The Canadian household has changed in many ways. More people are marrying later in life, if at all. Some are going from coupled-up to solo and back again multiple times throughout their lives, while others prefer the freedom of the single life. This means that more and more people are choosing to buy a home on their own. As technology-assisted housing continues to evolve, there are so many new ways to navigate the process. This makes it easier for you as a homebuyer to team up with friends, family and your real estate agent so they can participate and help you in your search for a new home. Ready to start house hunting? Now that you have your team in place, you can use these tips to guide your action plan:
Solo doesn’t necessarily mean condo: a decade or two ago, many single house hunters were pushed towards low-maintenance condos and townhouses. Many people (not just singles) enjoy the tax and financial advantages of ownership without the responsibilities of caring for lawns, roofs and other so called ‘single family home features’ they may not need. Describing a detached, stand-alone property as a ‘single family home’ is out of date. Many single people are electing to purchase detached homes for numerous reasons, including:
- The square footage might allow their household to expand to include future partners, future children, or elderly parents.
- Extra rooms to rent out, for hobbies, or to run a home business.
- Enough outdoor space for dogs, cats, maybe even horses, or even a vegetable garden.
If you’re dreaming of a white picket fence but your friends and family don’t think you can handle it, don’t be discouraged. If you can afford your dream home, go for it. Reach out to other people in your circle who are single homeowners and own either single-family homes or condos and ask them about their experiences. However, if you decide to go with a condo, make sure you read the HOA disclosures thoroughly so you understand what you’re getting for your HOA dollars. These dues often cover expenses you would pay out of pocket otherwise, like waste management fees, landscaping, building insurance, and even roof and window maintenance. But if you do decide to go the single-family-home route, make sure you ask your circle (and your agent) for referrals to the contractors, gardeners, and other handy folk who can make home maintenance on your own more manageable. It takes a village to maintain a home over time. So find your village!
Pay attention to home inspections and home warranty provisions: the most common fear about solo homeownership is: what happens if something goes wrong with the house? With just one income, it can be frightening to think of how rapidly one little issue can affect your house and affect your entire financial world. There are a couple of tactics you can build into your transaction that can massively mitigate the risks. The first tool at your disposal is your home inspection. Most people think of the home inspection as a pass/fail: if devastatingly expensive issues reveal themselves, they back out of the deal. But if they don’t surface any fatal flaws, the deal is on. Single homebuyers should view their home inspections as the opportunity to spend more time in the home, discovering its flaws before you move forward with the deal. Attend your home inspection in person, and ask the inspector to show you the issues he finds while on-site. Read the reports and get any follow-up inspections scheduled or repair bids before your contingency period runs out. That way you’ll have a concrete idea of the financial investment needed for immediate repairs while you can still either negotiate to get the seller to chip in or back out of the deal without penalty. The second resource that is underrated is: your home warranty plan. Most buyers get one, and often sellers pay for it. But what many buyers don’t realize is that they can pay to upgrade the plan so that the warranty company will cover a wide assortment of future home repairs, and they can and should renew their home warranty plan annually.
Consult with legal and financial pros before you buy with a relative, friend or partner: buying a home with a friend, parent, sibling or life partner can seem like the cure for what ails a single person’s home-buying situation. You benefit from additional financial resources, might be able to buy a pricier (read: larger, nicer, better located) property than you could on your own, and you have help making hard house-hunt decisions and maintaining the place once you move in.
Co-buying has big benefits, but it also poses some serious questions — questions that a lawyer, tax adviser, or financial planner can help you anticipate and resolve in advance of buying to avoid conflicts later. If you decide to go the co-buying route, invest the time and money upfront to get some professional advice about how to structure the transaction and the financial relationship. Make sure the agreement is a clear, professionally drafted written contract that is recognized by and filed on record with relevant state and local governments. This will help avoid miscommunication or damage to your relationship with your co-buyer down the road.
CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd.
Brokerage Independently Owned and Operated
#4 Office in Canada
By Production CENTURY 21 Canada 2013
467 Speers Road,
Oakville, ON L6K 3S4