Essential Steps to Guide You Through the First-time Home Buying Process

You Deserve Success And Sanity When Buying A Calgary Home!

Welcome to the best step by step guide for a first-time home buyer buying a house or condo in Calgary. At the Marnie Campbell Real Estate Team we understand that buying a home can be exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. Our top Real Estate Agents guide you step by step through the home buying process, empower you to make the best decisions so you keep your sanity and at the end help you celebrate buying a home.

Whether you're a first-time home buyer or need a refresher, this extensive home buyer guide will provide valuable tips and help you navigate each stage of your homeownership journey.

Explore Home Buyer Steps

Step 1. Being Financially Ready
Step 2. Pre-Qualified Versus Pre-Approved
Step 3. Home Wants and Needs List
Step 4. Choosing The Best Real Estate Agent
Step 5. Buyer Representation Agreement
Step 6. Property Search
Step 7. Making An Offer to Purchase
Step 8. Negotiations
Step 9. Satisfying and Waiving Conditions
Step 10. Before Taking Possession
Step 11.  Possession Day
Step 12. After Taking Possession

Step 1. Being Financially Ready to Own a Home

Being financially ready to own a Calgary home.

The first step in the home buying process is to figure out how much you can afford to spend on a home. Your mortgage payment will most likely be your biggest expense, but there are other costs you should be aware of too. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises!

The more you know about your current financial situation, especially as a first-time home buyer, the more prepared you’ll be when you meet with your lender or mortgage broker.

5 Tips to Financially Prepare for Homeownership:

    1. Start by assessing your current financial situation: Determine how much you can comfortably allocate towards a mortgage payment each month while still maintaining a healthy financial balance.

    2. Saving for a down payment is crucial: In Canada, the amount of a down payment can vary greatly depending on the type of home you’re buying, the size of the mortgage you take out, and other factors. Knowing how much is required for a down payment on a property can help determine if you’re financially prepared for the purchase.

    3. Consult a mortgage specialist: Seek guidance from a mortgage specialist who has experience in the Calgary housing market. You want to explore the different mortgage options that available to you. Compare their terms, interest rates, and down payment requirements. Understanding the various mortgage options will help you to make the best decision for you.

      A mortgage broker has specialized knowledgeable about what different lenders have to offer. This gives you access to a wide variety of mortgage products and options. A mortgage broker can search for mortgage products that best match your specific needs. For mortgage assistance contact trusted Calgary Mortgage Specialists, Mortgage360.

    4. Understand the average home prices: Talk to our expert REALTOR about current Calgary housing market trends. Is it a buyer's market where you may have a bit more negotiating room or is it a seller's market where you may have to pay list price or more?

    5. Account for additional costs: In addition to the purchase price of your home, you want to consider other expenses associated with buying a home in Calgary, such as property taxes, legal fees, home insurance, closing costs, possible Home Owners Association Fee and potential maintenance or renovation costs. Factor these costs into your budget to ensure you are financially prepared for homeownership.

By taking these steps to get financially prepared to buy a home, you'll be in a stronger position to make confident decisions and navigate the home buying process in Calgary successfully.

KEY TAKE AWAY: As a first-time home buyer, being financially ready reduces stress, enables better mortgage options, and increases the likelihood of a successful home purchase, setting a solid foundation for homeownership. You deserve an expert Real Estate Agent that has helped hundreds of home buyers. Take the first step - contact our expert Calgary Real Estate Agent.

Step 2. Being Pre-Qualified Versus Pre-Approved For a Mortgage

Are you pre-approved for a mortgage so you can buy a Calgary home?

Mortgage Pre-qualification vs Pre-approval Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What does it mean to be pre-qualified for a mortgage?
A. Pre-qualified means you have taken the initial step in the mortgage process providing general information to a bank or mortgage broker, like annual income, credit and debt, to allow them to provide an approximate loan amount you may qualify for.

  • Not the same as an approval: A pre-qualification is not the same as receiving approval for a mortgage
  • Not a guarantee: A pre-qualification it is not a guarantee a lender will enter into a mortgage contract with you.
  • Does not involve a detailed review: A pre-qualification does not involve a detailed review of your financial documents or thorough credit check.

Q. What does it mean to be pre-approved for a mortgage?
A. Pre-approved is a guarantee in writing by a lender to grant you a loan up to a specified amount (subject to receiving full documentation). With a pre-approval you will know exactly what you can afford when looking for a home, and when you find the right home you will be one step closer to purchasing.

  • Detailed financial document review: A pre-approval means you provide detailed financial documentation such as income verification, employment history, bank statements and a thorough credit check etc.
  • Offers an interest rate hold: A pre-approval in Alberta is good for up to 120 days and will protect you from any interest rate increases that may occur during that time.
  • One step closer to mortgage approval: A pre-approval is a significant step in purchasing a home, but final mortgage approval may be subject to certain conditions like a lender's review of the purchase contract or property appraisal.

Q. Before starting a home search why is it best to be pre-approved for a mortgage?
A.  Being pre-qualified for a mortgage is important for several reasons:

  1. Realistic budget: Pre-qualification helps you determine how much you can afford to spend on a home, allowing you to set a realistic budget.
  2. Avoid disappointment: Pre-qualification helps you avoid falling in love with a home that is outside of your price range.
  3. Identifying issues: If there are any financial issues, a pre-qualification can give you time to figure things out.
  4. Professional guidance: Your lender or mortgage broker can provide you with valuable advice and guidance throughout the pre-qualification process.
  5. Smoother process: Pre-qualification can help with a quicker and more straightforward process when you find the right home to purchase.

To ensure a smooth mortgage process, consult with a mortgage broker or lender who to can assist you through pre-qualification, pre-approval, and help you understand all your mortgage options.

It holds the interest rate that’s available at the time you’re pre-approved. It will also give you a price range you can shop within, and help instill confidence in the seller that once you’ve made an offer on their home, you’ll be able to close the deal

KEY TAKE AWAY: Whether you're a first time or experienced home buyer, it is always in your best interest to be pre-approved for a mortgage before you start your home search, so you know exactly how much you can afford.

Step 3. Making Your Home Purchase Wants and Needs List

What are you wants and needs in a Calgary home purchase?

3 Big Questions to Ask When Making Your Home Wants and Needs List

  1. What are your must-haves?
  2. What are your nice-to-haves?
  3. What are your no-way-absolutely-nots?

12 Questions to Ask About What Type of Calgary Home You Want to Purchase

  1. What type of home do you like - for example, detached, row or condominium?
  2. Are their specific architectural styles you prefer such as a cottage home, craftsman, mid-century or ranch?
  3. What square footage of home do you want?
  4. Do you want move-in ready or are you okay with renovations?
  5. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
  6. What layout or style do you prefer in a kitchen?
  7. Are there specific features or finishes that you prefer, such as hardwood floors or granite countertops?
  8. Do you need a home office or dedicated work space?
  9. Do you need a garage? If so, how many cars do I need to fit in the garage?
  10. Are energy-efficient features or eco-friendly aspect important in a home?
  11. How much storage space is important?
  12. Do you have specific pet needs?

10 Questions to Ask About What Type of Calgary Neighbourhood You Want to Live In

  1. What type of neighbourhood do you want to live in - for example, urban or suburban?
  2. What does the family need and want in a neighbourhood?
  3. Which Calgary areas with homes for sale would you like to live in  - Northwest Calgary, West CalgarySouth Calgary , Southeast Calgary or Calgary Inner City?
  4. Is proximity to a school important? Are you looking for Calgary Public Schools, Calgary Catholic Schools or private schools?
  5. How far from work do you want to live?
  6. Do you need public transportation like Calgary's LRT (C-train)?
  7. Do you want easy access to one of Calgary's main roads like Deerfoot Trail or Stoney Trail?
  8. Are there specific amenities you want to be close to like a YMCA, golf course or dog park?
  9. Do you want to live in one of Calgary's lake communities?
  10. Do you want to live close to post secondary schools like the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, SAIT, Bow Valley College or Columbia College.

KEY TAKE AWAY: It's important to narrow down what you need and want in new home and neighbourhood. Make a list so you can focus and find the right home for you. Find out more about our Calgary home buying services.

Step 4. Choosing The Best Real Estate Agent For You

How to choose the best Calgary real estate agent for you.

Choosing the best Calgary Real Estate Agent for you is a critical step in the home buying process, especially as a first-time home buyer. A skilled and experienced Real Estate Agent can make a significant difference in finding the right home for you and ensuring a smooth transaction. Buying a home can be stressful and nerve-racking.

You deserve a top Calgary Real Estate Team to help you avoid costly mistakes and guide you through the home buying process start to finish.

5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Calgary Real Estate Agent

  1. What is their experience and expertise in the Calgary housing market?
  2. Do they specialize in buying homes in a specific area of the city?
  3. Are they experts in areas surrounding Calgary like Airdrie, Chestermere and Okotoks?
  4. Will they offer you a Home Buyer Consultation to answer all your real estate questions?
  5. Can they provide you with valuable insights and advice so you avoid costly home buying mistakes.

Ultimately, you want to choose a Calgary REALTOR whom you trust, feel comfortable working with, and who has a proven record of successfully helping home buyers achieve their goals.

If you are in need more questions to consider when buying your first home, read our blog post 26 Home Buyer Questions To Ask.

Moving to Calgary to Buy a Home? You Deserve a REALTOR Who Specializes in Relocations

When deciding to move to a new city, like Calgary, a home buyer can feel anxious, excited and stressed all at the same time. The Marnie Campbell Real Estate Team offers relocation assistance, guiding home buyers step by step, from the first phone call finding out what brings you to Calgary, all the way to possession day of your new home and beyond. The Marnie Campbell Real Estate Team has extensive knowledge and experience to help make your relocation move easier.

KEY TAKE AWAY: Whether you are a first-time or seasoned home buyer, buying a home can be stressful. You deserve an experienced Calgary Real Estate Agent to help you avoid costly mistakes and empower you to make the best real estate decisions for you. Schedule a call with the Marnie Campbell Real Estate Team!

Step 5. Signing a Buyer Representation Agreement

Buyer Representation Agreement between Alberta Realtor and Home Buyer

After you have chosen to work with a Calgary Real Estate Agent, you will be asked to sign a Buyer Representation Agreement, also called a written service agreement.

Just like when you decide to sell a home and sign a Listing Agreement to work with a REALTOR, you do the same when you decide to work with a REALTOR in Alberta to help you buy a home.

Buyer Representation Agreement Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I need to sign a Buyer Representation Agreement if I work with a REALTOR in Alberta?
Yes, since July 1, 2014, buyers who work with a REALTOR in Alberta are required to sign a Buyer Representation

Q. What is a Buyer Representation Agreement?
A. The Buyer Representation Agreement helps ensure a home buyer understands the role of the REALTOR they are working with and the professional relationship they will have. It is a legally enforceable contract that gives the buyer client the right to hold the Real Estate Agent more accountable for the quality and quantity of work they perform for them.

In addition to laying out, in writing, the obligations a Real Estate Agent has towards the buying client, but it also sets out the obligations the buyer has towards the Real Estate Agent. Thus, the agreement serves both parties, establishing trust and commitment.

KEY TAKE AWAY: When working with a REALTOR in Alberta, home buyers sign a Buyer Representation Agreement (Written Service Agreement). As a first-time buyer don't be nervous, this Agreement has been mandatory in Alberta since 2014 and provides clarification about the roles and responsibilities you and your Calgary REALTOR have to each other.

Step 6. Property Search and Viewing Properties For Sale

Searching for a Calgary property for sale.

6 Essential Ways Real Estate Agents Support Home Buyers In Their Home Search

  1. Help establish your specific search criteria: Our expert Calgary Real Estate Agent will set up you up on a property search specific to your budget, desired location and any specific requirements like type of property, property size, number of bedrooms, etc.

  2. Receiving notification of properties for sale that match your search: As members of the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB®), our Real Estate Agent has access to a province-wide Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System. This means when you are set up on a search you will receive automatic email alerts to notify you when properties for sale match your specific criteria.

  3. Review and analyze properties: Our  Real Estate Agent will review and analyze properties you are considering viewing, looking at factors like property location, condition, red flags etc. Providing valuable information so you can make informed decisions about whether or not that it a property worth viewing.

  4. Schedule property showings: When you have decided on properties you like, our Real Estate Agent will coordinate with the listing agent to set appointments to view the properties.

  5. Provide showing insights and feedback:  During and after each property showing, our Real Estate Agent will provide insights on the property, and discuss your impressions, likes, and dislikes. This feedback helps refine your search further and tailor the search to better meet your home buying needs.

  6. Provide support and guidance:  A Real Estate Agent will provide support and guidance until you find your ideal property.

KEY TAKE AWAY: A Real Estate Agent plays a vital role in assisting home buyers with their home search. From helping with establishing property criteria to showing and analyzing properties. Schedule a call with our top Calgary REALTOR for valuable guidance and insights, to help you find the right home.

Step 7. Making An Offer to Purchase

Understanding the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract when buying a home.

As a Calgary home buyer you'll be excited and a little nervous about making an offer on a property. It's important you understand the details of the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract and feel comfortable moving forward.

Alberta Residential Purchase Contract Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an Offer to Purchase?
An Offer to Purchase is a legally binding agreement between a home buyer and seller. It will outline the terms and conditions of the property sale, including the purchase price, conditions and obligations of both the buyer and seller, providing a means for a secure and transparent real estate transaction.

  • The Alberta Residential Purchase Contract is used when buying a residential property that is not a condominium.
  • The Residential Resale Condominium Property Purchase Contract is used in Alberta when buying a residential property that is a condominium. This form allows for additional details such as parking, storage and condo fees.

Q. Who signs the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract?
In Alberta, both the buyer(s) and the seller(s) involved in the real estate transaction will sign the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract. The seller(s) involved in the sale of the property are those that are on title (an official government-issued document that certifies or confirms their ownership of the property).

Q. Is there a land transfer tax in the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract?
Alberta does not have a land transfer tax, like most provinces in Canada, saving home buyers thousands of dollars when purchasing a property.

Q. What goods are included or excluded from the sale of the property in the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract?
A. In the sale of a property, the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract will detail the inclusions (i.e. movable items such as dishwasher, fridge, stove, washer, dryer, window coverings etc.) and exclusions (i.e. items that are explicitly excluded from the sale such as bar fridge, window coverings, pool table, TV projector etc.). The inclusion and exclusion of items are negotiable between the buyer and seller.

Q. What is possession date?
A. The possession date (also referred to as the closing date or completion date) in the Alberta Residential Purchase Contact, refers to the date on which you, as the buyer, will take possession of the property and officially become the owner.

  • Possession is the negotiated and agreed-upon date between you, the buyer, and the seller where funds for the purchase price of the property are transferred to the seller and vacant possession is given to you, the buyer.
  • The possession date is often influenced by various factors including the timelines of both the buyer and seller (i.e. seller not wanting to move until their kids are out of school or buyer wanting to move in before Christmas etc.) and any arrangements they need to make.

Q. What are conditions in a purchase contract?
A. Submitting a conditional Alberta Residential Purchase Contract means, as the buyer, you express your intention to buy the property while reserving the right to investigate the property further or fulfill certain requirements before you decide to finalizing the sale. Common conditions include a:

  • Home inspection condition allows a buyer to hire a professional home inspector to assess the property.
  • Finance condition allows a buyer time to secure mortgage financing.

Submitting a conditional Alberta Resale Condominium Property Purchase Contract means, as the buyer, you express your intention to buy a property that is a condominium. In addition to a home inspection condition and finance condition, this form also includes a:

  • Condominium document review condition allowing the buyer time to review the condominium corporation's financial health, rules and fees.

Each condition, in the Purchase Contract, will have a specific expiry date and time associated with it, indicating the amount of time you, the buyer, has to satisfy those conditions.

Q. What is purchase price?
A. The purchase price in the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract is the agreed-upon purchase price of the property. It's your choice what to offer and how much you are willing to pay for the property. With guidance from your Real Estate Agent, you will be able to make an informed decision.

Q. What is the deposit amount needed when buying a home?
A. As a buyer, when you are ready to make an offer, and you have an accepted Offer to Purchase, you will be required to provide a sum of money (deposit) as a show of good faith and commitment to the purchase of the property. The deposit amount is typically negotiated between you, the buyer, and the seller (with guidance from both Real Estate Agents).

  • In Calgary, the deposit amount depends on the purchase price of the property but typically can start around $10,000, and is due typically 1-3 business days after an accepted Offer to Purchase. The deposit is usually held in trust by the Seller's Real Estate Brokerage and is applied towards the purchase price of the property.

Q. What do I need to know about the condition of the property when I purchase?
A. In the Alberta Residential Purchase contract section 2.4 states, “The seller represents and warrants that on Completion Day, the Property will be in substantially the same condition as when this contract was accepted and the attached and unattached goods will be in normal working order."

This means that the seller promises that, upon the completion of the sale, the property will be in a state that closely resembles its condition when you agreed to purchase it. Additionally, any appliances or fixtures that are part of the property should be in proper working order.

KEY TAKE AWAY: The Alberta Residential Purchase Contract is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller that outlines the terms and conditions of the home purchase, so it's crucial to understand it and have the best advice. Reach out now to the Marnie Campbell Real Estate Team.

Step 8. Negotiations

Negotiating an Offer to Purchase a Calgary home.

What Is the Negotiation Process Once You Have Submitted An Offer to Purchase?

There will most likely be some negotiation between you and the seller after you submit an Offer to Purchase. Sellers can accept your offer, make a counter offer, or reject your offer all together. As a first-time home buyer, your Real Estate Agent, will guide you through the negotiation process and layout all of your options.

  • Acceptance:  An accepted offer means the seller has agreed to all the terms and conditions detailed in your submitted Offer to Purchase. If you have conditions, then the next step is to satisfy those conditions in the time agreed to. If you have no conditions in the Offer to Purchase, and the seller signs the Offer to Purchase, then the sale becomes final and legally binding.

  • Counter Offer: A counter offer means the seller agrees with some of the terms and conditions of your offer, but not all of them. The seller thus makes a counter offer to you, which may be a change in price, possession day, inclusions/exclusions, condition date, deposit amount etc. As the buyer, you can then accept the counter offer by the seller, or counter back. You and the seller continue until there is a mutual agreement or rejection.
  • Reject or Ignore: A rejected offer means the seller did not agree with any of the terms and conditions set forth in your offer to purchase. If the seller ignores your Offer to Purchase, it’s essentially the same as rejecting it. It’s up to you how you want to proceed. Do you want to write a revised Offer to Purchase or look for a different property?

5 Tips to Help Navigate the Emotional Negotiation Process

  1. Seek guidance: An experienced Real Estate Agent can provide you with insights and strategy to empower you to make no regret real estate decisions.
  2. Clearly communicate: Clearly convey your intentions, preferences and any questions to your Real Estate Agent, so you can make informed decisions.
  3. Be prepared to negotiate: Negotiating can be a process, so you try not to take things too personally. You want to stay open and prepared to adjust your offer based on counter offers.
  4. Stay calm: Negotiations can be an emotional roller coaster, but maintaining a calm demeanor helps you make rational decisions and focus on your goals.
  5. Keep the big picture in mind: Remember that buying a home, whether your first home or fourth, is a significant financial decision. Focus on your long-term goals and how the property aligns with them.

4 Essential Ways Real Estate Agents Guide Home Buyers During the Negotiation Process

  1. Market knowledge: When looking to purchase a property in Calgary, an experienced Real Estate Agent has a deep understanding of supply and demand dynamics and overall market conditions (i.e. a buyer's market, a seller's market or balanced), enabling them to advice buyers, especially first-time home buyers on pricing and negotiation strategies.
  2. Emotional detachment: Buying a home can be very emotional, especially the first home, and a Real Estate Agent can remain objective and unemotional during negotiations, ensuring the buyer's interests are prioritized.
  3. Contract expertise: A Real Estate Agent can expertly navigate you through the Alberta Residential Purchase Contract, ensuring that you understand all of the legal intricacies like conditions, deposit, possession date, inclusions and exclusions etc.
  4. Skilled negotiation: Overall, a Real Estate Agent with strong negotiation abilities can effectively communicate, problem solve, manage emotions and advocate for their buyers' best interests.

KEY TAKE AWAY: Being prepared, setting realistic expectations, and maintaining a calm demeanor during negotiations can help first-time home buyers be successful in buying a home. Trusting your Calgary Real Estate Agent and staying focused on long-term objectives are also important in navigating the process effectively.

Step 9. Satisfying and Waiving Conditions

What does it mean to satisfy and waive conditions in a Purchase Contract.

If your accepted Offer to Purchase is conditional, you need to try to satisfy your conditions in the agreed to period of time. These conditions (i.e. financing condition, property inspection condition etc.) must be satisfied by you, the buyer, for the offer to become firm and binding.

Satisfying the Financing Condition

A financing condition is an agreed to clause in the Offer to Purchase giving the buyer a specific period of time to apply for a mortgage and receive approval from their lender.

  • Purpose: The purpose of a financing condition is to protect the buyer in case they are unable to secure the necessary mortgage financing to complete the purchase of the home.
  • Condition period: The length of time for the financing condition is negotiated between buyer and seller. The length of the financing condition in Calgary is typically around 7-14 days.
  • Mortgage application: Once the offer is accepted, the buyer proceeds to apply for a mortgage for the specific property they want to buy. During this time, the buyer provides necessary documentation to the lender.
  • Mortgage approval: The buyer's financing condition is considered fulfilled when they receive mortgage approval from the lender.

Satisfying the Property Inspection Condition

A property inspection condition is an agreed to clause in the Offer to Purchase giving the buyer a specific period of time to to hire a home inspector to give a professional opinion on the condition of the property based on a non-invasive examination. Home Inspectors in Alberta must have a license by Service Alberta and show it to customers when asked. Find out if a Home Inspector is licensed.

  • Purpose: The purpose of a property inspection condition is to allow the buyer, to hire a professional Home Inspector to assess the property's condition and identify any significant problems that could affect their decision to proceed with the purchase.
  • Condition period: The length of time for the property inspection condition is negotiated between buyer and seller. The length of the property inspection condition in Calgary is typically around 7-14 days.
  • Inspection: The licensed and qualified Home Inspector will do a complete non-invasive visual examination of the property's electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC, roof, foundation etc. and provide a professional opinion of it's condition.
  • Inspection report: The Home Inspector will provide a detailed report to the home buyer, highlighting any issues, defects or potential problems discovered during the inspection.
  • Negotiation and resolution: If the inspection report reveals significant issues, the buyer may choose to negotiate with the seller to address the problem(s). The buyer's Real Estate Agent will play a crucial role in this part of the home buying process providing the buyer with guidance in how best to proceed.
  • Waiving the property inspection condition: If the buyer is satisfied with the property inspection, or has come to an agreement with the seller to address any issues, they must notify the buyer in writing with a waiver that the property inspection condition has been satisfied. If this is the only condition they buyer is committed to proceeding with the purchase of the property and it is a firm sale.
  • Non-waiving the property inspection condition: If the buyer is not satisfied with the property inspection, they notify the seller in writing with a non-waiver, indicating that the Offer to Purchase is null and void and the buyer will not proceed with the purchase of the property.

If you, the buyer, waive your condition(s), making it a firm sale, and end up not proceeding with the purchase of the property, you could lose your deposit and may be subject to legal action.

5 Essential Ways Real Estate Agents Guide Home Buyers During the Condition Stage

  1. Expert guidance: A Real Estate Agent will guide you through the condition stage, explaining the importance of the condition(s), steps involved and important timelines.

  2. Access to professionals: During the condition stage, your Real Estate Agent, can connect you with a Home Inspector, Condominium Document Specialist etc.

  3. Coordination: A Real Estate Agent assists you with logistics like scheduling inspections, gathering condo documents etc. and helps ensure tasks are completed within the specified time frame to avoid delays or complications.

  4. Problem solving: With their experience, a Real Estate Agent can help solve problems that may arise during the condition stage, as well as, avoid common pitfalls and mistakes that first time buyers may encounter.

  5. Advocacy: Your Real Estate Agent acts as your advocate throughout the condition stage, representing your best interests and ensuring that the seller fulfills their obligations based on the purchase contract.

KEY TAKE AWAY: A conditional offer allows a buyer to make an offer to purchase a property while safeguarding their interests.  An experienced Real Estate Agent can provide valuable guidance and expertise negotiating a conditional offer, ensuring that a buyer's interests are protected and helping them navigate the condition stage.

Step 10. Congratulations, You're A Homeowner! What To Do Before Taking Possession

What steps to take after taking possession of your Calgary home.

Hire a Real Estate Lawyer

Once you have a firm Purchase Contract you, the home buyer, will need a real estate lawyer to complete the sale. Your lawyer will go over the legal documents with you, including the Real Property Report (if applicable) and the title. They will discuss closing costs and disbursements (a fancy word for expenses), have you sign the documents to transfer the property’s title to you and advances the purchase funds to the seller.

What A Real Estate Lawyer Does For A Home Buyer

  • Mortgage payoff: If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, the real estate lawyer coordinates with the lender to receive the mortgage fund.
  • Closing costs: The real estate lawyer calculates the total closing costs, including legal fees, and other applicable expenses, and informs you, the buyer, of the amount required to complete the purchase.
  • Adjustment of costs: The real estate lawyer will adjust certain costs, such as property taxes, homeowners association fees, condominium fees and any other fees which the seller has already paid beyond the possession date. For example, is the seller has paid property taxes for the entire year, the buyer will owe the seller the difference. The real estate lawyer will send a statement of adjustments, so you know exactly what you need to pay.
  • Home insurance: As a home buyer, you will need to provide your real estate lawyer with a home insurance certificate if your lender has made it a requirement to receive mortgage funds.
  • Real property report: The Real Property Report (RPR) is a survey of the property you are purchasing (either a single family home or bare land condominium) which you will receive from the real estate lawyer. A home buyer wants to know exactly what they are buying, and the RPR shows exact dimensions and location of each structure on the property (i.e. the house, garage, deck, fence, air conditioning, utility right of ways etc.).
  •  Disbursement of funds: On possession day, the real estate lawyer disburses the funds to the appropriate parties, such as the seller and any other required payees.
  • Title transfer: Title is an official Alberta government-issued document showing proof of property ownership. The real estate lawyer makes sure the names of the old owners are removed from title and registers the names of the new owner(s) with the Land Titles Office.
  • Title insurance: The real estate lawyer may advise you, the buyer, on obtaining title insurance, which provides additional protection for any future title related issues.
  • Real estate lawyer fees: On average, in Calgary, the rates for real estate lawyers can varies depending on the purchase price of the property. Roughly budget $1500 for a property around $300,000, $2000 for a property around $600,000, $2400 for $900,000 and so on.

Real Estate Lawyer Appointment

The real estate lawyer will ask you, the home buyer, to sign all the closing documents approximately a week to 3 days before the possession date. The real estate lawyer will want you to sign once they have received mortgage instructions from your lender.

For this appointment, the buyer needs to bring:

  1. Two pieces of ID for every person signing (a Driver’s License AND a passport, birth certificate, credit card from a major bank or a signed SIN card.) *Canadian documents are preferred and sometimes required.
  2. A void cheque for the account that you want your mortgage payments to come out of. This cheque must have your pre-printed name on it. You may also provide a pre-authorized debit form from your bank.
  3. Confirmation of House Insurance.

For this appointment, the buyer will pay:

  • Down payment: The buyer will provide the real estate lawyer with payment of the down payment minus the deposit. The deposit (paid with the agreed Purchase Contract) goes towards the down payment.
  • Any adjustments of costs: The buyer will pay for any additional expenses such as lawyer fees, registering title, property taxes, condominium fees, HOA fees etc.

Arrange Home Insurance

As a first-time home buyer, it's important to know, when it comes to protecting your home and biggest financial investment - home insurance is a must. Unforeseen accidents can happen in Calgary like hail, fire and burst pipes, so you don't want to be unprotected. Read more home insurance frequently asked questions.

What Home Buyers Need to Know About Home Insurance

  • Insurance requirement: If you have a mortgage on your home, most lenders will require you to have home insurance before the mortgage is finalized.
  • Coverage options: Home insurance offers various coverage options, including Dwelling Coverage (for the structure of your home), Content Coverage (for belongings) and Liability Coverage (for accidents on your property).
  • Cost of insurance: The cost of insurance will depend on the coverage you choose.
  • Proof of Insurance: Once you have secured the insurance policy, the insurance company will issue a certificate of insurance, which is proof of coverage.
  • Lawyer's role: Your real estate lawyer will require proof of home insurance (certificate of insurance) and will verify that the policy meet the lender's requirements.)*
  • Owning a condominium: Many lenders do not require content insurance for condominiums. The building is insured but you are very strongly advised to get content insurance to protect yourself.

Suggested Home Insurance Companies

Arrange Payment of Property Taxes

Property taxes are a significant aspect of homeownership, and as a buyer in Calgary, you will need to arrange for payment of your property taxes with the City of Calgary. Property taxes are a form of tax levied by the City of Calgary on the value of your residential property and support services like police, fire protection, transit, road maintenance, public schools, parks, recreation, social services and more.

What Home Buyers Need to Know About Property Taxes

  • Tax assessment: The City of Calgary prepares property assessments for the purpose of taxation annually and reflects the market value of your property on July 1 of the previous year. The assessed value is used as the basis for calculating property taxes.
  • Property tax adjustment: Property taxes are adjusted by a real estate lawyer ensuring that the seller is credited for any payment made beyond the possession date by the buyer.
  • Tax Instalment Payment Plan (TIPP): TIPP, Calgary's popular property tax payment method, allows you to make smaller payments, automatically deducted from your bank account on the first of each month, rather than a large lump sum in June. This helps simplify budgeting, save time, and avoid late payment penalties. Read more information on Calgary's Tax Instalment Payment Plan (TIPP).

Set Up Utilities

Setting up utilities is crucial for home buyers because it ensures that essential services, such as electricity, natural gas, water, recycling and waste collection, are ready and available for use upon moving into your new home.

Electricity and Natural Gas

Utilities Consumer Advocate educates and advocates for electricity and natural gas consumer, offering a cost comparison tool and list of retailers.

At least 2 weeks prior to your move, compare utility services to find a retailer with a rate and contract that suits your preferences for your new address. Note some retailers may require a deposit or include an installation fee in your first monthly bill.

The 2 most popular retailers in Calgary:

Water, Garbage, Recycling and Waste

The City of Calgary contracts ENMAX to provide billing and customer care for municipal services including water, garbage, recycling and waste.

To set up a new payment account, please call ENMAX Contact Center at 310-2010 or toll-free 1-877-571-7111. Existing ENMAX customers can visit ENMAX Customer Care Online.

Internet, Cable and Phone

One of the steps involved in enjoying a new home is setting up cable, internet and mobile services. The 3 most popular internet, cable and phone providers in Calgary:

Buyer Walk Through

If your Purchase Contract includes a walk-through prior to possession, that means the seller has agreed to let you, the home buyer, into the property to ensure it is in the same condition as when you made the offer, all agreed-upon repairs have been  completed and no new issues have arisen. In Calgary a walk-through is typically written in the Purchase Contract as 24 hours before possession.

KEY TAKE AWAY: Between buying a property and taking possession, a home buyer needs to complete several crucial steps, such as hiring a real estate lawyer, securing home insurance, arranging for utilities and services to ensure a successful and well-prepared transition to homeownership.

Step 11. What Happens On Possession Day

What happens on possession day?

What Happens On Possession Day

On possession day, your real estate lawyer coordinates the transfer of funds from you, the buyer, to the seller's lawyer. Once the seller's lawyer has received the money, the seller's lawyer will tell the seller's REALTOR, who will then contact your REALTOR that the keys are releasable. That means you can receive the keys and move into your new home.

KEY TAKE AWAY: Possession day is a moment of immense excitement and happiness for a home buyer because its the start of a new adventure in homeownership. Our Calgary Real Estate Team has helped hundreds of clients celebrate their home possession. Check our 100+ Google Reviews!

Step 12. What To Do After Taking Possession

What to do after taking possession of your Calgary home.

There are several things you will might want to do after moving into your new home.

  • Change the locks: For peace of mind, you might want to change all of the locks in the property.
  • Settle in: Take the time to unpack, arrange your belongings, and make your new house feel like a home.
  • Get familiar with home systems: Familiarize yourself with the operation of essential systems in your home, such as heating, cooling, electrical panel, and water shut-off valves.
  • Organize important documents: Keep all important documents related to the purchase of your home, including the purchase agreement, inspection report, real property report etc. in a secure and accessible place.
  • Meet your neighbors: Take the opportunity to introduce yourself to your new neighbors.
  • Explore local services: Familiarize yourself with local amenities, services, schools, and recreational opportunities in your new neighborhood.
  • Plan for home improvements: Consider any desired home improvements or renovations and start planning for them.

After moving into your new home, you might want to change the locks, settle in and unpack, familiarize yourself with home systems, organize important documents, meet your neighbors, explore local services, and plan for future home improvements.

KEY TAKE AWAY: After moving into your new home, you'll want to familiarize yourself with your home systems, meet the neighbours and settle in. The relationships with our Real Estate Team doesn't end after taking possession. We're here to  help you and answer all your home questions.

Step 1

Schedule A Call With Us

You deserve a real estate team you have trust and confidence in. Schedule a call to see if we are a great fit for you.

Step 2

Let Us Be Your Guide

We'll answer all your home buying questions, so you can make informed decisions that are right for you.

Step 3

Celebrate Buying A Home

Since 2007, we've helped hundreds of families buy a home. We would love to celebrate home buying with you.