Thinking of buying your first home? It's normal to feel a little anxious and possibly overwhelmed. After all, it's the biggest financial decision you will make in your lifetime. In an effort to remove some stress from the buying process, here are a few tips from our team.

1. Get Your Finances in Order
Getting your finances in order is one of the most important things that you can do.  To get started you will need to talk to a lender and find how much you are pre-approved for.  Many agents won't even work with a buyer if they have not consulted a mortgage professional.  Getting pre-approved has some great benefits especially in today's market.  You will have a better understanding of what price range to look in; you don't want to start house-hunting and fall for a home you can't afford. Getting pre-approved can allow you to find out if you have any issues with your credit report / beacon score. Your credit score plays a huge role in the mortgage approval process.  The two other things you needed to get your finances in order is how you get your income and how much do you have saved for a down payment.
 A 20% down payment is very rare with first-time buyers, but that's how much you have to have down if you want to avoid having to pay CMHC's mortgage default insurance. It's calculated based on the size of your mortgage and how much money you have down. You also have the option to borrow money from your RRSP. First-time buyers can pull out $25,000 tax-free and have 15 years to pay it back. If you're buying with your partner, you can contribute $50,000 together.

2. Find a real estate agent
While having a real estate agent is not necessary when buying a home, it is recommended, especially if it's your first time going through the process. Having someone who is knowledgeable about the market leading you through the process could take a big weight off your shoulders.  A real estate agent who works specifically in Brampton, will have a better understanding of the city and of the neighbourhoods.  They can direct you in which neighbourhoods will be the best to look in for your lifestyle.  They will also know which neighbourhoods will allow your money to go a little farther. 

3. Stay mindful of your budget
The best question to ask yourself when buying a house is if you lost your job and weren't working for three months, would you be able to afford your home? Or are you stretching yourself too thin?

4. Be open
Keep in mind your first home, is not going to be your dream home.  It should include all of your `needs` and hopefully some of your wants.  Don`t worry about the aesthetics.  Wallpaper can be removed, walls painted and cupboards changed. The things you should be more concerned about the size and layout, along with the condition of the roof, plumbing and hot water tank.  You also have the ability to add a renovation budget into your mortgage if you choose to buy a home of lesser value. 

What not to do as a first-time home buyer:

1. Don't think you'll be in that home forever
Remember that not everything has to be 100 per cent as you'd always imagined. They call it a "starter home" for a reason.

2. Don't be too emotional
Experts say this can be quite common with first-time buyers. Check the emotions at the door and think with your head.
Always keep in mind the re-sale value of the home you want to purchase, and remember that in real estate it's all about location, location, location.

3. Don't make big purchases before getting approved for a mortgage.
That may seem fairly obvious, but you'd be surprised.  That means do NOT buy a car before closing. 

4. Don't forget about closing costs
Closing costs can add up. The CMHC recommends putting aside anywhere from 1.5 to 4 per cent of the purchase price to cover them and don't forget to also save for a rainy day. You never know when that hot water tan could break down.

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