Preparing To Buy

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Before you start, make sure you have these three things ready:

You, your bank account, the real estate market

Your first home will be the biggest financial obligation you’ve ever faced. You should ideally have saved up some money for a down payment and are managing any debts like student loans or credit cards.

Is right now a good time to buy?

Markets go up and down.  Even the smartest experts can't accurately predict when a market will peak or bottom out. If you're buying a home as a long-term investment (and for long-term enjoyment), you should be protected from short-term changes in the market. Pick a home that meets the needs of you and your family. Then you'll enjoy living in your investment as it grows in value.


There are many different types of homes to choose from, each with their pros and cons. Reflect on your lifestyle and base your decision on what fits you best.

We've broken down the most popular housing options here:
  • Urban
The big city. The prices are generally higher, but you can walk to a restaurant, maybe even to work. You'll also have the widest range of housing options.
  • Suburban
Bigger homes for the cost, bigger yards, newer schools and shoppinig centers - perhaps a bit of a commute, but this is a choice of many.
  • Smaller Cities and Towns
Canada is dotted with thousands of wonderful self-contained communities, and compared to the big city, you can save a bundle.
  • Rural
If you like the idea of owning land, how about a few acres all to yourself? Seclusion is not for everybody, but for some, it's heaven.

Decide what type of home you want

You may have a good idea of what type of home is right for you.
To familiarize yourself with the terminology, here's a quick overview:
Single-family detached:
The home is not attached to the home next door. Styles range from a single-story suburban bungalow, to a three-story Victorian.
Semi-detached or linked:
Two houses that share a common wall. Usually less money than a fully detached home.

A building zoned for two families.

Town house:
Also known as terrace or row housing. Several homes with a common style and joined in a row. They usually share walls on both sides.
How Condos are owned -
You own 100% of your unit and a share of the common areas. Common areas include the necessary plumbing, electrical systems, hallways and elevators. They may also include amenities like a private gym or party room.
Condo fees -
On top of your mortgage and property taxes, condo owners also pay a monthly fee to operate and maintain the common areas. Be sure to look into condo fees, and how well they're managed, before signing anything.

Decide New or Resale?

Resale. Previously loved:
Nothing can match the charm and character of an older home.  There's cases where the previous owner may have made improvements and upgrades that will benefit you and usually for less than the cost of putting them in yourself.   However, some may have a little too much 'character',  like a leaky roof. Know what you're getting into.
That new house smell:
If you're having a new home built from the bottom up, carefully examine the property, the blueprints and visit other homes built by the same company.

Have your REALTOR® and/or lawyer review everything before you sign. While your home is being built, stay on top of the process. And remember, you have a legal right to make a full inspection of the house before you accept it as complete.

You know what you want, but also know what you need:

Are you getting out of a two-bedroom apartment because it's too small? Then your new home should have at least three bedrooms, and probably a second bathroom.

REALTORS® call these must-have features "needs". Features you'd like to have are called "wants".

Your strategy should be to find a home within your price range that fulfills all or most of your 'needs', and as many of your 'wants' as possible.


When should you sell?

When there are lots of people looking for homes but not many for sale, it's called a 'seller's market'. When there are lots of homes for sale and not many people buying them, it's called a 'buyer's market'.

Wait for the market to improve?
If you are selling one home and buying another, you won't need to worry about how to play the market.  If you sell your existing home at a low price, you'll probably also be buying at a low price.
Keep in mind that Winter sales tend to be slower and Spring Sales are more brisk.

If you need to sell fast -- ask a REALTOR® for help establishing a price and for making your home look attractive, without making you look desperate.

Buy first or sell first? The eternal question

Many people are able to time their sale and purchase so they happen on the same "closing date".
As a buyer, you can make your offer "conditional" on the sale of your existing home, so you're not paying for the upkeep of two homes. Or when selling, you can try to extend the "closing period" to give yourself more time to find your next home.
Sell with a REALTOR®, or go it alone?

In the same way that many people decide not to fix their own cars or represent themselves in legal court proceedings -- it's wise to enlist a professional when selling your most valuable asset.
Real estate transactions are complex, time consuming and involve a lot of legal documentation.
Your REALTOR® is knowledgeable and highly motivated to help you get the most for your home. Before flying solo, truly know what a REALTOR® can offer.