Buying a home is no easy task. It’s likely the biggest investment you’ll ever make in your lifetime and there are so many things you need to take into consideration, like where you should live, how much you can afford to spend, and when the right time to move is. 

These are just some of the questions that buyers need answers to—and truthfully, just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to buying a home. With the help of a REALTOR®, you’ll be able to answer these questions for yourself and get a better sense of what the home buying journey looks like for you.

We asked a few REALTORS® for some of the advice they give to home buyers, whether it’s their first home or they’re downsizing, to help them feel more confident in the process. 

A REALTOR(R) showing a house to first time home buyers

When is the right time to buy a home?

As mentioned, purchasing a home is a big investment, and knowing the right time to buy can feel like an overwhelming decision. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but there are a few indicators to consider and things to watch for if you’re considering a move. 

Consider your own personal milestones.

“For some, their ‘right time’ is when they have enough saved up to use as a down payment. For others, it’s when they are ready to settle down. I’ve even had clients decide to buy because they had a bad experience with a landlord and never wanted to have to rent again. However, if your question is more pointed toward, ‘what point in the process should I start actively looking at homes?’ then there definitely is a ‘right time.’ 
“I’d suggest buyers wait until they’ve spoken to a mortgage advisor and gotten a pre-approval before they begin actively looking at homes. This ensures we’re focusing on properties that fall within the scope of their budget, rather than speculating and setting false expectations. 
“As for passively looking at homes, buyers often start browsing online a few months before they are even ready to speak to a REALTOR® or mortgage advisor.” 
Anya Ettinger
REALTOR® and sales representative with Bosley Real Estate in Toronto, Ontario

Mortgage pre-approval is a good place to start.

“When you have the financial means to do so! There can be planning before that—sometimes I talk to buyers more than a year before they’re ready—and help them connect with a mortgage broker to come up with a plan. Pre-approval is a must before going out to start looking.”
Jacqui Rostek Holder
REALTOR® and associate broker with Royal LePage Atlantic and Platinum Group Co-Founder in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Interest rates can be an important indicator.

“Affordability is key when buyers are making any type of move. We want to see our buyers guaranteed the lowest available interest rate and have it locked into a 90 to 120 day guarantee. That’s when we hit the ground running to start their home search. 
“It’s extremely important to jump right into searching for a home after we have the clients’ goals and expectations set, plus their financing ready and organized, so the buyers can get the most value for their hard-earned money!
Daniella Aitken
REALTOR® and sales representative with RE/MAX Escarpment Realty Inc., Brokerage in Burlington, Ontario

A REALTOR(R) showing a home interior

How do you know when it’s the right time to move?

The last two years have seen many people evaluate their living space and make decisions on what they really value in a home. Do you want more space or more of a yard? Do you need to move, or can your concerns be addressed by renovations? Are you now working from home and looking for a designated office space? REALTORS® can help guide you through these questions and look at all your options.

You’ll usually know in your heart when it’s time.

“It’s such a different process and journey for each individual buyer, so everyone will have a different answer. Usually, you’ll know when the time comes. Perhaps you’re expecting a child and need more space. Maybe you just want a change of scenery. Sometimes you realize it’s time to move after realizing you no longer want to be a tenant.”
– Anya Ettinger

Life changes can be a driving force.

“When your home no longer suits your needs, whether that’s lifestyle or financial. I see this often when families grow or children move out and a house is now too big. Sometimes people buy a condo or smaller property knowing they’ll be moving in a set number of years, but they wanted to ‘get their foot in the door’ of homeownership. Sometimes life changes, such as a death, divorce, job changes, etc. are the driving forces behind a move.”
– Jacqui Rostek Holder

It can be a financially driven decision.

“Every move is a unique set of circumstances we need to navigate by educating buyers about the current market conditions, and if the move they want is doable at the time they make the decision to upgrade or downsize their current home. 
“We also see many people in high-demand areas paying premium rents who have saved a deposit to become a homeowner to save on their monthly payments. If you can save that deposit and downpayment to become a homeowner, the monthly costs might be lower and you’ll gain equity in your home over time.”
– Daniella Aitken
What to look for when buying a home- kitchen interiorImage by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash

What should you look for when viewing a home?

Going through open houses and home viewings can be a lot to take in, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. You’re trying to assess whether this space could be a permanent home for you and your family, looking at layouts, room size, the number of bathrooms, etc. While these are all important things to consider, there are also things your REALTOR® will be checking for to make sure you’re getting a full-picture view of the home.

Look for things specific to your living situation.

“I typically look for signs of any major damage or things that may be a bit suspect. Things like signs of water damage in the basement, is the basement waterproofed, any visible presence of knob and tube wiring, whether or not windows are functional, strange object placements or signs of something being covered up. I once found knob and tube wiring under a loose floorboard hidden under a yoga mat!
“I think another important thing we need to look out for are factors specific to the buyer and what is important to them. If they have kids, how child-proof is the house? Houses with glass railings or floating stairs can be an issue if you have kids. If they’re sensitive to noise, how soundproof are the windows? If someone has mobility issues, does the layout of the house allow for accessibility features?”
– Anya Ettinger

Structural faults should always be top of mind.

“REALTORS® can help point out important items like the condition and age of the roof, evidence of water intrusion, age of the furnace, horizontal cracks, broken seals in windows, slanting in a home that may be structural—items like this are typically obvious if you know what to look for. We’re not inspectors, but we can normally point out items that are apparent and/or need investigation.”
– Jacqui Rostek Holder

The age of big-ticket items can indicate potential costs in the future.

“We look at everything we can see on a showing. Well maintained, with the big ticket items updated by a long-time owner of the home makes a great purchase. Windows, roof, furnace, electrical, plumbing, and structural integrity are paramount for buyers. 
“Making a move involves peoples’ savings and some don’t have a lot of extra cash to make big updates after they move into their new home. Paint is cheaper and you can make the home your own for very little money doing it yourself, but big ticket items are expensive investments not always doable on a tight budget.”
– Daniella Aitken

First time home buyers viewing a home

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to buyers?

Your REALTOR® is going to have the best advice for your situation, taking into account your specific circumstances, desires, and budget. However, there are a couple pieces of advice that apply to everyone. 

You’re buying a home, and that should be your top priority.

“I think the mentality of a lot of buyers over the past decade has shifted from buying a home to buying an investment. I’m seeing a lot of buyers lose sight of what’s important to them to have in a home because they get caught up in this narrative of real estate being solely an investment. Sure, it is—to an extent. But housing is also a fundamental need. 
“After all, if you plan on spending five-plus years in a property, wouldn’t you rather buy something you love and can see yourself living in, versus buying something you think will appreciate a few percentage points more? 
“My advice would be to focus on what’s important to you. Don’t let what you hear in the media affect your goal of buying a property.” 
– Anya Ettinger

Ask questions and trust the professionals.

“Work with trusted and experienced professionals. How experienced is your mortgage broker? Your REALTOR®? A buyer should know if they’re working with an agent who hasn’t done any transactions—it’s fair to ask about experience. This is the largest investment of most people’s lives and they should be able to trust the professionals they work with.”
– Jacqui Rostek Holder

Don’t be fooled by outer beauty.

“The quickly renovated, cosmetic items to flip homes and make them look magazine worthy, but have no structural integrity, and older big ticket items at the end of their lives are never the most value for your money.”
– Daniella Aitken

Buying a home—whether you’re a first-time buyer, upsizing, or downsizing—is an exciting time and with the help of REALTOR® you can feel confident in your purchase.

Courtesy: realtor.ca



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