Not all home-buying and selling experiences go as smoothly as they do on HGTV. We've definitely heard of some cases where home buyers are left with questions, concerns and regrets. To help you with this exciting time in your life, our social media team polled previous home buyers online to find out the top ten things Albertans wish their REALTORS® had told them, so you can feel better prepared and ready for this next step.

Not everything comes with the house

“One of my friends bought a multi-million-dollar home and when they arrived on possession day, they found out the previous owners took all of the appliances. Apparently, it was missed in the contract!” – Haleigh 

“Confirm whether every single item that's unattached to the home is staying or going (appliances, curtains, mailboxes, TV mounts, ceiling fans, window coverings, etc.) and that the appliances seen at the viewing will be the appliances that stay with the house. Sometimes it just says 'dishwasher' and you think it's cool because it's a Bosch but when you move in it's been swapped for a Maytag.” – Tamara 

Our thoughts - That's an unfortunate position for your friends to be in, one of the most important steps our team trains on, is our checklists for every transaction, ensuring weare clear with your clients what goods are and are not included. Sometimes there are even smaller items that are valuable or hard to replace that need to be included in the offer to purchase as well, a garage controller for example, this helps you avoid racking up smaller bills and costs after you've moved in. 

We also recommend asking your agent or home inspector (during the inspection) to log and ensure they take note of all appliances including pictures and serial numbers. By doing this you'll have a quick and easy way to ensure that the appliances you expected are the ones that are there on possession day. 

Not all future plans are divulged

“A few months after we moved into our house, we found out that the fields and valley behind us are going to be turned into more housing. I wish someone would have told us about it before we bought the place.” – Magdelena

“I wish my real estate agent had told me there was going to be a school built directly across the street from us.” – Cynthia

Definitely one of the most important things to consider when buying a house anywhere, especially when buying newer homes, agents should be researching the area and looking at development maps in order to provide you the most clear picture possible of what to expect in the short and long term around your home. 

Consider this, not all research and due diligence on future development is to find out the negatives of what's on the horizon, having foresight and development knowledge can also be used to predict or assess increases in value. Train lines, or new roads (the ring road for example) can generally have positive impacts on property value or desirability of a neighbourhood. 

It's not as structured as you might think

“Depending on what the real estate market is like at the time you’re buying or selling, you might need to make a decision fast—sometimes even the day you view the house or receive an offer. Be prepared to take that leap of faith and don’t enter a bidding war lightly!” – Lauren

Every transaction is unique, from house to house, to rapidly evolving markets, buyers and sellers with needs that are in line with one another, or wants and needs from buyers and sellers that aren't aligned, purchasing a home can be widely different. You may have friends or family that go through a more challenging process that involves bidding wars, bully offers, and tight timelines, while others have single (accepted offer) situations. Fortunately, it's pretty predictable for us as agents to know what your experience will be like, and we can provide and set expectations to help you navigate any market and scenario. 

You can shop around

“I didn’t know I could do my own research on a home inspector and was afraid to ask for a second opinion. Six years later and we're still dealing with problems that might otherwise have been caught.” – Samantha

“I’ve been a paralegal in real estate for years and my suggestion is to always do your research on the realtor first! Check their credentials before using them. Make sure they are working with you and are there for you every step of the way!” – Ruth

“Make sure you choose a lawyer based on other people’s experience—not just who’s recommended by your mortgage broker or REALTOR®.” – Steven

Yes you can! We provide our clients with our 'Impact partner guide' that includes a list of many of Calgary's top mortgage brokers, lawyers, home inspectors, condominium review specialists that we have worked with, are highly reviewed, and are trusted by many of our clients, we also always encourage our clients to do their own research in the market and ensure that they're comfortable and confident in who they're choosing to work with. 

Dig into the neighbourhood

“We just moved into what we thought was a perfect place until we discovered our neighbours party until 4 AM every weekend. I wish we knew it was socially acceptable to talk to the neighbours before we’d put an offer in.” – Dakota

“I remember gossiping with a neighbour at a house I offered in Mount Pleasant and she shed a lot of light on the neighbourhood and the current owner.” – Stephanie

“Understand the crime index in the area and the nature of the crime. Is it a lot of garage break ins or something more serious? Consider crime mitigation in your costs, too. Security systems aren’t cheap!” – Krista

One of the most important factors in picking a real estate agent to work with is how good their 'product knowledge' is. It's not just about knowing homes, contracts, and how to negotiate a great deal, it's also just as important you know the communities and your clients needs.  Our team trains every week on our community knowledge, this helps ensure that our agents knowledge is up to date, relevant, and thorough for our clients. 

You can negotiate more than just price 

“Make sure you put in your conditions that the seller gets professional cleaners, and they have to give you the receipt! Oh my, do I ever wish I knew that one before buying my house! It was so much added time and cost!” – Sam

We always say, everything is negotiable! The only thing to consider is that this can be dependent on the market and its current state. Consider this, a hot sellers market where a home is receiving multiple offers 1 day on the market may not have sellers be as willing to do more than just sell the home, this doesn't mean you can't negotiate though. 

Everything should be in writing. It's very easy (although unethical) for an agent representing the other party to say "Yes we will clean the home, yes we will clean up the landscaping in the back yard before you move in" but without this being in the contract, they're not obligated to actually do these tasks and its also important to remember that the contract (offer to purchase) is between you and the seller/buyer not between you and the other agent or you and your agent. When we need something done like a cleaning and the other party agrees, we always get these items in writing to ensure they're done, and we specify the actions and corrective measures that will be taken if they are not. 

Understand your mortgage options

“I was only 22 when I bought my first house and had no idea what the negatives of a fixed or variable mortgage was, It was almost impossible to switch lenders on our fixed term.” – Bailey

"During my first renewal process, my bank suggested to get into an open mortgage so I could have flexibility to move when our dream home eventually hits the market. Unfortunately we had to pay a premium of $500+ a month to be in this open mortgage, it had no payout penalty which was nice, but we said it would be months before we could even get our home ready for sale and who knows when our dream home will come on the market? Well, we found out later there are much better options out there that were far cheaper." 

One of the most important components for many real estate transactions is the mortgage, for most home buyers in todays market, mortgages are necessary and yet they are often overlooked. Many buyers we first interact with say they're simply engaging their banks to get a mortgage and while this could be your best route, we do have a lot of advice around this. A few things to consider:

  • Is the person at your bank a mortgage specialist? There's a clear distinction between a mortgage specialist to someone who does a variety of banking tasks at your branch.  Mortgages are complex, detailed, and it's important you have a mortgage professional representing you and your best interests, giving you thorough and complete advice on what product is best for your needs. 
  • Would you shop around other major purchases like a car? If so, you likely should be comparing your mortgage rates as well, contact a mortgage broker and see if they can beat the rates and conditions offered by your bank. 
  • Do you need a purchase plus improvements mortgage? Does your bank offer this?

Document everything

“When you're taking possession, take photos or videos of any issues in the house. When my mom took possession of her house, she got the keys and then ran some errands. When she came back to start moving in, there was a hole in the wall, the fridge was dented” – Lisa

Possession day can have hiccups, when you do your walk through before possession, it's important to take detailed notes and document any issues within the home that weren't there previously. This should be noted and sent to your lawyer so you can remedy these matters between your lawyer and theirs. 

Know your costs

“You pay GST on the commission that is paid to your REALTOR® when you sell or close. This was a shock to me. It makes sense, but it’s an extra few hundred dollars that was not originally budgeted for.” – Karen

“Factor a condo documents review into your closing cost budget. It’s very pricey but worthwhile.” – Christopher

“Having a REALTOR® who’s well versed in condo fees vs. mortgage math is helpful. If you’re paying $400 a month in condo fees, how much more house could you buy for the same monthly cost? We found we were paying almost the same for our townhome as our house monthly when you factored everything in because our condo fees increased so much.” – Krista

“Consider the cost of selling the house you’re buying. Selling isn’t cheap. Is this a home you can stay in long-term if the market takes a dip?” – Lindsay

“Don’t forget about the hidden costs of home ownership. There will always be something you’ll have to pay for upon closing and moving in.” – Jeff

Knowing the various expenses is vital, many buyers today are limited on their savings and are often exercising the option to utilize the maximum amount of lending available to them, that can create a perfect storm for situations where unexpected costs are incurred and are not able to be paid. Avoid the hassle, and connect with an agent to discuss the various closing costs that you will likely incur so you have a thorough understanding of how your home purchase will unfold financially. 

It can be exhausting

“Buying and selling a house can be draining. When you’re buying, you can sometimes expect hours of house-hunting and viewing homes. And when you’re selling, you’ll be spending many hours keeping your home show-ready and leaving your house periodically for viewings. It’s a lot!” – Daniel

While many of these lessons were learned the hard way from Albertans, you don’t have to be one of them. With a Real Estate Partners real estate agent behind you, you’ll have someone who has your back, who can answer all your questions and who will be honest about the process from start-to-finish. Book a free appointment with one of our agents today to get started!

Posted by Calgary Homes Real Estate Partners Team on
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