Step 1: Determine How Much You Can Afford & Get Pre-Approved
The first step in your home buying journey is always to figure out how much you can afford. An effective and accurate budget will help you to map our your options in terms of style of home, neighbourhood, and more, and also help you set aside money for your down payment and closing costs for when you’re ready.
Online calculators can be inaccurate, as they don’t take in a number of factors such as the amount of time you’ve been at your current employer or credit score. To determine how much you can afford, it’s important that you go to your bank or talk to a mortgage broker and get pre-approved. When you are ready to write an offer on a home, a home seller will always prefer a pre-approved buyer to a non-preapproved buyer – so this will help to give you an upper hand down the road. Get pre-approved!!
If you need a recommendation for a mortgage broker, let us know: we’ve got a guy.
Step 2: Research Neighbourhoods & Style Options
As soon as you figure out how much you can afford, start checking out websites, magazines, and real estate listings to figure out what you can see yourself living in. Make a note of homes that you are interested in and what those homes all have in common. Try to narrow does the cities and neighbourhoods that you can see yourself living in, and do research on the amenities in those areas.
Once you’ve done enough research, build a checklist of your top 5 needs and top 5 wants. For example:
- 2 bathrooms
- Minimum 1.5 bathrooms
- Within $550,000
- In Coquitlam
- Pets allowed – 1 dog allowed
- Renovated kitchen
- Walking distance to skytrain
- Newer than 1995
- Big windows, Lots of natural light
- Gas fireplace (no electric)
House hunting can be a tricky process, and it’s easy to get caught up in the quartz countertops and fancy backsplashes. Think about your immediate needs, future plans, current lifestyle, and what you can compromise on. When you look at homes, think to yourself: “Do I really NEED that?” because if you can be realistic and realize that you don’t need everything, then you’re already one step ahead of 95% of buyers. Save yourself time and know exactly what you need and want in a home beforehand, and always refer back to it after a round of showings/open houses.
Step 3: Hire a Realtor
Your realtor will play an extremely important throughout your home buying experience. From booking showings, advising you on the contract, educating you about the real estate process and the market, negotiating your offer on your behalf, and facilitating the sale up to completion– a realtor is there to help you and ensure that your best interests are protected. Real estate agents can also provide you with helpful information on homes and neighbourhoods that isn’t easily accessible to the public.
The seller’s agent is there to work within the best interests of the seller, NOT YOU. So it’s important that you hire someone that works solely for you rather than asking the listing agent to help you purchase the home. Plus – hiring a realtor to help you purchase is a FREE service because the seller pays the buyer’s agents commission, so there’s no cost to you when hiring a buyer’s agent!
Step 4: Go House Hunting – Shopping for a Home
Start touring homes in your price range that match up with your needs/wants list. It might be helpful to take notes and pictures of all the homes that you visit.
Make sure to check the little details of each house – How is the water pressure? Do all the lights work? Are the appliances all working? What are the restrictions if it’s a strata property? If you decide that you’re interested in the property, have your realtor investigate any questions that you have to make yourself more comfortable with moving to the next step.
Once you find the right home, work with your real estate agent to determine what comparable properties in the neighbourhood have sold for. Evaluate the trends in the market place for similar homes, and proceed to step 5 to prepare a fair offer based on the facts.
Step 5: Make an Offer
Your real estate agent will help you to prepare the offer and ensure that there are the proper subjects and terms to protect you. This contract of purchase and sale will include details such as your offer price, subjects, subject removal date, amount of deposit, and completion/possession dates – to name a few.
The agent will then present your offer to the seller, and the seller will have the option to accept your offer as is, reject, or counter the offer. If you can come to an accepted offer, then you’ll move on to the subject removal process and completion!
Now that you know the first steps to buying a home, you may want to learn more details about the process or dive in to learning about subject removal and completion. If you’re thinking of buying a home and are looking for a realtor to guide you through the process, give us a call at 604-765-0376. Prefer text? 604-319-0200 or email [email protected] to start a conversation. We’re here to help.