When it comes time to taking the leap and buying your first home, the search, the ideas and then planning are some of the most exciting times you’ll have with any purchase.
However, unlike shopping around for a new pair of shoes or vacation package, there are quite a number of important elements to consider when starting this process.
For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of key considerations that first time home buyers might find helpful…
The Costly Bits
First things first. Is the home within your budget? Can you cover the down payment to get the ball rolling and do you need to apply for a mortgage? If so, is there enough time between needing to start that process, receive your pre-approval letter and making an offer?
With mortgages, make sure you find out your current options and confirm if they are going to be something you/your family will be comfortable managing for the next 5+ years?
What other monthly or ongoing payments do you have set up? Make sure to add those in when considering what your budget can comfortably reach.
If buying a larger home, will you be needing to furnish it? These are costs that can certainly add up and although you don’t need to furnish the home all at once, be sure that you will have any necessary items to start with.
If you’re investing into a home with a new partner and plan to combine cash and resources, make sure that you are comfortable with not only your financial situation being stable now and going forward, but theirs also. Make sure you lay all your cards on the table and agree to everything together.
Perhaps you know you want to stay in the same area you’re in currently to be close with friends and relatives, to remain in a familiar setting or to keep your children in the same schools.
On the flip side, you may also be wanting to spread your wings and make a change to somewhere new; explore a new town or region, or simply mix up your current lifestyle.
No matter where you choose to set up your new home, make sure that you research the neighbourhood you’re interested in buying and feel comfortable with the surroundings. Are the neighbouring yards tidy, are there noisy dogs next door, does the road have street parking?
Make a check for any amenities that you will find important. Things such as schools, supermarkets, public transport, ease of access, and parks. It’s also a good time to listen to what noise levels are like in the area; is it close to a train line or a row of restaurants or bars that may stay open late?
Other points to consider regarding location is view, does it have one and is that important to you? Is it on a hillside, does it need fencing for the dog or does it have a neighbouring property that can see right into your living room? Consider accessibility and if your needs with this now will change over the coming years.
Depending on how many are in your family will dictate how much space you need in your home. From a 1-bedroom downtown apartment to a 3+ bedroom family home, needs will always change from buyer to buyer.
Explain this early on to your Realtor so that you’re viewing homes that meet your criteria because it’s not always possible (or feasible) to increase the size of your home later on.
Consider other family or friends who will be wanting to visit and think if that adds the need for an additional, spare bedroom on, or even a suite for family to stay and feel more self-sufficient for longer visits.
If you’re a larger family, perhaps a key consideration is the amount of storage the home has; wardrobes, cupboards or even kitchen drawers. If you’re outdoor enthusiasts does the garage have plenty of room to house your seasonal and recreational toys? Is there a garage or only a carport? Do you need parking space within easy access, or is basement parking going to be just fine?
Good as New
When inspecting potential homes to buy, make sure you (and your Realtor) inspect features of the home including carpets, curtains, walls, bathrooms, etc., and get an idea of how much of the home looks tidy or newly renovated or what you might need to put on a project list once you move in.
If there are a few areas that need updating (and older homes may naturally have more), keep in mind that this will add to your budget creep up as you get started.
With any home purchase, we always recommend having a professional home inspector conduct a report on the home before you submit any offer. They’re much better at spotting things that we may not, such as hot water tanks, roofing or windows.
Along with the purchase price of your home, consider ongoing expenses such as the property taxes for that area. Does the home have efficient energy sources, or are you likely to pay more for utility bills for the current electric baseboards?
How is the exterior of the property? Do you know if the home needs new roofing in the next year or so? How are the lawns or gardens, and will these need some TLC?
Perhaps you’ve viewed a property and you can’t get it out of your mind. It’s perfect and you can see yourself living there. But what does the next 5-10 years look like and does that home still tick the boxes needed for a growing family, or a family that might be downsizing?
Is there enough yard space if you wanted to get the kids a puppy or if you change jobs and work further away, what are the transport options like as an alternative to driving?
Do you have children who are getting older and may need a car of their own soon? Will there be enough parking space either at the home, or on the street outside?
And as mentioned, might there be family that may need to come stay for longer periods of time in the future where more space will be needed?
Time of Year
Is now the best time to move? Perhaps if it’s just yourself or you and your significant other, anytime throughout the year will be doable. How about those with children who are in school and need to finish their school year first?
Are you working a job that might be a contract or maternity leave cover and is best to wait until the conclusion of that role to then start searching for the next? Perhaps where that ends up being could be a factor in considering another part of town?
Will you need movers to help you shift into your new home if friends or family are unable to lend a hand? Perhaps you’re moving to a new town and will need extra assistance for heavier items. Keep in mind that moving companies will tend to have higher rates during peak seasons or even days of the week.
Whenever it comes time to start your havn-hunt, use a trusted Realtor®. Our Stilhavn agents keep our finger on the pulse, we collaborate extensively across each of our teams, and we are committed to providing an elevated experience when it comes to your first home buying journey. We’re ready to #findyourhavn.