Calgary Home Buyer's Guide

To help you understand the buying process and get you ready to purchase the perfect home, we have created this detailed "Calgary Home Buyer's Guide". 

We get you the best home at the best price, terms and conditions because we bring a world of experience to your side of the home purchase. We have SOLD over 850 Calgary homes and have worked with every type of buyer need and property imaginable.  We are second and third generation Calgarians and have a much deeper knowledge of Calgary's housing market and are professional property investors and renovators.

You and your family's satisfaction is our main goal. We do everything possible to help you make your dreams come true.

Included in our guide:

Our Buyer Orientation Meeting

At our Buyer orientation meeting we will get to know each other and we will ask you several questions regarding your future home purchase plans to better understand your needs and time lines. We will discuss your housing desires and communities of choice. The price range you are comfortable with. Also we will talk about market conditions and what we are expecting home prices to do in the coming months. If you have a home to sell before purchasing the new one, we will discuss the best sequence in which to do this and the pros and cons of each. We will answer all of your questions and tell you about our buyer systems, experience and how we work to get you the best results. We also review and fill in all mandatory paper work.

To have a successful home purchase we need to create an open honest partnership from day one. We ask all our buyers to commit 100% to us and our services and in return we will do the same. A successful home purchase can take as little as a day and a few hours or as long as several months and involve 100's of hours. At this meeting we have all clients t sign a buyer agency agreement and a couple other disclosure documents to ensure you fully understand the depth our service relationship. 

Other topics discussed are listed below.

Getting Pre-approved for a New Mortgage

Before proceeding with your home buyer search you need to ensure your financial house in order. If you will be requiring a mortgage now is the time if you haven't already done so to contact your banker and or mortgage broker. On the banker side please contact your branch directly to set up an appointment. To help you with your new mortgage we have an excellent  mortgage broker we've used for many years and would be happy to refer them to you. Mortgage brokers generally are more experienced and have more options available because they work with dozens of banks and trust companies (likely your own bank) and the best part is they don't cost you anything. We personally don't go to our banker's directly any more when we require mortgage funds. We always use our mortgage brokers services.

Buying Costs

In regards to the initial purchase contract, the money required to purchase the home is made up of four items.

Purchase deposit: these are funds that will be required within forty eight hours of the purchase contract being signed. The amount of deposit varies depending on purchase price from as low as $5,000 to $50,000 or more. The most common range is between $5,000-$15,000. These funds will be in the form of a bank draft and the draft will be made out to the listing agents company.

The purchase deposit will be refunded back to buyers if the buyer chooses not to finalize the purchase because of unsatisfied conditions. The deposit money is held by the listing company and becomes part of the purchase price.

Cash to close: is the remaining cash a buyer is committing to purchase the home. 

Mortgage funds: are the remaining funds required to equal the agreed upon purchase price.

Purchase price: the full price agreed to in writing between you and the seller.

Other potential buying costs are:

  • Home inspector costs.
  • Condo document review (condominiums only).
  • Repaying the sellers for pre-paid taxes that the buyer gets the benefit of.
  • Repaying the sellers for pre-paid condo or community fees the buyer gets the benefit of.
  • Any fees required in getting mortgage funds such as a home appraisal fee.
  • Buyer's lawyer fees.

Different Types of Homes and Communities Available

There are many styles and sizes of homes available depending on a buyers needs. First we'll lets discuss the two main types of home ownership. Private home ownership and condominium home ownership.

Private home ownership is where a buyer owns the home and the land privately.

Pros:

  • Freedom to do what you want with the property as long as it confirms to municipal codes.
  • No restrictions on pets.
  • You can maintain the property or not.
  • You can change exterior colours etc without approvals from others.
  • You have exclusive use of the lands that make up your property.
  • Greater privacy.

Cons:

  • Your neighbours have the same freedoms and may not keep their properties up to your standards.
  • When repairs are required you are responsible for 100% of them.
  • Exterior lawn care and snow removal.

Home Owner Association Ownership is where a group of homes have a binding agreement on all properties within the group on how the properties can be used and what an owner can do to the exterior of their home and the lands it sits on. Usually they collect monthly fees to provide exterior maintenance to the homes within the group. They have similar rules and bylaws to a condo corp but not as extensive. Fees are less than in a condo corp, but they also cover less.

Pros:

  • Home exteriors and lands of member properties are all well maintained. 
  • Lower monthly expenses.
  • Easier to lock and leave.

Cons:

  • There are monthly fees.
  • Home owners will still be required to pay for much the homes exterior maintenance costs such as roof shingles, windows and doors. 
  • Association boards who may make decisions you don't agree with, but the majority of the owners vote to do so.

Condominium Ownership is usually where a buyer owns their unit within the building or complex and all land, hallways, parking lots etc. are common property for all owners within that condo group to use.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance.
  • Easier to lock and leave.
  • Usually well maintained.
  • Has restrictions on pets, age of occupants etc.
  • Condo fees collected monthly to pay maintenance, insurance etc.
  • Is generally a group of similar minded people.

Cons:

  • Condo fees.
  • Bylaws you must abide by.
  • Condo boards who may make decisions you don't agree with, but the majority of the owners do.

Once you've determined the best type of ownership then it's time to look at communities that offer the types of homes and amenities you require. Not all communities have the same size, style or condition of homes available.

Home styles:

The differences and price points within each home group is huge. Condition, age, price, location, decorating, room types and sizes and on and on. This is where we excel. We have seen thousands of homes in all communities over the years and can easily save you tons of time. 

Single family homes of all styles from bungalows, two even three storey homes.

Attached homes mostly two storey but there some bungalow styled ones.

Town homes of all styles from bungalows, two or three storey homes are available. Some complexes may even stack these units one above the other.

Apartments from single level designs to two storey units.

Acreage homes of many styles and land sizes.

Steps to Creating a Successful Home Search

The  choices of homes and the paper work required to make a purchase are very confusing.  Our experience and market knowledge will ensure you are fully educated and the purchase of your new home will go smoothly. We sit down with you to discuss your needs and dreams, then apply our market knowledge to create a focused home search for you. If we find we need to make some adjustments to the search criteria we will immediately do so.

If your needs are reasonable we should be able to find you the right home looking at 5-30 homes.  

How to Make a Successful Offer

Many books have been written on this topic. We've been involved in thousands of home purchase negotiations in Calgary and have found there is no rule that applies all of the time. Each offer needs to consider several things:

  • How long has the property been listed? New listings (under 10 days) tend to be less approachable than those that have been on the market longer. These listings usually sell closer to list price and other terms the seller is asking for. 
  • Is the asking price reasonable? If the asking price is reasonable there are likely several buyers looking at the property and offers should be reasonable. If the property is over priced and has been on the market a while, lessor starting offers are in order.
  • What is the market doing? If the markets rising the pressure to buy is on the buyers. If the market is dropping it's on the sellers.
  • How many area homes are on the market? If there are many or few it changes buyer and seller motivation. 
  • What is the motivation of the seller to sell? No one truly knows the motivation of someone they have never met. They may be desperate to get out or just testing the market.

The best way to make a successful offer is to judge all of these things individually at the time you are thinking of making the offer. This is where our experience will be a huge help. We both want the home you purchase at the best price and terms possible. We review all of the variables with you before sending an offer to the sellers agent to ensure it reflects exactly what you are comfortable with. 

Most importantly, make the seller an offer which reflects your interests and market conditions. 

Offer time lines:

The most used time line is for the offer to be left open to be finalized by 11:59 PM the day the offer is written. Exceptions to this is If the offer is being received by the sellers agent after 9:00 PM then the offer is often left open to a mutually agreed upon time the following day. If sellers are unavailable or have requested a different time line for offers to be left open then we may have to abide by these.

In all markets except red hot markets this should work fine, but in a red hot market you want the seller to respond asap to avoid conflicting offers coming in.

Buyer purchase conditions:

Most offers include conditions of purchase. These conditions are usually only buyer conditions but once in awhile a seller may add a condition. Most conditions a buyer puts on their offer are limited to 5 business days. This is plenty of time for the buyer to complete what is required. During the condition period the sellers have made a written commitment to the buyers to sell them their home at the agreed upon price and terms. They can accept a better offer or another from another buyer prior to the first buyer not removing all of their conditions, but it doesn't effect the first offer in any way. They can only accept the other offer subject to the first offer not removing all conditions by the agreed upon time.

All conditions a buyer places on the offer must be removed by the buyer on the approved forms within the agreed upon timeline. If conditions are not removed on time or mutually agreed to be extended in writing the sale is terminated and the buyers deposit is returned to the buyers.

Financing condition: this condition accompanies 90%+ of offers. This where a buyer has usually been pre-approved by their lender subject to the property being appraised. This condition is normally a 5 business day condition to allow the lender and buyer the time required to finalize the financing.

Home inspection condition: this condition also accompanies 90%+ of offers. Here a buyer employs a professional home inspector of their choice to come to the property and evaluate the condition of the home. Again this condition is normally a 5 business day condition. We can also recommend a highly qualified home inspector.

Review of condo documents condition: this condition accompanies all condominium purchase agreements. The seller is required as per contract to supply buyers with all required documents at their expense by a time on the contract. The buyers usually hire a professional agency to review these documents for them at their expense. This condition is normally a 5 business day condition from the date the sellers must supply all documents. We can also recommend a highly qualified document review company.

Sale of Buyers home condition: this condition is a unique condition in that the sellers usually give the buyers 30 days to sell their current home, but give them only a 2-48 hour first right of refusal to purchase the sellers home. The sellers continue to market their home and if they receive another acceptable offer they give the original buyer the hours agreed upon to remove all of their conditions. If the original buyer does not remove all their conditions within that timeline the seller is free to accept the second offer and has no future obligations to the original purchasers.

Once in awhile there may be other conditions required that are unique to that buyers individual situation. Sellers often reject conditions that are to long or unusual.

Due to the many different components of a successful offer it is wise for the buyer to work with the best agent possible. We can and will make a difference in the whole offer process not to mention we will get you the best terms and purchase price. 

We have been involved in 1,000's of home purchase contracts and have the experience to get you and your family better results with far fewer inconveniences. Most of our business today comes from happy past clients and their friends and families.

Steele Group has the experience you need to get the BEST RESULTS...