Posts tagged ‘home’

A Few Tips For First Time Home Buyers

Since we’ve just gone through the process of buying our first house, I thought I’d post a few ideas and tips for first time home buyers (or any other buyer), inspired by this question:

Tip #1: Know what you’re looking for.  Searching for a house can be completely overwhelming, and if you don’t know what you want, it is easy to be swayed by a beautifully decorated home that is not actually a good fit for your lifestyle.  Having a good sense of what you are looking for (lots of space, potential to add value, turn-key, etc) can help you sort through it all.  Talk together about what is most important, and what can be compromised on.  D and I spent hours (and hours, and hours…) talking together about what we wanted in a house.

Tip #2: Look past the small stuff.  As long as you don’t mind putting in a little bit of elbow grease, many things that often put buyers off (dated light fixtures, ugly wall paper, paint colours) can actually be changed quite easily and inexpensively.  And remember, their furniture and belongings will be gone, so look at the house itself, not how it is decorated!

Tip #3: It’s what’s underneath that counts.  This relates to the previous point, in that paint and other aesthetics are not a big deal.  What you want to look for is a house with good bones.  If your home is structurally sound and in good shape, then you can focus your time and effort (and money!) on the fun stuff, rather than on expensive repairs!  We were lucky to find a home that has been really well-maintained, with great bones, but lots of room for putting our own touch on things and adding value.  It’s a blank slate!

Tip #4: Think about your future plans.  The house you buy will depend not only on where you are now, but where you are going.  When looking at houses, you should think about how long you plan on staying in the house, and how your life may change during that time.  If you plan on having children and want to stay put, you will want to factor that in, in terms of the size of the house, number of bedrooms, etc.  If you plan on moving in two years, you will want to think about resale, and plan your purchase and your renovations accordingly.

Tip #5: Location, location, location.  The one thing you cannot change about your house is its location.  You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the neighbourhood and make sure its a place you can be happy.  Talk to neighbours and others in the community about the area, and visit at various times on different days.  We actually ended up buying a house on the very same street that we were already living on, so we knew and liked the area already.

Tip #6: Inspect it!  You will definitely definitely want to hire a reputable inspector to check out your home before you finalize the purchase.  Make your offer conditional upon conducting and approving a home inspection, so that if it does turn up a host of expensive problems, you can always back out of the deal.  You can also bargain with the seller to see if they will take on the repairs before you move in (which is an even better idea than reducing the price accordingly, in case the repairs turn out to be more expensive than first thought).  And completing a successful home inspection is very reassuring…you can also learn helpful tips about maintenance and so on from your inspector.

And finally…

Tip #7: Go for it!  Sure, it pays to take your time and make sure you know what you want, but once you do find that perfect house, make an offer!  If you over-analyze too much (often my problem), you’ll never make a decision.  And you don’t want to end up losing the house because someone beat you to the punch.

July 2, 2009 at 3:51 pm 1 comment

Renovation Fever

Isn’t it funny how you can walk into a perfectly liveable house, one that doesn’t NEED anything done, and somehow end up coming up with a laundry list of projects?  That is the case with our new house.  It is in perfectly fine condition…actually, excellent condition according to our inspectors, yet it seems the list of things we’d like to do is endlessly growing.  In fact, I would say that D has caught “renovation fever”.

InsomniaNow, I’m feeling a little bit differently.  At first, when we walked through the house, I looked around and said “oh yeah, no big deal, we’ll just tear this carpet out, throw down some new flooring here, paint this, move that…” and on and on.  But as closing date draws nearer, I’m starting to have doubts.  Last night, shortly before bed, I had a bit of a panic attack, and decided we were in way over our heads.  I made a giant list of all the projects we’ve talked about, and sat and stared at it, getting myself worked up and unable to sleep.  I awoke this morning, tired, but feeling much more optimistic about things. 

I do think we need to take a  step back though, and take things one bit at a time.  It seems easy to let one simple project spiral into a major renovation, and that is what I would like to avoid.  I think for me the stress right now is having to think ahead to all these projects, even though some won’t be happening until later on.  We decided to apply for a line of credit that will then be added onto the mortgage, which means we’ll have some money right away to do things, and our mortgage will only be increased by a very small amount each month, since its amortized over 25 years.  But, in order to do this, we need to get a whole bunch of quotes and estimates to show what we’re planning on doing and how much it will cost, in order to take it to the bank and get things set up.  Which means trying to plan out what we’d like to do, figure out how much it will cost, make appointments to get estimates done, etc.  Since we’re both working full time, it’s proving difficult, both logistically and mentally…but I know it will all work out in the end!  Right??

June 30, 2009 at 11:49 am Leave a comment

And here it is!

Our new house - with a SOLD sign!
Our new house – with a SOLD sign!

Just as I had hoped, the sold sign was up when I arrived home!  More photos of our house are on the way…

June 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm 1 comment

Sold!

Now that we’ve done the house inspection and sorted out our financing, we’re ready to take the conditions off the offer to purchase.  That means the sold sign can FINALLY go up!!  I’m really really really looking forward to seeing our house with a nice big SOLD across the “for sale” sign!  In fact, since we signed the condition waiver form last night, I’m hoping that by time I get home from work, that sold sign will be up!  Perhaps when I see that sign, it will finally sink in that buying a house means moving, and moving means packing!  Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Luckily for us, we’re buying a home in the same neighbourhood that we currently live in.  In fact, our house is on the very same street!!!  We’re also taking possession of the house two weeks before we give up our current place, meaning that we can move somewhat gradually, rather than in a huge rush all in one day.  So that should make things easier.  But packing and moving is still never fun.  If anyone has any tips for making moving easier and less stressful, please do share!

June 23, 2009 at 3:21 pm 2 comments

Shopping is exhausting!!

Well, I guess I should actually start with the results of our home inspection yesterday.  I showed up a few minutes late, and D was already there with the inspector.  We actually had an apprentice inspector who went through (very thoroughly!) and then a fully registered home inspector who went through again and double-checked things, so we got a double whammy.  And overall, it went really well!  Our new house passed with flying colours!!!!  In fact, both of the inspectors commented that this was just the type of house they would look for if they were going to buy a house!  So that was pretty reassuring.

 There are a few things that need to be done: since its an old house, the insulation isn’t really up to par for today’s standards – the attic insulation is at an R12, and we’d like to get it up to R50 because we would like to be as energy efficient as possible.  The hot water tank is ten years old, and apparently, 10 years is about the life expectency for newer tanks, although they can last sometimes as long as 15 or even 20 years.  So that may be another thing to budget for, but not really a big deal.  Besides that, there were a couple minor things, but nothing to be concerned about.

We were so relieved that the house inspection went so well that today we spent pretty much the whole day doing renovation shopping.  And I have to say, I am wiped out!  Shopping is completely exhausting!!  We have lots of plans for things we would like to do with our new (old) house –many of which will have to wait, but we’re hoping to do new flooring throughout a good part of the upstairs before we move in – then we won’t have to move furniture later.  We shopped around and found some really nice (and pretty affordable) choices for laminate flooring, which we plan to do throughout the living room, down the hall, and into the bedrooms.  We also checked out light fixtures, doors and door handles, hardware for the kitchen cupboards, and bathroom stuff.  More on our renovation plans later, for now, suffice it to say I am tired out, we’ve got a stack of quotes and a lot of deciding to do.

June 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm Leave a comment


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