Owning property may cause renters to rejoice at the thought of actually having something to show for the money they’re spending. But realtor Aphrodite Karamitsanis warns not to let that initial thrill become overkill.
“First-time buyers are very enthusiastic and sometimes very unrealistic about what they can afford and what they’d like to own,” said Karamitsanis, the Calgary-based agent for Royal LePage Canada.
Completing one’s financial homework — particularly determining down payment and monthly payments — is the most critical thing for first-time buyers to do before they begin even looking at properties, so they understand what they can afford, she said. Then, the first consideration should be “location, location, location.”
“It’s still the operative phrase in real estate,” said Karamitsanis, “where they’re going to live, and what they’re looking for in terms of their home — how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms and how finished the home is.”
“Sweat equity” is something she said first-time buyers should especially consider when purchasing a home. That’s how much work one is willing to spend renovating areas of the home to build financial equity. Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to renovate, she said, so she recommends new buyers work from the bottom up. “If they buy a home with an unfinished basement, one of the best ways to build equity is to finish the basement.”
Manual labour must be a labour of love when deciding to buy a home — the chief difference between owning a house and a condominium, said Toronto realtor Robert Doyle of Bosley Real Estate.
“With a condominium, you really only own what’s behind your door and maybe a parking spot. The whole benefit of ownership is being able to plant your garden and grow your grass and shovel your driveway in the winter … the true Canadian activity of home ownership,” he said with a chuckle.
The grass isn’t the only thing necessarily greener with home ownership. Homes and condos alike are increasingly embracing eco-friendly technologies.
“There’s definitely an advantage to buying green,” Doyle said. “We have the technology now that we can make things more efficient, safer and better for the environment, not only for ourselves, but for generations afterwards.”
That’s not to mention the advantage Doyle said going green has on your wallet; a sure aid to one of the greatest financial investments one can make.
“If you own a home, having a home energy audit done — an eco home audit — is definitely an eye-opening experience in terms of cost savings.”
Want a condo?
According to Royal LePage realtor Aphrodite Karamitsanis, purchasing a condo is a lifestyle decision that includes the following factors:
• No yard maintenance
• Owning a share in a larger corporation
• Less freedom to make structural changes
• Decisions are often made for you