What do you need to disclose about your home? This article explores the principles of ‘caveat emptor’ and ‘material latent defect’.
Are you better off buying a house or a condo? It’s a lifestyle choice, and being informed is the first step in making this important decision.
If you’re living in Winnipeg there are currently something close to 1700 licensed REALTORS® operating within the city. With so many to choose from, how do you go about selecting the right Realtor for you? There are several factors to consider.
A REFERRAL FROM A TRUSTED FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER
One option is to ask around of the people you know well and trust. Look for people with raving reviews of their experience with a Realtor. There’s something to be said for the adage “A tree is known by its fruits” and someone who has done a great job working with someone you know and trust will likely do a great job working with you. But keep in mind that everybody is different, and just because they were a great fit for your childhood friend doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a great fit for you.
LOOK AT WHAT THEY’RE DOING
Once you’ve identified a few Realtors, have a look at what they’re doing. If you’re looking to sell, check them out online, on their business website and social media platforms, and see how they’ve marketed other properties. Does the marketing look professional and appealing? Do they seem to go the extra mile? Are they utilizing technology well to expand the reach of their marketing efforts?
INTERVIEW MORE THAN ONE
Before you can make an informed decision you need to collect some information. Take the time to set up a meeting with two or three of your top picks. Be upfront with them and let them know that you’re interviewing more than one Realtor. Give them a chance to win your business. What you’re looking for is someone who can communicate to you the value they bring to the experience, is forthright and honest in their dealings, has the time to dedicate to you and your success, and is patient in explaining the process and answering your questions.
SELECT SOMEONE YOU FEEL YOU CAN TRUST
This is, perhaps, the single most important point to consider. There are simply so many things to consider when buying or selling a house. Your Realtor is there to provide you with their own expertise, but that doesn’t help you any if you don’t trust that they are competent and have your best interests at heart. If you find yourself doubting their motivations during the process, you will struggle to take their advice and you will have lost the primary benefit of having a Realtor to begin with.
Simply put, if you don’t feel like you can trust the Realtor you’re considering, walk away and find someone else.
At some point in the process your Realtor is going to offer you suggestions on price and negotiating strategy and if you don’t trust them, you will be severely disadvantaged.
QUESTIONS TO ASK IF YOU’RE SELLING
Here’s a list of great questions to ask your prospective Realtor if you’re looking to sell your home:
How will you market my property? What specific steps will you take? A professional Realtor should have a clear marketing strategy and be able to tell you exactly what to expect. They should be able to tell you which marketing channels they use, and why, and which ones they stay away from. Knowing this in advance will also help you manage your expectations and avoid awkward conversations later like “Why didn’t you advertise my home in X?”
What marketing budget do you assign to my listing? It is generally impossible to predict what the overall marketing budget will be because it’s often impossible to know exactly when the home will sell. But your prospective Realtor should be able to tell you roughly how much per week they spend on their marketing plan for your home.
How much do you charge? This seems obvious, but don’t feel uncomfortable bringing up the Realtor’s fee, and your prospective Realtor should not feel uncomfortable in discussing their fee. If they believe in the value of the service they offer, they ought not feel bashful discussing what they charge for their services and explaining the value you get for the money you spend.
What will you expect of me through the process? It’s important to know up front what your Realtor will expect of you. Some things such as acting in good faith when dealing with an offer, making sure the house is kept tidy and shows well, and making the home available for showings upon respect seem like they go without saying, but they shouldn’t. These matters should be discussed thoroughly before a Listing Agreement is signed so there are no surprises.
QUESTIONS TO ASK IF YOU’RE BUYING
If you’re looking to buy a home, here are a few questions to ask before you agree to move forward:
How frequently will you be available to me to look at properties? Remember that your potential Realtor is a professional and likely you’re not the only client they work with. But they should be able to tell you how much time they can devote to you, and what they consider ‘reasonable’. It’s unreasonable to expect your Realtor to be available to you 24/7 at a moment’s notice. If they are, it begs the question why they don’t have other work to do (or why they don’t have a life at all outside of work). However your Realtor generally ought to be available to you at least once per week while you’re shopping to view properties, and be willing to juggle as needed when something comes up that can’t wait for your regularly scheduled appointment.
If something comes up that’s time sensitive and you’re not available, who do you have to help me out? Try as we might, Realtors have yet to figure out a way to be in two places at the same time. So how do we get around that? We have people we work with, people we trust, that can step in to lend a hand when needed. There’s a good chance you’ll never meet this hidden hero in the background throughout the process, but it’s good to know your prospective Realtor has someone they can call on in a pinch if they find themselves unable to work with you when you need them.
What will you do for me throughout the process? This is a big blanket question but a pro should have no trouble highlighting the value they’ll bring to the process of helping you buy a home.
What happens if I decide I don’t want to work with you anymore? Some Realtors make use of a Buyer’s Agreement, which is a more formalized contract between the client and Realtor. Currently, many do not. There’s nothing inherently wrong with signing a Buyer’s Agreement, and upcoming regulation changes in Manitoba are expected to mandate the use of them. Whether your agreement with your Realtor is formalized by way of a Buyer’s Agreement or not, it should be made clear what the expectations of the Realtor are of you, and what actions you can take to terminate the relationship if it’s not working for you.
Hopefully this article has been helpful in helping you select a Realtor that you can trust, that will do good work for you and have your best interests at heart, and will make the process as smooth and seamless as possible.
As Winnipeg prepares for the first hint of spring, it’s a good time to take care of some basic maintenance issues in your home. Anyone who has spent even a single winter in Winnipeg will attest to the weather extremes our city is known for. Harsh cold and low humidity can take a toll on any home and it’s worth taking some simple steps to protect your valuable asset.
EAVESTROUGH & DOWNSPOUTS
Preparing your home for the big spring melt can help make sure that water is channeled away from the foundation and reduce the risk of seepage, flooding, and pooling. Make sure your eavestroughs and downspouts are free of ice and debris, and that you have proper runoffs installed to at least 6 feet from your home.
CENTRAL AIR & FURNACE
Once the temperatures get into the low teens, it’s important to make sure your central air is in good working order. Have you ever tried to call an HVAC service company the first week of +30 temperatures? Rather than waiting until it’s a real problem, a little preventative maintenance can ensure that your system is working when you need it, and alert you early to any problems you might have.
Remove the cover from your AC unit if you have one, and start it up for a few minutes to see if it’s working. You don’t want to run it for long if the outside temperature is under 18C, but you should be able to tell quickly that you have cold air coming.
Now is also a good time to change your furnace filter, and schedule duct cleaning if it hasn’t been done in a while.
Spring is also the time you want to get out your sump pump runoff hose and connect it to the exterior of your house, making sure to run it away from the house to an appropriate drainage location.
INSPECT YOUR BASEMENT FOR SIGNS OF SEEPAGE OR MOLD
Take a moment to walk the perimeter of your basement on the inside looking for indication of any seepage or mold. Damp carpets, bubbling paint, or staining can be signs of water seepage. If you find seepage, inspect the exterior of the home in that area and make sure you have proper grading away from the foundation wall, that your downspout runoffs are properly moving water away from the home, and consider calling a foundation specialist to inspect your foundation for serious cracks which can be a sign of structural problems.
CHECK YOUR ATTIC FOR ICE DAMMING
Before the big spring melt comes, it’s important to check for signs of ice damming in your home. One of the immediate giveaways is if you have significant icicles hanging from the eaves. However, even if you don’t see a lot of icicles, you may still have ice damming. It’s worth popping your head up into your attic with a flashlight while temperatures are still cold to look for ice buildup on your rafters, often near the eaves, or for signs of water staining or pooling.
Ice damming is fairly common in older homes. If left unattended it can lead to greater roof problems. There are several issues that can contribute to the problem, however the most common issues are a lack of sufficient insulation, in improper vapour barrier, and inadequate roofing ventilation. Consult a roofing professional for advice on remedying this problem before it leads to a very expensive fix.
TEST SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS AND CHANGE BATTERIES
Spring is a good time to test all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries (even if you think they’re still working fine). These life-saving devices are so important to your family’s safety so it’s well worth taking a moment a couple times per year to ensure that they are working properly.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR HRV / HUMIDISTAT
If your home has a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) it’ll be important to keep an eye on your home’s humidity settings as the season changes. Winter is much drier than summer, so it’s common to keep your humidity set to between 40-44%. However, by the middle of summer it’s nearly impossible to keep your home that dry and if you leave your humidity setting that low your HRV will run continuously. By the peak of summer it’s likely you’ll want to have your HRV set to around 60%. As outside temperatures warm up through spring, keep an eye on your HRV and bump up the humidity settings accordingly.
If you take care of these simple maintenance steps each spring you can extend the life of your home, and avoid a lot of common preventable problems.
Happy spring! Enjoy the nice weather!