Beginning the process of purchasing your first home is an exciting time. As a first-time home buyer, you’re sure to have a lot of questions. The key to being a first-time home buyer is getting as much knowledge and information as you can to make educated decisions. We’ve put together advice to ensure you have a stress-free experience!
Explore Your Financial Resources
Before you fall in love with a home, it’s important that you understand what you can realistically afford. Speak with your bank or a mortgage professional to get a pre-approved mortgage so you can act quickly once you begin your house hunt.
The minimum down payment you can put down depends on the purchase price of the home. Homes $500,000 or less require a 5% down payment; any price above that requires 10% on the portion above $500,000; and any home $1 million or more requires a 20% down payment (canada.ca).
When you start saving your down payment, you may want to consider:
Prioritizing your spending. Cut out unnecessary purchases, cut-back on restaurants, etc.
Borrowing from your RRSP. “You can withdraw up to $25,000 from your RRSP to buy your first home” (mymoneycoach.ca).
Borrowing money from family (and pay it back with interest, of course).
Opening a tax-free savings account (TFSA) so you’re not tempted to spend your savings.
Focusing on paying off any debt you have. It’s counter-productive to save money while you’re paying interest somewhere else.
Staying focused! If you receive any extra money — a gift, a work bonus, a raise, etc. — keep your end goal in mind. You may be tempted to splurge on a fancy dinner, but put it in your savings account and you’ll be one step closer to home ownership!
For more tips on saving a down payment, check out this infographic.
Find an experienced REALTOR®
Buying your first home will be a new experience, so you’re bound to have lots of questions. The best resource you can get is an experienced REALTOR® who can help you with the property search, financing, negotiations, and the transaction process.
When you speak with a REALTOR® be sure to ask lots of questions. For example:
Do you have testimonials from past clients?
What type of information can you gather for me regarding a home I might be interested in?
Is there a particular mortgage lender you have recommended before, and why?
What is your role in the inspection process?
What can I expect in terms of communication with you?
Can you tell me a little bit about your negotiation strategy?
Can you walk me through the buying process?
How long have you been a REALTOR®, and what sets you apart?
You can do your own research to find out as much as you can about the local real estate market, but no one will be more knowledgeable than an experienced REALTOR®.
Viewing Homes & Selecting “The One”
Create a wish list
A wish list will give your house hunt some direction. Make a list of all the features you want in a home. These can include features, location, property characteristics, etc.
Once you’ve made your list, revisit it and prioritize each item. Number each feature from most important to least important. This process will help you think about what really matters to you and it will come in handy when you’re comparing properties.
The Home Search
Royalcity.com is a great place to start your home search. The search tool allows you to search for homes by community, property types, number of bedrooms, price range, etc.
However, there is no substitute for viewing properties in person with your REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® is an excellent asset during the home search because they will notice things that you might miss and provide expert analysis.
If you plan on viewing multiple properties, it’s always a great idea to take notes, including:
What you liked about the property
What you didn’t like about the property
Specific features you noticed
Thoughts about the neighbourhood
Expert Advice For First-Time Home Buyers
If you have any questions about the buying process, how to get started, or would like to view a property, do not hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help!