Common mistakes buyers should avoid

Lesson #1 Never skip the home inspection
Investing $300-$400 before you take possession could save you thousands after you take possession. If you trust your real estate agent, trust the home inspector they use. It is also advisable to interview other inspectors to make sure you are satisfied the inspector you choose will do the best job for you. Go online and download lists of questions you should be asking so you are involved, as well as getting educated on what is happening in your future home. Remember: the home inspection is not only for the purposes of ensuring you are buying a home void of serious flaws and faults, it is also to help you understand the structure of your home and how the mechanics of your home work. Do you know where the water shut off is in case of a flood? Do you know how to change a furnace filter? How do you know when it's time to replace the roof?

Remember to always ask for a written report. You should transfer all of the answers to your questions and special notes from the inspector to that report and keep it in a place where you won't forget it! It will prove to be an invaluable home resource.

Home inspection how-to Check with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors to find a regulated home inspector in your area who has met the provincial or regional association's certification requirements.

Lesson #2 Take your time
Take your time when you choose your agent and take your time when you choose your house. Buying a home is not only an exciting, joyful experience, it is also one of the biggest investments that you will ever make.

Ask friends and colleagues about their experiences and if they would recommend the agent they used. If the response you get is "yeah, he was alright...I guess"....move on! You want to be satisfied with the knowledge of the agent, but you also have to feel comfortable with that person. There are questions you should be asking your agent and if you don't feel comfortable asking the necessary questions.....move on! There are a lot of agents who care....but there are a lot of agents who don't. Be clear on which one you choose!

Get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start seriously searching. That gives you a clear idea of what you can afford so you don't end up overspending. As you did with your agent search, interview various lenders as each lender might have different rates and different terms.

Lesson #3 Get ready for negotiation

Limit your conditions to make your offer more attractive. By limiting your conditions and being flexible with closing date may help you get more money off of the list price. However, don't forget Lesson #1: Never Skip the Home Inspection!

One condition that I always include, regardless of how hot the market, is that the seller provide a warranty that all heating, cooling equipment and appliances are in good working order. Appliances, Air conditioner, and your furnace are all items that were included as part of your offer and you should ensure that they work once you move in. The money that you saved by negotiating a lower price can all go out the window if you have to replace all of the appliances!

Don't make any demands about the closing date. A seller will be less likely to accept your offer if you want to move in sooner than he wants to move out.

Lesson #4 Know who your lawyer is
As with the Home Inspector, don't go for the cheapest one you can find. I know Lawyers can be expensive, but a good lawyer will ensure your transaction is clean and nothing will be overlooked.

It's important to choose a lawyer who focuses on real estate. You're more likely to get proper service if you deal with a lawyer who specializes in real estate rather than one who's trying to make a few extra bucks on the side and who doesn't deal in this area on a regular basis.

Don't be shy about asking for references. A lawyer's running a business like any other professional and he should be prepared to discuss fees and provide references.

More dos and don'ts

For the buyer

Don't sweat the wall stuff Try not to be discouraged by a bit of peeling paint, cracks or holes. Damage that isn't structural is easily fixed and makes a huge difference.

Budget for extras Normally, realtors advise you to budget up to two per cent for closing costs, but when you buy property in a new development, you may be charged additional fees such as meter installation and sewer service connection. These can add unexpected costs.

For the seller

Make sure the price is right Sellers tend to overestimate what their houses are worth. Just because the house down the block sold for a bundle doesn't mean yours will, too. Do your research, then consult up to three realtors. If you're not satisfied with the realtors' advice, move on to a professional appraiser.

Close the zoo Not everyone viewing your house will love your dog, cat or ferret as much as you do. And pets can be a distraction. Take them out of your home, if possible, when buyers come by, especially during an open house.

Butt Out! If you are a smoker, take it outside. There is only one ‘turn off' bigger than animal smell, and that is smoke smell. First impressions are vital in real estate and if a potential buyer's first impression is of the smell and not the lovely job you did refinishing the hardwood floors, you drastically limit your chances of selling your house. Consider this: if you think that 25% of the population still smoke, then 75% don't! Since a non-smoker is unlikely to buy a house that smells of smoke, your new target market has been reduced by 75%.

Bake sale Leave out a few "hospitality treats," such as coffee and cinnamon buns, for prospective buyers. Even if they don't eat them, the scent of fresh-baked goodies wafting through the house can make your house feel cosy and inviting, leaving a lasting impression.

For more information on buying or selling real estate in Burlington or Oakville, Ontario, or if you have questions about current market trends, mortgages or interest rate information, please visit me again on my website or call me at 905-220-9198 and I'd be glad to answer any questions to accommodate all of your real estate needs.

Sean Kavanagh

Sean Kavanagh

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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