Buyers Guide to Home Ownership

HomeLife™ Buyer Services: Owning a home is a universal dream.

Today, the dream of home ownership is more attainable than ever. Often, home buyers are concerned such goals are not affordable but unlike in the past, where those buying a house simply «took out» a loan to pay for a property, today’s prospective homeowners have as much choice in financing options as they do in potential homes.

About HomeLife™: No one treats you like HomeLife™

Founded in 1985, HomeLife™ Realty Services Inc. is one of the world's leading real estate franchisors with hundreds of affiliates and thousands of sales representatives providing Higher Standards™ service to home buyers and sellers around the world.

Central to HomeLife's™ success is its pledge of Higher Standards. Instilled in each sales representative is HomeLife's™ commitment to industry leading professional conduct and customer service. Along with a dedication to community involvement, clients can be assured they will receive ethical, knowledgeable, and caring representation.

There are many good reasons to buy your own home:

  • The Financial Advantages of Home Ownership Property is one of the greatest and most secure investments available. Rarely, does real estate decrease in value. Depending on the area, buying a house may provide tax advantages over renting. In addition, the equity built on a home’s appreciation allows for potential borrowing towards expenses such as a new home or college tuition. Home equity is also ideal as a down payment towards a second home or vacation property.
  • Emotional Advantages Buying a house means no longer worrying about rent increases and landlord demands. Most importantly, new homeowners can start to enjoy what matters most — building a home of their own and enjoying life.

Perhaps the first question most homebuyer's ask is, «How much home can I afford?» There is no simple answer to that question as it depends on a number of factors from your current income and expenses, to available mortgage options to the current real estate market.

The first step in the home buying process should always be to determine how much you can afford to pay for your new home. To ensure that you are working with the correct information, it is recommended that you contact a lending professional to assist you. When meeting with the mortgage professional, you will need to show your total monthly income and current monthly expenses. Financial lenders use this ratio as a rule of thumb to give a preliminary assessment about whether a potential borrower is already in too much debt.

Assuming they determine you are within acceptable perimeters, they will then calculate how much you can afford to pay on top of that debt for mortgage payment. The calculation, will include monthly mortgage payment of principle and interest and will also typically include property taxes, utilities, and in some cases condo or strata fees. As a general rule of thumb, your monthly home-carrying cost should not exceed 30-35% of your income.

There are also additional costs that will be incurred as part of the buying process and your HomeLife™ Sales Representative will be able to advise you on what those potential costs might be. These could include legal fees, land transfer tax, mortgage insurance fees, home inspection fees, and of course moving costs.

Once you have figured out exactly what you want in your new home and what you can afford then it's time to start your search, by viewing the houses that meet those criterial with your HomeLife™ Sales Representative. Be honest and open with them as they are there to provide you with the best possible service and guidance.

Important questions homeowners need to ask before they search for a home.

Do homeowners need a sales representative?

Yes! Committed and professional sales representatives can make the complex process of purchasing a home simple and painless.

Sales representatives should:

  • Know market conditions in the community
  • Show updated knowledge on financing and mortgage rates
  • Know what parts of a contract or negotiable or not

Experienced sales representatives must fully understand titles, taxes, survey, zoning and building laws as well as insurance — important elements to a successful home sale or purchase.

The Benefits of a Buyer Representation Agreement

A Buyer Representation Agreement is a written contract that establishes «Buyer Agency» or the services provided by the company, fee arrangements for sales representative services and other obligations. Sales representatives work for a buyer and are legally obligated to pursue the buyer's best interests throughout the transaction. As a result, sales representatives owe full fiduciary responsibilities, duties and loyalties to a buyer.

HomeLife™ Higher Standards™ Sales Representatives Know Communities

HomeLife™ sales representatives live and work in the communities of buyers and sellers they represent. As a result, sales representatives know area market conditions, including price and availability and have access to current financing and mortgage rates to help ease the stress associated with buying or selling a home.

HomeLife™ Higher Standards™ also means sales representatives understand the legal complexities associated with a home purchase or sale, including titles, taxes, surveys as well as negotiable parts of a contract — all to help clients secure the best possible terms.

The Power of MLS®

Through HomeLife™, our Higher Standards™ sales representatives have access to Multiple Listing Services (MLS), an electronic database which offers a host of information on a property, including detailed property features, real estate taxes, and the recent sale prices of homes — tools that can help determine the true value of a home. MLS® information is updated constantly; sales representatives have access to homes the minute they become listed in the system.

As your search begins, your HomeLife™ Sales Representative will want to know the answers to these questions:

Where have you selected to live?

What style of home do you wish to buy — Detached, Townhouse, Condo, etc.?

How much mortgage have you been pre-approved for?

Are there any special features or requirements you need in your home?

Based on your answers they will begin showing you house on the market that match those criteria. How quickly you discover the home your dreams will vary greatly, you could find it when you view that first home or you might look at a number of homes with none of them catching your interest. Rest assured, the home you're looking for is out there, and when you find it, you'll be ready to make an offer.

Your HomeLife™ Sales Representative will provide expert advice on how to prepare your offer but ultimately it’s your offer and all the decisions are yours.

Your HomeLife™ Sales Representative will arrange to have your offer presented to the Seller through the listing agent and advise you if they accept, reject or counter your offer and provide you with good advice you will need to proceed.

If your offer is accepted, the next steps are closing and moving into your new home once all conditions are met. If your offer is rejected and another offer was accepted, then it’s time to continue your search. If you offer is countered, you can accept their counter offer, reject it, or make a counter proposal of your own. Your sales representative will guide through each of these scenarios.

Once your offer has been accepted, your HomeLife™ Sales Representative, will monitor the progression of your offer, ensuring that all conditions are met on time and ensuring things progress properly until closing.

Moving Checklist

  • Schedule your mail to be forwarded to your new address.
  • Purchase boxes and moving supplies
  • Arrange phone service at your new home
  • Depose of unwanted items to charity and/or dump
  • Dispose of household chemicals properly (old paint, caustic cleaners, etc.)
  • Return of any cable TV equipment
  • Complete necessary change of address forms: Drivers’ license, Health cards, Insurance, Employer, Doctor, Dentist
  • Memberships, insurance
  • Cancel newspaper deliveries, health memberships
  • Bank accounts, credit cards, and tax office
  • Notify kids’ schools, transfer records
  • Register at new school
  • Obtain copies of medical and dental records; if you have pets, get copies of veterinary records
  • Arrange connection of utilities at new home
  • Arrange disconnection of utilities at current home: Water, Electric, Gas, Telephone, Hot Water Rental
  • Dispose of all flammable materials
  • Pack a suitcase with the clothes and toiletries that you’ll need the first day in your new home
  • Pack a special box with other essentials you’ll need for the first few days and marks this box “Do Not Move”
  • Take down curtains and curtain rods
  • Pack your personal belongings, except your alarm clock, necessary clothes, jewelry and bedding
  • Empty, defrost and clean refrigerator; clean the stove
  • Keep paperwork accessible
  • Collect all keys; keep them in a safe place
  • Final walk-through: check all closets and cabinets
  • If using a moving company, confirm the new address and delivery time with the driver
  • If using a moving company, walk about with supervisor and sign inventory forms
  • If moving a distance, have car tuned-up for trip
  • Plan how to move plants

Adapted from: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation — See more at: