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Considering how interested in the real estate market I am today, it’s funny to think about just how clueless I was only a few years ago. I’m serious. I remember one night, back in university, when I was having a conversation about real estate with an acquaintance who was getting into the industry, and my mind was completely blown when I discovered that a home in Toronto cost over $100,000. “More than one hundred thousand dollars!?” I thought to myself, it was crazy! How could anyone possibly ever afford to buy a home? As I sat there completely bewildered, my new friend chuckled at me, and I silently realized that I would never be able to buy a home.

Fast forward ten years and here I am sitting here writing this story in my very own home in downtown Toronto. Not bad, considering I’ve just hit my three year anniversary as a homeowner, and made the purchase when I was just 25 years old.

So how does a totally clueless 18 year old who thought buying a home for $10,000 sounded much more reasonable (LOL) transform into a 25 year old who owns a half a million dollar home in the heart of the 6ix? It all comes down to the education I got from a REALTOR ®.

When I met a REALTOR ®, everything changed. Through him, I learned that as a first time homebuyer in Ontario, I was eligible to put down 5% on a home. With the realities of the Toronto housing market (it’s hot, and it’s pricey!), going from the recommended 20% down to 5% made the amount I needed to save much more conceivable. I share this information again because it’s something that many first time homebuyers don’t know, and it can make a big difference.

Once I had this knowledge, I became obsessed with the idea of buying a home and getting into the real estate market as soon as possible. I saved everything I could, and moved back into my parents’ home so that I could put as much of my earnings towards saving for a down payment, rather than rent.

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I met my real estate agent when I spotted a home for sale in the area I wanted, for a price that was so low I couldn’t believe my eyes. Within seconds I was on the phone, booked a viewing, and then gathered my parents and boyfriend to go see the place together. We loved it, but could tell it needed work. In a market like Toronto’s, there can be a lot of pressure to grab a home when you find one (even if it’s not the right one) and Paul was very transparent about the condition of the home, and the reason for its well-below average pricing. Thanks to his honesty and professional expertise, we decided to walk away from that home, and it was, honestly, the best decision we ever made.

Like any good REALTOR ® would, Paul followed up with us to see if he could help us find another property in the area. When I was upfront about the fact that I wasn’t interested in seeing condos in the area that were in a similar price range, and asked for him to only get in touch if a similar property came up, he was very respectful and completely backed off. That is until I got an email from him six months later to alert me that the property right next door to the house we had looked at had hit the market, and asked if I would be interested in seeing it. Had I been approved for a mortgage yet or done anything else to prepare within the past six months? Nope! But we went to see it anyway.

Although the new listing was more expensive, it was renovated and move-in ready. Together with my boyfriend, we decided we wanted to make an offer. Since we had been living in real estate la-la-land up until that point, Paul hustled to help get us in touch with a reputable mortgage broker to see how much we could get approved for, and we made sure to every inch of the home inspected.

I’m happy to report that we were able to get a first-time home in Toronto that we love, but many other people aren’t so lucky. It only takes hearing a few horror stories or watching real estate reality TV to know that homebuyers regularly (and very unfortunately) get stuck with nightmare homes that they’re not happy with.

Most often, this comes down to not working with a professional REALTOR ® who can help guide and advise you through what is most likely the biggest financial transaction you’ll make in your lifetime.

So what is a REALTOR ®?

Not every licensed or registered broker or salesperson is a REALTOR ®. To be a REALTOR ®, the agent must be a member of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

As a member of CREA, an agent is expected to be:

• Committed to the REALTOR® Code: The code is the accepted standard of conduct for all real estate practitioners who are REALTORS®. It’s your guarantee of professional conduct and the quality service.

• Knowledgeable about developments in real estate: A REALTOR® can get you the information needed to make an informed decision: comparable prices, neighbourhood trends, housing market conditions and more.

• Actively updating education: Through courses, workshops and other professional development, a REALTOR®maintains a high level of current knowledge about real estate.

• Access: REALTORS® have access to Board MLS® Systems, which facilitate the cooperate sale of properties to benefit consumers.

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Today, CREA has launched their latest multi-faceted campaign (perhaps you remember their last hilarious commercial featuring The Bikers?) called REAL TEA that includes a line of teas designed to ease the stresses of potential regrets that could come along with NOT using a REALTOR ®.  As a Canadian consumer, you will be able to get these teas for free at www.Real-Tea.ca, and if you’re in Toronto, be sure to drop by the one-day REAL TEA pop-up at King and Peter on October 26th to try the six tea blends and get more info in person!

Even if you can’t make it to the pop up, you have the chance to WIN a REAL TEA gift basket filled with their exclusive teas created by Pluck in Toronto! All you have to do to enter to win is FOLLOW @GracieCarroll on Twitter and TWEET: “I want to #WIN a REAL TEA gift basket from @GracieCarroll! #Contest details here: http://bit.ly/2dGuPJH #HowREALTORShelp”

Contest closes on November 2nd 2016 at 11:59pm EST, winner will be contacted through Twitter.

Good luck and hope to see you at the pop up!

xo

@GracieCarroll

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