Buying a House: Part III – Buying Tips

Before you go shopping get pre-approved for a mortgage. Add your down payment to the mortgage amount and now you have a maximum budget that you can spend.

Step One: Neighbourhoods

Where would you like to live? Measure your commute time to work and access to public transportation. Living outside of a big urban centre may allow you buy a bigger house for less money. Check out what is important to you like; access to schools, shopping, parks/playgrounds, day care, doctor/dentist, hospitals and closeness to family & friends.

Step Two: Type of House

Look at your lifestyle; will you be happy in a condo, townhouse, semi-detached or detached house. What features are important to you (size of living space, number of bedrooms, bathrooms …etc.)? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and buy a fixer upper or do you prefer new?

Step Three: Get some help

Find an experienced real estate agent. Hire a lawyer to look after legal issues and review contracts. Hire a home inspector if you plan on buying a resale. Look at the recent selling price of properties that have been sold in the area. Talk to friends and relatives regarding their house buying experiences.

Step four: Make a checklist

  • How old is the house
  • In-law apartment or potential rental space
  • Lot size, back yard, patio, deck
  • Is it on a quiet street
  • Updated kitchen & washrooms
  • Exterior finish – brick, stucco, aluminium siding, wood siding
  • Type of heating – oil, natural gas, electric
  • Has plumbing & electrical been updated
  • Air conditioning, alarm system, wood or gas fireplace
  • Private or shared driveway, garage or carport
  • Unfinished or finished basement
  • New roof or needs replacing

Step Five: Avoid Paying Too Much

Bidding wars on the same property can be fabricated. The listing price is set below market. The rooms are painted in a light or natural colour and furniture has been removed to make the rooms look bigger. A good real estate agent will know if the house is listed below market. Be patient, wait for the right house and buy for the right price.

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