Buyers

»» Read “The INFORMED Buyer/Seller™ Helpful Advice for Making the Right Move”


The Role of a REALTOR®

So you have decided to move. And now, you are faced with the daunting task of relocating yourself, your family and all your belongings. Whether you are selling your old home, buying another, looking for rental accommodations or investment property, choosing to use the services of a REALTOR® is a wise choice.

REALTORS® are trained professionals, members of The Canadian Real Estate Association who subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics and high Standards of Business Practice. Their knowledge and expertise will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. Members of the Victoria Real Estate Board are members of both the British Columbia and Canadian Real Estate Associations.

Your REALTOR®

  • Has access to hundreds of current listings of properties for sale and lease because of a co-operative system called the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®).
  • Can provide you with a customized list of properties that best fits our needs – size, style, features, location, proximity to schools, hospital and shopping, etc. – and then make arrangements for you to view those homes that appeal the most.
  • Will help you determine how big a property you can afford. Assessing the many financial alternatives is an important consideration. REALTORS® are familiar with the local lending market and can offer helpful advice.
  • Has no emotional ties to any type of style of property and can be objective in pointing out the merits of one property over another.
  • Will have information on zoning changes, taxes, utility costs, school and recreation services that could affect your decision.
  • Will assist you in negotiating the terms of your contract. Presenting offers and handling counter offers can be a nerve wracking process for someone who is not experienced in contract negotiation.
  • Will advise you of the legal process required in obtaining title and taking possession of your property. The costs associated with buying property, such as insurance, mortgage registration and legal fees will be explained in detail.

Choosing your REALTOR®

Choosing the right REALTOR® for you is an important decision. The key word is “expertise”. Ask questions and listen.

Look for open, up-front discussion on agency responsibilities and services. Your REALTOR® should clarify the options and details. Your REALTOR® should have market and product knowledge relevant to the type of property you are seeking as well as an understanding of economic trends in the real estate industry, on a local, provincial and national level as they pertain to your situation.

Look for experience in assessing the investment value of property and housing types. Look for someone who knows the area and can offer advise on shopping and services available. Your REALTOR’s® suggestions can make your assimilation into a new location that much easier.

If buying, this will be one of the most important investment decisions of your life and you need someone working for you with knowledge and experience.

Your REALTOR® as your Agent has your best interests at heart.

The word “agent” is defined as “a person who acts for another”. It sounds simple. We all act for another at one time or another. In fact it is easy to slip into an agency relationship. People sometimes forget that it involves serious legal responsibilities.

Your REALTOR® is someone who acts as an agent on your behalf in real estate transactions. As agent, a REALTOR® can act for the buyer or seller, or to a limited degree, for both. Nor matter whom they represent, agents and their representatives are legally obligated to protect and promote the interests of their clients as they would their own. The agent must protect the client’s negotiating position at all times, and disclose all known facts which may affect or influence the client’s decision.

Specifically, a real estate agent commits to providing:

  • Undivided loyalty
  • Complete confidence
  • Exercise reasonable care and skill in performing all assigned duties
  • Be accountable for all money and property placed in the agent’s care while acting for the client

Agency Disclosure

It is now a lawful requirement for real estate agents to disclose to customers who they will be representing. This disclosure is usually done with the aid of a blue brochure entitled Working with a Real Estate Agent. The brochure includes a tear-off statement that the customer signs and the REALTOR® retains as proof that disclosure was made.

Signing the statement does not obligate the customer in any way. Having explained to the customer the various agency relationship options available to him or her, REALTOR® and client can now determine what services are to be rendered.

The agent for the seller, or listing agent, is the role we are most familiar with, thanks to the immense marketing clout of the Multiple Listing Service® over the past 40 years. The seller retains a real estate agent to use his or her marketing expertise and network to position the property to its best advantage on the market, attract qualified buyers and effect a sale at the highest price. In theory, the agreement to act as seller’s agent can be a handshake agreement, but to list the property on the Victoria Real Estate Board’s Multiple Listing Service®, the Board requires a listing contract to be filled in, signed and submitted.

Buyer’s Agent

The buyer can benefit from an agent’s representation, too. The buyer’s agent uses his or her knowledge of the community and the market to source all of the properties that fit the buyer’s budget, needs and wants. He or she promotes the buyer’s interest in purchase negotiations to effect a sale at the lowest price. The agreement to act as a buyer’s agent can be a handshake agreement or a contractual one as mutually decided by agent and client. If it is a handshake agreement, the REALTOR® still abides by the tenets of agency representation as mentioned above: Loyalty, professionalism, accountability, discretion, etc. The REALTOR® works hard to maintain the client’s loyalty.

Dual Agent

What happens when an agent who is working as a buyer’s agent shows the buyer a home for which he or she is also the listing agent? Since the agent has promised a duty of confidentiality, loyalty and full disclosure to both parties to continue in this limited capacity. This is called a dual agency relationship.

The agent will ask for written consent of both parties to continue in a dual agency relationship, with these limitations: The agent will deal with both parties impartially and will not disclose to either.

House-Hunting Tips

If you’re thinking of purchasing a home, you’re probably already started looking. You may have seen quite a few homes and it’s getting hard to remember all the details.

Do you remember which one had the ensuite bath and which one had the walk-out basement? How much storage space did the first choice on your list have? Were appliances included in all of the homes you viewed? And what about property taxes and maintenance costs associated with each home? Can you remember how close the home was to local amenities like stores, schools, parks and the hospital? Compiling a house-hunting checklist as you go through the homes is an excellent way of keeping track of features and drawback of each home.

Develop a form for yourself that includes space for all the standard questions like location, asking price, annual property taxes, mortgage terms and includes a checklist of other items that are important to you and your family. Your REALTOR® can help you with this.

Here is a general checklist when viewing the interior and exterior of a home:

EXTERIOR

Jot down your impressions of the exterior of the home, noting the lost size and shape, position of the house on the lot (facing north or south, east or west), and whether it has a private or shared driveway. Also note whether it has a large front, side, and backyard and what condition the landscaping is in and whether there are many mature trees and shrubs.

What type of siding does the home have and what kind of shape is it in? Is it a detached home or half of a duplex? How many stories does it have? Don’t forget to jot down whether it has an attached or detached garage and whether it can accommodate one or two cars. Also note whether there is a porch or verandah, storage shed and whether the yard is fenced. How private is the home?

While still outside, take a good look at the roof and note its general condition and age. Check to see if any roof repairs were made recently.

INTERIOR

Once you’ve completed your checklist for the exterior, it’s time to move indoors. Make a note of the total number of rooms in the home.

Check all windows and note whether they are single pane or thermo pane. Do they open and close without sticking? What about the doors? Also make note of their general condition and whether the locks and latches work.

The kitchen is an essential part of any home, so not its general size and colours, whether it has an eat-in area and sufficient cupboard space. Is there a pantry or food preparation island? What conditions are the countertops and sink in? Are the cupboards old or new? What shape is the floor in and what is it make of? Is the existing lighting adequate for carrying out kitchen tasks, as well as dining? Also make sure there are enough outlets to run your appliances. Are the fridge, stove, and dishwasher included with the sale? Are they all operational? Note how many burners the stove has and whether it’s gas or electric.

Once you’ve completed your kitchen checklist, move to the dining room and note its size, whether it’s separate from the kitchen and the condition of the floors and walls. Are there any built-in cupboards? Is the chandelier being sold with the house? Take similar notes for the living room. Is there a fireplace? How many windows are there and what are their sizes? Do the window coverings stay when the house is sold?

If the home has a family room, note whether it’s closer or adjacent to the kitchen, if it has access to outdoors and if it has a fireplace or wood stove. Is the stove CSA approved?

Move on to the bedrooms and note their size and closet space and whether there are any window coverings or adjoining bathrooms. Also note the type of flooring in each bedroom and the colors the rooms are painted.

Make notes on the number and size of bathrooms and the condition of the fixtures. Check all faucets and flush toilets to make sure they are in good working order and to see if there is adequate water pressure. Look for signs of mould and deterioration – sometimes these are warning signs of inadequate ventilation.

BASEMENT

Next, move to the basement. Note whether it is full or partially finished or unfinished. Is there adequate headroom for moving about? Is there a fireplace or wood-burning stove? Also look for signs of moisture – such as watermarks and peeling paint.

Note whether there is a utility area and whether the washer and dryer are being sold with the house. Again, look for signs of water damage.

Find out if any recent renovations have been made to the home. It’s also very important to ask about the type of heating, water service, plumbing (copper or other) and electrical amperage. Is the hot water heater owned or renter? Is it gas or electric and what is its capacity? What type of insulation is in the house?

Ask your REALTOR® about any details you’re unsure of. By arming yourself with a checklist and finding our all the pertinent information ahead of time, you’ll find the process much more enjoyable and much less daunting.

For peace of mind you may wish to have a certified home inspector provide you with a detailed report on the condition of the home and property.