Buying a home is financial decision, but also an emotional experience.
Before we’ve explored every room, we often start imagining our new lives there. Where our furniture will go. The parties we’ll host in the open-concept living-dining space. The mornings we’ll spend at the breakfast bar overlooking the garden or skyline… When a home speaks to us emotionally, the fear of missing out on it can set in fast.
That’s especially true in a real estate market where multiple offers and bidding wars are common, where a financing condition can put you at a disadvantage, and where prices are at all-time highs.
According to the 2015 Genworth Canada Homeownership Study, 54% of first-time buyers were worried they might miss out on the “perfect” house. That can lead emotional homebuyers to act against their own best interests by, for example, forgoing important conditions, or paying more than they had budgeted.
There’s no need to lose the dream — you will host those parties — but you’ve got to take emotion out of the deal, and these strategies will help.
Assemble your entire team before looking at any property.
That means: interview experienced real estate agents with expertise on your desired neighbourhoods; consult a financial advisor to help determine how homeownership fits into your other goals (a wedding, saving for a child’s education, retirement planning, etc.) and establish a budget including “what-if” scenarios, such as a layoff or maternity leave; find a mortgage broker to help you secure a pre-approval, explain your options, and answer your questions here.
Get the names of 3 home inspectors. Call and introduce yourself now.
Many emotional homebuyers forego the inspection process in an effort to make their bid more competitive. That’s a risk. With 3 recommended inspectors on speed dial, you should be able to get a qualified professional to visit a property the day you want to make an offer. Your real estate agent is one source of referrals, or check with the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors.
Don’t visit properties outside your price range.
Best-case scenario, you’ll walk away deflated. Worst-case scenario? You’ll bid on something you can’t comfortably afford. Stick to your homeowner budget (likely to be higher than renting, since it includes property taxes/maintenance fees, utilities, etc.) and practice living on it for a few months before you decide to make a purchase.
Focus on the things you can’t see.
The efficiency of the heating and cooling systems, the age of the roof, the state of the electrical… these matter most when it comes to deciding if a home is a good financial deal. Hardwood floors, quartz countertops, and stainless steel appliances can be seductive, but they shouldn’t be a priority.
Surprise repairs and upgrades to fundamentals — like a furnace on its last legs, plumbing that isn’t to code, or uninsurable knob-and-tube wiring — could sink your budget. And if problems have been covered up, you might just have to rip out those magazine-worthy finishes and details.
There is no disputing that buying a home is a massive financial decision as well as an emotional experience. But minimizing emotions throughout your homebuying experience is a heads-up move that will ultimately benefit you.
WANT MORE ADVICE?
Watch this short video from the Real Estate Council of Ontario to pick up great tips that will ensure you are a smart home shopper!