Jun 9 | 2017

What Can Buyers do to Avoid Surprises and Delays in Closing?

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Tips for closing successfullyWith rising prices and stricter controls on mortgages, housing affordability is getting more challenging. And once you finally obtain funding (after squeezing out every last drop of your savings for a down payment), it’s still not a done deal till the closing date. A number of unexpected issues can come up that may kill or delay a deal.

Here’s a checklist that will help you get to the finish line successfully:

  • Don’t start spending big – Now that you’ve secured funding for your house, you might think that it’s time to start buying furniture for your new home. Try not to spend large sums of money, whether cash or credit, as it will affect your standing with the lender. Your financial status will be checked a few days prior to closing and any major changes from your initial evaluation will need to be reassessed to ensure you still have the ability to pay off your mortgage.
  • Be wary of changing jobs – While it might seem like a great idea to take a higher paying job before your closing date, it may affect your lender’s decision to close as scheduled. They may want a few months of pay stubs from your new position to prove that you have stable income. While it may not be a deal breaker for your lender, it may delay the closing date.
  • Provide documents on time – Your closing date can be anywhere from 30-90 days after signing the agreement of purchase and sale. You do have some time to provide your mortgage broker and lawyer with the documents that they require, but don’t delay! The sooner you provide all the paperwork necessary, the sooner your team will be able to handle any unexpected findings or issues that may arise.
  • Try not to skip the home inspection – With the hot market and multiple offer scenarios nowadays, a lot of homes are being sold without conditions. While presenting a clean offer may win you the home of your dreams, it can also end up costing you more than you expected. When you’re mortgaged to the max, you can’t afford costly surprises like leaks or repairs that you come across when you finally move in.
  • Keep extra funds on hand – Buyers often put as much money as they can into their down payment. However, you should always keep extra money on hand to prepare for closing costs like land transfer fees, legal fees and any bills the sellers may have prepaid, such as property taxes or utilities. You may also need to put down a larger down payment if the lender appraisal values your house at a significantly lower price than you paid for it.
  • Don’t forget the title insurance – Make sure you’re protected by asking your lawyer to purchase title insurance for you. It not only allows you to close fast even in the absence of a survey and provides gap coverage, but it also protects you from paying any liens or debts the previous owners left behind.

Have you encountered unexpected issues before closing? Share your stories in the comment section below!

Mar 10 | 2016

Certified Resale Home gets a makeover and a new partner!

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15-075E-CRH_FB_profile_v2The launch of Certified Resale Home last year was the culmination of significant customer insight and feedback and a result of our drive to fill a gap in the current process with an innovative solution. In fact, by leveraging core competencies of process optimization and risk management, FCT has been delivering innovative real estate solutions for the past 25 years: our mission is and has always been to make financial transactions simple and secure. But what really sets us apart from the competition is our ability to provide exceptional customer experiences. With that at the forefront of our strategy to redefine the current approach to home inspections, we set about making the following changes to Certified Resale Home based on customer need:

  • $20,000 worth of coverage — We’ve upped the maximum coverage from $11, 500 to $20,000 to ensure we’re providing the best warranty coverage possible for the main systems in a home.
  • Removal of previous capped limits – Now an owner can determine how to allocate the limit based on the extent of repair and replacement necessary.
  • Optional extra swimming pool equipment and septic tank system coverage  — For a few dollars more owners can now get greater peace of mind protection for these additional systems.
  • A simplified warranty coverage document — With an easy-to-read, visually appealing design that uses straightforward language and no fine print, we’re aiming to make our coverage simpler to understand and completely transparent.

We are also very pleased to announce that as of February 11, 2016, Certified Resale Home has been available to homeowners through an exclusive partnership with Re/Max Niagara Realty Ltd.  With offices in Niagara Falls, St Catharines and Fort Erie, Re/Max Niagara Realty has joined forces with FCT to bring the unique benefits of Certified Resale Home to these new markets, including:

  • Differentiating the property from other listings;
  • Promoting greater buyer confidence; and
  • Helping the owner sell their home faster.

If you are a homeowner in any of these new markets and you are looking to list your home for sale, we invite you to reach out to your local Re/Max Niagara Realtor to start a conversation about putting the benefits of Certified Resale Home to work for you. For more information on the program, please visit http://niagararemax.thecertifiedresalehome.ca/.

Warranty Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited
Aug 17 | 2015

Certified Resale Home: 5 reasons it’s a game changer

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certified resale homeWhen selling your home, you must present the most saleable property possible to set it apart in today’s competitive market. One way to do this is to ensure you get a pre-listing home inspection. A home inspection report will reveal the current condition of your house with specific evaluations of more than 400 items, and will help you enhance its value and marketability.

Most problems in a house are minor and can be rectified easily and inexpensively; chipped paint, doors or windows that stick, an air conditioner that wheezes, a filter that is dirty, etc. Such shortcomings are overlooked by sellers who have lived with them for years, but they are focused on by buyers and buyers’ home inspectors. If the perceived problems do not derail the sale, they nevertheless provide grounds for price negotiation if they don’t derail the sale altogether.

Not only does the pre-listing home inspection enable you to attend to problems before the house is put on the market, it also removes any questions, for you and home buyers, about the condition of your home. Buyers are positively influenced by a professionally produced home inspection report, which improves the speed, price, and likelihood of a sale.

Some home sellers elect not to correct every defect reflected in the inspection report. Instead, they acknowledge the defects to buyers and explain that the asking price has been adjusted to reflect the estimated cost of repairs. Such candor tends to shorten negotiation time because buyers have fewer objections that could thwart a sale. By focusing on the condition of your property, you are less likely to overlook a defect or material fact for which you later could be held liable.

Despite the value of a home inspection, and a pre-listing home inspection in particular, there are certain things that a home inspector is not able to determine.

For example:

  • If the roof is snow-covered, wet, too high or too steep to mount, a proper assessment will not be possible
  • In some cases, the foundation cannot be inspected from the interior or exterior because of finished conditions, vegetation or deck construction
  • In nearly all cases, air conditioners cannot be tested in winter conditions since the condenser can be damaged
  • In rare cases, the power or natural gas may be turned off in which cases the furnace and air conditioner cannot be operated and tested

Thankfully, a new and innovative service has recently launched which addresses these limitations. FCT’s Certified Resale Home program combines a professional pre-listing home inspection with an 18-month transferable warranty that protects both the homeowner and homebuyer from specific areas of the home that either could not be inspected, or were deemed to be in serviceable condition at the time of the inspection but fail at a later date.

Certified Resale Home from FCT allows you to:

  • Get detailed information on your home before it’s listed and avoid surprises that can lead to a renegotiation (or even kill your deal)
  • Attract more buyers by offering more transparent information
  • Utilize the warranty to keep your home saleable while it’s listed and minimize buyer anxiety by transferring the warranty to them upon closing
  • Differentiate your home and make it stand out with a unique product
  • Ultimately get a better offer and sell your home faster

Overall, a pre-listing home inspection will reduce stress and negotiation because it puts you in a position of strength as an informed seller.

If you are a homeowner considering selling, visit www.thecertifiedresalehome.ca. All pre-listing home inspections are fulfilled by AmeriSpec® Inspection Services.

Warranty Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited

Jul 6 | 2015

Certified Resale Home expands into new markets!

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CRH_small_2FCT’s Emerging Business Group is excited to pull back the curtain on the first expansion of our Certified Resale Home (CRH) product. When we initially launched in the Greater Toronto Area in March of this year, we promised that more markets would be added soon and now we can officially reveal them. Starting July 6, 2015, CRH will be available in the following areas: Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge, and Brantford. This expansion includes the townships of New Hamburg, Baden, Elmira, and Paris.

What’s even more exciting is that we are launching in these territories with: Re/Max Twin City Realty Inc (Re/Max Twin City)! The Certified Resale Home will be available exclusively to Re/Max Twin City Realtors in these Areas. After landing on the Waterloo region, it was a no brainer to approach Re/Max Twin City. They are aligned with our desire to change how resale homes are sold and they’ve been the leading brokerage (as measured by market share) and dominant player in the market year after year —Re/Max Twin City has continued to outperform every other real estate company within the regions they serve. A combination of local expertise and dedication to the customer experience has been the main catalyst of success.

It was clear to us very early on that we were not only partnering with a team of REALTORS® who aligned with our own values towards customer experience excellence, but one that also acutely understood how the CRH solves real problems with the resale home dynamic and creates efficiencies in the sales process. Utilizing the CRH’s pre-listing home inspection, we are able to take control of critical information — up front — in order to proactively respond to issues that could potentially kill a deal. Both Re/Max and FCT fully understand the power of investing in a client relationship versus simply landing a listing. Having an 18-month warranty on key blind spots (which the seller can claim on during the period they continue to own the home) that transfers over to the buyer upon closing is a unique way to differentiate a listing, attract buyers, and ultimately optimize the amount and quality of offers that come in.

And there’s even more good news! FCT is pleased to announce a new member of our FCT Home Inspection Network — AmeriSpec Canada Inc. A foundational component to the CRH is a high quality home inspection that is completed by a home inspector with the right experience and training. This point can’t be overlooked because we know if buyer’s can’t trust the home inspection component of the CRH, we are not delivering on a central value proposition of our product. That is why having AmericSpec on board as a partner is a huge asset. AmeriSpec not only met our strict requirements for entry into our network, but they also impressed us with their dedication to customer service excellence and their deep knowledge of the markets in which they operate. We are happy to welcome them aboard for this launch.

Making real estate transactions simple and secure is at the heart of everything that we do at FCT. We believe that the CRH has the ability to dramatically change the resale home industry, just as certified pre-owned car programs changed the “resale” car industry. With this expansion we’ve now taken the next step in building out that superior listing experience by ensuring that we offer sellers all the benefits of the CRH, along with an industry leading REALTOR® as their quarterback along the way.

If you are a homeowner in any of these new markets and you are looking to list your home for sale, we would invite you to reach out to your local  Re/Max Twin City Realtor to start the conversation around how a Certified Resale Home can help your property stand out and sell faster.

For more information on the program please visit www.thecertifiedresalehome.ca/twincityremax

Warranty Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited

 

May 25 | 2015

Five things we learned on the Realtor tradeshow circuit

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CRH_smallFCT’s Emerging Business Group and Digital Marketing team has been on the real estate tradeshow circuit for the past few weeks. On this circuit, we had the opportunity to attend the OREA Leadership Conference; the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Realtor®Quest 2015; and Kitchener/Waterloo/Guelph’s XPO6. The primary purpose of our attendance was to generate awareness of FCT’s Certified Resale Home in the GTA and test out the TwinCities (Kitchener/Waterloo) as a potential second market for the product. Following a whirlwind two weeks, the teams got together and summarized a few key learnings:

1. While everyone is talking about how hot the Toronto market is (it still receives the majority of the airtime), perhaps a more appropriate reframe would be that it’s the Ontario market that is hot. Realtors from Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Waterloo, Guelph, and the Durham Region all said the same thing—properties are moving quickly and multiple-bid scenarios are becoming more common. It shouldn’t be shocking to correlate the fast pace of market growth in these areas with their associated robust employment markets. Whether it is the tech sector in Waterloo, the gentrification and rebranding of Hamilton, or the focus on attracting global entities to Burlington and Oakville, the view is that strong employment dynamics are underpinning growth as opposed to a less logical market dynamic.

2. We are nearing an inflection point when it comes to the adoption of technology by realtors (real-tech). The pending regulation around allowing an electronic signature on the agreement of purchase and sale in Ontario will play a big role in the evolution of real-tech. Two years ago you could have asked about real-tech and quoted what was happening in the US market as proof of real-tech’s ubiquity and been met with indifference. This year it was quite different: realtors seem more aware of the shift in the way consumers engage with services; it is a matter of identifying where to best invest their dollars to enhance their own productivity. Millennials are a mobile-first generation, and finding a way to replicate the experiences millennials have using consumer tech like Uber, Amazon, and Netflix will find its way into all spheres, including real estate. Companies like DealTap™, Teranet’s ViMO®, LoneWolf, and a variety of other players are at the forefront of this change.

3. It is critical to have an objective in mind before attending the tradeshow otherwise it is very easy to get lost in the conversations and the pandemonium
of TREBARDY. The most successful booths were those that engaged attendees in a unique way, often avoiding the hard sell, and those able to crisply deliver their elevator pitch within often brief interactions.  We decided to offer free lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos. Suffice to say: realtors love their coffee—we had a captive audience to generate real-time feedback on the Certified Resale Home product, and likely had the type of booth traffic that most would envy!

4. Realtors have won the battle against For Sale By Owner (FSBO) in Ontario. We didn’t hear one piece of feedback that suggests it is even a concern anymore. That’s a strong testament to the branding work that was done by the Canadian Real Estate Association’s (CREA’s) various Why a REALTOR® campaigns. However, the next battle front is really solidifying the realtor’s value proposition across the real estate lifecycle, which can be divided into two phases: pre-agreement of purchase and sale (everything to get the deal signed) and post-agreement of purchase and sale (closing the deal). The realtors we met who are “crushing it” right now understand the value in a full-service, end-to-end offering.

5. More than ever it is clear there is a proliferation of business-model innovation in the real estate space and that is a good thing! Real-tech is here to stay and will be one of the driving forces that helps power the innovation. Whether it is a full-service strategy, cost leadership, or a hybrid of priced offerings, innovation will drive the next phase of evolution of the industry and the winner in the end will be the consumer.

Certified Resale Home Booth at Realtor Quest

If you also attended any of these conferences and would like to share your learnings, we invite you to comment below.

Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited. The services company does not provide insurance products. Some products/services may vary by province. Prices and products/services offered are subject to change without notice.
May 1 | 2015

The Certified Resale Home from FCT

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CRH_smallYou’ve heard about Certified Pre-Owned Cars. What about a Certified Resale Home?

If you’ve been shopping for a car within the last five years you’ve likely come across a simple concept that changed the way used cars are sold. It is easy to forget that a few years ago Certified Pre-Owned Car Programs (CPOs) were really in their infancy and only provided by high-end manufacturers. Flash forward to the present and it is hard to find a manufacturer that doesn’t offer some variant of the CPO program. The rationale is quite straightforward: more transparent information reduces buyer anxiety and promotes a more streamlined transaction. Furthermore, add clearly defined warranty coverage (read: no fine print aimed at duping the consumer) and you dramatically reduced the aura of “buyer-beware” resulting in a much more efficient purchase experience.

Unquestionably CPO programs have revolutionized the used car market. Reflecting upon the effect they had on the used car market, we started thinking about what has changed in the “used” (i.e. resale home) market. It felt kind of bizarre to us that a home, the most valuable financial asset most Canadians will purchase, only has a fraction of the transparent information and buyer protection mechanisms in place. After all, a used car is only about 3% of the price of an average resale home in Canada and is a depreciating asset. Moreover, does it even make sense to have one of the most important elements of due diligence —the home inspection —as a buy-side activity, especially when certain market conditions may not allow an inspection to be completed? Wouldn’t it be more efficient if a home came packaged with a program similar to the CPO?

With our mission squarely focused on making financial transactions simple and secure, FCT is pleased to introduce the newest product from its Emerging Business Division: The Certified Resale Home (CRH*). The CRH combines a high-quality pre-listing home inspection with warranty coverage on one or more of the largest, most anxiety-inducing blind spots in any inspection. Even the best home inspector cannot provide full oversight on the roof, foundation, and heating/cooling appliances.

The product is targeted to Realtors listing a property and their sellers. It provides an immediate way to differentiate the listing from other available inventory by delivering transparency up front via a home inspection completed by one of our hand-selected FCT Home Inspection Network partners. They use industry-leading software to create high-quality digital reports, delivering context that brings clarity to the state of the home. The CRH not only allows the seller/Realtor to take control of the situation, but we believe it will optimize purchase offers and help home close faster. The goal is to provide a quality inspection that buyers can rely on, along with warranty coverage they can fall back on if an issue arises. The coverage lasts for 18 months from the time of the inspection and is 100% transferable from the seller to the future buyer, who inherits the duration of the 18-month coverage.

This is just the beginning – we are already thinking about ways to enhance what a Certified Resale Home is, and hope to announce more exciting extensions of the product shortly. Similar to how CPO programs changed the dynamic for used cars, we envision a future where we change the dynamic for the resale home market. Our goal is that every listing in Canada is a Certified Resale Home. If you would be interested in making your next listing a Certified Resale Home (or simply providing some feedback on the product) we’d love to hear from you.

You can check out the CRH product at www.thecertifiedresalehome.ca

*CRH Services by First Canadian Title Company Limited.