Where do you start?
Most likely, your first question and the question posed to you by your representative will be, “How much can I afford?” The answer to this question, oftentimes, depends on a number of key factors. These may be;
- Where you ultimately wish to settle. Will that be downtown? In the suburbs? Perhaps in a rural area?
- The type of home you wish to purchase. Are you interested in a detached home? A semi-detached, link home or maybe even a townhouse? A duplex perhaps? Maybe a high-rise is for you? Do you want a new or resale home?
- Your income. You will need to consider more than just the mortgage payment when making a decision to purchase. Such things as property taxes, utilities, and in some cases condo fees will also be contributing factors when determining your home purchase. Generally speaking, your combined monthly carrying costs should not exceed more than 30-35% of your monthly income.
- What are the current market conditions? Is it a buyer's, sellers or a balanced market? These factors will have a significant effect on the price you pay for your home and what, if any, leverage you may have when negotiating an offer to purchase.
In addition, there will be other associated cost when buying a home. Planning ahead is always the best course of action and in so doing, it’s a good idea to work out exactly what you want versus what you can afford before you embark on your search for the perfect home. Be as specific and as detailed as possible when calculating your budget. The last thing any of us wants is to see your dreams of home ownership becoming a nightmare of unforeseen bills and additional expenses. Once you have calculated your budget, restrict your search to homes within your price range. Communicate your range to your representative; they will help you stay on track.
It’s always a good idea to speak to your lender before embarking on your search. Your bank or mortgage company will assist you in determining what you can comfortably afford and what options are available to you when deciding what type of mortgage is best for you. Meeting with your lender will also strengthen your negotiating position with a seller by providing you with either a commitment letter or a mortgage pre-approval.
Now that you have determined what you can afford and what your monthly expenses are, you can begin having some fun searching for homes. Keep in mind that looking for that perfect home is an exciting time and is supposed to be fun. It is possible that the first home you see, turns out to be the one for you. It is also possible that you may need to view a few before finding the right fit. Sometimes patience is a virtue and pays off big dividends; so be patient and allow yourself to enjoy the experience; rest assured that your home is out there and waiting to be found.