You’ve been saving up and building your credit score for a mortgage to buy a house, and the moment is finally here. It’s impossible to hide your joy, and you can’t wait to dive into the market, find your dream home and close the purchase deal as quickly as possible. But, the Toronto market is flooded with different housing options, high demand and competitiveness, which can be quite intimidating, especially for first-time homebuyers. Therefore, working with an experienced realtor is critical to help you navigate the market, identify the right house, and successfully complete your purchase transaction.
Finding a realtor and suitable houses for sale in Toronto is quite easy. But how do you decide if a real estate agent is right for you or narrow down suitable houses to find the perfect one? Well, by asking the right questions to get as much information as possible about the realtor, the Toronto market and suitable houses.
At LD Law real estate lawyers, we compiled the top 10 questions to ask your realtor before buying a home in Toronto. This will help you find a realtor who meets your needs and understands what you’re looking for, ensuring you make well-informed decisions throughout your home-buying process.
1. What Is Your Experience in The Toronto Real Estate Market?
A real estate agent plays a vital role in your home-buying process. Therefore, when looking to retain a realtor, the first question you should ask them is about their experience and knowledge in the Toronto real estate market.
The Toronto market is huge, with plenty of houses in all neighbourhoods. Thus, choosing a neighbourhood and a house that suits you can be challenging, especially for first-time buyers. Therefore, it’s important to work with an experienced real estate agent who specializes in the type of property you’re looking for and is familiar with the local market, including the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, market trends, and regulations. Also, it would be best if you worked with someone you like and vibe with, as they’ll make this emotional journey easier.
An experienced realtor can filter through the market and find listings that meet your requirements and fall within your budget. They’ll advise you on what to look for in a property based on what you need and what to avoid. With the right agent by your side, you’ll avoid the most common mistakes made by homebuyers in Toronto.
2. Can You Provide References from Past Clients?
Experience should not be the only thing you use to gauge a realtor. It would help if you asked them to provide a list of references to see what their past clients say about them. However, references should be taken with a pinch of salt until you can validate them. Call the references and ask relevant questions to help you establish the realtor’s effectiveness and efficiency. How long did the realtor take to find you the right home? Was the realtor available throughout the entire process? How was your overall experience?
The information provided by previous clients should help you gauge a realtor’s track record, reliability and ability to meet client expectations.
3. How Will You Help Me Find the Right Home for My Needs and Budget?
Every homebuyer has preferences and needs when it comes to their ideal home, including the number of bedrooms, kitchen design style, proximity to schools and other amenities, cost and more. Ask your realtor how they plan to help you find a house that meets your requirements.
Your real estate agent should understand your preferences and budget and take them into account to help you find the right house. A customized home search ensures that you only focus on the houses that meet your requirements and fall within your budget, which saves you time.
4. How Do You Handle Multiple Offers and Bidding Wars?
The Toronto real estate market has a high demand for homes; therefore, you should always expect multiple offers and bidding wars on your target property. An experienced local realtor can help you understand the current market conditions, assess the completion and strategize to make a competitive, attractive, and successful offer. For example, they can advise you to add an escalation clause or waver some contingencies in your offer.
When working with a realtor, always ask them how they plan to navigate competition and the specific strategies they’ll employ to help you get your ideal home.
5. What Is Your Communication Style and Availability?
Clear and timely communication between you and your realtor is crucial throughout the home purchase process. Therefore, you should always ask your realtor about their preferred means of communication and availability. It’s important to work with an accommodating agent that keeps you updated on the progress of your search and is available when you need them.
Keep in mind that with the demand and competitiveness of the Toronto market, you can lose the chance to own an ideal house because of an unreachable agent. By agreeing on the primary means of communication, e.g., calls or texts, you can be sure of prompt responses from your agent, ensuring a smooth and worry-free experience.
6. Can You Recommend Professionals for Financing, Inspections, And Legal Services?
The home-buying process requires working with several local professionals, including lenders who provide money at reasonable mortgage rates, home inspectors to inspect the house before purchase, real estate lawyers to handle all legal matters and more. Therefore, one of the questions to ask your realtor is if they can provide recommendations for these professionals.
A well-connected realtor has a network of reliable and skilled professionals they can recommend to their clients. A realtor should have your best interests at heart and work towards making your house hunting easy.
7. How Do You Determine a Fair Offer Price?
Your real estate agent should be able to provide expert advice and guidance on determining a fair offer price on a property. Should you offer the full price or lower?
Some of the factors real estate agents consider when helping you determine a good offer price include local market trends, house sales history, property condition and comparable sales data for similar homes in the market and those that sold within the last six months. Using these factors, your realtor can offer guidance and help you make an educated offer on the property.
For a house that was previously an expired listing, an old home or bank-owned property, there’s a higher chance of negotiating for a lower price as there’s less interest in buying such a property. Therefore, your realtor can advise you to make a lower offer. However, if it’s a hot property, such as a new house in a great location, be ready for a bidding war.
8. What Are the Closing Costs and Fees Associated with Buying a Home in Toronto?
One of the most important questions you should ask your realtor is about the closing costs and other fees associated with buying a home in Toronto. Knowing what to expect helps you to accurately budget your purchase and avoid any surprises or costly closing delays.
Your realtor should provide you with a breakdown of the typical closing costs that you should expect, including legal fees, land transfer taxes, home inspection costs and appraisal fees. Closing costs usually vary based on location and type of property, but they mostly range between 3-4% of the purchase price.
Note that there are other one-time costs associated with buying a home that are not part of the closing costs, including moving and renovation expenses. Also, there are ongoing costs associated with home ownership, including property taxes, home insurance, and maintenance costs.
Working with a realtor capable of helping you accurately estimate closing costs and other fees is extremely important.
9. Are There Any Potential Issues or Red Flags with The Property I Should Be Aware of?
Although sellers are legally obliged to reveal any defects and possible issues in their homes, one should always do their due diligence to avoid bad investments.
A skilled real estate agent can spot red flags and issues with a property better than the buyer. Therefore, before making any commitments to buy a home, utilize your agent’s expertise and ask if they have any reservations or concerns with the property.
Also, your agent can connect you with a home inspector who can assess the property and provide a detailed report. If there are problems with the house, you can negotiate the purchase price to cover the necessary repairs, ask the seller to fix the issues or walk away from the purchase.
10. What Is Your Commission, And Are There Any Additional Fees?
In Toronto and across Canada, the seller pays your realtor’s commission as a percentage of the selling price. Therefore, as a buyer, you do not directly pay your agent. Either way, it’s okay to ask your realtor about their commission structure and whether you will incur additional fees from their services.
The process of buying a house and becoming a homeowner is complex and has certain risks. Therefore, it’s important to work with a realtor with local real estate knowledge and a successful track record to help protect your interests. The questions provided can help you choose the best realtor to guide you through the competitive Toronto housing market and obtain a house that meets your needs and requirements.