Who should you call on?
Purchasing a home is probably the biggest investment you will ever make, you'll definitely want a team of professionals working with you throughout the 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 real estate agent's job is to:
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.
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.
Remember that many different institutions lend money for mortgages, such as banks, trust companies, credit unions, caisses populaires, pension funds, insurance companies and finance companies. It's a good idea to shop around and speak with more than one lender because terms and options will vary.
Some people find it helpful to use a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers don't work for any specific lending institution. Their role is to find the lender with the terms and rates that will best suit the buyer.
To find a lender or mortgage broker, you can:
You need a lawyer (or a notary in Quebec) to protect your legal interests such as ensuring the property you are thinking of buying does not have any building or statutory liens or 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. Law associations can refer lawyers/notaries who specialize in real estate law (in Quebec, contact the Chambre des notaires du Québec).
Remember that a lawyer/notary:
The Home Inspector
You should consider having any home you are thinking of buying inspected by a knowledgeable and professional inspector.
The home inspector's role is to inform you on the property's condition. He will tell you if something is not functioning properly, needs to be changed or is unsafe. You will also be informed of repairs that need to be done and he/she may even be able to tell you where there may have been problems in the past.
Every inspection should include an evaluation of at least the following:
There is presently no uniform certification and no requirement for home inspectors to take any courses or to have passed any tests. Anyone can say that they are a home inspector. However, a good home and property inspector generally belongs to a provincial or industry association.
Home inspector fees are generally $200 and more, depending on the size and condition of the home.
The Insurance Broker
An insurance broker can help you with your insurance needs, including property insurance and mortgage life insurance. Lenders insist on property insurance because your property is their security for your loan. Property insurance covers the replacement cost of your home, so premiums may vary depending on its value.
Your lender may also suggest that you buy mortgage life insurance. Mortgage life insurance provides coverage for your family should you die before your mortgage is paid off. This type of insurance is often available through your lender, who then simply adds the premium to your regular mortgage payments. However, you may want to compare rates between both an insurance broker and your lender.
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. Your lender can 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 you should not pay more than $250 – $350 in most areas for a typical single-family house.
Your real estate agent may be able to refer an appropriate professional.
The Land Surveyor
If the seller does not have a Survey or Certificate of Location, you will probably need 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.
If you are buying a newly constructed home or require renovations to a resale home, you will have to hire a builder or contractor. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing one:
If you are having a custom home built, remember that:
On a final note, make sure your contract is as specific as possible about construction details, right down to the brand name or model number of any finishes. Make sure that you initial any changes to your contract.
Ottawa Home Buyers Guide