Real Estate

Anecdotes and Advice from a First Time Home Buyer Part 11

My friend Christine has kindly agreed to write a series of posts on her experiences with buying a home for the first time which will be posted occasionally. See Part 10 – Home owner insurance.


Other bits and drabs

We were glad that as first-time homeowners, we did not have another property to sell before moving. We just had to give notice on our apartment, pack up our things, and find a way to transport them to our new home. We found that moving companies fell into two extremes, from expensive established companies charging at least $400 to seemingly fly-by-night individuals. Neither of these options appealed to us, so we rented a truck from Budget for around $100 after taxes, insurance and mileage charges. We were also fortunate at being able to convince some strong friends and family members to help out.

Beyond the big picture items, other items to do when moving to a new home are to set up the utilities (gas, electricity, telephone, Internet and cable).

Consider changing the locks for peace of mind. While Home Depot and other hardware stores sell locks that you can install yourself, locksmiths install high security locks that are more costly but are more difficult to pick and force open. We learned from our locksmith that metal doors are not necessarily stronger, as they can be hollow and thus easier to kick down. Lock plates and security strips along the side of the door serve to reinforce a door. Solid-core wooden doors are apparently the strongest.

Depending on your comfort level, you may also wish to invest in a security system. Monitoring costs for home security ranges from $25-$40 per month depending on the size of your home and the types of devices you choose to install. While it is not cheap, a security system does reduce your home insurance by 5-20% per year depending on the options that you choose and the criteria of your insurance company. Remember though that whoever you let into your home to install new locks or security devices should be legitimate and trustworthy.

And finally, notify everyone, including the government about your change in address. The mail redirect service through Canada Post costs $36 for six months and helps ensure that you will continue to receive mail and bills from anyone you may have forgotten to contact.

A happy ending to our story

After many months of fluctuating emotions, ranging from despondency at the options to resignation at having to buy a condo, the home search has ended happily. My husband and I were able to find a house that we wish to stay in for the long-term. We were able to remain in a target neighbourhood and maintain our downtown lifestyles by increasing our budget and going with a smaller home, both worthwhile sacrifices in our eyes.

The cover story in the March issue of Toronto Life Magazine looks at how the current housing market has caused some homeowners to overextend themselves financially. The housing prices in Toronto are crazy, but one should always be careful to crunch the numbers and not fly too close to the margin.

Getting more “house” for less money by moving farther out simply depressed us, and our main thoughts were of how long it would take us to be able to afford move back downtown. By choosing a place in the location we wanted, we are motivated to make things work and are happy to make changes to our lifestyles. The lesson we learned from our search was to be certain of one’s key requirements, whether they be location, price, a garden, etc., and ensuring that you and your partner are in agreement. Finally, do not be rushed into a decision. There will always be other houses on the market. At the end of the day, a house is still just a house and should not be an undue cause of stress.

This post thus concludes my home buying saga. With home ownership come many new responsibilities, thus new adventures await…

Thanks a lot Christine for your great series on buying a house. Maybe you can follow up with some renovation tips? 🙂

3 replies on “Anecdotes and Advice from a First Time Home Buyer Part 11”

One tip on the moving side. You can rent a moving van and load up all the small stuff, and higher a mover just for the appliances, furniture, etc. Saves money and saves backs.

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