Canada has one of the best real estate transaction processes in the world, praised for its success in getting transactions complete. This is great news if you’re planning to buy a home in Canada, but the whole real estate buying process can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. Here are a number of tips that will help you on your way to buying a home in Canada.
Working with a Real Estate Agent
This is the first point of confusion for many home buyers coming to Canada because in many countries around the world you only work with a real estate agent when you’re selling a home, not buying. Here in Canada , you can choose a buyer’s agent to work for you and the agent is able to do all the leg-work for you. She will arrange showings on homes that meet your criteria and they will accompany you to the showing. This way she can offer help and advice as you’re touring a property, giving her opinion on the value of a home, discussing the neighbourhood, and perhaps renovations that the home might need.
Choosing a Buyer’s Agent
Many home buyers choose to work with buyer’s agents who have been recommended to them by friends or family, but if you’re new to the country you may not have this luxury. You can look at the local real estate pages and make a decision. Or you can ask for a referral from the professionals you know e.g. your immigration consultant or accountant or contact organisations in your community such as immigration services. The important thing is that you feel comfortable with the agent you have chosen so that you can trust their opinion, and trust them to get the job done for you.
Deciding on a Home
In some countries when you’ve made a decision on the home you would like to buy you would make a verbal offer to the listing agent. They would then present this to the seller and the seller would decide whether to accept or negotiate. It can then take weeks for any part of your transaction to actually become legal, but not here in Canada.
Once you’ve toured a number of homes and are ready to make a decision you should have a chat with your agent. Let her know which home you like best and you can discuss what you are comfortable paying for the property and get their advice on what would be a reasonable offer. Your agent will then “write up” your offer on a legal document called a Contract of Purchase and Sale. That offer is presented to the listing agent who presents it to the seller. They may “counter” your offer or accept it as is, but once the offer is accepted it is legally binding.
Conditions of Sale
Of course you can’t expect to be legally bound by a contract unless you know for sure the home is not about to fall down, so there will be conditions of sale put into the contract. These conditions can vary but usually the two main ones are “subject to home inspection” and “subject to the buyer obtaining approval for a first mortgage”. There will be a time clause in place giving you, the buyer, time to have a home inspection and to make sure you can get a mortgage on the property, but once those conditions have been met – that’s it! You’ve essentially bought your first home!