Buying a home is not only exciting, but it is a process full of complexities. Having an experienced REALTOR® can help you navigate the path to home ownership, but before you get started, here are a few tips to keep in mind;
1. MONEY TALKS
(As does your credit)
First things first, you need to speak to a lender and get yourself pre-approved. The pre-approval process will paint you a finite picture as to what mortgage you can afford based on your debt-to-income ratio, credit rating, down payment, tax returns and more.
If you are planning on buying soon, pay off credit cards or any other debt you may have.
Do not shop for new debt (ie: put off buying a new car, take out a large loan, etc)
Do your taxes
Talk to a mortgage broker, not just your bank. Mortgage brokers will shop for the best mortgage available to you
Make sure you are budgeting a rainy day fund. Home ownership comes with additional costs, where there is no landlord to foot the bill. Make sure you have a cushion for any surprises
2. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
(Know where you’re going)
Make sure to avoid buyers remorse by researching potential neighborhoods, and making sure they offer what amenities and conveniences you require to enjoy living in your community.
Do you rely on transit to get around? If so, take a trip on transit to the neighborhood you are considering to make sure it will suit your expectations
Make a priority list of what you really need close to your home. Do you need a grocery store, shopping, banking nearby? If so, make sure you are looking in a neighborhood that offers this
Do your research! Schools, crime rates, demographics – all this information is easily accessible with a quick internet search
3. USE A REALTOR ®
(Put a professional in your corner)
You want someone to get good value for what you are purchasing and putting your best interest in mind. Remember, as a buyer, you do not pay real estate commission, so take advantage of professional services.
4. NOT GETTING A HOME INSPECTION
(What you can’t see, may cost you)
It is imperative to engage a trusted and reputable home inspector to check your potential new home. Home inspectors are trained to find faults, and will provide you with a detailed list of EVERYTHING that needs inspecting, has been inspected and the condition of the home.
Do not use anything other than a qualified home inspector for your home inspection
Hire a trusted professional that uses leading technology, (such as infrared) to ensure you are getting the most detailed report available
Read the report!
5. KEEP EMOTIONS IN CHECK
(What’s love got to do with it?)
Yes, buying a new home is an emotional experience, and yes, you should fall in love with your new home, however, do not let emotions rule your decision on what to purchase and cloud your better judgement.
If you can’t afford it, move on. Buying a home is likely to be the largest financial transaction you will make in your life, don’t get swept away by your heart when your bank account cannot support the cost
Be ready to find yourself in competition. In highly competitive markets, it is common for homes to be sold well over asking in the blink of an eye. Know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em
6. STRATA? KNOW THE RULES
(Bylaws are not made to be broken)
If you are buying into a strata, make sure to read all of the bylaws and meeting minutes so you know what you are getting yourself into, and be prepared to walk away if the bylaws and strata minutes include enforcement you cannot live by.
Pay attention to any notations for the increase of strata fees or the cost of special projects in the near future
If you are a pet owner, read the pet bylaws carefully, and follow the proper strata process. DO NOT think that your over sized dog will go un-noticed in a restricted complex. Pay attention and follow protocol
7. MAINTENANCE & FUNCTION
(Keep a level head about things)
Okay, so you’ve pictured your ideal home, and you may have found it! The floor plan is great, you love everything about it, except the paint colour. What are you going to do? Keep looking, or buy a bucket of paint and a roller? Make sure you set clear and realistic priorities when you are hunting for your new home.
Look past simple aesthetic fixes like flooring, paint, and other simple and cost-effective fixes
Alternately, if you are buying a fixer-upper for the modest price tag, KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO! Major home repairs are not cheap! Things like a new roof, furnace, plumbing, siding, and other major home systems are thousands of dollars. If you do not have the income to support these major costs, keep looking.
At the end of the day, your new home needs to meet your expectations in form, function, cost and location. Having an experienced and trusted agent in your corner is the absolute best asset you can have. They are there to help you negotiate the best price, and keep you grounded and realistic where the proverbial rubber meets and road.