February 8, 2019 | Buying

Are you gearing up to buy your first house or condo? The home-buying process may seem complicated, especially if you’ve never been through it before. Fortunately, it’s possible to start your homeownership journey off on the right foot. With a bit of strategic preparation and professional guidance, you can overcome your first-time home-buyer challenges to achieve a great outcome.

If you’re about to buy your very first home, try these six tips to help ensure a smooth purchase…

1) Obtain mortgage pre-approval

It’s one of the most important first-time home buyer tips you’ll ever receive: apply for mortgage pre-approval before you start your search. The truth is, most sellers will want to know that you have the financial backing to complete your purchase. A pre-approval letter will make it clear that a lender has committed to providing you with a certain amount in financing. It takes things a step further than pre-qualification, which is more of a rough estimate of what you could receive if you move forward. Bottom line: if you want to ensure that sellers take you seriously, talk to a lender or mortgage broker to start the pre-approval process.

2) Determine how much home you can afford

Before you dive into the home hunt, you should find a price range to use during your search. Knowing the amount you’ve been pre-approved for can help, but expenses vary from one homeowner to the next. For this reason, it’s best to perform your own calculations to create a budget that will work for you. Start with your household after-tax income. Next up, determine the sum total of your current monthly expenses—as well as any new ones you’ll be taking on. Once you know what you’ll have left over, you can figure out how much you can afford to spend on mortgage payments—and what price points you should consider during your house or condo search.

3) Find the right real estate agent

When you’re purchasing property for the first time, there’s no shortage of things to keep in mind. Working with a great real estate agent can help you find your dream home and pay the best price possible for it—all with the peace of mind of knowing that the details are taken care of. Look for someone who has extensive neighbourhood knowledge and plenty of experience working with first-time buyers. Remember that conducting interviews will give you the opportunity to find the best person for the job. When you sit down with a professional, ask them how long they’ve worked in your neighbourhoods of interest—and how much experience they have working with first-timers.

4) Make a list of must-have features and amenities

One of the biggest mistakes first-time buyers make is looking at homes that won’t meet their needs. It’s easier than you think to burn out when you’re house or condo hunting, so be sure to narrow down your search based on the features and amenities you’re looking for. Think beyond the number of bedrooms your family requires. If you’re looking for a place with a backyard, what’s the smallest square footage you’ll be happy with? Do you need to be close to public transit, and (if so) how far is too far to walk to the nearest stop? Having a set criteria will help you separate the listings that are worth your time from those that aren’t.

5) Craft a competitive offer

Once you’ve found your dream home, you’ll want to do everything in your power to make it yours. The most important step is putting together a great offer that will appeal to sellers. Be aware that it’s not always just about the money. Sometimes, showing that you’re willing to make life easier for a seller (by agreeing to their timeline, for example) can make all the difference. You also shouldn’t discount the potential value of an offer letter. Writing to a homeowner won’t necessarily strengthen your position, but it may be worth a try. Fortunately, a great agent can help you decide what to include in your offer based on your situation.

6) Be prepared for closing

Last but not least, be ready to close. You can avoid last-minute surprises by making sure you know what to expect toward the end of your purchase. Have all necessary documents and money for closing costs ready to go, and stay in touch with your lender so that you’re aware of any new requirements that arise. If the seller has agreed to make repairs, you should also create a clear timeline for their completion. Having a plan for wrapping up all loose ends will help you ensure that your first-time home buying experience is smooth—from beginning to end.

Looking for an agent with first-time home buyer experience and Etobicoke expertise? Get in touch! We can discuss what you’re looking for—and how I can help you find it.