By Geoff Kirbyson
Remember when you were five years old and would machine-gun deliver questions to your mom and dad on anything and everything every 10 seconds or so?
It probably made your parents want to shove a sock in your mouth but channelling that ultra-inquisitive child can come in very handy when you’re in the market to buy a new house.
Everybody knows it’s the most important purchase you’ll make in your life but if you don’t have all of the right information for your situation to make a decision, it can turn into an unmitigated disaster.
So, educate yourself by following the mantra that there are no dumb questions, says Catherine Schellenberg, president of WinnipegREALTORS® and alternate broker.
But before you dig into the details of a particular property, it’s crucial that you ask questions of your potential REALTOR® to ensure that they’re the right person to meet your needs.
If you’re shopping in River Heights but your REALTOR® specializes in the bedroom communities beyond the Perimeter Highway, you should probably keep looking for a match.
“There are so many little niche markets, such as loft condos downtown. Some REALTORS® have a specialty with that and understand the history behind the conversion and know their unique features,” Schellenberg said.
There are basic questions to ask, such as who is the current owner, how old is the electrical system and does the roof leak during the spring melt?
Perhaps the most underrated question that you could ask is whether any future neighbourhood development could affect your purchase down the road. That’s not to say that REALTORS® have crystal balls at their disposal, but if you’re looking at an area close to a major artery, bulldozers can sometimes show up unexpectedly.
“People don’t think about highway expansion. They could end up backing on to a major roadway or something else could happen in the neighbourhood that could have long-lasting implications, whether it’s industrial or manufacturing,” she said.
In some older neighbourhoods, such as St. James, rumours that a school may be torn down because of its age often come true, which could impact where would-be buyers look if they’ve got young children.
Here’s a list of questions that first-time buyers should ask their REALTORS®:
What is your experience with first-time buyers? How can you help me navigate through the process?
What is the process when viewing a home? Is there something I need to bring?
What is the process is for purchasing a home?
What neighbourhoods provide the best services for my needs?
Is there any future neighbourhood development that would affect my decision to purchase?
What are the best features to look for when purchasing a home?
How do I ensure there are no major issues with the home? What are my options to inspect or investigate further?
How will I know what to offer?
Can you provide a history on the home?
Are there any warranties or guarantees for any improvements done to the home by the current owner?
Other than my mortgage payment and property tax, what other monthly costs should I be aware of?
And here’s a list of questions that first-time buyers should ask their REALTORS® when it’s time to make an offer:
What conditions should I put on the offer? How long do I have to satisfy these conditions?
How big of a deposit do I need to give? When do they cash my deposit cheque?
If my offer is accepted what are the next steps?
What is the process if I can’t satisfy one of the conditions?
When do I need a lawyer?