HOW TO CHOOSE AND WORK WITH A REALTOR AS A FIRST-TIME BUYER
As a first-time buyer (or buyers) it’s often tough to know how to initiate the process and get going on your property search. Here are some tips that may help you to be a little less nervous and make the right decisions:
1.The single biggest thing you can do to immediately get off on the right foot is to pick a good realtor to work with you. Do not pick realtors simply from viewing their advertising or off the internet. It’s not that their advertising is necessarily bad or that they’re bad people but the fact is you don’t know them and they don’t come from a trusted source. So to mitigate that, from among your group of friends or networking associates or parents and their friends etc., try to find three that come highly recommended. Interview each of them and make a decision, or interview more if the first three don’t seem like a good fit for you. And do it before you begin looking at properties. The reasons for that are 1) you will receive solid, professional advice right from the start and 2) if you are working with a realtor and happen to view some properties on your own (come across an open house etc.), you can honestly state right up front to the showing realtor that you have your own representation (and always tell them). They will then back off and not try to recruit you to work with them. Just saves some hassle and makes life a little easier.
2.Be as certain as you can possibly be about what you want. There is an old realtor saying that states, “Buyers are liars”. It doesn’t mean they are literally liars; it means that people begin the process thinking they know what they want and convey that to their realtor, who then goes out and finds those kinds of properties for them. They then discover that those aren’t the kinds of properties they want after all! It’s not that you can’t change your mind; it’s just that you should do some research beforehand and try as much as possible to have your choices pretty much nailed down (i.e. downtown vs. farther out, higher floor vs. lower floor, near transit or not, amenities with amenities and higher strata fees or no amenities/lower fees, etc. etc.). It will help your realtor (and you…) immensely!
3.Get pre-approved for financing! One of the biggest problems realtors face with clients (first-timers or non-) is clients who say (and believe) they are pre-approved for financing but only really have a letter of pre-qualification from their financing institution or mortgage broker. If you are unsure of the financing process ask your realtor what you have to do to get pre-approved and who they might recommend in the financing area. If you enter into a deal and can’t make financing (happens all the time) you have frustrated everyone involved in the transaction, mostly yourselves!
4.If you are looking to buy a brand-new existing or pre-sale unit from a developer you don’t need to use a realtor, right? I mean, the developer has salespeople who will tell you everything about the development, correct? They’ll tell you when the suite will be ready for occupancy and all the upgrade packages and if there are any discounts won’t they? And you only have to make one deposit, correct? And what are the sales taxes again? You get the picture. Did you know that in almost every developer contract there are clauses that allow them to deliver the property to you later than you thought you contracted for and possibly even deliver a smaller unit than what you thought you contracted for? Consider this: most developer contracts are about 60 pages long (a normal MLS contract is about 7) and are full of fine print. They are weighted heavily in favour of the developer, not you! If you are considering buying a new property avail yourself of the services of a good realtor who is experienced in the sale of these types of properties. You won’t have to pay them; they get paid a commission from the developer for bringing them a buyer. And above all, use a good lawyer to review the contract and close the deal legally for you. Professionals are worth their fees when you are purchasing real estate!!
5.Pick a realtor who will try to accompany you on as many property tours as possible (given everyone’s business schedules and the fact that they’re working with other clients). Don’t stick with one that tells you to go to all the tours and open houses on your own and then call them when you want to do a deal. A) that is not a full-service realtor and B) you’re looking to them for input…!
6.Make sure up front that your realtor is committed to being with you all the way to closing and beyond. They should also help you in the recommendation of various ancillary suppliers such as property inspectors, lawyers and any other professionals you may need to complete the deal (I’ve even brought structural engineers into deals to clear a property).
7.Make sure your realtor communicates with you on a regular basis all the way through the process. You as the client are entitled to know what’s going on with a property, the transaction, an inspection or legal issue, if there are more offers than just yours coming in on a property etc. They should give you sage counsel in situations like multiple offers, and allow you (or tell you) to back away if you’re not totally comfortable with it (multiple offers can get emotional and people can get carried away. You need detached, unbiased advice in those situations).
8.Allow your realtor to have a life. Unless it’s an urgent situation or you’re right in the middle of a deal don’t call them or expect calls or texts back at 11:30 at night.
9.Don’t be afraid to tell your realtor if you don’t think their service is up to par. Conversely, thank and compliment them if they do a good job. Real estate is a high-pressure business because there’s usually lots of money at stake. And it’s very competitive. Tell your realtor when he or she has done a good job and give them a letter of recommendation if you were satisfied with their service. Realtors live on referrals and testimonial letters from past or present clients are a great way to attract them.
10.The last item on this list is equally as important as the first one: Once you have chosen your realtor and are satisfied that they are honest, diligent and truly working in your best interest – TRUST THEM AND FOLLOW THEIR ADVICE! Especially on offering prices, closing dates, items to be negotiated in or out of a deal, multiple offers (a biggie), follow their advice. Good realtors are professional negotiators who have probably been through situations like yours many times. They have the experience to make the best decisions for you and they are not as emotionally involved in the outcome as you are. Real estate is a high stakes game and you need a solid, experienced advisor in your corner.
PICK A GOOD REALTOR AND WORK CLOSELY WITH THEM – IT WILL BE WORTH IT!