Buying a home is an exciting experience that can be both rewarding and challenging – and potentially even more challenging for someone who is new to Canada. If you are a newcomer to Canada, and you are thinking about becoming a homeowner, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers useful tips to help you find the right home.
Since most newcomers to Canada use the internet to find information on housing, CMHC developed the Housing for Newcomers site at www.cmhc.ca/newcomers with information in eight languages: English, French, Mandarin/Simplified Chinese, Punjabi, Tagalog, Urdu, Arabic, and Spanish. You’ll find advice in these eight languages about buying a home as well as renting an apartment and maintaining a home.
The site offers tips to help newcomers through the entire homebuying process from making the decision to buy to moving day and beyond. You’ll find lots of information including how to determine what type of home you want and where you want to live, as well as how to find and finance a home.
For example, the home you buy and where you end up buying it will depend on how much you can afford, where you work, whether you want to commute and your family’s lifestyle.
You’ll need to consider not only what you want now, but what you might want in the future. Do you need several bedrooms, more than one bathroom, or a garage? Do you plan to have children or do you have teenagers who will be moving away soon? Think about where your children will go to school and how they will get there. Also, how important is it to live close to your family and friends, a place of worship or cultural community centres?
Once you’ve decided on where you want to live and the type of home you would like, it’s a good idea to tell friends, family and work colleagues that you’re looking for a house. They might know about homes that are on the market. Check the homes section in the newspaper as well as real estate websites, such as www.mls.ca, for information and photos on a wide range of properties. You can also simply drive around a neighbourhood that interests you and look for “For Sale” signs.
Whatever method you choose to look for a house, do your research to learn as much as possible about the home that you want to buy.
It’s also important to research the people and organizations that are helping you buy your home, including your real estate agent, lender or mortgage broker, lawyer and home inspector. Ask for their references and call the people who have done business with them before. Also ask how they can help you with your special needs as a new Canadian. For instance, do they speak your first language?
Looking for a home requires patient, deliberate work and some thoughtful planning, but when you consider how much time you will be spending in your home, and how much money you spend to buy a home, the effort is clearly worth it. CMHC also offers several worksheets and checklists to help with every stage of the home buying process. Simply visit Housing for Newcomers at www.cmhc.ca/newcomers.