Buying a home is an exciting event, especially when you’re a first-time buyer. But, it can also be quite stressful, there are many steps and important decisions to make. It requires you to ask the right questions, at the right time. What do I need to know? How much is it going to cost?
In this article, you’ll find 9 steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared for move-in day. From securing your mortgage to exploring your neighbourhood and its surroundings, use this article as a resource to keep track of everything that needs to be done.
Compare today's top mortgage rates
Looking for a great mortgage rate? Check out the lowest mortgage rates available
1. Educate yourself about payments and plan for additional costs
Let’s face it, this part of the home-buying process is not the most exciting, but it’s crucial. Responsible financial planning means taking the time to break down your mortgage payments over time to better understand how much money you require to cover costs monthly.
You can begin by educating yourself on responsible borrowing techniques, like making debt payments on time, maintaining a good credit history, and finding out what the implications are if you only make the minimum payments.
You also need to take a long-term look at the trajectory of your finances. By building an effective budget you can map out your plan for making a down payment and covering any additional costs at the time of purchase.
There are many types of mortgages. If you don’t have the 20% down payment for a conventional mortgage, there are high ratio mortgage options that allow borrowers to make a smaller down payment.
It’s a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin looking for your new home. A pre-approval will give you much more muscle to battle in Canada’s competitive real estate marketplace.
2. Visit Houses/Condos
There’s no single “right way” to find a home. Most of us browse different websites to search based on our preferences. Setting up e-mail notifications on property listing websites is a good way to stay on top of the marketplace because you’ll be notified every time a new property that reflects your criteria enters the market.
It may also be a good idea to hire a realtor to find the perfect home – their expertise can be valuable throughout the home-buying journey. Plus, their service is free for buyers. Their commission is paid for by the realtor responsible for selling the property.
Don’t underestimate the old-fashioned way of finding a home, either. Set aside time to drive through different neighbourhoods to find out what sort of properties are for sale. This can be particularly helpful if you have a clear idea of what area you want to live in, or if a friend or family member has recommended a neighbourhood. Ultimately, there really is no substitute for getting out there and visiting as many houses and condos as you can, either by yourself or with a realtor.
3. Find a notary
As soon as your buying offer is accepted, you should start looking for a good notary – they play a critical role in the home-buying process since they help protect you and your legal rights.
There are two ways to go about finding a notary: through a referral or via an online search.
A trustworthy notary is essential when the time comes time to draft a purchase promise or complete a transfer of ownership. The notary also plays an essential part in managing the handover of important paperwork to the city and other major institutions.
Before you select a professional for your home purchase make sure their name appears on the list maintained by your provincial Notary Chamber. And don’t forget that it’s mandatory to have an active home insurance policy before engaging a notary.
4. Update all your accounts
As soon as you know your new address, you can start planning your various address changes. Homeowners notify an average of fifteen public and private institutions when moving.
You can refer to MovingWaldo’s address update checklists to make sure you don’t forget any important institutions for your respective province.
Even if you don’t usually receive a lot of mail, it is legally required for you to notify all the service providers (banks, insurance, internet, etc.) of your move. Over 100 million items of priority mail in Canada fail to reach their intended recipient each year simply as a result of people moving. Use the above checklists to make sure that your important mail doesn’t get lost in the fray.
5. Review Your Telecom Package and Save Money
Make sure you line up utilities and any other services like cable, phone, and internet before your move. Preparing well in advance helps make the transition to your new home as smooth as possible.
Moving home is a great time to consider switching internet providers. You can pick plans from the big players (Bell, Rogers, TELUS, etc.) or you can look for a host of alternative Internet Service Providers that could save you money.
In fact, although the main players own the majority of internet cabling, a few years back the CRTC (the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) changed the rules so these majors have had to rent out their cable lines to smaller companies. If you’re moving, be sure to compare plans, and you may find a better-suited option for your new digs.
6. Pack Your House
Think about buying actual boxes for your move during the planning process. Obviously, you can ask your local warehouses where you might find free boxes, but if you don’t have time to do this you should set aside a small budget to get boxes delivered to your home. Many cardboard companies offer “Moving kits” and here’s what you should expect to pay.
|2 room apartment or condo||$90|
|3 bedrooms house||$240|
|3-room apartment or condo||$115|
|4-room apartment or condo||$160|
|5-room apartment or condo||$180|
7. Rent a Truck or Hire a Mover
When you absolutely must spend as little as possible on moving home and you’re capable of expending the significant time and effort to do so, then it’s probably best to take a do it yourself (DIY) approach. But, for most people, the marginal savings of a DIY move simply don’t justify the time, effort, and stress. Either way, there are going to be one-time costs and if you want to do it yourself, you’ll still need to rent a truck in your area.
If you decide it’s better to save time and not expend all that energy, consider a full-service mover. There are also self-pack moving companies that offer a compromise between a DIY and a full-service move because you pack and load all your items yourself, and the movers transport the belongings.
8. Plan for Moving Day
To make sure everything runs smoothly on the day of the move keep a running list of everything that must get done. Have plenty of cash on hand so that you can tip the movers and pay for errands. And most importantly: make sure your phone is fully charged!
9. Discover Your Neighborhood
This is among the most exciting aspects of moving. From the tiniest of towns to the biggest cities, all neighbourhoods have something unique to offer, and as a newbie, you’re able to discover the unique aspects of a neighbourhood for the first time.
On a practical note, make sure you locate the most important places in the days after moving in. For example, look for the closest grocery store, gas station, and pharmacy.
The bottom line
Starting a journey like homeownership can feel overwhelming but with some good step-by-step planning, you can make the process easier. Buying a home is a positive experience – don’t let a stressful move put a damper on a new beginning!