Buying Your First Home
Do you dream of a place to really call your own? Before you start picking out colour schemes and kitchen cabinets, there are many practical factors to consider first. For most people, buying a home is not only an emotional decision, but a financial one as well. Unlike renting, buying a home is an investment that can appreciate over time, giving you more financial security later on in life. It will probably be the most substantial purchase you'll ever make.
But the satisfaction of making that big purchase can sometimes be spoiled by the confusion and hassle that comes along with it. Read on for some helpful tips on how to make the process easier.
Making a Wish List
Before shopping for a home, you need to determine your needs and wants. Develop a predetermined shopping list of features you are willing to compromise on and ones you aren't. To properly prepare a home buying strategy, you must examine your lifestyle and budgeting priorities. The decision between a condo or house, detached or semi-detached could have just as much to do with personal preference as it does with expense. Once you have figured out exactly what you want in a new home, your next important step is to ensure that you are financially qualified to make such a substantial purchase.
Particularly for a first-time home buyer, it's absolutely critical to find out what kind of mortgage you can afford, even before you start looking. Too often, arranging a mortgage is left to the very end, forcing borrowers to scramble for financing.
The Down Payment
The first question to ask yourself is how much of a down payment can you afford. Depending on the interest rate, you may be able to spend a lot more (or less) than you imagined. But it's vital to remember what you have saved isn't necessarily what you want to use, as there are extra costs that come in to play as you go through the entire purchase, including emergency funding. While a conventional mortgage down payment is 20% of the value of the home, there are mortgage options now that can offer you a 0% down payment.
After you've considered how much you can afford for a down payment, the next step is contacting a bank or mortgage broker about getting qualified. Based on personal information you provide such as your income, debt and assets, you can receive a pre-approved mortgage, including an interest rate commitment for a set length of time.
Don't forget to work with the lender to find the right type of mortgage that suits your needs. You'd be surprised to discover what's negotiable.
Once you receive a pre-approved mortgage, you can confidently negotiate the purchase of a home. It's a no-cost, no-obligation deal that lets you know before you go house hunting how much you can afford to buy based on how much you can afford to borrow.
Finding the Right Agent
When looking for a home, one of the most important factors you'll have to consider is location. Once you've determined a few options for where you want to live, the next step is finding the right real estate agent.
Real estate agents are like matchmakers, bringing buyers, sellers and homes together. Agents must be on top of the market - in terms of sales, listings and house prices in the area. But most importantly, real estate agents need to make their clients feel at ease.
While employing a real estate agent won't cost you anything (he or she, in most cases, is paid by the seller), you may be asked to sign an exclusivity agreement with the agent. This agreement is called the Buyer Representation Agreement.
A buyer's agency agreement puts in writing that your Realtor® is working for you and putting your interests before all customers and even their own interests. They are giving you a guarantee that they will do everything that is required by you to find you the home you want to buy. Plus, if you find that they are not putting your interests first, the agreement can be used to hold them accountable.
To find a good agent, let the referrals speak for themselves. Ask friends and family to recommend agents they've dealt with in the past.
Making an Offer
A good real estate agent will also be an experienced negotiator, with an understanding of how flexible a certain seller will be. But before making an offer, do your research. Ask your Realtor to find out how long the property has been on the market. If it's a new development, find out how much others have been selling for.
A deposit is required once the buyers and sellers come to an agreement and the "conditional" offer is signed by all parties. The buyers (and sometimes, sellers) then has a specified time period to complete all the conditions. (Common conditions would incude: mortgage approval, insurance, home inspection. Note: You should never make the offer final without a proper home inspection, conducted by a licensed home inspector to look for any major problems with the house that could end up costing you down the road.)
Once these conditions are met, you would then sign a waiver, waiving all the conditions, making the offer "firm and binding". OR, if any of the conditions could not be met, then a mutual release is signed and the deposit is returned back to the buyers.
Finding the Right Lawyer
When looking for a lawyer, make sure he or she is a real estate specialist. To find the right one, remember that quality and experience are the key, not just the price. Since a lawyer's role is part advisor and part confidant, a good rapport with him or her is a must. As with finding a good real estate agent, ask friends and family if they have anyone to recommend.
Closing the Transaction
Unfortunately for first time home buyers, closing costs are often an unwelcome surprise. Be sure you know what they are before taking possession of your new home: Cosing costs would include: lawyer fees, adjustments and disbursements, land transfer tax, title insurance and insurance policies.
For a resale home, on average, its about 1-1/2 to 2% of the purchase price of the home. For brand new homes, that figure is closer to 2-1/2%.
I know there are a lot of "things" to remember, that's why I'm here to help you throughout the entire process of buying your new home.
Just let me know when your ready.