The housing market in Ontario is looking pretty hot for 2021, which means there’s a good chance you’re looking to be one of the thousands of folks buying your first house this year. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the search: will your new home have that bathroom you’ve always wanted, or will you go for the one with the beautiful kitchen and fenced backyard? However, this sense of excitement and elation can be distracting, especially for first-time buyers who might not know what they should be focusing on.
Before you hit the streets (or the internet) looking for your ideal house, it’s important to fix the following four guidelines in your mind. By making the choice early on to adhere to them and let them inform your house-hunting, you’ll have an easier time finding the home that’s just right for you.
1. Be ready to research.
Sure, maybe the living room still has the original wooden floors from when the home was built, but what about the lighting arrangement? Before you even begin looking at homes, take some time to learn about what every house needs in terms of safety and livability.
- Does the exterior of the house have good lighting on walkways and the driveway?
- Are the doors sturdy with functional locks?
- If there are any exterior steps, do they have railways to help aid safe movement in the event of rain or ice?
- Does the home have an adequate amount of entry and exit points throughout in case of an emergency?
- Does the house have all the relevant permits for its construction and later renovations?
2. Be honest about the need for renovations.
If you don’t want to put a ton of time and energy into renovations, then don’t even consider a house that needs them. If you don’t mind a little work here and there, then be honest about what the home will likely need and what could go wrong during the process. For example, if the basement still needs to be finished with insulation and drywall, you should factor in surprise costs for any rewiring, painting, and trim that needs to be completed with the project.
It’s also a good idea to have a home inspection completed before you commit to purchasing it. The inspection will give you a more in-depth understanding of what will be required to fix up the home to where you want it to be, and it’ll also allow you to make a more precise estimation of what it’ll cost.
In an ideal situation, you’d be able to recoup the cost of renovating the home from its eventual sale when and if you decide to move again. If you’re planning on staying for a while and recouping your costs isn’t guaranteed, knowing what you can expect to spend in advance will help you avoid unwelcome surprises later down the road.
3. Make sure you have an accurate view of your financial goals.
One of the worst feelings in the world is falling head-over-heels in love with your dream home and then realizing there’s no way you’ll be able to afford it. Before you start looking, be realistic about your current finances and your goals for the future. Will you be able to comfortably meet each mortgage payment, or will they completely absorb all spare income for that month?
Ideally, you should be able to meet your mortgage payments every time while still having some funds left over for bills, groceries, and other living expenses. In fact, before you even start looking for a home, you should try to save up enough money to cover at least three months of expenses or to provide for any surprise costs.
4. Include homeowners insurance in your purchase plan.
Homeowners insurance isn’t required by law in Ontario, but because of the financial support it provides in the event of an accident or an emergency, it is required by most lenders and banks for mortgage loans and assessments. The average cost of homeowners insurance is about $1,250 yearly, so make sure to factor that cost into your financial evaluations.
You’ll also want to make sure that you take your time and go through your chosen insurance policy to understand what it offers and what, if anything, you need to do to ensure coverage. For example, most insurance agencies require you to keep your home well-maintained and provide repairs as necessary. If the home is allowed to fall into disrepair from the homeowner’s inaction, the agency may not cover the cost of damages resulting from the disrepair.
Your insurance broker will also likely want to know how old the home is, the square footage, the type of home, and whether any updates have been made to the roof, hydro, heat, or plumbing. If the home is still running on oil heat, a 14 gauge tank must be less than 10 years old. Oil heat is more efficient than propane, but does carry expensive infrastructure as the tank requires replacement every 15 – 25 years.
Finding the Right Insurance for Your Home
Your first home is a massive investment, both in terms of your finances and the memories you’re excited to make. Homeowners insurance allows you to protect it, so if something happens to damage your home, you won’t have to start again from scratch.
Will Marshall Insurance Brokers have been helping new and seasoned homeowners throughout Barrie and Orillia find the right homeowners insurance for their properties for over 35 years. We’ll work with you one-on-one to evaluate your property and help you find the coverage that does precisely what you need it to.
To learn more about finding the right homeowners insurance for your new home, give us a call at (705) 726-2551. You can also send us a message online.