The Home Buying Process

1. Choosing an Agent

Picking the right real estate agent is crucial to making your home search a success.

Your agent should be experienced, full-time, and always put you first. Your agent should consistently search for new listings to show you, act as a voice of reason while giving you advice, and expertly negotiate to get you the best deal.

You should interview potential agents and ask about their experience and service, and obtain references from previous clients. Once you’ve chosen an agent, sign a buyer’s representation agreement to get started.

Zoo Tip!

Buyer’s Representation Agreement, also known as a BRA, the Buyer’s Representation Agreement, is a contract between the buyer and the agent that they hire to exclusively represent them. Once under contract, your agent is legally bound to follow your instructions, maintain confidentiality, and provide their honest opinion and advice.

2. Research and Plan

Research what you need, want, and can afford—from your housing costs to closing costs. Consider your current budget and lifestyle, and how they might change in the next five years.

Things you should consider:

  • Your ideal home
  • Your preferred neighbourhood
  • Your budget
  • Your savings for your downpayment

For more information, check out our page on saving and sourcing a down payment.

Work with your agent to:

  • Walk through the process so there are no surprises
  • Determine your future needs
  • Discuss neighbourhoods and housing types that meet your needs and maximise return on investment
  • Connect you with a reputable mortgage broker

You'll want a mortgage broker early in the home buying process. They will help you by:

  • Giving you a pre-approval with the maximum home price you can afford
  • Locking in an interest rate for 90–120 days
  • Helping you get the mortgage that best meets your needs

Head to our mortgage centre for even more in-depth information—from getting pre-approved to mortgage terms and conditions.

3. Find a Home

Based on the criteria you gave your agent, they will hand-select homes for you to view. While you should see homes quickly, as they can be scooped up in popular neighbourhoods, you should also be viewing homes carefully to determine whether or not they suit your needs. Also, keep in mind that listing photos can be deceiving, so viewing them in-person is very important.

Spend time in neighbourhoods you’re considering, to be sure they’re right for you. View all homes that your agent has suggested, based on the criteria you’ve given them, because your agent has more experience viewing homes and can find hidden gems that will surprise you.

For more information, including specifics on buying condos and pre-construction, read our guide on finding your home.

4. Make an Offer

When making an offer, there are many terms to consider. For competitive markets you will need to be strategic about which conditions to include, and you may need to move quickly to submit an offer. Having a plan can help you be prepared to negotiate on your terms.

While making an offer, you have to:

  • Name your price and terms
  • Understand your current and future financial position
  • Be ready to make a firm offer when required

Your agent will:

  • Analyze comparable properties with you
  • Work with your mortgage broker on a financing plan and risk assessment
  • Advise you on how to reach your desired outcome in the current market
  • Present your offer to the listing agent or seller
  • Negotiate the best deal for you

Your mortgage broker will also confirm whether you can get financing for your chosen property and price.

Read on for more information on making an offer, including negotiations, conditions, home inspections, and bidding wars!

5. Closing the deal

The final steps can be overwhelming and tedious but they are important and time-sensitive. Each person plays an important role, including your real estate lawyer.

You will:

  • Visit the home a few days before close for a final inspection
  • Purchase home insurance
  • Sign legal documents
  • Pay closing costs and down payment (less deposit) via your lawyer

Your agent will:

  • Arrange and attend your final home visit
  • Help you arrange insurance, lawyers, movers, utilities, cable, and anything else you need
  • Handle any issues that may come up that risk closing
  • Begin planning your budget for monthly carrying costs

Your mortgage broker will:

  • Discuss mortgage insurance options
  • Remit mortgage money to your lawyer

Your real estate lawyer will:

  • Explain legal documents to you
  • Conduct title search and purchase title insurance on your behalf
  • Handle fund transfers
  • Register the property in your name and hand you your keys!

Read on for a run-down of closing costs, from interest adjustment to land transfer tax.

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