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1. Decide if You Are Ready to Buy

Make a decision. If you think your are ready, balance the personal reasons with your personal finances. Things to consider include; the length of time you plan on living in your new home, and whether you have enough cash available to pay for a down payment, closing, and moving costs.

2. Be Market Savvy

Understanding the current market situation will put you in a better position as a buyer. If the current market is a seller's market where demand is high but supply is low, you may be required to make a full price offer or even higher. But if the current market is a buyer's market where demand is low and supply is high, you may be able to negotiate a more favorable price.

To be sure if you are in a buyer's market or a seller's market, find out the median home price, the average number of days on the market, the number of sales in the area, and compare these figures to the previous year.

3. Determine Your Price Range

Calculate how much you can afford to pay. Keep track of your monthly debt, and create a doable budget with mortgage payments as no more than one third of your net income. While creating this budget keep in mind the tax deduction available for homeowners and possible maintenance, repair, or renovation costs.

4. Get Pre-Qualified for a Mortgage

Get pre-qualified for a mortgage. This will let you know how much you can afford to borrow, therefore, your time will not be wasted looking at properties you cannot afford. Some information you will need to provide to get a pre-qualification include: your cash available for a down payment, cash available for closing costs, current income, job status, estimated assets, and estimated debts.

Pre-qualifying will also put you in a better position to make a proper offer because the seller knows you are likely to be able to get a loan and close the deal on time.

5. Focus Your Search

A focused search can save time and organize the search for the right home. Prioritize and narrow down what you want and do not want in a home. For example, do you want to buy a new or resale home? How important is neighborhood quality, or the proximity to schools or churches?

6. Visit Houses

When visiting a house, pay attention to details and look carefully at those properties that need work. Always visit a house with the agent, and take notes on the house's condition, layout, and neighborhood, as well as information like square footage, average utility bills, and annual property taxes.

7. Make an Offer

To make an offer means that you are committing to one home, signing a legally binding contract to buy, and making a bonafide deposit which can be applied to the loan payment at closing. Be sure that you can afford the offer, and do not forget to list any conditions on the contract.

8. Negotiation

To negotiate terms, you should begin with your best offer based on market conditions and comparable listings. Leaving room within your price range for maneuvering is smart. When counter-offers arise, the rule of thumb is to match any price reductions by the seller with a corresponding increase in your offer.

Keep in mind that getting the right house is more important than haggling over small price differences.

9. Inspect the House

A home inspection should be included in the purchase contract and many lenders require one. An experienced property inspector should inspect for structural defects and overall condition, as well as any other hazard on the property. This inspection should cost a few hundred dollars, but the peace it will provide regarding the your new home is priceless.

When looking for an inspector, look for the following: (s)he should have specialized training and experience, with references; (s)he should be a member in a professional home inspector's group such as, The Canadian Association of Home Inspectors - Atlantic, and (s)he should have error and omission insurance.

10. Close the Deal

Closing the deal generally takes from 15 to 90 days. Within this time, the lender approves your loan, any conditions in the purchase contract are satisfied between you and the seller, a closing date is scheduled between you and the seller, you review your closing costs with your lawyer, you schedule a final walk-through to inspect the home's condition, and finally, you schedule and organize a moving day.

Steps to Home Ownership

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