So, you’ve decided to take the step into homeownership. What now? Below is a brief but important list of things to consider before you begin your search.
The first thing you should do before looking at homes is to make sure you can afford them. Pre-approval from a bank or mortgage broker will give you a better understanding of how much you will need for a down payment, your monthly payment, and your amortization (the time it will take you to pay off the loan). It will be easier to shop within your budget if you know how much you can spend beforehand.
*TIP* - make sure you have 1.5%-3% of the total purchase price for your closing costs. Check out our mortgage, land transfer tax and CMHC calculators here to get an idea of what this looks like.
Using a Real Estate Agent
Using a real estate professional is essential. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll need to understand the budget you’ve set, see homes that meet your criteria, work with various professionals important to the process, understand market trends both global and local, negotiate with the seller, and fill out copious amounts of paperwork. Making sure you feel comfortable with this person is key to an enjoyable process. We often hear that working with our agents is like making a new friend that you’ve known for years!
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Location, Location, Location
Think about where you find yourself most when you’re not at home. Whether it’s work, where you shop, where you relax, or your commute, analyze how much time you spend in these places. If you’re looking to live at a slower pace in a more rural setting, be prepared to spend more time commuting to these places. On the flip side, if you want to be closer to the hustle and bustle of a busy city, be prepared for convenience but very likely not a lot of acreage to call your own. There are plenty of in-betweens; this is where you really want to narrow down what is important to you. Are you growing a family and in need of the best schools, or are you downsizing and looking for more peace and quiet? If you plan to stay in your home for longer than a few years, think of where you may be in the next 5-10 years. What will you need in the next stage of your life…is it quick access to the 401 or is it a dog park?
Once you’ve decided where to live based on your commute and desired privacy level, next is what your new home MUST have. Note: I did not say, would be nice to have. What are your non-negotiables? The number of bedrooms and bathrooms is obviously important, but like location, will you potentially need more in the future? Do you need the immediate, extra space a finished basement provides, or would you prefer to finish it yourself to add your own personal touches? What about the yard? Does it need to be fenced in? Garage? Or maybe a second parking spot for your new condo?
Hot Tip – when filtering your online home search for finished basements, make sure you look at places that don’t have a finished basement as well. Quite often, the amount of work needed to make it useable is less than you think, and the cost of the home is usually more affordable.
Overall, the process of buying a home can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be!
- Partner with a real estate professional and make sure you feel comfortable with them.
- Speak with a lender for pre-approval so you know what you can afford.
- Determine where you want to live and if you’re happy with the travel required to get to your needs.
- Create a list of must-haves for your new home. (A nice-to-have list comes in handy when trying to decide on two or more properties that share your must-have requirements)
- Have fun looking for your next place to call home!