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 4

We’re in the home stretch of our series on common mistakes made by buyers and sellers in the real estate market.

Over the past few weeks, I talked about these errors — and how avoiding those might save you stress and money down the road:

    • 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
    • Not doing your research
    • Making verbal agreements

I’ll now run through the next two common mistakes to be aware of, if you’re looking to buy or sell a property.

Mistake: Failing to read and understand forms and contracts

This is one I talk about quite often because I can’t stress enough its importance. Reading through forms and contracts is something that should never be rushed. There’s a lot of paperwork associated with buying or selling a home and the devil really is in the details. You’re dealing with binding contracts, so it’s important that you take your time when going through the fine print, before you sign your name on the dotted line.

If you’re unsure about something written in your contract, ask your salesperson or real estate lawyer, to explain it to you. Then once you understand everything fully, determine whether you are comfortable with it.

There are terms and conditions in real estate paperwork that you should discuss with your representative. For instance, for what length of time does your representation agreement with your brokerage cover? It’s important you understand these details. Once everything is said and done and you have proceeded to sign, be sure to keep a copy of the contract for your records.

Mistake: Assuming everything is included

One thing we often hear at RECO is the presumption that all the appliances, light fixtures and window coverings are included in the sale of a house. This is a common misconception. It’s possible that the seller will want to hold on to these items — perhaps their fridge or their blinds, for example, were recent purchases that they would like to continue using in their new home.

To avoid misunderstandings later on, it’s a good idea to detail all items, in writing, in your offer. And what about those items that are rented or leased? Ensure you learn the details of the items that are not owned by the seller, and outline in your offer whether those rental or lease agreements will be transferred to you, or whether the seller will pay the outstanding costs. It is also important that you review the rental agreements for any leased items, so that you understand how much the cost is per month, and how much the costs might be if you wanted to get out of a lease once you take it over.

Check back next week for the final part of this series, where I’ll reveal the last two 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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