It used to be easy to buy a house and harder to sell. The power was on the buyer’s side. It used to be that the buyer’s agent would say, “If you don’t get this one, there are lots of others to choose from.” It used to be that buyers had time. They could schedule an afternoon three days hence and visit as many properties as they had the energy and time for. They could request a week to have an inspection done and get their mortgage approved.
Those were the good old days. That was 2015 and before.
We are still in a seller’s market. It is a transitional market, but the seller’s still have the upper hand. The game has changed. Home buyers are under a lot of pressure to be ready to buy when the opportunity arises. Below are the five things you must do to buy a house this year.
How to buy a house
Get pre-approved for a mortgage
The first thing you must do is talk to your lender and find out how much you can be pre-approved for. There are obvious advantages of doing this but the important one is that most lenders will guarantee the rate for 90-120 days. Even if rates go up, you are good to go.
Narrow down your search
The second thing to do is to talk with your realtor and discuss what exactly you are looking for. What is important to you in terms of neighbourhood, transportation, amenities and the home itself? What we need to know is number of bedrooms, bathrooms and garage spaces. Needs and wants. Do you want to back onto green space? Do you want a gourmet kitchen? Do you need a fenced yard?
You can’t buy a home on the internet. You have to get into your car and visit. You have get a feel for the place and the neighbourhood. The photos online tend to distort the room sizes. You won’t be able to feel the dampness, smell the dog or see the natural light online.
Pick six to nine houses that you would like to visit and have your realtor set up appointments to visit. Six houses an outing is actually perfect – after you have seen six houses, they all start to blend together.
Learn what is most important to you.
Making your first offer takes a bit of time. First off, your agent has to explain the forms and the process. You have to consider the comparable sales in the neighbourhood? Are there multiple offers? Did the seller provide a home inspection report? Do you want to put in a condition to address this or anything else?
Listen to your realtor’s advice. He is working in this market and he has 100 time more experience than the next best thing (internet forums, parents or a higher being).
The rest is easy
Once the initial offer becomes an agreement the process and the paperwork take over. You will need the deposit money (usually 1-2% of purchase price), a lawyer, home insurance, maybe an appraisal, the mortgage money, closing costs, title insurance, a final walk through and finally closing day and the keys.
Don’t worry about the process and the paperwork. Your realtor will keep you on track.