10 things every first-time homebuyer should know
Finances aren’t the only consideration Sept. 1, 2017 The Star
The key issue for first-time buyers is how much they have to put down and what price point is affordable. But there are other important considerations when you’re making that all-important first home purchase. Tara Kelly, marketing manager of Mattamy Homes’ GTA division (and new first-time homeowner) shares her top 10 tips for those looking to break into the real-estate market:
- Have a wish list, but be flexible. “You’re not likely going to get everything you want in your starter home. It’s okay to have a few ‘must-have’ items on your list, but you may have to compromise on others.”
- Clear away your debt. “Before committing to a house, you should try and pay off as much other debt as possible to lighten the load.” Carrying a house while you’re paying off school loans and credit cards is a lot to take on.
- Surround yourself with experts. When it comes to figuring out your finances or deciding on a home or a community, “rely on experts like mortgage lenders, sales and real estate agents and design specialists to help you navigate your way through purchasing your first home.”
- Think carefully about where you want to live. “You have to carefully weigh living in an urban centre with getting more house in a smaller community. Spend time exploring the different developments and see what works for you.”
- Familiarize yourself with potential neighbourhoods. Loving the house is one thing, but you have to love the community too. “Take time to get to know your future neighbourhood: the area schools, the commute to work, public transportation, nearby amenities and infrastructure — construction plans for future growth and expansion.”
- Look past the pretty furnishings. Well-furnished or staged homes are set up to show the house to its best advantage. “Try and see the potential in every house when you’re looking.” Don’t get caught up in small things that can easily be changed — look at the big picture.
- Get an inspection. This is necessary when you’re purchasing a home that’s pre-owned, especially if it’s an older home. “Without the protection of a warranty, you’ll need an expert to look at the house and give you an assessment of what you’re buying so there won’t be surprises down the road.”
- Be aware of closing costs. “First-time buyers often don’t know about things like land transfer tax, legal fees, home inspection costs and appraisal fees, not to mention moving, insurance, furnishing and utility set-up costs.” Ask your team of experts to help you budget for these expenses.
- Be creative about furniture purchases. “Social media is great for helping you find great gently-used items to help fill your home. You can also ask around and put out the word in case friends and family can help out with hand-me-down pieces.”
- Give yourself time. Once you’re moved in, allow for some time to settle in and live with what you have. “Take your time to get comfortable in your home before you start making changes or adding in too many furnishings. Sometimes a little time gives you a different perspective, where rushing into things can cause you to make mistakes.”