Buying your first home is exciting, and it's understandable to want to jump in with both feet and get a house as fast as you can. Home ownership is something that you have to work and save for, so when you finally have that down payment and mortgage approval in hand, who wants to wait? But do yourself a favor and slow down just a little. There are some common mistakes made by overly eager first-time home buyers that you would be much better off avoiding. Take a look at some of the biggest mistakes that you can make during the home buying process, and learn how to avoid making the same errors.
Mistake #1: Buying More House than You Can Afford
Don't trust the bank to tell you how much you can spend on a house. The amount of the mortgage that you're approved for is not necessarily the same as what you can afford to spend in real life, so it's often a good idea to buy a house that costs less than the amount that you're actually approved for.
The trick to choosing a house in the right price range, rather than just buying the most expensive house that you can afford, is to figure out how much you want to spend each month on your housing costs. Experts say that your housing costs shouldn't amount to more than 32% of your overall monthly income, but that doesn't mean that your mortgage alone should be 32% of your income. Housing costs also include electricity, heat, water, property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and maintenance and upkeep. That means that you'll want to stick with a home price that will give you a mortgage that, when combined with all of those other expenses, still won't take up more than a third of your monthly budget.
Mistake #2: Waiting Until After Closing to Shop for Insurance
Homeowner's insurance is both a practical expense and a legal obligation that comes with home ownership. The last thing that you want is to get stuck with a home that is uninsurable, or with a home that requires so much extra coverage that the cost of insuring it becomes outrageous. Home buyers who wait until they've already committed to buying a home to shop for insurance can easily find themselves in one of those predicaments.
Before you sign anything or make a commitment to buying a particular home, you should see insurance brokers and find out what kind of coverage you can get for that home. You may find out something that you previously didn't know about the house you're considering. An insurance company will let you know, for example, if the home is in a frequent flood zone (and if it's been damaged by water in the past). Information like that may cause you to change your mind on the home. And even if you don't change your mind, the forewarning can help you better plan your budget and prepare for the challenges of owning that home.
Mistake #3: Putting Down Too Small a Down Payment
You can get a home with less than a 20% down payment, but it will cost you to do so. It will cost you in higher mortgage premiums and interest payments, and you'll also be required to pay the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation's mortgage insurance fee (a requirement for anyone who pays less than 20% as a down payment on a house in Canada.)
Often, you're better off waiting if you can't get anywhere near the 20% down payment mark. But if you have little to no debt and good credit, and you don't want to wait, borrowing money at a reasonable interest rate in order to pay the full 20% may actually save you money over the option of paying less than 20% down. Don't forget that you'll also need to hang on to money for your closing costs and moving expenses as well, so don't forget to factor that in when trying to determine how much you need to save up or borrow.
Buying your first house will have a great impact on your financial future. Whether it's a positive or negative impact depends on how well you handle the associated debt and expenses. Start off on the right foot by avoiding these common mistakes.