Provided by Genworth Financial Canada

The homebuying process can be more productive and successful by taking care of certain details before you begin to shop. You are ready to go house hunting if you have:

  • Set aside money for your down payment and additional costs
  • Determined the price of home you can afford
  • Investigated your mortgage options
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Knowing exactly what you want in a home will save you a lot of time when house hunting.

With all of these things in order next you will want to draw up a wish list, choose a real estate agent retain a lawyer and go house hunting.

Draw up a Wish List

Think about where you would like to live (what area or neighbourhood) and what kind of house you would like to live in (which features are absolutely essential, which you can live without and which are entirely out of the question). Take a look at real estate ads for the area you’re interested in to see what’s on the market and the prices. Also drive around a few neighbourhoods and see what’s for sale or visit Open Houses. This can help crystallize what you want or don’t want in a home.

Choose a Real Estate Agent

Your friends, relatives or co-workers may be able to recommend a real estate agent. If not, call around and talk to a few agents. Ask if their real estate licence is in good standing, find out if they have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and see how the agents respond to your questions. Also, notice what questions they ask you – are they interested in knowing exactly what you are looking for, do they try to assess your financial situation, are they knowledgeable about neighbourhoods that interest you?

Also, have a discussion about fees. Typically, a real estate agent’s commission is about 6% of the purchase price of a home. In some parts of Canada, there are now buyer/agency agreements that set out how the agent will be paid. Again, make sure you have the discussion about fees at the start of your relationship with your real estate agent.

The best real estate agent will be a combination of personal advisor, consultant and negotiator. He or she will show you homes that match your criteria, guide you through the home buying process, negotiate the best possible price for your home and deliver your closing paperwork.

Retain a Lawyer

Retain a lawyer who specializes in real estate (or notary in Quebec). Depending on the volatility of the real estate market, you could find yourself in a bidding war for the home you want and you will want to have your lawyer look over any offer to purchase before you submit it.

House Hunting

Knowing exactly what you want in a home will save you a lot of time when house hunting. Think about your immediate needs, your future plans and your lifestyle. When you look at homes, you will be concentrating on the house, but don’t forget to look at the property as a whole – the lot, the neighbourhood, the surroundings – and how close the home is to facilities and services that are important to you.

Buying a home can be an emotional decision, but the home you purchase should strike a balance between your wish list and the practical realities of the property, its location and the housing market. Use our house hunting checklist to compare the homes that you view and get a clear understanding of what exactly is included in the purchase.