Saskatoon Real Estate Home Buyers Guide
How do you buy a home in Saskatoon? Well, I can tell you it doesn’t work like it does on HGTV. It’s a complex and complicated process that involves conscious thought, time, evaluation, education, dedication, patience, and sometimes emotion. Navigating the process can be difficult without the help of professionals and leaves a greater chance of running into problems down the road.
Home ownership can be a gratifying source of pride, and can provide for financial gain. It’s likely the largest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime, and you’ll want to be educated and prepared, in order to make the right decisions along the way. If you think you’re ready to buy a home in Saskatoon, this Saskatoon Real Estate Home Buyers Guide is a good starting point to help you understand the process and prepare to begin the journey.
Step 1 – Financial Preparation
The first step to buying a house or condo in Saskatoon is to ensure you’re financially ready. In Saskatchewan, a minimum of 5% of the purchase price is required as a down payment so you’ll need to have a large chunk of change saved up, or gifted to you in order to move to the next step. You’ll also want to ensure your credit score is good, and that you have a stable income or long term job security. Your lender will likely ask for pay-stubs, employment letters, and proof of your down payment. If you’re self-employed, the lender will likely ask for things like tax returns and Notice of Assessments. Get your finances and credit in line before taking the next step.
Step 2 – Get Pre-Qualified for a Mortgage
Once you feel secure in your financial position, you’ll need to find out how much a lender (bank or mortgage broker) is willing to lend you. When you pre-qualify for a mortgage, your lender will look at things like your down payment, your income, your debts, and your and your credit history. Once your lender is satisfied with these items, you will be provided with a written pre-approval document (usually a one-pager from your bank or broker stating your interest rate and other details). Once you have a mortgage pre-qualification, you’ll know how much you can spend on a home. Have you ever heard of the term “house poor”? Go online or download an app for your smart-phone to play on a mortgage calculator. This will help you determine what is realistic for you or your family; everyone spends differently so you’ll need to take your spending habits into account and make adjustments to those if need be.
Pre-qualifying for a mortgage not only allows you to narrow your criteria down for your home search, it helps to set you up for a successful purchase eliminating the worry about financing when you finally find the right home. You can feel secure when writing your offer, knowing you’ll be able to satisfy the financing condition in your offer.
Feel free to use the mortgage calculator to satisfy your curiosity.
Step 3 – Make your Wants and Needs list
Before calling your Realtor®, you’ll need to know what it is you’re looking for in a home. What neighbourhood do you want to live in? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Do you need a garage or a large yard? It’s important to consider your lifestyle, and where you spend your time. If you’re making the purchase with a partner, you’ll want to make sure you’re both on the same page. It’s also important to know what items you can compromise on. Another thing to consider is if you’re prepared to take on any renovations. There are lots of homes that require reasonably inexpensive upgrades and cosmetic touch-ups that get overlooked when buyers are shopping for a home.
Step 4 – Select your team
Buying a house or condo in Saskatoon is not something that you’ll want to go alone. Use the resources that are at little to no cost to you like mortgage brokers, lawyers, home inspectors, professional trades people and Realtors® for their experience and knowledge. These people specialize in their areas of expertise and can offer advice and information that could save you thousands of dollars down the road. If you don’t know any professionals in these fields, ask your Saskatoon Realtor® for referrals. Feel free to contact my trusted professionals HERE.
Step 5 – House Hunting
You’re pre-qualified for a mortgage, have your list of wants, needs and have chosen a Realtor®, it’s time to start looking at listings and houses. Most people these days start their search online on sites like realtor.ca or Point2Homes, but your Realtor® has access to the MLS® and can narrow down the search criteria to exactly what you’re searching for and send these listings directly to your inbox so that you don’t have to spend time sorting through hundreds of listings that aren’t a fit for you. Viewing listings online is a great starting point; this helps you gain some information on pricing, styles of homes, neighbourhoods and it helps you determine what you’re attracted to. The next step is to choose some properties (or have your Realtor® choose for you), and go out to view them in person with your Realtor®. Houses look and feel very differently in photos than they do in person so this should help you really know which home is for you. Most people “just feel it” when they’re in the right home for them. Try to be open minded and objective, and ask questions about each property. Some things to consider about each home are general features (condition, finishes, appliances, size, layout, style), number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location and proximity to things like restaurants, bus stops, schools, friends and family etc., lot details like size and features, and resale. Sometimes it’s helpful to rank these items in a chart, or keep notes on the homes you visit. Feel free to search the Saskatoon MLS® HERE.
Step 6 – Making an Offer
You’ve fallen in love, can’t stop thinking about “the one”; It’s time to write an offer! This part of the process can be exciting, and make you bite your nails at the same time. There are two things required for making an offer: one is a copy of your photo ID, as required by FINTRAC; the other, is a deposit cheque (handling and timelines will be outlined in the offer documents. Once, we have your ID and we’ve discussed the deposit we’ll start by reviewing the offer documents (typically, the Agency Disclosure, Ancillary Services, and the Contract of Purchase and Sale). These are standard forms required by our governing bodies, which are legally binding and contain all of the details about the purchase (deposit amount, price, terms, conditions, inclusions, possession date etc.). Once the offer is submitted to the seller and their agent, they have three options: they can accept the offer, counter the offer or reject the offer. There may be a bit of back and forth, so it’s important to be able to compromise. Your Realtor® will work hard to get you what you want. Depending what market conditions are like, you may be involved in a bidding war, or a multiple offer situation. Your Realtor® will discuss with you the strategies on how put your best possible foot forward in those scenarios.
Step 7 – Fulfilling Conditions
Most of the time, the Contract of Purchase and Sale will allow for conditions. These conditions are inserted into the document as a means of protecting you (the buyer) and allowing you time to meet certain requirements and complete your due diligence in order for the sale to go through. Conditions might include confirmation of financing, a home inspection, a review of any pertinent documents like a surveyor’s certificate, estoppel certificate, a property condition disclosure statement, or it the offer might be conditional on the sale of your current home. Once all of the conditions are met, and you’re happy with everything, you will sign a document called a “removal of conditions”. Once this form is submitted, the sale is considered firm and the deposit will be held in trust until we forward it to your lawyer, who you will meet with prior to your possession date. You can start packing now, if you haven’t already!
Step 8 – Closing and Possession
Congratulations! You’re almost a Saskatoon homeowner! When possession and title to the property are transferred to you from the seller, it’s considered as “closing”. Your lawyer will be responsible for drafting up the necessary paperwork and preparing the documents required for the transfer of ownership. They will work with your lender to ensure the seller receives the funds, and you’ll want to ensure you have made contact with your lawyer a couple weeks in advance of your scheduled possession date. There will be a cost for the lawyers service; you may request a quote from your lawyer in advance to determine closing costs. Read more about what costs to expect at closing here.