By Aleksandra Oleksak, The Real Estate Chick
Buying a home is not an easy feat; there is a whole process involved and a lot of things to remember and get done before you get the keys. But this should also be a fun time and as stress-free as possible–after all, you worked hard to save that money. So in order to know what you’re in for before you start looking at properties, here’s an easy to understand step-by-step guide to buying.
Before you even look at your first property, and after getting your mortgage pre-approval, you should have a consultation with your realtor to let them know exactly what you’re looking for. You can go over your needs, wants, specifications, type of housing desired, neighbourhood, budget, and any special requests you may have. In return, your realtor will be able to tell what’s realistic and what’s not so that your time is not wasted.
Now here comes the fun part: you will start receiving listings based on your criteria and the current state of the real estate market. Your realtor will book showings on any properties you’d like to see and show them to you until you find “the one.” You will place an offer on your potential new home and your realtor will negotiate the offer on your behalf until both parties are satisfied and have come to an agreement.
Once your offer is accepted, you will be required to hand over a certified deposit cheque within 24 hours of the acceptance. This will be in the thousands of dollars and will be used towards your down payment, so make sure to have this cash available. This is like a promise to the seller that you intend on fulfilling the agreement to purchase their home.
When buying a home you usually make your offer conditional upon financing, home inspection, and status certificate if it’s a condo. This means your offer is not a firm deal, until you fulfill these conditions and are satisfied with them at your discretion. But what if you’re not, because you either didn’t get the mortgage, found something damaging in the home inspection report or status certificate? At this point you can back out of the offer and your deposit will be returned to you. If you are satisfied, then you either sign a waiver or notice of fulfillment, and at this point, your offer becomes firm. No backing out now!
What if you end up in a multiple offer scenario? The process does not change, but things seem to move a lot faster and you may be making your offer unconditional. Most often there will be an offer date–you and your realtor will show up with all the other potential buyers and one by one the realtors will present their buyers’ offers. The seller will choose the best one and the others will go home.
Now your offer is firm, but your job is not quite done yet. You will have to hire a real estate lawyer to close the deal and send them all the paperwork. At the same time you will finalize your mortgage details, and your bank will work with the lawyer to ensure a smooth transaction. You have to arrange home insurance, setting up of your utility accounts, think about the buyer visits you want to take to show the home to Mom and Dad, and lastly any movers or cleaners you want to hire. Remember the end of the month is a busy moving time, so these items fill up fast and you don’t want to get stuck.
Your closing date is the day you receive the keys to your new home and you officially become the new homeowner. A couple of days before your closing date, your lawyer will arrange an appointment with you to go over everything. At this time, you will also bring a certified cheque for the rest of your down payment as well as all the closing costs and give it to your lawyer.
You will sign all the paperwork and once your lawyer calls you on the closing day to tell you the deal as closed, you will finally be able to pick up the keys to your new home. Since you don’t know the exact time you will receive the keys, most people don’t plan on moving in on this day.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the process? Don’t be, once you get going, it becomes exciting and you start breezing through all the steps. So have a great time with it and good luck on your search!
Aleksandra Oleksak is Her City Lifestyle’s “Real Estate Chick,” and a Toronto real estate professional with Sage Real Estate. As @RealtyQueenTO, her real estate blog has been named one of the top 50 real estate blogs in Canada.