Buying a home can be very rewarding but it can also be an intimidating experience for a first time buyer or for an unprepared more experienced home buyer. Most people understand that buying a home always has the following two principal components: the home; and the location. But, it does not stop there. This article called for better or worse buying a home highlights some other very important considerations and precautions that should be part of the home buying process to help avoid surprises down the road.
As a home buyer in British Columbia you should understand what Designated Agency is all about and how you and your interests are best protected. If you are currently working with a real estate agent who has not explained this to you warning bells should go off. The requirement for agency disclosure is stipulated in law, by regulation, and by a code of ethics. Also addressed is the requirement for Agency disclosure at the earliest opportunity and before a real estate agent provides professional services (which are defined in law and which include the showing of real estate).
While the law stipulates that the seller must disclose issues related to a home such as material latent defects, the phrase caveat emptor (buyer beware) is prudent guidance for home buyers. Buyers are expected to make inquiries of and to investigate the property before they buy it. Information about a home and/or property can be gained in a number of ways. These include, but are not limited to, database research, through disclosures, by talking to municipal offices, through inspections, and through first hand observation. The more you know about a home before you commit to buying it the better. Time spent doing your homework is seldom wasted.
Real estate agents who are licensed to work in BC can work where they choose to work in the province, but their local knowledge may be limited to a specific area. For example, a realtor who works in downtown Vancouver may know that area well but they may know little to nothing about an area such as the Comox Valley. As well, to have local knowledge does not necessarily mean to have local real estate knowledge. A competent realtor should be able to provide information and advice on the local real estate market as well as on real estate considerations of the local area. If wells were prone to running dry in a specific area, and you were looking at buying a rural property in that area, is that not someone that may be of interest to you?
Real Estate Offers
Making an offer on a home can be straight forward provided that the person making the offer knows enough about real estate law or has advice from someone who does in order to include things such as the conditions that are appropriate for the situation and property. Writing an unconditional offer on a home may be routine on “Realty TV shows” but it is not appropriate in many real life situations. Having an accepted unconditional offer means that you have purchased the home via a legally binding contract. Know what you are signing before you sign.
Owner-Builder Disclosure notices, Development Property Disclosure Statements and Residential Property Disclosure Statements are treated differently in law. For example:
- Owner-Builder Disclosure Notices – Owner-Builders in BC who wish to sell their home within 10 years of first occupancy must provide a disclosure notice obtained from the Homeowner Protection Office to any prospective purchasers. The disclosure notice will inform the purchaser that the home was built by the owner-builder and whether or not there is a policy of home warranty insurance in place for the home. If there is not, the owner-builder is accountable and liable for the statutory protection provision of the Homeowner Protection Act;
- The marketing of development properties in BC is regulated by the Real Estate Development Marketing Act. This Act requires that developers disclose specific information about the property to prospective purchasers. Developers must file a Disclosure Statement with the Superintendent of Real Estate and provide a copy of the Disclosure Statement to prospective purchaser. The Act provides that a developer must not enter into a contract to sell a development unit unless a copy of the Disclosure Statement has been provided to the purchaser and the purchaser has been given a reasonable time to read it. The Disclosure Statement explains what the developer is selling and describes the purchaser’s right to cancel the pre-sale contract within 7 days of signing it;
- In BC the law does not require residential home sellers to fill out a PDS but if they choose to do so, the expectation is that they do so honestly and accurately. There is a difference between patent and latent defects associated with a home. Home sellers are required by law to disclose latent defects or which they were or should have been aware or where they were reckless as to whether such a problem existed. In general, the doctrine of caveat emptor (buyer beware) apples to patent defects and the onus is on the buyer to inspect and discover patent defects.
These are just a few of the many things that apply to the real estate home buying process. Want to know more? Aim high and contact the Brett Cairns real estate team when you are ready to buy your next Comox Valley home.