House Hunting 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Real Estate Buying Process


A home is one of the most significant investments a person will make in their lives and one of the most challenging processes they will encounter. Most homebuyers find the process overwhelming and are anxious about making a mistake that can be very expensive. To help with the process and to help ease the expectations, the following is a step-by-step guide to the real estate buying process.

Finding a Realtor

When starting the home-buying process, one of the most important things to do is to find a Realtor that you can work with and that fits your needs. Just because a Realtor has done well for a friend does not mean that this Realtor may be a good fit for you. Interview a few Realtors and follow our tips on what to look for when Choosing a Realtor. A Realtor can provide intimate knowledge of the industry and the necessary guidance throughout the process.

Buyer Checklist

  • Set a budget for your down payment to predict how much you will be spending.
  • Set a budget for monthly expenditures (i.e. maintenance or standard charges and real estate taxes, mortgage payments, utilities, parking, etc.) 
  • Obtain mortgage pre-approval.
  • Select an attorney who specializes in real estate. 
  • Make sure to prioritize your needs – space, light, views, building amenities, etc. 
  • Specify the date or time frame by which you plan to move. 
  • Explore different neighbourhoods to identify your preferred needs. 
  • Research schools in the selected neighbourhood.
  • Evaluate access to transportation in the selected neighbourhood.
  • Evaluate building amenities and house rules regarding your needs (i.e. washer/dryer permitted, gym, pet policy, storage facilities, etc.) 
  • Collaborate with your broker to gather all necessary documentation for your mortgage application and board package. 
  • Once your property has been selected, review building financials with your broker/attorney.


Purchasing Process 

Seek pre-approval for a mortgage: Typical time frame 1 – 2 days

You must determine your budget before making a purchase. It’s essential to consult with your bank or mortgage broker to determine your down payment requirements and purchasing power.

Find a property: Typical time frame 1 week – 2 months

The duration of your search may differ based on your requirements. Typically, people view around 20-25 properties before finalizing one. However, tech-savvy buyers can save time by conducting thorough research before starting their search. Based on our observations, the average number of apartments our online buyers view before purchasing is around 4-5.

Write an Offer: Typical time frame 1 – 2 days

When you find a property that you like, it is time to write an offer. You and your Realtor will discuss the price you wish to offer for the property, anything you would like included, such as appliances, the possession date, and any conditions, such as inspections or financing.

Negotiate: Typical time frame 1 day to 1 week

Once the offer is submitted, it is time to negotiate. This can include price, conditions, inclusions, and possession date.

Inspection: Typical time frame 1 day to 1 week

Once an agreement is entered into and should you have conditions, such as inspections and financing, it is time to address these. A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home. A trained and certified home inspector who performs a home inspection will look for significant deficiencies.

Apply for a mortgage: Receive a Commitment Letter from the Lender. Typical time frame 1 – 3 weeks

Mortgage applications can only be processed with an executed contract. If a property is being financed, the lender will request several documents, which include the purchase contract, any waivers or notices, and financial information such as copies of paystubs and bank account information.

Remove Conditions: 1 day

Once you are satisfied with the home inspection and have received the necessary financing approval, it is time to remove the conditions. At this point, your Realtor will draft the documents you must sign to inform the other party and finalize the deal.

Lawyer: 1 day to 1 week

The next step in the process is to select your lawyer and get the necessary documents to your lawyer. The real estate brokerages involved in the process will typically send documents about the transaction to the lawyer. However, your lawyer may need additional information and documents. When your lawyer is ready, they will have you visit their office to sign the necessary documents and bring any other required findings.

Possession: 1 day

It’s time to take possession of your new home! This is the exciting part of the process. When taking possession of your home, you must check it with your Realtor. If there are any problems, you must call your lawyer immediately. What happens following this is governed by the real estate purchase contract. Home buying can be confusing, so never hesitate to call us before, during, or even after your process!

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