Tips on Buying your First Home with a Small Budget

This is it. You’ve decided to make the biggest purchase of your entire life and you’re all fired up about it. Congrats! You can already picture what it’s going to look like – gourmet kitchen, massive dining room, suite-like master’s bedroom, the work! Images of your dream house are slowly populating your mind like it was going out of style.

Hold on to those thoughts and keep them in a safe place for now, because I’ll burst your bubble a little bit. If you’re a first time buyer, chances are your first home purchase won’t be anywhere near your dream home. Unless you have rich parents or have a multi-million dollar business operating out of your kitchen, getting your dream home on your first buy is pretty rare. It’s not impossible, but rare.

Choose where you want to live

Location is probably as important as the house itself. The worst thing you can do is get an affordable and beautiful house in a crime riddled neighborhood. No wonder the houses are cheap! Do some legwork and ask around. Do your research. Don’t neglect the location of your new home because you’ll be living here for the foreseeable future. You must enjoy being in the area and it has to be safe for you and your kids. The distance to amenities will also affect your fuel bills, car maintenance needs and vehicle insurance. Will you be able to walk or bike to work or other frequently visited places?

Consider Starter Homes

You should really consider starter homes if your budget is a little tight and you’re just starting out as a family. Your space needs would probably be modest at best, and a well built 2-bedroom starter home can give you a roof over your heads. This wouldn’t be the house of your dreams, but it’s a good start and an investment you can either rent out or flip when you buy a bigger home.

Look for Fixer Uppers

Be on the lookout for fixer uppers in the area your targeting. These houses may look bad now, but imagine what it’ll look like once all the renovations are made. You can also get fixer uppers below market value if you know a little bit about real estate. If you don’t, look for a broker you can trust that will give you deals on houses below market value. The money you can save on housing costs can be used to renovate the house.

Keep an open mind about Condos

Many condos and townhouses have enough space for a small family and should also be considered when you’re looking to buy property for the first time. Look for condos with balconies, extra storage space and enough amenities to keep you occupied. Condos are priced competitively and are usually situated in the heart of the city. You’ll be near everything and you’ll never run out of things to do. Just don’t forget to factor in the monthly association dues.

Kick it Old School

Older houses made in the 1920’s to the 1970’s are more affordable than newly built ones. Consider the savings you’ll make when you get an old house that needs minor renovations versus a new build that’s probably 20% more expensive. Plus, you’ll get that old world charm that newer houses don’t have. Who knows, an old house may just put you a step closer to your dream home.

Your Funds

Where you source your funds is completely up to you. It can be in the form of family savings plus a loan or purely from a loan. You can source it from a bank or from any legitimate private lender in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg or Vancouver just as long as the rates are good and you have flexible terms.

It’s all up to you now. What are you going to buy?

Condo Living: How to survive and thrive in small spaces

Fish does condosWouldn’t it be nice to finally de-clutter and downsize everything you own to the bare minimum? I’ve had this goal for as long as I can remember. Vehicles? All I need is a truck or an SUV and a bike. Gadgets? Just give me a reliable laptop for work/entertainment and a tablet for communication/reading. Clothes? Just a handful of the best ones I own that are of good quality, so I can use them as long as possible.

But it’s harder than it looks folks, especially if you have a large house filled to the brim with stuff. If you want to downsize everything in your life, a good idea would be to identify the essential things that you just can’t live without and get rid of the rest. Once you have that down pat, look at condos for sale in a neighborhood or city that you’ve always wanted to live in. If you work in the city, a good idea is to get a condo near your office so you can just walk to work. You’ll be saving money on transportation and you’ll be getting some much needed exercise.

Does Size really matter?

When you’ve lived in a house all your life, learning to live in a condo can be a challenge. Unless you get one of those luxury condos that occupy a whole floor or penthouse, you have to get used to smaller rooms and limited closet space, especially if you have kids.

The very first condo I ever lived in was a studio and everything was small, from the bathroom to the bedroom. It felt claustrophobic at times, and I never really spent anymore than a few of my waking hours inside. I was either out or sleeping, because I dreaded the feeling of being trapped. Growing up in the country, I was used to wide open spaces, so living in a shoebox was a huge adjustment for me.

When looking at a potential condo, remember that you’ll be calling it home for the foreseeable future. That means actually staying indoors from time to time, cooking your own meals, spending time with your loved ones (if you have a family) and entertaining friends. Don’t choose a condo based on price and smaller room size. You’ll want to choose one that’s already built so you can see the actual rooms yourself and gauge if the space is enough for you – the bigger the rooms, the better for your sanity.

Choose what to take with you

With limited space, you have to be wise when it comes to what goes with you and what gets donated, sold or kept in storage. That’s why before you even consider moving into a condo, you must make a decision of downsizing and eliminating all the clutter in your life, or else you’ll agonize on what to bring.

  • With space at a premium, your furniture should be scaled down as well. If you have a favorite couch, but it takes up the entire living room of the condo, consider replacing it with a scaled-down version. Same goes for all your other furniture – from your refrigerator down to your coffee table. Your TV would most likely be wall mounted to save space.
  • Get some plants to spruce up your living space and help filter the indoor air. Plants also add a touch of warmth to any room, so adding a couple can definitely bring something positive to your smaller living space and benefit your well being.
  • Keep everything as neat, organized and clutter-free as possible because you’ll make the rooms look a lot bigger if you have less furniture and knick-knacks lying around. Invest in a few mirrors and hang it on the walls if you want to magnify your space.
  • Use every inch of storage space your unit has, and ask if the building has additional lockers for unit owners or tenants. If you simply run out of space, look for paid storage options near you where you can keep your extra stuff if you don’t know what to do with it yet.

Can you do it?

Condos are definitely doable if you have the right frame of mind. Choosing the perfect unit is always a challenge, so before you take the plunge and sell your house; ask yourself first it you can pull it off. Make a conscious decision and talk it over with your family and close friends who know you best.

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