Becoming landlords is a major step in a couple’s life so you should make no mistake when you decide this.
Here are a few tips that should make it easier and more fun to pick a home.
Step one: evaluate your needs
It is time to proceed to a little interview with your man! In fact, you should ask yourself a few questions too!
- Work: obviously, you must keep in mind the proximity of your workplace, and that of your partner. Do you have a relatively stable job? Do you intend to change soon? If so, does your industry allow you to be mobile? If you answer no to that last question, you just made the region where you can live much smaller.
- Your schedule: if your work hours allow you to get to work by public transport, you can choose a residence in the city or in the suburbs and near a train or a metro station.
- Children: If you have pre-schoolers, you must make sure that there is a good daycare nearby. In the city or in the suburbs it is usually easy but not in some remote areas. And, of course, make sure that there are good schools around.
- Transport: According to CAA, the use of a compact car costs $9,500 per year. This amount could repay a mortgage of $136,175 (amortized over 25 years)…Remember that!
City, suburbs or countryside?
Everything is a matter of taste, even if you must take the previous questions into account… None of the three is less family-friendly but all three have different advantages. In the city, shops and services are nearby but it is true only in a few suburbs and very rarely in the countryside.
The countryside allows you to buy a much bigger land and a cheaper house which is not necessarily true in the suburbs while the city is much more expensive.
The suburb can offer an interesting compromise between city and countryside because some lands have a very respectable size and an access to shops, grocery stores, pharmacies and commuter trains.
To find out more about the proximity of services in the regions that interest you, consult Centris, which traces a detailed picture of the communities in all areas of Quebec: a directory of child care, schools, health services and accessibility to public transport. You can even find information about the population by age and average family income.
Finally, some real estate agents recommend buying a modest property in the best neighbourhood you can afford rather than buying an expensive home in a modest neighbourhood…
Step two: market expectations and your finances
To find out about the real estate market forecasts, consult the Market Analysis Department of the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation), it is the best way to stay informed.
After, to precisely evaluate your budget capacity to absorb this large expense, visit the CMHC website. It will guide you in calculating your expenses and the monthly repayment of your debts.
Step 3: Exploration
After defining your needs and your affordability, you can now targets the neighbourhoods that appeal to you… and explore them.
Here’s what you should inspect:
- The environment: Do you know if your area or neighbourhood is grappling with environmental issues? You must ask your real estate agent and maybe “Google” the area.
- Look: Take a look at the paths and private properties in the neighbourhood. Are they well maintained?
- Crime rate: Check the criminal activity with the local police department to avoid bad surprises such as the insurance rates for your house and car.
- Public transport: Is it easily accessible and does it access the whole area and its surroundings? At what price? On what schedule? And more importantly: will you use it?
- Daily: The presence of amenities, shops and institutions (health and education)
- Industry: Compare the price of the house with the value of surrounding properties.
- Other: Take some time to check the potential sources of noise and nuisance. If there is a park nearby, maybe it is lit very late at night and music may be played there. If there are shops, the traffic may disturb you. Don’t minimize the impact of potential nuisances before giving it a good look first. Your quality of life could truly be affected.
Detached house, semi-detached, condo or plex?
Your agent can guide you to make this decision. Still, you will have to keep a few factors in mind, as they will be arguments in favour of one option or the other. For example, do you have enough time to take care of your garden? Do you need a separate dining room? An office? How many rooms do you need?
The single-family detached house is the most popular among families but the price to pay for this kind of privacy, among other things, is that you must take care of a much bigger backyard.
The semi-detached house is inhabited by only one family but is connected to another by a common wall. It can offer many benefits of the detached house and its purchase and maintenance are generally less expensive.
The duplex consists of a building comprising two superimposed individual apartments. It has advantages of financial nature: some of the maintenance costs are tax deductible and the rent really helps to pay the mortgage.
In a housing condominium, you are the owner of the unit where you live and you share ownership rights for the common areas of the building (such as the land and facilities like a swimming pool). The advantage is that you do not worry about yard maintenance.
The row house (also called town house) is part of a set of houses connected to each other by common walls. The price of these houses is not as high as that of a detached house or even a semi-detached house. Although each townhouse has a separate yard, it does not offer as much privacy as the detached house nor as much space.
You will eventually fall in love with a property. You will still need to put some of your feelings aside and keep a critical eye when you will be visiting. Here is a list of key items you should inspect (from Micasa.ca).
- The external condition of the house: Check the roof, gutters, brick, plaster, paint, siding, decks and balconies.
- Energy efficiency: What type of heating and insulation is in the house? Is the house fully insulated?
- Air quality: Is the air fresh and healthy in the house? Check the conditions and materials that will maintain a healthy indoor environment.
- The state of the basement and crawl space:Are there signs of mold? See if there are traces of humidity, water leaks or cracks.
- Structural problems: Are the windows stuck? Are the floors unequal? These problems can be the sign of a structural defect.
- Water pressure: Turn the taps on and off or flush the toilet to verify this.
- Is there parking space? Does the house have its own parking lot or is it shared?