Buying or selling your home can be stressful. There are many questions that can affect your decision, such as:
- Am I paying too much?
- Is this area likely to rise in value?
- Can I "grow into" or "shrink into" this house as my family expands or my children go to college?
- How much remodelling can I afford?
- Is this the right neighbourhood for my family?
Here are some tips to keep in mind and help you to feel more confident when making your decision to buy or sell:
- Know your budget: remember, there's more to homeownership than just the mortgage and paying the bills. Ask your real estate agent to request the water, trash, and utility bills from the seller, and make some estimates as to the ongoing cost of repairs and maintenance. Then take an honest look at your budget. Do you really want to devote an extra $100 per month to maintenance costs, or should you choose a smaller yard? There's no 'right' or 'wrong' answer--but you'll enjoy the peace of mind that comes with anticipating all your expenses.
- Be honest about your remodelling tolerance: it's tempting to dream about replacing the old oak-face cabinets with maple or pine, or ripping out the builder-grade bathroom vanity in favour of a vessel sink with a wall-mounted faucet. But are you prepared to handle a large remodelling project? From collecting estimates to managing contractors to coping with the reality of living amidst sawdust and debris, remodelling your home is a major undertaking. If you've never experienced a massive renovation before, double-check your assumption that you're ready for a major overhaul; maybe it would be a good idea to start small.
- Understand your family's needs: how close is the home to your office? Does one member of your family want a garage or toolshed, and another want a finished basement? Ask every member of your family to write a list of their top two or three "must haves", and make sure the house you're considering meets these criteria.
- Speak your mind: let's say you're under contract to either buy or sell a house, but you're still in your due diligence period--and you're getting cold feet. If you're truly honest with yourself, you think this is a bad idea. Yet you don't want to disappoint your agent, the sellers, or your spouse. Should you keep quiet? Of course not. If something doesn't 'sit right', speak up. Don't worry about hurting other people's feelings. Politely—but honestly—speak your mind.
- Separate emotion from reality: your house is worth whatever the free market says it's worth—not what you think it should be worth. Yes, you installed the hardwood flooring yourself, built a nice deck, and grew a lovely garden, but the transaction process is a rational market decision. If you're selling, estimate how much money you'll collect from the sale after agent commissions, closing costs, and other fees. Are you comfortable walking away with this amount in hand? If the net proceed give you anxiety, then either stay put or reframe your expectations.
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