Buying a home can be a bit overwhelming. There’s so much to think about and do. So, it’s important that you have someone you can trust to make the process as smooth as possible and offer expert advice.
It’s all about helping you find the right home in the right neighbourhood at the best possible price.
To buy a home, you need to be prepared and I am here to help you. Here are a few things to consider:
Define your needs and wants – make a list of the things you simply can’t live without, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms your family needs, proximity to schools and work, or storage needs. Then list some nice-to-haves: maybe a pool or deck, finished basement or mud room. This will help you further down the road when you start looking at home.
Brush up on types of home ownership – make sure you know the difference between freehold (it’s all yours), condo (you take care of the inside and pay fees to an association to look after the common areas and maintenance) and co-op (similar to condos but instead of “owning” your unit, you buy shares in the whole building and pay maintenance and repair fees).
Understand market conditions – supply and demand can change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, region to region. So, getting to know the market can help you get more bang for your buck. And so can your Real Estate agent.
Like many things in life, planning ahead is the key to success. So, you should know the price range you can afford before you start shopping. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Down payment – this is usually the percentage of the total cost of a home that you’ll need to pay. The more money you put down, the more money you’ll save on monthly payments and, in the long run, interest paid.
Knowing what you can afford – how much house you can afford comes down to 3 factors: your monthly mortgage payment, your down payment and the amortization period or length of time it will take to pay off the loan.
Getting pre-approved – this will really help you figure out what you can spend on a home because you’ll know before you start shopping. And you’ll be protected against rising interest rates as well.
So now it’s time to get out there and find your dream home. Most people start off by having a neighbourhood in mind but a great agent may suggest options that you may not have thought of. Here are some considerations as you set out to house hunt:
Choosing the right neighbourhood – Do you need to be close to schools, public transit, highways or where you work? Those can be huge factors when choosing an area to live. And let’s not forget proximity to other amenities like parks, grocery stores, doctors and recreational centres. Drive around and check out the appearance of other homes in the area. Are they well taken care of? Of course, your agent will be able to inform you of property values in the area and how they’ve changed over the years.
House hunting – the hunt can be a lot of work but it can also be a lot of fun. So when you visit homes, go with a partner – spouse, parent, friend – because two sets of eyes are better than one. Don’t be shy about asking some tough questions regarding the home. Take some pictures or video on your smartphone so you can reference it later.
View open houses with open eyes – curb appeal is one thing but try not to focus on the bells and whistles. Keep a lookout for things like doors and windows (are they new/old?), water leaks, squeaky floors, soggy areas around the yard that indicate poor drainage and could lead to a wet basement, missing shingles, lighting, etc. You’ll be getting a home inspection later, but it doesn’t hurt to start with your own observations.
In addition to your real estate agent, you will now need to bring in a few pros to help get you to the finish line and make sure the investment you’re about to make is sound. Your real estate agent can put you in touch with these people and make recommendations. Here are a couple of key people you should be talking to:
A home inspector – an absolute must in saving you from some unpleasant surprises later on. He will check your property for any structural damage; perform a thorough examination of the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and more; then prepare a complete written report detailing all their findings.
A legal professional – when it comes to complex legal documents, it takes a lawyer experienced in Canadian real estate law to help make sure that you and your investment are protected. A real estate lawyer will review the agreement of purchase and sale, do a property title search, check that your home complies with current building and zoning codes, ensure utilities and property taxes are paid up, review the mortgage agreement, and get all the paperwork ready for closing.
Closing day is the day you officially take ownership of your new home. It’s an exciting time for sure. But there are a couple of details you need to keep in mind before you get handed the keys:
Closing costs – these fees need to be paid by or on the closing day and include mortgage application fees, inspections, legal fees, insurance, registration and more.
First Time Buyers.
Falling in love with a house you can’t afford can be heartbreaking. Avoid disappointment by figuring out your budget before you start looking.
First, decide how much you can afford for your down payment. The Home Buyers Plan lets you withdraw up to $25K per person (or up to $50K per couple) from your RRSPs – tax-free – to be repaid over 15 years. More on that here . The bigger your down payment, the less principal you will owe, and the less interest you will pay.
Don’t forget about closing costs, like insurance, legal fees, home inspection costs, land registration and land transfer fees. Add those to your moving expenses and service hookup fees, and they can add up surprisingly fast.
Your monthly housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, heat, etc.) shouldn’t use up more than 32% of your income. (If your combined monthly income is $5000, for example, 32% of that is $1600.) If you have car payments or credit card debt, the rule of thumb is that debt repayment shouldn’t be more than 40% of your income.
Get pre-approved for your mortgage. It’s a good way of finding out how much you can borrow – and it speeds up the process once you’ve found the home you want to buy.