For Buyers

Here are some things you should watch for when buying a home:

Budget Yourself
Make sure you have set your budget realistically. There are many costs that you must consider before you purchase a property:

* Down payment
* Purchase price
* Legal fees
* Property inspection costs
* Mortgage payments
* Utilities
* Insurance
* Maintenance
* Property taxes
* Security
* The industry rule of thumb is to spend about 30% of gross income on housing. Spending more than this may lead to financial hardship.

Find right home
When buying a home, you must make sure that it fits your needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

* Is the house large enough for your family?
* For how long will it be large enough if you are just starting a family?
* Is it close to schools, shopping, work?
* What kind of neighborhood is it in?
* Are there other amenities close by?
* Is there any planned development for the area? (check with city planning)
* If it is an older house, ask if it leaks or has heat problems in the winter. If you buy a property in the summer, you will not necessarily know how well it performs under adverse conditions.

Evaluating the property
Once you have narrowed down your search to several homes that potentially fit your needs, you should make a checklist of each so that you can compare them.

Contract Language
You will need to know a few facts about the legal process that you must follow when buying a home.

When you are interested in buying a property you must first make an offer.

The offer should include a deadline for acceptance and a few "subject to" clauses to protect yourself. The "subject to" clauses are conditions that must be met before the contract is binding.

There are a few clauses you should be a aware of:
* "this offer is subject to arranging financing..."
* "this offer is subject to lawyers approval..."
* "this offer is subject to selling the purchasers home..."

Note: It is recommended that you have a comprehensive home inspection report done on any property that you are serious about purchasing before making the offer, or, as a minimum, insist on having a "subject to inspection" clause written into any agreements.

By inserting these clauses into the offer you can protect yourself from entering into a contract that you may not be able to honor.

There may be restrictions on the property that may have resulted from city zoning or other means. They must be disclosed by the seller in the purchase contract.

Real Property Report
This report will show the boundaries and improvement locations on the property. The seller should have a copy for you so that you know if any improvements are within the properties boundaries or if any planned improvements are feasible.

A Real Property Report shows:
* legal description of the property
* dimensions of boundaries
* location of all improvements
* overhangs and eaves
* list of encroachments

Purchase Contract

You can get a copy of a purchase contract from your lawyer. The seller will have a few copies of this on hand, but it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with its terms and clauses.

Property Inspection

Buyers should always have the property inspected before they close any sale. Structural damage, leaks, etc. may not have been disclosed by the seller, or the seller may have not even have been aware of them. Regardless, a buyer who does not have a property inspected runs the risk of assuming the costs of repair of any hidden defects of a property. See our list of property inspectors if you do not have one in mind already. Remember, property inspection is a competitive industry, so call around and negotiate a good price for yourself.

Notification of an Address Change
In addition to filling out a change of address form at the post office, you should contact directly any companies with whom you will need either to arrange for a transfer of services or to have services discontinued.

Following is a short list of those you will likely need to contact when you are moving:

* Electric utilities
* Gas utilities
* Water utilities
* Insurance company
* Newspapers
* Doctor
* Dentist
* Lawyer
* Friends, relatives
* Bank
* Schools
* Long Distance Moving Trips

The information provided is for consumers' personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing.
All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed accurate, and should be independently verified.
Disclaimer: Information herein deemed reliable but not guaranteed by TREB.