Buying a home for my growing family – 8 Take Away Steps

by Lindsay Skabar, Chief Marketing Officer, Bōde

Looking for a new home with a young family can be daunting. My family embarked on this adventure recently, so I am all-too-familiar with the whole process. Now that we are all settled in our new home, and now having a new marketplace launched for buying and selling homes, I can reflect on the experience with a couple of take away steps for how I would have used Bōde to buy our home had the option existed.

We decided to start looking for a new place to call home when we were expecting (for the third time). Our two big kids were running out of space in our inner city townhome and needed more room.  My eldest was also starting Kindergarten and the school in our neighbourhood didn’t have the best reviews. That said, we absolutely loved our short commute and our proximity to the river and parks in Inglewood. Let the search begin!

Step 1 – Set your Priorities & Make a List

First, my husband and I started creating our list of “must haves” and “nice to haves”. 

For us, our Must Haves were in order of importance:

  1. Back Yard
  2. Proximity to a great school
  3. 5 Beds 
  4. Close to work 

Our Nice to Haves in order:

  1. Updated kitchen to make hosting easy
  2. South facing, fenced back yard
  3. Proximity to playgrounds
  4. Close to a good grocery store and cafe
  5. Proximity to the river

Obviously the most important element, not mentioned above, was and is price. I always like to go through a mortgage pre approval process before making an offer, just for the piece of mind and confidence we will be approved. For a quick and straight-forward pre approval process, there is a really easy to use online tool at Blink

Step 2 – Hone in on Neighbourhoods 

In order to find out what schools  would make our list we first visited {Here}. The schools that made our list and keeping cognisant of our commute helped narrow down the neighbourhoods we would consider. Also knowing Calgary very well, we were quite choosy on where we would move our growing family to. 

Step 3 – Start browsing 

The next logical thing is to start looking at homes that meet your criteria. Beyond the obvious function of favouriting homes you’d be interested in viewing, if I had had access to Bōde’s new marketplace  when I was going through this process I would have used the “Saved Search” function a lot. I would have also loved to have been notified in real-time when a new home in my search criteria came on the market. Bōde even allows you to zoom in on the map to be very specific on where you would like to receive alerts. I would have zoomed in on a three block radius around the schools that made our list and then be the first to know when something came on the market. 

Step 4 – Check ‘em Out

I love the scheduling tool Bōde has built! How great that with a couple of clicks you have access to an “Open Table” like function where you can book a showing directly with the seller – yourself. With two working parents, soccer, swimming and all the other activities a busy family has (I don’t need to tell you about that) it is great to be able to just simply choose a slot that works for your family. 

One of the key things I look for in a home is the layout. I find that the layout is sometimes hard to tell from pictures in a listing and is such an important component to the livability of the home. Bōde has built the functionality to add pictures, notes and ratings to capture your own information and attach it to the listing for your reference later.  I suggest taking a picture from the front door and one behind the island in the kitchen – I find it helps me remember the house’s layout. The more open, the better, in my view. 

You don’t need me to tell you how to decide if a home is a good fit for your family but there are a couple of things beyond feel and what you can see, that are worth inquiring about:

  • Check the mechanical room – when was the furnace and water tank installed and have they been maintained? We are not that handy so these things are good to know right off the bat. 
  • When was the last time the roof was replaced? A typical roof life span is about 10-15 years depending on the material. 
  • Is the house well maintained overall? I know, this one is quite obvious. 
  • Has the house been smoked in or if flooding and/or mold has ever been a problem. 

You have the ability to ask the seller these, and all your questions directly using the “Ask a question” button and using Bōde’s messaging tool. I like keeping all the information in one place so I would keep all of my notes and observations together in the notes of my favourite list. 

Step 5 – Make an offer?!

Now here is the fun stuff! When you find a home you love or will love after some renos (in our case) it is time to make an offer.  Bōde has built a “Make an offer” tool that covers off all elements of the offer – price, terms and conditions. 

Bōde provides comparable sold prices so that you can see what similar homes have sold for. This helps you stay objective about the offer price, but in the end, it is up to you. This information has been difficult to obtain in the past and now it is at your fingertips. 

A condition I always include in a negotiation is an inspection. Inspectors are the true experts on the home’s condition and they can see things that can’t be seen (like thermal imaging – demonstrating cold spots in your house) and raise flags that might have cost implications for you. Bōde is happy to refer you to an expert, if you don’t know one in your area. 

Step 6 – Negotiate 

Another tool that Bōde has created that drastically changes the traditional model is the negotiating tool. Having direct access to sellers has so many benefits – clarity of messaging, efficacy, and transparency. The seller has the ability to accept, counter or decline each of the terms of your offer. That way, you now know exactly what you are actually negotiating on. In my case, we were only negotiating on price and possession.  The possession date was easy for us, we had a lot of flexibility as we were doing renovations to the home before we moved in so it was easy for us to accept the seller’s best option. On price, we offered $39K below list and held to that price. We decided we would make an offer of what we were willing to pay and not go back and forth. Of course, your style is your own and you should decide what works for you. 

On the Bōde platform, once you have agreement on all of the terms, you click “I Accept” and the industry standard contract auto-populates. Just like that you have conditionally purchased your home. Cheers!

Step 7 – Closing 

In the closing stage of a purchase it seems like there is a lot to do, but now that Bōde exists, the whole process has been simplified and streamlined. 

  1. Send your deposit (with the banking information provided). 
  2. Get a mortgage. Of course, I lean to the online option, Blink, otherwise there is a great outfit called MMG that provides a more traditional service. 
  3. Remove conditions. I personally didn’t know any professional inspectors but the team at Bōde certainly do – if you need a referral just let them know and they’ll connect you. 
  4. Once all conditions have been removed, simply download everything needed to take to your lawyer who will finalize the transaction. 

Step 8 – Keys and Moving

That’s it! It’s time to move! I used a fantastic organisational service – It was awesome! The ladies packed everything into boxes told the movers where to put them and unpacked them as well. When we brought the kids home to their new home, everything was organised, labelled and in its place. Even my socks were organised! 

My hubby and I celebrated with sparkling water as we watched our munchkins play in their new, big, grassy backyard. 

If Bōde was around when we bought our home, we would have saved many hours of back and forth with realtors, and would have been equipped with all the information and tools that we would have needed to do it ourselves and likely would have saved $14,000. 

Now for renos… that is another story… 

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