How to Buy a New Home

Home Buyer’s Guide
For Your Next Home

The Ultimate Buyers Guide for your Next Home

Things to do &
before moving in

Researching, planning and deciding on a home are a big part of the new home buying journey, but once you’ve signed your agreement there’s still lots to do.

Your design centre visits

Many new home buyers — even those who have been through it before — find the selection of features and finishes challenging. You’ll need to make decisions quickly in order to meet construction timetables, but the design centre specialists are experienced at guiding you through the process with ease to make it the most exciting part of your homebuying journey. You can also look for a builder’s online resources to learn more about their design centre.

Budget your time

One of the exciting things about buying a new construction home is getting to choose many of the features and finishes in your home. But that means you have to make yourself available for the appointments where you’ll actually make those decisions, and they usually have to be scheduled during the work day.

More financial considerations
  • Before you sign your sales agreement, visit the design centre in person if possible, or by browsing design centre resources online. This will give you more time, without a looming deadline, to become familiar with the selections available. 
  • Save images of things you like. That could be inspirational, finishes you like, styles and colours you’re drawn to. They don’t have to be all home-related; often a design centre specialist can spot common elements to get a sense of styles and colours you’re attracted to. This is particularly helpful if you’re not sure of your style preferences.
  • Share your budget with your design centre consultant. Knowing what you have for additional investments will help them know where you should prioritize to get the most out of what you have available to spend.
  • If your budget for additional investments is limited, choose ones that would be difficult to do after your home is built. That often means opting for structural elements like an alternate layout for an ensuite.

When creating your wish list for design options, visit the builder’s models in person or take virtual tours online. They can both give you ideas and help you understand things like cabinet heights and trim styles.

Did you know?

Architecture control guidelines are used by most builders to ensure an interesting streetscape and avoid repetition. That means if your home is one of the last ones in a block, your exterior selections options might be more limited than your neighbours’ were. For townhomes and condominiums, exterior elevations and colour packages are pre-selected by the builder.

The construction phase

Once decisions are made, plans are drawn up and permits approved, it’s time for construction to begin! Your role now becomes less intense, although you still have things to do.

  1. Communication: Keep in contact with your builder. With Minto, you will have a dedicated Customer Experience Representative, who can keep you updated on the status of your home, but if you’ve purchased with a builder who does not, be proactive about staying in contact to make sure you’re kept in the loop early if there is the possibility of construction delays.
  2. Furniture: Will the furniture you have now fit or work in your new home? If not, start planning for what you’ll need. Keep in mind that you should measure for furniture — something that you may not be able to do until much closer to your move-in date.
  3. Declutter: You’d be surprised how quickly the clutter accumulates, even if you haven’t been in your current home very long. Now is the perfect time to donate, give away or recycle anything you won’t need rather than hauling it along with you.
  4. Check out movers: And figure out how soon you’ll need to book. You may not have a firm moving date yet, but you’ll have an idea and knowing how much advance booking time you’ll need will help you prepare.
  5. Read up: Go through any information your builder has given you about the next steps.
  6. The switch: Start planning for utility hook-ups, change of address, etc. Many of these won’t need doing until a week or two before your move, but planning for them now will make the job easier when the time comes. Check it out: CMHC’s change of address checklist.
  7. Selling your current home: When you should list your current home for sale can depend on a variety of factors and your real estate agent can advise you, but now is the time to start thinking about this step in selling your house, if you haven’t already.
The time trap

A heads up that decluttering, staging and preparing your home for resale can take an inordinate amount of time, effort and money. It’s wise to start tackling this process — especially decluttering — early on so that you won’t get overwhelmed.

Take advantage of the framing walk-through

Many builders (Minto Communities included) will give you the opportunity to check out your new home during construction. This is referred to as a frame walk. If it’s something your builder offers, try to take advantage of this visit.

The frame walk happens just before the drywall goes up. The exterior of your home will be enclosed, interior walls framed, and the mechanical, electrical and plumbing will be in place. This is your first chance to see inside your home and a good opportunity to make sure everything is located where it’s supposed to be. It also lets you see what’s behind the walls.

More money talk

While you’re waiting, don’t forget about financial matters:

  1. Keep following your budget and save up for a bigger down payment at closing.
  2. Shop for better mortgage rates, if you can.
  3. Figure out all your closing fees and what you can expect your maintenance budget to be.
  4. Explore property insurance options. This may be as simple as flipping your current policy over to the new home, but it’s a good opportunity to shop around for a better deal.
  5. Be prepared for closing day by keeping in touch with your builder, lawyer, mortgage specialist, and real estate agent.

What is the pre-delivery orientation?

About a week or two before your closing date, when your home is almost ready, your pre-delivery orientation or PDO will be scheduled. This is a very important step — it’s part of your new home warranty — and generally is the first time you will see your finished home. This is a very detailed walk-through of your home where your builder will guide you through its features, usually showing you how everything works and familiarizing you with your home. You and the builder will also identify any problems that need to be addressed. (These are usually dealt with before you take possession.)

You can expect a PDO to take about one hour for every 1,000 square feet of space.

The pre-delivery orientation (also sometimes referred to as the pre-delivery inspection or PDI) is an important part of the home buying journey and usually your first chance to see your completed home.

What will happen on closing day

It will likely be towards the end of the work day before you get your keys, so it’s recommended that you hold off on scheduling movers or any service calls until the following day.

In the days leading up to closing and on closing day, your lawyer will get everything ready for the transfer of ownership from the builder to you: checking the title, registering the home in your name, reviewing documents from the builder, determining down payment and closing costs, explaining everything to you and getting you to sign documents.

The mortgage company then releases funds to your lawyer. When the builder’s lawyer receives these funds, they register the documents with the province. It’s at this point that the ownership changes and you can be given your keys.

The process is a bit different if you’re buying a condo. Some unit owners can move in while other units are still being finished, so since the builder is still working on the building ownership does not yet change hands. Typically, you will be granted “interim occupancy” and will pay monthly fees to your builder, who retains ownership until the building is complete. Final closing occurs when the condominium is registered after completion.

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