So, you want to be a homeowner? That’s amazing, we are so excited for you to start this new journey in your life! Before becoming a homeowner, we wanted to pass along some tips that we have learned through our homeownership journey, that way you are fully prepared. For this blog, we have some tips for before you think about writing an offer on a home and some tips for after you have your new home’s keys in your hands. Let’s jump into it, shall we?
Through The Shopping Process
What an exciting time this in in your life – time to start your search for your first owned home! We are so happy to see you off into your search but remember that this is one of the largest financial decisions you will make in life. We want to make sure you are fully prepared before becoming a homeowner, so here’s some advice before you start shopping.
- You are not necessarily buying a home only for the life you have today. With homeownership being a large financial investment, consider your long-term plans and how the homes you are looking at will fit into those plans.
- We know you have probably already been window shopping on Realtor.ca, but before you start going into homes, we suggest going to a mortgage broker to get pre-approval. This helps in two ways; one – you will know your budget & won’t waste time looking at homes above that budget, and two – when you receive a pre-approval you are locked into that mortgage rate for up to 120 days which is beneficial.
- To follow the above statement, you should take some time to sit down to work out a full budget. This should not only include your estimated mortgage payment. Also factor in your property taxes, home & vehicle insurance, homeowner association/condo fees (if applicable), heat, hydro, water, phone & cable bills, internet, and any other expenses you currently have. While building that budgeting plan, add a contingency fund for emergencies into that plan as they can come out of nowhere and you want to be prepared.
- Find a trusted realtor to help guide your through the buying process. To put a stop to the rumors, using a realtor does not drive up the overall cost of buying a home – it is the seller that pays the commission, not the buyer. Your realtor is there to protect your interests and support you through the buying process – from negotiating a price to navigating home inspections and much more.
- Often you find a home that you fall in love with and begin picturing how you will personalize it. Remember that cosmetic changes will be fairly inexpensive, though if you are looking at making changes to major areas of the home (i.e., the kitchen or bathrooms) as they are not only expensive in materials but labour as well. We do not say this to deter you from buying that specific property, just factor in those costs when determining whether you can afford to buy.
- Once you have made an offer and it has been accepted, do not make any large purchases. This can affect you coming to closing as you will have to secure your mortgage. Hold off until after you have the keys to your new home, and you have time to evaluate your budget to ensure that purchase will be manageable.
- Know that there is no rule that you must buy a home by a certain age or ever even. While it can be a sound investment, it’s not for everyone. If it doesn’t feel right in this moment in time, that’s completely okay. Whatever you want to do is valid, do not succumb to ‘social norms’ to appease those around you.
After You Get the Keys
You are bursting with excitement – the ‘Sold’ sign was hung, closing day is here, and you have picked up your new home’s keys. Wow, we are so proud of you that you are officially a homeowner, congratulations! As you begin to bring in the furniture and unpack the boxes it starts to become surreal that this is now your home. With the help of our team and our circle of loved ones, from various years of homeownership, we have compiled a list of tips to help you as you start this next chapter in your life.
- As much as you want to make this home as you as possible, if it is not going to be your forever home, don’t overspend to personalize. It’s like your car, you must keep it in good condition to last. Yes, there will be maintenance to keep up with and you want it to be your space. If you are doing renovations, keep in mind that not everyone has the same taste and consider accentuating with the décor to personalize.
- Invest in the key furniture pieces (or take second hand while saving) and freshen up your spaces with less expensive accessories. It is not everyday that you will be able to go out to buy a new couch or bedroom furniture set. These key furniture pieces are to last for longer periods of time. You do not need to buy all your seasonal decorations the first couple years in your home, trust us they will build up over time and will not cost you a large sum of money all at once.
- We mentioned this one above, but now that you are settled into you home make sure that your budget is accurate to your actual expenses. You want to make sure that you will be able to stay afloat in your finances and ensure that you are putting money into your contingency fund.
- If you are wanting to freshen up your space, consider a coat of paint before jumping into a full renovation. Paint is a cheaper alternative to breathe new life into your home, and majority of the time that will satisfy your personalization urges without breaking the bank.
- Should you decide that you are ready to take on a renovation project, hire qualified contractors for the big projects. Major renovations are not ones to cut corners on unless contractor is your job title. For those of us who are not contractors by day, try the easier projects yourself – it can be more rewarding to do it yourself.
- Any money that you put into your home for improvements or maintenance to ensure your home’s bones stay strong, be sure to keep all your receipts. You are able to claim these come tax season!
- Once everything has been unpacked, you will end up stumbling into your new routine around your home. Add a cleaning routine to that schedule, trust us it can become overwhelming if you do not. We leave the complete deep cleans for closer to when the seasons change, but you want to make sure that you stay on top of the day-to-day cleaning.
- Fire safety is a huge thing to be sure that you have in mind. These things happen as accidents, but you want to make sure everyone in your home knows what to do in a situation like this. Make an emergency exit plan and be sure to practice it a few times throughout the year – yes, just like the fire alarm tests we did in school.
Before you become a homeowner ask yourself; Can I afford it? Am I mortgage-worthy? Is it in my plan to live here for at least 5 years? I want to buy with another person, how will this affect me? Am I ready to become a homeowner?
These were just to scratch the surface with the help of those around us. There will always be other tips to come up along the way, feel free to share any of yours on our socials for other to see. Feel free to check out our other blog posts if there is something more specific to one of these tips. Becoming a homeowner is one of the greatest times in your life (or at least we think so), soak up the good and the bad – this is your journey and we’re all just along for the ride with you!
When in doubt, we are always up for a chat to walk you through the entire process and beyond! Send us a message, pop-by our office, give us a call – we would love to lend a hand where we can.