If home buying is on your to-do list in the future, there are some tasks to tackle before you start shopping. Admittedly, many of these New Year’s Resolutions relate to finances (as they often do) and rightly so. A home is the biggest investment most of us will make in our lifetime. To help you prepare, here are five New Year’s Resolutions for homebuyers that you’ll definitely want to keep this year.
1 – Start Saving For Youer Downpayment
This is arguably the biggest, most difficult, and most time-consuming part of the home buying process. Think about it – in November 2021, the average home price in Canada rose to $720,850. To avoid taking out a high ratio mortgage, you’ll need at least 20 percent as a down payment, or about $145,000. It’s important to start thinking about how you will come up with the money – whether it’s using your RRSPs through the first-time Home Buyers’ Plan, savings, or financial help from the Bank of Mom and Dad.
2 – Check Your Credit Rating
This one’s important because your potential mortgage lender will be doing the same. A credit score is a number between 300 and 900 that rates your credit-worthiness. According to credit-rating company Equifax, a score of 690 or higher is considered “good.” Lenders will use this score in tandem with other factors, such as your debt-to income ratio, to determine mortgage eligibility
3 – Credit Clean-Up
Remember that phone bill you forgot to pay a couple of years ago? It can come back to haunt you. Even a one day-late payment is still considered “late,” and can negatively affect your credit rating – and your potential to qualify for a favorable mortgage. If you’re not happy with your credit score, take some time to bring it up to par before you start the pre-qualification process.
4 – Get Pre-Approved For a Mortgage
With interest rates rumored to rise in 2022, take advantage of this low interest-rate environment while you still can. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will lock in your rate for up to 120 days. A mortgage preapproval is not an obligation to purchase in this time frame, nor are you committed to that particular lender. It’s just a written confirmation of the approved amount and the promised rate, so you can shop with confidence within a budget you know you can afford.
5 – Start Shopping
Online is a good place to start your search, but nothing beats first-hand experience. With a budget in mind, bundle up and hit the streets to explore different neighborhoods and the amenities you’ll have access to. Do you rely on public transit? Is an active nightlife important to you? Daycares and schools? Parks and rec? Highway access? How close (or far!) do you want to be from family and your workplace? Think about your day-to-day needs, and anticipate how they might change over time.
Last but not least… work with the right real estate agent who has experience in the area and the type of home you plan to purchase. They will make setting up viewings easy, and be ready and on your side to negotiate the best price when it comes time to finally make an offer.