Buying a home is such a big decision – and such a complicated process – that it’s a shame most of us don’t get any real “practice” before a big chunk of our life savings are on the line.
While you can’t buy a dozen homes to learn the ins and outs of real estate transactions, you can benefit from the wisdom and experience of others. Taken to heart, those lessons can save you tens of thousands of dollars, or more, and help you find the house of your dreams a lot faster.
Because we think every homebuyer should have as much insight as possible, here are seven pieces of advice you’ll be glad you followed:
#1: Know What’s Important Before You Start Looking
This is a simple exercise, but an important one: before you actually start shopping for a new home, sit down with family members and discuss features or qualities that are important to you (as well as any types of homes you’d like to avoid). If possible, make a written list. Doing so will help you figure out where your priorities truly lie, and ensure that you’re all on the same page before you check out any listings.
#2: Compare Areas and Neighborhoods
Where your next house is can be just as important as what your next house is. That’s because different neighbourhoods can have very different inhabitants, tax rates, school districts, and personalities. While you probably already have some sense of where you’d like to live in Alberta, think closely about what you would want your next block or development to be like.
#3: Worry About What You Want, Not What You Have
A common mistake homebuyers make is thinking about the way their current furniture and decorations would work in a home they are considering. You don’t necessarily have to buy all new things when you move, of course, but remember that the house is likely to last a lot longer than your sofa, and the layout of your living room is going to make more of an impression than most paintings. Think of what you want in the house first and foremost, and consider how what you have will fit into the space second.
#4: Find a Balance in Your Budget
Finding the right budget for a new home purchase can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, spending more can give you more room, more amenities, and a home with higher resale potential. On the other hand, spend too much and you might not enjoy your new home very much because you’ll always be keeping one eye on your bank balance. The best answer to this conundrum is to find a range that you’re comfortable with and make sure you don’t go over without a very compelling reason.
#5: Check Out Several Different Properties
Even if you’re fairly sure you know what kind of property you want, it makes sense to see several of them just so you can get a sense of what’s on the market. Be sure you check out at least one new construction, as well, since this might change your perspective on the value of a newly-constructed home versus an older property that needs some work.
#6: Find the Right House and the Right Lender
In terms of your financial future, getting the right loan from the right lender is just as important as securing the home you want for a fair price. Never forget that small differences in interest rates and related terms can equate to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a home loan. Shop around and choose carefully.
#7: Think Ahead to the Future
Chances are, your life will change in some unforeseen ways while you’re living in your new house. Keep that in the back of your mind and try to find a property that gives you and your family room to grow in the future. Generally speaking, it’s always good to have a slightly larger home and yard than you need, especially if your family might keep getting bigger.
When it’s time to buy your first home, or your next one, keep these pieces of time-tested advice in mind. They might make a complicated decision that much easier!