Ninety-two percent of Canadians see at least one barrier to home ownership, and two of the top concerns are related to the mortgage process, according to a recent survey from Zillow and Ipsos.
Canadians report feeling pressured by stricter mortgage regulations that went into effect in 2018 and Zillow’s survey found that 56% of Canadians see qualifying for a mortgage as a barrier to home ownership—a six-point increase from 2018. This concern rises to 64% for consumers who recently purchased a home, likely linked to the impending mortgage regulation changes at the time of their home search.
New and stricter mortgage requirements took effect in January 2018 with the addition of a stress test, requiring borrowers to qualify under a higher rate. The rule only applies to newly originated mortgages and is designed to prevent borrowers from taking on more debt than they can handle if interest rates go up. Since its passing, buyers’ worries are growing according to the survey. Half of Canadians (51%) say they are specifically concerned that stricter rules will prevent them from qualifying for a mortgage, up five points since 2018.
Steve Garganis, lead mortgage planner with Mortgage Architects in Mississauga, said that the concerns have risen due to more information flowing to consumers.
“Canadians are surprised to learn that even a large down payment won’t guarantee you a mortgage approval. Got 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% down payment and great credit? Guess what? You still may not qualify for a mortgage. This is ridiculous, in my opinion,” Garganis said. “Those of us with years of experience in risk mitigation and credit adjudication know that if you have a large down payment, the chances of default are slim and none. Chances of any loss to the lender is nil.”
Younger home shoppers also feel the weight of the law. Sixty-nine percent of younger home shoppers, those between 18-34 years old, are concerned about qualifying for a mortgage under the stricter guidelines. This worry is also present for current renters who may be considering the purchase of their first home: 66% express concerns about mortgage qualification under stricter guidelines.
Garganis added that more Canadians are being forced back to the six big banks, as smaller lenders now have more costs in raising funds to lend. This results in Canadians paying more than they should.
Most people have heard the buzz word “stress test” but don’t really know what it means or know the specifics of what it did, said Jeff Evans, mortgage broker with Canada Innovative Financial in Richmond, B.C. He thinks that the higher qualifying standard is “quite unreasonable,” and that the government has “taken a hatchet to anything to do with helping the average Canadian to own a home.”
Evans says that Canadians have a right to be concerned, although there’s no sign of their concerns hampering their desire to purchase a home.
“Life has gone on. They qualify for less, the market has gone down primarily because of the changes the government has made, so it’s starting to get more affordable again and people are gradually coming into the market as it becomes more affordable, “Evans said.
Other perceived barriers to home ownership include coming up with a down payment (66%), debt (56%), lack of job security (47%), property taxes (46%), not being in a position to settle down (15%), or not being enough homes for sale (13%). Only 8% of Canadians claim not to see any barriers to owning a home.
Source: Mortgage Broker News – by Kimberly Greene10th January, 2020
The median age of first-time home buyers has increased to 33, the oldest in records dating back to 1981, according to a National Association of Realtors report released Friday. The median age of all buyers also hit a fresh record, 47, increasing for a third straight year — and well above the median age of 31 in 1981.
While the median age of first-time home buyers only rose by one year, the increase reflects a variety of factors facing Americans searching for a home.
A nationwide shortage of affordable housing, coupled with lower mortgage rates, has stoked prices in cities from the coasts to the heartland. At the same time, student loans and other debts make it harder for Americans to save tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment, while tight lending standards can make getting a bank loan difficult for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit scores.
“Housing affordability is so difficult today, especially when coupled with rising rents and student loan debt, that they’re finding different ways to enter home ownership,” said Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the Realtors group in Washington.
The characteristics of home buyers have changed in recent years. The share of married couples has declined as unmarried couples and those purchasing as roommates has risen.
As buyers’ ages have increased, so have their incomes. The typical income of purchasers rose to $93,200 in 2018 as a lack of affordable options squeezed lower-income potential buyers out of the market.
Higher prices of homes have also changed how first-time buyers are entering the market. Nearly a third of first-time home buyers said they used a gift from a relative or friend to fund their down payment.
Builders have cited a shortage of affordable lots and labor as reasons to build fewer or bigger single-family homes, leaving America’s growing population to consider more of the existing housing stock. New homes as a proportion of all purchases fell to a low of 13% in records dating back to 1981.
The report reflects survey responses from 5,870 people who purchased a primary residence in the period between July 2018 and June 2019.
The conversation around homeownership in Mississauga and surrounding cities has been a challenging one, especially as prices remain high across all housing types in the city and surrounding municipalities (in fact, the average 905 condo is selling for over $400,000 and has been for sometime now).
But while it’s frustrating for experts—and non-experts who entered the market years ago—to tell prospective homebuyers that they’ll have to move to find an affordable housing, some people might be interested to know that there are indeed still places in Canada that offer affordable homes for single buyers with more modest salaries.
And a recent Zoocasa report reveals where solo homeowners-to-be on a budget might be able to purchase a home.
“While having a dual-income household can greatly improve purchasing power and the ability to qualify for a mortgage, that’s not to say homeownership isn’t in the cards for single-income earning buyers. In fact, according to recent calculations by Zoocasa in celebration of Single Awareness Day (February 15), there are a number of markets where it’s possible to buy a home on one income – and even have money left over,” says Penelope Graham, managing editor, Zoocasa.
Graham says that, to determine which markets were affordable, the average and benchmark home prices were sourced from regional real estate boards. It was then assumed the buyer would make a 20 per cent down payment and take out financing with a 3.29 per cent interest rate amortized over 30 years, to determine the minimum income required to qualify for a mortgage on the average home.
Those findings were then compared to median income data of “persons living alone who earned employment income” as reported by Statistics Canada.
So, where can solo buyers most easily afford a home?
Overall, single home buyers will see the best bang for their buck in Eastern Canada and the Prairie provinces, with Regina taking top spot out of 20 cities for greatest affordability.
There, a single buyer earning the median income of $58,823 would enjoy an income surplus of $20,025 on the average priced home of $284,424.
That’s followed by Saint John, where someone earning the median of $42,888 would see a surplus of $18,038 on a $181,576 home, and Edmonton, where earning $64,036 would net a $17,826 surplus on the average home price of $338,760.
MLS listings in Calgary, Lethbridge, Winnipeg, and Halifax also fall within the realm of affordability for single-income purchasers.
So, where are single buyers less likely to purchase a home? As expected, Zoocasa says the Greater Golden Horseshoe (which includes Toronto and the GTA), is out of most people’s budgets.
Graham says a buyer earning the median of $50,721 would fall a whopping $88,361 short on the average $1,019,600 for MLS listings in Vancouver. Toronto real estate listings are the second-least affordable with an average home price of $748,328; a buyer earning $55,221 would face an income gap of $46,858.
Victoria is the third least affordable with an average home price of $633,386, still $39,359 above what the relatively high median income of $86,400 could afford.
Other markets not considered affordable for single buyers include Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Montreal, and Ottawa.
Naturally, the housing market is more difficult for single millennials to navigate.
Zoocasa says the research also compared how earnings ranged by age group per location, and which demographic enjoyed the greatest affordability when purchasing a home. Across every market, Gen Xers (35 – 44 and 45 – 54 age brackets) enjoy the greatest earnings and purchasing power, with 11 markets considered within affordable reach (compared to 10 markets across all age groups).
Millennials (aged 25 – 34) had the least earning power in each city, behind Boomers (aged 55 – 64).
Overall, single home buyers aged 35 – 44 purchasing a home in Regina enjoyed the greatest affordability of all, with an income surplus of $24,215. A millennial purchasing in Vancouver had the least, facing a gap of $92,774.
Check out the infographics below to see which Canadian housing markets are most affordable for single buyers, courtesy of Zoocasa.
Top 5 Most Affordable Housing Markets for Single Home Buyers
1 – Regina
Average home price: $284,44
Income required: $38,798
Actual median income: $58,823
Income surplus: $20,025
2 – Saint John
Average home price: $181,576
Income required: 24,769
Actual median income: $42,888
Income surplus: $18,038
3 – Edmonton
Average home price: $338,760
Income required: $46,210
Actual median income: $64,036
Income surplus: $17,826
4 – Saskatoon
Average home price: $290,736
Income required: $39,659
Actual median income: $55,758
Income surplus: $16,099
5 – St. John’s
Average home price: $295,211
Income required: $40,270
Actual median income: $51,964
Income surplus: $11,694
5 Least Affordable Housing Markets for Single Buyers
That’s the takeaway from a national survey released this week by Rates.ca, which found half of Canadians aren’t aware of the mortgage options available to them.
Not only that, but Canadians are lacking in some other basic mortgage trivia, with an astounding 9 out of 10 respondents not knowing that mortgage interest is charged semi-annually:
28% think interest is compounded monthly;
17% think it’s bi-weekly;
17% think it’s annually;
28% just have no idea.
Should we be concerned?
Dustan Woodhouse, President of Mortgage Architects, and a former active broker who has written multiple educational mortgage books, thinks so.
“Sounds about right. We know about what we pay attention to, i.e., The Kardashians,” he wrote to CMT. “The material concern in this is how easy it makes it for the government to over-regulate the industry, with clients blaming the banks—rather than the appropriate parties. This disconnect is deeply concerning.”
Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that only four out of 10 Canadians (39%) know they can avoid paying default insurance on their mortgage if they make a down payment of 20% or more.
With default insurance running anywhere from 4–5.85% of the mortgage value, we’re talking some serious dinero being spent—potentially unknowingly and unnecessarily.
So, what can be done? Woodhouse admits there are no simple answers, but says making mortgages more tangible to borrowers would be a good place to start.
“The root issue is making mortgages interesting and relevant to clients more often than when they need one,” he said. “It needs to be all about housing, not simply mortgages.”
Paul Taylor, President and CEO of Mortgage Professionals Canada, agrees.
“Unless you deal in mortgages, you only talk about them, generally, once every five years,” he said. “I’m sure at the time of signing, the borrowers understood what their payment obligations were and the schedule; after that, the rest of the information provided was likely filed under ‘nice to know but not relevant enough to me to retain.’”
Making the Case for Mortgage Brokers
With a growing trend towards “do-it-yourself” online mortgage shopping, we wondered if these survey results reinforce the need for mortgage brokers in guiding uninformed borrowers about their mortgage options.
“Big time…more than ever brokers are required,” Woodhouse said.
Taylor added that the stats “clearly demonstrate the need for professional and impartial advice at the time of purchase/renewal/refinance. And while some may suggest they are comfortable purchasing online without counsel, I think we can see that is inadvisable in almost all cases.”
Taylor pointed to the UK as an example. Following the crash of 2008, he noted the country adopted several policies by 2014, including disallowing borrowers to be able to self-declare income, and requiring mortgage consumers to be provided mandatory advice on mortgage products.
“The last point, I think, would likely begin to receive international discussion/attention if online sales begin to increase too quickly given the data this survey demonstrates,” Taylor said. “Given the size of these loans, the personal liability and the potential interest-cost difference for as little as a quarter-point in interest, I expect there may be some scrutiny on consumer outcomes for these self-serve options.”
Additional Survey Tidbits
The Rates.ca survey revealed some additional interesting findings about Canadians’ knowledge gap when it comes to financial products, including:
Nearly 7 out of 10 Canadians (68%) aren’t aware that interest on credit cards is calculated daily.
30% admitted they are unlikely or somewhat unlikely to make the minimum monthly payments on their credit cards.
40% of respondents admitted to not knowing their credit score.
43% said they felt comfortable negotiating their mortgage over the internet.
And 94% believe schools should place greater emphasis on teaching financial literacy.
Whether through ads or our own experiences dealing with banks and other lenders, Canadians are frequently reminded of the power of a single number, a credit score, in determining their financial options.
That slightly mysterious number can determine whether you’re able to secure a loan and how much extra it will cost to pay it back.
It can be the difference between having a credit card with a manageable interest rate or one that keeps you drowning in debt.
Not surprisingly, many Canadians want to know their score, and there are several web-based services that offer to provide it.
But a Marketplace investigation has found that the same consumer is likely to get significantly different credit scores from different websites — and chances are none of those scores actually matches the one lenders consult when deciding your financial fate.
‘That’s so strange’
We had three Canadians check their credit scores using four different services: Credit Karma and Borrowell, which are both free; and Equifax and TransUnion, which charge about $20 a month for credit monitoring, a plan that includes access to your credit score.
One of the participants was Raman Agarwal, a 58-year-old small business owner from Ottawa, who says he pays his bills on time and has little debt.
Canadian company Borrowell’s site said he had a “below average” credit score of 637. On Credit Karma, his score of 762 was labelled “very good.”
As for the paid sites, Equifax provided a “good” score of 684, while TransUnion said his 686 score was “poor.”
Agarwal was surprised by the inconsistent results.
“That’s so strange, because the scoring should be based on the same principles,” he said. “I don’t know why there’s a confusion like that.”
The other two participants also each received four different scores from the four different services. The largest gap between two scores for the same participant was 125 points.
The free websites, Borrowell and Credit Karma, purchase the scores they provide to consumers from Equifax and TransUnion, respectively, yet all four companies share a different score with a different proprietary name.
Credit scores are calculated based on many factors, including payment history; credit utilization, which is how much of a loan you owe versus how much you have available to you; money owing; how long you’ve been borrowing; and the types of credit you have. But these factors can be weighted differently depending on the credit bureau or lender, resulting in different scores.
So, which credit score is giving Agarwal the clearest picture of his credit standing?
Marketplace learned that none of the scores the four websites provide is necessarily the same as the one lenders are most likely to use when determining Agarwal’s creditworthiness.
We spoke with multiple lenders in the financial, automotive and mortgage sectors, who all said they would not accept any of the scores our participants received from the four websites.
“So, we don’t know what these scores represent,” said Vince Gaetano, principal broker at MonsterMortgage.ca. “They’re not necessarily reliable from my perspective.”
All consumer credit score platforms have small fine-print messages on their sites explaining that lenders might consult a different score from the one provided.
‘Soft’ vs. ‘hard’ credit check
The score that most Canadian lenders use is called a FICO score, previously known as the Beacon score. FICO, which is a U.S. company, sells its score to both Equifax and TransUnion. FICO says 90 per cent of Canadian lenders use it, including major banks.
But Canadian consumers cannot access their FICO score on their own.
To find out his FICO score, Agarwal had to agree to what’s known as a “hard” credit check. That’s where a business runs a credit check as though a customer is applying for a loan.
Lenders are contractually obligated not to share a copy of the report FICO provides with the customer. They can only discuss the information and provide insight.
A hard check comes with risk. Unlike the “soft” check Agarwal agreed to from the four websites, a hard check could negatively impact his credit score.
As Credit Karma’s website explains, “Multiple hard inquiries in a short period could lead lenders and credit card issuers to consider you a higher-risk customer, as it suggests you may be short on cash or getting ready to rack up a lot of debt.”
Mortgage broker Vince Gaetano offered to do a hard credit check for Agarwal, as if he was applying for a loan, so he could learn his FICO score.
Agarwal took him up on the offer and was stunned to learn his FICO score was 829 — nearly 200 points higher than the lowest score he received online.
“Oh my god!” Agarwal said when he heard the news. “I am really happy, but totally surprised.”
Doug Hoyes, co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc., one of the largest personal insolvency firms in Canada, was also surprised by the disparity between Agarwal’s FICO score and the other scores he’d received.
“How can you be poor somewhere and fantastic somewhere else?”
Marketplace asked all four credit score companies why Agarwal’s FICO score was so different from the ones provided on their sites.
No one could provide a detailed answer. Equifax and TransUnion did say their scores are used by lenders, but they wouldn’t name any, citing proprietary reasons.
Credit Karma declined to comment. However, on its customer service website, it says the credit score it provides to consumers is a “widely used scoring model by lenders.”
‘A complicated system’
The free services, Borrowell and Credit Karma, make money by arranging loan and credit card offers for customers who visit their sites. Borrowell told Marketplace the credit score it provides is used by the company itself to offer loans directly from Borrowell. The company could not confirm whether any of its lending partners also use the score.
“So there are many different types of credit scores in Canada … and they’re calculated very differently,” said Andrew Graham, CEO of Borrowell. “It’s a complicated system, and we’re the first to say that it’s frustrating for consumers. We’re trying to help add transparency to it and help consumers navigate it.”
From Agarwal’s perspective, the credit companies are simply using the scoring system as a marketing tool.
“There should be one score,” he said. “If they are running an algorithm, there should be one score, no matter what you do, how you do it, should not change that score.”
The FICO score is also the most popular score in the U.S. Unlike in Canada, Americans can access their score easily by purchasing it on FICO’s website, or through FICO’s Open Access Program, without any risk of it impacting their credit rating.
FICO told Marketplace it would like to bring the Open Access Program to Canada, but it’s up to Canadian lenders.
“We are open to working with any lender and their credit bureau partner of choice to enable FICO Score access to the lender’s customers,” FICO said in an email.
Hoyes, the insolvency expert, suggests instead of focusing on your credit score, a better approach to monitoring your financial status would be to shift attention to your credit report and ensuring its accuracy.
All four websites Marketplace looked at provide credit reports to consumers.
A credit report is the file that describes your financial situation. It lists bank accounts, credit cards, inquiries from lenders who have requested your report, bankruptcies, student loans, mortgages, whether you pay your credit card bill on time, and other debt.
Hoyes said consumers are trying too hard to have the perfect credit score. The fact is, some activities that could boost a credit score, such as getting a new credit card or taking on a loan, aren’t necessarily the best financial decisions.
“My advice is to focus on what is better for your financial health, not what is best for the lender’s financial health.”
He said paying off debt and increasing savings is a better idea than focusing solely on the factors that can increase your credit score.
You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.– Doug Hoyes, Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc.
He points to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the third richest person in the world, as an example.
“Would you rather lend to Warren Buffett, who’s got … cash in the bank but has a lousy credit score because he’s never borrowed and hasn’t built up any history, or some guy who has five credit cards and he constantly … moves the balance from one to the other and keeps his utilization under 20 per cent?”
The real estate, mortgage and auto lenders Marketplace spoke with said they look at more than just your credit score before making a lending decision. They also consider things like your income, your history with their company, the size of a downpayment, and other factors not reflected in your score.
For Hoyes, those factors are much more important than a three-digit number.
“You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.”
The good news, according to Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham, is that if you’re doing things like paying your bills on time and not maxing out your credit cards, you will see improvement in whatever credit score you track.
Mortgage Pre-Qualification vs Mortgage Pre-Approval vs Mortgage Approval
What are the differences between each stage of the mortgage process?
By Kara KuryllowiczSeptember 18, 2019
In early 2019, several Canadian banks launched digital apps that offer home buyers easy, hassle-free mortgage pre-qualification in 60 seconds or less. Sounds great, right? The problem is many consumers believe a mortgage pre-qualification is a lot like a mortgage pre-approval or mortgage approval. As a result, prospective home buyers and sellers are left expecting the financial institution associated with the app to lend them hundreds of thousands of dollars, despite the fact they simply keyed their names, addresses, contact information and gross income into various online fields.
Getting Mortgage Approval
“Every week, as many as 40% of my new clients come to me because they’ve just bought a home and discovered that mortgage pre-qualification is meaningless and that they do not have the financing required for the purchase,” says Tracy Valko, owner and principal broker of Dominion Lending Centres Valko Financial Ltd., and a director at Mortgage Professionals of Canada.
Let’s get real: A mortgage pre-qualification gives the financial institution warm leads (names, contact information, purchasing timeline) and tells consumers how much money a financial institution might loan them. There is no way any financial institution will actually lend consumers hundreds of thousands of dollars just because they spent 45 seconds with the company’s mortgage pre-qualification tool.
Lenders do everything they can to ensure the borrower will repay the loan. A mortgage pre-approval looks at how an individual manages his/her money to determine that person’s creditworthiness. The next step is the mortgage approval which assesses that specific person’s ability to repay a loan of a certain amount at a set interest rate on a particular home.
“Always get a mortgage pre-approval before you start searching for a home and have a mortgage approval in place before you waive your financing condition on the offer – back out of a deal after it’s firm and you could be sued by the seller.” says Valko. “A mortgage pre-approval will tell consumers and their realtors what they can realistically afford to buy.”
Let’s further define the terms consumers need to fully understand before they commit to a real estate agent and start shopping for a home.
What is Mortgage Pre-Qualification?
It takes less than 60 seconds because it requests only the most basic information, whether it’s submitted to an online app or a financial representative. Mortgage pre-qualification never requires supporting documentation that proves the consumer actually has a full-time job, is paid a weekly salary and has earned a good credit score. At best, a mortgage pre-qualification can provide a very loose, broad estimate of a consumer’s home-buying power based on the consumer’s unverified data. Because the consumer typically inputs the information into an online tool, it takes just seconds for the software, not an experienced, professional underwriter, to pre-qualify a consumer for a mortgage.
If consumers notice and bother to read the apps’ fine print or legal disclaimers, they’ll likely see a statement like this one: “This is not a mortgage approval or pre-approval. You must submit a separate application for a mortgage approval or a mortgage pre-approval and a full credit report.”
In other words, they’re not actually promising you a dime, let alone enough the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll likely need to buy a home anywhere in Canada.
What is Mortgage Pre-Approval?
In general, it will take two to five business days to investigate an individual’s financial circumstances and the risk that a person might represent to the lender. The underwriter will need the basics, such as name, address and contact information in addition to detailed data on their income, assets (e.g. stocks, RRSPs, property, vehicles, savings), liabilities (e.g. debt, loans, mortgages) and their credit rating and report as well as the available down payment. Supporting documentation may be required to prove any or all of the above.
Unlike a pre-qualifying app, lenders’ underwriters may request a letter of employment, a Notice of Assessment, pay stubs, or T4 for the two most recent years as well as documentation indicating the down payment is available. The lender or mortgage broker will also require the consumers’ permission to pull credit scores and credit reports from organizations such as Equifax.
Your credit score, typically 300 to 800+, is based on feedback from lenders who confirm that you do or don’t pay your bills in full and on time every month. The credit report includes your name, address, social insurance number and date of birth as well as your credit history, for example, your debts and assets and whether you’ve ever been sent to collection or declared bankruptcy.
“Lenders want to know how well or how poorly you manage your money and will be looking for patterns of insufficient, late and missed payments,” says Valko.
A mortgage pre-approval is generally valid for up to 120 days at a specific interest rate unless the consumers’ circumstances change, for example, employment status, down payment, or income. For example, a consumer may not realize it, but their probationary status with a new employer, whether it’s three, six or 12 months, does matter to lenders. Likewise, a move from a salaried to a contract or self-employed position will also be seen as a higher risk.
“I’ve had clients believe they were full time, salaried employees, then discover they’re still on probation when we start underwriting,” says Valko. “An electrician client left his full-time salaried position to work independently and didn’t realize it negated his mortgage pre-approval, which was based on the guaranteed weekly paycheck versus the sporadic earnings associated with self-employment.”
What is Mortgage Approval?
This is the big one. Once consumers have identified the homes they want to purchase, they need mortgage approval to buy that specific home. Lenders assess the age and condition of the homes and consider comparable homes to confirm the price being paid is fair and market value. The mortgage approval is valid until the closing date unless the buyers’ circumstances change.
“Only the mortgage approval accounts for property specifics, such as taxes or condo fees, so give your underwriter/lender time to ensure the numbers previously used are still valid and that the property is acceptable to the lender,” says Valko.
If you’re serious about the home search and purchase process, skip the mortgage pre-qualification apps. Instead, take the time and make the effort to get mortgage pre-approval, then find the home suits you best, then get mortgage approval to close the deal. Then? Enjoy your new keys.
Source: REW.ca – Kara KuryllowiczSeptember 18, 2019
My husband and I bought our first home three years ago, and I’ll admit we made some mistakes along the way.
Here are 5 hard lessons we learned as first-time homebuyers.
1. We bought a very old house. Before we bought the home, we had it inspected by a reputable home inspector. In his report, he suggested that we have the house’s foundation assessed by an engineer. But we didn’t do that. Why? We were in too much of a rush to buy the house.
Lesson? Pay attention to the inspection report. After living in the home for about a year and a half, I called an engineer who told us a foundation wall had to be replaced–and soon. It wasn’t cheap.
2. Our agent told us that upping our offer by a few thousand dollars would only mean an extra $40, $50 or $60 a month on our mortgage. It doesn’t sound like much, but if interest rates go up spending thousands more on our home will hurt.
Lesson? Once you figure out your maximum price, stick to it. This is one thing we actually did well. In the end our offer was accepted at the price we were willing to pay, but upping our bid could’ve made paying the mortgage a lot tougher.
3. When you’ve been a renter for most of your life, it’s a shock to suddenly find yourself responsible for repairs. We hired a roofer who did a really bad job, and we had to pay another roofer to do the work a second time. Then I had to go to small claims court to try getting my money back from the first one.
Lesson?Shop around before hiring a contractor. I should have paid more attention to a couple of negative online reviews. You can also look up court decisions online to see if other customers have had problems.
4. We were able to put a 20% down payment on our home and had about $10,000 set aside for closing costs, taxes, home insurance and other expenses. It wasn’t enough.
Lesson?Set money aside, then set some more aside. You also need to budget for the unexpected. In the first year, we spent several hundred dollars on a new sump pump after our crawl space flooded. Last year, we spent a few hundred dollars on an exterminator for mice.
5. This past winter, while our foundation wall was being dug up and replaced, I called a real estate agent to talk about possibly putting our house up for sale. I was pretty fed up with the seemingly unending problems and stress. The good news was that our home had gone up in value and we could make a profit. Though we’ll stay put for now, at least we have an exit plan–as long as the housing market stays strong.
Lesson? Have an exit plan. Hopefully these hard-earned lessons can help you become homeowners. Or maybe decide to remain renters. Good luck!