The Homebuyer Checklist: Everything from Pre-approval to Closing Day
- Pre-Approval Process
- Create a Wants and Needs List
- Visit and Tour Homes
- Find a Realtor
- Submitting an Offer
- Home Inspection
- Firm Offer to Closing Day
- Find a Lawyer
- Final Walkthrough
- Preparing to Move
- Two-three weeks before you move
- One-Two weeks before you move
- Two-seven days
- The day before you move
- Moving Day
Looking for a home in the Collingwood and surrounding areas is perfect for those searching for a four-season community – but what can you expect from the home buying process? It doesn’t begin the moment you submit your offer or end with the keys in your hand. There’s a lengthy process involved that can be navigated with a local realtor so you can enjoy the experience while they take care of the details. Below, you’ll find a roadmap of what to expect when buying a home in the Collingwood and surrounding area.
Many eager buyers and online browsers skip this crucial step that helps them understand their finances before falling in love with homes out of their budget. For example, a young first-time home buyer had a pre-approval completed, with their ceiling at $600,000 and steps on saving for the down payment. A year later, down payment in hand, they came back for the pre-approval and were confident they’d receive a higher limit given they had received a raise.
However, they had also recently financed a $45,000 pickup truck. The pre-approval decreased to $450,000. It’s essential to speak with a mortgage provider who will go through the details to understand your options before purchasing and what paying off loans means for your loan limitations. This can help you figure out what you can afford going into the home buying process without wasting your time on ones out of reach.
Prepare for Closing Costs During This Stage
One thing to keep in mind is the closing costs that will be involved when buying a home. For any first-time buyer, you luck out with the land transfer tax rebate. For any investor or experienced homebuyer, on a $700,000 home that could add up to $10,475. On top of this, other costs to consider aside from the initial down payment are:
- Home insurance fees (most lenders require proof of insurance).
- Lawyer fees
- Moving fees
- Utility hookups
Create a Wants and Needs List
Many home buyers have to compromise throughout the process, especially in a competitive market. Creating a wants and needs list early sets the expectation so that you don’t find yourself sifting through 60+ homes, missing great opportunities due to minor details.
The needs list should consist of the number of bedrooms you require, space, parking, and the area you would like to live in. Some buyers require a certain number of bathrooms or in-law suite capability.
A wants list is something that can be added later with a renovation, simple remodel, or something you can live without. For example, paint colours can be changed, walls can be removed to create an open-concept space (as long as they aren’t load-bearing), and kitchens can be upgraded. Deciding this before you start viewing homes will help you keep an open mind if you see something that checks a few boxes but could still use some changes.
When you’re ready to start checking out homes for sale in the Collingwood and surrounding areas, ask a local realtor to begin sending you either daily or weekly updates of new homes that hit the market. Providing them with your wants and needs list will also help them find off-market properties from their local network.
Find a Realtor
When choosing the right real estate agent to work with, you want to look out for a few key traits:
- Honesty: you need an agent that will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about a home and neighbourhood.
- Communication: buying a home, especially in a sellers’ market, requires a proactive agent that will communicate with you when the perfect place hits the MLS or is coming soon.
- Care: you want an agent that cares about your best interests to guide you through the decision-making process. Someone who helps answer all your questions instead of pushing a decision for you.
Submitting an Offer
Once you find a great home that suits your needs, it’s time to submit an offer. Your realtor will ask you questions, write the contract on your behalf, and review it with you. Once you sign, it’ll be submitted to the listing agent to check with their sellers. During this process with your Collingwood realtor, you can expect to finalize your contingencies. Some of the common ones include:
Many buyers who are not yet approved for financing request 7-10 days to finalize their mortgage approval with their lender. During sellers’ markets, it’s best to come with a pre-approval in hand and forgo this contingency.
At times, lenders will require an appraisal of a home before allowing the buyer to secure the mortgage. It happens quite a bit in a sellers market when homes are selling for more than what the bank considers them worth. They want to ensure that if you can’t pay your mortgage and the home is sold, they will still recoup the money.
A home inspection condition is highly recommended so that you know the state of the home you are buying. During your walk-through, you may not have picked up on the uneven floors or a crack in the ceiling. Your home inspector will protect you from walking into an unknown disaster.
Your offer gets accepted – congratulations! Now you can start imagining your new lifestyle, how you want your living room to look and making your first meal in the new kitchen. Before you get swept up in the possibility of moving, you still have some work to do.
Find a Lawyer
In Ontario, it is mandatory for a lawyer to work with you to process a real estate transaction, transfer the title and verify the mortgage. Once you hire a suitable lawyer in the Collingwood area, you’ll send them your purchase and sale agreement. They’ll have additional documentation for you to sign.
Once the closing day comes, the lawyer will oversee the transfer of the property and contact either yourself or your real estate agent to confirm the home is officially yours.
In your agreement, your agent will typically request two additional walkthroughs. Whenever you choose to have the first is up to you. Many buyers will normally do it within the first week of the purchase. However, the final walkthrough should always be done 24-48 hours before closing. You want to ensure the home is vacant and left without damage or garbage. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you must tell your real estate agent, who will likely be there with you, in case a lawyer must intervene before closing on the following day.
While you get excited about your new neighbourhood, keep in mind that you’ll have to start the packing process, transfer your address, and make arrangements for utilities. We’ve put together a brief checklist for your moving timeline. When you work with the Greg Syrota Team, they offer MoveSnap concierge services to assist you every step of the way.
Two-three weeks before you move
- Buy boxes and moving supplies you’ll need for your things.
- Donate or throw away items you don’t want or use. Think like Marie Kondo!
- Notify your children’s current school and register them at a new school (if applicable).
- Contact Canada Post to forward your mail to the new address. We recommend doing this for one year.
- Arrange for new utility hook-ups.
- Transfer your car insurance and license plates if needed.
- Get copies of medical, dental or vet records if needed.
Begin your change of address to:
- Driver’s license, health cards, insurance
- Magazines or subscriptions
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Your employer
- Healthcare providers, i.e. doctor, dentist, RMT, etc.
- Bank accounts, credit cards, etc.
- Arrange for major appliances to be moved if applicable.
- Arrange to disconnect utilities at your current home that you will be moving from.
Pack a suitcase with clothes and other items, i.e. towels, cutlery, etc., for the first few days in the new home.
- Take down your curtains unless you agree to leave them for the new owners.
- Empty and defrost the refrigerator, clean out the stove.
- Pack your personal items except for anything you may need in the morning, i.e. your toothbrush.
- Collect your keys and keep them in a safe place.
- Keep your real estate paperwork where you can easily find it
- Pack your bedding, toiletries, etc.
- Do a final walkthrough for every room, closet, drawer and cabinet.
- Final clean of the home.
- Confirm your new address with the moving company and ask for an estimated arrival time.
During the period from your final offer to closing day, keep in mind that you shouldn’t be making any big purchases. Financing a new truck or splurging on a vacation could result in the lender refusing your approval on closing day.
The funds are officially released on closing day, and the ownership transfers from the seller to the buyer. Once this takes place, you’ll receive the keys from either the lawyer, your agent or be given a lockbox code to access the property.
Once you have the keys, you’re ready to move in and start making the house you purchased a home.
The Greg Syrota Team helps buyers navigate through the checklist and prompts them with reminders along the way so they can enjoy the process of moving without the stress and overwhelm of the details. Contact us below if you’d like to start receiving an email once a week of new homes in Collingwood and surrounding areas that hit the market.