1. Consider what type of property to buy
When buying a home, you have several options for a residential property. A traditional single-family home, a townhouse or a condo. Each option has pros and cons depending on your homeownership goals. You’ll need to decide which type of property will help you reach these goals and that will mean some flexibility. This will most likely be the biggest purchase of your life so you deserve to buy something that fits your needs as well as your wants. Consider what kind of neighbourhood you want to live in. Consider the layout of the home you want and what you want included (kitchen appliances, fireplace, walk-in closet, en-suite bathroom, central air, finished basement, fenced backyard, garage, etc.)
2. Get pre-approved for your home loan
It is extremely smart to get a loan pre-approval before you start looking to buy a home. Getting pre-approved means a lender has looked at all your financial information and they’ve advised you how much you can afford and how much they will lend you for your home purchase. Taking this step will save you a lot of time and energy so you’re not running around looking at properties you can’t afford. It also gives you the opportunity to shop around for the best deal.
3. Stalk the neighbourhoods you’re interested in
Before you buy, check out the neighbourhoods you’re interested in at all hours of the day to see what’s happening. Would your commute to work be something you can deal with on a daily basis? Find out how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other services. You should also research the schools in the district because it affects the value of homes in a big way.
4. Hire the right agent
An agent will save you time. It’s as simple as that.
Working closely with my clients is my goal in finding each individual the perfect home. As your agent, I will send you listings directly from MLS that fit your criteria. Agents often know of new listings that are not yet on the market, therefore giving you, the buyer, an advantage over those who do not use an agent. I can also spot overpriced listings and advise my clients accordingly, helping to not spend a penny more than they should.
5. Prioritize your house hunting trip
Buying a home is an overwhelming process and can be emotionally draining. Finding the right home is not always easy, and that’s where I come in. I usually advise my clients to schedule a maximum of 6 homes at a time, depending how familiar they are with the home buying process. Before planning the house hunting trip, I will send several listings by email giving my clients time to look over property information in different communities as well as looking at photos. The buyers will then advise me of what they’re interested in and I go from there, setting up a plan to start at one house and work our way through the list. Once a neighbourhood is selected, most buyers end up buying a home after 2 or 3 home tours.
6. Stay under your pre-approval limit
When I show my clients a home, I look for properties that cost under the amount they were approved for. While you can technically afford that amount, it’s your maximum and it doesn’t account for anything that needs repairs or any other expenses that may arise during homeownership, especially right after you buy. Rather than offering your max, set a lower purchase budget to leave yourself some wiggle room for any unexpected costs.
7. Make the most of an open house
This is another opportunity to scope out the neighbourhood and your potential neighbours. During an open house, make sure to pay close attention to the home’s overall condition. Look for any stains, smells or items that may be broken. Make sure to ask a lot of questions about the home, like when it was built, when items were replaced like kitchen appliances and the washer/dryer, and how old key systems are such as central air and heating. If there’s several others looking at the house at the same time as you, don’t hesitate to schedule a second or third showing so that you can get a better look at the property and ask more questions.
8. Bigger isn’t always better…
The largest house on the block only appeals to a very small audience. You never want to limit potential buyers when you go to resell down the road. Your home is only going to go up in value as much as the other houses around you.
9. Let the little things go
When you’re looking at a home, it’s easy to get caught up on superficial details like paint colours, light fixtures, and flooring types. These features are easy to change once the home is yours. Don’t let these little details get in the way of you buying your dream home.
10. Be prepared to compromise
I always provide my clients with comparable sales which are homes similar in condition and location that have sold within the past three months. Depending on the market, a buyer may need to pay over the listing price, especially if multiple buyers are competing for the same inventory. I will help by giving you a reasonable price range to manage your expectations.
11. Make a strong offer
As your agent, I am here to help you with this very important step. As a buyer, you will need to consider how much under or over the asking price you’re willing to pay in order to get your dream home. If there’s multiple bids, you need to think about tactics to win over the seller.
12. Give your home a physical
Hire a qualified home inspector. Spending a few hundred could end up saving you thousands. A home inspectors sole purpose is to provide you with information so that you can decide whether to buy the house or not. It’s a contract contingency which gives the buyer the right to cancel their contract and are not locked into buying the home if any issues are found. Sometimes when a buyer gives a list of repairs to the seller, rather than lose out on the sale, the seller will often agree to make the repair(s). You can also use it as a bargaining tool for lowering the price of the home.