By Nic Friesen
You’ve saved up the down payment and made the decision that it’s time to buy a house… now what?
Although a very exciting time, it’s typically a decision that leaves you with more questions than answers. Contrary to popular belief, perusing real estate websites for your dream home is not the next step, as tempting as it may be.
You may have heard the term “seller’s market” recently when describing the local real estate landscape, which basically means there are less homes for sale than the amount of buyers currently shopping. If you’re a buyer, this is bad news. The high demand of a seller’s market results in bidding wars and disappointed house shoppers after the seller accepts someone else’s competing offer.
In today’s world of online shopping where products are a few clicks away it’s hard to fathom trying to purchase something and being rejected. As a buyer this lack of control is frustrating, but one thing you can do to increase your chances of being able to purchase the home you want is educating yourself with the following realities.
- Be realistic with your budget
Make an appointment with a mortgage broker or lender as soon as possible to figure out the price range that you should be shopping in. This is called getting ‘pre-approved’ and gives the seller assurance that the bank will not reject your mortgage request. Falling in love with a $400,000 home that’s $50,000 over your budget will just make the homes you can actually afford look disappointing.
- There are other costs involved
A $300,000 house costs more than $300,000. As a home owner, you need to budget for additional costs on top of the purchase price. For example:
- Land transfer tax is a one-time tax based on the home value that is charged any time you make a real estate purchase in Manitoba. (Land Transfer Tax Calculator)
- Property tax is paid once a year and is based on the value of your home. This is paid to the municipality that you’re going to live in and typically covers local services such as road repairs, garbage collection, recreation facilities, schools, etc. Also, when you see the tax amount advertised on our website, it does not include the $700 discount that you’ll receive each year you live in the house.
- Banking Fees will vary depending on which financial institution you’re getting the mortgage through but there will likely be $200 – $400 worth of fees that they charge when finalizing your financing.
- Lawyer Fees have a few variables including the value of the house you’re buying but will likely be at least $900 – $1200.
- Home Maintenance is very important to include in your budget. No matter how thoroughly you inspect a home before buying there can be unexpected costs that come up with little warning. It’s a good idea to have at least $2000 extra to cover the potential cost of a replacement appliance, new hot water tank, and fixing the furnace or air conditioning.
- Prioritize what’s important
Everyone’s wish list is different depending on your stage of life and priorities. Create a list of your desired features in order of importance and be willing to sacrifice some of the lower options to stay within your budget. For example:
- # of Bedrooms
- # of Bathrooms
- Large Yard
If the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and yard size is high on your priority list because you have a large family, you may need to sacrifice location to be able to find a suitable home within your budget. If you like the idea of living in Winkler, driving 10 minutes further to a community like Plum Coulee or Roland can save you a substantial amount of money while accommodating what’s important to your family.
Buying a house is intimidating! But with the right guidance, homeownership may be closer than you think. Making these calculations and decisions before you start searching helps to avoid disappointment and get you in a home that’s right for you and your bank account, sooner.
If you have any questions about this blog post, what your next steps should be, or anything else real estate related, please contact me and I’d love to help!