Are you just starting out? First time buyer? Hmm..................now that you've been to the bank or visited your mortgage broker (you have done that, right?) what is the next step? Well, give me a call and we will sit down either at my office or your home or even a coffee shop. The place is not important but the discussion is very important. We need to chat, you and I. I need to find out from you what price house you have been preapproved to purchase. Why do I need to know that? Well, it does not make much sense for me to show you homes that you cannot afford. I also need to counsel you on whether you "needs" and "wants" are attainable on your budget.
For example: Our fictional first time buyers, Bob and Heather, meet with me to talk about buying a home. We go over an agency brochure and I explain all the kinds of agency - buyer, seller and dual agency. I reassure them that I am working for them and will look after their best interests. I need to know some things about them to properly look afte them. Presently they rent a smallish one bedroom apartment in the south end. They plan on starting a family soon. Bob works downtown and Heather works from home via the internet. They are both from out of province so they have a steady stream of company that pops in throughout warmer parts of the year. The both express some interest in "fixing up" a home and "making it their own" but have never even held a paint brush. They each have a vehicle and it would be great to have a garage (preferably an attached one) to protect them. Maybe Bob could tinker on something out there. Summers are hot here so air conditioning is on their list and a main floor familyroom would be great so they can host some big parties. Heather's grandmother has offered the couple her piano as soon as they buy a home. Heather is thrilled because she is quite the musician. Bob is looking for an energy efficient home. His brothers have advised him to look for someting with new windows and a new furnace. No point in throwing money away on excessive heat bills. Heather would like to be close to a school and on a quiet crescent because she knows that will add value to their home. Heather and Bob are getting excited the more we talk. They've been to the bank and tell me what they have been preapproved for. They have a reasonable budget with the minimum downpayment. They won't have much money left over once they pay all their closing costs. So, we go over some of the neighbourhoods where they could afford to buy a home. In their price range they have quite a few options both in areas of the city and in age of the home. They could buy a house built in the '70's in the northwest or the southeast or they could buy an older character home closer to the downtown area. Hmm..............they never thought about a character home. They do like hardwood floors and ceiling coving is really nice. Hold on. Bob is 6'4" tall. Character homes built in the '20's usually have low head height in the basement. Oh, oh. Bob might get wedged down there! Perhaps they should concentrate their search in areas with newer homes that have full height basements. Okay. That crosses out a few neighbourhoods. And that is good because finding that right home comes down to eliminating all the wrong ones. So, we've now eliminated those homes with basements that have low ceiling height. Good. We determine that they NEED a 3 bedroom home to accomodate Heather's home office and their ever present visiting company. Their budget will not allow for a home with a main floor familyroom but their lifestyle of partying with friends requires somewhere to do that so let's look for a home that has a recroom in the basement. And, since they do like to bbq in the summer, they should look for a home that has good access to the back yard and has a patio or deck where they can entertain. Both Heather and Bob have talked about buying a home on a quiet crescent close to schools but they have not yet started their family. The need for schools is a long way off. That would be a "WANT" not "NEED". If we could find something with a bit quieter location that would be a bonus. An attached garage is not likely to be possible as they add more value to a home than a detached garage. And, while Bob might think he would like to tinker with something, they both decide that they would really prefer to get a better house without a garage than a mediocre house with a super garage. Makes sense to me. Energy efficient? Central air? Well that would be great but, in our budget, we need to balance all these things out. We want to make sure that the major components in the house are not requiring immediate attention. We want to make sure that the furnace is safe. Are the shingles in pretty good shape? Bob and Heather will not have sufficient money to start replacing things for awhile. And they do not know yet just how handy they may be in home renovations so we had best find something in good condition. No moving walls for this young couple! We need to remember that the homes that we will be looking at are not brand new. They are used and Bob and Heather will have to determine where their priorities lie. It may seem like a little thing but we must keep a spot for that piano in the back of our minds. That's important to both Heather and her grandmother. Whew! Heather and Bob are looking excited and stressed all at the same time.And we haven't even left the office yet! Now, I open up a file and pull out all the contracts that we will be filling out once they find the home they want to purchase. Yikes! There are lots of forms! We go over all of the contracts so that they will be familiar to them when the time comes to make an offer on a home. Now, it's time to set up some times to go look at homes together. I need some advance time to book appointment with the owners so we agree to start looking the next afternoon. And so................it begins.................the search for that perfect first home. How exciting! For me as well as the buyers!