So, you've decided you want to own a home. It's a popular dream. For most people, with the right planning, it can become reality. But there is a lot to know before you begin moving. We'll take you through the planning process step-by-step, to determine exactly the kind of home that's perfect for you. Your REALTOR® will ask many questions before the hunt begins.
Overall, your REALTOR® will work with you so that your sales experience will take place as expeditiously as possible.
The first question you're bound to ask is, "How much home can I afford?" That depends on a number of factors:
Your selected location. Are you set on a specific area? Downtown? The suburbs? A rural setting?
Your preferred type of home. Detached? Semi? Duplex? High-rise? Link? Townhouse? New or Resale? There are a variety of home styles you will want to explore.
Your income. After all, it's not just the mortgage you have to take into account. There are property taxes, utilities, and in some cases condo or strata fees. As a general rule of thumb, your monthly home-carrying cost should not exceed 30-35% of your income.
Market conditions. Is it a buyer's, sellers or balanced market?
There are also additional costs to keep in mind. It's a good idea to work out exactly what you want and what you can afford before you begin the search. Be specific! After all, you don't want to suddenly come to the realization that your dream house has come with a nightmare of bills and expenses. Stick to looking at houses in your price range. The more you've thought it out, the better your REALTOR® can meet your needs.
A part of deciding just what you can afford can be accomplished by meeting with your bank or a mortgage broker and negotiating a pre-approved mortgage. There are many types of mortgages and many different terms. Research all of your options. This ensures that there are no surprises once you're ready to make an offer.
How many bedrooms will you one day require? Your preschoolers will be teens some day. Are you planning to stay in your home that long? Perhaps your teens are ready to move out on their own. What will you do with all the extra space? When you're thinking about accommodating your family's needs, think of things like parking. How many cars will require space? You'll also want to consider proximity to -- and the reputation of -- schools in the area.
When it's time to relax and entertain, how will your prospective home meet your needs? Do you want a formal living room, or a room where your family can stretch out and watch television? Do your children need a play area or your teens an entertainment room? Some homes have a living room and a family room.
How is your work situation? These days people tend to change jobs frequently, and sometimes the best way to get a promotion is to move to another company. If you might be transferred, will you be able to sell quickly? Keeping work in mind, how long do you want to spend commuting? Do you drive or rely on public transportation?
As you can see, you will want to give some thought to how long you intend to stay in your home. It may be difficult to answer before you've even found your home, but if it's your first home give some thought to the resale value when it is time to upgrade. On the other hand, if you're planning to stay in your home for a long time, consider your future needs and purchase a home that will accommodate them.
When you're looking at homes, consider the advantages of brick over a wood frame house when it comes to painting. Take a look at the garden. If you don't enjoy cutting grass, then an expansive lawn may not fit into your lifestyle. You can also evaluate the possibility of future maintenance and repairs based on the age of the house. If you don't like the idea of major renovations, a newer home may be your best option.
Many first-time buyers have them. It goes something like this: You find a big home in a great neighbourhood that's well below what you'd expect to pay for that house in that neighbourhood. You see a couple of coats of paint, new broadloom, a few repairs and voilà, a dream home without the nightmare price.
Before you jump headlong into this 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' consider how you'll do all of the work. Will it be weeknights after a long day at the office, or will you hire someone? Are you ready to live in a dusty mess as you renovate? Do a realistic assessment of the job at hand and be sure to have the house inspected. The last thing you want is a bargain home that turns into a money pit. You're far better to find a house that costs a little more each month but doesn't need much work than to buy a fixer-upper that eats up hundreds of dollars each month. For example, lets say you could buy a really nice house with minimal work required for $10,000 more than a fixer upper. At today's mortgage rates, assuming you could stay within your monthly budget, that really nice home would cost you only about $65 per month more than the fixer-upper. If you buy the fixer-upper, you'll be spending a lot more than $65 each month to whip it into shape, as well as the strain your family will go through living in an unfinished home.
As you can imagine, each type of home has its advantages and drawbacks and no two buyers will have the exact same wants and needs. The only way to truly evaluate which home is right for you, outside of price, is to consider what you absolutely must have and what you can live without. Before you go house hunting, prepare a list of 'can't live without' features and a list of 'would be great if...' features.
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