Whether you're a first time buyer or an experienced home owner, there is a lot to consider before you make your move.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you start out:

Who will I work with?
  • Have your own representation.  Many buyers think that by directly contacting the listing agent of a home they will save money.  The listing agent's first duty is to the seller and working with you too can limit the representation you receive.  Realistically, how well can one agent serve two masters?
  • Look for a professional realtor who is knowledgeable about area market conditions and amenities, a good negotiator with patience and dedication to your interests as well as someone willing and able to take care of all the details.  Find someone who listens well.  And don't be surprised to be asked lots of questions.  Some of those questions are required by law and others just make sense for setting up an effective search for you.
 What can I afford?
  • Before you start looking, know what you can afford.  It's heartbreaking to fall in love with a home that you can't buy or a shame to settle for something less than what is right for you.  Going on-line and filling out a brief questionnaire will help give you a basic idea. However, you're best to meet with your bank or a good mortgage broker (ask me for recommendations) who can go over all the information so that you can be pre-qualified for a definite amount of money over a definite period of time.  Armed with this information, any offer you make impresses the seller and puts you in the drivers seat.
What sort of home do I want?
  • Analyze why you want to move.  What are you really looking for?  More or less space?  No stairs?  Better neighborhood?  Certain schools?  Apartment, townhome or detached house?  Are you willing to do renovations or does the house have to be in "move in" condition?  Make a list of things you really need as well as a few things you'd really like.  Then call your realtor and share that information.  Working with a local realtor guarantees you access to inside knowledge that someone from outside the area might not have.
  • The best realtors won't waste your time showing you properties that don't meet your guidelines but leave some room for creativity on your realtor's part.  By listening carefully and watching your responses to properties, a good realtor can often read between the lines and find you the perfect home that you wouldn't necessarily have looked at on your own.
 How does this home compare?
  • Don't just look at the asking price of a house; look at the comparables your realtor will provide of properties that are either on the market at the moment or that have recently sold.  Look around enough that you can make an informed decision about whether or not this home is right for you.
 How will I negotiate a fair price?
  • Many people think the only way to negotiate is by starting as low as possible.  While that is one way to operate, every situation is different.  In some instances, a "low ball" offer just insults the seller and they refuse to counter.  Or if they do counter, the process becomes much more antagonistic and difficult than necessary.
  • Try not to get emotionally attached to the outcome.  Both having paid too much for a home in the excitement of the moment or refusing to budge and walking away when you feel a seller has insulted you can lead to disappointment later when cooler heads prevail.
My offer's been accepted!  Now what?
  • I'll pay as much attention to you after your offer is accepted as before.  You want to make sure you understand and are happy with the building inspection report you've had done.  You need to read through all the minutes and reports regarding any strata property.  Follow up with your financial instituation needs to be quick and thorough.  And once all subjects are removed and the deal is final, I can help you with the myriad of other details that arise like finding a good moving company, cleaners, storage, painters, decorators etc.

My promise as a realtor is to treat you the way I would want to be treated -- with skill, diligence, patience and understanding so that you can buy your next home with confidence.

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