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March 2004

First-time buyers

You're buying your first home. It's an exciting moment, but buying a home is probably the single most complicated transaction you'll ever deal with in your life. To begin the adventure, and to make sure it's fun and enjoyable, you need help. Partner with someone who has experience.

1. Partner with an expert. Your needs are unique and you deserve unique treatment. A REALTOR® ensures the entire process goes smoothly, from making certain you get the best value for your dollar to helping you avoid pitfalls. For referrals, ask friends, family and friends. They'll tell you the same thing; REALTORS® are high performance and responsive.

2. How much? Pre-qualify for a mortgage. Evaluate your finances and ask your financial institution how much you can borrow. A pre-approved mortgage gives you advantages. You can lock in at today's interest rates and still get a lower rate if they change, and you'll have more clout when negotiating for a home. Ask your REALTOR® for a budget worksheet so you can review costs such as taxes, closing and moving costs. That way, you'll know exactly how much money you'll need on hand.

3. Consider your options. Are you interested in a new or a resale home? How about a detached home or townhouse or a condominium? Are you looking for an established neighborhood or up-and-coming one? Every choice has unique advantages. Your REALTOR® will review your options with you. If you're considering an unfamiliar neighbourhood, explore it on foot, during the day and after dark, and investigate schools, community facilities and shopping.

4. Make a need and concede list. Your wish list will include “must-haves” and “nice-to-have but can do without.” The list will help your REALTOR® pinpoint your ideal home. As you look for your home you'll likely alter your list as you get a better feel for the market.

5. Dear diary. Make notes on the positives and negatives of each home you view, write down your overall impressions and any concerns you have. Once you've seen five or more homes, you'll start to forget unless you keep detailed notes.

6. Don't rush into a decision. Take time to get to know the market and look at a variety of properties. The biggest mistake many first-time buyers make is panicking about missing a deal. Don't jump into a decision unless you've carefully thought about it.

7. Hire a good home inspector. No matter how much you want a specific home, make sure you know about any problems that only a qualified home inspector will find. Writing your offer ‘subject to inspection' is the best way to protect yourself, and can save you thousands of dollars.