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The Home Buying process – a complete guide

Picking the right home illustration

As a home buyer in Nanaimo, there are many things to know.

Buying a home is likely going to be the biggest investment you will ever make.  With that in mind, it is important to educate yourself on the buying process so that when the time comes to decide on a home, you feel prepared.

As experienced Realtors in Nanaimo, we’ve helped hundreds of buyers find the perfect Nanaimo home.  

Whether you are a first-time home buyer or a repeat buyer who’s been out of the market for a while, this guide will steer you along the way to a smooth home purchase.

Below you’ll find an outline of the steps to buying a home.


Getting pre-approved for a mortgage

Step one to buying a home in Nanaimo is to visit a lender, either a bank or a mortgage broker, to find out how much you are qualified to borrow. 

A mortgage pre-approval means that a lender has approved you for a mortgage up to a certain amount based on your current financial situation.  As part of this pre-approval, you will find out what price range of homes you can shop for, based on the size of your down payment and your current income. The lender will estimate your monthly mortgage payments and what interest rate and term you would qualify for.

During the process of pre-approval, the lender will look at your finances, request several financial documents, check your personal information, and possibly do a credit check.

One thing to remember, when shopping for a mortgage, is that you have many choices of different lenders. Once you have a pre-approval in place it is possible for you to shop around for the best rate.

Once you are pre-approved its always a good idea to get a pre-approval letter from your lender. Once approved, you are free to start shopping for homes.  However, its important to note that you will still need to put a subject to finance on any offers that you write.  The lender will want to approve the property that you choose and may possibly require an appraisal done on the property.

Meeting with your Realtor

It’s always a good idea to meet with your Realtor to get to know each other before the house hunting begins.  As Nanaimo Realtors we have a fiduciary duty to represent your best interests.

As your Realtor you can expect:

Loyalty – we will act in your best interests

Full disclosure regarding anything we know about a property or transaction 

Confidentiality – we will not share your private information without your permission.

Here are just some of the Realtor services you can expect when working with us; assistance in understanding the current Nanaimo housing market, helping you finalize your search criteria, familiarize you with the different neighbourhoods in the city and the pros & cons of each, arrange property viewings, supply you with information and documentation that is available on your preferred property, discuss closing costs, assist you in writing an offer and counter offer, negotiate on your behalf when presenting the offer, work with you during the subject removal phase & once the subjects are removed we will see you again on possession day when we will hand you the keys to your new home.

Determine your wish list or search parameters

When narrowing down your search criteria it is important to determine your “must have’s” and your “would like to have’s”.  Key factors that will determine what homes we look at will be; number of bedrooms and bathrooms, style of home – single level or two level, location, fixer-upper or newer home, proximity to amenities and price range.

We will set up a Matrix Search Portal for you that will reflect your search criteria.  You will be updated by email whenever new listings come onto the MLS that meet your needs.

The location of your new home will be one of the most important considerations in preparing your wish list. To narrow that down, we invite you to view our interactive Nanaimo neighbourhood map that allows you to search for homes by Nanaimo neighbourhood.

If you are new to Nanaimo, you will find our Nanaimo Relocation Guide a big help while familiarizing yourself with the city.

Viewing homes

Now that you have met with your Realtor, been pre-approved and have short listed a few homes to view, it’s time to go house hunting.

We will set up some viewings and go for a look.  In an active real estate market its always wise to be as prepared as possible.  We can find out as much information about the house, that is available to us, prior to the showing.  However, in an active market you will likely have only one chance to view the house before you write an offer so it will be important to notice as much about the home as you can during your viewing.   In fact, writing up a checklist before you go is a great idea.  Here are a few things you will want to look for.

  • Check the floors.  Look for soft spots or uneven floors.  What shape are the carpets in? Are the tiles cracked and the hardwood scratched?
  • Check windows and windowsills.  Have any of the windows lost their seal?  Is there mold on the windowsills?  What about cracked sills, which can mean there has been some water ingress.
  • Check for cracks in walls and wet marks on ceilings.
  • Be conscious of smells.  Do you smell mildew or mold or a musty odour?  If you can access the crawl space open the hatch and see if it smells damp.
  • Have a look at the roof if its visible from down below.  
  • If you are looking at a view home, you will want to have a look at trees.  Are there small trees that may grow up and eventually block your view?
  • Check out the neighbours.  Is it a well-maintained neighbourhood? Do the neighbours look after their properties?

These are just a few things to note when viewing homes that can assist you in making an informed decision prior to writing an offer.

Writing an offer

You’ve found the right home for you and your family, now its time to put pen to paper and write an offer. Writing an offer can be both exciting and stressful.  After all, this is potentially one of the most expensive purchases you will make in your lifetime.

We will prepare an offer on a contract called the Contract of Purchase and Sale (CPS).  This is a legally binding contract once it has been accepted by both the Seller and the Buyer.

The CPS will outline the terms of the contract including the price you wish to offer, the size of your deposit, inclusions such as appliances, window treatments etc. and exclusions such as certain belongings of the owners that you do not want to be left behind.  Additionally, we will add your preferred closing dates and your conditions (also referred to as subjects) such as finance, inspection, insurance and reviewing the property disclosure statement and title.  If you are buying a condo property, then you will also want to add a subject to reviewing and approving the strata documents.

The number of conditions we add to the offer will likely be dependent on whether you are participating in a multiple offer.  In a multiple offer it’s always risky to write an unconditional offer (one with no subjects) although they are common in an active seller’s market.

Once you have signed off on the offer and we have submitted it to the listing agent, he/she will present it to the Seller.  At that time the Seller has the option to accept the offer as-is, reject the offer or send back a counteroffer.

If you do receive a counteroffer then you can decide to accept the counteroffer, counter back on the counteroffer, or reject it and keep looking.

During the back-and-forth that often goes on with an offer, you or the seller may need to compromise on a few things in order to put a deal together.

It is our job as Realtor’s to negotiate on your behalf and do our very best to get you what you want.

Provide a deposit and work on subject removal

You will notice on the first page of the CPS that the bottom paragraph is about the deposit.  The default deposit payment instructions are that it is due and payable within 24 hours of accepted offer.  On occasion we can change this to be a day or two later if the offer date falls on a weekend.  Generally the deposit should be supplied in the form of a bank draft.

Subjects (aka conditions) are the requirements within the CPS that need to be waived or fulfilled by the date stipulated on the CPS, before the sale can go through.

To satisfy these conditions you will need to get all the contract paperwork over to your lender.  You will need to book your inspection, arrange your insurance, and read through the title and property disclosure statement and if you are buying a strata property you will need to read through the strata documentation.  This is the time that you will perform your due diligence.  It can be a hectic time.

Once you have completed your due diligence you will either remove or waive your subjects or collapse the deal if you are not comfortable removing the conditions.  We will complete an addendum to the CPS stating that the subjects have now been removed (or waived) and the sale can proceed to completion.

Completing the purchase

Once the purchase is subject-free our real estate brokerage will send the paperwork to your chosen lawyer or notary.  The office will also send the deposit over to your lawyer/notary.  You will get a call from the lawyer’s office to book an appointment, a few days prior to the completion date, to go in and sign the closing documents, and bring the balance of your down payment.

This time between subject removal is the time to make sure that your insurance is set to start on completion date, change your address at the post office and cancel and set up utilities at your new home.

Now it’s time to start packing!

Looking for an experienced Home Buyer’s agent?  Please contact us.  We’d love to hear from you.

Buying a home in Nanaimo?  Here are some related articles that will help in the home buying process

Saving for a down payment

How to know if you can afford a house?

What's the difference between a buyer's and a seller's market?

Finding a home in a seller's market

How to win in a bidding war

First time buyer's eBook

Mortgage calculator

Buying a fixer-upper

Buying vs. renting

Tips to relocating to a new neighbourhood

How to find a good neighbourhood

Home buying FAQ's

Everything you need to know about buying a condo







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