Having just purchased a home with my husband, I can tell you… it can be an exciting but frustrating process. We spent over a year scouring Realtor.ca to find the right home. We had two deals fall through because of the inspection, meaning we have an incredible knack for finding poorly constructed homes. With the price of houses in many of the major cities across Canada exceeding the half million-dollar mark, it can seem impossible to purchase a home on your own these days. Most people need two incomes to qualify for the amount of mortgage they will be requesting and their joint savings to be able to pull together a sizeable down payment.
Whether you are purchasing a home with your spouse or a significant other, there are definitely things that you should keep in mind when starting the home buying journey.
- Run the math. The most important thing to do is understand where you are at financially. Determine what mortgage payment you feel comfortable with and do not stray from that. Money is a huge stressor in relationships and if you leave yourself house poor you may end up crating animosity between you and your significant other.
- Make a list and rank it. Determining what is most and least important to both of you Is key to being able to prioritize a home. For us location was the most important thing, we wanted to remain central, still being able to utilize public transit and walk to work. That meant we probably wouldn’t be purchasing something that was over 2,000 square feet, which for some people could be equally as important. It is important to define what means the most to you and your spouse and to come back and check in with those things regularly.
- Save, save, save, and save some more. The down payment on your home is likely going to be one of the largest sums of money you save, so it is important that both individuals are on the same page when it comes to amassing this amount. By researching what you think your house will cost and utilizing the amount of mortgage you are comfortable taking on (see #1) you will be able to determine how much you need to save. Make saving for a down payment a joint financial goal that you and your significant other can achieve together. Use a separate high-interest bank account or GIC’s to help you achieve your goal faster and make sure you track it every step of the way.
At the end of the day, the largest lesson we learned was one of patience and communication. It took us a long time to find a house in the location we wanted, the quality we would accept, and in our price range. During this time, we were able to grow the amount we would put down, which further decreased our mortgage. We are in the final closing processes for our new home, and even though it took over a year to find our home, I am happy with the way things turned out. We were able to have saved up a large down payment and have many conversations about what was most important to us as the process went on. Knowing where your partner stands and their risk level is key to managing your financial future together, so have those conversations sooner rather than later.
About the Author
Janine Rogan is a personal finance educator and CPA based in Calgary Alberta. She is passionate about sharing her financial knowledge with Canadians to help educate them to make money-smart decisions. Through her website, Youtube channel, and community engagement Janine shares solid financial advice that will make a difference in how you manage your money. Check out JanineRogan.com for more details.