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What should I know and look for before buying a house for the first time?

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


July 6, 2018 - Karl Yeh

When buying a home for the first time, what are some things you need to know? What should you look for when visiting a home you're planning to buy? In this episode, we discuss what are key things to know before buying a home, such as your lifestyle or preferred location. We also explore why you shouldn't rush the buying process and what to look for INSIDE and OUTSIDE a home you're looking to purchase.  Finally we talk about what new home upgrades to consider. 


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Karl Yeh:

Hi, everyone. I'm Karl Yeh. Welcome to another Homebuyer's School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics and tips from home buying experts.

And remember, if this is your first time on this channel and you want to get these strategies from the experts, [00:00:30] make sure to hit the subscription button below, hit the little notification bell, so you don't miss anything.

Today I'm joined by Cory McDonald, Community Manager with Brookfield Residential.

And the topic we're going to discuss is:

What should I know and what should I look for when buying a house for the very first time?

Cory, for first time home buyers, what are some things they, first of all, what should they know when buying a house? And two, what should they look for?

Cory McDonald:               

The first thing they should know is what is this home [00:01:00] accommodating in your lifestyle.

It's a very introspective question that I like to ask customers is,

"What are the pain points you're moving away from?"

Because that'll give me a really good idea as far as what they're trying to find in a brand new home.

Some people will come in and give you a very canned answer, because what they've seen on Home Building Network or things they've heard other people ask.

"I want three bedrooms, because it's better for resale." But that might not necessarily fit the lifestyle that they're trying to fulfill.

Trying to figure out exactly what this new home is fulfilling in [00:01:30] your lifestyle.

As far as once you've found that out, taking your time to do the research of the community that best fits that lifestyle and possibly the builder or the resale home that would best fit that lifestyle as well.

A lot of builders will have slightly different building specifications, depending on the style of home that you're looking to buy or how their home is constructed.

Having a really good idea of the materials used in the home or the specifications that they adhere to in building.

Karl Yeh:                             

I just wanted to [00:02:00] know. Does three bedrooms actually increase resale?

Cory McDonald:               

If it's good for what you're looking for...Somebody else is also going to be looking for that-

Karl Yeh:                              Okay.

Cory McDonald:               

As well. If you like bedrooms, there's a really good chance that everybody else likes three bedrooms.

Karl Yeh:                              Okay. Okay.

Cory McDonald:               

If you want two bedrooms...There's a really good chance there's somebody else looking for two bedrooms.

That's a very loaded question that I can't honestly give you an honest answer for, because sometimes a two bedroom will sell faster than a three bedroom-

Karl Yeh:                              Bedroom.

Cory McDonald:                Depending on what individual needs-

Karl Yeh:                              Okay.

Cory McDonald:                They're looking at that [00:02:30] time.

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Karl Yeh:                             

We looked at what you should know.

But what are some things you should be looking for, as a first time home buyer in a house that you're walking through or considering buying?

Don't rush the home buying process

Cory McDonald:               

Yes. Great question.

A lot of people might fall into money pits, if you're quickly rushing into a brand new home.

You like it, you love it, but you don't do your due diligence and do your research on either the builder or how the resale home was maintained previously.

They'll rush into a home and then [00:03:00] they'll start running into problems, because it wasn't properly assessed or there wasn't an inspector that came through to check for any damages that had been encountered.

I would be saying that there is a bias in buying a brand new home, because there are a lot more checks along the way for making sure that you're building to a specific code and you're adhering to specific guidelines when building a brand new home.

And then there's also a warranty that's provided with a brand new home as well to take care of some of those issues as they come up down the road.

Things to look for and know about INSIDE a home you want to buy

Karl Yeh:                             

Let's go from inside out. [00:03:30] When you're purchasing a house for the very first time, when you're walking through, what are some key things you want to look at?

Cory McDonald:               

That's again, a very loaded question. Because what I'm looking for in a brand new home-

Karl Yeh:                              That's right.

Cory McDonald:               

Might be completely different than what you're looking for. But you're right. Sometimes it is as you're walking through you get a feel of yes, this fits or this just doesn't-

Karl Yeh:                              Yeah.

Cory McDonald:                Feel like home to me.

Karl Yeh:                              Yeah.

Cory McDonald:               

Again, I always tell people it's okay to take your time to walk through different homes, to research different areas.

Having a good checklist of things that I need in a brand new home [00:04:00] over and above this many bedrooms, this many bathrooms, trying to accommodate a specific lifestyle that I want to live, what am I looking for in a brand new home?

But sometimes once you're narrowing it down, it's how does this home make you feel? It gets kind of a little personal in that sense.

That's a very loaded question that I don't know if I can honestly answer for everybody, but for what I'm looking for might be different than what everybody else is looking for in a brand new home.

Karl Yeh:                             

And remember, we do have a video on questions you should ask when buying a house for the very first time above.

Things to look for and know about OUTSIDE the home you want to buy

As we look at going [00:04:30] outside, what are some of the things that I should look for maybe outside the home or outside the community?

And I know, I guess it's a loaded question again, but again, looking at amenities, looking at transportation, looking at different aspects.

Cory McDonald:                Absolutely.

Karl Yeh:                              Yeah.

Cory McDonald:               

Amenities in the area, that's going to help with resale down the road.

But more importantly, lifestyle. You don't want to be traveling 40 minutes each way just to go get groceries on a week to week basis.

  • If it's close by, that's going to help.
  • If there's parks in the area,
  • if there's walking paths,
  • if you like going for long walks or riding your bike, having [00:05:00] bike paths in the area is a must have.
  • Or city transit, if that is necessary for you as well.

I'd say on the outside of the house, sometimes yard space is very important to people.

If it has a yard, can the area accommodate pets?

Is there a park for kids?

Lots of little things you might want to be considering on the outside of the home.

In construction itself, what the home is made out of, what the exterior, is it stucco, is it vinyl siding, is it hardy board?

Do the colors match what you're looking for [00:05:30] in a brand new home? Because these things, they do matter.

Karl Yeh:                              Yeah.

Cory McDonald:               

Right? Having a little bit of research in finding out exactly what's used on the outside of the home too.

Karl Yeh:                             

I know as first time home buyers when you go into a house, you might not know that you can upgrade a lot of different things.

What are some key things that first time home buyers should know in terms of upgrading or customizing their home?

Cory McDonald:               

Yeah, great question. And that would really depend on home to home and builder to builder.

Some builders will let you customize everything from moving walls or [00:06:00] rearranging the laundry rooms to give you more space.

Some are maybe a little bit more streamlined in saving efficiencies for time and for money, so they might not allow those kind of customizations.

But each of them will allow you to do some form or color selections and matching up your counters to make sure they match your cabinets with your flooring and even different materials you use to, as an example, some forms of flooring are maybe a little bit better for water resistance or a little bit more durable if you have kids or pets.

Or countertops, some of them are a little bit [00:06:30] better than others as far as being maybe a less porous stone as a quartz versus a granite, which might be more porous and might require a little bit more TLC to maintain over those long periods of time.

Taking your time.

Don't rush through making those color selections. But also, having a look through different show homes.

Pinterest is great to see different color ideas to look what might best suit your likes and having that idea of what best suits your lifestyle.

Karl Yeh:                             

Great. I remember [00:07:00] when I was buying my first home, one of the key things that I really was valuable to me was actually driving around the community, right?

It isn't just walking through the house but it's actually driving around.

Maybe doing a test drive from house to work. Test drive from house to any activities you have. Or maybe activities that your family or maybe your kids have, right?

Cory McDonald:                Yeah. Doing that research-  And take a day, and different days too, right?

Karl Yeh:                              Yeah.

Cory McDonald:               

Test out what rush hour is going to be like driving to and from [00:07:30] work. Or driving kids to and from school. How often do the buses come? So if little Johnny misses the first bus-

 How long is he waiting outside in the weather?

Cory McDonald:                Depending on that day. You're exactly right. Doing that research and taking the time to go do it yourself.

Karl Yeh:                             

Do you have anything else to add in terms of things that I should know or things that I should look at when buying a first ... a home for the very first time?

Cory McDonald:               

Yeah, each home is a little bit different, each builder is maybe a little bit different as far as the materials they use [00:08:00] and how they construct their homes.

Taking a deep dive into the specifications that each home is built will definitely help solve those questions or eliminate problems running down the road.

Karl Yeh:                              Perfect. Well, thank you very much, Cory.

Cory McDonald:                You're welcome.

Karl Yeh:                              Thank you very much, everyone, for joining us and we'll catch you next time.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional home buying questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

Homebuyer's School publishes new content weekly so subscribe or check back regularly for the latest information, strategies and tips from homebuying experts.  

About Cory McDonald:

Cory has been working for Brookfield Residential for over 5 years and has had the opportunity to sell  in several beautiful communities around Calgary and Cochrane. He has experience selling everything from starter town-homes to move-up homes within the company. Cory originally grew up in Calgary and after a short stint living in the greater Vancouver area, he returned home for a better quality of life to raise his family.

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