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Tips for a First-Time Home Buyer – Part 1

Buying your first home is both an exciting and intimidating experience. Being a relatively recent first-time homebuyer myself, as well as a practicing real estate lawyer, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks I’ll be sharing over the course of this series that I hope will help make the process less stressful and more exciting.

First and foremost, whether you have a real estate agent or not, and whether you’re buying a condo or a house, you’re going to have to retain the services of a lawyer. The process of registering the completed change of ownership, as well as removing and adding any mortgages or lines of credit against the property, can only be completed by a lawyer.

While this may seem obvious to a lot of people, what many don’t know is that retaining a lawyer to look over your Agreement of Purchase and Sale before you sign on the dotted line is the best way to ensure your needs and interests are being met. What conditions to the agreement do you require and what information is the seller obligated to disclose to you respecting the property? Are your best interests protected? As much as your real estate agent (if you have one) may have your best interests in mind, there’s no better security than having an independent, legal mind review the agreement before you commit. So many buyers (and sellers) wait until the deal is done to retain a lawyer, and by then, once the Agreement has been signed, there’s nothing your lawyer can do to change any conditions you’ve agreed to include (or not include). The process of putting an offer on a home, negotiating and ultimately closing the deal can be a whirlwind, especially for a first time buyer. Including your lawyer as an independent third party from the beginning is the best option you have to avoid surprises along the way.

So, tip #1 – retain a lawyer early and involve them in the process before the deal is done. Buying a home is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and you owe it to yourself to ensure that your interests (and your money) are protected.

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