Over the past couple of years, I have learned (and I am trying to implement more) the importance of checklists! There’s something about being able to clearly see each step outlined and what needs to be done so that you don’t miss anything. As a home buyer, I know there are so many things to think about during your home search process.
I’ve outlined below the buyer’s agent checklist that I go through with my clients and that you can download straight to your inbox. This buyer’s agent checklist will help you along the buying process by outlining the ten most important steps from prospective buyer to homeowner.
Before starting your home search, it’s important to ask yourself why you want to buy a house, condo, townhouse, or investment property. Is it to have the freedom of owning your own place instead of renting? Are you excited about being able to pay down your own mortgage instead of paying rent each month?
Or are you looking to get into real estate investing and want a holding property, buy and flip, or to try the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat)? Maybe you have a growing family and need more bedrooms or want to be in a better school district.
Everyone’s reasons for purchasing a home will be different, so it’s beneficial to take some time to uncover your homeownership and lifestyle goals. This will help you to have a clear understanding of your ideal neighbourhoods, property style and features, proximity to schools or work, and price range.
Take your time to select a real estate agent who you get along with and who is knowledgeable in the neighbourhoods and property type that you’re interested in purchasing. Your REALTOR® will show you available homes that meet your criteria and will educate you along the process.
Potential buyers should always meet with a mortgage broker as a first step. A mortgage broker will go over your financial information such as employment or business income, debts, and assets to determine your qualifying amount.
Together, you will go over your budget and determine a feasible amount for your monthly payments and uncover the type of mortgage loan that is best for you.
A mortgage broker should not pull your credit report during these initial stages. Pulling too many credit reports can negatively affect your credit score in the long run.
After meeting with a mortgage broker and a real estate agent, you should feel confident to start your home search process. Your real estate agent can set you up on an automated MLS listings search portal where new and active listings that match your criteria will be sent directly to your email.
It’s a great way to stay informed and up to date on listings on properties that are of interest to you. You’ll also be notified right away as soon as a listing hits the market so that you can arrange a showing with your REALTOR®.
Whether it has been weeks, months, or years – you’ve just found your perfect home! Your REALTOR® will complete a comparative market analysis to estimate the market value of the subject property.
Once you have presented your offer, negotiations between the buyer and seller occur, and communication begins between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. If your offer is accepted, you will likely have included certain subject conditions in your offer.
Buyer’s conditions often include financing, home inspection, title notations, property insurance, or strata document review (if applicable). If your conditional offer is accepted, you will continue towards the due diligence phase. If your offer is unconditional, you will move to deposit due and schedule an appointment with your real estate lawyer or notary to prepare the closing disclosure.
Once your offer is accepted, you move into the due diligence phase. It’s usually a 7-10 day period where you and your REALTOR® will work together to fulfill your conditions. This stage is where you will gather as much information as possible about the property, and it’s a great way to be fully informed before removing your conditions.
What if your conditions can’t be fulfilled? Maybe the home inspection uncovered health hazards in the home, or you’re unable to get financing. That’s ok, as long as you tried your best to fulfill the conditions set out in the real estate contract. If you can no longer proceed with the home purchase, a release form is signed, and we’ll continue on your home search!
If you have a home inspection condition, you will want to attend the final walk-through with the home inspector and ensure that you receive an inspection report.
If you are satisfied with all of your conditions as set out in the contract of purchase and sale after the due diligence phase, you will sign an “Amendment to Remove Subjects.” Once signed by the buyer, it is sent to the seller’s agent.
When you remove your conditions, you should schedule an appointment with a lawyer or notary to finalize your closing costs and conveyancing. In some cases, there may not be much time between the acceptance or pending date and completion date, so it’s a good idea to book an appointment once you are certain that you want to purchase the property.
Typically, the buyer’s deposit is about 5% of the purchase price. The deposit can be due a certain time period after acceptance (such as 24 hours) or a certain time period after subject removal (such as 1-2 business days), depending on how it’s agreed upon in the purchase and sale contract.
Once the deposit is in (almost always held by the buyer’s agent’s brokerage), the purchase is advertised as “pending.” The home sale now moves towards the closing process.
A real estate lawyer or notary will prepare all of the closing documents necessary to complete your new home. You should schedule an appointment with a lawyer or notary at least a week before the closing date and possession date agreed to in the signed contract.
At the latest, you should contact a lawyer or notary once conditions are removed and provide your lawyer’s contact information to your real estate agent. Unless, of course, one of your conditions is for lawyer approval, or you would like any advice from a lawyer about the real estate transaction before removing your conditions or before submitting an offer.
When you meet to go over the closing documents with your real estate lawyer or notary, remember to bring a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. Also, it’s important that your documentation isn’t expired, and you may need to bring a marriage certificate for couples whose names don’t match on the contract of purchase and sale.
Congratulations, the day is here where you get the keys to your new home! The possession date is when you are legally allowed to move into your new home. By this point, you would have already met with your lawyer or notary, the transaction is complete, and the moving company has been booked. Your REALTOR® will meet you at your new home and ensure that everything agreed to in the contract has been fulfilled. Time to celebrate and pop something bubbly!
After you take possession, you may still have some questions about your new home. After a few days in the property, your REALTOR® should follow up to make sure you’re happy in your new home!
*Disclaimer: The topics of discussion, content and resources on this website are general information that may not be the right solution or advice for you specifically. Not intended to solicit buyers or sellers currently under contract with a brokerage.
*Stock images from Social Squares