These days it’s not only a good idea, but necessary to seek mortgage pre-approval before doing any serious home hunting. It’s a simple check with your mortgage specialist to see the amount that you are approved for from a lender. It’s helpful to note that your credit will be checked and will be a key factor in approval. Be free of any large outstanding debts and maintain a good credit score.

The general rule is that you should be prepared to have 20% down payment on a home you wish to purchase. However, as a first time home buyer, you may be able to secure a home with a down payment as low as 5%. Keep in mind that the down payment amount will have an influence on the monthly mortgage payment and interest rate attached to your mortgage. 

What type of mortgage you have plays a role - 15-year, 20-year, 25-year, and 30-year amortization periods all have varying monthly mortgage payments. Furthermore, each mortgage is attached with a fixed or variable interest rate. There are many different mortgage products out there from several different lenders. It can all seem quite daunting, but work with your mortgage specialist to determine the right path for your goals and budget. 

Home Hunting
Enlist the help of a knowledgeable and reputable area manager who knows the community and can offer insight as well as expertise in your search. These are the people who best know the market and can guide you through to the right home for your needs.

Do research into the types of homes available on the market. Homes come in all shapes and sizes, and come with a variety of features. Create a checklist of the ideal features you would like in and around your home. You can get really deep and further divide your items into “must-have” or “would be nice” categories. 

Besides the home, choosing a community to live in is just as important. Research schools in the community, find information on the crime statistics and safety rating, and check the distance to your favourite amenities. Don’t be afraid to spend a little time in the community you are considering moving to. Having the clearest vision of what life will be like will help you make the right decision in the end.

It’s tempting to go all-out on a home that you fall in love with. Just be sure that you make a choice that is as practical as it is emotional. Of course, you’ll want to be in a place you can see yourself in for years to come, but you need to see yourself handling all the expense that come with it. Home hunting around with a firm budget in mind will stop you from getting distracted. 

Home Buying
When you’ve decided on a home that fits your needs it’s time to make an offer. If all goes well, your offer will be accepted and you can prepare on closing the deal. We’re not done yet, there are a couple things to consider as you close your first home. 

A home inspection will be able to describe any issues that need to be addressed with the home, or can simply confirm that the home is in good standing. Even if you think, and have been told, the home is in pristine condition it’s worth getting the seal of approval from an inspector. Home repairs could be in the thousands and a simple home inspection could prevent these surprises. 

If there are items from the inspection that need addressing, but you are still interested in the home, don’t be afraid to negotiate the terms of the agreement to satisfy both parties. For all issues that can’t be foreseen, it’s important to have the proper home insurance to protect yourself.

Finally, leave room in your budget for the extra costs of home buying. It’s not just the down payment and mortgage payment - costs like legal fees, taxes, setting up utilities, and a home inspection will need to be covered in your budget. 

Helpful Hints
There are numerous home buying calculators online that will help you determine a rough estimate of your budget and expected payments. Use it as a basic guideline of what to expect.
The cost of buying a home doesn’t stop even when you’re moved in. Be sure to keep a healthy slush fund for the expense of moving into a home and getting settled with all the necessities checked off the list.
Have a file folder at home, and on your computer, dedicated to storing a documenting all the information you collect throughout the process. Be prepared!
ASK QUESTIONS to your mortgage specialist, and area manager! There may be times where you don’t understand something, and that’s okay. As a first time home buyer it’s important to learn as much as you can.