Things move quickly in a busy market and the best chance you have to buy a home is to be prepared. Multiple offers on a home can create a high-pressure environment, making it easy to overextend your budget and make mistakes.

Before you begin home hunting,  get prepared using these five simple steps to mitigate your risk so there are no unwanted surprises in one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

1. Know your price point

Get preapproved from a mortgage professional and know how much you can afford. This includes understanding what interest rate you can get and what taxes apply to the purchase.

Work with your Realtor to develop a negotiating strategy based on what you can afford.

2. Know the market

Understand what homes are selling for in the neighbourhood and property type that you’re interested in buying. Explore the pros and cons of presale, new and resale.

Realtors help you assess market history and trends by reviewing the most recent home sale data on the Multiple Listing Service® and creating what’s known as a Comparative Market Analysis or CMA.

3. Do your due diligence

We know it’s a hectic, competitive market, but due diligence remains critical. For example, get a home inspection, have your Realtor check with city hall to ensure that renovations were done with a permit, and to see what development plans are in the works for that neighbourhood.

This crucial due diligence can generally be done in advance of making an offer – your Realtor can help advise you on how to do this.

4. Go through strata documents

If you’re buying a townhome, condo, or du/tri/multi-plex, work with your Realtor to go through strata documents (minutes, financial statements, operating budget, depreciation report) to know what repairs have been done and what’s needed, at what cost, in the future. What history of insurance claims does the building have?

5. Know the neighbourhood

Consider your needs. You may want to know what school catchment the home is located in, how close it is to bus routes, or shopping. If you’re a shift worker, you may not want to live in a condo that faces east because it gets more sunlight early in the morning. Your Realtor will help you identify these issues for consideration.