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Tips for purchasing your first home in Canada

If you’ve recently settled in Canada from another country, you might have your sights on buying a home, and the process to do so here can differ greatly from other countries. 

It’s normal to have lots of questions about  the real estate market and how to start your search. Whether you’re still deciding on which province is right for you or you’re looking at specific neighbourhoods, it’s important to feel confident and knowledgeable when looking to purchase your home – it’s one of the biggest decisions of your life and your family’s life – not to mention arguably the biggest purchase you will ever make. So while purchasing a home is a highly personal and emotional decision, it is also a major financial commitment.

Here are tips to help you on your home buying journey to successfully settle into your first home in Canada:

Consider a real estate agent.  In Canada, the real estate market is ever-changing, and regulation and mortgage rate changes are plentiful. Many factors are at play, and affordability is often a key concern. Real estate agents do more than just help you search for a home. From finding properties that fit your budget, to negotiating contracts and filling out all the paperwork, they balance several jobs at once to help you find the right home for you. They will be with your throughout the process and help you uncover the nuances of the Canadian real estate market.

Understand the local housing market. Before you begin your home search, ensure you’ve done research into the real estate market in that province, as the markets differ greatly across the nation. Using RBC’s True House Affordability calculator will assist you in this process, providing insights to home prices in specific areas that interest you and your family. It will also connect you with a mobile mortgage specialist to further discuss your home-buying goals in Canada and help you find what you’re looking for

Location. Take your time to ask questions, learn about the market and various neighbourhoods, and think through what is important to you before making a decision, such as being near schools, transit, grocery stores and other amenities. Feeling connected to your community be it through social programs, volunteering or local attractions can also have a huge impact on your experience. Do some digging to find out more about what’s available based on your interests. It may help seal the deal.

The carrying costs. The cost of operating a home is often overlooked by buyers – or it could be vastly different than you may have anticipated. Understanding how much it costs to heat and cool it, cover the taxes and otherwise maintain the property are major considerations when pulling together your holistic home budget. If you’re purchasing an existing home, your realtor may be able to help you obtain copies of the current owners’ bills – electricity, water, gas, taxes – to get a sense for what the operating expenses are, then factor them into your budget.

Here are the major milestones on your way to owning a home:

Dream. When you’re not quite at the stage to put the pedal to the metal and start hunting for your next home, this is the stage where your options are limitless and information gathering is essential. Create a budget and savings plan – take some time to understand what you need to buy your first or next home.

Shop. You’ve made the decision that it’s time to move; mortgage and home shopping are imminent. Consider researching the different types of homes and neighbourhoods you’re interested in as well as planning what your budget would look like so you’re informed. Talking to a mortgage specialist will help you with mortgage math and the total costs of homeownership, while a realtor will help with finding listings suited to your needs and preferences.

Buy. You’re not just buying a home, but likely a mortgage as well. This is a major financial milestone and, for many, this will be the largest investment of a lifetime. This is also the stage where expenses will start to ramp up, as the majority of buyers start making purchases before the move, so all the planning and budgeting you conducted will continue to be of the utmost importance. Once your purchase is confirmed, make sure you celebrate.

Move. Transition is upon you. Relocating can be stressful, but also exciting. Getting organized in your new space is an exciting time.

Live. Time to love your new home. Whether it’s move-in ready or you’re planning a renovation, having strategically navigated the steps above will ensure you stay a happy homeowner.

More at rbc.com/newcomers.

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Posted: May 1, 2019

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