The Forsythe Group Calgary, Alberta Home Buyer’s Guide
Our goal is to create a win-win relationship with every client we represent. Through clear communication and a service acumen that is second to none we will help you achieve your real estate dream. With our single minded focus, we have helped hundreds of families buy and sell their homes. Our group has been and continues to be thrilled and thankful to be serving great clients in the Calgary Real Estate Market since 1986. It would be our privilege to serve you.
Whether you are a first-time buyer, looking to buy a Condo, pursuing that Luxury Home or looking for that exquisite Country Residential Property, buying a home can and will be both an exciting and overwhelming experience. We work closely with you throughout the buying process to ensure that your needs are met and your experience is both enjoyable and memorable.
This will be one of your most substantial investments and we don’t take that lightly. Finding you the home of your dreams, in the best location and for the best market price is what we’re committed to doing for you.
While reading through our Home Buyer’s guide, please make a note of any questions you may have on the provided note pages at the back of this booklet. Give us a call. Lets talk about it!
To Own Or Rent
Let’s be honest – both home ownership and renting have their advantages. Most everyone at one point in their lives will make a decision on whether or not to become a home owner and it’s not always an easy decision.
It’s reasonable for homeowners to expect the equality in their home will increase over time. As their mortgage is paid down and their property values appreciate their net worth will increase. In comparison, a person renting over the same amount of time will be left with no property investment but may have enjoyed lower living expenses and the opportunity to invest in other areas.
The Forsythe Group’s Buyers Agents
The Forsythe Group buyer’s Agent represents our clients who are purchasing real estate. We work for our buyer’s and have our buyer’s best interests in mind throughout the entire real estate process. We will always discover, investigate and disclose all material facts related to the sale to protect our client.
WHY USE US?
The only way we can work with you is by you signing a Buyer/Brokerage contract with the Forsythe Group. We will only enter into a win-win relationship with every buyer we go to work for. Being “market savvy” has proven to give the Forsythe Group a superior position when negotiating a purchase for you. The more we know about the property’s selling points, the area and the market tends, the more confident we can be when presenting your offer.
We are focused on you to find a home that meets both your lifestyle and your budget. You will have up to the minute Real Estate information pertaining to your search, the information and data that you receive is the exact data other Real Estate Agents receive. Your access to this data is provided through a portal that you can visit and look at whenever you wish. Whenever anything new shows up, whenever anything is reduced in price, whenever an open house shows up, whatever it is you are looking for in your search, we will provide it to you.
HOW MUCH DO I HAVE TO PAY?
Nothing! That’s right, contrary to popular belief; buyers don’t usually pay the commission on a purchase of a property.
Our services are 100% satisfaction guaranteed when you sign the Buyer/Brokerage agreement with us. Payment for our services is usually paid by the selling company.
5 WAYS TO HELP US, HELP YOU
- Identify Your Needs – We will walk through a wants and needs list with you to find out exactly what you are looking for, where you would like it to be, and how soon you would like to be there.
- Get Pre-Approved – The approval process will save you all kinds of time moving forward with your home buying venture. In order for us to serve you at the highest level, this is a critical part in allowing you to succeed. Once you are ready to go, we are ready to go.
- Get Ready – If you need to sell your current home before purchasing another, then we have to get to work and get an immediate market evaluation on your property to figure out if pricing makes sense for you. If you’re renting, be sure you’re aware of how much notice you must provide to your landlord, what your lease entails and anything else that is critical to you moving. Just let us know what your timing is, and we will get to work!
- Beginning the Search – We are thrilled to be getting started for you, and now we begin the process of setting up times for you to look at properties. Please know how important you are and how serving you at a high level is critical to your success: This means we will create times with you every week that will work with your schedule, so we can get you through the properties that you are interested in.
- Feedback – Feedback is such a misunderstood term in todays Real Estate Market. You must give us permission in order for us to share feedback with other agents. We are going to ask you NOT to give us permission to share feedback with other agents, because once you find the property you love, no one else should know except for us. Don’t worry. We will know when you are really interested in a property… then we will get to work.
What can you afford?
Before you set out looking for your dream home you should know what you can afford. There is nothing more disheartening than to go through the house-hunting process, home and then find out you could never afford it.
Most people obtain a loan to finance the purchase of their property/house/condo/luxury home; a mortgage represents a loan on the property that has to be paid over a specific period of time. Think of it as your personal guarantee that you’ll repay the money you’ve borrowed to buy a home. Mortgages come in many different shapes and sizes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you select the mortgage that is right for you, and ask us if you need a broker or bank to contact you about your financial picture.
It’s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you shop for a home. When you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, it means a lender has looked closely at your income and credit rating and determined that you qualify for a loan. The bank can also tell you the maximum amount they will loan you, along with the interest rate they will charge.
You can get a no-cost-no-obligation mortgage pre-Approval by contacting a bank or lending institution.
A few things to keep in mind while mortgage hunting:
- Negotiate – A mortgage is a product, just like a car. The prices and terms are negotiable.
- Give the lender accurate information – it will strengthen you pre-approval rate. Be prepared to bring in your most recent tax return information or T4 slips, a current pay stub and the amount of balance owing to any debtors including credit cards and car loans.
- A mortgage pre-approval isn’t a guarantee that the lender will approve the loan. A lender will only commit to a loan once it has approved both you and the house you buy.
The down payment required can range from 5% to 25% of the purchase price depending on the terms of your mortgage. It is important to remember not to budget all of the money you have saved for your down payment as you will need money for closing costs, insurance, inspections etc.
There are two types of costs when buying a home, the initial one-time expenses required for your purchase and the ongoing costs of paying back you mortgage and maintaining your home.
Typical one-time expenses may include, but are not limited to:
- DOWN PAYMENT – typically 5% to 25%.
- PROPERTY TAXES – if seller has paid a portion of taxes in advance, you’ll be responsible for reimbursing the seller upon closing.
- SERVICE CHARGES – for hooking up telephone, cable etc. at your new home.
- GST – if purchasing a new home.
- APPRAISAL FEE – if required by lender.
- MORTGAGE LOAN INSURANCE FEES & PREMIUMS – if less than 20% down payment
- INSPECTION FEE – usually between $400 and $550.
- LEGAL FEES – can range widely depending on the complexity of the transaction.
- PRE-DECORATION – you’ll probably want to add personal touches to your new home. Set aside some money for paint, drapes, throw rugs and other minor alternations you may want to make.
- MOVERS – whether you move your home contents yourself or hire a moving company, you’ll need to budget money for your move.
EXPECT ON GOING COSTS TO BE:
- Mortgage payments
- Strata, Condo or Pad Fees (if applicable)
- Property and content insurance
- Property taxes
- Maintenance and repairs
Finding Your Perfect Home
Now that you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage and you have a dedicated Forsythe Group Buyer’s Agent, it’s time to find your perfect home. With a little preparation, and a lot of hard work, we will help you find your home.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
The best place to start your house search will be determined by what type of home you’re looking for. Making the decision to purchase a family home, a condominium, a luxury property or a country residential acreage will have as much to do with your personal preference as it does with expense.
WHAT’S YOUR STYLE?
If you’ve decided to buy a Single Family home, there are many different styles to choose from. The following are the most popular:
- Bungalow – Single story house set on slab, crawlspace, or basement/
- Bi-level – Entry is in middle – up to reach main floor, down to basement.
- Split Level – Multi-level home connected by short staircases.
- 2 Storey – Entrance and main living area is on main level of home with bedrooms usually on the upper level.
- Inner City Infill – Usually a 17 – 20 foot width property, with modern design to accentuate maximum space.
- Country Residential Living – Acreage living is appealing to a lot of people. We are very familiar with this market.
- Villa Style – Usually an attached bungalow style property with maintenance fees and/or Home Owner Association (HOA) fees.
- Condominiums – From luxury to 1st time buyers, we have our Condominium Specialist Designation to make sure you buy a great condo, in a great building.
MAKE A WISH LIST
Do you want to live close to work? Do you need a fully fenced yard for your dog? It’s time to sit down and go over exactly what it is you are looking for. (Page 26-27)
Lets take the time to differentiate between your preferences (wants) and requirements (needs). Your requirements will be your absolute “must haves” whereas your preferences will be everything else. Try to keep in mind your future needs as well. Whether your family plans to grow larger or you are about to become empty nester, the home that you find should suit your future needs as well as your current needs.
SEARCH FOR HOMES
As part of our exclusive Home Finder Program, we provide our clients with access to the MLS database. This database program, Private Client Services, gives you the ability to access every listing on the MLS. It also shows you all of the information on these listings: asking price, number of days on market, lot size, property tax info etc. You can register for Private Client Services on our website at www.therodforsythegroup.com.
Once you are set up as a Forsythe Group client, you will receive instant e-mail notifications whenever a new listings becomes available that meets your search criteria. This service gives you a large advantage over other home buyers as you will have an opportunity to view these homes before they do.
In addition we will be previewing properties for you. Any listing that meets your individual needs will be pre-screened so that when we take you on a tour of home, you will only be viewing properties that fall within your price range and requirements. We will not waste your time looking at houses you will never be interested in.
BUYING A HOME WITH RESALE VALUE
Most people don’t live in the same home for the full term of their mortgage. That’s why you want to ensure you buy a home that will grow in value and sell quickly when you next decide to move.
Here are some tips to help you find a home with good resale value:
The location of your home is essential. Of course a location that’s regarded as desirable today will probably be desirable 10 years from now, its always a great idea to buy in a desirable location.
Looking at the neighbourhood is critical. Is it desirable? We will explore your locations of interest with you to find desirable neighbourhoods for you to live in. We will also be exploring with you services that are close by. The most important services today seem to be: Schools, Transit, Shopping, access to Downtown, access to the airport, and access to the mountains.
THE SIZE OF YOUR LOT
Most people look for a level rectangular shaped lot with a decent sized front and back yard. You will find that yard sizes are similar in the areas you are looking at.
Whether you have a green thumb or not, your budget will determine the size of your lot. Your landscaping dreams are your own, and we are going to encourage you to make your house into a home.
Here is your diamond in the rough. By now you have become a specialist in the homes you are looking at. If the home only needs carpet, paint and a few bathroom fixtures, you already know how much value that adds to your purchase. If you don’t know trades to help you with this, we do! Lets keep these outdated properties in the loop if you wish to explore this option. Try to avoid outdated features such as popcorn ceilings and shape carpeting. Needs we really explain why? Outdated features can be turned into a positive but you would have to buy the home under market value and update the home.
MINOR COSMETIC ISSUES SHOULD EXCITE YOU
Fresh paint, new cabinet hardware and light fixtures are some inexpensive ways to freshen up and modernize a home. Sometimes all a home needs is a little TLC to make it shine.
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
We want to know whats important to you IE Storage space garage space, closet space, bathroom space, natural light, bedrooms; how many on each level, etc.
You will become a mini-specialist in your price range, and we will be your sounding board every step of the way, assessing the value of your purchase.
Making an Offer
When you’ve found the perfect property, we will sit down with you and make a formal written offer to purchase. This is a legally binding contract outlining price, terms, conditions and a possession date.
For some, this is a stressful experience. After all, everyone has advised you since the beginning of time that you should negotiate tenaciously for the purchase of your home; this isn’t necessarily true. Remember the property you want to buy is within your grasp and you have become a mini market specialist in this price range. Everything is not negotiable and we will certainly put our best foot forward on your behalf. You should ask for what you want and keep in mind this is the beginning of the negotiation. Pertinent parts of the contract are going to include: Deposit (usually between 3-5%), price, financing conditions, a home inspection, and a condo document review, of all current condominium documents. Please know these conditions are precedent solely for your benefit.
Be aware. The seller is probably going to counter your offer, unless it is full price. No worries. We will be with you every step of the way, helping you secure your new property.
THE OFFER CAN BE FIRM OR CONDITIONAL
A firm offer means that you are prepared to purchase the home without any conditions. This is very unusual in most marketplaces. A conditional offer is usually the normal way to proceed. Contingencies usually include home inspection condition, financing condition, and sometimes the sale of your home. Once we have your offer to purchase in writing, we will electronically get it to the listing agent as soon as possible. After the sellers have received your offer, there are three possible outcomes and after the seller receives your offer, there are three possible outcomes.
Your offer may be accepted, your offer may be countered, or your offer may be rejected. If your offer is accepted, we are thrilled for you! If there is a counter offer, we will go over the changes with you, usually pertaining to price and possession. If your offer is rejected, you have to rethink if you would like us to rewrite another offer for you.
This is an exciting and terrifying time. You have found a property and you have made an offer to purchase. Thankfully, you have been scouring the market for days, weeks, maybe months by now and you know that everybody (Family and friends) are going to offer you their advice in negotiating your contract. It is very important for you to understand: You are the mini specialist in this price point and we will provide you with all pertinent data, pertaining to your purchase. We are fully compliant electronically to negotiate this offer quickly and efficiently for you. So lets get to work and get you a home.
THE PROCESS OF MAKING THE OFFER
When it comes time to determining the dollar amount of your purchase, we will provide you market data with information about prices of similar homes or condos that are currently on the market, and more importantly, those that have recently sold in the area. You have done the work to make an informed decision based on the homes you have looked at.
The starting point of your offer is the key to your success. It is important to understand you can move forward with the purchase of your new property, remembering you are a current market specialist! You have been supplied with current sales in the area that you are looking at. Since 1986 we have been able to help, advise and secure great properties for people when they find the home they want.
Choose the strategy that’s best for you:
- The “How Low Can You Go” Offer (… Doesn’t usually work)
- The “I’ve Got to Have This Home” Offer (…We will get this for you)
- The “Poker” offer (…Is a shot in the dark)
The “How Low Can You Go” is going to help somebody else buy this home. We are going to suggest when you are ready to buy, that this is a bad buying position to put you in. In a buyers market you may have a little more time to negotiate your contract than in a sellers market
Lowball offers only succeed if the seller is desperate. You may receive a counter offer and more often than not, the seller might get insulted and ignore your offer completely.
The ”l’ve Got to Have This Home’” offer will happen when you fall in love with your home. This offer must be acted on quickly and efficiently, especially if the market price seems to have great value your eyes, whether it is a buyers market or a sellers market. Most sellers expect to receive a great offer on a well priced home and we will walk with you through this process and help you position yourself as the next owner of this home.
The power of walking away from an offer may strengthen your buying position, especially when no one else is competing against you to buy the home.
ACCEPTED AND REJECTED OFFER
If the seller accepts the offer, congratulations, you are on your way to owning a new home. Once we submit the offer to the other agent, we will be in constant contact representing your best interest. Usually we will receive a counter offer to your offer at which point you can choose to accept or respond with another counter offer. We will be in curious communication with you through this process until you either get the property, or not.
This includes the address and legal description of the property, and the names of the seller, buyer and brokerages involved.
The deposit shows your good faith and will be applied against the purchase of the home when the sale closes. Deposits are usually 3-5% of the purchase price and a larger deposit will show the seller you are a serious buyer.
Depending on the market conditions, your opinion of the value of the home and the information provided by The Forsythe Group, the price you offer may be different from the seller’s asking price.
4. CHATTEL – INCLUSIONS AND EXCLUSIONS
Items within the home that will be included in the purchase price such as appliances, fixtures or decorations such as drapes or mirrors (referred to as chattel). Don’t assume that anything will be left behind. If you want it, put it in the contract.
5. CLOSING OR POSSESSION DATE
Generally, the possession date is agreed upon by the buyer and the seller. It is important to note: possession is usually at 12 noon on the agreed upon date by both the buyer and the seller.
These include the possibility of you revisiting the property for another look after a firm sale and access to the property one business day before you take possession. Conditions are different than terms.
Usual conditions include: Financing, Home Inspection, Condo Document Review, in Country/Residential Acreages this means Water Test, Septic Field Test and a well test. Your offer may also be subject to the sale of your. (these conditions are solely on your behalf and must be met before you will buy this home.)
8. REAL PROPERTY REPORT AND COMPLIANCE
The real property report with compliance should be provided by the homeowner, for a residential property or a country residential property. In the case of a condominium Estoppel Certificate 4 or 5 days before possession.
Conditional offers are items that are usually put in place to protect a party’s interests when buying a property. Conditional clauses must be written carefully and precisely.
The following are some common conditions you may want to make your purchase subject to:
- Buyers to obtain approval for financing
- Buyers to review and approve a property inspection
- Buyers to have an approval for the subject to the sale of your home clause
- Buyer to have a satisfactory condominium document review
- Buyers to have a satisfactory Rural Property Inspection Report (Acreages)
You can have as many conditional clauses as you like, and remember, the fewer conditions set, the more attractive the offer is to the seller. Try to think of it this way: you are asking the seller to take their property off the market during the time you are attempting to fulfill the offer to purchase.
Once the conditions have been met, you are required by law to provide written notification to the seller stating you have met all of the conditions on the contract. If you are unable to fulfill the conditions after making every reasonable effort to do so, the contract ends and there is no legal obligation to complete the purchase. If your brokerage is holding your deposit, both you and the seller must sign a deposit release form before your deposit will be given back to you.
Title is the responsibility your lawyer to conduct a search of title for appropriate permits and also to contact the municipality for taxes, zoning compliance (permits, use, setbacks, fencing, compliance with subdivision agreements, etc.) and public utilities (hydro, gas, etc.) within the time stated in the offer.
FINALIZING THE MORTGAGE
Once you’ve found the home you want to purchase, there are some documents you’ll probably be asked for in order to finalize your financing. These will include:
- The real estate listing of the property. If the home is still being built, the mortgage lender will need to see the architect’s or the builder’s plans and details on lot size and location.
- A copy of the offer to purchase or the building contract, if this document has been prepared.
- Documents to confirm employment, income and source of down payment.
A home inspection is an evaluation of a house’s condition. During a home inspection, a qualified, licensed inspector takes an in-depth and impartial look at the property you plan to buy. Home inspectors do not estimate the value of the home. Home inspectors evaluate the condition of your home and you will receive a written report of the findings from the home inspection company. The inspector will:
- Evaluate the physical condition: the structure, construction and mechanical systems.
- Identify items that should be repaired and/or replaced.
- Estimate the remaining useful life of the major systems (such as electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning), equipment, structure and finishes.
TEN IMPORTANT QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HOME INSPECTOR
- What do you do?
- How long have been practicing in the home inspection profession and how many inspections have you completed?
- Are you specifically experienced in residential inspections?
- Do you offer to do the repairs or improvements based on the inspection?
- How long will the inspection take? (Usually 3 to 5 hours)
- How much will it cost?
- What type of inspection report do you provide and how long will it take to receive the report?
- Will I be able to attend the inspection?
- Do you maintain membership in a professional home inspection association?
- Do you participate in continuing education programs to keep your expertise up to date?
WHAT IS A PROPERTY APPRAISAL?
A property appraisal is set up by your lender and if the property does not appraise for the price you purchased the home for, there is a strong possibility you do not need to complete the purchase.
SPENDING A FEW HUNDRED MAY SAVE THOUSANDS
When you make an offer on a home, the Forsythe Group are going to insist you do a home inspection or a condominium document review. You will have to pay for the inspection yourself and it could keep you from buying a house that will cost you far more in repairs down the road. If you are satisfied with the results of the inspection, then your offer can proceed.
The days filled with nervous anticipation are over and you are ready to move into your home. This is the day on which all of the legal and financial promises in the offer are met. It’s the day when you get the keys and begin a new phase in your life. The Forsythe Group and your lawyer will give you all of the details on steps and timings of your physical possession. All of the details will be taken care of ahead of time. In most cases you will be waiting by the phone for us to call and say “The home is yours!” Remember that this is a hectic day for the seller as well! Very often it’s moving day and they’re trying to gather all of their belongings to leave as you are trying to move in.
In brief, here’s what takes place before the actual closing.
- A copy of the offer, a copy of the mls listing and copies of all the conditions you have met for the purchase of your home will be sent to your layer. Your lawyer will have reviewed the conditions of the sale. You will have made your lawyer aware of how you, and any co-buyer, will be registered on the title of the property.
- Your lawyer will search the title of the property to ensure you can move in. Your lawyer will also make sure that the tax adjustments on the property have been fairly assessed between you and the seller. Your lawyer will also make sure there are no liens on the property or the personal property the seller has agreed to sell you as part of the deal.
- You’ll want to make sure that you’ve contacted all of the utility, cable, and phone companies to ensure any easy transition of service and billing. (The Forsythe Group will provide you with a home owners calendar, walking you through the moving process and all applicable numbers i.e. Gas, Electricity, Phone, Cable etc.)
- Your lawyer will prepare a statement of adjustments, and the balance, less the deposit your provided with the offer. This will take place usually 4-5 days before possession.
- Additional settlement charges will have to be paid:
- Your lawyer’s fee and disbursements
- Condo and co-op fees (Remember to ensure there is an adequate Reserve Fund in place. This is dealt with in the condominium documents.)
- Tax and utility adjustments if they have been pre-paid, your lawyer will settle these fees for you with the sellers lawyer.
On the actual closing date, your lawyer pays the seller, registers the home in your name and delivers title. We will get you your keys so you can move in!
Home Buying Timeline
TWO MONTHS BEFORE POSSESSION DAY
- If renting, give rental notice
- Have your lawyer advice you of the exact amount owning then have your certified cheque or bank draft prepared accordingly
- Select a moving company
- Begin packing items you won’t need during this time
- Sell or give away unneeded items
SIX WEEKS BEFORE POSSESSION DAY
- Take record of belongings/valuables – Insure if needed
- Make arrangements to store items if necessary
FOUR WEEKS BEFORE POSSESSION DAY
- Notify post office of changes of address
- Notify utility and phone providers of change of address – arrange for connection at new address
- Obtain boxes from moving company and continue packing
- Confirm move details with mover
TWO WEEKS BEFORE POSSESSION DAY
- Draw up floor plan of new house – provide to moving company with instructions on locating furniture and label furniture
- If necessary, arrange for babysitting or Petsitting on moving day
- If discarding bulky items, make Arrangements according to municipal Requirements
- Arrange necessary move and related Insurance needs
ONE WEEK BEFORE POSSESSION DAY
- Take down any fixtures that you plan to bring with you
- Pack a move day travel bag with Essentials (change of clothes, toiletries,Important documents, identification, etc.)
- Have your lawyer advice you of the exact amount owning then have your certified cheque or bank draft prepared accordingly
We are going to let you know on the day of possession when the keys are released and then we will get the keys to you as soon as possible! Because we did a walkthrough one business day before possession, any minor irritants will already be dealt with. Congratulations!
Provided courtesy of The Rod Forsythe Group