Canadian Women's Business Network

by Eric Butler
Independent Contractor (Real Estate Agent)
Re/Max United Inc., Newfoundland, Canada

It's said that purchasing a home is the biggest, most important investment that most people will make in their lifetime. Because of this important decision to purchase real estate, it's nice to know the in's and out's of how to avoid the pitfalls.

    Choose a knowledgeable, reliable agent - one who will tell it like it is and who is committed to acting fairly for all parties involved in any purchase and sale. Don't hesitate, if you don't have an agent that you trust, to interview a number of agents until you feel comfortable with one of them. Don't have several agents working for you as you probably won't get the full attention that you want, need and deserve.

    Tell your agent the type, style and price range of the home you wish to purchase. Also, tell that agent the alternative style and type that you are prepared to buy, just in case your priority isn't available.

    Location is important for several reasons:
    1. Resale value - You want to make sure that you are buying in an area that has had a history of positive resale in the event of having to uproot your family at some future date.
    2. You may want to live in an area that accommodates the lifestyle you wish to live. For example, being close to amenities or living on a bus route may be important to you.

    When choosing a brand new home, make sure it has been or will be built by a reputable builder who is a member of the Home Builder's Association and the Five Year Limited Warranty Program, in addition to having a good construction reputation along with good people skills. In other words, one who is reliable.
    When choosing an existing property, especially older, you should have your agent find out whether there have been any water and/or electrical problems etc. and, if so, whether they have been dealt with positively.

    Before deciding to place an offer, have your agent find out utility, heating and home insurance costs and the amount of property taxes. You should also obtain a copy of the survey and location certificate for your lawyer's review and advice. Make sure you and your agent have reviewed the wording and the "subject to" clause options that you wish to add.

    It is common practice today to have an independent, qualified home inspection company give any pre-owned prospective property a thorough going over so that you don't get any unwelcome surprises after you take possession. There is nothing wrong with correctable defects. At least you'll know about them and can take the proper action. It is wise to draw a clause into your agreement to purchase, stating that this offer is "subject to my/our approval of a home inspection by an independent inspection company of my/our choice".

    Since you don't wish to pay any more for a home than it is worth in today's marketplace, it is advisable to hire a qualified, reliable property appraisal company to give you a professional, fair market value. It is also advisable to write a clause "subject to appraisal at least meeting the purchase price", into your offer to purchase.

    If you are like the rest of us and need to borrow money to finance your purchase -- shop around. Choose the financial institution which will give you a combination of competitive rates and super service. Select an institution where people will go out of their way to help you and will appreciate your business. Remember, the first loyalty you have in life is to you and your family.

  • LEGAL:
    Choose a lawyer who is real-estate knowledgeable, and who has your best interest at heart at all times. The cheapest price doesn't always mean the best service. Make sure the legal firm you choose is accommodating, people-friendly and knows the importance of proper title searches, accurate survey and location certificates. You need to make sure that when you go to resell your home, you won't have messy title problems.

    As a previous mortgage manager and banker of eleven years, and currently being a real estate consultant for the past twenty years, I invite you call upon my experience and knowledge without feeling that you have any obligation whatsoever. Feel free to call me at work (709)364-8848 or home (709)368-7227


    Visit Eric Butler's website at
    or send email to [email protected]

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