If you’ve done all the prep work including: making the emotional commitment to buying a home in Waterloo Region; checking and confirming your financial situation; and finding a trustworthy Realtor, it’s time to start the home buying process. This exciting journey will lead you to your dream of using your hard-earned money to create a home of your own with all the benefits that come with ownership. If you’ve decided that you’re not quite ready yet, you can still take a few of the first steps towards ownership. A good place to start is with our Home Buyers Guide and this blog post.
Finding a Realtor
Choosing your Realtor should be one of the very first things you do in your home buying process. Not just anyone will do in helping you find that cozy dream home! Choose based on recommendations from trusted friends and family members, the Realtor’s proven track record and reputation and his or her expertise in the neighborhood where you’d like to live. Your Realtor will be your guide and your best friend in this journey so choose wisely.
One of the first steps towards home ownership is deciding what to buy. This is a step you can start taking well before you are ready to sit at a closing table. Start thinking about your “must have” list and what things are negotiable. Ponder on these points:
• Size. Square footage is only the beginning. Consider the number of rooms and the way the space is allotted to each floor.
• Neighborhood. You should do plenty of research on your desired neighborhood(s), find the one you want and stick to that plan. (You can change many things about a home but location isn’t one of them!)
• Property type. Choose what kind of home you want from the numerous options in the market. Condo, townhome, detached, semi-detached, new build or existing – you’ve got a lot to consider! For more detailed information on this, check out our article Which Home is Right for You?
• Features. Are you crazy for kitchens or bazooka for baths? Choose the features you just can’t live without but keep your expectations in line with your budget. And remember, some features can be added later.
Browsing can be both the most fun and most dangerous part of the process. It’s fun to drive around neighborhoods and tour homes, imagining your new life in each one. You may want to beware of touring without a guide. You should have the benefit of your Realtor so you don’t fall hopelessly in love with something far out of your reach and you never know which house will steal your heart. Your Realtor will help keep your eyes focused on homes that are within your means to purchase. If you’re seriously in the market to buy, go beyond merely looking at homes from the outside (or online). Take a walk through the neighborhood and chat with some of the people who live there. Ask about safety, what the neighbors are like, what problems are evident and what the best and worst things about living there might be. Here is something that is key: visit your desired neighbourhood during the daytime AND the nighttime. Check out the morning and evening commute traffic and odd times during the day when you could be busiest coming and going from your home. Look at local public records for break-ins or other types of crimes nearby.
If you’re starting this process, you’ve probably already started getting your finances in order. (If you haven’t, you should!) Start saving if you haven’t done so yet because you’ll need a bit more than just the down payment. You’ll also need to begin looking at mortgages and finding a mortgage broker. Getting preapproved for a mortgage is a smart move and tells sellers you’re a serious and qualified buyer. Remember that prequalified and preapproved are two different things. To be prequalified means the lender has looked at some basic information you supplied and has given you an idea of what you may or may not be able to afford. To be prequalified means the lender has done a more thorough examination (including your credit rating) and told you just how much they are willing to lend you. Prequalified is good place to start and pre approval is even better. Your seller will have the assurance that you have a lender ready and waiting and you won’t be costing them time or money once you make an offer. This little detail may make the difference between having an offer accepted or seeing your perfect home slip through your fingers.
Making an Offer
If you’ve found the perfect home in the right neighborhood, it’s time to make an offer. Your Realtor will research the home and recent comparable sales in the area along with current market trends to help you decide on a fair price for the home. She or he will also negotiate and be an advocate for you until a final price is reached. Your offer could be declined, accepted or countered and your Real Estate Agent will be your best help in each situation. If it’s declined, he’ll help you decide whether to make another offer or move on to another home. If there is a counter-offer, he or she will help you decide how to negotiate from there. Once your offer is accepted, your Realtor will walk you through the next stages of the process including the home inspection and closing. There’s more to know about the home buying process so look through our Home Buyers Guide or give us a call at 519-885-0200. You might decide the time to start your journey to home ownership will start today!