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Canadians Have Become Savvy Buyers

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 25 July 2000 00:00

Yes, some people get sold a home that doesn't suit their needs or their budget, but increasingly, Canadian home buyers have become too savvy to sign on the dotted line without asking a lot of questions.

Stock market disasters, mutual fund disappointments and memories of the eighties real estate insanity have created a new type of housing consumer. Consumer education is "in" and Canadians welcome opportunities to learn more about real estate. Canadian home shows are already gearing up for the fall round of information-rich events. Provincial homebuilders associations and Realtors continue to offer home buyer programs.

Here are a few "savvy" tips:

  • Start with the home builders association – the provincial group or local chapters. Most have literature and seminars to help new home buyers. Let the association fill you in on builder and government consumer protection or warranty plans.

  • Be prepared to visit each new home site more than once. Seeing the area in different seasons can also be useful if the market is not too hot. Knowledgeable developers and their staff welcome return visits.

  • Compare apples and apples. Yes, each home is unique but how does each unit measure up against your specific needs. Compare on more than square footage. Location still plays a big part in future value. "Buy the best location you can afford" is still a solid approach when investing your savings.

  • Be wary of salesmanship. Salespeople say a lot but it is what's in writing that counts. They may also create urgency to buy when none exists.

  • Spend as much time comparing quality of construction as you do decorating details. Soundproofing, insulation and non-allergenic materials and techniques can add significant comfort but are difficult to add later. Features that can not be afforded now can at least be roughed-in for future installation.

  • Retiring home buyers should do some worst-case-scenario planning. In the excitement of contemplating a luxury condominium, golf-centric lifestyle community or a waterfront complex, make a list of things that could make that type of lifestyle difficult or expensive for you. For instance, if you could no longer drive, how practical would this new home be?

  • When it comes time to sign up, remember that you get only what is in writing. Unless a cooling-off period has been written into the contract, you are committed once you sign. For instance, in Ontario, there is a 10-day cooling-off period for new condominiums but not for resale. Investigate the conditions of sale with an experienced real estate lawyer before you buy.

  • Learn the rules regarding construction delays. Construction demands and labour problems are forcing closing dates to be altered in many parts of Canada. What are your rights?

    Savvy Canadian consumers have learned to assume nothing, ask everything and get it in writing.

    For more information: Canadian Home Builders Association (http://www.chba.ca/ ) for links to provincial organizations and other local resources.

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