Make a list of all the features you want in your new home such as number of bedrooms, bathrooms, proximity to schools, shopping and workplace.
Be sure you can afford your home. Your monthly housing costs should not be more than 32% of your gross monthly income and your entire monthly debt load (which includes other debts such as car loans and credit card payments) should not be more than 40% of your gross monthly income.
Calculate your other monthly living expenses such as food, clothing, transportation, personals and childcare to ensure you can afford your mortgage payments.
Call a REALTOR in your preferred area. They are trained professionals with knowledge about local conditions and the housing market in general. Through the Multiple Listings Service they have access to virtually every property listed for sale in the province. Your REALTOR can narrow down your search and provide you with information on properties for sale and those that have recently sold. This will allow you to make informed decisions about pricing. Licensed by the province and members of local real estate boards, REALTORS must adhere to high standards of ethical behavior.
Obtain a pre-approved mortgage form the lender of your choice. This will help you determine the price range you should be looking in. With a pre-approved mortgage, your lender will guarantee the interest rate for up to 60 days.
You may wish to have an independent appraisal done of a property before you offer a price. It can keep you from paying more than the market value.
Ask your REALTOR for a copy of the Property Condition Disclosure Statement. This document is completed by the sellers and ensures the buyer gets complete information about the property they are about to purchase, and alerts buyers when they need to do more research on a property.
If buying a new or existing condo, look beyond style and amenities and investigate whether the construction is of good quality. You can ask for a copy of the minutes to Strata Council Meetings to determine what kind of problems the condominium has had in the past, and the expenses.
To assess potential water leakage problems, visit a condominium project immediately after a rainfall and check to see if flat areas such as roof deck and walkways have large pools of standing water on them. All building surfaces except specially designed ponds should drain freely and be immediately clear of water after a rainfall.
It is always a good idea to have the home inspected from a professional home inspector. An inspector’s written report should include how well-built the home is and whether any repairs are necessary and the estimated costs.
Don’t forget about other costs when you buy your own home such as legal fees (they will most likely be at least $500), property taxes and the GST (if purchasing a new home).