5 Things to Know Before Buying a House in Ottawa

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First-time buy­ers are flooded with infor­ma­tion as they make the first ten­ta­tive steps towards home own­er­ship. The Ottawa mar­ket is no excep­tion as the region grows and expands. With this expansion, the number of Ottawa homes listed for sale has nearly doubled in the last year. With so much to choose from, the home buy­ing process can be overwhelming. Having some basic under­stand­ing of the process will make it a more enjoy­able expe­ri­ence.

Here are 5 things you should know before you get started.

  1. Under­stand what you need and want in a home. Many first-time home­buy­ers have a picture in their head about what their dream home is; how­ever they don’t estab­lish a clear idea of what they need ver­sus what they want before they start their home search. Many unini­ti­ated buy­ers have cham­pagne taste with a box-wine bud­get. If you’re a young fam­ily with chil­dren, you may put more empha­sis on the num­ber of bed­rooms and the amount of liv­ing space, where a sin­gle career-motivated per­son may be bet­ter served by a loca­tion that is closer to a urban cen­ter. Weigh the differences between what you want in a house and what you absolutely need, this way you can see what is absolutely necessary when it comes to budgeting for your big purchase.
  2. Research the mar­ket­place. This is impor­tant for all buy­ers but more so for young fam­i­lies as they are often look­ing at more than just the house they are mov­ing into. School-age chil­dren will impact the deci­sion mak­ing process. Ques­tions such as what are the schools like, what does my daily com­mute to work look like, is there shop­ping and other ameni­ties close by, etc. mat­ter. You need to answer them before mak­ing a deci­sion about loca­tion. Loca­tion can also impact the price of the homes in the area. So see­ing if you can afford to live in a spe­cific neigh­bor­hood will fac­tor into the final decision-making process.
  3. Fully under­stand what you can afford. In 2012, TD Canada Trust did a sur­vey of first-time home­buy­ers. Although they reported that most home­buy­ers do a lot of research, there were some com­mon regrets associated with the home-buying process that a majority of new homebuyers experienced. 60 % thought they could have been “more thor­ough when bud­get­ing and account­ing for all of the costs of home own­er­ship.” 60% wished that they had made a “big­ger down pay­ment.” A new and/or inexperienced homebuyer can eas­ily over­look some of the expenses asso­ci­ated with the pur­chase of a home, such as land trans­fer tax, mov­ing expenses, HST, mort­gage fees and lawyers’ fees. Home­buy­ers can eas­ily expect to spend approx­i­mately 5% of the pur­chase price of a home just for the costs asso­ci­ated with final­iz­ing the sale. When you are get­ting your financ­ing in order, you should con­sider what you would do if mort­gage inter­est rates go up. The mort­gage land­scape in Canada has changed in the last few years. Inter­est rates have been at his­toric lows and even­tu­ally rates will start to creep up. An interest rate increase of 1 or 2% can end up adding hundreds of dollars to your yearly mortgage payment total. A higher down payment made at the start will prevent excess unneeded spending later.
  4. See what the home can be for you. It can be dif­fi­cult for first-time buy­ers to look past the details of a home and make a life-altering deci­sion. Those per­sonal pic­tures painstak­ingly hung block the homebuyer’s view of what the home can be. The lov­ingly worn fur­ni­ture that defines a space can limit our view of what the space can become. Those kids’ toys rapidly stuffed into a closet are signs that a home is lived in. Some­times a home­buyer with some addi­tional vision can find the best home for them by look­ing past what is right in front of them and see­ing what can be. Even the most sea­soned home­buyer strug­gles to see past some­one else’s clut­ter. A potential home buyer wants to see themselves inside a home, which is why a professional home stager can work to your benefit. They will reduce clutter, as well as introducing some neutrality to your home, allowing those interested in purchasing the home to see what they could add to their potential new home.
  5. Make an offer. Up to this point the home buy­ing process should be reasonably stress free. However, the offer process can be intim­i­dat­ing for some home buy­ers. You can’t always avoid com­pet­i­tive bid­ding sit­u­a­tions but get­ting into a bid­ding war will usu­ally result in pay­ing a pre­mium price for the home. Regardless of whether the bidding is competitive, you should remain prepared for some volleying with regard to your initial offer to purchase.

Buy­ers are look­ing to max­i­mize their real estate dol­lars. They will often come in with a price under what the seller is ask­ing for. The seller has one of three pos­si­ble options when this happens: they can accept the offer at face value, sign it back to the buyer at a dif­fer­ent price or refuse the offer. A buyer may not be able to get all the con­ces­sions they want from the seller and may need to give in a lit­tle to get the home they want.

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French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

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