Your home-buying questions answered

Sasha Lacic moved into her new house, in southeast Calgary, two months ago and couldn’t be happier.

Sasha Lacic moved into her new house, in southeast Calgary, two months ago and couldn’t be happier.

“It was a really exciting experience,” Lacic said.

She decided to buy after opted to make Calgary her home and seeing that it would cost almost as much to rent as it would to buy.

Once Lacic was approved for her mortgage she said it was her realtor that made the experience enjoyable.

Even with the extra work that comes with a home — like maintenance and gardening — Lacic said it was the right choice.

“I’m happy to have my own place.”

For many first-time homebuyers the experience can be exciting but confusing.

According to Bonnie Wegerich, president of the Calgary real estate board, often people don’t think of the extra costs of buying a house as compared to renting.

“They need to have probably a five-per-cent down payment. And then they need to have enough to close the sale.”

Wegerich also noted that people have to think of the insurance and taxes, which aren’t often paid when renting, as well as the maintenance costs.

The first step is sitting down with a mortgage broker and figuring out what you can afford, Wegerich said, including the extras beyond the listed price of the house.

“It’s just important to sit down and figure out what your costs are going to be, don’t forget you have insurance to buy now, you have to set up your utilities account now. Figure it all out and write it all down so there’s no surprises,” she said. “You don’t want to over extend yourself.”

The inevitable house-vs.-condo decision is another thing you’ll have to think about. Though condos can be a more affordable option, Wegerich said, people should be ready to pay condo fees and follow the by-laws of the building.

That could include not being able to change the interior of your home without permission.

At the same time to buy a house, first-time buyers may have to go outside of the core of a city to find affordable options, depending on their budgets.

Lacic bought her home for stability and as an investment.

Wegerich said that’s a common reason, “to build equity in their home. And I think there’s the pride of ownership too.”

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