The prospect of making the biggest purchase of your life can be daunting, especially as a first-time buyer. Even for the world's greatest free spirits, it just isn't something you can decide to do on a Monday and have completed by Friday. Buying a home takes planning and involves some necessary steps to help you avoid disappointment, unnecessary costs and getting in over your head.
Step #1: If you haven't already done so, sit down and figure out your budget. Do this before getting pre-approved. Remember, just because the bank says you can afford a $500,000 home doesn't mean you have to buy a $500,000 home. Don't just consider your mortgage payment. As a homeowner, you have to think about property taxes, utilities, maintenance, furnishings and unexpected expenses.
Step #2: Get pre-approved. Once you have a good grasp of how much you can afford, visit a few lenders and determine which one you want to work with. And always keep in mind that a pre-approval is NOT a guarantee of financing.
Step #3: Find a Realtor. Ask friends or family members to recommend someone who is familiar with the area where you will be buying a home. Meet with two or three agents and choose someone who you feel comfortable working with. Make sure your Realtor is aware of your budget and the key features you are looking for in a home.
Step #4: Start your search! Your Realtor will get the ball rolling by sending you listings of homes for sale in your desired neighbourhoods. If you're not sure what to look for when house hunting, don't stress. Your Realtor will be examining the 'big ticket' items (heating and air conditioning, electrical, windows etc.) and you will quickly get a feel for the style of home you want to live in and features you like and dislike.
Step #5: Make an offer! Once you have found the perfect home, you will make an Agreement of Purchase and Sale. There are many items covered in the agreement, details like the price you are offering to pay, your deposit amount, what you would like included with the home (typically anything affixed, such as window coverings and light fixtures), your desired closing date and any conditions to the purchase.
Step #6: You just bought a house, so there's only one thing left to do - get packing!