Despite the economic doom and gloom in the rest of the economy, the real estate market in Peel Region is alive and well. Realtors and mortgage professionals report of an upswing in activity. The combination of historically low interest rates and plentiful inventory of quality resale homes at slightly depressed prices has enticed many buyers off the sidelines and into the market. Many of these buyers are first time home buyers. Both the Federal and Provincial levels of government have tried to encourage the purchase of homes by first time homebuyers, by introducing the Home Buyers Tax Credit (allowing a maximum tax credit of $750 for qualifying individuals) and providing a $2,000 land transfer tax credit for first time home buyers of resale property.
If you have decided to purchase your first home, the process can seem daunting. Here is an outline for you with the simple steps you need to take to make for a smooth and easy buying process.
Step 1- Find out how much of a mortgage you can afford
The first step in the process is determining your budget. While there are many tools on the internet and elsewhere, the best and safest way to determine your house price budget is to consult a mortgage professional. Most of the major banks now have mobile mortgage specialists, who will come to your home to process the paperwork to qualify you for a mortgage. While home appointments are convenient, the mobile mortgage specialist can only talk about the products and services available by that particular bank. On the other hand, using the services of a mortgage broker allows you to shop for the best rates and terms from a number of different lenders. Many mortgage brokers deal with 30-40 lenders, rather than one. Many people shy away from using mortgage brokers assuming that they are more expensive than going directly to a bank or are only for people with poor credit. Both of these assumptions are untrue. Many of the banks give discounts to mortgage brokers that may not be available at a branch. Moreover, mortgage brokers are generally paid their fees by the lenders directly, resulting in no out of pocket cost to you for using their services. Whether you want to deal directly with a bank or use a mortgage broker, always try to get a referral to a mortgage professional from someone who has used that professional in the past as you want to be sure that the level of service they provide will be to your satisfaction.
Step 2- Hire a Realtor
Now you have your approval and budget from the bank. It’s time to go shopping for a home. The best way to do this is to hire a realtor who is familiar and works extensively in the area you wish to live. The realtor will know the homes that will meet all your needs, whether its access to schools, parks, shopping or recreation. The realtor will also know what homes are a good value and which ones are not. The most important thing to do is to hire your own realtor. Never use the services of a realtor who is also acting for the seller of a home as you want your realtor to only be concerned with your needs and not have to balance the needs of the sellers as well. Once again, get a referral to a realtor and interview several realtors before deciding on the one you wish to hire. Be wary of realtors who offer deep discounts on their commissions as you may not get the level of service you expect.
Step 3- Find the Home and Make an Offer>
So, you’ve got your budget, you’ve hired your realtor and now you found the home you wish to purchase and make an offer. Now what? Your realtor will recommend the price and the terms of the offer to purchase the home. If your offer is accepted, you will have to give a deposit to the seller in an agreed upon amount within twenty-four hours of mutual acceptance of the offer. Once the deposit is given, if there are conditions in the offer, each of the parties will take whatever steps they need to satisfy the conditions contained in the offer for their respective benefit. Once all conditions are satisfied, the offer then becomes firm and binding on both parties. Your realtor will prepare all the paperwork necessary in this respect.
Step 4- Hire a Lawyer
You’ve now got a firm and binding agreement to buy the home. Now, you will need a lawyer. The lawyer will in most cases be acting for you and the lender. The lawyer’s job is to check title and other issues related to the purchase of the property and advise you on any issues that may arise and complete the transaction on your behalf. How do you find a lawyer? The best way to find a lawyer is by referral from someone you trust who has experience with the lawyer. Retaining a lawyer who will charge you the least amount may not necessarily result in getting the service level you expect or want. Shop around, interview several lawyers and then decide which one to hire. Ask lots of questions of the prospective lawyers such as hours of service, years of experience in residential real estate, the portion of the practice devoted to residential real estate, prices and fees charged, availability of free parking and whether they will give you a written quote for the services to be provided. You can also call the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Lawyers Referral Service. They will refer you to a lawyer in your area for free who will give you a free 30 minute free consultation.
Step 5- The Closing
As the date for completion of the transaction approaches, your lawyer will contact you to set up an appointment to sign the documents for the transaction and require you to bring in the funds necessary to pay the lawyer’s fees and charges and to pay the balance of the purchase price of the home. Often this takes place several days prior to the actual date of closing. You will be asked by your lawyer to bring in either certified funds or a bank draft of the funds required to complete the transaction. If your bank is one that does not have branches, like ING Bank or President’s Choice Financial, it will take several business days to prepare a bank draft or certified cheque, so let your lawyer know this well in advance of the closing so that they can provide you with the closing figures in sufficient time for you to get your certified cheque from your bank.
Step 6- The Day of Closing
Now that the papers are signed, the day of closing has arrived. The process to close a transaction involves each of the seller and buyer delivering the closing documents and funds or keys (if you are the seller) to the other party’s lawyer. Make sure that you are available throughout the day by cell phone or otherwise so that your lawyer can contact you with any questions they may have or information they need.
For more information on the buying and selling process, visit our website at www.dalestreimanlaw.com. Dale, Streiman Law LLP has also put together a comprehensive DVD outlining the most common issues that may arise during a real estate transaction including:
- An overview of the process of buying and selling residential real estate
- The myths about mortgage brokers and how they help clients save thousands of dollars in interest on their mortgages
- What is title insurance and how does it help you
- Family law issues related to buying a home
- Home inspections and why you need one before buying a home.
This DVD has a retail value of $19.99. Contact Elliott Dale for your complimentary copy.
By: Elliott Dale