Buying your first home is an exciting milestone in your life, but it can also be a daunting process, especially when it comes to navigating the complex world of mortgages. There are so many factors to consider, making it stressful to know where to start. Fortunately, you don’t have to face the process alone. We’re here to guide you and help you make informed decisions.
By taking a few key steps and understanding some important considerations, you can become a successful home buyer. One of the most important preliminary steps before entering the market is getting pre-approved for your mortgage.
What is a Mortgage Pre-approval?
A pre-approval is the cornerstone of any successful purchase strategy and one of the most important considerations for any aspiring homeowner. It’s a conditional commitment from a lender that they will provide you with a mortgage up to a certain amount. This pre-approval is based on your financial information, including your employment and income, credit score, and debt load.
Being pre-approved does not mean that your mortgage application has been approved; it just means that if all goes according to plan, it should be approved once all paperwork has been assessed and submitted. Additionally, your lender cannot give you a final mortgage commitment unless they assess the property you are buying to make sure it meets their guidelines.
Why is Mortgage Pre-approval Important?
Getting a mortgage pre-approval is essential for first-time homebuyers because it provides you with a realistic idea of how much home you can afford. With a pre-approval, you can set a realistic budget for your home search and avoid the disappointment of falling in love with a home you can’t afford. You’ll also learn what your monthly payment will be and get a rate guarantee for up to 120 days.
Getting a pre-approved may give you increased leverage during negotiations and help ensure that your offer is taken seriously by sellers. The seller will want to know that you have the financing in place to complete the sale and may be more likely to negotiate. However, this does not guarantee that your offer will be accepted or that you won’t have to compete with other potential buyers.
Other Important Considerations for First-Time Buyers
While mortgage pre-approval is a crucial factor in the home-buying process, there are other important considerations you should keep in mind –
- Your downpayment: One of the most significant home expenses is the downpayment. The minimum down payment in Canada is 5% of the purchase price for homes up to $500,000. For homes between $500,000 and $1 million, the minimum down payment is 5% on the first $500,000 and 10% on the remainder. Homes $1 million or more require a minimum down payment of 20% of the purchase price.
- Downpayment assistance – Making your dream of owning a home more achievable may begin with support from loved ones. A parent or grandparent could provide a monetary gift towards your downpayment. They will need to provide a signed ‘gift letter’ that the funds are a true gift, with no need for repayment.
The Federal Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) can give you a significant downpayment boost. It allows first-time buyers to withdraw up to $35,000 ($70,000 for couples) tax-exempt from their RRSPs, if the funds have resided in the retirement plan for 90 days. The funds need to be repaid over 15 years or the money becomes taxable.
- Help with qualifying – An option for boosting your chances of getting a mortgage approval is to get a consignor, which typically is a family member. This involves adding their credit history and income to your application to strengthen your position. As a result, the co-signer is equally responsible for the mortgage and will be listed on the home’s title.
- Home inspection: It’s highly recommended to have a professional home inspection done before purchasing a home to identify any potential issues. Home inspections typically cost between $500-$1,000.
- Closing costs: There are several fees associated with finalizing the sale of a home, such as legal fees, appraisal fees, title insurance, and land transfer taxes. Closing costs can add up to 2-4% of the purchase price of the home. Be sure to have this extra amount set aside, along with your moving expenses.
- Recurring monthly expenses: Also remember to budget for your monthly homeownership expenses like taxes, utilities, maintenance and repair costs, and insurance premiums, all of which must be factored into the cost of ownership.
From obtaining a pre-approval through understanding closing costs —there are plenty of steps you must go through before settling into their perfect place—but by taking care of business early on—you’ll end up better prepared than most when confronting competition from other buyers who may not have done their homework!
The bottom line is that buying your first home doesn’t have to feel overwhelming! Doing research beforehand and understanding all aspects involved with purchasing property will help ensure that the process goes smoothly and without any major hiccups along the way. When you know what goes into becoming an educated and successful first-time homebuyer — you’ll have no problem finding that perfect place at the right price!
For first-time buyers in Mississauga, Toronto, and the GTA, remember that you are not alone, we will be your guide along the way and with you every step of the way. Joe Purewal and Team specialize in helping first-time buyers. They have access to lower rates and will get you quotes from multiple lenders, and they’ll advise on downpayment strategies and the documentation you will need to gather. Joe Purewal is ready to start answering your questions and get your preapproval started!
Q: Can I still get preapproved for a mortgage if I have a low credit score?
A: Getting preapproved with a low credit score may be more challenging, but it’s possible. Lenders will consider other factors such as your income and debt-to-income ratio when making their decision. We can give you advice on how to improve your credit score.
Q: What is mortgage default insurance?
A: Making a downpayment of less than 20% comes with an added cost: default mortgage insurance. This insurance is mandatory and designed to protect the lender in case of financial loss. The premium is typically rolled into your mortgage amount, increasing your monthly payment. If you put down 5%, the premium will be 4%, 10% down will require 3.1% premium, and 15% down requires a 2.8% premium. However, if you can make a downpayment of 20% or more, you can skip default mortgage insurance altogether.
Q: Can I change my mortgage type after I’ve been preapproved?
A: Yes, you can change your mortgage type after preapproval, but it’s essential to understand that this may impact the terms of your mortgage, including the interest rate and monthly payment.
Q: Should I work with a real estate agent?
A: Yes, you should. A real estate agent can provide you with access to listings, offer advice on the home-buying process, negotiate on your behalf, and provide guidance on neighbourhoods and market trends. They can also help you navigate legal and financial considerations.
Q: What is a financing condition?
A: A financing condition should be part of your offer to purchase. It ensures that if you don’t get a final mortgage commitment, you can get out of the deal. It gives you the necessary time and space to secure your mortgage approval, ensuring you have the funds you need to successfully purchase your home. So, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you add this crucial precaution to your offer.
Q: What are some tips for negotiating when buying a home?
A: Some tips for negotiating include doing research on the property and neighbourhood, being flexible on the closing date, being prepared to walk away if the negotiations are not going in your favour, and working with an experienced real estate agent who can help you negotiate effectively.
Q: What are some common mistakes to avoid?
A: Common mistakes include not getting pre-approved for a mortgage, not doing enough research on the property and neighbourhood, not budgeting for all the associated costs, and not having a home inspection done before purchasing.
Q: How can I make my offer more competitive when buying a home?
A: Some ways to make your offer more competitive include offering a higher price, being flexible on the closing date, offering a larger deposit, and having a pre-approval letter from a mortgage broker or lender.