A few tips to consider:
Know your needs and wants. Are you looking for a house, a townhouse or a condo? Do you want something that’s ready to live in and low-maintenance, or are you prepared to take on minor repairs, or even major renovations?
Keep budget top of mind. Talk to your lender about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Remember that you will have to put down a deposit and a down payment — do you know the difference?
Look for a good fit. You’ll want to work with a real estate professional you are compatible with.
A good place to start is by asking friends and family for referrals, and it may be wise to meet with several candidates to find the right fit. Research your candidates on RECO’s Real Estate Professional Search Tool to confirm they are registered and in good standing.
Read before you sign. When a salesperson presents you with a representation agreement to sign, ask them to walk you through it line by line. You should understand what you’re signing, as well as your rights and your obligations. You may also want to have a real estate lawyer review it.
Set ground rules. The ongoing “hot” real estate market in Ontario has led to tactics like bidding wars and pre-emptive (bully) offers. Get advice from your salesperson and a mortgage professional as you determine your best offer.
If you do encounter a bidding war, enter with a strategy. Set ground rules in advance for what you’re willing to spend and what conditions must be met. Keep a cool head.
Protect yourself. Consider including terms and conditions in your offer that will best protect your interest, such as those about mortgage financing, a home inspection, the sale of your existing home, and other terms that are important to you. When there are competing offers it can be tempting to waive these protective conditions but understand the implications and risks of doing so.
Some other things to consider. Ask your real estate professional about the age and condition of the home, including the major systems — heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, etc. Outline the items you expect to be included with the sale and understand the difference between chattels and fixtures.