There were so many things I learned during my homebuying process that I wish someone would've told me before I started. Now that I've experienced first-hand how tough and tiring it is, I want to share my tips to (hopefully) help someone make a good decision. 

Here are the fifteen things I think everyone should know before buying their first place.

  1. Take advantage of the rebate. 
    We were surprised to learn that we had to pay a land transfer tax for Ontario and Toronto. Luckily, we saved a bit of money with the rebate that the government offers to all first-time homebuyers.
  2. Check comparables on Housesigma
    I wish I was kidding when I say that I was checking this site at least four times a day. I noticed new listings would pop up in my "watched areas" every four hours or so, and knew I had to be on top of it if I wanted to stay competitive in this market. My friends would joke that I should be my own realtor because I was so active. 
  3. Set aside extra money for closing costs and lawyer fees. 
    Also, make sure you set aside a budget for furniture and home decor.
  4. Consider online brokerages.
    We were able to secure a mortgage rate lower than what all the big five banks were offering us. 
  5. Calculate your future expenses with Ratehub
    This site gave us a realistic picture of what we could afford.
  6. Be ready to attend viewings during the day. 
    At first, Daniel and I only wanted to go to viewings after work and on the weekends, but we soon realized that we were going up against people who were putting in early offers to the sellers.
  7. Review the status certificate before making an offer. 
    As tempting as it was to put in early offers, our realtor always told us it could cost us more money in the long run if we didn't review the building's documentation for hidden fees and issues.
  8. Expect to move in later than the promised closing date if you buy a pre-construction. 
    From all the forums I've read, and stories I've heard from family members, builders rarely finish on time. 
  9. Check for power lines outside your window. 
    There are mixed opinions on this. We're not entirely sure what implications it can cause on our health, but we think it's better to be safe than sorry and knew that it may be hard to re-sell or rent our home in the future.
  10. Re-consider the amenities. 
    We noticed that buildings with indoor pools generally had higher maintenance fees, and knew we wouldn't fully take advantage of this amenity.
  11. Check the direction(s) your home is facing.
    Lighting makes all the difference in your home, especially if you have plants, work from home or want to save on heating costs. We specifically avoided homes that faced north.
  12. Research the crime rate in the neighbourhood. 
    Since we're hoping to raise our future kid here, we wanted to live somewhere that was deemed safe.
  13. Research the builder and property management company. 
    Take the time to read the reviews on Google and Reddit. Check how many buildings they own. Read the building reviews. See if there are any alarming news headlines about them.
  14. Make sure the visitor parking area is easy to access. 
    Having to wait for the elevator can already be a pain, so we wanted to remove another barrier for our guests.
  15. Be ready to hand over $35K the next day. 
    Once our offer was accepted, the seller's brokerage expected a wire transfer or cheque within 24 hours. To avoid the unnecessary stress, I highly recommend having the liquid funds ready.

I hope you find these tips useful! We're still in the midst of decorating our home, but I'll be sure to share all my favourite finds.