Calgary offers real estate for everyone. There are a wide variety of Calgary homes and condos for sale, ranging in prices and styles. Even though your perfect first home is out there, knowing where to start can be a challenge. Here are a few tips for first time home buyers in Calgary.
If you have more questions, feel free to contact us. We also offer free, no-obligation advice for first time Calgary home buyers.
Determine your budget and goals
Tip 1: Get pre-approved for the mortgage
This is the most essential first step when you are thinking of buying a home in Calgary. Don’t start anywhere else then with a phone call to your bank or mortgage agent. We can write pages about the mortgage rules, when you qualify, how much down payment you need, but one call to your banker and you are covered with the correct answers.
Tip 2: Talk to both your bank and a mortgage agent
And plan a visit or a call instead of emailing or scrambling for the answers. Take your time to get clear answers to all your questions, and ask as many questions as you need.
Tip 3: Get the numbers straight for yourself
Once you know if you can borrow and how much you can borrow, figure out your personal budget. How much do you want to spend per month? What is left over after your mortgage, property taxes and utilities? Be sure to understand the other costs involved when you buy a home and once you own the home.
Tip 4: See what homes fall within your budget
Have a good look at all the options, from condos to townhouses to single-family houses. Explore different neighbourhoods in Calgary. If you need more information about the communities, read the community descriptions for SW Calgary, NW Calgary, SE Calgary and NE Calgary. Or browse Calgary condos for sale.
Tip 5: Think about your future plans
Are you moving in a few years already? Do you want to start a family in the next few years? Is your plan to buy more homes in the future and become a landlord or an investor? All important questions you’ll need to think about.
Find a realtor
Tip 6: Ask a realtor to help
Especially when it is your first home, do not do it on your own. A realtor can help you make the right decisions, help you understand the process, help you negotiate, explain the contract, and much more. In most cases (and we dare to say in more than 99% of the cases) your buying agent is getting paid by the selling agent. So no money out of your pocket and you are better protected. Know that more than 95% of transaction take place with two agents to avoid conflict of interest.
Tip 7: Read the Consumer Relationship Guide
The Alberta Consumer Relationship Guide is a document by the Alberta Real Estate Association, and it explains the relationship between a realtor and consumer.
Tip 8: Brainstorm and talk with your realtor
Good information and feedback should come out of that conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure your realtor is not living on their last commission cheque, and therefore has to push you into a home. A good realtor will take the time to sit down with you, explain you the process, listen to your needs, answer your questions…and all that without any obligation. If your realtor doesn’t work for you or doesn’t communicate well with you, find another realtor.
Tip 9: It is not important what office your agent works for
Branding is just marketing in “real estate land.” There are more than 5,000 realtors in Calgary, and many agents are with big name offices. Some are worldwide and some are local. Some have 500 agents and some have just five. The fact is that all agents pull from the MLS and offer the same listings. So really understand that office or brand name is not important. It is all about the realtor and their relationship with you.
The home buying process
Tip 10: Start the buying process early
Put your real estate antennas out long before your actual purchase. Six months or even 12 months is great. In Calgary, realtors can offer you to send you homes within your price range, in communities of your choice and with the criteria you are looking for. Looking at homes online for a while gives you a very good feel of the market, the prices and your options. The more you know, the better decisions you make! And that service is free, so why not!
Tip 11: Get your wants and needs straight
Granite countertops are a want, not a need. Three bedrooms are often a need, and not a want. Location is important, and location is something you cannot change. Remember – you can change the countertop to granite when you can afford it.
Tip 12: Get a home inspection
Really an important tip. Yes, it is money out of your pocket, but that cost of a home inspection you forget, while the consequences of the leak in-between the ceilings you won’t. And use a home inspector that uses thermal imaging. Sure another $100 more, but incredibly useful considering what thermal imaging can see and therefore prevent.
Tip 13: For condo buyers
Make sure to understand what it means to buy a condo, and therefore buy into a condo corporation.
Get a condo document review done by a specialist. There are several condo document review specialists in Calgary that study the financials of any condo corporation. Although you can never eliminate a special assessment, checking the financials and the minutes of the condo corporation will be your best bet in avoiding one. Learn more here about special assessments.
Be sure to read the condo bylaws. Are pets allowed? Is there an age restriction? Can I install an A/C? Is my parking stall titled, assigned or leased? All very valid questions when you buy into a corporation!
And learn about the condo fees. Yes, condo fees can be high. But don’t forget that a healthy reserve fund is better than an empty jar that saved you $50 a month. If your roof needs replacing, it needs replacing. And if that jar is empty, it is coming out of your pocket.
Tip 14: For first-time home buyers who want to buy a new build
Ask your realtor to come along the first time you set foot into any showhome. Some builders waive you the right to ask your realtor to help you once you come in without your agent.
Sales crew in showhomes are working for the builder, not you. Builders have their own contracts and are not bound by the same rules that realtors are.
Get a home inspection! Even in new builds, you’d be surprised about the crap that comes up. Get a home inspection!
Tip 15: Take your time!
When buying a home, especially when you buy for the first time: take your time. Be patient. Buying a home is a big decision. You want to do it right. And if in doubt, sleep over it.
Tip 16: Get a free consultation
The last tip and best tip we can offer you to ask us for free and no-obligation advice for first time home buyers in Calgary. We will sit down with you and go over the process. We explain it all, and we answer your questions. We brainstorm with you about your options and tell you which mistakes not to make. We can even explain to you how to save money. This one-is-one is absolutely free and with no obligation. And coffee is on us!