FirstHome: House Hunting

Team Building: Meet The Pros Who'll Help You Buy Your First Home

Thinking about purchasing your first home? Now’s the time to start assembling your real estate team. These are the professionals whose expert knowledge will help focus your house hunt, seal the deal and get you the keys to your first home.

PRO: REALTOR® or real estate agent

Pro skills: From background intel on neighbourhoods to the lowdown on brand-new listings, they will help you zero in on homes, set up viewings and walk you through each one. Once you’re ready to make an offer, they’ll negotiate for you and draft your offer to purchase.

Pro tip: Consider whether you want a one-on-one relationship with a specific REALTOR® or real estate agent or would prefer the efficiency of a multi-salesperson REALTOR® team. PRO: Mortgage specialist or broker Pro skills: With their expertise in different mortgage options, these financial experts determine how much home you can afford and prepare your loan documents. Pro tip: A mortgage specialist works for a lending institution, while an independent mortgage broker is unaffiliated with any one lender. Mortgage specialists can bundle your mortgage with other products (i.e. car loan, line of credit) from their bank or credit union, while mortgage brokers focus solely on mortgages from a variety of different lenders.

PRO: Home inspector

Pro skills: These home experts can save you money and stress by identifying significant problems in a property. These issues may warrant revising your offer — or to rescind it altogether.

Pro tip: There is no national certification or accreditation organization for this profession, so ask local friends, colleagues or your REALTOR® or real estate agent for recommendations.

PRO: Real estate lawyer or notary

Pro skills: Real estate lawyers (or notaries, in Quebec) will review the purchase agreement, help negotiate any modifications, prepare the closing documents, do crucial research on the property and liens; fact-check legal descriptions of the building and lot; and collect, hold in trust and disburse fees associated with buying a property. Your lawyer ensures that everything from the down payment to the taxes to the mortgage funds gets paid out appropriately.

Pro tip: Find a real estate lawyer or notary with expertise in your home type, whether it’s a condo, freehold property or detached house. Legal issues vary between each housing type.

Start Hunting: Finding the Right Home for Your Budget

For first-time homebuyers, affordability is key. Wondering how to begin your search for the right home? Get to the starting line: prioritize, budget and teamwork.


Itemize what’s most crucial to your household. Here are some key issues to consider:

  • Size & space Consider spatial needs now… and in three to five years’ time.

  • Lifestyle Consider indoor and outdoor maintenance and upkeep; luxury condo amenities versus lower maintenance fees.

  • Community Consider school catchment areas, proximity to churches/ temples/mosques, etc.

  • Transportation Consider parking, proximity to public transit, walk-ability, bike- friendliness.

  • Recreation Consider proximity to trails, parks and rec centers; access to condo gym or swimming pool. Tip: Differentiate between must- haves and nice-to-haves. You may not find your entire wish list on a starter-home budget, so it’s important to know your priorities.


Sit down and your household income, debts, savings and investments. Use Sagen’s What Can I Afford? Calculator to find a ballpark mortgage amount. After determining potential home’s expected carrying costs (mortgage payments, taxes, heating, etc.), work out a monthly “new homeowners’” budget, and start living on it now to determine if it’s sustainable. If not, you may have to consider buying at a lower price point.


Ready to kick off your house hunt? Let your team know all systems are go. If you don’t have your team assembled, work on that now. Once you’re in the market, you need to be ready to pounce when the right house comes up.

House Hunting Checklist

We are sharing a House Hunting Checklist, put together by Sagen, to help you stay focused on your hunt.

House Hunting Checklist by Sagen
Download PDF • 114KB

Next week we will take a look at the buying process... until next time - have a great week!

Article Credit: Sagen resources such as this guide are designed to help homebuyers make financially sound choices. Check out their online resources at for more!