Today in my timehop I was taken back eleven years ago to the inspection of our newly chosen first home together. Yep it’s true Kent and I had moved to Ottawa to be together and after 10 months of renting decided it was time to buy a home. Well after 48 viewings (not a lie folks) we finally found the house that would be our home. Today I have teamed up with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) to try and make your next buy or sell pain free and pleasant. Take it from a person who has bought and sold many a property there are easy ways and hard ways.
The House of Our Dreams
Now just a quick flashback eleven years ago the boys were still coming every few weeks to visit. We were looking for at least three but maybe four bedrooms, at least two bathrooms and a full dining room at a minimum. I realize Dining Rooms are not always “cool” in today’s market place but it mattered to me greatly. Who knew that would be so tough to find,but with a lot of research, a great real estate agent and a lot of perseverance and price adjustment we finally found our home.
Fast forward to today, the boys are grown and not around a s often and we are officially back to being empty nesters. What does that even mean or matter you wonder? Well it means we often think about is the home too much for us now? Are we still “living in the burbs” people? Would moving to a condo be better? Can we afford to stay here in retirement as we will still have a mortgage? Could I give up my pool and yard?
Empty Nest Syndrome and When you are Ready to Downsize
Before any family member panics, or the neighbours start worrying that the house is going up on the market, RELAX. We are not selling the house today, who knows if we will. Right now I am still in that emotional place, this has been our first home together. I love my house, my yard, my neighbourhood but I also know with retirement coming up in the next few years life adjustments may be necessary.
Don’t wait until you are forced into a decision, plan for the future. I wonder about those who have been even longer in their family home. Our neighbours have been in their house for 30 years, imagine the memories there.How do you even contemplate a move or do you? My life decisions are most often carefully thought out and planned. Isn’t it better to dream about condo life or cottage life before you are forced to sell over health issues?
Looking to move or downsize? 4 must-do tips before you start
Downsizing to a smaller place or selling the family home can be an emotional experience, especially if you’ve been out of the real estate market for a long time. Much has changed in the real estate world in recent years and the steps involved in buying or selling a home can seem overwhelming, and that’s especially true when deals happen fast. Remember everyones definition of fast is different but with bidding wars and shortages of homes in so many areas, people who are out there searching are usually prepared to move “Fast and Furious” to find their dream home.
A recent survey by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) found that the majority of Ontarians who bought or sold a home in the last five years weren’t in the market for very long. Our home that we found eleven years ago had just gone on the market that day and we were the first through. It really can happen fast, trust me.
Among the buyers surveyed, nearly 57 per cent said they purchased their property within three months of when they started actively looking. I started on labour day 2007 and within six weeks and 48 viewings I was officially moving. Funny story I would have started sooner but Kent made me wait till summer was over. He wanted to enjoy one year of downtown living in Ottawa. Truth be told I loved living downtown as well but I really missed my yard.
For sellers, things happened even more quickly: 67 per cent said they sold their property in under three months. Overall, 54 per cent thought the process took less time than they had anticipated.
But First Relax, Breathe and think
When you’re ready to make a move, take a deep breath, sketch out a plan and get informed before you enter the market. After all, you may begin by casually browsing listings only to stumble across a place you love, and suddenly find yourself in the throes of a major purchase. By being informed right from the start, you’ll have confidence in the decisions you are making, even if they do happen quickly. You need to figure out, what is YOUR dream, where do you want to live? What are your must haves. Have you watched any of the love it or list it shows? They are great for helping you establish your must haves.
Following these four must-do tips is a great place to start:
1 Shop around before you shop around for a home
Real estate salespeople and brokerages vary widely in terms of experience, expertise and services provided, so meet with at least three salespeople before you sign an agreement. When you have a shortlist of representatives, ask each of them some questions to determine which one is right for you: Ask them key questions that actually matter and can inform your decision.
- Walk me through your real estate experience.
- Describe your general approach to buying and selling, and how your approach will best suit my needs.
- Tell me about the fees and commissions I’ll have to pay.
- Which services does your brokerage provide, and are any of them included in our agreement?
- How often will you provide me with progress updates, and how will we communicate?
- Could you please provide me with some references?
Do not rush this step, your real estate agent is going to help you find your happy ever after home. Think back to every major purchase ever do you just walk into a car dealer and buy from the first sales person you see? Did you pick out your wedding dress without shopping? Did you take every person that mattered to you with you when you said yes to the dress? Well buying a home and selling your family home is BIGGER than that. Shop for the person that understands you and your deepest desires.
2 Look them up
Seriously check them out, it’s not creepy it is required. Before you meet with any salespeople or brokers, be sure to look them up using the “Look up a real estate salesperson, broker or brokerage” search tool in the top right-hand corner of RECO’s website (www.reco.on.ca). It will tell you if they’re registered and in good standing, and if they have faced any disciplinary action. This matters, plus if you see something that causes you any discomfort ask them.
3 Read and understand everything
When you hire a real estate representative to help you buy or sell a home, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement that will outline your relationship with the representative’s brokerage. It’s a legal contract that spells out how long the agreement is for, the location it covers and what fees or commissions will need to be paid. This matters! Read the fineprint and if you do not understand something ask.
In addition, when you buy or sell a home, you will need to sign a legal contract to complete the transaction. This agreement contains a lot of important information in addition to price and conditions, such as whether the appliances and light fixtures stay with the house. We have all seen the commercials and as much as we all laugh at the errors made they are all based in reality. Do you want to be the scapegoat of the commercial?
These are just two examples of real estate agreements that are legally binding, meaning you typically can’t back out once you’ve signed on the dotted line.
Whenever you’re presented with a document that requires a signature, read it and understand it thoroughly. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or request that your representative walk you through it, line by line. If you’re still unsure about something, consider asking your lawyer for advice.
4 Be an active participant in the process
Your salesperson is a knowledgeable resource who can help you make informed decisions, but you should always remember that you’re the one in the driver’s seat, even when the car appears to be accelerating down the expressway.
Be an active participant in the process. That means being open and candid with your representative about what’s important to you in a home, and which services you expect from him or her. Your salesperson can best help you when you’re clear about what you want. It also doesn’t mean you rely only on them to find you homes to look at, keep searching, they will just help keep you organized and on track. Plus they will know the ins and outs of all the homes on the market.
My Experience at Home buying
I was such an active participant in our search. For every home that Anna found us to look at I probably added one or two to the list as well. She helped arrange viewings. She researched the why’s and the “warts” of each listing. Without Anna I could have been that couple in the commercial.
And it means you have a responsibility to perform your own due diligence. Asking questions and understanding any required paperwork. Conducting your own research (when necessary) and being an active participant through every step.
Remember, you own the process. This is your home, your future. You are searching for your happily ever after home. Invest in yourself by investing in someone who understands and will help you make this work.
and my final thought, I would totally be looking at a re-location but non-downsizing move if my dream home was for sale and I won the lotto. Do you have a house you dream about owning, bigger, better, smaller, cuter?
For more information about downsizing, visit: www.reco.on.ca/boomer.