In last year’s scorching real estate market, these are the top 5 questions for buyers and sellers

Ontario homebuyers faced a two-pronged challenge in 2021: the continued impacts of COVID-19 and a housing market that has remained hot across the province.

I received a lot of questions from consumers last year in the real estate market. Here are the top five questions for 2021 and a quick recap of the answers.

1. As a home buyer, what can I expect when there are competing offers on a home?

During a bidding war, the listing brokerage must disclose the number of active bids on a property, whether any of the buyers are represented by the listing brokerage, and whether any bids include a commission adjustment that the seller would pay to buyer’s brokerage. This information helps to ensure a level playing field for all buyers.

The seller can accept or decline your offer, make a counter-offer, or even give one or more buyers the opportunity to “improve” their offers.

2. We participated in competing offers for a house and the seller accepted a lower offer than ours. Doesn’t the seller have to accept the highest bid?

Sellers are not required to choose the most expensive offer. Other factors may influence their decision, such as deposit amount, closing date, and other terms and conditions they prefer.

3. What’s the difference between selling price and selling price, and why are they often so different?

In the past, the asking price or listing price was usually an estimate close to the value of the home, and the selling price ended up being very close to the asking price.

However, in today’s housing market, the listed price is more often used as a marketing tool to generate interest in a property. A seller has the legal right to set the asking price at whatever amount he deems most appropriate to sell his house. RECO does not regulate the decisions of sellers or buyers.

4. We are first-time buyers frustrated by the current real estate market. What advice or tips do you have for us?

First, interview a few real estate agents and choose the one that best understands your needs.

Second, manage your emotions: make sure you know what you want or need in a property and stick to what you’re willing to pay.

Third, if you want to submit an offer without any strings attached, make sure you are comfortable taking that risk as it can have significant repercussions.

And fourth, real estate contracts are legal documents, so you read and understand everything before signing and get legal advice.

5. In this pandemic, how can I protect myself by visiting homes?

Brokers and sellers should follow public health guidelines and safety protocols when presenting a home. Many brokerages offer virtual tours to maximize the number of buyers visiting a property, while limiting in-person visits to those who are particularly interested.

As a seller, you can request a limit on the number of visitors on all visits, insist that no one with symptoms be allowed inside, and also provide specific instructions to reduce the touch of surfaces, between other protocols.

As a potential buyer, you should make sure to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer when entering the home.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email [email protected]

Joe Richer is Registrar of the Ontario Real Estate Board (RECO). This column is for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions. Follow RECO on Twitter: @RECOhelps

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