Canada's Condominium Magazine
There’s no doubt about it; buying a home, especially the first time, can be stressful. Unless you have nerves of steel and confidence galore, it’s not something you want to do on your own. Hand-holding by a qualified professional who knows the ins and outs of making an offer and negotiating can make the process much more enjoyable and less stressful for both the rookie and the seasoned veteran. As a buyer, you should feel that your concerns are being listened to, responded to, treated seriously by your real estate agent. And you should never feel that you are being rushed or pushed into something you don’t feel comfortable with. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) endorses this advice concerning what buyers should expect from a realtor.
Dealing with multiple offers
Buyers should be made aware that in a market like Toronto there are likely to be multiple offers. This can be frustrating, and many a buyer has had to walk away from the home of her dreams because she was outbid. The real estate agent should prepare buyers for this possibility, and should also give strong guidance on making a realistic offer if this scenario arises. Low-balling is not the right strategy in a multiple-offer situation. Better not to bid at all than to waste time with offers that will go nowhere.
Dealing with contingencies
We usually think of contingencies from the buyers’ side—the deal is made contingent on the buyer’s being able to arrange financing is one of the most common. But sellers can insert contingencies into the offer of purchase too, sometimes more than one. A common sellers’ contingency is putting off closing on the sale until they have found a new home for themselves. An experienced real estate agent should advise her client when to accept such contingencies and when to walk.
When the seller won’t budge on the price
If the gap between what the seller wants and the buyer is willing to pay is wide, there’s no solution but to keep on looking. If the gap isn’t too wide—$5,000, say, on a $500,000 home—and if the would-be buyer really loves the home, the realtor should reassure her client that a few thousand dollars won’t make that much difference to the monthly payment, especially on a $450,000 mortgage. It is sometimes okay to go over budget, if only by a small amount.
Being tech savvy
Realtors these days need to be able to use social media effectively to keep clients informed. Out-of-town buyers can be kept in the loop via Skype and FaceTime. Seeing a home that way isn’t quite the same as seeing it in reality, but it can give distant clients a leg up on a home they’re interested in without having to travel all the way to another city, with the possibility of being disappointed for their effort.
Dealing with the home inspection
We often hear of anxious home buyers who are willing to forego the all-important home inspection in order to ensure that they get the home they want. No one advises this. The realtor should advise the buyer on the best approach, which could be making a successful inspection a contingency of the offer. If the inspection turns up problems that need to be fixed before closing, and the buyer still wants to go ahead, the realtor should be able to renegotiate the price or have the seller take care of the problems. The important thing is for the buyer to understand that buying without an inspection could lead to nasty surprises.
While much can be done these days via social media and mobile devices, ultimately the home buyer probably wants to feel that the realtor he is dealing with is another human being. Buyers should expect to meet with their realtors as often as they think it necessary, and realtors should be sensitive to their clients’ stress and anxiety levels, even to the point of recommending a break from the search, if that is feasible.
For their part, realtors see it all, in terms of emotions, and dealing with other people’s rages and outbursts is all part of a day’s work. They must work with people who are ecstatically happy, crushed, frustrated, excited, irritable, anxious, angry—there is no end. And of course they work for commissions, so the need for sales is paramount. But buyers still have the right to expect their chosen realtors to give their all, and the good realtors know it.