The listing real estate broker is hired by the seller to represent their best interests. You too should have a real estate broker in your corner to represent your interests and make sure you are protected. The best part is that the commission is paid for by the seller so usually there are no fees involved with hiring a real estate broker to represent you during your purchase.
This reinforces the importance of the pre-approval process. Too often we have seen clients fall in love with homes they couldn't afford. Don't bother looking at the ones that are priced out of reach - you'll only be setting yourself up for disappointment, and make yourself feel like you're settling for less than you deserve.
Check out the exterior, the street, and the neighbourhood. If you can, stop by during the day and in the evening to get a sense of what it's like at different times. See if there are any good shops and restaurants in the area, and if it's a place where you see yourself.
Show up to showings and open houses armed with a list of questions. Take plenty of photos. Sketch out layouts. Measure spaces to ensure your furniture will fit. Write down all the things you love, items that require repair or renovation, elements you're not so keen on. When you're looking at multiple homes, it's easy to get confused – having detailed notes of each visit will help you keep track. A house hunting checklist can help you keep your thoughts organized, you can download mine below.
Storage is one of the most underestimated criteria of house hunting. There's nothing like moving into a new place and realizing there's nowhere to stow your stuff. Look at closets, basement storage, attic space and outdoor sheds. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner? Your spare linens and towels? Sports equipment and off-season clothes?
That harvest gold chandelier and the stained basement carpet can both be replaced at a relatively low cost. The scary turquoise dining room can easily be repainted. Watch out for high-cost fixes instead, like outdated electrical wires or bathrooms that require a complete overhaul.
There are often things you don't notice right away during your visit so don't be afraid to take your time and walk the house twice if needed. Don’t try to squeeze too many viewings into a single day – it can be more confusing than convenient. Take photos and make note of the pros and cons after viewing each property so you can take a look at the next home without struggling to remember details about the one before.
Look for damp or buckled spots on the siding, peeling paint, loose shingles, cracks in the foundation. A home inspection will be the best way to know about the condition of the home but a quick look can give you a good idea of what you're working with.
Fixing that leaky faucet? Sure, almost anyone can do that. But renovating the kitchen? Ripping out drywall? Putting in new plumbing? Before you make an offer on a house that's not move-in ready, make sure you're not getting too enthusiastic about what you can actually accomplish. If you think you can do it yourself, then realize you need outside help, you'll be facing some costs you didn't factor into your budget.
It's important to get second opinion if you’ve found a home that really appeals to you, show it to someone else like a good friend or relative. Let them do all the talking in case they see something you hadn’t noticed. Having someone who isn’t personally vested in the property can give you the objective opinion you need before you make your decision.
In a hot market, it can be hard not to make an immediate offer. Savvy house hunters say that when you find the right property, you can feel it down to your bones. If that’s the case for you, see if you can wait a day (or a few hours) before making an offer. Be sure to step back, pull out your list and carefully gauge if this property meets all of your must-have criteria. Keeping emotions in check and the long-term future in mind can help you make a smart buying decision – and finding the home that's perfect for you.