3 steps to take before you search for your first condo

3 steps to take before you search for your first condo

Buying a home for the first time? Here’s a post from our First-time buyer’s hub to help you with everything from figuring out what you can afford to navigate a bidding war to understanding closing costs...plus other helpful tips and guidance.

If you’ve been lurking on real estate sites for months now, thinking about diving into the market for the first time, you probably know more or less what’s out there, how much it’s going for, and how those prices match up with what you can afford.

But before you jump in and start looking “for real,” here are three steps to get you ready:

Step 1: Figure out your must-haves vs. nice-to-haves

It’s nice to dream, but chances are, unless you have an unlimited budget, you won’t be able to get everything you want in one unit. Figure out what the deal-breakers are for you, and what things are just nice bonuses you can live without, at least for now.

These questions can help you narrow things down:

  • How many bedrooms/bathrooms?

  • What neighbourhood(s) do you want to live in?

  • How important is it to be able to walk to everything you need?

  • Do you need parking?

  • Will you need a storage locker?

  • Do you want it to be pet-friendly?

  • Once things reopen, how far do you want to be from work?

  • Is size more important than location?

  • Will you actually use the pool/gym/party room/virtual golf room? (You pay for those amenities, whether you use them or not.)

  • How sensitive are you to city noise – traffic, trains, fire trucks, nightlife?

  • Do you need a great view?

  • Do you specifically want a high or low floor?

  • Do you want to be close to restaurants/grocery stores/parks?

  • What do you do on evenings and weekends?

Related info: Picking the perfect location

Woman budgeting

Step 2: Figure out what you can afford that will get you your must-haves

From determining your down payment and understanding what your monthly mortgage payments will be, to factoring in maintenance fees, taxes, closing costs, to adding up the cost of new furniture, this is the stage where you’ll need to do the math to see what fits both your budget...and your condo dreams. To get a good idea of how much money you have to work with, get pre-approved for a mortgage: there are no strings if you decide not to buy right now, or ultimately go with another lender.

Related info: How much can I afford?

Step 3: Build your team.

Go with a Condo Pro. Not all agents are created equal: you want someone who’s really knowledgeable about the specific area and type of home you’re looking for. If you’re on the hunt for a condo, work with someone who specializes in them (the process is quite different from buying a freehold home) and knows the buildings in the neighbourhoods you’re looking at inside and out. Find a Condo Pro who specializes in your area.

Related info: Finding the right agent

Line up a mortgage broker.

Getting financing is getting harder and harder – and it can be especially tough for first-timers. While you can just go to your bank and ask for a mortgage, that really limits your options. A mortgage broker can help you with creative financing solutions that can give you a leg up in terms of getting into the type of unit you really want.

Related info: Should I work with a mortgage broker?

Lawyer up.

A real estate lawyer can be your friend, especially in the complex world of condos and their legal structures. They’ll help you with everything from the offer to getting all your docs in a row for closing.

Related info: Why do I need a lawyer?

If you want to make some changes to the unit, it might be a good idea to talk to designers/contractors at this stage, too, and get a sense of how much those updates will cost. Need more info on each of your team players? Read: Why you need a great real estate team.

Got those three steps out of the way? Now you’re ready to take your search to the next level! Get in touch with your Condo Pro and get started!

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