Does the idea of buying a home seems overwhelming to you? Do you always ask yourself questions like; How much can I afford?, How can I find the best loan? Should I buy a new or a resale home? Should I use an agent or look at homes on my own? and many others questions?
We agree, buying a home is one of the major decisions that you will make in life and is one of the largest financial transactions in your lifetime. But, don't worry, although there is much to consider when buying a home, if you do your research and approach the home buying process with confidence, you will most likely buy a house that you will be proud to call home.
Below are the three most important things to remember no matter where you are on the road to home ownership. If you follow them closely, you will be happy with the end result!
1. Understand the home buying process. When buying a home, there is nothing that is complex that can't be easily explained to anyone. If you don't apply for a thirty year mortgage once a week, don't take the first one that comes along. You'll need to do your research, learn some new terms, apply some new concepts, and take the time to understand the entire process. If something happens at any point that you don't understand, simply demand a full and complete explanation from someone you trust like your real estate agent, CPA or your lawyer.
2. Become the important person in the process.
In the world of real estate sales, YOU are the most important person in the home buying process. It's easy to think that everyone else carries more weight than you but that's not the reality. The seller owns the house and has all the money and the real estate agent tries to sell the house for the seller. However, you, the buyer, are the one person in the transaction that makes it all happen. This entire process could come to a stop if you decide to not buy. So why not take command of this process?
3. Surround yourself with a team of professionals that you trust and make them work for you.
Good Realtors, mortgage specialists and property lawyers are some people that you can count on to help you. They all save you time and money. They know your community, they know what is important when buying and selling a home, and they know all the intricacies of the process, from finding a home, to negotiating a price, to closing a deal and to ensuring the paperwork is done right.As you can see, if you approach the home buying with intelligence and confidence, you are more likely to buy a house you’re happy with and know that you made the right decision. When you start to walk down this road, take charge from the first step and be in the pilot seat to ensure you satisfaction. Remember, YOU are the most important person in this process!
Most mortgages have the option to allow payments to be made on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This option may be desirable for two reasons. The first is it can save you money as you can expect to pay off your mortgage about 4 years sooner. This can save you dramatically over the life of your mortgage. The other reason why these options are so popular is that if your employer pays you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, you can simplify your budgeting by making the payment line up with the way you paid.
Paying extra amounts on your mortgage can make a big interest saving over time. When we select a mortgage company, privilege payments options are something that we look for. A 20% privilege payment will allow you to pay off up to $20,000 per year on a $100 000 mortgage. It is important that the privilege payment also be flexible to allow you to pay smaller payments on the mortgage and as often as you wish. An extra $1000 periodically paid on a mortgage can help you become mortgage free faster.
When you require a mortgage for more than 75% of the purchase price of a property, that mortgage must be insured by Canada Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) or GE Mortgage insurance. The premium charged by these company`s decreases as the down payment increases. When you finance your property at 95%, a premium of 2.75% is added to the mortgage. By increasing the down payment to 10% of the purchase price the premium can be reduced to 2.5%. If you can put down 25%, you can avoid any additional insurance fee. Depending on your situation there are ways that you can structure this financing to avoid the CMHC or GE insurance premium.
As mentioned above, when you put a 25% down payment on your purchase you can avoid the CMHC premium. More importantly the larger the down payment, the lower the amount of interest you will pay over the life of your mortgage. It is important to note that it may not be wise to stretch yourself to increase your down payment and end up borrowing on credit cards or a line of credit at a higher rate.
The options for mortgages available can be very confusing for most mortgage shoppers. Terms for mortgages vary between variable and fixed rate, 6-month terms to 10 year terms. Taking a variable or floating rate mortgage can have savings. Typically the shorter the term or guarantee of the rate, the lower the rate will be. This does not always happen, depending on the market place and the economy, but history has shown that short-term rates tend to be lower than long-term rates. The up side of variable rate is the strong potential for interest rate savings. The down side is the fact that you are accepting the interest rate risk without a guarantee. If you are considering a variable rate mortgage you need to look at your own risk tolerance, and your cash flow available to deal with potential increased payment. Considering projections of rates and where we see interest rates heading can also be important in this decision. Make sure you talk to an expert when you are making this decision.
Owning your own home has a lot of payoffs, especially these days when mortgage rates are still among the lowest in 30 years. There are also many housing options available in a wide range of prices.
Simply put, you can carry a home of your own for no more than what you would pay in rent. And, unlike renting, your payments go toward increasing the equity in your home.
So, what's stopping you? For most people who have never owned a home before, it's the initial down payment and the ability to keep up with the monthly financial obligations (mortgage payment, insurance, utilities, maintenance).
The effort to save for and buy a home may require you to make significant changes in your way of life. For most people, it means changing their spending and lifestyle habits to support the additional costs of saving for, paying for, and maintaining a home.
One of the best ways of saving for a down payment is to take advantage of government programs available to first-time home buyers. A real estate professional can help you understand how these programs work and ensure that you get the maximum benefit possible.
RRSP Home Buyers' PlanContribute to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) regularly and to the maximum allowed. The federal government's RRSP Home Buyers' Plan enables eligible taxpayers to withdraw up to $20,000 tax free from their plan to buy or build a qualifying home. The amount of money withdrawn must be repaid within 15 years.
If you buy the qualifying home together with your spouse or other individuals, each person can withdraw up to $20,000 tax free. A government form must be completed for each withdrawal.
Generally, an RRSP holder can participate in the Home Buyers' Plan only once in a lifetime. The pamphlet, Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) - For 1998 Participants, is available from Revenue Canada and will help you determine if you are considered a first-time home buyer.
A qualifying home is a housing unit located in Canada. Those participating in 1998 have to buy or build a home before Oct. 1, 1999. You must also agree to occupy the home as your principle residence no later than one year after buying or building it. Once you occupy the home, there is no minimum period of time that you have to live there.
Ontario Home Ownership Savings Plan(OHOSP) OHOSP is a provincial program where participants receive interest on the money they deposit and may receive a tax credit. If you earn less than $40,000 a year, or if you and your spouse have a combined income of less than $80,000, you can benefit from the program. To be eligible, you must be an Ontario resident over 18 years of age with a social insurance number and have never owned a home.
While there is no limit to the amount of money you may deposit in your OHOSP, you can only receive OHOSP tax credits on annual contributions of $2,000 ($4,000 per couple) or less. Depending on your annual income and the amount of money you invest, you can earn up to $500 individually or $1,000 a couple in OHOSP tax credits. Participants are eligible for tax credits for five consecutive years and must close the plan and use the funds to purchase a home by the end of the seventh year. Otherwise, OHOSP tax credits must be repaid with interest.
An OHOSP plan, with interest earned at competitive rates, may be opened at any participating financial institution. To qualify, a home must be located in Ontario and be suitable for year-round residential occupancy. In addition, you must live in the home for at least 30 consecutive days within two years of the date of purchase.
CMHC five per cent downWhile Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) five per cent down option program doesn't help you save for the down payment, it sure eases the way to home ownership.
With as little as five per cent down, all home owners now have access to CMHC mortgage insurance. This means CMHC may insure the mortgage on your home (against default in payments) for up to 95 per cent of the lending value of the home. This helps make home ownership a reality for many Canadians who can afford monthly mortgage payments but would have trouble saving for a larger down payment.
Previously available only to first-time home buyers, the program was expanded earlier this year to include all home buyers. Eligible borrowers include anyone who buys a home in Canada and occupies it as a principle residence. The mortgage insurance premium in 1998 is about 3.75 per cent of the mortgage loan and can be added to the mortgage or paid on a monthly basis.
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One thing is for sure; we all know that we need a roof over our head.
In most people’s case they end up having to pay either Rent for this roof or a Mortgage payment, unless of course you have a rich family that can offer you FREE or Reduced Rent. The point is, we ALL have to pay for a roof over our heads. Real Estate has always been considered a Long-Term Investment. The real question you need to ask yourself; do I really want to pay RENT for the rest of my life? Generally, a home makes financial sense if you are going to live in it for at least three, four, or preferably five years. When you buy you need to take into consideration the costs involved in buying and selling a home, from appraisal fees and home inspection to real estate commissions, all must be taken into consideration.
When people lose money in the real estate market it is usually because they did not own it long enough, they sold to quickly. This usually means within the first 3 years of the purchase. You cannot depend on making any real profit in real estate in the first 3 years. In fact, the market may fall after you buy your home. However, also keep in mind; the longer you own your property, history has shown us, you can be sure it will have increased in value when you come to sell.
Real estate has proven to be one of the most stable long-term investments there is. It is your guarantee of retirement security. Overall, it is far better to own your own home than rent. Not only for the pride of ownership but because it is your only long-term hedge against inflation. With rental rates increase constantly, there is no guarantee you will be able to afford them as the years go by.