Tips For First Time Home Buyers


Are you among the thousands of people in Vancouver who pay rent each month, knowing full well that you will never see that money again? This doesn't have to be the case. Instead, why not take that money and build it into an investment that can last a lifetime? Right now there are excellent opportunities for first-time buyers. Mortgage rates are lower and there are plenty of well-priced homes to choose from.


What kind of home do you need and want?

Buying a home is a balance of many requirements such as family size, location, income and lifestyle. REALTORS® are excellent sources of advice and help in these matters. Not only do they have the experience and knowledge to make sure the choice you make will be the right one, but with access to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®), they can seek out suitable properties for you and provide you with a customized list of homes that meet your needs, wants and budget.


Ask yourself: Exactly what do I need in a home?

How close do you want to be to schools or shopping centres? Do you plan to have children? How many bedrooms then? Do you need a garage or a finished basement? New homes offer extensive warranties and pristine conditions but may not have character, trees or landscaping. Older homes often include improvements such as finished basements or rec rooms, decks and patios. Be sure to have any resale home inspected for needed repairs or upgrading.


Decide on the best location for you!

Living in the city means you will be close to amenities such as restaurants, shopping and public transit. If you prefer a more rural lifestyle, make sure the extra time spent driving each day won't detract from your enjoyment of the property.

Townhomes and condos are obviously suited to particular lifestyles or budgets. Townhomes or condo living offers convenience and often means sharing common areas such as parking, hallways and landscaping.


What can you afford?

Once you have determined what it is you want and need, you'll have to find out what you can afford. The first tip is to set a maximum price range instead of just an upper price. It's not always wise to buy the most expensive home you can afford but better to aim lower in anticipation of extra costs or fluctuations in your income.

Your bank or a mortgage broker can help you determine the amount of the mortgage you can carry by calculating your debt-service ratio. The rule of thumb is that the sum of all your current loan payments (car, personal, credit card, etc.) plus your mortgage should not exceed 40% of your gross income. In addition, mortgage payments and property taxes should not be more than 30% of your gross income.

Buying your first home may seem intimidating in the beginning but with careful planning, a clear idea of what you want and the help of a REALTOR®, home ownership can be become a joyful reality for you and your family.

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