Have you been bitten by the “Buy a Home” Bug?

Nothing is more fun than the thrill of the hunt: Searching homes on the mls, driving around your future neighbourhood, maybe even stopping into an open house. Searching for the perfect home is an exciting time, and there’s a lot to learn during the process.

Like almost anything else that’s exciting, we tend to dive head first into the fun part without taking into account the prep work that will go into making the next home a reality. If you’ve been asking friends and doing research, I’m sure you’ve come across advice like get pre approved, maybe even on what areas will be the best to live in. All good advice but sometimes buyers miss the 2 most basic, yet fundamental questions that every home buyer must honestly answer before they know if they are ready to take the leap.

1. Can I Afford the Home?

I’m not just talking about the cost of a mortgage, but all of the other costs associated with owning a home. Taxes, utilities, maintenance, condo fees… Depending on the type of home, your monthly costs can be quite a bit higher than the simple calculation of mortgage and taxes. Regardless of how much a lender will approve you for, you are the only one who knows your lifestyle and how much it costs to live it, because it’s the fun stuff such as vacations, dinners out and trips to the local pub that may be compromised if you stretch to own a home.

My Advice: Take stock of what you spend on an average month and add in all of the costs of owning a home. Do the numbers work? Sure you can cut back a little when you become a home owner, but committing to living like a monk is both unrealistic and a recipe for financial hardship if you do fall off the wagon.

2. Does Buying a Home Fit with My Current Lifestyle?

Related to the first point, but different and rarely discussed is whether owning a home will fit with your current lifestyle. Do you plan on living in this home for a number of years? Do you see any big changes in your life on the horizon? If someone told me 7 years ago that I would have 3 boys I would have called them crazy- but life happens!

The reason I stress looking at your lifestyle over the next five years and taking an honest assessment is that there are plenty of costs associated with selling a home, and it’s hard to recoup this if you’ve only been living there for 9 months.

My Advice: Take stock of what your life looks like now, and where it might reasonably be in 5 years. If you are buying with a partner make sure to involve them in the conversation. Owning a home is a great way to build equity but it is a commitment. Buying the right home that will work for you for at least 5 years is the best way to maximise your return on investment.

So there you have it, two important questions you should ask yourself, and not your friends before deciding to buy a home, because at the end of the day only you know the answer.

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