Oh realtor, where art thou?

Oh realtor, where art thou?

Whether you’re embarking on your very first home purchase, or you’ve been around the block a few times, having the right realtor is essential to as smooth a process as possible. So how are you expected to find the one for you?

The first thing to do is ask around. Approach family, friends and colleagues for referrals, as knowing someone with actual experience with a realtor will lend credibility and provide reassurance during what can be quite a stressful experience. Secondly, start surfing. Nowadays we shop for nearly everything on the Internet, where pictures, detailed descriptions and positive (or negative) testimonials are just one click away.

Once you have compiled a shortlist, make direct contact: start calling and sending emails to set up an initial meeting. But before you get into the semantics of your budget and their commission, consider asking the below questions to get a better idea of whom you will be potentially working with.

How long have you been working in real estate?

The answer to this isn’t necessarily about a number, as real estate is a commission-based business, and it would be very difficult for a realtor to survive for a long time providing subpar service. Someone who has dealt with a variety of scenarios is less likely to be rattled should any bumps be encountered down the road.

What areas do you cover?

You will likely encounter realtors who are neighbourhood experts and others who will travel halfway across the country to make a sale. It would be ideal with find someone who is a balance of the two, who can work both in and around your main areas of interest.

Are you equipped to handle my unique situation?

Depending on what your goals are: long-term investor, first-time homebuyer, or house flipper – it would be best to find someone that is well acquainted with your specific situation. Don’t be fooled by someone who answers the question with, “Don’t worry, I’ve dealt with this before.” 

Happy realtor shopping!

Much ado and don’t about first time home buying

Much ado and don’t about first time home buying

So you think you’re finally ready to enter the responsible world of being a homeowner. Welcome to the club! But before you start trying to decide whether or not to have a hot tub or pool (or both!), take a look at the below list of Dos and Don’ts to avoid common rookie mistakes.

Do choose the right lender. Look for one with a good reputation who delivers on their promises, especially in regard to the rate they offer and the timeliness of getting the loan in place. Additionally, don’t be blinded by low-interest rates. Lenders know that novice homebuyers can be lured by low interest rates and try to take advantage of this by offering low rates only to add higher backend fees.

Don’t fall for your first. Resist the temptation to make an offer on the first home you like. Shop around and take your time before committing to one of the biggest financial relationships of your life.

Do the math. Your monthly housing costs should be gauged against your income. Keep your total housing payment equal to or lower than 50% of your monthly gross income. Also, hold off on making any huge purchases until after you have closed. Lenders will re-check your debt load just before closing, and could renege if they see large additions, even at the last minute.

Don’t only think about the ‘now’. Play the ‘what if’ game and consider how your home may work if your needs or circumstances change. Things like the kind of neighborhood or quality of local schools may not matter to you if you don’t currently have a family, but can impact your ability to resell further down the line.

Do invest in a professional inspection. Sellers don’t always disclose the whole truth to potential buyers – you’d be surprised at what a fresh coat of paint can cover up! Splurge on an experienced professional, it will save you time, money and house-induced tears later on.

Home is where the heart … and purse strings tie together

Home is where the heart … and purse strings tie together

You have spent days discussing your ‘must haves’, weeks researching mortgage options, and months searching for your dream home.

At last, you’ve finally found it – success! Now what? Here’s a breakdown of what to expect when you’re about to sign on the dotted line.

  1. An Agreement for Sale is prepared by the vendor’s lawyer. It is usually signed by both parties either at a real estate agency or in the presence of a lawyer.
  2. The buyer is required to pay a deposit of about 10 – 20 percent of the selling price, depending on what has been agreed upon.
  3. After signing the sale agreement, an application is submitted to the Office of the Registrar of Titles. The transfer of the deed signals the completion of the sale.

KNOW YOUR COSTS

According to Robert J Taylor, a Real Estate and Corporate Attorney, legal fees are generally around one to three percent of the purchase price, plus General Consumption Tax (GCT).

Stamp duty is equally shared between the buyer and the seller and is charged at four percent of the property value, as is the registration fee, which is valued at 0.5 percent. Therefore each party pays 2.25% respectively.

Transfer tax of five percent of the property value is paid by the seller, and the real estate agent’s fee is generally three to five percent plus GCT, and is negotiable. Traditionally, the seller pays the agent’s fee, however, it has become quite common recently to pass the cost to the buyer.

Please bear in mind that the whole process can take around 49 days to complete. In the meantime, you can start planning your house warming party and choosing the colour schemes for your dream house. Once you have signed all the paperwork and paid the necessary fees, give yourself a pat on the back – you did it! Congratulations on your new home!

Photo credit: Jamaicans.com or accesspropertyja.com

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