March 22, 2023

What to Expect as a First-Time Home Buyer in the GTA


Buying your first home can be an exciting but overwhelming process. With a constantly changing marketplace and the uncertainty of interest rates, where do you begin?

SSW has created this helpful blog to walk you through the home-buying process as a first-time owner, including tips like rebates and refunds you could be eligible for. Follow this blog for a better understanding as you move through the purchase of your first property.

Table of Contents

Explore programs for first-time home buyers

Before you begin your search for a new home, we recommend that you look at rebates and incentives that can help when you purchase your first home. These include:

Be sure you qualify for these incentives. For example, if you’re a first-time home buyer in Ontario and want to apply for a rebate for land transfer tax, you’ll need to meet specific criteria:

  • Be over 18
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Live in the house for at least one year
  • Not have owned an eligible home—or an interest in an eligible home—anywhere at any time.
  • If you’re buying with your spouse, they can’t have owned a house or had any ownership of a home anywhere in the world while they have been your spouse.

Determine what you can afford

When you’re ready to buy a home, it’s important to determine what you can afford based on your current income and monthly debt payments. Speak to a financial advisor and mortgage specialist to understand what you can afford, and additional factors like credit score and closing costs.

Consider additional factors like:

  • monthly income
  • monthly payments (credit cards, auto insurance, etc.)
  • your credit score
  • and closing costs

Be aware of additional closing costs that arise. These include the Ontario land transfer tax, municipal land transfer taxes, and other additional fees. We recommend you use a mortgage calculator to get an idea of what these costs could look like.

An affordability calculator will also help you determine what type of home is feasible for your budget. Input the average home cost in the area you’re searching in and you’ll see what is affordable for you.

Be aware that part of the purchase is the appraisal.  If you are purchasing a home with a mortgage from a financial institution in Ontario, there is a requirement for an appraisal on the property. The financial institution typically covers the cost of the appraisal.

Get pre-approval for a mortgage

The next step of the process is to get pre-approval for a mortgage. Reach out to a mortgage broker, and they will review your income, expenses, and credit report to provide a conditional amount of money you can work within. This will help you confidently shop for a home in your price range.  Saunders, Saxton & Winter has excellent relationships with several mortgage professionals, and would be pleased to help you connect with the one that is right for you.

For pre-approval, you will need proof of income, proof of any asset ownership, a good credit score, employment verification, and official documentation.

Find a Realtor

Most first-time buyers work with a Realtor. As experienced Realtors, we will advocate for you, explain any areas of confusion, and help you find the right house based on your wants and needs.

If you’re looking for a home in the GTA, you can rely on SAUNDERS, SAXTON & WINTER to guide you through the process. We are professional, knowledgeable Realtors who are focused on supporting our buyers through the entire home buying experience, ensuring that they find a home that makes them happy and suits their lifestyle.

Are you a first-time home buyer?

Buying your first home can be both exciting and overwhelming. Saunders, Saxton & Winter have created this helpful guide to walk you through the process, along with tips and advice from our team!
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Start your home search

Once you’ve picked a Realtor and know what you can afford, it’s time to begin searching for a home!

Searching online is a great way to start, but if you have a specific neighbourhood you’re interested in, we recommend driving through it to see if any houses for sale catch your eye.

It’s important to understand that shopping online is convenient but may not always show a home accurately. Photography is designed to make a home attractive, but only upon seeing a home in person will you see what you like and dislike about a house.

Visit open houses and tour homes

For this reason, we highly recommend that you visit homes in person. Viewing a home in person can help you see the local area and identify things that are important to you. For example, maybe the idea of an open floor plan is attractive to you, but upon seeing it you decide it’s not exactly what you’re looking for. Without visiting a home, you might never know!

Submit an offer

Once you’ve found a home you love that’s within your budget it’s time to make an offer!

Saunders, Saxton & Winter will prepare your offer which will include your price, any contingencies, obtaining disclosures, and creating a closing timeline.

Be aware: depending on the market, you may have to renegotiate if the seller has any counter offers.

Don’t be discouraged by having to make several offers! Part of buying a house is understanding that it is a business decision – there may be someone else who has a better offer for the seller.

If your offer isn’t chosen, don’t give up – there will always be another house out there, and it may suit you even better than the last one!

Working with a team like SAUNDERS, SAXTON & WINTER means that you’ll have support throughout this process. The SSW team will help you understand the value of your offer and provide realistic guidance through the process of renegotiating.

Get a home inspection

We recommend a home inspection whenever it is possible. If you can, we encourage you to include it as part of your offer’s contingency.

A home inspection is an educational tool that provides a timeline for a home. The home inspection will tell you what repairs will be needed in the future, identify the quality of your home’s features, and identify what you will need to save for in the future.

Standard home inspections look at:

  • Roof
  • Windows and doors
  • Attics
  • Foundations
  • Walls, ceilings, floors
  • Interior plumbing and electrical
  • HVAC and cooling systems

Close the sale

Your lawyer will prepare the documents required for closing. Usually, you will meet with your lawyer a couple of days before the closing date to sign documents. On the day of closing, they will reach out to you to let you know the transaction is complete and the property is officially yours!

From there, it’s time to celebrate and make your home your own!

If you’re a first-time home buyer and are looking for support as you search for a home, please contact us! Our team is excited to assist you in finding your first property and can’t wait to help you on your journey.

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