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7 Steps
to Buying a
Home in Niagara

Buying a home in Niagara can be overwhelming. If you are new to the area or if it's your first purchase, there's a lot to know. To this day, I remember my first home purchase in 1986 as if it were yesterday. Though there were a few bumps in the road, what I remember most was my lack of understanding of the whole process as it was going on. I’m someone who likes to have control over things and that was more than a little uncomfortable for me. So, years later and now that I’m a REALTOR®, I try hard to educate the consumer, especially my own clients.

While you’ll find lots of articles about this topic, I wanted to create a simple version.  So here are the seven basics steps to buying a home in Niagara.

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1 Make a Decision to Buy a Home

Great decision, owing a home has great financial and personal benefits compared to renting. Exploring houses for sale can be a very exciting time. There are a few things to consider at this point.

Have you used a mortgage calculator to run figures? Do this to get a sense of what you can afford.

Do you want a condo/townhome versus single family residence? If you want low-maintenance a condo may be a good choice. If you want your own space, opt for a single family.

Is there a good chance you'll be in the Niagara area for several years?

Those are just a few of the initial questions to ask.

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2 Find a Knowledgeable Niagara REALTOR®
A licensed REALTOR®, acting as your buyer’s agent, will be your best friend during your home buying process. Not only do they have a fiduciary responsibility to protect you and your best interests, they understand the process from beginning to end and can connect you with the best mortgage providers, attorneys, inspectors and so on. Your buyer’s agent is your lifeline during the process and will hold your hand all the way through so getting one early on is the best way to go.
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3 Get Pre-Approved For Your Mortgage
The mortgage pre-approval process involves connecting with a mortgage person or your bank and allowing them to review your credit, work history, job situation, debt-to-income ratios, etc., and evaluate your ability to qualify for a home loan. If you can’t qualify for a mortgage or currently afford to make an all-cash offer there really isn’t any sense in continuing to search houses for sale until you’re financially ready.
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4 Begin Searching Houses for Sale
Now that you’re pre-approved for a mortgage, know how much you can afford and are comfortable spending, it’s time for the real excitement...finding a home!  Some of the main considerations in your house search should include location, proximity to work, area amenities, size and style, schools, etc.  Speak with your REALTOR® about this and allow them to give you some insight on all of these important factors. Once you and your REALTOR® have come up with a good “shopping list,” so to speak, it’s time to go view some homes in person. Don’t worry; your buyer’s agent will schedule appointments. Each house you go through will be a learning experience, don’t rush the process. You’ll start to notice things you do or don’t like in a home, will be sharing your feedback with your REALTOR®, and will eventually “just know” when you’ve found the right one.
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5 Make an Offer to Purchase and Begin Negotiating
So, you’ve found the home that you’d like to live in, have been pre-approved for a mortgage, and have a great REALTOR® representing you. It’s time to make an Offer to Purchase and negotiate terms. An Offer to Purchase is just’s an offer to a seller with specific terms in a legal document to purchase their house. Besides the pages of legal jargon, the contract includes various negotiable items such as price, earnest money and due diligence fees, and dates. The seller can accept your offer, reject it, make a counteroffer, or simply not respond. Now, prior to making an offer you’ll want to have a good idea of what the house is really worth so you don’t over pay. Your REALTOR® will help you with this part by studying comparable sold properties and using their knowledge of the area to help come up with what they feel is a “good, fair, price”.
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6 Do Your Due Diligence

Congratulations, you’re now under contract!  But the work isn’t over; and as a matter of fact, it’s just beginning. In order to complete your purchase, there are several things that need to be done:

  • Consult with your chosen mortgage person; provide them a copy of the contract, and pretty much do whatever they ask of you
  • Schedule closing (your REALTOR® likely knows a good real estate attorney and can make several recommendations
  • Schedule inspections (ask your REALTOR® to explain the various types of inspections you should consider) and later deal with negotiating over necessary repairs pending the results of the inspection(s)
  • Schedule a survey (if desired or required by the mortgage provider)
  • Arrange movers
  • Obtain homeowners insurance
  • Line up utilities
  • Complete a final walk through of the property
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7 Close On Your New House!
Here you are 30-60 days later and the closing date has arrived.  You’re in the attorney’s office with your REALTOR®, feeling excited and maybe a little nervous at the same time, and it’s time to sign the papers. In about 45 minutes to an hour, you’ll be walking out of there either shaking hands or hugging and in all likelihood, the next chapter in your life will have begun. Be proud. You’ve worked hard, so enjoy this accomplishment.

My goal in this article...

My goal in this article was not to explain all the nuances involved in the home buying process - there are many! - but instead, break it down into something a little more manageable and easier to grasp. Let your REALTOR® buyer’s agent focus on all the little details so you can focus on finding the perfect home. If you’re thinking about making a move, contact me. I’d like to get to know you a little bit, find out what you’re looking for, and help you in any way that I can.

Karen Mork

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Why Do I Need a Buyer's Agent?

What is a buyer's agent?

A buyer’s agent is a licensed Realtor who works on behalf of the buyer through the process of purchasing a home. The fiduciary relationship between the two parties is established when the buyer and agent both sign a “Buyer Agency Agreement,” which goes into detail about the buyer’s agent’s duties to you, how they’ll get paid, the duration of the contract, and what their role will be throughout the process. 

What is a buyer agent's role?

A buyer’s agent wears a lot of hats. They walk you through the process from day one, which is particularly important if you’re a first-time buyer. From there, they’ll bring you up-to-date listings that match your specific criteria (and no, you can’t always find them on your own using the internet.) They’ll negotiate with the seller on your behalf and help you figure out ways around sticky issues with the contract, costs, or closing dates. A buyer’s agent is your ally, and their duty is only to you.

What does a buyer's agent actually do?

A buyer’s agent wears a lot of hats. They walk you through the process from day one, which is particularly important if you’re a first-time buyer. From there, they’ll bring you up-to-date listings that match your specific criteria (and no, you can’t always find them on your own using the internet.) They’ll negotiate with the seller on your behalf and help you figure out ways around sticky issues with the contract, costs, or closing dates. A buyer’s agent is your ally, and their duty is only to you.

Some of the most important duties of a good buyer’s agent include:

  • Learning your needs in a home
  • Guiding you through the complex home buying process
  • Advocating for your best interests along the way
  • Educating you on current market conditions
  • Showing you the pros and cons of various areas or neighborhoods
  • Evaluating comparable properties to help you decide a property’s worth
  • Negotiating favorable contract terms for you
  • Connecting you with professionals such as attorneys, inspectors, etc.
  • Preparing written contracts and other addendums
  • Scheduling and managing inspections, surveys, closing, and other important milestones
  • Attending closing with you to ensure everything goes as planned

How will I pay the buyer's agent?

That’s the best part! It typically costs buyers nothing to use a buyer’s agent. In most cases buyer’s agents are actually paid by the seller. Say your buyer’s agent charges a 3% commission fee for their service; at closing, the seller will pay their own agent’s fee out of the proceeds, then also pay the buyer’s agent, too. For buyers, there is no financial downside to using a buyer’s agent whatsoever.

How to choose the best Niagara Buyer’s Agent for your needs?

When you’re looking to purchase a home in Niagara the most important thing you need - besides the funds to purchase it, of course! - is a good buyer’s agent. We’ve covered what makes a good buyer’s agent, but now let’s talk about how to choose one. Not just any Niagara realtor...the right one for your needs.

What makes a good buyer's agent?

First of all, what really makes a “good” buyer’s agent? Well, an agent who’s organized and detail oriented can make for the smoothest transaction possible. Someone who’s personable and easy to get along with can make your purchasing process more enjoyable, especially as you’re riding around with them for hours on end looking at homes. An agent with experience can recognize potential problems before they arise and know exactly how to handle them should they come up. One of the most overlooked factors is an agent that’s readily available at most times of the day provides you with a little more confidence in the process. Real estate is a 24/7 business!

It’s critical you trust your agent to act as your fiduciary and be your biggest proponent. That’s what they’re there for! A good buyer’s agent in Niagara will make you feel listened to, important, and they’ll never make you feel like you’re being “sold.”

If you’d like to speak to our top-notch buyer’s agents, call me at 905-341-5138, or send me a quick email.I’d be very excited for the opportunity to help you and earn your trust!

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all your dreams come true!

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