How to Buy a House in Calgary

A Homebuyers Guide for buying a house in Calgary

buying-a-houseYou are ready to make the change and buy a house in Calgary. However, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with all the things you need to know about making this big transition.

No worries, we have your back!

Go ahead, grab some wine and popcorn and let's get into what you need to know about how to buy a house in Calgary. We have laid out the whole process below into 9 steps.

View the 9 Steps on How to Buy a House in Calgary in our table of contents.

Here we go! If any point you have any questions, reach out to us at or give us a call at 403-879-4145.

1. How to Find Your Dream Home

Searching for your next home is very exciting and can be a big highlight in many buyers' lives. Hunting and looking for a new home can be fun for some, and for others, they would prefer to dream and want the house to show up in their inbox without any hunting. Regardless of which side of the fence, you are dreaming of what your home will be and how you will interact with it is fascinating. There are some key questions you will want to ask yourself that will help determine what style, layout and area your home should be.

Take a look at these questions below and answer them honestly. If you are buying a house with someone else, it is best to answer these separately and then have a discussion around each answer. Remember, everyone's answers are correct... there are no right or wrong answers here!

  • What do you see yourself doing in this home?
    (You may want a home that has lots of space for entertaining, or you may want a house that has lots of storage for your outdoor gear)
  • Where do you the location of this home to be? 
    (Do you need a home close to work, close to transit? Perhaps you want to be close to your friends and family?)
  • What style of home are you wanting?
    (Large suburban house, condo, townhome etc.)
  • What do you want to have for amenities around you?
    (Do you want to be able to walk to these amenities or is driving ok too?)
  • When you envision yourself in your new home, how does that home make you feel?
    (This may seem odd, but it's essential to understand because sometimes we can't logically justify a home, but we know there is a feeling attached to it that we are going after)

2. How to Setup Your Financing

Setting up your financing is kind of like flossing... it's crucial, it may be painful at first, but the more you talk about it, the more comfortable you will be with it... agree? 

Regardless of your dental hygiene, getting your financing right is essential. Getting the right type of mortgage product, working with the right individual at your bank or mortgage broker and getting the proper payment schedules are crucial for your home buying success. This second step alone could make or break all the dreaming you did back in Step 1. It's best to make sure you work with a knowledgeable mortgage broker to ensure you are getting the best information. Understanding the closing costs in Calgary when buying a house is important too so you are able to fully budget for those items.

If you are ready to set up your finances, let us help guide you in the direction of some very reputable and respected brokers or banks. Having great connections, who will be upfront, honest and know what to look for, is essential for making your home dreams come true.

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3. Searching for Your Perfect Home

Searching and looking at homes can be the fun part for many buyers. 

searching-for-a-home-in-calgaryWhen searching for a home, it can sometimes take only one house, and you buy it. However, this is VERY rare. We have worked with clients that have taken 3+ years before they find the perfect home. But don't be discouraged. 

When you partner with the right real estate agent, who is patient, knowledgeable and skilled, they can help you find the home you have in your mind and make it a reality. Buying a house by yourself could be a ton of wasted hours and frustration searching through MLS Calgary Listings.

INSIDER TIP: Did you know that the agent who you work with to buy your home gets paid from the sellers?  

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Should I go to the listing agent directly?

We have had this question many times and there are some buyers who believe that going to the selling agent directly, skipping having a buyers agent represent them will get them a better deal, but the truth is, it rarely does. Why? Let's explore this for a bit. Imagine for a moment you were going into trial or court, would you want an attorney representing both sides? Probably not. Going to the listing agent isn't the best plan as they have a fiduciary duty to their client first, and you could actually risk losing the perfect home instead of making it your next home. 

We shot a video on this topic too.

When you approach the listing agent, they could be incredible at rapport building and asking questions about your situation without you even realizing it. You do not want to be disclosing your motivations, what you can actually afford, your financial status and so much more. These are all discussions you need to be having with someone who is negotiating on your behalf who will be able to get you the best price, terms and move-in dates that work for you!

You deserve a better real estate experience when shopping for your next home. Let us show you how we do things differently!

4. You Found the 'One,' Now What?

Exciting!!! You found your perfect home and are ready to dive in... here are the next steps and what agents at the Chamberlain Real Estate Group will do for you:

  1. We will let the listing agent know that there is some interest and inquire if there are any other offers on the table. We will also ask about any questions you have on the home and get your answers!

  2. Next, we will do some research. We want to see what other buyers have been willing to pay for a home like this one. By doing so, this will help us draft what our offer is and what we believe the home should sell for.

  3. Lastly, we will put the offer together, review the documents with you and submit it to the seller. Negotiations on the offer can sometimes take only hours and other times days. We are here every step of the way with you.

5. How to Make an Offer on a House

Once you have found your perfect next home, it's time to put an offer on it. Having a robustly written offer makes a world of difference. Let me explain.

What you are writing is a legally binding agreement, and if the offer doesn't have well-written terms and conditions that are in your best interest, your home buying experience can quickly decline. Making sure this is done right is critical!

As you are drafting your offer with your agent, here are some great tips when writing. You want your initial offer to be perfect for you in terms of price, possession and your terms and conditions. Start there and work backwards to find a solution that works for both you and the seller.

  1. Think about your perfect date to be in the home. When is it best for you to be physically moving into it?
  2. What is the price you want to pay for the home, and what is the initial offer price? These two numbers should be different. Know where you want to start the negotiations and where you want to end.
  3. What is there on the property that you don't want there when you move in.
    For example, the seller could have a dog, it's winter, and you will be moving in when the snow is gone. You probably don't want to have dog feces hanging out in your new yard once you're in. So if the weather permits, you could have a term in the contract that makes sure this is cleaned up before the possession date.
  4. Understand the difference between terms and conditions. Typically, a term is something that will happen by possession date or is a set agreement between the two parties and a condition is something that one party needs to be satisfied with and remove in order to proceed.
  5. Lastly, when you are negotiating the contract, know what is non-negotiable and what you are willing to give on. This will help your process of back forth much easier. 

6. Should you Buy or Sell a Home First

Knowing whether to buy a house or sell your current home first is a tough situation to answer as it depends on a couple of things. 

  • First, what is your risk tolerance?
    • Would you rather know where you are moving to, or would you rather know what your shopping budget is based on what your current home sold for? It's hard to have both.
  • Secondly, are you able to hold two homes if one of them doesn't sell?
  • Thirdly, what is the market like where you want to buy and what is it like where you currently own? Understanding this one thing can save you 10's of thousands of dollars in making the move in the wrong order!

Make sure you partner with a reliable real estate agent who can help you walk through this. When selling your home, you need to understand what type of Calgary real estate market you are selling in. What is the competition like? How long do you expect to take to sell? Are you selling in the best time of the year or in a shoulder season for your type and location of home? 

7. What to do Once the Home is Conditional?

It may feel like you are nearing the end of the road, and you would be right as you are getting closer every single day! Now is the time you need to do your homework on the home and your finances. Depending on the types of conditions you have on your offer, you may be getting condominium documents from the seller to review, scheduling a home inspection or possibly booking meetings with your bank or mortgage broker to button up all of your finances. 

The conditional period can be a stressful time. We understand and have been there ourselves. Take it one day, one task at a time, and you too will get through this.

Lean on your support team (your agents, brokers and others) to guide you through the decisions you need to make.

8. Waiting for Moving Day

 Now that you have removed all your conditions, give all your deposits and have a firm deal, you get to wait! 

Make sure during this time that you are getting all your insurance, utilities and Canada Post mail ready. There is a lot to do during this time. Don't be overwhelmed, but take it all day by day. 

As you near your possession day, you will need to schedule a time with your lawyer to sign documents that can include mortgage documents, title transfers and much more. You will typically bring the remainder of your down payment to this meeting, too, and the lawyer will ensure that the keys are released and everything goes smoothly on your possession day.

INSIDER TIP: Never book your movers or plan on doing anything on your possession day. Keys can be released to you as the buyer anytime that day which could happen at the end of the workday depending on how everything goes. There are many moving parts to go together on possession day, so don't make it more stressful on yourself by having a moving van sitting outside your soon-to-be home and not being able to get in! Not fun!

9. I'm a Homeowner, Now What!

Enjoy the good life... you did it. You have a place of your own. 

Couple of things to consider and make sure you do:

  1. Look at your home inspection and plan out the maintenance items you want to be aware of in the future and put those in your calendar to remind you.
  2. Ask your real estate agent to set you up on sold homes in the area, so you can stay on top of what the market is doing.
  3. Meet your neighbours. These are people who you will see regularly, so it's best to start it off on the right foot 

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That's it. We hope that this guide has been helpful to you, and it has given you some great insight, questions and thoughts as you enter into the world of homeownership.

If you are still in the dreaming stage, and trying to sort out where to live in Calgary, here are some of our favourite communities you can browse through and download the community buyers and sellers guides.