These days, moving in with your significant other is a logical step before you tie the knot. Choosing whether or not you rent or buy can be a huge decision and one that has a permanent impact.
Ashleigh Zurfluh and her then boyfriend Nolan (now fiancé) chose to build in southwest Edmonton. Building a home from the ground up allowed them to build their perfect home with everything they could ever dream of.
Janine: Have you owned a home in the past?
Ashleigh: No, both my fiancé and I had been living with our parents before we bought our house.
Janine: What kind of home did you buy?
Ashleigh: We bought a three-bedroom, 2.5 bath, 1,475 square foot new build duplex. We purchased the home in April 2015 and we moved in December 2015.
Janine: How did you know you were ready to own a home?
Ashleigh: We had been together for five years and weren’t living together yet so moving out together was a goal of ours. At first we weren’t sure if we wanted to rent or buy. But after months and months of saving and research, we realized we could afford to build a home together. We both also have stable careers so we felt comfortable with the decision. With the amount that we saved for a down payment, our monthly mortgage payments were equal to or cheaper than the cost of rent at places we had looked at. After creating a mock monthly budget, we realized that owning was well within our means and decided to go that route.
Janine: What were the details of your mortgage?
Ashleigh: We did not want to pay CMHC insurance so we ensured the building time would work out so that by the time we had to make our down payment, we had 20% saved. We ended up having enough to put 20% down and money set aside to help us furnish the house and get set up. Our mortgage ended up being about $342,400 and we are locked into a five-year fixed mortgage rate of 2.59%.
Janine: Do you feel your emotions were involved when you purchased your home?
Ashleigh: Yes and no. Building a home together was a process we were looking forward to experiencing together. It might sound silly, but it really does feel like “our” home since we picked out all of the finishes and were extremely involved in the building process throughout the eight months. We also fell in love with the lot since it has a really large backyard, which was important to us. A large backyard is not often found in newer areas or with a duplex. However, we were objective and did a lot of research. We probably looked at every area in southwest Edmonton where new duplexes were being built and we also checked out too many show homes to even count. We’d often find a floor plan we loved but it was being built in an area we didn’t like or vice versa.
Janine: How do you think building a home is different than purchasing?
Ashleigh: We did look briefly at purchasing an older home in an older neighbourhood, but the cost of smaller houses in older neighbourhoods is quite high. The highest end of our budget was $430,000 and after looking around, it didn’t seem possible to get a single-family home in southwest Edmonton under that price. If we were willing to move to the west end or other areas of the city, we would’ve been able to purchase a single-family home within our budget, but it was important to us to stay in southwest Edmonton. Once we realized this, we started looking into building a duplex in southwest Edmonton and that is how we ended up in Windermere [a neighbourhood in southwest Edmonton]. We are extremely happy with the choice to build in this area (we back onto a walking path and are across the street from a new school) and we ended up in a home we love that was within our budget.
Janine: Do you think you were in a buyer’s market and did this affect the price you paid?
Ashleigh: I do not think we were in a buyer’s market in April 2015. There was not a lot of wiggle room when negotiating our house price.
Janine: How was the process of getting a mortgage?
Ashleigh: The process of getting a mortgage was quite simple for us. I have a financial advisor that I see and she set it up for us. With neither of us having student loans or debt other than owning a car, and both having stable careers, the approval process was smooth.
Janine: Did you shop around and negotiate the mortgage rate?
Ashleigh: We did shop around and do research beforehand. We also spoke with friends who had purchased a home around the same time. The rate the bank offered us was the same as what we had found with mortgage brokers.
Janine: Did you use any online tools, calculators or websites?
Ashleigh: We used online mortgage calculators to help us predict how much this process was going to cost us.
Janine: Were you able to stay within your budget?
Ashleigh: We were able to stay within our budget but it was very close to the high end of our budget. Due to the size of our lot, the purchase cost was higher. If we had gone with a small lot with a minimal to non-existent backyard, we could’ve saved ourselves almost $20,000. But I did not want to spend the next five to 10 years with no backyard or privacy.