Home Buying 101 – Breaking Down The Home Buying Experience

Sometimes it’s easier to hit all the bases in your search for a home if you list your questions and answer them one by one. This list will help you touch on the most frequently asked questions about home buying.

What do I do first?

The first steps of searching for your home is a bit like staring at a homework assignment and not knowing where to begin, isn’t it? One of the best places to start is with getting a home mortgage pre-approval. This will let you know your budget right off the top and prevent you from looking at properties that are beyond your reach.

Armed with this information, find a real estate agent. Find someone you like and trust. Call and/or visit with more than one. Ask friends and/or family for referrals. Check out real estate websites, newspaper ads and then interview the agents that interest you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about experience and track record. Find someone that knows the neighbourhood, is personable and eager to work with you.

You’ve found the agent, now it’s time to narrow down your home choices. Decide on the type of property, the location, whether you want to be close to schools or parks and if you want shops within walking distance. Decide if home association fees are something you can live with. Of course if you are looking for a condo these types of fees are a given. Using this information, along with your pre-approved budget figure, your agent can start scouting for properties that fit your wants and needs.

Your Buyer’s-Agent Agreement

When you’ve found an agent you want to work with you will be asked to sign a buyer’s-agent agreement. This document is an agreement that the agent will work for you and with you on your home search for a certain amount of time. That means your agent will use his resources, contacts and knowledge to help you in your home search. It also protects the agent from you changing agents in the middle of that search. It is a legal document so make sure you read and understand everything in it before you sign.

Timeline for Buying a Home

The thing about searching for and finding that perfect home is that there really is no timeline. You may get lucky and fall in love with a home within a few days or you may end up looking for a year or two. Much of it depends on the real estate market, particularly the home availability situation. But, once you’ve found a property and signed a buyer’s contract than it’s usually some 30 or 60 days before you close escrow and the home is officially yours.

Looking at Properties, How Many is Too Many?

If you are looking for your dream home and are determined to find just that, there is no such thing as viewing too many homes. If you are a first time buyer you may want to view a few properties just to see what’s available. Looking at a home on a website isn’t the same as checking out the real thing. Photos can overly enhance what’s really in that property. Your real estate agent can help you reduce the number of viewings by showing you homes that meet all or most of your specific needs.

I’ve Found a Home, When Do I Put in An Offer?

Yesterday…well almost. ASAP is more like it. If you find something you like get your agent to put in an offer right away. In a competitive market, flirting with indecision can cost you that dream home. Basically if you find a property you like that meets all or most of your requirements, get a move on. Someone else might be equally enamoured and put in their own bid.

If I Bid on A Home Can I Change My Mind?

Sometimes. Once you put in a bid it is considered a formal statement of intent to buy that home. But if the seller has yet to accept your offer you can give the seller’s agent a written withdrawal, which must be witnessed. If for some reason you and the seller cannot reach an agreement, perhaps on price or conditions, while the transaction is still in the negotiation and/or home inspection process, that bid can be cancelled.

My Offer is Rejected, Now What?

Sometimes offers are rejected. Your agent can find out why. If it is a matter of a requirement that hasn’t been addressed, then you might be able to revise your offer. The seller may also come back with a counter offer, which you may accept, or answer with a counter offer of your own. After all of this, the offer may still be rejected. Just move on. You and your agent can just keep house hunting.

Things to Think About

Buying a home is a dream for many, and a nice dream at that. But never overlook the fact that this is a financial commitment and one that should not be taken lightly. Chances are if you are a first time buyer you may not have the budget for your ultimate dream home. That’s ok. Find one you like and make it yours, increase the value and perhaps after five years or so you can think about upgrading. Make that first home your foot in the door, so to speak. It is an important first step.