Ready to get moving, but not sure where to begin? Here are the basics.
1. Interview agents.
Before you start looking seriously at homes, we suggest you start interviewing real estate agents. If you’ve got a friend or family member in the business, or have been referred to someone you may be all set. If not, ask your friends and family who they’ve used in the past and whether or not they’d refer them. You can also find agents by visiting open houses and giving them an informal interview right on the spot. The web is also your friend – have a look at agents’ websites to get a feel for their style. No matter how you find your agent, there are some key questions you’ll want to ask. We’ve compiled a starter list of interview questions that you can ask potential agents.
2. Mortgage pre-approval.
Sit down with a mortgage agent and get pre-approved. Before you start shopping, you’ll want to know what you’ve been pre-approved for. Your bank will have someone that can help, but there are other options out there too. A mortgage agent who can search the entire marketplace on your behalf will have access to a myriad of lenders who may be offering better rates than the bank. It’s not always just about the rates either. If you think there’s a chance you might be selling your home in less than 5 years you’ll want to know what it will cost you to break the mortgage early. These types of costs can run into the thousands. A good mortgage agent will find the lender and terms that are the best fit for your situation. As with a real estate agent, you can find a mortgage agent via referral or a Google search.
3. Hidden costs.
Know the hidden costs of buying. It’s not so much that these costs are hidden as they’re just not always considered ahead of time. (If you’re a first time home buyer you may qualify for tax credits and other incentives. Ask your mortgage agent for more details). Find out more about some of these costs.
Put together your needs and wants list, the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. Share this list with your REALTOR®, they may have some follow up questions or something to add. You may want to turn this document into a checklist you can bring with you to showings, to help you keep track of the features that matter to you but might not be on the listing sheet (like room size, natural light, proximity to parks, schools or other services.)
5. Start shopping.
Sit down with your agent and put together a plan. It may involve anything from open houses on weekends, a concentrated search throughout the week, or a focus on a specific neighbourhood. Ask about automated emails with new listings that would be of interest to you. You can also download the REALTOR.ca app onto your mobile device and look up properties while you’re out and about.