While you may decide to work with the first real estate professional you meet, we encourage you to meet with a few different representatives before settling on one. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and their approach to the process. Also, be sure to get references and contact them to learn about their experience with the salesperson. Before signing a representation agreement, it’s a good idea to use the ‘Registrant Search’ tool at the top of RECO’s website (www.reco.on.ca) to check the status of their registration and see whether they have been subject to disciplinary action.
Not making your expectations clear with your real estate professional
Working with a real estate professional is a partnership, so communication is the key to success. It’s important to have a mutual understanding about what you’re looking for in a home, what elements you would consider to be ‘deal-breakers’, and what services the brokerage will be responsible for. Make sure you discuss what services you expect them to provide, and get it in writing.
Failing to read and understand forms and contracts
It can be tempting to speed the process along by signing forms that you haven’t read. After all, nobody really likes reading the fine print. But taking the time to understand what you’re signing can avoid a lot of problems later on. For example, you don’t want to find out that you’re on the hook for a six month listing agreement to sell your home if you only want your house on the market for three months. Make sure all the blanks on the form are filled in before you sign it, and make sure you get a copy of whatever you sign.
Allowing emotions to overtake common sense
When you fall in love with a property, it can be hard to walk away. Stick to your budget and be aware of the risks of forgoing a home inspection for a chance to win a bidding war. Making your offer conditional on a home inspection is a smart decision because a qualified home inspector, engineer or contractor can identify underlying problems with a home’s major systems, like heating and electrical. Skipping an inspection is a gamble because you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to a much more costly problem later on.
Assuming everything is included
Don’t assume that the stove, washing machine and dryer or other items are included with the sale. The seller may want to take the dishwasher with them, and the hot water tank might be under a rental contract that you’ll be required to take over. The best way to protect against any surprises is to detail all the items (known as chattels) you expect to be included in your written offer. In the offer, you can also include a clause requiring the seller to pay out any outstanding leases on the home’s major systems.
Forgetting about what’s within the walls
The hardwood floors, stained glass windows and walk-in closet are appealing features, but the insulation, wiring and plumbing are just as important when you’re evaluating a property. Ask your real estate professional to look into the age of the home’s systems and if there have been any upgrades. If extensive renovations have been done, your real estate professional can also help determine if the appropriate permits were issued.
Not doing your research
If you’re concerned about buying a home with a troubled past, a simple Internet search for the address can go a long way. This is also something you can ask the neighbours about.
Forgetting about what’s outside the walls
When you buy a home, you’re also buying a place in a community. Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day to see if the surroundings fit your lifestyle. Is it too noisy, or not vibrant enough? The only way to find out is to spend some time exploring the area, talking to neighbours and researching the locations of amenities like grocery stores and banks.
Making verbal agreements
Verbal agreements aren’t a problem, until they’re a problem. Putting everything in writing forces both parties to be clear about their expectations and provides a record that can prevent disputes later on.
Underestimating closing costs
The price paid for a home is just one of many costs associated with the purchase. Related costs, such as land transfer taxes, title insurance and a home inspection, can really add up and take an unexpected chunk out of your budget. There are also the final touches – like a fresh coat of paint, some window coverings or a new appliance – that you may want to do to make the place feel like your home.
While these tips will certainly help, the most important advice is to work with a registered real estate professional.“Registered brokers and salespersons provide a great deal of knowledge and expertise about the buying and selling process, along with specific knowledge about neighbourhoods and local issues,” says Richer. “They can also provide crucial help in avoiding these hazards.”
An assignment is a sales transaction where the original buyer of a property (the “assignor”) allows another buyer (the “assignee”) to take over the buyer’s rights and obligations of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, before the original buyer closes on the property (that is, where they take possession of the property). The assignee is the one who ultimately completes the deal with the seller.
In other words, an assignment clause allows the buyer of a home to sell the place before they take possession of it.
In Ontario, assignments are more common in pre-built homes and condos than on re-sale properties, but they are possible on any type of trade.
Are assignments legal and why do they happen?
When done properly, assignments are legal and can be a useful tool for buyers and sellers. An example of this would be a situation where a buyer’s financial or personal situation changes before closing. Assigning allows them to pass along the contract to another buyer, without backing out of the deal with the seller.
For instance, someone could buy a condo that is still under construction and might not be ready for a couple of years. The buyer’s work or family situation could change during that time, causing them to change their mind about living in the condo they purchased. Another example may be where a buyer runs into financial difficulties to close on an existing house and wants to find another buyer rather than risk the financial penalties that might come with having to try to back out of the deal.
Why is there so much attention surrounding assignments at this time?
Recent media reports out of British Columbia suggest that some real estate professionals in that province may have been using assignments to make more money on the deal without telling their seller clients about what they are doing. When there is a registered real estate professional involved in a transaction, they have a number of obligations to their client. Some of those obligations involve disclosing if they have a personal interest in the transaction that goes beyond the commission they stand to earn on the transaction.
The assignment situation in Vancouver appears to be a localised issue, and we haven’t seen evidence of it being prevalent in Ontario. However, we are monitoring closely. If consumers are aware of questionable practices, RECO wants to know about it so we can investigate.
What are the obligations of real estate professionals when it comes to assignments in Ontario?
Ontario has rules requiring real estate professionals to disclose any personal interest in a purchase or sale. There would also be disclosure obligations if the same brokerage were representing both the buyer and the seller in a transaction and the buyer intended to assign the purchase to another buyer. In this case the brokerage would have to inform the seller. The seller could then make an informed decision about whether to include an assignment clause in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.
In Ontario, all registered real estate professionals have an obligation to act with fairness, honesty and integrity when dealing with others in a real estate transaction, while protecting and promoting the best interest of their clients. The seller’s representative is expected help the seller weigh the pros and cons of giving the buyer the ability to assign the property to another buyer.
What is RECO doing about assignments in Ontario?
RECO is continuing to monitor this issue and if a registered real estate professional breaches the rules, they would be pursued to the full extent of the law. In addition, RECO has asked its inspection team to watch for anything unusual related to assignments.
If you work with a registered real estate professional and feel like they did not look out for your best interests, you can file a complaint with RECO and we will investigate the situation.
What about the tax implications of assignments?
RECO advises anyone participating in an assignment to seek the advice of a tax specialist. Generally, assignors can expect to pay tax on any profits they realized from the assignment. Land transfer taxes are paid by the assignee, as they are only due when the sale closes (that is when the property actually changes hands).
How can home buyers and sellers protect themselves?
As with any contract, it’s crucial for buyers and sellers to know what they’re signing. Real estate contracts are legally-binding, so getting legal advice can be a smart idea. It’s important to know what each clause means and how it will affect you. Buyers and sellers are encouraged to ask their real estate professional to explain the clauses in the contract.
Beyond contracts, RECO encourages buyers and sellers to do their homework. That means interviewing several salespersons, getting several comparative market analyses to understand what their home is worth and having realistic expectations about timelines, pricing and how the process will work.
Finding a home that has the qualities you want and is within your budget is no easy feat. But there’s lots more to do before you move in.
Before you make an offer
These to-dos can be completed before or after you make an offer, but getting ahead of the game is a good idea.
Obtain a mortgage pre-approval to give you a good idea of how much you will be able to finance for your home.
Hire a real estate lawyer in case you have legal questions and so you’ll be ready when it’s time to close the deal.
After your offer is accepted
These items should be added to your list once your offer has been accepted.
Satisfy any conditions included with your offer, like conditional financing or a satisfactory home inspection.
Confirm financing by providing your lender with the signed Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Your lender may conduct an appraisal on the home.
Ask your real estate professional, family or friends to recommend a home inspector. There are also associations for home inspectors that can refer you. When selecting a home inspector, ask about their training, experience, certifications and approach to the home inspection process.
If there is an issue with any of your conditions, you will need to speak with your real estate representative and your lawyer about your options.
If all the conditions are satisfied you will have to sign documents stating that each of the conditions are either waived or fulfilled. The offer will then become firm.
Once the deal is firm, your lawyer will help you close the transaction.
You might need to prove you have home insurance before your lender will release the mortgage funds.
Planning your move
If you’re renting, you’ll need to provide notice to your landlord.
If you already own a home, it’s a little more complicated. Ideally the move-in date for your new home would align with the date you’ll move into your new place. If not, you may need to get a storage locker and stay with friends or family, or rent temporarily while you’re between homes. You might also need to talk to your lender about bridge financing if you will own both homes for a period of time.
7 Things New (and Veteran) Homeowners Don't Know They Need to Do
Owning a home has a lot of perks (goodbye pet policies!). But those perks come with a lot of responsibility. Between daily chores and preventative maintenance, it’s easy to forget a few things. Let’s refresh your memory! Here are seven frequently-forgotten tasks that will help you stay on top of home ownership.
These tasks are especially important for new homeowners, but veterans may be forgetting a few of these, too!
1. Save for Unexpected Problems
You can’t stop things like your dishwasher from breaking, but you can set some cash aside to pay for unexpected replacements. As a general rule of thumb, you want to save 1-3 percent of your homes initial price each year so that you can afford unexpected problems.
2. Form an Inspection Habit
Detecting certain issues early (like a rodent infestation or mold growth) can be the difference between a simple fix and an unaffordable disaster. Take the time to properly inspect your basement, attic, insulation and roof at least once during that first year. Then, make an annual habit of it!
3. Buy a Bunch of Furnace Filters
Changing your furnace filter regularly is one of the easiest ways you can save money (since your furnace will last longer) and improve your health (since the air you breathe will be cleaner). But remembering to pick up a filter from the hardware store every few months isn’t always so easy. Nip that problem in the bud by purchasing in bulk! Take a look at your furnace and write down the filter size, then order enough to last for a few years (the exact number you need will vary depending on the type of furnace you have).
4. Get to Know Your Appliances
Just like cars and televisions, the appliances in your home have different life expectancies. For example, furnaces usually last for 15-20 years, but water heaters tend to start wearing down after 10 years. It’s worth figuring out how old each appliance in your house is because then you can plan ahead for their replacements. A new furnace can cost as much as $5,000, so a little heads up can really help!
5. Take Advantage of Tax Credits
Did you know that you can receive credits for things like installing solar panels or purchasing Energy Star appliances. Do some research early on about the different tax credits that may apply to you, and then reap the benefits when tax time rolls around!
6. Start Keeping Records
Every improvement or repair you make to your home – from adding caulk around your bathtub to installing a new roof – will increase its resale value. Make sure all of your hard work pays off by keeping track right from the start!
7. Beef Up Your Insurance
Take a good look at your homeowners insurance policy and look for any relevant gaps (this is a situation where professional advice can be really helpful). Two areas of coverage to consider are flood and fire protection, which aren’t always included in standard policies. Tip: It’s also worth taking another look at your car insurance because you now have a much bigger asset (your home) to lose in the event of a lawsuit.
Remodeling your bathroom provides the perfect opportunity to save energy and reduce your energy footprint. There are many benefits, including lower heating and lighting bills, reducing indoor pollution and introducing low-impact construction ideas. Are you ready to build a bathroom with an energy efficient blueprint? Here’s how.
Can you let more natural light into your new bathroom? Reduce your electricity and heating costs by installing high windows to increase natural ventilation, skylights to release hot air rising, or even a glass brick wall – if your neighbours are not a little too close. Make your bathroom appear larger and feel warmer naturally, without spending a cent on electricity.
Seal in leaks
We tend to be more sensitive to the cold in the bathroom than in any other room in the house. Yet a well-sealed, insulated bathroom doesn’t need much extra heat. Consider insulating your water pipes, the walls of the shower, under the bathtub and in the cavities surrounding it – including beneath the plughole. If forgotten, these spots can be a real energy … drain. Ahem.
The way you heat your water supply has a huge impact on your energy bills, so switch to a high Energy Star-rated hot water system. Install it close to your water supply to avoid losing heat through the pipes. Consider installing solar panels on the roof. These can heat about half the water you need and lower your energy bill significantly.
Saving water is one of the biggest ways to reduce energy costs in the bathroom! Recycle your old fittings and invest in water efficiency-rated appliances: install a water-efficient showerhead to reduce water usage by up to 40% and heating costs by close to 50%; switch to low-flow, aerated taps to lower water use by almost 70%; invest in a water-efficient dual flush cistern to save close to 70% and save 50-odd litres of water – per person, per day.
A warm bathroom reduces the risk of mold and mildew because if it’s too cold, the moisture won’t evaporate and will soak into the plaster and paintwork. So remember to ventilate your bathroom for 3-4 minutes in winter. Open all the windows and turn the heating down. It’s far more efficient than leaving a window open all day, which reduces the temperature, wastes energy and increases your overall costs.
A fine finish
Bathroom finishes need to be water resistant, durable and environmentally safe. Avoid using medium density fiberboard (MDF) in cabinets and countertops. Instead, consider using solid wood, recycled timber or exterior-grade plywood. Use a low-toxic grout and sealer on your tiles and low-solvent adhesives to minimize the spread of toxins in your home.
Take the time to plan a bathroom that reflects your ideal lifestyle – a space that is energy efficient and replenishes your own energy at the end of a busy day.
Most advice on how to prepare your house for sale involves how the property will look to a potential buyer. Appearance is, of course, very important if you want to sell a house quickly and for the best price. But there are three other senses you have to satisfy as well.
Hearing. Check for creaks in the floor, a rattling washer or dryer, or any other unpleasant noise. You may no longer notice these sounds, but potential buyers will.
Smelling. You might love the aroma of exotic cooking, but visitors may not. Also check for other obvious sources of odours: such as ashtrays, laundry hampers, garbage bins and toilets.
Touching. Make sure countertops, door handles, floors and other surfaces are free of dust and dirt. If potential buyers feel the need to wipe their hands after touching something, they won’t leave with a good impression.
Appealing to all the senses helps to ensure that your house shows well.
When it comes to “staging” your home for sale – which basically means ensuring it looks clean and uncluttered – you probably already know the basics: clean the counters, vacuum the floors, mow the lawn, etc.
But there are some home staging tips that are less obvious, yet can help to sell your property faster and for a higher price. For example…
Obvious: The stove, sinks and counter-tops should be spotless. Not-so-obvious: The contents of your cabinets and refrigerator should be facing face forward.
Obvious: They should be clean and uncluttered. Have fresh towels hanging neatly on the rack. (The “hotel bathroom” look.) Not-so-obvious: All towels should match. Ensure toilet lids are closed.
Obvious: Make the bed neatly. Check that the closet is organised and uncluttered. (If your closet is bulging with clothes, put some in storage.) Not-so-obvious: Don’t leave any clothes out. Even clean clothes neatly folded in a hamper can seem untidy to some people.
The Kids’ Bedrooms
Obvious: They need to be clean and, especially, uncluttered. (Good luck!) Not-so-obvious: Arrange stuffed animals, games and other toys like an attractive display in a toy store. It’s okay to have a toy, like a race track, out of the box. Just make sure it’s completely put together. (No pieces lying around.)
Obvious: Make sure the floor is clean and that things are put away. Not-so-obvious: If possible, get everything (except the car!) off the floor and onto shelves and hanging hooks. This will make a dramatic difference in how roomy the garage will look.
These not-so-obvious staging tips may seem minor, but they add up to a home that is much more attractive to potential buyers.
Toronto home sales shot to a record in May and prices surged amid fierce competition for single-family homes, figures showed Friday.
There were 12,870 homes sold in May, 11 percent higher than last year, according to the real estate board in Canada’s biggest city. With listings falling 6.4 percent from last year, average prices rose 16 percent to C$751,908 ($581,207). Detached homes in the suburbs led gains with a 21 percent rise while detached homes in the city center rose 15 percent to C$1.3 million.
"While the record number of home sales through the first five months of 2016 is not necessarily surprising, it does sometimes mask the larger story in the GTA: the shortage of listings, which has resulted in strong upward pressure on home prices,” the real estate board president Mark McLean said in a statement.
Toronto joins Vancouver in a record month for sales, as that western city’s real estate board said yesterday 4,769 homes traded hands, an 18 percent gain from the prior year. The hot markets in the two cities prompted the heads of National Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia to suggest tighter mortgage rules to cool the market.
Article by Katia Dmitrieva atREPReal Estate Proffessional
Buying a resale condo? Here’s what you need to know.
In many ways, buying a resale condo is similar to buying a freehold property, but there are additional caveats to a condo purchase that buyers should be aware of.
Is condo living for you?
Before you go through with a condo purchase, consider whether condo living fits with your lifestyle. Condos often have rules regarding pets, noise and even drapes and balcony furniture. As such, condo living requires more “give and take” than a single-family home. Take that into consideration before you go on the hunt for a condo.
The status certificate;
When you make an offer on a condo, it should be conditional on a review of the status certificate. It’s a document that includes a lot of critical information about the condo corporation.
By-laws and rules: make sure you can live with the condo’s rules. If pets aren’t allowed, don’t try to sneak in your puppy. Instead, find another property that is more suitable.
Financial records for the condo corporation: the certificate will include the corporation’s most recent budget and the balance of the corporation’s reserve fund. If costly repairs are required in the future, insufficient cash in the reserve fund could require a steep increase in your condo fees or result in a special assessment.
Utilities: utilities could be included with your condo fees or paid separately. Each unit could have its own hydro and water meters, or there could be one set of meters for the whole building, with everyone sharing the costs equally. You’ll want to know so you can budget accordingly.
Rental status: when owners lease out their units, they are required to notify the condo corporation. The corporation keeps a tally and includes the figure as part of the status certificate. If you want to rent your unit, it may make sense to buy in a condo that contains many other tenants. On the other hand, if you plan to live in your unit, a place where most owners live in their condo may give you the kind of community you desire.
Parking details: your unit may include a parking space, but it’s important to understand whether you will own the parkingspace yourself, or whether it’s a common element owned by the condo corporation that you are assigned, but that you don’t own.
Ultimately when you buy into a condo, you are also choosing your community. It’s a big commitment, so take the time to find a place that suits your personal needs. Don’t overlook potential issues in the rush to purchase a property. For more information about buying a condo, check out the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services' Condo Guide.
How to protect your property during a buyer Open House
How comfortable would you feel opening your home to a complete stranger? Under normal circumstances, most people would never let strangers roam around their home, but it’s a key component of an open house when selling a home. It’s important to understand the potential for theft or damage.
“Holding an open house can be a great way to attract potential buyers, but it’s important to consider safety and security,” says Joseph Richer, registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario.
Fortunately, a few simple steps can go a long way. Protect your valuables, such as:
Jewelry and other valuables,
Passport and travel documents,
Receipts, bills and personal information
Thieves know to look in closets and sock drawers, so the items should be placed somewhere secure, like a safe, or offsite at a friend’s home.
Keep track of who enters the property by having your real estate professional ask each visitor to show identification and complete a registration form.
Ask your representative to limit the number of visitors at one time, or to bring an assistant to ensure that all visitors are escorted as they tour the property.
“It’s important to remember that it’s your home, and you set the rules for visitors,” says Richer.
“Communicate early and openly with your registered broker or salesperson about how the open house will work.”