Buying on your own or using a real estate agent
Some people prefer to find their new home without any assistance, and some prefer the services of a real estate agent. If you prefer to go solo when looking for your next property purchase then there are plenty of ways to locate what is currently on the market.
mls.ca is an online service provided by realtors across Canada. In it's database you will find almost all the properties for sale through realtors, there are some exceptions that never seem to make it to the database however.
Access to the site is free, and it enables you to search for properties in the price range, area or facilities required that you need. All realtors have access to this database so you stand a good chance of finding a shortlist of properties to view.
Alternatively welist.com is a website that owners use to list their properties themselves. Again access to the site is free, and you may find that perfect property before anyone else, or the realtors, get their hands on it.
And don't forget the newspaper ads, check these regularly and follow up quickly with calls or visits to anything that you are interested in. Real estate in Canmore doesn't stay on the market very long, and bidding wars are becoming more common.
Drive around the area that you want to live in looking for "for sale" signs. With real estate so buoyant in Canmore some people opt for a homemade "for sale" sign outside their house because they know that people drive around looking for potential purchases.
Of course the other option is to use a real estate agent. If you are using a real estate agent to help you buy then there is no cost to you. The seller bears the cost of the realtors fees. Although of course ultimately you bear the cost because it's been put on the price of the house!
All realtors have access to mls.ca so they should be able to help you compile a shortlist of properties to view.
You can choose which realtor to use, and you are not bound to use that realtor to complete any purchase. For example you can view some properties with one realtor, then you may decide to actually purchase using another realtor, a good realtor will tell you this at the start of your relationship, they won't try to force you to use them.
Also beware of realtors that ask you to sign a "contract" at the beginning of any relationship. We have heard reports of realtors that try to tie potential buyers into using only them, and the contract usually has a forfeit clause in it if you don't. We haven't heard of that tactic being used in Canmore, but it's wise to be aware of it.
Finding the right realtor/agent for you
If you decide to work with a realtor for your real estate purchase then you need to be sure that they are the right realtor for you, that you feel comfortable in trusting them, and that they will work with you to achieve what you want... the right property in the right location at the right price with minimum hassle.
A good realtor/agent will help you to:
- Save time. In Canmore's current real estate market time is of the essence. Properties are selling very quickly, demand appears to be outstripping supply, and as the old saying goes, "in this world there are two types of people, the quick, and the disappointed".
- Make sure you get the right information. They should know the neighbourhood inside out and be able to give you accurate information including details of local property values, zoning, taxes, services, amenities and typical utility costs.
- Give you good advice. They should be able to advise you on home inspection, legal, appraisal, financial and contracting services.
- Be a good negotiator. They need to successfully manage offers and counter-offers in an efficient and timely manner.
The easiest way to determine if a realtor meets/understands your needs, and of course help you feel that you can trust them, is to ask a few questions right at the beginning of any potential relationship:
- Do you have full access to the MLS database? Including the daily "hot sheets" of the latest properties on MLS?
- Will you be representing my interests or is there some possibility of conflicting interests?
- Will you provide me with market evidence to support the price of a potential property purchase?
- Will you look after closing and possession details in my absence? For example if purchasing from outside Canada
- Can you be contacted at any time?
Once you have determined that your realtor will do a great job for you then you need to work with them to achieve it.
Your job will be to:
- Give a detailed description of what you want your new property to have or not have. If you absolutely must have a basement then tell them, it will help to focus any shortlist, and also cut out some properties in Canmore, that can't or don't have basements.
- Be specific about where exactly you want to live. For example if you absolutely must live on the "sunny" side of the valley then say so.
- Be honest about your budget and/or financing for the purchase. There is absolutely no point in viewing properties that are way above your means.
- Listen to their advice, if they know the area well then they should be in the best position to advise you.
- Keep an open mind, but not at the expense of your "must have" list.
- Tell your realtor what you like or dislike about properties when you view them. It will help them to narrow down the search or ignore unsuitable properties, which saves you both time.
And in return your realtor/agent will:
- Provide you with a shortlist of properties currently on the market.
- Take you to see your selected properties.
- Recommend a starting point for negotiation when you have found your dream home.
- Ensure that an agreeable price is reached for both the buyer and seller.
- Advise you of your next steps.
If you get a good realtor that understands you and your needs then it won't take long to identify the perfect property and see that "sold" sign go up
And whether you are buying solo or with a realtors help, don't forget your checklists!