Steps To Owning A New Home

The key to a successful buying experience is to be well prepared and well informed.

Find out about the typical buying process at a glance and check below for more in-depth information. Download checklists and other items from the tools section to guide you through your purchase.

Built-in Flexibility - Flexibility is an integral part of today's lifestyle. Flexible work schedules, flexible child care options, flexible borrowing and investment options…. All give people the freedom to make personal choices that work best for them and reflect their individual needs. Doesn't it make sense that your home is flexible too? Designed with your needs and preferences in mind, not only for today but also for the future? A comfortable home that can accommodate changes and new priorities in your life? That's the basic idea behind FlexHousing™, an approach that was developed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and is used by a growing number of professional new home builders. FlexHousing™ has tremendous benefits for homeowners and is easy to build into any brand new home. Pre-planning at the design stage means less renovation and potentially expensive changes down the road. In fact, it may make it possible for you to stay in your home even if circumstances in your life…

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R-2000 Energy Efficient Homes - R-2000 homes are the most energy-efficient and environmentally responsible new homes on the market. R-2000 homes are extraordinary homes. They are built to demanding standards for energy efficiency and indoor air quality that far surpass others in the marketplace. They are designed and constructed by specially trained builders, who are committed to providing the very best for their customers. They are backed by a quality assurance process that’s unique in the industry. And every R-2000 home is certified by the Government of Canada. That ’s truly extraordinary. If you are thinking about buying a new home, take the opportunity to find out what R-2000 is all about.  The ten most important things to know about R-2000: R-2000 represents a way of building homes, not a specific design, style or type of home. Virtually any home can become an R-2000 home. R-2000 homes are built to the R-2000 Standard—a series of strict technical requirements for energy efficiency, indoor air quality and…

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Choosing Features and Finishes - One of the most exciting aspects of buying a brand new home is that you get to decide on the features and finishing touches that go into the home. This gives you the opportunity to get what you want, from the very beginning. Standard Inclusions A new home comes complete with a range of standard features and finishes that are included in the basic price of the home. These inclusions vary from one builder to another, and often from one home design to another. Uniformly, though, the quality of today's standard products is excellent, offering home buyers great value for the money. For a number of standard items, home buyers are offered choices that won't affect the purchase price, such as the style of kitchen cabinets and the colour and design of floor coverings. Upgrades and Options Most builders also offer a full range of upgrades-products of a higher quality such as thicker carpeting, premium countertops, or full exterior brick cladding. Upgrades will add to the price of the house,…

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Lighting - Lighting Adds Appeal and Enjoyment to Your New Home When you buy a new home, you have an ideal opportunity to be creative with lighting. Today, lighting does much more than simply help you live and work in your home. It can be an integral part of interior design that will enhance the beauty of your home, give focus to a room, highlight your favourite possessions, create moods of intimacy or make rooms feel bigger. Depending on the home, your builder may offer standard and upgrade lighting packages, or you may be given a lighting allowance so you can choose everything from scratch. In either case, the builder will often refer you to their chosen supplier where you can work with a lighting expert to make your selections. This is a great opportunity to explore what is available and get professional advice to help bring out the best in your new home. Here are a few key considerations for lighting your home. Ambient lighting is general space lighting that provides overall illumination and defines…

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Landscaping - For many homeowners, their garden and other outdoor spaces are a source of great joy and pride. These areas are an extension of the home to be enjoyed for many months of the year as a social gathering place, a private area for relaxation and a pleasurable nature experience. When you buy a brand new home, you have a unique opportunity to develop your landscaping from the very beginning, adding beauty to your home, street and community and creating your own personal outdoor living environment. Professional new home builders understand the importance of landscaping. More than ever, they are paying attention to the natural environment on their building sites, carefully preserving trees and other natural growth on building sites whenever possible. Green spaces and attractive landscaping of common areas are an integral part of larger community developments. Walkways and driveways are designed to enhance the appeal of individual homes. Today, some new home builders offer extensive landscaping…

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Pre-Wiring - Your decision to buy a brand new home opens up many unique possibilities. One of the most valuable is the opportunity to have your new home pre-wired for today's—and tomorrow's—advanced communications technologies. A pre-wired or "connected" home can support a wide range of technologies, including high-speed Internet service, digital television, direct broadcast satellite service, local computer networks within the home, an efficient home office, home entertainment centres, environmental and energy management systems and home security networks. Most new home builders include some pre-wiring in their homes, such as multiple cable TV and telephone outlets run in series. On request, builders can install more comprehensive pre-wiring to suit your communication and automation needs. While there are a number of different systems in the market, the telecommunications industry is rapidly moving towards a standardized home wiring system, with "minimum" and "recommended"…

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Look at the Community - Many new home buyers are looking for a community as well as a home—a friendly place to live, a good environment for raising a family or enjoying one's retirement years. A place where neighbours know each other and care. Planned communities range from large-scale developments with hundreds of homes to private enclaves of less than 50 homes. The word "community" may conjure up images of white picket fences, gingerbread porches, children's tricycles and small town atmosphere. Or you may have visions of an active adult lifestyle with nature trails, bike paths and sports facilities. It is important to have realistic expectations and to know what a particular community offers before you buy into it. As you visit builders' sales offices and model homes, ask about the community at the same time. Who is the Target Market? Ask the builder or salesperson to describe the community and the homeowners it is designed for. Inquire about the mixture of homes in terms of size, styles…

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Writing Up The Contract - Once you have found the right builder and decided on the home you want, you are ready to work out the contractual arrangements. With large builders, this is usually done at the sales office, where you and the salesperson together work through the items that go into the contract. Alternatively, the builder may write up the contract on their own and present it to you for consideration. Or you may choose to have your lawyer prepare the contract. Commonly referred to as the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, the contract is a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions of your purchase. There is no mandatory or standard contract form; many professional new home builders use forms adapted from model contracts developed by their provincial Home Builders' Association or new home warranty program.

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What Should the Contract Cover? - The contract will describe the lot, the model, the selected upgrades and other obvious items such as the price and financing terms. In addition, it should include information on restrictions and obligations that may affect your rights and responsibilities as a home owner, such as: Rights of way or easements registered against the lot. For instance, will there be a fire hydrant on your lot, or an electrical box? Subdivision requirements. For instance, there may be restrictions on the number or kinds of trees that you may plant. Or restrictions on parking commercial vehicles, trailers and boats or performing general automotive maintenance in the driveway. Or on installing a satellite dish. Municipal bylaws that regulate activity in the neighbourhood. For instance, are there any restrictions on nanny or in-law suites, home businesses or storage buildings?   * All of the above should be covered in "Schedules" which form part of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

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Making the Offer - Often, the Agreement starts with your offer to purchase the home from the builder. Once you sign the offer, it is binding on you, i.e. you have agreed to all the terms and conditions set out. If your builder accepts the offer and signs the Agreement, it becomes binding on both parties. Similarly, if your builder presents you with a contract, it is an "offer to sell" that becomes legally binding on both parties once you accept. When you are not dealing directly with the builder, the sales representative may not be able to "close the deal" on the spot without a review by the builder. Approval or counter-offer is usually quick. However, you may consider adding an irrevocable date to your offer—a deadline for the builder's response, after which your offer is no longer valid. Before signing anything, you need to carefully review the contract document. Take your time and make sure that all points are covered and that all Schedules are attached and noted in the Agreement.…

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From Offer to Contract - The process from first offer to final agreement can be quick, or it may involve several steps over a longer period of time. It can be an intense time, but bear in mind that you and the builder are aiming for the same goal. Your signed offer is presented to the builder who, by the irrevocable date, will either: accept it as written. His/her signature on the offer results in a contract that is binding on both parties. OR counter your offer (by changing the price, terms, closing date or other points). Changes are made directly in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale document. A new irrevocable date is set, by which you must respond to the builder's offer, failing which the offer is no longer valid. If your builder makes you a counter offer, you may decide to accept it or you may wish to re-counter. This process continues until an agreement has been reached between you and your builder. If your accepted offer was conditional on financing, you now need to apply and receive approval for a…

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The Role of Your Lawyer - You need to arrange for a lawyer to look after the legal aspects of buying a home, or a public notary if you buy in Quebec. It is a good idea to contact a lawyer early, even before you actually begin to look at properties. Your local and provincial bar association can refer you to a lawyer who specializes in real estate. Ask for an estimate of costs in advance so you know what to expect. Your lawyer will represent your interests throughout the process of buying your new home: Reviewing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale Advising you during the counter and re-counter process of the offer Making sure that you get clear title to the property and verifying, preparing and executing transfer documents, deeds and your mortgage Registering the change of property ownership and obtaining legal possession for you.

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