Buying a new home is a rather complicated process, but it's safely manageable if you break it down to smaller parts. Read this checklist for a quick overview and let it help you clear your visions toward purchasing a new house.
- The home ownership question - there's always a question whether home ownership is the most suitable option for you in the first place. Owning a home comes with a great set of responsibilities - amongst other, it includes moving the lawn, purchasing furniture, repairing and maintaining the interior and exterior, paying property tax, keeping your equity value up, and holding a mortgage loan. Before you opt for it, calculate the differences between renting vs. owning a home and determine which one is more suitable at this point for you. Don't let yourself to fall in the rent vs. mortgage comparison. If you can afford to rent a home at 1200 $ / month, it doesn't mean that you can afford a similar or slightly lower mortgage, as the base mortgage is just the beginning of the housing costs. A general rule of thumb is to add 45-50% on top of this amount to get a realistic assumption of the true costs for your next home.
- Financing the home - you need to be aware of the fact that purchasing a new property starts with some big numbers, including down payment, points and various closing costs. After this happens, you need to be thinking of maintenance and upkeep costs, escrow payments and mortgages, as touched upon in the point above.
- Get pre-approved - getting yourself pre-approved for financing prior starting the search for your new home is vital. It will let you know your affordable price range and you'll be able to act fast when you find the right home. However, it's important to note that it won't qualify you for a mortgage, but merely calculates your power to finance given your current income and credit numbers.
- Type of your home - know what type of home would you like to purchase and the price range it has to fit in. Toronto is known about the wide variety of homes it offers. Decide whether you'd prefer a single, detached house or a condo. Think about the architectural style of your home as well. Above everything, you should approach this question by identifying those which don't fit well with your visions, so you can be clearer with your preferences when dealing with your realtor.
- Do your own research - with the entire Internet at your hands, it's very easy to start your own research and find out about the various styles of homes, locations and market values. The clearer your idea about your next home is, the easier it is to work with your realtor and the better the end results. Use MLS listings for potential houses and search engines for neighbourhoods. A good tip for quickly finding out the visual appearance of certain locations is to search for geotagged photos on photo sharing services such as Flickr.
- Location - understand the location you're planning to buy in. Amongst other factors, a low crime rate, good schools, convenient access, protected boundaries and the proximity of amenities are the ones to look out for. Talk to your neighbours and make sure you take a walk at both day and nighttime and see for yourself. Watch for heavy traffic, loudness levels (nearby factories, airport, ball parks etc.) and other unpleasant signs that might be the potential downers. As said before, do your research on the Internet and understand future development plans in your surroundings.
- Pick the best home in the neighbourhood - it's well known that homes in a cul de sac have a much greater resale value than homes located on busy streets. If you can, pick the best available - look for extra features, age, size and curb appeal.
- Work With Professionals - many people decide to go about buying the home without an agent. Don't do it. Work with a realtor that understands your needs, and talk to him about the results of your research. He or she might be able to recommend solutions that will save you a lot of money and trouble in the end.
- Inspect the home - home inspection is always optional, but those 2-3 hours can save you a lot of trouble. Home inspection usually costs 300-400 dollars but can save you tens of thousands in the long run. Be sure you hire professional home inspectors to go over your home. You can find more information in the home inspection section of our buyers guide.