Archive for the ‘Home Buying’ Category

Five Key Considerations That Will Help You Choose Which Neighbourhood You Might Want to Live In

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Five Key Considerations That Will Help You Choose Which Neighbourhood You Might Want to Live In | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhether you’ve been eyeing Edmonton, Parkland, Spruce Grove or Stony Plain real estate, there are a few key considerations to factor in before choosing the home or property that is right for you and your family. Seeking out Parkland County acreages or Edmonton real estate can be done by first considering the factors that are important to you before selecting a neighbourhood as your new home.

Neighbourhood Popularity

Before moving to an unfamiliar area, consider the popularity and population of the neighbourhoods you are most interested in. Whether you prefer a quiet location or if you are looking for a booming town, having an idea in mind is a way to expedite the process when you begin comparing homes and properties.

Property Value and Future Outlook

Consider the average value of the properties in the neighbourhoods you are interested in as well as the future outlook of the area. Researching each neighbourhood individually – whether you are looking for Parkland County real estate or Spruce Grove – is a way to ensure you find a location that is most suitable for your current lifestyle, career and future goals.

Taxes and Living Expenses

Research taxes and living expenses of each of the homes and neighbourhoods you are eyeing. As each location will come with its own set of costs and expenses, it is important to assess which areas are suitable for you and your income range. Don’t just think about now; give some thought to both your earning power and future costs. For example, if you’re part of a newlywed couple, are you planning on having children later? These are the types of living expenses you need to keep in mind.

Local Amenities, Resources and Shops

Whenever you are looking into real estate for your family, it is imperative to consider the surrounding shops and resources that are available within the neighbourhood itself. If you have children, be sure to research the locations of nearby schools as well as the school ratings and rankings. If you prefer local markets and shops, finding a neighbourhood that meets your needs can be done with a bit of research online to get a feel for the atmosphere of each location you are searching in. Comparing surrounding resources and locations in each neighbourhood can help to eliminate those that are simply not right for your preferred way of living.

Finding the perfect Spruce Grove real estate options or Edmonton acreages can be done with a bit of research and an assessment of your own needs and the needs of your family before selecting a neighbourhood that is the most suitable for you. Conducting a bit of background research on various areas you are most interested in living in is a way for you to ensure you have made the best decision for both you and your entire family or household.

When you are ready to make a move to a new home, give me a call for more information and I’ll be happy to help you begin your search!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

New Paperwork for Real Estate Buyers: The Buyer Representation Agreement

Monday, June 30th, 2014

New Paperwork for Real Estate Buyers:  The Buyer Representation Agreement | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re planning to buy a home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton region, or elsewhere in Alberta using the services of a REALTOR®, expect to be asked to sign several documents during the process. You already know, if you’ve bought property in the past, that your Offer to Purchase states the price you are willing to pay, any conditions on the offer, and the date on which you’d like to take possession of the home. You’re also asked to provide proof of your identity and probably your financial ability to enter into a purchase agreement.

Beginning July 1, 2014, all property buyers in Alberta working with a Realtor will be required to sign a Buyer Representation Agreement.

What is the Buyer Representation Agreement?

This document formalizes the relationship you’ll have with the Realtor. You and your Realtor will agree to a number of things, including:
• when the relationship begins and ends;
• what the responsibilities of the Realtor and the real estate brokerage he or she represents are to you;
• your responsibilities to your Realtor;
• what services your Realtor will provide;
• what is to be done in situations where a conflict of interest arises;
• what fees and expenses, if any, you might be required to pay;
• how your personal information will be handled;
• methods of communication between the parties;
• contact information for both parties.

Why are buyers now required to sign this document?

The concept of this agreement is not new. What is new is its use in all Realtor-buyer relationships. Its purpose is to provide clarity and protection for both parties by clearly setting out the requirements and expectations for the relationship. You as a buyer will know exactly what your rights and responsibilities are, and what services you can expect from your Realtor. Having trust and confidence in the person helping you with the most important purchase of your life, and knowing that your interests will be promoted and protected can only be a good thing!

When will buyers be expected to sign the Buyer Representation Agreement?

Most Realtors will likely explain the Buyer Representation Agreement to their clients and request that it be signed near the beginning of the relationship, usually before the buyer’s needs and wants are discussed in great detail and before properties are visited. Clarity and protection!

As a buyer, I’m worried about all the fees mentioned in the Agreement.

Nothing has really changed. In Alberta, Realtors representing sellers and Realtors representing buyers generally split the fees offered by the seller of the property. Payment for Realtors occurs when a property is sold, with the Realtors’ fees being paid from the proceeds of the sale. Usually, a client buying a property does not pay a Realtor directly for realty services. If a given Realtor charges a retainer for helping a client in buying a property, that retainer will be applied toward the fees due from the sale of the property, and this will be clearly stated in the Agreement. Note that all terms of the Agreement, including fees, are negotiable. The Agreement is a legal document, and my best advice is to read it carefully and completely, and ask any questions before you sign it.

Does signing a Buyer Representation Agreement with a Realtor mean I can’t work with any other Realtor?

While the Agreement is in effect, usually…but! When your Realtor signs this agreement with you, he or she is committing to assisting you in all the ways outlined in the agreement. As time goes on, and your Realtor becomes more attuned to your needs and wishes, he or she should be in the best position to help you find just the property you’re looking for. If for some reason you want to end the relationship, note that your contract specifies an end date, and it is also possible to end it early under certain conditions in the contract. In addition, special conditions can be written into the agreement before it is signed.

Comments or questions about the Buyer Representation Agreement, or any other aspect of buying and selling property? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Buying a Home? Here’s How to Determine Exactly What Price Range You Can Reasonably Afford

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Buying a Home_ Here's How to Determine Exactly What Price Range You Can Reasonably Afford | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re looking to purchase a home in Parkland County, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove or the Edmonton area, you might be wondering how you can reasonably determine what your price range is. Though you may have the ability to afford up to a particular amount, you should also ensure that you don’t overextend yourself. Make sure to leave room for the “just-in-case” expenses, and follow these tips to ensure you are remaining within your reasonable and affordable budget.

Get Expert Advice: Talk With Your Mortgage Specialist

First things first, before you begin your property search, whether you’re looking for Parkland County acreages, Edmonton acreages, or surrounding area, you should ensure you have an open and honest discussion with your mortgage broker or the mortgage specialist at your bank. When you are preparing for your meeting, ensure that you have your employment and income documentation to bring with you, as well as your previous year’s tax return. You should also have a list of any monthly expenses, and supporting documentation, such as information on car payments, student loans, and other monthly expenses.

Be sure you are honest and provide complete information to your mortgage broker regarding your income and monthly expenses, as this will help them determine what your affordable and realistic purchasing budget is.

Don’t Forget the Extras: Factor In Additional Expenses

When you are planning your affordable budget for your Spruce Grove real estate, either with or without your mortgage broker, you’ll want to ensure that you consider additional expenses on top of the basic mortgage costs. Discuss any additional mortgage insurance costs with your broker, as well as expenses such as maintenance fees and property taxes. Each of these aspects should come together to help you ascertain what you can reasonably afford, and, when considering these additional factors, your actual home budget may be tightened. Therefore, be sure not to forget the extras!

Have Foresight: Consider Closing Costs From the Start

Since your down payment amount on your mortgage for Parkland County real estate can significantly affect your monthly mortgage costs, you’ll want to ensure that you consider the amount of closing costs well before you get to that point in your real estate transaction. A possible problem arises when these costs aren’t factored into the equation from the start, and the buyer has to pull away from his down payment lump sum to come up with the money, thereby increasing his monthly expenses and perhaps overextending him financially. Therefore, ensure you are well prepared for the closing costs on your Stony Plain real estate, and get the figures from your mortgage broker or REALTOR® at the start.

As long as you’ve done your research on the matter, and factored in all of the aspects of your income and monthly expenses, as well as the additional fees of the real estate transaction itself, you will surely arrive at a number that is reasonable and affordable. Get your expert advice, do your research, and have foresight, and you should be in great shape!

If you’re still unsure, I am always willing to answer your Edmonton area real estate transaction questions! Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for Your First Home in Stony Plain

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for Your First Home in Stony Plain | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamNow is the perfect time to be looking for property in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region! Particularly in Spruce Grove real estate and Stony Plain real estate, the housing market is looking positive and there is a lot of inventory for first time homebuyers looking to get that perfect home in a small city. If you really want to take advantage of the Stony Plain real estate market right now and get the keys to your very first home, there are a few quick budgeting adjustments you can make that will get you into a house that you own. Here are a few great money-saving tips to help you save up that down payment.

Make Your Own Lunches

Many people don’t realize this, but you could free up a lot of your money by making your own lunches and at-work snacks at home rather than buying them during the workday. A ten dollar lunch and a five dollar a day coffee habit add up to $300 over the course of a month. Train yourself to make your lunch at home the night before and keep it in the fridge. You can also consider bringing leftovers to work for lunch. Bring lots of snacks for the morning and late afternoon so that you don’t feel the need to go out and buy more food. Once you get into the habit of making your own food, you’ll love how your savings steadily increase.

Make Small Trips Instead of Big, Expensive Ones

Travel is a big expense and one that people who are saving for a house usually cut. People are often slow to cut down on travel because they somehow get the idea that there is nowhere amazing to go near Stony Plain or Parkland County real estate. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Use this time to explore smaller places near Parkland County acreages that are off the beaten trail. Athabasca and Wabamun are both within an hour from Stony Plain, and are great places to go camping if you’re the outdoor type. If you want something a bit more adventurous, try heading to Jasper for a night, or road tripping to Kelowna, where you can easily find a low-cost hostel for a few nights.

Track Your Expenses: There’s an App for That

One of the best ways to watch your budget is to track your expenses with a money management app. Mint is a great budget app and website that will let you manage all of your accounts and credit cards in one place. Mint is one of the web’s most popular personal finance tools, and it has many great features that you can use to stick to your budget. The app will send you weekly reminders of your goals and the progress you are making. Financial goals are always easier to meet when you pay close attention to them, and this website can help you do just that.

Now is a great time to buy a place in Stony Plain. Even if you think you’re not quite ready to buy a home, if you begin to budget you may notice that you’re actually not that far away. Starting a few healthy habits and tracking your progress is critical in meeting your financial goals.

For more great home buying advice, or for information on Edmonton real estate or Edmonton acreages, feel free to call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

What’s the Housing Market Like These Days?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

What's the Housing Market Like These Days? | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhen people ask me if it’s a good time to buy a home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton region, I usually tell them that the best time to buy is when they’re ready.  And that answer is true whether the market is up or down and whether the market favors buyers or sellers.

But sometimes it’s useful to take a look at current market statistics if you’re still trying to decide about becoming a homeowner.

The Real Estate Weekly regularly publishes information about residential home sales in our area.  The November 13, 2013 issue has an intriguing title for the most recent summary of market activity:  “Youthful buyers continue to drive housing sales in October”.  Darrell Cook, president of the Realtors® Association of Edmonton, points out that Edmonton residents are a youthful demographic with an average age of 36 and good job prospects so demand for housing remains high.  This translates into a brisk housing market.  In fact, Mr. Cook points out that “total annual sales are the highest they have been for five years and we had the best October in five years as well”.

And what about house prices?  In October 2013, the average single family home sold for $397,613, up 2.5% from a year ago.  The selling price of the average condo, at $235,680, was up 2%.  The total number of residential units sold in October was up a big 7% over the same time last year, while total number of units available for sale was down 3.8% from a year ago and those sold on average 6 days faster (on the market for 54 days compared to 60 days a year ago).

Good news for sellers, yes.  But still a reasonable market for buyers as well.  Buyers at present may need to be a little more organized (mortgage pre-approval in hand), as well as ready to act promptly when they find a house that suits them, but it’s just as possible to find your dream home now as at any other time.

Looking to sell your home?  I’d be happy to do a free home evaluation and advise you on getting it ready to sell.  If you’re in the market to buy a home, let me help you find just the right one!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here

Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow!

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Sometimes the descriptions of homes for sale in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region make you wonder what kind of building you’ll see on a property.  Bungalow with a bonus room?  How is that different from a 1 ½-storey house?  Raised bungalow?  How does that differ from a bi-level?  Searching Google to define house styles doesn’t help much because the same term might have very different meanings elsewhere in Canada or the US. 

So, let’s take a look at a few phrases commonly used to describe homes in the Edmonton region.  Note that the descriptions below assume that the homes have basements since that is generally the norm in Alberta. 

Bungalow:  A one-storey home whose basement has the same square footage as the main level.  Basement is reached from a full flight of stairs leading “below grade”; that is, dug into the ground.  Entry into the home is usually at ground level or up a few steps.  May have attached garage that leads directly into main level of the home, or sometimes into the basement.

Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

  • Raised Bungalow:  Same description as above (one-storey home, full basement reached via full flight of stairs, entry into home up a few steps from the ground), but these homes are built higher up on the land, allowing for larger basement windows and making them better for nanny or mother-in-law suites.  They are also less likely to take on water in the basement.Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam
  • Hillside or Walkout Bungalow:  From the front this home looks like a standard bungalow.  From the back it resembles a 2-storey house – because it is literally built into a hillside, or a steeply sloped yard.  Very popular because the basement appears to be at, rather than below, ground level.  The basement therefore has much larger windows, and residents can access the outdoors without climbing stairs to the main level. Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam
  • Bungalow with Bonus Room:  Basic bungalow format with a single large room above an attached garage, reached via a full flight of stairs.

Bi-level:  Sits higher up on the land, like a raised bungalow, and has the same advantages as a raised bungalow.  Unlike a raised bungalow, the stairs inside a bi-level are split.  From the front entrance, a half-flight of stairs leads up to the living area, and a half-flight of stairs leads down to the basement.  The depth of the basement below the ground is less than that of a standard bungalow, allowing for bigger windows and less of a cellar-like feel.  The home’s back door often exits onto a high deck with a full flight of stairs outside leading down to the yard.  This style has fallen out of fashion with builders, except in areas where digging a deeper basement would be problematic due to soil type. Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

One and a half-storey:  Full flight of stairs goes up to bedroom area which has a steeply slanted roof with dormers, resulting in reduced head space in the slanted areas – thus, the “half-storey”.  (Two and a half-storey homes exist as well.  Same principle but with two full levels having standard head room and the third with a slanted roof). 

Two-storey:  Main level has a full flight of stairs leading up to the second level and a full flight of stairs down to the basement.  Often built with bonus room above an attached garage.  The most common home being built these days for several reasons:

1) A home’s square footage is determined by the amount of space above grade, and this home style puts more living space above ground on a smaller footprint than a bungalow of equal square footage;

2) Larger homes, ones with greater square footage but a smaller footprint, can be built on today’s smaller lots;

3) Given today’s high heating costs and concern for the environment, a 2-storey home is more energy- and cost-efficient. 

Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

Split-level:  This home style was very popular around the 1970s.  Many people these days would say the reason it fell out of favor was that residents were always running up and down stairs to get to different rooms in the house!

  • Two-storey split:  One side of this home looks like a bungalow, while the other side looks like a standard 2-storey.  A full flight of stairs accesses the upper portion of the home, and often a living room or family room will be sunken.  There may be less head room in the basement under the sunken areas – a common complaint in split-level homes in general.  Some people mistakenly label this home style as 1 ½-storey (see that description above).

Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

  • Three- or four-level side split:  From the front, looks like a bungalow on one side, bi-level on the other.  Half flights of stairs lead up and down between levels.  Bedrooms are usually above, family room below.  Some split-level homes have a regular basement under the bungalow-style portion only, and a crawl space under the lowest above-ground level.  This crawl space may have a ceiling height as low as 4 feet.  Other houses will have a basement that is itself two different levels, resulting in homes that have four or even five different levels, all joined by half-flights of stairs. 

Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

  • Back split:  Same as the previous description but oriented on the lot so that the home looks like a standard bungalow from the front, taller portions behind. 

Duplex:  The true definition of this term is a home that looks like a standard bi-level with one dwelling on the upper level and another on the lower level.  But many people use the term to refer to what is technically a side by side duplex:  two homes above grade (with basements) joined by a common wall. 

Honey, Our Bi-level is a Raised Bungalow! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

A couple of other things to note when house-shopping by style:

  • Townhouses may allow first-time buyers to enter the home market since they are generally less expensive than stand-alone or detached homes.  Usually a 2-storey home with basement, sometimes with attached garage, joined to similar neighboring homes in a row.
  • While many people think of apartments when they hear the word “condo”, a condominium is not really a style but rather a type of ownership that allows people to own their space to the walls and share common property (buildings and land) with other condo owners.  (See my blog article “Is Condo Living For You?”)
  • A villa is a condominium style that may be a detached home or perhaps half of a side by side duplex.   Often located in “gated communities” where summer and winter outdoor chores, such as lawn mowing and snow removal, are provided to the residents. 

Need more information about this topic?  I’m happy to help.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Housing Market Boom or Bust in Alberta?

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHousing Market Boom or Bust in Alberta?My clients in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton area often ask me if “now” is a good time to buy a new home.  My answer to that question usually involves telling them that the best time to buy is when they feel ready to do so, no matter what the market is doing.  That may sound like a weasel answer but I believe people’s own finances and their needs and wants in housing are better for decision-making than any attempts to time or predict the market.

But “now” is an interesting time to be dealing in real estate in Alberta.  You’ve probably seen the gloomy news reports that the Canadian housing market is due for a major correction with house prices set to fall by about 20%.  That is not the case here!

In a recent article in the Edmonton Journal entitled “Alberta’s housing market still hot, whatever the media say”, Gary Lamphier reports on a conversation with Don Campbell, senior analyst and founding partner with the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN).  Mr. Campbell advises would-be sellers and buyers to “chill out”, suggesting that there is no such thing as a Canadian real estate market, but rather that each locality has its own unique market and conditions.  He goes even further when commenting about the Alberta market, saying that economic and demographic factors here are ripe for another housing boom, not bust.  He notes Alberta’s population continues to grow as workers come into the province while apartment vacancy rates shrink.  Many of these workers will decide to make Alberta their permanent home and that means they’ll be buying houses sometime in the next 2 to 7 years, fueling demand for houses and the subsequent rise in prices.

You may have heard or read that prices in Alberta have flat-lined so how can the dream of a new housing boom be true?  Mr. Campbell says Alberta’s boom-bust economy and the accompanying anxiety in people’s minds is to blame for this skepticism, along with tougher mortgage qualification rules and the negative national news.  He points out that Alberta’s population growth in 2012 was nearly triple the national average, putting a strain on housing capacity.  This situation tends to cause prices to rise.  While the average price of a house in Edmonton (about $401,000 in February) is still not as high as the peak prices in 2007, prices are definitely on the rise, according to another article entitled “Home prices flirt with record highs of ‘07”.

All of this suggests to me that now is indeed a good time to buy!

Let me help you find the home that’s just right for you.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Why I Just Talked You Out of the House You Wanted to Buy

Friday, January 4th, 2013

 | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhy I Just Talked You Out of the House You Wanted to BuyYou and I have been looking at lots of homes in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and Edmonton region, and we finally found one that you decided was just right.  You know I’ll work hard to get you into the house of your dreams so why am I suddenly throwing cold water on your enthusiasm?

There are several reasons why I might suggest to clients that they step away from a deal: 

  • I think the asking price is much too high for the condition and location of the property, and it appears that the sellers are not willing to bargain a more reasonable price.  New listings come on the market all the time and I’m sure we can find another property that meets your requirements without forcing you to over-pay.
  • The property inspection report turned up some fairly major structural damage.  It’s not unusual for inspections to reveal all kinds of items needing attention and repair, especially in homes with a bit of experience, but generally these are cosmetic items that are easily remedied.  Sometimes sellers can even be persuaded to lower the selling price by a few thousand dollars to cover the cost of attending to these.  But when the number of these items becomes too great, or when there is an unexpected major issue, such as a roof in imminent danger of collapse, or a foundation weakened by severe water damage and the like, it may be time to walk away.
  • Your personal situation has suddenly changed.  Maybe you lost your job; there’s been a serious illness or even death in the family; family dynamics have changed (marriage breakdown, an elderly parent moving in, etc.); money you’d earmarked for the home purchase is no longer available….  Let’s put the house-hunting on hold until your life is back on track.
  • I think your eyes may be bigger than your stomach, financially speaking.  I’ve gotten to know a bit about your financial situation, and the time may not be right for you to jump into home ownership, or at least not a home as expensive as the ones we’ve been looking at.  Your debt load may be a bit too high, your credit may be shaky, you may not have considered the large number of costs associated with home ownership, such as legal fees, insurance, taxes, moving expenses, home maintenance costs and the like.  I want you to be happy with your purchase without worrying about how you will be able to pay for it over time and without compromising your standard of living. 

Yes, my business is helping people buy and sell homes, but I like to emphasize the “helping” part!  Sometimes that means saying no. 

Looking to buy a home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain or Parkland County?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here. 

Murder, Mayhem and Seller’s Disclosure

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

You found your dream home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, agreed to buy it, and received a glowing report from your home inspector.  After concluding the deal and moving in, you learn to your horror that your dream home was the scene of a violent murder!  This was not disclosed by the seller or the real estate agent who listed the home.  What now? 

Murder, Mayhem and Seller's Disclosure | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamA recent broadcast on CBC Radio’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti got me thinking about problem properties.  Entitled “Stigmatized Real Estate and What Sellers Must Disclose”, the broadcast focused on properties where a violent crime, such as murder, was committed.   

As a prospective buyer of any property, how do you know if what you’re seeing and what you’re told about a property is the whole truth?  Well, the fact is, you don’t.  While there are rules about what a seller must disclose, those rules tend to be a little, shall we say, open-ended.   

Interviewed on the program was Barry Lebowa real estate broker and appraiser with a great deal of expertise in dealing with stigmatized properties.  He noted that these properties might be ones where a crime such as murder was committed, but could also be homes at the heart of any unsavory situation:  used as grow ops, contaminated by mold, asbestos, urea formaldehyde foam insulation and the like, infested by termites or rodents, subject to repeated flooding, etc.  I am also reminded of the recent cases in Calmar, Alberta where homes were built on top of decommissioned gas wells, leading to much anguish for the unsuspecting owners of those homes.  Mr. Lebow pointed out that very few jurisdictions in North America have legislation dealing with disclosure about property defects.   

So, what is a prospective buyer to do?

  • Be aware that a property inspection will only expose “patent defects”; that is, problems that are clearly visible, such as a cracked foundation.  A home inspector will not usually be able to determine “latent defects”, or those that are not immediately visible, such as a water leak that has been hidden behind new drywall, for example, or those situations I mentioned above.
  • Sellers and real estate agents do have an obligation to disclose “material facts” about a property, if known.  This is any information that a reasonable person would probably want to know about a property.  As you can see, this allows for a great deal of subjective interpretation and uncertainty.   Furthermore, this duty to disclose can obviously only be enforced if the seller and agent are aware of the problem.  A small town crime may well become a local legend for generations, meaning that every owner/seller will know about the incident, whereas in a big city, where memories are shorter, subsequent owners may be unaware of anything to be disclosed.
  • House hunters must take it upon themselves to tell their real estate agent not only what they want in a home, but also what they will not accept.  If they are squeamish about buying a home that has been the scene of a violent crime, then they must make their agent aware of this so that the agent can seek out any hidden history.
  • As a buyer, be prepared to ask lots of questions about any property you are considering for purchase, and take it upon yourself to learn its history.  It’s also a good idea to put those questions in writing, and insist upon a written response.  Talk to your prospective neighbors too!

If you do end up unknowingly buying a property with a secret past, what can you do? 

Backing out of the deal, or immediately re-selling the home are probably not options because of the expense involved, unless you are so spooked by the thought of living in such a home that no amount of money is worth the emotional toll.  It should also be noted that stigmatized properties usually see a decrease in value of 10-20%.  If you can be pragmatic about the unexpected surprise of owning a property with a past, consider ways you can change the property – cut down or add shrubbery, repaint or change the siding, replace the house numbers and trim, renovate the interior – to give it a whole new history. 

I’d love to hear your comments or questions about this article!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Make a Conditional Offer Work For You

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Make a Conditional Offer Work For You | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAfter looking at many houses in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area, you finally find one that meets your needs.  But before you offer to buy the property, you realize you have questions that need to be answered.  Does the house need repairs that you couldn’t see during your visit, such as worn-out shingles or a leaky basement?  Will you be able to put financing in place?  Will you be able to sell your present house before taking possession of the new one? 

Real estate purchase contracts often contain buyers’ conditions; that is, things that the buyers spell out as needing to be satisfied before they go ahead with purchasing the house.  If the sellers agree to the terms, then a deal is made.  The deal will be finalized and the house considered “sold” when all conditions have been removed. 

Here are some of the most common conditions you as a buyer might put on the sale:

  • Financing Condition:  If you are able to obtain a mortgage, you will buy the home.
  • Property Inspection Condition:  If a qualified home inspector that you as the buyer have chosen to review the home declares the home free from major defects, you will buy the home.  Should your inspector discover something that you are not prepared to live with, you can choose not to waive this condition, meaning the deal is dead.  Or, you may ask your realtor to renegotiate a lower price, money for repairs, or the actual repair itself.
  • Sale of Buyer’s Home Condition:  You specify a date by which your home must be sold in order for you to take on ownership of the new home.  If your own home is priced well and has a reasonable chance of selling within the allotted period, say 60 days, sellers will often agree to this condition, especially in a slow market.  (You should be aware, however, that a seller may put a condition on the condition, such as retaining the option to sell to someone else if you are unable to remove this condition within a specified period, such as 48 hours, of a new offer coming in without this condition.)
  • Additional Buyer’s Conditions:  This could be anything that the buyer would like the seller to do to make the home more agreeable, from repainting the home, to replacing the roof, to relocating a storage shed, etc. 

A conditional offer can protect you and make it possible to walk away from a deal if problems arise that you did not see during your initial visit to the home.  But you should be aware that a seller always has the right to refuse your conditions.  It is especially risky to impose conditions when the market is competitive.  More than one buyer has lost a good home because a second offer with fewer or no conditions has been placed before the seller!  This could happen to you even if you are offering a higher price. 

To make conditions work for you, they need to be used in the right way and in the right circumstances.  Your REALTOR® can help you decide whether it is in your best interests to write conditions into a deal. 

Comments or questions about this article or real estate in general?  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here

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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