Step-by-Step Home Buying Process
If you are new to B.C. or a first-time homebuyer, buying a home can feel like a daunting experience. Over the years, my mentor (John Grasty) and I have developed a step-by-step guide to help simplify this process.
1. Choose a Realtor then Analyze Your Needs/Goals with your Realtor
When it comes to choosing a Realtor, reputation matters. Ask for recommendations or look online and read reviews. Meet with a few Realtors to ensure you can pick someone you trust and are comfortable with. How well does the Realtor know your preferred neighbourhood? Do they understand your lifestyle and goals? It is important that your Realtor understands what your specific needs are and that you have realistic expectations.
2. Obtain a Mortgage Pre-Approval
Before you start looking for a new home, consider what you can realistically afford. This way, you won’t waste time looking for homes outside your price range. You also won’t end up heartbroken that “the home” is beyond your approved mortgage. Start making appointments early, gather all the necessary info, and gain pre-approval before you start looking at homes in earnest.
3. Check the Neighborhood and Drive Around
You likely have an idea of where you’d ideally wish to live. Maybe that neighbourhood near a good school for your kids that you’ve heard about. Or maybe there’s a hopping area with nightlife and entertainment near condos that would be perfect for you. Regardless, don’t just choose sight unseen. Check out the neighbourhoods. Drive through them, at different times of the day, if possible, to see what they feel like. Maybe even park and walk around. Is there much traffic? How important are transit and parks? Get the answers you need not only from your Realtor but see for yourself.
4. Receive Automatic Notifications
Technology brings you closer to your goal. Your Realtor can help you set up notifications that match your search criteria. The difference between your Realtor’s notifications and those you’d get from entering your contact information yourself on a public site is that your Realtor’s notifications provide more detailed information about the property. And, you can also choose to be notified as soon as a property hits MLS. These features can be of great advantage in a hot real estate market.
5. View Your Selected Homes
What’s more important than driving through the neighbourhood? Walking through the homes themselves. A major purchase such as a home should not be done blindly. Even investment properties ideally should be viewed first-hand to ensure you’re fully getting what you want and expect from a home. If you physically cannot make it to the homes in person, at least try to view virtual tours and ask your Realtor to give you personal walk-throughs that they can film on their phones while explaining some of the selling points of the homes to you. In a fast-paced real estate market, like the one we’ve been experiencing in the Lower Mainland, I highly recommend to my clients to let me know the properties that they are potentially interested in right away and I can secure viewing appointments of the properties before they are sold.
6. Write Offer with Conditions
Your Realtor is a professional and you hired them for a reason. Work with them to craft offers with conditions. Why with conditions? It shows you’ve done your research and are an informed Buyer, earning the trust of the Seller. More importantly, they protect you. You might include conditions such as being subject to a property inspection and financing, state of property title, time limits on the offer, whether or not GST might be absorbed, fixtures you want included, and your preferred completion and possession dates. Discuss these conditions and more with your Realtor.
7. Negotiate Accepted Offer
Again, your Realtor is the professional. They work with offers day-in and day-out. This is what they do. Trust them to know what values are realistic and feasible. Having said that, however, go in knowing that there might be some wiggle room and a few last-minute phone calls! Most importantly, stick to your budget.
8. Perform Due Diligence
Buying a home is probably the largest financial decision you make in your life; it is important to do your due diligence to minimize the risks associated with it. Your Realtor should be able to guide you through the process from a simple title search, insurance, depreciation report for strata etc., to property inspection.
9. Remove Conditions for Binding Contract
Ensure you perform due diligence, and if all your conditions are satisfied, you will need to remove the conditions before the sale can become final.
10. Completion and Key Handover on Possession
When your lawyer or notary has received all of the purchase money and the land title office has confirmed the registration of the transfer documents — they pass the money to the seller on the Completion Date. Your Realtor will give you the keys to your new home on the Possession Date. Congratulations! Don’t forget to arrange for internet, hydro and gas, so you can immediately make yourself at home!
I have been a long-time Tri-Cities resident. If you have any questions about Port Moody, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam neighbourhoods, feel free to reach out. Also, check out the BC Government First Time Homebuyer Program.