Real Estate: First Time Home Buyers

Ryan Deluca | June 2012

First-time home buyers are always a greater challenge for realtors—not only does the agent have to find the perfect home to satisfy their client, it is also their duty to walk the client through the many stages of the process and ensure they are comfortable with each provision before moving on to the next. With all that being said, there are steps that a first-time home buyer can take to make the process easier and to help their realtor find them the right home for the right price.

The first item on the agenda must be to find the right realtor. Most people interview a number of applicants before hiring office employees or childcare or home maintenance workers, yet they tend to pick the first realtor they meet to help them with the most expensive purchase they will ever make! It is important to find someone who specializes in the type of home you want to purchase, whether it’s a condo, a townhome or a detached house. Next, find someone who understands the type of person you are— some buyers work better with a more formal professional and some work better with an agent who is more laid back and relaxed. Choosing an agent who fits your style will ensure that you are comfortable with how they handle the purchasing process and you’ll know you can talk to them should any issues arise.

Getting preapproved for a mortgage seems like the logical next step, but it’s one that is often overlooked. Before having your newly appointed realtor send you listings and appointments, you should be visiting with a bank or mortgage broker to determine what size of loan you qualify for. Most banks and mortgage brokers will request between 24 hours and a week to preapprove you—the wait can vary depending on a multitude of factors in your application. In Canada, if you are putting less then 20 per cent of the purchase price down, the mortgage will need to be insured by a government-backed insurance plan in case you default on the loan. Both these approvals are based on the same application you give to the bank, so you only have to deal with one individual—which makes the process fairly easy and straightforward.

Once your realtor finds you that perfect space and receives an accepted offer, making the offer subject to a home inspection is highly recommended. While it is not absolutely required, spending a few hundred dollars on having a professional inspection done will not only give you piece of mind but may reveal issues that you can then request the seller to repair. These issues can be anything from roof leaks to foundation cracks in a detached home to water ingress, window problems or moisture behind the shower walls in a condominium. Your realtor will be able to recommend a few inspectors that you can interview and hire to inspect your property—finding someone who has experience inspecting the type of home you are buying is essential.

In the end it all comes down to due diligence. All home buyers should do their research, assemble an appropriate team of professionals and then rely on their expertise to navigate the home buying process in a smooth and efficient manner—this will guarantee your first home buy will be an enjoyable and low-stress experience from beginning to end.