First-time buyers plan: a step-by-step guide to help you buy smart
So you’ve decided you’re ready to take the plunge into home ownership. Buying your first place is exciting, but it can be a little scary, too. After all, it’s probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. Here’s a step-by-step guide that can help you buy smart:
Step 1: Figure out how much you can afford.
Falling in love with a house you can’t afford can be heartbreaking. Avoid disappointment by figuring out your budget before you start looking.
• First, decide how much you can afford for your down payment. The Home Buyers Plan lets you withdraw up to $20K per person (or up to $40K per couple) from your RRSPs – tax-free – to be repaid over 15 years. The bigger your down payment, the less principal you will owe, and the less interest you will pay.
• Don’t forget about closing costs, like insurance, legal fees, home inspection costs, land registration and land transfer fees. Add those to your moving expenses and service hookup fees, and they can add up surprisingly fast.
• Your monthly housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, heat, etc.) shouldn’t use up more than 32% of your income. (If your combined monthly income is $5000, for example, 32% of that is $1600.) If you have car payments or credit card debt, the rule of thumb is that debt repayment shouldn’t be more than 40% of your income.
• Get pre-approved for your mortgage. It’s a good way of finding out how much you can borrow – and it speeds up the process once you’ve found the home you want to buy.
Step 2: Figure out what type of home is right for you.
Sit down and make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Be realistic, but be clear about the features you can’t live without. How many bedrooms do you need? Bathrooms? Do you want a home office? A garage? How about a big backyard? Hardwood floors? Eat-in kitchen? Consider your lifestyle and your stage of life. If you’re planning kids in a year or two, the studio loft might not be your best bet.
Living in an area you like is as important as buying a home you love. Do you want a busy urban lifestyle, a house in the ‘burbs, or a quiet place in the country? Do you want to walk to work or are you okay with a longer commute? Do you need to be close to good schools? Rec facilities? Shopping?
Step 3: Build a team.
Put together the right group of experts to help you buy. Start with a REALTOR® you trust, then look for a reputable lender or mortgage broker, a lawyer (or a notary in Quebec), a home inspector and an insurance broker. Your REALTOR® works closely with all of these professionals, and will be happy to recommend people you can depend on.Connect with a realtor - One who knows the market & area you're interested
Step 4: Market - get to know the pricing in the area or market you're interested in
To find the perfect home for you in the neighbourhood you want, you need to first understand the market. Don't make blind offers - ask your Realtor for comparable sales in the area and what is their opinion of list prices, etc. Get to know the pricing in the area or market that you're interested in and to ensure that your wants or needs will be realistic for that area.Know the Market
Step 5: Closing costs
Before you decide on a home, you should understand all the additional costs associated with a potential home purchase. Don't get caught on closing day without a good understanding of what other costs will be incurred with the home purchase.
Additional costs such as:
- Mortgage premiums - if you're putting less than 20% downpayment
- Land Transfer Tax - provincial, municipal?
- Legal fees
- Moving Costs
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