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Most people who have bought a home understand the value of working with an experienced agent who knows the ins and outs of a real estate transaction. After all, buying a home is likely the largest investment you’ll ever make in your lifetime.

If you’re considering purchasing a land lease home from Parkbridge – Canada’s largest owner and operator of land lease communities– it’s important to find an agent who not only understands real estate, but also knows how land lease differs from buying a freehold home.

One key difference is this: with land lease, you buy the home and lease the land, whereas with freehold, you purchase both the house and the land. The purchase price of the land lease home, therefore, is typically less than what you would pay for a freehold home.

There are other advantages to land lease, says Sarah Brown, an Ontario real estate agent experienced in residential land lease.

“You’re living in a professionally managed community, you know who your neighbours are, you have a recreation centre where you can gather, and your taxes will be a little bit less than what you would pay in a freehold situation,” she says.

If you’ve worked with a real estate agent in the past and you’d like to work with them again, Parkbridge can help guide you and your agent through the process of purchasing a land lease home.

But if you don’t have a realtor in mind, here are some tips on how to find an agent when considering land lease.

1. Get a referral

One of the best ways to find an agent with knowledge of land lease homeownership is to ask for a referral from the property manager at the land lease community where you want to buy. Property managers often deal with real estate agents, and can provide you with the name of a salesperson or two to help you understand how the purchase process works.

A knowledgeable agent will explain why you pay land lease fees and what services you receive in return for that monthly payment. They will also help you understand how the community operates, as well as the contractual obligations of both Parkbridge and the homeowner.

Family and friends are also a great source of referrals for sales agents they have used in the past – especially if they have knowledge of land lease.

2. Interview and ask a lot of questions

Not all real estate offer the same services. That’s why it’s a good idea to interview more than one so that you can hire someone you feel will best represent your interests.

“When interviewing agents, ask them if they have any experience with land lease,” says Brown. “Ask them if they’re familiar with the lease and the concept of land leasing, and see whether they can answer questions right away about the rules and regulations of the community.”

Any realtor you hire should work directly with the property operations team to help you understand questions about the lease and community guidelines.

One important note: you should have the lease reviewed by your lawyer. Parkbridge also requires that you are represented by a lawyer on closing.

3. Confirm if your Real Estate Agent is registered with the provincial regulator

Real estate is a regulated profession and agents must be registered with provincial regulatory bodies. These organizations ensure that realtors have the required education to trade in real estate, are registered with the regulator, and meet all professional and ethical standards. They also handle consumer complaints and can discipline sales agents who breach any rules or ethics.

On the website of each regulator, you can search to see if a real estate agent is registered and in good standing. This is an important step to ensure you end up hiring a qualified, licenced agent.

Taking these three steps will go a long way towards ensuring you find a qualified agent who can guide you through the purchase of a land lease home, says Brown.

At any point in your homebuying journey, Parkbridge is available to educate you and your real estate agent about land lease and our communities. We know land lease is a little different. But once you learn more about it, we think you’ll agree that it’s an affordable homeownership option that offers the bonus of living in a safe, healthy and valued community.

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