Make your dream home a reality

You’ve made the decision.  You’re ready to buy.  Now what?

Buying a home can be a bit overwhelming.  There’s so much to think about and do.  So, it’s important that you have someone you can trust to make the process as smooth as possible and offer expert advice.

With over 25 years combined experience, Girard Team has been helping buyers find their dream homes and guiding them every step of the way – from determining what you can afford and showing you homes that match your wants and needs to presenting an offer and closing the sale.

It’s all about helping you find the right home in the right neighbourhood at the best possible price.  Below, you’ll find it all outlined in seven simple steps.

Step 1: Deciding to Buy

To buy a home, you need to be prepared and we are here to help you.  Here are a few things to consider:

Define your needs and wants – make a list of the things you simply can’t live without, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms your family needs, proximity to schools and work, or storage needs.  Then list some nice-to-haves: maybe a pool or deck, finished basement or mud room.  This will help you further down the road when you start looking at homes.

Brush up on types of home ownership – make sure you know the difference between freehold (it’s all yours), condo (you take care of the inside and pay fees to an association to look after the common areas and maintenance) and co-op (similar to condos but instead of “owning” your unit, you buy shares in the whole building and pay maintenance and repair fees).

Understand market conditions – supply and demand can change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, region to region.  So, getting to know the market can help you get more bang for your buck.

Step 2: Understanding Financing

Like many things in life, planning ahead is the key to success. So, you should know the price range you can afford before you start shopping. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Down payment – this is usually the percentage of the total cost of a home that you’ll need to pay.  The more money you put down, the more money you’ll save on monthly payments and, in the long run, interest paid.

Knowing what you can afford – how much house you can afford comes down to 3 factors: your monthly mortgage payment, your down payment and the amortization period or length of time it will take to pay off the loan.

Getting pre-approved – this will really help you figure out what you can spend on a home because you’ll know before you start shopping.  And you’ll be protected against rising interest rates as well.

Step 3: Finding your home

So now it’s time to get out there and find your dream home.  Most people start off by having a neighbourhood in mind but a great agent may suggest options that you may not have thought of.  Here are some considerations as you set out to house hunt:

Choosing the right neighbourhood – Do you need to be close to schools, public transit, highways or where you work?  Those can be huge factors when choosing an area to live.  And let’s not forget proximity to other amenities like parks, grocery stores, doctors and recreational centres.  Drive around and check out the appearance of other homes in the area.  Are they well taken care of?  Of course, your agent will be able to inform you of property values in the area and how they’ve changed over the years.

House hunting – the hunt can be a lot of work but it can also be a lot of fun.  So when you visit homes, go with a partner – spouse, parent, friend – because two sets of eyes are better than one.  Don’t be shy about asking some tough questions regarding the home.  Take some pictures or video on your smartphone so you can reference it later.  And remember that checklist you made?  It will come in handy now.

View open houses with open eyes – curb appeal is one thing but try not to focus on the bells and whistles.  Keep a lookout for things like doors and windows (are they new/old?), water leaks, squeaky floors, soggy areas around the yard that indicate poor drainage and could lead to a wet basement, missing shingles, lighting, etc.  You’ll be getting a home inspection later, but it doesn’t hurt to start with your own observations.

Step 4: Making an Offer

You’ve fallen in love.  But it’s important that you don’t let your emotions get the better of you when making an offer.  Remember, real estate is an investment.  Fortunately, we’re here to help you put together an Offer to Purchase and discuss all the details.  Here are a few things you should know:

Not all offers are the same – the main factors on most offers will include price, deposit, terms (which includes financing details), conditions, specific items that are included or not with the home and the closing date.  From there, you can decide to make a “firm” offer which means that you’re willing to buy the home exactly as it is.  Or, you could make the offer “conditional” on things like a home inspection, approval of financing or the sale of your existing home.

Negotiating may come into play – the seller will either accept your offer, reject it or make a counter offer based on things like price, closing date or other conditions.  While receiving a counter offer may be unsettling, know that we have plenty of experience to help you.  Some good tips for negotiating are: making sure what you’re asking for is fair and equitable; be polite and collaborative; hold fast to your “needs” and be flexible on your “wants”; and know when to walk away no matter how hard that may be.

Step 5: Doing your Homework

In addition to your real estate agent, you will now need to bring in a few pros to help get you to the finish line and make sure the investment you’re about to make is sound.  We can put you in touch with these people and make recommendations.  Here are a couple of key people you should be talking to:

A home inspector – an absolute must in saving you from some unpleasant surprises later on.  A home inspector will check your property for any structural damage; perform a thorough examination of the heating and cooling system, plumbing and electrical systems, the roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation, basement and more; then prepare a complete written report detailing all their findings.

A legal professional – when it comes to complex legal documents, it takes a lawyer experienced in Canadian real estate law to help make sure that you and your investment are protected.  A real estate lawyer will review the agreement of purchase and sale, do a property title search, check that your home complies with current building and zoning codes, ensure utilities and property taxes are paid up, review the mortgage agreement, and get all the paperwork ready for closing.

Step 6: Closing the Sale

Closing day is the day you officially take ownership of your new home.  It’s an exciting time for sure.  But there are a couple of details you need to keep in mind before you get handed the keys:

Closing costs – these fees need to be paid by or on the closing day and include mortgage application fees, inspections, legal fees, insurance, registration and more.

All these costs might make your head spin.  But you can take solace in the fact that we will be a great help in managing all of this.

Step 7: The Big Move

The day has arrived. And there will be as much excitement as there will be sore backs.  But you can take the pain out of moving day by planning ahead.  Here are some tips for a smooth move:

Make a moving checklist that details a plan for things that need to be done weeks before you move all the way up to moving day itself.

Plan for packing by clearly labeling boxes with the rooms they are to go to.  You might even want to provide a small floorplan for the movers so they know exactly where to take them.

Make sure you get competitive quotes from reliable moving companies.  Or, to save money, find out how much it would cost to hire a moving van yourself (And bribe your friends to help you).

If you own your current home, cancel your cable and utilities and transfer any rented appliances (like water heater or furnace) to the new home owners.  While you’re at it, make sure to have the gas, electricity, cable and phone hooked up at your new home.

Inform your key contacts – work, Canada Post, doctors, friends, pharmacy, etc  – of your change of address.

If you have children, make sure you talk to them and explain why you’re moving and reassure them that the friends they’ve made can continue to be their friends.  Ask for their opinion too on things like what colour to paint their rooms.  Try and make it exciting for them.

On moving day, plan an easy meal like picking up some take-out.  Moving is stressful enough without having to cook.

Congratulations.  You’re all moved in.  Welcome home!

Real Estate The Right Way

We will help you complete your financing and inspections, and close on the transaction.  Our top priority is to make sure that your home buying experience is as stress-free as possible.

The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS®, and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are member’s of CREA. The trademarks MLS®, Multiple Listing Service® and the associated logos are owned by CREA and identify the quality of services provided by real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.