The first step in the home buying process is to find out exactly what kind of funds you have available - either with a mortgage or if you're lucky - cash. In Canada, you will have to be pre-approved by the prospective lender (if you require a mortgage) who will issue a certificate showing how much you have been approved for. When you find the property of your dreams, you are then able to enter into negotiations straight away knowing that barring disasters, the financing is in place. One extra bonus is that the rate will be held for 3 months - unless they go down!
Next on the list is to research where you want to live - it's definitely worth enlisting the help of a Realtor for guidance. The seller pays all the fees involved with the realtors so it's free advice - they will however earn more commission if they sell a house that they are listing. Basically, the selling commission is split in half. One half goes to the realtor who LISTS the property for sale, the second half is paid to the realtor who introduces the buyer - so if they do both its all theirs!
The Realtor will know what is on the market and for how long, if it is a fair asking price for the market conditions/area, show you around the homes on offer and help you when it comes to making a purchase offer.
When we were home buying, our realtor sat with us and discussed the area and budget. He told us our options, drove us all around the town to show us the different areas and left us a list of houses in our range. When we had decided which we were interested in he made appointments and took us around the homes to view them. Eventually, we decided to build a new home - he handled the negotiations and we ended up with the home we had always wanted!
If you are looking to build or buy a new home you can deal directly with the builders representative. However, unless you know the "ins and outs" of the process you may as well enlist a realtor to help you out. Some builders reps may offer you a discount if you don't as then they won't have to split the commission. For a couple of thousand dollars it doesn't seem worth it to miss out on expert advice acting in your interests to guide you to a reputable builder and ensure you aren't messed around.
You will have the choice of floor plans or can have your own design custom built in the location of your choice. You will have to pay GST at 3.5% on the purchase and will have all the usual expense associated with a new house - landscaping, curtains etc. Also, most builders will give you an appliances "allowance" at a particular store. You choose your appliances at the builders discounted rate, if you want to pay more for a better model that's fine. You may also be able to buy other electrical items at the discounted rate as well - always ask!
Do ensure the builder is a part of the Provincial new homes warranty program for your own protection. You will have a standard 1 year builders warranty, followed by an additional 4 years cover from the new homes warranty. This is extendable to 10 years total for a small fee depending upon the Province you are in. (We paid approximately $250.00). Being a member of the warranty program is vital for a builder to show their quality so normally they will not jeopardize this by poor workmanship or failing to honour warranties.
If you buy a new home you may be able to use the builder's lawyer free of charge to do the paperwork. They will always act for the builder in case of a dispute but this can save you money in normal circumstances.
Otherwise, you will have to pay for your own lawyer to carry out the legal work and to close the deal. It is worth finding a lawyer who specializes in real estate. By the time the additional costs (searches/title registry etc.) and GST are added the fees may be close to $1,000.
Most lenders will make the mortgage offer subject to an appraisal on the property. This may be worth doing as a condition on your offer to buy to make sure the house is ok or to give you some negotiating leverage if you want one to restore. Remember, though the houses are well built, they are mainly wooden and perceptible to a whole host of problems that may be expensive to fix. For example, most roofs will need to be replaced every 20 years or so. Problems found several months after purchase can ruin your home buying experience.
More, detailed information can be found on our Home Buying page on the website which includes the housing types on offer, insurance, monthly costs and lots more!!!