Are you thinking of taking the plunge and buying your first home? While this can be an exciting experience, it can also be nerve-wracking. We asked Zoocasa readers to share their best tips for first-time home buyers to find and secure their dream homes. Here are their tips and advice.
1. Ask Questions
Some first-time buyers may feel like they should have all the answers. Luckily, that’s not the case. There are many great resources available to help guide you through the process, but your real estate team including a local realtor, mortgage broker, home inspector, and insurance advisor are all there to answer your questions and help you. Here are some of the questions our readers recommend you ask your team.
Ask your real estate agent:
- What conditions should I include in my offer?
- What lawyer should I use?
- What schools are in the neighbourhood?
- Is this a good area to raise a family in?
- Are property taxes higher in this area compared to other surrounding cities?
Ask your mortgage broker:
- What property type can I afford?
- What is my maximum budget and what will my monthly payments work out to?
- What is the best mortgage rate I qualify for?
Ask your inspector:
- Is this home in a flood zone and has there been any water damage?
- Are the roof and other major appliances in good shape? Do they need to be repaired or replaced?
- Will the windows maintain the temperature in the home? Are there any problems with humidity or drafts?
2. Start Saving Early
One of the most important things you can do when buying a home is to start saving early. Having a down payment saved up will give you more options regarding mortgages and other financing options. You should also check your credit score and improve it to qualify for a better interest rate and loan term when it comes time to apply for a mortgage. Before starting the house-hunting process, the first step is assessing your current financial situation to understand how much you can afford for a down payment on a home and monthly mortgage payments. In addition, you should consider other costs associated with owning property, such as closing costs and real estate taxes.
3. Consider Maintenance Requirements
Once you buy a home, the cost of maintenance can add up quickly. When you’re determining what property type to invest in, it’s also important to decide how much time (and money) you want to spend in maintaining your home. A condo apartment or townhouse will likely require less work, especially if your condo fees include exterior maintenance like roof repairs, snow removal, and landscaping. Still dreaming of a freehold detached home? We hear you! Spend some time planning the maintenance you may need to do right away as well as what your maintenance will look like in different seasons. Are there large, overgrown trees on the property that touch powerlines or brush up against your home? You may need to tend to them sooner than later. If you have a large driveway, are you planning to shovel it yourself or will you invest in a snow removal company? These are all great maintenance requirements to consider before you commit to a property.
4. Research Potential Neighbourhoods
Once you have a good grasp of your budget, it’s time to start researching potential properties. Start by determining what you’re looking for in a neighbourhood. Maybe you want to live within walking distance of a bustling city centre, or you’re looking for a family-friendly neighbourhood to raise your growing family in. If you’re considering moving to a new neighbourhood, visit it and get a feel for what your day-to-day life would be like. A real estate agent can also help you find a neighbourhood that fits your lifestyle.
“Be flexible!” One of our Zoocasa readers said, “If you’re able to look at surrounding real estate markets, you may be able to find a better deal.”
5. Determine What All Your Mortgage Options Are
It’s helpful to research different mortgage options before making a decision. Different lenders offer additional terms and conditions, so make sure you understand what each one offers before committing. A mortgage advisor that works with multiple lenders may be able to secure a better rate for you versus a bank. You can also interview multiple mortgage brokers, just like you would a real estate agent, to find someone you trust with what may be your biggest purchase. Additionally, remember other costs associated with buying a home, such as closing costs, taxes, insurance, and maintenance fees.
Zoocasa readers recommend you meet with multiple mortgage brokers, “Find someone you trust and work well with. You’ll spend a lot of time with them.”
Finally, remember the importance of having an experienced real estate agent who can help guide you through the process from start to finish. They will answer your questions, refer you to other professionals like lawyers and mortgage brokers, and provide valuable advice every step of the way.
Buying a home can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. To ensure the process goes smoothly, do your due diligence upfront. When making an offer on the house, ensure it accurately reflects the local market conditions to stand out from other offers.
From purchasing a property to preparing for closing day, our free downloadable guides are great tools! Check them out here.
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