Things to Know Before Buying a House (or Having One Built)
Buying or building a home can be a daunting process, particularly for first timers. There are numerous potential stumbling blocks and pitfalls that can rapidly complicate what may have previously appeared to be a straightforward, low-risk transaction.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of available information to arm yourself with, so that even inexperienced buyers can be well-informed and feel secure in taking that thrilling first plunge into the ever-changing, fast-moving waters of modern real-estate.
Arguably the most important point when beginning the task of purchasing a home is knowing the right questions to ask at each point in the process.
Hiring a qualified home inspector is a vitally important decision, so being prepared with the right questions can aid the decision-making process considerably. Some examples can include:
- Do you have experience inspecting the specific style of home we are interested in?
- Are you insured?
- Can you provide examples of the training and/or experience you have?
- Can you provide references and a copy of the inspection report you use?
In Ontario, real estate agents/brokers are required to register with RECO (Real Estate Council of Ontario). This ensures that all agents/brokers are regulated (required to follow a pre-determined set of rules and ethics), insured, and meet the educational standards defined by the Province and RECO.
Some important steps to follow before settling on an agent or broker should include:
- confirm they are officially registered using RECO’s registrant search
- ask for references or recommendations from previous clients
- always make certain you have read carefully and fully understand any contract you intend to sign. Re-read the document as many times as necessary until you are completely satisfied and comfortable with your understanding of the contract and its terms.
In Ontario, for those who are looking to have their home custom built, or purchasing a yet to be built home, it is necessary to determine if the builder is registered with the Tarion Warranty Corporation. Within the province, Tarion is responsible for enforcing the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, which was created to oversee and regulate new homebuilders. In addition, Tarion also administers a warranty program for newly-built homes.
Before moving forward with your purchase or building plans, it is prudent to research any builders you are considering working with. Tarion’s Ontario Builder Directory is a useful resource that can help in answering a variety of important questions, such as:
- if the prospective builder is registered with Tarion
- how many homes they have built or assisted in building, where these homes are located, and their current condition
- if Tarion has had to resolve any disputes, legal actions or warranty claims involving builders within the past 10 years
Buying a home or allowing your home to be built by an unregistered builder can put you and your investment at considerable risk. Some of the problems created by Illegal/unregistered builders may include:
- a lack of necessary technical knowledge which has prevented the builder from being registered
- an inability to meet Tarion’s financial qualifications
- are involved with or participating in an underground, possibly illegal, economy
- at risk of being investigated and/or facing criminal charges
Of course, this represents a “worst case scenario” situation; most builders and contractors in Ontario will likely have all the necessary qualifications, in addition to being fully registered. But it is important to be aware of all potential risks, particularly when it comes to making such a huge financial commitment.
It is also important to point out that what’s been covered here represents only a small percentage of a much larger list containing many more important questions/concerns for anyone considering purchasing/building a new home.
Ultimately, when making the decision to get involved in the ever-changing, often turbulent world of real estate, one thing is undeniable and without question – there is no such thing as being too well informed or overprepared.