First-Time Home Buyer in Alberta

real estate sold sign

I’ve got a purchase contract for buying a house.
What’s next?

Congratulations, you’ve done it! It’s been a long journey. You thought about it and talked about it and finally decided, “it’s time to buy our new home!”

As a first-time home buyer, you wisely picked Alberta where there is no land transfer tax! I’m writing from the perspective of an Edmonton real estate lawyer, but the process is the same all over the province, from Calgary, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat, to Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, and Red Deer. You probably started the search by looking on the Net, found a realtor, and started looking at houses. Your realtor helped you with not just buying a house, but finding the perfect home. You signed a conditional real estate purchase agreement sometimes called the ‘offer’ or ‘contract.’ You applied for a mortgage and were approved, had the home inspected, and all was well. You removed the conditions on your contract and now you have a deal!

At this point, like most folks, you probably have lots of other questions. What are the next steps to buying a house (we prefer home) in Alberta? You may have some idea that you need a lawyer, but how does a lawyer fit in?  What else do you have to do or know? Let’s start with a summary of the steps in your home buying process. Then, lets move on to the steps and important info bits that apply after you have an unconditional contract.

Initial Steps for a First-time Home Buyer in Alberta:

  1. Find dream home
  2. Get approved for a mortgage
  3. Make purchase offer
  4. Have house inspected
  5. Remove conditions on the purchase contract

Next Steps after Unconditional Real Estate Purchase Contract:

  1. Paperwork
    You still have more documents to sign, but they won’t be ready immediately. Don’t leave town without first checking with your lawyer.
  2. Money
    Most folks will use a mortgage, but there are other monies to consider. The balance of funds for the transaction is usually paid with a bank draft, so you’ll need to get one once you get your final financial calculations from your lawyer. If some of your purchase price is coming from RRSPs or other investments, get going now on the often-slow process of cashing-in those investments.
  3. Home Insurance
    If you’re getting a mortgage, your bank absolutely requires you to have home insurance.
  4. Renovations
    Are you renovating as soon as you get possession of your new home so it will be done before you move-in? Getting City permits, if required, almost always takes a big chunk of time. In Edmonton, 6-8 weeks If you really want to get going on your renovation the minute you get a key, you will most likely have to work with your seller pre-closing to apply for permits.
  5. Utilities, Deliveries, and Cleaning
    Getting utilities connected, having furniture/appliances delivered, getting carpets cleaned, anything that requires scheduling 3rd party access? Make sure you know when you will be getting your keys. Then do your scheduling.
  6. Change of Address
    The amazing number of people and services that need to know you have moved can be surprising. The big ones are financial institutions (bank and credit card) and various branches of government (health, tax, driver’s license), but don’t forget about friends and family, too!
  7. Miscellaneous (but Important!)
    School changes, health care providers, neighbourhood associations; there are lots of other things to think about, depending on your personal situation.
  8. Moving Day
    Moving yourself or hiring a mover? If hiring, do lots of research on potential movers to find someone who is reliable. If doing it yourself, you probably want to rent a large truck so you can do the move in as few trips as possible. Either way, book in advance to make sure you can pick a date that works for you.

For further reference, CMHC (link) and Century 21 (link) both have their own helpful checklists for moving to a new home. The most important things are to start early, have a plan, and work on it a bit at a time. A big move like this doesn’t happen in a day!

First-time home buyers (and really all home buyers) have a long list of things to do. We get that! As you are working on your next steps, your team still has work to do. Your lawyer, realtor, and mortgage lender continue to work together behind the scenes to make sure that your deal closes smoothly.

For a list of all the things that my Edmonton law firm, Field Law, takes care of so that our real estate clients can focus on getting ready for their new homes, click HERE. The linked blog post also has a bunch of frequently asked questions about buying and selling real estate in Alberta.


Affordable Trustworthy Edmonton Real Estate Law Firm

If you’re buying a house or home in Alberta, choose Field Law for your all your legal needs. We simplify the cost of lawyer’s fees by making them flat-rate. Homeowner’s Plus is your full legal account that includes both flat-rate legal fees and disbursements. It’s easy, it’s fast, and you know exactly what to budget for in your legal account. To read more about the cost of lawyer’s legal fees, click here. Remember, in the law as with everything else in life, the lowest price is not necessarily the best value. Price is what you pay, value is what you get. We make real estate easy; contact us today!

“House Sold” image by CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0