First off, congratulations – you’ve decided to become a homeowner.
From now until you move in to your shiny new palace, there are many things you can do to make the process more straightforward and less stressful.
LEARN THE BUYING PROCESS
The best properties sell fast – usually within days of hitting the market. By doing your research on the buying process, you’ll know what to expect when you’re in the moment and be able to react quickly when the right place comes up for sale.
A great real estate professional will help guide you (we’ll get to that part) but remember that there’s never a substitute for doing your own homework.
DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS
Condos, houses, town homes, the list goes on. There’s no shortage of types of places available. A house may provide you with more space and a yard but comes with additional maintenance and upkeep. A condo is great because you can drive into the garage, take the elevator up to your unit, and know the snow is ploughed and grass is cut for you. A town house is somewhere in the middle of the two.
Other factors such as number of bedrooms, location you want to be in, proximity to transit, and more, should all go into your evaluation. Sitting down with the people involved in your decision and writing out a list of what’s important is a great way to start.
WHAT CAN YOU AFFORD
Before diving into your search, get pre-approved for a mortgage. Meeting with your bank or an experienced mortgage broker will tell you how much you can borrow.
Remember, just because you get approved for a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to spend it. Owning a house is great but the fuzzy warm feeling will quickly wear off if you’re eating Kraft Dinner on your air mattress every night because all your money goes to your property each month.
FIND A GREAT REALTOR
Great news. As a buyer, working with an agent won’t cost you anything in most instances since the seller usually pays their commission.
When looking for a great real estate agent, you’ll want one that works full time in the business, has experience dealing with your type of property, knows the area, and one that you feel comfortable having open discussions with as the search goes on.
Your realtor is going to be your gateway to properties so having someone that works hard will help you beat other buyers to places and potentially save you thousands of dollars.
Start by interviewing a few realtors and find out why they should earn your business. Working with only one agent shows that you are serious and committed and expect the same in return from them.
FACTOR IN ALL COSTS
When buying a place, things like Land Transfer Tax, lawyer fees, home inspection, money for any changes you want to make the home once it’s yours, and more all can come up. Ensuring you account for these ahead of time is a great way to keep the process less stressful and in control.
As a first time buyer, you may be eligible for discounts on certain expenses. Speak to that great real estate agent you hired and they should be able to provide you more information.
While this is by no means a full list of things to do when buying a place, it should get you off to a running start. Remember this is supposed to be fun and exciting. Do your research, follow the necessary steps, and happy house hunting!