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Choosing your first home like a pro

Buying a first home is as positive as stressful an experience. Many aspects need to be considered, and it can get confusing... especially when you don't know where to start!

Trust the advice of our brokers to help you make informed decisions.

Your Basic Criteria

The first part is the most pleasant. You will need to determine the essential characteristics for your future property. Think about the city and neighborhood you're interested in and make your wish list: number of rooms and bathrooms, turnkey property or renovations needed, multiple floors or bungalow, swimming pool, backyard, garage... Also consider prioritizing your criteria, so you can compromise easily if needed.

Don't forget to find out about the housing market in the area you want. This can have a major influence on your purchase. CMHC's local office will be able to tell you about mortgage rate and house price trends, as well as other important indicators that will allow you to choose the right time to buy.

Next stop: Open Houses!

Many different factors should guide your choice, beyond the criteria you have initially chosen. Once you are on site, you'll avoid unpleasant surprises by focusing on the following:

1. Noise

Often forgotten by first-time buyers, the neighborhood's sound environment can quickly turn a dream home into a nightmare. If possible, visit the property at a time when you are normally at home. If not, take a walk around the area at night. Is the noise level on the street tolerable? Is there a bus stop nearby, a heavy vehicle crossing, a fire station? Are there any potentially noisy shops, such as a restaurant, terrace or bar? Open the windows, go out on the balcony and check the soundproofing of the walls. If it's a condominium, ask about the neighbors as well.

2. Water and Electricity

Is the flow of water adequate in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry rooms? Are the faucets leaking? Does the water heater appear to be in good condition? Are there enough bathrooms? If not, is it possible to add one? Inspect the bath, the shower, the sink and toilet. Also check the layout and number of electrical outlets. In old buildings, they are often scarce, and the wiring can be outdated.

3. Ventilation, Heating and Air Conditioning

During an open house, you should check the presence and proper functioning of the ventilation systems. Do the bathrooms and kitchen have them? Are the ventilation grids well maintained? Do the kitchen fan and dryer connection have outside exits? Are the appliances too noisy? Also pay attention to air conditioning and heating systems: are they functional, well located and energy efficient? Is the house heated with gas, electricity, water or wood? Certain systems may be regulated by important regulations, or even prohibited.

4. Smells and Humidity

Smells of mold, dark circles and traces of infiltration are not to be taken lightly. Pay special attention to the bathrooms, walls, under sinks, near windows, on the ceiling and in the basement.

5. Maintenance and Renovations

Has the home been painted recently? Are all the doors and windows functional? Do they let air in? Have renovations been done? Are the floors badly damaged? Are the patio and roof in good condition? Will the exterior cladding hold for several more years? Are the gutters well maintained? Do they pose a risk of water infiltration? Are the structure and foundations solid? Cracks and subsidence are never a good sign.

6. Lighting

Depending on your needs and lifestyle, is the intensity of daylight satisfactory? Are the windows well positioned? Is there a lamppost directly in front of the room? Will you need to install multiple fixtures to have adequate lighting during the day or evening?

7. Storage

Can the storage accommodate your current and future needs? For example, check if you have the space to add a shed, if the kitchen has enough cabinets and a sufficient work surface, if there is enough space for you to store your sports equipment, tools and cars.

8. Health

Many factors can influence the impact of your home on your health, from the proximity of health services to the materials used on the home. How far is the nearest pharmacy, clinic and hospital? For allergy sufferers, the presence of a carpet, wooded area or a large park can be harmful. Also remember to check the stairs, are they safe for your children and pets? Ask yourself if the homes you visit are suitable for the health of each member of your family.

It is important to understand that in addition to emotional criteria, such as style or atmosphere, many technical aspects are to be considered during your visits. However, it is very easy to be fooled by a beautiful natural light or a clever interior design. To make sure you purchase wisely, the objective and sharp eye of a real estate broker can be very useful. A competent expert will listen to your needs and pre-select properties so that you will only be presented with the best options. This can save you time and money.

Don't hesitate to contact your broker he will be happy to answer all your questions regarding the purchase of your first home!