As you guys may already know, one of my goals is to buy my first house – this is a shared goal with my partner as well. Here’s why:
- To move out of our parent’s homes into a place of our own
- To invest in a real estate property that will hopefully beef up our net-worth over time
I was told by many people that buying a house is easy. Well, in my experience, it is anything but! I would agree that it’s easy in the sense that there’s less resistance to it – meaning the banks are happy to lend you the maximum you can afford to buy a house, your realtor is happy to help you because they receive a commission and family and friends are supportive because buying a house is deemed a sign of success (like renting is somehow evil?).
I find that it’s NOT so easy… when you’re trying to buy smart.
I started browsing listings in 2013, casually at first because I was still in university at that time with a part-time job – I wouldn’t have been able to qualify on my own for a mortgage. I’d say that’s when I started learning more about real estate. Since then, I think I’ve developed a small knowledge base of what it means to ‘buy a house’… and yet there’s still more to learn.
It wasn’t like there wasn’t anything I can do towards this goal then though. I did work on establishing and improving my credit score and history. I made sure my bills were paid on time and started working away at my credit card debt.
In 2014, when I landed my first ‘big-girl’ job as a nurse, I was finally in a position to qualify for buying a house. Qualifying for a house and being ready to buy are actually two different things I learned.
That’s when I started saving up a down payment, alongside paying off my credit cards and then my student loans… I’m probably crazy for having these goals at the same time but I’m also crazy (and extremely lucky) for still living with my parents at 23-24 years old. Due to this, I have extra money to work with because my parents didn’t charge me for rent.
All along, I kept researching and reading up on ‘buying a house’. I sought out conversations and people that had different takes on real estate.
I did these because a) I wanted to buy smart and b) I didn’t want to overpay for a house.
Then the oil and gas industry in Alberta took a nose-dive and workers by the thousands started losing their jobs. Since the housing market is highly tied to the job market, we saw an opportunity in holding off buying a house, waiting to see if prices would come down now that not many people are buying (and hopefully more would be selling).
In August, 2015, we almost bought a house but came to our senses before the deal was completed. I think we were both just tired of looking at houses that this one house, which was kind of an okay fit for us, seemed like a good enough deal. There was talk of interest rates increasing, changes to mortgage insurance fees and possible changes with down payment rules (which did happen with the new Liberal government) – we were almost swept away by greed and fear.
Thankfully, we dodged that bullet and decided we needed a break from house hunting for a few weeks or months. Winter is coming (hi GoT fans!) and it meant more leverage for buyers because moving in the winter sucks.
Long story short, we looked at just under 10 more homes over the winter months. We found one we loved but lost out on the bidding by $1,100 – I’m sad about this, the house would’ve been perfect for us! It just wasn’t meant to be. 🙁 Anyways, had we been able to buy that house, the financing would’ve been tight because we haven’t reached our 10% down payment goal. (Our advisor told us to go in with 5% down payment and put the rest of our money in RRSPs but now, we’ve decided that’s not the way we’ll do it.)
I definitely have a lot of anxiety and apprehension for the biggest purchase of my life so far. Coworkers, friends and family are surprised I haven’t yet found a house. Peers of mine who have looked for shorter than we have have found their homes and have either moved in or will soon be moving in.
This used to bother me thinking maybe we’re being too picky. But I realized that if I’m not comfortable with the numbers and they’re not making sense, I should go with that. Buying a house is a numbers game. Emotions just have this pesky way of butting in because I think that’s what we’re used to from greater society.
The search continues and we’ll keep working our butts off to beef up our down payment in the meantime (and hack away at my student loans). One day, when we are living in our first home, I’ll refer back to these notes and laugh at why I worried so much. I’m confident we’ll find a house that fits us for the right price – it’s just a matter of being patient and sticking to our strategy.
Here’s my declaration:
We will find a property that suits our needs and lifestyle for the next 7 to 10 years in Calgary. This home will have potential to be an income-producing property. We will save up a 10% down payment ($42,000) or more before buying this house (budget of $420,000). We hope to find this house in the next year.
Have you seen this house? 😛
- Timeline: Tracking the layoffs in Alberta’s oil patch – Global News
- Mortgage rules requiring more than 5% down on Canadian homes over $500k kick in today – CBC News
I’d love to hear about your ‘first home’ buying experience! What was it like? How long did it take you & are you happy with your decision after you bought?