Buying your first home: Things I wish I had known

Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is likely the biggest purchase you will ever make. It’s an exciting time but occasionally may feel a little overwhelming. You’ll have questions - lots of them - and that’s okay.

We asked some of the Cambrian and Achieva team members to share some of their home buying experiences and advice.

Building a home does not always work as planned

“We built our current home and there were issues with the builder’s schedule of completion and what was required by CMHC’s schedule of completion. So what ended up happening was CMHC would only advance a portion of what the builder required. We actually had to leave a portion unpaid to the builder and then had to pay interest because of the two conflicting schedules.

We had to go through our lawyer to try to reduce the interest that needed to be paid to the builder. Originally, the builder wanted 7.5% interest for the outstanding balance but we were able to get it down to 4%.

You will always have expenses come up that you won't be aware of. If you have savings set aside ahead of time, you might be able to cover some of those costs – depending, of course, on how much extra is needed.”

- Neva at Grant Park

A good real estate agent and doing your research is key

“I was lucky to have a very good real estate agent. That helped a lot. I’ve heard of people who tried to buy a place but didn’t ask the right questions or didn’t do a home inspection and then ran into problems later. My agent was very knowledgeable and helped me figure out what I wanted and then asked the right questions.

A piece of advice I would give is: don’t rush. Be prepared. If you’re unprepared, you might be tempted to get into unnecessary bidding wars and you'll end up paying more than you actually have to. Do your homework before you buy - know the market: what is a reasonable price for the area? How much can you get approved for? What kind of house can you get that fits your budget? If you do a little research first, you’ll know what your money can buy.”

- Cyan at Achieva

Don’t forget about the Land Transfer Tax

“Once we decided to build our first home, we started setting aside money regularly. We knew how much we would need and we finally built our home. One expense we had not considered, however, was the land transfer tax. Luckily, we still had enough to cover the extra cost. If I could go back, I’d make sure to be prepared for that one additional expense as well.”

- Amila at McPhillips

Make sure you build everything right the first time

“We built our first home so there were probably a lot of things we could have done differently. Looking back, I probably would have made a bigger walk-in closet in the master bedroom, a bigger ensuite bathroom with a soaker tub and a large shower, and a larger back yard. The direction your house is facing is also important - especially with new homes and their large windows and vaulted ceilings. You want to make sure your house is facing the right direction so it’s not getting too much sun through the windows all day. That can make your home really hot.”

- Rita at St. James

If you’re considering buying or building a home, a great starting point is to make an appointment with a lending specialist to assess your current situation and discuss your options.