The process of finding your dream home can be both exciting and daunting, especially if you're a first time buyer. But don't fret! Asking yourself a few key questions can help simplify your search and make the process more enjoyable.
What Can You Afford?
Determining your budget is the most important first step, even before you begin your search. It's heartbreaking to fall in love with a home you can’t afford! The Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation suggests your monthly housing costs should not exceed 35% of your monthly income.
Property taxes vary depending on the province and region, so do your research before you make any commitment. Be sure to factor in closing costs, legal costs, land transfer tax, appraisal fees, inspection fees, maintenance, and insurance.
2. What Are Your Non-Negotiables?
Do you want to live in a specific neighbourhood? Is a backyard or pool a priority for your family? Is a specific size, style, or layout essential for you? Consider what is most important to you in a home. If you're sensitive to noise, you will likely want to live away from highways and busy city streets. Living near public transit might be your highest priority if you live a green lifestyle. Once you clarify what you are unwilling to budge on, you can streamline your search to find the home that truly meets your essential needs.
3. What Lifestyle Do You Live?
Location, location, location! You'll be happier and more comfortable in a location that supports how you love to spend your time. Consider the walkability and feel of the neighbourhood, your proximity to public transit and highways, and your commute to work. If you love being outdoors, you'll want to look for a home near parks or nature trails. If you're a social person, perhaps a bustling city center close to restaurants, entertainment, and nightlife.
Some people enjoy renovating a "fixer upper," while others want a home that's move-in ready. Even a small renovation can transform a home and significantly increase its value, but be sure to factor in the cost of renovations when considering your budget. Also, make sure to ask questions and check that everything is in good working condition. Appliances can be expensive to replace, and HVAC systems usually require professional installation and maintenance. Take note of the condition of exterior features like fences, gutters, and landscaping and what they may cost to repair or replace.
4. What Condition Is The Home In?
5. What Is The Long-Term Value?
A home's future value is determined by several factors, including the neighbourhood it's in, the local housing market, and the property's size, age, and condition. Living in an in-demand school district and making improvements to the property can add significant value to a home. There are also external factors that can affect a home's value, like a new road or railway line nearby or a zoning change. Consult with a real estate agent to help you assess your home's valuation.
The search for a new home is exciting! Although it can take some research, planning, and expert advice, finding your dream home for years to come will make the effort worth it.