Thinking of buying your first home during COVID19?
We understand that buying a home might be the biggest purchase you make and based on the current economic situation brought on by COVID-19, together let’s eliminate some stress from the process with these essential tips from the team at Macdonald Realty.
We’ve also prepared a guide to buy and sell during COVID, which you can access for free by clicking HERE.
1. Asses your financial situation
This is a critical first step in the home-buying process. You don’t want to start house-hunting and fall for a home you can’t afford. Understanding your credit score is important not only because you will want to make sure it is accurate and free of errors as it will be checked before getting your mortgage approved.
What else is important to be considered? Two other crucial factors are income and, of course, your down payment.
Most mortgages are long-term commitments: Keep in mind that you may be making those payments every month for the next 25-30 years.
Are you expecting a raise soon or changing jobs? You may want to consider if you will have more buying power in a few short months and wait the grace period for getting approved after you move.
Are you self-employed? There are different qualifications needed for different types of income earners, make sure you talk with a mortgage broker on your options.
- Down Payment:
As a first time home buyer there are some programs to help you increase your down payment which will help your mortgage payments and buying power.
1. First Time Home Buyers
The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive helps people across Canada purchase their first home. The program offers 5 or 10% of the home’s purchase price to put toward a down payment. This addition to your down payment lowers your mortgage carrying costs, making homeownership more affordable.
According to placetocallhome.ca these are a few criteria to determine your eligibility for the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive:
- you have your minimum down payment
- your total annual qualifying income doesn’t exceed $120,000
- your total borrowing is no more than 4 times your qualifying income
- you or your partner are a first-time homebuyer
- you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident authorized to work in Canada
2. Home Buyer’s Plan / RRSPs
The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw from your registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself. If you’re buying with your partner you can contribute $50,000 together from your RRSPs.
2. Get your approval
“Getting pre‑approved for a mortgage before looking at properties gives you a more realistic expectation of what you can afford.” – CREA
According to CREA, a mortgage is a loan, generally used to buy a property. How much you pay depends on how much you borrow (the principal), the loan’s interest rate, and how long you take to pay it back (the amortization period). You can negotiate interest rates and mortgage terms with different lenders.
Assess mortgage products and different types of lenders to see what fits your needs helps you make an informed decision.
Recently, the Bank of Canada announced an emergency rate cut – the unscheduled March 27 reduction brought the overnight rate down to 0.25 percent, and the BoC described the level as being the policy rate’s “effective lower bound”. As such, many feel it is unlikely to be reduced any further.
“For its part, the Bank of Canada has taken measures to improve market function so that monetary policy actions have their intended effect on the economy,” the BoC said in a statement. “This helps ensure that households and businesses continue to have access to the credit they need to bridge this difficult time, and that lower interest rates find their way to ultimate borrowers.”
- Types of Mortgages
What type of mortgage is best for you?
1. Fixed rate mortgages: Your interest rate is locked in for a specified period called a term. Your payments stay the same for the mortgage’s term so you will not pay more if interest rates increase over time.
2. Variable rate mortgages: Rate of interest you pay may change if rates go up or down.
3. Conventional mortgages: Require a down payment of 20% or more of the property’s value. You are not required to get mortgage default insurance with a conventional mortgage.
4. Closed mortgages: The mortgage cannot be paid off early without paying a prepayment charge.
5. Open mortgages: A mortgage that can be paid off at any time during the term, without having to pay a charge. The interest rate for an open mortgage may be higher than for a closed mortgage with the same term.
3. Determine your down payment amount
Just because the bank approves you for a certain amount doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. Think about what would happen if you lost your job and stay unemployed for three months or if you have any other unexpected financial situations.
Based on CREA’s Homebuyer’s Road Map, you may have to pay penalties if you prepay large portions of your mortgage early or if you break your mortgage due to unforeseen life changes. It is your right to know how lenders calculate prepayment penalties.
“Read your mortgage contract carefully and make sure you understand how penalties will be calculated before you sign.” – CREA
4. Find a real estate agent
If it’s your first time going through the process of buying a home, having a real estate agent by your side is extremely recommended. The agent knows essential information about the current market, fair pricing, neighbourhood amenities and so much more. They are there to guide you through the process and help you make the best decision for you.
The Real Estate Council of BC is the legislated regulatory agency that works to ensure real estate professionals have the skills and knowledge to provide you with a high standard of service.
Real estate professionals have a regulatory requirement to present you with some consumer information before providing services to you. When you become a client, you may be asked to sign a written agreement setting out you and the real estate professional’s responsibilities.
Contact us today to be connected with one of our agents who can help you achieve your goals.
5. Stay positive & open to opportunities
Maybe your first home will most likely look nothing like a multi-million-dollar property, but keep your options open for small renovations or upgrades that could help save money. Don’t concern too much about wallpaper, or lighting fixtures; these are easy to change or update. The things you should be more concerned about are the size and layout of the property, along with the condition of the roof, hot water system and plumbing, etc. — the reason why an inspection is one of the most important recommendations during this process.
6. Found your space, now what?
Buying a house requires a lot of time and effort but we can help you make the home buying process manageable and make the process as easy as possible. There are many things to consider along the process and an agent can help be your guide beyond finding your home. The home buying process is a long map all the way through your possession date!
You can count on Macdonald Realty to help you dream big and help you to make things happen. Visit our website to find more information: www.macrealty.com