Shopping for Dream Home Tips

Find Your Dream Home: Essential Buying Tips

The Battle Between What You Want and What You Can Afford

Here is our comprehensive guide on buying a dream home, providing actionable tips and advice on home affordability, costs, regional differences, mortgage, pre-approval, home inspection, and prioritizing needs.

Regional Cost Differences

There are many regional differences in buying costs. You are looking at probably three main numbers (1) The down payment which based on your situation could range from 5-20% as minimums, and all the way up to 100% if you are buying outright. (2) Consider the monthly costs associated with carrying the property. There is way more to think about than utilities and property taxes. (3) Closing costs: There’s so much variability in costs here that you really need a professional to help you figure this out. And remember, this very significant number must be paid in cash. Significant means tens of thousands of dollars.

The first step in the buying process is determining what you can afford. It’s important to take a close look at your finances to figure out how much you can comfortably spend on a property. This will help you narrow down your search and avoid wasting time looking at listings that are out of your price range. Once you have a clear idea of your budget, you can start making a list of priorities and looking for places that meet your needs.

When it comes to buying the perfect home, there are a lot of essential tips to keep in mind. It’s a big decision that requires careful consideration and planning. Understanding the basics of the property buying process is crucial to make informed decisions and secure your dream. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find the perfect home for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the basics of the house buying process
  • Determine what you can afford before you start your search
  • Make a list of priorities and be prepared to compromise

Understanding Mortgage Basics

When it comes to buying, there are a few basic concepts that every buyer should understand. These concepts include mortgage, pre-approval, lender, broker, mortgage options, stress test, interest rate, mortgage insurance, financing, deposit, home buyers’ plan, first-time buyer incentive, and home buyers’ tax credit.

Make a List of Priorities

If you want to locate the best home, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want and need. This will help you narrow down your options and find the perfect home for you. To start, establish your budget, and then identify your preferred areas given all constraints. Next, make a list of priorities. Examples of priorities include location, commute time, size of backyard, proximity to schools, proximity to shopping and leisure activities, number of bedrooms and bathrooms required for today and five years from now, safety of the community, privacy of the property, age of the property, and more.

It’s important to prioritize your list of wants and needs. You won’t get everything you want, so be prepared to compromise. Nobody gets everything they want, regardless of budget. For example, if you want a big backyard and pool but are moving to a busy city center, you may need to decide what is more important to you – the location or the pool.

When making your list of priorities, it’s important to be realistic. For example, if you have a tight budget, you may need to compromise on the location or the size of the house. On the other hand, if you have a larger budget, you may be able to prioritize certain amenities or features.

YOUR Dream Home Priorities Checklist

  • Budget: Determine the maximum amount you are willing to spend. This includes mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.
  • Neighborhood: Decide on the type of neighborhood you want to live in. Consider factors like safety, community vibe, noise levels, and local amenities.
  • Commute: Consider how far you are willing to commute to work or other frequently visited places. Determine your maximum acceptable commute time and mode of transportation.
  • Home Size: Decide on the minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. Consider the size of your household and any anticipated changes, like family expansion.
  • Yard and Outdoor Space: Determine the importance of having a yard or outdoor space and how much maintenance you are willing to undertake.
  • School Proximity: If you have children or plan to, research the local schools and how close you want to be to them.
  • Shopping and Amenities: Consider how close you want to be to shopping centers, restaurants, parks, and other amenities.
  • Type of Home: Decide whether you want a detached house, townhouse, condo, or another type of home. Consider the level of maintenance you are comfortable with.
  • Age and Condition of Home: Consider whether you want a new build, an older home, or something in between, and how much renovation you are willing to undertake.
  • Future Resale Value: Think about the potential for future resale or rental of the property. Consider factors that might affect the home’s value over time.
  • Special Features: List any special features that are important to you, such as a home office, large kitchen, garage, basement, etc.
  • Community Services: Evaluate the proximity to essential services like hospitals, fire stations, and police stations.
  • Public Transportation: If you rely on public transportation, consider how close you need to be to transit routes and stations.
  • Lifestyle Considerations: Think about how the house and neighborhood align with your lifestyle and hobbies, like nearby parks, gyms, theaters, or other interests.
  • Energy Efficiency: Evaluate the importance of having an energy-efficient home, which can include insulation quality, window types, and energy-efficient appliances. This can affect long-term utility costs and environmental impact.
  • Community and Neighborhood Culture: Consider the social atmosphere of the neighborhood. Are you looking for a close-knit community with neighborhood events, or do you prefer a more private setting?
  • Local Crime Rates: Research the safety and crime rates of the neighborhoods you are considering. Safety can significantly impact your quality of life and the property’s value.
  • Zoning and Development Plans: Investigate local zoning laws and any future development plans in the area that could affect your living experience or the value of the property.
  • Noise Levels and Privacy: Consider the level of noise and privacy you are comfortable with. Proximity to highways, airports, or commercial areas can impact noise levels and privacy.
  • Natural Disasters Risk: Assess the risk of natural disasters in the area, such as floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes, and consider the availability and cost of appropriate insurance.
  • Cultural and Recreational Amenities: Think about access to cultural and recreational facilities like museums, theaters, sports complexes, and parks, especially if these are important to your lifestyle and leisure activities.

Don’t Be Shy, Show Your Agent

Once you have your list of priorities, you can use it to guide your search for the dream home. You can also share your list with your real estate agent, who can help you discover listings that meet your needs and wants. Remember, your list of priorities should be flexible and may change as you view more listings and gain a better understanding of what is available in the market. We have a shortcut guide of home buying hacks that could help you figure this out.

In summary, making a list of priorities is an essential step in finding the best living space. It helps you narrow down your options, prioritize your needs and wants, and locate a place that meets your unique requirements.

Finding Your Dream Home

Finding the perfect place can be a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can be an enjoyable experience. When looking, it’s important to consider several factors such as size, features, neighborhood, location, space, basement, layout, condos, semis, luxury properties, and the right size.

Finding the Perfect Home Means Understanding the Right Size

One of the first things to consider is square footage. Buyers should think about how much space they need and how much space they can afford. A larger place may be more comfortable, but it also comes with a higher price tag. On the other hand, a smaller residence may be more affordable, but it may not have all the features and amenities that the buyer is looking for.

Space is another important factor to consider when looking for a home. Buyers should think about how much space they need for their family and their belongings. They should also consider the amount of storage space that the property offers.

Location, Location, Location

The neighborhood and location are also important considerations. Buyers should research the neighborhood and surrounding areas to ensure that they are safe, convenient, and offer the amenities that they are looking for. Factors to consider include access to public transportation, proximity to schools, shopping, and entertainment, and the overall vibe of the neighborhood. If you find your dream home it can become a nightmare if it is in the wrong location.

The layout of the home is also an important consideration. Buyers should think about how the space flows and whether it meets their needs. They should also consider whether the layout will allow them to make any necessary changes in the future.

It makes a lot of sense to consider future needs when buying perfection. But draw the line somewhere. Don’t waste time trying to locate a place for your retirement years when you are 31 with no kids. Keep the focus closer.

Is Your Dream Home Actually a Condo?

Finally, buyers should consider the type of property that they are interested in. Condos and townhomes offer a more maintenance-free lifestyle, while luxury properties offer more space and amenities. Buyers should consider their lifestyle and budget when deciding which type of property is right for them. Maybe our guide on staging a condo for sellers could give you some ideas.

Overall, getting the right residence requires careful consideration of several factors. By doing their research and working with a knowledgeable real estate agent, buyers can find the perfect place that meets their needs and budget.

Compromise is a Part of Buying Any Home, Even Your Dream Home

When it comes to buying, compromise is inevitable. Nobody gets everything they want, including people with unlimited budgets. Human nature is that the grass is always greener on the other side, so even if your choice is perfect for now, it will never stay that way as you and your life evolve.

It is essential to establish a budget and prioritize your needs and wants before starting the buying process. Create a list of general wants, such as proximity to work or schools, and be prepared to compromise on less critical items. Be realistic about what options exist for you, considering your personal and professional obligations versus the cost of potential areas.

In today’s market, compromising is crucial. It is essential to have some ideas and have done some soul searching to figure out where you will compromise. Check the MLS, Zolo, or Instagram to get a feel for what’s out there. No matter the budget, everyone compromises.

It is also important to remember that the perfect home does not exist. Even the most expensive residence in the city is nearly perfect, but it still has its flaws. Therefore, be ready to compromise and understand that no matter how perfect something is, it could always be better.

Working with a real estate agent can help you navigate the buying process and locate a place that meets your needs. They have expertise that can only help your cause and know the local market in real-time. But ultimately, it is up to you to decide what compromises you are willing to make to find the perfect home.

Stay Level Headed, Don’t Let Emotion Get the Best of You

Searching for your best life is a highly emotional experience. It is a process that is fraught with highs and lows, and it is important to stay level headed throughout. One of the most important things to remember is that you are making the biggest financial decision of your life, and it is natural to feel stressed and anxious. However, it is important to make sure that the stress does not push you into making a decision that you might regret. Just because this is the best backyard you’ve ever seen, don’t consider the deal done in emotional terms.

One of the biggest mistakes that house hunters make is spending more than they can afford. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding the perfect home, but it is important to remember that you will be responsible for paying for it for many years to come. Before you start the buying process, it is essential to set a budget and stick to it. Be realistic about what you can afford, and don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement.

The day you view the home for the first time is probably the best that home has ever looked. It may have been staged to show well, maybe even professionally, so don’t forget that. Do the crystal accoutrements push you to bidding more than you would have otherwise? Don’t do it because those things leave when the staging is removed.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the search process can be a rollercoaster ride. There will be times when you feel like everything is falling into place, and other times when it seems like everything is going wrong. It is important to prepare yourself for the drama and to stay level headed throughout. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you, and don’t make any impulsive decisions.

Go Big, But Not So Much that it Ruins Your Life

Finally, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a dream home. Every place will have its pros and cons, and it is important to weigh them carefully before making a decision. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement, and make sure that you are making a decision that is based on logic and reason, rather than just your heart. Locating your ideal version is as much about being rational as it is emotional.

In summary, staying level headed and not letting your emotions get the best of you is essential when searching. Remember that you are making the biggest financial decision of your life, and set a budget that you can afford. Prepare yourself for the ups and downs of the hunting process, and make sure that you are making a decision that is based on logic and reason.

Working with Professionals

Buying a house is a major investment, and it’s important to work with professionals who can help guide you through the process. A real estate agent can be a valuable resource, as they have knowledge of the local market and can help you search for properties that meet your needs and budget. They can also help you navigate the offer and negotiation process, and can provide guidance on how to make a competitive offer in a market with multiple offers.

When working with a real estate agent, it’s important to understand how they are compensated. Most agents work on commission, which is typically a percentage of the sale price of the listing. This commission is split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. As a buyer, you typically won’t be responsible for paying your agent’s commission, as it is usually paid by the seller.

In addition to working with a real estate agent, it’s also important to hire a professional home inspector. An inspector can identify any hidden issues or necessary repairs that may not be immediately apparent. This can help you make an informed decision about whether to move forward with the purchase or negotiate repairs with the seller.

Final Steps in the Home Buying Process

Once the offer has been accepted, the process is not over yet. There are still a few final steps to take before the keys are handed over to the new owner.

Home Inspection

One of the most important final steps in the purchase is the home inspection. It is essential to have a professional inspector check the property for any damages, defects, or potential issues that could affect the place’s value or safety. The inspection report will provide a detailed analysis of the property’s condition, and the buyer can use this information to negotiate with the seller or request repairs.

Closing Costs and Taxes

Before the sale is finalized, the buyer will need to pay closing costs and taxes. These costs can include fees for the title search, appraisal, and legal fees. It is important to understand the closing costs and taxes associated with the purchase and budget accordingly.

Repairs and Insurance

If the home inspection reveals any issues, the buyer will need to decide whether to request repairs or negotiate a lower price. It is also important to secure homeowners’ insurance to protect the property and personal belongings.


After finalizing the sale, proceed with moving into your new property. This can be a stressful and overwhelming process, but there are many resources available to help make the move as smooth as possible. It is important to plan ahead and make arrangements for packing, moving, and unpacking.

Overall, the purchase process can be complex and time-consuming, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can be a rewarding experience for first-timers seasoned buyers alike.

Most First Time Buyers Are Shocked at ALL the Costs Involved in Buying a Home

Finding your perfect home should not cause you constant anxiety over its cost. Buying beyond your means is a risky strategy that will cost you every month for nearly the rest of your adult life. What good is 400 extra square feet of home if it is empty because you can’t afford to furnish it? The reality is that your perfect property is going to be a compromise. Skip the bowling alley in the basement and focus instead on saving $500 a month on the loan payments and property taxes and utilities by going with a smaller home.

Dream Home

Get Pre-Approved and Be Ready to Act

In today’s fast-paced real estate market, being prepared is key. One of the most important steps a potential buyer can take is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This process involves meeting with a lender and providing financial information, such as income, debt, and credit score, to determine how much money the buyer can borrow to purchase a residence.

By getting pre-approved, a buyer can have a better understanding of their budget and what they can afford. This information can help narrow down the search and prevent the disappointment of falling in love with a property that is out of their price range. Additionally, having a pre-approval letter from a lender can make a buyer more attractive to sellers as it shows that they are serious and have the financial means to make an offer.

Pre-Approval is NOT a Guarantee They’ll Give You the Money

It’s important to note that a pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will ultimately be approved. The lender will still need to verify the information provided and underwrite the loan before final approval. However, having a pre-approval can speed up the process and make the purchasing experience smoother.

Be Tactical

When the market moves quickly, being prepared with a pre-approval can also give a buyer an advantage when making an offer on a property. In a competitive market, sellers may receive multiple offers and choose to accept the one with the strongest financial backing.

Being prepared prior to engaging in the house hunting process can help keep some of the emotion out of the decision making process and ensure a smoother experience.

Determining What You Can Afford

Before starting the process, it is essential to determine what you can afford. This involves evaluating your personal finances and creating a budget to understand how much you can comfortably spend on a house. A perfect home that you can’t afford results in permanent regret.

One of the most significant factors in determining what you can afford is your down payment. In Canada, the minimum down payment required to purchase a residence is 5% of the purchase price. However, a larger down payment can help reduce your payments and save you money in the long run.

It is also important to consider the ongoing costs of homeownership, such as property taxes, property insurance, and maintenance expenses. These costs can add up quickly, so it is crucial to factor them into your budget when determining what you can afford.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers an affordability calculator that can help you estimate how much you can afford to spend on a residence . This calculator takes into account your income, expenses, and other financial information to provide you with an estimate of how much house you can afford.

Overall, determining what you can afford is an essential step in the home buying process. By creating a budget and considering all of the costs associated with homeownership, you can ensure that you make a sound investment in your future.

The Difference Between What the Bank Pre-approves You for and Affordability

When applying, it’s important to understand the difference between what the bank pre-approves you for and what you can actually afford. A pre-approval from the bank is an indication of how much money they are willing to lend you, based on your financial information and credit score. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can afford the monthly payments on that amount.

Often, lenders will pre-approve you for a bigger budget than you could easily afford to carry. It’s important to think through all of the carrying costs each month and year, including property taxes, insurance, and heating and cooling costs. If you don’t think it affordable, don’t spend all of the money the bank will give you. You will regret it every month for the rest of your life when that giant payment comes due.

The Monthly Carrying Costs

It’s important to take a realistic look at your monthly budget and determine what you can comfortably afford to pay each month. This includes not just the mortgage payment, but also utilities, groceries, transportation, and other living expenses. Once you have a clear understanding of your budget, you can work with the bank to determine a realistic pre-approval amount.

Keep in mind that just because the bank is willing to lend you a certain amount doesn’t mean you have to spend that much. It’s always better to be conservative and choose a place that fits comfortably within your budget, rather than stretching yourself too thin and risking financial hardship down the road.

In summary, a pre-approval from the bank is a useful tool for determining how much money you can borrow for a purchase. However, it’s important to carefully consider your budget and ensure that you can comfortably afford the monthly payments on the amount you borrow. Don’t be tempted to spend more than you can afford, even if the bank is willing to lend you more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top 5 things to consider when buying a house?

When buying a house, there are several factors to consider. The top 5 things to consider are location, size, condition, price, and resale value. The location is important because it affects the quality of life and the value of the property. The size of the house should be appropriate for the buyer’s needs. The condition of the house is also important because it affects the cost of repairs and maintenance. Ensure the price fits within your budget and consider the resale value for future investment potential.

What are the most desired dream home features?

The most desired home features vary depending on the buyer’s needs and preferences. However, some of the most popular home features include updated kitchens and bathrooms, open floor plans, natural light, storage space, outdoor living areas, and energy-efficient appliances and windows. If your potential perfect home is missing a top priority, it won’t stay perfect for long.

What should I look for when buying a perfect house for the first time?

When buying a house for the first time, buyers should consider their budget, lifestyle, and future plans. They should also research the neighborhood, schools, and local amenities.

How can I find the perfect family home?

To find the perfect place, buyers should consider their family’s needs and preferences. They should also research the neighborhood, schools, and local amenities. As a buyer, actively seek a financing pre-approval, hire a reputable real estate agent, and ensure you obtain a property inspection.