Being a first time home buyer in Toronto, one of Canada’s most expensive housing markets isn’t always easy. You need to have enough saved for a down payment — which for Toronto homes is no small sum — and you need to qualify for a mortgage by passing the new stress test.
If you’re still assembling the pieces needed to buy your first home, we have some incredible resources to help you including our free First-Time Buyer Guide. For those who need assistance saving for a down payment, our Step-by-Step Guide to Saving for a Down Payment covers tips for saving and first time home buyer programs that exist to help you.
For those who’ve managed to save enough for a down payment and pass the stress test, congratulations! You’ve overcome your first financial hurdles as a new homeowner and now you need to settle into your new digs and your new financial framework.
You’ve already taken the right steps to buying your first home but now you need to ensure you take the right steps to live with the added expenses of being a homeowner without sacrificing too much of your old way of life. Remember, you’ve made a big investment in your future, but that doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself of all things fun.
USE THESE FIRST TIME HOME BUYER TIPS
Apply for First Time Home Buyer Benefits
The government of Canada grants first time buyer rebates to help alleviate the harrowing costs involved with buying your first home. These include a $750 First Time Buyer Tax Credit and a full or partial Land Transfer Tax Rebate. Land Transfer Tax in Toronto is charged at both the municipal and provincial level (lucky us) so this is a very helpful rebate.
Decide What You Can Do Without
Think of your lifestyle before you even considered buying your first home. How many of those expenses do you need and how many do you want? The easiest way to start is making a Need or Want list.
A daily latte from Starbucks? A want. Make it at home.
A monthly manicure? Definitely a want. Reserve for special occasions.
Your gym membership? Unless you live in a condo with a gym, maybe this is a need. That’s up to you.
Make a Detailed Monthly Budget
Once you’ve decided what you can live without in your new life as a Toronto homeowner, create a detailed monthly budget that will help you to track your expenses and ensure you’re not overspending. Who doesn’t love a good spreadsheet?
This expense sheet should include:
• Homeowner Expenses (mortgage, property tax, property insurance, maintenance fees)
• Utilities (hydro, phone, internet, cable)
• Transportation Costs (car payments, gas, insurance, parking, transit pass)
• Debts and Loans (credit card, student loans)
• Child Care Costs
• Health Expenses (prescriptions, chiropractor, etc)
• Gym membership (can you use your condo’s gym?)
• Entertainment (movies, restaurants, etc)
• Miscellaneous (coffees, clothing, etc)
• Oh Sh*t Fund (more on that later)
Make it easy to get started by downloading our First Time Buyer Budget Tracker (desktop download)
Set a day once or twice a month, grab your laptop and find a cozy spot in your new home to go over your expenses. Download an app that will help track your spending — Mint is a popular personal finance app — especially with miscellaneous transactions. This is adulting at its finest!
Start an Oh Sh*t Fund
This pertains more so to those first time home buyers who have landed themselves a detached or semi-detached house. While you may think you’ve dodged the extra expense of would-be maintenance fees had you bought a condo or townhome, believe you me, even with a house you should still be budgeting for home maintenance costs.
Putting aside a set amount each month can be a real life saver in the event of repairs down the line. With most Toronto homes in the 50+ age range, having this Oh Sh*t Fund will mean you won’t be scrambling for cash or checking couch cushions for change when you run into a big or even minor expense.
Ask Your Realtor for Updates on Your Property Value
One of the benefits of buying your first home in Toronto is that our real estate market has experienced incredible price growth. What this means for you is that when the market grows, your equity grows too.
Ask your Toronto real estate agent to send you semi-annual property updates. Based on your property’s unique features and location, they’ll be able to send you updates on your home’s current market value (CMV). This will tell you how much equity you’ve earned with the market. You can also keep an eye on your neighbourhood’s market performance in our monthly Toronto real estate market watch reports.
Buying your first home is an incredibly exciting accomplishment, especially in a market such as Toronto. This investment in your future not only puts a roof over your head but it will also build you wealth long-term.
Are you ready to buy your first home? Book a call with me and we can discuss your financial situation, set up an action plan tailored to your needs, and make your dreams of buying a home a reality.