If you’re in the market for your first home, you likely have a mixture of excitement and nerves running through your veins. Buying a home is a huge step, not to mention, a hefty investment. There are certain things to keep in mind as a first time home buyer that will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible. When you find your first home, there’s really nothing like it, so here are 5 tips for first time home buyers to consider!
1. Determine What You Can Afford
This is an important first step in the home buying process. Before searching for and finding your dream home, you need to know how much house you can afford. Figure out your monthly budget, and account for things such as taxes and insurance. A general rule is to make sure your monthly housing costs (PITI principal, interest, taxes and insurance) aren’t more than approximately 28% of your monthly take-home pay. You can start by using a mortgage calculatorto determine how much you can safely afford to spend. Some lenders will approve buyers with PITI between 30-40% of their gross income, but we strongly recommend you work with a reputable and professional mortgage broker or banker who has your best interests at heart. Talk with people you trust and be realistic with yourselves and your lifestyle needs.
2. Save for a Down Payment and Don’t Forget Closing Costs
Ideally, you want to put 20% down on your home to get the best rate and to avoid private mortgage insurance. With prices rising in Toronto and the GTA, don’t be discouraged if you can’t save the traditional 20%. There are options to consider such as using FTB (First Time Home Buyer) programs and incentives, using RRSPs, and some first time buyers are fortunate to get financial help from their families.
Start saving for a downpayment early on, and don’t forget that you’ll also need to save for closing costs such as appraisal fees, home inspection, real estate lawyer fees and property insurance. Generally speaking, buyers should aim to save about 1.5-2% of the price of the home (not including private mortgage insurance or land transfer tax). Some cities, like Toronto, have an additional land transfer tax to work into the equation.
3. Find an Agent You Trust
A key part of the home buying process is finding a professional real estate salesrep you trust. Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so trust is a big part of the equation. You’ll be spending lots of time with your Realtor® and want to make sure they have your best interests in mind. When choosing an Realtor®, look for good communication skills, someone who’s relatable and real, someone who has strong core values, and someone who you have good chemistry with. If you feel like you can’t trust or communicate with them, it’s not a good fit. Your qualified Realtor® can connect you with several lenders to get you to the next important step.
4. Get Preapproved for a Loan
Getting pre-approved for a loan is a crucial step that can’t be missed! Imagine thinking you can afford a $700,000 home and start looking for places in that price range, only to find out later that you can only afford a $500,000 home. Shop around for different lenders but be mindful of the number of times your credit is checked. Perhaps consider pulling your own credit report for use during the preapproval process and when the time comes to submit a mortgage application the lender can request an updated report. Keep in mind that banks aren’t the only ones that can provide you with a mortgage. There are a number of brokers out there, so remember you don’t have to settle on the first approval you get, but always work with a reputable and professional lender, with an advisor you trust, especially as a FTB.
5. Browse and Research Neighbourhoods
Finding your ideal neighbourhood is just as important as finding your dream home. Spend your weekends and week nights exploring the neighbourhoods you’re considering. Ask your agent for up and coming areas that you can scope out as well. You can also ask your agent for information on crime rates, quality of schools, access to transportation, etc. Figure out what your commute to work would be like, check out noise levels, and only settle on neighbourhoods you and your family would be comfortable in.
Ready to shop around for your first home? Keep these tips in mind and reach out to us at AskNina.com for any questions you may have!