Almost everyone can picture their dream Ottawa home down to the potting shed and white picket fence or twenty acres on a quiet country road. That’s the emotional side of the home buying equation and is probably what will lead you to the want ads and Sunday drives in the country “just to look around”.
Before you take that first emotional step into the Ottawa home buying process you need to pay close attention to the business side of this important family investment. The more you prepare yourself and know what to expect, the less stressful and more enjoyable the whole home buying experience will be.
Avoid the “impulse” trap! Decide what features you WANT and what features you HAVE TO HAVE:
Check out the neighborhood - does it suit your lifestyle?
Assess your financial situation - visit your lender before you start looking and get details on your “borrowing” situation.
Expect the unexpected- you’ll need more than just the down payment to close the deal!
Do you have enough "extra" money to cover unexpected costs? This often-over looked detail has sunk many a good deal. Consider arranging a line of credit if
you don’t already have one. It will give you the peace of mind that you can afford any unexpected expenses when they come up. A Buyers Agent can alert you to expenses associated with buying your home that go beyond the down payment:
(See our Special Report on “Buyers Closing Costs” for more detailed information)
You will need to finance any renovations you want to do when you move in and any additional furniture you will need to properly furnish your new home. Experience indicates the more money you have on hand, the better. Your real estate agent will be able to help you estimate all those costs.
Tips for the trenches - how to find your dream home without losing your shirt.
You’re not an expert, do you want one to help you? Consider getting a real estate agent, known as a “Buyers Agent”, to assist you. This definitely makes your searching more efficient and may not cost you, the buyer, anything. An agent will not only help you streamline your search for the perfect home (finding homes that match your criteria, making appointments for viewing etc.) but they will also help you navigate through the process of making offers and counter-offers and will be there to make sure the closing goes through smoothly, including getting the house keys for you (you’d be surprised how often this little detail gets overlooked!).
Do you have the time to “go it alone”? If you prefer to go house hunting without an agent working for you, you will have to do a lot of homework to make sure you know what you can expect for your price range, what a reasonable offer would be and what terms to include in your offer. A mistake here can be costly.
Banks are not your only source of funds! Mortgage brokers can simplify things for you when you’re searching for the right mortgage. This is anther instance when a “Buyers Agent” can offer invaluable advice.
The “biggest and best” house on the block is not always the best investment! In general, most real estate professionals will advise you not to buy the best house in the neighborhood. That’s because a house will always be judged by its neighborhood and if you buy the “best” house then the rest of the neighborhood is never good enough! Typically, the most modest house in the neighborhood will afford the greatest return.
Look at homes IN YOUR PRICE RANGE! Don’t let your real estate agent or
your curiosity lead you into homes that you can’t afford. You will inevitably see
something in a more expensive home that you like and then may end up
dissatisfied with the quality of home that fits your budget. And you certainly don’t want to over extend yourself financially.
Don’t forget to keep the resale value in mind. Even though you haven’t moved in yet you should keep the re-saleability of a potential home in mind. If it has peculiar features that you think you can live with, others may not agree and it may prove to be more difficult to sell when it comes time for you to move on. Your agent can give you invaluable advice here.
Don’t buy the first home that you see! Even if a house gets bought out from under you, don’t despair; chances are that there will be other homes out there that will be just as suitable for you. It’s a big decision so don’t feel pressured to jump before you’re ready.
Get an inspection. Any offer you make on a house should be contingent on a
building inspection by an inspector you choose yourself. It will not only make sure you know what you are buying, but it will also help you make your purchase with confidence.
Do you need more life insurance? You will want to consider adjusting your life insurance when you purchase your home. Many financial institutions will offer you life insurance on your mortgage, which will cover the balance of your
mortgage if anything should happen to you or your partner. However this
insurance only covers the cost of the remaining mortgage and once the mortgage is paid off you’re left with nothing, which may be just what you want. But if you’re looking for additional insurance to cover funeral costs or to help your family after you’re gone, then you may want to opt for more standard life
insurance, which does not increase in value as you pay off your house but leaves you with a policy when all is said and done. Consult a professional.
Ask some one who has “been there”. Talk with friends or acquaintances that have recently purchased a home. What did they go through? What advice can they offer to you? What would they do differently the next time around?
Take your time and arm yourself with information. Buying a home is an emotional
process as well as a financial one. Be patient with the process and expect the unexpected or consult a Buyers Agent and work with a professional who knows what to expect. The right attitude will help make buying a home an exciting and pleasant experience.
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