Home Buyers Checklist – How to Make Sure You Won’t Forget Anything
Buying a home is one of the most important purchases you will ever make. Whether you are buying your first property or have owned property before, thinking with your head rather than with your heart can help you make the right choice. Here are a few things that you should pay attention to:
Home Buyers Checklist
☑ Learn About the Buying Process
If you have not bought a house before, learn what you can about the buying process. Do this before you start shopping around for houses. It will give you a better understanding of the entire process and can facilitate planning in the coming weeks and months, saving you both time and money.
☑ Check Out Multiple Real Estate Professionals
Do not settle for the first real estate agent you come across. Ask people you know and trust for referrals. Ask people you know and trust about their experiences. Shortlist several real estate agents and check to ensure that they are licenced. Ask them about their experience, approach, and services and verify their references. You should feel that your real estate agent will be looking out for your best interests.
☑ Sign a Buyer Representation Agreement
Get in writing everything your real estate professional offers and all the terms and conditions of your agreement. It is the best way to prevent misunderstandings.
☑ Understand Everything You Are Signing
Ask your real estate professional for clarification if you do not understand anything contained in the buyer representation agreement. Make sure you understand how long the agreement is to be in place as well as what the agent will be doing for you. If you are not sure about something in the buyer representation agreement, consult with a lawyer for a second opinion.
☑ Factor All Costs and Fees into Your Budget
Buying a house comes with fees and other costs in addition to the purchase price, and you want to factor all of them in. Keep the following in mind.
- Legal fees
- Land transfer tax
- Mortgage insurance (for high ratio mortgages)
- Title insurance
- Home insurance
- Utility costs
- Home inspection
- Home appraisal
- Home survey
- Moving costs
- Mortgage payments
- Real property taxes
☑ Add Conditions That Provide Protection
Consider whether you need to protect yourself from factors out of your control by making your offer to buy the house conditional on one or more of the following:
- Mortgage financing
- The sale of your current home
- Home inspection
- Any other factors relevant to you
The ability to insert conditions into the Agreement of Purchase and Sale depends on the type of market. In a seller’s market, in particular where home sales attract multiple offers over the asking price, you may have to satisfy yourself regarding those items before putting in your offer or risk submitting an unsuccessful bid. In a neutral or buyer’s market, sellers are more willing to accept conditions.
☑ Check the Condition of the House
Ask as many questions as you need to determine the state of everything inside the walls. Find out about the age and condition of the electrical and plumbing systems and check whether permits were issued regarding any renovations at the property.
Your real estate professional can make inquiries on your behalf. You should also consider arranging a home inspection. Please note that while sellers are required to be honest regarding any inquiries you make, they are not required to disclose information about the state of the home if no-one has asked.
☑ Make a Detailed Offer
Include in your offer everything you are buying. The Agreement of Purchase and Sale contains a section for “fixtures that are excluded” and “chattels that are included”. A fixture is something that is permanently affixed to a property. A chattel is something that is not permanently affixed. There is no one answer as to whether something is a chattel or a fixture. If in doubt, spell it out.
If you want something, even if it seems to be permanently affixed, list it. You can add even more specificity by clarifying that you want what you saw; for example you might want to say “the stainless-steel fridge on the main level as viewed by the buyers on April 10, 2020”. That way you are less likely to end up with a substituted harvest gold fridge circa 1974!
In addition, if you want the seller to repair a system or renovate a specific area of the house before you buy it, be clear about this and define the standard you need or who is to do the repair; do you need a licenced contractor or will you be satisfied if the local handyman does it.
☑ Define Your Bidding Strategy
If you are going to compete with other buyers, set down rules about how much you are willing to spend, what features the house should have, and so on. Stick to these rules to avoid getting dragged into a bidding war that could have you paying more than your budget.
☑ Have a Contingency Plan
What if the closing date on your new home is the same day that you have to move out of your current home? This is a situation that you should try to avoid. However, if you cannot avoid it, you should have a backup plan, in case of delays.
☑ Be Prepared
Make sure you have everything you need in order to close in place well before the closing date. Do not wait to arrange financing and insurance. Lenders may require a number of things from you in order to approve the mortgage.
Lenders have risk managers and back offices that may need time to review your documentation before they are willing to approve the financing. They may have a number of conditions that you or your lawyer have to satisfy, which might take some time. Do not leave things to the last minute or else you could risk not having the mortgage funds needed to close.
Home Buyers Checklist – Summary
At the end of the day, buying a new home with limited stress and hassle means that you have to pay attention to the details and do some planning. Your lawyer, real estate professional and mortgage agent can assist you with many of these steps (from the home buyers checklist) and guide your decisions. That is why it is so important to find professionals who are a good match for you.
Questions? Contact Us as Frederikse Law.