So you have been watching the market and have finally decided now is the time to jump in and buy. Congratulations! With mortgage rates at an all time low, you have picked a great time to invest in real estate. Buying a home involves so much more than just skimming some MLS ads and choosing the first place that strikes your fancy though. But what do you look for? A one-bedroom condo? That 5,000-sq ft fixer upper just outside of town? The steal of a deal starter home on the other side of the tracks? Better do your homework before you make the big decision. You might want to keep these factors in mind before you ever even begin your house-hunting experience;


    • For starters, you have to consider how much you can afford to purchase,  before you start up your wish list of what you want in a home. Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. There are lots of online mortgage calculators out there that can help you get a ballpark figure for what you might afford in a mortgage, but your best bet might be to take the time to consult with a mortgage broker and/or your bank to see how much you can truly afford, before falling in love with a house that is way over your budget.

    • That being said, if money is an issue, have you considered your DIY-capabilities? You can often get a better deal on a home that is in need of a little TLC. You might be able to afford to purchase a house in a neighbourhood that you love, just by factoring in the sweat equity. If you are at all handy, or have the right connections that are, you just might find that you get a little more bang for your buck, if you purchase the worst house on the best street (or something along those kinds of lines). You just have to learn to look beyond bad wallpaper and ugly paint, to see the real potential in your next home. Always beware the beyond-repair or money-pit fixer uppers though!

    • Now once you have hit the streets looking, the first thing you usually notice about a house is the curb appeal from the outside. Are there beautiful mature trees that cannot be replicated in a new housing development? Or do you count the dollar signs while gauging how much it will cost to remove the overgrown shrubs, falling down fence and  decrepit shed in the corner. While everything has the potential to be fixed or improved, sometimes it is the look of the house as a whole that is the real selling feature of a home. Aside from tearing it down, the bones of the house itself should appeal to you the home buyer. Realistically, you can’t spin the house around on the property to fit your needs, so if you don’t think you can deal with those North-facing windows in the living room, that house is probably not going to stay on your short-list of potential homes to buy.

    • The best house in the world still might not be the right fit for you though, if the neighbourhood surrounding it is less than ideal. There are always factors to consider when choosing a new location to live. If you have children, is the house in a good school district? Are there dog parks nearby for you to take your pooch for a run in? How far is shopping from your new home? What will the commute be like for you to get to work? Can you walk, bike, or take public transit there or will you be relegated to an hour-long commute every morning to start your day. These are all important things to consider that affect your everyday life long after the moving boxes are a thing of memory.


    • Once you have found it (the best home on the market!), are you ready for the next step? Every real estate agent has their stories of people who have wanted to look at one more house to be sure, or decided to sleep on the decision to purchase the house for a night, only to have disappointment as a bed-fellow the next day. Often timing is the main factor in a given housing market and acting fast makes the difference between regret and that all important home purchase. While you want to be sure to choose the best house for your needs, sometimes that decision has to come fast before another home buyer scoops up your dream home from underneath you. Having your finances in order can help that along, but so too can discussing with your partner beforehand your needs, wants and desires in a new home. Communication is key and just might mean the difference in getting those all important (house) keys in your hand.