We purchased our first home three years ago, and the entire process was complex, lots of learning as we went along since it was our first time going through the steps. After renting for so many years – Vancouver’s real estate is insanely competitive!-, getting into the real estate market was a totally different ballgame, and there were many things we had to figure out very quickly.
Here I am putting together a post to help you prepare and get ready to buy your first home. Some general tips to make the process go smoother as you purchase your first home.
Practical Tips for First Time Home Buyers
- Figure out your budget and what you can afford.
Before you start looking for your new home and you have a chance to get emotionally attached to the perfect house, ensure you know what your budget is. Don’t forget to leave room in your budget for home insurance, property taxes, and regular maintenance. If you can, meet with a financial advisor to come up with a maximum home price figure based on your situation.
- Don’t forget about closing costs.
During the home purchasing process, you’ll have to spend money on the following: Appraisal, Home Inspection fees, Lawyer fees, Homeowner’s Insurance, and more. Ensure you are ready to pay for all the closing costs when the time comes.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Before you start your search, get pre-qualified for a loan, and request a mortgage preapproval letter from your financial institution. This is a great tool for a home buyer when showing sellers you are serious and ready to purchase. Especially important in competitive markets.
- Find a real estate agent.
Navigating the real estate market’s in and outs with a trusted, understanding real estate agent makes all the difference. Finding somebody who had been personally recommended to us made a difference. Ask friends and family for recommendations and check out reviews before you engage an agent.
- Do your research.
Before you decide on the perfect neighbourhood, take your time to do research. Remember, location, location, location! Ask your real estate agent for specific information regarding the neighbourhoods you are considering, check out the quality of the schools nearby, crime rates, traffic conditions, conveniences, available outdoors spaces, walkability score, and more.
Drive to the neighbourhood or walk around the neighbourhood to see what it feels like, and what the neighbourhood looks like at different times of the day.
- Create a list of preferences and must-haves and don’t settle.
Sit down and write a list of your must-haves when purchasing a home, let your real estate agent know the must-haves as well. It may be a big backyard, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or specific items you know will be must-haves for you. Before going to an open house, check that the houses you will be going to see meet your must-haves and your absolute must-haves you are not willing to compromise on.
- Attend multiple open houses and don’t rush.
Even if you fall in love with the first house you see, try to attend multiple open houses. You may think you have found the one, but realize later on that there was another house that was closer to checking all your must-haves or closer to your budget. Don’t rush if you have the time.
- Trust your real estate agent’s expertise when making an offer.
Are you ready to make an offer? Trust your real estate agent’s expertise and propose a competitive offer that is within your budget. Don’t give up or get discouraged if your offer is not accepted on the first try. Try to negotiate or move on and continue your search.
- Prepare for closing.
Your offer was accepted. Congratulations! Now what? You get to sign your contract and prepare for closing contingencies. The list of contingencies varies depending on your contract, and they must be met before the transaction becomes legally binding. Usually, contingencies involve an Appraisal, Home Inspection, Mortage approval documents, Homeowners Insurance, and a final walkthrough to ensure the condition of the home matches the agreed-upon state in the contract.
- Move-in day.
Congratulations! You have purchased your first home. Now it is time to move in and enjoy your new home.
Have you purchased your first home? Do you have any more tips to share? Share below!