The road to success for a first time home buyer can be a tedious process, but it’s worth it in the end! There are plenty of steps that need to be taken to ensure you are ready when the right home comes along.
As you prepare to purchase your first home in Alberta and beyond, Brian Gentles’ Team has put together some steps to help you on your way.
Are You Ready to Become a First Time Home Buyer?
Being a homeowner can be a lot more expensive than renting, since you’re responsible for added costs like home repairs, utility costs, garbage pickup, water, and electricity. A good practise for first time home buyers, is to purchase a home where your monthly fees will be the same as your current renting situation, or only slightly more. You are already on the right track with paying rent monthly, and it will be easier for you to budget and be prepared for the monthly home ownership payments.
Don’t forget – you’re not just paying a mortgage! You will also need to pay for property taxes, utilities, insurance and possibly condo fees related to your home.
We suggest that first time home buyers try their hand at sticking to a budget with what you expect your home payment will be, and then placing the extra money in savings. This will help you to build your confidence and be prepared for those first months of home ownership! Let’s look at some other tips from the Gentles’ Financial team:
Shop for a Loan and Secure a Lender
It’s no secret that most people need a loan to make a first time home purchase. We suggest that you get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start shopping for a home, so that you know what your ceiling looks like. If you want more lending options, we urge you to consider using a mortgage broker over a bank or credit union. With our team here at Gentles Financial, or another team as your mortgage broker, you will have access to several different mortgage lenders and programs which will help you secure the best rate, terms, conditions and privileges for your first mortgage. Of course, mortgage lending rates are low right now, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t shop around for the best overall mortgage!
Not all lenders are the same – even if the rate might be. It is especially important to understand the 3 P’s: porting, penalties and prepayment privileges. Most bank employees don’t understand how their products differ from those of other lenders. Brokers do. There are also many excellent lenders who do not offer “retail” access. They strictly work through brokers as this is a very efficient and effective model.
Secure your Down Payment
It’s important to remember that your down payment can help to reduce what you owe, subsequently reducing your overall costs. We want you to realize, though, that if your down payment is less than 20%, you will be paying high-ratio mortgage insurance. While most first time home buyers are unable to secure 20%, it might be a good idea to consider the cost of the high-ratio insurance when you buy, and consider asking a relative for help with the down payment. That said, the cost of the insurance is fairly minimal when included in your mortgage payment and might save years of trying to save 20% while paying rent. On the other hand, if your down payment is 20% or more you can take advantage of a 30-year amortization which will reduce your mortgage payment.
Be Open to What You Can Afford as a First Time Home Buyer
Of course, your dream home is out there waiting for you, but it is important to remember if you spend too much on your mortgage you may not be able to meet your daily obligations, let alone save for retirement! A smaller house might be worth the peace of mind. If you have any other outstanding debts, it may be a good choice to buy a smaller home as your first home, instead of splurging to check off every box on your ‘must-have’ list. Remember, this is likely just your starter home, and in a few years time you’ll likely be able to upgrade to your dream home!
Find a Good Real Estate Agent
When choosing a real estate agent, it is important to get information from friends and family, and make an informed decision. Any real estate agent should listen to your wants and needs carefully and help you make a decision based on your budget and the overall picture. Your Realtor will likely make recommendations and can help to explain the market to help you find a home that suits your needs and budget. They will also help to walk you through every aspect of the purchase, from the conditions and terms, right through to signing the papers and getting the keys to your new home!
Schedule a Home Inspection
The most important thing you’ll need to do as a first time home buyer is get a home inspection completed before you go all in on the purchase of your home. An inspection is important to make sure everything is in good working order, and there are no surprises on move-in day, or down the road. You’ll need to pay out of pocket for your home inspection as the buyer of the home, so be prepared to have these fees ready. Your Realtor can help you source a local and trusted home inspector to help you be sure your new home is really as great as it looks!
Close and Get Ready to Move-In!
You did it – the closing date has arrived and it’s time to celebrate! You’ll need to sign the final papers so your lawyer, or Notary in BC, will release the funds to all appropriate parties. Once the funds are secure it is time for you to move in! These are likely the last of the costs you will incur, unless you are doing a renovation. Move in costs can include painting, moving vehicles, and furniture.
Final Thoughts on Becoming a First Time Home Buyer
Last but not least, be sure to contact your bank and other services to change your address. It may be necessary to set up mail forwarding until you get everything changed over. Don’t forget to set up your utilities to be connected ahead of time – this will save you time and money because you will avoid extra costs associated with “rush service”. Lastly, be sure that the account your mortgage payments are coming out of always has a surplus, so you don’t miss any of your payments.
Otherwise, it’s time to unpack and enjoy your new home! If you have any additional questions about becoming a first time home buyer, please feel free to reach out to us at Gentles Financial – Axiom Mortgage Solutions. We would be more than happy to help you figure everything out!