I am in the process of looking for a new home in Kitchener or Waterloo. Like you, I also want to find my dream home. No one want to gets stuck living in a nightmare. Most buyers have a deep and somewhat justified fear of purchasing a “problem home.” The unfortunate truth is that some do end up falling into a money pit and some new homebuyers find after they’ve moved in that the home wasn’t quite the right fit for their family or their lifestyle. If you’ve found a good real estate agent in Kitchener-Waterloo, you’ve taken the first step in finding your dream home and dodging that nightmare. Now you’ve just got to open the conversation and start asking the right questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask your Kitchener-Waterloo real estate agent lots of questions. It’s what he or she expects and it’s why you’ve contracted with them in the first place! Your agent is there to help you and they should genuinely want you to find the best possible home at the price you need to pay. Your realtor wants you to be completely satisfied and truly happy in your new home (after all, referrals are very important to us!). It’s simply smart to dig deep into your Realtor’s body of knowledge and really learn all you can before a purchase.
Your questions also help your agent to assess what you really need and want in a home and what is most important to you. Your agent isn’t a mind reader so you have to be clear and communicative about your needs. If you don’t ask the right questions, your agent can’t give you the information most valuable to your home search.
The right kinds of questions for your agent are open-ended, requiring more than a yes or no answer. They should open up a dialog about the home, your needs or any of the topics most important to you in particular. Take some time to determine what you value most in a home and try not to become distracted when you’re viewing or discussing a potential home. You should consider making a list and storing it on your smartphone for reference. This way you won’t overlook one of your “must-haves” or “deal-breakers.” You can get distracted when you’re in a home that has that special spark, but is missing a key feature you hope to find.
Here are a few examples of questions to help you open a meaningful discourse with your Kitchener-Waterloo real estate agent about a home.
A fair question: “Is this a good neighbourhood?”
A good neighborhood is a top consideration for buyers but the definition of good is more difficult to pin down. Asking if a neighborhood is “good” or “bad” is just too subject to interpretation. What one person considers good may be practically unbearable to another. One buyer (or agent) might think that being within walking distance to shops and restaurants is a huge plus and respond, “Yes, this neighborhood is great.” But if you really want to live in a quiet country setting, the answer to that question would be really be no.
The BETTER question: “Tell me about the neighbourhood.”
This version of the neighborhood question gives your agent a chance to fill in the blanks and help show you how the neighborhood fits your needs. He or she can tell you about the features that could make it a perfect choice. You can also get an idea if this just may not be the ideal location for you. This query goes beyond the judgement of good or bad and starts to address the question “Is it right for me and my family?” instead.
A fair question: “How much does it cost?”
After location, price is often the determining factor in a home purchase. It’s tempting to just jump to the numbers straight away. Remember that an asking price may or may not be what you actually end up paying in the end. A smart, reliable agent probably won’t be showing you a home he knows is way outside of the budget you’ve communicated so don’t fixate on the price just yet.
The BETTER question: “What are comparable home sales in this area?” and “What’s the value of this home?”
What you really want to know is whether the home is a good value for the price, not simply the price. If it’s perfectly in your budget but significantly overpriced for the area, you won’t be getting your money’s worth. If the asking price a little over budget but the home has been sitting on the market for 6 months, your agent might be able to negotiate and get you the price you need. Don’t be blinded by an asking price. Look instead at overall value and the quality of this long-term investment. To find out what the difference between the assessed value and list price of a home read the article we wrote about this subject.
A fair question: “When was it built?”
This isn’t a terrible question on its own; it’s just not likely what you really wanted to know. Asking for the year usually means you’re asking about the condition of the home. Condition is a serious matter and it can’t be contained in the home’s birthday. A century-old home that’s been given a new roof, wiring and plumbing could be in far better condition than one 75 years younger.
The BETTER question: “What is the condition of the home’s major systems (roof, electrical, plumbing, structure, foundation, etc.)?”
Go ahead and ask for the build year but add on this question about the home’s primary systems. The roof, electrical systems, plumbing and foundation/structure are where “money pits” are born so ask about them specifically. Ask if the home has been inspected recently and have your agent go over the report with you.
The right questions always lead to the best information. Start thinking about what you really want and need to know about a home and you can have a more meaningful chat with your agent. Finding your dream home really does start with a meaningful conversation.
Members of The Mark Maurer Team are always open to answering your questions about buying or selling a home in Kitchener-Waterloo or the surrounding area. Feel free to drop us a line here or give us a call at 519.885.0200.