Breaking into the housing market and getting that first home

With everything that’s going in the world today, buying a first home may seem like a distant dream. But don’t be discouraged. It might take a bit more planning, but you can do it.

Good financial strategy and some real estate research can help you get into your first home sooner than you’d think. Record low interest rates, along with the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, make buying your first home even easier.

Your first priority is to get your financial basics in order. Reach out to your bank or a financial planner to help you make a plan. A financial expert will be able to find a strategy that best suits your goals. You will also need to plan for your down payment. Many first-time buyers find this intimidating, but good old-fashioned saving is a great start.

Make sure your monthly budget allows you to put some money into savings, and work with your financial planner to help your savings grow as quickly as possible. Government programs are also available to help first-time buyers. You may be able to use savings from an RRSP or other resources — check with your bank for the programs and requirements in your region.

Reaching out to family can also be a win-win, but approach these arrangements with caution. Ensure any loan terms are realistic and clearly set out, and treat these arrangements with the same respect you would give a business agreement.

An often-overlooked strategy for a first home is land-lease. In this arrangement, homebuyers purchase and own their home and lease the land on which it sits. A home in a land-lease community can cost up to 30 per cent less than a comparable home in the same market, making it a much more affordable option. Land-lease communities also often include amenities like pools and recreational facilities similar to condo developments.

Once you have your finances in order, look for locations that will get you the best bang for your buck. Skip the high-priced, trendy spots where you’ll pay a premium without necessarily getting
a better home. The best deals are often hiding under tacky décor: if you can look past the cosmetic hang-ups and make sure the house is structurally in good shape, you may have a great opportunity in the making.

The main thing is just getting started and the person who can best help you with that is a REALTOR®. They will help you find a realistic strategy that will get you into your first home, and then you can work your way up to that dream home. Think of real estate as a process. You may need to start small or look outside your ideal neighbourhood at first. But once you own a home, you’ll be building equity and value, which sets you on the path to your forever home.

— News Canada