Buying a house timeline
This timeline is simply a memory aid for the
things you'll need to do when buying a new home. Your sequence may
differ greatly, although you'll probably need to do most of the
You may find your dream home in a week, or it
may take months. Your time frame will also hinge on whether you're
moving across town or across the country. It's smart to be prepared
for any scenario.
Six months out
Narrow your territory. Buyers generally buy town first, neighbourhood
second and house third. Location, style and cost are most important.
Cancel out the towns and neighbourhoods you don't care for. You
can do this on your own or on a one-time area tour with an agent.
Eliminate what you don't like.
Know your financial situation. Leave yourself
time to correct any problems. Have a down payment ready.
much house you can afford. While this is for your own use now,
it needs to be realistic. Later, your mortgage lender will set hard
limits on how much you can borrow.
Think about your budget, and structure your
home selection around that. Should you be looking at a townhouse
or a single-family dwelling? Some place downtown or out in the suburbs?
Are you looking at a new home or a resale?
Interview real estate agents to help you with
Three months out
Select a mortgage broker or a mortgage lender. They'll run your
credit and get preliminary information such as the amount you owe,
all liabilities, all assets and current banking information.
Let the broker know how big a down
payment you have. If the down payment is the minimal 5 percent or
10 percent, the mortgage will have to be insured. Talk with your
bank or mortgage company.
Double-check your buying power.
You don't want to waste time looking at homes you can't afford.
Get pre-approved -- not just pre-qualified
-- for a mortgage. The pre-approval term usually lasts between 60
and 90 days. Collect the required documents and paperwork. You should
obtain a pre-approval letter confirming the size of purchase you
Make sure you have a local real
estate attorney. Don't wait until you find a house to find a lawyer.
Most real estate companies have a roster of lawyers or someone in-house.
Six weeks out
If you're doing a corporate relocation, find out exactly what is
covered and what you're expected to pay for.
Make a list of everyone who needs
to be notified of the move -- friends, relatives, creditors, schools,
doctors, dentists, etc. Cancel newspaper and magazine subscriptions
or change to the new address. Contact your television provider.
Five weeks out
Select a mover. Arrange for a storage facility if you won't be moving
directly into a new home from your current home.
Contact insurance companies to
make sure your belongings are covered during the move. If not, find
out what the mover covers. Their basic insurance probably insures
items by the pound, which isn't good enough. See what other insurance
they offer. Have an appraisal of expensive items you want shipped
by the mover.
Two weeks out
Arrange to have utilities and phone service in your old home shut
off or transferred if it's a local move. Arrange for insurance on
the new dwelling.
One week out
If you're moving out of town, close your safety deposit box. Important
papers, jewelry and the like should be kept with you during the
You may want to close savings accounts,
but keep chequing accounts open until you're able to open new ones
in your new location. Change your address on all legal documents,
such as your driver's licence.
Arrange a method of payment for
When you find a house
Make an offer subject to financing and any other conditions with
Inspection: the real estate agent
will recommend having a home inspection, and it should be a condition
of the sale.
Once the negotiations have ended,
a conditional sale is in place
The lender will hire an appraiser who
will ascertain whether the house is worth what the buyer is paying.
Once the appraisal has been supplied to the lender and the final
qualifying process is completed, the mortgage broker will confirm
the financing approval with a written letter. If the home inspection
was satisfactory, the conditions will be removed by the real estate
agent to firm up the sale.
Be prepared for closing. Review
your paperwork. The down payment, interest, taxes, insurance and
legal fees are among the costs you'll probably have to pay. Figure
out where you'll get the money for closing costs. Do you have to
sell stocks? If you're borrowing from a relative, make sure the
funds are in your account.
Closing day/moving day
If you are transferring and the old house isn't sold yet, make sure
a relative and the real estate agent have keys. Give your real estate
agent all of your new phone numbers and complete new address.
Take a final walk through the new
house. This is usually done the day of the closing or the day before.
Make sure you have all the payments
you'll need to take possession of the house.
assistance from Beverly Horbay, a real estate agent with 18 years
of experience, currently working with Sutton Group in Medicine Hat,
Jasmine Miller is a writer in Toronto.