4 first-time home buyers’ tips to get you started

October 15, 2014

Getting started in the real estate market is both wildly exciting and terribly stressful. But it's sure to potentially be much easier if you follow these 4 can't-miss tips for first-time home buyers.

4 first-time home buyers’ tips to get you started

1. Learn as much as you can about home ownership

Do some research about all the responsibilities you’ll have to carry as a homeowner. How drastically will your monthly budget change? What are your new legal responsibilities? Do you know about all the homeowner incentives offered by the federal government, such as the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) and the first-time home buyers’ tax credit?

2. Take stock of your finances

This part isn’t as fun as the house hunting, but a reality check will keep you from making a costly mistake. You need to be sure you can afford a monthly mortgage as well as annual property taxes, home repairs and any other costs you aren’t used to dealing with. Make an appointment with a mortgage broker or your bank’s mortgage representative. They will see if you qualify for a mortgage based on your income, your credit rating and your debt capacity.

Don’t forget that the bank will expect at least a five-per cent down payment and that you’ll also have to pay for a home inspection, lawyer or notary fees, the move and any new furnishings you require.

At the end of this step you may decide that you’re not quite ready to buy your first home. There’s nothing wrong with waiting another year to tuck away some more savings or wait for the housing market to become more favourable. Above all, you don’t want your dream to turn into a nightmare by overextending yourself.

3. Surround yourself with experts

Buying a first home isn’t something that just happens with minimal effort. You’ll need to bring in a few experts to guide you through the experience. You’ll probably hire an independent professional home inspector, lawyer or notary, real estate agent, land surveyor and mortgage lender or mortgage broker.

4. Be realistic

Before you go house hunting, get clear about the difference between your needs and wants. Unless you have a generous budget, you’ll likely have to make some compromises about the size of the house or land lot, its location and its condition. When you’re searching, remember to think about the future. Where will you be in a few years? Will you need extra space if you decide to add to your family? Will you need a home office or garage?

A major investment

Buying your first home is probably the most important investment you’ll ever make. With these tips for first-time home buyers, you can put the odds in your favour for a successful start in home ownership.

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