with your representative or the brokerage, you can file a complaint and RECO will investigate.
Deposit insurance provides you with peace of mind knowing that your hard-earned deposit will be held in trust and insured against loss, insolvency or misappropriation by a brokerage.

Brochure: Buying or selling a home
Click on the brochure below (PDF), in your preferred language, to read how a registered real estate salesperson can help you.
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RECO's Ask Joe column in the Toronto Star