Buying a Home: what you need to know
One of the milestone moments many people look forward to is buying their own home. While it may be easy to get carried away with beautiful images of one’s dream house, it is important to understand the important steps involved in owning a home and the financial commitments that come along with it. In today’s blog post, we give a general overview of the basic expectations of the home purchase process, to help homebuyers make well-informed decisions.
Do you need a home right now?
One of the most important questions homebuyers need to answer is whether a home is really needed at that point in time and an understanding of all that comes with it. This involves looking at the available income, credit score, upfront and ongoing costs, mortgage payments, regular maintenance of the home and many other considerations. It is advisable to start by comparing renting a home against purchasing one to understand the benefits of each and decide whether more time can be spent saving for home ownership.
Some of the advantages of renting include the flexibility to move, opportunity to save, and lower maintenance costs. Buying a home on the other hand offers the security of an investment that will eventually be yours and the freedom to remodel the home to suit your taste.
Once it’s been decided that you want a home and a decision has been made on the location, the next step is to finance the purchase of that home. The most common option homebuyers take is to apply for a mortgage to finance the home purchase. Most lenders generally consider the homebuyers' income, credit history and available down payment, before approving a mortgage. It is a great idea to try to get pre-approved for a mortgage to provide you with additional certainty around how expensive of a home you can afford. To confirm how much of a mortgage you can afford, there are some great online services that can give you a good estimate, or alternatively you can seek the advice of a mortgage broker or banking professional to assist in applying and confirming how much of a mortgage the homeowner will be approved for.
Searching for a Dream Home
Once a mortgage has been approved, the next step is to search for a dream house, considering factors such as the type of home (bungalow, row house, townhouse, condo, etc), location, size, and features. It is also important to consider the expenses that may come with getting the home, including one time payments for items such as land transfer taxes, legal fees, moving costs, etc. and the ongoing costs associated with home ownership including property taxes, utilities, insurance, maintenance, and many more.
Making an Offer
Once a prospective homebuyer has finalized on a home, the next step is to make an offer to buy the property. It is advisable to inspect the property and necessary documents before making a final offer on the home. In most cases, homebuyers engage the services of a realtor to find a property and make a good offer for it. Realtors can provide a valuable service to potential home buyers to assist them in understanding the local market, putting together and helping to negotiate the purchase agreement and providing valuable insight about the area and whether the purchase price being asked is fair or reasonable in the local market.
Generally speaking, in Ontario if a buyer wants to purchase a home, then the buyer, the buyer's lawyer, or their realtor will put together the offer to purchase by way of an agreement of purchase and sale (an "APS"), which in the case of residential purchases during uses the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) form. In our previous post, we examined an APS and the important clauses that should be included before signing such an Agreement. Once the buyer and the seller have agreed upon the purchase price and other conditions, and signed the APS, a binding agreement of purchase and sale exists, subject to the terms and conditions included therein.
Purchasing a home comes with many complexities that require the expertise of experienced professionals. It is very important to involve a real estate lawyer to help a home buyer overcome the hurdles that may arise with this major financial investment.
At Northview Law, we would love to discuss any questions you have about protecting your interests in your home purchase transaction. You can book a free consultation with Northview Law on this link, or contact us at 416-639-7639. We look forward to hearing from you soon.