Are you gearing up to buy your first place? Arm yourself with these tips to get the most out of your purchase and avoid making 10 of the most costly mistakes that could put a hold on that sold sign.
1. Not Knowing What You Can Afford
As we’ve all learned from the sub-prime mortgage mess, what the banks says you can afford and what you know you can afford or are comfortable with paying are not necessarily the same. If you don’t already have a budget, make a list of all your monthly expenses (excluding rent). Subtract this total from your take-home pay and you’ll know how much you can spend on your new home each month.
2. Skipping Mortgage Qualification
What you think you can afford and what the bank is willing to lend you may not match up, so make sure to talk to your mortgage broker and get pre-approved for a loan before placing an offer on a home. Beware that even if you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, your loan can fall through at the last minute if you do something to alter your credit score, like finance a car purchase.
3. Failing to Consider Additional Expenses
Once you’re a homeowner, you’ll have additional expenses on top of your monthly payment. You’ll be responsible for paying property taxes, insuring your home against disasters and making any repairs the house needs. If you’re purchasing a condo, you’ll have to pay maintenance costs monthly regardless of whether anything needs fixing because you’ll be part of a building strata.
4. Being Too Picky
Go ahead and put everything you can think of on your new home wish list, but don’t be so inflexible that you end up continuing to rent for significantly longer than you really want to. First-time homebuyers often have to compromise on something because their funds are limited.
5. Lacking Vision
Even if you can’t afford to replace the hideous wallpaper in the bathroom now, it might be worth it to live with the ugliness for a while in exchange for getting into a house you can afford. If the home meets your needs in terms of the big things that are difficult to change, such as location and size, don’t let physical imperfections turn you away.
6. Being Swept Away
Minor upgrades and cosmetic fixes are inexpensive tricks that are a seller’s dream for playing on your emotions and eliciting a much higher price tag. If you’re on a budget, look for homes whose full potential have yet to be realized. First-time homebuyers should always look for a house they can add value to, as this ensures a bump in equity to help you up the property ladder.
7. Compromising on the Important Things
Don’t get a two-bedroom home when you know you’re planning to have kids and will want three bedrooms. Don’t make a compromise that will be a major strain.
8. Neglecting to Inspect
Before you close on the sale, you need to know what kind of shape the house is in. You don’t want to get stuck with a money pit or with the headache of performing a lot of unexpected repairs.
9. Not Choosing to Hire an Agent or Using the Seller's Agent
Once you're seriously shopping for a home, don't walk into an open house without having an agent. Agents are held to the ethical rule that they must act in both the seller and the buyer parties' best interests.
10. Not Thinking About the Future
It's impossible to perfectly predict the future of your chosen neighbourhood, but paying attention to the information that is available to you now can help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.