How To Buy A Home In Edmonton

how to buy a home in edmonton by derek hulewiczBuying a home can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, especially if you are a first time home buyer. Where do you start? What is the best way to begin the process? Who do you trust? How do you find the right property?

These are some questions that many property buyers ask themselves. Many reach out to their family and friends for advice which is definitely a great way to begin. Others look to internet and social media for more information. There are definitely many moving parts to the entire process, however, with the help of the right professionals, the experience can be more reassuring and less stressful. My name is Derek Hulewicz and I have been a real estate agent with Re/max since 2010. I have worked with buyers and sellers alike in residential real estate in Edmonton and surrounding areas for the past 12 years. I am a home owner myself and bought my first property in 1994 before I was a real estate agent. Below you will find some of the basic pointers which I think may assist you to make more informed decisions.

1. Decide On The Timeline For Your Purchase.

One of the first most important steps is deciding on the approximate moving date;

a) If your timeline is to purchase property in a year or longer, you can definitely start to gather more information on the process but is it good time now to start looking at properties? Probably "no". Why not? For starters the real estate market changes constantly as well as regional micro-economics and you will most likely be in a different place in your life a year from now financially and personally. As well, most properties you see will already be sold by the time you are ready to make an offer.

b) If your timeline is between now and 6 months, then I would suggest to move to point 2.

2. Get Pre-Approved For Mortgage.

There are two good reasons to get pre-approved for mortgage first before looking at properties.

a) Know how much you can afford before you buy. This is very important step by which you can avoid any future disappointments and surprises. If you were not pre-approved in the last 6 months, please do so before you proceed with looking at properties and especially if you are purchasing a property. I have had clients that haven't been pre-approved at looked at properties priced higher that they could afford to buy. I had others that have been pre-approved but 5 or 6 months back and in a meanwhile their income has changed, or they ended buying a car or motor home on payments thus changing their debt to income ratio, or the interest rates have increased and now they qualify for less than before. There are also many other examples how lack of or an old mortgage pre-approval and any personal changes can affect your affordability to purchase a home. So "Get Pre-Approved"!

b) Interest rates change all the time so do the rules how the financial institutions calculate what can be your approximate maximum mortgage loan amount. Good news is that the majority of banks and mortgage lenders will honor the interest rate for as long as 90 to 120 days (depending on the lender) from the date of the pre-approval. You should speak with your mortgage specialist or broker to verify the timeline. This way if interest rates go up during the time of your search, you will benefit by this process by keeping the lower rate. By getting pre-approved sooner than later will also give you more time to shop around for the best mortgage deals on the market.

3. Choosing The Right Property For You And Your Family.

a) There many types of properties that you can choose from depending on the location and how many people would be living there. If you are single or just a couple with no kids, you may decide on apartment condo Downtown or a townhouse in a quiet area. If you are a family, single detached home with your a green backyard in the suburbs or close to city centre is definitely the most common choice. The good news is that the majority of the residential properties for sale in Canada including Edmonton & surrounding areas are listed on the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) which is a selling system operated by real estate boards and associations in Canada. In Edmonton and surrounding areas, the moment any realtor enters a new property via the MLS system, it becomes visible on and many other real estate agents and brokers websites within minutes. That also applies to any price reductions or changed to a listing. On the other hand, once the property is sold, it is removed from the system as active or pending within couple of days. There is also an option for realtors now to have a listing temporary removed once it goes pending for duration of the conditions. If the buyers do not remove the conditions in due time, the property becomes visible for sale again.

b) There are many websites out there where you can search for properties in Edmonton & surrounding areas. The best is to choose a website that you like as long as you know that the property listings are updated within minutes. Some websites are updated only once per day, which would put you in position of disadvantage with other buyers, who would be able to view the property before you and could place an offer right after. I also recommend that once you choose a realtor that you will be working with (see point 4) you ask him or her to set up a specific search in our main MLS System that meets your needs with email updates sent to you directly. This way you won't miss any properties the moment they come onto the market.

c) Choosing the right property search! Feel free to use our >>> Advanced MLS Search <<< which is updated every 15 minutes. There you can choose your property type, community or specific area of the city, price range, year built, property size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, style of a home or a condo, garage or parking option, basement development, property features, and so much more. You can also search by map view.

d) Let technology work for you! One of the big features of our website is ability of saving your property search or searches, if you have more than one, where you can choose to receive either immediate, daily or weekly email notifications for any new properties that come onto the market or where the price is reduces to a point that meets your price range option. This way you don't have to spend hours looking for properties on line.

4. Finding The Right Realtor!

I would definitely advise you to find a real estate agent that will not only work with and but also for you.

a) I have met some buyer's over the years who would only look at properties with a listing agent. Buying a property with a listing agent without your own representation is like going to court and being represented by one lawyer for both parties! The listing agent is representing the seller and seller's interest only. There is a legal way where the listing agent can facilitate the transaction and stay neutral with seller's permission but his role is limited at that point. Another option is that the listing agent fully represents the seller and you are on your own. In either case, I would suggest to hire your own agent to best represent your interests. In the majority of cases, our remuneration is already included in the transaction so you don't have to pay any fees to your realtor. There are odd cases, where the sellers will not include the buyer's agent fee in the transaction, however, these are rare occasions. You can always ask your realtor about the specifics of how he or she gets paid.

b) So how do you find a good realtor to work with? There are definitely some criteria that I would consider looking at. Firstly, you should choose someone with experience. The more experience agent has the better off you maybe. How successful is the agent? Is it a full or part time job for them? Is the agent quick to respond to your inquiries? Is she or he accommodating your showings request in timely manner? How knowledgeable are they? Does he or she works weekends? Are they well connected with good mortgage brokers, inspectors, real estate lawyers, and other trades? Some of the great tools nowadays that will help you with your search are: internet searches, social media and review platforms. Does the agent have any Google or Facebook reviews? What is her or his web presence? Have they had any complaints against them at the local estate board? These are the most common questions that I have been asked over the years and I am always to glad to answer them for my potential clients.

5) Find A Good Inspector!

I would strongly recommend to inspect the property before you remove conditions.

a) You can apply similar method as in point 4 to find a good property inspector or you can ask you realtor to recommend one. You should keep in mind to make sure that the inspector you chose is certified & able to inspect the type of the property you are buying (for example: some have no experience with acreages, vacation homes or farms). If you are inspecting a home with a wood burning fireplace, make sure that the inspector has a "wet certification" or alternatively you could also hire a chimney specialist. The typical inspection on a single detached home will cost you anywhere from $450 to $650 unless it is a large home. On a duplex, townhouse or apartment condo it should be slightly less.

b) It is highly recommended for the buyer to be present during inspection. Note, that you can always renegotiate the price if you find deficiencies. In some cases, we may ask the sellers to fix some of the issues that have been found during the inspection, before possession date. Keep in mind that one cannot expect the sellers for example, to fix every nick on a wall and/or paint the house because of an untrendy color. You can discuss more with your experienced realtor what to expect in this regard.

6. Find A Real Estate Lawyer!

a) Again you can ask your realtor, family member or trusted friend to recommend a real estate lawyer or choose same method as in point 4. The important point is that you hire a lawyer that specializes in real estate and not in other field. I have experienced working with a few lawyers who didn't have any experience in real estate and I have to say they made the transaction more complicated for all parties concerned.

b) You should call few lawyers to get a quote for the legal fees and to find out what other costs maybe involved.

NOTE: I wrote this article in November of 2020 and any price quotes given by me above are based on my personal experience and will most likely be higher due to inflation in the future.

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