April 2, 2021 Buying

A Step-By-Step Guide to Buying a Home in the Bow Valley

By Kate Barker with help from Shannon Hendrikse, Accredited Mortgage Professional and Owner of Canmore Broker Inc.

Buying your first house? Follow this step by step guide to buying a home in the Bow Valley!

Start with a pre-approval

Even before finding a real estate agent, finding a mortgage broker will allow you to know exactly where you stand financially. “You really should have a pre-approval before you start looking at homes,” says Shannon Hendrikse, accredited mortgage professional and owner of Canmore Broker Inc. “People can go online and get pre-approved, but if no one has actually seen your supporting documents as part of the pre-approval, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.”

Hendrikse says a mortgage broker will look at all of your supporting documents, will check your down payment, perform a full credit check and credit review, and crunch the numbers under a stress test to make sure with absolute certainty that you can afford a certain price point.

Find a Real Estate Agent Connect with a real estate agent (or a few) to find the best fit. You’ll be spending a fair bit of time with this person as you navigate a very large, and often very emotional purchase, so you want to make sure you have a good connection and a solid working relationship. You want to make sure your agent knows all the details: your price point, your ideal neighbourhood, the features you can’t live without, the features you’d like but could give up in a compromise, and anything else that might hold you back from making a purchase. That way, your agent can show you properties that fit your criteria.

Go House Hunting

House hunting is exciting and it can be overwhelming at times. Make sure you are taking lots of notes about the properties you visit and don’t be afraid to ask your real estate agent a lot of questions. You want to make sure you’re making the right decision. When you find your dream property that satisfies your needs, fits your budget and feels just right, it’s time to start the purchase process.

Purchase Your Home

It’s time to make an offer and bring it back to your broker. This usually involves a deposit, which is part of your down payment. “When you actually put an offer on a property, you always want to ask for a financing condition,” says Hendrikse, “That way your broker can bring the offer back to the lender and get an official approval. Lenders need to approve the clients, but they also approve the property itself.” If there are known issues with the property, or it’s zoned as a commercial short-term rental, for example, there may be problems qualifying for that mortgage.

Now there’s a time crunch to get everything in order. Most offers allow 2 weeks on a financing condition. Your broker will do the mortgage hunting for you. They look at not just rate, but the best rate with the best terms and the flexibility and specific terms you want.

Sometimes a lender will request an appraisal. “This adds a few days to the process. The lender is confirming the value of what you’re paying.” Most times, the appraisal matches the offer. Sometimes, something unexpected comes up in the appraisal that may call off the whole deal. “This is part of approving the finance in that two-week window,” says Hendrikse.

This is also the time when lenders review all other aspects of the purchase, such as condo documents. When everything is said and done, it’s time to start signing the documents of the mortgage approval – either in person or virtually.

Get a Lawyer

“You need a lawyer for the final stages of the transaction,” says Hendrikse, “Once everything is submitted, we get notified about the approval for the mortgage.” At this time, you waive the finance conditions, home inspection conditions or any other conditions you had on the purchase. “This makes the purchase offer firm and binding.” Now it’s time to wait it out until closing day.

At this time, your mortgage broker will send the whole mortgage package to your lawyer’s office, where the lawyer handles the final pieces of the transaction, including the legal side of the land title and mortgage purchase. As the buyer, you’ll sign all the paperwork with your lawyer and hand over the remaining down payment. On closing day, your lawyer will handle the transfer of funds.

Get your keys!

With all the process and paperwork out of the way, it’s time to move in to your brand new home!

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