making the move off-campus – part two

Are you making the move off campus and are curious about additional expenses you may incur and tips for transitioning to life as a home owner? Read on…

Depending on the amount of furniture/belongings needed to be moved, you’ll want to contact a moving company.  Make sure you do this well in advance, especially if your closing/moving date is in peak season (May-September) or on a weekend or the 1st of a month.  The moving company will usually send someone out to the place you are moving out of to estimate how long the move will take and how much it will cost.  Prices range from $500-$5000, and go up from there if you are moving to a different province/country.  If you are moving for a job, ask your new supervisor if moving expenses are covered.

Additional expenses

1. Property taxes – depending on the city your home is located in, property taxes can be paid in instalments directly to the city, or incorporated into your mortgage.  Some cities require one way or the other, so make sure to ask your Financial Advisor about this.

2. Mortgage Insurance – your Financial Advisor will encourage you to take life and critical illness insurance on your mortgage.  This protects you (pays off the mortgage) in case of death or critical illness.  For a person under 30, the monthly fee for both life and critical illness insurance is roughly $50.  NOTE: you do not need to go with the insurance through your bank.  If you are with another company (State Farm, Sun Life, etc) ask your insurance agent what your options are.

3. Don’t forget about that CMHC insurance I mentioned in the previous post.  If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, this insurance will be added to your mortgage total.

4. House Insurance – this is separate from your mortgage, life and critical illness insurance.  This is the insurance policy that will cover the cost of rebuilding your house in the case of major damage (i.e. a fire) or replacing the contents of your home in case of damage or theft.  This will run you about $100 a month. TIP:  If you have a home alarm, you get a discount on your house insurance!

5. Home alarm – your home may already have an alarm and you simply just have to take over the contract from the previous owner.  Otherwise, if you want to have one installed, this will be an added expense.  Most alarm companies charge an installation fee and a monthly monitoring fee.  These fees will vary from company to company and will depend on the level of service you require.  Some of the major home alarm companies in Ontario are: Alarm Force, ADT, Protectron and Chubb Security.

Tips on transitioning to life as a home-owner

– Before you move in you will want to contact the major service providers in your area to arrange for cable, phone, internet, water, gas, electricity, etc. to be hooked up.  If you’re unsure what companies you need to call, ask your Realtor for some help.  Keep in mind that a number of companies charge an installation fee and some require a deposit.  Plan to spend about $500 on these set-up incidentals.

– It’s not a bad idea to have Canada Post forward your mail to your new address while you get settled.  They offer this service for either 6 months (at a cost of $45) or 12 months (at a cost of $75).  Check out their website for more information.

– If this is your first time living off-campus, you will probably need to invest in a number of household items, including some big ticket items.  Ask yourself if you need the following and plan ahead in order to pay for them:

1. Appliances (fridge, stove, washer, dryer, etc)
2. A BBQ
3. Lawn & gardening equipment (lawnmower, weed whacker, gardening tools, etc)
4. A snow blower or shovel(s)
5. Paint & decorating supplies (here’s hoping you don’t have much 1970s wallpaper to remove!)
6. Furniture

– It’s a good idea to re-evaluate your budget after living in your home for at least a month.  At that point, you should have a rough idea of what your bill payments (cable, internet, utilities, etc) will be each month.  If your home is air conditioned and you use it in the summer, this will have an impact on your utility bill.  You’ll soon learn the rhythm of your house and what temperature is comfortable to you.  Even putting the AC up a couple of degrees can help to lower your bill.  This works for the winter too, but instead of putting your heat up a couple of degrees, you’d put it down.

– Also, now that you’re a home owner, it is a VERY good idea to set aside a set amount of savings each month for house repairs and maintenance.  If you’re not familiar with Murphy’s Law, as soon as you become a home owner, you will be! “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”  If you plan for this, when your roof or basement leaks, or your washing machine conks out in the middle of a cycle, it won’t be such a big financial strain.  Your home inspection is a great starting point, but it won’t cover everything.  Basements are prone to leaking.  Foundations will have cracks in them.  Some experts say that a new home owner should anticipate spending 3% of the total cost of their house in the first year of home ownership.  For a $250,000 house, that’s $7500.  After the first year, a home owner will spend an average of 1% of the total cost of their house in a year (on the same $250,000 house that works out to $2500).  Remember, this is just an average.  Your actual cost may be more or less than this.

Overall, owning your own home is an incredible experience.  You’re building equity and get to tailor the home to your tastes.  You’ll never realize how much you loved shopping at Home Depot until you become a home owner! Congratulations, and enjoy this experience.

*Originally posted on the OACUHO blog.

making the move off-campus – part one

Last week I shared some financial tips for new professionals.  Now it is time to turn our attention to those making the move off-campus and stepping on to the property ladder.

Buying a home is the most expensive purchase you will ever make.  Taking time to do your research is crucial.  There are a lot of incentives for first-time buyers, but there are also a lot of hidden/unexpected costs associated with purchasing a home and maintaining it.

Getting a Mortgage
First, make an appointment with a Financial Advisor (FA) at your bank to see what mortgage you would qualify for.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than searching for a home, finding one you love, then finding out you don’t qualify for the mortgage.  Sometimes an FA will ask if you have looked at any houses and if you have the MLS listing (get very familiar with MLS – www.mls.ca) to use as a starting point.  For example, if you’ve seen a couple of houses that you are interested in, one is $225,000 and the other is $325,000, the FA will see if you qualify for the higher mortgage first.  You’ll also need to know how much money you have for a down payment.  If you have $25,000 to put down, then the mortgage would be $300,000, and the FA will check if you qualify for this amount.  If everything comes back clear, you can get the ball rolling (and let me tell you, once the ball starts rolling it moves FAST).  If you don’t qualify for that amount, the FA will work with you to find a mortgage that you’ll be able to carry.

If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will apply mortgage loan insurance to your mortgage.  Your Financial Advisor will work out what this additional cost will be.  This cost gets added to your mortgage total, and is incorporated into your monthly payment.

Your Financial Advisor will also outline what types of mortgages (fixed and variable), terms (1-5 year), amortization (20-30 years) and interest rates are available.  This link is a great resource, outlining the major terms associated with mortgages: http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/mortgages/glossary.jsp#M

Finding a Realtor
If you don’t know where to start, ask around.  Ask people you know who have recently purchased a home in the area who they used.  Also, try going to some open houses.  Every open house will have a Realtor on site.  You will get a sense of their style (are they too pushy, follow you around the house while you’re looking, or welcome you and let you look around and follow up with you at the end?) and give you an idea of what it would be like to work with them.  Most Realtors at an open house will ask you if you have a Realtor.  If you think they’re too pushy, don’t feel bad about telling them that you do (even if you don’t).  If you seem to like their style, make sure to take their business card, and get in touch with them after the open house.  Most Realtors will meet you either at their office, your current home, or a neutral location (Tim Hortons, Starbucks, etc) to discuss your housing needs and what services they can provide.  Once you’ve chosen a Realtor, you will sign a contract with them, which basically states that they will represent you in your search for a home.  Remember, when you are the buyer, you don’t pay the Realtor’s commission (the seller pays both the selling and buying Realtor’s fees).

Purchasing a Home
Once you’ve made an offer on a home (make sure you’re offer is conditional upon a home inspection) and it is accepted and you’ve had the home inspection completed (and it comes back to your satisfaction), you will have officially bought the home, and be under a legally binding contract.  The sellers will want you to remove any conditions (offers conditional upon a home inspection and financing are the most common) from your offer as soon as possible and you can work with your Realtor and Financial Advisor to do this.

You’ll also need a lawyer.  This is where having a Realtor is great, as they will have contacts and recommendations.  The lawyer will run a title search on your home and property (to make sure there are no leans against it) and organize the land transfer from the sellers to you.  Usually, a couple of days before the closing date, you’ll go in to the lawyer’s office to sign a ton of paperwork, so get ready to sign your life away.  Your lawyer also arranges all of the finances associated with the purchase of the home, so when you go in to sign the paperwork, you’ll take a draft or certified cheque for the amount of the down payment and the lawyer’s fees.   For first-time buyers, expect to pay up to $5000 for lawyers fees.  On the day of closing, you’ll go to your lawyer’s office to pick up the keys to your new home! How exciting!

Stay tuned for part two of this post, where I will share information about additional expenses and tips for transitioning to life as a home owner.

*Originally posted on the OACUHO blog.