I love working with first-time homebuyers, helping you find your first home, learning the home buying process, and guiding you from house-hunting to move-in day. Here are nine tips you should know before you start looking to buy your first home!
1.Learn about the home buying process: As a first step, you should take some time to see if you’re ready to be a homeowner. Before jumping into the home buying process, there are some important questions to ask yourself. For example, are you able to commit to a mortgage? Do you have at least a three to six-month emergency fund in place? Do you have stable income and employment?
2. Maintain your credit: Your credit report summarizes your credit history and indicates to lenders whether or not you make your payments on time. Lenders use it to establish your creditworthiness and help you assess your risk as a borrower.
A lender can determine your current financial situation and how responsible you have been with credit in the past by reviewing your credit report.
Lenders will pull your credit to get your preapproval, and then they will pull your credit report again before you close on your home. During this period, continue to pay your bills on time and don’t make large purchases that may negatively affect your credit score.
3. Get pre-approved: Unless you are paying cash for your home, you will need to talk to a lender before looking at houses because it helps you set an accurate price range for house hunting.
After reviewing your financial information, such as monthly income, total debt, and income ratio, your mortgage broker will be able to tell you approximately how much home you can afford and your estimated monthly mortgage payments.
Your monthly mortgage payment will be higher or lower depending on the purchase price of the home, your downpayment funds, mortgage loan amount, and interest rate.
A mortgage lender will tell you the amount of home loan you can borrow. They can also estimate your projected monthly payment and closing costs and communicate what you should or shouldn’t do with your finances to maintain your eligibility throughout the lending process.
Another benefit of getting pre-approved is that in a competitive market, a preapproval letter can often give you an advantage over other buyers because it shows the seller that you’re qualified to purchase their home.
4. Take advantage of first-time homebuyer programs: BC and Canada have a few first-time homebuyer programs. The programs will usually have restrictions based on the home’s purchase price.
For example, the first-time homebuyer program in BC reduces or eliminates the amount of property transfer tax you have to pay as a first-time homeowner, but the purchase price must be below $525,000.
5. Down payment and personal savings: Many first-time homebuyers wait until they have a 20% down payment, but that’s often unnecessary.
If your purchase price is $500k or less, then your down payment may only need to be 5% of the purchase price. Your mortgage broker can help you determine how much money you need to have saved for your down payment.
First-time homebuyers should have enough money saved for their down payment as well as cash set aside in case of any emergency repairs, special levies (applicable for strata properties), or unexpected expenses.
Other significant homeownership expenses include monthly mortgage payments, homeowners insurance, property taxes, monthly strata fees (if you’re purchasing a strata property), utilities (water, sewer, garbage, electric, natural gas, etc.), general upkeep and landscaping.
6. Buyer’s deposit: When you find the right home, and you and the seller have a signed accepted offer, you will need to submit your “good faith” deposit. Your deposit is usually due within a couple of days after you have an accepted offer. During the negotiations, the deposit amount and its due date are agreed upon between the buyer and the seller.
Your deposit is money you risk losing if you back out of the deal for reasons not protected in the contract. Technically, a contract of purchase and sale is legally binding without a deposit. However, at minimum, the deposit should be 3% of the purchase price. The deposit can be more or less depending on what you and the seller agree to in the contract.
A higher deposit is more attractive to the seller because it shows that you’re serious about completing the purchase. Your deposit goes towards your down payment amount on the completion date.
7. Write down your property must-haves: It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of purchasing a new home, so that’s why it’s helpful to write down a list of must-haves that are non-negotiable before you start your home search!
For example, you may overlook the fact that you’ve always wanted to live in a specific school district, have an east-facing view, in-suite laundry, or live in a particular type of home. Knowing your must-haves ahead of time will help you make a more informed purchase decision when the time comes!
8. Work with one real estate agent: It’s best to have one realtor helping you with your search. Your agent will help you find a property and then negotiate on all the terms of your transaction on your behalf.
Over time, you’ll start to build a relationship with your realtor, who will get to know your family’s needs and preferences. As a result, working with one real estate agent can be more beneficial for you instead of starting over with someone new each time you look at a property.
Unless otherwise stated, the seller pays the buyer’s agent upon closing. But, you are hiring someone to work for you, so feel free to interview multiple realtors and pick the one you think fits you best.
9. Lastly, don’t forget about the closing costs: You’ve got your good faith deposit and downpayment amount, but you will also need to set aside approximately 3-5% of the purchase price for closing costs. A few examples of closing costs include property transfer tax (PTT), home inspection fees, and lawyer or notary fees.
As a first-time homebuyer, below are a few more blog articles that you may find helpful!
*Disclaimer: The topics of discussion, content and resources on this website are general information that may not be the right solution or advice for you specifically. Not intended to solicit buyers or sellers currently under contract with a brokerage.
*Stock images from Social Squares
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