We’ve all heard the horror stories – people paying way too much for a house, not getting an inspection and then finding a million (expensive) problems with the place. I’ve seen it countless time with homeowners on Income Property and from talking to eager real estate investors.
Here are my top five tips for making a smart real estate purchase so you don’t get burned!
- Stick to Your Budget
It’s easy to get carried away here, especially if you make the mistake of looking at houses outside your price range. The important part is to have a plan. Don’t just think about your mortgage payments every month; also think about your monthly carrying cost and be honest about your lifestyle. Consider how much you spend every month on eating out, clothing, etc. There’s nothing worse than being house poor because you weren’t honest about your spending habits.
- Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
A house is an emotional purchase, since it’s where you’ll be living, raising your children and making a home for yourself. But it’s crucial to keep emotions out of the equation as much as possible. You should love your house, but you should love it because it’s in good condition and because the numbers work. Always get a home inspection and if you can’t afford it (or the work it requires), walk away!
- Give Every House a Chance
I do most of my real estate browsing online, as do most people now, but you can’t always judge a house by the virtual tour – good or bad. If you see something online and it has bad pictures (or no pictures) but it’s in the right neighbourhood or in your price range, go look at it! Chances are you can get a good deal because so many people will skip it without photos online.
- Think Long-Term
Before you jump into a real estate purchase, ask yourself: “What is the purpose of this property for the next 5-10 years?” Depending on your mortgage, you may have to lock in for a certain number of years, and if you think you’ll be moving in less than 5 years, I’d suggest looking at alternatives. You never want to be forced into selling your house.
- Have a Support System
Having a real estate agent who understands your financial and personal situation is key, and great advice from a mortgage specialist and lawyer can be invaluable to the home-buying process. But what many people forget is to have a personal support system in place when they go house hunting. Advice from those close to you – family members, a partner, friends – is just as important to help keep you on track and avoid getting carried away. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying a house, so having the personal support will keep you grounded.