As a first-time home buyer in Toronto, there are a few things to know to better inform your purchase decision.

Step 1 – Get Pre-Qualified for a Mortgage
The first step in buying a house or condo in Toronto is to find out how much you can borrow. When you pre-qualify for a mortgage, your lender will look at your income, existing debt, downpayment and credit history. The pre-approval should be in writing and should include a guaranteed interest rate (usually valid for 90 days). Pre-qualifying will help you know the price range you may target. This will help focus your house hunting efforts and eliminate the risk and uncertainty of looking for financing after you find your perfect home.

Step 2 – Develop your Wish List
Understand whay you must-haves, would be nice-to-have, and your no-way-absolutely-nots. The location will be a big decision – what Toronto neighbourhood makes you feel at home? Consider also the type of property (condo/townhouse/semi or detached); number of bedrooms/bathrooms, parking, locker, outdoor space, amenities and layout.  You may also consider finishes: counter-tops, appliances, and floors. You can not get what you want if you do not know what you want. 

Step 3 – Pick your team
You want to start by picking a great Toronto Real Estate Agent to work exclusively on your search. You will also need a lender to walk you through your financing options, and a lawyer to help with the legal aspects of the purchase. There are many professionals out there (with varying degrees of expertise), so ask for recommendations, do your research and do not be afraid to interview multiple people.

Step 4 – House Hunting
Once you have narrowed down your wish list and found a team to work with, it is time to start looking at properties. Your real estate agent will send you custom listings that match your criteria. House hunting will involve screening listings electronically, previewing properties online, and visiting properties. This is your opportunity to get a feel for the different Toronto neighbourhoods, refine your wish list, and ask questions. The truth is that most people walk into a property and feel it is "the perfect home" for them. Do not underestimate the power of gut feel.

Step 5 – Make an Offer
Congrats! Your house hunting efforts have paid off, and you found the property that feels like home. The offer process is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Your agent will draft the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS), which will include everything from the price you are prepared to pay, the deposit, the inclusions you want (washer/dryer, electrical fixtures, furniture etc. ), to your ideal closing date (the date on which you take possession), to conditions that need to be met for the deal to go through. 

Step 6 – Meet Conditions and Provide Deposit
Conditions are requirements within the APS that must be met for the sale to go through. In your offer, you may include a financing condition, home inspection, status certificate review etc. You will need to submit a deposit, typically between 5%-10% of the purchase price, that will be held in trust until close. Once the conditions are met the agreement will be firm, and now it will a matter of waiting for your closing date, and of course, packing!

Step 7 – Close the Deal
You are almost a Toronto homeowner! Closing is the point at which the ownership and possession of the property are transferred from the seller to you. It takes place once all the legal and financial obligations are met. Closing the purchase will be a team effort involving your lawyer and your lender.