We live real estate. Our Facebook friends are 50% realtors, our email is saturated with new listings, and when we go on vacation, we take pictures outside the local Sotheby’s International Realty Offices. So, we feel we have a responsibility to pass on the best advice we’ve heard when buying a home.
Below is our BEST advice for anyone looking to buy a home, whether they are first-time buyers or seasoned investors.
Get honest and reliable advice and statistics
The “click-bait” articles circling facebook are full of misconceptions. If the article is coming from a source like Buzzfeed, or Cityblast, it’s probably written by interns who are told they need to produce a title and write an article that will get clicks. Those websites generate revenue from web traffic, so the more dramatic the title and article, the more revenue they bring into the company. Instead, look for statistics from your local real estate board. Below are the statistics from the real state boards of Toronto and Mississauga, Oakville and Milton, and Burlington and Hamilton.
Follow your gut, listen to what it’s telling you
You need to know in your gut that you’re ready to buy a home, and that it’s the right decision for you right now. You should be thinking about whether or not you can afford the home now, and in the future. Remember, it costs around 2-4% of the sale price in closing costs to buy a home, and 5.5% of the sale price to sell it. You need to own the home for a few years before you can start gaining equity.
Buy what you can afford
If you know your costs are fixed for the next 5 years, buy at the upper part of your budget. But, if you think there could be changes in your finances, career, or lifestyle, buy at 80% of your budget. You don’t want to feel trapped by your mortgage payments. Also, consider the market taking a turn and prices dropping 10-20% or mortgage interest rates rising 2%. A primary residence is a long-term investment, so don’t worry about market fluctuations; in the long-term, owning real estate always means saving rent and paying off a mortgage.
Get educated about buying real estate, and about mortgages
Houses are very literal. You can see the neighborhood, the finishes, and the age of upgrades, so it’s easy to have a strong opinion on what you like. But, mortgages are often overlooked. Not all mortgages are the same, they actually vary significantly. Sometimes that ultra-low interest rate mortgage ends up costing you more, because you cannot make additional payments into it, or it costs $20,000 to break it early.
We’d love to help you decide whether homeownership is the right move for you.