When it comes to buying a home, everyone has an opinion and a story to tell. But you can’t practically navigate buying a home without the facts. Whether it’s shopping around for an agent, closing the deal, or finding the right home for you, the truth will set you free (and save you money). Navigate homebuying like a pro with the facts about these common homebuying myths.
Myth 1: You should borrow the maximum amount that you’re offered
It’s exciting to realize you have a great offer for a mortgage loan. If you have a good financial standing and a decent credit score, you might find that you’re offered a bigger loan than you anticipated, or that you can potentially buy a house that’s pricier than you’d guessed. But before you begin having visions of indoor pools or a supersized closet, ask your financial planner to help you map out a realistic game plan. The truth is, the amount of interest you pay needs to complement your existing debts, your lifestyle, and the financial goals you have. If you max out the amount you’re borrowing, you might find yourself limited when you want extra money for your child’s tuition or when surprise costs come your way. A bigger home can also cost more to heat and maintain, so consider the full picture before you borrow the maximum amount you can. Use online mortgage tools to calculate, plan, and save.
Myth 2: You don’t need a real estate agent
With such innovative home search technology, YouTube instructional videos, and Google at your disposal, why use a real estate agent? You might feel confident in your ability to find and negotiate for a home on your own. New homebuyers might feel inspired to reach out to a listing agent directly, thinking that it looks easy enough. But a real estate agent that represents the buyer offers a myriad of benefits and protects you legally. They’re an essential part of protecting your best interests, negotiating the best price, and navigating the complexities of the homebuying process.
- Real estate agents and Realtors know local markets and are trained professionals.They can tell if a home is overvalued, identify red flags to look for, understand the nuances of local legislation that might keep you from building or renovating, and are tuned in to how that community might change in the future (new construction, transit, schools, or parks).
- A real estate agent can help you make a competitive offer so you don’t lose the home and save as much money as possible. They’re legally obligated to protect your best interests, in the same way that a listing agent –– the agent who lists the home –– is obligated to get the best price possible for their client. Unless you have a similar wealth of experience or work in real estate yourself, bidding wars aren’t a sea you want to be out on without a captain.
- Real estate agents also have a unique network of professionals they trust and work with regularly. Contractors, lawyers, inspectors, and other agencies may be needed during the homebuying and selling process. An agent can help connect you with the people you need to make sure you’re legally protected and set up for success in buying or selling.
- They’ve also got the inside scoop! Experienced agents work in the market for decades and build a roster of clients and a community of people in specific locales. They may have homes to show you that aren’t even on the market yet, so you can get in an offer before anyone else has a chance to. A great agent will be incentivized to find you a place you love to ensure their commission, and that means thinking outside of the box.
Myth 3: Your down payment is always 20%
New homebuyers often have this preconception, but the minimum down payment needed to buy a home varies based on purchase price:
- A $1 million dollar home requires a minimum 20% down payment ($200,000).
- A home that’s $500,00 or less requires a minimum 5% down payment ($25,000).
But just because you only have to put 5% down on a home, doesn’t mean that it’s wise to. Your mortgage lender covers the remaining cost, and your monthly interest payments will be higher if you put less down up front. Find the right number with a financial inventory of your monthly costs, your lifestyle, and your other assets and debts. If you pay less than 20% of your home price in Canada, you’ll also need to buy mortgage loan insurance at an added cost. Your financial advisor and online tools can help you calculate how much home you can afford and what kind of down payment is right for you.
Myth 4: You don’t need to shop around for a real estate agent
If you’re a first time homebuyer, your friend or parents might have a real estate agent they really want you to try, or you may have someone in mind who you’ve seen on signs around the neighbourhood. But treat this like you would any other big purchase or life decisions, and shop around for a real estate agent or a mortgage lender.
Different agents offer varying levels of expertise and insight for the market you’re looking for. Some might specialize in high-end luxury real estate, while others can help you land a deal on a fixer-upper. Their networks, ideas, and working style will all impact the homes they find for you and the success your offer has.
Myth 5: It’s always cheaper to rent than own
The truth of this one largely lies in location and local housing market. Especially in smaller towns and rural areas, you may pay more to rent than you would for your mortgage and bills combined. But buying has its share of financial burdens too, and you should make sure you have a thorough financial game plan to ensure you can afford to buy. Not sure whether you want to rent or buy? Consider financial factors like condo fees, renovation costs, repairs, inspection costs, attorney fees, closing costs, and other debts you already have. You can get a pre-qualification online to see how much your mortgage and your monthly costs might be.
Timing is everything, and this may also not be the right time to buy a home. We’re living through one of the most competitive and pricey times in the Canadian housing market. Where do you see yourself in five years? If you live in the city and you’re looking to move out to the country someday, or you like the freedom of a one year lease, renting might be more affordable than committing to a property you’re not sure you want to keep. The best real estate investments are those you keep for at least five years in order to give the property time to accumulate value.
OJO can help with your home search
Search tools can help with your home search and let you know the facts. OJO’s school ranking and neighbourhood tools help you find homes that are in your area and get to know what’s within walking distance, even before you see a home. Homebuying can be a daunting process, that’s why OJO is here providing support and guidance at every step of the way. For a new and differentiated homebuying experience, sign up at OJO.ca