Your Ultimate Success in buying a home depends on how well prepared you are. The following easy to follow steps outline the process...

step 1    Analyze your needs and wants...
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One of the biggest mistakes buyers make is to go into the market without a clear understanding of their needs, wants and financial capability.
The first step should be one of self-analysis.

Start with a wish list!.  Rank the features you want in order of priority.
Consider things such as:

Feelings about your current home.
Time you are willing to spend commuting.
Size of accommodation you really need.
Feelings about privacy and security.
Importance of schools, shopping and services.
Character of neighbourhoods and environment.
Preference for Old vs. Contemporary vs. New.
Type of ownership-eg. Freehold (detached) vs. Strata (condo/townhome)

There are a lot of choices to be made. You can save yourself time and effort by deciding on many of these issues and preferences before you start to look. But be prepared to revise you goals in light of market discoveries.

step 2    Select a Realtor / Agent...
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This is probably the most important step in the process. You will need to find a professional you can like and trust. You will be confiding in him or her on a business and personal level. The real estate agent can make the process pleasant and rewarding or frustrating and disappointing. They are key to your finding what you want in the right area, at the right price. Be selective, look for a realtor you can feel comfortable with and who is experienced and knowledgeable. Don't be afraid to ask for references. Once you find someone you feel confident with, sign them up as a Buyer's Agent.
It is important that the person you're working with is representing your interests exclusively. And best of all, their services to you are almost always FREE!

step 3   Consult with your Agent...
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The next important step in the process, is a meeting with your agent to prepare each other for exactly what to expect along the way. The following are the points that should be covered and fully understood in this meeting:

Your needs and expectations.

eg: What accommodations are you looking for (bedrooms, baths, etc.),
in what areas, in what price range and in what time frame.

How often you are available to look and what you expect from your agent in terms of availability & communication (e-mail, phone-daily, weekly).

Your agent should give you copies of all the paperwork you will be expected to sign throughout the process and brief explanation of each.
Your agent should explain Buyers Agency and why you should
sign a Buyers Agency Agreement.

step 4    Select a Mortgage Lender...
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If you have an established relationship with a Lender that meets your needs, go to them first. Most people, when selecting a lender, call various lending institutions to check on rates and generally go with the lender with the lowest rates. We  recommend that you consider a Mortgage Broker who has been referred to you by your agent. The Mortgage Broker is just as important as the lending institution. Most lenders offer the same basic mortgage programs (conventional, high ratio, CMHC insured,etc), but each will usually offer their special "niche" products. For example, some lenders specialize in low down-payment loans, some specialize in loans for people with marginal credit, some in loans for self-employed borrowers, etc.
Your mortgage broker will know how to steer you in the right direction for your circumstances, and like your Buyers Agent, their services are almost always FREE!

You should leave with a clear understanding of what your complete monthly payments will be, a good estimate of how much cash you will need (from beginning to end) and what supporting documentation you will need to provide.

step 5   Look at Properties...
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This is the fun part! It is important to limit the number of homes you visit in a day. If you tour too many, they begin to run together and you can't remember one from another. It's a good idea to record notes about each property on an information sheet immediately eliminate ones that don't suit you. Remember, feed-back to your agent is crucial. It's important to let your agent know which houses you like and why, as well as which houses you don't like and why.
Open communication will help your agent to choose only properties that will interest you

step 6    Select Your Home...
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Once you have located two or three homes that you really like, your agent will do whatever research necessary to help you make your ultimate buying decision.
Once you've selected one home to focus on, your agent will do a
Comparative Market Analysis on that property.
This involves determining "fair market value" by reporting on recent sales of similar properties in the neighborhood or area.

step 7    Offer and Negotiation...
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When making an offer on your selected property you will have to decide:

what price will you offer?
how much of a deposit you will offer?
what conditions -eg. financing, home inspection etc.- you wish to include?
what chattels (personal property, appliances etc.) you wish to include?
when you wish to complete (transfer ownership and funds) on the sale?

When negotiating with a vendor, it's best to remember not to take anything personally. Also, try to put yourself in the seller's shoes. Figure out what's not negotiable to you and be willing to give a little on the things that are. A good agent should be able to give tons of advice as to how to structure your offer.
Once your offer has been presented, the vendor will either accept it, reject it, or make a counter offer. The chain of offer for acceptance can be short or prolonged It is important for all parties to focus on their real goals through this process.

step 8   Satisfy (Remove) all Subjects and Conditions...
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If, as part of your offer, you asked for time to arrange certain things, you have what is called a conditional agreement. Offers can be conditional on mortgage approval, inspections, the receipt of acceptable home owners or condo association documentation, the sale of property and many other things. It is important that all deadlines be met and that all conditions are removed exactly the way the agreement specifies.
Your agent is responsible for ensuring that these procedures are done correctly.

step 9   Select a Lawyer...
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Your lawyer will take care of all necessary legal prceedures to implement your Agreement of Purchase and Sale. The lawyer will conduct a title search, prepare all necessary documentation regarding title, charges, discharges registrations etc.
They complete the closing. Their function is to make sure that all the terms of your agreement are met.
If a problems arises, your lawyer will represent you in any necessary proceedings.

step 10   Sign the papers...
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Several days prior to closing day you will meet with your lawyer to sign the documentation required to complete the sale. Your lawyer will explain every document to you in a satisfactory manner. Do not ever feel intimidated. If you do not understand something ... ask. You should understand everything about the legal aspects of home ownership. You will also have to present funds for whatever down payment and closing cost that you are expected to pay.
You may be required to certify your cheque.

step 11   Move into your new home...
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This is the last and probably the hardest (but most exciting) step in the home buying process! A little bit of planning and forethought, though, will make for a much smoother move. You will want to make arrangements with a moving company as soon as you can. Call at least two, to get competitive quotes. A representative will usually come to your home to analyse the weight and complexity of the physical move.

Be sure to change your address with the post office, your banks and any other correspondents at least 30 days in advance. To avoid late payments, it's a good idea to actually call and verify receipt of the address change whenever possible.
Call to order your utility hook ups approximately ten days prior to your move.

By following these eleven steps, acquiring a new home should be a smooth and satisfying process.

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