First Time Buyers

First-time buyers plan: 8 steps to buying smart

Navigating the world of Canadian home buying

Step 1: Figure out how much you can afford comfortably

Falling in love with a house you can’t afford can be heartbreaking. Avoid disappointment by figuring out your budget before you start looking. 
  • Plan a meeting with a mortgage specialist. See our preferred vendors list for our recommendations. They will help guide you through the pre-approval process with their expertise. Make sure to choose someone you trust and feel comfortable with. 
  • Then decide how much you can afford for your down payment. The Home Buyers Plan lets you withdraw up to $25K per person (or up to $50K per couple) from your RRSPs – tax-free – to be repaid over 15 years. More on that here . The bigger your down payment, the less principal you will owe, and the less interest you will pay.
  • Don’t forget about closing costs, like insurance, legal fees, home inspection costs, land registration and land transfer fees. Add those to your moving expenses and service hookup fees, and they can add up surprisingly fast.
  • Your monthly housing expenses (mortgage, taxes, heat, etc.) shouldn’t use up more than 32% of your income. (If your combined monthly income is $5000, for example, 32% of that is $1600.) If you have car payments or credit card debt, the rule of thumb is that debt repayment shouldn’t be more than 40% of your income.
  • Get pre-approved for your mortgage. It’s a good way of finding out how much you can borrow – and it speeds up the process once you’ve found the home you want to buy.

Step 2: Figure out what type of home is right for you.


Sit down and make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. If you're buying with a partner, we always suggest making your lists separately at first and then compare notes. Be realistic, but be clear about the features you can’t live without. How many bedrooms do you need? Bathrooms? Do you want a home office? A garage? How about a big backyard? Hardwood floors? Eat-in kitchen? Consider your lifestyle and your current stage of life. Most often client's needs/wants list changes once we being looking at homes. But it provides an excellent starting point to begin the home shopping process.

Step 3: Decide where you want to live.

Living in an area you like is as important as buying a home you love.  Do you want to walk to work or are you okay with a longer commute? Do you need to be close to good schools? Rec facilities? Shopping? It is also a good idea to consider the resale potential of the neighbourhoods. Our Real Estate Team will provide information about current, and previous market conditions of the neighbourhoods that interest you.

Step 4: Build a "Home" team.

Put together the right group of experts to help you buy. At this point you will already have a lender on your team. The next step is choosing  a REALTOR® you trust. Our team has 3 fully licensed agents ready to help you on your home buying journey. You will also need to choose a home inspector, an insurance broker and a lawyer. We are so fortunate to work with amazing professionals in all of these fields. Ask your agent for recommendations, or check our Preferred Vendors list.

Step 5: Start looking.

Finally it is time to start looking! Now that you have your pre-approval, and a plan in place its time for the fun part. A lot of buyers do not have a clear idea of what they want (or don't want) in a home until they are out there looking at properties. Keep you needs/wants list handy during the process and update it as you go. We also recommend not getting so hung up on checking all the boxes on your wish list, that you do not pay attention to how a home feels. Be sure to communicate clearly with your real estate agent, so they are able to get a feel for the type of home you are looking for. Our job is not to sell you a home, but rather to find you the right match!

Step 6: Make an offer.

You’ve found the perfect place – now it’s time to make an offer. An offer to purchase includes the purchase price you’re offering, chattels to be included in the purchase (like appliances or light fixtures), the amount of the deposit, the closing date and any other conditions.

Your REALTOR® will help you prepare your offer, and will present it to the vendor, who will either accept it or make a counter offer (which asks for a higher price or different terms). You can accept or reject the counter offer. If everyone agrees, the home is yours. If not, you can make another offer, or you may have to keep looking.

Step 7: Get a mortgage.

Once you’re approved, you’ll need to decide what type of mortgage works best for your needs. Will you go with a fixed or variable interest rate? Will your mortgage be closed or open? What will your amortization period be? Will you make payments monthly, biweekly or weekly? Your mortgage broker or lender can help you find a mortgage that suits your needs – and saves you the most money in the long term.

Step 8: Move in and enjoy!

Trademarks owned or controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association. Used under licence.