Opening doors

First Steps



You’ve taken a few weekends off to drive around and look for a new home for your family - but how do you begin to determine what you can afford??  In your search, a host of other questions confront you -


Ø         How do I find out if there’s anything wrong with a house I pick?

Ø         I have my down payment saved - how much more do I need?

Ø         What should I look for in a home?

Ø         Is HST included in the purchase price?





There will be a number of professionals advising you on the investment process for your new family home - all with one single purpose - to work together to help you choose your investment wisely, and protect it for the future.


The first professional you will encounter is your real estate agent.  The other two members of your investment team will be your mortgage lender and lawyer.

Understanding the resources that each has to offer will enable you to make the most of their expertise and make an otherwise intimidating process enjoyable.





Your quest is not the first - many have gone before and many will come after - BUT your search is unique to you - so before you start, identify your priorities on a “needs” list.  Do you need to be on a bus route or near schools for your young family?  Try to keep this list separate from your “wish” list.  Identifying your needs before falling in love with a home will provide your real estate professional with the necessary tools to help you to assess (before you look) how many of your needs will be met by a prospective home.


Now are you ready?  Almost - before starting to look, find out what you can afford.  Begin your shopping with a  pre-approved mortgage under your belt from your mortgage lender - it will speed up your offer process, and establish your price range within which you should be looking.  Ask your financial institution or real estate agent about the pre-approval process if you are unsure.





Using the services of an expert in any field is worthwhile.  Real estate agency practice has undergone recent changes in Nova Scotia.  The agent that you, as a buyer, deal with is presumed to be your agent, with your sole interests at heart.  Under agency law, your agent still has an obligation to the seller, but in practice, your agent can advocate your interests first.  There may be circumstances in which an agent has a dual role, that is, in practice, an obligation to advance the interests of more than one party.  This relationship will be fully discussed with you by the real estate professional you decide will work for you.


The real estate agent you choose is a professional providing you with a personal service.  You must feel confident in that service and that your best interests are being served.  Ask your friends and neighbours for references or attend a home-buyers seminar offered by your local real estate office.  Once you have found an agent that you feel comfortable with, allow that agent to work exclusively for you.






You think you’ve found the home that best suits your family - now what?


Now you begin the formal process of entering into a legal contract by preparing an offer to the seller on a standard form of Agreement of Purchase and Sale approved by your real estate association.  Your real estate agent will advise you as to the standard clauses that are contained in that agreement, and advise you of the particular clauses to be added to the standard form that best suit the inquiries you want to carry out on the property before being legally bound to complete the transaction.  For example: -

Ø         If the property is serviced with a well you will want to conduct a water test to ensure it meets all health standards;

Ø         You will likely wish to have a building inspection conducted to have those “objective” professional eyes assess the structural soundness of your prospective new home;

Ø         Your mortgage lender will want an opportunity to ensure the home supports your purchase price - and you will want time to finalize your financial affairs.

Ø         You may want to review a Property Condition Disclosure Statement, completed by the seller.  Your agent will explain more fully this document which contains general information which the seller knows about their home from their period of ownership.  It is important for a buyer to verify the information set out in this form, as it only relates to the particular knowledge of the seller, and is not warranted to be complete or absolute.


Until you are satisfied that your inquiries are complete, the contract is “conditional”.





Your Agreement of Purchase and Sale will set out many time frames: time to get your financing, time for a building inspection or water tests time to arrange a building permit.  All of these times will be set out by a certain number of days starting from the date the seller accepts your offer.  Make a point of marking these deadline dates so they don’t go by unnoticed.  Usually if a date goes by without notification to the contrary from the purchaser the seller is entitled to believe that the inquiry has been completed satisfactorily.



                                                                               “Time is of the Essence Deadlines”


Financing by:                                                           


Water test by:                                                          


Building inspection by: