I’m looking to enter the real estate market for the first time in 30 years. What are some common mistakes that I should avoid? Part 3

Over the last couple of weeks I discussed four common mistakes made by consumers when buying or selling a home. They were:

    • Hiring the first salesperson you meet
    • Not making your expectations clear with your real estate representative
    • Forgetting about what’s within the walls
    • Forgetting about what’s outside the walls

Now I’ll offer a couple more mistakes that you should be aware of so that you can save yourself time, stress and money.

Mistake: Not doing your research

Under the doctrine of caveat emptor (“buyer beware”), buyers are ultimately responsible for making sure a property is suitable for them.

That said, it’s a smart idea to ensure your real estate professional knows about all your criteria for a new home. Beyond advising them of what you want and what you don’t want, you should also do some research about the property on your own.

If, for instance, you are concerned about buying a home with a troubled past, a simple Google search of the address and neighbourhood can go a long way. If anything noteworthy has happened at the property or on the street, there may be a news article that pops up in your search.

You can also visit the neighbourhood at different times of day to find out what it’s like, and ask the neighbours about the home and the area.

Mistake: Making verbal agreements

Verbal agreements aren’t a problem, until they’re a problem.

Even if you have a fantastic rapport with your real estate representative, verbal communication can be imprecise and human memory can be unreliable. The lack of documentation can lead to disputes later on. It’s something that RECO encounters in complaints all the time.

That’s why it’s always best practice to document agreements, both in respect of your relationship with your real estate salesperson (either in your buyer representation agreement or your listing agreement with the brokerage) and the actual sale document, called the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Putting everything in writing forces both parties to be clear about their expectations, which can prevent misunderstandings from happening at all.

Check back next week for more mistakes to avoid when buying or selling a home.

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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