The first question you're bound to ask is, "How much home can I afford?" That depends on a number of factors:
Your selected location. Are you set on a specific area? Downtown? The suburbs? A rural setting?
Your preferred type of home. Detached? Semi? Duplex? High-rise? Link? Townhouse? New or Resale? There are a variety of home styles you will want to explore.
Your income. After all, it's not just the mortgage you have to take into account. There are property taxes, utilities, and in some cases condo or strata fees. As a general rule of thumb, your monthly home-carrying cost should not exceed 30-35% of your income.
Market conditions. Is it a buyer's, sellers or balanced market?
There are also additional costs to keep in mind. It's a good idea to work out exactly what you want and what you can afford before you begin the search. Be specific! After all, you don't want to suddenly come to the realization that your dream house has come with a nightmare of bills and expenses. Stick to looking at houses in your price range. The more you've thought it out, the better your sales representative can meet your needs.
A part of deciding just what you can afford can be accomplished by meeting with your bank or a mortgage broker and negotiating a pre-approved mortgage. There are many types of mortgages and many different terms. Research all of your options. This ensures that there are no surprises once you're ready to make an offer.
Once you've figured out your monthly expenses and what you can afford, you can start your search. It could happen that the first home you see is the one you want; or you might look at home after home with none of them catching your interest. Rest assured, the home you're looking for is out there, and when you find it, you're ready to make an offer. If your offer is accepted, the next steps are closing and moving into your new home.
Purchasing a home is easy once you put your plans into action.
Your Buyer Team and Their Roles
A real estate sales representative is a professional who can save you time and trouble. And possibly even a lot of money. You see, real estate sales representatives have the home buying experience most people lack. They know all of the steps and they are good negotiators who will work on your behalf.
A sales representative will: •Fine-tune your wants/needs list
•Get special computer access to listing information
•Screen houses so as not to waste your time
•Offer helpful advice about the neighbourhood
•Introduce you to trusted contacts who should be on your team, such as mortgage brokers, lawyers, and home inspectors.
•Above all, find a real estate sales representative who is a professional in the type of home you're looking for. A country home professional may not be the urban market specialist you need. And when speaking with your sales representative, be as clear as possible about your needs.
If you've decided to do some renovations on your home to make it more sellable, it's time to look for a credible contractor. Before anyone begins work on your home, it is important to do your homework.
1. Ask for Referrals
Your architect will make recommendations
Your sales representative will offer some suggestions
Contact friends or neighbours who have had similar work done
Ask at your local builder supply store
When you're interviewing contractors, ensure their credibility. Contact their references. Ask to see some samples of the contractor's work and speak to his clients to ensure that they were satisfied with the price, length of time in which the project was completed and overall, how the project was handled. Also, check with your local Better Business Bureau.
Once you have the names of a few contractors that look promising, arrange to get estimates from them. By arranging for three quotes you'll get a good idea of the costs and quality of work.
When going over the project with your contractor, ensure that he understands your needs and your budget. Each contractor will have a different idea on how to approach the work and they should inspect your home before giving an estimate. If contractors are bidding based on an architect's plans, be certain that they have detailed their approach to the job based on the drawings.
What's more, if there is a significant difference in the price, ask the contractors to explain their estimates. And keep in mind that the lowest price is not always the best. A price that's too low may mean that the contractor has undercut to get the project and then may submit additional project costs once the project is underway. As well, a high price doesn't always mean that you're getting gouged. The contractor may have budgeted for higher quality materials and may offer workmanship that is of an overall better quality.
In every case, before you sign the contract, be certain that it is as detailed as possible to the point of noting the specific finishes and brand names of the products to be installed.
2. Evaluating a Quotation
•Are the specific details of the project outlined?
•Are the specific costs detailed?
•Is there a provision for extra costs?
•Has a cap been set for the total project?
•Is there a firm project timeline?
•Has the contractor allotted time for inspections?
•Have you indicated that you wish to see all material receipts?
•Will the work be subcontracted?
Hiring an appraiser to appraise the value of property you are considering to buy may seem sensible but it is highly unnecessary. Your lender will want their own personal appraiser anyway, so you could be wasting valuable money. As well, most sales representatives are competent and can do a "Comparative Market Analysis" for you, to establish a value range. The only situation where hiring an appraiser would become necessary is where the property is unusual with no comparable sales.
The true test for a buyer is "What else can we buy for the same or less money?"
In short, a lender is anyone who will give you money. There are private lenders and institutional lenders, like banks and credit unions. Even your brother-in-law can be your lender. Of course, when you're looking for a lender, you' re looking for a long-term relationship and terms and rates which are beneficial to you.
You really have a few options. You should go to a mortgage broker who will search the mortgage market for the best rates and conditions based on your circumstances. Usually the broker is paid by the lender without cost to you. However, the cloudier your credit history, the more likely there will be a fee! A good mortgage broker will be connected to all major lenders through the mortgage market.
You can also do your own search. With a good credit history, it's really not that complicated. Pick up your newspaper and you'll see what the different lending institutions are offering. Find the institution you feel you would be most comfortable with, and one that offers the terms and conditions you're looking for. Then, go in person and negotiate your best deal.
We'll go into more detail about this process in the arranging a mortgage section.
This is a person who will do the leg work in finding the institution which offers the mortgage terms and conditions that are right for you. Much like an insurance broker, this professional works for you and can offer you an unbiased referral. Although most brokers are paid a finders fee by the lender, some will charge 2% of the total mortgage to find you a lender.
A lawyer is there to represent your interest, and to process the documentation required. The legal aspects differ from province to province. Your sales representative can recommend lawyers to advise you on the steps to be taken before the keys to your new home are presented to you. A lawyer helps ensure you are protected!!!
Have the home inspected! Whether you make it a condition of purchase or not, having the property pre-inspected by a qualified home inspector will give you the added confidence that you've made the right decision. Be very careful to verify the qualifications of your home inspector because there are no government standards or licenses for home inspectors. Some home inspectors in Canada do not have any form of accreditation. For your protection make sure your home inspector is a member of (PACHI) or (OAHI). This is your assurance that they have met their education requirements, have the experience and carry E & O Insurance.
You'll want to make sure your property and valuables will be covered. A broker offers independent advice and can save you time, trouble and money. Plus, the bank will insist that you carry full insurance since your property is used as collateral against your mortgage.