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I was asked recently what was next when it came to a condo purchase and I realized that ‘what’s next’ gets asked quite often. So I thought I would write it out. After all, buying a home can be complicated and stressful – knowing what happens along the way can make things easier and more comfortable.

Step 1 – Choose a Realtor

So I know I’m biased here, but this is the first step (after you decide you want to buy a property), and a very important one. A real estate agent will be able to let you know what is out there and ask you some questions that help you figure out what you want, and might also help you understand what you can get for your money.

Time Needed: Not long to find an agent. A few phone calls (or just contact me).

Step 2 – Talk to the Bank

This step involves contacting a mortgage broker or mortgage specialist at your local bank. You can certainly shop around to find out which mortgage product you want or need and also to find out who might have the best deal for you. You do not have to go to your bank to get a mortgage, but often people will start there.

Time Needed: A couple of days.

Step 3 – Start Looking

Once you know what you can afford and have hashed out a bit about where you want to be, you can start looking at houses. This might mean visiting homes or just looking at email notifications on current listings. This process takes as long as it needs to and is often the most time consuming part of the process for sure. Sometimes you find a house or condo right away – within a few hours even – and sometimes it takes a very, very long time. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

Time Needed: A few hours to years.

Step 4 – Put in An Offer

This step is often the most stressful. Finally deciding to part with your money for a place to live is a big decision. It doens’t take long, though. After a bit of research and some decisions, your agent should be able to do up the paperwork and meet with you to write up an offer. There is a lot of paperwork, so be prepared to sign and initial a fair bit.

Time Frame: A couple of hours.

Step 5 – Negotiate

This step shouldn’t take long when buying a home. I haven’t had an offer go back and forth often for a few days, but recently I had one that took three weeks! Some people really enjoy this step and some just hate it and want to get it over and done with. Everyone has their style of negotiation and whatever makes them feel like they arrived at the correct price depends on the buyer and the seller.

Time Frame: A few of hours to weeks (rarely).

Step 7 – Satisfy Your Conditions

More often than not, a purchase offer will have conditions. For a house, it’s common to have a financing condition and an inspection condition. For condos, a buyer will likely want to review condominium documents and have a financing condition as well. These conditions take time to satisfy. A buyer will need to give the bank time to do an appraisal and go through the paperwork before approving a mortgage on the property. Also, an inspection can take a little while to arrange. When it comes to getting condo docs, it can be difficult to get everything you need to satisfy the contract and then you have to go through all of it, so that can take some time as well. If your offer is unconditional, you can skip this step.

Time Frame: Up to two weeks, depending on conditions.

Step 8 – Get A Lawyer

So now that you’ve removed conditions, you have an actual purchase contract. This means you can get a lawyer to help you through the last part of your home purchase.  Be sure to choose a lawyer to does real estate transactions. Now you can choose a lawyer anywhere along the way, and if you already have one, you can just skip this step. Be aware that you don’t need a lawyer until this point, though. Wondering what this stuff costs? See my article on The Hidden Costs of Buying A Home.

Time Frame: Just a few minutes to call around or get a referral from a friend or family.

Step 9 – Wait

Now you have to wait until you get possession of your new home. This can take a very long time, or be pretty quick. It all depends on what was agreed upon in the purchase contract. Some people take possession in two weeks, or 30 days or 60 days or 90 days or any other time after or inbetween! There are no rules on possession, but it should be a time that works for both the buyer and seller. Be sure to allow your lawyer time to get everything arranged – two weeks is usually the minimum reasonable amount of time.

Time Frame: Anything from a couple of weeks to months.

Step 10 – Visit With Your Lawyer

Before possession, your lawyer should give you a call and ask you to come in and sign some paperwork for your purchase. It’s good to call your lawyer about 10 days before possession in case they haven’t got started yet. Your lawyer will let you know what you need to bring to get the money transferred and do all that lawyer magic they do.

Time Frame:  20 minutes?

Step 11 – Get The Keys

On possession day, around noon, you should get your keys for your new place from your real estate agent. This is quick process and is usually the most fun part of getting a place.

Time Frame: A couple of minutes

The End

Of course every situation is different and there are lots of little steps along the way, but this is how your home purchase should progress. After that, you get to move in, and buy furniture and install blinds and a whole host of other things. Happy house hunting!


by +Alan F Macdonald REALTOR® | Copyright © –


Alan F Macdonald

Author Alan F Macdonald

Alan F Macdonald is a real estate agent with Maxwell Challenge Realty in Edmonton, Alberta.

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