You’ve made the decision to buy a new home or condo. You’re excited, as you should be! This is the beginning of a process with many steps — here’s a checklist that will help to guide you through the process so that it is an enjoyable experience.
First, you need approval from a lending institution to find out how much you can afford. This will likely determine what product you will be shopping for — condominium, townhome, semi-detached or detached home.
If you have a home to sell, you will need to meet with a realtor to determine the market value, and think about a timeline for selling. In either case, you should inquire about special builder’s rates for mortgages as they typically offer competitive rates and often include incentives. Rates can usually be capped for specific time periods, which may also be an advantage to you.
Next, decide on the location you would like to live, and start doing your research. There are publications dedicated to just this. You can also check for builder websites, visit sales offices, and walk through model homes to get a comfort level for what will work in terms of size, layout, and location. Builders make a large investment in sales and marketing materials — use them!
When you are ready to commit to writing up an Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS), be advised that once you sign the documents you are legally bound to the terms and conditions within, as is the builder. Many purchasers obtain a legal review of the documentation at this point. Regardless, you will need a lawyer to act on your behalf to handle the closing transaction. Closing costs are described within the APS — your lawyer or sales representative can answer any questions you might have. You’ll need to leave room in your budget for these costs.
Timelines will be set for you for selecting interior finishes, a pre-delivery inspection, and closing date. It is important to respect these dates, and to be prepared in the event that there is a delay.
Remember that delays are quite often beyond the control of the builder, and that they are equally as interested in closing on schedule as you are! Being prepared to complete these appointments will help the builder to stay on schedule.
If there is any change to your contact information, keep the builder up-to-date.
There will be lots of information given to you or sent in the mail — be sure to read it so that you don’t miss out on any special events or critical details. Some builders hold information sessions for purchasers, allow browsing at the decor centre, invite purchasers to select appliances at a set location, etc. All of these are included as a service to you, the homebuyer.
Some homebuyers have the expectation of making structural alterations to the original design of the home. In new home construction, permits are obtained according to the architecturally approved drawings and all paperwork associated with the lot or unit must follow accordingly.
While the home my not actually be under construction, changes mid-stream would interfere with the construction schedule and cost the builder time and money. You are better to choose a floor plan that you are happy with, or consult with the sales agent prior to signing the APS to see if changes are permitted.
Selecting interior finishes is part of the process when buying a new home. Some people are good at it and enjoy it; others may need a little help. Most builders have a decor centre where this takes place, with the assistance of designers or consultants.
Take the time you need to carefully select what will be most pleasing to you in your new home. If the Décor Centre has dedicated times for browsing, be sure to do this as it will make your colour selection appointment go smoothly.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask.
Another important consideration is the care and maintenance of the finishes you select. Tell the decor consultant about your lifestyle and they will help you choose what is right for you. Inquire about payment options for upgrades so that there aren’t any surprises. Also, keep in mind that occasionally a finish that is selected at the time of colour chart becomes discontinued and needs to be re-selected. This is a reality, however, there may be something new to choose from that you like even better.
A pre-delivery inspection (PDI) will be scheduled closer to the closing date. At this time you will do a walk-through of your new home and be allowed to make a note of workmanship and finishes. Bring your Sales Deal and decor paperwork with you so you can remember what you signed for. Don’t worry if everything isn’t 100% at this time. You are entitled to document all of your concerns at PDI stage, as well as 30 days and one year after possession as per the TARION warranty.
After you take possession of your new home, the builder is still responsible for items such as final grading and landscaping, paving of the driveway and roadways, completion of common areas. Again, remember that this is a process, and in due time the surrounding areas will be completed. You will likely be responsible for window coverings, appliances (including installation), and air conditioning.
When you reach the end of this journey, don’t forget about the importance of testimonials! Your builder and all of the team members that you met along the way worked hard to deliver your home with the goal of customer satisfaction. Take the opportunity to share your feedback and praise for a job well done. Not only does this help future homebuyers, but it lets the builder know how to do the best job possible.
One final note: send your new address to your friends and family and invite them over so you can proudly show them your new home.