D. Smith: Planning tips for buying a house

Make a list of important features and rank them to take some of the emotion out of searching for the right home.

If you are purchasing a new home, or perhaps this is your second or third home purchase, make it a smoother process by following some planning tips.

Ensure your credit history is good. You can run a free credit check on yourself to ensure your past and current credit history is in good order.

How much home can you afford? Be careful that you do not become unable to afford other necessary things in life because you have purchased a house you are not financially ready for.

Stay in control of your finances by pre-determining the type of home you can afford. Talk to a mortgage broker about how much you can afford to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking.

Pre-approvals typically are for 120 days—and should protect you against an interest rate increase if rates go up.

Determine the important factors now before you become overwhelmed when you start looking at homes.

Some of the important factors to consider when looking for a new home include the number of bedrooms; number of bathrooms; large or small kitchen; large yard or maintenance free yard; one level style of housing or perhaps multiple steps are OK.

Is location an important feature for you and your family?  Do you want to be close to work or schools?  Will you need one vehicle or multiple vehicles or is public transit an option for you or family members?

By making a list of the important features and ranking them in order of importance, it takes some of the emotion out of searching for the right home.

Use a ranking system that can be flexible because when you see the home of your dreams, priorities may change like the weather.

Check out the neighbourhood and go back at different times of the day and night to see if there is any change in the activity level. Talk with people in the area and ask questions about what their thoughts are on living in this area. Home ownership can be for a few years or a lifetime—Either way, home ownership is one of the largest expenses we will ever have in our lifetime. How much will it cost to live in the home?

Check out the property taxes, the utility costs, and all the other expenses you may not think of. Large yards will cost more than a small yard to maintain and long driveways typically cost more than a short driveway.

Do some research online about home ownership.  Talk to professionals involved in the real estate industry.  Family and friends can also offer valuable advice on the many aspects of home ownership.

There are many types of home ownership. Single homes, semidetached, condominium, co-ops, 99-year leasehold and strata on leased land.

Each type has benefits and each type has costs associated with property ownership. Buying a home is a dream come true.  As one of the largest business decisions you make during your lifetime, plan for it to be as stress-free as possible and an enjoyable experience.

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