Single homebuyers face different challenges than couples…
In life, there are just a few things that are as exciting or nerve-racking as hunting for a home. To lessen the emotional impact, it’s important to clearly set out an organized home buying plan. By establishing your true buying power and laying down some of your wants and needs, searching for a home can be a lot less stressful and a lot more fun.
Statistics Canada recently released data that shows the percentage of Canadians purchasing homes alone is rising. According to the statistics, 27.6% of all homes in Canada are singly occupied. Changes in lifestyles (including people choosing to marry later in life or not at all) combined with historically low mortgage rates, is believed to be a significant factor influencing this increase.
Condos and Town-homes tend to appeal a bit more to single homebuyers since virtually all of the maintenance such as the roof, landscaping, snow removal, etc. is handled by the condo corporation. Besides the maintenance factor, many single buyers prefer to be in a community rich in amenities which may include a pool, gym or sauna not to mention the added sense of safety a single homebuyer may feel having neighbours nearby.
With many single homebuyers being single parent families, a common mistake I often see is buyers thinking only about their short term needs and not paying enough attention to the future when they would have to sell the home. For example, a one bedroom, one-bath home may be perfect for you, but it could be very difficult to sell. It would be far better to have an additional bedroom which can double as a study or at least a second bathroom than not have them at all.
To help you avoid some common issues, here are some helpful tips for single buyers:
- Don’t over-buy the first time. There is nothing worse than a big home with little to no furniture. It is uninviting and tends to feel empty and cold. You don’t want to live your life where every dollar you earn goes toward your house. Leave yourself some breathing room and avoid the stress!
- Compare mortgages. Take some time to explore your financing options. The better your credit, the more options you’ll have. Don’t just accept the first mortgage offered to you, you may find something more suitable to your needs.
- Always get pre-approved. This is one of the most important steps of your home buying plan. You will get qualified for an exact price range before you even start looking which will help narrow down what you should really be looking at. Having been pre-approved, any offer you make will have a lot more strength to it in the eyes of a seller who may have other offers to choose from.
- Don’t wait for the “perfect” home. A huge mistake many first time buyers make is waiting for the “perfect” home, thinking, if they look around long enough, they will find a home that has everything they want and need. This has proven time and time again to be next to impossible when working within a budget. Instead, determine what’s most important out of your wants and needs and choose a home that encompasses the majority of them.
- The home inspection process. Generally speaking, when buying a newer condo, you can skip this step. It’s with older condos, towns, semis and detached homes where I encourage my clients, whenever possible, to conduct a home inspection on the property. This process can help eliminate potentially expensive, or even hazardous, defects in the property. The minimal investment here for a professional inspection can really go a long way.
A final tip which I always implement with my buyers is having a rating system in place for the homes they visit. For instance, I ask my buyers to rate a home between 1-5 stars. Any home worth of 4.5 stars is a home they should consider putting an offer on. It makes it fun and a little easier to compare homes this way.
If you have any questions about the home-buying process or if you have any real estate related questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
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Ilan Joseph is a Real Estate Broker with Sutton Group and is co-founder of a 10-person award-winning Toronto real estate team. You can find him on Twitter, YouTube and Google+. For over 12 years, Ilan has provided more than 1600 buyers and sellers valued advice and service, enabling them to reach their real estate goals. He’s kind of like the Bruce Willis of real estate.