Questions you MUST ask as a first time home buyer!
(In no particular order)
Buying a home may be a dream come true and we strive to make sure our clients first purchase is rewarding, educational, and exciting. But make no mistake, it's not all sunshines and rainbows, there are a lot of steps and measures that need to be taken to make sure you're financially sound, your offers are solid, and your stress is minimal. To help with this, we've compiled a list of questions that should help guide you in deciding who is the best fit to assist with your home purchase!
1. Are you a full time real estate agent, or is this a part time job?
The REALTOR® you work with should be one that does this full time! Any professional you choose to represent or take care of your needs should always be active, learning, gaining experience, and fully immersed in their profession. An agent that works full time is going to be seeing more properties, will be readily available, and should know the market much better.
2. How many homes do you sell each year? The average agent is under 10!
Numbers matter, why? Because they're indicative of results! An agent who only sells a few homes a year may not have nearly the same experience as one who is busier. For example, if an agent does 5 deals per year (friends and family) and is licensed for 10 years, they'll have done 50 deals over that time period, while an agent who has done 25 deals for three years would have amassed 75 deals (25 more than the other agent) who do you believe would have more experience, is more in tune with the market, and would be a better fit to help you buy or sell a home?
3. What will you do to help me find a home to buy?
First things first, your agent will ask you pre-qualifying questions to help understand exactly what you're looking for. Often we have a lot of buyers hire us who know EXACTLY what they want, except, they don't! Why is that? Simply because there's often a lot more to consider, when buying a home that many new buyers don't really consider. Zoning, future development, resale, parking, transportation etc. That doesn't mean we don't have savvy first time buyers who aren't very well versed, but part of our role as professional real estate advisors is ensuring all these questions are answered, ensuring you're getting the home you want and need. Above and beyond that, there are many other critical aspects, including the assignment of searches that are catered to your needs, sending you homes as soon as they hit the market, we also take tremendous pride in our impact partnerships from contractors to mortgage professionals, home inspectors, real estate lawyers, and more.
4. Are you a REALTOR®?
Unfortunately it happens... There are unscrupulous individuals in this world, looking for their next unsuspecting victims who believe and trust in people and take their word. Buying and selling homes as a professional licensed agent isn't simply just a designation you pay for. It includes mandatory education, background checks, governing bodies who oversee their businesses and regulate the industry, rules to follow and adhere by that are meant to protect consumers and to serve home buyers and sellers. Professional REALTORS® will also carry professional insurance coverage that protects you from any errors or admissions (mistakes) an agent may make.
We always recommend that you visit the Real Estate Council of Alberta's website, from there you'll be able to look up any industry member, and confirm that they're licensed and authorized to trade in real estate.
5. How do fees work? What do you have to pay as a buyer?
In most cases, the fees paid to both the buying and selling REALTORS® are paid by the seller through the sale of their home. In most cases, these fees are typically outlined in the listing agreement and can vary depending on the services you're going to receive. Ask your agent what the fees are, and how they're going to be paid.
6. Are you an independent agent, or are you part of a team?
Obviously being a team (Real Estate Partners) we are a little biased in the answer to this question, but it's important you as a consumer consider this and to ask anyone you're considering working with. A team allows agents to focus on what's important to their clients, and not the other distractions, noise, and tasks that also come with being an agent. From administration, to marketing, generating leads and more, these are all tasks that would take away from an individual agents valuable time with clients and could make their work load much lower as they juggle tasks that would otherwise be taken care of.
7. Should I get pre-qualified for a mortgage before looking at homes, is there a difference between being pre-qualified and being pre-approved?
Getting your finances in order before buying a home is essential, we recommend taking this step even before you start shopping, it allows you to get an idea of what you can afford, and prevents you from getting too attached to a property that might not be in your price range.
Pre-qualifications is the most preliminary step, essentially by providing some very basic information (income, debts, assets, etc) a mortgage consultant can give you a basic range of what you can afford.
Pre-approvals go a step further, they include credit checks, document verification, income statements, etc.
Buyers that are pre-qualified and / or pre-approved situate themselves in a better position to negotiate and their offers will be more attractive to sellers as they're considered to be more serious and qualified. This puts you another step closer in securing the home of your dreams and also allows you to lock in interest rates that could potentially rise!
8. How much business of yours is repeat vs new?
We have a saying in this industry, and it's simply this. If you're working harder today, after being in the industry for five years, then you were on day one, you're not doing something right. According to the national association of REALTORS® in 2014, over 42% of home buyers referred someone to their agent! Referral and repeat business is something every agent should pride themselves on. It's not about just serving your clients needs during the real estate transaction, but after as well, our team ensures that we're reaching out to past clients to ensure that their needs are being taken care of, we provide a buyers guide for residents to get their services setup, and ensure that the home they bought is one that's fitting their needs!
9. WHAT ELSE?
It needs to be asked, because quite frankly, every individual is different, and allows your agent to cover any other topics that you might not be thinking about, including where to get financing, who to use as a Lawyer, off market homes, buyers programs, and much more!
Questions to ask regarding the fees and costs associated with buying a home!
10. How much should the deposit be?
Accompanying your offer, most buyers will offer a deposit on their offer to purchase, this is to demonstrate to the sellers that you are very serious about buying their home, and covers them in the event that you are unable to fulfill your obligations as a buyer. The deposit will form part of your entire down payment that you put down. The size of your deposit will vary depending on the home you're looking to purchase, we recommend that you ask your agent what they recommend based on all the details attached to you, your financial situation, and the home you're looking to buy.
Good: Buying a condo for $250,000 - Putting in a deposit of $10,000
Bad: Buying a $2,000,000 home - Putting a deposit of $1,000 | This means that if you were to back out of the sale at the last minute, the sellers could be moved out, on to their new place, and now they're maintaining possession with only $1,000 to cover their situation. You will unlikely be able to form a deal on a property this expensive with a little deposit.
11. What is CMHC or Genworth (home loan) insurance?
If you're not looking to put 20% down on your purchase, your loan is considered to be a high ration mortgage, and you will require this type of insurance, the fees for this can range from 1-3% (of the principal mortgage amount) but are subject to change.
12. What are the legal fees?
Once your offer is accepted, you waive conditions, it is almost always recommend that you have a real estate lawyer take care of the final portion of the transaction, they will hold money in trust, ensure documentation is accurately completed, register your property, perform a title search, and review other details including the real property report. Your legal fees can vary depending on who you use, our preferred legal partners utilize flat rate fees that are easy to understand and save you from any surprises, the fees typically can range from $800-$2500+
13. What are some other fees I could incur?
Depending on the home you purchase, and who you finance through, you could see an appraisal fee (often under $500) - This is often required by lenders to ensure the value of the property that they're lending on to ensure it's not undervalued.
Home Inspection / Property inspection fees - These can range from $200 - $800+ qualified home inspectors will do a thorough examination of your home, reporting on the condition of the envelope, mechanical room, appliances, grading, roof, and more. Great home inspectors will utilize cutting edge technology to examine the property more thoroughly, for example, one of our preferred home inspectors will utilize a moisture detector to check for unwanted moisture, heat guns to also check for moisture, ensure heating elements work, etc. and drones to fly above the home to check on the roof.
Home Insurance - Before you take possession of your home, we highly recommend you insure it! If you have a mortgage you'll likely be required to do so. Home insurance will cover (covered losses) on the home, as well as contents and detached structures (sheds for example)
You'll also consider the costs of moving, renovations, condominium fees, utilities, etc.
If you're a First time home buyer in Calgary, give us a call at 587-578-7653 - we are experts in serving your needs, providing guidance, information, and expert advice tailored to your needs. Whether you're looking to emerge into the market with a new condominium, or looking to purchase your first home for your family, our team works tirelessly to serve your needs.
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Listing information last updated on May 31st, 2020 at 5:30pm CDT.