House hunting – what should we know?

posted 2 years ago in Home
Post # 2
2791 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - Walnut Hill Bed & Breakfast

I’m not in Canada so this may not all apply but…

Make sure you have enough cash on hand for your closing costs (ours are nearly 7k!), down payment, inspection ($600), apprasial ($500), and potential work you might be forced to do… and then some. 

I had saved about $25,000 and expected our down payment (5%) + closing costs to be about $15,000 which left us with a nice $10,000 left.  Well, now I have to spend $1,000 fixing a foundation issue that the seller will only split with us, plus the $1,100 in inspection/apprasial fees, $300 some realtor fee, and another $500 to extend my locked in rate because the closing date had to be pushed back. So that’s nearly $3,000 upfront that I didn’t know about going into it all.   Just something to keep in mind… don’t use all your on-hand cash on your downpayment. Keep a nice emergency pot! 

Post # 3
812 posts
Busy bee

Apparently my last post didn’t well, post! When looking at houses look at the neighborhood and surrounding areas. What the average value of homes and sell prices, also what to expect to pay in taxes. Which I recommend have it added to your mortgage payment if you can in Canada. Do drive bys on a weekend night to see what type of night life comes out. Newer homes means less upkeep cost in the beginning (broken appliances, potential foundation problems, etc), but older homes have established neighborhoods and typically neighbors that have been in the for years. Also see if more homes are rentals vs owned. Also modular homes to to have a negative impact on property value and those that are in the neighborhood. 

Hope this helps!

Post # 4
1566 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

If the market is crazy, and you aren’t planning to be ready to buy until next year, then why are you looking? I’ve always been warned not to start looking until you can put down a chunk of change because you could fall in love with a house and then not be able to buy it. 

Until you are actually ready to buy, I’d start by just researching neighborhoods, the lifestyles, and driving through, as well as seeing what commutes would be like from them, but that’s about it.

Post # 5
2414 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

MsGinkgo:  I’m moving from midtown TO to just south of Barrie!  We just went through this.  This is what we did… We definitely are not experts, but it worked for us and there haven’t been any major surprises during the process. 

My advice 

– sort out the deposit and how its going to work.  Some brokers will want to see the funds in your accounts for 3 months, prior to taking the mortgage.  

– If you’re using RRSPs and the first time home buyer, read the info from the CRA.  So many of the bankers, sales people, real estate people didn’t know the program very well and had no idea what the money could be used towards and what it all entailed.  If you’re going to boost your RRSPs to use for your deposit, do it now.  It needs to be there at least 90 days.  We are doing it, the money was there, so we put it into our RRSPs and then we’ll pull it back out.  The bonus is the tax return you’ll get on the 2014 tax year. (The repayment terms works out to about $65 biweekly for 15 years on 25k.  (25k over 15 years is 1666/yr over 26 pays = 64 and change a pay.) 

– find a broker, speak to the broker about what you’ll qualify for, what the current rate is, etc.  Then run those numbers at double the rate and triple.  This is because I’m crazy.  But our rate is 2.3% anyone can make something work at that rate.  But rates will eventually go up.  We wanted to know what the numbers looked like at 5% and 8%, just in case. The broker was also able to tell us what average heating/cooling costs were on various sized houses, what our CMHC fees would be (we will not be putting down a 20% deposit.) 

– Make a list of your dealbreakers/must haves, nice to haves, and rank them. For us, location ended up much lower than we thought.  

– Take a look at what houses are going for in various neighbourhoods you’d like.  Check out to see photos, etc.   We looked at the Guild (where I grew up), Durham Region (Ajax, Pickering), The Beach, and eventually looked way outside of town, in a very small town and near the ski hills and the lake (where we spend a lot of our off time.)  Drive around, check out online for any community events, etc if you’re interested in somewhere you don’t already live.  

– Take a look of what you’ll need to move.  We need 5 appliances, because we went with a new build.  That’s a considerable cost.  We had to factor that in to our moving/closing costs.  

– Find a lawyer or look for recommendations/personal references.  We have a great guy, he was a recommendation from my coworker. 

– Investigate property taxes, municiple by laws, etc. 

– We ran the #s with various mortgage amounts to find what we liked for an overall monthly budget.  We knew we weren’t going over X amount, just because we wanted to do all the things in our budget.  That eliminated some areas.  

– Don’t forget to factor in things like life insurance (if you don’t already have it).  I have a substantial amount and didn’t need any further.  My FI had to get some.  We met with our insurance broker and went over our options. 

Post # 6
2414 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

Also, don’t be too surprised if everything changes, budget, timeline, must haves…. Going in I thought I knew what I wanted.  

Everything changed, including the timeline.  We started looking for July of next year.  We weren’t serious about buying, but we ran across some model homes and our apartment switched supers and the new ones suck.  So we thought we’d get serious – for after the wedding. 

We ruled out resale pretty quickly.  Neither of us are remotely handy.  Nor are my parents.  And his are overseas.  We’d be contracting out anything more than a very simple job.  And looking at resale this early was pointless, the prices will change, the inventory will change and we didn’t want to fall in love with a house we weren’t ready to purchase. 

New build meant we could do everything exactly as we wanted.  And move next March to July.  We toured every new build from Barrie to Mono to Ajax that had detached models that started under 700k.  What we found is that new builds in the GTA go fast!  The non-premium lots go during the first day of release, leaving lots with 50 – 100k premiums left.  Ummmm. No.  

We were all ready to purchase a house to move next March.  And then I freaked out in the parking lot of sales centre.  I seriously worried that we’d picked the house simply because it was way below our top end of the budget and we’d walked through a model.  I worried we were rushing just to be done.  We spent that day (again) talking to the sales staff and driving through the development. 

In the end we bought a bigger house, spending about an extra 50k.  But we got a lot more for it.  And its an inventory home, so some of the construction had started.  We are still able to pick everything, except our brick – that had been chosen and ordered.  It’s still well within our budget and the heating/cooling, property taxes, etc were actually for the amount we’d worked out.  

If you’d asked me at the start if this was the house I thought we’d end up with, the answer definitely would have been no.  But now that we’ve been through all of this, I know its perfect.  I can’t wait to move in.  

Other things to consider – land transfer taxes, as a first time homebuyer you get a bit of a break, but you still pay some, in a new build you have your warranty fees, any levy from the builder/municipality (ours caps at a max amount), etc.  

Post # 7
3047 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

MsGinkgo: We just moved out from Toronto and bought our first house in Guelph. If you are willing to commute, definitely look into towns/cities that are along the GO-lines. Houses outside of Toronto will be way cheaper, I think the average house price in Canada is $400.000, but factor out Toronto and Vancouver and you end up with $320.000…

In our case, we had a great real estate agent that was incredible helpful – so if I were you I would try to find someone that you like and trust once you feel ready to actually look at houses. They will have private lists that you can browse, so this is definitely something I would recommend. Also, meet up with someone at your bank and discuss what type of mortgage you could get based on your current income/debt. As a previous bee mentioned, you can use up to a certain amount of any RSVPs without paying tax as long as you pay it back gradually.  

Good luck with your house hunting!

Post # 9
2414 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

MsGinkgo:  This is so fun.  Definitely keep us posted on how it’s all going!  

Post # 10
10454 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

I don’t even live in ON, but I find this blog kinda fun to read from time to time:

I disagree about you shouldn’t be looking.  DH and I did so way ahead of time.  It was easy not to really fall in love with something and imagine it as ours, as we knew it was just to look.  It helped us figure out our likes and dislikes and see what we agreed on and disagreed on.  It also helped to get a better idea of prices.  I found I was a much better judge after seeing them in person, you don’t get as good of a feel for the size, layout etc. when looking online.

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