The first step to buying a house or condo is finding out how much your bank is willing to lend you. When you pre-qualify for a mortgage, your lender will look at your income, your debts, your down payment and your credit history. Pre-qualifying will ensure that you know how much mortgage you can get, meaning it can decide your budget range for purchasing a home. It allows you to focus your house hunting efforts and eliminates the risk and uncertainty of financing once you find your perfect home.
Knowing what you need and want in your home is critical. What are your must-haves, your nice-to-haves, and your no-way-absolutely-not? You may not end up getting everything you want in your budget so it is critical that you prioritize your needs.
Buying a house or condo will likely be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make – but don’t worry, you don’t need to do it alone. You’ll want to start by picking an agent that will work for you. You’ll also need a lender to take you through your financing options, and a lawyer to help with the legal aspects of the purchase.
Now that you’ve pre-qualified for a mortgage, narrowed down your search and picked a realtor to work with, it’s time to start looking at listings and houses. Your real estate agent will send you custom listings that match your criteria, and meanwhile you can search listings from my website as well. House hunting will involve screening listings electronically, previewing properties online, and then finally going out to look at homes.
You’ve found the right home for you: it satisfies your wants/needs, it’s in your price range, and it feels right. We begin by drafting the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS). The APS is a legally binding document which contains everything from the price you are prepared to pay, to the inclusions you want (washer/dryer, big screen TV), to your ideal closing date (the date you take possession), to conditions that need to be met for the deal to go through. Once you’ve submitted your offer, the seller can accept it, reject it or sign back a counter offer. During these back-and-forth negotiations, you may need to compromise on small things, but a good realtor will work hard to get you what you want. And if you’re in a bidding war, make sure you know the facts about Bidding Wars and How to win in multiple offers.
Conditions are requirements within the Agreement of Purchase and Sale that must be met for the sale to go through. In your offer, you may have included a financing option or a condition that allows your lawyer to review the legal details of the property or a home inspection. And of course, you’ll need to submit a deposit–an amount up to 5% of the purchase price, which is held in trust until close. Once the conditions have been met, the agreement is firm, and now it’s just a matter of waiting for your closing date. And of course, packing!
Closing is the point at which the ownership and possession of the property are transferred from the seller to you. It takes place once all the legal and financial obligations have been met. Closing the purchase will be a team effort: in addition to yourself, your lawyer and your lender will all be involved in helping close the deal.