My real estate wish list
(This article by Mark Weisleder which appeared in our March Newsletter, outlines some great ideas for minor reform in our industry. These reforms would, however, bring about some really great changes!)
Canada is still one of the most desired destinations for immigrants and the Canadian real estate market has stayed strong. I believe that with certain improvements, the process of buying and selling a home could be much less stressful, with benefits to both buyers and sellers. With that in mind, here are my five real estate wishes for 2011:
1. Accessible information. Make it mandatory for insurance companies to release information about any insurance claims made in the past 20 years on any home, for a reasonable fee, and as part of their home inspection due diligence. Insurance companies have this info available and use it to help them determine the premium they’ll charge. For example, if your home has suffered a sewage backup in the past, you’ll have difficulty obtaining coverage for your basement. If there’s a high incidence of vandalism in the neighbourhood, this will also increase your premium. The question is: if you were a buyer, wouldn’t you like to know this information in advance? Despite privacy concerns, it would be simple for insurers to remove the name of the owner who made the claim and give details of the claims themselves.
2. Mandatory insurance policies. Require buyers and sellers to purchase a five-year insurance policy to cover structural defects like foundation problems, basement and roof leaks and mould. If this was mandatory, sellers would have to be more up front about prior problems before an agreement was signed. The insurance company would have the resources to sue any seller who made false representations about the home when it was being sold. Also, consider a one-year policy to cover problems with the electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems in the home.
3. Home appraisals. Make it mandatory for all lenders to conduct an appraisal of any home subject of a loan application within five days of receipt of the request. This will ensure that before a buyer waives any financing condition in their agreement of purchase and sale, they’ll know in advance that the bank agrees with the amount they paid for the property and will fund the mortgage. We’ve witnessed situations where banks have left the appraisal to the last minute, concluded that the buyer paid more for the property than it was worth and refused to lend the total amount applied for. Buyers have had to either default on their purchase or come up with thousands of dollars on closing to make up the difference.
4. Accurate reporting. The media should think more carefully before publishing headlines about the Canadian real estate market that can cause unnecessary stress. They fixate on the subject of new housing starts in Canada as a measure of the economy and panic if the numbers aren’t as high as they were a year ago. Did anyone ever do an analysis as to how many new homes or condominiums we need to provide for new buyers, those looking to downsize, and new immigrants? There will be different requirements in all provinces, when you factor in immigration, job growth and related factors, but these numbers often get lumped together.
5. Buy a home for the right reasons. If you’re sitting on the fence wondering when or whether to buy a home in 2011, remember there’s never been a better time to buy a home than right now, with interest rates continuing at historic lows. If you’re buying for lifestyle, to raise a family and not for pure speculation, then it’s a great time to buy a home. Sure, there may be short-term ups and downs in the market because there are some things none of us can control. But as long as you find a home you can afford, it will appreciate in value in the long term and, more importantly, you’ll be building a lifetime of memories.
Real estate lawyer Mark Weisleder is the author of Put The Pen Down! What homebuyers and sellers need to know before signing on the dotted line.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a home and are looking for a team of upbeat, experienced professionals who provide a great experience to both home buyers and sellers every time, please call:.
Paul Magnus or Timothy J. Burke - Sales Representatives
Coldwell Banker Terrequity Realty, Brokerage - 416-366-8800
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