It truly takes a team effort to help home buyers:
As we approach the end of the hectic spring real estate market in Calgary, many potential buyers of houses, townhouses and condominium apartments are going to their banks to get pre-approved to buy a home. While pre-approval is an extremely important step in the home buying process, I personally do not believe this should be a potential buyer's FIRST STEP.
By the time a buyer takes possession of their new home, there are a number of professionals that have been involved. Since a professional real estate broker has repeated contact with all of these professionals, my suggestion is that a home buyer should START their search by selecting their real estate broker. An experienced real estate broker will have learned which business professionals can provide the best service for their clients (and many more which they will recommend not using).
The Real Estate Broker (or REALTOR® - a real estate professional that specializes in residential real estate and has MLS® System access.)
No, you do not need a whole TEAM of real estate agents! Find a single good one and stick with them. A good real estate broker will help the potential buyer to determine what home and home-ownership style best meets the budget and needs. They will then assist the potential buyer in getting pre-approved for a home purchase. Where a mortgage loan is required, they can assist with identifying either a lender or mortgage broker to help in the process. They will provide them access to view all the homes online and narrow down the possibilities drastically. At any one time there are thousands of possibilities! Narrowing them down is of paramount importance. When the buyer and/or the broker have selected a few homes to view, the broker will conduct some research on each home and provide a personal escorted tour of each property with their potential buyer. Once a home is determined to meet the needs of the potential buyer, the broker will help structure an Offer to Purchase which will walk that fine line between protecting the interests of the buyer and at the same time appearing attractive enough for the seller to accept it. The cost of your own real estate broker should always be included in the purchase price of a home!
A great, seasoned, real estate broker will be able to make referrals to the following people:
A Mortgage Professional
Whether you prefer to deal directly with a bank or a mortgage broker, your real estate broker should have trusted professionals in each of these types of services. When a mortgage lender pre-approves the buyer, the real estate broker needs to be able to trust this "approval" as being 98% certain. This "trust" is just as important to the buyer, so ask your real estate broker for a referral to a great mortgage professional.
A Real Estate Lawyer
Real estate law is far different than criminal law, corporate law, family law or civil litigation. The use of an experienced real estate lawyer makes the whole process smoother and helps prevent costly slip ups along the way. They will be available to you to ask questions throughout the home purchase journey well before, during and after creating that Purchase Contract for your new home. Again, your real estate professional will be able to make a recommendation for a great real estate lawyer that will meet your particular needs.
A Home Inspector
If you are lucky enough to not be in a competing offer situation, you may be able to have a property inspection condition in your purchase contract. While they are now licensed in Alberta, home inspectors, like real estate agents, come in all sorts of experience levels and areas of expertise. A great real estate broker will have a home inspector or two to whom they will readily recommend to their clients who they know will give an honest, thorough and unbiased report of a home inspection. A good home inspector will be able to detect most problems with a home and help prevent you from buying a "money pit."
A Condominium Document Reviewer
If you are buying a condominium, another of the standard purchase contract conditions available to you is the review of the private documents of a condominium corporation. If you don't have the time or the experience in reviewing detailed financial, corporate or engineering documents, getting the documents professionally reviewed by a qualified condominium document reviewer would be money well-spent to help prevent you from getting into something that you aren't prepared for. A great real estate broker will have several condominium document reviewers that they can refer you to and will have a preferred vendor that they know will provide you with an unbiased opinion on the documents.
Home hunting can (and should) be FUN. Surround yourself with a knowledgable team of professionals and minimize your exposure to risks! A great real estate experience all starts with a great real estate broker!