The prospect of buying a home can be as daunting as it is complex. REALTORS® are there to help. They work with you and for you to make your experience a positive one. Don't know where to start or if you're even ready to take such a big step? Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with what buying a home entails . . . and how a REALTOR® can help you achieve your goals.

Detailed Buying Process

Finding a lawyer to assist in the real estate transaction

To find a lawyer in your area, go to The Law Society of Upper Canada's website. Because of ethical concerns, your REALTOR® cannot recommend or endorse a particular lawyer. However, he or she may be able to give you the names of several lawyers versed in real estate law to contact. You could also try contacting the Lawyer Referral Service (1-800-268-8326, toll-free) and specifying what City you are from and what kind of lawyer you are looking for. They will then put you in touch with suitable professionals in your area, who will provide you with a thirty-minute, free consultation over the phone, at the end of which you can determine whether you would like to retain their services.

When you interview prospective lawyers, determine the extent of their real estate experience and ask how accessible they are on weekends and evenings, as that is when most offers are presented. Ask about their fee structure. Do they charge a flat fee for services rendered? If so, what services do they offer for how much money, and how and when will they let you know if costs are likely to exceed the figure quoted? Some lawyers charge by the hour and will probably give you an estimate on how many hours your transaction is likely to take. Make sure you understand what factors could result in the job taking more hours than originally anticipated.

In addition, find out what other legal costs could be incurred so that you can budget for them.

Home Inspections

A professional home inspection will help you to make an informed decision during the purchase process, by giving you valuable information about a house and its systems. If the home inspector uncovers any deficiencies, you have an opportunity to take the cost of repairs into account in the offer to purchase. Or, the seller can make repairs to remove any impediment to the sale of the house. Often the home inspector can suggest alternative, reasonably-priced fixes.

Or perhaps you're thinking about putting your home on the market. A pre-sale home inspection can detect previously unknown problems or potential upgrades that you might want to consider before your REALTOR® lists the property. Disclosing latent defects in advance so that your REALTOR® can disclose them to prospective purchases may save you from being sued down the road. Having a home inspection will give you a marketing advantage – the ability to identify problems that could stall the sale. Even if repairs are required, the inspector's independent recommendations could help speed up the sale.

The role of the home inspector is to make a valid assessment of the systems and components that make up a house. The highest national educational standards are required by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI) through the National Certification Program.

To find a home inspector in your area or across Canada, visit the CAHPI website.

Title Insurance

Millions of Canadians count their home as a core asset in their investment portfolios. Protecting this asset has never been more important for those who have a home or an investment property. And while many Canadians know that insurance plays a crucial part in protecting homeowners against fire and theft, the Consumers Council of Canada says few Canadians are aware of other issues that can affect “good title” to their property.

Title insurance is a simple, cost-effective way for homeowners to protect themselves against the fastest growing real estate threat, title fraud; as well as unpaid liens, past renovations completed without a permit that lead to code violations and other issues. Title insurance protects consumers from the potential fallout if they fall victim to real estate title fraud, including the cost of defending their rights of ownership, the stress and uncertainty of the situation, and the possibility of losing their home altogether. Policy holders can rely on their title insurer to defend their title, saving them substantial legal costs, time and the frustration involved in resolving the situation.

Real estate fraud is an issue that law enforcement, legal, lender and insurance communities are working hard to address.

It is estimated that the average case of real estate fraud is in the range of $300,000. In comparison, the RCMP estimates the average credit card fraud case in Canada to be around $300. The Consumers Council of Canada strongly recommends that Canadians educate themselves about the risks associated with many of these dangers and the important role title insurance can play as protection.

Title insurance is relatively new in Canada. To find out if you're covered, start by reviewing your real estate closing documents or contact the lawyer who acted on your closing. If you are not covered, it's not too late.

To find out more about title insurance for your home, please contact a title insurance professional:

This information is provided by a Title Insurance provider, not the London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS®.



The prospect of selling a home can be as daunting as it is complex. REALTORS® are there to help. They work with you and for you to make your experience a positive one. Don't know where to start? Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with what selling a home entails... and how a REALTOR® can help you achieve your goals.

Detailed Selling Process

Increasing your home's saleability

Increasing your home's saleability depends to a large extent on creating favourable and lasting impressions with prospective buyers which means paying special attention to cosmetic fix-ups to the interior and exterior of your house.

Exterior/Curb Appeal

Here's a short list of some of the things that sellers can do to increase their property's curb appeal and make it more attractive to potential buyers:

  • trim lawns and shrubs; plant brightly blooming flowers along walkways to make the property more eye-catching; ensure that the lawn, driveway and walkway are free of weeds
  • patio and/or walkway stones and steps are well-connected and stable
  • walks and steps are shovelled and sanded in winter
  • make sure there are no holes and cracks in the driveway and walkway and that oil stains in the driveway have been cleaned up
  • review exterior paint
  • check to see that the roof is in decent condition


Here are some relatively inexpensive ways to make your rooms more attractive:

  • deep clean or lay new carpet;
  • hang new wallpaper or apply a fresh coat of paint – choose neutral colours, which appeal to more people and make rooms look more open and larger;  
  • hang a mirror or a picture on a blank wall;
  • plaster cracked walls;
  • use plants and greenery to create a warm atmosphere;
  • cleanliness is key, rooms should be as fresh as possible;
  • repair loose door knobs, sticking drawers, warped cabinet drawers, or dripping faucets;
  • make sure that the toilets are in good running order;
  • remove clutter in the basement, garage, and closets; 
  • storage is also very important. Clean out your attic, basement, and garage so that your storage and utility spaces may be displayed to their full advantage;
  • turn on all the lights, especially after dark. A dark house feels cold to prospective buyers;
  • if you can possibly be absent during open houses or house tours, do so.
  • take the family pet with you or make arrangements to have the pet out of the house.

How to have a secure open house

Right before the open house, make a quick tour of the house with your sales representative to ensure that all your valuables – money, jewelry, small electronics, etc. – are safely secured and that everything is in order.

Be sure that your sales representative is using an electronic lockbox, and not a mechanical one. Electronic lockboxes are much safer than mechanical lockboxes and they track all the showings. With an electronic lockbox, only authorized keyholders will be able to access your home. In addition, your agent will receive notifications about when the lockbox was opened, the identity of those who accessed the property, how many times the listing was shown and how long each showing has lasted.

When the Open House is completed, another quick tour with the sales representative through the house will ensure that everything is in place. Make sure to include in your inspection windows and other points of entry.

Fixtures and chattels

Part of the listing process is to decide what you want to include in the sale of your home. Sellers often include things that would normally be considered chattels, such as drapes and appliances, in the sale of their homes, as an extra incentive to buyers. However, fixtures – things that are attached to the property, like light sockets, a hot tub or electric wall heaters – are considered part of the house and go with it.  There may be special circumstances where something that might ordinarily be considered as a fixture is not included in the sale, but, if this is your intention, make sure that this is clearly stated in the listing agreement and, more importantly, in the agreement of purchase and sale. If exceptions are clearly stated in the listing, REALTORS® will point this out to prospective buyers before an offer to purchase is made.

If you want to make certain that you keep items which might fall into the gray area between chattel and fixture, store them away, so that no potential purchasers see them and insist that they be included in the sale.

Some items on the property, such as water heaters or water softeners, are often provided on a rental basis. If this is the case, you should exclude the items from the purchase price and the purchaser should be asked to assume the rental.

Items that are to be included should be described along with their location in or on the property.

Remember, if you have questions or concerns, talk to your REALTOR®. REALTORS® are trained professionals who will help guide you through the selling process.

This information is provided by the London and St. Thomas Association of REALTORS®. The information herein is believed to be accurate and timely, but no warranty as such is expressed or implied.

For more information

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) also provides helpful steps for homebuyers. View CREA's Homebuyers' Road Map.