Buying your first house is such a huge decision and you want to make sure you’re making the right choice for you, your family and your lifestyle. Many people focus on the budget and how they like the house, but there’s much more to consider. How will your income change in the future, what easements are on the property and are there any neighbour feuds in the neighbourhood are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself.
This list helped us confidently purchase our first home for our growing family and I know it will help you and your family too! Take your time while going through this process. Ask lots of questions and make sure you feel great, albeit a little (or a lot!) nervous, about choosing the right home.
Know Your Budget
Everything begins with your budget and there’s more to consider than the amount your mortgage has been preapproved for and how much of a down payment you’ve saved. You will want to plan for how your income may change in the foreseeable future. If you or your partner are planning on going to school or having babies that will impact your income and expenses and you’ll want to make sure you can still afford your monthly payments while living comfortably.
Property taxes, strata fees and home insurance are other monthly payments that you will need to consider. There’s also closing costs associated with buying a home and ongoing repairs and renovations once you own.
Once you know your budget, only look at homes that fall in within your budget. It’s just like shopping for a wedding dress. You don’t want to fall in love with something way over budget and have every other house lack in comparison.
Decide How Much Work You Want to Put In Your Home
You may think a fixer upper is a great way to get more house for your budget, but do you have the time, knowledge and patience needed to put a lot of work in your home? If you’re very busy or not so savvy with power tools it may be a good idea to focus on move in ready homes.
It’s also important to consider yardwork. We’re happy getting our hands dirty to work on our garden and lawn so our dogs and son can enjoy a big yard, but it does take a lot of time and work and perhaps you would be just as content with a smaller yard or one that requires less maintenance.
Scope Out the Area
Once you fall in love with a house you need to make sure the area is right for you. Take some time to drive and walk around the neighbourhood and speak with neighbours. Ask yourself:
- What kind of amenities are nearby?
- Are their trails close by?
- Are their parks and recreation around?
- Is it a kid friendly and dog friendly area?
- What are the roads like?
- Are you ok with the commute?
- Does the area and commute suit your social life?
- Are there any ongoing neighbour feuds or people who stir up drama?
Bring Someone You Trust to the Inspection
Bring someone knowledgeable who you trust to the inspection. They can help ask questions, point things out that you may be too excited to notice and reassure you that you’re making a good decision. Someone who works in the industry is perfect for this task, or you could ask someone who has purchased a few homes and is good with handy work.
Read Contracts Thoroughly
It’s always a good idea to read contracts thoroughly, but it’s especially important when making one of the biggest purchases of your life. You need to know when the closing and possession dates are, and what you and the seller are responsible for.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Lots of Questions
As I just mentioned, this is one of the biggest investments of your life, you can’t afford to not understand something. Make sure you understand the contract and what easements may be on the property. Easements are when someone (hydro, strata, septic, etc) must be granted access to your property upon requests. Strata rules may also fall in this area.
You also need to understand what the inspector is telling you. Don’t be afraid to look stupid, it’s better than not knowing and being stuck with having to fix something or having people needing to access your property after you built something in the access way.