You may want to read the previous chapter on funding a home purchase here.
People move from one home to another for all sorts of reasons. The most exciting of all moves, in our opinion, is moving out for the first time. Whatever your moving history, our guide will help you get through the process as smoothly as possible, so you can retain that feeling of excitement and anticipation right through to your first evening in your new living room.
Just as your current circumstances are prompting you to rethink your living conditions, there may be developments in the future that will affect your living standard yet again. For that reason, you should try to form a mental image of where you think you will be—or where you want to be—in five to ten years. (That quintessential job interview question has other uses, you know.) If you can, try to picture your living conditions in great detail. Will there be enough bedrooms in your new home for today and for five years from now?
Photo by h koppdelaney
Very high on your list of considerations will be your plans to have kids (or have more kids), or your older kids’ plans to move out. There are many more questions to ask yourself:
- Will you want to live close to work, or in a quiet, secluded neighbourhood where you can completely retreat from the daily grind?
- Will you have to travel to see clients often, or are you going to retire soon?
- Do you want a low-maintenance yard, space for a Victory Garden, or do you like your Nature with a capital N?
- What type of social life do you need now, and what kind of recreation do you think you’ll favour in the future?
- Do you love to entertain?
There is so much to think about, so make sure you find some peaceful time to contemplate your goals. Don’t forget to include all members of the household in the discussions.
Sometimes even well-intentioned plans fall through. It is most unfortunate when a couple divorces and has to sell a recently purchased house. For the most part, this can be avoided. Buying a home is on a par with having a child to resolve a difficult family situation: it seldom works by itself and often aggravates the existing problems. Our advice is to rent a property together while you sort things out in your relationship. Rather than making any large, long-term investment decisions when you are on a shaky ground, renting will comprise less hassle and will leave you more space to pay attention to each other. After all, it’s the partnership that needs an investment, rather than the dwelling.
If you have been in your current job for a while, you have a built-in advantage when the time comes to take out a loan. This is true especially if your job is salaried, thus providing you with more-or-less steady levels of income. If your income is largely based on commission, lenders tend to average out your commissions for anywhere from several months to two years back. That also goes for any variable-salary jobs, such as part-time work, self-employment, overtime and special bonuses.
If you have changed jobs in the recent past, your income will be subject to similar averaging as well. But any hint of instability doesn’t sit well with lenders. That’s why it’s not the best idea to quit your job and start a home-based business right before buying a house. Make sure you qualify for a loan first, and undertake any major lifestyle changes later. Buying a home is enough of a change to occupy all your attention all by itself anyway.
We have mentioned more tips on dealing with your bank and acquiring mortgage in a previous chapter.
When you have decided to seriously look for a new home, don’t let the current inventory of homes for sale drive all your decisions; take the time to make a list of things you must have, things you would like to have, and things that might be nice to have, in your new home. This is important for at least two reason: Firstly, you want to make good, easy home-buying choices when the time comes to put in an offer. Establishing a baseline of your needs now will ensure you don’t end up rushing into an unsuitable purchase, settling for less, or forgetting to ask a crucial question about your prospective dwelling.
Secondly, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground with regards to your expectations – and having everything written out will help all family members to stay on the same page. If you had not even thought of a certain fancy feature before seeing it in a home for sale, you probably don’t really need it. You will very rarely come across ‘must-haves’ that you haven’t even heard of before.
Once you have your list prioritized, don’t forget to include your entire family in the process – let everyone pick their top three favourites and keep them in mind when you go house-hunting.
Photo by Benny Lin
If your job requires you to move to a new city, make sure you examine your employer’s relocation package and don’t be afraid to negotiate the terms. Every family and every location is unique – make sure you get the deal that suits you best. In addition, plan a timeline for the sale of your current home that’s in alignment with your moving date, according to your employment arrangements. Make sure your Realtor® is on board with this timeline as well.
Now that you know how important your family and career are in the decision process, read about the specialties of trading up, downsizing, and other types of home trade.
If you find this guide helpful and want to read about more tips, sign up and get the Pdf printable version of our Free Report on Buying and Selling Your First Home in Toronto!