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Nobody likes to move in the winter. You’re dealing with snow, ice, cold weather — and all the challenges that come with the season. Let’s face it, it’s a pain. Not only is it harder to move, people have fewer houses on the market from which to choose. I’m not saying you should never move in the winter, but those who do might take longer to find their dream home.
With temperatures on the rise in the springtime, you’ll now start to see a warmer housing market, too. What does this mean for you if you’re on the hunt? It might mean more competition for that home you love — but it also means there will be more stock from which to choose.
I always prefer to work with a realtor. They have good insight about the area and can guide you in your sale or purchase decision.
Are you going to be working with a realtor? If so, here’s a few things you should cover with them:
Ask the realtor the right questions
No matter who you’re hiring, whether it’s a contractor, home inspector or realtor, you want to know how long they have been doing what they do. Ask them how many years they have been in business.
I’m not saying a newbie can’t do a great job for you. In fact, they may have a smaller client load so they can devote more time to helping you, which can be a huge benefit. Just be sure they know their stuff and can help walk you through the process, especially if this is the first time you’re buying a home. You may have a lot of questions, and having a knowledgeable realtor can really make the difference when it comes to purchasing smoothly.
Find out if they work solo or as part of a team. You may work really well with the realtor you interview, but if they aren’t the one you’re in contact with on a day-to-day basis, what good is that? A team approach can also have benefits, as members of the team can bring a wider net of experience about neighbourhoods that match your needs — but you’ll want to know that before you start working with them.
Finally, ask for references from previous clients. Again, I say this a lot: the best marketing for contractors and the like is word of mouth from previous, happy clients. If their past customers are singing their praises, odds are you’ve found a good one who will do it right.
Adjust your offer based on needed renovations
A house can look right — it might have the perfect yard, big kitchen and lots of natural light. But don’t be taken in by the lipstick and mascara. Your realtor is your inside look at the history of the house.
Start by asking them the age of the home. An older home may soon need a major repair, like a new roof. Homes that are older still may have asbestos or lead paint. These are all things you will need to keep in mind when shopping, and you might adjust your offer depending on necessary changes.
Find out the sales and renovation history of the home. If the house has changed hands many times over the years, it could indicate an issue that was too large for the homeowners to handle. Or it may signify that it’s been a flip — and a flip done poorly can cause big issues on its own.
On that note, ask the realtor about any building permits or inspection reports for work done on the home. These are records that any renovations completed, were done safely and to code — as stated by building officials. To me, a home that has a shiny new bathroom or kitchen without the permit history could indicate a flip. And you don’t know the true quality of the work done.
Finally, ask if the house was ever used as a marijuana-growing operation. I know we legalized it, but I sure would not want to live in a home with that history. Why? These operations create a lot of moisture that can cause serious structural damage to the home.
House hunting should be an exciting time, an opportunity to find the new home of your dreams. Hire the right team to make it a good one.
And my last piece of advice: When you think you’ve found the right one, don’t forget the home inspection.
Watch Mike Holmes in his series, Holmes Makes It Right, on HGTV. For more information, visit makeitright.ca.
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