Archive for November, 2010

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 5: Legal Stuff

Friday, November 19th, 2010

My clients in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area have lots of questions, and I’m happy to answer them!  This article is Part 5 of a series that addresses the most common questions I get from buyers.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 5:  Legal Stuff |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamLawyers

Do I have to use a lawyer to complete my transaction?

Yes, you will require the services of a lawyer to complete your transaction.

When do I sign the papers with the lawyer?

Be prepared to meet with your lawyer about one week before the agreed-upon possession date to sign the important documents that will allow the transfer of funds for the sale of your property and allow you to take possession.

Who sends the paperwork to the lawyers and when does it go to the lawyer?

The real estate office that listed the property will send all the paperwork to both the seller’s lawyer and the buyer’s lawyer, and this will be done after all conditions have been removed.

What do I need to bring with me to the lawyer?

The lawyer will usually require of you:

  • 2 pieces of identification (one with photo) for each person listed on the mortgage documents:  driver’s license or passport, major credit card, social insurance card, etc.
  • a void cheque:  to arrange with your lending institution for automatic withdrawals of mortgage payments
  • a certified cheque or bank draft with the cash to close.  “Cash to close” is the rest of your down payment, lawyer’s fees and disbursements, title insurance and any property tax adjustments
  • proof of insurance on your new home

Utilities, Insurance, Property Taxes

When should I get the utilities set up for my new house?

As soon as your offer becomes unconditional, call the city or town for water, sewage and garbage services, as well as each utility company for electricity, natural gas, telephone, cable TV and Internet service.  For specific companies and contact information in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County, check out the Community Connections business directory on my website at  under Utilities and Services, or see my Moving In Package.

What do I need to do with insurance?

Arrange for home and property insurance as soon as your offer becomes unconditional.  Before you can take possession of the property, your lawyer will require proof of insurance prior to your lending institution releasing your mortgage.  Ask your insurance company to fax your insurance information to your lawyer.

How are my property taxes paid?

This is an important conversation to have with both your mortgage broker and your lawyer.  There are several ways property taxes can be paid.  Most people make one payment in full once per year at the end of June, meaning you pay 6 months in arrears and 6 months in advance.  Depending on when you take possession, you may owe tax already due, or you may get a credit.  It is also possible to make monthly or other installment payments in most Alberta cities and towns, provided the appropriate paperwork has been filled in.

 Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 5:  Legal Stuff |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamPossession Day

 Can I get back into the house before the possession date for things like taking measurements, photos, etc.?

Technically, no.  There is no provision in the contract for you to re-enter the property until you take possession.  If you must re-enter, you can have your REALTOR® write this into your contract as a term of the offer.  My recommendation is that you take measurements, etc. before removing all conditions.  The closer to the possession date, the more chaotic your new home will look as the sellers pack to get out in time.

What time will possession happen?

According to the standard purchase contract, possession is to occur at noon but, given the complexity involved in the transfer of funds, this rarely happens.  I tell my clients not to expect to take possession before 2 PM.  You should keep in close contact with your lawyer’s office the day before possession to ensure everything will be completed on time.

What happens if something is broken when I take possession?

Section 4.2 of the Purchase Contract states:  “When the buyer obtains possession, the property will be in substantially the same condition as it was in when the Contract was accepted.”  If there is a problem, the first step is for the REALTORS® to work with their clients to find a mutually beneficial solution to resolve the issue.  If this is not possible, the problem escalates to the lawyers who will attempt the same thing.  If this doesn’t work, the buyer has the legal right to sue the seller.  Most times, the seller is reasonable and prepared to take responsibility for any problems found on the day of possession.  It should be expected that, if a seller has listed his property with a REALTOR®, the REALTOR® has educated his or her client about the responsibilities of a seller.  As a part of the services I provide to my clients, I give my sellers a checklist of items to have completed by possession day (“Moving Out Checklist“).

Does the house have to be clean when I take possession?

No.  There is no provision in the contract to force the sellers to ensure the house is cleaned before you move in.  You can expect that, on possession day, the house will be in much the same condition as when you viewed the property.  Everyone has a different definition of clean so you may want to spend the first day cleaning rather than unpacking!

If you don’t see your question here, it might be answered in the Buyers Guide section of my website.  Or, feel free to contact me any time by email at barry@barryt.ca or by phone 780-910-9669.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 4: Home Inspection

Friday, November 12th, 2010

My clients in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area have lots of questions, and I’m happy to answer them!  This article is Part 4 of a series that addresses the most common questions I get from buyers. 

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 4:  Home Inspection |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamDo I have to get a home inspection?

While not required by law, a home inspection is something I recommend.  A home inspector can perform an objective visual assessment of the property to identify future maintenance issues with key components of your property such as electrical, plumbing, heating and even potential water problems.  This is also a great way for buyers to learn what types of maintenance costs they can expect over the short term.

What is the cost of a home inspection?

Budget about $400 to $500 for the inspection of a standard property such as a townhouse, half-duplex or single family home.  Expect additional costs if the property has more than one dwelling (e.g. a single family home with a basement suite).

How do I arrange a home inspection?

You may find your own home inspector, or ask your REALTOR® for a list of reputable inspectors.

Can I be at the house while the home inspection is going on?

Absolutely!  I recommend that my clients be present for at least the last hour of the home inspection.  This gives you the opportunity to review the results of the inspection with the inspector and ask any questions.  Most home inspections take 2 to 3 hours to complete, and are usually scheduled for the morning or early afternoon.

When do I pay for the home inspection?

Payment is due immediately after the inspection.  Most home inspectors accept cash, cheque or credit card.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 4:  Home Inspection |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamFor more information on this topic within my website:

If you don’t see your question here, it might be answered in the Buyers Guide section of my website.  Or, feel free to contact me any time by email at barry@barryt.ca or by phone 780-910-9669.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 3: Writing an Offer

Friday, November 5th, 2010

My clients in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area have lots of questions, and I’m happy to answer them!  This article is Part 3 of a series that addresses the most common questions I get from buyers.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 3: Writing an Offer |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow much do I offer?

This really depends.  Five factors to be considered include:

  • what the current asking price of the property is and how well it is priced
  • if there are other offers competing with your offer to purchase the property
  • how important the property is to you
  • whether the market is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market
  • how long the property has been on the market

This is where the expertise and honesty of your REALTOR® comes in.  You must trust your REALTOR® and feel confident that he or she is providing reliable information.  As part of the services I provide to my clients, we assess the asking price based on comparable sold properties for the area.

Although every REALTOR® will have his or her own negotiating style, there are a few general concepts you should understand:

  • An offer is a combination of these things: Price; Conditions (financing, inspection, etc.); Chattels (unattached goods); Possession date. This combination has value to both the buyer and the seller.
  • There is no magical percentage for offers. For instance, not every offer should be 5 to 10% below the asking price. Some may be less and some may be more; it depends on how reasonable the asking price is.
  • Not every seller HAS to sell his home. Some sellers will be more motivated than others. There are sellers who list their property just to see how much they can get for it, and they may not be willing to negotiate much lower than their asking price. There are other sellers who have to sell, and these may be more willing to negotiate the price.
  • Be prepared to walk away. It is important to decide ahead of time the highest price you are willing to pay for the property, and then be prepared to say no to anything higher.
  • Competing offers require a much different strategy. You will need the advice and experience of your REALTOR® to know how to handle this type of situation.

If my offer is too low, can my offer insult a seller?

In my opinion, yes, it can.  If your offer is too low, a seller may decide that he or she will not even counter your offer.  I do not recommend a low offer if you really want the property.  You do not want to push a seller’s insult button, because then you risk attaching emotion to the transaction.  If you insult a seller, you risk that person refusing to sell you the home at any price.  If you decide to drastically change your offer, the seller could interpret this as desperation and you could end up paying more for the property than if your offer had been more reasonable the first time.

What if I don’t find anything I like in my price range?  Should I look at houses over my price range in case there is a reduction in the price?

Normally, I suggest that it is reasonable to look at homes that are $5000 to $10,000 over your price range, but not more than this.  You will be very disappointed if you find a house that is more than you can afford, and the sellers will not budge on price!  For example, if you are approved up to $350,000, and you are looking at houses in the $365,000 price range, it could be that the houses at $365,000 have already had $30,000 in price reductions.  It could then be difficult to negotiate the price down to $350,000.  My suggestion to my clients is that we assess these properties on a case by case basis.

If I find a house I like, how do I make an offer?

This is where the expertise and experience of a REALTOR® is required.  You can expect to spend approximately one hour getting the paperwork together and signing the “Offer to Purchase”.  Once your offer is made, your REALTOR® will normally present your offer to the seller and the seller’s REALTOR®.  Negotiation typically begins here.  It is important that you are available by telephone or in person in the event a counter offer is made from your offer.  Once the offer is accepted by the seller, any changes to the contract must be initialed by all parties.  All offers must be accepted IN WRITING to be legally binding.

What happens after my offer has been accepted?

Assuming you have placed conditions on your offer, you will have timelines to fulfill these conditions before the property is sold.  The type of condition will determine what is required.  Remember:  conditions must be removed in writing prior to the expiry of the timelines, or you risk losing the property.  Here are some general conditions:

  • Financing condition: Your mortgage broker or bank will need to have the information for your purchase immediately! As a service to my clients, I can fax a copy of the offer, along with a copy of the MLS® listing, to your mortgage broker or bank on your behalf.
  • Home Inspection: A property inspection will need to be booked if a certified home inspector is going to be used. The buyer’s REALTOR® will attend the home inspection.

What are conditions in an offer?

Conditions allow for a set amount of time for the buyer to get things in order.  Conditions also ensure that the buyer’s deposit is protected.  If you cannot fulfill your conditions (for example, your bank will not provide you with financing), then your deposit will be returned to you.

What are some of the standard conditions?

  • Financing Condition: This gives time for the buyer’s mortgage broker to confirm that the lender will provide funds for the purchase.
  • Property Inspection Condition: This gives time for the buyers to have an inspector review the property.
  • Condo Document Review Condition: This ensures the buyers receive the condo documents from the seller and gives time for the buyers to read through these documents and seek specialized advice if needed.
  • Sale of a Buyer’s Home Condition: This allows the buyers time to sell their current property.

How much time do I get to deal with conditions and finalize the offer to purchase?

Typically, you will have 5 to 7 business days to get your finances in order (so make sure you are pre-approved with a lender BEFORE you write an offer!), have a property inspection completed, or review condo documents.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 3: Writing an Offer |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIs there more paperwork after I make the offer?

Usually there is.  If you placed conditions on your offer, you will have to remove those conditions once you have fulfilled them by signing a “Condition Removal” form.  If you have a variety of condition dates, then you may have to sign several condition removals.  Amendments to the contract may be needed as well, such as a change to the possession date agreed upon by the seller and the buyer.

If you don’t see your question here, it might be answered in the Buyers Guide section of my website.  Or, feel free to contact me any time by email at barry@barryt.ca or by phone 780-910-9669.

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 2: Home Purchase Costs

Monday, November 1st, 2010

My clients in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton area have lots of questions, and I’m happy to answer them!  This article is Part 2 of a series that addresses the most common questions I get from buyers. 

Questions Home Buyers Ask, Part 2:  Home Purchase Costs |Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow much of a deposit do I have to give when I make an offer?

This depends on the type of property you are purchasing and how you are purchasing it.  For instance, if you are purchasing a property between $200,000 and $300,000, I recommend a deposit of $3000 to $5000.  The larger the purchase price of the property, the more the deposit should be.  For purchases over $400,000, I would recommend a minimum deposit of $5000.  The deposit may also be an item that the seller wants to negotiate.  The seller may expect a larger deposit to ensure your commitment to the purchase.

When is the deposit payable?

The deposit is submitted with any offer and payable immediately after your offer is accepted by both parties.  The deposit is given to the real estate company that has listed the property and is placed in a trust account until you take possession.  The deposit forms part of your total down payment.

Can I lose my deposit?

Generally speaking, the only time you can lose your deposit is if you remove conditions on your offer and do not take possession of the property as agreed in your contract.  BUT:  you should discuss this with your REALTOR®.  If you cannot fulfill the conditions in the contract (for example, you are not approved for financing), your deposit will be returned to you, provided your financial institution will supply upon request a letter to the sellers and their REALTOR®, stating you are not approved for financing.

When is my down payment due?

Your total down payment (usually by certified cheque or bank draft) is not due until you see the lawyer to sign all of the paperwork.  This typically happens a week or two before possession day.  The only money that is payable when you write the offer is the deposit.  This deposit becomes part of the total down payment.  Your lawyer will advise you of the total amount to bring with you when you sign the papers; this amount usually includes lawyer fees and disbursements.

How much money will I need for other costs besides my down payment if I purchase a property?

At minimum, I recommend that you budget $3000 to $5000 for basic items such as:

  • lawyer fees and disbursements which will cost between $1000 to $1500. (Disbursements are recoverable expenses the lawyer pays on your behalf.)
  • property tax adjustments (cost will be a proportion of the annual taxes, depending on when in the year you take possession)
  • home inspection (about $400-$500)
  • title insurance (about $250), if required.

There could be other costs associated with your purchase depending on your situation.  The costs listed above are general expenses that most buyers will incur.

If you don’t see your question here, it might be answered in the Buyers Guide section of my website.  Or, feel free to contact me any time by email at barry@barryt.ca or by phone 780-910-9669.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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