A New Home for 2018


This time of year is one of the more popular times to buy a home. If you are a first time home buyer the task can seem daunting and overwhelming. Even as a ‘veteran’ home buyer, buying a house is still considered to be one of the top four stressful life events. I have been in my current home for 1 year now and the house that my family and I are living in is our 4th house purchase that we have made. We have learned a lot through every house that we have purchased but I still remember the process of us buying our first house 16 years ago as newlyweds. We had no clue what we were doing, and what hidden costs that we needed to anticipate for. We learned some hard lessons. They say hind sight is 20/20 but I really wish that I could take all the knowledge that I have accumulated up until now and go back in time and pass it on to my younger and naive house buying self. I think that we could have saved a lot of heart ache and headaches if we had known some of the things in advance.

Nowadays there is so much more information available than there was when my husband and I first went house shopping. We were pre-approved for a mortgage for our first home but didn’t take into account home repairs such as new roof shingles and we also didn’t have the knowledge of what other homes were selling for in the same neighbourhood. So as a first time home buyer how can you make the best, most informed decision when purchasing a home? It is a lot different now than when I was buying my first house. I have come across a GREAT app that can help you have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. It is called Home To Be* from The Co-operators. I really wish that this app was available 16 years ago. What makes this app so special? Home To Be, is a free app (which is available for Android and iOS) that provides first-time homebuyers with all the information they need to purchase the house that’s right for them—like home value, mortgage rates and requirements, anticipated repair costs, insurance needs, and more. So when you sign on the dotted line, there are no surprises—except the pop of the champagne cork. You did it!

One thing that I have noticed when buying a home is that the asking price is not really a good indicator of a home’s worth. When we were looking at homes just over a year ago we had a certain price range in mind and when searching for homes in our price range the results were surprising. Some homes would ‘wow’ us and others left us feeling underwhelmed. How do you know if the asking price is in line with the worth or is of good value? I remember looking at two houses only a few streets apart and the difference in the asking prices of both was tens of thousands of dollars. With the Home To Be app simply type in the address of the home you’re interested in and it will show you a low-to-high based on similar properties that have recently sold in the neighbourhood. That is great information to have, especially if you think that you have found the house of your dreams and want to make an offer. Having the information of what similar properties have sold for can provide you with the leverage you need to get an accepted offer.

Another feature offered by the Home To Be app is something that I wish I had for all my previous home purchases. That feature allows you to uncover hidden costs. If the home you’re looking at requires repairs—inside or out—it can add up. Very Fast. If you need to replace roof shingles, need a new water heater or fix a foundation if you are a first time home buyer it can be overwhelming to determine all these costs on top of the purchase price. Tell the app what you see and it will evaluate whether the home needs repair and, if it does, what kind of costs you can expect to fix it. This is also great information to have when making an offer on a house. Does the asking price take into account repairs that need to be done either immediately or within the next few years?

If you are buying a home I hope that it goes well! I highly recommend that you check out Home To Be and The Co-operators on Facebook. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before you buy your first home. There is so much information available now that not knowing now is no longer a valid excuse. Good luck!

*Available only in Ontario Photo Credit: Pixabay This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The Co-operators. The opinions and text are all mine.

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