When you’re ready to purchase your first home, you’re going to want some simple and straightforward information and professional advice to get you started.
The information on this page is geared towards helping the first-time home buyer with the ins and outs of buying a home, from getting approved for a mortgage, right up to moving day.
Steps to Buying Your First Home
The following are the general steps that you’ll take to buying a home, if you’re a first time home buyer.
- Get Pre-approved For A Mortgage
- Decide On Your List Of Must Haves
- Ask to be Setup to Receive Free MLS® Listings
- Sign a Buyer Rep. Agreement With a REALTOR® of Your Choice
- Set Up Showings at the Properties You’re Interested In
- Make an Offer on a House
- Pay Your Deposit On The Home
- Fulfill Any Conditions On Your Offer
- Start Creating Your Moving Checklist
- Book Your Final Walkthrough
- Sign All The Final Paperwork
- Get Your Keys And Move In
- Take All The Advice You Can From Your Agent
Before continuing you may want to read our real estate glossary for an explanation of commonly used terms in real estate.
Get Pre-approved for a Mortgage
You’ll first start by speaking to your bank, credit union or a mortgage broker and find out what you could reasonably afford in the purchase of a home.
One of them will pre-approve you for a mortgage which will let you know how much financing you can get from a lender (bank). Having this information will also help you budget and help you narrow down the house or condo you can afford.
Decide on Your List of Must Haves
If you are determined to own a home in a certain part of town, with a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms, make a list of these must haves. Note all the neighbourhood information, house features, home upgrades, and number of rooms etc. that you desire the most.
From there you’ll be able to begin your search for a home using your list of must-haves as the search criteria. While doing your home search you may find that you may have to compromise on some of the things you want.
Ask to be Setup to Receive Free MLS® Listings
We will set you up with our free service that will automatically send you MLS® listings of houses that meet your budget and search criteria. These listings will be sent to your inbox up to 24 hours before the general public sees them, and you will find out about hot new listings first.
Simply email one of our real estate agents to start receiving listings in your inbox every day.
Sign a Buyer Rep. Agreement With a REALTOR®
The Buyer Rep. agreement states that your real estate agent will be working on your behalf to find and negotiate on a property of your choosing. In most cases, your agent’s commission will be paid by the seller, so it generally doesn’t cost you anything to use their services.
Set Up Showings at the Houses You’re Interested In
If you find any particular homes for sale that you’d like to view in person, let your real estate agent know as soon as possible. They will book a private showing at these houses for you, at a mutually convenient time.
At showings, make sure to take a really good look around each property for things you want and possible issues. Above all, make sure you can see yourself living there and being comfortable. If you really like a place, you can even book a second showing a day or two later.
Make an Offer on a House
Once you’ve finally decided on a house you love, discuss it with your agent. Your agent will put together a reasonable offer, discuss it with you, and send you the papers to sign (usually done via email).
For the offer, your agent will look up comparable homes that have sold recently in the area, and help come up with an offer that works for you and the seller.
Find out the difference between a conditional offer and a firm offer.
Note: sometimes your first offer won’t be accepted immediately by the seller. This is when your agent will negotiate on your behalf and will work with you to come to an agreement that is mutually accepted.
Pay Your Deposit on the Home
Once your offer has been accepted, you will be required to put a deposit on the home. Deposits are a different form of payment than the down payment you put on the home.
A deposit can be anywhere from $5000 to $20,000 or more. The sellers determine the deposit amount and it is a good-faith payment to show the sellers that you’re truly interested and serious about buying the property.
The amount you put into your deposit goes towards the total sale price you’ll pay for the home. If you suddenly pull out of the deal before closing day, you will forfeit your deposit payment to the sellers.
Fulfill Any Conditions on Your Offer
If your offer was conditional to receiving financing, or a home inspection, or any other condition, you will need to fulfill these conditions within an allotted time-frame before the house can officially be yours.
You will want to ensure you have definitely secured the financing needed, and the house has been inspected for any problems before the deal is done. Your agent will guide you through these conditions, and show you how to get them fulfilled on time. It’s not hard at all.
Before you hire a home inspector, read our guide on important things to know before hiring a home inspector.
Start Creating Your Moving Checklist
Once all of your conditions have been fulfilled, the sellers will put a sold sign on the front lawn which will soon be yours. Right now is a very good time for you to start getting organized for moving day (also known as closing day) when you’ll get the keys to your new house.
You can use our moving checklist as a guide to help get yourself organized before the big move.
Book Your Final Walkthrough
You may request a final walkthrough of the property before closing day. This is always a good idea and highly advised because it is a chance to take measurements, snap a few photographs, and just reacquaint yourself with the home that will soon be yours.
Your agent will need to check with the sellers that the time/date you’re requesting is mutually acceptable.
Sign All the Final Paperwork
In addition to booking the moving truck and setting up the new utility accounts at your new home, you’ll need to make an appointment at your lawyer’s office prior to closing day.
This is when you will sign all the final paperwork and ensure everything is ready to go with the sale.
Get Your Keys and Move In
On closing day, your lawyer will transfer the mortgage money from your bank into the account of your sellers. Once all money has exchanged hands, you will be advised on where you can pick up the keys to your new home, and start moving in.
You can read Closing On a House – Professional Tips and Advice for help getting your properly prepared for closing day.
Take All the Advice You Can from Your Agent
Our REALTORS® is always happy to help you and will be there to guide and inform you during each stage. Take advantage of their knowledge and by doing so you’ll contribute to making the buying process as simple and hitch-free as possible.