Buying your first home can be very intimidating, especially with all the mixed information out there. Rules are constantly changing (as well as pricing) and sometimes even I find it hard to keep up with all of it. That’s why I’ve created a step-by step guide to help you get started on your dream of owning your own home. Of course, as always, I’m available most of the time by text or phone call if you would like to talk with a human who’s had first-hand experience.
Talk to your mortgage broker/bank for pre-approval.
The absolute worst feeling is showing a client a property, they fall in love with it, and when they finally talk to the bank, find out they can’t afford it. Nobody wins in this situation. It’s always best to talk to your bank or mortgage broker prior to looking at properties. This way, you know what you can afford, and come up with a number that you’re comfortable with. I also would never want to put you in a home that you couldn’t pay for.
Write out a list of Must Haves / Would Likes
Sometimes the hardest thing about this job is trying to guess what people are looking for. Truth is, everyone is different, they have different tastes, different ideas of big/small etc. So, I encourage you to sit down with your partner/family/yourself and really decipher what your needs are in your next home, as well as what things you’re willing to negotiate on. This list will really help us narrow down the properties that are going to be perfect for you, and eliminate time wasted and frustrations on both ends.
Choose a realtor
Obviously, I hope you choose me ??, but I know not everyone is looking in the Halton & Peel regions. What I would recommend is to do your research. Ask friends and family for referrals, do a google search for agents that specialize in the area you’re moving to, or first-time home buying. There are a few benefits you can claim on when you’re buying your first home and having a realtor who is knowledgeable on the subject can save you thousands of dollars. You also want to make sure you’re looking at agent reviews, as well as visiting the agent’s website to explore their areas of expertise. Don’t just go with the first agent that calls you. Shameless self promotion… I’ve got a 5-star review on Google ??
Meet with your Realtor
The next step is to set up a meeting. There will be some documents you need to sign before heading out to look at houses. This is standard, there will be some paperwork on the benefits of working with a realtor, and an agreement of representation which is the contract between you and your realtor ensuring that we are working in your best interests (the client). It’s there to protect you. As well, during this meeting you can go over the list of wants and needs that you previously discussed. From there we would start sending you listings, and you can choose which options you would like to go and view. That’s when the fun part starts! I mean other than meeting me….
Find a good real estate lawyer
For things to progress after you submit any offers on a property, you will need a lawyer. The lawyer will review all the documents and history of the property to make sure that everything is up to code, and to catch any errors or financial implications. My colleague once put in an offer on a house that was a former grow-op, thank goodness the lawyer caught that. It makes a huge difference to the resale value of your home! Another example would be in buying a condo. You always want to make sure your lawyer reviews the status certificate – the monthly maintenance fees go to maintain the building and the excess goes into a reserve fund. You want to make sure the reserve has ample funds so that if anything large needs to be repaired you don’t have to pay out of pocket.
Submit an offer
So, by now you’ve been out to see a few homes (or maybe just one) and you’re ready to put in an offer (exciting!) Your realtor will discuss with you the best way to tackle the negotiating, whether to offer low, high, or somewhere in between. Hopefully, the homeowner will accept your first offer, however, sometimes it’s not that easy. You may go back and forth a couple of times before settling on a mutually agreed upon price. Alternatively, the owners may accept an offer from someone else. Another reason why it’s great to have a realtor with experience closing multiple deals (like me!)
In the weeks leading up to your closing date, you will likely be visiting the bank a couple of times to sign off on your new mortgage and to have the funds transferred to the previous homeowner to complete the sale. You will also need to visit the lawyer on closing day to go over all the documents pertaining to your home sale. They are there to ensure proper procedures are followed to protect you and the seller in the transaction. Once everything is signed, the money is transferred, and the keys are in your hand you can call it your home! I know it sounds like a long, drawn-out process, but I promise it’s all worth it in the end.
So, there it is folks, a step-by-step process. It’s possible I missed something important, so I welcome your feedback!
Below are some useful links on first-time home buyers’ incentives: