Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for a first-time homebuyer -- it's difficult to know exactly what to expect and extra costs that may be involved. The learning curve can be steep, but most of the issues can be resolved by doing a little research. So whether you’re purchasing your first home or you’re moving up to your dream home, it’s important to be prepared and fully understand what’s involved. Follow these tips to ease some of the stress.
Consider layout. When searching for your home, you will want to know, at a minimum, how many rooms and bathrooms you want and what you are willing to live with. Do you foresee any small additions to the family in the near future? Do siblings need their own room or can they share? Another thing to consider is the layout of the space. Are you an open concept kind of person or are you looking for more privacy? Have no idea what you want? Check out The Parade of Homes and get some inspiration.
Location, location, location. I cannot stress this point enough. Do your research when you are looking at houses in different areas. It is important to really consider where you are planting your roots before you plant them. Some important questions you will want to ask yourself in regards to the location:
• Is the home on a busy street?
• What is my commute to work like? Am I ok driving that everyday?
• Is it close to public transportation?
• What are the schools like in the area?
• Are there any recreation facilities nearby?
• Are the new neighbours friendly? (makes all the difference)
While having a specific area you want to look in is important, you should also be open to looking at places outside that area in the case you can’t find the “right” place within your budget.
One last point to consider is even though you may be looking to get into this place for the long haul; life happens, situations change. Make sure you have an exit strategy. Consider whether the area will be attractive to buyers in 5 years? 10 years? It is important to ultimately know what you really want and require and what you are willing to compromise on when it comes to location.
Get pre-approved. Getting your financing in order before you start bidding on homes will allow for a few things to happen. You will know exactly what your budget is and what you can and cannot afford in the areas you are looking in. Knowing these limits will give you the ability to bid in a timely manner and know that you were able to give it your best (and highest) bid.
Find an agent. Finding an agent is more than just selecting a real estate agent at random, you need to do your research for this too! There are some questions you will want to ask on the quest to find the perfect real estate agent for you. Has your agent worked with buyers and sellers with similar needs? Do they have solid insight into the area you are looking in? Communication is key; ask your potential agent for references, these people will give good insight on what their relationship was with the agent and how timely of a response they got.
Get a home inspection. If a home inspection hasn’t been completed by the seller and you think you have found the one, consider paying out-of-pocket for a home inspection before the offer date or writing in into the offer as a condition that needs to be fulfilled before the deal is finalized. This could save you a lot money and headaches in the future. Having advice from a certified home inspector can give you peace of mind and will also highlight mechanical, structural, and any other defects that might cause an issue in the future.
Be aware of additional costs. Buying a home includes many other costs than just your mortgage payment. Here are some of the added costs you will run into and need to account for.
• Down payment: a minimum of 5% down is required to qualify for a mortgage through most banks.
• Inspection fee: if you are buying an older home this is highly recommended.
• Legal fees: this includes the lawyer’s fees plus any disbursements required to transfer the property to your name.
• Tax adjustments: you are responsible for paying your portion of the taxes for the first year in your home.
• Land transfer tax: this fee pays for the land title to be transferred into your name.
• Mortgage insurance: if the down payment is less than 20%, an insurance premium on the mortgage amount is usually required.
• Moving costs. If you have ever moved, you know that moving costs can add up quickly, especially if you rent a moving van or hire a moving company.
Don’t get discouraged. You will find the house you are supposed to be in but it doesn’t happen in a day.
Buying a home is not simple, easy, or quick. Following these tips can prepare you for a time in your life that is exciting, scary, and stressful but oh so worth it. Happy house hunting!
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