You have just received the news that your company is transferring you to London. Perhaps you have been offered a job here in London with a new company. Congratulations! Hopefully this will be the start of an exciting new chapter in your career and a new adventure in a new city for you and your family. You will discover that London is a great city in which to live with a fantastic quality of life. We have many of the amenities and entertainments of a larger city with a small town feel.
Now that you have received the news or made the decision that you are coming to London, there is the big process of actually moving to London. Especially if you are coming from far away, making this move can be a daunting task. A big part of any relocation is figuring out where in the city to live, finding a home and buying it. The good news is that I am here to help you with that process. The whole relocation process works best when you have someone on the ground here who knows the city and who takes the time to figure out your wants, needs, lifestyle and preferences and is able to guide you to the neighbourhoods and homes that are the best fit for you and your family and the way you live your life.
One thing that you may want to do is take some time to read about the various neighbourhoods here in London using my London Neighbourhood Guide. What you will find there is a summary of sales and pricing information, a map showing the boundaries of the area, a brief description and history of the area noting interesting places and landmarks, and at the bottom of the page a listings “carousel” showing a sampling the properties currently for sale in the neighbourhood. This is a great way to sample the various communities within the city and begin the process of narrowing down where you might want to live.
Now that you have learned a little about London Ontario, done some neighbourhood research, looked at a few listings, what is the next step? This is a good time to get in touch with me (feel free to text or call me: 519-878-5566; or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; or just use one of the contact forms on this site). We can take some time to discuss by phone or email what kind of things you are looking for in a home, your price range, what kind of neighbourhood you picture yourself living in, schools and other amenities you hope to have nearby. This kind of discussion is important for any home-buying process, but it is doubly so when you start the process while you still live in a different city or town. The better you can paint a picture for me of what you are looking for, the easier it will be for me to find and suggest properties to you. Once I have sent you listings, you can review them and let me know from looking at the pictures if these are the kinds of homes that you are looking for.
This is the point where relocating is different from the normal buying process. Usually, if you see a property or two that catch your eye, we pick a convenient time and get out to look. This gives you a chance to see the properties first hand and me a chance to see how you interact with the different homes, getting a sense of which neighbourhoods, spaces, styles and features that you connect with and which you do not. If we have not found the “the one” on this initial visit, usually I set you up to receive automatic listings updates that notify you each day when there is a new listing that fits your criteria. This way we are alerted when there are new listings, allowing us to respond quickly and view the property as soon as possible. This is especially important when the market is active. Unfortunately, this type of quick response is just not possible when you have to drive or fly a long distance to get to London.
If you are in a neighbouring city, buyers can often make time on the weekends to drive to London, see houses and then return home later in the day. For some, they will stay overnight with friends or in a hotel. What this means is that instead of seeing one or two houses in an evening when they come on the system, we will want to make the trip worth while. Often it will have been a week or two or more since you were last able to come. Because real estate can change day by day, with properties selling and going off the market, and new properties coming on the market, often we are putting together a list of properties you want to see and that I recommend you seeing, updating it as changes happen. Sometimes you will a listing that get you excited, but because you are hours away, it may be a week or more before you can see it. It can be an anxious time, hoping the properties you like will stay available until you have a chance to get to London to look.
Usually, when I go out looking with a client who lives here in London, we will see not more than four to six properties in one outing. Often, we will see a couple of properties one day and then a couple more a few days later. But when you are coming in from out of town, we will often compress more viewing into one outing. We might see as many 10 or more properties in one outing. I have done as many as 16 properties in one day. I make sure to schedule in breaks and even short meals if necessary to make the day more pleasant.
What if we go out and see all of these homes and don’t find something we like? If you live a city where another trip “next week” is possible and your time frame allows you to keep looking, then we will have a discussion about what you liked and did not like, the things I observed as you viewed the properties and if necessary we make changes to the focus of the search. Sometimes it is different neighbourhoods. Sometimes it is a change in price point, usually moving up the price scale if that is possible. Sometimes it is a shift in style or age. We then regroup, look at the new listings and decide on a new list for the next time you are back.
Once you have found the house that you want to buy, the next step is to draw up the offer and have you sign the papers. It is not unusual for the decision to coalesce during the drive home. The good news is that you do not have to drive back to London to sign all of the paperwork necessary to submit an offer to the Seller. If you have decided before you leave on which house is “the one,” we can get all the papers ready and signed before you go. What if you want to see this house one more time? Some times, knowing you are coming in from out of town, Sellers will accommodate a buyer who wants a second look later in the same day before finalizing their decision. Sometimes it might mean staying an extra day if that is possible. Sometimes that extra look is just not possible.
If you are already home and want to submit the offer, what I do is get the papers ready, scan them and email mail them to you with markings on the documents showing you where to sign and/or initial. I am available by phone during these times if you have any questions or would like me to walk you through the signing process over the phone. Then you simply scan the documents and send them back to me (.pdf files are the best format for this sort of thing). Once negotiations are under way the rest can be done by phone, email and scanner. Also, even when we are doing this from a distance, I take the time to properly assess the value of the property to make sure that we are making the right offer and negotiating towards what we feel the home is worth in current market conditions.
What if you are on a house buying trip? You have come to London and have a week to find a house, negotiate a deal and complete the sale. The thought of this can be a little overwhelming. The good news is that I have navigated this process with numerous clients and have helped make the process easy and as stress free as possible. Because travel and hotel arrangements need to be made, we will often know weeks in advance when you are coming to London. My goal is to make my schedule as free for you as possible during that week as I will often be dedicating at least two to four full days with you during the buying trip.
As with the client who is coming in from a city or town that is a few hours away by car, we will spend the weeks leading up to your buying trip in dialogue discussing what you want, the listings you like and putting together a list of as many a 10 to 16 properties. On the first day we will get out and see them all. Its a long day, for sure. We will take breaks, but count on six to eight hours of looking. If we have done good work leading up to this day, you will find one or two homes you like. What we do then is you take the evening to rest and I book us to see the two to three on the short list for a second showing the next day.
On the second day we then go out, see the homes on the short list, and hopefully fall in love with one. Sometimes on day two there are a couple of properties, perhaps a new listing or maybe one or two that we did not get a chance to see on day one that we also add to the list to help confirm that the one of the properties on the short list is “the one.” Hopefully you are ready, better yet, excited to move forward with one house. At this point we go the office, price out the house, discuss the offer details and then draw up the papers, sign them and send them off to the Seller’s agent.
What happens if you don’t find something you like day one? At that point we have to do a quick reset. We have a discussion about what we liked and did not like and what you were really hoping to see but did not. Then, using everything I have learned from watching you interact with different properties and from our discussions and I put together a second long list of properties. If there is time, I will send the list to you for your review. Typically, though, there is not time. I will book the showings and we go out for a second long day of looking. In the years that I have been helping people relocate to London Ontario, we have not had need of a “day three” reset on a buying trip. There have a been a few “day two” resets, but all of those have resulted in us finding “the one.”
Once we have negotiated a deal, then we usually will still have several days to get a home inspection done. For most clients on a home buying trip, I will give a home inspector a heads up that we will likely need them on short notice. This way we can get the inspection done while you are in town and can participate in the inspection. For those coming to London from from a few hours away, the agreement is usually structured so that you will be able to come back the following weekend to do the inspection.
We also get the financing started with either a local mortgage provider or one from the area you will be leaving. If you are planning on using a local person, I recommend connecting with them well before you arrive in town for both pre-approval and to have firm idea of what your price range is. This way the ball is already started. If the mortgage provider needs documentation, it is usually easier to provide it before you come.
If everything goes well and moves according to plan – and it is my job to make sure that everything does go according to plan – you will firm up on the deal looking forward to the big move, ready to start the exciting next chapter of your lives. Most of my clients find that the process goes so smoothly that they have some time enjoy London, sample the restaurants and see some of the city.