Tips On Buying Your First Home in Vancouver
Big Leap Forward
Thinking about taking that big step into owning your first home? Here are some basic tips for those who are just about to become a first time home owner.
- Make a List
Make a list of all the features you need in your new home such as location, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, proximity to schools, shopping, transit and workplace. Sometimes it helps to make a list of the features you DO NOT want.
- Talk to a Mortgage Specialist
Be sure you can afford your home. Your monthly housing costs should not be more than 32% of your gross monthly income and your entire monthly debt load (which includes other debts such as car loans and credit card payments) should not be more than 40% of your gross monthly income.
- Decide What You Can Afford
Calculate your other monthly living expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, personals and childcare to ensure you can afford your mortgage payments. Remember, you still have to eat!
- Find a REALTOR®
The best way to find a good REALTOR® is ask your friends and family for a referral. REALTORS® are trained professionals with knowledge about local conditions and the housing market in general. Through the Multiple Listings Service they have access to virtually every property listed for sale in the area you are interested in. Your REALTOR® can narrow down your search and provide you with information on properties for sale and those that have recently sold. This will allow you to make informed decisions about pricing. Licensed by the province and members of local real estate boards, REALTORS® must adhere to high standards of ethical behavior.
- Get Pre-Approved
Obtain a pre-approved mortgage form the lender of your choice. This will help you determine the price range you should be looking in and ensure that you are able to afford the home you desire. With a pre-approved mortgage, your lender will guarantee the interest rate for up to 60 days.
- Be Informed
Ask your REALTOR for a copy of the Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This document is completed by the sellers and ensures the buyer gets complete information about the property they are about to purchase, and alerts buyers when they need to do more research on a property.
If buying a new or existing condo, look beyond style and amenities and investigate whether the construction is of good quality. You can ask for a copy of the minutes to Strata Council Meetings to determine what kind of problems the condominium has had in the past, and the expenses.
It is always a good idea to have the home inspected from a professional home inspector. An inspector’s written report should include how well-built the home is and whether any repairs are necessary and the estimated costs.
- Other Costs
Don’t forget about other costs when you buy your own home such as: legal fees, moving fees, Property Transfer Tax, property taxes and the HST/GST (if purchasing a new home), strata fees, repair & maintenance…etc