When you are trying to buy a house in
a seller’s market, the best strategy for success that you can have is to have a buyer REALTOR® or agent working for you. I encounter a lot of people that see a property they like online, then they reach out to the agent that is listing that property on behalf of the sellers, this is also called the listing agent. The main issue with this is that they are representing their clients and acting in their best interest, collecting information about you and your situation that they can use to negotiate in their clients favor down the road. They cannot represent you in the deal, you will be treated as a customer and given information only. They will not be advocating for you or giving you advice on how to protect yourself in this transaction. In some situations, this could be fine, for example you are a repeat home buyer or investor that knows the buying process inside and out. If you are buying from out of province, a first-time home buyer, or haven’t bought in several years, it would be best for you to find a buyer agent that you trust and has time to work with you and help you find a home, then stick with them exclusively. When you see a home you like, contact your buyer agent with questions and they will reach out to the seller agent keeping your best interest in mind. They will be representing you and advocating on your behalf. They will provide you all of the information they can find about the property and the buying process, from financing and inspection options, to closing day walk through. They should help you to have the smoothest transaction you possibly can with their expert knowledge of the buying process.
Finding a buyer agent might seem like a daunting task but I assure you there are many of us eagerly awaiting your call. Do a google search for the area you are looking to move for real estate brokerages. Most have websites with a list of theirs REALTORS® along with their bios. You can also check google for reviews and testimonials. Another place to check is on the realtor.ca website or on YouTube. You might like to just call a brokerage and ask them to connect you with an agent that has the time to represent you. Once you have connected with a buyer agent you like they should ask you for your home buying criteria, budget, preferred location, and timeline for moving. They may set you up in a program called collab center, which automatically sends you listings that fit your criteria as they are listed. They may ask you to sign a Buyer Brokerage Agreement or Designated Buyer Brokerage Agreement form which outlines your duties to each other as your work together on finding your dream home. REALTORS® invest a lot of time and money helping a buyer find a home, if that buyer was working with one agent for several months, then decided at the last minute to use a different REALTOR® to purchase a home, there may be some upset feelings and frustration for the original REALTOR®. We use these forms to protect ourselves and you and to ensure both the buyer and the REALTOR® clearly understand their duties to each other in the home buying process.
If you don’t sign a buyer brokerage agreement immediately you will have to sign one once you find a home you would like to make an offer on. You’ve viewed a few homes and finally find one that fits all of your needs. Your REALTOR® will help you prepare the offer that will be sent to the listing agent for their sellers to review. Your REALTOR® will outline the possible conditions that you could include to protect yourself and your investment. Some of these conditions include financing, insurance, property disclosure statement, home inspection, septic inspection, water test, and utility bills. You may choose to not use some of these conditions or add additional conditions that suit your needs, but it is your REALTORS® job to inform you of the most common conditions that you can use to protect yourself in the home buying process. Once the offer has been submitted, the sellers will either accept your offer, reject your offer, or send you a counteroffer in which they have adjusted some of the things you have proposed. You can either accept their counteroffer or reject it. If you reject their offer but still want the home, you may start over and submit another offer to them, but you cannot counteroffer their counteroffer.
You finally have an accepted offer, now it is time to get to work on your conditions. You likely only have 2 weeks, give or take, to complete this step so best to get on it right away. Discuss with your REALTOR® whether they will be sending the documents to your lawyer and mortgage broker on your behalf or if they are leaving that up to you. Your REALTOR® may also have a list of trusted home/septic inspectors and lawyers if you don’t already have one. Once all conditions are met your agent will help you to complete a form to remove them and go ‘firm,’ which is also when the sold sign goes up at the property you will be buying. Now you wait for the closing date, be sure to set up Nova Scotia Power for closing day, have a plan for internet, TV, and Canada Post as well. You may also wish to hire a moving company, professional cleaners, or order a grocery pickup. In the event that you will not be occupying the home immediately after closing you should hire a house sitter that will check on the home on a regular basis, it will likely be a requirement for your home insurance company.
In most situations you are not responsible for paying your buyer agent, the selling brokerage splits the commission that the seller pays with your buyer agent. The exception to this is if you choose to buy a private sale with the help of a buyer agent and the private seller does not agree to pay the buyer agent’s fee. Regardless, you will likely find that the knowledge and advice that a REALTOR® offers is well worth the hassle of finding one. One example I can offer is a buyer that was buying a private sale and did not know that they should get a septic inspection until after their condition date. The septic ended up needing replacement at a cost of $20,000. Had the buyer been working with a buyer agent this cost likely could have been absorbed by the seller or negotiated to meet in the middle.
If you would like more information about the home buying process in Nova Scotia, or need help connecting with a buyer agent in an area that you would like to buy please reach out to me. I have a home buyer’s guide I would love to send you that includes a plethora of information about the home buying process including all of the forms you may encounter and lists of trusted professionals you may need to use along the way. I can also help connect you with a trusted REALTOR® in the area you are looking at if I cannot help you myself. Buying a home is a big deal, you should be equipped with the knowledge, tools and right REALTOR® for the job.
If you would like to connect with REALTOR® Alana Hyrtle to use her services or have her connect you with a buyer agent please check out the contact page here.