How to Buy a Home in 8 Steps

With the Vancouver market moving to more balanced conditions, there are many opportunities for buyers. There is more inventory to choose from without the pressure of making decisions in multiple offer situations every time.

Pride of home ownership is indeed one of life’s greatest joys and biggest accomplishments. It is an exciting time and my hope is that this guide will bring clarity and peace of mind during your home buying journey. 

Step 1    - Decide Where and What to Buy
The first step is deciding where you want to live, what type of home you are looking for and what features are “must have’s” or “would be nice to have’s” in a home.  Start thinking about your budget and timelines. When do you want to move? 

Step 2    - Getting Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
The mortgage industry is a highly competitive field and it is important to understand that interest rates can change at any time. Partnering with a mortgage broker or financial institution to help you find the right mortgage product at the best rate is key to your home buying process.  

Step 3    - Choosing the Right REALTOR®   
First, it’s important that you understand whose interests REALTORS® are legally bound to serve in a real estate transaction. The listing agent in a transaction is always representing the seller and their best interests. While the listing agent can show you the property and draft an offer, they do not represent you as the buyer and cannot negotiate on your behalf. A buyer’s agent can provide confidential assistance that addresses your needs first, and best of all, there’s no cost to you as a buyer for using an agent. 

Step 4   - Becoming an Educated Buyer    
Once you have chosen an agent to work with it’s time to start your home search. Your agent can get you set up on a home search for properties specifically matching your criteria and arrange viewings for the homes you’re interested in. A good agent can provide advice on market conditions in the areas you’re looking at. She can provide insight on which properties might work for you based on her years of experience. She will also keep you informed of any changes in the market such as recent sales, zoning or bylaw changes and any upcoming developments in your chosen area.  

Step 5  -  Making an Educated Offer 
Once you’ve found the home you want, now it’s time to write an offer. Your agent will conduct a detailed CMA (Comprehensive Market Analysis) complete with comparable active and expired listings, recent solds and historical data relevant to determining the market value of the home. This will empower you to make an informed decision. Once you decide on your offer price and terms, you agent will present the offer to the seller’s agent and negotiate on your behalf. Hopefully the seller accepts your offer right away, but often there will be a counter offer process in order to reach agreeable terms for both you and the seller.  

Step 6    - Conditions, home inspections and waivers
The offer has been accepted! Now we have typically one week to satisfy the conditions and perform your due diligence, ie. “remove subjects.” These subjects usually include reviewing strata documents, confirming financing and obtaining a home inspection. Once these conditions have been met, you can remove subjects and your deal is now firm. Within 24 hours of subject removal, your deposit cheque is due which is typically 5% of the purchase price.  

Step 7    - Prepare for your home
After your subject removal you will need to find a lawyer or notary to represent you in this transaction. You will also need to start looking into home insurance, moving your hydro and internet accounts, changing your mail and booking a moving company. One week prior to your completion date (day the money and title are transferred) you will visit your lawyer to sign off on the remaining documents. At this time you will also need to meet with your lender to ensure your financing is good to go.  

Step 8   - Move in – Enjoy!
Your possession date is typically 1-2 days after your completion date and this is when you will receive keys to your new home. Your agent can meet you and do a walk through to make sure everything is in the condition promised in your purchase contract. If you’ve chosen a good Realtor, they will be with you every step of the journey and you can rely on them for advice even after your move in date.