The First-Time Homebuyers Guide to Buying Your First Home

The First-Time Homebuyers Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Buying a home will likely be one of the most expensive financial decisions you’ll ever make. For that reason, it’s no wonder why purchasing a home is often a very lengthy process and a stressful one as well. 

For first-time homebuyers, it tends to be that much more time-consuming and stressful.

For first-time homebuyers there can be a lot of unknowns and uncertainty they come across when they start purchasing a home. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things you learn along the way and only realize while you’re going through it.

This is exactly why both knowing and taking the right steps is extremely critical – it makes it all a little more bearable; ignoring the necessary steps makes it worse.

Beyond browsing listings and getting excited for the day you get the keys, there are some additional key bases to cover – here are eight critical steps you’ll need to take when buying a house.

1. Do your research and do it early

Market research

If you’re unsure of where to start researching, a good place to start would be to look at things such as housing prices, neighbourhoods, types of homes available, and other house-focused variables (bedrooms and bathrooms come to mind…). Gaining familiarity will not only help with the raw facts of the situation but will also better prepare you for the inevitable ups and downs in the buying or selling process.

Real estate can bring up a lot of emotions; build up your knowledge so emotions don’t get the better of you.

Legal and financial research

Next, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with any legal and/or financial requirements.

You’ll want to have precise information for things like:

  • ➜ Appraisals
  • ➜ Home inspections
  • ➜ Homeowners insurance
  • ➜ Financing options (including the down payment)
  • ➜ General closing costs
  • ➜ Lawyer and other legal fees
  • ➜ Realtor fees
  • ➜ Mortgage fees

This list isn’t completely exhaustive – your realtor and lawyer can provide you with a full list depending on your unique situation – but starting with these must-have items will help you ask the right questions in order to get the right answers.

Understand the costs

Lastly, make yourself aware of the different types of costs, such as upfront costs, ongoing costs, and major repairs.

Upfront costs include:

  • ➜ Down payment (consider using a Shared Equity program to assist you with this)
  • ➜ Closing costs, and
  • ➜ Taxes, etc

Ongoing costs would include:

  • ➜ Mortgage payments
  • ➜ Condo fees (if applicable)
  • ➜ Homeowner insurance, and
  • ➜ Property taxes

Costs for major repairs might include roof replacements, foundation repairs, or other large cosmetic changes you choose to make to the house (for example, updating the kitchen).

The goal here is to ensure you’re well-prepared for what’s ahead. That way, you don’t jump in with a blindfold on. Buying a house is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll make in your life, just remember that when you’re doing your research.

2. Understand your budget and how much you can realistically afford

Buying a house will ultimately cost more than the accepted purchase price. It’s crucial to get a realistic understanding of how much you can afford to spend on your home without compromising your financial health.

When assessing your budget, be realistic with yourself for where you are right now. While you can also think about how future potential earnings, expenses, and debts will fit into the equation, don’t make decisions on hypothetical data points.

A useful tip is to be very mindful of the not-so-obvious costs such as home inspections, moving fees, mortgage loan insurance (if required), legal fees, appraisal fees, and more. Again, this is why doing your research ahead of time will keep you way ahead of the game.

As a starting point, most lenders will recommend homes costing between 3-5x the amount of your annual household income if you’re making a 20% downpayment. If you’re putting down less as a 20% downpayment, scale the house cost down to about 2-4x your annual household income since you’ll have to pay mortgage insurance and end up taking on more debt as a percentage of house cost.

3. Get pre-approved for your mortgage

Once you’ve finished creating your budget, it’s time to meet with a mortgage broker or lender. This is where you’ll start discussing things such as financing options, mortgage terms, interest rates, and more.

While a budget gives you a snapshot of what you can afford, pre-approval is the amount that a lender is willing to give you. Getting pre-approval means going through a qualifying process that will look at things like your credit history, employment history, and current earnings.

While you could theoretically apply for a mortgage after you find a home or make an offer, this isn’t recommended because mortgage approvals can take a long time. If you don’t come with a pre-approval, you might miss the perfect home in a hot market.

Further, pre-approval helps make your budget that much more realistic, helping narrow your search down to a specific home type, size, or neighbourhood.

Before you get pre-approved, your mortgage broker or lender will require some critical info to review how much you’ll be approved for. Here’s what you’ll need to bring with you:

  • ➜ Government-issued photo IDs (with current address)
  • ➜ Proof of address (and history of previous addresses if you recently moved)
  • ➜ Employment history including contact information for your current employer
  • ➜ Proof of income
  • ➜ Proof of down payment
  • ➜ Proof of savings and investments
  • ➜ Details of your current debts and other financial commitments

Be honest with your agent or broker in this process. If you give incorrect information and get pre-approval, you risk losing the mortgage when the time comes and the bank completes its due diligence.

4. Find an agent and shop for your home

Once you’ve gotten through the first few steps, it’s now time to have a little bit of fun.

If you haven’t found an agent yet, it’s a smart move to find one before attending open houses because it makes the process easier. For example, if you attend an open house and fall in love with it, having an agent means you’re able to move forward with putting in an offer. Whereas if you go to an open house but don’t have an agent, you might need to backpedal a bit and go find one before you can do anything.

Your real estate agent’s role will be to:

  • ➜ Help you find homes that fit your criteria
  • ➜ Tell you about the community and neighbourhoods
  • ➜ Submit an offer on your behalf
  • ➜ Negotiate prices and conditions on your behalf

The worst thing you can do when searching for an agent is not asking questions such as: 

  • ➜ How much do you charge? 
  • ➜ How do you typically communicate with your clients? 
  • ➜ Do you have any guarantees? 

Take it as a learning opportunity, and a way for you to determine if your prospective agent is really working in your best interest and a good fit for your situation.

When you start your search, try to look for something that you can see yourself living in for the next 5-10 years. While this isn’t always an easy thing to do depending on your financial situation, it’s recommended. The last thing you’ll want to do is have to relocate over and over again every time you increase your net worth.

Key things to consider while you’re on the hunt for your new home include: 

  • ➜ Location
  • ➜ Size of the home
  • ➜ Special features of the home
  • ➜ Your lifestyle 

Your mortgage pre-approval will help you narrow down on these criteria to see what’s within reach.

The home you choose, or the home that chooses you, will have an impact on your finances and your overall lifestyle for many years to come. 

Don’t rush the hunt, instead take the time you need to make the best decision for yourself and your family.

5. Make an offer on your future home

You’ve done your research, created a realistic budget, received your pre-approval, and found a home you can see yourself living in.

Now what?

Well, now it’s time to make an official offer on your – 🤞fingers crossed🤞 – future home!

This is now where you’ll be working with your agent to provide an offer of purchase on the home and to negotiate prices (and other terms) based on comparable homes and market conditions.

Your offer of purchase is a legal contract between you and the seller, so it’s important to make sure it’s carefully prepared by your agent and/or lawyer.

Here’s what you should include in your offer:

  • ➜ Your legal name, seller’s name and the address of the property
  • ➜ The offer amount (purchase price of the home)
  • ➜ The amount of your deposit
  • ➜ Additional items to be included in the purchase (appliances, furniture, etc)
  • ➜ Closing date (the date you’ll be taking over possession)
  • ➜ Request to survey the land and property
  • ➜ Expiry date (the date when your offer expires)
  • ➜ Any other conditions that must be met (inspections, lending approvals, etc)

6. Get your mortgage approved

Once the seller has accepted your offer, it’s time to visit your broker or lender to finalize the details of your mortgage.

Before making that visit, make sure to carefully review any conditions that were included in your offer and double-check what you’ll need to bring to the meeting. Chances are you’ll need the following:

  • ➜ The property listing (and or photographs of the property)
  • ➜ Estimated costs for any recent or planned home improvements
  • ➜ The description of the property (includes dimensions, sizes, unique features, etc)
  • ➜ An appraisal
  • ➜ A home inspection report
  • ➜ An assessment of the property taxes
  • ➜ A land survey
  • ➜ Heating and utility costs associated
  • ➜ Condominium fees (if applicable to your property)
  • ➜ Lastly, the signed offer to purchase your new home!

If you need anything else, your mortgage broker or banker will let you know, as specifics will depend on your unique situation. If you’re concerned, ask upfront during the pre-approval process if a certain situation in your financial life will affect your mortgage application.

7. Close the deal

At closing, here’s where you’ll sign all of that fun paperwork to make the purchase official! This process typically takes a couple of days for your loan to be funded after the paperwork is returned to the lender.

Closing day is when you finally take legal possession and get the keys to your new home.

8. Relax, smile, and enjoy your new home

You’ll be able to relax even more after following the above 7 steps.

Remember, being a homeowner is both an investment and a commitment. Your hard work doesn’t stop once you get the keys. It’s up to you to make sure that you’re taking care of your home, paying your bills, and even looking for opportunities to continue improving your home’s value through renovations and home improvements. 

Becoming a first-time homebuyer_ Cash flow is everything and more

First-time homebuyer? Cash flow is everything

First-time homebuyers constantly face financial pressures, a lot of them. There’s the urgency to save for a down payment (which we can help with), the inevitable legal and closing fees, and moving costs, to name a few.

But there’s one really major financial pressure that many new homeowners find themselves under – the cash crunch in the early days after getting the keys to their new home. It’s not uncommon for first-time homebuyers to have next to little money left over after moving into their new home. In fact, it’s very common. This creates a ton of stress and turns the short-lived excitement of a new home into tremendous anxiety. 

This alone is just one of the many reasons why we’re supporting first-time homebuyers by providing the down payment

In addition to the tireless amount of saving you’ve done to buy your first home, it’s super important to understand the upcoming expenses and make sure that you have sufficient cash-flow to pay for them. 

But just how much should you tuck away to pay for these expenses? Traditionally, experts have recommended saving the equivalent of three months’ salary for any expenses related to moving into a new home. Now while this might seem like a bit of a stretch, you should actually consider saving even more than that. Here’s why:

First-year surprises

When a friend of mine first bought her first home, the first thing she noticed was the bills. In the first year she was getting a steady stream of letters from various organizations demanding money for this and for that. Just about every utility that serviced the home had an account transfer fee. Even the municipality charged a change of ownership fee for the property taxes.

Then there’s the chance of unexpected surprises that [do] happen on closing. We’ve all heard the horror stories of sellers taking all of the light bulbs with them, or leaving the home full of garbage that needed to be hauled away – unfortunately, these situations happen. Chances are most of these expenses will be relatively small, but having a solid amount of money tucked away and additional cash on hand will help keep these annoyances from becoming disasters.

Things break

When you own a home, you become the newly appointed landlord. That means there’s no one to call when things go wrong or break. And, unless your new home is newly constructed, there’s also no warranty.

The minute you get your keys, the home – and everything in it – becomes your responsibility. Things will break, and it’s possible that a major component of the house could fail even on the first day you own it. Your furnace could fail. So could your air conditioner, water heater, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, oven or refrigerator. Sounds expensive right? That’s because it is. 

Insurance won’t help, either. Your home insurance is intended to cover you in the event of a major loss- a fire, theft, or vandalism. It doesn’t protect you against broken down appliances or general wear and tear.

 Again, having a solid amount of money tucked away and additional cash-flow will help keep these major expenses from completely busting your budget.

Mortgage payments are non-optional

We would never recommend paying your rent late, and for obvious reasons. Your credit can take a hit, and you could even be evicted from your home. You’re almost certain to lose your deposit on top of  being sued for the amount you owe. It’s just not a good situation whatsoever, but the repercussions are fairly self-limiting.

However, when you own your home, everything is at stake. If you fall too far behind paying your mortgage, the lender (or mortgage insurer) can evict you from your home and sell it to recover what you owe them. In certain provinces with power of sale, money left over after all of their expenses and fees will be returned to you. In provinces with foreclosure, you lose everything no matter what.

In both cases, if the home sale doesn’t cover all of what you owe, you remain completely liable for the difference. And in the absolute worst case, you could have to declare bankruptcy, which has a long-lasting effect on your ability to get any sort of credit. 

Having a sizable amount of savings tucked away can help prevent this situation in a few ways. In the worst-case scenario, your savings (let’s call it an emergency fund) can help you keep making mortgage payments while you sell your home on your own terms.

Added tip: By having access to the full down payment amount through ARCH you’ll be able to lower the total amount owing on the home, meaning that your monthly mortgage payments (and interest) will be considerably lower. This means you’ll have more cash on a monthly basis to tuck away in a savings and emergency fund. 

Credit will be harder to come by – at least at first

When you buy a home you can expect your credit score to take a hit, at least at first. Couple that with having recently moved (and a recent job change, if you’ve moved for work), and you are suddenly no longer an ideal candidate for borrowing any sort of money. Your savings (and cash-flow) can help carry you through this period after buying a home when it may be harder to get approved for traditional types of loans. 

Fortunately, if (and when) you make all of your mortgage payments on time, your status as a homeowner could actually make it easier for you to borrow money in the future.

Cash-flow is king

Having a sufficient amount of savings and additional cash on a monthly basis isn’t just a good idea, it’s absolutely necessary when you’re on your way to becoming a new homeowner. Having some extra savings can make the transition to ownership easier, and it can make the early days of having your own home a lot less stressful, too.

4 benefits brokers and agents gain from using ARCH down payment program

4 benefits brokers and agents gain by using ARCH

The ever-rising housing costs and regulations around purchasing a home in Canada not only makes the dream of home ownership difficult for first-time home buyers, but it also makes the role of real-estate professionals ever-challenging.

When your clients are faced with rules and regulations that become obstacles, it means you’re also faced with figuring solutions that fit their situation, and will actually benefit them in the long run. 

One of the major challenges that has become a topic of discussion across the Nation, is down payment requirements. To no surprise, most Canadians have the liquidity to take on and carry mortgage costs, but they lack sufficient funding to put upfront for the down payment.

And if you’re clients have been faced with this, which is probably likely, you’ll know all too well how disheartening it can be for individuals and young families looking to get into their first home. 

Well, we’ve got good news!

We’re actively partnering with local real-estate networks, agents, as well as mortgage brokers and agents who are looking for new, alternative, and innovative ways to help their clients get into their first home.

The reason is quite simple.

Working together means we can help more first-time home buyers achieve their goal of becoming home owners. And without having to feel like they’ve been stretched too thin.

By partnering with us you’ll gain immediate benefits that will both help you continue to grow your business as well as make your clients happy.

Here are 4 benefits that you’ll gain:

1. Help your clients get more value

Partnering with ARCH means that you’ll help your clients access a legitimate source of funding for the down payment. Which is exactly what they’ve been looking for.

That means your clients can take a deep sigh of relief knowing they won’t have to save every penny of theirs to come up with the 5% minimum, because they’ll now have the full amount. And you know what that means? It means they won’t have to settle on the size or amount of a home, because their approval amount will likely increase as a result of having the full amount for a down payment.

And it also means that you can now become the real-estate superhero your clients have been dreaming of.

2. Convert renters to homeowners

Partnering with ARCH means that you’ll have confidence in offering home ownership support to your clients that are currently stuck, or at least feel like they’re stuck, in the rental market.

It’s time to help your clients stop paying for someone else’s mortgage and create the opportunity for them to start building their own equity.

3. Re-engage with past, previously unprepared clients

 Chances are you have dozens, if not even hundreds, of potential clients who became interested in purchasing their first home, but fell short due to the down payment requirements.

Well, now you can start re-engaging with past clients who weren’t quite ready to make the commitment due to this barrier, letting them know that the wait is up and that home ownership is calling their name. 

4. Access a trusted, professional network

When you partner with ARCH, you gain access to the various real-estate organizations that we work with, in addition to our network of qualified first-time home buyers.

We’re focused on a win-win-win approach.

The better we can help your clients gain comfort in the home buying process, the better we are able to help them reach their real estate dreams. 

Getting your clients into their first home

There’s no argument that saving up for the down payment is one of the major challenges most Canadians are struggling with when it comes to purchasing their first home.

But it doesn’t have to be, not anymore.

By having access to the full down payment through ARCH’s program, we are able to help your clients reach home owner status.  

4 direct benefits you gain from using ARCH for the down payment on your first home

4 direct benefits you get by using ARCH

With the ever-rising housing costs and the regulated requirements around purchasing a home in Canada, the dream of home ownership seems like it’s becoming a [very] one for nearly every first-time homebuyer.

While most Canadians can actually afford the monthly payments required to take on a mortgage, they lack one of the biggest components of the entire home buying process:

The required down payment.

What once used to be considered a normal thing of having the full down payment at the time of purchase, has now become a huge financial hurdle – and certainly the biggest one when it comes to purchasing that first home of yours.

Let’s put it this way…

Did you know that nearly 50% of all renters in Canada have less than a total of $5,000 to their name?

That’s hardly enough to cover just the closing costs alone.

To say it’s a massive problem is a bit of an understatement.

Even more so, the traditional ways of coming up with a down payment (savings, loans, gifts) aren’t quite as “accessible” as they once used to be.

And that’s exactly why we’ve created a new way to help first-time homebuyers just like yourself to come up with the required (and full) down payment.

Having the full down payment will multiply your benefits as a new home owner. Here are 4 direct benefits you’ll gain:

1. Get into the housing market quicker

With having access to the full amount for a required down payment, it’s [finally] time to start feeling better about the homebuying process.

As long as you’ve had those conversations with your mortgage broker and even real-estate agent, you’re ready to make the move into the housing market.

There’s no more waiting until you’ve saved at least 5% for the down payment, because you’ll have 20%. Which means you won’t need to worry about how much the marketing will increase before you’re ready to buy, because you’ll be ready to buy.

There’s no time like the present, and we’re here to help guide you.

2. Stop paying someone else’s mortgage, start building your equity

It’s finally time to stop paying rent and funding someone’s mortgage on a property that will continue to go up in value over the course of even just 5 years.

Instead, it’s time to focus on paying off your mortgage and start building your equity so that you can not only feel good about owning your home, but so that you can start building your future wealth.

3. Lower your monthly payments

 Our goal isn’t to help you out with a small portion of the down payment, it’s to make sure that you’re putting down 20% of the required down payment.

In other words, our job is to make sure that you have the full down payment.

By having the full amount to put down towards your future home, the total amount of the mortgage you’ll take on significantly decreases.

Meaning what exactly?

Ultimately, that means you’ll be paying considerably less on a monthly basis, and you’ll even avoid having to pay any sort of mortgage loan insurance that’s required to pay for anything less than a down payment of 20%. Which means, you guessed it, your monthly payments will go down even more.

Here’s the tough part…

Deciding what you’ll do with that extra money you’ll have every month. Are you focused on building your investments, saving for annual vacations, or paying off your mortgage quicker?

4. Avoid paying unnecessary interest

One of the best benefits is that you’ll pay considerably less in interest overtime.

For starters, you’re not taking on any sort of additional monthly loans to help fund your down payment. With ARCH, you pay back the initial investment when you later sell your home.

That means you won’t be taking on any monthly payments (or interest) other than what’s tied to your mortgage.

Additionally, by being able to take on a smaller mortgage, you’ll immediately decrease the total amount owing on your home, your monthly payments, and the interest you’re paying on that loan.

It’s like a win-win-win situation… but possibly even better.

Getting into your first home

There’s no argument that saving up for the down payment is one of the major challenges most Canadians are struggling with when it comes to purchasing their first home.

But it doesn’t have to be, not anymore.

By having access to the full down payment through ARCH Foundations, not only will we help you when it comes to the down payment portion, you’ll also get the rest of the benefits that come along with putting up the full amount.

Finally, something to feel better about when it comes to purchasing your first home. 

October 2020 Housing Market Update with ARCH

Canadian Housing Market Update: October 2020

According to the recent housing data published by CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association), Canadian home sales remain historically strong in October 2020. For many, the strength of the market in October continues to show no signs of slowing down any time soon, and making up for the quiet (compared to normal) activity we saw during the Spring months. Here's a quick recap of what we saw in October 2020:
  • National home sales edged back 0.7% on a month-over-month (m-o-m) basis in October.
  • Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 32.1% year-over-year (y-o-y).
  • The number of newly listed properties rose 2.9% from September to October.
  • The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 1% m-o-m and was up 10.9% y-o-y.
  • The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price posted a 15.2% y-o-y gain in October.
June 2020 Housing Update - Arch

Canadian Housing Market Update: June 2020

According to the recent housing data published by CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association), Canadian home sales and new listings were on the rise again in June. For many, this is a great sign of the economy working on recalibrating from previous slow months in April and May due to many unforeseen factors thanks to economic and societal pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a quick recap of what we saw in June 2020:

• National home sales rose 63% on a month-over-month (m-o-m) basis in June.
• Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity was up 15.2% year-over-year (y-o-y).
• The number of newly listed properties climbed 49.5% from May to June.
• Actual (not seasonally adjusted) new supply stood 4.8% above June 2019.
• The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) rose 0.5% m-o-m and was up 5.4% y-o-y.
• The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average sale price posted a 6.5% y-o-y gain.