I understand that people have very busy schedules nowadays, and often feel overwhelmed by information and documents to read. For your convenience, I put together a summary of the steps involved in the home buying process, based on my experience with what buyers need to know the most.
Are you Ready to Buy?
Before you embark on a home search, check your financial situation. Your credit score will depend as much on your income as the amount of debt you owe. Try to reduce your credit card debt and curb any unnecessary spending to save toward a down payment. Give some thought to the type of lifestyle you want, and any circumstances that may impact your life in the near future (e.g. new baby).
Where Do you Want to Live?
Identify what you need in a neighbourhood. Do you like the suburb or the city? An established community or a new subdivision? Do you prefer a busy or a quiet area? Do you need to live close to other family members or friends? Do you need to have a school nearby? What type of amenities you and your family require? (day care? public transportation? Etc.) Pick two or three neighbourhoods that fit your criteria and drive around those areas at different times of the day. Can you see yourself and your family living there?
What do You Want in a Home?
- The ‘must haves . — These are the necessities that you won’t be able to live without. If you have a big family, you may need at least three bedrooms. If you have small children, you may absolutely need all bedrooms to be located on the same floor and the backyard fenced. If you entertain a lot, then you must have that formal dining room.
- The ‘prefer-to-have. — These are features that, while you can live without, would make your life easier if available. You may only need a single garage, but would prefer a double for extra storage space. You may have enough above-grade space for your family, but would prefer to have the basement finished so kids have more room to play.
- The ‘nice-to-haves. Ah! — wouldn’t it be nice to have granite countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms?? Air conditioning? Underground sprinkler? But would you really pay extra in order to have these features? If your answer is, ‘no’, then just wish you’ll luck out and the home you end up buying comes with these ‘nice to haves anyway.
Are you Pre-Approved?
If you start your home search before knowing exactly how much money you can borrow, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. What if you fall in love with a home that turns out to be $50,000 over your budget?? Talk to a lender first and get pre-approved financially so you have the peace of mind of shopping within your budget (If you need a mortgage specialist, please Contact me)
Ready to Start your Search? Work with an Agent
If you need a legal advice, you go to a lawyer. If you need to file your income tax, you go to an accountant. Wouldn’t it make sense to also work with a professional when making one of the most major financial decisions in your life? Real estate agents are not just for sellers:
A buyer’s agent has the inside knowledge of the real estate market and can show you all homes that fit your specific needs, including those that just got listed and are not yet available on public websites.
A buyer’s agent will represent your best interests, guide you through the home search and buying process, refer you to other professionals you would need (like a lawyer), and negotiate offers on your behalf.
Best of all, getting an agent to represent you does not cost you a thing! You get all the benefits of working with an expert at zero cost to you!
So wouldn’t you rather be protected and looked after when making a major financial investment?
I’ve represented many buyers successfully. If you need a buyer’s agent, Contact me.
Now that you know your budget, where you want to live, what you want in a home, and have hired an agent, you’re ready to start viewing homes. Your agent will help you with your property search and show you homes within your criteria. By the time you view up to ten homes, you should have a pretty clear idea of what you want and don’t want in a home, and be able to narrow down your search further. Once you feel you’ve viewed enough, pick the top two or three homes you liked the most, evaluate them with your agent, and decide on an offer. While you may want to view everything available on the market, don’t hesitate to stop the search when you find a home that you really like and best fits your needs. Just like rushing into buying may prove to be a costly mistake, taking too long to make a decision could end up costing you your dream home.
Protect yourself when entering into a purchase contract with the seller:
Always conduct a professional home inspection to thoroughly inspect the home conditions. Your inspector will provide you with a detailed inspection report and an evaluation of the home conditions. If serious problems are found (like mould or a sinking foundation), you may want to walk away. If the inspection reveals items in need of immediate repair, ask your agent to re-negotiate the price to take these repair costs into account.
Unless you’re paying cash for the home, always include a financing condition in you offer even if you are ‘pre-approved’. Don’t take any chances on losing your deposit.
Budget for closing costs, like lawyer’s fees, movers, and needed furniture.
Remember, your agent is there for you every step of the way, so lean on them to make your buying experience smooth, enjoyable, and rewarding.
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