Plan ahead be­fore down­siz­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - YOUNG AT HEART - JOE RICHER TORSTAR SPECAIL Joseph Richer is reg­is­trar of the Real Es­tate Coun­cil of On­tario (RECO). Find more tips at reco.on.ca

My husband and I are empty-nesters and have de­cided to buy a smaller home for our re­tire­ment. What ad­vice do you have for us?

Re­tir­ing and de­cid­ing to sell a fam­ily home are two mo­men­tous de­ci­sions.

This is a timely ques­tion - June is Se­niors’ Month in On­tario - and many cou­ples whose chil­dren are grown and out on their own are go­ing through this tran­si­tion in life.

Sell­ing a fam­ily home can be a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion, even if there are good rea­sons for it. Your fam­ily has grown up in a house that has a life­time store of mem­o­ries and the prospect of leav­ing it be­hind can be an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, even if you are ex­cited about what lies ahead.

The first piece of ad­vice I can give is plan ahead, do your re­search and take your time in mak­ing de­ci­sions. It could be that you’ve been out of the hous­ing mar­ket for a while and it has changed dra­mat­i­cally in the last few years, par­tic­u­larly in the GTA. I am sure you have a lot of ques­tions and one of the best places to look for in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice about buy­ing and sell­ing is RECO’s web­site.

One of RECO’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is to help peo­ple be ed­u­cated con­sumers - both about buy­ing and sell­ing a home and how to iden­tify the ex­perts to help. Our web­site has an en­tire sec­tion (reco.on.ca/ boomer) de­voted to an­swer­ing ques­tions you may have about down­siz­ing. It con­tains tips on buy­ing and sell­ing, in­for­ma­tion about buyer and seller rep­re­sen­ta­tion agree­ments, safety tips for open houses and ad­vice on how to choose a real es­tate pro­fes­sional to han­dle your trans­ac­tions.

Choos­ing the right sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive is vi­tally im­por­tant.You want to make sure that who­ever rep­re­sents you is in tune with your needs and un­der­stands what is im­por­tant to you in look­ing for a new home.

When you start to look for a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive, do your re­search. If you have a neigh­bour­hood in mind for your new home, look to see who is list­ing prop­er­ties in that area. Ask fam­ily and friends for the names of sales rep­re­sen­ta­tives they would rec­om­mend.

You can also use RECO’s real es­tate pro­fes­sional search tool at the top of RECO’s web­site (reco.on.ca) to search for a sales agent, ver­ify they are reg­is­tered and view their reg­is­tra­tion pro­file.

Once you have nar­rowed down the search to a few can­di­dates, you should in­ter­view them and check their ref­er­ences be­fore you make a de­ci­sion.

Ide­ally, the real es­tate pro­fes­sional you choose will have the right mix of ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge that suits your needs.

My fi­nal piece of ad­vice is about pa­per­work. When you have set­tled on a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive, you can ex­pect to be asked to sign agree­ments with the bro­ker­age that per­mits both the agency and sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive to rep­re­sent you in sell­ing your home and help­ing you buy an­other. You may want to dis­cuss the ser­vices avail­able and se­lect what best meets your needs. These agree­ments are legally bind­ing con­tracts, with obli­ga­tions for both you and the bro­ker­age, so make sure you read and un­der­stand all of the fine print. If some­thing isn’t clear, take ex­tra time and ask them to ex­plain what you may not un­der­stand be­fore you sign. You can also seek ad­di­tional pro­fes­sional help, if nec­es­sary.

There’s no doubt that sell­ing your fam­ily home can be an ex­pe­ri­ence filled with mixed emo­tions. That’s why it’s best to be plan ahead, take the time to do your re­search and get the pro­fes­sional help you need. It will help give you peace of mind as you go through this tran­si­tion n your life.

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