Important Questions You Need to Know Before Buying a Home

Recently, one of my clients inspired me to create this video. To protect her privacy and for storytelling convenience, we’re using fictional names. Recently, a client named Xiao V purchased a newly built detached house. You may know that sometimes newly built detached houses are located in newly developed neighborhoods and may be similar to urban apartments or townhouses, also known as Strata properties. Although the ownership is independent, they still require management fees; some expenses for repairs and maintenance in the community are shared. There may be restrictions on renting, repairing, and rebuilding.

When buying insurance, Xiao V’s insurance broker found that the house she bought might be a Strata property. Obviously, when Xiao V signed the contract to buy this house, no one reminded her of the ownership issues she needed to pay attention to. Xiao V was particularly concerned about this issue and wanted to buy a 100% detached house. But by the time the house was already paid for and entered the transfer stage. So, I roughly checked it for her. Based on the information provided, although the format of the information list is very similar to a Bare Land Strata, which is a managed detached house community, the property number starts with EPP, not EPS used for Strata properties.

So, based on my experience, I estimate that the house she bought is still a detached house. Because Xiao V didn’t give me the opportunity to represent her in buying this house, this is just my personal opinion, and I didn’t spend too much time investigating or consulting a lawyer, so it doesn’t constitute my professional opinion. Later, Xiao V’s insurance broker asked a familiar lawyer and found out that the house was a Bare Land Strata. Later, Xiao V asked the transfer lawyer, who confirmed that it was an independent property, not a Strata.

It was a false alarm. Even if it were Strata, Xiao V wouldn’t be too worried, as long as the market conditions were right, it wouldn’t affect future sales. As the saying goes, as long as the real estate market is on the upswing, no matter what kind of house it is, the price can soar.

Some may say I got lucky, didn’t suffer any losses by accident, and saved some money. But hold on, at the end of the show, please listen to a tragic story from one of my friends in an unsuccessful real estate transaction. You will realize the importance of an experienced professional real estate broker.

Why You Should Find Your Own Real Estate Broker

  • They can better assess the market, analyze trends, and help you determine a reasonable price for a new home.
  • Lawyers or notaries are expensive and often it’s too late when problems are discovered; even if you hire them in advance to review, they may not understand all aspects of the property. Real estate brokers have a wealth of expertise, continuously learning and practicing in the field, giving them an advantage in terms of knowledge and experience compared to lawyers or notaries who sit in offices every day.
  • Even if they make mistakes or omissions, they have insurance to protect your interests.

Who to Find as Your Broker?

  • Find a professional, honest, familiar with the law, regulations, and construction, with life experience, real estate broker who represents your interests rather than their own or others’.

If the broker represents the other party, from a legal and regulatory perspective, they must keep the seller’s information confidential, except for the little information required by law to disclose. From the seller’s broker, you get no protection.

Details Matter

Apart from the type of property ownership mentioned in the first story, when buying a house, you also need to consider the following factors related to property ownership:

  • Easements, covenants, builder’s liens, speculation taxes, and various tax claims and risks.
  • Some other examples that the broker needs to consider and investigate during the house-hunting and buying process that may affect the value of the property:
  • Whether it’s close to a creek and therefore subject to environmental regulations.
  • Whether the underground pipelines are complete and new enough.
  • Whether there are underground oil pipelines or tanks.
  • Whether it’s under an aviation corridor or in a floodplain.
  • Municipal zoning regulations (zoning), floor area ratios, and building areas.

Houses that Violate Zoning/Building Code

  • A beautiful terrace, a basement rental unit that brings in extra income, may be presented as selling points when you buy the house, but they may actually violate regulations; if reported by neighbors or discovered by the municipal government one day, the government will make you restore it to its original state or apply for formal building permits and pass the necessary government inspections. It’s not only costly but also troublesome and brings negative emotions, affecting your normal life and work, and may even cause mental and physical harm.

Allowable Demolition and New Construction

  • Whether demolition and new construction are allowed.
  • Whether duplexes/back lane houses are allowed.
  • Can trees be cut down? Will it affect future construction?

Years ago, I bought a house with three trees in the front yard. I rented it out as an investment property, but later, because the house was old and the tenants didn’t take care of it, we had to ask them to leave. Then I designed and rebuilt it myself, and we lived in it for two years until we sold it when my child started high school. Later, I met a customer who said she wanted to buy the house back then, but she didn’t know if the government allowed the three trees in the front yard to be cut down, so she didn’t buy it. In fact, the government allowed us to cut down all three trees back then. This story is not about whether these trees can be cut down, it depends largely on experience and judgment. In some cities, tree management is very strict, and judgments need to be made based on individual cases.

You might say, “I can ask the government!” The government may not give a completely affirmative answer. The answers given by government officials are generally vague, and many times they won’t give you a definite answer until you submit design drawings. Moreover, the government is not obliged to disclose information that you didn’t ask for. Therefore, you need the experience of a real estate broker to help you dig and judge.

Home Inspection Issues

You will focus on the surface condition of the house. You may be attracted by a gorgeous kitchen, exquisite furnishings, and interior decoration, but brokers consider more rational and easily overlooked details. Experienced real estate brokers not only know what to look for when viewing houses but also can answer your questions about the house correctly, such as which type of house is prone to leaks, the pros and cons of skylights, which of the two vents is for air conditioning and which is for fresh air, and what type of heating system is it? Is the fireplace electric or gas? And they will recommend reliable home inspectors to ensure your interests.

Conclusion

In real estate transactions, every property has its own challenges. Collaborating with knowledgeable professional real estate brokers can help you identify and mitigate risks, assess market potential, and make informed decisions. By understanding the importance of professional guidance, you can effectively deal with the complexities of real estate transactions and protect your investments.

最近我遇到了一个客户的故事,为我带来了制作这期视频的灵感。为了保护她的隐私,以及讲述故事的方便,我们使用了虚构的名字。小V最近购买了一栋新建的独立屋。您可能知道,有时新建的独立屋位于新开发的小区中,可能像城市公寓或联排别墅一样,也被划分为分契住宅(Strata)。尽管产权是独立的,但也需要缴纳管理费;小区的一些修理维护费用也需共同承担。在出租、维修和重建方面可能会有限制。在购买保险时,保险经纪发现小V购买的房屋可能是分契住宅。显然,在小V签署购房合同时,没有人提醒她需要注意产权问题。小V特别在意这个问题,她希望购买一栋100%的独立屋。但此时房屋已经付了定金,进入了过户阶段。于是我大致帮她核实了一下,根据提供的信息,尽管信息列表的形式与共管独立屋小区(Bare Land Strata)非常相似,但产权编号以EPP开头,并非分契住宅所使用的EPS。因此根据我的经验估计,她购买的房屋仍然是独立屋。因为小V并没有给我提供代理她购买这栋房屋的机会,这只是我个人的看法,也没有花太多时间进行调查或向律师咨询,因此不构成我的专业意见。后来,小V的保险经纪询问了一位熟悉的律师,得知这栋房屋是Bare Land Strata。随后小V又向过户律师咨询,确认了这是一栋独立产权的房屋,而不是分契住宅。最后证实是多虑了。即使是分契住宅,小V也不太担心,只要市场条件合适,不会影响未来的出售。俗话说得好,房市站在风口上,任何房产价格都能飙升。

有人可能会说,我运气好,误打误撞也没吃什么亏,还省了钱。请您别急,在节目的最后,请您听听我一个朋友在一次不成功的房地产交易中的悲惨经历,您会意识到一个经验丰富的专业房地产经纪的重要性。

为什么要找专业房地产经纪

  • 他们可以更好地评估市场、分析趋势,并帮助您更好地确定新房的合理价格。
  • 律师或公证人费用高昂,且当发现问题时往往为时已晚;即便提前请他们审核,他们可能并不了解房屋的各个方面。房地产经纪拥有丰富的专业知识,每天不断学习和实地操作,相比天天坐在办公室的律师或公证人,他们在房屋领域的知识和经验更为丰富。
  • 即使出现错误或疏漏,他们也有保险来保障您的利益。

找谁做经纪?

  • 找一个专业、诚实、熟悉法律、法规和建筑,有生活经验,并代表您的利益而非自身或他人利益的房地产经纪。

如果该经纪代表另一方,他在法律和法规上要对卖方的信息保密,除非法律要求透露一些信息。从卖方经纪处得到的信息对您毫无保护。

细节很重要

除了产权类型外,购买房屋还需考虑以下因素:

  • 地役权、契约、承建商留置权、投机税以及各种税项的索赔和风险。
  • 在找房买房过程中,经纪还需要考虑和调查一些可能影响房屋价值的因素。

验屋的问题

  • 您可能会被房屋外表所吸引,但经纪会考虑更理性、更容易被忽视的细节。
  • 有经验的房地产经纪人不仅知道在看房时要注意什么,还会正确回答您关于房屋的问题,比如哪种形式的房屋容易漏水、天窗的利弊以及取暖系统的类型等。他们还会向您推荐可靠的验屋师,以确保您的利益。

结论

在房地产交易中,每个房产都有独特的挑战。与知识渊博的专业房地产经纪合作,可以帮助您识别和减轻风险,评估市场潜力,并做出明智的决定。通过理解专业指导的重要性,您可以有效地应对房地产交易的复杂性,并有效保护您的投资。

Gary Gao, licensed Realtor® with Grand Central Realty, a licensed real estate brokerage in BC. Gary is also the principal of CitiDesign Build Inc., which is not affiliated with Grand Central Realty. CitiDesign and Gary are licensed builders in BC. Contact Gary.

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