First Time Home Buyer Guide

Buying your first home is a big decision. Learn everything you need to know as a first-time home buyer here!

First Time Home Buyer Guide: The Steps to Buying Your First Home

So, you’re finally ready to take the plunge and buy your first home. Congratulations! Buying a home is a huge milestone, and there’s a lot to think about. Where do you want to live? How much can you afford to spend? What kind of home do you want? These are just a few of the questions you’ll need to answer before you’re ready to start house hunting.

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. We’ve put together this first-time home buyer guide to help you navigate the process from start to finish. We’ll cover everything from finding the right property to closing on your new home. So, whether you’re looking for a townhome, a single-family home, or anything in between, we’ve got you covered.

Ready to get started? Let’s jump in!

1. Realizing the Dream

Before you can start building, you need to know exactly how much you can afford to spend. Getting a mortgage pre-approval will let you know exactly how much you can borrow from your bank or mortgage lender, so you’ll be able to accurately set your budget and avoid any nasty financial surprises down the road.

5 Reasons Why You Need a Pre-Approval
Mortgage Affordability Calculator
Once you know just how much you can borrow, it’s time to determine your budget. Naturally, this will vary from person to person, and it’s important to keep in mind that there will be extra closing costs once you’ve bought your home. 

How Much are Closing Costs?
Setting Your Home Buying Budget
Your credit score is extremely important in determining how much your mortgage lender is willing to loan you. Ideally, you should work on getting your credit score as high as possible before you start looking for a mortgage, which includes lowering your debts as much as possible. 

The Ultimate Guide to Your Credit Score in Canada
Our Top Tips for Paying Debt Down Quickly
The cost of the home and the closing costs aren’t the only things you’ll have to budget for - you’ll also need to be aware of a few extra budget items. Some of them are one-time costs and some are ongoing, so make sure you have enough cash flow to cover them and look into setting up an emergency fund. 

The Costs to Buy a Home and Other New Home Costs You Should Plan For
Buying Your First Home in Canada? Make Sure You Budget for These Extra Costs

2. Choose Your Community

Before you start looking for a community, you should know what you want from your neighbourhood. Do you need to be close to work? Would being close to your kids’ school make your life easier? Are you looking for the peace and quiet of the suburbs, or plenty of green space?

How To Find The Perfect Edmonton Community
The Best Neighbourhoods in Edmonton
Once you know what you’re looking for, the first thing you should do when choosing a community to live in is to see which areas your chosen builder is currently building in. 

Find a Sterling Lot
Area Guide: Excellent Edmonton Communities to Explore
Different Neighbourhoods will have different amenities and services to offer, so it’s important to consider which features are essential to your lifestyle. Having shops or services you use frequently right on your doorstep can be a huge advantage. 

6 Amenities to Look for in Your First Canadian Neighbourhood
8 Amenities To Expect in a New Community

3. Choose Your Home Model

Now that you know where you want to live, it’s time to start thinking about the home itself. At Sterling, we build a huge range of models and floor plans for all needs, so you’re bound to find something that’s the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

Sterling Home Models
How to Choose the Perfect Floor Plan
As a first-time homebuyer, you’ll probably have different needs from, say, a multigenerational family or a property investor. You don’t want to end up with a house that’s too big or too expensive when you’re starting out, so consider your wants and needs carefully.

First Time Home Buyer 101: The Features You Need
Tips for First Time Home Buyers
Your New Home: A Needs vs Wants Checklist

4. Finalize Your Financing

Once you’ve found your perfect home, you’ll need to start thinking about the financing, before you begin, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with some of the terms and concepts you’re likely to run into. 

First-Time Home Buyer 101: Terms to Know
The ABCs of New Construction
The first stage of financing your home is putting down your down payment. The amount you’ll need can vary depending on the price of your home and how much you want to spend upfront - the minimum is 5% of the cost of your home, but you can put down 10% or even 20% if you wish.

Down Payment Basics for First-Time Buyers
How Much Do You Need For a Down Payment?
Down Payments: Explained
There are a number of government programs available designed to help first-time buyers, so consider looking into these to see if they’re right for you.

First-Time Buying Made Easy: Home Buyers’ Plan
What is the First Time Home Buyer Incentive?
Once your down payment is on order, it’s time to speak to your lender to begin the mortgage approval process. This will let you know exactly how much you’ll be able to borrow so you’ll be able to finalize your plans. 

Mortgage Pre-Approval
Find Me a Mortgage Specialist
Mortgage Payment Calculator

5. Make Your Design Choices

At certain points during construction, you’ll be able to make some decisions about the design and layout of your home. You can take a look at our colour board visualizer for choosing the look of your home, and you’ll be able to visit our DesignQ workshop to browse a huge selection of finishes and decorations, such as blinds, draperies, and wall features. 

Colour Board Visualizer
DesignQ Design Center

6. Construction Process 

Once the finances are taken care of and design choices are made, construction can finally begin! The process for building a brand-new home can take several months (especially in Edmonton, where winter weather can be a big factor).

How Long Does It Take to Build a New Home?
Why Build With Sterling Homes?
Depending on the type of mortgage you opt for, at certain milestones during construction your builder may require access to certain funds. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to draw and completion mortgages, so make sure you do your research into which is the best option for you.
New Construction Mortgages
Draw vs. Completion Mortgages: What’s the Difference?
As your home is being built, your New Home Advisor will be in contact regularly to update you on the progress of the construction, schedule walkthroughs and provide video updates so you’ll know everything’s on track.

Schedule a Visit With a New Home Advisor
Buying a Home: The Professionals You Should Have on Your Team

7. Time To Move In!

Once the construction process is finished, you’re ready to move in! The next step is to organize movers and begin enjoying your brand-new home. 

A Checklist For Moving Into Your Newly Built Home
The Cost to Hire Movers
Your Complete Moving Checklist
Once you’re moved in, your Home Care Specialist will be in touch regularly to ensure you’re satisfied with your new home, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your home will be covered for up to 10 years with a New Home Warrant in case there are any issues. 

Tips for Settling Into Your New Home and Neighbourhood
New Home Warranty Basics

What can you Afford?

As a first time home buyer, it’s important to understand what you can afford. Our first-time buyer calculator is a tool that can help you estimate the costs of purchasing a home as a first-time buyer. It can help you determine the amount of money you will need for a down payment, closing costs, and other expenses. The calculator will ask for information such as the price of the home you are interested in, your annual household income, estimated down payment, and property type. Based on this information, the calculator can provide an estimate of what you can qualify for including the shared-equity incentive and home buyers plan (RRSP).




You could qualify for...

Shared-Equity Incentive
Home Buyer's Plan (RRSP)
upto $35,000

Helpful First-Time Home Buyer Blogs:


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