By Geoff Kirbyson
Insider information may rub people the wrong way in the worlds of investments and horse racing but it’s absolute gold when buying a house.
And why not? Who better to give you advice when making the biggest financial decision of your life than people who know the ins and outs of the real estate game.
Catherine Schellenberg, REALTOR®, said not only do Realtors know the best neighbourhoods to shop to get the best value for the dollar, they can also shorten the amount of time you spend visiting open houses and scouring online and newspaper listings so you can find your dream home and move in as quickly as possible.
Here are her top tips to help you find the perfect house:
Understand the difference between what you want and what you need
This might not seem like a big deal but being able to make the distinction amidst the amped-up emotions of house hunting can pay significant dividends down the road.
Simple needs, for example, are two bathrooms and three bedrooms. Wants, on the other hand, can include a walk-in closet and an ensuite bathroom.
“Wants are things you can live without but are nice to have,” Schellenberg said.
Sometimes, getting a little too excited about your wants can result in unexpectedly moving into a higher price bracket than you expected.
“You can end up buying a house with a bunch of features that won’t really serve you well in the long run,” she said.
In fact, buyers’ remorse is a common result of focusing too much on wants over needs.
“You might want a hot tub when you’re looking for a home. It sounds fun and inviting and all you can think about are the parties you’re going to have, but when you realize the maintenance involved - you have to put conditioner in the hot tub every day and check the ph levels - it can be a different story,” she said.
Ensure your new home will serve you over the long term
If you’re a young couple and planning to start a family, you’ll need more space than you’re currently using. But if you’re empty-nesters, the only reason you’ll require more space is if you’re hoarding stuff that should probably be in a landfill.
“One level-living is huge for people. They can age in place for much longer if they’re living in a bungalow,” she said.
You can keep buying a new house to fit your changing family needs but it won’t be very economical.
“The best way to build equity in a house is time and doing the right upgrades to the property,” Schellenberg said.
Do your best to ensure your new house will have good value when you want to sell it
You know, in 20 or 30 years.
“The perfect house will have a market any time of the year. You could sell it and get your money out because it’s in a good neighbourhood where there’s a strong demand for housing,” she said.
Maximize curb appeal
It’s sort of like picking a spouse.
“You’ve got to like the way your partner looks and be attracted to them. Curb appeal is very important. You want to fall in love with your house every time you walk into it,” she said.
Paint is the easiest and least expensive way to improve the curb appeal of your house while new landscaping is another — yet more expensive — way.