1. Hire a real estate professional. Interview several realtors and sign a Buyer’s Agency Agreement with a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation. A list agents first duty is to the seller, a buyer representative is under contract with you and working in your best interest at all times.
2. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report. Be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Ask your realtor for a referral to a reputable mortgage broker and get prequalified for a mortgage. Calculate exactly what numbers you are working with and save yourself the heartache of falling in love with a house you can’t afford!
3. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighbourhoods you prefer, and how much you are willing/able to spend each month for housing expenses.
4. Be realistic. It’s okay to be picky but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations, there is no such thing as the perfect home. Create a list of priorities (your needs and wants) to use as a guide to evaluate each property you see.
5. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy! Select one or two trusted people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.
6. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter home with plans to move up in a few years or do you plan to stay in this home for a longer period? This will play an important part in deciding what type of home you will buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.
7. Insist on a full market evaluation. Before preparing an offer have your realtor prepare a full market evaluation on the property. Go through the comparables thoroughly and carefully, decide for yourselves, with your realtor’s guidance, what you believe the true market value of the home is. The better educated you are, the less “buyer’s remorse” you’ll experience on the other side!
8. Insist on a home inspection. Ask your realtor for a referral to a reputable, licensed home inspector. Walk the property with the inspector, if possible, and ask for clarification on anything you are unsure of. Keep your home inspection binder handy when you move in to your new home, this will help you stay on top of your home’s maintenance and care.
And most importantly … enjoy the process!