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- Don’t Buy if You Can’t Commit.
If you can’t see yourself staying in one location for a few years, it’s time to
reconsider buying a home. Buying and selling real estate quickly isn’t cheap, and
will probably devour any profits your property has built up. Perhaps renting will
better suit your lifestyle, at least for now.
- Put Your Best Foot Forward. Check Your Credit.
Since you’ll probably need to get a mortgage to buy a house, ensure your credit
history is squeaky clean. A few months prior to house hunting, get copies of your
credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you notice.
- Get in Touch with Reality.
Generally, you can afford to buy a home that runs about 2.5 times your annual
salary. Bear in mind that you still have to factor in how your income, debts and
expenses will affect what your budget will be. Maybe a townhome will better suit
your budget than a detached or semi-detached home. Do your research first.
- Can’t Put Down the Standard 20%? Don’t Worry.
CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) provides mortgage loan
insurance to help lenders (banks, mortgage brokers, etc.) offer mortgages at the
lowest possible rates. This enables new home buyers to realize their dreams of
home ownership with as little as 5% down. All you have to do is apply and qualify.
- Look for First-Rate Schools in Your Neighbourhood.
Even if you don’t have any school-age children (or any at all), buying a home
around great schools can pay dividends. When it comes time to sell, you’ll learn
that excellent schools in your neighbourhood are a priority for buyers, and it will
increase the attractiveness and property value of your home.
- Leave it to the Professionals.
Even though the Internet provides buyers with easy access to local home listings,
most new buyers are better off using a professional real estate agent. With all the
negotiations, legalities and house hunting involved, you’ll need someone tocoordinate it all. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible,
who will have your best interests at heart and can help you with the negotiation
- Choose Carefully Between a Fixed or Variable Rate Mortgage.
When picking a mortgage interest rate, you usually have 2 options. A permanent
fixed interest rate never fluctuates, and will remain the same regardless of the
current economic situation. Choose this option if you want to play it safe. If you’re
a bit of a risk-taker (and promise to keep a close eye on interest rates throughout
the year) a variable rate can help you save. If the current interest rate is low, and
it looks like it may drop even further, variable could be the way to go. Most
variable rate mortgages will allow you to lock into a rate within the first 3 years of
the term to help you secure a comfortable rate.
- Get Approved Before House Hunting.
Getting pre-approved on a mortgage will save you the hassle of looking at
properties you can’t afford. You’ll also be in a better position to make a serious
offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification,
which is based on a quick review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is
based on your actual income, debt and credit history.
- Do Your Homework Before Placing an Offer.
Your opening offer should be based on the sales trends of similar homes in the
neighborhood. Consider sales of similar homes in the last three months, before
you proceed. If homes have recently sold at 5% less than the asking price, you
should make an offer that’s about 8-10% lower than what the seller is asking.
- Hire a Home Inspector.
Almost all offers to buy are conditional on a home inspection. This ensures you’re
not buying into someone else’s problems. You should hire your own home
inspector with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are
buying. Their job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly
repairs down the road. A little money spent here can save you substantially in the