With the economy picking up in so many areas of the country currently, more and more people are looking into buying their first home. It’s understandable that this is a great exciting endeavor, but it’s a good idea to not get so overwhelmed by the idea of home buying that you jump into the experience without planning ahead.
There are some pretty basic steps to home buying that’ll let you maintain some great excitement while hopefully helping you to avoid making some pretty disappointing mistakes.
First, before you do anything else, talk to a mortgage expert. Whether you choose to go through your bank or decide to use a mortgage broker instead, you will need to know exactly what you can afford to buy before you go looking at homes. Also, don’t be misguided into thinking that a pre-qualification for a loan is enough; you will want to be pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking.
Secondly, you should go about hiring a buyer’s agent in a logical way. Don’t just use an agent because they happen to be the listing agent for a home; hire someone who is going to look out for YOUR best interests. Get referrals from friends and family and then talk to the agents that you think would be best for you. Make sure before you hire a REALTOR® to represent you that they suit your needs; if you’re looking at buying a particular type of specialty property, they should have a specialty or experience in that.
Next, sit down and plan out what your needs are. Would your needs be best met by a condo in the city, a single family home in the suburbs, or acreage in a rural area? Make a list of “must have” elements that you require in a home as well as a list of optional things that you’d like to have. Make sure that you take into account any likely life changes that you’ll have in the next few years that might affect what you’ll need in a home. For example, if there’s a good chance that in the next few years you’ll be getting married, have a child, or invite an elderly relative to live with you, then your housing needs might be quite different than they are now. Go over this list with the buyer’s agent that you’ve hired so that they’re aware of what you need.
Once you’ve gone through these steps, you’re ready to look at homes. Being knowledgeable about what you can afford and what you need will make the searching process much easier and can help you feel happier about your real estate purchase when you do buy. Breaking the process up into small, logical steps will reduce the stress out of home buying for you and help ensure that the endeavor goes smoothly.
Krista Kehoe, Calgary real estate agent & REALTOR®