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First Time Buyer Guide: Understanding Your Needs + Getting the Wishlist Right

As a first-time buyer, when you begin your property search, you’ll consider many factors about your new home. Like – how many bedrooms do you need? Is there a grocery store nearby? Do you want the maintenance of a large yard? And about a thousand others! We know you’ll run through so many scenarios and thoughts, but here is a rundown of the most key factors you should keep in mind when searching for your home.

Are you a city person? Or is the countryside calling?

Are you looking for a place close to your workplace? Are you trying to remain within a school district? Do you want to be close to transit or shopping? Think about these & more, as well as whether you are looking to be in an urban, suburban, or rural area.


Start with how much do you feel comfortable spending each month on monthly mortgage payments, and recall the costs of buying a home are equal to one time costs, like the down payment, legal fees, inspection fees & taxes plus monthly costs like mortgage, utilities, insurance & property taxes.


It’s easy to get caught up in the details of a first impression – but a first impression is not everything in this case! Knowing what key items in a house are most important to you is key to consider before setting out on your journey. For example, if a certain architectural style or lots of windows are important – let those guide you over the badly painted main floor bathroom. Keep in mind the ‘bones’ of your potential new home – think furnaces, window location, and room sizes – things that are much harder to change than paint


Are you looking for maintenance free living? What about neighbours? If you’re certain you’d like some space – a rural, detached home would be most suitable to you. However, if you are thinking that cutting the lawn on Sunday mornings is not going to be your new hobby – then maybe a condominium is more suitable for you. With that will come a maintenance fee however, which can affect your pre-approval amount. Which type of home – detached, semi-detached, townhome, condominium – will depend on your needs and preferences. Read this for a full breakdown of home types and what makes them unique.

Choosing the right home is challenging as it is – but what if you don’t know what you’re searching for?


We get asked a ton of questions (of course) about the buying process and how we can help you through it – so we rounded up a list of frequently asked questions about the home buying journey so you get a better idea of other questions you need to ask yourself before heading out to that first showing!

Q: What are the easiest things to change about a home? What are the hardest?

A: You’ll often hear people talk about the “bones” of a home. Typically, the “bones” are the hardest part of the home to change. Things like, the foundation and general construction of a home, placement of windows, general floorplan, plumbing, roof, and of course the physical lot and location. Don’t get caught up on paint, flooring, finishes, appliances or fixtures as they can more easily be changed. It is key to consider your own DIY abilities and/or your willingness to hire professionals to complete work in the home

Q: How can I be sure I can afford this property?

A: A home is one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy! Setting an appointment with your bank or another lender is the best way to get started. Essentially, there are 2 lending principles that the bank will use. The first – your housing costs per month should not exceed 32% of your gross family monthly income. The second is your total debt service ratio calculation. This calculation says that monthly housing costs and payments on all other debts (credit cards, loans, car payments) should not exceed 40% of your gross monthly income. These are just the basics, but should help you understand what you can afford before heading to the bank.

Q: What things should I ask during a viewing of a property?

A: Focus on asking questions about specific rooms, features & functions of the property. Look at things like additions, defects or areas that have been repaired – anything you could see as “problems”. Asking about roof age, windows, the state of the foundation and electrical amperage are all great things to consider. If the home is older, asking about its age and history can also be beneficial. Basically, if it pops into your mind – ask me! I am always happy to find answers for my clients.

Q: How many homes should I look at before buying?

A: The average home buyers will visit 10 homes over 10 weeks’ time before they find “the one”—that special place that inspires an offer. But that number can vary widely: Some may fall in love with the first place they see, while others feel compelled to check out several dozen. So really, it depends on you, the market & what you are looking for.

Q: What should I look for in a property?

A: As the place you call home, a property needs to fit your needs, lifestyle, and budget of course, but here are a few things to consider about a property:
Is there enough space for you now, and in the short-term future?
Is the yard right for your desired amount of maintenance?
Is the floorplan right for your family?
Do you love the location? Is it convenient?
How much renovation will you need to do? Right away? Or in the long term?

So What Now?

If you have asked yourself the many questions that come with buying a home, and you are ready to start the journey of home buying – let’s talk about what comes next! Either that or stay tuned to the blog for more advice for first time buyers coming soon 👀

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