Get the Right Help

Having a team of professionals working with you can simplify the home-buying process.

THE REAL ESTATE AGENT

No one will play a more important role in helping you find a home than your real estate agent.

Your  agent’s job is to:

  • Help you find the ideal home;
  • Write an Offer of Purchase;
  • Negotiate on your behalf to help you get the best possible deal; and
  • Provide you with important information about the community, help you arrange and coordinate a home inspection and essentially save you time, trouble and money.

When the time comes to select a real estate agent, don’t be afraid to ask questions – especially about any possible service charges. Vendors normally pay a commission to the agent but some agents charge buyers a fee for their services.

MAKING AN OFFER TO PURCHASE

Once you have found the home you would like to purchase, you need to present the vendor with an Offer to Purchase or an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. As your home is probably your biggest investment, it would be wise to work with your real estate agent and/or a lawyer/notary in preparing your offer. Remember that the Offer to Purchase or Agreement of Purchase and Sale is a legal document and should be carefully prepared.

Any offer or agreement will typically include:

  • Your legal name, the name of the vendor and the legal civic address of the property.
  • The purchase price offered.
  • The chattels that will be included in the purchase price (for example, window coverings, appliances). Whatever items in or around the home that you think are included in the sale should be specifically stated in your offer.
  • The amount of deposit.
  • The closing day (date you take possession of the home) usually 30 to 60 days from the date of agreement. It can also be 90 days or longer. Generally, an Offer to Purchase obliges the purchaser to take possession of the house and property on a certain date. As of the closing date, the purchaser is responsible for taxes, utilities, repairs and maintenance.
  • Request for a current land survey of the property.
  • Date when the offer becomes void or invalid.
  • Any other conditions that go with the offer, including property inspection and Making an Offer to Purchase
  • Any other conditions that go with the offer, including property inspection and approval of mortgage financing.

The process of making an offer, receiving a counter-offer and then revising it again is not uncommon. The whole process can seem like a roller coaster ride – exciting, but stressful. It’s all part of making the deal work best for you and the vendor.

offer to purchase

When you make an Offer to Purchase, your real estate agent or your lawyer/notary will most likely add certain conditions to it, making it a conditional offer. This means that the contract will only become final when the conditions are met. The following three conditions are generally standard in an Offer to Purchase, especially for first-time buyers:

  • A satisfactory home inspection report
  • A property appraisal
  • Lender approval of mortgage financing to finance the purchase

Once these requirements are met, the conditions are removed and the Offer to Purchase becomes final.

THE APPRAISER

Having an independent appraisal done on a property before you make an offer is a good idea. It will tell you what the property is worth and help ensure that you are not paying too much. We may also ask for a recognized appraisal in order to complete a mortgage loan.

The appraisal should include an unbiased assessment of the property’s physical and functional characteristics, an analysis of recent comparable sales and an assessment of current market conditions affecting the property. Appraisal fees may vary but are usually about $350 (plus HST) for a typical single-family house.

THE HOME INSPECTOR

You should consider having any home you are thinking of buying inspected by a knowledgeable and professional person. Their role is to inform you about the property’s condition. You’ll be advised if something is not functioning properly, needs to be changed or is unsafe. You will also be informed of repairs that need to be made and maybe even where there may have been problems in the past.

Every inspection should include a visual assessment of at least the following:

  • Foundation
  • Doors and windows
  • Roof and exterior walls
  • Attics
  • Plumbing and electrical systems (where visible)
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Ceilings, walls and floors
  • Insulation (where visible)
  • Ventilation
  • Septic tanks, wells or sewer lines (if inspector is qualified)
  • Any other buildings such as a detached garage
  • The lot, including drainage away from buildings, slopes and natural vegetation
  • Overall opinion of structural integrity of the buildings
  • Common areas (in the case of a condominium/strata or co-operative)

In British Columbia, mandatory certification is required. Generally, a good home and property inspector belongs to a provincial or industry association. CMHC does not recommend or endorse any individual home inspector or association. CMHC supports national standards of competency for home inspectors. For more information about the home inspection industry’s voluntary National Certification Program, visit the National Certification Authority’s website at

http://www.ncaanc.com/

Home inspector fees may depend on the size and condition of the home.

THE LAND SURVEYOR

If the seller does not have a Survey or Certificate of Location, we may require you to get one for your mortgage application. If the Survey in the seller’s possession is older than five years, it will probably need to be updated.

Remember that you must have permission from the property owner before hiring a surveyor to go onto the property. Ask your real estate agent to help co-ordinate this with the owner.

THE LENDER OR MORTGAGE BROKER

If you haven’t already gone through the mortgage pre-qualification process, you will need to find a good lender to assist you during the purchasing process and for as long as you have your mortgage. We hope you will consider us when making your mortgage decision.

A LAWYER

You need a lawyer to protect your legal interests, such as ensuring the property does not have any building or statutory liens, charges or work or clean-up orders associated with it. He or she will review all contracts before you sign them, especially the Offer (or Agreement) to Purchase. Having a lawyer/notary involved in the process will give you peace of mind and ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. Lawyer/notary fees depend on the complexity of the transaction and their experience.

THE INSURANCE BROKER

An insurance broker can help you with your insurance needs, including property insurance and mortgage life insurance. We will require property insurance because your property is security for your loan. Property insurance covers the replacement cost of your home, so premiums may vary depending on its value.

We also suggest that you buy mortgage life insurance, which provides coverage for your family if you die before your mortgage is paid off. This type of insurance is available from different sources.

Be careful not to confuse property or life insurance with mortgage loan insurance, which may be required for high-ratio mortgages.

THE BUILDER/CONTRACTOR

If you are building a home, you may need a builder or contractor. If the house you are buying needs renovations, you may also require a builder or contractor. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a builder or contractor:

  • Ask for references and talk to other customers about the builder’s performance.
  • Check with the New Home Warranty program in the area (if applicable).
  • Visit other housing developments that the company has built.
  • Ask builders or contractors if they are members of a local homebuilders’ association or ask for a provincial license number.

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