Buying your first home is an exciting time in your life. As a first time home buyer, you’re starting the journey of home ownership! There’s a lot to think about, from choosing a realtor to drafting a budget, and eventually going from researching online to open houses trying to find the perfect place to call home. For seasoned home owners, this can be a walk in the park, but for first time home buyers, you may be wondering where to start. Don’t worry – as a top-rated Toronto real estate agent, I can help!
Navigating your first journey to home ownership can be a breeze if you give yourself the time to ask the right questions and educate yourself on the ins and outs of the industry. With a little time, you can learn how to ask the right questions, consider the right financial pieces, and choose the perfect option before you sign on the dotted line.
Like any big life decision, preparation is key. Let’s go over five of the most common tips to consider when buying your first home.
1. Shop with an open mind & focus.
A good tip for house hunting is to be focused on the task at hand. Have you ever tried to go grocery shopping distracted? You end up with a cart full of random food and go home unable to make a meal! Try not to house hunt distracted. Have a plan in place that allows you to have a full picture of what you’re looking for in the perfect place. First, choose a budget for the home taking into account fees and legal costs.
Then, choose a neighborhood. This is important because location is everything. Know how long you want your commute to work to be (or, transit options) and also where you may want your kids to go to school. Does the neighborhood fit your budget? If not, have a tiered system of most desired to second and third desired that your realtor can work with to find your ideal home. Again, the location of the home is the only thing you can’t change! Everything else you can work with, so decide the needs of your family and your budget, and work within those parameters.
2. Plan to have an inspection.
Getting an inspection is always a good idea. If you’re worried about losing a bidding war due to requesting an inspection, I’m here to help you navigate the process. It’s a smart idea to take a good look at the house before you buy to avoid any unexpected costs and surprises. Your realtor can help you book a home inspection during your viewing, or you can request a pre-sale home inspection to give you piece of mind.
Many home buyers do skip an inspection – that’s okay too! If you choose to skip the inspection, just make sure you budget some money aside to cover any potential fixes that may arise once you do get an inspection post-sale.
3. Organize your budget.
There’s a lot that goes into budgeting for your first home, and the price of the house is just one aspect of the total cost. Talk to your realtor and ask about the closing costs (home insurance, property taxes, land transfer tax, legal bills, etc.) so you can budget accordingly. Be realistic about what you can afford and your realtor can help you find something that fits perfectly into your budget! They’ll help you navigate the costs, pricing, and everything that comes with signing on the dotted line.
Part of drafting a new budget is also thinking of the after-sale costs. A new home means new expenses, like different utility bills, regular upkeep costs, and you need to consider an “emergency fund” for a rainy day. When you’re calculating the total cost of this exciting new purchase, tuck some money aside so you’re prepared for anything. Remember too, you’ll want to budget for a new coat of paint, a nice couch for your open concept living room or a beautiful table for your new kitchen. Consider all of these things and budget accordingly.
The housing market is competitive, which is why it’s smart to always negotiate. Even if the price is right, it’s good practice to negotiate the cost so you can enjoy the benefits of having extra cash for closing costs or that bathroom upgrade you’ve been thinking of.
Yes, it may seem scary to be outbid when you’re in love with a certain house, but your realtor will help you navigate the waters about how much to negotiate and when.
5. Check out your surroundings.
It’s easy to fall in love with a house and see hearts in your eyes, but don’t forget to really consider things like your commute, the neighborhood, the back yard, and if it’s a condo, the entire building and management. Feel free to ask people who live in the area how they like it, test out the parking lot, or go for a short walk. Really take your time to see how it all makes you feel before you buy so you can feel confident in your decision.
House hunting for a first time home buyer is a lot of fun. While there’s a lot to consider, you can do it! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. After all – that’s what I’m here for.