Any type of investment can be an exciting prospect. However, the excitement can turn into fear if you're not prepared. On the flip side, it can be a great experience if you know what to do.
Buying a house in Calgary is one such investment. For first-time homebuyers, the process can seem overwhelming. With so many moving parts, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
That's why we've put together this guide to help you buy with confidence. We'll cover 10 tips to help first-time homebuyers in Calgary and the surrounding areas.
Here's what we'll discuss:
- Get debt-Free.
- Build your nest egg.
- Check your credit score.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
- Make checklists of what you need and want in your new home.
- Find the right REALTOR® with experience in home building and negotiation.
- Check out the area and get to know benchmark prices and months of inventory.
- Keep a photo or video record of each home you visit.
- Be patient.
- Request a home inspection.
We know you're probably anxious to get some in-depth information about each of these tips, so let's dive right in!
It might be easier said than done, but you'll want to pay down as much debt as you can. If you can pay all of it down, all the better.
Having lower debt will allow you to purchase a more expensive home, which can provide you more options on your search.
Build Your Nest Egg
What do you need to save for? Could you afford your new home if you lost your job? These are questions you should ask before you buy a new home.
General wisdom suggests saving three months’ worth of costs in case income dries up. If you're in a competitive industry, you might want to save more to give yourself extra time to find a new job should the need arise.
Check Your Credit Score
Buying a home is all about the numbers. Your credit score can predict your financial responsibility. If your score is on the low side, take steps to increase it.
The average home buyer with a conventional mortgage has a credit score of 682.
Mortgage pre-approval can help you not only understand how expensive a home you can afford, but it sends a message to sellers that you're serious about buying a home.
Pay attention to interest rates and down payment requirements. Think about how big a mortgage you might be able to afford, try out a mortgage calculator.
Make Checklists for Buying a House in Calgary
Knowing what you need and what you want can help narrow your search. It also helps you make decisions regarding offers.
For example, you might need basement development and want an open floor plan. Maybe you'll find a house that has both, or you might not. Knowing the difference between features you need versus features you want can allow you to make the best decision.
Realize that the colour of the walls or the carpeting doesn't make a house. Consider the features that you can't afford to change, and look for them on your house hunt.
Find the Right REALTOR®
If you're planning on buying a house in Calgary, you'll want a REALTOR® with experience and knowledge in the area.
Make sure to find someone that you can build a rapport with as well. You're going to be spending a considerable amount of time with this person. He or she will also be helping you handle important financial transactions.
It is critical that your REALTOR® has knowledge of home building so they can advise of potential deal breakers in advance, especially for older homes.
When you find a REALTOR® you trust, your home buying process can be enhanced by their suggestions. A good REALTOR® will send auto email notifications of active and sold listings for communities you are interested in. Knowing what properties sold for is beneficial to help you understand what the market is paying.
Check Out the Area
In addition to the benchmark prices we mentioned earlier, you'll also want to gather the following information:
- Do certain neighbourhoods have a certain feel? (For example, if you have young kids, you might want to move to an area that also has young kids.)
- How far is a particular neighbourhood from work?
- What schools are nearby?
- Which neighbourhoods are safest?
If you're not already, become an expert on the area in which you want to buy.
When you and your REALTOR® begin visiting properties, remember that you might have to see a lot of homes before finding one you want to buy.
Taking videos or photos of the home is a great way to remind yourself later what you loved about a particular house. Taking notes is a good idea too.
If you are buying with a spouse or if you can bring a friend or family member with you, keeping good records is easier because you can share the task.
Be Patient When Buying a House in Calgary
The truth is that no matter where you are, buying a home can take time. Mentally prepare yourself for these scenarios:
- You might not find the right house right away.
- Negotiations may take a few rounds, or there might be other interested buyers.
- After the home inspection, it may take the sellers some time to make repairs depending on contractor availability.
- Sellers may not want to move out at the drop of a dime if they don't yet have another home to move to, so closings may not take place right away.
We know you're excited to buy your first home and make it your own, but if you're patient, you're more likely to be pleased with your first house.
Request an Inspection
We mentioned home inspections in the section above. They're important, and you don't want to buy a house without one.
Home inspectors can find issues that the sellers might not even know about. They'll check the drainage of the home, the wiring in the home, the plumbing, the heating, etc.
As the buyer, you should be prepared to pay for the home inspection.
Buying a house in Calgary is an exciting adventure, especially if it's your first home. By adhering to these tips, we hope your experience will be a positive one.
If you have additional questions about buying your first home, or about real estate in the Calgary area, we invite you to call Tom Waller at 403-803-5151