There are many steps you need to take as a first-time home buyer, but the good news is you don’t have to all the legwork yourself. Professionals are available to help guide you along your home ownership journey.
An accountant can help you prepare a full cash-flow analysis, detailing your current and forecast expenses versus your income. The benefit of doing this exercise is to give you a realistic idea of how much you can afford
in mortgage repayments each month. This will be especially valuable when it comes to buying a home, as you will probably find you are approved for a mortgage that is the maximum of what you can afford. But just because the bank says you can afford a higher mortgage, doesn’t mean you should go for it. Your cash-flow analysis will give you a better indication of what you can comfortably live with.
When choosing an accountant, look for one who has experience dealing with first time home buyers and is a member of a professional body such as the Chartered Accountants of Canada.
Unless you’ve got a massive stash of cash buried somewhere, then you’re going to need to apply for a home loan to help you make your first home purchase. If you have a good relationship with your lender, you may choose to go direct to the bank and organize a home loan with a representative from your financial institution. Bear in mind however, that the representative will only be able to set you up with a loan through that particular bank. So if you’re interested in getting advice on loans from several different lenders, then you might consider using the services of a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers have relationships with many different lenders and are often in a good position to negotiate a competitive interest rate on your behalf. Best of all, their services are free.
Brokers receive a commission from the lender for introducing you as a client and setting up the loan. To determine what lender and mortgage product is best for you, a mortgage broker will ask you about your current financial situation and long-term financial goals. They will then gather the paperwork that the lender needs to assess your credit worthiness. After you’ve received your loan approval from the lender, your mortgage broker will help you understand the document and conditions of the contract. They can also walk you through the next steps leading up to the closing of the mortgage transaction.
Most mortgage brokers are small business owners and depend on good service and word-of-mouth to gain new clients. As such, it’s worth getting some recommendations from friends and family. Always ensure that the broker is a member of the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, the national industry association for brokers. This designation ensures that the broker has completed specified training and adheres to a strict code of ethics. As well, you’ll want to check that the broker has access to a wide variety of lenders.
Real estate agents
Once you have your financing in place, it’s time to start looking for your first home. Real estate agents can offer you a wealth of experience and information, as they are constantly keeping up-to-date on new studies, trends, statistics and selling techniques. As well, they can maintain some objectivity in an otherwise emotional venture. They will not only help you with their search, but they will work with you in negotiating with the seller. They are often described as matchmakers – bringing buyers and sellers together. You’ll want to find an agent who specializes in the location where you want to live. Employing a real estate agent costs nothing as they are paid by the seller. When choosing an agent, ask family and friends for recommendations. Real estate in Canada is governed by the Canadian Real Estate Association and within that there are provincial governing bodies, further to that there are individual boards. All of these governing bodies have rules, regulations and codes of ethics that Realtors must adhere to. Realtors are responsible for constantly upgrading their knowledge and skills in order to maintain their status within their respective boards.
When choosing a Realtor, some questions you might want to ask include:
How long have you been in business?
What areas do you focus on?
What type of clients do you deal with? (First time home buyers, investors…)
Can I speak with any former clients about their experiences with you?
What can I expect in terms of communication?
Hiring a lawyer/notary could cost you a significant amount of money, but it’s often money well spent. A lawyer will be able to review the contract before you sign the deal. Not only will the lawyer ensure the contract adheres to all laws, but they could address any specific issues regarding the property. Look for a professional that is a real estate specialist to help you. Again, friends and family should be able to offer a recommendation. Alternatively you can ask your
mortgage broker or real estate agent for a referral.
Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate