Buying your first home takes stamina, desire and commitment not only to navigate the complicated and time-consuming purchase process, but also to learn the ropes of being a responsible homeowner.
 

Maybe you've dreamed about buying. Or perhaps you've researched for-sale homes online, tried to calculate how much you can afford to spend or peeked inside a few open houses.

 

But are you really ready, emotionally and financially, to step up your game and make your move? Here's a look at what mortgage and real estate pros know about who's good to go and who needs more time to prepare for homeownership -- five ways to know if you're ready to buy your first home.

 

Plan to stay


Buying a home might seem like a no-brainer if your mortgage payment would be less than the rent you're paying.

But that comparison doesn't account for other costs of homeownership, including down payment, mortgage-related fees and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Ed Conarchy, a mortgage loan originator for Cherry Creek Mortgage Co. in Gurnee, Ill.

 

With those factors considered, short-term homeownership rarely makes sense.

 

"When you buy a home, you should know you're going to stay for a minimum of five to seven years, and longer is better," Conarchy says. "If you try to do everything you need to do to make that house yours and then you turn around and sell it after three years, you're not going to break even and you're at risk of the market."

 

If your employment situation feels secure and you're prepared to stay in one place for a while, you might be ready to buy.

 

Get preapproved


Very few people have enough cash to buy their first home without a mortgage. Rather, most need financing to afford today's home prices.

 

Realtors know that all too well, which is why many won't spend much time with would-be buyers who haven't had a serious talk with a mortgage professional.

 

As Jay Dacey, a mortgage broker for Metropolitan Financial Mortgage Co. in Minneapolis, explains, "A good Realtor will ask you what your criteria are and set up a search through the MLS for you, but a good Realtor is also going to say, 'The next step is for you to contact a mortgage professional and make sure you'repreapproved.'"

 

The loan approval process is no different for first-timers than it is for experienced home purchasers, Dacey adds.

 

Ready, set, flexible


Timing is another crucial element in homebuyer readiness, says Amy Butterworth, an associate broker for Gibson Sotheby's International Realty in Boston.

 

A time frame that's too long doesn't make sense. But neither does a time frame that's too short. For example, if your lease doesn't expire for many months or you need to move within 30 days, buying a home might not be practical for you right now, Butterworth says.

 

The ideal situation is to be ready to buy and able to wait, especially if your housing market is a hotbed of multiple offers.

 

"There's no place in the market for a buyer who's hesitant and back on their toes," Butterworth says. "But they can't only be ready and raring to go because there will be disappointments -- that's just how the market is right now. You have to go into it with realistic expectations."

 

Save up


Saving a sizable nest egg is another important milestone for would-be homebuyers, says Ken Pozek, a Realtor for Keller Williams Realty in Northville, Mich.

 

That's because you'll need savings not only for your down payment, but also your emergency fund, moving expenses and home maintenance costs.

 

"A lot of people forget that there is a lot of maintenance with owning a home, especially if you've been used to renting. From a financial perspective, (it's important to) make sure that even if you're emotionally ready or excited to buy, that you have nest eggs set up as well," Pozek says.

 

Examples of home maintenance chores include mowing lawns; trimming trees and hedges; shoveling snow; exterminating termites, rats or other pests; clearing out rain gutters; cleaning major appliances; and washing windows, walls and doors.

 

Even if you do a lot of the work yourself, you'll still need to buy supplies and equipment.

 

Get real


First-time buyers often believe buying a home will be easy. Giving up that misconception and being realistic about the time, effort, money, stress and hassle involved is an important step toward being ready to move forward.

 

"Most first-timers think buying will be a perfect scenario where it all happens like it does on HGTV. They see three houses. They pick one, and it all works out beautifully," Pozek says. "That never happens, unfortunately."

 

Instead, prospective buyers who are successful understand that, as Pozek adds, they "might run into some bumps, but the end product is going to be a home they love."

 

Check out this rent vs. buy calculator to see if you are ready to buy:

 

https://www.rbcroyalbank.com/cgi-bin/mortgage/tools/rentvsbuy/calc.pl

 

 

Read full post

Home sales activity picks up the pace in September


Home buyers were active in Metro Vancouver last month, with home sales well exceeding the 10-year average for September.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,922 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in September 2014. This represents a 17.7 per cent increase compared to the 2,483 sales in September 2013, and a 5.4 per cent increase over the 2,771 sales in August 2014.

Last month’s sales were 16.1 per cent above the 10-year sales average for the month and rank as the third highest selling September over that period.

“September was an active period for our housing market when we compare it against typical activity for the month,” Ray Harris, REBGV president said.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Metro Vancouver* totalled 5,259 in September. This represents a 4.6 per cent increase compared to the 5,030 new listings in September 2013 and a 33.5 per cent increase from the 3,940 new listings in August. Last month’s new listing total was 0.4 per cent above the region’s 10-year new listing average for the month.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® system in Metro Vancouver is 14,832, an 8 per cent decline compared to September 2013 and a 0.4 per cent increase compared to August 2014.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is currently $633,500. This represents a 5.3 per cent increase compared to September 2013.

“Gains in home values are being led by the detached home market. Condominium and townhome properties are not experiencing the same pressure on prices at the moment,” Harris said.  “Individual trends can vary depending on different factors in different areas, so it’s important to do your homework and work with your REALTOR® when you’re looking to determine the market value of a home.”

Sales of detached properties in September 2014 reached 1,270, an increase of 24.1 per cent from the 1,023 detached sales recorded in September 2013, and a 113.8 per cent increase from the 594 units sold in September 2012. The benchmark price for detached properties increased 7.3 per cent from September 2013 to $990,300.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,188 in September 2014, an increase of 16.7 per cent compared to the 1,018 sales in September 2013, and a 75.7 per cent increase compared to the 676 sales in September 2012. The benchmark price of an apartment property increased 3.3 per cent from September 2013 to $378,700.

Attached property sales in September 2014 totalled 464, a 5 per cent increase compared to the 442 sales in September 2013, and an 88.6 per cent increase over the 246 attached properties sold in September 2012. The benchmark price of an attached unit increased 4.2 per cent between September 2013 and 2014 to $477,700.


* Areas covered by Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver include: Whistler, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, and South Delta.

Read full post
The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.