How Do I Buy a House?

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What a huge question!

Buying a home is not only exciting, but can be very scary if you don’t know what you’re doing. Whether you’re a first time home buyer, re-entering the market, or consider yourself seasoned in the process, there is always something to learn.


First things first, you need to know what you can afford. This isn’t just a number that you think you’d be ok with paying, but what a bank or mortgage company says you can afford. Remember, pre-qualified is just the tip of the iceberg. Pre-approved is essentially the bank saying you’re good to go, just bring us an offer. Getting a number from the bank is a start, but the way you pay it off can shave years off your mortgage. A good start is to have payments come out biweekly which gives you an extra payment every year and really knocks off a good portion of the principle quickly. This is where a well qualified mortgage broker really helps.

Once you have the financing sorted out…


Where you want to live is important. It’s not just where your home is, but where your lifestyle is perfectly suited. If you don’t have or want a car, living in a downtown condo makes it very easy to walk to wherever you need to go. Whereas living in the middle of Central Saanich may pose some difficulties. Conversely, owning a Saint Bernard would pretty much cross off any condo from your list. You not only want to consider where you are right now in life, but where you’ll be for the next few years. Kids, schools, work, recreation and anything else that’s important to you should be taken into consideration.

One lifestyle doesn’t fit everyone, so a good talk with the people in your house can help make this decision easier. Once you have a good idea of what you want and where you want it…

Viewing Houses

After doing all your homework and having a chat with the family, this is where it all starts coming together. Your REALTOR® will help you pick houses in certain neighbourhoods that meet your wants and desires. Remember, this is where people change their minds, and that’s not a bad thing. As I said earlier there’s always something to learn, and that could well be about what you think you want vs what you really need. It’s ok to change your mind if it starts getting you more comfortable with the process. Now that you’ve narrowed it down to a house you like…

Making an Offer

HOORAY! You found a house that you want to make your home. All offers are different, even though they largely use the same paperwork. This is where an experienced REALTOR® really helps. Everything from deposits, inclusions/exclusions, dates, price, conditions, etc will go into forming your offer. And that’s if you’re the only ones making an offer. (Check out our other blog piece on Multiple Offers for more info)

Typically offers are dealt with by the sellers the day they’re written, but in some circumstances they can take an extra day or two to get all of the wrinkles ironed out. Once you and the seller have negotiated a contract that you’re both happy with…


“Conditions”, or “subject to’s” are the things that need to be fulfilled or waived before an offer becomes a firm contract. These may include but aren’t limited to:

  • Financing

  • Inspections

  • Insurance availability

  • Reviewing and approving the title to the property

  • Approving the seller’s disclosure statement

  • Reviewing and approving strata rules and minutes (if buying a strata property)

  • Lawyer approval

These are just a guideline of course. Every house and purchase is unique and can bring with it unique conditions. After you (and/or) the seller have waived or fulfilled your conditions, you write what is known as a Subject Removal. Once they are all taken care of, you have a firm contract and you move towards…


Closing Day is the day the money transfers from you to the seller and the title to the property transfers from the seller to you. Your REALTOR®, the seller’s REALTOR®, your lawyer and the seller’s lawyer have a lot of paperwork to do between the subject removal and the day you get to move in.

Since you know our move out and move in dates, this is where you should call and change your address for all utility, phone, credit cards etc. This can take some time, so keeping an eye on incoming mail and compiling a list of people you need to contact will save you some headache later.

A few days before closing, your lawyer will have you sign documents to make your purchase happen on closing day. These include dealing with such things as your mortgage, property taxes, deposits, land titles, etc. It may seem as though your lawyer only jumps in at the end, but they will have been doing a lot of work to make this happen for you behind the scenes on the day you and the seller agreed to in the initial offer. A well versed real estate lawyer can be the difference between your deal closing on time, or it being delayed, so it’s important to choose wisely. Now that closing day has come and the money has changed hands…

Moving Day

THIS IS IT!! They day you’ve been waiting for!

Before you actually move, you will have done quite a bit of work to make it happen. Being organised can not only save you time, but can save you a lot of money as well. If the moving company shows up on moving day to start loading things into the truck and you haven’t finished packing yet, you’re going to be paying them a lot of money in overtime. Some tips to make things smooth:

  • Break down large items like beds, tables and swing sets to make them easy to load, carry, and fit through doorways.

  • Remove doors to rooms where you have large pieces that require moving out.

  • Use boxes wherever possible, and label those boxes for the room they should be moved into. Boxes stack easily and can take up less room in a truck. Less room equals fewer trips equals less money spent on moving.

  • Have driveways and sidewalks clear BEFORE the movers show up.

  • When moving appliances, disconnect and put all hoses and extra pieces inside the appliance.

  • Have young children and pets stay at a friend’s house. It’s very easy for you to get distracted during the move, and every minute you have to spend making sure they’re taken care of is an extra minute on your moving tab.

  • If you’re leaving the appliances, make sure to check inside them before you leave. The amount of time we’ve seen a load of laundry or a full load of dishes still in the machine is unbelievable.

  • Once you think everything is out, go through the house again top to bottom. Open every closet, check every shelf, and open every cupboard. It’s a big day, and things will inevitably be missed.

Well done! Now that you’ve said your goodbyes to the old house, it’s time for the new.

Meet the movers there and as before, stay organised. Have all boxes and furniture moved to the rooms you labelled. If they’ll allow, help with the smaller items. If not, start reassembling the furniture yourself out of their way. The faster your home is in a liveable state, the faster you and your family will make it a home.

I hope you’ve found this helpful and informative. Give us a shout so we can help make your move as smooth as possible for you and your family.