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Tips for first-time homebuyers Tips for first-time homebuyers

Tips for first-time homebuyers

For first-time homebuyers, the speed of the real estate industry can feel overwhelming. Because there’s always a chance you’re competing with other buyers for homes that have caught your eye, you’re often pushed into making life-changing decisions really quickly. 

If you’re the type who likes to take running shoes home and walk around in them for a few days before you muster enough conviction to throw away the receipt, making a quick decision on a house that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars can be a bit… panic-inducing, shall we say? Take a deep breath - here are five simple tips to help you navigate these fast currents. 

Homebuyer signing papers to get pre-approved for a mortgage

Tip 1: Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage when you’re ready to buy, having one can give you a clearer sense of what you can afford. Not only will you save time by narrowing your search, but you're less likely to feel the sting of disappointment that follows setting your heart on a house you ultimately can’t get financing for. Another notable benefit of a pre-approval? If you decide to make an offer on a home, sellers are more likely to take it seriously because you've come prepared. 

Couple considering their finances with concern

Tip 2: Don’t expect your standards of living to change

It’s bound to happen: you see a house that maxes out your budget, but you crunch some numbers and think you can make it work by cutting out morning coffees, takeout food, and high-speed internet (there’s still non-high-speed internet, right?). In reality, ‘roughing it’ for the sake of your house quickly loses its charm, and you’ll regret the lack of financial wiggle room when you look disappointedly at your dated furniture or when your washing machine suddenly kicks out. Avoid becoming ‘house poor’ by considering homes priced below the upper limit of what your bank is willing to lend you. 

Couple making a list of features they want in a home

Tip 3: Make a list and check it twice as many times as it takes

Unless you find ‘the one’ early on in your search, you may find yourself feeling lost among the pros and cons of all the homes you’re considering, especially if you feel like you need to act fast. Maybe the house with the extra bedroom doesn’t have a lot of light, but the sun-filled home has a railroad track next to it. The house with the kitchen of your dreams? It also has a pink bathroom from 1955. 

Before you watch too many opportunities pass you by or make a snap decision on a home you’re not really sure about, write down a list of “nice-to-haves” and “must-haves,” noting which characteristics you’re willing to budge on and which you’re not. 

If a house doesn’t meet your must-have criteria, eliminate it as an option. If it does, see how it ranks against other homes in terms of nice-to-haves. You’ll thank yourself for the tough love when the decision suddenly becomes clear. 

Woman reading a home buyer's alert on her phone while in a park

Tip 4: Sign up for Purplebricks real estate alerts

When you start your search for a home online, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by avalanche of options and to start losing track of what you’ve already seen, which homes you liked, and what they all cost. 

Avoid house-hunter burnout

Once you have an idea of how much you can afford, what you want, and where you’re planning to buy, make the search process easy on yourself by signing up for real estate email alerts from Purplebricks. They totally customizeable daily emails featuring new listings (from both Purplebricks and other brokerages), as well as price changes and open house notifications for homes you’ve marked as your favourites. Visit the search page on Purplebricks.ca to create your alerts today!

Homebuyer sitting among boxes considering the future

Tip 5: Don’t confuse “first home” with “forever home”

A lot of first-time buyers start out a little starry-eyed, imagining the new home will be stylish, spacious, energy efficient … everything you’ve been dreaming of from the confines of apartments and parents’ basements. In reality, being able to afford a home that meets all of your needs and wants for the present and future is pretty rare in the first go-round, and that realization can be pretty discouraging. Here's where patience proves itself to be a virtue! Rest assured, the equity you’ll build for the next few years with your starter home will get you closer to the goal of your dream home

Preparation is key

Sure, jumping into the real estate market and seeing where the current takes you can be an exhilarating ride, but a little pre-planning isn’t a bad idea when you’re about to make one of the biggest purchases of your life. Carefully considering your approach and readying yourself for the highs and lows will help you stay focused and feel confident in your final decision.