Moving to Alberta from another country? Find the answers to your property purchasing questions here!

If you're moving to Alberta from another country, you will quickly learn that the real estate process is very different here. Whether you're emigrating from the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Germany or somewhere else, chances are you will have questions about buying a home in Alberta.

In Canada the real estate process also varies from province to province, so if you're looking to move to a province other than Alberta, or moving from one province to another, you can find information on the differing real estate processes in Chloe's blog.

Below you will find a list of frequently asked questions about moving to Alberta. Please feel free to read through the answers and should you have any further questions, you can contact Chloe, for a no obligation chat about moving to Alberta.

  1. What's the most important difference between the real estate process in Canada compared to other countries?
  2. How are homes in Alberta different than in other countries?
  3. Ok, so once I've selected a REALTOR®, what will they do for me?
  4. What is an Offer to Purchase?
  5. What happens after the Offer to Purchase has been presented to the seller?
  6. What other responsibilities does my REALTOR® have?

    1. What's the most important difference between the real estate process in Canada compared to other countries?

Rather than contacting the listing agent for a property directly, in Canada you need to select a REALTOR® to represent your interests. Your REALTOR® will arrange for you to view the properties you are interested in.

REALTORS® in Alberta must prove a minimum of a grade 12 education to be accepted into the Alberta Real Estate Association training.  They then take an intensive training program for one month by the Alberta Real Estate Association. In order to work as a REALTOR® in Calgary, REALTORS® must also train for one week with the Calgary Real Estate Board. REALTORS®must pass all exams before they can begin working, they must adhere to a strict code of ethics and conduct and they must remain free of a criminal record. That forms the basic level required for practice. Further education can be taken for areas of specialization - like Farm, Ranch & Acreage sales, Accredited Buyer Representation, Commercial Sales, etc.

Your REALTOR® will be able to show you properties on the Internet using the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS has information and photographs of all properties on the market. Your REALTOR® will be able to search for properties according to your personal criteria, including house style and size, price range and community. Once you have picked some properties you'd like to view in person, your REALTOR® will take you to view these properties. There is no need to drive to every property out there.

Chloe is an experienced REALTOR® - she's been with Century 21 The Professionals Ltd. since June of 1991. She's also extremely knowledgeable about Alberta, having been born and raised here. What's more, Chloe is uniquely qualified to help you with all things related to emigration. As a buyer, Chloe's services would be free to you!

For more on why Chloe could be your best guide and advocate in your move to Alberta, learn more about Chloe.

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    2. How are homes in Alberta different than in other countries?

In Alberta you will find homes that vary greatly in size and style. Canadian homes differ according to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and even vary in their layout. For example, a bungalow is a style of house where all of the main rooms are on one level. It will also have a full basement, or even a walkout basement, doubling the living area of the home. As your REALTOR®, Chloe will help you learn the relevant terminology pertaining to housing styles.

You will also notice that in Alberta there are differing community types to choose from - including, large cities, small towns and acreages and farms. Check out the Communities page to explore a number of Alberta communities you may wish to call home.

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    3. Ok, so once I've selected a REALTOR®, what will they do for me?

As your REALTOR®, Chloe will do the following:

  • Set up all viewing appointments and escort you through each property.
  • The sellers will not usually be present for this viewing so you need not feel as if you are infringing on their territory. This gives you ample time and opportunity to take a really close look at things and visualize your furniture's placement in the home.
  • Point out less obvious deficiencies in the home and location and bring them to your attention.
  • It may take several days of viewings to find the community and the property that best fits your needs and your budget.
  • Don't be afraid of using up too much of Chloe's time. In acting as your REALTOR®, she is paid as a result of finding you a property and successfully executing an accepted Offer to Purchase. Her commission is paid by the seller of the property in 99 per cent of cases. There are exceptions and when this occurs it will be discussed with you at the time.

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    4. What is an Offer to Purchase?

Once you have chosen a property, as your REALTOR®, Chloe will draft the Offer to Purchase on your behalf. Here again, it is Chloe's role to advise you of your options regarding the offer. Several steps are required in representing your interests:

  • Chloe will investigate and inform you of the true market value of the property to prevent you from paying too much.
  • Chloe can suggest the range of the amount of deposit you should submit with the offer and together you will work out the possession/completion date.

The deposit is considered 'good faith money' and is returned to you if the purchase falls through. To best represent your interests as your REALTOR®, Chloe must understand your financial and family situation and make recommendations regarding any conditions to the Offer to Purchase. For example, an offer can be made:

  • 'Conditional' to mortgage approval
  • 'Conditional' to final job offer
  • 'Conditional' to home inspection
  • 'Conditional' to spouse approval (if you are looking by yourself)

Many other conditions can be identified depending upon your personal circumstances but the conditions above are the standard ones and these are usually completed within three to 10-days.

A seller is not obligated to accept an Offer to Purchase with any 'conditions' but only to accept an Offer to Purchase if the full asking price is offered. Serious haggling in the course of purchasing real estate is customary and usually these settle out below asking price, although in a 'Seller's Market' where few homes are available 'over asking price' agreements do occur. This all depends on the type of market it is when you are making your purchase.  Chloe will meet with the seller(s) and the seller's REALTOR® to present your Offer to Purchase.  Once a contract is negotiated and is Conditionally Sold (or Pending) the Seller can review other offers but can not accept any until you have exhausted your condition removal date.  You have a binding contract and there is no gazumping!

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    5. What happens after the Offer to Purchase has been presented to the seller?

The seller will review the offer and go over it with their REALTOR®. At that point they may decide to do one of three things:

  • Accept the offer as written.
  • Make a counter offer on any points within the offer: price, possession date, attached/non attached goods, or conditions.
  • Simply reject your offer.

In her role as your REALTOR®, Chloe will bring any communications back to you with the seller's decision and this process may go on for several stages until there is a result. At that point the property is considered 'conditionally sold' and then all parties have their pre-negotiated duties to perform within the time frame specified on the contract.

Once these conditions have been met, the offer becomes a firm offer and the property is considered sold. At this point neither the buyer nor seller can back out. There is no such thing as 'gazumping' the signed and accepted Offer to Purchase is a contract and the parties involved are each legally bound to it.

However, if the conditions cannot be met in spite of best efforts to meet them, then the conditional sale collapses and the purchaser is refunded the deposit. 

In some cases, the buyer may request that 'Conditional to sale of existing home' (or 'Special Clause' sale) be made a condition on the Offer to Purchase. This is where the buyer must sell the house they currently own before they can complete the transaction. The buyer may request that the seller sell them the property at a certain price, subject to the sale of their existing home within 30 days (sometimes as many as 90 days).

In effect, if accepted, this type of offer gives the buyer a first right of refusal on the property. The price and possession date are contractual but the seller still has the right to market the property and if another 'acceptable' offer comes along, then the original buyer is given 24-72 hours to either complete the deal by 'waiving' the conditions or stand aside and let the alternate buyer have the property.

On the other hand, this prevents the buyer from taking on too much of a financial load. If the buyer's property does not sell within the given time frame then the contract expires. Much depends on the economic climate and time of year in the area. It is important to note that not all vendors will accept this type of special clause offer as it discourages other potential buyers.

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    6. What other responsibilities does my REALTOR® have?

Once your Offer to Purchase has been accepted, Chloe will:

  • Remind you of upcoming dates of 'condition' removals.
  • Provide access to the home for home inspectors, appraisers, bank officers and insurance companies.
  • Ensure that the keys are ready for you on the possession date (the day you officially take possession of your new home).
  • Walk you through your property on possession date to insure that the property is in essentially the same condition as when you first made the Offer to Purchase.

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Now that you have a better idea of what's involved in purchasing a home in Alberta, get to know more about Chloe and find out why she's your best resource for all things related to emigrating to Alberta.

The decision to move to another country is a momentous one. For your own peace of mind, you are also free to contact Chloe for a no obligation chat about the ins and outs of moving to Alberta.