6 Essential Steps You Need to Do Before House Hunting
Its a Buyers Market in Calgary Real Estate - be prepared in advance to take advantage!
Buying a house can be incredibly exciting, particularly if it’s your first home. However, exciting doesn’t mean that house hunting is easy. There are many things that come up along the way that can frazzle even the most level headed and optimistic home buyer.
The easiest way to ensure your home buying process goes as smoothly as possible is preparation. When you take an organized and proactive approach you can help mitigate a few headaches along the way. To help you on your home buying journey we’ve put together six essential steps you need to do before house hunting that will help keep things fun and exciting along the way.
Know Your Credit Score
More likely than not you’re going to require a mortgage to buy your next property. Knowing your credit score is essential for any major purchase, especially buying a home. You wouldn’t want to put in an offer on a home only to discover you aren’t qualified to buy it! You can use a service like Borrowell and Credit Karma to get a free credit score or speak with your bank or mortgage broker about getting pre-qualified.
Applying for mortgage pre-approval is free and doesn’t leave you locked in with any one lender. Getting pre-approved simply allows you to “lock in” your rate, protecting you in case interest rates rise within the following 120 to 160 days.
Taking stock and assessing your credit will help you figure out the interest rate you’re most likely to receive on your mortgage. The best thing you can do is to get pre-qualified for your mortgage. That way you will know exactly how much house you can afford.
When you get pre-approved you learn:
- The maximum you can afford to spend on a house
- The monthly mortgage payment associated with your maximum purchase price
- What your mortgage rate will be for your first term
Make a Budget
Since we’re on the topic of how much house you can afford, this is also an ideal time to review your budget or make one. Buying a home comes with a whole host of costs that people can sometimes forget to consider. Not only should you be budgeting your down payment but all the costs that come with buying a home from lawyers' fees, to property taxes, to your first mortgage payment.
While getting pre-approved will tell you how much house the bank thinks you can afford your budget might tell you otherwise. For example, while you might be approved for up to $500,000 the mortgage payments that come along with that amount might be a little steep for your budget.
“While getting pre-approved will tell you how much house the bank thinks you can afford your budget might tell you otherwise.”
Budgeting will give you a clear picture of exactly what you can afford and help you avoid getting in over your head.
Find a Trustworthy Real Estate Professional
Choosing the right real estate agent is an essential piece of the home buying puzzle and helps you ensure your house hunt is carried out well. A good realtor will guide you through the market and help you avoid bad deals, identify good ones and fight for your interests at the bargaining table.
A good agent should have expertise in the market, a good head for numbers and an honest disposition. These qualities will help you feel more confident and comfortable during the home buying process and will ensure your real estate agent has your back when it comes to things like informing you of potential costs associated with any houses you’re thinking about buying and help you avoid any homeowner nightmares.
Take Stock of Your Priorities
What do you truly want in a home? Do you want granite counter tops or is that just something you think you’re supposed to want? What about schools or accessibility? Now is a good time to take stock of your priorities and really consider what are your new home must-haves and what are your deal breakers.
Some good questions to ask yourself to help you uncover what you truly want are:
- What will you miss about your current home or neighbourhood?
- What don’t you like about your present living situation?
- Are there any changes in your life that might affect your choices?
House hunting can be an overwhelming process when you're viewing a variety of properties in one day or over a weekend. Having a clear picture of what you need and want in your next home with the help you sift through it all with ease.
Pick a Location
Do you want to keep living in your current neighbourhood or do you want a complete change? Or maybe you’re looking for a good area for an investment property. While you might think it best to cast a wide net, narrowing down your search options is the best idea.
If you’re planning on living in the home, it’s smart to consider things such as - do you feel safe in the neighbourhood? How clean is it? Are there amenities nearby and things to do? If you’re looking for an investment property you might want to research the best places to own a home in Calgary and lean more towards considerations like how are the markets in the area performing? Are they projected to grow in the next few years? Are there restrictions in the area that would affect your property?
Save an Emergency fund
You might have thought after saving up your down payment that you might be able to take a break but that is not the case. Home ownership comes with the constant expense of maintenance and improvements particularly if you plan to sell your property for a profit or there are much-needed repairs that will need to happen with an older home.
House hunting can be full of highs and lows, but the process can be an enjoyable one if you take a proactive approach and prepare for any hurdles that may crop up along the way. A good real estate agent can also help ensure that you’re ticking all the boxes to help you avoid many other things that may come along on your path to home ownership.
Our team at the Elite Group by Royal LePage Solutions are always available to answer any questions you may have and help you navigate the entire process.
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