What to Consider Before Buying a Home

Buying a home can be a bit scary. It’s the biggest purchase most of us will ever make, yet it often happens in less time than it takes us to buy a new car. We don’t buy houses everyday so it’s understandable that we don’t know the process like the back of our hands. Although Tom, Dick and Harry all ‘sound’ like they know what they are talking about, qualified professionals are the most reliable sources for your investment. If a home purchase could be in your future, here are a few things to consider before you sign on the dotted line.

What Can I afford?

There is more than just the mortgage to consider when making a home purchase. There is the down payment, closing costs, taxes, utilities and sometimes strata fees. A mortgage broker is someone who will find a mortgage that best suits your finances and lifestyle. They work with various financial institutions and guide you through the process of deciding what mortgage works best for you.

What does your future hold?

There is no need to see a psychic but try to picture yourself in a home for about 5 years. Don’t buy the house that suits your needs today. The best investment is to buy the house that suits you tomorrow. If your 5 year plan includes starting a family, a one bedroom condo may not be the best investment. Not only is moving a headache, there are the fees associated with real estate transactions: lawyers, appraisers, inspectors, and taxes. These fees can really eat away at any profits you make in a short term investment.

What is the home worth?

An appraiser is hired to decide how much a home is worth. Most financial institutions will require an appraisal of a home before they will approve your financing. If a home is being sold for less than its appraised value, you may want to ask yourself, why? Has it been on the market for a while? Do they want it sold quickly? Or perhaps the sellers are hoping for a bidding war. If the home is listed above appraised value, you want to ponder that as well. A realtor can often help with this one…

Maximize the knowledge of your realtor

A realtor can be much more than the person who unlocks doors for you to look around. A licensed real estate agent can provide you with a wealth of knowledge, especially if you are new to the neighborhood you are shopping in. We often spend less than 20 minutes in a home before making an offer. Ask your realtor to tell you all they know about the neighborhood: What are the schools like? Do trains pass near/frequently? Is theft an issue? Do the neighbors park their cars on the lawn and listen to loud music? They can also tell you what you can expect to pay in property tax and utilities and how long the property has been on the market. Putting together an offer to present to the seller is best left to these professionals to ensure nothing is overlooked in the purchasing process.


Without an inspection of the home, before purchasing, you are taking a gamble. An untrained eye, may not catch major red flags. A qualified inspector will be able to tell you if there is a crack in the foundation or if the roof needs replacing. These are major expenses to take on. There will always be maintenance and replacement costs in homes of any age but If you don’t like surprises, have the property inspected before you cue the fat lady to sing.

How is the property zoned?

If you are the type that wants to take on a fixer-upper or if you see great potential in a piece of land, do some research on what that might entail. Your local district office can tell you if zoning will allow for the construction of a future laneway home, suite or expansion. You may also want to research the flood history or if the property has any hazard warnings to be aware of. If the property across the street has been zoned for major redevelopment, you will want to know that too. The sound of construction, for months on end, may put you in the twilight “zone” but new developments can be beneficial to your property value.

In future posts, we will break down some of these topics and talk to some local professionals who can give us further insight. Buying a home is a major event. Take the time to do it right and you won’t have any regrets!

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