Advice for First Time Homebuyers from Some of Canada’s Top Agents

Buying a home for the first time can be overwhelming. A home is likely to be the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy, and the first time, well, that can be intense.

People are always asking me for advice, and while I’m happy to share, I thought I would ask a few of my Trusted Agents for their opinions. After all, who knows the ins and out of buying a home better than a Realtor®?

Here’s some advice for first-time homebuyers courtesy of the experts.

Justin Havre – Calgary, Alberta

“Don’t overextend yourself financially – buy within your means. Have funds set aside for repairs and other expenses involved with owning a home, including furniture. If you are looking to purchase furniture for your new home wait until you get into the home as you will get a better feel for furniture size and placement when you are living in the house. And please don’t go buy furniture and a new car on credit before you close – Sincerely The Real Estate Industry.”

Sam Moussa – Ottawa, Ontario

“Do not just buy for the sake of buying – make sure you’re ready! Be prepared, know your budgets and work with a professional agent who will help guide you to make the best decision on budget and location.”

Meg Lyttle – Chatham-Kent, Ontario

“There are so many variables when it comes to buying a home for your first time, but doing your research is integral. Go to the bank or a trusted mortgage broker as a first step. Get pre-approved. Then sit down and really figure out what you can afford on a month to month basis. Then talk to your friends, family and co-workers. Find an agent you can trust. Meet with them, ask questions. Make a list. Being a first time home buyer, you are in the best possible position you can ever be in. You don’t have a house to sell and have the luxury of waiting to find the most suitable property for you.”

Katie O’Brien – Sarnia, Ontario

“Get pre-approved ahead of time so that you are clear on your top price and know that you can comfortably afford those payments. Make sure to have all your financial details in order when meeting with your mortgage broker and write down any questions you have ahead of time on the financing process. Inquire as to what incentives there are that you may qualify for. Once you know your pre-approved amount you can begin looking for properties within your budget and feel excited about the process. There is nothing more deflating than shopping for a home and finding” the one” that you fall in love with only to later find out that it is outside of your affordability.”

Kate Broddick – Brantford, Ontario

“First-time homebuyers can often have unrealistic expectations when purchasing their first home. The laundry list of “wishes” can often exceed the budget. We don’t want our clients to feel they have to settle, however, we need to ensure they have an understanding of affordability and what that will get them in a home. Our biggest task is getting them into a home where they can start building equity, and remind them that the first house they buy is entry-level, and once they settle into homeownership and let their money grow – they can always “move up” and buy the home that has more features and benefits that they are looking for.”

Michael St Jean – Hamilton-Burlington, ON

“Get into the market as soon as possible. Prices will only continue to rise. The key is to get into the market in order to start building equity. You need to focus on ’needs’ vs. ‘wants’. This will require adjusting your expectations. Getting to your ideal home will require a series of steps today.”

Steve Bailey – Cambridge, Ontario

“Just get into the market. Don’t be painstaking in trying to find the perfect house. Just buy A house. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get in the market and invest in your financial future. Then when you are ready to “upgrade”, keep your first house as a rental.”

White house with black shutters

As for me, my best piece of advice is always to get pre-approved and do a practice mortgage. If you’re not sure how the monthly mortgage payments will affect your lifestyle, test it out. As you start to think about buying a house or condo, put the cost of a mortgage payment into a separate account every month and don’t touch it. See how your life is affected by not having access to that money. If you find that it’s too difficult and you’re struggling to make ends meet, you might not be ready. But if you find you can do it, you’re good to go. And then you can add all the money you saved to your down payment.

No doubt about it, buying a house is a big deal. Make sure you consult an expert before diving in headfirst!

Photos courtesy of McGillivray Group, iStockphoto & The Covet Files.