Five things you need to know before buying a new home

You’ve created inspiration boards and saved pages from home decor magazines for years. You’ve worked hard and saved up for a down payment. And, finally, it’s time to make your dream of owning a home a reality.

As excited as you are, it’s likely that you’re also nervous about making such a big decision. To help ease your mind, here are answers to five common questions new home buyers ask.

Do I need my own real estate agent?

If you’re buying a new home from a builder, it is a good idea to have your own agent. The role of an agent is to help you find a home that’s right for you and to protect your interests during the entire transaction.

Do your research and hire a trusted agent to help you through the process of buying your new home.

How do you find a good agent? Ask friends and family who they have used for their real estate transactions.

You can also search the Real Estate Council of Ontario’s directory for an agent who is experienced and has a good record. Then make sure you interview a few of them to find one that you feel will best suit your needs.

How do I find a reputable builder?

Use Tarion’s Ontario Builder Directory to find out if the builder you are considering is registered with Tarion – Ontario law requires that builders of new homes be registered with Tarion. You can find out how many homes they have built in the last 10 years and whether Tarion has had to pay any warranty claims made against the builder.

It’s not enough to search our database. Be sure to visit previous projects the builder has completed, taking the time to look around and inspect the quality of their homes and the communities they have built. You’ll also want to talk to homeowners to hear directly from them about their satisfaction with the builder, their new home and the process for correcting any issues after their move-in date.

You want to protect yourself from signing a contract filled with terms and conditions you don’t fully understand. Be sure to take the time you need to go through the agreement with your lawyer and ask for guidance on any points in the agreement that may not be clear to you.

Do I need a real estate lawyer?

To best protect you and your investment, you should certainly consult a real estate lawyer before signing an agreement of purchase and sale. You want to protect yourself from signing a contract filled with terms and conditions you don’t fully understand. Be sure to take the time you need to go through the agreement with your lawyer and ask for guidance on any points in the agreement that may not be clear to you.

Taking this step could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, as well as hours of stress and worry.

Is tax included?

Usually, builders include HST in the sale price of their homes. However, there are exceptions when this hasn’t happened. So to be on the safe side, be sure to ask your real estate lawyer to determine if tax is included in the price.

Regardless of whether it’s included in the purchase price, new construction homes in Ontario are eligible for an HST rebate. See Canada Revenue Agency’s guide for more information.

What are the future plans for the area?

If you’re buying a new construction home, it’s likely your home will be only one piece of a much bigger pie. Depending on the size of the project, there could be different phases to build the community that could involve additional homes, as well as the creation of roads, parks or community centres. Plus, there could be plans to bring commercial businesses into the area.

As a homeowner, you will want to know what these plans are. If, for example, there are plans for a public transit hub to go in down your block, you’ll want to know before you buy.

You can ask your builder what their plans are and you may also want to visit your local city planner’s offices to see what public plans are in the works for your potential new community.

Buying a new construction home is a big investment. Asking lots of questions and getting the answers you need can help protect you and your investment.