Jennifer Lynn Walker: Are you financially ready to buy property?

Buying a house is a big investment. Most buyers, when shopping around, look at the selling price along with the municipal and school taxes. But there are many more costs involved that will drastically affect your day-to-day living and ultimately your net worth. Having a bank or broker approve you for a mortgage does NOT mean you will be able to afford being a homeowner. Here are some other factors to consider:

Heating costs

This figure can add up depending on the size of the house and the number of people living in it. Before you hand in an offer, make sure that you obtain the current owners’ annual costs, whether it is oil, electric, gas or a combination. Be aware of cost per individual as well. If you have a family of six moving into a house that only had two people who were rarely home, the cost of your utilities will be higher. If you are worried about high heating costs, perhaps adding more insulation to the house could be part of your plan.

Condo fees

This fee should normally be stable. Doing your due diligence by researching the condo association financials and minutes should give you an indication of the history of the building and what is to come. Be aware though, that a lot of new buildings can have an ‘adjustment’ after a couple of years. It’s not uncommon to hear about condo fees going up from $450 to $650, when the developer moves out and a management company moves in to take over.

Insurance costs

Most buyers are rarely aware of what the vendor is paying for their insurance until a week or so before signing the title deed at the notary. There are many stories out there about people moving from one area or circumstance to another and seeing their insurance doubling.

Purchasing costs

Most closing costs amount to about one percent of the property’s price. This includes notary fees, a building inspection, welcome tax, and reimbursments for any house expenses the seller has paid for past the day of signing. These are called ‘adjustments’ and are calculated by the notary. Adjustments could include taxes, condo fees, rents due to the seller, or oil in that is left over in the tank.

Other potential buying fees that can add up

A lot of people overlook moving expenses. It’s a good idea to research different companies and find out the cost. This might not only include truck rental but storage fees and the cost of hiring professional movers. There are also hook-up and installation costs for utilities. And, homeowners may need snow removal, regular landscaping, and pool/spa maintenance. These costs all add up.

Do your homework and budget ahead of time for a smooth, steady process that will give you the confidence you need to be a happy, prosperous homeowner. Once you’ve moved in, going over your inspection report and creating a to-do list is a smart move. Knowing the repairs and renovations on the horizon for the next five years will help you keep up with maintenance so you can protect and build on your investment.

Jennifer Lynn Walker has been active in Montreal Real Estate since 2003. She founded the Montreal Real Estate Investor’s Group, which has more than 1,200 members. She specializes in buying and selling, eco-friendly homes, and helping real estate investors. For more articles and e-books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her online at: www.montreal-realestate.ca

—AB

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