Starting the journey to homeownership can be overwhelming and stressful. But with a little planning, you'll get the home that's right for you. A home that strikes a balance between your "wish list" items and the practical realities of the property, location and the housing market. Before you know it, you'll have a place to call your very own. A place to entertain. A place to decorate. A place to raise a family. It really is an exciting time!
To help keep you on track, below is a step-by-step guide to buying your first home.
STEP 1 - Build a Budget
An effective budget will map out your plan to set aside money for your down payment and additional costs. It will also help determine the price of home you can afford. Click here for more information on building a budget.
STEP 2 - Investigate Mortgage Options
There are many different types of mortgages. If you don't have the 20% down payment for a conventional mortgage, you can get a high ratio mortgage, combined with mortgage default insurance, that allows for a smaller down payment. You should be pre-approved for a mortgage before you start house hunting. For more information on mortgages, click here.
STEP 3 - Choose a Realtor
Your realtor will play a vital role in your homebuying experience. The best realtor will be a combination of a personal advisor, consultant and negotiator. He/she will show you homes that match your criteria, guide you through the homebuying process, negotiate the best possible price for your home and deliver your closing documentation.
STEP 4 - Get a Lawyer
It's important to hire a lawyer who specializes in real estate. You could find yourself in a bidding war for the home you want, and it doesn't hurt to have a lawyer look over any offer to purchase before you submit it. A real estate lawyer will also conduct a title search and check for outstanding taxes and liens on the property.
STEP 5 - House Hunting
- Create a wish list
House hunting can be a lengthy process. To save yourself time, know exactly what you want in a home beforehand. Think about your immediate needs, future plans and lifestyle. When you look at homes, you may be tempted to concentrate on the home, but don't forget to look at the whole property: the lot, the neighbourhood, the surroundings. How close is the home to facilities and services important to you?
- Bring your checksheet
When you're ready to begin shopping for a home - often called "house hunting" - bring along this House Hunting Checksheet. You may end up seeing multiple homes in one day. This checksheet will help you compare and keep track of the homes you visit. And help you remember the features you did or didn't like.
Your agent presents the offer to the seller. This document includes the price, conditions, deposit and closing date. The seller either accepts, rejects or counters the offer (also called "signing back" the offer).
STEP 7 - Home Inspection or New Home Warranty
Hiring an inspector is voluntary, but it's a smart idea for resale homes. You can choose to make your offer to purchase the home conditional on the outcome of your inspection. If your inspection reveals major problems, you can negotiate those repairs with the seller before your deal closes, or legally withdraw your offer.
What is a New Home Warranty?
New Home Warranties are typically used when you buy a brand new home. The builder provides a New Home Warranty to cover things like deposits and completion dates, along with labour and materials for at least one year after the home was built. It also protects you against structural problems for a minimum of five years.
STEP 8 - Finalizing The Deal
Finalizing the deal will include the final approval of your mortgage, a meeting with your lawyer to finalize details like insurance and conditions, and the results of a title search.
STEP 9 - Moving Preparations
There's a lot to do before you move. Line up utilities and other services like phone, cable and internet. If you rent, you must give your landlord notice. Also, forward your mail to your new address and hire a moving company. Preparing these things well in advance will help you make a smooth transition to your new home.
STEP 10 - Closing Day
This is the day you legally get possession of the house. Your lawyer completes the paperwork (so the home is in your name), payments are finalized and you receive the deed and the keys. Congratulations on your new home!