With Valentine’s Day upon us, we only thought it fitting to go with the theme today, and hone in on the process of matchmaking. Finding a new home can be likened to finding a mate, so here are some love-ly analogies to guide you through the process.
- Are you ready to enter the dating game? Your first course of action should be to determine whether you are financially prepared to purchase a home. Map out your finances: know your monthly income and recurring expenses, as well as your debt obligations. Do you have the minimum 5% down payment, as well as the upfront cash required to cover closing costs? While closing costs such as Land Transfer Tax and legal fees are a one-off expenditure, living expenses like heat and hydro will be incurred throughout the life of your mortgage. Ratehub.ca’s new mortgage payment calculator takes into account your home ownership costs and gives you a realistic mortgage payment schedule.
- What are you looking for in a mate? Sure, it’s the ‘inside’ that counts, but appearances can attract you to a home. Check out the roofing, wiring, heating and plumbing in addition to the material finishes. Then look internally: consider the layout, for instance. Do you spend a lot of time entertaining and cooking? Then you probably want an open layout kitchen. Similarly, you may want your own personal space closed off, and would benefit from a split layout, with bedrooms separated by common areas. Make a list of your needs, ‘would-be-nice’ additions, as well as your deal-breakers. The flip side of focusing too much on appearance is you lose sight of what you may need in the future.
- Play the field before you commit. Like the song goes ‘you better shop around.’ Look at as many places as you need until you have a good understanding of what is out there. With so many resources at our disposal in this technology age, there are limited barriers to search. Likening his real estate listing site to online dating, Matthew Slutsky of BuzzBuzzHome.com says ‘using our search engine, you can refine your queries by price, city, neighbourhood or even maintenance fees.’ Another handy feature is BuzzBuzz’s provision of floor plans for new condos, the importance of which importance was introduced above. A next step might be to find a ‘matchmaker’ or a realtor who can direct you to homes of interest and guide you through the home buying process. Unlike a matchmaker, however, the buying agent’s services are free, since commissions are typically paid out by the seller. At the very least, drive around neighbourhoods you are interested in and look out for ‘for sale’ signs.
Follow these basic guidelines and go into a relationship with your home well prepared. Not to say you have to stick it out forever. Let it serve your purpose, be it a starter home or investment property. ‘Unlike marriage,’ Slutsky muses, ‘you always have the opportunity to flip it.’