First-time homebuyers face new challenges in 2018
There are still plenty of opportunities for first-time homebuyers to enter the real estate market.
by Matthew Ablakan
Last year, we experienced many significant changes with regards to qualifying for a mortgage. In addition, the Bank of Canada increased their overnight rate twice for the first time since 2008. What does this mean for first-time homebuyers? A more difficult process to qualify for a mortgage, less purchasing power and more compromise.
As of January 1, 2018 buyers that have a down payment of less than 20 per cent will have to qualify using the Bank of Canada’s Benchmark Rate, which is currently at 4.99 per cent, or 2 per cent more than the interest rate they are being offered by their lending institution (whichever is higher). And the Bank of Canada has already signaled that Canadians should prepare for a series of interest rate hikes in 2018.
So, it seems, that this year will be filled with optimism as well as uncertainty. But there are still plenty of opportunities for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. With financial support such as the Land Transfer Tax rebate, HST rebate, Home Buyers’ Tax Credit and the ability to use your RRSPs for your down payment, there is still a lot of hope.
I recommend using a licensed broker who has great relationships with builders as well as banks and alternative lending institutions. This will give first-time buyers more flexibility, as well as options when it comes to making a purchase.
Some lending institutions — not the big banks — have more flexible guidelines that allow them to make certain exceptions when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. And some builders offer incentives especially for first-time homebuyers.
Purchasing pre-construction real estate, whether a condo or a new home, offers flexibility as well as different options for first-time homebuyers. You have the opportunity to enter into the marketplace without having to dish out money for a mortgage and other expenses right away. All you need to worry about is the deposit the builder requires, as well as a mortgage pre-approval. This gives you lots of time to prepare for your final closing.
With that being said, if you purchase a condo that is going to be ready in three to four years, you might be able to afford something a little more expensive than if you were to purchase it right now. In the intervening years, you may be more established in your career, have a spouse who can contribute and you may be starting a family. All of these factors play a role in purchasing a home. Purchasing a new home or condo gives you flexibility in the event these things change.
But it is important not to overextend yourself when making a purchase. There are more costs to owning a home then just your mortgage payment. You must be prepared for things like property taxes, utilities, maintenance and upkeep, as well as things like cable, Internet and phone bills.
Another helpful tip is to move away from your parent’s way thinking. What your parents were able to purchase just doesn’t exist anymore. That is a fact. That is the reality that first-time buyers are faced with today. There is nothing wrong with purchasing a one-bedroom condo to get your foot in the door. This will allow you to build wealth and help you get one step closer to that dream home.
When it comes to purchasing real estate, there are many different factors involved. I strongly recommend you do your own research as well as consult with different professionals. There are some professionals who offer things like buyer seminars. It is also important to know what you qualify for before you start your search. This will save you lots of time. Also, ask your broker if he/she can recommend a lawyer as well as a mortgage broker. This will save you the hassle of finding someone that is trustworthy and reliable. Always remember that a real estate salesperson or broker cannot provide you with legal advice. The onus is on you to show your contract to a lawyer, who can then provide you with that peace of mind.
Purchasing a home is supposed to be fun. It represents the start of a new chapter and adventure. Compromise does not mean settlement. When you are in your home, it should feel like home.
Matthew Ablakan is the founder of Millennial’s Choice, a team of experienced real estate and mortgage brokers dedicated to serving the millennial generation.