Pro Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Be ready to buy your dream home!

First-time home buyers always begin their search for their new place with incredible optimism. They are making a giant leap forward in their lives and are entering an exciting chapter which is built around the solid core of a stable, secure future. While it is very exciting, in reality, buying a house can be a long, stressful endeavor which can quickly halt first-time home buyers’ enthusiasm with challenging practicalities.

However, if you are well-prepared, you can have an enjoyable experience searching for and finding your new life. Here are our pro tips to help first-time home buyers better equip themselves for the journey, and to ultimately understand their own value in a new marketplace.

Define Your Budget

First of all, you have to find out exactly what you can afford by doing a proper budget. You do not want to be left in a disappointing situation where you have set your heart on a property in which you eventually find out it is way beyond your price range.

The first step is to be realistic when setting you budget. Our agents are available to provide you with easy-to-understand mortgage advice and can walk you through everything you need to know. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Alternatively, you could go directly to your bank and find out exactly what they will lend you and at what interest rate. Mortgage brokers are excellent sources to help you shop for the best rate at multiple banks on your behalf based on your financial situation. Ideally, getting a mortgage pre-approval letter is essential in determining whether your offer will be accepted or not. It shows the seller that you are financially cleared and are a serious buyer. This is especially true when condos and townhomes are still firmly in the seller’s territory, buyers will need to submit offers on the first or second day of showing or you will miss the opportunity.

Know All Your Costs

Knowing all of the associated costs can help first-time home buyers make an accurate budget for the types of houses they could afford. The cost of the house is not limited to just the mortgage payment and the down payment, but there are a number of associated maintenance costs which first-time home buyers need to factor into their equation.

Home-buying costs will differ whether you are looking at a newly built or older house. Fees can include an appraisal, inspections, and an attorney’s legal services. You should also take into account what the moving costs are.

One cost that is often overlooked but can be detrimental to your monthly cash flow are strata fees. When purchasing a new condo, be aware that the fees will most likely increase over the next several years particularly when there is a wide array of amenities.

For older homes, we also advise first-time home buyers to consider any cosmetic changes or renovations they would like to make to the house and review the costs involved. It is disappointing to be moving in with big ideas only to find yourself short on budget to execute them.

In terms of strata properties, review the minutes carefully. Watch out for upcoming maintenance and check when it was done recently. Many condos and townhomes share the same public space with commercial units. Due to this nature, there could be possible legal disputes to resolve the splitting of the costs relating to the public space, so be sure to know everything that’s involved.

Be Clear On Your “Must-Haves”

First-time home buyers should consider their lifestyle, and more clearly, what it is that they want out of their new living space. When you are going to be the one who is living there day in, day out, you want to make sure that your new house accommodates all the things that you want in your life.

We recommend you make a list of “must-have” things which will make the home perfect for you. Factors to consider include the location, the square footage, the bedroom configuration, and the amenities. Identifying what you need will help you narrow down the selection in this dynamic market.

First-time home buyers should consider the type of community they want to live in. If you are planning on moving to a new neighbourhood, factors like the length of your commute to work or proximity to public transit must be taken into account. As you will make the journey almost every day, routes and travel times should be one of the top priorities affecting your decision. It will also help preserve the value of your property. If you are about to start a new family, consider neighbourhoods that have easy access to schools and parks.

Compare Local Houses

One thing the internet does not lack is the abundance of real estate data. There are a lot of resources available to first-time home buyers which will give up-to-date statistics on any local real estate market.

While this information is vital, first-time home buyers should not stop their research there. The broad, local statistics will give you a good window into the market activity but should only be applied where relevant. For example, the median sales price for single-family homes in your area might be a strong market indicator in general but may not be entirely relevant if your search is for a one-bedroom home or a condo.

We recommend first-time home buyers actively compare homes in the area which are the same as the houses they intend to buy. You can get information on the sale price of similar houses and when they were sold. Condo buyers can also retrieve information on other units in the building. It is possible to determine what the availability is in the market and how long properties have been on the market for at the present price point. All this information helps first-time home buyers with fact-based reasoning, which can be used to calculate and justify your offers.

It sounds like a lot of work to conduct and compile all the research, which is why we are here to provide that data for you. We offer a fully detailed report which simplifies the statistics and analytics, providing you with valuable insights to ensure your next property will be purchased at the right price.

Other Considerations

Besides focusing on your “must-haves”, here are some details both inside and outside the house that you will want to pay attention to. For example, you should take the time to check future development of the surrounding area. Development is always happening so it is not surprising to hear about large commercial properties being torn down to make room for new condos or new parks and malls being planned. These could possibly have a significant impact to the value of your property as well as affecting the convenience factor. A good way to look for these information is taking a stroll around the area and observe billboards that indicate what type of development will be happening.

In terms of the property itself, check to see how many visitor parking is available and whether it is easy to find street parking. Although this might not have too much weight in your decision making, you will be glad to not have to worry about where your guests should park when hosting gatherings.

During an open house viewing, one of the first things you should look for is whether or not the property is letting in enough natural sunlight. Not only would natural lighting make the interior of the house look brighter and cleaner, you can also save on electricity by not turning on the lights. You should also be checking whether the floor is uneven, windows open properly, mold growing at the corning of the bathroom ceiling, electrical outlet and switches are wired properly, and if the intercom has been upgraded to work with mobile devices. This is not an exhaustive list but are some of the common aspects you should be aware of before purchasing the unit.

Typically your Realtor® will notify you of minor issues that you should be aware of, which is one of the key value they add in the real estate buying process.

As the real estate market evolves, so are the policies affecting it. In 2018, a new speculation tax was introduced targeting properties that are not the primary residences of the owner which could potentially have significant impact to the cost of owning a home. A new mortgage stress test was also implemented in the system influencing the amount that can be borrowed. These policy changes should be carefully considered prior to purchasing a property. You can find more information at www.rebgv.org or reach out to one of our Realtors® for further assistance.

Get the Right Realtor® For You

Working with the right Realtor® is crucial in the home-buying process. A good Realtor® will have excellent knowledge of the area and will have the ability to bring a team of experts to assist you in legal and financial matters.

Our Realtors® will strive to work in your best interests. We will take the time to fully understand your needs and work with you to achieve them. Our team has expert knowledge and years of proven experience. Moreover, you can tap into our extensive network and prepare yourself with all the information you need to take advantage of the opportunities in the real estate market. Connect with one of our Realtors® and begin accomplishing your real estate goals.

Contact us today and let us help you find your dream home.