BUYING A HOME IS A DREAM COME TRUE!
Fantastic! It may be your first home, or perhaps your fifth, but no matter how many times you’ve been through the process, one thing remains the same: It’s a big job, involving a great deal of effort, time, and of course, money.
STEP 1: DECIDING WHAT YOU WANT
To make your home search more efficient, ask yourself these three focus questions:
1. Where do I want to live? What communities or neighbourhoods do you want to consider? Is it important to be near schools, shopping centres, recreation facilities, places of worship, hospitals, or other amenities? Will you require public transportation?
2. What type of home do I want? What style of home is best for you? It could be a detached, a semi-detached, a bungalow, a split-level, a two-storey, a duplex, a townhouse — the options are endless! You may also want to consider your ideal lot size and the age of the home.
3. What are my must-haves and deal-breakers?
What are the most important features for you in a home? A basement? A garage? A pool or a fireplace? How many bathrooms? Bedrooms? Do you have family members with special needs? What do you absolutely not want in a home?
STEP 2: GET PRE-APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE
When it comes to buying a home, getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a very important step. Not only does it help you understand exactly how much you can afford to spend on a home, but it often allows you to lock in an interest rate for a period of time which could potentially save you thousands of dollars for years to come.
Make sure you check with banks and mortgage brokers too. It is common that the mortgage brokers can offer you a mortgage from the same bank you went to, but with a better rate and better terms.
STEP 3: AGENT OR NO AGENT?
Most buyers today work with a real estate agent rather than go at it alone for many reasons. In most cases, your home is your most valuable asset, and it makes sense to use a professional. A great real estate professional will provide key market insights, sound advice and save you endless hours of time and money — all while helping you reduce the stress of a large purchase so you can truly enjoy the experience of buying your dream home.
Top 5 Reasons Why Most Homebuyers Choose to Work with a Real Estate Professional
1. It’s free. In almost all cases, commission is paid by the seller so having an agent working for you is essentially free.
2. Avoid overpaying for a home. If you’re like most buyers, you want to know, with certainty, that you are paying a fair price. Quite often, sellers overprice their homes to “see what happens.” A great real estate professional will educate you on the price of current competitive properties as well as similar homes that have been recently sold to help you make an informed decision on how much to offer for your dream home.
3. Represent and protect your interests as a buyer. In any transaction, it’s important to understand that the seller’s agent is bound by contract to work in the best interests of his/her sellers. As a buyer, you also need representation (an agent), someone to work exclusively in your best interests. Engaging the services of a real estate professional to assist you in the home buying process means you now have someone to work solely in your best interests to provide you with:
- Confidential advice that addresses your needs first.
- Loyal and diligent “full disclosure” care, FREE from any conflicts of interest.
- Access to all listings including MLS®, bank-owned properties, distress and estate sales, even homes that were previously on the market where the seller might still be interested in selling.
- Expert advice on useful clauses such as home inspections and financing to protect you fully.
- Expert negotiation of the offer to purchase, to achieve the best possible price and terms.
- Expert advice on market value, inclusions, location, as well as help you decide when you should walk away.
- Discovery and disclosure of all information about the property including liens, warranties, disclosures, seller’s purchase price, market and planning activity in the area.
4. NEGOTIATE the best price and terms of your most valuable asset. Negotiating requires expertise and skill, period. A great real estate professional is a masterful communicator with expert negotiating skills whose job is to help you decide what to offer, what to include, what to give up and most importantly, when to walk away if reasonable terms cannot be reached.
5. Manage the countless details and mountainous paperwork. From the moment of engagement, your agent will ensure smooth sailing and guide you effortlessly through any obstacles along the way.
STEP 4: START SEARCHING
Now the fun begins! Most searches begin online. In fact over 90% of buyers start their home buying process on the Internet. The most comprehensive website for property searches is Realtor.ca, a Canada-wide database of all active properties for sale, also referred to as the MLS® or Multiple Listing Service. This website allows you to narrow your search to a specific area, price range, key features and even
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN’T SEE ONLINE
1. Homes in hot markets that haven’t made it online yet. These are desirable homes in great areas, at great prices that often get sold before a property listing is loaded online. The only way to know about them is through an agent.
2. Expired listings or private sales not found on MLS®. A savvy real estate professional is on the pulse of all potential homes for sale, listed and unlisted.
3. Insight and an insider’s edge. An agent not only has access to more data than what is available online, but he/she brings expertise and a wealth of knowledge so you can be confident in knowing you have a complete picture of each property you are considering.
STEP 5: MAKE A SMART OFFER & NEGOTIATE
You have found a house you love. Fantastic news! Here’s how the offer process typically works:
Decide on price, terms and conditions. Your agent will conduct a Comprehensive Market Analysis (CMA), complete with comparable active and expired listings, recent solds, and other historical data to determine the market value of the home. This is extremely helpful when it comes to negotiating a fair price. You also need to decide on a closing date and if there will be any conditions of the offer such as home inspection, appraisal, water tests etc.
Prepare the offer. Your agent will create a legal document (Agreement of Purchase and Sale) that protects you, follows your instructions, and matches your schedule and needs.
Review the offer. Your agent explains the details and terms of the offer, and suggests options for specialty clauses so that you know exactly what you are agreeing to.
Present the offer. Your agent will present and negotiate the offer on your behalf.
STEP 6: PREPARING FOR CLOSING DAY
Typically you will have anywhere from 30 to 90 days before closing day. The closing date can be the same as your move-in date, however, this is not always possible. Check with your lawyer or agent to find out when your keys will be available on the closing date. It is normal that the exchange of money and title be complete before keys are released which could be late in the day.
Remember, this is an exciting time! Being organized well in advance will pave the way for a much more enjoyable journey. Here are a few details to take care of before your closing date:
- Legal Stuff and Paperwork You and your agent will need to provide your lawyer with all the necessary documentation for your purchase. Your agent usually takes care of the agreement, waivers, survey and any other purchase documents. However, you may need to provide your lawyer with some additional information: insurance, down payment information, adjustment payments, and other signed documents your lawyer may request.
- Down Payment and Closing Costs Make the necessary arrangements to have these funds available a week prior to closing or when the lawyer has requested funds.
- Moving Arrangements & Change of Address Whether you are using professional movers, renting a truck, or getting a bunch of friends together, plan and organize it early.
- Property Insurance Arrange for home insurance before closing and request a proof of insurance at your financial institution in advance.
- Utilities Contact the local utilities to coordinate the change of billing on closing. Including phone, internet, cable, gas, electricity, water, and any rental agreements. Don’t forget to cancel the services at your old address.
- Schools Inform your children’s old and new schools about the move and arrange any necessary record transfers.