Even though you may be growing tired of paying a landlord every month instead of owning your own home, it can be difficult to navigate the road from renting to homeownership.
In this guide, we'll tell you what to expect when you transition from being a renter to buying your first home – your journey will be worth it!
Get Ready for Sticker Shock
If you're like most people who rent their own apartment or house, you had to work pretty hard to save up a lot of money before you could move in. Most rental agreements require you to pay the first month's rent, the last month's rent, and even a security deposit, all of it upfront.
Well, you'll need to do something similar when you buy a house.
First, you have to come up with a down payment. In Canada, if you put down less than 20% of the purchase price, you'll be required to get mortgage insurance. This is something first-time home buyers need to know about down payments because it will add to your monthly payments and you'll probably wind up paying more in the long term with higher interest rates from the bank. This may or may not be of concern, but it's often best to aim for that 20% or higher.
Once you save up for your down payment and successfully secure a mortgage from a bank, you'll then have to pay closing costs. These different items may not be too expensive individually, but they add up.
Some closing costs you'll need to be aware of:
- Broker fees (where applicable)
- Title insurance
- Home insurance (where applicable)
- Land Transfer Tax
- Lawyer/accountant fees (where applicable)
- Land registration fee
- Property appraisal cost
- GST (for new homes)
- Home inspection cost
Some banks may require you to pay an application fee when you apply for a mortgage, too. Other banks and lending institutions require a deposit in order to proceed.
It's important to be prepared for these extra costs of buying a home as you'll need to pay all of them before you can get your keys and move in.
Moving from one place to another always incurs some expense. You'll need to close down all of your utility accounts, change your address with a number of agencies and companies, pack all your belongings, clean your old place, and move all your stuff to the new place.
If you've never moved before, take the time to write out an estimated budget for how much time and money you'll need. Call a few moving companies to get quotes. And don't forget to stock up on moving supplies like boxes, tape, and permanent markers.
All things considered, it's better to pay off a mortgage (and invest in the equity of your home) than to pay rent to a landlord every month. And that is definitely true. But be aware that your monthly payments as a homeowner may be more than what you're used to as a renter.
Before you buy the house, you'll need to go to the bank and get approved for a mortgage. Once you do that, you'll be able to calculate your monthly loan payments. A mortgage calculator can help you get a better idea of what to expect. But don't forget you'll now also be liable for insurance, utilities, and property taxes.
Chances are you'll be paying more every month when you own your home, but it's worth it because most of that money will go towards building equity.
One of the benefits of renting is you don't have to worry too much about (housing-related) emergencies. If the roof suddenly starts leaking or the dishwasher breaks, you just call the landlord.
When you're the homeowner, you'll be responsible for everything. This means you need to sock away a little money in a "rainy day" fund to take care of these things. Although when you're buying a new home you aren't likely to experience maintenance emergencies for quite some time, it's always best to err on the side of caution and be prepared.
As a rule of thumb, it's recommended you have enough savings to last two months, including your mortgage payment, insurance payments, utilities, and food.
It's not just emergencies like a broken appliance you need to worry about once you become a homeowner. You're also now on the hook for regular maintenance, something that is critical for keeping your home in good working order.
This means that you need to plan for things like mowing the lawn, cleaning the gutters, getting your heating system checked every winter, and changing the light bulbs.
When you're a renter, you're probably not too invested in developing a relationship with your neighbours. After all, you're only a temporary resident yourself.
But when you own your own home, having good relationships with your neighbours is important, and worthwhile. Start off on the right foot by introducing yourself and giving your neighbours a way to contact you in case a problem arises. It's wise to conduct yourself well in order not to cause friction with your neighbours, including following any community guidelines. Beyond that, neighbourhood friendships can be beneficial when you might need a hand with something or want a watchful eye on your home when you're on vacation.
Although it may seem like transitioning from renter to homeowner is hard, the effort is rewarded. Once you navigate this path, you'll enjoy that special feeling of pride that comes with owning a home you love.