By Gary Bensky
Buying your first home is an exciting step, and it can seem overwhelming. For most people, a home purchase is the largest financial investment they will make in their lifetime - and the amount of choice out there in the GTA is phenomenal. How do you narrow down your choices and make the best decision for you? In a nutshell, do your homework.
You can start with getting pre-qualified for a mortgage, which will help a lot when you start to look. Knowing what you can afford is an important time-saver as you check out communities and designs. And remember that you can get your mortgage fixed until closing. This is great news if you purchase early in the development process.
Location is most likely next on your list. Most people know in what general area they would like to live. If the area is new to you, take a good, honest look at your lifestyle and how it will fit in. For example, if you rely on public transportation, is there access nearby? If you drive to work, do you know realistically how long it will take from the new home locations you are considering? There's no use going by a map, because commutes don't work as the crow flies. The best thing to do is go try the commute during rush hour and off hours. Find out just how long of a trip it is to the homes of family and friends, schools, shopping and parks.
Then, of course, you will find a variety of builders, neighbourhoods and home designs. This is where you need to pay particular attention, because as you compare one with the other, you need to make sure you take everything into consideration fairly. For example, one home may be larger in square footage, but less livable in layout. Another may be lower in price for the same square footage, but might include a lower level of standard features. If you have to upgrade to get what you want, the price may be the same, or even more. Be sure to check out the reputation of the builders, too, and purchase from a reputable firm with a good track record.
In addition, keep an eye out for first-time buyers seminars that provide the opportunity to meet with representatives of financial institutions, lawyers, designers and more. For example, at Wycliffe's Fairground Lofts in Old Woodbridge Village, we have a lot of first-time purchasers interested in our urban town lofts. Earlier this year, we hosted an information evening with an interior designer who spoke on urban chic design tips, a TD Bank Mortgage Specialist who offered advice on obtaining a mortgage, and a real estate expert who addressed the increasing home values in Woodbridge. Attendees went away with a great basis for their home-buying decision.
The main thing is to get into the home ownership market so you can start building equity. As you do your research, remember - if in doubt, ask. Make an educated purchase and then, enjoy!
For more information, call 905-605-5900 or visit www.wycliffehomes.com
Gary Bensky is President of Wycliffe Homes, which has been creating superb homes for families in Southern Ontario for more than 60 years.