There are few purchases you will make in your life that are as significant as when you purchase a home, especially your first home. Not only is it a huge financial decision, but an emotional one. A home, no matter if you’re renting or buying, provides a refuge from the world, a place where you might raise a family, a place where you entertain and celebrate life’s moments, and a place that becomes very important in your everyday life. While exciting and exhilarating, searching for a home can also be a bit of an rollercoaster, hopefully a fun one, but definitely one that has the potential to take an emotional toll.
Hopefully, it doesn’t feel like this…
To help you prepare, we’ve outlined a few of the emotional dips and turns you may encounter:
You’ve decided to start looking (YAH! CONGRATS!)
You’re feeling all sorts of emotions and you’re not entirely sure what you feel – excited, nervous, anxious, nervous again, but mostly excited???
You feel like you’ve entered into a serious relationship with your bank, real estate agent and mortgage broker. You’re past going steady now, it’s all about the engagement.
Then, your excitement turns to pure stress, as you realize how much debt you’re about to incur and that you have no idea what you’re doing…
You start looking around, visiting open houses (feeling annoyed about constantly bending down to take off your shoes!) and after what feels like a lifetime (or maybe it was love at first sight early on), you find the “perfect” house.
You make an offer, wait…wait some more…worry…imagine living there…only to find out you were outbid.
You enter into a bit of a low and feel like you’ll never fall in love again.
The vicious cycle continues, until, you make an offer and it’s accepted… and you finally
get the keys!
BUT, it doesn’t have to be like this (an emotional roller coaster that is). Like anything worthwhile, while there will certainly be stresses that come with purchasing a home, there are ways to set yourself up (we know sometimes easier said than done), to enjoy the experience AND end up in the home you want and the one you can afford. TRIPLE WIN.
So, to help you avoid some of these potential pitfalls, we’ve outlined what we hope are a few useful Tips and Tricks:
- Check your emotions at the door: we get it, this is hard and feels nearly impossible. But, we promise, if you keep your emotions in check, your home buying journey will be a lot more enjoyable
- Align your emotions with your priorities: for instance, buyers might focus solely on their desire for a house in a certain neighbourhood and one that is a particular size or style, but ignore the fact that they want to spend as much time as possible with family. Finding the “perfect” house that requires a long daily commute to work and keeps you away from home for two extra hours each day doesn’t line up with your values and priorities
- Do your research: understand both your finances and your needs. Analyze your assets, decipher your debts and get pre-approved before plunging into your house hunt. Get to know the neighbourhood – you’re not simply buying a house, you’re buying a location
- Don’t overlook the BIG picture: remember what you’re actually seeking. Don’t get caught up in the idea of the perfect home, at the perfect price, in the perfect neighbourhood. Like any decision in life, there are pros and cons to every purchase. Buying a home is no different. Maybe that fixer upper really is your “perfect” home, but maybe, for you, it’s not a wise idea to take on renovations. Everyone is different, make the right decision for you
- Take into account large (+ added) expenses: there are always additional expenses when it comes to buying a home. Make sure you make a list of these possible expenses (check out our list here) AND have a contingency fund in place to pay for these unexpected costs. Don’t be caught off guard
- Choose the right mortgage for you: to learn more, you can refer back to our post here
- Stay on budget: spending more than you can sensibly afford leaves you exposed to potential financial shocks, including rises in interest rates. Make sure you also take into account changes in your future circumstances
- Don’t sign anything until you know your interests are protected: the only way to get changes to a contract, once it’s been signed, is to end the existing contract and renegotiate a new one. The seller doesn’t have to agree to your requests and you may be at risk of losing the home
- There will be other homes. Don’t get fed up and make the wrong purchase: a wise home buyer doesn’t fall in love. They know there are other houses, and more importantly, they know there is one out there that’s the right house at the right price, even in a very competitive market. Bottom line: if you can’t afford it, move on and keep looking
- Arrange a professional building inspection: the purpose of an inspection is to determine the condition of a property at the time of purchase, or afterwards in cases involving litigation. Make sure you’re clear on what it includes (standard inspection usually includes: electrical, plumbing, heating, roofing, foundation, interior & exterior – learn more on the Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors website here). *Note: a professional home inspection does not include appraisals, exact quotations for repairs, noncompliance with building code requirements, and is not intended to provide guarantees or warranties
While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, we hope it’s a good start!
Remember, always make sure you take into account your personal situation and make the best decision for you!
Find ways that feel personal to you that allow you to enjoy the process – (maybe it’s stopping every now and again to re-evaluate, maybe it means cracking open a bottle of champagne every now and again and cheersing the journey, maybe it’s taking a weekend off from house hunting altogether) – whatever it is that you do as part of your buying adventure, make sure it’s not only a stressful experience. This is a significant moment in your life and one that should be celebrated.
Happy House Hunting!