For future homeowners looking to buy a house this season, where should you begin? Buying a home in fall often means entering the market during a fairly busy time, but there are some things you can do ahead of time to help your experience go more smoothly. Here are some of our suggestions for items you should keep in mind before and during the process.
Keep an eye on interest rates
Interest rates have a large influence on the housing market, including supply and demand. In times of lower rates, demand for housing tends to rise, and evens out again when rates increase. Right now, the overnight rate sits at five per cent, with the retail prime rate at 7.20 per cent. Due to inflation, the Bank of Canada has introduced several rate hikes this year, making borrowing more expensive for homebuyers. If you plan on buying a home in fall, you should prepare for higher mortgage rates than we have seen in recent years. The fall tends to be a busy season for the housing market, but we will see if these constant rate hikes have any impact on demand.
Secure your pre-qualification
A pre-qualification is an important part of buying a home any time of the year, not just in the fall. Being pre-qualified gives you a boost in the market and can make your buying experience much less stressful. This is a process that tells you how much you might qualify for in mortgage financing, based on your current financial situation and current market trends. You can use this estimate to determine how much you may be able to afford in a mortgage, and whether you should take any action to improve your finances before your mortgage approval. A pre-qualification doesn’t guarantee you a mortgage, but it helps you plan ahead to ensure you understand your buying power. During busy market times, such as the fall, this is a big advantage.
Find the right real estate agent
Another essential aspect of buying a home in fall – and any time of the year – is securing a real estate agent who meets your needs. How can you find the agent who is the best fit for you? This involves doing some research and asking potential agents some questions! Ideally, your agent will be familiar with the area you are looking to buy. This will help them narrow down properties for you more quickly. It is also helpful if they have experience working with buyers in your situation, whether you are a first-time buyer, move-up buyer, or downsizer. Finally, good communication is key. The housing market can move quickly, so you will want to ensure you have reliable access to your agent. This is important for when you have any questions, or when it’s time to make an offer. Real estate agents simplify the buying process and help you navigate the market more confidently.
Determine a clear budget
Having a budget is crucial when buying a home. You need to have an accurate estimate of what you can afford so you can find the right property to meet your needs. Staying within your budget helps you manage your mortgage more comfortably, and lowers your odds of becoming house poor in the future. It can be tempting to look at homes beyond your budget, but do your absolute best to only consider properties you can afford. As far as creating your budget, you should focus on your income, employment, existing debts, and your credit score. These factors will tell you a bit about your current situation and finances. You can also work with your mortgage broker to determine an accurate budget! We can help you design a budget that meets your needs without sacrificing your financial freedom.
Take your time
Finally, don’t rush in the market! Buying a home in fall can be a busy experience, but you don’t want to hurry into buying a home that doesn’t meet your needs, or that you can’t afford. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and want to purchase a home as fast as you can so you can get out of the market. However, it is far better in the long run to take your time. Buying a home that works for you will give you much more satisfaction down the road, even if it takes a little longer to find. This is especially true if there is no pressing need to purchase a home right now. If you have a secure living situation, take advantage of that and don’t buy a property until you are truly ready.
Buying a home in fall is an exciting experience, but it can certainly feel a bit overwhelming too. Taking care to determine your budget, find a real estate agent, and get pre-qualified will help you limit stress and focus on finding the perfect property. Plus, using a mortgage broker will help you be even more successful! We can meet to discuss your housing needs and finances so we can find the best mortgage product for you.
If you have any questions about your mortgage, get in touch with me!