Newcomer Stories: Buying a Home

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Last month, we celebrated a milestone. After just over 18 months, we've bought our first home in Canada.

Pre-approval
It certainly had not been plain sailing. The Canadian housing market is crazy, to say the least. Well, in Mississauga anyway. I started off getting a pre-approval from the bank to find out exactly how much I would qualify for in terms of a price range. It did not take long. I got the pre-approval in a day. And the hunt was on!

Buyer agent
The most important part of the whole buying process was to get yourself an agent. We were no strangers to buying a home (since we've bought in South Africa before) but this concept of a buyer agent was new to us. We've always just dealt with one agent between the seller and buyer. But it was explained that it is always better to get a buyer agent yourself to look out for your interest since a seller agent will look out for the interest of the seller. It would be very hard for an agent to be unbiased (if he is representing both seller and buyer) because his commission would be worked out according to the purchase price.

The hunt
We were regular employees by weekdays and avid house hunters by weekends. I trolled the MLS website like there was no tomorrow. Our agent sent us daily emails about new listings in the areas that we were interested in. These new listings were sometimes not even listed on the MLS website yet so you get first dibs at looking at houses before the general public. We averaged about 4-5 houses a week for 3 months. I don't know if maybe the price range we were looking at was a popular range, but I found the housing market aggressive. Houses did not stay on sale for very long. Most of them were snapped up even before they got listed.

The offer, the bid and the win
The process is fierce, especially when there are other interested buyers. Competition is good but too much can be frustrating. When you are interested in a house, you make an offer. The seller agent receives the offer and discusses it with the seller. The seller may counter-offer. The offer goes back and forth until an agreement is reached. Now, when there are other buyers, their buyer agents try to outbid the offers, and a bidding war ensues. It becomes frustrating when you are unable to up your ante because of limited funds.

We've offered at quite a few houses before we found the one. We were involved in some bidding wars and felt that we would not win since we did not have the financial capabilities to outbid everyone nor could we waive conditions on our offer. We did not have competition on the home we eventually bought. We presented our offer on a Sunday night at about 9pm. Both parties were in agreement by 10pm. The process was seamless. We even got the house for less than the listed price, which was great for our pockets.

We had a few conditions attached to the offer, like arranging for a home inspection and bank financing. Once those conditions were fulfilled, then the offer is finalised. Our closing date was set 90 days after the signing of the document. And so, we are only allowed to move in after 3 months. I thought this was really ideal since there was still so much to be done with regards arranging and organising, as next week's blog post will tell you. Watch this space!

0 caring thoughts: