Buying your first home can be a daunting experience.
For many, the real estate world is complex and confusing, and it’s tough to know where to start when you’re ready to search for your first home.
We reached out to our RE/MAX Influencers—a panel consisting of RE/MAX Sales Associates from throughout Canada—to discover their Top 5 Tips for first-time homebuyers.
Pre-approval, pre-approval, pre-approval
Our RE/MAX Influencers agreed that pre-approval is the most important thing for first-time homebuyers to think about so they understand what they can afford. Having this knowledge will make the entire homebuying experience easier and less stressful.
“Pre-approval is key! Make sure you have a mortgage broker who will work for you and has reviewed all of your documents so that you know how much purchasing power you have,” says Heather Forman, RE/MAX Little Oak Realty, Langley, BC.
It is also important to incorporate closing costs into the equation, and don’t forget about strata fees, if applicable.
“Be qualified and know exactly how much you can afford before you start looking. That way, if you see the right home, you can put in an offer right away,” says Patty Lew-Lapointe, RE/MAX iRealty Innovations, Calgary, AB.
Make a list and check it (more than) twice
It’s a good idea to write down a list of the things that are important to you when it comes to your first house. Separate the list into two columns: “must-haves” and “would-be-nice.” The list will come in handy when viewing homes, especially if a particular property shows well, but doesn’t have the things that matter most to you.
When viewing homes, keep notes so you can remember what features each property had.
“After getting pre-approved, I suggest prioritizing the needs and wants along with the long-term plan,” says Adrian Michelutti, RE/MAX Professionals, St. Albert, AB. “By focusing on their current and short-term needs, they will be able to find a home they can get started in, build equity, and eventually move on to the next home that meets their growing needs.”
Keep an open mind
It’s rare for a first home to be a 10/10 in all categories; however, it’s quite possible to find a home you fall in love with, which is also one that checks most of the things off your wish list.
In fast-paced markets where multiple offers are the norm, it’s possible that you may miss out on the first home you’re drawn to. It’s important to remember that the right home for you is still out there, and in some cases, you’ll be relieved you missed out on an earlier home if you eventually find something better.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the, ‘Is this the one?’ quest. Remember, this is not reality TV, and everyone feels the a-ha moment differently,” says Elisse Moreno, RE/MAX Excellence, Edmonton AB.
A good real estate agent will always take the time to answer all your questions; a great real estate agent will anticipate the questions you’re going to ask and provide you with the information before you even request it.
Many first-time buyers are hesitant to ask questions because they don’t want to be embarrassed if they’re not familiar with certain terminology. Professional real estate agents understand the confusing nature of the business, and are happy to help navigate you through the process.
“I will constantly ask my first-time buyer clients if they know what I’m referring to when I use certain terms, reassuring them to ask questions whenever something is unclear,” says Eric Steinbach, RE/MAX Kelowna – Westside.
Go with those who know
For many, buying a first home is uncharted territory; therefore, it’s incredibly important that you are represented by a professional agent with a good track record.
It’s also important that your real estate agent is very knowledgeable in the market you’re planning on buying in. Some agents even specialize in working with first-time homebuyers; therefore, be sure to research an agent who is the right fit for you, and who has the time to guide you through the process from start to finish.
“I always meet with first-time buyers face-to-face, and I have a step-by-step process I go through with them, which explains the entire process,” says Kelly O’Dwyer, RE/MAX of Nanaimo.