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Money Advice for Life
Buying a second home – where do I start?
You’ve already been through the process once and bought your first home. But now your mortgage is up for renewal or you’ve outgrown your house or for any other number of reasons, you’ve decided it’s time to move onto your next house. Because you’ve done it before, you know how the process works. But there are some things that you should consider with your second house that you didn’t need to with your first.
Budget vs pre-approval – yes there can be a difference
Buying your second house, generally means you will be spending more than you did on your first. So one of the first things you should do, like with any big purchase, is figure out your budget – what you can actually afford to spend. Yes, you will get pre-approved for a mortgage to find out how much money your lender is willing to give you, but there can be a HUGE difference between this amount and what you can afford to spend. Before you even think about contacting a realtor, you should sit down and look at your budget to see how much extra you can afford and what that extra amount going towards your mortgage could mean for the rest of your budget. It may mean that you will have less money to go on vacations or you need to reduce your discretionary spending. Talking to your financial advisor is another great way to figure out how much extra mortgage you can personally afford.
Stick to your budget – don’t even see the carrot
Once you figure out what you can afford, you need to make sure your realtor knows that amount and sticks to it. It’s so easy to fall in love with the 3,000 sq ft open concept house with the huge restaurant style kitchen with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, dual temperature wine fridge, four bedrooms, finished basement, etc. You may even begin bargaining with yourself to justify the price tag that is $50,000 above what you can afford. The easy solution? Make sure your realtor knows that you do not want to see anything above your budget. On a side note, if anyone is selling a house like I just described, please let me know…
Figure out what you need – what does your dream home have?
You’ve learned a lot, and maybe sacrificed a few things, with your first house and those learnings will really help you figure out what you need for this new house. Maybe it’s more space, more bedrooms, a garage (attached or unattached), walk-in closets, a breakfast nook, office, multiple bathrooms, a bonus room, a finished basement, etc. The list of options is endless for things you could want in a new house, but you need to really decide what your non-negotiables are. Maybe you need a separate bedroom for each of your two kids and you also want to have a guest room for family that comes to visit and you need an office space because you work from home, plus your master bedroom. So you need a 5 bedroom house. You don’t want guests having to walk all the way upstairs to use the bathroom, so you need a main floor bathroom. If you live in Saskatchewan, you probably need a garage.
The clearer you can be on what you need in a house, the easier it will be for your realtor to find you the perfect one.
Settling vs compromising – it’s all a matter of perspective
We all want that diamond in the rough – the perfect house with everything on our wish list that is below budget. But very few of us will actually get it right off the bat. The key is in shifting your perspective. Maybe that means getting an older house for a lower amount that with a bit of work can become your dream home? Perhaps it means getting a bit less square footage so that you can get the big backyard? Maybe it’s considering moving out of your desired neighbourhood? None of these things need to be considered as settling because it’s all about compromising and deciding what’s most important for you.
Ready to start looking?
Make a list of things you find yourself saying “I wish I had…” in your current house.
Check out current listings in your area to see what’s available and what you do and don’t like.
Try out a mortgage calculator, like this one, to see what different mortgage amounts would mean for monthly payments.
Talk to your financial advisor for help figuring out what you can afford
Good luck in your home search!