Buying your first home? Avoid these rookie regrets

Your first home purchase can be an emotional roller-coaster and very often first-time buyers get so swept up in the excitement of stainless steel appliances or screened-in porches that they jump too quickly and fail to think things through. Earlier this year, Zillow surveyed first-time homebuyers about the aspects of the purchase that they regret. In fact, half of those surveyed said that if they had a do-over, they would do things differently the second time.

While these homebuyers reside in the United States, their responses offer some useful takeaways for Canadian homebuyers. Here’s a look at the areas they most regret.

  • Size/layout: More than half of first-time buyers with regrets wished they’d bought a larger or better laid out property. Renters have mobility as their needs or lifestyle changes, but it’s much harder to sell a house or condo than it is to move apartments. Plus, if you’re able sell a property after owning it only a couple of years, you’re likely to lose money after you’ve paid taxes and commission. That’s why it’s so important to consider how your life might change over the next five years or longer (Marriage? Kids? An aging parent who moves in?) and buy a property that can potentially accommodate your evolving needs.
  • Cost: A home purchase is likely to be your single largest expense, so it’s no surprise that many first-time buyers feel they paid too much. Recent data from Bank of Montreal¬†shows that the average first-time home purchase is $316,100. In addition to the cost of buying a home, remember that you also need to pay for maintenance, property taxes and closing costs. One in five of the home-buyers with regrets wished they had negotiated more on price, while 14 percent regret not shopping around more for their mortgage.
  • Neighbourhood: There’s a popular saying in real estate: location, location, location. More than 25 percent of the buyers with regrets expressed concerns with the neighbourhood where they bought. Even if you don’t have kids now, it’s a good idea to research the local school district, as properties in desirable school districts tend to retain their value at the very least. Also consider safety, walkability and whether the area has the amenities you want such as grocery stores, dog parks and coffee shops. A swanky condo in a seedy downtown neighbourhood won’t be that inviting to come home to, regardless of how nice the fixtures and furniture inside are.
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