Being a homeowner is much different than being a renter. You now have the responsibility of maintaining your property and handling any issues that may arise. This is why it's important to match your lifestyle with the right home. With that in mind, here are a few considerations to think about before buying your first home.
Consider Your Budget
Buying a home is one of the largest investments you’ll make in your life. One of the biggest mistakes first-time home buyers make is over-stretching their budgets. There are more costs associated with owning a home than just your monthly mortgage. Questions you should consider during your home search include:
- Will my mortgage be on a fixed or variable rate?
- How much will my closing costs and lawyer’s fees cost?
- How much will property taxes and home insurance cost?
- Will I have to pay condo or Home Owners Association fees?
- How much will my utilities cost?
- Can I afford to invest in buying furniture to fill a new home larger than your rental property?
Your realtor is a great resource for helping you answer these questions. Consider these questions when drafting your financial plan.
Leaving yourself some wiggle room in your budget will not only avert stress by ensuring your bills are paid, but it will also leave you financially prepared to deal with any unforeseen expenses.
What’s on Your Wish list?
Now that you have a clear picture of what you're willing to spend, what do you want? Coming up with an ultimate wish list is a recommended step for any new home buyer. Although this may seem impractical when you have budget restrictions, it is a very useful exercise in helping you determine what you really need and what you want. Not to mention, it's fun!
Get started by asking yourself what your dream home looks like.
- Is it big or small?
- Are you looking for a single family home, duplex, townhome or condo?
- Is it located in a downtown neighbourhood or is it in the suburbs?
- What sort of features do you want the home to have?
Write down as many “wishes” as you can. Keeping this list in mind will ultimately help you narrow down your search and enjoy your new home that much more.
How Much Space Do You Need?
No one wants a house that's too small for their needs. But if a house is too big, you'll spend too much time cleaning spaces that you rarely use or spend time in. Ideally, you want to have enough bedrooms so that everyone has their own space.
You should also consider whether you’d prefer a home with a finished basement, space for an office, and how much space you’d like for entertaining.
Is the Space Functional?
The floor plan of your new home is just as important as the amount of space that you have. If your rooms are divided by large walls or otherwise awkwardly arranged, you may find that even the largest of homes won't provide room for furniture like a king sized bed or a large screen TV. Open floor plans tend to give you the best chance to use all of your living space effectively while giving you good sight lines throughout the home.
Are You Handy?
If you are looking to buy a resale home, you should know what you can repair or renovate on your own and what you may need a professional to do. If you are not great at making minor repairs on your own and you don’t want to have to pay someone to do them, consider buying a new home. After all, buying a new home means fewer issues to deal with in the early years, and they all come with a one year warranty.
Do You Enjoy Doing Yard Work?
As a homeowner, you will need to maintain not just your home but the entire property. The grass will need cutting, hedges will need trimming, and your driveway will need to be cleared during the winter months. It is important to consider whether you will do these things yourself or pay someone else to do them.
If the thought of property maintenance gives you a headache, consider buying a condo. By paying monthly or annual fees, this becomes someone else’s concern.
Do you want a lot of amenities nearby, or do you prefer to live in a quieter area? Before you buy a home, you should take stock of the neighbourhood and decide whether you have everything you need within a reasonable distance.
You will also want to know if you live close to major highways or to public transportation routes that will make getting around to amenities further away much easier.
When purchasing your first home, it is important to balance your needs and wants at a price you can afford. The above steps are useful not only in helping you narrow down your search but to help you enjoy your new home for many years to come.